Thursday, June 18, 2009

Are we really clean and green?

Dear editor,
I’m writing in response to your article, “Are we really clean and green?” I don’t believe this, due to studies that have shown it’s considered dangerous to swim in most of New Zealand’s lowland rivers, buying illegal logged wood , and air pollution in Auckland. These are only a few of the reason to why New Zealand hasn’t been living up to its clean and green reputation

A report by the National institute of water and atmospheric research showed that because 229 of New Zealand’s lowland rivers have been proven unsafe to swim in, we should no longer say that we are a clean and green country, due to our water. Almost 95% of the lowland streams have levels of faecal matter that surpass Ministry of Health guidelines. Waikato Medical Officer of Health Dr Dell Hood said the study demonstrates children should not swim in most of the country's lowland rivers, and definitely shouldn’t put their heads under the water. Revelation to this sort of level of bacteria raises the chances of contracting gastrointestinal illness. Levels of phosphorous and nitrogen in streams in farming areas increased from 1996 to 2002 because of more rigorous farming, especially dairying. Auckland Regional Council freshwater ecologist John Maxted said the most surprising finding was that bacteria levels in streams and rivers in farming areas were as bad as in city streams, but it was still safe to swim and drink in the bush-clad upper reaches of rivers and streams that were not polluted by cities or livestock. This just shows how much we’re polluting our water.

We all know that we need trees in order to breathe. We inhale oxygen, and exhale carbon dioxide; the trees inhale the carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. But did you know that approximately 80% of illegally logged wood coming into New Zealand is kwila? This may not mean anything to you, but illegal logging is driving deforestation and contributing to global warming. So because we are buying illegal logged wood, we’re contributing to global warming. Greenpeace estimates remaining kwila will be gone within 35 years. Kwila grows sparingly - five to 10 trees a hectare. It takes 75-80 years to grow to maturity and has a spreading canopy. It’s not hard to picture the damage caused by choosing to cut down this beautiful tree. Another reason to why we shouldn’t be known as a clean and green country, because of our contribution to global warming.
Auckland makes up a third of New Zealand’s population with 1.6 million people in the Auckland region. Because our city loves cars, our air has become more polluted than the year before. Every four years, the Auckland City Council releases Our Changing Environment, an important scorecard for our greenness, with environmental updates in the interim. One of the main concerns was the worsening air quality. More than half of Aucklanders still drive to work by themselves, which was revealed in our heavy congestion, and the number of cyclist decreased in the past year. Initially, Auckland use to be covered in kauri forest, scrub and wetlands, but urbanized Auckland maintains only 3% of its natural vegetation. Because we aren’t reducing our carbon footprint by taking public transport, or walking to school or work, our pollution levels have risen.

However, an impressive part of New Zealand's green scheme is its plan for Zero Waste. Visitors can see any number of exciting projects, varying from the Junky Funk store in Porirua that sells recycled art supplies, to the motivated plans of the Nelson Council and the Green Bike Trust in Palmerston North. Also in Palmerston North is the "Hot Rot" digester which takes food scraps from local restaurants and turns them into compost. Also, Auckland city’s bill of health report card from 2008 shows electricity use has decreased by 3%, utilization of public transport increased by 9%, and domestic waste decreased by 3.5%.

Even though there are a few positive things about how our environment is now, I still think that we don’t deserve the reputation of being called a clean and green country. It’s false advertising. Do you think having rivers that are unsafe to swim in is clean? Do you think having approximately 80% of illegally logged wood coming into New Zealand is green? I don’t. I think we either need to seriously clean up our act and take this problem of pollution seriously, or we just change our clean and green motto.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The drinking age should be raised

Dear editor,

I’m writing in response to your article about raising the drinking age from 18 to 21. I disagree with this proposal as this isn’t the root of the problem. Raising the drinking age will only result in an increase in crime because teens will break more rules to obtain alcohol, it will affect the economy as teens are the majority of people who consume it, and also, others’ may turn to chemical substances that contain small amounts of alcohol.

Raising the drinking age can result in an increase in crime because if they can’t get it legally, there is nothing stopping them from them getting someone else to obtain it for them. Because this act will be illegal, they will be breaking the law. They will also be acting on the basis of, “when you can’t have something, you want it more”. This means teens won’t stop at any limits to get alcohol. Because they know they can’t have it, this acts as a motive. This will lead to more teens getting into trouble; probably more than they were getting into before. This is similar to the party-pill ban that happened earlier. People stocked up, and sold them to desperate customers who absolutely needed to have them, at ridiculous prices. Who says that this won’t have the same effect?

It will also affect the economy because the majority of people who consume alcohol, are of the younger crowd. If the drinking age is raised, then the number in alcohol sales will drastically drop. Teens won’t be able to access it as easily, but they could get someone else to purchase it for them. But his is a two-step process, which will still cause sales to drop. Or retailers may increase the prices of alcohol because not as many people are buying it, or because of the global recession. This is another significant reason to why raising the drinking age will not have the desired effect, especially during this economically hard time.

If teens don’t have access to alcohol, some may turn to chemical substances that contain it. It may only be a small percentage of alcohol, and the substance may be extremely hazardous, but some will go through anything just to have some. Not only is this unsafe, but very stupid. Consuming a chemical substance endangers your life and is unhealthy. Because raising the drinking age can result in teens turning to alcohol substitutes. This could also mean they could turn to drugs. Because drugs offer a quicker effect and are highly addictive, it could be a prime solution to those who can’t have alcohol.

However, raising the drinking age could have a strong influence on the number of teen pregnancies and drink-driving accidents. There are several teens that get knocked up every single year due to being drunk, usually at a party. Alcohol mixed with under aged consumers who can’t hold their liquor, produce irresponsible teens who make big mistakes. By raising the drinking age, this could be stopped. Also a large number of drink-driving accidents have happened recently due to teens driving under the influence of alcohol. By raising the drinking age, these incidents could be significantly reduced.

Raising the drinking age isn’t the solution to this problem. The government needs to look at this through a different perspective. If the drinking age is raised, what’s preventing them from getting someone else to get it for them? If drink-driving is the problem, then why not raise the driving age so teens won’t be able to cause havoc on the road? And can they guarantee that this is the best decision considering how our economy is currently coping? Like they say… “IT’S NOT THE DRINKING, IT’S HOW WE’RE DRINKING”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Describe how the beginning and the and are connected(for example, ideas, images, sounds, or any otrher important features)

In the movie “Mean Creek” there are 3 ways the director, Jacob Aaron Estes, has connected the beginning to the end, through the use of particular visual and verbal techniques. He uses the same camera perspective, similar types of music, and through the character himself.

These 3 techniques help convey the theme of revenge. Revenge is a reaction to something that someone has done to you. This can result in positive or negative consequences. It can either be emotional or physical, but either way, they’re both retaliations to satisfy oneself, or to avenge someone else.

Camera perspective is a significant technique used to link the beginning to the end because they’re the same. In the beginning, the scene is shot from George’s camera, and the whole shot is just green, murky water. The end scene is also shot from George’s camera, except this time George is there and he’s doing a monologue. The utilization of using George’s camera showing things from his perspective is how they’re linked. This also shows that the movie is mainly based around him.

Another important technique is music. At the beginning of the movie, the music playing is quite depressing and despondent. This sets the tone for the whole movie. This indicates to the audience that the movie isn’t a happy one, but more a serious, melancholy one. At the end of the movie, while George is talking, the music playing is similar to the music used at the beginning. Sad and doleful. This links the beginning to the end because of the equivalence of sadness. Because the movie starts off sad because of the music, it ends sad, also because of the music. It balances. It’s not one of those movies that starts off sad and has a happy ending. It’s the opposite.

Using the character George to associate the beginning to the end is another technique. The opening scene is shot from George’s camera. If you’ve already seen the movie, you’ll find that because it’s shot from his camera, we assume that we’re seeing the scene through George’s eyes. That this is what he would’ve seen while he was drowning, or just before he died. The end scene is of George talking to the camera. Here, he’s expressing his feelings by saying how people don’t understand him because he sees things different due to his dyslexia. This connects the beginning to the end because of the association to George. First they show the scene through his eyes while he’s drowning, the result of revenge, then at the end when he tries to explain why he acts the way he does, which causes him to beat up Sam, leading to they planning of their revenge on him.

With all these techniques used at once, this allows the director to control how the viewer feels. It’s more significant at the end, because it can be confusing for the opening scene because you don’t know why it’s shot in the water. The only thing that prepares the viewer is the music because it’s sad. At the end, the director intends to make the viewer empathize for George. To feel sympathetic towards the situation to how they misjudged him. This all relates to the theme revenge because it was that one main event that had a big impact on the outcome of the movie.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Important theme in a text

An important idea in the film “Mean Creek” directed by Jacob Aaron Estes, is coming of age. This is conveyed through verbal features such as silence, and visual features including use of props and lighting. Through the use of these techniques we are able to understand the theme more clearly.

Coming of age is a mental/metaphorical journey taken by everyone. It’s when you’re at that point in your life where you’re ready to leave your childhood and enter adulthood. This usually results in your loss of innocence. It’s kind of like a rite of passage to become mature. In some cultures, this calls for a ceremony like in the Niuean culture. A haircutting ceremony is done for the boys, where a young boy of around 13 has his hair cut. This only happens for a boy who has never had his hair cut, so it’s quite lengthy, and for girls’, an ear piercing ceremony. This marks their coming of age.

A particular technique that portrays the theme coming of age is the use of props. The specific scene that shows this is the scene where Rocky is calling George to invite him on the boating trip for Sam’s birthday. There are many elements that contribute to the theme including music and lighting, but a significant technique is the use of props. Throughout the whole scene Rocky is interacting with several objects like the basketball, the globe and the other boys in the room. This shows the whole playfulness of the scene. How he’s fidgeting and making lots of contact with things around him, shows the whole casualness of the situation. This shows the theme because the entire scene reflects the youthful and free-spiritedness of the boys.

Another technique that shows the theme is lighting. The specific scene that I’m referring to is the scene where Marty walks in and they’re all sitting in Rocky and Sam’s room, when they’ve all come to a decision. The lighting in the room is very dark, which reflects the mood of how they’re all feeling, so when Marty walks in, he immediately detects that something’s wrong. The music also contributes to the mood in this scene because it’s quite melancholy and somber. The lighting also shows how Marty is now the outcast in the group. The others’ are all sitting in a circle, and the only significant light is shining down on Marty, highlighting that he’s no longer apart of the group because he still sticks with his decision. This shows the theme because in this scene they’re at the point in the film where they’re very serious. This differs to the other scene I mentioned before, where they were being playful, reflecting their youthfulness, whereas in this scene how they’re more serious, this reflects a more adult-feel.

Silence is also another technique used to show the theme, specifically in the scene where Marty is standing with his brother Kyle, leaning on the car. This is the scene where he’s about to run away to Mexico. It’s not the dialogue that shows the theme but more the lack of dialogue. Just before Marty leaves, his brother attempts to talk to him, but then just leaves saying nothing. It’s like he says it all in one look, like words weren’t needed to express what he wanted to say. Also when he gives him the gun. Before in the movie when he catches Marty messing around with his gun, he tells him off and twists his ear. This shows that he feels that he knows what’s best for Marty. That he doesn’t trust that he’s able to make sensible decisions for himself. But in that particular scene, when he gives Marty the gun, this shows that he has a kind of new respect for his little brother because of the whole situation. He no longer looks at him like his little brother and this is predominantly shown by Kyle giving Marty the gun. This shows the theme because it’s Marty who has reached the coming of age because of what happened, and when he’s given the gun, that’s like his official wakeup call to the whole situation and how real it is.

These 3 particular techniques convey the theme well because they all add a significant, but different, effect to each scene and it’s that uniqueness that helps the viewer understand the theme more. When they’re all combined, it creates a more realistic feel. The director has done a good job manipulating the viewer by using these techniques.