Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Step Beyond (The Big Picture)

A rail would have made sense to me if they built one from Waikiki to Ala Moana and maybe on to downtown -- because that is the highest density population, and from my observation, accounts for half the bus ridership.

But to build one in the suburbs not even built yet, is really a high-risk maneuver that only city planners would dream of. Not only are these populations not even built, but they have no culture of mass transit use -- and may actually choose to live in suburban areas because of its low densities and they like to drive.

They are not the "city types" who deliberately own no cars and build their entire lives on being located in their local universes (global villages).

One of the most insane things I ever heard were these people who lived in Kapolei or Mililani, but always came into Waikiki, where they did everything. The obvious solution is not rail, but living in Waikiki -- even if it is in a studio, rather than a 3 bedroom house which their only reason for going to, is because they "live" there and own such a place, and think therefore, a studio would be too small to live in. Granted, a few places in Hawaii are nothing more than prison cells, but they are at least larger than living in one’s car, commuting in that manner.

But now with tourism dying, even the Waikiki to Ala Moana route might not be justified in embarking on a huge capital improvements project at the top of the market. Those envisioned communities for planned growth, may never happen now because the economics make them prohibitive. The suburban growth model may have been undermined by the energy fuel crisis of locating people in that way.

A lot of people are fond of saying that if they did the rail project back in 1992, they'd be riding rail now, forgetting that they dodged a bullet by not buying rail before Hawaii went into the economic tailspin for the rest of the '90s. The least of their concerns then was that they didn't have a rail -- but had unused capacity of everything, that really only recovered when the only safe place to travel to in the world was Hawaii (USA) -- because the President guaranteed it -- and delivered, and so people moved about freely with great confidence that would have been crippled if we all retreated to bomb shelters.

The fear, anxiety and trepidation of most of the '90s was quickly forgotten in the boom of real estate markets that happen about once a generation (of about 20 years), but now many stuck with those houses, are realizing that is not such a good deal when aging boomers function best in efficient spaces -- rather than large, spacious ones, requiring a lot of travel and movement to get around.

If you're 65, 75, 85, the last thing you need is a large house and a yard to take care of. Your optimal environment is a well-designed efficiency (studio) -- or one bedroom with no stairs. For most of these people living in well-planned, well-located communities, neither a car, or rail that they have to walk any distance to, meets their needs -- but a more personal transportation device like a seated electric scooter, allows them the mobility they can use all the time, not quite like the full-fledged handicap wheelchair but something that allows them to conserve as much wear and tear on their body in getting anywhere and doing anything. Most people just stop leaving their houses and watch the world on television as an acceptable substitute -- and thereafter, learn to live through others in thqat mediated way.

The preretirement generation can actually prolong this need for automated transportation devices by taking up slow biking as opposed to the rigorous bicycling that also takes a toll on one's body. That manner of movement is like performing tai-chi on a bike -- yet they are capable of performing it fast, if they really have to, but ordinarily, move slowly, deliberately, unstressfully, as a pedestrian on wheels -- which enables them to maintain such a practice and discipline pretty nearly indefinitely, for the rest of their lives.

But the greatest advantage of such modes of transportation is that the human interaction level is greatly increased -- and people actually have to interact with one another -- rather than in the automated mode of isolating themselves, even in a mass transit mode -- because that very means of transportation, disengages them -- except for the tourists on a joyride of discovery.

The positive impact of tourism is that it brings fresh outlooks and enthusiasm into any community -- as people with a fresh perspective have always done. In otherwise isolated communities, that would be the children, who are not so conditioned that they no longer can see those things which may be the problems in their communities. The most difficult thing to see is that which everybody accepts as the truth -- which may in fact, be the misunderstanding that is the source of most of the problems that when finally seen and addressed, allows each civilization to move on to a higher level of challenge, rather than just continuing to repeat the same obsessive-compulsive behaviors as though that is the only way humans (in that community) can behave.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Bravado of Fools

I've never been able to understand the ingratitude of people in Hawaii thinking that the war on terror (in Afghanistan and Iraq) "did not greatly affect their (tourism) business," when if it wasn't for the definitive response against terrorism to ensure that "no more American lives would be lost on American soil," saved Hawaii after 9/11/01.

Without that strong response, Hawaii would have lost everything -- just as it assuredly was a ghost town for a week after those attacks on 9/11, and many thought after nearly a decade of slow-death in Paradise, that was surely the end -- because the Carter years and Clinton responses, had assured them that nothing decisive could be done -- and the terrorists were free to torment the freedom-loving peoples of the world without even so much as a rebuke, because that would offend their sensibilities.

Hawaii is very vulnerable in that way and everybody realized that, but went into denial in order not to fully appreciate that reality.

If there is another incident that threatens the confidence to travel as freely as people have that has in fact brought on the present fuel consumption crisis, it is a certain death without the kind of overwhelming and unmistakable intent and resolve of President Bush to save you again.

It's about time you people acknowledged that rightly.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Sign of the Times

The library of these times is WiFi -- and not more of the same 19th century libraries.

That has become the central feature of most public libraries now -- allowing people with business downtown to maintain their connectivity and therefore productivity. The library is no longer just about books, newspapers and magazines -- but about access to information at the state of the art.

Books were the best at doing so at one time. Now the computers allow one to have access to all information in the world, at virtually one's finger tips -- but they're still trying to get (teaching) people to read books in the traditional way, doing things as they've always been done in Hawaii before -- as though that was an intelligent thing to do.

Whenever people propose that things ought to be done differently, these bureaucrats will insist that there is no money to do it differently -- in addition to doing things as they've always been done before!

I don't think these government bureaucrats get it.

Thus government in Hawaii doesn’t improve but simply adds another layer to a decaying foundation -- rather than supplanting the old wholly with the new. One of the major objections to the proposed new rail system is that it doesn’t supplant or replace the existing mass transit system, but instead, makes it subservient to the rail system. That is, instead of most people being able to take the bus from close to where they live to where they do business, those presently taking the bus, would instead be taken to a rail transit station -- to make it useful.

So then not only would the rail be running around the clock regardless of whether there is demand for it outside of peak hours, but the entire feeder system would also have to maintain those more hours or obviously, people wouldn’t be able to get to those stations in the first place -- which makes excessive and unjustifiable costs skyrocket off the charts.

If You’re going to build a rail station where people have to get there by some other means than walking, it obviously increases that traffic immeasurably -- merely adding more trips, which looks good for mass transit systems trying to justify their continued existence and expansion.

In this way, they’re not much different from other government operations that exist to perpetuate and expand their need -- rather than properly reducing it. But that seems to be the standard of how government measures its own “success,” rather than rightfully reducing that need so they can pursue their own happiness.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The World Beyond

After a while of being deeply immersed and familiar with the politics in Hawaii, the brain shrinks to deal with all the pettiness and endless bickering, robbing it of the energy to really be productive -- instead merely destroying anything of value so that it can be built again in an endless cycle of make-work projects.

Problems are made worse by their solutions because they create even more work, and high-paying jobs for those skilled at coming up with excuses for why things are getting endlessly worse. So there is no motivation for the solution of any problem -- only more options for things that can go wrong.

Thus, any attempts become futile, and those with the vision, capacity and drive for organization, well-being and well-functioning, are the first to leave, vowing not to come back. Those who remain and are attracted by those dysfunctions, come to rule, and drive everything into ruination, preying on one another until there is nothing left to plunder.

There are actually more people who have left Hawaii, than remain in the Islands for the rest of their lives. Each year, 7 million or so come to Hawaii, while the resident population remains at just a million. Of course the preference for visitors is to come and spend all their money and go back from where they came from until they save another fortune to leave on their next visit.

But that model of travel (tourism) is beginning to die now that people really can’t travel so casually anymore -- anytime, anywhere they want to, as though cost were no object, because it is, and always has been. The most popular growth of tourism has been virtual tourism -- in which it is possible to test-run living in any community in the world by having access to all the information, choices and even forums the local community has.

That’s especially true for housing, which is the greatest expense for most people to consider. It makes a huge difference if the monthly rent is $500 or $5,000 in one’s cost of living. The WalMarts of the world, have pretty much standardized the costs for everything else because of their capacity to profit from volume.

In the more individualized markets and transactions, experiences can vary greatly -- from the mutually beneficial, to virtual slavery and exploitation that occasionally comes to light, and shocks people that people in that society can still treat another in that way.

That is the importance of the underlying culture -- by which most agree that some things are just not fair and done -- while a few still think that anything they can get away with is fair, until somebody does it to them.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Living the Life You Really Want to Live

That’s what freedom is all about -- and for. In many places in the world, they haven’t gotten to that point yet -- at which people are allowed to make their own choices and live their own best lives. Instead, the community pastime, duty and obligation, is to tell others what their expectation for their behavior is.

That’s pretty much the life one eventually gets “used” to living in “paradise,” which is invariably not about freedom, but how each is expected to conform to maintain the perfection that has been unilaterally determined by the “king.” He may be an elected official, but he is just as likely to be the editor of the newspaper, or a self-designated tyrant of his own realm -- which is not a problem for the majority of those who live in the self-imposed isolation that mentality usually requires to maintain their delusions and autocracy.

However, a few are talented or unscrupulous enough to convince otherwise clear-thinking individuals they “must go along -- just this one time,” and then they can go back living a life of integrity, honesty and authenticity again. That is the corruptive power of tyranny -- that people learn to go along to get along -- and as long as everyone continues to stick together, everything will be "all right."

Later, at the tribunals of justice, everyone is exonerated for being excellent citizens because they simply followed orders -- while the person who supposedly dictated them, is long gone, leaving everybody else holding the bag, and having to deal with the consequences. That’s usually the price required to rise high in such hierarchies -- and any talent they might have one time had, has been destroyed by those corruptive influences and distortions they have had to perpetuate.

In a previous age in which it was possible to maintain the isolation from outside perspectives remarking that there are many other alternatives to the path taken by that one that is allowed as the only “right” one -- ever, it was an easier task to keep the captive native population disempowered, and occasionally venting their frustrations against inappropriate targets -- usually those who would otherwise be the most powerful and helpful to that healthy functioning society.

“They” become the enemies. They are the ones who should not be listened to . They are the ones who must be clearly “tagged” and isolated from the resident population. Eventually, all evidence of their existence must be destroyed.

That’s why there are “wars.” They are invariably waged by the “politically correct.”