Friday, December 04, 2009


How to apply the brakes to a viral video?

by Larry Geller

How long should a shocking video stay posted, assuming the problem it documents is solved?

The YouTube video of rats frolicking in Honolulu Chinatown should cross 10,000 views some time today.

It’s having its effect. There was TV coverage of the rat infestation on both KHON and KITV last night and a story in this morning’s Star-Bulletin.

Unfortunately, indications from the Department of Health are that they will be doing nothing about the problem, which should raise further concerns. In response to the video, the Star-Bulletin reports that an inspector will be re-visiting the one shop that got caught again today.

If the shop has done its job, inspectors won’t find droppings. But does that solve the problem? Of course not. The rats will simply move on to the next stall, out of camera range at night.

The Star-Bulletin article ends with:

On Wednesday, in response to Geller's video, the Health Department visited Pacing Market inside a large market on Kekaulike Street. A Sanitation Branch inspector issued at least four citations related to rodents, [deputy director of the DOH Environmental Health Services Division Larry] Lau said.

The concern is that rat feces and urine could contaminate food and make people sick.

Pacing Market owner Pacencia Edrada said she has tried to eliminate the rats, but she is only one stall in an open building.

"This is a big market," she said. "I just renting one stall. They (the rats) go around any place."

Lau said he did not know whether other vendors or the property owner were cited.

The answer to the last question is probably not. They probably haven’t even been inspected.

It’s safe to say that shoppers and diners are concerned with the possibility that “rat feces and urine could contaminate food and make people sick.” But if DOH will lay off 38 of 53 staff members in their Vector Control Branch in January, they will be further disabling their already inadequate ability to protect our food supply.

At what point do the feds step in once again to save us from our wayward government?

I don’t think I need to worry about taking down that video any time soon.



In response to your question, "How to apply the brakes to a viral video?," the good news is, "Cannot."

Which is why "viral" is a bum descriptor when applied to Internet-propagated content. An actual virus can indeed be controlled, contained, or eliminated; it can also die out naturally. Internet content, on the other hand, is eternal. You can stop publishing the video yourself, of course, but that wouldn't affect its accessibility at all: Everything you or anyone else has ever posted on the Internet (along with everything that has ever been posted about you) is ours now, forever. And we're 1,733,993,741 strong — and counting!

In fact, that's another reason your particular video even more fun to watch. Imagining our great-great grandchildren laughing as delightedly as we at the marvelous rats' acrobatic finesse (not to mention their amazing burrowing skills) enhances the viewing experience tenfold, no kidding.

So thanks for this blog, Larry, and for your efforts. It's much likelier that humans will eliminate themselves before they eliminate the rats, but in the meantime, more solid evidence of our lying, cheating, greedy, ignorant selves is always welcome. Without the Internet and its posse of citizen journalists, we and our descendants wouldn't know what the !@^*# had happened. Keep up the good work!

Thanks for your kind comment. Yes, I do know it can't be erased. I was thinking that before I posted. One thing I'm hoping to do somehow is to encourage others to use their cellphone cameras and video cameras to make a difference. This moment of attention will fade out (some time after CNN covers it tonight, though), and it will be time for the next thing.

Aloha, thank you for the update. I read in the news that when asked what the government will do about the rat infestation, Governor LL responded that they will do nothing. She believes that it is the individual, the store owner who will have to step up to the plate. Yeah, she believes in self policing, so citizens please do take your cameras when going out. The self policing reminds me of the banksters self control, and we all know what happened there without government oversight.
I am really worried about diseases, and will not eat out anymore. Too bad for the nice restaurants in Chinatown, normally I would go out at least twice a month, not anymore, the rats spoiled my appetite.

Congrats Larry! Good job!

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