WEDNESDAY, Jan. 24
In January 2006 state Board of Education member Mary Cochran got so hot and bothered about alleged drug use on Maui school campuses she demanded the immediate release of dope-sniffing dogs. “Don’t waste time,” she reportedly said. “Go for it. What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? You’re going to get your wrist slapped or you’re going to get sued.” Well, looks like she got her wish—about the dogs, not the lawsuit, though there’s still plenty of time for that. Sometime this month, a dog and its handler will visit Kalama Intermediate School in Makawao and sniff the gym, cafeteria, lockers, lounges, restrooms and the outside of all the buildings. The state Attorney General’s office, school officials and parents all seem thrilled. The parents especially, who said things in yesterday’s Honolulu Advertiser like “I think it’s great” and “Why not?” Of course, the local office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)—that meddling band of party-poopers who still take the Bill of Rights seriously—has its reservations. “Whether or not it’s an appropriate security measure—that remains to be seen,” Hawai`i ACLU executive director Vanessa Chong says in today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Among her concerns: the operation would constitute a “dragnet search,” assuming collective guilt instead of “individualized suspicion.” Come on, this is America! We invented the Bill of Rights! Then again, the National Security Agency is tracking every citizen’s phone records regardless of probable cause. And the state Attorney General is busy banning drug offenders from public areas. Oh yeah, I’d say the time to start worrying was, oh, about six years ago.
THURSDAY, Jan. 25
The long-awaited press release from the Maui Dharma Center finally came in today: the rumors we’ve all been hearing are true, and the Dalai Lama is actually coming to the island. On April 24 and 25, he will appear at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center as part of his latest incredibly popular world tour. As usual, the Tibetan Buddhist monk ousted from his homeland by the Chinese government in 1959 will speak about the importance of kindness, compassion and world peace, which are all very good and necessary ideas—especially given the way the Chinese Communist leadership conquered Tibet, murdered hundreds of thousands of Tibetan citizens and are currently moving so many ethnic Han Chinese into the land that the Tibetan people and culture may soon disappear entirely—but are also, undeniably, pretty easy to push. “The Dalai Lama’s pop Buddhism is appealingly self-centered: Happiness trumps everything,” wrote Slate.com’s David Plotz on Apr. 20, 1997. “This is a winning idea in our therapeutic culture: a religion that’s about my satisfaction, not God’s.” In any case, since the Dalai Lama’s first day at the MACC will be completely free and open to the public (Day Two costs $20 per person “plus applicable service fees”), I’d start thinking now about where to park your car.
FRIDAY, Jan. 26
My calendar says today is Australia Day, and yet instead of participating in the grand festivities, I have to work. What gives?
SATURDAY, Jan. 27
Quick, what’s the first word to come to mind when you hear the phrase “cruise ship?” If you guessed “outbreak,” you’d be correct! Apparently, good ol’ norovirus is all the rage in modern luxury cruises. And no ship seems immune—even the venerable old Queen Elizabeth 2, due to arrive in Hawai`i this weekend, is in the throes of a vicious stomach flu outbreak. According to today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 276 out of the ship’s 1,652 passengers—nearly 17 percent—had contracted the virus. If this seems like a low percentage, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) consider an “outbreak” to occur when more than three percent of the ship’s passengers get sick. What’s more, statistics gathered by noted cruise ship analyst Ross Klein (www.cruisejunkie.com) indicates the problem is getting worse. In 2006, a total of 6,502 cruise shippers became ill in 51 outbreaks, which was substantial increase over 2005’s 4,016 sick passengers in 32 outbreaks. That’s a stunning 59 percent increase in outbreaks. A Jan. 22 Florida Today story quotes a CDC official as saying the greater number of outbreaks is “partly related” to the expansion of the cruise industry, but official cruise line growth figures cited in the Florida Today article indicate the cruise industry grew just nine percent in 2005 and 11 percent in 2004 (2006 figures aren’t yet available).
SUNDAY, Jan. 28
Maui County Council Chairman Riki Hokama doesn’t want to see any more superstores like Wal-Mart or Home Depot on the island. So reports yesterday’s Maui News, which quoted from Hokama’s recent letter on the subject to his colleagues. Big box retailers bring “tremendous community impacts, including traffic congestion, increased demand on government infrastructure, negative environmental consequences and harmful, often fatal, impacts on small business,” Hokama wrote, according to the Maui News. How dare he! Does Chairman Hokama have no shame? How in good conscience can he rattle off all those problems associated with enormous shopping outlets without mentioning that they also—especially in the case of Wal-Mart—tend to be anti-union? It’s enough to make you question his whole line of argument.
MONDAY, Jan. 29
By the way, did I mention the QE2 was coming to Maui? She dropped anchor off Lahaina this morning. You’ve got nothing to worry about, though—not only is the CDC reporting that the norovirus outbreak is under control, but heavy seas apparently prevented the liner from launching any boats into Lahaina Harbor.
TUESDAY, Jan. 30
By the way, did you know that full-time cashiers who’ve been with Costco for four years earn $40,000 a year? No, that’s not an error:Forty Thousand Dollars American. Plus health benefits, too. Says so in The New York Times, if you don’t believe me. Unlike some retail giants–one of which has a name that rhymes with Ball Fart–Costco apparently wants to give its valued, long-term employees a living wage. Go figure.
Anthony Pignataro has invented many phrases, including “big box,” “heavy seas” and “coke-addled” but for some reason receives no royalties from their use. MTW