Thursday, August 27, 2009


Anyone else in Auckland see the lightning last night? Pretty cool, huh?

Then again, it's all fun and games until someone loses a house. Lightning strikes, tsunamis and earthquakes may be 'cool' to look at, but they're not so fun for the people who have to pick up the pieces afterwards - people like Tauranga resident Sam Johnston, a man whose home was destroyed by the storms last night. Or so suggests the headline: "Lightning strike wrecks home". Did it burn down? Did the foundations collapse under the furious onslaught?

As the EtH reader who alerted me to the story eloquently puts it:
"Holy crap!" I thought when I read the headline. "That must have been one hell of a lightning strike!"

The accompanying photo next caught my eye. A frowny faced man sitting on some steps next to a bare patch of dirt. His house must have been totally vaporised by the lightning!

"Sam Johnston, son of the homeowner, sits on what remains of the garden wall."

Wrecked indeed. Until one actually reads the article.

A bolt of lightning destroyed a concrete wall and steps at a house in Tauranga, throwing debris into the air.

[...] "Inside ... papers flew in the air, and socket points blew off the wall across the living room, all melted." [said Johnston.]

So a garden wall was damaged. Socket points blew. "Papers flew in the air." I can see how the home was "wrecked" - the insurance company probably condemned the house rather than having to organise someone to pick them all up.


  1. there is a difference between wreck and destroy.

  2. There's also a difference between a 'home' and a 'wall'. Although houses typically have several walls, walls themselves do not have homes in them. Except maybe homes for ants. Or crickets. Or insects in general. Perhaps the homeless could make a home next to a wall, like a lean-to shelter. If the lightning struck the wall, then arguably the homeless person's home would be destroyed. Or, at the very least, wrecked. I don't think the man in the photo is homeless; not before the lightning and not after.
    What am talking about again? Oh yeah - the Herald should have a catchy slogan in its masthead. "All the news that's fit to print" has already been taken so maybe the NZ Herald could go with "News that is not really news but we pretend that it is"
    Catchy, no?

  3. Actually, there's almost no difference between "wreck" and "destroy."

  4. From the OED online:

    wreck, v:

    3. To cause or bring about the ruin or destruction of (a structure, etc.) as by violence or misuse; to reduce to a ruinous condition in this way; to shatter, ruin, destroy.


    # something or someone that has suffered ruin or dilapidation; "the house was a wreck when they bought it"; "thanks to that quack I am a human wreck"
    # shipwreck: an accident that destroys a ship at sea
    # crash: a serious accident (usually involving one or more vehicles); "they are still investigating the crash of the TWA plane"
    # bust up: smash or break forcefully; "The kid busted up the car"

  6. Anonymous: Why are you here, again?

  7. because i'm drawn to your unhinged, single-issue quest to shout into the ether.

  8. James, your parents should write to the Herald and get them to do a story on how the 'New Zealand Herald Wrecks Home'. It can talk about your raging anger every morning when the paper is delivered, that ruins your Mum and Dads breaky.

  9. So a garden wall is a house. Interesting.

  10. That New Zealanders now regard a wall as a house just show how we need tax cuts, NOW!

  11. MartyBurns: Thanks for the derailment. I guess you're not for accountability in journalism then. This whole kiwi "don't make a fuss about anything (except when you can do so anonymously in Your Views)" is a hinderance to democracy.

  12. @ANonnyMoose - going on writing style Marty is probably about ten years old (and a slow ten), so that might have gone over his head.

  13. "This whole kiwi "don't make a fuss about anything (except when you can do so anonymously in Your Views)" is a hinderance to democracy."

    Not just a hinderance to democracy, but a hinderance to the country in general. The whole "She'll be right, mate" thing serves us well much of the time, but often stops us punching above our weight.