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To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, May 13, 2000

Not much is happening

NOW in its fifth month, the 21st century is perking along relatively uneventfully. We've observed the anniversaries of such horrors as the Vietnam War, the Columbine shootings and Oklahoma City bombing, but so far this century's global crises have been limited to Elian Gonzalez' custody and houses burning down at Los Alamos.

Buzz Aldrin visited Honolulu last month and observed that the generation of the 20th century will be remembered for getting from Kitty Hawk to the moon in 66 years. This was a fantastic accomplishment.

Unfortunately, the same generation also fought two world wars and endured unspeakable carnage and deprivation. Aldrin lamented that humans have languished in low earth orbit ever since, but is that such a bad place to be, at least until we catch our breaths?

We are beset by contradictions: India this week enthusiastically celebrated the birth of its billionth citizen. Yet, it was also reported that one in 10 South Africans is dying of AIDS, that Japan's birthrate is disastrously low, that the world's entire population of six billion could fit comfortably into the state of Texas and that Bill Gates (whose personal fortune has dipped to a mere $76.6 billion) has given $250 million to programs to control population.

Despite our sneaking suspicion that Microsoft, like T.S. Eliot's J. Alfred Prufrock, has "seen the moment of its greatness flicker," we'll let neither Bill Gates nor the NASDAQ stock exchange drive us to trichadillamania.

If you've misplaced your Oxford Unabridged, trichadillamania is obsessive hair twisting. I admit that getting one's hair, or shorts, into a twist is a relatively harmless, 21st-century way to deal with the central question facing all of mankind, which Nancy Kerrigan put so eloquently: "Why me? Why now?"

Why, indeed? Don't think about it too much. Let's just keep our heads down and keep moving. As Soren Kierkegaard said, the trouble with life is, while we can only understand it backwards, we have to live it forwards.

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

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