Monday, January 11, 2010

Musings: On the Road

Koko and I were led by our shadows, cast by a golden sliver of waning moon, when we went out walking this cold, clear morning, my eyes on the heavens, Koko’s nose near the ground, both of us ever alert to road kill, but for different reasons. Above us, the sky was brilliant with stars and busy — a satellite headed south, passing just below red-orange Mars, as two eastbound planes skirted the Big Dipper.

In the distance, Waialeale and Makaleha appeared as dark hulks against a pale sky, and streaks of red briefly illuminated the east, then faded to gray, waiting for reinforcement from a sleepy head sun still a good 40 minutes from rising.

I’m always struck by how differently I feel and see things when I’m on the road walking, as opposed to driving. The world seems smaller in a car — colder, more distant, deader — and it struck me, when I was driving the other day, that it’s yet one more way we separate ourselves from nature and others.

A friend, most likely enroute to surf, called to report he was traveling down the highway behind a white Toyota pickup truck with a vanity plate that read GOT-ICE.

“Pretty blatant,” he observed.

I was driving alongside a blue pickup truck the other day with a DRUG FREE KAUAI sticker on the back window and a king-sized cigarette sticking out of the mouth of the driver.

Yeah, stamp out those illicit drugs, which kill some 17,000 people annually, but don’t touch the legal drugs like tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceuticals and aspirin, which take out 559,600 users. Meanwhile, marijuana has not been the cause of a single death.

Go figger….

While searching for that data, I stumbled upon another site with the attention-grabbing headline: “Statistics prove prescription drugs are 16,400% more deadly than terrorists.” It noted, after observing that 2,996 people died on Sept. 11, 2000, including the passengers on the four commercial airliners:

According to the groundbreaking 2003 medical report Death by Medicine, by Drs. Gary Null, Carolyn Dean, Martin Feldman, Debora Rasio and Dorothy Smith, 783,936 people in the United States die every year from conventional medicine mistakes. That's the equivalent of six jumbo jet crashes a day for an entire year. But where is the media attention for this tragedy?

Always good to keep things in perspective…..

A friend sent a link The Garden Island opinion pages that included a letter to the editor supporting decriminalization of marijuana written by Harry Boranian. "In case you don’t know," he wrote — and I didn't —"Boranian was a powerful political figure from the past, head of the AFL-CIO during the Hawaiian labor unions' rising in the '50s and 60's and later, Honolulu mayor Frank Fasi's city aide."

Let’s hope he still wields some clout.

Getting back on the road, I noticed that the Wailua cane haul bridge will be closed until July, starting on Wednesday, which means we’re looking at six months of sheer hell. We’ve already gotten a preview these past few months when one lane across the bridge has been closed intermittently, causing long traffic snakes to form in both directions.

Aside from the uncalculated toll in lost productivity, wasted fuel and human stress, the bridge widening is costing $25 million — 80 percent of it in federal funds. Yet once you zip over the new “Acrow panel bridge” that will replace the charming cane haul bridge, or the “historic” Wailua Bridge, which inexplicably has been renamed the Bryan J. Baptiste Memorial Bridge, you’re still gonna end up crawling along in the same old three-lane highway that runs on either side of the river.

Go figger…..

While driving on Saturday, I caught snatches of the oldies radio show on KKCR, which included protest songs from the 1960s and some snippets of speeches and other broadcasts from that era. It got me thinking about the demonstrations, bombings, cultural questioning — all the social and political upheaval of that time.

That reminded me of a quote I read the other day that went something like this: “The Baby Boomers were the generation that had the power to change the world. Instead, they opted for the Home Shopping Network.”

And that got me thinking about whether that was a such good choice.

It appears it was not. As a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research noted:

This analysis indicates that the loss of wealth due to the collapse of the housing bubble and the plunge in the stock market will make the baby boomers far more dependent on Social Security and Medicare than prior generations. While it will be desirable to develop more secure mechanisms for workers to save for retirement in the future, the baby boom generation for the most part has insufficient time remaining before retirement to accumulate substantial savings. Therefore, they will be largely dependent on social insurance programs to support them in retirement.

Hmmm. Maybe the communes will be resurrected out of sheer economic necessity.


Anonymous said...

“The Baby Boomers were the generation that had the power to change the world. Instead, they opted for the Home Shopping Network.”

-- noam chomsky makes a pretty good case they expanded the nation's political radar (womens workplace stuff, indians, "bad" points in US history, civil rights, disenfranchised folks globally, bla bla...they were the ones bringing such front and center)


Anonymous said...

"Therefore, they will be largely dependent on social insurance programs to support them in retirement."

Hey even though they have no money what about their "choice" being taken away by "socialized medicine."

Anonymous said...

i think the horse and buggy will come back in style as well.

Anonymous said...

Do you wear shoes when you walk? My feet get cold in slippers. The ground is "cracking" in my yard, a sure sign that we're in a drought. While it's been beautiful, I wish it would rain (gently).

Joan Conrow said...

Yes, I generally wear shoes when I walk any distance, for support, warmth and protection. And I agree that while it's been absolutely gorgeous, we really could use some rain!

Dawson said...

From the January 12 Los Angeles Times:

A proposal to legalize and tax marijuana in California was approved by a key committee of the Assembly this morning, over the dire warnings of police chiefs and prosecutors.

The Public Safety Committee voted 4-3 to approve AB 390 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who said the bill would provide tax revenue to the state and regulation of the drug. The new law includes a requirement that users be at least 21 years old.

The measure next goes to the Health Committee, but proponents worried it would not be acted on by that panel by Friday's deadline, which would require the proposal to be reintroduced to be heard this year by the full Assembly.

"The way it exists now is harming our youth,'' Ammiano said. "Drug dealers do not ask for ID. We need to regulate something that has gone chaotic, has resulted in carnage. I understand it's not everybody's cup of tea.''

Full text at

Anonymous said...

Harry Boranian was also an avid supporter of the superferry. Couldnʻt understand what all the fuss was about.

Anonymous said...

All the negative hoopla over the supreferry was idiotic.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, the Superferry was going to be used to smuggle marijuana!

Anonymous said...

"Obviously, the Superferry was going to be used to smuggle marijuana!"

-- that was epic. pls comment more


Anonymous said...

If not the holy weed then at least the lethal ice.

Anonymous said...

" the bridge widening is costing $25 million..."
15 for the road 10 for undergrounding the utilities to protect the shearwaters.
Nice long trench from the WGC to the Seashell.

Joel said...

Traffic is radical on Kaua'i with out any road work. Poor planning and rapid growth has us bursting at the seems. We need to take much better care of our island, our roads. As a Haole, I rarely use hawaiian words.. but it is our Kuleana.
What action step can each person take to make Kauai a better place? Leave.. that would lesson traffic. Or support a barrel tax.. This policy step would motivate driving less and create positive cash flow out of the mess we have grown into, while helping a broke state finance moving in the direction of energy independence.