A LITTLE HUBRIS NEVER HURT ANYONE, RIGHT?
Didya watch the president’s speech the other night? The one where he proposed $447 billion in tax breaks and job creation stimulus spending? Look, I don’t know if any of that will work—the fact that the far larger stimulus program passed a couple years ago didn’t really dent the nation’s jobless numbers could be due to it’s being based on bad economics or simply that it was actually too small to do any good.
But what I do know is that Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie saw the speech, and really stepped up his political game accordingly. Though he did start out a bit slow.
“The President’s priorities are our priorities—creating jobs through modernizing infrastructure and investing in people,” Abercrombie said in a prepared statement released Sept. 8. And that’s exactly the kind of conciliatory meaninglessness we would expect from a career politician. But then Abercrombie hit the throttle with subtle menace.
“In Congress, there is division and discord,” Abercrombie said in the press release. “Here in Hawai`i, everyone—from business to labor, the Legislative and Executive Branch—can come together around our New Day Plan.”
Whoa! I had no idea Abercrombie’s plan (which was actually redone last month to take into account criticism that it was too dependent on federal spending) had become accepted by all. I had no clue Abercrombie’s proposals to spend billions on local infrastructure had brought peace in our time.
And we were all worried about Maui’s 7.3 percent unemployment rate, to say nothing of Molokai’s 14.7 percent jobless rate. Silly us!
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THE PERILS OF WRITING ON MAUI
For those of you reading this online, either at Mauitime.com or our news blog Mauifeed.com, I would just like to say thanks. Seriously, thank you. There is a lot online competing for your attention, and it’s heartening to us here at the paper that you would take time to read us.
I mention this because on Sept. 12 Nielsen—yes, the media analysis firm that gave us television ratings—released their State of the Media: The Social Media Report. Just 12 pages and packed with colorful infographs, it’s nonetheless a sobering look at what people are doing online.
“Social networks and blogs continue to dominate Americans’ time online, now accounting for nearly a quarter of total time spent on the Internet,” states the report. “Americans spend more time on Facebook than they do on any other U.S. website.”
Social networks and blogs dwarf everything else online—including porn. According to the report, 23 percent of Americans’ time online is spent at Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, MySpace and a host of other sites (exactly how much time is spent surfing Internet porn isn’t made explicit in the report: “adult” matters fall into 35 percent that constitutes “other” on the breakdown of Internet time).
As for “current events and global news”—you know, how people like me make a living—that takes up a mere 2.6 percent of Internet users’ time. Meaning that if a person spends, say, five hours online in a day, a bit less than eight minutes of that time went to reading news.
And who knows how much time is spent reading books online. Like porn, books fall into “other” on the time breakdown. Whereas porn is one of the more popular “other” Internet activities (just behind something called “multi-category entertainment”), books fall near the middle of the list, between “multi-category travel” and “multi-category home & fashion.”
Speaking of books, on Sunday, Sept. 11, The Maui News ran a front page story on that great disaster of our time: the publication of Maggie Goes on a Diet. I am—of course—being satirical: though the controversy over the book is now very much national news, Maggie is actually just a gentle tale (Self-published! By a guy in Paia!) of a girl who learns to love herself through the act of living healthy. Of course people are going to misconstrue it as an abomination, a cruel, heartless knife in the heart of all things good and God-fearing and American.
I mean, you could just read the book and find out for yourself that it shows kids the value of hope and self-esteem, but where’s the fun in that? It’s much easier to go online and be a troll and send one of the thousand mostly negative emails author Paul Kramer said he’s received. Because that’s apparently what everyone’s doing online these days.
To be honest, I’m personally biased on this subject. As a newly minted fiction writer (my Maui novel Small Island is now available in trade paperback form at Amazon.com for the low, low price of $14.95!) I’m very sensitive to any talk about how Americans just don’t read very much anymore. The other day I walked by Borders Express in the Queen Kaahumanu Center and actually shuddered when I saw the now-shuttered bookstore—the last such Maui store dedicated to the selling of books left south of Lahaina.
You know, there is something lonely and terrifying about finally climbing the mountain known as “Getting Published,” only to find that no one in the village below really gives a damn.