Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Musings: Scorched Aloha

Interesting, how the Hunting, Farming and Fishing Assn. — the guys who really do feed Hawaii — have a totally different list of candidate endorsements than Center for Food Safety and the other non-farmers who want to dictate how agriculture is done in the Islands.

As the primary election nears, candidates in tough races are feeling the strain — even snapping under pressure:
Not long ago, Hooser was observed on Kuhio Highway, standing alone in the rain at 6:30 a.m., holding a campaign sign and stabbing at the air with an angry expression on his face. The last mad candidate was Bob Cariffe, picking up trash along the road with a sign and a scowl. He never did make the top 12.

Just when you think journalism can't sink any lower at Civil Beat, it does, with “reader rep” Brett Oppegaard telling us that comments are a form of “citizen journalism.”

Now that's a scary thought, if some of the cuckoo comments that come through my in-basket are any indication.

What's more, according to Brett, journalism isn't just a profession. It's “an ideology, and a way of being in the world, and understanding the world.”

Is that the sort of rubbish he's teaching his students at University of Hawaii? But then, it seems at least some of them are wise to his silliness, given their comments — excuse me, their “journalism” — on

Smart guy, but inept teacher. Lectures in monotone for long periods.

[A] lot of times goes on long, irrelevant tangents that no one really listens to.

Indeed. Or as a journalist friend observed:

Anyone who uses the affected “dear reader” in their copy deserves to be slapped. Hard. And then ignored.

Which is likely what Civil Beat editors plan to do when it comes to Brett's admonishment:

If any person wants to express themselves in any media form, they have the right to do that. But if they are going to participate in journalistic discourse, they have basic ethical obligations, and one of those obligations is to disclose all significant conflicts of interest.

That would require Civil Beat to disclose that Pierre Omidyar — its funder, founder and editorial board member — is funneling large sums of money through the Hawaii Community Foundation to groups whose spokespersons and agendas are prominently featured in its stories. To wit, Center for Food Safety, Surfrider, Blue Planet Foundation.

Yeah, it gets a little messy when you're a billionaire social engineer with a penchant for starting vanity presses and people like me call you out.

Which is why Brett did his hit piece on me the other day. A few weeks ago, he began interrogating me about an exchange I'd had with CB editor Patti Epler in the comment section last April. I suggested that if he were keen to claim it's a conflict for me — or apparently anyone — to leave a comment that has nothing to do with how I earn a living, he might want to also look into Pierre's inherent conflict. 

Especially since every time I mentioned it on CB, my comments magically disappeared.

As Brett persisted, I pushed back: Was he going to write about Pierre?

Not in this column ... commenting is a big enough topic for one column, but I am looking into this issue for future columns. …

I kind of figured you didn't want to touch it.  But how can you not when it was at the core of my exchange with Patti?

It's not that I don't want to touch it; it's a complicated subtopic (within the topic I'm addressing) that is beyond the scope of what I want to deal with in this particular column (which therefore would muddy the theme of the piece), about commenting systems and disclosures of commenters. There's always another column, for something like that.

It wouldn't be complicated or muddy in the hands of a more masterful writer. Shoots, I even laid it out for him. But apparently, the will was lacking.

Anyway, I'll be waiting for Brett to publish that column on Omidyar — the day hell freezes over.

Cuz let's face it. The guy ain't got no cojones.

As for me, I tend to agree with Bronson Kaahui:

ALL journalists should be biased towards the truth, not “objectively” reporting BS with facts to get a more “balanced” picture.

On a related topic, yesterday I was telling a group of communicators in the agricultural field about how the anti-GMO movement had polarized Kauai, divided people into “reds” and “blues” based upon the color of their shirts. 

They were appalled, aghast, having no clue at how this movement has scorched aloha the way a blaze blackens the weeds in an abandoned sugar field.

It's a fire that Civil Beat has fanned and fed, both overtly on its pages, and covertly through the philanthropy that has ingratiated Omidyar into the community. That's why I've gone after both of them. And that's why Brett, like a good little toady, delivered their payback — at the expense of his own credibility.

Sadly, with the Star-Advertiser bleeding from a thousand cuts, the Islands may soon be left with only Brett, Civil Beat, Facebook and “citizen journalism” to inform its citizenry.


And thus began the reign of ignorance.


Anonymous said...

waaaahooo!!! I am a journalist!!!

Listen to this:

Blah blah blah blah. You are all wrong. I am right and you should listen to me. I am important.

Blah blah.

Thanks CB I had no idea I could write so well. :-)

Anonymous said...

But for your blog, we've been living in that reign of ignorance here for a long, long time.

Anonymous said...

Look at me mom! I'm a journalist!

Anonymous said...

Brett is a good little toady! Way to sock it to him Joan. We love you!

Anonymous said...

Hate to be a Grammar Bitch but the quote from assistant UH professor (in the School of Communications)/wanna-be journalist Brett Oppegaard struck me as being grammatically incorrect....shouldn't it be, "If any person wants to express HIMSELF"?

"If any person wants to express themselves in any media form, they have the right to do that. But if they are going to participate in journalistic discourse, they have basic ethical obligations, and one of those obligations is to disclose all significant conflicts of interest."

Anonymous said...

And when are you going to disclose you are writing for?

Joan Conrow said...

As I've noted numerous times on this blog, I work for the Alliance for Science doing very specific assignments. When it comes to my blog and any comments I make anywhere, it's all me and I'm not paid to do any of it.

Anonymous said...

I loved that the comments on Brett's story were overwhelmingly in your favor. Good little toady, love it! I don't think the readers Agree with the writer at all. You must be doing something right for them to want to dis you so much, shameful CB.

Anonymous said...

I just seen the Q&A with Nadine and Fern and it wasn't even close. I don't even like Nadine but Fern is way out of her league. She might have had a slim chance on Kauai council but as a state rep she not qualified.

both are oblivious to most issues and that's why Kauai will never progress.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but Fern is anti seed company and supports the legalization of recreational marijuana. A great platform for the new wave coming to Kauai.

Anonymous said...

From Hawaii Office of the Center for Food Safety: "This week, Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety (HCFS) is launching a new advisory body to oversee and guide its work across the Hawaiian Islands." On the basis of their profound knowledge of agriculture, food production, food safety and the law, CFS selected Lorna Cummings Poe and Gary Hooser. Say what? Perhaps if the subject matter were plunking, it might make sense.

Anyway, Gary Hooser will have to make some disclosures for Kuleana Academy, Hawaii CFS and any other organizations he fronts for whenever he comments on Civilly Beat'em.

And, 10:06, for whom do you comment? I comment for myself, although I am considering joining Parti Quebecois.

Joan Conrow said...

So Gary can serve on Boards for advocacy groups, yet he feels there's no conflict of interest when he uses his elected position — and even county resources, such as county letterhead, staff time and the time he is paid to attend Council meeting, to advance the agenda of those groups.

Anonymous said...

It really irks me that I was paying about $20 per month (CB never informed me that they had dropped the price to $4.99, so they kept collecting the higher amount) to subscribe to the Uncivil Beat just to keep abreast of the anti-agriculture spin Omidyar and his rag were spewing.

But I'm even more pissed that now we're ALL paying for this fact-less fake "news outlet", since CB has declared itself a "nonprofit operation", eligible for significant government tax breaks.


Anonymous said...

Joan you need to take a chill pill. You are way too focused on da Hoos. Is not healthy or good for you.

Joan Conrow said...

Gee, thanks for your kind concern, 11:25. But don't worry. Come Saturday he'll be fading into irrelevance.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I recognize that clown. Loos the Hoos. I don't know why they have a primary when all the candidates are going thorough to the General. I guess so they can maneuver if they are close to 7th place. Isn't that how KUalii and Chock slipped by Bynum and Furfaro? When the results come out on Saturday the crap will really start flying at the poor guy in 7th place.

Anonymous said...

That piece in Civil Beat was so utterly absurd!! The fact that they would publish a dumb article about disclosing your bias, conflicts, etc. in comments and only attack one person is ridiculous. Keep up the good work Joan, they must really not want you commenting and asking questions if they go so far as to write a whole article as to why you should be disclosing your conflicts. Idiots. The interesting thing about comments is that anyone can voice their opinion and since they're just comments it's not like readers expect that commentator's don't have some specific viewpoint or bias. I guess they prefer not to have any real dialog.

Anonymous said...

Chiba take the 10-7 bet on Hooser or Chiba and Kawakami supporters take the bet. I'll bet a plate lunch that Hooser gets in. Who like action. No need go chicken fight get plenty gamblers on this blog and get the house/runner too.

Anonymous said...

Joan- How dare you single my comments out as "cuckoo".
This is a great blog. Not only does it give real "news", it gives a great commentary and many times a humorous view on life on Kauai.
The island is divided. Not only Red and Blue on Ag stuff but by the real divider, economics. The rich Haoles, represented by Hooser, JoAnn and Mason are the anti-Ag folks. These new-comers have started to be a real force in politics. Imagine- Dustin Barca almost beat Mayor Carvalho in the NS. A semi-literate, violent confused person who hasn't done a day of community service in his life gets thousands of votes. Go figure.
So the NS ideals of back-to-the-land natural lifestyle is what JoAnn, Gary and Mason want. But little do these three seem to realize is "there is a whole lotta money" in that idyllic NS new-age lifestyle. Millions of dollahs for these Ag estates. And even as we speak..........most of the building permits on Kauai are for Ag condo estates on the NS. Local Housing Zero.....multi-Million Ag Estates over 200 million.
So as I grimace and am so sick of JoAnn and Gary...the NS crowd may get them elected. JoAnn has plenny old Japanese voters, but many of those now think she is really a banana.
Why we can't remember her complete failure during Iniki is a mystery. And her eye rolling gesticulating as she blabby-di-blabs is gut wrenching.
But if this Kauai Eclectic Blog could do one thing, only one..........if this blog assisted in the ouster of Da Hoos....then KE is a blessing.
Just think of the pandemonium of the anti-Ag Bill, the dollar expense and the continuous social expense. Them thar westside locals are pissed. And thanks to Gary, this pissed-off attitude includes pertneer every Haole on the island.
T'will be interesting. And that ol' chimney in Wailua is still smoking, Ag is still growing and hopefully soon Da Hoos will be working full-time as a CFS lobbyist. Can't wait.
If he gets rewarded by his recent obsequious begging we are lost. Begging for votes? Great Gawd Almighty-
“Begging is much more difficult than it looks. Contrary to popular belief, it’s a high art form that takes years of dedicated practice to master.”

Anonymous said...

Gary looks scarily like Mel with that mustache!

Anonymous said...

Querida Joan:

The word for balls in Spanish is cojones--NOT cajones. Cajones means big boxes: "una caja" is a box.

Because copy editing, proofreading and lucid commentary (judging from the addled syntax and even murkier reasoning of Brett) are woefully lacking in contemporary journalism, I am happy to oblige with a rare corrective to your corruscating copy.

Journalism is the first draft of history, and I'm glad your reporting will allow us to look back on how we got to a post-Fistee agrarian paradise, where we're all sitting around a campfire, gnawing on nuts and berries and wondering how it all came to pass.

Keep it up! And take Civil Beat to task. I worked for august newspapers back in the day when publishers were generous and philanthropic, but erected a firewall between their philanthropy and newsrooms. I'm betting Pierre doesn't venture into what passes as a newsroom at Civil Beat much.

John Kauai said...

9:49 with respect to the selection of pronouns, there was a story on NPR (or was it Democracy Now?) just this morning about using "gender neutral" words. I totally agree that using "themselves" sounds ridiculous to my ancient High School English education, but I understand the reasoning behind the choice of what would normally have been a plural word.

I guess it is actually the LBGTQ community that is pushing hardest for this change. Whatever. I'm not taking sides, just passing on what I heard.

WRT Civil Beat and Omidyr, when in the world was journalism anything but "Yellow"? Look at the comments here. "Bias" is immediately obvious for most of them. (In case it isn't clear, I found the CB article to be tedious.)

OTOH, there are comments that include information contrary to the "majority" opinion that aren't necessarily taking sides but rather suggesting the need for better and more information. (Yes, it should be obvious that I think I'm one of those guys. Again, whatever. Not claiming to be right, but not willing to concede I'm wrong.)

I agree that Dr. Oz and Vandana Shiva are probably shills (although there's always room for doubt), but Don Huber and Bob Streit are (IMO) stand-up guys who have seen a problem and are doing their best to issue a clarion call to bring attention to the problem. That they may sometimes sound like Oz and Shiva is unfortunate. This GMO/pesticide/nutrition stuff isn't a black and white issue.

Remember when there was no such thing as "Climate Change"? The last nail has been placed in that coffin. What to do about it though...

I'm just glad that I don't own property in Kapaa or Waikiki. That "happiness" is tempered by the fact that when HNL is underwater, it is going to be difficult to get fresh veggies. (Yes, 30-50 years from now, more or less. Again, whatever. I could live that long. But then I'm concerned about everyone else who will be here after I'm gone -- really.)

Not that anyone cares, but have you ever been to Kiribati? (Christmas Island) That nation is disappearing now.

John Kauai said...


WRT the CB article on "disclosure" in case you didn't see it, here is Jan TenBruggencate's response. Clearly articulated and "right on". (I reserve the right to not agree with Jan on his other endeavors. Although, I fully support the actions that KIUC has been taking.)

'Hi Brett, These are complex issues. Passing over the issue of undisclosed financial conflicts by any publication’s owner and its paid staff, there is also the issue of non-financial bias. If a writer is a close friend and confidant of a news source, as many in the news business are, is there any mechanism to declare that conflict, and is it any less of a conflict? Another issue that I don’t think has been adequately vetted: How do you justify a demand of full disclosure from commenters who use their real names, when the publication allows commenters anonymity through pseudonyms. Once commenters identify themselves, anybody can research their conflicts. But anomymous commenters can assert, as one does in this article’s comment stream, that “writers should take ownership of what they write,” while not themselves taking ownership. In this case, you call out Joan Conrow, who uses her real name and whose biases are manifest, while giving a pass to those unwilling to use their names.'

John Kauai said...

Man oh Man does Brett Oppegaard piss me off.

This "my way or the highway" political discourse is just STUPID.
That he refuses to acknowledge reasoned responses to his op-ed and doubles down like Trump does...

The point is to figure out how to talk to each other, not to figure out how to vanquish your foe.

Maybe I do need to get an AR-15?

Joan Conrow said...

Dear 3:13,

Thank you for the correction, your comment, and for teaching me a great new word: coruscating.

Anonymous said...

Looks like CB guy shot himself in foot... Saw your blog, looked up article.. None of comments support CB idiot. You must have gotten under their skin for him to go after you like that.. Sorry he is a teacher. His writing sucks.

Anonymous said...

This blog is powerful and it got the rid of the former Shayme PA and is now exposing her minions trying for a KPD power grab of the PA's office. I didn't like Justin when he was manipulated by KPD like Jake Delaplane was manipulated by the good ol boys and gals but he learned (both learned) that the puppet masters are evil.

Anonymous said...

But aren't you right in Italian?

Anonymous said...

Brett has a fairly undistinguished career as a journalist, it seems. He's probably one of those academics who's never seen the inside of a newsroom or had a deadline. A Google search on his name came up with very little except academic stuff. Couldn't find any longform or investigative pieces with his byline. Despite all its chest-thumping about its journalistic vigor, CB does not pass muster as a credible news-breaking organization. It's like so many other websites and merely repackages stories, and relying more on its army of "citizen journalists" to provide content in the comments sections.

Anonymous said...

Joan, re: Aug. 10 10:32 response to commenter
"As I've noted numerous times on this blog, I work for the Alliance for Science doing very specific assignments. When it comes to my blog and any comments I make anywhere, it's all me and I'm not paid to do any of it."

I think what readers are referring to is the sizeable 'donations' to ..... 'write what you want'

We've yet to see any disclosure on that.

Joan Conrow said...

Nor will you, because it's none of your business. Do you really believe I, as a private citizen, should share personal financial information with the general public, or someone who doesn't even reveal his/her own name?

But I will tell you that donations have come from people who run the political gamut, including some who do not often agree with me, but value what I contribute to the community discourse.

Anonymous said...

Non profit organizations must report their financials, but citizens are not, everyone is free to gift whomever them want to in life, but if you are a non profit that becomes public info. In this case CB is a non profit and must disclose, Joan here is one brilliant writer with people who support just that.

Anonymous said...

Am guessing Joan that those whi want to see da Hoos be taken down are contributing money to support your blog. Is this fair to say?

Anonymous said...

Hey Joan, at least Bob Cariffe was honest, if not a little dysfunctional. He thought he could win based on him picking up trash and walking to Kapaa from Lihue almost daily. He thought that that alone was going to show the public the struggles he went through as a unlicensed part time building painter, that his efforts were for the people of Kauai. He did make some spare change recycling as well. It was a throwback to the time JoAnn first ran for council. She picked up trash with her supporters and pasted her bumper stickers on the bags (can't do that now, the sticker part). There were a lot of bags on the highway. Us and some of my friends couldn't believe that there was that much trash to be picked up so one day we stopped and opened up one of the bags! Guess what we found? Trash! What a burn.

Joan Conrow said...

You guessed wrong, 7:52. People don't state their political preferences or make any requests for coverage or angle when they give donations.

Anonymous said...

True, you're not required to reveal anything, though the pro chem-seed corps prostheltizing hints at source of donations

Joan Conrow said...


Your comment seems to be a projection of your own belief system, in which you do nothing unless you're paid.

I, on the other hand, have always written about what interests me, what's timely and what needs to be shared. Money has never been my motivator. Furthermore, I'm not prostelyzing for the chem-seed crops. I'm trying to share accurate information about all biotech applications, of which seed companies are but a part.

Anonymous said...

Writing for a living, like farming are both noble professions and the seeds you cast are the ones you hope will provide a good return.

Anonymous said...

Joan, Do you support the introduction of GMO mosquitoes into Hawaiʻi? How about cloning humans with other animals?

Joan Conrow said...

I'd want to review the plan for any proposed release before I supported or opposed. I don't know of any work being done to clone humans with other animals.

John Kauai said...

This question reminds me of GW Bush's ban on embryonic stem cells. (Those "right-to-lifers" baffle me. Love Georges Carlin's take on it, "You know why life is sacred? Because we're alive! We made it up!")

Chimeras don't seem to be as "Sci-Fi" as they used to be. I am not sure the term "cloning" is technically correct, which is kind of not important here in this discussion. "The Island of Doctor Moreau" does come to mind when the discussion is brought up, but if one can grow a human kidney inside a pig that is genetically identical to the human, is that a "good thing" or a "bad thing". Much like wondering if eating pork is "moral". (I like bacon -- a lot)

3 Human Chimeras That Already Exist

Strange Beasts: Why Human-Animal Chimeras Might Be Coming

"Perhaps the most widely discussed implication of the research is its potential to create animals that contain human organs, which could then be transplanted into patients."

Anonymous said...

Best to start researching gmo mosquitoes now. Some want them in Hawaiʻi. Soon.