Total Pageviews

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

SOLAR IMPULSE WILL ARRIVE IN HAWAII ON FRIDAY


Solar Impulse 2 left Japan Sunday morning at 8AM Hawaii time and should arrive at Kalaeloa Airport, Barbers Point, Honolulu, on Friday:


After the plane gets here, next stop, Phoenix.

You'd think all the pilot does is sit around and gain weight, but the stress and physical strain are such that he needs to eat 3500 kcal/day, about 7.5 double cheeseburgers, and drink just about a gallon of fluids/day.  The food is mushed up by Nestle, and, typical might be mushroom risotto and tomatoes/parsley/mint/onion salad..squashed.  There is no heating and temperatures can reach minus 40 degrees F.  Keep track of the flight at Solar Impulse 2.  You can listen in on communications, which seems to be in French.  At this posting:

TIME OF DEPARTURE28/06/2015 18:03 UTC
FLIGHT TIME2d 1h 22m 26s
DISTANCE3338 km
ALTITUDE5165 ft (1574 m)
BATTERIES CHARGE35%
GROUND SPEED15.3 KTS

-
Tropical Depression Chan-hom has popped up in the region of the Federal States of Micronesia, where computer models show a strengthening into a Category 2 and path in the direction of Guam and Northern Mariana Islands:


-

Monday, June 29, 2015

TED 2: Maybe the Worst Movie of the Year?

I yesterday went to see Ted 2, a foul-mouthed, silly, predictable and enjoyable spoof, if you can tolerate the F-bombs and general scatalogy.  Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 47% reviewers rating, but 71% of audiences liked it.  In many ways this version equaled the original, with 67%/74% RT ratings.  

Mark Wahlberg plays the friend-foil, while the voice of Ted is provided by the director, Seth MacFarlane.  The storyline has to do with Ted being property or human.  How did he become alive anyway?  Well, you need to first see Ted and buy  into the reason.  Skits are inserted with cameos by  Tom Brady, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Liam Neeson and many others, maybe the best part of the movie, except that the transitions are hardly seamless.

Ted 2 came in third this weekend and will eventually earn its production cost when worldwide revenues come in.  Yes, there is rumored to be a Ted 3.

Of course, Ted and Ted 2 are only a pale excuse for prurience when compared to the worst movie of 2013, Movie 43, which was over the top gross and profane.  I should add, racist, gender challenged and more. There will never again be a film of such obvious pornographic and civil rights excess with noteworthy stars, for the cast had 14 Oscar nominations, including for best actor and best actress, at the Academy Awards that year.  Maybe for that reason, I was entertained.  There are twelve parts, and all 13 directors earned Razzies that year.  What stars?
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Gerard Butler
  • Richard Gere
  • Halle Berry
  • Uma Thurman
  • Emma Stone
  • Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet
  • Kate Bosworth
  • Lieve Schreiber
  • Terrance Howard 
  • Chloe Grace Moretz
  • Jason Sudeikis
  • Chris Pratt (yes, the guy in Jurassic World, #1 again this week)

and others.  Performances of Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman are typical, and as I can't show their movie characters in this G-rated blog site, feel free to click on THIS.  Rotten Tomatoes gave Movie 43 4% reviewers and 24% audience ratings.  On my Roku, I noticed that Netflix does not carry this film, but Amazon does.

-

Sunday, June 28, 2015

IN THE BEGINNING, MAN CREATED GOD


The above comes from Aqualung by Jethro Tull, not a person, but a British rock band.  The group first formed in 1967 and Aqualung has been referred to as "extremely profound."

However, you can trace the concept back through Bertrand Russell, Friedrich Nietzsche, certainly to the time of the ancient Greeks and, almost sure early in the development of hominoids, for the logic makes more sense than the reverse, for, then, who created God?  

There are, of course, books on this subject.  And Man Created God by Selina O'Grady's goes back to the time of Jesus and is pedantic, in a religious sort of way.  And Man Created God by Robert Banks, observes more from the New Atheist point of view.  The problem is that both authors are Christian scholars and approach the subject as if The Bible and its characters were real.  They kind of miss the whole point of this controversy.

Yes, there is a lot more.  Another And Man Created God was written by Schlomo Shaham, professor of law and a criminologist.  He has published more than a hundred books.

You can buy AMCG for $75 from Amazon, but, according to this link, you also can get it for free.  I lost interest in this reference because it:  presents a new theory of mytho-empiricism based on the mythological concepts of Claude Levi-Strauss and the structuralism of Jeanne Piaget.  

Ah, And Man Created God by George Carl Mynchenberg was written by an Agnostic.  He uses science, history and logic, while denying all religious beliefs and faith revelations from God.  Curious that you can buy this book from Amazon for $15.93, but can also rent it for $21.  Finally, And Man Created God, this one by Mary Jane Sheehy-Moffett, who writes about a journey to freedom.

Clearly, this subject matter must be compelling, for it convinced six publishing houses to publish yet another AMCG with exactly the same title.

Here now is my concise take on this subject.  Early in the transition of Homo sapiens, say, 100,000 years ago, it became fashionable for tribe leaders to gain control, maintain security and reinforce solidarity by alluding to a god-like figure that watches over all and promises something like heaven in the end, but only if you are a good citizen.  This individual no doubt gave the impression that he (more than she) actually had a direct communication link through prayer, which everyone in the cave was urged to emulate.  Humans thrived and became the dominant creature on Planet Earth.  We might be here today because in the beginning Man created God.

Today, you would think with our educational system, television, the internet and preeminence of science, the masses would finally see the true light.  Richard Dawkins, in his God Delusion certainly makes sense.  Well, religion is almost as strong as it's ever been.  In the USA, more than 90% have historically believed in God.  The belief rate in Europe, Japan and Israel is much, much lower, in the 10% to 25% range.  These polls, though, depend on who is asking the question to whom.  A particularly surprising survey result was obtained by the French Ipsos Social Research Institute, involving 18,000 people from 23 countries (no countries from the Middle East, where belief rates are the highest):
  • Only 51% believed in God 
  • The same number, 51% thought there would be an afterlife
  • Belief in a Supreme Being
    • Indonesia  93%
    • Turkey  91%  
    • Brazil  84% 
    • Mexico 78%
  • Less than 40 in the USA believed in heaven/hell (all previous polls I've seen have been much higher)
  • 41% believed in evolution
Let me end with a direct quote from a book I'm reading, Science and Religion, edited by Paul Kurtz.  You think AMCG had a lot of identical titles?  The combination of Science and Religion has five times more, although sometimes the book is called Religion and Science, for which the Albert Einstein version sells for 99 cents.  This quote is from an essay by Sir Hermann Bondi (Cambridge Professor and eminent mathematician and cosmologist) from Kurtz's compilation:

If thought about such a god gives comfort to individuals, I, for one, would not wish to argue them out of it.  Indeed, if believers look at their faith as a purely personal matter, then there can be no dispute. But many believers (including the leadership of most institutionalized religions) regard their faith, based on revelation, as THE TRUTH, applicable to all people everywhere and at all times.  These persons view everyone who does not share their particular faith as in error.

The monstrous arrogance of this outlook is hard to stomach.  The wide variety of faiths and their mutual contradictions must mean that at most one of them can be right and that all the others are wrong.  It follows logically that the human mind has a tendency to believe, sincerely and often with fervor, something that is false.  To think that oneself and one's fellow believers in one's own faith are uniquely exempt from this general weakness is self-centeredness of stupendous magnitude....

The words flow on, but the point of Bondi's logic is that if all religions are right, this is impossible, ergo, there can be no God.

All the above makes you wonder what will be the fate of religion over the next few millennia.  In SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity I provided a pathway entitled The Golden Evolution.  However, you don't need to buy the book (although the e-version only costs $3.99), for I serialized the entire publication here in this blog beginning with Part 1.  More so, to integrate religion into one God, maybe there should be a modern day Council of Nicaea for all religions to gather and re-write The Bible, Koran and similar sacred writings, updating the thousands of versions into a unified text.  I actually hinted at such a summit in my book above.  Sir Bondi would retort, I would suggest, with something like, why bother?  But Kurtz and Bondi are no longer with us, so I will perhaps later post on The New Golden Evolution.

-
Invest 90C remains a minimal concern, but one computer model now shows one pathway right through the Hawaiian Islands:


Also almost worthy of reportage, but there was last night a 5.2 earthquake of a link to Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island:


-

Saturday, June 27, 2015

WHAT ARE THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES TODAY?

Wikipedia lists more than a thousand controversial issues.  Debate.org has a nice assortment.  If you narrow the choice to, say, 10, it depends on who comes up with the list.  For example, GrammarCheck has abortion as #10, with a nice graphic:


#9 is capital punishment:


  • #8  animal testing
  • #7  genetic cloning
  • #6  human trafficking
  • #5  ethnic adoption
  • #4  plastic surgery (the photo shown caught my attention)
  • #3  pharmaceutical industry
  • #2  the right to die (I thought that the following graphic was revealing):
  • #1  immigration
Immigration as the most controversial?  Best as I can tell, this is just one person providing his opinion.  Where is religion?  Global warming?  Same sex marriage?  Marijuana?  Obama?  I am, similarly, an individual, and while I have of course posted on a few of GrammarCheck's list, as for example, human cloning, some of my issues are more universal, while others are almost trivial.  Over the next week I'll touch on the relevance of libraries, maybe another foray into "three strikes and you're dead," our obsolete Constitution and gun rights, and as tomorrow is Sunday, let me start with:  IN THE BEGINNING, MAN CREATED GOD.

-
There is a disturbance south and west of the Big Island.  One projection shows a path towards Hawaii:

-

Friday, June 26, 2015

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT STRUGGLES, BUT CONTINUES TO ADVANCE

Having been involved with sustainable energy resources BEFORE the first Energy Crisis in 1973, I've long lamented that the solar energy industry just happened by accident.  The fundamental science and engineering have not yet been developed.  Companies jump into the commercialization on the range of renewable technologies and many fail, most because they have high expectations and this potential is not yet real.

A good example might be fuels from algae.  I had my first such project with the Electric Power Research Institute to enhance the growth of micro algae by feeding carbon dioxide from power plant stack gasses into a raceway.  That was exactly 40 years ago.  Here we had a system that theoretically could produce up to ten times the biomass compared to any terrestrial crop, while neutralizing global warming.  How much more terrific can a project be?  This was not my bioreactor, but I'm standing next to an advanced concept built by my Institute at the University of Hawaii two decades later.   So what happened?  There is a huge difference between theory and reality.  The basic fundamental research had not yet been accomplished when we fiddled around with these micro algae-to-fuel efforts.

Finally, the U.S. Department of Energy is, four decades later, beginning to establish Bioenergy Technologies Incubators.  In time, the field should better be able to become commercially competitive.

On another positive front, the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act is being advanced by a bipartisan group in the U.S. Congress to allow renewables to participate in tax breaks on larger projects.  Only fossil fuels are currently eligible.  Rather than having your eyes glaze over with the details, for those interested, click on that Act to read about this effort.  

The legislation is being co-sponsored by Chris Coons (D-DE, above left) and Mark Mason (R-KS, above right) in the Senate and Ted Poe (R-TX. left) and Mike Thompson (D-CA, right) in the House.  This practical, market-driven solution will unleash private capital and create jobs, Coons said. He stated that in addition to broad support from Republicans and Democrats, the MLP Act has also received the support of academics, investors, and business leaders. Incidentally, how's this for a background:  Senator Coons is a Yale Lawyer who was a relief volunteer in Kenya, worked for the Coalition for the Homeless in New York and campaigned for Ronald Reagan's presidency.  Note, he is now a Democrat.  As you might have perceived, there is also a dominance of white, Anglo-Saxon males in  solar energy.

Many can't afford to just fly to any major solar conference around the world, but there are options these days, such as webcasts.  These tend to be almost always free.  So, if you have an hour or so  at 1PM EDT (5PM GMT) on Tuesday, June 30, register for:


Answers will be provided to the following questions;

  1. What are the current market dynamics and where are the challenges?
  2. What are the real-world benefits on both sides of the meter?
  3. What is needed to minimize risk and accelerate deployment?
The speakers will all be from DNV GL:  Ray Hudson (above left, Director), Terrance Schuyler (above right, Principal Consultant, DNV GL) and Michael Kleinberg (just above, right, Senior Consultant). DNV GL is a European organization involved with certification and classification.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!  There are no major ocean storms and the weather in Hawaii will continue to be fabulous.

-

Thursday, June 25, 2015

SHADES OF HAWAII

Let me begin with something that has no connection to Hawaii, the second coming of Jackie Evancho, for Tuesday night, 11-year old Arielle Baril of Pennsylvania, in her initial America's Got Talent performance, captured the hearts of America with  the same song as Jackie's first audition, Puccini's O Mio Babbino Caro, and gained a Golden Buzzer from Heidi Klum.  Jackie was only 10 and more polished,  but Arielle, who was taught to sing by her brother, shows immense potential.  Think back to when you were in the 5th grade and get amazed by Arielle.


The only connection to Hawaii here is that Maui at 727 square miles is slightly smaller than Okinawa at 877 square miles.  So, with only 0.6% of Japan's land, Okinawa hosts 74% of all American bases.  No wonder that a string of governors and mayors have pleaded:  leave, please.   Remember that 160,000 Okinawans were killed in World War II (WWII).

Why are we in Japan, anyway? WWII ended 70 years ago.  We have 49,430 American troops in Japan and 38,015 in Germany.  Add 30,000 in South Korea, where the Korean War ended more than half a century ago.  How much is this costing us?  Well:

Keeping one American service member in Afghanistan costs between $850,000 and $1.4 million a year, depending on who you ask. But one matter is clear, that cost is going up.

Do the mathematics, and the annual cost of just the above amounts to more than $100 billion/year.  How significant is this?,  Our Atomic Bomb project in World War II only cost $2 billion:

  1. Eventually, the Manhattan Project employed more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$ 2 billion (equivalent to US$ 23 billion in 2007 dollars--or $26 billion today).
  2. So in comparison, we have spent more than $3 trillion since WWII just keeping troops in Okinawa, and a lot more actually, for there have been reductions since the early days.  Even worse, you need to add the 40,000 dependents and 5500 American civilians there, just in 2013.  There were a lot more earlier.  What is $3 trillion worth (from Kiplinger):
  • 126 million cars
  • Average income of 60% all households in America.

That's a trillion dollars above, in $100 bills (note man in red to the left.)

President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.  He just won two major victories, and Republicans helped him succeed.  First, they gave him almost all the support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement among a dozen Asian-Pacific nations, providing trade and investment opportunities for American companies.  All four Hawaii Democrats in Congress dinged against the President.  You could say that TPP is anti-China, for it is not included, nor are South Korea and India.

Secondly, the Republican-dominated Supreme Court rejected the Obamacare lawsuit, preserving the program at least for the next couple of years.  If our next president is Republican, and they retain control of Congress, they can still scuttle the Affordable Care Act.  The 6-3 vote wasn't even that close, but three conservatives sided with the liberals, including Chief Justice John Roberts.

Now something 100% Hawaii:  we are Death Valley for fine cuisine.  As far as I know, there is no 3-Star Michelin restaurant in Hawaii.  Mind you, neither does Los Angeles.  San Francisco just this year gained two 3-Stars:  Benu and Saison, which is the most expensive restaurant in San Francisco:

Dinner for two will now cost over $1,000 before wine. That makes Saison, judging by starting price, the most expensive restaurant in California (after Urasawa, at $395), and the second most expensive restaurant in the U.S. (after New York City's Masa, at $450).

Those numbers don't add up, but...  Worse, Hawaii has not even one 1-Star Michelin.


So it's no great shock that the Sunday list of Hawaii's Best of 2015 in the Star Advertiser indicates that the best Mexican restaurant in the state is Taco Bell and the best seafood restaurant is Red Lobster.  Of course, these selections are from people who actually vote, Best should be replaced with Popular, and certainly should not be interpreted as any measure of cuisine quality.  We do have Vintage Cave, and I think it compares with the best 3-Star Michelins in the world, but how many people here have gone there?  Hint:  this is a very low number.

Here is another reason not to live in Hawaii.  I have a Swiss Army knife type tool that has a flashlight.  There are four tiny LR41 batteries.  So I went to Long's and found that each cost $3.99, plus tax. or four for something north of $16.  The whole thing cost me less than $10 in Thailand.  So I went to Amazon.com.  Twenty, yes, twenty LR41 batteries cost $5.39, with no tax and shipping charge.  That's 27 cents/battery, or 15 times cheaper.  Now, I'll never use more than 4 in my life, for I doubt that I'll ever actually use that flashlight, and will almost surely misplace it later this year...but this is why Radio Shack has gone bankrupt.  Long's better watch it!

Last month I posted on:

     IS HAWAII SHRINKING AWAY FROM PROGRESS?

Yet again, Hawaii seems to be waffling away from doing something monumental.  On the other hand, if you are among those who feel that Mauna Kea is sacred, and yet another telescope should not be built to further desecrate the holy grounds, maybe that, too, is progress.  In any case, we are already being superseded, as Europe is building their Extremely Large Telescope (ELT--129 feet diameter--right) on top of Cerro Amazones in Northern Chile, and they hope first light will be observed in 2024.

The Hawaii 30 Meter Telescope (TMT--98 feet diameter--above left) might now never be built.  If they succeed, so what.  The concept was advanced in the Year 2000, and all those lawsuits, protests and stuff have effectively marginalized the effort to the point of making it almost irrelevant.  If this is progress, then we might as well become a giraffe.

-