Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hawaii Zoning Stops Barn Dances, Gathering and Voting

Dear Hawai’i,
So there is context to this piece please read the very first amendment in our Constitution of the United States.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that expressly prohibits the Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion", prohibiting the free exercise of religion, infringing the freedom of speech, infringing the freedom of the press, limiting the right to peaceably assemble, or limiting the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Over six years ago a small group of people got together to dance in an environment of no alcohol, drugs or talking. It was popular enough that what began as six people eventually grew into a community of over three hundred strong with ties to the mainland. I gathered with them every Sunday morning to dance under a green house roof on a 90ft floor, and it was so much fun that visitors who came, went back to their own communities and started their own version of it. The dance attracted people from all over the island, it was that special. But this isn’t about the dance but the place that allowed it to occur. There were art shows, performances, movies, people socialized and voted there. I am referring to the, The Emax Pavilion at Kalani Honua. Not long ago a county official said, “No more, this space only for greenhouse purposes.” Here is bureaucracy of this county strangling the efforts of a community to peaceably assemble. On the mainland they are called ‘Barn Dances’ and do you think their officials are combing the countryside so they can tell people they can’t dance in their barns? A greenhouse is the “Hawaiian Barn” and restricting people from gathering there is not only impacting the quality of life in our neighborhood but seems to be unconstitutional as well. Any lawyers out there who can weigh in on this? I wrote a piece about the need to return to Villages so people can live rich and rewarding lives without the necessity of owning an automobile. Concentrate people in smaller areas and provide smaller scaled services in those areas that are accessible by bicycle or foot. The parking lots take up a lot of space. Look around Hilo and how much land is needed to drive/parks your car? Get it? Town villages use a square or plaza that is ringed with side walk cafes, galleries, etc. Reinstating the Emax Pavilion at Kalani Honua for dances, art shows, and community gathering enforces the village concept that is in a fledgling state for the LoPu (lower Puna) and Kehena Bay area. Neighborhoods and villages need gathering places. Like a town square, or a big greenhouse, or a Barn. It is time to change the zoning to create alternatives to our auto-centric existence. Build Villages!
Pahoa, Hawaii

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


American’s have a love/hate affair with their garbage. Clearly they hate it because they don’t want it around and can’t wait to get rid of it. However they clearly they love it because they keep making more of it. Garbage, trash, refuse, disposables, rubbish, junk, waste, debris; crap by any other name would still smell as sour. There is so much garbage created that the Fishkill Landfill, outside NYC is the only other manmade object visible from space after the Great Wall of China. Except the Great Wall was built about 1000 years ago from stone blocks not Diet Coke bottles and Pampers.
In Europe recycling is free however they charge you by the pound (kilo) when your trash is hauled away. But that is silly European garbage and doesn’t contain American culture. Yes, our culture is one of consumption and with everything consumed (unless it is a buffalo and you are an Native American Indian) there is garbage left over. That’s our culture; Earn, Buy, Consume, Dispose, Repeat.

According to the Clean Air Council:

Ø American’s in 2005 generated approx 4.5 lbs of waste per day. That is 1642 lbs per year or another way to look at it: 16, 420lbs per decades. That is more than 8 tons of garbage per person per ten years.

Ø Each year, Americans trash enough office paper to build a 12-foot wall from Los Angeles to New York City.

Ø Americans toss out enough paper & plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times. (most of those countries than lie along the equator will have no use for those items, because they are starving to death)

Ø Almost 1/3 of the waste generated the U.S. is packaging.

Ø Every year, Americans make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
(This last statistic shows some promise of being useful because had this been done prior to 2000, there would have been a greater likelihood “W” would have stayed in Crawford, TX)

Ø The amount of glass bottles Americans throw away every two weeks would have filled both World Trade Center towers.
(All of those bottles may have stopped them from collapsing)

Ø Forty-three thousand tons of food is thrown out in the United States each day. In one year that amounts to 15, 695,000 (Fifteen Billion, six hundred ninety five million) of wasted food. (How long has it been since you heard the line, “Finish you dinner there are starving children in Africa!” It use to be china but not anymore)

Ø America is home to 5% of the world's population, yet it consumes 1/3 of the Earth's timber and paper; making paper the largest part of the waste stream at 37.5% of the total waste stream.

And America is only 300 million people.
If China's per capita resource consumption were the same as in the United States today, then its projected 1.45 billion people would consume the equivalent of two-thirds of the current world grain harvest. China's paper consumption would be double the world's current production. There go the world's forests. If China one day has three cars for every four people, U.S.-style, it will have 1.1 billion cars. The whole world today has 800 million cars. It would need 99 million barrels of oil a day. Yet the world currently produces 84 million barrels per day and may never produce much more.
Source: Lester Brown, American Scientist Online

Well it’s a good thing that America, which represents about 5% of the world’s population has been able to consume about 25% of the world resources otherwise that huge military build up would have been a waste of our money. As it is, we are ready to fight to the death, (or at least send our young people to fight to the death for us) to protect our right to consume as much as we want, as quickly as we can. We are discouraged to think. We are encouraged to consume. If the opposite was true we would see more educational programming than commercials, right?

There needs to be a new plan put into place as we are ‘greening’ the planet which involves people no longer being able to ‘send out’ their trash but will have to live with it as long as it remains solid waste, once it has dissolved you can simply flush it down your toilet, nobody will know. But as long as it is solid it needs to stay with you, at home, in the car, at the office, on vacation….the trash stays with you! Soon people will be looking for ways to compost those old items that you can’t give away.

Since you have already got that burial plot picked out, why not do the planet a favor and bury your garbage in the hole, while you get cremated and fed to the gold fish. That second home may soon be the primary dump as people will be looking for creative ways to do something with their trash. Storage units are a big business these days as people have more stuff than will fit in their homes, but trash units will need to be ten times the size of the current lockers because we throw away more than we keep. But since we will no longer be able to throw anything away, ever again it will change the way we live. It will be consider a gracious and loving act to steal from people and they will thank you for making their loads lighter and their apartments roomier.
The rich will be able to hire the poor to keep their trash for them thereby increasing gainful employment for those who have lived without but are now not going to be given the choice. Since there are more poor than rich, the poor will be competing with each to get the business of keeping the trash of the rich. They will impress upon their prospective clients that they are poorer and therefore will have fewer things to buy and less trash of their own. These people will have lots of empty space that can be filled with the garbage of the wealthy which will in turn give the rich more space of their own, that allows them to consume more things. Since the poor are most likely the ones making the stuff the rich are buying doesn’t it makes sense that it goes back to them in the end? Now that is what I call recycling.
© Michael Marlin 2007

Thursday, August 13, 2009

On Prisons, Artists and Putting Things in their Place

America is dealing with both a financials and social crisis that has reached a point of boiling over into the very streets of our country. Due to funding shortages communities have to close prisons and either release the inmates onto the streets or ship them elsewhere. The criminals and prisons are no longer going to get the funding they need because the America people can’t get the funding they need. It cost about $45,000 every single year to house one criminal. Turn that into a ten year mortgage and you have a house worth half a million bucks. It is an indignity that all of the money went to rent when it could have gone into equity or better yet never left the pocket of the tax payer where it belongs in the first place.
Take all the hardened criminals, the ones who are violent repeat offenders, and offer them a choice, “Life behind bars or the Prisoners in Pacific Paradise Program.” Easy to see which they would choose. They will live able to watch the sun rise and set into the ocean. Swim at the beach, fish, and sit under the shade of a palm tree. Sounds idyllic right? And perhaps the reader is outraged that they aren’t suffering for their crimes. Thing is, this island is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the only people on it are the criminals. There are no stores to rob, no innocent bystanders to gun down, no children to influence or harm. The places they live have no locks because there is nothing to steal except your neighbors fishing pole or cooking pot. The inhabitants are taught to forage, fish and farm for their food and they will be so occupied by that, just like our ancestors were that there will be little time to get into trouble.
It could descend into a “Lord of the Flies”, and become tribal, clannish and there would be turf wars and killings. But how is that different than what goes on now? One costs over hundreds of billions of dollars and creates environments which could hardly be called humane. Perhaps it is time to try something other than suppression and containment as a business plan. Sending criminals to far flung regions to fend for themselves is nothing new and is how Australia started with their first guests arriving in 1788 at Botany Bay. (Star Trek Episode #22, 2.16.1967 “Space Seed” & 1982 “Wrath of Kahn”, SS Botany Bay) But in real life here on earth the first free settlers came to Australia to join the convicts within five years and they turned out to be right nice mates.
Now there are empty prisons that are something skanky and awful. The remedy is to give them over to artists who are poor and will live any place they can so long as they can make their art. Artists have such a passion for making things beautiful that they have the capacity to change entire districts in cities. Soho is an example of how artists in community can change the value of real estate in a place like NYC. Let a few hundred artists move into the prison and do their thing. Murals, sculptures, performance art and all manner of expression will spill forth and attract people to this new live/work/entertain domain.
Before long it will attract people with money like the doctors and lawyers. They will see how trendy and cool it is to live there with all the bars and will slowly but surely force out all of the artists who worked so hard to create a desirable living space. The rents will start to creep up and overnight it will no longer be affordable for artists. Just like Soho in NYC. Before long it will be only the doctors and lawyers who can pay the price and there will be outrage and cries of foul by community activists. But this time it won’t matter because now we have them where we can keep an eye on them. "Who had the key last?"

© Michael Marlin 8.13.09

Monday, March 9, 2009

How Your Tax Dollars are Spent

A little leg work on the internet reveals that some forty two million dollars was set aside to build new bachelor quarters on the Marine Corp base on Oahu. Source: (the company that is doing the job and that information was last updated 12-11-08) For that amount of money you get 78 units making each ‘unit’ worth about 544,000 dollars each. Okay there are laundry and recreation room and vending areas, etc. along with landscaping and other amenities but let’s face it, at half a million dollars you can buy and entire single family home along with the land it sits on. (Median price for a single family home was $550,000 as of 3/3/09, (source Honolulu advertiser)
The new bachelor pad will have A Telecommunications Infrastructure Room, On Each Floor To House Communications & Security System Infrastructure, This Area Is In Addition To The Functional Areas Allowed For The Facility, Information Systems Include Telephone, Data, & Cable Television (CATV). Don’t you love the wording “Information Systems” which go on to describe itself as telephone, data, (probably internet access) and cable television. The expression making a pig’s ear look like a silk purse seems apt because they have to find some way to justify housing each soldier in a half million dollar crib. Telecommunications Infrastructure Room Will Be Provided On Each Floor To House Communications & Security System Infrastructure. I don’t want to sound cynical but do Marines on a base really need a security system? I thought they were the security system. Do they need to pay an outside contractor to put in a system that makes them feel safe? What is all that training for anyway if they don’t feel secure on a heavily armed Marine Base? But here is the punch line, in May of 2008 it was stated by the House of Representatives that a Marine Corps Base Hawaii Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (part of ongoing improvements to bachelor enlisted quarters) was to be $28.2 million. I guess that extra 14 million dollars that got worked in is going to make the recreation room and vending area larger, much larger. Read what Rep. Abercrombie had to say at:
But how many of you think how the money is being spent, or in the case of the newly passed stimulus package, not being spent.
A lot of stuff got cut from the stimulus but what we got instead was more military equipment. For instance according the GAO the government spent $361 million per F22 Raptor Fighter Jet. The Pentagon got plenty of money up front as they have all those guns and such it is easy to intimidate anybody, including Congress. Now $361 million dollars, per plane, represents the cost of developing the plane as well and by the time all 183 planes have been built, $34 billion will have been spent on procurement while $62 billion on the total program costs. Do we really need 183? Let’s for the sake of a one sided diatribe assume the military could make it work with 150 of these new fangled grim reaper soul harvesting machines. That is a savings of close to 12 billion dollars….for 33 planes!
Instead of thirty three F22 Raptor Jets these items below could have been left in the stimulus package:
65 million for watershed rehabilitation, 98 million for school nutrition, 50 million for aquaculture, 1 billion for Energy Loan Guarantees, 25 million for Fish and Wildlife, 55 million for historic preservation, 20 million for working capital fund, 90 million for State and Private Wildlife Fire Management, 1 billion for Head Start/Start Early, 3.5 billion for higher education construction, 100 million for Science, 200 million of the National Science Foundation, 10 million for state and law enforcement, 100 million for distance learning, 50 million for Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension, 2 billion for Health Information Technology Grants, 600 million for Title 1 (no Child Left Behind), 2.5 billion for Neighborhood Stabilization and other programs that got diminished could be brought to full funding as in, the other 300 million for the federal fleet of hybrids, the other 100 million for Law Enforcement wireless, the other 75 million for the Smithsonian, the other 600 million for the Superfund Cleanup. We would have to cut half a billion from the Neighborhood program to come in on budget but if they are asking us to cut, do we have the nerve to ask the Pentagon to do the same?
For the cost of 33 killing machines we could have gotten a whole mess of programs that not only create jobs but create something that improves the quality of life. But wait, there’s more! What about the missiles the plane is going to carry, we haven’t even got into the cost of upgrades. Each jet carries six AIM 120 C missiles with a cost of $386,000.00 ( which now makes another 2 billion 316 million for the ‘perishables’. (i.e. one time use and aptly named) Multiple that by our reduced force of 150 planes and now the fee for those high altitude fly by shootings is 347 billion dollars.
And that is only the missile named, “AIM 120 C”. On the same website you can learn about all the missiles and what they cost.
For instance:
$450,000 per AIM 130……….. up to $110,000 for on AGM 65……… one AGM 86B goes for one million dollars apiece and there are 1142 of those available in the inventory…………… one AGM 88 is $200,000………. one AIM 7 is $125,000…………. one AIM 9’s is $84,000…………, one GBU-15 is $242,500, and I am only scratching the surface and to get to deep truth you will need a bunker busting bomb from Raytheon Missile Systems. That company was awarded, on February 10, 2005, a $10,490,029 firm fixed price contract to provide Guided Bomb Unit-28C/B (BLU-122) guidance control units and tail kits, quantity of 71. Ten billion dollars for 71 bombs! Is it worth it? Do you feel safer knowing this or more afraid that our priorities are so skewed.
When the Marines were founded in 1775 they wore their hair tied back in a knot but today they cut their hair ‘high and tight.’ To maintain the look a haircut is required every week. At seven dollars a haircut done 52 times a year comes to $365 dollars per Marine. Multiply that by 199,000 active duty Marines and you the tax payer, are paying about $72,436,000.00 every year for their fashion statement. Too bad they are so covered up with body armor and helmets because nobody can tell how good they look.
If we, the people, don’t look at how our money is being spent then we deserve everything the government doesn’t give us. If on the other hand this article has ‘incited’ you, then pick up your pen, (it is mightier than the sword, remember?) and let you congressman and senator how you want your tax dollars spent.
M. Marlin©3/7/2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Medical Model Blues

Rat Lung and the Medical Model Blues
A woman from our neighborhood is in a coma in the Hilo hospital from the ‘rat lung’ disease that has now made the front page in the papers over in Oahu. Short of going out into the field and removing every pair of lungs from every rat we are going to be living with this for a long time. In a nutshell this woman is in a hospital that will not admit her physician in to treat her. I have spoken with both Jackie Hahn N.D. and also to Alan Thal M.D. and both wanted to treat the patient with a starter dose of 50 grams of vitamin C. As this is outside conventional practice the door was shut and the ‘Go Away’ sign was put up. The Hilo hospital’s turf is closely guarded because otherwise somebody may come along with a better idea and that may put some people out of work. They are doing what they can to secure their jobs by not allowing anybody else’s medical model to infiltrate it. To be fair it isn’t the hospitals fault but the insurance companies. But who is making their medical policy; insurance salesmen?
According to several research studies in the last decade, a total of 225,000 Americans per year have died as a result of their medical treatment making the medical treatment themselves the third largest cause of death after heart disease and cancer! Okay you can stop laughing because it’s true. Now you can start crying because it’s true. At 225,000 per year the doctors and medical errors alone could wipe out the Big Island’s population. That would be about all of the 200,000 locals, tourists, haole’s, with another 25,000 to take care of the feral pig population. So help save the environment, “Bring a pig to you’re the hospital!” and savor these statistics with your barbeque sauce.
1) 12,000 deaths per year due to unnecessary surgeries
2) 7000 deaths due to medication errors in hospitals
3) 20,000 deaths per year due to other errors in hospitals
4) 80,000 deaths per year due to infections in hospitals
5) 106,000 death per year due to negative effects of drugs
Source: Starfield, B. (2000, July 26). Is US health really the best in the world? Journal of the American Medical Association, 284(4), 483-485
The politicians talk about how 40 million Americans don’t have access to health care. Just a cursory look at what is going on and you will consider them the fortunate forty million. I would rather cut open a chicken and reads its entrails that to get a medical diagnosis from the Hilo hospital. At least with the chicken I can make soup which will be good for me. The tragedy here is there are other ways to treat people but those in power will do everything they can to keep it, including letting a lot of innocent people die. Our friend who is a coma will more than likely die even though her primary physician, a naturopath, may have saved her life. Though nobody has died from acupuncture, ozone therapy, naturopathic medicine, homeopathic remedies or Vitamin C therapy, the pharmaceutical companies and the American Medical Association deem these treatments as being dangerous. That is like the stick of dynamite telling the balloon how dangerous it would be if it popped.
Let us put things into perspective because nobody can get anything in focus while looking down their nose at it. Since the war began in 3/19/03 the enemy has killed 3423 American soldiers in combat. ( In that amount of time our own doctors, pharmaceutical companies and medical institutions have killed that many American civilians 330 times over, and we are paying them to do it! We rant and rave about how those insurgents and terrorists are killing Americans, but they haven’t even put a dent in how many people have died from our own medical workers. One million, one hundred and twenty five thousand (1,125,000) innocent American’s have died since 2003 at the hands the very people who they trusted to heal them. Soldiers don’t put their trust into insurgents so their guard is up and have body armor and maybe that is why the death toll is so much lower. So the next time you get sick enlist in the armed services and do a tour of duty in Iraq, your chances of survival will be greater than a stay in the hospital. (Unless you are wearing body armor and carry an assault rifle with you when you get admitted)
Michael Marlin©3/6/2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Over Your Dead Body

Death is a drag, for the living. We lament and remorse. We grieve and shout. We cry and quake. It is time we began producing people’s funerals and making them a little less on the macabre side. We speak in whispers like the that dead were in a library, reading. We speak in terms to make sure the dead are respected. They don’t need it and can’t appreciate it. It is not an enlivening thought that the only respect I will get in life is when I am dead. There are other ways to approach funerals than dressing in black and listening to piped in music from pipe organ. Let’s dress up the dearly departed and put the fling back in funeral.
The curtain goes up and on plaster column is a television, which is turned on and a pre recorded monologue begins. As the dearly departed they are now able to share all those things that would never be said in their life time. Copernicus had to do something like this, publishing his papers on Earth’s orbit after he was safely underground knowing full well the church would burn him at the stake if given the chance for his blasphemy.
Nowadays we want to be so politically correct that correctness has become political. In other words, we are correct only when it becomes a means of getting something we want. That is also political sincerity in action. But since you are dead, all convention goes out the window like dust, as it were, in the wind. Do we really have to wait until we have left this world, to truly speak our minds? Who hasn’t heard, “I would rather die than tell him what I really think.” We are too afraid of the consequences and repercussions to be honest with one another. With a pre recorded message you needn’t worry about being interrupted, because nobody would have the gall to ‘butt in’ on the dead.

You will be given a highly polished monologue, just like the kind you see on David Letterman and you can know that in your final resting place, “you killed em’.”
Top Ten Reason’s Why it is Better to Be Dead
1 At last some peace
2 The view is here is better than my apartment in Queens
3 Save a lot of money on clothes
4 Develop Intimate relations with earth worms
5 Get to look forward to “Turning Over in Your Grave”
6 Don’t have to listen to Fox News anymore
7 Finally understand the lyrics to all those Grateful Dead songs
8 Plenty of time to practice actually pushing up daisies
9 Don’t have to diet anymore, because you died.
10 Downsizing doesn’t scare you like it use to.

A production team will script your funeral proceedings and songs like Amazing Grace will be replaced with “Sympathy for the Devil”. Additional music from Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Cobain, would lend a touching tribute to your once, state of mind.
As none of us can know what God really wants from us so we will make sure all your bases are covered. The presiding priest will wear a rubber mask of Lord Ganish and the Rabbi will be speaking in tongue and brisket.
Funerals and wakes need not be mournful affairs, not if you give your guests the opportunity to party like there is no tomorrow because for you there is no today.
Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die…drives the message home, but to make sure that the message gets home, assign a designated driver first.
We have no myths about death in American culture which is a fundamental lacking and perhaps the reason we fear it so much. It is said that 95% of all our medical bills are spent on the last year of our lives. With Eskimos, when you no longer have enough teeth to chew, they put you out on the ice as an offering for a polar bear. The legend goes that your children’s children will one day kill a polar bear and when they cut into the belly, you will come out reborn.
In our consumer culture when you no longer have enough credit to buy food, you will be put out on the curb as an offering for the landfill. Your children’s children, who won’t have enough money to go to college because you tapped all the credit, will be garbage men. They will find you on the curb and toss you into the back of the truck where you will go to your final resting place along with all of the other garbage that you threw away over a lifetime. You may not be able to take it with you, but ‘it’ will be taking you with it.
But back to our mortuary make over. Once your pre recorded message has been played the attendees at the wake will be so incensed they will want to bring you back to life just to kick your butt. So a life size replica will be available for them to punch, kick, insult, stab, burn, and assail with any number of assaults both verbal and physical. Some people feel better after battering. The guests can get it off their chests and go home feeling so much more at peace because in the end they will appreciate that they are living and can still take the time to stop and smell the crematorium.
M. Marlin ©February 2009