Thursday, July 14, 2016

Musings: On Us

You wake up one day, and five police officers have been killed in Dallas.

You wake up a different day, and people are glued to their phones in an obsessive search for Pokemon.

You wake up every day and another American citizen — or two or three or five — has been killed by a gun, not infrequently wielded by a toddler.

The media treat all these events as worthy of equivalent coverage.

And perhaps they are, in terms of what they tell us about us.

Pokemon was born, back in 1990, by a designer seeking to combine his love of video games with his childhood passion for collecting insects.

Now insects — the woefully misunderstood, largely unstudied animals essential to our existence — are declining dramatically in many parts of the world, due in large part to us. 

But few of us notice, and even fewer care, our attention diverted from the natural world we actually live in to the virtual world within our phones.

Which is how an electronic game comes to be deemed “an inescapable force of nature,” on par, say, with tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis.

“Billionaires can't buy Bernie” reads the bumper sticker on a Lexus SUV, spotted on the day that Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton. 

And so one revolution of rhetoric fizzles as yet another revolution of rhetoric flourishes:

In countless collisions of color and creed, Donald J. Trump’s name evokes an easily understood message of racial hostility. Defying modern conventions of political civility and language, Mr. Trump has breached the boundaries that have long constrained Americans’ public discussion of race.

On the internet, Mr. Trump is invoked by anonymous followers brandishing stark expressions of hate and anti-Semitism, surprisingly amplified this month when Mr. Trump tweeted a graphic depicting Hillary Clinton’s face with piles of cash and a six-pointed star that many viewed as a Star of David.

“I think what we really find troubling is the mainstreaming of these really offensive ideas,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks hate groups. “It’s allowed some of the worst ideas into the public conversation in ways we haven’t seen anything like in recent memory.”

"It's so sad when voters are forced to choose the lesser of evils," bemoans my 98-year-old hanai mom, who has seen the world repeatedly turned upside down by the worst in us: racism, fascism, totalitarianism, terrorism, ignorance, apathy, greed and fear.

On Kauai, meth addicts rage, homeless pack the parks, feral cats devour endangered birds, agriculture struggles, roads clog, sewers overflow, the landfill towers. And the County Council indulges in distractions like dog doo and parents smoking in cars.

The bakery case offers a “paleo cookie” for $3.75. The hungry line up at food pantries, grateful for a box of sweet, stale snacks among the canned goods. 

Countless hours, untold amounts of cash, are expended in a bitter fight over how to disclose the role of a plant breeding technology in the production of processed food in the world's wealthiest nation. “Mothers have the right to know what they're feeding their children,” we are told.

And every 5 seconds, a child starves to death — up from one every 10 seconds just five years ago.

“The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people.” — Charles Trevelyan, British civil servant and colonial administrator

We are outraged. We are outraged by the outrage. We are outraged by the outrage over the outrage.

And yet the status quo churns on:


Anonymous said...

So many thoughts come to mind: "We have met the enemy, and he is us" is a statement that says it all! Who's to blame? We ARE like sheep by virtue of the sheer number of human beings which come to life world-wide! Sadly, so many die of starvation, because we have created our own dilemmas by being pro-creatively affluent without regard to establishing effective and efficient ways to take care of the population explosion.
We need to return to those BASIC principles which emphasize how important it is to take care of ourselves, each other, and our environment as a WAY of LIFE with integrity, understanding, agreements and procedures.... doesn't this all sound so familiar? It's more than just the "talk"! It's the "walk"!

Anonymous said...

Joan what exactly do you and the others want the County Council to do? There is no shortage of critics but would be more helpful would be suggestions from you and others as to what issues to tackle and what specific policy changes do you want the Council to pass to impact those issues?

Anonymous said...

The county of Kauai is a lousy comedy act. Out of all the things that has been many people concerns over the last decade(s), legislative branch comes up with dog barking laws, smoke laws, dog doo doo laws, smoking in cars laws and other dumb things that aren't relative to anything that has been plaguing the average citizen on Kauai. All the while the executive branch plans and schemes ways to defraud the taxpayers through corruption, cronyism, and nepotism. Then the judicial branch sees all of the BS and says it's time for them to gets theirs and get a bigger piece of the county budget to satisfy their acts of gluttony. It's all been a sham on Kauai for decades. The only good thing that has changed is technology and a blog like this to call these boys and gals out for their ineptitude. What do you people think is going to happen when half of the county is unqualified for their job titles? What do you people think was going to happen when the animals have taken over the county of kauai?

Anonymous said...

Joan "And every 5 seconds, a child starves to death — up from one every 10 seconds just five years ago."

Seems the GMO promise to "feed the world" ain't working out all that well.

Anonymous said...

10:02 - partially to blame for that is misguided policy and politics in many nations that resist and ban GMO technology that COULD feed their people. That misguided policy and politics is fueled by the likes of CFS, Vandana Shiva, and Gary Hooser with their anti-GMO propoganda machine.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Joan, for writing about things that really matter.

Anonymous said...

@9:10am I get it that you are not happy with government but what would you like the County Council to do? You have said what you wish they were not doing but what specific laws or policy changes would you like to see them do?

Anonymous said...

12:46. Dont we pay the Council to figure out what needs to be done and how to do it? Isn't that their job?

Anonymous said...

IF I want my County Council to study Dogshit, so be it. If nobody else brings up anything else, fine. But until then, it's dogshit.

John Kauai said...

The "child dies from starvation every X seconds" is shown to be misleading in the BBC article below. And the second shows malnutrition has fallen considerably.

Still, I feel the same ennui, disconnectedness and frustration. I miss Walter Cronkite.

Does a child die of hunger every 10 seconds?

Shows the number diving from malnutrition to have fallen considerably from 1990 to 20014

Joan Conrow said...

John, Perhaps I missed it, but I didn't see any reference at all to starvation deaths in the link you cited, which is why I considered, but then rejected it, in seeking my own links. As for your quibble with my citations, it seems you wish to miss the forest for the trees.

John Kauai said...

While I am certainly disappointed that Sanders did not win the Democratic nomination, and I have no idea whether I'll vote for Clinton or not, I do not see Sanders' endorsement of Clinton as a betrayal of his principles or his supporters. He is forced to worth inside the system. Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are trying to accomplish something from outside the system and I don't see them as being very successful.

Here is a phone call Sanders made to his convention delegates following his endorsement of Clinton. He is going to form a successor organization to continue pushing his policies and to get more progressive candidates at local levels of government elected. I feel like I've been through this before so I'm not all that excited about it. OTOH, it is the best of all the bad alternative.

Here is a draft of the Democratic Platform. Much of it was heavily influenced by Sanders supporters.
Some specific items included:
$15 minimum wage
expand social security
tax carbon
legalize marijuana
no death penalty
immigration reform
too-big-to-fail action against banks
close tax havens
protection of Native American Rights.
abolish death penalty

John Kauai said...

You pointed to the same BBC article I did. The "quibble" is contained in that article which states that the metric is good PR but is rather inaccurate.

The BBC article points out that the WFP, which the first article quotes, states:

"But another major group that tackles food problems around the world, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), now disapproves of this tactic." ("this tactic" is using "children starving every x seconds" as any kind of reliable metric.)

The second article I provided doesn't use the "child starving every second" but does show that malnutrition in the world is going down. It also state: (IDP: Internally Displaced Persons)

"IDPs suffer the worst health impacts of conflict. They and their children are almost twice as likely as refugees to die from conflict-related causes, particularly disease and starvation."

I'm not sure what the "forest" and the "trees" are suppose to be in this case. People are dying all over the world for lots of reasons. IMHO it appears mostly being caused by US Imperialism (if not the direct cause, it certainly lit the match)

In the end though, the only reason I posted a response to this metric is because I have heard numbers that directly conflict with the specific claim. I did not intend to give any impression that I'm saying "you are wrong". I was hoping to provide another context for looking at the same idea.

Anonymous said...

First off, in the midst of traffic, high rents, exorbitant house prices, total BS from County Planning, Building, Taxes etc and especially the total HorseSH*T that Hooser, Mason and JoAnn perpetuate. In spite of the Mayor hiring all his friends and the fact that the County Budget is essentially a 200 million grab bag for government workers. In spite of this--
The island is delight. The people are friendly, helpful and care about each other.
There is little crime. We smile at each other and catch each others eye and acknowledge one another...even if it is the Surfer's too cool "eyebrow" raise.
Somehow I believe that we all share the secret, the fact that we are all on an island. On an island together. And that we are all fortunate to be here.
So even tho' Da Hoos is a liar, even tho' the Mayor is a spendthrift, even tho' many of the new NS Assh*les try to change the old ways, even tho' JoAnn and Mason (the Moron) and Da Hoos fight to keep locals out of houses and they focus on Mainland issues, and even tho' Mel and his boys listen to ripe Doggy PoopY stories ..we are blessed to be on Kauai. And tho' I get really Pissed Off at the hypocrisy of the government etc.......I am lucky. We are all on the island together and Great Puppy Poops in Wailua Batman, I am grateful to be on Kauai, I love the people and as I breathe deep of the fine Kauai Air I know I am blessed.
And now off to see Nadine and Fern at 6PM at Kapaa Middle School.
Nadine is a true lady. A smart and good lady.

Anonymous said...

Your post was passionate and heartfelt. I think the convoluted segway into GMO was odd, but you like many are writting out on this issue by focusing on the police and not the INNOCENT Lives taken. The man shot in his car was innocent. The sniper should go to life in prison. I beleive cops are good but too much is asked of them and they are under tremendous pressure. Same for the average citizen. Too much is asked and crazy pressure. Throw in racial tensions and Trump egging it all on and the country will fall. But the average poster can't get past council theatrics and go deep Just fiddle while Rome burns.

Your writing really was remarkable right when you spoke about the expired unhealthy food needy people are fed. I beg all these organic stores and restaraunts to personally open up soup kitchens in Hanamaulu, Lihue and Hanapepe.

Be the change. Stop the hate.


Anonymous said...

All you want is talking points to get elected.

I did this years ago and the PA ran with the unsolved murders and hasn't solved shit since but sure did get her/him elected.

I pushed for drug front businesses and stash houses and once again the PA is running with the propaganda but after elections nothing will be done.

Remember a few years back when the county put a hold on the trash can increase then right after election they tripled the trash can tac from $6 a month to $18.

Yeah you all think we don't know the political games you power hungry people play.

Anonymous said...

@5:21pm tsk tsk there you go getting angry again. My do you blame the minority powerless contingent of da hoos, chock and yukumura when they have the votes to do nothing and your buddy Ross the double dipping (has a full time state job and a full time county job) council member local bruddah wanna be thug who can barely speak English Kagawa has the votes to do something but does nothing except posture about Friday night lights and then puts "poop in the park" on the agenda. Funny as hell watching that show. Ross starts out trying to put all those white folk from Wailua in their place and he gets it dished right back at him so at the end of the show he is begging for a west side dog park. Gag me with a fork.

Anonymous said...

What's that?
Looks like dog shit.
Smell? Smell like dog shit.
Taste??? Taste like dog shit.
Hmmmm. Must be dog shit.

Apologies to c&c

Anonymous said...

Ross does not double dip, he was elected . Council men have held second jobs almost always as the council job is only part time and does not pay well enough for a family to live on here. So stop making a big freaking deal that Ross works at another job too, don't matter if he works for the man in the moon, the state or a private entity. And lots of us, think he speaks very well and are willing to bet he comes out a top vote getter.

Anonymous said...

Joan, you seem to know a lot about the GMO industry on Kauai. Can you tell me who in the County is receiving the profits from prisoner work release programs?

Anonymous said...

Prosecutor Kollar said he would do something about the drug houses when he ran for election 4 years ago but he did not tell us he planned to wait until he was up for reelection to do actually do something about it. Crafty bugga. Got him on the front page right before the election.

Anonymous said...

The prosecutor's office was pushing the drug house issue for several years but wasn't getting any traction with the understaffed narco unit at Kpd so now they decided to go ask for their own investigators and clerks to put the cases together. The timing of the grant deadlines is set by the authorities in the big city.

Anonymous said...

5:57am. Give me a break. Ross Kagawa has two full time government jobs, one state and one county. County council pays $65,000 per year and his full time state job pays slightly less. How can that be ok?

Anonymous said...

You sound jealous.

Anonymous said...

I had Kagawa beat by a mile. I was an army reservist after I served on active duty, federal employee, federal contract employee and collected the GI bill all at once so if the system is in placed where he can serve as a DOE employee and as a county employee then he's not cheating the system.

Anonymous said...

Wonder why KPD was uncooperative? Speaks volumes (in kilos).

John Kauai said...

2cents: The "war on drugs" is a total failure. If someone wants to get doped up, they will find a way.
If they want to get off the drugs, they probably need help.
Help is not prosecuting them and putting them in jail.

George Carlin has a great skit about drugs. The Republicans were pushing the death penalty for drug dealers. Carlin, correctly, pointed out that drug dealers don't care about dying. They kill each other every day. The guy you have to go after is the banker who launders the drug money. How do you think they became members of the 1%?

I have a friend pushing Gary Johnson for President. Johnson will legalize all drugs. If you want drugs, he'll sell them to you and take a cut. That cut goes into treatment plans for those who want to get off the drugs. Those who don't want to get off, well, it is your choice. The benefit to society though is that: a) the druggies don't have to pay jacked-up prices so they don't have to steal your "stuff"; b) the state is the dealer so we don't have to waste time and money trying to close the dealer down; c) the state collects a huge revenue. Washington state, for example, is going to collect something like $1B in excise tax from the legal marijuana sales. They can build a lot of roads for that.

I am not suggesting anyone vote for Johnson. He has other "problems". But in this one instance, he's right.

Anonymous said...

Whats the big deal about Kagawa having two jobs? All the other members have full-time jobs or work the equivalent number of hours at several jobs. Don't you know that dumb ass - or are U just after Kagawa.

Anonymous said...

Kagawa is anti-transplants who think they know everything and want everthing handed to them. That's why we love him. He continues to fight for the locals. We'll see come Election Day... Let's see their report cards. Especially Hooser, Yukimura, and Chock. Hee hee. Buy them plenty Kleenex in November.

Anonymous said...

Doggie DooDoo Day at the Council was a high point of their year so far. A regular Kukae Kumbaya with wisdom dropping from the public and piles of "thank you's" from the Council. A regular purgative affair. Reminds me of a movie of my youth, "Splendor in the Grass".

Anonymous said...

Dog poop is an important health and safety issue. And Ross is worth every penny. Somebody has to give a shit about crap.