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Thursday, September 3, 2015

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?

Sure, this blog site attempts to determine solutions for Planet Earth and Humanity, and I have for seven years mostly focused on renewable energy and the environment.  However, friends and readership statistics make me wonder if my postings on food/travel, entertainment and natural disasters are more popular, and I did publish a book (SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity) on much of this  other stuff.  Do people read blogs to be educated or entertained?  But football?

Well, anyway, this is the first weekend for college football.  The National Football League season begins next week.  However, the hot news item of the day is Judge Richard Berman nullifying the 4-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (the taller guy).  Read that article for the details, but this ruling was an unanticipated but wildly cheered slap in the face of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the team owners.  The league is run like a fascist state, with little regard for the players.  However, the fact of the matter is the Patriots are known for illegally deflating footballs because that is how Brady wants them and that Goodell was correct in imposing a severe penalty.  Further, the Patriots have previously been penalized for bending the rules.  But the NFL seems to almost unilaterally interpret these rules to their favor, and this judge's action will henceforth equalize the process.

The first week of any sports season is always time for optimism.  Colorado comes to Hawaii, and a good many home fans actually think Hawaii, a 7-point underdog, will actually win.  They could, but three of their next games are on the road agains Ohio State, Wisconsin and Boise State, all ranked, with Ohio State being #1 in the nation.  If Hawaii crushes Colorado--they won't, but, just in case--keep in mind that Ohio State plays a tough game against Virginia Tech on Monday night, giving Hawaii eight days to prepare, while Ohio State will only have four.  Unusual for the first weekend, but there are several excellent matches:
  • Wisconsin and Alabama at Arlington, Texas
  • Michigan at Utah
  • BYU at Nebraska
  • Texas at Notre Dame
  • Washington at Boise State
  • Stanford at Northwestern
  • Louisville at Auburn
  • Virginia at UCLA
  • Arizona State and Texas A&M in Houston
Tomorrow I plan to attend the Hawaii-Iowa women's volleyball game...and the start of my final around the world adventure is less than two weeks away.

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No ocean storm is threatening anything but ships at sea.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

TOPLESS SUNBATHING AT WAIKIKI

How's that for a provocative title?  With all the sewage potentially damaging the image of Waikiki Beach, I thought something less smelly was worth a shot.   Note the signs don't say why the beach is closed. Today I elaborate on three Hawaii headlines that titillate and confound.

First, yes, there are no laws prohibiting topless women in Hawaii.  Jamie and Tess Meier, University of Hawaii students to the left, were arrested at Waikiki beach, but for protesting without a permit.  Certainly, too, breast-feeding is perfectly fine.  Hawaii tries to believe that men and women are equal, which mostly explains why elected public officials have shied away from peering into this area.  The law is drawn at genitals, which cannot be exhibited by anyone to the general public.

Mind you, I've been to Ala Moana Beach (right) and Waikiki Beach hundreds of time and I have never seen any topless females.  Maybe I should adjust the above title.  Anyway, click on this to read an article identifying Hawaii beaches that are known to feature maybe more than just toplessness.  Interesting that the presentation begins with:

     Nudity is illegal at state beaches in Hawaii.

I guess nudity must mean no clothes. The Huffington Post has some beautiful photos of nude beaches, here to the left, Donkey Beach on Kauai.  If you've gotten this far, click on thisi mostly sanitized video of Little Beach, Makena, Maui, with some upbeat background music.

Changing subjects, when you read this headline, you would think our students are doing okay:


Further, if you clicked on the article, you'd be comforted to see:

“The improvements affirm our focus on supporting all students for success after high school,” schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said in a statement. “A sustained focus on college and career readiness is showing results for our students. We’re very pleased to see steady progress.”

However, something sounded fishy to me, so I went to the ACT (the current national college admissions exam for English, Mathematics, Reading and Science--the SAT tests reasoning and verbal abilities) page to compare how Hawaii did with other states:
  • We were the absolute WORST in the nation in Average Composite Score.
  • We were the absolute WORST in the nation in English, Reading and Science.
  • We beat Louisiana and Mississippi in Math.
Of course, our DOE has said most (90%) of our students take this test, while other states are more selective, plus, a good portion of our students are immigrants.  Still....

With all those hurricanes threatening Hawaii, ironically, it turns out we are here and there suffering from drought conditions, so a headline like the following sounds illogical:


Huh?  Well, what happens is that when a lot of rain falls in a limited time period, much of the water washes away.  Plus there is soil erosion.  So while we fear those Category 4 and 5 hurricanes which head our way--and we're up to number 9 this season, Jimena--farmers agonize as these storms suddenly turn north or south, and they get little to no rain.

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Hurricane Jimena remains strong at 110 MPH, but all projections show a turn north away from the Hawaiian Islands:


There is another new storm east of Jimena, but that tropical depression will head for Baja.

I continue to be intrigued by Hurricane Kilo, no, now it's called Typhoon Kilo, which has weakened into a Category 1, but will soon zoom up to Category 4 status and head towards Japan:


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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

NEXTERA CONTINUES TO WANT HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES

Nine months ago NextEra, headquartered in Florida, indicated an intent to purchase Hawaiian Electric Industries for $4.3 billion.


HEI stock initially jumped, but like the rest of the stock market, has recently dropped.  The market cap of HEI is $3 billion, while that of NextEra is $43 billion, where only Duke Energy is larger.  HEI has a production capacity of around 1800 MW, while NextEra is close to 50,000 MW.

Consumer Advocate Jeff Ono and Governor David Ige have both expressed opposition to the sale.  The Public Utilities Commission will soon pass judgement, where public rejection was almost universal.  Of course, the PUC takes signals from the Governor, so the outcome seems obvious, unless some significant back-door discussions are occurring to work out a compromise...which no doubt are occurring, for today NextEra provided 50 new commitments.

Renewable energy advocates from Florida, who are not particularly happy about the attitude of this major utility, have been sending me regular reports about this company.  The issue is actually debatable.  I am among the few in the state sympathetic to the views of NextEra.  The cost of solar photovoltaic electricity depends on the scale.  NextEra believes it can do it cheaper with solar farms, while the media and masses want independence with rooftop panels.  The fact of the matter is that NextEra has a good point.  The following was published by investment bank Lazard last year:
Plant Type ( USD/MWh)LowHigh
Solar PV-Rooftop Residential180265
Solar PV-Rooftop C&I126177
Solar PV-Crystalline Utility Scale7286
Solar PV-Thin Film Utility Scale7286
Clearly, utility-scale PV is a lot more cost effective than residential PV.

I think Hawaii needs NextEra more than the reverse.  They have deep utility pockets and can take more chances with riskier sustainable energy ventures.  Clearly, they see an advantage in being part of our state.  It will not be easy, for many just won't want anything like this 250 MW PV farm from California in their backyard, but I see the following occurring or not over the next decade or two:
  • Undersea electricity cables linking all the Hawaiian Islands, except for Kauai.
  • Large wind and solar farms on Lanai, Molokai and the Big Island.
  • More than 100 MW of geothermal power from the Big Island, and, maybe even Maui.
  • Perhaps a 10 MW OTEC plantship off Honolulu, if not 100 MW.
  • I don't think we will get close to 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
However, if most of the above occur, Hawaii will be well on our way to energy independence, and NextEra can take credit for being a progressive utility.  Why this can work here is that our electricity  rates are three times the national average.  Thus, all of these renewable options can best be commercialized here first.  No other state can make that claim.  The process of getting there will take people working together to make it happen.

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Hurricane Ignacio is methodically moving away from Hawaii, while Hurricane Jimena, with wind gusts up to 150 MPH, is also expected to move north and miss the state:


I must bring up Hurricane Kilo again, located west of Hawaii, and continuing to move further west.  While only a Category 2 today, all signs show Kilo strengthening into a Category 4 and heading in the general direction of Japan.  I don't ever recall a hurricane from Hawaii becoming a typhoon and striking Japan:


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Monday, August 31, 2015

MOUNT MCKINLEY IS NOW DENALI

In the growing tradition of reverting to cultural tradition,  Interior Secretary Sally Jewell signed an order renaming Mount McKinley (at 20,237 feet, the tallest peak in North America--the Andes reaches 22,841 feet) to Denali, (not Mount Denali), the Koyukon Athabaskan (also can be spelled Athabascan, of which there are supposedly 53 different languages) term for "the  high one."  All this in preparation for President Barack Obama's trip to Alaska this week.  While Republicans have historically been against the change, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski more recently had acquiesced.  

However, Speaker of the House John Boehner and his Republican delegation from Ohio are deeply disappointed.  Why?  President William McKinley is from Ohio, and every two years some congressional Republican has introduced legislation to keep the Mt. McKinley name.  Actually, President McKinley not once visited Alaska.  However, it's possible that some legislation might actually be introduced to settle this matter, and my gut feeling is that if this happens, Denali will prevail, for Republicans are at this moment in time hesitant about being labeled anti-Eskimo.  So political logic will probably prevail and the Republicans will just quietly only mumble regret.

Okay, then, since I went to McKinley High School, which had an original name in 1865 of the Fort Street English Day School, what about some reversion here?  Well, forget Fort Street English Day   Ah, but in 1895, there was a grand change to Honolulu High School.  That is worth a re-look.  Daniel K. Inouye High School?  Hmmm....  He did graduate from McKinley.

The country where wholesale changes were made is India.  After gaining independence in 1947 from British imperialism, some of the more notable adjustments were:
  • Mumbai (1995, I was last in this city when it was called Bombay)
  • Chennai (1996, I remember Madras shirts)
  • Tamil Nadu (1969, once the State of Madras)
  • Kolkata (2001, Calcutta)
Still to come:  Bhagya Nagararn for Hyderabad.

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Hurricane Ignacio at 110 MPH appears to be easing by the Hawaiian Islands:


But Jimena is now a SUPER HURRICANE at 150 MPH!!!


However, all signs show some weakening and a turn north:


I show Hurricane Kilo because last week it was just south of us, also turned north, but sufficiently west of Hawaii:


Are we just lucky, or are our tall volcanoes diverting these ocean storms?  Hard to believe that no hurricane has yet been recorded to make landfall over the Big Island of Hawaii.


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Sunday, August 30, 2015

PROGRESS ON THE BLUE REVOLUTION

The endowment of my apartment to the University of Hawaii just got fully signed this past week, and I received this copy:


You might need to enlarge to read it.

The University of Hawaii Foundation (UHF) recently met with advisors of Blue Revolution Hawaii (BRH--has copyrighted the term, BLUE REVOLUTION) to determine how best we could work together to find cost-matching, leading eventually to our stated goal of securing $1.5 billion for the Pacific International Ocean Station (PIOS), the first monumental step towards the Blue Revolution.  That torus, or donut-shaped floating platform, would be PIOS, although the ultimate shape might be the following:

Decades ago I advanced these spiral concepts, for they can forever be expanded.  A circular shape seems sensible to withstand hurricane conditions, allowing ships to be protected and platform stability to be maximized.

While much of the discussion between the UHF and BRH focused on the traditional fund-raising methodologies, BRH introduced the opportunities stakeholders might gain through active partnerships.  The University of Hawaii seems flexible enough to embrace such innovative financing mechanisms.

In parallel, we will pursue the involvement of enlightened billionaires seeking a legacy.  How much more gratifying can it be than developing the next frontier for economic development by harvesting the sustainable resources of the ocean in harmony with the natural marine environment, while maintaining the spirit of the moana?  Even better, it is possible that the ocean thermal energy conversion process might well enhance Planet Earth for Humanity by preventing the formation of hurricanes and remediating global climate warming.


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There are six ocean storms:  


From the left is Hurricane Kilo, now at 140 MPH, having eased pass Hawaii to the south last week:


But, yikes, Hurrican Ignaciio is also up to 140 MPH, and heading our way.  However, most computer models have him moving slightly north of the Hawaiian Islands:


Yet, there is at least one track that goes right over my apartment.

Right behind is Hurricane Jimena, only at 135 MPH:


While current projections seem to suggest a similar path as Ignacio's, it's a bit too early to feel comfortable.

In the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Fred has formed off Africa, and will become a hurricane.  However, all signs show a weakening as Fred approaches the Caribbean:


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