Book Report: Surf Science

Science, University of Hawai‘i Press, $32.
a famous routine glorifying the intellect of physical education majors everywhere,
comedian Bill Cosby answered his own semi-rhetorical question, Why is there air?,
with the obvious punchline: To fill up basketballs. Right. The thin yet weighty
tome Surf Science aspires to fill in precisely those types of gaps with a comprehensive
explanation of global weather and how it affects the waves. Written by two European
surfing scientists, Tony Butt and Paul Russell, with assistance from Hawai’i oceanographer
and wave guru Ricky Griggs, the book provides many fascinating insights into the
elaborate energy transfer from sun to air to water to beach. That transfer creates
the gentle rollers lumbering ashore in Waikïkï as well as the frightening, controlled
wipe-out that is Mavericks, the deadly big-wave spot off the coast of California
that claimed Hawai’i pro surfer Mark Foo.

Readers will learn about the
Coriolis effect, coastal geomorphology and the spring neap cycle. Although Butt
and Russell claim the book aims to hit the sweet spot between arcane scientific
gobbledygook and Cosbyesque simplemindedness that has heretofore passed as surf
folk wisdom, Surf Science feels more like a mental exercise than a quick read.
For those serious about surfing, who wish to gain a true understanding of waves
and further learn how to predict future wave activity with a modicum of accuracy,
Surf Science is a gem. For the casual surf junky more concerned with the ride
than the bathymetry and degree of swell direction, the book may be a bit like
dragging out a Waimea gun to surf Rubber Duckies.


the Aug. 30, The Boston Globe article, “Hawai’i’s homeless law fuels tension,”
by Globe correspondent Pat Bigold.

fabled Waikiki Beach, one of the places where the homeless congregate on O’ahu,
to the neighboring islands that conjure the image of paradise to planeloads of
tourists who arrive daily, there is increasing tension between the thousands of
homeless people, their advocates, and state, city, and county governments.

Hein, a homeless advocate who works at Waikiki Health Center, said there’s an
inevitable tension between homelessness and tourism.

if visitors go to the beach and see homeless people, it just doesn’t suggest the
image of Hawai’i and aloha,” said Hein.

the ill feelings is a new state law that went into effect in May allowing police
to arrest homeless people if they return within a year to a spot from which they
were rousted.

why Hawai’i will make the National Coalition for the Homeless’ “Meanest States”
list for the first time next month [September], debuting at No. 3, according to
coalition cofounder Michael Stoops. Meanwhile, Honolulu will jump from No. 19
on the “Meanest Cities” list to No. 9. … [Stoops] cited not only the new state
law, but earlier actions, such as police sweeps of beaches and parks, the removal
of benches where the homeless slept in Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, and the
installation of razor wire under viaducts.