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Monday, May 29, 2017

DEATH AND HEAVEN

To continue my Heaven series, my breakfast today featured Japanese Wagyu Beef:


Then I looked down from my lanai table and saw another bloom of Pearl's Sunburst.  This is really unusual, for the flowers normally all come out at the same time.  It was exactly three weeks ago that two of them welcomed me home (left) from my 44-day Global Adventure

This is Memorial Day, and a glance to the left from where I was sitting is Punchbowl, where I'll later today trek to honor our fallen heroes, and my view of the National Memorial Cemetery from my computer where I'm now creating this posting:


Today, of course, is more than eating, parades, sporting events and mattress sales.  Hawaii does more to pay tribute to the dead than any state in the Union.  In addition to Memorial Day, throughout the summer we have Obon, a Japanese festival featuring family reunions, ancestral graves and dances.  In Japan, the Tokyo to Tohoku area focuses on mid July for three-days, but elsewhere, the lunar calendar is followed, and mid-August is when celebrations occur.  Hawaii extends these Bon-Odoris (people dance in a circle, surrounded by a fair-like atmosphere) from now through August.  

But on Memorial Day, we go even further by having the the largest Toro nagashi, a festival featuring the floating of 7,000 paper lanterns out to sea at Ala Moana Beach.  Traditional Japanese beliefs state that we come from the ocean, so these lanterns, representing individuals who passed away the past year,  are like bodies returning to the sea. 

Called Shinnyo-en Lantern Floating Hawaii Memorial Day, this is an inter-faith service first held in 1999.  Today beginning at 10 AM, those who wish to honor someone can go to Magic Island to sign up for a float, first come, first served:
  • You can write something or draw on the paper lantern.
  • Also tape photographs or images.
  • No leis.
There will be up to 50,000 observers by 6PM.  You might as well watch the event on TV (6-7:30PM) on KGMB (there is also live streaming), for parking will be a problem, there will be a swarm of people to prevent you from taking the ideal photo and another 10,000 ahead of you in-line for the bathroom.

So my sermon for the day:  what happens when you die?  Your physical body eventually becomes "dust."  What about your soul or spirit or thoughts?  My take is that there are only two paths:  nothingness or something, like Heaven or Hell.

At the beginning of humanity, it made sense for  society to invent a Supreme Being to watch over all so that the community could be more moral and secure.  Religion could well be why Homo sapiens survived so well.

But there is no compelling evidence for Heaven or Hell, or even Purgatory.  Watch Richard Dawkins on Heaven and Hell.  Or read his quotes.

Although, we are here too late, someday, it is possible that scientists will find the aging gene and  disable it.  Thus, people will die only from accidents, murders and similar consequences.  No need to worry about ailments, for they, too, will be eliminated.  Plus, people like Elon Musk are seeking ways to in real time store your memory onto a computer so that, with cloning into a new body, you can essentially live forever even if the aging gene is not checked.  Thus, you won't need to cogitate over the presence of Heaven or not.

So what is next?  I'm still stuck in an eternal gloom mode, hoping something happens so that I can soon look forward to a more promising ultimate termination.  Or, I can become Hobbes:


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Sunday, May 28, 2017

MY HEAVEN: Part 2

You need to scroll down to my Friday posting or click on THIS to access Part 1 of Heaven.  Of course, by personalizing this imaginary locus with "my," I harken back to those days when I purchased $1 Italian Silk ties in Itaewon, knowing that they were made of rayon or some polyester.  I haven't won a tie for at least a decade, but, out of curiosity I looked in my closet and still found, maybe, 50 of them.

Thus, whether Purgatory or Heaven, this is a state of mind, so let me continue my life of actual fantasy, starting with the end point of Part 1, my Japanese Wagyu Beef and O-Toro Blue Fin Tuna Sashimi dinner on my lanai last night, with cold beer and hot sake:


I won't be so gauche as to mention what these items cost, but will indicate that this was like a meal served in Heaven.  I will show, though, those orchids that first greeted me when I returned from my 44-day Global Adventure three weeks ago, now, finally, in full bloom.  Sorry, I can't send the heavenly fragrance.


So the next morning I walked to the bus stop to have lunch in Waikiki and noticed this sign:


The significance of this religious public service is that there could well be dogs in Purgatory and Heaven, for this notice was the work of gratefulminsitries.hi.org.  I might alert you, however, that I think there is a major misspelling in that address.

My driver on The Bus 13 was so nice to everyone that I had to take Lei's photo:


No question she will get to Heaven.  We need more people like Lei in this world.  Start a fund to send her to DC to help Donald Trump.

I  hopped off at recently re-modeled International Marketplace.  The firms responsible, JPRA Architects and 505 Design, should be de-certified.  Neither is from Hawaii, and it shows.  There is no local character left.  Further, I walked around in the rain once and got wet no matter where I went.  

Anyway, on the third floor is three-month old Yauatcha, between Roy Yamaguchi's Eating House and Michael Mina's Stripsteak:


Yauatcha is a modern-day Cantonese restaurant specializing in dim sums.  The creator, Alan Yau (Yau plus matcha minus the m), founded the restaurant in London 13 years ago.  He also is known for Hakkasan (in ten countries).  Many of these have one Michelin star.  There are three more Yauatchas in India.

The local eatery is well-designed and staffed:


Goldfish symbolize a long life.  Desserts and the kitchen:


I ordered a rose' wine and Maui lager to complement the hot sour soup, Shanghai Soup Dumplings and Crispy Duck Roll:



Jake excelled as my interface:


Restroom facilities were also excellent:


I decided to walk back home and passed by Marukame Udon and Subway.  Note that there is no one in the latter and a giant line outside of the Japanese noodle place:


The next worthy photo was at the Hawaii Maritime Center, which has been closed for eight years:


Those are the 4-masted Waikiola and Falls of Clyde, now 140 years old.  I can't find any information on the Waikiola, which is not in the list of 25 ships of this category.  Anyone reading this with any more information, please let me know.

In the adjacent waters was what looked like a different specie of the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, the Hawaii state fish, yellow tangs and others (Plus if you look real closely at the bottom photo, is that a genuine humuhumunukunukuapuaa?):


Right next, I then did something I've never done before.  I went to the observation deck of Aloha Tower:


That's the Hawaii State flower, a yellow hibiscus with red middle.  There is an elevator that takes you to the 10th floor viewing area.  And it's free.

From the top I could see The World, a luxury condo ship I once considered as a future home:


Not seriously, mind you, for you need to have a net worth of at least $10 million to qualify.  There are 165 cabins, running from $2 million to $15 million.  The residents, from 19 countries, vote to determine their itinerary.  Over this year the ship will travel 44,000 nautical miles and stop in 100 ports.

The $1 billion+ Utopia (right), being built by Samsung, will be ready for launch this year.  Cost?  $3.9 million to $30 million.

From Aloha Tower, the Pride of America was also in port:

Today in My Heaven, I might go to a movie or two, and tomorrow, perhaps I'll catch The Bus around the East side of Oahu.  I wonder what will be featured on our Monday Night Table for Memorial Day.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

DONALD TRUMP VERSUS PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY

Just about a year ago The Huffington Post published an article by William Astore, where I quote:

Trump has the makings of a tyrant.  His approach to the presidency is fundamentally undemocratic.  His statements and behavior suggest if he becomes president he’ll do what he wants and expect others to fall into line, even the U.S. military, which swears its oath to the U.S. Constitution and not to any one leader.  At a time when Congress has abdicated its responsibility to declare war or to check executive warmaking prerogatives, a tyrant like Trump is an especially dangerous prospect as president.

In that contribution entitled What Is So Awful About Donald Trump, Astore lists them all:
  • crass womanizer who brags about his penis
  • bigot who attacks Mexican immigrant and Muslims
  • ignoramus who knows little of foreign policy
  • posturing tough-guy who supports torture
  • serial liar
  • a bully
  • shameless showman who exploits the media while professing to hate it
But we are now familiar with all the above.  Trump's faults will embarrass our Nation, but our country today is so supreme and reasonably unbreakable that we will survive.

You know what was missing?  The environment. Global warming, for example. Could Donald Trump's most consequential blunder be to catalyze the end of the world as we know it?

It was almost a decade ago that my HuffPo was entitled:


Congressional Republican voting on the environment has only continued to decline since then:

A good part of these scores is influenced by who supports your campaign:


Donald Trump is preaching to his choir when he rebuffs attempts to address this issue, for a recent survey showed that only 25% of those who voted for him believe climate change is occurring now and is caused by human activity.  For the record, 90% of Hillary Clinton voters believe human-induced climate change is happening.

No question that many Republicans have a disdain for Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth.  Can you believe that movie was released eleven years ago?  Frankly, I thought very highly of Al Gore when he was one of the senators from Tennessee during my three year stint in the U.S. Senate.  I still do, and truly wonder how much better the future health of Planet Earth would be if he had beaten George Younger Bush...and Hillary had won.

But returning to President Trump, have you been keeping up with his Group of 7 discussions in Sicily?  The other six world leaders all are pressuring Trump to reconsider his America first position with respect to climate change.  Sure you need to strengthen your national economy, but we are part of a global society, and we have screwed up our environment.  The time has come to do something now.  The response of Gary D. Cohn, Trump's chief economic advisor at the Italian summit:

     If those things (like the environment) collide, growing our economy is going to win.

Cohn previously served as president of Goldman Sachs, and is now Director of the National Economic Council.

So far, Trump has hired Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Pruitt denies that carbon dioxide causes global warming.

It is a recorded fact that 53 of 100 senators and 232 of 435 house members are CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS!  Senator James Inhofe, who until recently chaired the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, wrote a book:


A surprise to me, but he is no longer chairman because there is something called term limits in the Senate now.  However, the new chairman, John Barrasso of Wyoming, is also a climate denier (extreme right, with Inhofe in the middle).

Say global climate warming is real, for there seems to be around 97% agreement by world scientists on global warming, and that humans are the cause.

If our country in total partnership with the rest of the world takes steps to develop rational solutions, that would be a simple solution.

But leading the USA on this issue are climate deniers, coal lovers and America First bullies.

So what do you think will happen to Planet Earth and Humanity with Donald Trump as President?


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