Monday, June 30, 2008

Bishop vs. Walden

Hunter Bishop opines on Andrew Walden and his Hilo-based paper, the Hawaii Free Press:

Post outs isle paper as scandalmonger

Ian Lind at [sic] today alerts us to the part of this Washington Post story about right-wing loony [really, now!--P.Z.] Andrew Walden, publisher of Hawaii Free Press.

Seems Walden now may claim the dishonor of being the first in the nation to publish certain false and malicious rumors about Barack Obama that had been circulating on the Internet by way of an anonymous e-mail chain, according to the Post.

Of course around here discerning readers already know of Walden's tortured relationship with truth. Now it's known nationwide. Walden will probably crow perversely about the notoriety when he should be embarrassed to be exposed as a hack on such a grand scale.

Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Walden's active in the Republican party. Does the party condone this sort of political thuggery? Or does the GOP like having Walden's newspaper around for this very purpose, spreading smear campaigns?
Walden addresses the Post here.

Update: Hattie's Web comments.

Walden's article quoted in the Post: Here.

Worse Than Grandma's Depression

June 30, 2008
Worse Than Grandma's Depression

This isn't so funny anymore. Intimations of a July banking collapse rumbled though the Internet this weekend while mainstream news orgs like The New York Times and CNN pulled their puds over swift boats and Amy Winehouse's performance technique. Something is happening, and you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones...? to quote the master.

What's happening is that American society is sliding into a greater depression than the one Grandma lived through. On the technical side, there has been unending controversy as to whether we're gripped by inflation or deflation. It's certainly deceptive. Food and gasoline prices are rising faster than the rivers of Iowa. But the prices of assets, like houses, stocks, jet-skis, GMC Yukons and pre-owned Hummel figurines are cratering as America turns into Yard Sale Nation.

We're a very different country than we were in 1932. In that earlier crisis of capital, few people had any money but our society still possessed fantastic resources. We had plenty of everything that our land could provide: a treasure trove of mineral ores and the equipment to refine it all, a wealth of oil and gas still in the ground, and all the rigs needed to get at it, manpower galore (and of a highly disciplined, regimented kind), with fine-tuned factories waiting for orders. We had a railroad system that was the envy of the world and millions of family farms (even despite the dust bowl) owned by people who retained age-old skills not yet degraded by agribusiness. We had fully-functional cities with operating waterfronts and ten thousand small towns with local economies, local newspapers, and local culture.

We had a crisis of capital in the 1930s for reasons that are still debated today. My own guess is a combination of a bad debt workout that sucked "money" into a black hole (since money is loaned into existence, but vanishes if the loans are not systematically paid back) plus a gross saturation of markets, meaning that every American who had wanted to buy a car or an electric toaster had done so and there was no one left to sell to. (The first round of globalism -- 1870 - 1914 -- had shut down after the fiasco of World War One.)

Our debt problems today are of a magnitude so extreme that astronomers would be hard pressed to calculate them. By any rational measure our society is comprehensively bankrupt. From the federal treasury down to the suburban cul-de-sacs so much loaned money is either not being paid back, or is at risk of never being paid back, that the suckage of presumed wealth has passed through an event horizon out of the known universe into some other realm of space-time, never to be seen again in this realm. This would seem to be the very essence of monetary deflation -- money defaulted out-of-existence.

This condition is partly disguised by both the loss of credibility of US currency and real-world scarcities of oil and food, but the upshot will be something at least twice as bad as the Great Depression of the 1930s: people with no money in a land with no resources (with manpower that has no discipline), hardly any family farms left, cities that are basket-cases of bottomless need, comatose small towns stripped of their assets and social capital, an aviation industry on the verge of death, and a railroad system that is the laughingstock of the world. Not to mention the mind-boggling liabilities of suburbia and the motoring infrastructure that services it.

The banks have been doing their death dance for an entire year now, pretending that their problems are those of mere "liquidity" (i.e. cash-on-hand) rather than insolvency (no cash either on hand or in the vault and nothing else to sell to raise cash except worthless "creative" securities that nobody would ever buy). But the destruction of money (resulting from loans not paid back) is now so intense that the game of pretend has reached its terminal point. The question for the moment is exactly who and what will be crushed as these institutions roll over and die.

Complicating matters is a global oil predicament that is really not hard to understand, but which the organs of news and opinion have obdurately failed to explicate for an anxious public. Call it Peak Oil. There are only a few elements of it you need to know. 1.) that demand has now permanently outstripped supply; 2.) that new discoveries are too meager to offset consumption; 3.) That under under the circumstances, the systems we rely on for daily life are crumbling. I've called this situation The Long Emergency.

Our chances of mitigating this, and of continuing our current way-of-life is about zero. I've tried to promote the idea that rather than waste remaining resources in the futile attempt to sustain the unsustainable (i.e. come up with "solutions" to keep suburbia running), that we should begin immediately making other arrangements for daily life -- mainly by downscaling and re-scaling everything from farming to commerce to the way we inhabit the landscape -- but my suggestions have proven unpopular even among the "environmental" elites, who are too busy being entranced by new-and-groovy ways to keep all the cars running.

So where we are at now is the equivalent of standing in the slop by the ocean shore under a gathering hundred-foot-high wave that is about to come crashing down on our heads. Since I sure don't know everything, I can't say how this will all play out in the months ahead, especially with the presidential election coming at the exact moment that voters will be turning on their furnaces for the cold and dark winter beyond. I would venture to say that so far our society as a whole has done a piss-poor job of comprehending the situation. But there is still the possibility, with four months of politicking left, that the nature of our predicament can be articulated in a way that few can fail to understand, the way Mr, Lincoln articulated the terms of the Civil War on the eve of its fateful outbreak.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

What Now? Part Three

A 23 June post on mentions this:

Also in these comments from Tiffany was the agenda for the County Council's Human Services and Economic Development Committee meeting at 9:30 a.m. July 1 in Hilo, where the closing of the Hawaii Island Journal will be discussed:

Comm. 1296:
From Councilmember Emily Naeole, dated June 12, 2008, requesting the above presentation.

That should prove to be interesting.
Would Naeole have gone through the trouble if it were the Hawaii Free Press that went under?

But "a flicker of hope remains" :

And another note on the Journal. There's a small chance that the reports of its demise may be premature. I understand that at least one buyer is interested and that the newspaper's staff has remained largely intact, though unpaid, pending further developments. Nothing certain, but a flicker of hope remains.
Hunter Bishop doesn't mention Andrew Walden's HFP article that suggests Stephens Media may have acquired some of the Journal's assets. I see that Rob Brezsny's syndicated "Free Will Astrology" column, a Journal staple, has made its debut in the 25 June Big Island Weekly.

In that same issue of the Big Island Weekly, there is a letter by Galen Kelly that takes a very different view of the demise of the Journal:

Socialism is not a term to be easily tossed about. And no, I'm not afraid of the word, but more on that in a minute. Kristine, your two opening paragraphs (June 18) lead the reader to believe that what follows is your take on, and response to, the sinking of The Hawaii Island Journal. We get a bit of that and then are lead [sic] down the path of socialism and global warming. Firstly, it's my belief that the Journal was dying a slow death long before the BIW came on the scene; my own perception of it was that it was killing itself with moderation (mostly in its lukewarm coverage of the war), with playing it safe, with avoiding the kind of controversy that shines a light on many of the corruptions we face today. It is the Internet that houses the bravest of journalists and the most uninhibited informing, leaving in the dust those who still honor the status-quo and cower to power. Many papers are suffering under this phenomenon. The Big Island Weekly can escape that and seems to be going further in bringing the truth, even when the truth is ugly. May it continue to grow in being brave and uncompromising. [Emphasis mine.--P.Z.]
30 June update: This column by Andrew Walden, "Bloggers Buzz Over Big Island Media Shakeup," appeared in the 17 December 2006 issue of It has proven to be prescient. In retrospect, the decline of the Journal might be traced to its acquisition by the Honolulu Weekly, though some would blame pre-Weekly editor Lane Wick for steering the paper back to the arcaneness which plagued the Journal's predecessor, Ka'u Landing, in the late nineties: [Note: I added the names of HunterBishop comment authors, and the dates when they were published.--P.Z.]

Special from Hawaii Free Press
By Andrew Walden, 12/17/2006 2:40:01

With the December 6 introduction of Big Island Weekly, Las Vegas-based Stevens Media, owner of the Hawaii Tribune Herald, West Hawaii Today, North Hawaii News, Westside Weekly, and the Kamaaina Shopper enters the Big Island alternative media space. This move continues the reshaping of a print media scene marked by the termination earlier this year of reporter Hunter Bishop and others at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, and now by the resignations of reporters Tiffany Edwards and Betsy Tranquilli from West Hawaii Today.

To counter the challenge from Big Island Weekly, the South Kona-based Journal is believed to be considering adopting a weekly format [Hawaii Island Journal never went weekly--P.Z.] and opening an office in (gasp) Hilo, considered by some of its Kona readers to be a “bastion of low-IQ people”.

Commenting on the first issue of Big Island Weekly, Bishop writes on his Blog, [link added by P.Z.] “Editor Kristine Kubat, a Puna geothermal protester in the early '90s, pulled out all the environmental stops in the inaugural issue, including an interview with her old friend Palikapu Dedman….”

More fake environmentalism from those who oppose accepting Madame Pele’s gift to Hawaii--clean geothermal electricity--can only be a sign the Big Island Weekly is aiming at the heart of the HIJ’s political base of anti-environmental “environmentalists”.

Say the readers of Bishop’s Puna-focused blog:

“I can't say I've been satisfied with the quality of Hawaii Island Journal since the purchase by the Honolulu Weekly. The size of the paper has dwindled and with it, the amount of quality content. Perhaps it will improve as a weekly but I won't hold my breath. That said, the publisher of BIW (Stephens Media) does not instill a lot of confidence in this reader that the average BIW will be any more worthy of my time than their Kamaaina Shopper already is.” [2nd comment, Rodion, 12 Dec. 2006]

“I kind of stopped reading the HIJ just because those articles were getting super long and cumbersome to read and because the overall subject matter was not that interesting to me.” [10th comment, Josephine Keliipio (was nativeroots), 14 Dec. 2006]

“[Hawaii Island Journal] used to come out with hard-hitting articles that focused attention on important issues. When is the last time they broke a major story? It seems that all they can manage now is a lot of new-age philosophy, which probably pleases some of their advertisers but doesn't do much for me. Oh yes, they will decry injustice and support the environment generically, but investigative reporting is what is needed. An expose' on the good old boy local power structure, or on the inequities in the local government funding structure might get my attention again. I don't even bother to pick it up any more, so somebody will have to tell me if they get it back on track.” [11th comment, Wankine, 14 Dec. 2006]

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hawaii: Peak Oil Canary

The Oil Drum on how peak oil might affect Hawaii. One commenter notes already more silent nights because motorcyclists and hot rodders can't afford gas.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What Now? Part Two

Foreshadowing in this 2007 issue of the Hawaii Island Journal.

The cover article in the 10-23 March 2007 issue of the Hawaii Island Journal (pictured), "Corporate Media," by HIJ editor Peter Serafin, deals with pseudo-alternative papers, and mentions the Big Island Weekly, which had debuted a few months before. Serafin also points out that "newsgathering resources are being cut at unprecedented rates, and the quality of information available to citizens has suffered.

"A local example: Using the industry's standard ratio to determine the number of editorial staffers a newspaper needs to serve a given number of readers, Stephens Media's Hawaii Tribune-Herald is understaffed. This means HT-H staff reporters don't always have time to be as thorough as they'd like, and some stories aren't covered as well as well as they could be--if they're covered at all. There simply aren't enough people to do the work."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What Now?

was the title of a cartoon by Keith [not Ken, mea culpa] Tucker that ran occasionally in the Hawaii Island Journal. It was also the headline of the HIJ's second-to-last issue, and it's the question some are asking now that the final issue has hit stands.

In retrospect, the Journal (owned by Honolulu Weekly since 2005) has been struggling for some time. I noticed the paper had lately thinned out to twenty pages. Hattie has eyed the Big Island Weekly with suspicion as a faux-alternative paper designed to drain advertising away from the Journal, and she's probably right.

If there's a winner, or at least a survivor, it's the Hawaii Free Press, the center-right newspaper founded at the beginning of 2005 by Andrew Walden. It eschews the cultural coverage of the two other papers in favor of news and opinion. Each issue is only eight pages but there is little filler (few ads, no cartoons or horoscopes).

I'll try to post more about the HIJ later.

Update: This is perhaps the strongest post about the HIJ's demise.

An excerpt:

My understanding is that the Honolulu Weekly (and the Hawaii Island Journal) are (were) printed on the Star-Bulletin/MidWeek presses, and that the Advertiser isn't a competitive option. That is, they won't print alternative weeklies. If there are so few options, that makes publication of a weekly paper a precarious thing. With the price of shipping going up, I wonder if printing any paper out of town can make economic sense (I just don't know). If the Big Island wants to have a free weekly paper, what choices do they have to print it locally, that is, economically?

And let's face it, we're getting mostly ads and entertainment listings in the Honolulu Weekly. It's no Village Voice, and journalism isn't its main thrust. While I'm glad to see the articles they do run, those articles are very few. We're not necessarily getting our money's worth.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Airships Over Manhattan

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Generation Y Illustrated

wonderfully by this Forbes cover of almost eighteen years ago. Generation Y includes the big-spending "4-to-12-year-olds" (born c. 1978-1986) that were the focus of Peter Newcomb's cover story, "Hey Dude, Let's Consume."