This Week in Review
January 17, 2008
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 9
Iconic. That's the word advertising and marketing specialists are using to describe it. As in, "It's an iconic brand." Those exact words recently appeared in BrandWeek, an advertising trade publication. Spoken by one Swen Neufeldt, who works as a group product manager in Austin, Minnesota, the words are meant to characterize Neufeldt's employer, which is Spam. And apparently, Newfeldt isn't the only Spam guy who considers the little tins of meat or whatever it is that Spam is to be iconic. In fact, Spam marketing people have unveiled a new "Blue and Yellow World" campaign designed specifically to celebrate its iconic-ness. "Its 'Blue and Yellow World' theme delivers a breakthrough message that entices Spam lovers to recall the unforgettable taste while demonstrating the convenience, versatility and relevance of the iconic brand," Spam manager Dan Goldman said in today's Rochester (Minn.) Post-Bulletin. I'd poke fun at Goldman's use of terms like "unforgettable taste" and "relevance" to describe a canned "meat" product, but that seems cruel, like laughing at the special-ed kid in class.
THURSDAY, Jan. 10
There's a really cool picture of a Dodge Durango that some tourists somehow parked atop a convertible Chrysler Sebring in the parking lot at the Kihei Kai Nani condos in today's Maui News. No one was injured, which is part of why it's such a fun photo. The other part comes from the fifth paragraph of the accompanying story explaining the photo: "The Durango occupants, visitors from China, reportedly had arrived from Honolulu with the rental car aboard the Hawaii Superferry."
FRIDAY, Jan. 11
Looking over a schedule of presidential primaries and caucuses, a friend asked me the other day why there's no Republican Party caucus in the Hawai'i (the Hawai'i Democratic Party Caucus is Feb. 19). My answer was something to the effect that there aren't enough Republicans to caucus even if it were held in a phone booth. My view was only strengthened after reading the Jan. 9 Honolulu Advertiser story "Two Senate Republicans question Hemmings' political leadership." The piece details the vicious squabble in the state Senate over who will lead the Republicans. State Senator Fred Hemmings (R, 25th District) has been their leader since 2002. But state Senators Sam Slom (R, 8th District) and Gordon Trimble (R, 12th District) want Hemmings out, questioning—in the words of Advertiser reporter Derrick DePledge—"whether Hemmings has been effective at candidate recruitment and advancing the party's message." In case you don't know, Hemmings, Slom and Trimble constitute three quarters of the Republican state Senate contingent (the fourth—Paul Whalen of the 3rd District—hasn't yet said who he wants to be leader, and may not really care anyway since he's apparently up for a job in the Lingle Administration). You read that right: there are just four Republicans in the 25-member state Senate. Does that sound like Hemmings has done a bang-up job in terms of "candidate recruitment?"
SATURDAY, Jan. 12
And today, history was made. For the first time since, oh, I don't know, Governor Linda Lingle did something that I completely agree with. Her reason may be lame, but her action is on the mark. According to today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Lingle has asked the federal government—namely Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff—for more time before the state goes ahead with the $4 billion REAL ID program. She wants more time not because the whole national ID card thing is bullshit, but because counties out here issue driver's licenses, not the state. This, I imagine, will be good enough, if for no other reason than the fact that Lingle is a Republican. Anyway, without the extension, the state would have until this summer before handing out new super-duper driver's licenses that are matchable against what the Star-Bulletin calls "secure government data," which I assume is any data that some bureaucrat hasn't yet downloaded onto a laptop, taken home and then lost who knows where. I'm amazed that just 16 states, including Hawai'i, have tried to object in some way to this truly bonehead idea, passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005. It's predicated on the view that we can really pound the godless terrorists into sand if we all just carry a national ID card (passports, which are national ID cards, don't apparently count in this logic). And Chertoff has been threatening states, saying that if they don't start issuing REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses airport screeners will no longer take those licenses as valid ID at airports, which should really speed things up at those airport metal detectors.
SUNDAY, Jan. 13
The terrorists have already won, right?
MONDAY, Jan. 14
There's an interesting story in today's Honolulu Advertiser—which seems to be written straight off a press release—about the state-funded Hawai`i Tourism Authority (HTA) announcing that it will spend $3.1 million of its funds on 25 "community-based projects." These projects, according to the original Jan. 11 release, are all about the "raising awareness" that public relations professionals hold so dear, but will also in some way "repair, maintain and improve Hawai'i's natural resources." Now this is absolutely a good thing for the HTA to be doing, and the Advertiser's choice to run their story—as far as I can—entirely off the tourism authority press release without any type of criticism would seem to indicate that the paper agrees. But there are points to quibble over—most notably, the fact that the HTA receives about $70 million each year from the state tax on vacation rental and hotel beds, and $3.1 million looks rather measly in comparison (the 2006 HTA Annual Report shows the authority spent $37 million that year on something called "Leisure Marketing"). Of course, there's also the flipside argument that questions why the state-funded HTA is spending money trying to protect the state's natural resources, which the last time I checked nominally fell under the jurisdiction of the state-funded Department of Land and Natural Resources. In any case, the HTA release says its practice of protecting our natural resources dates back to a 2002 "legislative mandate," which gives at least the hint of a feeling that the idea of using tourist promotion dollars to scrub beaches and clean trails didn't exactly originate with the HTA.
TUESDAY, Jan. 15
Originally I was going to have some fun with Hawai'i Superferry's announcement that they won't actually start a second Maui voyage until the spring–the press release says "Mayor [Charmaine] Tavares' concerns"lay at the heart of the reason–and possibly even the news that Hemmings will, in fact, stay Senate Republican leader, but then I got word on a new book on Makena that's actually more important. Local archaeologist Theresa Donham and Sierra Club Hawai`i Vice Chairperson Lucienne de Naie have published Project Ka`eo: The Challenge to Preserve Cultural Landscapes in Modern Makena. This book, all 470 pages of it, caps off two years of research into the cultural history of Makena, which goes back a thousand years. The best part is that the book, full of maps and photos and all sorts of details of life in Makena when Native Hawaiians ran things, is free: you can download a copy yourself at projectkaeo.blogspot.com.
Anthony Pignataro has seven Twitter followers–you can be Number Eight! Just go to http://twitter.com/apignataro. MTW
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