Quotulatiousness

January 17, 2018

Thirty-eight minutes in Hawaii

Filed under: Government, Media, Pacific, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Colby Cosh on the false alarm in Hawaii:

Of course, an incident like this really takes several idiots lined up in a long row. Missile tests by North Korea have been making Hawaiian officials nervous lately about the archipelago’s exposed position in the mid-Pacific. The rhetoric being traded between dictator Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump is certainly not so easy to brush off in Hawaii, where plenty of living people have personal memories of Pearl Harbor.

U.S.-North Korean tension has, in recent months, been leading to a de-mothballing of old civil-defence measures in Hawaii, such as sirens and bomb shelters. It has also led, as we now know, to the updating of the traditional emergency broadcasting system. It can now reach out to your phone and fling you right out of your four-poster bed at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach.

For something that was “not a drill”, the mistaken smartphone message will have had a lot of the same effects. The most important thing that HEMA learned was that if you have the ability to electronically auto-terrorize everyone within a certain radius, you had better have some fast, equally automatic way of correcting an error. It took HEMA 38 minutes to send a second notice to smartphone users reading “There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm.” And, no, I’m not sure what the “Repeat” is doing there, either.

During those 38 minutes, thousands of Hawaiians and tourists had sent desperate farewells to loved ones — although some noticed that the outdoor sirens, which had just been tested last month, were not going off, and drew the correct conclusion. There is very little evidence of anything technically describable as “panic” happening in the state, despite the ubiquitous use of that word in Sunday headlines.

Jokes about poor interface design are being circulated in the aftermath of the Hawaiian incident, but the governor did specify that the person who made the “mistake” actually clicked through a second “are you sure you want to create traumatizing chaos for no reason?” confirmation message. HEMA also says it will require two separate people to confirm smartphone alerts in the future, which, if I can be forgiven a toe-dip into conspiratorial thinking, almost seems to hint at the possibility of some kind of awareness-raising prank.

December 31, 2017

Who Invented Hawaiian Pizza?

Filed under: Cancon, Europe, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Today I Found Out
Published on 4 Dec 2017

In this video:

On June 8, 2017, Greek-born, Canadian-bred pizza maker Sam Panopoulos died. His career slinging pies was rather unremarkable save for one notable thing – he was the inventor of the popular, yet infamous pineapple-topped “Hawaiian Pizza,” named as such because of the brand of canned fruit he used. Loved by some and hated by others, the sweet and salty pizza is so controversial that it once triggered an argument between friendly nations. While such arguments rage on both sides of it being a delicacy or an abomination, the fact is that the Hawaiian pizza is actually not Hawaiian – it’s Canadian. Here now is the story of pizza and the man who decided to add pineapples to it.

Want the text version?: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.p…

December 11, 2016

Polynesia

Filed under: History, Pacific — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

In reviewing the recent Disney movie Moana, Steve Sailor provides a thumbnail sketch of the amazing story of pre-contact Polynesia:

Perhaps the best analogue so far in human history to settling the galaxy has been the Polynesians’ audacious colonization of the far-flung islands of the Pacific. They repeatedly escaped the Malthusian trap by expanding their territories. Unusually for humans, sometimes they didn’t even have to steal their acquisitions from anybody else.

When Mediterranean sea captains began to venture into the Atlantic at the beginning of the Renaissance, they found that most of the small number of islands were uninhabited. The Vikings had settled Iceland, and Stone Age Berbers were living on the Canary Islands, but desirable islands such as the Azores and Madeira were still empty.

Yet when 16th-century Europeans reached the much wider Pacific, it was difficult to find an island that wasn’t already densely populated. Even remote Pitcairn Island, where the mutineers on the Bounty found refuge, appears to have been previously settled by Polynesian mariners.

Over the past half century, Western researchers, such as U. of Hawaii anthropologist and space scientist Ben Finney, have sponsored a revival of traditional islander talents at wayfinding from one known point to another.

But that still leaves the question of how the Polynesians discovered unknown islands. Presumably they followed birds and studied hints in the clouds and ocean swells?

In Moana, the prehistoric Polynesians have pioneered deep into the Pacific to islands such as Tonga and Samoa, only to have then settled down and turned their backs on the sea. Musker explains, “For thousands of years, they were great voyagers; and then there’s a thousand-year pause where they didn’t voyage.”

Suddenly, the Polynesians regained their dynamism and settled a vast triangle of the Pacific almost 5,000 miles per side, from New Zealand to Easter Island to Hawaii, with Tahiti in the middle as the jewel in the crown.

December 7, 2014

QotD: December 7, 1941 – the truth is stranger than fiction

Filed under: History, Japan, Quotations, USA, WW2 — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

I watched Tora! Tora! Tora! recently. That movie is supposed to be the most historically accurate and truthful ever made about the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was an entertaining and informative movie packed with good performances and some of the most spectacular plane crashes and stunts on an airfield I’ve ever seen.

And at the same time, the sequence of events that led up to the Japanese attack were almost inconceivable. The level of incompetence, stupidity, bad luck, mistake-making, and almost deliberate failure to let the Japanese attack be so successful defies imagination. This was one of those legendary sequences where truth is stranger than fiction.

When the radar crew (which stayed longer than their night shift required) spotted the incoming Japanese planes, they were mistaken for B-17s being delivered to the airbase and the radar station was told “yeah? Well don’t worry about it.”

When intelligence services using cracked Japanese codes figured that an attack was imminent, they were unable to radio Hawaii about it because the atmospheric conditions were bad. So they sent a telegram, which was shelved for eventual delivery because it wasn’t marked “urgent.”

On and on it went, delays, mistakes, confusion, circumstances, almost a perfect set of events that if you read about them in a book you’d complain was too contrived and unbelievable. That would never happen! you’d cry and close the book in disgust.

But that’s what really happened.

Christopher Taylor, “TORA TORA 9-11”, Word Around the Net, 2014-09-10.

July 19, 2013

Protectionist law from 1920 strangling economies of Hawaii and Puerto Rico

Filed under: Economics, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

Keli’i Akina wants the US government to amend or (better) repeal the 1920 Jones Act:

What’s the best way to destroy the economy of an island or largely coastal region? From the Peloponnesian War to the 1960s confrontation between Cuba and the United States, the answer has been to impose an embargo. In effect, that’s what the United States has been doing for decades to its non-contiguous regions such as Hawaii and Puerto Rico as well as Alaska and much of the East and West Coasts. The culprit in this economically self-defeating practice is a little-understood federal statute called the Jones Act. The 1920 maritime cabotage law specifies that ships carrying cargo between two American ports must: 1) be built in the United States, 2) be 75% owned by U.S. citizens, 3) be largely manned by a United States citizen crew, and 4) fly the United States’ flag.

In 2012, the Federal Reserve Board of New York issued a warning to the federal government that, unless Puerto Rico is granted an exemption from these Jones Act rules, its economy would likely tank. Following suit, the World Bank released a statement announcing that it will cut back its financing of projects in Puerto Rico and begin encouraging investors to look to Jamaica as a new international shipping hub. Puerto Rico’s legislature, governor, and resident commissioner in Congress have voiced loud objections. They join a growing chorus of outrage which includes Alaska, whose legislature has passed a law (Sec. 44.19.035) requiring the governor lobby Congress for reprieve from the Jones Act.

The Jones Act creates an artificial scarcity of ships due to the inefficiency and the extraordinary cost of U.S. ship construction, driving up cargo costs and limiting domestic commerce. Through World War II the United States was a leading producer of merchant ships. Today we build less than one percent of the world’s deep draft tonnage, and the ships produced domestically for the commercial market come at a hefty price.

September 19, 2012

Hawaii Five-0, the most unrealistic cop show yet

Filed under: Law, Media, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

As usual, Gregg Easterbrook’s weekly NFL column contains a fair bit of non-football stuff. This week, he spends a bit of time detailing just how unrealistic the rebooted TV show Hawaii Five-0 is. It’s a rather overwhelming list of unlikely, unrealistic, and just plain silly TV:

All action shows contain some nonsense. As the television critic James Parker has noted, an action series that consists entirely of nonsense is an art form. Parker thought 24 was an achievement in that sense. Inheriting this mantle is the reimagined Hawaii Five-0, whose third season kicks off Monday. Five-0 has emerged as television’s most entertaining delivery system for pure nonsense.

An episode begins with a prisoner on a commercial flight killing the U.S. marshal escorting him. The murder weapon? I am not making this up: Two plastic airline knives held together with a rubber band. Passengers were unaware a murder was in progress onboard, because the marshal inexplicably did not fight back or cry out, although it would take quite a while — probably hours — to kill someone using two plastic airline knives held together with a rubber band.

[. . .]

On Hawaii Five-0, a small group of cops has an omniscient supercomputer the CIA would envy. Plots regularly involve automatic-weapons fire on the streets of Honolulu. The Aliiolani Hale, a Hawaii landmark, is presented as the secret headquarters of Five-0, as if a Washington, D.C., detective show presented the Washington Monument as a secret headquarters. “I confer on you blanket immunity from prosecution, so you can go outside the law to stop crime,” the governor tells McGarrett. Gov, think about what you just said! Not even Oliver North had advance immunity.

There’s a long list of laughable TV cop tropes, including the inability of bullets to even slow down Five-0 agents, immortal super bad guys, better-than-SF crime-solving technology, plus the usual imaginary laws, ignoring both common sense and the laws of physics, and so on. But he also points out a serious flaw in most modern TV representation of police and other law enforcement activities:

On TV, cops in street clothes just say, “Police” or “NYPD,” and instantly are believed. In a CSI: Miami episode, the David Caruso character, asked to prove he is a cop, dismissively waves his badge too far away to be seen. In a Five-0 episode, a person being questioned asks McGarrett for proof of who he is. “This is all the proof you’re going to get,” McGarrett snaps, flashing his badge so briefly no one could know whether it was real, let alone read his name.

Why do TV script writers promote the idea that it is unreasonable to ask law enforcement officers to establish identity? No honest cop objects to this. Fake badges can be purchased in a costume store, and criminals pretending to be police are a long-standing problem. If a guy banged on the door of a Hawaii Five-0 producer, claiming to be a detective but refusing to show ID, that producer surely would dial 911.

Of course action shows are preposterous. But it is troubling that television crime dramas imply that law enforcement officers should never be questioned. Why does Hollywood think this is a notion the American public should be force fed?

May 19, 2012

Mark Steyn on “The Great Baracksby”

Filed under: Books, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:54

In his weekly Orange County Register column:

It used to be a lot simpler. As E.C. Bentley deftly summarized it in 1905:

“Geography is about maps

But Biography is about chaps.”

But that was then, and now Biography is also about maps. For example, have you ever thought it would be way cooler to have been born in colonial Kenya?

Whoa, that sounds like crazy Birther talk; don’t go there! But Breitbart News did, and it turns out that the earliest recorded example of Birtherism is from the president’s own literary agent, way back in 1991, in the official bio of her exciting new author:

“Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.”

So the lunatic theory that Barack Obama doesn’t meet the minimum eligibility requirements to be president of the United States was first advanced by Barack Obama’s official representative. Where did she get that wacky idea from? “This was nothing more than a fact-checking error by me,” says Obama’s literary agent, Miriam Goderich, a “fact” that went so un-“checked” that it stayed up on her agency’s website in the official biography of her by-then-famous client up until 2007:

“He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister.”

[. . .]

“I suppose he’d had the name ready for a long time, even then,” says Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people — his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself… . So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.”

In a post-modern America, the things that Gatsby attempted to fake — an elite schooling — Obama actually had; the things that Gatsby attempted to obscure — the impoverished roots — merely add to Obama’s luster. Gatsby claimed to have gone to Oxford, but nobody knew him there because he never went; Obama had a million bucks’ worth of elite education at Occidental, Columbia and Harvard Law, and still nobody knew him (“Fox News contacted some 400 of his classmates and found no one who remembered him”). In that sense, Obama out-Gatsbys Gatsby: His “shiftless and unsuccessful” relatives — the deportation-dodging aunt on public housing in Boston, the DWI undocumented uncle, the $12-a-year brother back in Nairobi — are useful props in his story, the ever more vivid bit-players as the central character swims ever more out of focus, but they don’t seem to know him either. The more autobiographies he writes, the less anybody knows.

Like Gatsby presiding over his wild, lavish parties, Obama is aloof and remote: let everyone else rave deliriously; he just has to be. He is, in his way, the apotheosis of the Age of American Incredibility. When just being who you are anyway is an incredible accomplishment, Obama managed to run and win on biography almost entirely unmoored from life. But then, like Gatsby, he knew a thing or two about “the unreality of reality.”

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