Friday, June 24, 2016

Musings: By Definition, Flawed

Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser would have gotten a much better response to his survey if he'd asked the one question that so many voters want to hear:

Would you like me to go away and STFU?

Curious, his sudden interest in what voters want, now that he's facing defeat. Most politicians seek such guidance at the beginning of their term, so they can avoid debacles like introducing a fireplace ban.

As Hooser careens toward the likely loss of his Council seat, he's taken to mad pandering:
Except Coco Palms, two Coconut Coast resorts and the Hanamaululu project are already approved. So what's he gonna stop? The construction of single family homes? That should go over swell with the building trades that employ so many on Kauai.

Then there was this:
What's sad is that Hooser's “understanding” of the leash law was wrong, and he knew it, hence the wink-wink. 

But then, dats Da Hoos. He attacks people who actually are following the law, like seed farmers, while he picks and chooses which ones he wants to obey.
And really, Gary? The Kauai shelter has 100 dogs desperate for adoption, and you buy one from a breeder — that clipped its ears, no less? So much for leading by good example.

Still, realizing he could possibly snag a vote or two from even this manini issue, he posts (and acknowledges he knew he was breaking the law):
"The rest of us?" Uh, it's not like Hooser has any special privileges here. But yes, let's waste more Council time on the going-nowhere small stuff while ignoring the really big problems. 

Ever get the feeling he thrives on conflict and drama?

Well, if he gets re-elected, there's more of it coming:
Returning to Hooser's hypocrisy, and his “do as I say, not as I do” mentality, remember how he got all huhu over what he perceived — mistakenly — as a seed industry voting bloc?

But when the Hawaii Center for Food Safety Action Fund endorsed the “true food” bloc — four of them graduates of Hooser's HAPA Kuleana Academy and two of them HAPA board members — well, whattya know, there's Hooser, hustling for it:
Take a gander at the questions driving these endorsements if you still think Hooser and his cronies aren't a one-trick anti-GMO/anti-pesticide pony.

And WTF do any of these people know about food, "true" or otherwise, save for how to eat it and malign those who produce it by other than organic means? 

Meanwhile, Hooser makes like blocs were non-existent in Hawaii political history prior to 2014, when the dastardly seed companies introduced the practice specifically to get him:
I guess he plum forgot his own exhortations on the topic in 2014:
In related news, Dr. Lee Evslin took to the opinion pages of The Garden Island to try and convince folks that his recommendations in the Joint Fact-Finding on pesticides are legit:

In our study of the international scientific literature, we found that pesticides are associated with at least 20 medical conditions (pages 59-60 of the report). We then attempted to determine how many of those 20 conditions had available medical data that we could be used to compare the Westside with the rest of the island and state.

I wonder, didn't Dr. Evslin read the public comments submitted on the draft JFF report? Like the one from Dr. F. DeWolfe Miller, Professor of Epidemiology at the John A. Burns School of Medicine:

These recommendations were clearly made without professional epidemiological consultation and are typical of many other communities in the US and elsewhere in the world who have tried to link various health outcomes to some geographic marker as a proxy for some kind of potential environmental hazard. There is an abundance of literature on this subject.  An example of a local study is by Kirkham.

Linking health outcomes (cancer/BD) to zip codes is not recommended for two reasons. One is statistical. There will not be enough events per zip code to reach “statistical significance”, especially in Kauai.  In spite of this, there seems to be an irrational obsession with using zip codes for various useless data mining endeavors.

Even if statistical significance could be achieved, zip codes are not exposures. They are zip codes. Exposure to environmental hazards — in this case pesticides — has to be demonstrated and linked directly and quantitatively to an individual or individuals.

Linking cancer, birth defects or other health outcomes geographically is called by epidemiologists  “ecologic study designs”. Inferring the results from ecologic studies, i.e. from groups (zip codes for example) to individuals is termed an “ecological fallacy” and is by definition, flawed.

So give it up, already.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Musings: Go Away

Here's an example of the mindset we're seeing in some of the newest Hawaii arrivals, who are all about lifestyle, but not so into local culture: 
Gone, apparently, are the days when folks tried to fit into the local lifestyle. Now they want it changed. Go away? Who?

In this case, the author is a former bank officer from Anchorage who has a vacation rental condo in Lahaina. Her profile states: We moved here to Maui 4 years ago to enjoy the great outdoors, the weather is great here 365 days a year, even in stormy weather we have shorts on!

Despite being from Alaska, she is apparently unfamiliar with subsistence practices and the rights of natives and others to engage in them on public beaches.

Speaking of fishing, there's been a lot of talk recently about Obama using executive powers to approve a four-fold expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. If approved, it would become the largest protected area on the planet, encompassing some 200 nautical miles.
The proposal includes naming the ever-so-efficient and nonpolitical Office of Hawaiian Affairs as a co-trustee, a provision sure to increase both costs and chaos, with no appreciable returns.

Commercial fishing currently is prohibited in the monument, so the prospect of its expansion has alarmed the longline fishing industry. They've expressed concerns about the potential financial impact on those who fish for prized ahi, as well as further government restrictions on where they can fish.

Some lawmakers, including Kauai Sen. Ron Kouchi and Rep. Jimmy Tokioka, have asked Obama not to do it, while some well-known kanaka, like navigator Nainoa Thompson, support the expansion.

In the midst of this debate comes an article in The Atlantic that actually mentions the NWHI. It tells of how Joshua Cinner, a social scientist in Australia, worked with reef scientists to compile data on 2,514 reefs from 46 nations. As the article reports:

And their surprising results are upending traditional assumptions about what makes a healthy reef.

Contrary to what you might think, the bright spots weren’t all remote reefs, where humans were absent or fishing was banned. Instead, most were home to lots of people, who rely heavily on the corals and who frequently fished. They weren’t leaving the corals and fish alone; instead, they had developed social norms and institutions that allowed them to manage the reefs responsibly.

“Reefs are hugely threatened. I saw my own field site melt down and completely die,” says Julia Baum from the University of Victoria. “The danger is that we lose hope, or we feel like there’s nothing to be done. That’s why this study is so important. It shows that the end state of people relying on and using coral reefs doesn’t have to be reef degradation.”

Some remote sites like parts of the north-west Hawaiian islands, which have long been textbook examples of how pristine reefs can be when fishing is rare, emerged as dark spots. Meanwhile, most of the 15 bright spots were in fished and populated areas, and near both rich and poor countries.

“Conservationists typically look for the highest absolute biomass and the places that are most untouched. These are the gems, so let’s stop people from going there,” says Cinner. “We looked for places that had more fish than they should, given the condition. Some had biomass below the global mean, so they weren’t pristine, but they were doing better than they should be.”

The preliminary analyses suggest that policy-makers might serve reefs best by helping people live with them sustainably, whether by instilling systems like property rights or getting people more invested in their local reefs. “There’s been a narrative about local involvement but it’s often very token,” says Cinner. “Our research says that’s not enough. Locals need more than just buying into something that an NGO wants to do. I think there are opportunities for conservation organizations to invest in things that allow for communities to creatively confront their own challenges.”

Such efforts stand in stark contrast to the predominant tactic for saving the seas: establishing large marine protected areas, where fishing and other human activities are restricted. “A lot of countries are going about that by marking out large areas of ocean in areas with no people,” says Baum. “It’s politically easy, as opposed to having to do a lot of really complex marine spatial planning.”

The answer, the article says, lies in "learning from areas that faced down their problems and won. We don’t get to live in an ideal world. We have to live in this one, and this one is full of people."

Just something to think about.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Musings: Making Magic

It was a slow news day. No press releases from Surfrider. No edicts from the anti-GMO crowd. No oceanic histrionics from Terry Lilley. 

No worries. The Garden Island's Jessica Else is a resourceful reporter. She's got ways to fill her story quota.

Which is how we ended up with a super scoop about a magic ball o'stuff that produces mana, chi, good vibrations.

And you thought mana was something you had to develop through right living and pono action, maybe even be born with it. 

Nope. You can whip it up at home. All you need is one cup of metal shavings — as in a shredded wire dish scrubber — a few drops of food coloring from the Easter egg kit, resin left over from your last surfboard patch and voila, you've got an instant electromagnetic radiation transformer.

Yeah, it picks up bad energy and converts it to good. Just like that. Gosh, who would've thunk a quick trip to Ace could completely transform your life AND the entire planet!

Shoots, no need worry about transmission towers, electric lines, wi-fi, cell phones, negative vibes, stink eye, even internet trolls. Heck, you can totally forget that monthly smart meter opt-out fee. Simply tuck one of these sparkly energy balls in your pocket and you are good to go.
Magic resin balls. Also available in "traditional" pyramid shapes.
So says Krisztina Samu. And she ought to know. Because there she is the newspaper, whipping up a batch of “orgonite” — it's actually a trademarked word — in her kitchen, spouting some gibberish she got off the internet. 

That makes her an expert, right? You'd best listen up.

“We’re living in a virtual soup of electromagnetic energy, microwaves, that kind of thing, with all of the devices and technology we have now,” she says.

You mean, in addition to that chemical soup the anti-GMO activists are always talking about? Truly, how do you tell them apart? And if it's virtual, does it actually count?

I'm sorry. No questions.  Just believe.

“It’s been an underground movement for many years,” Samu says.

Oh. No wonder it hasn't appeared on Natural News or Unless there's been a Big Pharma-neighborhood dealer conspiracy to keep this miracle from the public. You know, so they can sell us more drugs.

Wait, I spoke too soon. Mercola did cover it: Outlawed: "Important Medical Discovery" ... But Why?

Why, indeed. Damn those dirty conspirators against good health. 

Still, you'll be reassured to know that orgonite will not interfere with the Himalayan salt lamp ionizers that Dr. Mercola sells. And you can take refuge in a chat group that gives you snappy comebacks to snarky comments like "there is no proof orgonite works." 

Samu goes on to tell us that orgonite is emerging from the underground, and “just now it’s picking up speed again. There are people gifting the Earth with orgonite everywhere.”

As in thoughtfully tucking these little balls of toxic opala around cell towers and power poles. Lucky Earth.  

Or even tossing these waterproof nuggets of positivity into the sea, so that dolphins — and aging fans of the Beach Boys — can enjoy good vibrations, too.
Dolphins high on orgonite.
Surely we can crowd-fund the cash to buy enough of these balls from Samu to save us from the island-wide, round-the-clock Navy radar bombardment that Lilley claims is killing the reef.  

Hey, I've got a better idea. Get Earthjustice to sue. Make the Navy pay. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Wow. Just when I was beginning to despair about the demise of science, the lack of critical thinking, the gullibility of the masses, the craven nature of humanity.

How comforting to have Krisztina Samu reassure us that making the world a better place is as simple as scammin'. What a great new concept!

I see a whole new cottage industry arising. Come up with a catchy name, something that includes paradise, and the tourists will be snapping them up like cheap mangoes at the market. Just think. If every visitor takes one home, why, this is Kauai's chance to serve as a model for the planet!

Thank you, Jessica — and editor Bill Buley — for providing Kauai residents with this fabulously informative scoop.

Gotta go. I can't wait to make me some of that shit.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Musings: See for Yourself

It's common practice, when public officials are deliberating a complex or contentious issue, to make a site visit to the affected property.

While still a state Senator, Gary Hooser took one such trip to Niihau, as well as a three-day site visit to Maui County. He also made site visits to the proposed Kauai bike path route, the disputed county road at Papaa and the Waipake beach access offered by Larry Bowman. He even asked the state DLNR to make one prior to taking any action on a cattle fence at Lepeuli beach.

But though Hooser has been talking stink about the seed companies for years, and pushing comprehensive bills to regulate their actions, he has never, ever, been to one of the farms. (Aside from sneaking into the fields with a French reporter.)

His rationale?
So is he embarrassed to actually face the people he's demonized as craven compromisers of children's health, money-mad monsters, pitiless poisoners of people and the aina?

Or is he afraid he might actually see something that would force him to open his eyes, and yes, his teeny-tiny mind?

Shoots, even red shirt cheerleader Felicia Cowden, who has devoted countless hours on her “community radio” show to trashing the seed companies, went out to take a look, bringing the keiki she's inexplicably charged with “educating” along, too. As she wrote to Sarah Thompson on Facebook (emphasis added):

That field trip with my students at Dow was a very quality sharing of the fields by high-level participants. Thank you for being a part of it. We were all honored at the sincere effort to share what is the procedures on the farms. I had earlier had a tour in Waimea with Peter and Kirby. Again, the procedures and precautions exceeded my expectations as well as the frame of heart of these site managers.

Of course, Felicia still believes she knows more than people who have devoted their education and careers to ag, and that “yardening” will cheaply and effectively feed the billions. In other words, she remains inherently deluded. Nonetheless, even she acknowledges that “a tour is worthwhile for reducing a conversation to what is real.”

Ah. Perhaps Hooser fears seeing his conversation reduced to “what is real.” Because once you remove all the innuendo, speculation, hyperbole, hype, fear-mongering and flat out fibbing, what is left of his conversation, save for bubbles and hot air?

What I found in touring all the Kauai seed fields, which I wrote about here, here and here, convinced me that claims against the companies were untrue. What I found in meeting seed company employees, from top management to field crew, was a high degree of pride in their work. They were invariably hurt, bewildered and indignant that they had been so horribly mischaracterized.

I also learned that each farm, like each company, has its own personality and style. That point was reinforced when I recently toured the DuPont-Pioneer seed farm at Wailaua,  Oahu. My guides were plant manager Richard McCormack and farm manager Alika Napier, whose family has lived in the area for generations. 
DuPont-Pioneer farm at Waialua.
For one thing, it's neat and tidy, complementing its beautiful setting. “I look at the farm and it's a palette of crops and textures, and Alika is the painter,” McCormack says.
Alika Napier, Pioneer farm manager
For another, they actively employ “natural” practices that many seem to believe is incompatible with “industrial ag.” For example, they grow cover crops, including sunn hemp, which is a host for a parasitic wasp that helps control the corn earworm. In fact, it's proven so effective they've been able to stop spraying for that pest.
Sunn hemp at Pioneer.
They grew, harvested and cleaned 10 acres of sunn hemp seeds, which they donated to the Oahu RC&D — primarily for sale to organic farmers. They also plant hedges of vetiver, which trap and filter sediment and slow the velocity of water flowing through gullies, thus protecting water quality and preventing erosion. They rotate both their seed and cover crops.

They have never used atrazine, and have nearly completely migrated away from Chlorpyrifos. And they voluntarily post all their restricted use pesticide applications on the Good Neighbor website.

The Waialua facility is also a satellite campus for the statewide Go Farm program, which trains and supports new farmers.

One of the graduates of that program now runs chicken tractors on Pioneer land where oats have been grown as a cover crop — an enterprise that has proven so successful he can't meet demand for his pricey birds.

They provide supplemental growing acreage for Twin Bridge Farms, one of the nation's largest producers of virus-free seed potatoes, and let a nearby rancher harvests the oat cover crops as supplemental feed for his cattle.

By the end of this year, they will have subleased over 700 acres to local farmers for food production, in lieu of planting cover crops.

They host some 2,800 school kids, as well as parents and teachers, on field trips that emphasize science and math and fund STEM programs in local schools. They allow youth groups to raise money through food and parking concessions when droves of folks come to see the sunflower fields in bloom.

Their employees donate money and time, volunteering for science fairs, Project Graduation, beach clean-ups, food and diaper drives, maintaining sports fields and beach parks. The employees helped make a cultural garden at Waialua High School, and created a hula garden for a local halau. They also purchase produce from local farms to supplement their Meals on Wheels deliveries.

Tell me — have Hooser and his red-shirted followers come even close to supporting the community in that way?

I'm not saying that Pioneer, or any of the seed companies are perfect, or that their parent companies have flawless records. I'm just saying that nearly all the claims made about their Hawaii operations are false.

But don't take my word for it — or Hooser's. Seeing is believing. These companies frequently host open houses. Next time they do, go see for yourself. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Musings: Running Dry

Councilman Gary Hooser is running scared.

Though who can blame him? Especially now that Derek Kawakami has entered the race, thus ensuring one incumbent will not get re-elected.  

And that's awfully worrisome for da Hoos, considering how he barely squeaked into last place in the last election:
So when you're frightened of losing both your income and your last thin shred of credibility, what do you do? Well, if you're devoid of any morality, like Hooser, you wage a pre-emptive attack: 
Kauai peeps?

Of course, it's not actually true. There is no “industry bloc.” Just six individual candidates who don't happen to share Hooser's paranoia over modern agriculture.

But truth is irrelevant. All that matters is provoking a Pavlovian response in his sheeple supporters:
It didn't take long before his red shirts revealed their true colors with some shockingly ugly comments, which Hooser hastily purged, before editing his own post:

Yes, don't personally denigrate these candidates. Denigrate them as as group, like Hooser does. It's so much more efficient.

Of course, there were a few thinking folks in the thread who called bullshit, even though they were immediately attacked:
The industry didn't actually put together that bloc in 2014, either. It was a combination of business and agricultural interests that were fed up with the demagogues. They used their votes as individual citizens to get rid of Tim Bynum and Jay Furfaro.

And Gary knows he's next. Even though he is totally devoid of self-awareness:
Oh, no, it's not talking bad about other candidates to tarnish them with the false accusation that they're puppets of the seed industry that Hooser and his minions are trying to destroy. 

But it's true — the numbers will speak for themselves. And it's my prediction that Hooser won't get back in. So he's already setting it up to cry and whine and whimper that the big bad seed industry ganged up to get him out. 

Uh, no, Gary, it will be your fellow Kauai citizens who sound the death knell for your political career, and not nobody else.

I especially loved the outcry from Gary and others over running a bloc:
Yes, isn't there a way to stop Hooser from illegally using his nonprofit, HAPA, to train and champion candidates through the Kuleana Academy? 

Candidates like Tiare Lawrence, the Maui House candidate who weighed in (see her hypocritical "vote pono" comment above) when she's part of a bloc being supported by the Kuleana Coalition, which touts the fact that it accepts anonymous donations:
Of course, it's OK when the regressive "progressives" do it because they're good. But the corporations (aside from the ones that fund the red shirts' nonprofits and campaigns ) are evil, and must be held to a different, higher standard.

Yet for all their self-righteousness, and claims of indignation, they are totally oblivious to the lies and shenanigans of their beloved Hoos:
Yes, it so shocking to see how many folks remain blind to Hooser's dirty tricks and demagoguery, and all the damage he's caused in this community. 

But as the old saying goes, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Musings: By the Numbers

Numbers don't tell the whole story, but they reveal a lot. Here are a few I've compiled that bear relevance to local and international issues, and topics frequently covered in this blog:

$196,469 – The amount, through April, that Kauai County has paid Honolulu attorney David Minkin to defend Bill 2491/Ordinance 960, not including costs and fees associated with Wednesday's appellate court hearing. His primary defense? The case should be sent to the Hawaii Supreme Court, where he'll presumably be able to rack up even more fees.

0 — Amount of those legal fees that will be charged back to Councilman Gary Hooser and the other red-shirts who pushed the bill.

$600 – Hourly rate that Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff charges taxpayers when he's suing governmental agencies.

70 – Percentage that agricultural productivity needs to improve by 2050 to meet the world's food needs
34 – Number of years before a world food shortage with the potential to spark wars is imminent, unless something changes

7,500 — Number of farms in Hawaii
152 —Number of certified organic farms in Hawaii
60.4 – Average age of a Hawaii farmer

8.6 million – Number of Hawaii visitors in 2015.
$15 billion – Total visitor spending 2015
Four – Number of consecutive years for which tourism records have been broken
1,431,603 – Hawaii resident population on July 1, 2015

38 – Average age of a Hawaii surfer
59 – Percentage of Hawaii surfers with fulltime employment
144 – Days per year a Hawaii surfer hits the waves

Half a billion – Pounds of pesticides used annually in America
171 million – Pounds of pesticides used in California crop agriculture in 2013 
55 – Percentage of that total applied to USDA certified organic crops in Cali
0.7 – Percentage of American farms classified as organic
$5.5 billion — Value of U.S. organic farm production 
$2.2 billion— Amount of that total grown in California

$60,000 – Amount that HC&S employees donate annually to United Way
600 – Number of HC&S workers to be laid off when the plantation closes this year

15,000 to 21,000 – Estimated number of feral cats on Kauai
42 – Number of native Hawaiian bird species protected by Endangered Species Act
Photo of i'iwi by Walter Enomoto of Maui
300 – Number of rat traps set in Alakai Plateau to protect native birds
1 – Number of kooks coming to Kauai this weekend to preach zero euthanasia of feral cats

487 – Number of Hawaii homeless per 100,000 people, the nation's highest per capita rate
27,000 – Number of affordable rental units needed in Hawaii by 2020
800 – Number of affordable rental units funded by Hawaii lawmakers in 2015
40 – Percentage of Hawaii's homeless people working at least part time
30 – Percentage of Hawaii's homeless people who have mental health or substance abuse problems that prevent them from maintaining a home.

One – Number of illegal Haena vacation rentals operated by a nonprofit offering a tax deduction for the $395 nightly rent
$10,000 – Amount of the fine issued with the Notice of Violation to the aforementioned illegal TVR