October 16, 2013 | 03:51 PMOCEANIC WANTS CABLE MONOPOLY FOR 20 MORE YEARS
For the last 15 years, Oceanic Time Warner Cable has been Maui County's sole cable TV provider. And it's been pretty cool, right? They provide us whatever broadband speeds they like in exchange for whatever they wish to charge us, and if we don't like it we can cut the coaxial cable and walk away. Oh, and if they want to take a hardball approach to negotiating with something like CBS that involves simply shutting down Showtime at the height of Dexter's closing season, they can do that, too.
Anyway, Oceanic would like to continue this business model of doing what they like, when they like it, for another 20 years. In August, the company filed a request with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) saying that everything's just peachy now, and it's gonna be even peachier if they get to extend their monopoly another generation.
"Oceanic is fully prepared and committed to continuing its quality and innovative services to the residents of Maui County through the next franchise period," the company states in its Aug. 30 DCCA application. "As with the current franchise period, the next period will see new technological advances, and Oceanic intends to continue its leadership and innovation within the cable television industry to provide innovative, quality and dependable service to all of its subscribers… Oceanic looks forward to continuing its tradition of providing dependable, quality and innovative cable television services to the residents of Maui County though a franchise that balances the interests of stakeholders with the flexibility to deploy and manage technology and resources in the best, long-term interest of all subscribers in the county."
If the DCCA is judging applications on how many times the company uses meaningless corporate buzzwords and euphemisms, then Oceanic will easily win its license renewal. Oh, and here are the details on some upcoming DCCA public hearings on the application:
• Tuesday, Oct. 22, 4:30pm: West Maui Senior Center (788 Pauoa St., Lahaina)
• Wednesday, Nov. 6, 5:30pm: Maui Waena Intermediate School (795 Onehe'e Ave., Kahului)
You can also email written comments on the application to email@example.com or mail it to DCCA-CATV, PO Box 541, Honolulu, HI 97809.
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HC&S BURNS SUGAR, RESIDENTS AND ITS OWN MILL
Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) seems to be taking the term "Burn Season" way too literally. Yeah, the old mill in Pu'unene suffered a fire on Saturday. According to the Oct. 13 Maui News, the "accidental" fire occurred on a conveyor belt, causing an estimated $13,000 in damages.
That would be bad enough, but a few inches to the right of the Maui News photos of fire trucks at the mill was a small blurb on more rotten news for the company concerning its policy of burning sugar cane in the 37,000 acres of fields it owns. As everyone in Central, Upcountry and South Maui is aware, this means residents get to wake up to hazy, smoky skies and lots of black ash ("Maui Snow") littering decks, driveways and cars.
But apparently, sugar cane burns last week caused so much ash that HC&S was moved to apologize to residents.
"General Manager Rick Volner said windy conditions that are good for harvesting resulted in heavier ash fallout," The Maui News reported on Oct. 13. "Volner said the company apologizes for any inconvenience and thanked residents for their patience."
So Volner "apologizes" and "thanked" us all for our patience in dealing with the garbage that his company dumps on our property. No word on providing any financial compensation for residents who have to deal with the fallout from his burns, but given the history of sugar plantations in Hawaii, that shouldn't surprise anyone.
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FRONTLINE EVISCERATES FOOTBALL; LONG LIVE FOOTBALL!
Football is a major part of life in America, and especially here in Hawaii. Our state lacks pro teams in any of the major leagues, so the University of Hawaii provides sports/entertainment uniting threads that help bind our islands together. Here on Maui, high school football carries the same near-mythic importance as that of just about all the other small towns on the Mainland.
That's why it was especially jarring to see Frontline's latest documentary, titled "League of Denial." For nearly two hours, the program laid waste to the National Football League's long insistence that the sport's crushing violence directly leads to serious, permanent, life-degrading brain injuries in its players. The program aired on PBS stations nationwide earlier this week, but you can watch it online at PBS.org.
The idea that football–professional or otherwise–glorifies violence at the expense of the human beings who play it is nothing new. Ask the late Junior Seau's family, or any of the other former players who suffer from chronic brain injuries but haven't killed themselves.
"Football combines two of the worst things in American life," political columnist George F. Will observed many years ago. "It is violence punctuated by committee meetings."
What is new is the way Frontline's "League of Denial" documentary was able to show conclusively that the NFL has for many years sat on damning medical data showing that act of playing football–regardless of the helmets and padding the players wear–injures the brain.
After he watched it, a friend immediately proclaimed to me that football was "dead."
Oh, if only that were the case. Football makes too much money in this nation to die so easily. According to Forbes, the NFL's revenue (which has never officially been made public) is hovering around $9 billion, with league officials dreaming of making $25 billion a year. College football is equally profitable (except, apparently, at UH, which is actually losing money): a chart from August in Forbes shows tremendous profits at 25 schools with major football programs.
Football is as vital to our nation's societal cohesion as the gladiator games were back in the Roman Empire.
"America is Rome," Iggy Pop (yes, him) observed in his 1995 Classics Ireland article about the author Edward Gibbon. "Of course, why shouldn't it be? All of Western life and institutions today are traceable to the Romans and their world. We are all Roman children for better or worse."
Football's violent hits, tackles and sacks mesh perfectly with our nation's imperial power. Our nation builds giant aircraft carriers and powerful drone bombers that circumnavigate the globe in search of enemies to destroy. Watch any commercial for an NFL game and tell me the league doesn't wallow in the "grid iron's" violence.
In war or football, we may wince when we see players in a particularly nasty hit or watch a child's body carried from rubble created by an American missile, but we don't stop playing.
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