Paul Little at large
Paul Little is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Paul Little: Ducking and diving over police

Those dastardly ducks and other fowl have been pooing wherever they like. Photo / Northern Advocate
Those dastardly ducks and other fowl have been pooing wherever they like. Photo / Northern Advocate

It has been a big week for physics. I have long speculated we would find life on another planet before Auckland worked out what to do with its waterfront and it looks like I'm about to be proved right.

Scientists detected what might be a radio signal from star HD164595, just 95 light years away.

It probably isn't, but the mere possibility was enough to excite imaginative sorts and scare the bejesus out of more cautious types such as myself.

I'm not sure I want to encounter a civilisation that can harness the energy of starlight to produce this signal.

In other physics news, the New Zealand police were given the task of rewriting the laws of space and time that said a day could not contain more than 24 hours.

The police are no slackers.

They are among our hardest workers, their days jam-packed with drudgery accented by brief peaks of excitement. There is not a lot of sitting around flipping playing cards into hats.

There's no hint of a sudden population explosion in the boys and girls in blue.

And without that, it's hard to see how they are going to meet the new directive to respond to every burglary reported unless the hours in a day can be increased.

It has been suggested turning up to hold the hand of every burglary victim is a feel-good exercise. That may be so - but what is wrong with making people feel good?

Who could object to the comfort of knowing if you get burgled one of those nice young men or women will be around to take your details?

As to actually tracking down culprits, retrieving stolen goods and not increasing the workload on our already overburdened courts - those goals haven't been much discussed.

So the new move is hardly likely to act as a deterrent. Perhaps it would be more effective if it were accompanied by measures that made burglary seem a less-attractive career choice.

Given the precariousness of the profession, the irregular income, the dreadful working hours, the diminished opportunities for social interaction with colleagues, the lack of reasonable employment conditions and the general stress and insecurity that comes with spending your days burgling, you have to ask yourself how bad things have to be in someone's life for them to see this as a reasonable alternative to any other line of work.

So perhaps measures that addressed benefit dependency, unemployment, poor education and a general feeling of hopelessness that afflicts so many in society would help make a difference. That really would be something to feel good about.

If you're wondering why so little of the water in the our lakes is as clean as it should be you can blame the birds, according to the minister of - and I can hardly believe I'm writing this - the environment, Nick Smith. Those dastardly ducks and other fowl have been pooing wherever they like.

Smith has raised the horrifying - to some - prospect of a bird cull if we really want to make our lakes swimmable.

It seems a little odd.

Humans, birds and water have co-existed for millennia without causing each other too much harm. It's hard to know what could be making such a difference now. Intensive farming without paying too much attention to dealing with the waste, on the other hand, is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Smith's theory may or may not show much knowledge of the science of ecosystems. It definitely shows a lack of political will to do anything serious about the problem.

- Herald on Sunday

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