Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

Aloha TechHuians,

Now that we are in the midst of another legislative session, I thought it appropriate to let you all know of a new "advocacy-made-easy" tool that helps politically-motivated individuals and advocacy groups get their friends, members or constituents to very easily submit testimony via a pre-populated web form. Once set-up it takes folks 30 seconds or less to get their voices heard.

The tool is called the Hawaii Policy Portal and can be found at

Any feedback you have would be appreciated.


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Comment by Dave Takaki on February 18, 2009 at 8:39pm
Bitchen, man. Fer sure, fer sure. I can dig it.*

*(gender bias not implied. It is a reflection of 1967-72 San Francisco & points > west babble-speak)
Comment by Kevin Vaccarello on February 17, 2009 at 8:38pm
Dancing the fine line of communications when dealing with others' unique beliefs and sensitivities is without question the task at hand. I will always have room for improvement on that front.
Comment by Dave Takaki on February 17, 2009 at 7:58pm
No, it is not that I believe that other views should still be included. I have no objection to rough and tumble in the marketplace of opinion. My reservations stem from the initial characterization of the “Hawaii Policy Portal” as “a new ‘advocacy-made-easy’ tool that helps politically-motivated individuals and advocacy groups get their friends, members or constituents to very easily submit testimony via a pre-populated web form.”

To me the preceding could be characterized as non-partisan.

As I had stated earlier, members of TechHui represent a broader ideological spectrum. My concern is perhaps more a matter of being conscious of civility. Let’s not forget that the entity that Daniel and Mika created is a community, however latent, and ideological civility is more conducive to change than presumptive denigration or unconscious dismissal.

In my youth (I am 56 yrs. ticking) I was more concerned about being “right” and prevailing in discourse. Now I am more appreciative of civility as being conducive to the art of persuasion. Over the decades I have maintained communication with the “opposition” and have found that respect for those with whom I disagree with leaves me with better opportunities to persuade. If you are looking for results, the political objective is not to denigrate the “opposition”, but to convert.

So, it was this initial lack of initial transparency that I found disturbing. If you are unable to grasp how others might view the overture a misleading, I suggest finding out. The exercise will only serve to strengthen your skills of persuasion.

Do I share many of your concerns that we may have reached or passed tipping points that are both qualitative and quantitative? Do I ascribe to all? No. In part, I am interested in results, and I note regrettably positions such as,

“Our assumption is that the laws of physics should be a basis for the laws of society, particularly since our own basic human needs as well as the economy itself are completely dependent upon ecological systems.”

while perhaps emotionally gratifying to state, will not further the objectives we do share. Am I concerned that this planet is in increasing peril? Frack yes, since the late sixties. But the above speaks more to chest thumping somehow enlightening the opposition. It doesn’t work. This is the conundrum I couldn’t recognize in my younger years:

“It is one thing to show a man that he is in an error, and another to put him in possession of the truth.”

Yes, like Kant, another dead white guy, John Locke. His observations remain fresh. Cool your jets and think on this. The imperatives you speak to are going to be present for the rest of your life. I know the issues at bay will extend beyond my lifetime. It’s not sexy, but leaning into the harness and settling in for the long pull is the reality of it. Beating the other sonavabitch with a buggy whip isn’t going to help.

I doubt anything I said holds sand with you, but I believe my observations may prove to be germane for other readers.

And Daniel, I concur on being prejudiced against untenable and irresponsible policies (as well as deliberate lack of such). But breeding more of our ideological ilk isn't the solution. It takes too long, contributes to the population problem, and you know kids, they may turn on us. Changing enough disbelieving minds in time is the only thing that will propel the necessary change in public policy on a global basis.

A sobering task. Let's get to work.
Comment by Peter Kay on February 17, 2009 at 6:57pm
I agree Dan, completely. We live in a free country. If I wanted to create a policy site that supported coal mining and oil drilling policies only, that's my perogative. But if I branded it as "we-help-you-with-public-policy", one not consider it particularly forthcoming and open.

This will be interesting, because either (a) people won't notice or (b) people will notice but ignore or (c) people will notice and follow. And Kevin will prob have combo of all 3.
Comment by Daniel Leuck on February 17, 2009 at 5:09pm
In terms of the Earth Charter, I support Kevin's position. I think its perfectly acceptable to be prejudiced against untenable and irresponsible policies. All ideas are not created equal. That being said, I agree with Peter and Dave that something like would better convey the intent of the site. As it, the Earth Charter requirement could conceivably sneak up on you :-)
Comment by Kevin Vaccarello on February 17, 2009 at 3:54pm
Thank you, Dave. If I am understanding you and Peter correctly, you both agree with the fundamental values and principles espoused by the Earth Charter, but feel that others may not, yet their views should still be included. Please correct me if I've misinterpreted this.

If my interpretation is accurate, then my response is that our intention is to move toward a universally agreed upon framework for policymaking. "The Earth Charter is increasingly recognized as a global consensus statement on the meaning of sustainability, the challenge and vision of sustainable development, and the principles by which sustainable development is to be achieved."

Population growth & traditional development are causing us to bump up against the boundaries of our natural system's capacity to replenish itself within a generation and/or reabsorb that which has been anthropogenically put into our land, air and water. This can be quantified by the laws of thermodynamics, specifically exergy.

The Earth Charter is a qualitative description of a quantitative problem which can be defined via exergy. My reference to Kant's Categorical Imperative was in relation to his intent to objectively define values and ethics.

If we are able to internalize all the externalities that neo-classical economics overlooks via the laws of thermodynamics, then we have largely moved toward empirically accommodating Kant's goal. Our assumption is that the laws of physics should be a basis for the laws of society, particularly since our own basic human needs as well as the economy itself are completely dependent upon ecological systems.
Comment by Dave Takaki on February 17, 2009 at 7:11am
After reviewing the Earth Charter, I for one would say that the vision is laudable. I share many of the beliefs, goals and sentiment. How they become actionable in a manner that reaches beyond the converted is another matter.

And like Peter, I have reservations about the manner in which this site was introduced. Unfortunately, the introduction to this site was somewhat disingenuous. I am aware via other postings that the Tech Hui community spans a spectrum of political and societal values and expectations. Sharing many of Kevin's imperatives does not lessen my discomfiture. The democracy he espouses is exclusive of the voices that may, and do, disagree. When healthy, democratic or representative interaction is unruly and contentious as well as cooperative.

The site is a walled garden. The motives are understandable, and the requests of the site are reasonable. But it is a delineated opt in. That should have been made clear. And a reference to Immanuel Kant's constructs only serves to imply that there is an approved dialectic in viewing the world.

I like the site, but the 'funneling' was unfortunate.
Comment by Peter Kay on February 13, 2009 at 8:17am
Very cool. Good luck! And if we ever meet in person I'd love to have a discussion about Earth Charter. :)
Comment by Kevin Vaccarello on February 12, 2009 at 11:09pm
It's actually intended to be a hybrid of A & B - to help influence policy more efficaciously via a healthy framework (i.e. earth charter + exergy = rational outcomes)

You are correct that the framework messaging is very secondary. We'll explore that a bit more.

Thanks for your input. It's helpful and appreciated.
Comment by Peter Kay on February 12, 2009 at 10:59pm
To respond to the "cheeky" question: Not at all. Cameron's clarity in requiring Earth Charter compliance indicates a secondary agenda of the site which is what my entire point is. That is unless Earth Charter compliance is the primary purpose of the site.


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