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Monday, July 28, 2014

LUCY, DIANE KEATON AND MICHAEL DOUGLAS


I went to see two new movies yesterday:
  • Lucy. with Scarlet Johansson, earned $44 million this weekend as the #1 grossing film.  Someone forgot to tell the reviewers and audience, for Rotten Tomatoes  gave this film 59% and 52% ratings, respectively.
  • And So It Goes, with Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas, took in a measly $4.5 million and came in at #8.  This should be a disaster of a film, for Rotten Tomatoes gave it 15% and 45% ratings.
The former was intense, bloody, brutal, well-crafted and entertaining.  The latter, a fluffy comedy that I actually enjoyed more than Lucy.  When I eat, I combine hot and cold, sweet and sour...contrasts.  This double-bill featured totally opposite productions.  Just my type of staging.


Lucy (so named because Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was playing on the radio when she was found), one of our earliest ancestors 3.2 million years ago, is to the left.  Lucy, from the movie, could well be our final female, and I can't say why, or I would be giving away too much.  For the record, Ardi (right, from her scientific name, Aridipithecus ramidus), 4.4 million years ago, is the current oldest female.  All these early hominids seem to be women.

Lucy kind of reminded me of a 1968 film, Charly, where Cliff Robertson won an Oscar.  This would be a fine twin-bill I'll need to add to my list.  I'm putting together film combinations to someday watch, perhaps as a 15 Craigside regular feature.  A typical example would be Casablanca, followed by Play It Again, Sam (where Diane Keaton played the equivalent of Ingrid Bergman, with Woody Allen, coached by Bogie).

Not much more worth saying about And So It Goes, except that Diane Keaton again croons.  Watch her singing for a nightclub owner, played by that Frankie Valli.  For nostalgia, click on Seems Like Old Times, from her 1977 Oscar performance in Annie Hall (Woody Allen got an Oscar nomination for his acting).  She most definitely is 37 years older.

Michael Douglas, who will be 70 (Keaton is two years younger) in September looks good for someone who was diagnosed with stage IV (the worst there is) tongue cancer four years ago and lost 32 pounds  He was very descriptive on  how he thinks he contracted this ailment.  He also owns an Oscar for his 1987 role as Gordon Gecko.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

NIACIN/NIASPAN AND FASTING FOR BLOOD TESTS

During these past few weeks I have posted on a range of stuff related to your health:
Let me start today with Niacin.  Yes, this Vitamin B3 (this was the third B vitamin, found in 1943) does appear to boost levels of good high density lipoprotein and lower triglycerides, and, perhaps even lower bad low density lipoprotein.  Also this acid (chemically called nicotinic acid) appeared to relieve pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.  There is a reason why they sound the same:  nicotinic acid (right) results on the oxidation of nicotine.  Should you be concerned.  Nah.

Insufficient niacin causes pellagra, and, not to scare you, but this is an ailment starting with diarrhea and dermatitis, leading to dementia and death.  However just about any modern diet provides sufficient niacin.

The recommended daily allowance is 18 mg/day for males and 13 mg/day for women.  However, those on Niacin take 35 mg/day.  Sounds extreme to me, but to combat cholesterol, some take as much as 3,000 mg/day.  Niacinamide is an alternative for those who flush.

As niacin is a natural pill, drug companies cannot patent it and jack up the price.  A bottle of a hundred 1000 mg capsules purchased over the counter only costs around $7.  However, 90 tablets of 1000 mg extended release Niaspan tablets, sold by Abbot, can cost more than $500.  In other words, use judgement about what kind of Niacin to take.  One can only wonder whether this issue is symptomatic of medical plans supporting pharmaceutical companies.

WORST YET, TWO LATEST STUDIES ARE LEADING TO DOCTORS NOW INDICATING THAT NIACIN IS TOO RISKY FOR ROUTINE USE!!!  First, it was confirmed that Niacin does not prevent any heart problems.  But that's almost the good news, for there seems to be a troubling  (but only tiny) rise in deaths among Niacin users.  While maybe only incidental, NIASPAN appeared to induce more strokes.  Interestingly enough, Abbot paid half of one study, said to cost $52 million, and sales of this formulation for them approached $1 billion last year.

This is certainly not the end of Niacin, nor Niaspan.  The results were preliminary and additional investigations will provide confirming clues.  In the meantime, you Niacin/Niaspan takers need to talk to your personal physician.

I find the above to be disturbing in many ways.  However, I may have good news for some of you, especially me:  FASTING MAY NOT BE NEEDED BEFORE FUTURE BLOOD TESTS FOR CHOLESTEROL.  I find that my blood pressure jumps when I am hungry.  This could well be a potential life-saving change for me.

Basically, in 2011 a study was run for 200,000 blood tests in Calgary, Canada.  Here were the results between fasting and eating:
  • 2% difference for total cholesterol and HDL
  • 10% for LDL
  • 20% for triglycerides
Is this significant?  Authors of this study indicated that fasting for routine lipid (those above bulletized items) level determinations is largely unnecessary.  So when will my blood-takers heed this study?  Don't know.

But more so, I will be eternally grateful if medical science can derive the results of my blood test without drawing any of my blood.  Surely enough, non-evasive developments seem on the horizon, as there is a hint of a wrist band that can provide this information.

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There continue to be four storms in the East Pacific, all headed for Hawaii:


However, only the one on the extreme right, Tropical Storm Hernan, currently at 70 MPH, will become a hurricane:


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Saturday, July 26, 2014

CAN OTEC NEUTRALIZE HURRICANES?

Yesterday, I suggested that ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) could well remediate global warming.  Today, I extend the benefit further with a contention that OTEC can also  neutralize hurricanes (and cyclones and typhoons).   I use neutralize, for the effect might well be two-fold:  prevent the formation of this damaging storm and diminish the severity if one forms.

It must have been twenty years ago that I gave a talk on this subject in Taipei, and a comment came from the audience:  But a typhoon is how we get most of our drinking water.  I made a snide comment about a future ability of scientists to reduce the storm so they got the rain, but not the high winds.  Well, just this past week, Typhoon Matmo stormed over Taiwan, and probably caused the crash of a TransAsia Airways flight, killing 48.

For global climate change, the concept sounds worthy, but the value is nebulous.  How much carbon credit should this process gain?  With hurricanes, the damage is definite.  Katrina (left) in 2005?  $125 billion! Sandy in 2012?  $50 billion.  In 1970 Cyclone Bhola killed, perhaps, half a million in India.  Last year, Super Typhoon Haiyan overwhelmed the Philippines, with maximum gusts up to 235 MPH.  Worse, these typhoons seem to be getting stronger and stronger.

Back again to a paper I co-wrote on Artificial Upwelling for Environmental Enhancement:
  • More and stronger hurricanes form with warmer temperatures, and with global warming, it can only get worse.
  • A 2 F drop in ocean surface temperatures can prevent the generation of a hurricane.
  • In 1993 at the Department of Commerce (operates NOAA) in DC I co-chaired a summit to discuss the potential of OTEC systems to minimize or prevent hurricanes.
    • In addition to the Feds and academics, representatives were there from General Dynamics and Lockheed.
    • Ambitiously, we designed a plan to finance and operate up to 500 floating OTEC plantships, each at 1000 MW.
I won't even mention the cost, but you would think that, in light of regular multi-billion dollar damages, a few hundred thousand dollars to initiate a program could be warranted.  Nope...nothing happened.

What about the more limited task of using artificial upwelling to reduce the effect of a moving hurricane?  A decade and more ago, I was advising an individual in New Jersey on his efforts to accomplish this task.  After a few years I finally convinced him that the federal government would not spend significant funds for this purpose, and that no company would bother to try because there are no profits involved.


But, aha, along came Bill Gates and Ken Caldeira in 2009.  They, and their team, actually filed five patents to reduce the danger of approaching hurricanes. either by cooling ocean temperatures, as above, spraying seawater into the atmosphere (left), etc.  Hurricane luminaries, people like William Gray and Kerry Emanuel, belittled the plans.  The world is not yet ready for geoengineering.

In any case, they all missed the point.  The concept actually might work, but no one has tens of billions to carry out the full-scale plan.  UNLESS the hardware is but a portion of a floating platform also generating income.  Reduction of hurricanes will never be attempted as a stand-alone mega-project.  However, as a co-product of the Blue Revolution, that is exactly what I have been advocating for more than two decades.  Click on  any of my Huffington Post articles on this subject (there are four), or link to the Blue Revolution Hawaii site, especially the Pacific International Ocean Station.  Better yet, click on my 20 minute presentation to a gathering sponsored by the Seasteading Institute.

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Today, I walked the road to Mandalay, a Chinese restaurant:


There was a one-year old birthday party for Mason, but I was squeezed into a table at the window in a small side room.  Unfortunately, a loud band was playing when I entered (and continued playing until I left).  What was the problem?  I was sitting on the other side of the wall behind the drummer:


Fortunately, though, the meal was fabulous.  I ordered dried scallop soup, bok choy with oyster sauce and Shanghai dumplings, accompanied by a Tsingtao beer:


After three cupfuls of soup, I hardly changed the level of the bowl.  This combination was enough for three people, or more, but only cost me, with tax and tip, $33.  So I walked home a container of bok choy in scallop soup.  I'm already looking forward to my next meal of this delicious concoction.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

CAN OTEC REDUCE GLOBAL WARMING AND ENHANCE THE ENVIRONMENT?



The simple answer is YES, OTEC, similar to all renewable resources, can reduce global warming.  But enhance the environment?  

Every kilowatt-hour of electricity of generated in itself avoids the need to burn any carbon-emitting fossil fuel.  However, it is possible that the process of ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) provides additional mechanisms to improve conditions.  It is thus entirely possible that OTEC could actually ENHANCE the environment.  To the left is a current OTEC related experiment located at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).

Let me first summarize a 1997 paper Stan Dunn and I presented in Singapore entitled ARTIFICIAL UPWELLING FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ENHANCEMENT:
  • An open-ocean artificial upwelled system, however, shows promise for both providing revenues and, possibly, positively impacting the environment. Properly managed, the high-nutrient deep waters can induce growth in the photic zone, on balance, although possibly with the need to add iron, uptaking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Much of the CO2 formed will sink to the bottom of the ocean, where much of it will remain trapped for a long, long period. The carbonate cycle slowly transforms the gas back into the atmosphere, but those bound in silicate compounds remain in place for many millennia (Berner and Lasaga, 1989).

Above is an OTEC facility on Kumejima, Okinawa, actually producing OTEC electricity today.  To the right is the open cycle OTEC power plant built by the Pacific International Center for High Technology at NELHA, borrowed from the website of Ocean Thermal Development Corporation, one of the more progressive companies in this business.
    Victor Phillips
  • Two potential oceanic mechanisms to help mitigate global warming are (Phillips, et al, 1991):  
    • enhanced carbon dioxide uptake via nutrient subsidy to marine algae and subsequent deposition in marine sediments and
    • enhanced dimethyl sulfide production via marine algae to increase cloud formation and albedo.
(I couldn't find that 1991 article, but might add that I searched Google and found Victor Phillips, who is now Professor and Director of Global Environmental Management Center at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.  I haven't seen him since he worked for me a 23 years ago...and he still looks about the same.  You can contact him for details.)



The paper Stan Dunn, other colleagues and I wrote (incidentally, elimination of hurricane formation was another enhancive potential, which was detailed in that publication, but left out in this discussion today) went on to conclude that:

An international partnership of industry, government, and academia to design, build and operate a VLFS powered by OTEC and producing the range of co-products, while providing environmental benefits, would be a magnificent undertaking for the new millennium (Takahashi, 1996). As developed by a 1992 workshop in Hawaii of 50 participants representing six nations (Takahashi and Vadus, 1992), the Blue Revolution plantship would be a 1 hectare (100,000 square feet) grazing structure estimated to cost $500 million for full operation early in the 21st Century to:

serve as an incubator for new marine industries,
develop the package of integrated products, and
test the upwelling concept.

While $500 million might seem staggeringly high, one might consider that this sum represents one tenth of 1% the cost of the 1991 Gulf War and one-fifth the current value of each B-1 bomber (left). Reports also indicate that the U.S. space station would have cost $50 billion and the Mars Project about $500 billion. Now that dreams have come back down to earth, this pioneering venture to develop next generation marine products for Humanity while, possibly, enhancing the environment, seems like a wise bargain.


Okay, that was nearly two decades ago.  What about today?  Well, Blue Revolution Hawaii has proposed the Pacific International Ocean Station (PIOS) to accomplish all of the immediate above.  In addition, I am part of a discussion group that began with an article by Jim Baird entitled:

     Carbon Sequestering Energy Production

It was about a year ago that I featured Jim in

IS OTEC THE MOST PROMISING FUTURE SUSTAINABLE ENERGY OPTION?

Basically, an additional step is inserted to remediate global warming, with hydrogen as a by-product.    This would mean additional costs, of course, with potentially significant benefits.  At the risk of terrorizing my readers, here is a schematic of the mechanism:


The discussion has evolved into a call of action to secure developmental funds to actually build and operate this system.  Who knows, depending on how financial support materializes, Jim's concept might someday sit on a PIOS platform.



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There are four tropical disturbances headed for Hawaii:


None should approach hurricane strength.  Which leads to the question of the day.  What was unusual about the hurricane season in the Atlantic a century ago, 1914?  ZERO HURRICANES.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

LAST MONTH WAS THE HOTTEST EVER FOR PLANET EARTH

USA Today had an article last week entitled:


To quote:

Which brings us to the BBC Trust and climate change.
The Trust, which oversees Britain's prestigious public broadcasting operations, recently issued a report chastising the Beeb's journalists for devoting entirely too much time and attention to climate change deniers.
Since 2010, the BBC has provided training to staffers to help them do a better job of covering science properly. But apparently the lessons haven't sunk in.
The report found that thanks to the "over-rigid application of editorial guidelines on impartiality," the BBC continues to give "undue attention to marginal opinion" when it comes to climate change and other scientific concerns.
Even I'm guilty of perhaps unnecessarily bending over backyards to be fair.  See WE MUST TAKE ACTION ON GLOBAL WARMING NOW! to the right by scrolling down.  Surely enough, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser this week published a rather long article, Climate scientist gets cold shoulder.  And this was from the 15 July 2014 issue of the New York Times.  The skeptic is John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  Here, I'm doing it again, actually showing  his photo.

The fact of the matter is that Planet Earth is heating up.  Our globe set an all-time high temperature in May, then, exceeded that record last month.  Now, 61.2 F seems kind of cold to me, but this temperature is 1.3 F higher that the average of the entire 1900's.  All 12 of the monthly heat records were set after 1997.

Worse yet, the world's oceans last month attained the hottest temperature yet in recorded history (1880):  62.7 F.   This presentation wasn't clear if it was only the ocean or overall average, but last month was the 352nd straight hotter-than-average month in a  row!  

Why is this bad?  Hotter oceans produce more severe hurricanes.  Further, there are also now more cyclonic storms:


Two years ago, ABC News said it may be too late to stop global warming.  The scary thing is that ONLY 54% said no.  But one of the noisiest, and reputable, fear monger, James Hanson, of NOAA, said, we still have time if.....  Unfortunately, China and India are waiting for the USA to do something, and our Congress is not interested.  Incredible.


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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

THIS IS HUMP WEDNESDAY

I was planning to spend today making fun of things on Hump Day.  But there is the reality of  our world, so let me start with...:

  • ...the tragedy of MH 17, and that 50-hearse procession today from a military airport in Eindhoven, Netherlands with tens of thousands standing in solemn respect along the roads, bringing tears to viewers.

Otherwise, I love that Geico camel.  Here is a minute and a half re-mix of Martin the Camel.  The voice, incidentally, is that of Chris Sullivan.

How many of you know that the new president of Indonesia is 53-year old Joko Widodo, a child of the slum?  He beat Prabowo Subianto (left), a retired army general and son-in-law of former authoritarian president Suharto.  Prabowo called the election a fraud.  In excess of  135 million Indonesians cast ballots, more than Americans voting in the 2012 American presidential election.  Obama spent his first, second and part of third grades here.
In another tragedy, the pine tree dedicated to Beetle George Harrison was killed by beatles.  No, make that:  The pine tree dedicated to Beatle George Harrison was killed by beetles.  In a decade, the tree had grown ten feet tall.  But bark beetles and ladybugs did it in.

I brought a Zippy's Kokua Pac to my University campus office today and after taking a photo, noticed yellow flowers on the lawn outside my window:


There are a dozen of these Gold Trees around my building, but only one is blooming.  There are also numerous rainbow shower trees in my parking lot:


Over the next few days I still plan to blog on:



  • global climate change, 
  • the latest on the risk of niacin, plus another medical reversal having to do with not needing to fast for your blood lipid test, 
  • progress on battery storage, and
  • a pathway for reducing climate change through ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC).

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