Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Musings: Syngenta, Superferry, Chemtrails and Cops

The cloud-filtered sun produced the kind of light this morning that made it hard to tell whether it was spring or fall, but the flowers provided ample hints that it’s the former.

Albezia — scourge of the watersheds — is ablaze with tiny yellow-white blossoms that blow in the wind, creating a carpet of petals beneath the trees. I also noticed — or rather, my nose did — that some of my taro is blooming, exuding a delightful scent that is far more complex than one might expect from the simple appearance of its flowers.

Syngenta, it seems, is planning a simple solution to concerns that the pesticides it’s spraying on fields adjacent to Waimea Canyon Middle School are making kids and teachers there sick.

No, it’s not going organic. Instead, I learned yesterday from a reputable source, it’s planning to take those approximately 10 acres out of production. Apparently the company was concerned that local Syngenta reps haven’t expressed adequate public concern about the situation, so they sent one of their big wigs over from America to tidy things up.

Since they have a long term lease on the land, they can’t just let it sit there, so they’re looking at other uses, including an ag education program and worker housing, although both of those proposals have some drawbacks.

In the meantime, some folks on the Westside continue to monitor the situation and post various videos on youtube.

My favorite was "Prehistoric Monster," not because it’s compelling video, but because it was sent out with this hyperbolic intro:

Like a prehistoric monster looking for it's prey, a chemical sprayer works it's way towards a building of classrooms on Waimea Canyon Middle School campus. With winds blowing towards campus it's sonance carried on the breeze strikes fear in children and adults knowing it's breath will soon cause discomfort, pain, illness, and possible future death.

It prompted a friend of mine to respond: “They should have been around when the plantations did that with aircraft.”

Speaking of aircraft, a new blog, Kauai Sky, has been started that is devoted solely to monitoring chem trails — the “streaks of condensed water vapor created in the air by jet airplanes at high altitudes.“

I’m not really too familiar with chem trails, although I’ve heard them discussed by Bill Rash on KKCR radio, and the blog associates them with such diverse impacts as climate change and inability to concentrate. It also references a USA Today story that states:

A new conspiracy theory sweeping the Internet and radio talk shows has set parts of the federal government on edge.
The theory: The white lines of condensed water vapor that jets leave in the sky, called contrails, are actually a toxic substance the government deliberately sprays on an unsuspecting populace.

OK. Moving on to the Superferry, Councilman Mel Rapozo is running a little survey on his blog asking whether the big boat should return to Kauai.

Brad Parsons, meanwhile, sent me an email with comments from Sen. Gary Hooser and Rep. Mina Morita that indicate neither is expecting its imminent arrival.

Said Gary: I may be wrong, but in my opinion the HSF is not likely to propose any return to Kauai until they 'prove the model' on Maui and stabilize their financial picture and community perception.

Mina weighed in with: They may see Kauai as further damaging their cash flow situation and decide not to come or see as an opportunity to put them in a better financial situation which I doubt - that's what I think their determination to return to Kauai will be based on.

And The Advertiser, once again running behind a story already covered by blogs, Pacific Business News and the Star-Bulletin, has a piece today reporting that new Superferry CEO Thomas Fargo is waiting on a sign not from heaven, but the Kauai community. And not just us rank and file types, but those who supposedly lead us.

If the Superferry were to get some kind of signal from the community, especially from leadership, that service is desired, the carrier would respond to the request, Fargo said.

Asked what would constitute a signal from the community, Fargo said: "There'll be a momentum or view by the community that they would like Superferry service." He added that he wasn't sure how that view would be communicated.

The story also has spokeswoman Lori Abe maintaining once again that “the company is continuing to talk with community members on Kaua'i.”

It’s unclear, however, who those community members are, or exactly what they're talking about.

Finally, if you’re curious about our new Police Chief Darryl Perry, you can look in your mailboxes for the story I wrote in this week’s issue of Kauai People. If you don’t live on island, you can read it on line here. It starts on page six.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand the fascination with conspiracy theorism.

I am supposed to believe that pilots are intentionally dumping toxic chemicals on their own communities in order to kill little kids?


We already know that corporations will do anything to increase profits, including skirting or subverting environmental, health, and safety standards. We know that the US orders bombs dropped on Iraq and other countries. But they don't do it just IN ORDER TO KILL EVERYBODY ON EARTH. The motive is profit and power, the system is capitalism, we don't need spooky campfire stories to explain this.

I think part of the allure of conspiracy theorism rather than institutional analysis is that it allows people to believe that the problems are caused by some bad guys that maybe superman can come take care of, instead of having to look more critically at systems that might take alot of real work individually and collectively to change.


Anonymous said...

Chemtrails are classic conspiracy fodder. I have read through a few of those sites and the end of it all is that the whole theory is total bunk. In the beginning people saw something in the sky they didn't understand, not surprising given the sorry state of science literacy in the US. Somebody thought it might be an experiment of some kind, and this idea has slowly morphed into talk of government conspiracies and toxic chemicals. No reasoning can explain why this would be done, put a profit motive behind it and it might become more believable.

As has been demonstrated over and over, our government is simply not capable of keeping secrets like this. Too many good people exist in the system (been there) that would blow the secret wide open despite any secrecy laws if something nefarious was being done to the American public.

Is our government capable of doing unethical things? Unfortunately yes. Keeping it quiet later? No.

Chemtrails are a beautiful example of a community of people who see what they want to see. Put enough of them together and they form a group of people who continually agree with each other. There is a positive feedback mechanism in effect where each member tells the other members they are right, with no dissenting views allowed into the discussion. It is possible for the whole community to believe ever increasingly absurd ideas. The same effect is visible in a number of other human venues, among them other conspiracy groups, religious cults, etc. With the availability of the internet these groups can form much more readily than in the past. Interesting fodder for an observer of the human condition.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Andrew.

I think the internet has really provided fertile ground for conspiracy theorism since it tends to be such an isolating medium.

It's difficult to analyze problems constructively if you are not doing it collectively.

Noam Chomsky, by the way, has some interesting criticisms of conspiracy theorism, and there is a decent discussion about the topic on ZNet:

It pains me that conspiracy theorism is so often associated with the left...I tend to see it as essentially rightist in its construction and paradigm, if not in its targets.


Anonymous said...

David H said...
Thanks again for your insightful blog Joan. I swam Hanalei Bay this morning and saw a rainbow that was rare and beautiful. It was a low arc, placed against the backdrop of Puff rather than in the sky and in full blazing color. I had to stop swimming to gaze at it.
Someone should tell Mel Rapozo to expect his poll to be skewed by pro Superferry voters, who find ways to flood all the polls with support for their vessel. I know that I do not speak for the Island of Kauai, but sense from the public sentiment that I can vouch for a huge majority of citizens on Kauai. Until an independent and fair EIS is performed the Superferry is welcome... to go elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Chemtrails are alive and well on Maui. They are not bunk. The government is killing us slowly.

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Anonymous said...

"What in the World are They Spraying?" - Official Trailer

Anonymous said...