The Case for Banning Automobiles

In light of the recent spate of cars being used as terrorist weapons, I think it bears consideration to look at banning all automobiles. Britain and France have already chosen to ban all gas and diesel vehicles by the year 2040. Self driving vehicles with built in safeguards are a reality already that only needs … Continue reading “The Case for Banning Automobiles”

In light of the recent spate of cars being used as terrorist weapons, I think it bears consideration to look at banning all automobiles. Britain and France have already chosen to ban all gas and diesel vehicles by the year 2040. Self driving vehicles with built in safeguards are a reality already that only needs a push from governance to become a reality. Bike share programs are taking off. Rail and hyperloop are realities. It would be good for the environment, it would be good for our mental health, and I think it would be good for our security. I support a ban on cars starting right away.

Uber and Lyft Care About Your Car

When we moved to Hawai’i, I knew that money was going to be tight. I knew I would need a second or third source of income – and I kept hearing about how good Lyft and Uber were for the drivers…so instead of buying a cheap older car, I bought a 2015 Nissan Versa Note with low mileage. Definitely not the most expensive car on the market, but holds five people, can hold some luggage, and is small, gets nice gas mileage, and I can usually find parking for it. I got my insurance, license, and registration all in order and I applied to Lyft and Uber. Most websites said the wait was a week or less, since I have a clean driving record, no criminal record, and a newer car with all the paperwork – I thought I would be qualified quickly. It’s been nearly a month now – finally, I got curious as to why it was taking so long and started digging around on the internet – it indeed seemed that people get approved quickly – unless they have cars that are already common in the Uber or Lyft marketplace – so in Honolulu, I would have been way better off with a five year old mini-van than I am with the car I bought to be a Lyft/Uber car. Lyft and Uber don’t say this – they say that they are still doing my background check – but since the FBI and the military bases I have to access for my work as an archaeologist already came back with approval (and I applied afterward) I think it’s pretty clear that something else is going on. I like my little car and it has worked better than expected for our family – but it would have been nice to know that the rideshare companies judge you by your vehicle before I bought it. I can’t claim credit for this information – it was on the internet – the orginal poster said that when they have a lot of the same cars in a driving area – they tend to make you just wait and wait and wait…go figure. At least I have a good car.

Here is whats missing in Honolulu….and I don’t mean Not Native American Restaurants

I understand why…the cost of renting space here is insanely prohibitive…if you are going to have a space it has to be able to generate at least enough to pay for itself – i.e. Be a very profitable little enterprise anywhere else in the USA…but here in Honolulu, there is a big obvious gap (and I’m not talking about the complete and total lack of Native American restaurants anywhere…anywhere in the world) I’m talking about micro-museums – little owner passionate shops that focus on the insane hobbies or odd interests of a single person – Gordy’s Fairhaven Pharmacy in Bellingham, Washington or the Bug Zoo in Victoria, BC – the museum of bad record album covers or the museum of bottles bill collected. These little places are completely missing in Honolulu. Also missing are hobby and passion stores – meaning things like doll hospitals and Teddy Bear museums (there was one, but it was an animatronic Korean thing and it closed after three years, I never saw it).

The main reason, I believe, is that even a small dumpy space tends to cost at least $1000/month – and that requires quite a large volume of sales or admissions. Sure, on a rainy day there might be 1000 tourists looking for something to do that isn’t the Bishop Museum, the Honolulu Zoo or Aquarium, a bus tour, the Polynesian Cultural Center, or The Honolulu Museum of Art (can I please still call it the Academy of Arts?) but that means you need to collect $5 each from those 1000 people to cover your rent, utilities, insurance, the rent of your home, your home utilities, food, childcare, and other expenses. That’s a big risk in a city where 97% of days are beachworthy.

I don’t have a solution. Just like I don’t have an answer as to why there aren’t millions of Native American restaurants in North America but you can find pretty much every other ethnicity’s cuisine.

This Heartbreaking World

I want to start by saying that I don’t usually give homeless people or people that are begging anything except my compassion. We all know that story about the rich beggar with the garage full of undriven cars and the big house filled with unworn clothes – the beggar who sits on the corner asking for money. Or the drug addict or alcoholic who takes handouts to fuel their addiction. Or the professional beggars who find it more profitable than having a job. All those stories and well intentioned advice have led me through the years to refrain from giving to individuals. I sometimes donate to charities or drop a dollar here or there but generally, like almost everyone, I keep my distance from the homeless, the needy, the sick, the impovershed, and the dying. Aside from all of that, I struggle to pay all of our bills, I struggle to meet our obligations, and each dollar is too hard won to give it away. So you should know that before I write any more.

It’s impossible to ignore the suffering here on Oahu. Just like it’s impossible to ignore in Oakland and other places where the class divisions have grown so pronounced that there is nearly speciation between those who have and those who do not. We are forced to look at them as a different species – because the moment we stop doing so- the moment we let the wall down between us – it’s such a heartbreaking and awful feeling that it would be nearly impossible to let the world continue on as it is. They are ‘the homeless’ which carries a laundry basket of associated terms like drug addicts, mentally ill, alcoholics, criminal, unfit, and more. We put those terms on them – and we say sometimes ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ but we have to delineate the line – there is us and there is them. Us and them. They are not like us, we are not like them. There is no we, only us and them.

So, that’s what I’m writing about. Today, I went and got my car washed. I stopped and bought some spices at a health food store. I was sitting at a stoplight at a corner and there was one of them. Sun-baked skin like the back of a sailor’s neck, unbrushed grey hair frizzled like a sheeps coat in winter, dirt sticking to her clothing and sticking to the dirt on her clothing, second hand pants too big, rolled up and cinched with a rope. There she was sitting and staring at the ground, talking to herself, picking up small stones and throwing them at her feet, holding a sign “Please help. Homeless and Hungry” She was just like so many of them. Another of the homeless begging on a corner. She wasn’t any different than the last one you saw outside Walmart or next to McDonalds or sitting at the divider. And there I was, sitting in my car listening to the news on the radio and trying to ignore her, trying not to make eye contact, trying not to acknowledge her in any way. I caught myself devising a strategy if she caught my eye. I would smile, nod, and look away. I caught myself and I felt disgusted by me. I wanted to throw up all over myself. I knew what I was doing. I’ve done it so many millions of times. As she talked to herself and threw those pebbles at her feet, I told myself she was obviously crazy. I told myself that she might be one of the rich scammers or the lazy do-nothings. I told myself every lie that we all tell ourselves. None of them worked. I’d caught myself. I told myself that I didn’t have money to give away, that my money wouldn’t make a difference, and frankly, I don’t and it wouldn’t – not really.

But I couldn’t do it – I thought to myself “I’m going to give her $5” and I reached for my wallet, I opened it and I only found a $1 and a $10. The voice in my head said “Never mind, just move along” and then “Just give her the buck, you can’t give her the ten” but my better self, the financially stupid self, the compassionate human self was in the driver seat of my car. I took the ten, I rolled down the window and I said “Hey”

She looked up in surprise. She never would have caught my eye. Her eyes had never looked up. She looked at me and slowly began to push herself up off the ground to move towards the money I was holding out to her. She reached it and before she could say thank you or anything else it was me that spoke “I’m sorry for this world”. Our eyes were locked on each others – hers as blue as mine, as clear as mine, her mind as clear as mine, her humanness as clear as mine. “It’s a pretty messed up world,” she said in return.

The light was green. I rolled up my window and drove on. I wept all the way home.

It’s a pretty messed up world.

The Scary Truth…..People Want A Nuclear War

No one is saying this, because it’s not the kind of thing you say out loud, but just like the hidden Trump voters who have never stood up and said why they voted for him – they voted for him because our civilization sucks for a huge number of people – it’s so bad that people are literally thinking “maybe if we just completely blow it up and kill millions of people, it will get rid of the problems”. If you aren’t one of the people who has this excitement about the collapse of our civilization – you just won’t get it. I’m not a person who voted for Trump – his entire being was simply too abhorrent to contemplate, but if he hadn’t of been a sort of modern day Hitler with his racism, fear mongering about religious differences, and blatant woman hating – I probably would have. He appeals to that part of me that simply wants to see our entire civilization and worldview blown the fuck up. By the same token, I’m not rooting for a nuclear war – or a war of any sort because I understand the human individual suffering involved – I can see the difference between an idea and a reality – but I have to admit, there is a part of me that is rooting for this to happen. Intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually – I know that this conflict which is brewing is atrocious and will probably lead to the most suffering, death, and destruction our history has ever experienced – but there is that inner part of me which I am exposing now, but which most people will not expose, which is positively gleeful at the prospect of this greedy, lying, son-of-a-bitch civilization where success comes fromfucking over your neighbors or the people you are suppossed to represent being completely destroyed so that we, as humans, can have the chance to build something better. The hidden Trump voters already pushed the red button when they voted for him – I promise you, this is what they want. I can only hope that wiser heads prevail – but then, if they do not – then it’s probably for the best that we witness carnage and destruction on such a grand scale that reason can stand a chance in the rebuilding – except that as World War I and World War II and nearly every other war have proved – our reason seems to only last a few generations before we go back to being asshole Homo sapiens.

Poverty on Oahu

Yesterday, I took my wife and daughter for a ride to the West side of Oahu. They hadn’t been there yet. We rode along the beautiful road which goes between the mountains and the sea in Nanikule, Wainae, Makaha, and the small communities in between. It’s been more than a decade since I’ve been there – it’s changed. The last time I was there, there were tent towns stretching along most of the coast – now the tent towns are interrupted by watered golf courses and Disney resorts. The poverty hasn’t gone away, but the gentrification is in full movement mode. My wife’s reaction was something like “It’s like a completely different nation. Low houses, no high rises, no Safeway, and no big tourist businesses.” And then as I pointed out the shanty’s and tent villages hidden behind the kiawe bushes, she started to feel the anger that our society lets so many slide by. The kdis playing in front of the scrap wood and tarp shelters, the adults peeking out of the shadows, waiting for the next sweep of the police or parks department to shove them to someplace else. It’s easy to pass the homeless and think ‘Oh, they must have drug or mental problems’ but there are families, seniors, people who simply cannot make it here. “The government should provide for them,” she said, and I agree. There are many programs which offer assistance, but none of this should be allowed – and then you see the huge gold courses, the giant touristic facilities, and the ever increasing tourist buses and rental cars…there is something seriously wrong. And then there are those who are on the edge of poverty – we passed an older couple over on the windward side of the island a few days ago – in my former hometown of Kailua – which has become so unaffordable that even the middle class cannot afford to live there – this couple was sitting by the side of the road in folding chairs holding a sign “We’re short on rent – even a little bit helps. We don’t want to be homeless” – and like nearly everyone else, I drove by reading the sign too late to stop and too busy trying to make a few dollars to give away a few dollars – but even though I drove away, that sign didn’t stay behind. There is something seriously wrong here. And on that note, I made another observation yesterday – it used to be that the homeless camps flew Hawaiian flags, the shacks, the tents, the enclosures – yesterday, on the drive up to Kaena Point on the west side – I didn’t see a single Hawaiian flag flying from the homeless camps nor from the weekend beach camps of residents – for some reason – that troubled me even more than the homelessness itself….