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is one journalist's opinion of the daily struggle to shine a light in dark corners, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, plus any other cliche that crosses my keyboard.
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Archive of the third quarter of 2004: | Burl Burlingame

7/1/04
| The highway to hell is paved with bad intentions


Motorists Kailua-bound on the Pali highway last night got a little surprise. The big electric sign that warns of the upcoming construction was instead warning drivers that KELLY O'NEILL SUCKS COCK! Hmmm. Is it possible that we're misreading the message? I wonder also if it could also be a reference to the Kelley O'Neil's Irish bar in Waikiki. Speaking of signs, check this out:


These gigantic Mike Gabbard signs are popping up all over Kailua. He must be spending a fortune. The Outdoor Circle strongly suggests that political signage not go up until the month before the election to cut down on visual pollution. Gabbard is getting half a year's head start, so in your face, Outdoor Circle! Isn't Gabbard the guy who plans to round up all the homosexuals in Hawaii and ship them to a landfill in Washington state?

7/2/04
| Coming up short




Can you feel the buzz? While Hawaii's citizens gather excitedly on street corners to rave about the tight angles of the CMYK rosettes on the Gannett Advertiser's new color-printing capabilities -- some women are actually so thrilled that their periods are changing to match the rollout date -- the actual size of the product is shifting as well. I knew the width of the page was changing to match national standards, but the height is being cut back as well. Look at the difference between the two papers at left. At last, we can claim the Star-Bulletin is the bigger paper! Reminds me of the time the papers changed to a five-column layout, and Sen. Duke Kawasaki angrily complained, on camera, that Hawaii's readers were being cheated out of a column.

7/6/04
| Couple of birthdays


First off, happy birthday to my gal pal, the adorable Katharine Shockley Weber.

It's also Dubya's birthday!

I guess John Kerry couldn't get ahold of me yesterday, so he's going with second choice, John Edwards. The Democrats will do anything to get a John-John on the ticket.

Check out this popular Kailua scenic attraction at left. One utility pole is buckling near the base, so they've sunk another next to it to help handle the load. But then they attached both bracing wires to the same attachment groundspike -- which is pulling the sidewalk right out of the ground. Completely retarded.

Following the Star-Bulletin's lead, the Gannett Advertiser is starting to run their daily comics in full color. They look really good, too. On closer examination, it's apparent they're being tweaked professionally for high-end color reproduction. They're not using the syndicate-supplied daily color. I'm told that this work is being handled by a shop on the mainland -- maybe it's mainland India or mainland Mexico -- because it would be too expensive to have local staff do it. The Gannett Advertiser is outsourcing! Next, the copy desk moves to Karachi.

7/7/04
| Sappy anniversary


So there I was yesterday afternoon, sitting in a doctor's office awaiting tests and to have various skin-cancery things zapped off, and reflecting on my rapid decay and general decreptitude when I realized, with bemusement, that yesterday was my 25th anniversary of going to work for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. A 25-year man. Holy cow. (The gold watches they used to give us oldtimers at 25 years was stolen by that human greasetrap Rupert Phillips.) Doesn't seem that long, maybe because I've had such widely varying jobs there. At the time I was "Media Director" at Hawaii Pacific University and editor of Hawaii Coastal Zone News. I was hired by Star-Bulletin Features Editor Barbara Morgan, ironically, based on my photographic, art and graphic-layout skills, something the paper isn't much interested in any more. Barbara was a demon on writing quality, and she had the best stable of writers in her little section that I've ever seen -- Steve Smith, Susan Yim, John Christenson and the incomparable and gorgeous Lois Taylor. Roger Wise and Dianne Conrad rounded out the crew. To put it bluntly, the Today section in those days kicked ass, as the goal was to examine larger issues in modern society and pop culture and add a deeper dimension to the news of the day. No more! The major treat then was working with Lois Taylor, whom I pretty much worshipped. She's likely the best writer in the history of Hawaii newspapering. The thing I mostly remember about that first week was being given a Lois story to copyedit, and it was fine, except that she had buried the lede. It was literally in the next-to-the-last paragraph. Trembling, I approached Lois and told her so. She stared off into space for a second, then gave me one of her dazzling smiles and chirped, "Oh bother! You're absolutely right -- I'll change it right away." I remember that vividly, as it demonstrated both her professionalism, her lack of ego about her work and her great kindness toward us green kids. And now, looking back on it after a quarter of a century, I wonder if I wasn't being tested. Lois never buried her lede again.

7/8/04
| Bill Clinton's daily blog


Is this for real? Certainly not. Sometimes it sounds like it, other times, I think Clinton is being too candid. It's a wicked parody. It's certainly more entertaining than his big book.

7/9/04
| Cheney and Ridge explain elevated terror alert




7/12/04
| Dead Reagan Summertour 2004!



7/14/04
| Fairly unbalanced


Farbeit from me to suggest ways Gannett could cut costs and boost productivity, but now that the Gannett Advertiser is outsourcing labor in coloring their daily comics, perhaps other newsrooms could do the same. Because of electronic inconnectivity, Gannett do do away with every copy desk at every Gannett paper and have a single copy desk situated in, say, India. At least the spelling and grammar would improve.

Faux News' "fair and balanced" slogan is looking pretty hypocritical these days, particularly in the wake of Faux News boss John Moody's release of daily memos detailing how to unbalance coverage to make the White House look good and the war in Iraq look pleasant. And here's a piece from a reporter who was appalled by the way he was edited by Bill O'Reilly. Al Franken said a couple of weeks ago that he will not appear on Faux unless the interview is live, because Faux News edits the interviews to make non-neocons look like tongue-tied idiots. Looks like he wasn't kidding.

If we're trying to win hearts and minds in the Middle East, why is the government dismantling the Arabic outlet of Voice of America?

7/19/04
| High planes drifting


OK, I couldn't resist. Here's a model I built for the aerospace museum, and that's my little girl Amelia when it was built, and here she is as a high-school graduate when I recently repaired the model. (It's a Ryan PT, by the way.)

7/20/04
| For the fair Diana


Today is Diana Rigg's 66th birthday, which I just discovered by accident. Funny how things loop back on you when you least expect them to. When I moved to Hawaii in the mid-1960s, I hadn't seen much television (there being no broadcast facilities in Taiwan at the time!) and I was entranced by this cheeky British series called "The Avengers." Also, being something like 11 or 12 years old and a normal boy, I was absolutely mesmerized by actress Diana Rigg. She set a standard for both beauty and coolness that was stamped right into my subconscious, and to this day, I find myself being fond of other actresses who look a little like her, like Lauren Graham. I guess you never escape puberty. Anyway, recently I've been watching restored episodes of "The Avengers," first time I've seen them in 40 years, and Diana Rigg is still looking mighty fine, if undernourished, and I'm struck by the leisurely pace and clever dialogue of these '60s-era shows. Now, if I could only find "Shindig!" on DVD...

7/22/04
| Enter Bagman


Rupert Phillips, the human stain who tried to murder the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on Gannett's behalf, is up to his old tricks, wheeler-dealering Liberty Group and other newspaper assets into oblivion. His current hidey-hole is Better Built Group.

7/24/04
| Setback


Disturbing word from Wisconsin, where Gannett is once again buying out the competition. And not just any competition -- they've battered down the Green Bay News-Chronicle and a number of other publications. The News-Chronicle was not only the hero publication of "The Chain Gang," Richard McCord's examination of Gannett's hegemony, but also the home of Green Bay Ray, kindred spirit. For the sake of clarity, I'll translate parts of Gannett's press release on the acquisitions:

ORIGINAL
TRANSLATION
Gannett Co., Inc., which owns the Green Bay Press-Gazette, announced Friday that it has acquired 23 newspapers and shoppers and 11 other specialty publications owned by Brown County Publishing Co... Yeehaw! Now we'll get those management bonuses we were promised in 1978!
Not included in the sale are two auto magazines, AutoPlus and AutoMax, Brown County Publishing's heatset printing operations in Denmark and Brookfield, and specific cold web job printing in Denmark. Why pay for sex when you're the big dog?
"Brown County Publishing's portfolio of community newspapers, shoppers and niche publications in Northeast Wisconsin offers us the opportunity to better serve our customers," said Ellen M. Leifeld, a vice president in Gannett's Midwest Newspaper Group I am laying in a supply of nipple clamps and thumbscrews to better serve my new customers. They will squeal like piggies.
No immediate changes in operations are planned, Leifeld said. "We want to spend some time to better understand the publications, get to know the employees, and develop a plan to carry on the tradition that Frank started 51 years ago when he and his wife, Agnes, bought their first weekly newspaper in Denmark, Wisconsin." We are going hunt down the men and their heads will decorate our tentpoles. We will rape the women and their lamentations will fly on the wind. Their children will be cast down. Their treasure shall be seized, their villages shall be burnt to the ground, the fertile soil sown with salt. There shall be nothing left, no sign of what once was. Pillage, terror and plunder shall follow us the days of our lives. Remember our name, punks, but it shall not aid you in hell.
Wood said he is pleased that BCP's employees will have the additional opportunity offered by becoming part of a much larger organization. "They (the employees) have been just great," he said. "Letting go after so long is not easy. I have been immersed in work I love all of my adult life, and I feel privileged to have done so. Now I feel it is time for change," Wood said. I am completely high.
Wood said he looked upon newspaper work as a stewardship, and he thanked the subscribers, advertisers and other readers for their support. So long, suckers. I'm going to die soon.
The acquired newspapers include: Algoma Record-Herald, Kewaunee Enterprise, Community News East, The Kewaunee County Sunday Chronicle, Community News West, Key to the Door Illustrated, County Line Shopper, Lake Country Beacon, Denmark Press, Forest County Beacon, De Pere Journal, Luxemburg News, Door County Advocate, Manitowoc Laker Shopper, Door County Extra, Marketplace Homes, Door Peninsula Real Estate Guide, New Franken Shopper, Door County Magazine/New Life Magazine, The News-Chronicle, Door Voice, Oconto County Beacon, Door Fun Map, Oconto County Reporter, Employment Weekly, Resorter Reporter, Green Bay Real Estate Guide, The Star, Hometown Shopper, This Week, Journal Shopper, Weekly Homes Guide, Bayport Shopper, Laker-Shopper Homes Real Estate Guide. We have an office pool going on which order these publications will cease to exist. It's kind of like fantasy football. The winner gets a pizza and an extra half-hour for lunch.

7/26/04
| Always on Sunday


Whew. This Sunday was the last episode of Holoholo Honolulu, my series on historic sites in downtown Honolulu, one that caused the Advertiser some consternation when it began last summer, as they were seeking to cash in on a specialty-printing job with the City. In the meantime, our starbulletin.com site on the series became a primary stopover for webbers checking out Honolulu, as I used Quicktime VR to explore each location. Over the next few weeks, I'll be modifying and updating the site to make it more comprehensive.

Speaking of Sundays, we are apparently soon beginning a Sunday-only promotion that will kick the Tiser's okole, or so that's the word filtering down. Maybe they'll use the space vacated by Holoholo Honolulu.

7/27/04
| Bouncing Bitch


USA Today thought it would be a good idea to have bitch goddess Ann Coulter cover the Democratic Convention for them. Big oops. The polite explanation is that they found "a basic weakness in clarity and readibility." Coulter posted it on her own site, and it's certainly readable. But it's also just plain mean and weird, and not in the fun way we expect from neocon crackpots.

And here's word from Green Bay Ray: Just wanted you to know the folks here got a kick out of your translation of the big G's press release. We're still here for now; the only signs of the big G are:
1. We had to take the line "Proudly owned, operated and printed in Brown County" off the front page.
2. The copyright is now (c) 2004 by Gannett Co. Inc.
3. We've all got a ton of HR paperwork to deal with to change our benefits.
4. The new requirement to greet each other with the secret Gannett handshake.
Other than that we're fine. No word yet on what they're going to do with us; we're hoping for maybe one final try to build on our almost 32 years, but the words "alternative weekly" keep floating through my head. We'll see. Then again, if we weren't optimists, we wouldn't be working here. As Reagan used to say, "there's got to be a pony in here someplace."

7/28/04
| Convention Fake Goatee Roundup



8/2/04
| Convention hangover


I have to admit being pretty much caught up in the Democratic National Convention last week -- it was so damn organized and managed that it seemed almost professional. How did they manage that with a hall full of drunken Democrats and freebie-hunting journalists? The speeches were terrific, probably the best convention speeches given ever, even if John Kerry needs to take a chill pill -- I thought his head was going to explode, Scanners-style.
Also interesting -- among the 1,400 journalists credentials, more than 30 were given to bloggers.
Truly appalling was the TV network's lack of coverage. Don't they get control of the airwaves in exchange for broadcasting matters of national interest? If they give more time to the Republican convention, that'll give you a clue about the so-called "liberal media." There ain't no such animal.
Even PBS is creating a "neocon TRL" with their smarmy "Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered" show. (Regular PBS viewers aren't reacting well -- look here.) One guilty pleasure was seeing Rev. Al Sharpton wiping up the floor with Carlson's lame ass. (Carlson: Why haven't you made public your disagreements with Kerry over Iraq? Sharpton: We debated it several times on national television. What more do you want?)
Faux News was also scrambling desperately to spin the convention, so much so that you could turn their coverage into a drinking game. Knock back a shot every time Kerry and Edwards are referred to as "millionaires," knock back a double every time Teresa Heinz Kerry is called a "loose cannon."
Green Bay Ray has an interesting take on the convention. I notice that his paper's web site doesn't yet say it's a Gannett site.

8/3/04
| Rupert Redux


Must be more here than meets the eye. Rupert Phillips, that walking stain, whose ownership of the Journal papers in the DC area is famous for bizarre anti-union tactics, had a chunk of the papers bought up by another investor, and now Phillips is selling the building the paper is located in.

Here's a funny video, even if you're a fan of the president.

8/4/04
| Reign o'er me


My ears are still ringing and my heart is still thumping joyfully and I'm still smiling, despite a rain-over-me stormy morning. Went to see my favorite rock band, The Who, last night at the Clam -- last time I saw them was in 1968! Always loved The Who because they're actually about somethimg -- maintaining dignity in a world filled with indignities. Age has slowed Roger Daltry and Peter Townshend down a wee bit -- they're 60 -- but that's been replaced by sensitivity to nuance and increased dynamics. Townshend's windmill guitar style is an awesome hurricane of rumbling majesty. (Sorry to overwrite, but what the hell...) They seemed genuinely humbled by the warm reception they got here. As Townshend writes in his online diary about starting this tour, I was just happy to be up there, grateful to be alive, and lucky to have such a great team around me. I rather liked the fact that the backup band included Townshend's brother Simon and Zak Starkey, Ringo's kid.
And here's a take from a lady companion at the show: I just got home from the Who concert at the Blaisdell. Talked my way backstage but "They're holed up, I'm so sorry!" Ended up at the only place in town still open at 11:30, how pathetic is that? Hooters. Hey, I was there for the food -- and the Widmer. Now I have to try to wind down so I can go to work in the morning.
Townshend is awesome! Fucking unbelievable, oh my God. All the enthusiasm still there, and great chops. That's right, Pete, show these kids how it's done. Sexy motherf***er, too -- great upper body, especially the upper arms. Yum! Daltry still has a decent enough ass, he obviously works out. Oh, yeah, and the music wasn't bad, either. Excellent show, though, seriously. Got me a T-shirt so I don't forget I was there.
Ha! Townshend's own description of himself and Daltry is "creaky old tossers!"

8/5/04
| Class act


Here's a note from Maui: Just thought I should let you know despite the newspaper ceasing home deliveries, some residents are choosing to take the Honolulu Star-Bulletin by second-class mail, rather than subscribe to the Honolulu Advertiser. Eleanor Watanabe of Wailuku Heights who turned down an offer to have the Honolulu Advertiser for free said the Honolulu Star-Bulletin had "class." Second-class mail delivery enables readers to receive the newspaper either same day or next day -- the monthly subscription is $19.95 weekdays or $31 for seven days.

Another Who observation -- when it came time for the encore, the audience apparently had trouble producing cigarette lighters. Not like the old days! Instead, fans flipped open their cell phones and waved the monitor light over their heads. Me too.

8/6/04
| We get around, round, round


Thanks to our own Nancy-On-The-Spot, here's a picture of Honolulu's Finest demonstrating parking etiquette while they get cold drinks in a nearby store.

So now we're a "prominent Hawaiian newspaper," at least in the Mideast. The Aljazeera news organization lifted one of Greg Kakesako's stories from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin for their News Arab World web site. And yes, it got "spun."

8/10/04
| Armchair quarterbacking


I'm still trying to sort out how I feel about this. I'm alternately pleased and appalled. A few months ago, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin contacted me, wishing to know more about the Dec. 7. 1941, "incident" on Niihau Island, in which a crashed Japanese aviator, aided by three Japanese-Americans, attacked the Hawaiians living there. It was certainly grist for the faction who wanted Japanese-Americans to be treated as enemy aliens during the war. I pointed Michelle to some references (apparently also to my own book "Advance Force -- Pearl Harbor") and provided her with some pictures and assumed she was going to write a column or two.
Wrong! Apparently she got so excited about the subject she actually produced a book, "In Defense of Internment," which is already a best-seller. She lists me as a primary source and references "Advance Force" quite a bit. To justify the whole shebang, she brings in the subject of racial profiling and the current war on terror.
So now I'm a guy the neo-cons are citing. Sigh. Facts are facts, and Michelle gets them right, but her analysis and conclusions are far different than my own. That's her right. But I don't have to like it.
We ran her column on the subject -- along with a response by a publicist with the Japanese-American Citizens League -- and even in the newsroom, feathers flew. One staffer, an "enlightened thinker," was so outraged that he declared "Shame on us!" in a staff email for allowing "that woman" Malkin's opinion to be printed. I thought it best to let the staff know in a response where I stood on the matter:
Apparently, "enlightened thinkers" refuse to allow the opinions of others to be heard? Even in a forum that makes an attempt to be openminded and evenhanded, such as the OpEd page? Should we only quote those we personally agree with? What happened to being objective journalists and having basic standards of fairness? Remember, the "Op" in OpEd stands for opinion.
Michelle's piece on internment is opinion. It is not fact. It draws on facts - many of which she drew from my original research -- but the conclusions are her own. She does have a good point, that nationalism should not be mistaken for racism.
She contacted me some months ago, wanting background information about the so-called Niihau Incident. I sent her some references and cleared up some misconceptions she had. Her reporting on the facts of that incident is accurate. The Niihau Incident certainly was the trigger that started the Internment ball rolling.
Relocation and internment was "justified" during World War II based on expediacy and real (but in retrospect, unjustified) concerns about the "loyalty" of Japanese-Americans. Relocation and internment have been "explained" in later years as simple racism and oligarchal greed.
Certainly, all of the above elements came into play. But it's not that simple. The world is not that simple. That's why we as journalists should try to give as complete a picture as possible and let the readers draw their own conclusions. That's what an informed electorate is all about. To deliberately make the world simple, by throwing out areas we personally might not agree with, isn't journalism, it's propaganda.
Whether a source is "liberal" or "conservative" should not reflect on the validity of their observations.
Let me be clear. Although Michelle based much of her "book" (it's actually more of a padded essay) on my original research and upon my book "Advance Force," I personally think relocation and internment was perhaps inevitable given the tenor of the time, but was still wrong and unjustified. No, it goes beyond wrong. It was stupid and counterproductive and continues to embarrass to this day. The ONLY good to come out of it was as an object lesson -- to be vigilant about protecting the Constitutional rights of all. Even that part about free speech.

More later ...

8/11/04
| Armchair quarterbacking, Part Deux


Malkin's book is stirring fierce debate among the snootiest of bloggers, unfortunately, not about the substance of her work. Apparently as a working journalist, she's not a "real historian." Sigh again. Been there.Also called into question are her "motives" for writing the book. Let me guess -- she discovered these little-known historical nuggets and couldn't wait to share them because they suit her particular political leanings. Well, duh.
Anyway, I wrote her a little note:
MM
Congratulations on the new book. I picked up a copy at the local Borders and thoroughly enjoyed reading it, even though, as you point out in the acknowledgments, I was likely to disagree with your conclusions. You're right there -- I think internment was a dumb idea that backfired and was counterproductive. It also invited criticism that, no matter how well-founded, still resonates. In a free society, guilt can be used as weapon.
On the other hand, second-guessing is a scholarly sport these days. Decisions made under the stress of crisis never consider the long-range implications, particularly those made by military personnel, who are trained to act, not react. It "seemed like a good idea at the time" to relocate Japanese-Americans, and just let the Constitutional chips fall where they lay. There was a coast to protect and inadequate resources to do so.
Here's a simple point often overlooked -- internment would never have happened if Japan had not attacked the United States.
Some of the responders on your website downplay the presence of Japanese submarines off the West Coast. As my book "Advance Force" points out, these craft did not have the incredible success the German subs did off the East Coast, but they also had incredible distances to travel, fewer resources to prosecute attacks and a battle plan that, for the most part, ignored commercial traffic. Still, the Imperial Japanese Navy was sinking shipping right up to the end of the war -- and let's not forget the mission to destroy the Panama Canal in the summer of 1945, nor the thousands of balloon bombs that carried incindiary weapons and were being readied to carry anthrax when the war ended.
War is a mean business. It is directed by people who want to kill the enemy. It is not spun for long-term public-relations value.
This week is the anniversary of the atomic-bomb droppings on Japan. Terrible weapons, should never be used again, the loss of life at Hiroshima and Nagasaki will always be a great tragedy. In retrospect, using the weapons was likely a mistake with farreaching consequences. The key phrase there is "in retrospect." To war planners of the period, it was just a really big bomb, one that delivered big results for little danger to the airmen delivering it. (Here's a clue to their cluelessness -- after Hiroshima/Nagasaki, those planning the invasion of Japan wanted a dozen atomic bombs used to "soften up" the beachhead!)
It's also important to remember not just the facts, but the mindset of the period. Most civilian deaths occurred during the last year of the war. This was true not just in Germany and Japan, but in England, which was being pounded by Nazi V-1 and V-2 terror weapons. Also, for the public, the horrors of the war were NEW information in the summer of 1945 ?- the Bataan Death March, the horrific treatment of Allied prisoners, the German death camps, the numbing slaughter suffered seizing Berlin. No one was in any mood to assuage armchair critics 60 years in the future.
Which reminds me -- as you point out, the American relocation camps were certainly not the same thing as the Nazi death camps. "Concentration camp" is an emotionally loaded term often used by lobbying organizations. However, the term "concentration camp" first appears in White House documents during early planning for the Japanese-American relocation, particularly in dealing with the Hawaii Japanese-Americans. (The plan was to construct such camps for Hawaii citizens on the Big Island, not on the mainland.)
Also, I am amused by one of your respondents who equates the bandit raids by Pancho Villa in New Mexico to wartime assaults by a foreign power on the U.S. What about the sabotage bombings of the U.S. by Germans in the Great War? Mexican slave-raiding assaults against the Apache in the 1860s? Or Puerto Rican nationalists shooting up Congress in the '50s?
Let's not forget that American private armies invaded Canada in 1866, 1870 and 1871 and were bloodily defeated by the Canadian military. Most Canadians aren't still holding that against us.
Anyway, congrats on the book and on the debate it is stirring. But mass-internment is still a boneheaded idea ...

8/12/04
| Dead Reagan Summertour 2004!



8/15/04
| Au went pau


It's the time of summer when we start bidding aloha to the interns, alas. Here goes Laurie Au off to Maryland. She handled everything we threw at her and did so with a smile.

It's true! Ian reported earlier this week that the Gannett Advertiser's big T-shirt promotion to celebrate switchover to the new press misspelled INAUGURAL. He wasn't kidding. Now they really are collector's items.

Malkinmania continues in the Sunday paper. I contributed a little What-the-FAQ piece.

A couple of new links at left.

8/16/04
| White House Wall Decoration



8/18/04
| Call it whatever you want, it's a demotion


Interesting doings over at the Gannett Advertiser, where Op/Editor Jerry Burris suddenly has a new boss, a position that was created out of thin air. The question is, why? The new hire is former Honolulu Star-Bulletin City Hall reporter Jeanne Mariani-Belding, who has since made a name for herself on the opinion pages of the San Jose Mercury News. Welcome home, Jeanne. (DISCLAIMER -- when Jeanne moved to the mainland, we inherited her dog, the wonderful Kawika, who passed away a while ago. We still miss him.)

Ai yi yi! The things you find out poking around Web sites! The official George W. Bush reelection site has tips and forms for blanketing newspaper editors with generic letters. And you can enter in your zip code and get newspaper address information. Handy! I entered in my zip code and learned the closest newspaper to me is the Haleakala Times. Really? But imagine my surprise when I clicked on the Honolulu Star-Bulletin information and discovered that the street address is correct (and the fax niumber wrong) -- but that the email address for letters to the editor is MY OWN PERSONAL EMAIL ADDRESS! Or at least it used to be. I ditched buzz@aloha.net several years ago when I gave up on Hawaii Online. It's not only a wrong address, it's a dead address. And it was MY address. (scratch head) These people are running the country?

Here's some interesting reading on the current spate of newspaper-circulation scandals, with Gannett head Douglas McCorkingdale denying such problems exist, and then he blames "the media" for reporting it in the first place.

Even more evocative, here's a scary piece on the effect of the Great Green Bay Sellout to Gannett. Could have happened here .... and they're still trying to make it so.

8/20/04
| Aloha Kawehi


And now intern Kawehi Haug is saying goodbye. She's weighing her work offers. Sorry to see these kids go ... their bright enthusiasm rubs off on all of us.

Michelle Malkin doesn't come off real well in this agitated exchange with Chris Matthews, but at least her hide was intact. Swift boater Larry Thurlow comes off as a wacko with a grudge.

Another button added to the left, for ABC's internal (and entertaining) news-coverage memo for the day.

8/21/04
| Party hearty


The Gannett Advertiser is throwing a big party tomorrow afternoon for the hardworking lads and lasses on the staff who got the new press up and running in Kapolei. As well they should -- they did a great job getting it off the ground. (Maybe Gannett will start springing for Christmas parties for their staff now.) One of the difficult things in maintaining balance in this Newspaper War is recognizing that the rank and file over there are dedicated professionals with high standards, and it's not their fault they work for Gannett. It would be terrific if Gannett recognized their talent pool more often, but that doesn't affect profit margins, so why bother? Anyway, congrats on the new press! If nothing else, having a two-newspaper competition has helped bring Honolulu a modern printing facility.

8/23/04
| Let's just paint the pole gold and worship it!


The hillside at Castle Junction is almost completed being shaved down, and it has cost millions of dollars. Check out the photo above -- the engineers shaped the new hillside AROUND the lone utility pole on its flank. It's completely retarded. This was an opportunity to bury some power lines, but no, they all fall down in glorification of exposed utilities. The abandoned pole forest across the junction, left, has been there for years for no apparent reason. What's wrong with these people? This is their idea of improving the landscape?

8/26/04
| Letter imperfect


The letters keep coming in, this election season, and if some of them sound similar, that's because both the Donkeys and the Elephants have Web sites that make it easy with cut-and-paste buzz phrases. Here's a Washington Post story about the practice, aqnd here's one -- citing the Star-Bulletin -- from Online Journalism Review. Speaking of buzz phrases, the new word for such cobbled-together letters is "astroturf." Checking the George Bush site, I see they're still using my old, dead personal email address as the link to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and the fax number is still three years old and dead. So Republicans will be having a hard time getting their form letters to the paper. But downloading giant pictures of Dubya to use as screensavers to pretty easy. On the other hand, the John Kerry media astroturf site uses Congress.org's newspaper address engine, and the results for the Star-Bulletin are outdated, but only by a couple of weeks. Oh, and who else uses these form engines to help send press releases to every newspaper in the country? Why, it's Gannett's USA Today.

8/29/04
| Bye bye Biggie's


Oh, you have to twist my arm to go have beer and pupus. The bittersweet closing of Biggie's Nut Shell in Kailua prompted meself, karaoke singer Brett White, MidWeek columnist Bob Jones and retired Star-Bulletin writer Russ Lynch to raise a few. Thanks to Russ for these pictures.

8/31/04
| Moving Michelle


Is it true that the Gannett Advertiser is picking up the provacative Michelle Malkin after she was so unceremoniously dumped by MidWeek? If so, then Per Ardua Ad Astra ...

9/1/04
| Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend



9/3/04
| That Rees-publican Party guy


A note from Ryan Ozawa: I'm a typical commie pinko lefty liberal hippie, or am a recovering one at least, but most of the time Robert Rees drives me up the wall. Tonight on HPR, for example, in a show supposedly about elections, he spent the first several minutes playing and then talking about jazz. Then, he went off at the local newspapers for covering the cheesy leis at the RNC but not the protests outside. He added, "...and I mean the Advertiser, because you all know I gave up on the Star-Bulletin as being fair and professional a long time ago." The latter aside was odd assertion considering what he was in the middle of saying, which was that Bush sucks, and that his daughter Liz Rees was among the protesters and no one locally was talking about or to her or them. Maybe the press up there with Lingle are a little too embedded.

Speaking of the Weekly, another eagle-eye spotted this in-house ad on the Back Page of this week's issue: Honolulu Weekly will pay $500 for information regarding restraint of trade that leads to the conviction of any publishing company for illegal activities such as pricing below cost, advertising contracts that specifically exclude competition, or any other illegal practice. Gosh, what and who are they referring to?

And there are unconfirmed reports that the much-vaunted new Gannett press in Kapolei was having some sort of problem, enough so that delivery of their P.M. edition was delayed.

9/6/04
| The powerlines that be


This is a permanent installation of utility lines at a very busy intersection in Kaneohe. Lucky you live Hawaii!

Apparently the printing problem the Gannett Advertiser had the other day was related to the new platemakers being unable to update the paper for the P.M. cycle.

Ian Lind has had an interesting debate going on about the relative "quality" of the two newspapers, particularly in their presentation of the product. This became pretty obvious with the overhyped rollout of the new press -- the Gannett product is better-printed, but it is still an ugly, cluttered, confusing package. Judging by Gannett's efforts to hire away our graphics personnel, the people up the street know it, too.
The staff at the Gannett Advertiser are certainly capable of great things. The "problem" there is the self-congratulatory cult of mediocrity that permeates Gannett management style, where you've got squads of useless mid-level managers anxious to leave their thumbprints on the product, while the pursuit of excellence comes a distant second to impulsive corporate agendas and keeping staffs under "control." This creates sausage instread of steak.
The Star-Bulletin's management and staff are simply spread too thin to screw things up. The paper is just interested in getting stories told in the most vivid and cogent ways available to us.

Despite the propaganda about the wonderfulnes of the new press -- Saundra Keyes ranked herself with Gutenberg! -- it was built so that Gannett could put the screws to commercial printing operations and achieve economies in their own product. Where do the profits go? Well, Gannett CEO Douglas McCorkingdale paid himself more that $14 million last year.

9/9/04
| Convention Fake Goatee Roundup



9/10/04
| Kerry's next campaign ad?


Oh my. Got Quicktime? Check out this music video from North Korea. Seems they don't like us much. Actually, the whole Rob Pongi streaming-video website is a pretty surreal experience.

9/13/04
| Side by side by side


All this debate on whether the two papers in town do a decent job on packaging the news -- here's both from a day earlier this week, with essentially the same stories. The Star-Bulletin package is more attractive, organized and better focused, while the Advertiser makes it look like you're getting more stories for your four bits. In other words, it like comparing cheeseburgers from drive-in burger joints -- it's all in your taste.

9/16/04
| Anniversary daze


The 16th also fell on a Thursday, five years ago, when that shambling bag of pus Rupert Phillips revealed he was selling out to the "competition." (Not that I dislike the guy.) Thus began an intense battle of survival and democratic values against greed and hubris. If Gannett had not done what they had done, they'd be making millions in Honolulu instead of spending millions, and the revolving doors in management positions over there woudn't be spinning like a motorboat engine. Whatever. The date would have passed virtually unnoticed at the Star-Bulletin had not Gannett hiree and former S-B editor Steve Petranik dropped off a cake to commemorate the date, which was either really nice of him and rather brave, or was done on the orders of his therapist.

One result of having two newspapers in town -- each paper endorsed different candidates for mayor. You likely won't see any political ads for Mufi Hanneman in the Star-Bulletin or MidWeek, either. (And you wouldn't believe the nastiness of the calls we're getting about Duke Bainum -- ouch!)

9/17/04
| We are dissembled here today



Interesting, nasty election year. As the Star-Bulletin staffers munch on another Five-Year Survivorcake, courtesy the Hawaii Newspaper Guild and Save Our Star-Bulletin, we also ponder ways in which politicians both attack and rely on the newspapers.
Both newspapers in town have had to chide politicians for using our masthead logos in their advertising, which is an improper use of a trademark if no permission is received. (It apparently doesn't fall under fair-use, becasue it's a trademark, not a copyright.) In a direct-mailing piece, above, Sen. Melodie Aduja simply mocked up a fake Star-Bulletin logo with a quote that makes it appear as if the newspaper endorsed her. The glowing quote is actually from a letter to the editor from a supporter. She was NOT endorsed by the newspaper -- no one was in that race.
On the other hand, a letter criticising mayoral candidate Duke Bainum was received from a Keith Rollman, who said he submitted it as a "private citizen." He didn't think it relevant to reveal that he is also a Mufi Hanneman media consultant. Note other letters on exactly the same talking point that day from other "private citizens."
Even wackier, yesterday a blistering press release was broadsided from Mike Gabbard campaign mouthpiece Devin Bull, insisting that the Honolulu Star-Bulletin cease all reporting on politics immediately because the newspaper has a conflict of interest and is obviously biased. His reasoning? Apparently, one of the paper's board of directors is a cousin of Rep. Ed Case. Oh, by the way, Gabbard is running against Case. Duh! Someone needs to let Bull know that a trickster is issuing idiotic press releases using his name.

9/20/04
| Trouble on the boards


It looks like the annual Society of Professional Journalists Gridiron Show, an extravaganza devoted to satire and also an excuse for journalists to behave like song-and-dance troupers, might be scuttled this year. Some sort of backstage power play is taking place and many of the troupe's talent -- including the quite talented Keoki Kerr -- have exited the production. Not good, if for no other reason than the show is only source of dough for student internships.

9/22/04
| Musings


Erika Engle passes on this essay about the dangers of media mergers. It's by Frank Blethen, publisher of the Seattle Times.

Very few of today's crop of right-wing newspaper columnists have actually worked as journalists. I learned this while looking up the practice of "prudenizing," or having an editor fiddle with the story or layout to give it an right-wing slant.

Tonight the filmed-in-Hawaii "Lost" premieres on TV -- up against the filmed-in-Hawaii "Hawaii" and the formerly-filmed-in-Hawaii "Hawaii Five-O." Looks like 7 p.m. Wednesdays is "our" time.

9/29/04
| Where does the time go?


Lately, it's been going into home repairs, still trying to correct damage caused by lightning and winds. You can never get caught up ....

And last night spent an interesting evening recording Blue Devil demos in Audio Resource's excellent studio hidden deep in Nuuanu. It's a tedious process, particularly getting the drums miked correctly, and all the usual and subtle visual cues are msssing when the guitar players are locked away in little rooms, out of sight of each other. But we did four songs in four hours total, which I'm told is quite fast. A couple will need harmony sweetening later, but that's the easy part.

We have a new addition to the Star-Bulletin family. Jason Kaneshiro in Sports and Donica Kaneshiro on Rim gave birth over the weekend to a baby boy. No word on name yet -- seems the baby is a week early and they were still in negotiations. How about Rupert Phillips Kaneshiro? No?

There's some sort of debate between candidates running for something tomorrow night. You want content? Go to Mr. Sun and create your own George W. Bush stump speech.

And for Sinatra lovers and highjack haters, here's a tune for you.

9/30/04
| Flash!


A pilot in a Delta Airlines airliner, on approach to Salt Lake City on Sept. 22, was blinded by a laser flash that invaded his cockpit. Laser-blinding weapons are widely available, it seems, from former Communist countries at bargain prices, and a little research shows that many high-intensity laser flashes have been directed at American airliners in the last few years -- including approaches to Honolulu International. For real?
4Q04


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