For those of you not sufficiently terrified of a potential H5N1 “bird flu” influenza pandemic tearing across the world and destroying any semblance of society and normality in Hawai’i, then by all means check out today’s Honolulu Advertiser. The story outlines that if there’s an outbreak, “experts say” that there will be no shortage of catastrophes that will inundate our beloved islands. We’ll have to worry about running out of food and medicine since “25 percent to 30 percent of the population could be affected.” Sanitation, public transportation—such as it is—and communications could all break down. “I’ve even heard of scenarios where ATM machines ran out of cash,” said the state Health Department’s Disease Outbreak Control Division Deputy Chief Sarah Y. Park, who’s actually the only “expert” quoted in the story. Now I’ll admit all that is bad—especially the part about the ATMs. Now no one likes a good global disaster more than me—the World Health Organization estimates H5N1 could potentially mutate into a virus that could kill 7.4 million people—but there’s something about all this bird flu hysteria that’s bothering me. Perhaps it was Greg Easterbrook’s analysis of this very subject that posted on Slate.com on May. 8. In the story, Easterbrook pointed out that since 2003 bird flu has killed 113 people, yet the far less publicized rotavirus has done away with an astonishing 1.5 million people in the same period. Easterbrook also dared to point out that traffic accidents have killed four million people worldwide since 2003.
THURSDAY, May 11
Finally, something interesting has happened in the myriad races to sit on the Maui County Council. After many years of local activism, agitation, analysis and basically doing the work council members should have been doing themselves all along, Huelo resident Lucienne de Naie has announced that she will be a candidate for the East Maui council seat currently occupied by the retiring Bob Carroll. And it’s about time. De Naie understands land development, water resource management, transportation, historic preservation and probably a half dozen other things I’m forgetting. She’s more qualified to sit on that council than most of the incumbents and should have gotten herself elected to public office at least a decade ago. Yeah, I think that’s enough fawning for now.
FRIDAY, May 12
I suppose it was bound to happen. Like Britney Spears getting pregnant again or Mel Gibson filming a weird movie in Yucatec, U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka has finally gotten his wish. Maybe. According to a breaking story just posted on the Honolulu Advertiser’s website, Akaka says his Senate colleagues have finally tired of his constant harping about his big Native Hawaiian recognition bill and have agreed to a floor debate. Sometime in June, assuming that in the meantime they don’t lose interest and there aren’t any killer hurricanes that drown a major American city, not that something like that would happen… again.
SATURDAY, May 13
SUNDAY, May 14
Maybe I’m just hypersensitive to stuff like this because I watched the outstanding but nauseating documentary The Corporation this weekend, but did anyone catch that full page Oceanic Time Warner Cable ad on page A12 of The Maui News today? If you didn’t, it was because the cable giant disguised their ad to look like a regular newspaper page, with stories, headlines and datelines all matching the usual Maui News style sheets. Except there was no news at all—just pure Oceanic fluff with “headlines” like “Control Freaks welcome ‘On Demand’ service” and “Oceanic’s Digital Revolution has something for everyone.” Of course, the word “Advertisement” appears on the top and bottom of the ad in type just large enough to be read without the aid of a scanning electron microscope, so it’s all ethical.
MONDAY, May 15
Who says corporations aren’t fun? Sure, some are all button-down shirts, spreadsheets and bovine growth hormone, but many are making great strides in the Department of Fun! Like CB Richard Ellis Hawai’i, which is developing the new Lahaina Gateway shopping center across from the Lahaina Cannery Mall. But the Gateway won’t be just some ordinary, boring mall—it’s going to be a “lifestyle mall.” “A lifestyle mall isn’t [a] place you go to run errands,” Ellis Vice President Scott Crockford said in today’s Pacific Business News. “It’s a place where you go for fun… This is a trend nationwide and you’ll see more of it across Hawai’i—small malls anchored by fun places like big book stores and coffee shops with restaurants and fun places to shop, aimed at affluent residents and visitors.” See! Fun! He said it three times! It must be fun!
TUESDAY, May 16
The Toyota TAPESTRY program just gave Seabury Hall math and science teacher Martin Emde $10,000 to build an electric car, according to yesterday’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin. This is great and wonderful and all—especially for Embe’s students, who will get tremendous experience building the car—but it’s also just a tad ironic. See, the grant comes from Toyota, which the last time I checked was still a carmaker. In fact, from 2002 to 2003, Toyota built the RAV4-EV, which was an actual electric car. This car was only around a short time—like all electric cars, which actually date back to the 1880s—but was enormously popular; in just eight months, the company sold out it’s entire two-year supply. But the car was a product of California’s then-strong Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate. See, in 1990, the state actually passed a law requiring that by 2003, 10 percent of all cars had to be electric. Companies like General Motors, which produced the EV-1, and Toyota duly complied with that law. And they were good cars, too, capable of driving as fast and nearly as far as any gasoline-powered automobile. Until 2003, that is, when the state decided it didn’t need any electric car mandate. Overnight, all those EV-1s and RAV4-EVs vanished. Which, unfortunately, is probably what’s going to happen to the car Embe’s class eventually builds.
Anthony Pignataro could really use one of those $10,000 grants right now. MTW