Thursday, June 9, 2016

Musings: On Various Things

I spent the first part of the week in San Francisco at the big BIO conference, where thousands of people gathered to discuss the latest in biotechnology, much of it with medical applications. Despite opposition, this technology is becoming ever more entrenched.

In my scant free time, I wandered the streets of a city I had loved as a child and teen — attending concerts at Winterland, visiting museums and theaters, learning to parallel park and hold a car on the steep hills through a careful balance of clutch and gas. 

But sadly, this time it left me cold, though the sun was mostly shining. Like so many cities, it's losing its charm to commercial homogenization, a widening gap between rich and poor — think Cartier and the stench of human urine on sidewalks — and mass tourism.
Though travel is reaching record levels, Americans still remain shockingly ignorant about geography and the world:
I got to wondering, as I passed the shops, who comes up with the tacky crap that's sold to tourists as mementos? Why do they buy it? And how much of it ends up in the landfill not long after the purchasers return home?

Yes, tourism generates revenue, but it comes at tremendous social and environmental costs that are rarely considered by policy makers.

I thought about that when I saw Kanoe Ahuna's Facebook post announcing her candidacy for the Kauai Senate seat, followed by her comment in today's The Garden Island:

Although tourism is great and it’s the economy that helps us survive here, in order to keep that a value for us, we need to keep value within our own community. Our priority should be us first because we live here and we’re the ones who want to be able to accept and encourage tourism and be able to greet them with that aloha.

She makes a good point, and I'm glad to see a candidate address Hawaii's sacred cow. But why do people with zero political experience make a bid first for state Senate? How about cutting their teeth on the Council first?

Getting back to cows, just as I predicted in yesterday's post on the Mahaulepu dairy draft EIS, the opponents who demanded the document will not be satisified with its findings Instead, they'll attempt to discredit it as biased. Sure enough, we've got Bridget Hammerquist of Friends of Mahaulepu (FOM) making that very claim to TGI today:

How could anybody conclude that an independent EIS has been conducted if prepared by the same company who prepared HDF’s dairy plan?

Uh, maybe because that's the company that actually knows the specifics best? And who did FOM think was going to draft the report? Surfrider?

Since the report showed that their claims about water pollution, flies and odors were overblown, Bridget and her pals are now questioning whether the cows will have sufficient shade in the pastures. Ya know, if they're truly concerned about that, maybe they should start looking at how some of the horses and dogs are tortured on this island, staked out without water, left broiling in the back of some donkey's pick up truck.

But of course, it's all just a ruse for their opposition to the dairy, which will not be assuaged by any means.

While we're on the topic of animal welfare, a new peer reviewed study published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases has found widespread contamination of Toxoplasma gondii — a parasite transmitted by cat feces — in nene habitat.

The study found T. gondii is the most-commonly encountered infectious disease in endangered nene. Endangered monk seals and alala (Hawaiian crows) also have been killed by T. gondii, which is excreted into the environment through cat feces. A single cat may excrete hundreds of millions of infectious eggs (called “oocysts”) in its feces.

Molokai had the highest infection rate (48 percent), followed by 23 percent on Maui and 21 percent on Kaua‘i.

According to Dr. Dr. Thierry Work, the U.S. Geological Survey scientist who is the study's lead author:

Recent studies also suggest that animals and humans are more prone to trauma when infected with T. gondii. Trauma is the chief cause of death for Nene, and infections with T. gondii may be making them more vulnerable, but confirming that will require additional studies.

Residents and visitors are also at risk. Ingesting or even inhaling oocysts may result in miscarriages, fetal abnormalities, blindness, memory loss or death.

As a 2013 study by scientists from the Stanley Medical Research Institute and Johns Hopkins University found:

Because cats are now so ubiquitous in the environment, one may become infected [with T. gondii] by neighboring cats which defecate in one's garden or play area, or by playing in public areas such as parks or school grounds. Indeed, as cats increasingly contaminate public areas with T. gondii oocysts, it will become progressively more difficult to avoid exposure.

But hey, no worries. Only agriculture poses a threat to people and wildlife in the Islands. The kitties get a free pass.

Speaking of free pass, I was amused to see that Civil Beat, the vanity press of billionaire Pierre Omidyar, is moving to a nonprofit model and taking down its pay wall. Translation: the web-based publication was dying, with a pathetic 2% market penetration, so it had to come up with something in a desperate bid to achieve relevance. 

I found it especially interesting because Pierre is adopting the approach of  the nonprofit activist-advocacy groups he funds: pretend like you're all about education and community service, as is required to attain nonprofit status, when in fact you're advancing a specific political and social agenda.

Though Civil Beat editor Patti Epler disingenuously claims that her publication isn't "partisan" because it doesn't endorse candidates, it frequently uses its editorials — and articles — to influence political issues. Which makes it even less likely that Civil Beat will ever investigate the misdeeds of nonprofits similarly engaged in political activities.

In the end, it comes down to this: a billionaire is using the federal tax system to subsidize his vanity press. How can that be right, just or fair?


Anonymous said...

Uggg... Civil Beat. It may be telling to look into the 'Non-Profit News Network' they are part of to see if other news agencies in the non-profit conglomerations are anything other than lip-service 'educational' 501C3s. I have a feeling that with Pierre and crew on the board of his own media mouthpiece (to vet corporate donors, etc.), Civil Beat will veer even more into it's own agenda-driven slant on every article. I think they should have a policy that for every corporate donor they receive, they must ask for the same amount of money from a different corporate donor that might have a competing interest in the market.

Anonymous said...

The Civil Beat is awesome and now it's free! What's not to love?

If you don't like it, don't read it.

Anonymous said...

I like Kanoe Ahuna but agree with your comment - wish she'd run for Council first, instead of heading straight for the Senate.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Kanoe Ahuna where are her advisors? She is someone that wants to serve and that is admirable. But experience in office is key for the good of the island she wants to represent as a Senator. I agree a Council seat is a good start to be educated on the process. Her statement for running in the paper today was to help lifeguards and waste system improvements. these are the responsibilities of The County NOT the State. Need to know the job parameters! That comes with education and knowledge. Think about it Kanoe. Time and patience will help you become the leader you are wanting to be. Aloha.

Anonymous said...

I agree Joan of your assessment of Kanoe Ahuna's plans to run for Senate. Running for County Council would have yielded better results and much needed experience. To jump into a league that requires much needed access to fellow Senators to assist in the goals that one is trying to achieve is a must. With no experience basically you are a fish out of water. One posting in Facebook brought up a good point which I never thought about. The incumbent is the Senate President. I assume he got the support from his fellow legislators by a majority. That says a lot. I don't know what may happen but it sure seems like Kauai has a lot to lose. Thank you Joan for your spot on observations.

Anonymous said...

Arm chair quarterbacks. Everyone seems to know what Kanoe should be doing. Kouchi needs a challenger and she is stepping up. Kudos to Kanoe! She is educated, articulate and an attractive Hawaiian woman. I would vote for her in a heart beat over Kouchi and so will many others. She can learn the basics in a week. After that it is just name recognition and and getting her attractive and smart face in front of as many people as possible.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of Ron sleezy "I have my pockets in everything" Kouchi.

Anonymous said...

5:31 There are no geniuses in the Senate. Hawaii residents owe 5 billion for the Oahu Train and another 8 Billion in pensions for the State and County workers. 13 Billion divided by 1 million people is? You got it $13,000 debt for every person in the State. A boondoggle.
But ms Ahuna's stand against tourism is a joke.
Joan's SF unfortunate foray into the clash of homeless pissing Winos and strutting Cartier purse carriers, is indeed Powell Street. But San Francisco is still a great place to be. A short hop to the Legion of Honor and your mind gets warped. (Legion of Honor built by Hawaii Sugar profits)
But Tourism is the cleanest and has the least environmental impact of the major business that twirl the world, with the exception of financial and information businesses IE offices.
Here is a list of businesses that are the economic drivers on God's Green Earth.
Services (from accounting to prisons), Manufacturing, Agriculture, Mining, Retail, Real estate development, Military and utilities.
Large scale Mining? way Jose, our little Ag companies get the shaft. Military? Da Hoos has conniptions over dinky PMRF so this is out. Manufacturing? Oh yeah? Each of these economic realities leave a huge impact.

C'mon folks, as bad as Tourism may be to the comfortable retiree or political candidate..Tourism is the cleanest business there is.
Or I guess we could become Bali, with 5 million residents and 3 million tourists on an island the same size as Kauai.
Without Tourism we would become a crime ridden, nasty a*s place similar to thousands of pretty little tropical seaside areas that are fighting to get some of our tourist dollars.
Love your tourist..the people that hate these fun-loving, dollar spending, happy frolickers were at one time one of them, or work for them...or get your Foodstamps and Welfare check thru them.
Tourism is king. And tho' I liked my plantation house and the Luna, working in an air conditioned room and getting big bucks is better than spraying sabedong or kali the hanawai ditch. Hot and dusty. Sweat and red dirt.
On another note. Ron Kouchi is a very smart man and always works for Kauai people. Ron is a good dude. He doesn't lie.
On another note. Da Hoos cares not for the working people and should be given the heave-ho. Da Hoos is not a good dude. He is a liar.

Anonymous said...

Ron is money but I am voting for her.

Anonymous said...

It'd be nice if we could assess the worthiness of a female candidate without resorting to a discussion of whether she's attractive or not. Textbook sexism.

Anonymous said...

"... pretend like you're all about education and community service, as is required to attain nonprofit status, when in fact you're advancing a specific political and social agenda."

Like the Cornell Alliance for Science?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Conrow, do you intend to disclose who funded, in full or in part, your travel and/or participation in the biotech conference in San Francisco? And, are you aware that it is biotech and tech in general (not tourism) that has created the vast schism between rich and poor in the U.S. and world, but most palpably in San Francisco?

Anonymous said...

If senate president is as good as advertised, than he shouldnt be worried about his fb posts from the iona's and beth tokioka totally backing senate president kouchi....idk what message they are trying to send, like what the hell you running for? Or you should have gotten experience first on the county level. So angry, or maybe afraid that kanoe has a chance? If i was kanoe, after reading those comments would only make me work harder. Like i said, if he is good as advertised, than senate president kouchi had nothing to worry about

Anonymous said...

Ya, she can be as effective as that other pretty face Tulsi Gabbard because when it comes down to it, it's all about good looks.

Joan Conrow said...

@8:36. The Alliance is very clear and transparent about both its objectives and its funding, as some nonprofits are.

@ 8:39 No, I hadn't planned on disclosing it because I'm not writing about the conference, though I have no qualms in stating it was the Alliance. And I never asserted tourism was the source of the schism between rich and poor. Technology indeed is a factor, especially IT.

Anonymous said...

Joan, not much said about Ron Kouchi's conflict of interest regarding a couple of land transactions involving his former employer. One involves over 6000 acres on the Big Island and the other an affordable housing project on Kauai. The Star Advertiser covered it briefly, but then it went quiet. Why? According to the paper,

"Senate President Ron Kouchi has had long-standing and substantial business ties with one of the owners of thousands of acres of South Kona conservation and agricultural land that lawmakers now want the state to purchase and preserve, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser has learned."

Pretty questionable deals in my opinion. Maybe this warrants a "Conrow" expose.

Anonymous said...

Another pretty face that doesn't have to do nothing but dress up and put on make up. Guaranteed coworkers and subordinates going do all the work.

Anonymous said...

Learn the basics in a week?....
You obviously don't know how hard these people work and study and smile and lose sleep. There's more to being a senator than just bills. Kouchi has experience and that matters more than a pretty face and intellect.

Anonymous said...

Oh hi Bronson

Anonymous said...

He has nothing to worry about. Those are his friends for long time. As why they post positive comments on social media. You'd do the same wouldn't you?

Anonymous said...

Yet no one looks at Da Hooz and questions his business deals running an LLC and banking off real estate? Yeah I hear Hawaii Life and Matt Beall rumors.
Who knows what he's up to!

Anonymous said...

No one said anything about the Yamane guy running for Senate a few years back. Why now? Good luck to both candidates. Kauai is not first on the list as the Senate President needs to take care of the 16 other Senators and their districts. He needs to take care of business with those that made him the Senate President. It was the Kim lady that was Senate President before, she made one mistake and her leadership was gone. There was "backstabbing" time and Kauai was able to have the Senate President. If Ahuna is successful, there will be another change of power in the Senate. Again, good luck to both candidates. And Ms. Joan, you don't have to answer to no one. There will "always" be people who like you and otherwise. Reading you blog is so enjoyable. It provides entertainment.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone investigated (DLNR) the violation of the CJM CDPU?

The approved trail is NOT along shoreline crossing the stream, which is what they currently traverse and have done in violation of their permit with no ramifications from the State.

Anonymous said...

What's the sense of being senate president if Kouchi can't help his friends?

Anonymous said...

Don't worry DLNR is currently being investigated. How do you think Tare Low got busted? Who is a Bully more like Bitchy instead.

This is where Dirty Pigs get their 2nd retirement while they continue their rackets.

No worry about them ice cooler pigs. They never thought that their meth lab was going to be caught and their Pakalolo fields get got but there's a new law dawg on island and he ain't that phony Sgt Yata and his faux Say No to Drugs DARE program. It's just like what has happened to KPAL and why KPD has to wear body cameras.

Kouchi and his good ol boys will get got like the Kawakami's.

John Kauai said...

Interesting that your column supports Pierre's Dairy but is opposed to his media outlet.

I've only read section 1 of the DEIS. It appears to me to address all the FOM issues. I do not oppose the dairy.

(As an aside, the only place I notice a "certain stench" anywhere on this island is crossing over Hanama`ulu creek while driving on Kuhio Hawaii. Maybe Hammerquist should redirect her attention there? And one should mention the 1.5M gallons/day of effluent processed at Lydgate compared to the 3Mgallons of poop per year for the Dairy.)

Every media outlet has its own agenda. To be totally impartial reporters would have to believe that Trump (or Clinton) means what he (she) says and will work toward that stated goal.

I too loved living in the Bay Area. And I'm very happy to have left before it started choking on its population increase. Something that one could apply to Kauai and the continuous Mikins/Tolbe demands for more roads -- that no one wants to pay for. (And a council that hasn't the guts to go to where the money is. Which, in turn, shows us why our Presidential choices are between twiddle dum and twiddle dee.)

Which brings us back to a question I've been asking for the last year. What do we do about the people who are too incompetent to even hold down a $15/hr minimum wage job?

Anonymous said...

3:03 your last sentence is so bizarre--- I know your a newbie John Kauai but come on man everyone knows we throw em in the volcano!

Man dude you are one crass bastard.

John Kauai said...


I do believe you misunderstand my question. I've been asking it for about 6 months now and most often the response I've received is "don't hire them".

How is it crass to ask what society is suppose to do about people who can't hold a job?

I guess that throwing them into a volcano is an option, but I would never have proposed it.

For years the Republicans have been telling us about people who are too lazy to work. I always thought that it was because the folks the Republicans were pointing at didn't have an opportunity to "crawl out of the hole". But then I had a project I needed to get some people to work on. Yes, I ran into lazy ones. But mostly, I found people incapable of even digging a hole. I cannot tell you how flabbergasted I was and still am.

I have never received a satisfactory answer to my question. Either i'm told "don't hire them" or that I'm some kind of elitist for insinuating that there are people (apparently a lot of them in my recent experience) who are incapable of holding down a simple job.

What is your proposal? How do you answer the question?

I used to ask "what do you do about people who aren't worth $15/hour?" I was accused of not caring about my fellow human beings -- although no one provided an answer about how to take care of these folks.

I thought that by expressly making it clear that paying someone $15 to do a job that they screw up so badly that i have to do it all over again myself I'd get around the philosophical BS about how "all human life is sacred". Which apparently is true, until you are the one that has to pay for that "useless, but sacred life."

I'm not against ensuring they have a "good life". But I'm sure as hell not going to hire them to screw up the project I'm working on. Do you see the difference? It should be abundantly clear.

Just in case it isn't clear, I am searching for someway of proving that America truly subscribes to the idea that "all human life is sacred" beyond empty rhetoric. (Such as the pro-life movement uses. No to abortion, but then NO, NO, NO to providing that kid with an education.)

Your solution appears to be to pretend that everyone is capable of doing a $15/hour job. That is manifestly not true. Now, what is your proposal for taking care of them? Or is the current homeless epidemic in Honolulu satisfactory to you. It isn't to me. I don't have a solution for it, but I am seeking one.

Anonymous said...

John California, answer to your question, 3:03 p.m. Post. Keep on trying and hope for the best. Hire your friends child / church members child, trust someone who you have built a trusting relationships so you will reduce your risk in hiring an incompetent person.
One thought could also be that your communicational skills needs to be toned down so you can relate to the employees you hired.
Which brings me to think you have a poor ability in judging peoples character in the process of hiring.
But then again, in reviewing your past town jumping, you never were there long enough to learn how to judge ones character or techniques to do so.
On a national scale, it's called background checks.
Investing $15 an hour, yes it's risky and if you're tired of going through the process, then continue to do job on your own. At least you can follow your own instructions, and you know (in your own definition) what's a job well done.
All employers goes through this pain in the ass process. That's locally, nationally and worldwide.

Final anawer again! Keep trying and work on reading competencies / character judgement. You'll eventually get good at it. It's you who keep on hiring people who isn't worth $15.

Hope this helps. Good luck! And have a have week!

Anonymous said...

John Kauai, Why don't you pay one of those people $15 an hour to write your posts for you. The couldn't do any worse or bore us any more.

Anonymous said...

John , I'm sorry I said you were "one crass bastard" that was out of line. I suspect you're an intelligent man, and I didnt understand your question.
I think first off, it demeans a lot of very good people that wished they made fifteen an hour. And this is a subject that me and you would have to dig the holes together until I understand what your standards are.
If your going to pay cash under the table, I would explane what I wanted and negotiate a price for that service will be paid upon completion.
If you don't want to do the under the table route, call a Licensed professional that has a yelp commenter line.
I'm not sure if the root of your question can be answered in a short satisfying way though.
apolla JeeZ again.

John Kauai said...


I accept your apology.

First, it was a six month project. I don't need any employees any longer. I should explain that I have been "insulated" from the "real world". When I hired Mexicans at the Lumber store in Santa Cruz (twice for 6 hours each time), they worked very, very hard and did a really good job. I paid them $15/hour 15 years ago because they were worth it. I have never had to deal with or understand anyone who is so incompetent that they can't dig a hole. I apologize if this comes across as crass. I am just trying to communicate.

Anyway, I was truly surprised to find so many "uninspired workers" when working on my project. I have talked to many contractors here on Kauai and they told me stories that I just did not want to believe. But now, I know it is true. The Republicans out there should be rejoicing.

Second: I appreciate your advice on how to find good employees. Maybe I'll be able to use it in a couple of years when I think I have the time and need to do another project.

My intro into my experience hiring incompetent people was not to solicit advice on how to avoid these guys. I've asked this question many times and no one, absolutely no one, understood what the question was. Even after I explained it to them, maybe 70% still didn't get it.

I apologize for having failed to find the way to describe the problem I see. But now that you know I'm not talking about hiring people, perhaps I can bore @5:44 enough to provoke him into posting another comment. :-)

The people I'm talking about do not have the ambition, intelligence, experience, education, whatever to hold down a $15/hour job. Yet, I think the minimum wage should be at least $15/hour (if not more in Hawaii). Do you see the disconnect?

I cannot imagine any job that isn't worth $15/hour. However there are a lot of people who can't even do a $15/hour job. No one is going to hire them. What are we (all of us as society) going to do about them?

I don't like seeing Meth addicts. I don't like seeing homeless. I don't like feeling that many people on Kauai are getting a "raw deal". I don't like the hopelessness that emanates from these people. No one should have to be thrown into such depths of despair. It makes me ashamed of myself, my state, my country, all of humanity. It makes me sad. These people are not going to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Do we not have a responsibility toward them just because they are Human Beings?

I probably got a bit too "touchy-feely". In which case, "never mind".

Anonymous said...

"one crass bastard" should be a title of something.

Anonymous said...

Hey Thanks John for your response.

Now that I understand who you are it is easier to understand where your comming from.

Let me wrap my head around this good and fair question and I'll get back at you in a few. Or maybe other smart people like 11:31 can help be solid without the name calling I did. Hey 11:31- that was a fair response I think!

As far as Mexicans go!! I feel and wish that their country was part of our country. -- Please allow ME to be crass John,,, when my Mexican friends say they love our freedoms , but theycant understand what seems obvious ,,,Why don't we incorporate Mexico into our country before we all go down by default? Yes I respect a nations sovereign rights, I just have no respect for the Mexican government that will never incorporate freedoms to the much deserving people. And I'm so grumpy that I would not say this about any other country BUT MEXICO that are our are brothers and sisters, and very very much mixed race background precipitated by plunderers from Europe and natives alike that are running a very dirty mafia in old Mex!

Anonymous said...

Or the name of a great horse 7:06!

Anonymous said...

John California, thanks for your 6:36 p.m. post. Now you starting to see our world on this island. You not from Kauai, but you still want to title yourself as Kauai. You've got to EARN that title.

(referring to your second last paragraph) I've asked before in a different format, do you know anyone who died from meth / ice use? I have (a bunch of them). And we have people still yapping about pesticides! Pesticide exposed people are not your night marchers / zombies. Pesticidies will not come to your house in the middle of the night and rip your off. you know the ones you need to protect yourself and belongings from, since you listed it on your post you're starting to recognize what hour political priorities should be on this island.

Homeless! Some of them are sad to see because they had life's trama's and couldn't fight though it. others are due to drug abuse. in all cases, we all need to respect their lives and just hope for the best for them in their worlds. I know some of them, I say hi and hold a conversation with them (they deserve this respect). but that's the only thing we can do for them.

republicans / democrats; that's only ideology and a title. Here on Kauai, ground zero, it's about friends and family and about giving and earning respecting. Living the life by actions and not words.

Someday, you'll learn, it's about reading the character of people instead of listening / reading their words. character deals with honor, integrity, respect and everything else that the dictionary lists as character.

Lying and continue to lie to people, that's not right. And since you've been here on this island, you've seen it. Welcome to our world. John California.

What's my point! Live the life (actions)! talking the life isn't living it. Flow with the life on this island instead of posing your idea's of what life should be here on Kauai.

Have a great day. Hope to get over hump Wednesday to a wild slide to a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 10:10 , you remind me of a wise Kahu I know.