Total Pageviews

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Every so often I wake up at night and can't go back to sleep.  While tossing around last night, some thoughts formed in my mind on the future of the world according to Pat, me.  While most struggle, enjoy, coast, whatever, through life, a few of us through circumstance and fate are placed in a privileged, or cursed, role to make a difference for Planet Earth and Humanity.

I can look back to the Second Energy Crisis of 1979, and, more specifically, my stint in the U.S. Senate beginning almost forty years ago, to pinpoint when this enormous sense of responsibility suddenly appeared.  I was working for the summer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on laser fusion, and was summoned to join U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga in Washington, D.C.  In that 3-year period, I became involved, and in some instances, personally created, the following future pathways:
  • Controlled fusion, which then looked generations away, and today, still is seemingly going nowhere.  But if the Sun and all the stars used this mechanism to create energy, why not us?  That was my thinking early in my life.  Laser fusion is definitely stalled and magnetic confinement at ITER in France is moving oh too so slowly.  The future for commercialization?  Beyond 2050, and that is being optimistic.
  • The U.S. House was progressing on a wind energy bill, and as Matsunaga was pro-solar and on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, he was asked to be the key link in the Senate.  In the mid-1970's I was chair of the Wind Energy Division of the American Solar Energy Institute, but was generally discouraged at how slowly this field was moving.  Congress did pass the first wind energy bill to initiate the national effort, but it turned out that the key to the success of this field was Sparky's initiatives on the Finance Committee.  His general counsel was Ed Ing, who was instrumental in passing the necessary tax incentives to spark commercialization.  Ed went on to at one point become president of the American Wind Energy Association, which was started by Tom Gray, the House staff lead for wind research legislation.  I just last week had dinner with Ed and Chris (who also worked in the same DC Senate office) in Honolulu.  Wind and geo energy are now the lowest cost electricity producing energy options, safer and cleaner than natural gas, and much cheaper than coal or nuclear (click on that bar graph below to read the details, and click on that above link to understand the terms):
  • The field of hydrogen has recently progressed well.  Even the U.S. Department of Energy said this.  Oh well, that was five years ago.  However, later in this summary you will learn that Toyota and Honda are actually today selling commercial hydrogen powered cars.  I joined Senator Matsunaga's staff most specifically to introduce hydrogen legislation.  In the mid-1970's, a couple of studies completed by the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii, which I directed, indicated that the future of transportation was crucial for the state.  The price of oil was jumping, and there was fear about how that would influence jet travel for tourism.  The solution clearly was the hydrogen jetliner, plus, we also thought that methanol was the best replacement for gasoline, not ethanol,  To produce methanol from biomass, a key ingredient was lower cost hydrogen.  Then, too, I was linked with Lawrence Livermore on fusion, and this technology depended on isotopes of hydrogen.  I have written a series of articles for The Huffington Post on hydrogen, and expressed some reservations about the timing of this option.  Well, my discussions with Toyota and Honda representatives earlier this month at Energy Week hosted by the University of Kyushu, returned me to some optimism.  They are actually already selling hydrogen powered fuel cell cars anticipating profits as far into the future as the 2030's.  Perhaps my proposal to make hydrogen free now has some re-gained some relevance.  At the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, featured is the Hyundai Nexo compact SUV hydrogen car with a range of 378 miles.
  •  The hydrogen jetliner?  Rinaldo Brutoco was developing the H2 Clipper, but I have seen no recent progress.  The Matsunaga Hydrogen Act stimulated a $2 billion mostly black Department of Defense program in the 1980's, which loosely continues.  Until Airbus or Boeing gets seriously involved, I suspect nothing much will happen.  I've suggested that the USA, European Union and Japan (Mitsubishi) initiate an international partnership for the long term, but I see no movement.  Perhaps beyond 2050 for a next generation hydrogen Mach 5 aircraft.
  • Seabed mining legislation became law as shepherded by Senator Matsunaga in the Senate.  It was on my watch, and I got deeply involved with manganese nodules, the Hughes/CIA-led Project Azorian and the Law of Sea Treaty.  Each of those topics would take many books to provide sufficient information.  However, this experience led to my institute at the University of Hawaii becoming the Department of Interior's Marine Mining Technology Center with the University Mississippi. More recently, interest has re-surfaced because of the presence of rare earth minerals and marine methane hydrates (MMH) at the bottom of the ocean.  China, in particular, is getting very active.  Interestingly enough, both of these marine resources are best found in the Pacific Rim of Fire.  MMH is the cause of the Venus Syndrome, a book in an early stage of conceptualization.  These new developments have given me some fresh ideas on how to proceed.  I have found a villain.  Solution?  Not there yet.  Timing?  Rare earths from the sea bottom commercialized in a decade or two, MMH after 2050 and the book, perhaps this coming year or two or more.

I've also thought about Rainbow Pearls, International, Hawaiian Onsen (geospas, an ecotourism venture) and more.  Go to my Mensa talk for details.

What I'm really doing these days is nothing much.  In only a little more than two months, this blog site will no longer be a daily.  So I can get serious about really doing nothing.

This curse of Saving Humanity and Planet Earth never goes away.  So to anyone out there desiring to become rich and famous, feel free to seek my advice.  I won't even charge you a buck.

Regarding the Blue Revolution, don't bother unless you happen to be that imaginative billionaire.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

LAS VEGAS: Paris Hotel

I'm now staying at the very ornate Paris Hotel, owned by Caesar's Entertainment, which also has seven golf courses and over 50 hotels and casinos, including neighbors Planet Hollywood and Bally's.  Doing well, huh?  Well, they filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015.  That's the view from my hotel room.

The history traces back to 1937 when Bill Harrah opened a small bingo parlor in Reno (here with his father), and wends through Holiday Inn (the hotel), purchase of Caesars in 2005 for $10.4 billion and, now The Linq, in the section where the main hotels are located.  There is continuous hybridization occurring.  Caesars just celebrated his 80 years on the Strip.  He passed away at the age of 66 in 1978.

Harrah created the Nevada Gambling Control Board in 1955, then the Gaming Commission in 1959 to remove corruption.  He was the first to remove all color and gambling barriers in American casinos.  The highest Total Rewards Card Tier, SEVEN STARS, is named after his seven wives, which included Bobby Gentry, who made Ode to Billy Joe famous.  He was 57 and she, 25, filing for divorce in five months.  Gentry herself married three times, each lasted less than a year, the final one forty years ago.  At the age of 73 she now supposedly lives a two-hour drive from the Tallahatchie River bridge that made her fame.

Paris Hotel opened on 1 September 1999 with Catherine Deneuve flipping the switch to first turn on the lights.  There is an underground passage connecting the hotel to Bally's, which is linked to the Las Vegas Monorail.  Their headline singer since 2008 has been Barry Manilow.  During the past decade, marketing has focused on gay/lesbian travelers.  There clearly is a second foci, for the hotel TV system has ten Chinese stations.  In the film 2012, this hotel and the rest of the Strip is destroyed, and Godzilla 2014 has wingless MUTO demolishing the Eiffel Tower replica here.

My brother Dan arranged for our family living in the area to have lunch at Joyful House:

That's my brother to the left, but that's enough detail for now:

Dan and I would probably have gone to see Chicago if this was not their dark night, so he dropped me off after lunch.  I first went to the shop at the Paris and a small bottle of Dewar's White Label was $32, with a tiny bottle of cheap red wine at $11, so went for a walk where I found CVA next to this property.  They own Long's in Hawaii.  What a difference.

Here are photos of Las Vegas' Eiffel Tower (540-foot tall, half scale from the original--original plans called for a replica, but that would have interfered with nearby McCarron Airport) from Las Vegas Boulevard, with Caesars Palace across the street and Bellagio/Casears from my hotel room:

That small, shiny bleb is a reflection of the room TV, which is smaller than the ones they had at the Marriott Marquis and California hotels.  Then at night:

Note the waxing crescent moon just above the Bellagio to the left of the Eiffel Tower.

Tomorrow, the World Aquaculture Society Conference begins at the Paris Hotel.


Monday, February 19, 2018


Goodbye San Francisco and Hello Las Vegas:

Except for maybe ten minutes of civilization, the rest of the ride to Las Vegas, sitting on  the left side, was all desert and mountains, no water and a total wasteland, but beautiful:

Did I mention I got a complimentary upgrade to first class?  The turbulence was a problem, so they only served drinks in my section.  In only one hour and 15 minutes, Las Vegas, which looked very hazy:

The incoming ride was so bumpy that the customers in my United flight actually clapped when the plane landed safely.  Vegas was being buffeted by 40 MPH winds that gusted to 60 MPH, stirring up the dust.  It might get down to 32F Wednesday morning, and not once in 2017 did the temperature reach that low.

Checked into the California Hotel, walked into my room and was almost flabbergasted that it was not so decrepit as I was expecting.  The TV set was not of the cathode ray variety and I would say that the decor was better than the SFO Marriott Marquis, including a very large flat screen set, and at one-third the cost.  Of course, who comes to Fabulous LV to watch TV.  Went down to Redwood Steakhouse for dinner:

That baked potato was the largest I've ever had, with escargots, Caesar salad, Duckwood Decoy Cabernet and a Stella.

Hard to believe that the population of Las Vegas is only around 633,000, for the traffic jam on the Strip is horrendous.  The first time I came here in 1960, there were only 64,000.   On the other hand, Honolulu has 375,000, although Oahu, which is the City and County of Honolulu, is at 953,000.  The difference is that Las Vegas has 42 million visitors/year, as compared to Hawaii with a little over 9 million/year.  Vegas is in many ways Hawaii's 9th island, for at one time it was estimated that 200,000 from the 50th State live here.  I think that's an exaggeration, but people from Hawaii still come here in droves just for the fling.

As dominant as gambling is in Las Vegas, Macau now has gambling revenues over THREE TIMES ($28 billion versus $6.4 billion) that of LV.  Macau is one-tenth the size and sees 30 million visitors/year, two-thirds from China.  Vegas has 135 casinos to only 49 for Macau.  The only thing similar today is that their populations are about the same.  Something doesn't seem right here, but, Macau has 30,000 hotel rooms to 17,000 for Las Vegas  to more than 70,000 for Hawaii.  

Anyway, let me close with this infograph:

If you really want to read the details, click on THIS.

Incidentally, Tropical Cyclone Gita now appears to be headed for New Zealand:


Sunday, February 18, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO: Stanford Gang and Chinatown

I had a wonderful time in the final warm San Francisco day for probably some time to come.  Not a cloud in the sky and the temperature rose to 67F.  Hard to believe, but it might snow tomorrow in this general area.

About my Stanford gang, we are all acquaintances from Stanford University's class of '62. We have never participated in any formal class reunions, but have personally now then gotten together on campus, and usually in San Francisco, since they live there, or in Sonoma and Napa Valleys.  To the right Arroyo, where Bill, Jim and I met 60 years ago.

My first contact was with a seagull:

Then the Vallejo Ferry arrived at the Ferry Building dock, so we had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant, Slanted Door (sorry Jim, this is the only group photo I have left, so next time I'll make sure you're not sleeping), located just where the ship came:

That's my pho.  This was the first Vietnamese meal for most of them, and they seem to have enjoyed the experience.  We then talked for a couple of hours at Philz Coffee (where every cup is specifically brewed for you), then at the nearby Hyatt.

Nice of them to come by and see me.  I then walked to Chinatown, first met by my Blue-bar Pigeon (got to give it a name):

They have the same mural art as in Kakaako.

Here are some photos of the Marriott Marquis, and note the combined fall colors on the wall and cherry blossoms:

You would think that the Chinese New Year parade, the largest outside China, would be this weekend.  However, that occurs in a week.  Plus there is the largest orchid show in the USA at the the Hall of Flowers from February 23-25.  I had this option remotely possible.  So I decided to stop by again at the Marriott Marquis during that period.  So Stanford Gang, let me know if anyone wants to join me.  Next, on to Las Vegas.