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By In Hawaii

Welcome to Hawaii. Now Pay Up.

It’s been a while since I was the type of guy to go to a club, but know what’s something I don’t remember? The cover charge.

It was a totally forgettable transaction, simply an established and expected part of the deal: if you want to go somewhere that a lot of other people also want to go, you have to pony up just to get inside. If you don’t want to pay, you can go somewhere else.

Cover charges surely drive some customers away sometimes, and there is certainly a threshold of reasonability — nobody will pay $500 at the door, for example. But if the destination can justify the cost, people will pay.

You’ve probably gathered that this is about tourism.

According to a recent Hawaii Tourism Authority survey, 66% of people agreed that Hawaii “is run for tourists at the expense of locals.”

It’s hard not to feel this way…

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By In rap

Pick of the Litter: “Damien”

My formative years of listening to hip-hop came in high school, when I’d have to catch the city bus at 5:30 in the morning to go to school in Honolulu. It took about an hour to sweep through my town and pick up other riders then go over the mountains to get to my school. The perfect amount of time to listen to an album.

It was on one of those bus rides that I first listened to It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot — a Hemingway-esque title that spoke to a bookish, angsty pastor’s kid invigorated by the chill of the early morning air and the rebellious potential of adolescent independence.

The only song I’d heard before then was “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem,” because how could you not. It was everywhere when it came out. Even if you didn’t listen to the radio or watch MTV or whatever, it would still find you in traffic, thumping out of someone else’s car speakers directly into your bloodstream.

As one track after the next passed through my ears in the pre-sunrise delirium, the song that stuck with me most — both that morning and ever since — was “Damien,” where D(MX) the struggling artist is promised unimaginable success by D(amien) the devil in exchange for “blood out, blood in” allegiance…

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By In Hawaii

The Social Failures Behind the Death of Iremamber Sykap

Here’s what we know about the shooting of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap.

On April 5, Sykap was driving a stolen car along with five others between the ages of 14 and 22. Following a police chase, officers shot at the car, and it crashed into a drainage ditch near McCully. Sykap was taken in critical condition to the hospital, where he died.

According to Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, the car was connected to several crimes leading up to the fatal shooting, including an armed robbery in Moiliili just 20 minutes prior, though no guns were found at the scene of the crash.

We don’t know much about Sykap the person just yet, but we know he was born in Guam and was the youngest of eight children. We know from his sister that “he would make you laugh at your lowest.” We know from his teacher that he was friendly and playful, and that he loved his family deeply. And we know from the gatherings at the place of his death that he was loved, too.

We also know he had a history of criminal behavior that resulted in multiple arrests.

It can be hard to square these two accounts of Sykap, especially since we tend to think of criminal behavior as a function of personality: people who do bad things are bad people, like cartoon villains. In reality, criminality is often directly tied to whether or not one’s basic needs are met…

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By In education, Hawaii

To Test Or Not To Test

In a few weeks, schools will start administering the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) to students in third through eighth grades, as well as high school juniors. For the uninitiated, these are the standardized tests designed to measure student competency of Common Core standards.

This year, since students are returning on a staggered, blended schedule, students will take the SBAs for two hours per day over the course of two weeks.

Teachers, too, have been dedicating a number of hours to the test, with meetings about protocol and procedure as well as a surprisingly thorough training module to become certified to run an official test.

This is not a complaint – all of it was genuinely useful and necessary – so much as an accurate accounting of how much total time these tests require.

The purpose of standardized tests is to see what students know and what they don’t know under a given set of standards, then to track that progress over time. But after a pandemic year, this data serves another purpose: delineating the learning gap that has almost certainly occurred during distance learning…

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By In Hawaii

The Small Wonders Of Knowing Your Home

Ulu A‘e Learning Center Executive Director Miki‘ala Lidstone made an interesting comparison between the windward and leeward sides of Oahu in an interview with Civil Beat last week.

“We don’t have a lot of (Hawaiian) names for our rains because it doesn’t rain that much (in Kapolei),” she said, adding that it’s not like that in Kailua. “They have a lot of names for rains — we don’t. But you know what we do have? We have a lot of hills.”

This echoed around my head as I was in Kailua helping my parents salvage soaked belongings in their house after a torrential intruder whose name I do not know barged in and alerted us to a leak somewhere in the roof. The hills of Kapolei are no doubt more mannered acquaintances.

The days of heavy downpour reminded me just how inextricable rain is from life on this side of the island, and how essential it is to its — and our — character. Rain comes in a menagerie of personalities. It can be a gentle patter that helps you fall into a deeper sleep, or a deluge that turns your waking life into a nightmare. Which made Lidstone’s sentiment all the more compelling…

Read more at Civil Beat

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