Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wind farms

We had a great time visiting friends in Palmerston North the weekend before last. On the Sunday, we all went out to see Te Apiti wind farm. The wind turbines looked dramatic from a distance, sort of other-worldly. There is one turbine that you can drive right to the foot of. As we drove up to it, the road came within a couple of hundred metres of another turbine and I was disappointed: I decided wind turbines were not so spectacular on their own. But once we reached the one on the roadside and I stood right underneath it, hearing the quiet swish of the huge blades as they swept towards me, I changed my mind. It was magnificent. The ones in the photo above are some distance behind us. (Thanks to Dave for the photo.)

Some people consider wind turbines an eyesore but to me they increase the visual appeal of farmland. However, my opinion of wind turbines in areas of native vegetation is just the opposite. We have few enough areas of undisturbed nature left; why not restrict wind farms to land already modified by humans? There are surely enough such areas to choose from ... as well as farmland, there are probably suitable areas near towns and cities, where land has been stripped of its natural vegetation for one purpose or another in the past and where existing roads could be used to service wind turbines. Friends of Turitea Reserve are fighting a wind farm approved for a nature reserve near Palmerston North.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas wrap

We decided to stop buying wrapping paper some time ago. We still have a few odd bits of wrap we are finishing off. Where they aren't big enough, we are improvising with old calendars and the occasional catalogue that slips in past our No Junkmail sign. For some of our Christmas presents, I made the little drawstring bags in the picture above. Tessa crocheted the cords. They are sewed from an old pillow case, worn too thin for use as bedding but not too thin for this purpose, thoroughly washed beforehand!

Someone at Be the Change pointed out this lovely wee movie about Christmas wrap:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More thoughts on Boy Racers and co.

I guess the reason governments decide to add layers of illegality to the crimes committed by Boy Racers, gangs, etc. is that these crimes are being committed despite existing law, therefore the legislation is deemed to be failing. It may indeed benefit from some changes: I would approve whole-heartedly of permanent car confiscation and long term (five years?) loss of driver's licence for all drunk drivers, and medium term (six months?) confiscation and short term loss of licence for second offence speeders (be they Boy Racers, girl racers, middle-aged racers or anyone else). I doubt the legislation that is primarily at fault though. If something is illegal, making it differently illegal seems like a waste of resources to me. I wonder if the most effective solution would be greater police numbers. I don't suppose there are many Boy Racers who would drive dangerously or throw bottles at cows if there was a police officer nearby watching.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Boy racer, gang and terrorist legislation

2007 seems to have been the year for the introduction of special legislation against particular groups. I don't understand the need for such legislation. Either gang members are committing crimes of theft, violence and drug dealing, and should be charged with those crimes, or they are not, and should be left alone.

So called "terrorists" are either amassing illegal weapons, using weapons illegally, threatening to kill, and killing and injuring, and should be charged with those crimes, or they are not; either way, the label "terrorist" is unhelpful in my opinion. According to my dictionary, the difference between terrorists and other violent criminals is that terrorists' acts of violence are aimed at overthrowing the government, or the terrorists are the government and the acts of violence are aimed at controlling the people, whereas other violent criminals commit their violent acts for other purposes. I don't think murdering or threatening to murder someone for one purpose is any less bad than doing so for another purpose so I don't see a need for those crimes to be dealt with differently. In practice, terrorist violence often injures and kills larger numbers than other violence. I accept the justice of charging a person with multiple crimes - one for each person injured, but I think that already happens under our laws.

As far as giving police greater powers to eavesdrop on people suspected of involvement in terrorism, my arguments are the same. Maybe it is appropriate to give police greater powers where it is suspected that crimes are being planned that could injure or kill large numbers; that is a separate issue. But to give police greater powers where it is suspected a crime is aimed at the government rather than at any other individual or group is wrong in my opinion.

If one believes what the media tells us, it seems pretty clear that "Boy Racers" are committing various crimes: speeding and other dangerous driving, littering (throwing of bottles is often reported), trespassing on private property, ignoring fire bans, and from the sounds of things drunk and disorderly conduct. Why cannot they be charged with these crimes? Why on earth is there a proposal in Christchurch for the most ridiculous bylaw I've ever heard of? "banning people from using roads unless for a lawful and sufficient purpose." They want to make it unlawful to use a road unlawfully!? What is a "sufficient purpose"? How would the enforcers justify allowing people to go for a stroll or pop out to buy a chocolate bar (not Boy Racer gatherings, therefore "sufficient purposes") but not allow people to meet friends on the side of the road (Boy Racer gathering, therefore "insufficient purpose")?