Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Tsunami: Seventy Years Ago

Tomorrow is the seventieth anniversary of the tsunami. The two big tsunamis affected different parts of coastal Hilo. There used to be many buildings along the makai side of Kamehameha Avenue. When the 1946 wave hit, most of them were smashed up, but the mauka buildings largely escaped damage.

This is perhaps the most known photo from the tsunami, of people running up Ponahawai Street.

And this is one of many buildings along Kamehameha wrecked by the tsunami.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Happy Easter!

I'll be busy today and tomorrow preparing for and celebrating Easter.

Easter Dates from 1600 to 2099.

Easter parade.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Getting Political Stuff Out of the Way Until After Easter Sunday

Her "halo has slipped", according to The Economist.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Rogue Columnist: "Bern Down the House."

Kunstler on Politics and Peak Oil

Last week's Kunstler column, "Bull Run."

Kunstlercast 275: Art Berman Clarifies Whatever Happened to Peak Oil.

This week's Kunstler column, "The Uses of Disorder."

M any thoughtful and patriotic citizens entering the Kubler-Ross free-fire zone of desperate bargaining with reality are at work attempting to chart an orderly course around the Godzilla-like figure of Trump looming outside the desecrated once-shining city of American democracy. I doubt there is such an orderly way through this political bad weather. When storms hit, things break up.

It can be argued endlessly whether times produce the man or vice versa, but except in the most schematic and wishful sense, is there any question that Donald Trump is unfit for the office he’s seeking? Personally, I am tortured by the question: why him? Why this vulgarian who can’t string together two sequentially coherent thoughts? Are there in this land of 320 million-plus people no other men or women with comfortable fortunes and better minds bold enough to take on the matrix of mafias running our affairs into the ground? Apparently not.

Then there is the question — only nascently theoretical at this point — of where such an orderly course of decision and action might lead this country. For Trump, it seems to be a restoration of the 1950s, when armies of “breadwinner” factory workers churned out cornucopias of Maytag washers and Zenith black-and-white televisions, and the less numerous Wogs of the outside world busied themselves with basket-weaving, and Atoms For Peace would make electric power “too cheap to meter,” and popular entertainment came in the chaste form of Dinah Shore urging the upward-aspiring masses to “see the USA in your Chevrolet!”

That was, of course, the time of Trump’s childhood (and my own), and if there is anything more certain than night following day, it is that America is not going back to that sunny moment. Trump and I are way past done growing up as human organisms and America is done growing as a techno-industrial political economy. People decline and die and are replaced by new people, and political economies wither and morph into sets of new activities and relations.

The forces of history want to take us to this new disposition of things, and just about everything on the American scene these days is a manifestation of resistance to that journey. The destination is a much re-scaled and down-scaled edition of daily life in a de-globalized economy, with far fewer luxuries and a greater demand for earnestness, purposeful work, generosity-of-spirit, and plain dealing. These are not qualities exhibited by Trump, who represents only the poorly-articulated and grandiose wish to “make America great again.”

The institutional collapse of the Republican Party is in full swing now thanks to Trump. By the way, it could easily be matched by an equally brutal collapse of the Democratic Party if the head of the FBI makes any criminal referrals in the matter of the Clinton Foundation’s entanglements in official State Department business via an email slime trail. It would be an awesome and wondrous event if the nation landed on November 8 with both parties in complete disarray and more than a couple of rump factions posting candidates with dubious legitimate credentials to stand for election. In over two hundred years we have not seen a national election postponed, or canceled.

I’ll repeat my assertion that professional observers on the political scene appear oblivious to the financial shit-storm gathering out-of-sight of land, and how it might affect electoral events at landfall. There’s a fair chance that six months from now, the USA may be in some kind economic emergency, with the banks either disabled or shuttered, and businesses unable to transact with one another, and the just-in-time supply lines to America’s Big Box merchandise depots badly interrupted, with the shelves bare. Americans at large, lost in the their cell phone app raptures and Kardashian masturbation fantasies have no idea how fragile the systems they depend on are.

America is going to learn something about the uses of disorder before this year is out. One of these is to compel the construction of a coherent consensus as to what is actually happening in the world, apart from our wishes and fantasies. That is, if we are not torn apart in the process of getting to that.
Possible Republican defection.

More here.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Marco Rubio Out

When Marco Rubio was seen as the Republican "savior."

If he throws a baseball the way he did this football, it's just as well he dropped out.

Rubio catches footballs better than he throws them. (The first part shows him catching a pass from Dan Marino on the floor of the Florida House. Kids can point to that when their parents admonish them not to throw balls in the house.)

How things change in just three years.

In other developments:

17 March update:

Heckler accuses Marco of stealing girlfriend.

An Exhausted Marco Rubio Returns to Senate, Vows Not to Accept VP or Run for Governor." "Rubio Back in the Senate Just in Time for Recess."

And it looks as if he's not even going to run for a second Senate term. That's just as well, given his abysmal voting record.

Beeson acting like a yob, punching Yob.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Ten Years

Today is the tenth anniversary of the founding of Poppa Zao. Sometime in the afternoon of 14 March 2006 I posted a simple welcome to this blog, which has come this far. When I started, the issue of peak oil was widely discussed. James Kunstler's The Long Emergency laid out a future where oil scarcity changed every aspect of American life. Since then he has explored the post-oil world in another book Too Much Magic, and a series of novels, World Made by Hand. Fracking and other techniques for extracting unconventional fossil fuels have fostered the illusion of a superabundance of natural gas and oil. I've never bought into that.

YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have soared, sometimes to the detriment of blogs and traditional websites. I've used YouTube as a source of music, and I have shared a variety of music videos. What all these music videos have in common, whether they're old favorites, or songs I've heard of for the first time, is that they interest me. You might be interested in them too, or not. I also embed tweets in my posts. I'm not on Twitter and don't see going on Twitter anytime soon, but I look at various Twitters, sometimes out of reflex (even if they're beating a dead horse). Blogs are still vital and afford ways to share material that social media can preclude.

I've never explained the name of my blog but might as well do so now. At the time, Britney Spears's then-boyfriend Kevin Federline released a Brazilian-flavored dance song, "PopoZão." I've never heard it until today. As you'd expect, it's pretty lousy. But I liked the sound of the song title. More importantly, there was a character named Zao from Die Another Day, the last James Bond movie with Pierce Brosnan. Thinking it over, I came up with Poppa Zao as my name and the title of this blog.

One of the blogs I avidly follow is Hattie's Web. I know Hattie in real life and often comment on her blog, sometimes as Poppa Zao, sometimes under my given name. She began her blog a few months before I did, and it followed from a traditional website she maintained for years before that.

The last three years have been busier than ever for me but I post something at least every other day, even if it's a YouTube video or some tweets. There's a lot I have to say about what's going on now, but I want those posts to be considered. I've known people who started blogging with a bang, then tail off. The important thing is regularity.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

R.I.P., Kathryn Altman "Kathryn Altman, Widow of Director Robert Altman, Dies at 91."

"She also assisted in the establishment of the University of Michigan’s Robert Altman Collection, one of the largest archives of a major film director.

“ 'While Kathryn Altman’s name does not appear in the credits of any of her husband’s films, the Altman collection is as much a tribute to her as it is to Bob himself,' said University of Michigan librarian Phillip Hallman. 'Her presence led directly to her stewardship of his legacy, which she worked on tirelessly until the end.' ”

A link to a finding aid for the Unfinished or Suspended Projects section of the Robert Altman Archive.

Friday, March 11, 2016 On the Collapse of the News Industry. Another Perspective on the Collapse of the News Industry.

Former KGMB anchor Bob Jones notes that he and other journalists co-founded The Hawaii Journalism Review.

"...I and some Advertiser and Star-Bulletin journalists started the Hawaii Journalism Review, which detailed some of the failings of local print and TV journalism and also gave kudos where due. But mainly a newsletter of criticism. Our bosses were not happy but our criticisms were accurate and they could not argue with that."

It's not online and print copies aren't at the UH-Hilo library so I hope Ian Lind will share what he finds in the State or UH-Manoa libraries.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The Effectiveness of Civility

"Ride on Time."




I was looking to play Black Box's "Ride on Time." I thought this was a cover of the song but it's completely different. Because I don't read Japanese I pasted the characters above into a search engine, and figured out the song is by Tatsuro Yamashita, and was featured over the ending credits of Good Luck!!, which appears to be a Japanese drama.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Tomorrow: The Hawaii GOP Presidential Caucus

Whom will get the most votes?

Found and added this on 17 March:

When Alice Walker Came to Kohala

Hattie's discussion of Alice Walker and her relationship with her daughter Rebecca reminded me of the time Alice Walker held a reading at Kohala Used Books, the now-defunct bookstore renowned for its extensive collection of Hawaiiana.

It's easy to think this island is out of the way. But all kinds of people from around the world visit, pass through, and even come to live here. And Alice Walker is one of them.

More later.

Kunstler: Mistakes Were Made.

Kunstler: Mistakes Were Made.

Beyond the Kubler-Ross maelstrom of denial, anger, depression, etc., besetting this spavined republic, lies the actual grief provoking it all — especially the shocking loss of national purpose embodied by the muppets and puppets onstage nightly vying to bring out the worst in us in an election season far from just silly. Judging from their demeanor in the so-called debates, the candidates seem not only sick of their opponents but of themselves, a fitting outcome perhaps in a nation that hates what it has become.

The moment that got me in Sunday night’s Democratic boasting contest, hosted by CNN, was Hillary crowing about the great achievement of Obamacare — getting thirty million uninsured Americans on some kind of health plan! The part she left out, of course, is that most of those plans have “deductable” ceilings in the multiple thousands of dollars, guaranteeing that the policy holder goes bankrupt if he/she seeks medical help. Who does she think she’s fooling, anyway? This sort of arrant lying is what drives millions into the camp of Trump.

Even valiant old Bernie muffs every opportunity to explain the death-grip that Wall Street crony politics has on this land: the US Department of Justice did nothing under six-plus years of Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute criminal misconduct in banking. And then President Obama, who is ultimately responsible, did absolutely nothing to prompt that Attorney General into action or replace him with somebody who would act. Obama’s lame excuse back in the days when informed people were still wondering about this, was that the bankers had done nothing patently illegal enough to warrant investigation — a claim that was absurd on its face.

Obama didn’t do any better with the regulating agencies that are supposed to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, especially the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged with keeping financial markets honest. There was nothing that difficult about those criminal matters now fading in the nation’s memory: for instance, the bundled bonds (CDOs) of “non-performing” mortgages designed to pay off the issuers handsomely when they failed. A child of ten could have unpacked the Goldman Sachs Timberwolf bond caper. Eventually Goldman and others were slapped with mere fines that could be (and were) written off as the cost of doing business. What a difference it would have made if Lloyd Blankfein and a few hundred other bank executives were personally held accountable and sent to cool their heels in federal prison.

As the politicians are fond of saying, make no mistake: this was Barack Obama’s failure to act. Likewise, regarding the Citizens United Supreme Court’s decision that equated arrant corporate bribery of public officials with “free speech;” Mr. Obama (a constitutional lawyer by training) had a range of remedies at his disposal, foremostly working with the then-majority Democratic congressional leadership to legislate a new and clearer definition of so-far-alleged corporate “personhood,” its duties, obligations, and responsibilities to the public interest — and its limits! Not only did Mr. Obama fail to act then, but nobody in his own party even coughed into his-or-her sleeve when he so failed. And now, of course, nobody remembers any of that.

The effects of all this fundamental dishonesty have thundered through our national life to the degree that American society is now divided into the swindlers and the swindled, loosing the monster of collective Id known as Trump on the public. This is what comes of attempting to divorce truth from reality, which has been the principal business of American life for several decades now. When truth and reality become de-linked, a society literally doesn’t know what it is doing. With that goes the collective sense of purpose, replaced with bromides and platitudes such as Trump’s “make America great again,” and Hillary’s “In America, every family should feel like they belong.”

Unbeknownst to the cable news hustlers, events are in the driver’s seat, not the personalities of the puppets and muppets in the spotlight. Come July, there may not be anything that could be called the Republican Party. And Hillary is the first leading contender for the highest office with a possible indictment looming over her. Yes, it’s really there percolating on the FBI’s front burner. Even if the machinery of justice trips over itself again on that, imagine how the questions behind it will color the final battle for the general election. We also fail to appreciate how, if there is just a little more trouble in banking and financial markets before November 8, we can’t even be certain of holding the general election.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Donald Trump Commentary from 2011

Hattie's Web: "On the Wonder That is Donald Trump."

Nancy Nall: "Question for the Room."

Looking back at these blog posts, I'm reminded of when I first heard of Nancy Nall.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Peak Oil Review and Fracking Updates

From the above link:

Florida has never been considered part of the agitated battle over fracking as a technology for extracting oil and gas. But that began to change two years ago when a Texas-based oil and gas company was found to have been using hydraulic fracturing and matrix acidizing, a fracking-like method that dissolves rocks with acid instead of fracturing them with pressurized liquid. (2/24)

[This is the first time I've heard of matrix acidizing.--P.Z.]