Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Musings: The Shadow Knows

The day started with a fiery red smear on the eastern horizon that slowly spread upward, and as it did, its intensity diminished, until the world took on a soft pink glow. Koko and I walked beneath the moon, bright white and bold, with just the bottom bit nibbled away, and it was high in the sky, not far from Jupiter.

Then the sun rose, first kissing the top of Makaleha before moving on to Waialeale, where it exposed every crack and crevice in its ancient, craggy face, which today was colored a sort of rusty green. I counted 16 deep channels for waterfalls, all of them dry, and spotted a pocket of mist in the pasture that, had I not known better, could have passed for a lake.

Some guys passing themselves off as akamai came to advise the Kauai County Council on current economic trends yesterday, although their expertise sure wasn’t evident in the comments reported in The Garden Island:

State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism economist Bob Shore said construction jobs are declining, but the job situation on Kaua‘i is stable.

“You’re showing job gains,” he said. “We don’t know how long that will last.”

Shore said Kaua‘i’s visitor statistics were “not good at all,” but was unsure how that would specifically impact the county.

Murray Towill, president of the Hawai‘i Hotel and Lodging Association, said the economic downturn has financial as well as psychological effects.

He noted the fragile nature of the local economy because travel and tourism is discretionary spending. He said it is critical to keep hotels full and the airline industry viable.

Uh, duh. I think any one of us could have told the Council that, and saved those guys the airfare. And if that was news to the Council, we’re in deep kim chee.

I was interviewing Big Island biologist Paul Banko yesterday, and came up with a reason to feel optimistic about the current economic collapse.

We were talking about how CCC workers had built the 58-mile fence around the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve back in 1936, then put in roads to maintain it and erected some little cabins, too, before eliminating some 47,000 head of feral sheep, along with wild cattle, pigs and goats that were destroying the forest.

“It was quite an undertaking,” Paul said. “It’s a high standard for current day managers to be compared to.”

Suddenly it hit me that if we enter another Great Depression, we could put people to work doing all the environmental restoration projects that desperately need to be done, but now aren't, supposedly because there’s no money. Paul noted that it was pretty hard work building that fence, and he wasn’t sure people today could handle it. Well, I said, then it would also be a way to get them in shape, and improve the nation’s abysmal health, too.

He liked those ideas and suggested I run for office, but I’m not sure that platform would attract a lot of votes. Still, it makes more sense to be killing sheep that are destroying native bird habitat than making a killing in some bogus hedge fund market. Heck, a little fresh air and exercise outside a gym could help lift the gloomy spirits of those Wall Street fat cats who are watching their fortunes on paper go up in smoke.

Since we’re already on the topic of politics, and fat cats, it’s easy to segue into the GOP. One of the many troubling things about Gov. Palin, which was reported in the New York Times on Sunday and Wall Street Journal today, is her penchant for hiring childhood friends. I understand her desire for familiarity and loyalty, but that kind of provincialism doesn’t play well on the international scene. If she and McCain get in, it could be the makings for a bad horror movie: the Wasillians meet the entrenched neocons.

It seems that everyone is weighing in on Sarah Palin, including
Deepak Chopra, who offers a fresh perspective with his observation that she is Obama’s shadow side:

The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness.

So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict.

No, no one can predict, but given the current state of affairs, I don't think the shadow has lost its appeal.

Speaking of appeals, Malama Kauai has begun a pledge drive in a bid to buy the Naue property from developer Joe Brescia. The goal is to protect the iwi there, as well as the coastline. It launched the drive with $75,000 from an anonymous donor, so that’s a pretty good start.

And finally, I did a piece for Honolulu Weekly on the Naue burials that should be posted on their website today, if you're interested.


Anonymous said...

Good for Malama.
They are a year late but it can still be done.
The biggest contributors should be the three neighboring landowners whose home values and views would be enhanced,by $300,000 ?, with an enpty lot next door.
Can we get a beach access through the property also?

Anonymous said...

I don't think I can go along with killing sheep just because they are affecting the native birds or trees or whatever. As the economy worsens, and imported foods from the continent (or China) become too expensive for us locals to buy, those sheep very soon will become our food. Like my Native Hawaiian mom once told me, don't kill an animal unless you are going to eat it. Josephine

Joan Conrow said...

Yes, Josephine, I agree that if the sheep are taken, they should be used for food.

Anonymous said...

"The biggest contributors should be the three neighboring landowners whose home values and views would be enhanced,by $300,000 ?, with an enpty lot next door.
Can we get a beach access through the property also?"

Actually I think the reverse is true. Living next door to all the activity now, and more so in the future if Brescia's lot becomes even more of a Mecca, I'm sure the neighbor's property values have already dropped. I'll bet they aren't very happy either. The whole issue is already a disclosure item for any real estate transaction even if you're down the street from the Brescia lot.