Monday, March 14, 2011

Musings: Life and Death

Venus alone was shining boldly in a pink-tinged sky when Koko and I went out walking this cool, fragrant morning. Rain fell onto Waialeale from a black-fringed cloud that was slowly turning gold around its upper edges as a scarlet orb rose from a fiery flush in the east.

A dead piglet, about the size of Koko, but much heavier, lay alongside the road, victim of a hit and run, which fortunately wasn’t gory, so I moved it off the pavement so it wouldn’t turn gory, and thought of how death is an inextricable part of life.

Yesterday I got a report, sent via Twitter by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worker, about how the tsunami affected Midway. The Laysan albatross are raising their chicks right now, and they got hit hard:

People are OK. No damage to infrastructure. The Short-tailed albatross nest was washed over again and the chick was found unharmed about 35 m away and carried back to its nest cup. Minimum of 1000 adult/subadult and tens of thousands of Laysan Albatross chicks lost. Spit Island completely washed over. Eastern and Sand Island 60% and 20% washed over, respectively.

The report included a link to the "Pete at Midway" blog, which has a more detailed narrative report and a lot of photos depicting how the wildlife were impacted when the wave washed over the low-lying atolls.

Meanwhile, the surge at Wainiha washed out and/or tangled great swaths of the vegetation that was planted by oceanfront landowners seeking to expand their lots onto the public beach.


It also washed in a lot of fresh sand, which is a good thing, because that's how nature replenishes a beach, except that now the beach has been planted as lawns in front of vacation rentals.

At one house, a gardener was trying to clean the sand mixed with debris off the lawn, and when asked what he was going to do with it, said, “I don’t know, I guess take it the dump.”

How sad that a public resource has been turned into garbage because people are building too close to the ocean.

If you’re wondering why the county allows so many off-island landowners to build so close to the water, and so many hapless tourists to stay there, perhaps the mission statement of Kauai Civil Defense offers a clue:

Mission Statement: To protect the lives and property of all the people living in Kauai County during emergencies or disaster events.

Guess the transients and their accommodations just get screwed.

Hopefully all of us downwinders won’t be screwed as Japan “faces its biggest catastrophe since the dawn of the nuclear age,” to borrow the headline from a disturbing Democracy Now! report that included an interview with nuclear waste specialist Kevin Kamps:

[I]f the U.S. Navy, which is a hundred miles away, has to move an aircraft carrier away from the shore because the radioactivity levels are of concern, then all of these assurances by Tokyo Electric Power Company and the Japanese government that everything’s really OK—I mean, a statement made two days ago by the chief spokesman for the government, the secretary of the cabinet, was that the evacuation is underway, and the wind is blowing out to sea, so everything is really going to be OK. Well, we have indications that the wind direction may change towards the mainland of Japan. So, those false assurances are not helping the situation.

And another question that needs to be asked is, well, if the wind is blowing out to sea, what’s in that direction? Well, the United States is in that direction. And we see, again, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission saying no harmful level of radioactivity could reach the United States. While we’re in the middle of this crisis, a new reactor is now melting down. How did they determine that the containments are going to hold? How did they determine that the radioactivity will not blow in large quantities to the United States?


If you want to keep an eye on things yourself, here’s a link to a handy site that monitors environmental radiation levels in the USA — but not Hawaii, apparently because we aren't really part of the U.S. It was sent by a friend who reports on nuclear issues and noted in an email:

Hmm, you guys kinda get zapped first on the way around the Globe.

Meanwhile, the birds are singing and the flowers are in bloom.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

In 1974 a federal land use law was proposed and shot down. Maybe we need to try again.

FEMA is responsible, quit blaming the local government for every proposed 'wrong' you see.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet you don't own land in this state.

Anonymous said...

what in the world are anonym 12:31 and 12:35 trying to say? they make no sense at all!!

Anonymous said...

"why the county allows so many off-island landowners to build so close to the water"

In 1974 a federal land use law was proposed and shot down. Maybe we need to try again.

FEMA is responsible, quit blaming the local government for every proposed 'wrong' you see.

March 14, 2011 12:31 PM

Anonymous said...

re: 1:48 Joan tends to be myopic.....Joan rents i.e. she has "no dog in the fight" ...Also I think you are playing the naive role.

Anonymous said...

"We live between birth and death
Or so we convince ourselves conveniently
When in truth we are being born and
We are dying simultaneously
Every eternal instant
Of our lives

We should try to be more
Like a flower
Which every day experiences its birth
And death
And who therefore is much more prepared
to live
The life of a flower..."

~Keith Jarrett
http://www.vervemusicgroup.com/artist/music/detail.aspx?pid=11549&aid=2686

I'm saddened by anyone's misfortune... even people who I don't think I'd like... even when I don't really know 'em.

At dinner with a friend (who's a high school teacher), she shared that her students use the word "Jew" to mean "a$$hole"... which made me think of you and how you use "haole" as a sort of all-encompassing pejorative.

Anonymous said...

I think grown up homeowners, home renters and vacation renters can figure out for themselves that when they are right next to the ocean, they are vulnerable to the minute risk that they will be killed in a tsunami. Joan is a victim of the misleading vividness fallacy in which a very small number of particularly dramatic events are taken to outweigh a significant amount of statistical evidence.

Joan Conrow said...

which made me think of you and how you use "haole" as a sort of all-encompassing pejorative.

No, I don't ever do that. I use haole to mean a white person. I use fucking haole as a pejorative aimed at a very specific type of white person.

Dawson said...

"At dinner with a friend (who's a high school teacher), she shared that her students use the word "Jew" to mean "a$$hole"... which made me think of you and how you use "haole" as a sort of all-encompassing pejorative."

The difference is one of history: Jews were labeled by centuries of prejudice and bigotry, while the label of "fucking haoles" was earned fair & square.

Anonymous said...

I think grown up homeowners, home renters and vacation renters can figure out for themselves that when they are right next to the ocean, they are vulnerable to the minute risk that they will be killed in a tsunami.
BS, people who are not from here may not even know what tsunami is, let alone where to go to evacuate. Disaster , we did great cause there was no disaster here, but if an earthquake hits Hawaii Island that causes a tsunami, there is 15 minutes to evacuate... driving along the coast does not count as evacuation. Where is the route for visitors? Yeah residents know to run to high ground and we know how to get there.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joan. Concise piece. Disturbs me frequently how Hawaii is ╩╗ommitted╩╗.

As far as haole, definition is foreigner but got to say most are fu..ng haoles.

Anonymous said...

Joan also suffers from a form of Stockholm Syndrome.

Anonymous said...

Why do the local Boyz want to be with "fucking haoles" girls if they hate them so much ? Reminds me of Black dudes chasing White women and then screaming racism.

Anonymous said...

Hey Joan....Ask Bruce Layman which kind of Haole you are ?

Anonymous said...

"why the county allows so many off-island landowners to build so close to the water"

12:31 to 1:48

the local government allows it because FEMA will insure it - stop pointing the "I'm with stupid" finger until you know what you are pointing at...

Anonymous said...

I would rather hang out with a fucking haole then with the fucking locals I know, who are child abusers, rapists, molesters, alcholics, wife beaters and delusional psychos. It's funny to watch FAKE Hawaiians and you perpetuate their delusions by writing about them like they have any koko or real knowledge of Hawaiian culture. Just because someone says they are a fucking cultural practitioner does not make it true. The sad part is that these men continue to abuse children because they involve themselves with children and because they are called a KAHU or KUPUNA or and elder, they are allowed access to further spread their delusional racism and ruin more lives. That's fine if you want to call me a fucking haole. Yeah, I have an attitude! It's from the racism I had to accept on my first day of Kingergarten through the graduation of that fucking nightmare "school". Kaua'i is some weird, male-dominated, third-world country where it is still acceptable to abuse your children, beat your wife and date children in high school. If a white person with an "attitude" is then a fucking haole, does that mean that I was supposed to accept all the of the daily abuse and racism and then still be in "nice haole" so then I wouldn't be labeled a fucking haole. So that means, I am supposed to accept all the child abuse from a brown person just because I am white? Where is the logic that a person who is white who has an "attitude" is a fucking haole?
I can assure you, if the general enviornment was one where haoles were treated equal and actually treated like they were humans, then I would have reported the FAKE Hawaiian to the police for child abuse. Instead, the Hawaiian neighbors listened to a grown man threaten my life as a child, scream for hours on end, swear at me and degrade me and threaten to beat me so my own Mother wouldn't recognize my face. I would say, Kaua'i only cares about brown people. I would call you Hawaiians, but since I know how many FAKE Hawaiians (who are just brown) walk around, I'll just call you all brown. If you really care about your culture, then you should know that Hawaiian culture esteems children as to be "flowers" and children are special. Obviously, all you brown people don't care about little white girls or you would have called the police more than once. Unfortunately, the racist teachers don't care about white children either. So, where is a little girl to go to get help? Tried calling the police, they didn't help, school didn't care...I guess that's why I have so many friends that committed suicide. Because when a child is being abused on Kaua'i, they have no real place to be protected or an adult that will help them. All you stupid, ignorant haoles who moved here 10 years ago and think you actually know the real Kaua'i. HAH. You don't know anything until you sit in a classroom in public school and hear how they talk about sovreignty and white people. If you are white, you are living on an island where you are not wanted. I won't be responding to you erudite posts, since I have decided I will never read this blog again. Anyone who continues to write articles about delusional brown people shouldn't be given any time.

cf said...

Dawson said...The difference is one of history: Jews were labeled by centuries of prejudice and bigotry, while the label of "fucking haoles" was earned fair & square.

That's what the Nazis said about the Jews.

Anonymous said...

The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
Engines stop running and the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error, but I have no fear
Sendai is drowning-and I live by the river . . .

Anonymous said...

"the local government allows it because FEMA will insure it "

Now that's sound land use planning.

Anonymous said...

Trying to follow your logic here...

Re: "I use haole to mean a white person. I use fucking haole as a pejorative aimed at a very specific type of white person."

If my friend's students prefaced their "Jew" label with "fucking" when using the label to imply "asshole," would that just be less racist in your opinion or not racist at all? And, from your perspective, my friend (who's Jewish), shouldn't feel offended as long as there's this *clearly defined* difference between the meaning of "Jew" and "fucking Jew"?

Just want to understand where you're coming from...

Anonymous said...

Why do the local Boyz want to be with "fucking haoles" girls if they hate them so much ?

Make them more local by the injection method.

Anonymous said...

And, hopefully you will offer some clarification on whether you're a racist or whether you can justify "unliterally" [new "sic" word you invented -- cool!] holding some folks accountable while letting others off scot-free.