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Your tax dollars at work

Thursday, December 16th, 2004

Republican humor — that Karl Rove is a riot! Red balls! ha ha! — at the White House Barneycam.

Tracking the news

Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

It’s always interesting tracing how a story enters the national conciousness, and thanks to the miracle of Google News, you can chart it. This is the case of a story the Star-Bulletin broke Tuesday. Last week I stumbled across a story in the making — the University of Hawaii and NOAA had discovered a gigantic seaplane that sank in a spectacular disaster off Pearl Harbor in 1950 — and knowing that NOAA would release the information in a government press release, I worked through the weekend developing a nice, complete, well-illustrated package on the subject.
The package was pretty much scuttled by an editorial decision to run a enormous picture of people weeping at a funeral — that’s the breaks in the news biz — but parts of it appeared in the Star-Bulletin before anywhere else.
Immediately, the Associated Press filed a rewrite of the Star-Bulletin story, not attributing the Star-Bulletin and containing no new facts, but — amusingly — containing an AP copyright.
First to bite was radio station KPUA in Hilo, who posted the AP story on their website before noon. Before the 24-hour news cycle had passed, the Associated Press story had appeared in more than 50 newspapers and Web sites around the world, with more to come. Although the Star-Bulletin wasn’t credited by AP with breaking the story, the newspaper remains the primary hit in Google searches.
A full day later, the Honolulu Advertiser attempted to spin the story into a generalist piece in an effort to appear different, but the info within it was recycled from elsewhere. The byline should have been shared with NOAA!

Remembering their sacrifice

Friday, December 10th, 2004

I usually go out to the Arizona Memorial Visitors Center each Dec. 7 to observe the memorial services, but this year I went to the much smaller commemoration held around the old flagpole at Hickam Air Force Base. The pole was flying a bullet-torn flag during the morning of the attack, famously captured in a photograph, and the PACAF offices nearby are still scarred with spall damage from strafing runs. Vehicle obstructions have been placed around the buildings in a nod to security measures post-9/11, but the base hasn’t changed much in 65 years. Freedom isn’t free.

How many years?

Thursday, December 9th, 2004

Star-Bulletin reporter Mary Adamski hit her 43rd year at the newspaper this week, with no signs of slowing down. She started in1961! More than one staffer pointed out that Mary has been working at the paper for longer than thay’ve been alive. Yikes!

The monster at the door

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

Gannett, fat with dollars, is snuffling around the Pulitzer chain, thinking about gobbling them up too. If so, they’d also own the Garden Island paper and related Kauai publications. And what would become of TNI Partners? That’s the Tucson, Arizona, equivalent of the Hawaii Newspaper Agency. Pulitzer and Gannett already have a JOA in Tucson that handles the business operations of the Arizona Daily Star and Gannett’s Tucson Citizen. Bye bye informed citizenry.

Gannett’s circulation took a sizable tumble during 2004, according to Big G execs.

Interestingly, the Star-Bulletin’s Michelle Ramos picked up on the Sally Forth item below, and I provided additional information when she called, but she credited it to another copy editor. I guess we all look alike!

A date that will live in history pop quizzes

Tuesday, December 7th, 2004

And to commemorate the anniversay of the attack upon Pearl Harbor, here’s a student project that will likely rub you the wrong way.

Radford toon

Monday, December 6th, 2004

Sally Forth is drawn by 1962 Radford High School grad Craig MacIntosh, and every once in a while the characters wear Radford stuff. I also went to Radford and I also started as a cartoonist there, but unlike Craig, I’m not a success.

And Gannett’s Doug McCorkingdale is some sort of golf whore.

Ollie’s back

Saturday, December 4th, 2004

The TV documentary I did with Oliver North last year is being reaired tomorrow — 3 p.m. Sunday Hawaii time on Fox News — and another one we filmed a few weeks ago will air in January. North also thanked me in his current book that recycles information about the Pacific War. I’m agog with ambivalence!

Opala, my heart

Friday, December 3rd, 2004

The circle jerk that occurred yesterday when the City Council flew into a public display of indecision and then made the obvious choice — yeah, we’re talking about the Ko Olina landfill — actually provoked the devil on my shoulder into an illiberal notion: The Leeward Coast probably gets more taxpayer-funded government assistance than any other region of the state, and it would be nice if they stepped up to the plate once in a while to help the rest of us. Out, damn thought, out!
Seriously, the one notion that kept popping up in testimony was a bizarre belief that “technology” could somehow make trash go away. These people might as well insist that “magic” is the answer to landfill issues. While technology exists to reduce the amount of rubbish and to make it stable, it won’t make it disappear, like a rabbit in a hat. It’s an issue of physics, not belief. Get real.
You want technology? Why not build an O’Neill Drive on the slopes of Mauna Kea, pointed west? It would probably only need to be a few miles long. Gerard O’Neill was the fellow who discovered that cascading pulses of electomagnetic energy could accelerate a metal capsule quickly and cheaply — accelerate it so fast it could acheive escape velocity. A track on the Big Island, pointed uphill toward the skies, closer to the equater so that the kinetic momentum energy is greater, aiming west for the same reason, is already within our capability.
What’s the point? Well, you could compact the trash into a steel boxcar, flip on the O’Neill Drive and launch the package off the earth and into space, probably into the sun. Or into a low-earth orbit that will decay and burn up on reentry, making pretty falling stars. We could also get rid of nuclear waste this way, and charge the supplier a fortune to do so.
OK, the residents of Mountain View might complain about the sonic booms destroying their lives. But this is real technology, not magic. Could it be built? Answer — could Castle Junction be completed on time and under budget?

Son of bleahhhhh

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004

The flu is almost bearable today. Too bad I wasn’t sent to Canada to cover President Bush.

Congratulations to Ian Lind, whose blogsite topped half-a-million visitors yesterday with its mix of media criticism, political commentary and kitty porn. From the breathless anticipation, I halfway expected The Rapture to occur when the meter rolled over, but I also expected it when my Jeep registered more than 200,000 miles and that didn’t happen either.

A couple of readers have pointed out a nice piece on Iris Chang in the current Salon.