So Maui County Councilman Dain Kane doesn’t have to do any jail time for his little DUI adventure in November on Kauai. He has to pay $652 in fines and fees, but he gets to stay out of the slammer. What can I say—this is what happens when you plead the fifth. Get it? The fifth? See, he was drunk and so when he got to court… How could you not find this stuff hilarious? Kane’s a public official who helps make county laws—a potential mayoral candidate, really—and he committed a crime! And it’s a real crime, not just one of those super-political crimes that only powerful officials can possibly commit. I mean, those are bad, too: look at the mayhem President George W. Bush is causing because he decided that simply because he’s president he didn’t have to obey the law requiring government officials to get a court warrant before engaging in electronic espionage of U.S. citizens. That’s jacked up, but it’s not like you or I could go out and break that law. I mean, not anytime soon. But with Kane, he broke a law that only requires someone to be stupid and get behind the wheel while drunk. And that is funny. Oh, and it helps that Kane didn’t hurt or kill anyone either.
THURSDAY, Dec. 29
Went to see Syriana tonight with my buddy Steve. Everything went well, until we got to the Maui Mall box office and saw that Syriana—a complex Steven Soderbergh picture about oil politics, geo-strategy and espionage that’s been out a few weeks—was sold out. If I wasn’t so pissed at missing the film, I’d be proud of all of you for bypassing King Kong, Harry Potter and that one Charlize Theron flick where she dresses in black spandex and kills people in favor of a gritty look at U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. The night wasn’t a total loss—we ended up having dinner at the Ale House, where a 62-year-old Kahului local guy who looked 42 told us the key to staying young is a steady stream of young chicks and booze. Needless to say, we drank to that.
FRIDAY, Dec. 30
Bad news for anyone who runs one of those ridiculously wealthy credit card companies: Hawai’i bankruptcies are really high this year, according to today’s Honolulu Advertiser. Well, maybe it’s bad—it could just be that the glorious Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 kind of spiked the number of personal bankruptcies before it went into effect in October. See, that month saw 1,463 bankruptcies statewide, but just 14 in November. So it’s a success! And by success, I mean that it makes it all but impossible for normal working people to declare personal bankruptcy. See, this has been the credit cart company’s wet dream for years, and President Bush was more than happy to make it come true. They couldn’t exactly call their bill the “Squeeze Working People and Credit Industry Protection Act of 2005,” so they just went with something a little softer and misleading. Trust me, this kind of stuff happens all the time. Anyway, the important thing is that Bush’s No Corporation Left Behind plan is working.
SATURDAY, Dec. 31
Speaking of giving the big guys what they want, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that department isn’t doing as much as it could to keep an eye on biotech companies and the field tests they’re conducting on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). “Current [USDA] regulations, policies and procedures do not go far enough to ensure the safe introduction of agricultural biotechnology,” stated the Inspector General’s report, according to the Advertiser. The problem is that if government oversight isn’t sufficient, then it’s possible genetically modified seeds could escape from their test fields and enter the greater agricultural world, thus contaminating the world’s food supply. GMO seed companies like Monsanto—and its local affiliate Monsanto Hawai’i—have always said such contamination wasn’t likely, but without proper U.S. government oversight, who’s to say?
SUNDAY, Jan. 1
What year is this again?
MONDAY, Jan 2
Today the Advertiser says “exotic” mortgages involving adjustable-rate loans and interest-only payments are really getting hot. But before you say “housing bubble,” just listen to what outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said about them back in June: “To be sure, these financing vehicles have their appropriate uses,” said Greenspan, who I think is the only guy on the planet who uses the phrase “financing vehicle.” “But some households may be employing these instruments to purchase homes that would otherwise be unaffordable and consequently their use could be adding pressures in the housing market.” See? Nothing to worry about. Well, as long as rates stay where they are and buyer incomes rise… Oh yeah, we’re doomed.
TUESDAY, Jan. 3
You know, the coming of the New Year isn’t all happy times and pass the Zipperhead shots. We should all be hopeful and positive and all that, but we should also be vigilant. There are dangers out there, people! Big ones! Just listen to our president—he seems to love telling us that the world is a scary, dangerous place and we have to be tough! Who knows what kind of threat lurks around the corner? There’s Iraq, a burning maelstrom of horrors. And there’s avian influenza, which is just waiting to unleash a pandemic on us all. And then there’s cheerleading-related injuries. They’re up, you know. By a lot, according to an Associated Press report in today’s Maui News. From 1990 to 2002, the number of cuts, scrapes, bruises, strains and fractures caused by cheerleading more than doubled, while the nation’s cheerleader population grew just 18 percent. Doubled! “Cheerleading is not what it used to be,” safety instructor and ex-cheerleader Erin Brooks told the AP. “It’s no longer standing on the sidelines looking cute in a skirt. It’s more body skills.” Given the injury data, it’s more like a lack of skills.
Anthony Pignataro feels that it’s far too easy to delete computer files and someone really ought to do something about that. MTW