Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Musings: Out of Reach

Nothing was in the sky, save for the thinnest of moons and a few patches of gray, when the dogs and I set out walking on this first full day of spring. Before me rose Waialeale, adorned with a lacy shawl, and around me were signs of the recent rains: channels dug in hillsides, an irrigation ditch scoured clean of pesky guinea grass. I thought of my garden, where I'd spent several hours yesterday, fluffing up beds compacted by the downpour, in preparation for today's planting. The dogs, meanwhile, pulled me along, straining and whining after chickens that kept themselves tauntingly out of reach.

I bet David Bissell, CEO of KIUC, feels much the same way about Adam Asquith, who has again thrown a wrench into the utility's plans, this time by filing for an injunction to halt the smart meter rollout planned for next month.

As you may recall, it was Adam who raised the alarm about FERC, forever endearing himself to the KIUC board and staff that was then forced to — choke, gag — actually communicate with the members about its hydroelectric plans. And lo and behold, it discovered we weren't all that crazy about them, though it's proceeding anyway, even with its most bitterly opposed proposal to do hydro at Hanalei and Wailua.

One big problem with the smart meter project is that KIUC has been slow on the draw with the opt-out issue. I just finished writing an article about the rollout for Honolulu Weekly, which will run in tomorrow's paper. As part of that, I contacted KIUC about the opt-out, and got this response on March 1:

KIUC does not currently have an opt-out program. Members will be offered an opportunity to be placed on a deferred install list until the board comes to a decision on an opt-out program.

Then on March 19, after Adam has filed for the injunction, KIUC issues a news release:

]t]he cooperative has said it will indefinitely defer installation of smart meters for the small number of members who are opposed to the technology and submit a formal request.

So did this just come about in the past two weeks? And isn't “indefinitely defer,” which implies that eventually it will be installed, different than “opting out,” which means you're not ever going to be a part of it?

This is the kind of unclear, untimely communication that causes people to mistrust KIUC. I just can't believe KIUC has waited this long to develop and articulate an opt-out policy, seeing as how it's been an issue in California.

In other matters, as a follow up to the recent Tasing of a student at Kapaa High, I've been wanting to post KPD's use of force policy. As you will see, nearly everything related to Tasers has been redacted, which the county justifies based on this opinion from the Office of Information Practices.

I've written to OIP asking it to take another look at its opinion to see whether it does also apply to Tasers, and whether it was the Office's intent exclude the public from all right to know anything about how police use this potentially lethal weapon. Because if we're kept in the dark, how can we have any role in reviewing, considering or debating their use?

And finally, to KamaKele, who left a comment on yesterday's post saying:

Joan you completely lost me when you said plants have intelligence, self-awareness, etc...treat them with respect? sure. But self-aware and intelligent? The last time I checked, you needed a brain for that. Or maybe that's my scientific method talking.

Check out this article:

Richard Karban, professor in the Entomology department at UC-Davis (UCD).  He states that, “Plants engage in self-recognition and can communicate danger to their “clones” or genetically identical cuttings planted nearby.” [UCD] The research, published in Ecology Letters, would be the first suggestion of this kind, that plants are fully aware of themselves and look out for their own kind.

Then read “Botany of Desire” by Michael Pollan. It certainly got me thinking about plants in a very different way.

I've got nothing against science or the scientific method. But my complaint is that it tends to dismiss anything it hasn't figured out how to prove or bothered to check into. And I don't see why I should limit my world or belief system because scientists haven't determined a way to prove something that I already know through direct experience to be true.


Anonymous said...

I have so much gratitude for Adam. He follows through and does the hard work.
And what he is doing is hard work...unpaid hard work.

I am especially grateful that he is able to speak for so many people regarding their health and their privacy security of which they donʻt even know whatʻs being perpetrated against them.

It is not easy to go up against someone like Bissel who has his strings being pulled by individuals from far away.

Not even the other board members realize they are being used by this person, who probably has some big fat deposits for dirty deeds in banks outside the U.S.

Anonymous said...

Joan: I will go one better than you and DEMAND that everyone read Michael Pollan! All of his books! Especially "The Botany of Desire."
Let's use some of that "intelligence" to educate ourselves. Shall we?

Mauibrad said...
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Mauibrad said...

Like I said, KIUC insiders DO NOT LISTEN, they will STOP AT NOTHING to TRY TO get their way. They have repeatedly shown that the only times they listen to their members are when THEY ARE FORCED TO.

Anonymous said...

If plants have self-awareness then forcing a gene into them is the equivalent of rape.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, are they related to the Mayor?

Anonymous said...

Not only are plants intelligent.....some think they are more intelligent than humans. And there are even some who think trees and plants are better at practicing unconditional love than most humans. What a blessing whenever I am able to wet my plants!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anyone interested in a class action lawsuit against KIUC? Contact Al Castillo

Anonymous said...

Joan, hope you don't mind, but I'd like to plug Ian Lind's blog. He posts about some bills going through the legislature that sound horrible.

Anonymous said...

oh, David Bissell is not in control. He is not using anyone. He is just an officer in a military mind set. KIUC needs a civilian mind set in my opinion. :)

Andrew Cooper said...
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Andrew Cooper said...

"I've got nothing against science or the scientific method. But my complaint is that it tends to dismiss anything it hasn't figured out how to prove or bothered to check into."

Joan, you seem to reflect that "science" is some monolithic entity with exclusive entry. That scientists are somehow separate from everyone else.

Science is a process that is open to anyone with a curious mind. There are thousands of amateur scientists that work to explore our world every day. They are often looking into places overlooked by the regular establishment and discovering new things every year. Some of these folks are poor amateurs, but many have learned professional standards and do excellent science. An advantage to being hobby scientist is often they need not worry about grants and funding reviews, they can explore wherever their curiosity leads.

Innumerable people have attempted to apply the scientific process to explore the more esoteric ideas that float around. Ghosts, spirits, various mental abilities, etc, etc, etc... These have regularly resulted in negative findings as soon as any objective criteria are applied to the test. It is a valid question as to whether any of it actually exists.

There is a standng million dollar prize, the money in escrow, to anyone who can prove a paranormal ability or phenomena. The prize has gone unclaimed for many years now.

Joan Conrow said...

I always appreciate your thoughtful comments, Andrew, as well as your blog. I don't mean to imply that scientists are separate from others, and I respect the scientific process. But I just can't accept that it is the final arbiter of what's "real" or "true."

Some things, like souls, love, the creative muse, spirits and shamanic journeying, probably can't be proven by the scientific method, but that doesn't mean they aren't real. Because when you've experienced something, and thus have a first-hand knowing of its existence, that's all the proof you need.

Andrew Cooper said...

Science can be applied to many such phenomena fairly easily. And it need not be that sophisticated a test.

An example... You mention shamanic journeying, by another name, astral projection. The claim of being able to explore other places with the mind.

Try a simple test, descibe a place that is undiscovered or currently unreachable by more normal methods but shortly will be reached. Draw a map, describe a new animal to be found, provide some proof of the vists before the place is availble to a more prosaic method.

A nice example, a challenge was issued to one of the folks who claimed to do astral projection recently... Draw a map of Pluto. The dwarf planet has never been photographed with any resolution. The New Horizons probe will arrive at Pluto in a few years. If the drawn map at all matches the photos sent back by the spacecraft?

Simple tests! No one has ever presented a decent response to this or any similar challenge. Try it, there is a million dollars available if you can.

KamaKele said...


I know one plant on this island that shrinks up when touched so as to protect itself from being eaten by parasites. That is not a sentient act, but an act of self-preservation, for which sentience is not required.