By In Social Media

Keeper of the Flame

Jonathan Swanz’ attraction to glass blowing had little to do with the alluring glow of the furnace.

“There was an attraction to fire, don’t think there wasn’t,” the O‘ahu artist says. “But initially what was so seductive was that I wasn’t working with just my hands. The whole body is engaged.”

When you see Swanz in person, you might mistake him for a different kind of artist. His sinewy musculature and casual facial stubble suggest the aged experience and youthful energy of a lead guitarist in a rock band.

“People ask me if I’m a musician,” he admits, to which he playfully responds that he’s actually a dancer. Indeed, the manipulation of molten glass involves choreographed movements and patterns that resemble dance…

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By In Social Media

More Money Is Not The Only Way We Can Help Teachers

It was an unpleasant surprise to discover — on payday, no less — that my salary had slightly decreased from last year. Amid the back-to-school whirlwind and the return of full in-person learning, my paychecks arrived at about $16 under what I had been making on the other side of summer. Admittedly, it’s an amount more annoying than devastating, but no one feels good about making less money, no matter how much.

I did the math: $16 per paycheck is $32 per month is $384 per year. That’s like six fancy dinners with my wife, or two to three weeks of groceries. I could almost feel what I would no longer have.

Then I found out why my pay went down: we dropped a bunch of after-school meetings for the year. That’s an exchange I can get behind, and I’m willing to bet a lot of teachers would be willing to take similarly sized pay cuts to eliminate excess meetings and otherwise trim the fat off their schedules…

Read more at Civil Beat

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By In Social Media

Of Course Student-Athletes Should Have To Be Vaccinated

The Department of Education announced last week that it will be delaying the start of fall sports and requiring all student-athletes, athletic staff and volunteers to be vaccinated. The announcement came as students began full in-person learning for the first time in 18 months, and the number of daily COVID-19 cases continued to surge.

The decision sparked the usual backlash blend of genuine disappointment, exhausted frustration and reactionary outrage. It’s much easier to sympathize with the first two.

Competition is an important experience for a lot of people, and I don’t trivialize how truly life-changing it can be. Sports can push us to our physical and mental limits; you tend to learn a lot about yourself when your heart is pounding and your legs are burning and a team, school or community is investing their hopes in you. You learn to be aware of how your actions can impact others around you, a lesson that is in dire need right now.

For most people, high school is the highest level of competitive athletics they’ll get to participate in. After local athletes had their final seasons cut short last school year — and the school year before that, if they played spring season sports — it’s not hard to understand and commiserate with the impatience and anxiety a lot of people feel.

Then there’s the reactionary posturing, which thrives online and takes the form of all the usual bad faith arguments: “A vaccine mandate is an infringement on my rights” or “vaccines are just as dangerous as COVID-19.” Let’s investigate those claims…

Read more at Civil Beat

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By In Social Media

Trying to Fit a Fight Into a Sport

As soon as the final bell sounded in the main event bout between T.J. Dillashaw and Cory Sandhagen last weekend, I knew the scorecards were going to be strange. My hunch, which turned out to be correct, was that the final verdict would either be a split decision or a majority draw. When you’ve watched enough close fights, you know that the only thing more dynamic and unpredictable than the fights themselves is how they are judged.

Calling the fight “close” isn’t entirely accurate, though. It was in one sense, but in another it really wasn’t close at all. If the purpose of a fight is to inflict more damage than you receive — which is the intuitive understanding of how fights work — then Sandhagen was the clear and obvious winner. He hit Dillashaw with more and harder shots throughout the fight, slicing and bruising the former champ’s face into a bloody mess. Sandhagen, however, ended the fight relatively unscathed. If the fight happened anywhere but in the Octagon, there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind who won.

But the fight did take place in the Octagon, and it was judged in five minute intervals, not in entirety…


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By In Social Media

We Need To Take Wildlife Harassment More Seriously

The recent spate of pictures and videos showing visitors harassing animals has touched a nerve, to say the least.

It started a few weeks ago with a TikTok video of a Louisiana woman touching a sleeping monk seal on Kauai that quickly went viral. Afterwards, a slew of similar pictures and videos flooded local social media pages. From there it snowballed into coverage from every local media outlet, prompting Gov. David Ige to release a statement that people who mess with local wildlife will be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

That is unlikely to happen to recent offenders. There are essentially three avenues of prosecution: in federal court, state court, or civil court through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Disturbing wildlife is a misdemeanor under federal law, but it’s a felony under state law, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Even the most righteously outraged would probably agree that half a decade behind bars is a bit stringent for a thoughtless and idiotic moment that ultimately caused little actual harm.

Part of the issue here is the health and safety of the animals themselves. Human interaction is an ongoing threat to the roughly 1,400 remaining monk seals in existence. According to NOAA, as of 2018 at least 12 monk seals have been intentionally killed by people. But even in less extreme situations, people can unknowingly expose them to diseases and contaminants or disrupt their sleep patterns, either of which can have dire consequences.

Yet I get the sense that the outrage is about more than the animals themselves. As beloved as monk seals are, they do not have much direct or immediate impact on our daily lives…

Read more at Civil Beat

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