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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

SCIENCE and TRIPLETS

Day 77 of the Lower Puna Eruption and another 5+ earthquake at the summit.  Here is an assortment of the latest news.  Is there any solution to this continuing agony?  Well, NASA believes a $3.5 billion effort can prevent a serious potential eruption at Yellowstone National Park.

Sure, this is shamefully hyperbolic, but on a related geological matter, a large crack actually opened a few days ago, closing Grand Teton National Park.  This site is close to that feared Yellowstone super volcano which now and then hiccups to worry scientists.

British newspapers have a way of exaggerating reality, but, regarding Yellowstone:

The massive eruption could be a staggering 6,000 times as powerful as the one from Washington’s Mount St Helens in 1980 which killed 57 people and deposited ash in 11 different states and five Canadian provinces.
If the volcano explodes, a climate shift would ensue as the volcano would spew massive amounts of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, which can form a sulphur aerosol that reflects and absorbs sunlight.
I'll probe into this latest inflated fear tomorrow.

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Totally changing subjects, people find multiple birth siblings cute and fascinating.  How often do they occur?
  • One in 90 births is twins.
  • Square that number, and get one in 8100 births being triplets.
  • One in 729,000 births results in quadruplets.
  • Quintuplets?  One in 60 million births.
  • There are several sextuplets, with the Gosselins featured in Jon &Kate Plus 8 (right, sextuplets + twins).
  • In the U.S. there are two octuplets, in 1998 to the Chukwu family in Texas (seven survived) and the Suleman Octoplets, 2009, in California.  The life of Nadya Suleman would fill an encyclopedia.  Note the notation of 14 children.  She previously had six others, and there is no identifiable father.
  • There have been births of nine, and pregnancies up to 15, but none survived.
It can get complicated, but here is a simple differentiation:
  • Fraternal
  • Identical
  • Combination
  • Today, fertility treatment is responsible for 36% of twins and 78% of triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets.
Further, regarding quintuplets:
  • Average gestation is 29 weeks, so all these births will be premature with an average weight less than three pounds.
  • Mother will gain around 50 pounds, and almost surely by cesarean delivery.
  • The Dione Quintuplets (right), Canada, 1934 were the first surviving set of identical quintuplets.  They financially survived by being displayed as a tourist attraction.
  • Fischer Quintuplets, South Dakota, 1963, were the first U.S. fivesome.
  • Baseball player Melvin Mora became a dad of quintuplets in 2001.
  • The mascots of the 2008 Beijing Olympics were quintuplets.
  • Five seat strollers are available, but  are expensive at $1000.
  • Older, larger and taller women are more apt to have multiple births.
  • Less likely in the Orient.
  • Parents will change 35,000 diapers before child is potty-trained.
  • Full term is 40 weeks.
Just background for a film I recently saw, Three Identical Strangers.  I went to this documentary mostly because Rotten Tomatoes gave it 95%/86% ratings.  If you plan on seeing this film and don't want to know the whole story, this review tells most of the whole story without giving everything away.  I will, so scroll down to the end of this posting for my second film Skyscraper.

On 12 July 1961 triplets were born to an unmarried Jewish girl who gave them up to Manhattan's Louise Wise Adoption Agency.  The movie is all joy and wonderment when these triplets,  at the age of 19, adopted by different parents who did not know there were two others, coincidentally find each other.  That would have made for a typical Hollywood film if that's were it ended.

But there was a dark underside.  They were provided to three families at three economic levels, each with an older sister, previously adopted.  You get where this is headed?  Yes, a scientific study sponsored by what became the Jewish Board, which today has 3,000 employees with a $200 million budget.  Eminent New York City psychiatrist Viola Bernard (left) persuaded the Louis Wise organization to send multiple birth children to separate homes without telling anyone, and regularly study the outcome.  

Her motivation was to show that identical twins would better forge an individual identity without the influence of the other.  Nearly 60 years ago, this sort of interest was not entirely immoral.  However, she passed away early in the effort, and New York University psychiatrist Peter Neubauer was hired to replace her.  The study ended two decades later in 1980, accumulating 10,000 pages of information, and a decision was made not to publish because of possible negative public opinion.  Note that this termination coincided with the triplets discovering each other.

Neubauer found The Wizard of Oz disturbing.  Said he, child viewers became deeply troubled by the seductive mix of realism and fantasy.  This was the film from which came the top movie song of all time, Over the Rainbow.

The entire Neubauer file was sent to Yale University and sealed until 2066.  Not certain how many twins and triplets were studied, but at the age of 35, twins Else Schein and Paula Bernstein, who were unknowingly in this experiment, began to write a memoir, and published Identical Strangers in 2007.

The film was made by British director Timothy Wardle, partly because previous American attempts faced intense pressure from guess who.  CNN partly financed the production, and will air it later this year.  The Jewish Board did not participate in the film.  More information will almost surely come to light.  For now, the bottom line is that it appears nature overwhelms nurture.

I also saw Skyscraper with Dwayne Johnson and Pearl, a super-skyscraper 3500 feet tall in Hong Kong.  The Burj Khalifa in Dubai at a mere 2717 feet is currently the highest building. A so-so 49% Rotten Tomatoes reviewers rating, but 79% of the audience liked it.  I did, for after all, The Rock is from Hawaii, and my high school.

Before the films I had lunch at Goma Tei, located close to Kahala Theater.  Good al dente ramen with Kagawa broth:


There is a Tomatometer 100 documentary to open this week:  McQueen.  Also, Mama Mia.  Here We Go Again, with the same cast (Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, etc.), which received 94%/88% ratings.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

TRUMP: whoops, meant to say WOULDN'T

Day 76 of the Lower Puna Eruption, and here is an article confirming that 23 people were injured by that lava bomb off Kapoho.  The good news is that no one has yet died since re-activity began on May 3.   No recent reports, but Guatemala's Volcan Fuego death toll has probably risen above 100.

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“In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t.’ The sentence should have been I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t or why it wouldn’t be Russia. So just to repeat it, I said the word would instead of wouldn’t,” Trump told reporters.

He also said he maintained great relations with European allies, helped strengthened NATO and had a fabulous meeting with Vladimir Putin.  On the evidence of media reportage, you got to be concerned about the state of Trump's mind.  He appears to be tormented that his presidential victory could be reversed if Mueller prevails.  In any case, it's becoming clear that the following could well, one or all, be true:
  • Putin has something so terrible involving Trump that he has no option but to be a puppet.
  • Putin despised Hillary Clinton and directed his military to somehow screw up the 2016 U.S. election process to hurt her.  There was no collusion as such, although no doubt Putin's agents met with Trump backers to exchange information.
  • Trump want's to improve American relations with Russia, China and North Korea.
  • Robert Mueller's investigation cannot now be derailed by Trump.  The upcoming report will be juicy enough for the Congress to consider impeachment.  The timing will be crucial.
So what will next happen?  Trump felt compelled to rescue his intelligence operatives from under the bus and said his administration will fight off any future Russian interference.  The Congress will mostly entertain thoughts and the White House will not take effective action because if Russia does have any influence in 2018, it will be to help Republicans.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

48th UKULELE FESTIVAL

Day 75 of the Lower Puna Eruption brought the usual large earthquake at the summit and continued lava flow.  Watch this clip from the USGS and Paradise Helicopters.


Otherwise, 12 people were injured by a "lava bomb" early this morning while viewing lava flowing into the ocean.  No, make that 23.  The projectile created a large hole on the tour boat roof:


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Sunday, great weather, what did I do?  The 48th Ukulele Festival in Waikiki seemed worthy, so I transferred to the #20 bus for brunch at Michel's.  It was closed!  Oh well, I'll save some money by going to Hau Tree Lanai.  It was eleven-nish, and not open for lunch until noon.  These are among the very best Sunday brunch restaurants in the world...and no more?  Should have asked why.

Disappointment can, however, sometimes lead to something better.  Certainly cheaper, anyway.  I walked over to the Kapiolani  Park Bandstand where the uke affair was occurring.  

Saw some BBQing at Dick's Lechon.  Lechon is Spanish for roasted suckling pig.  In Hawaii, the link is through the Philippines.

The line was somewhat lengthy in the hot sun.  They were well organized, but the demand was just too great.  Finally got my styrofoam container and wondered where I could sit and eat.  What about this tent?

Yes, that's Diamond Head in the background.  What luck, for I squeezed into a table and could also be in the audience for the supplemental ukulele festival.  Apparently, all these groups from the world over first entertain in this tent in preparation for the larger audience at the bandstand.  A beer would have been preferred, but the meal was just right for the occasion:


I sat there for an hour and a half.  It was cool, both in temperature and ambience.  I thought to myself, if I could be anywhere in the world at that moment it would have been here.

This is the 48th year that Roy Sakuma has organized this show, and it's free.


The highlight was a concert by 800 students.  The cast of entertainers was as good as you can get:  Jake Shimabukuro, Ohta San, Raiatea Helm and groups from around the world.  And this was all free, and it went on all day.

Tomorrow I will further comment on the abominable Helsinki press conference performance of Donald Trump with Vladimir Putin.  Donald Trump today totally lost the confidence of many on his staff and a lot more Republicans in the U.S. Congress.  Yes, it would be best to be on a trustful working relationship with your primary military competitor so that nothing totally stupid triggers a global nuclear war.  However, to ignominiously cave-in to another bully was mortifying.

Amazingly enough, even Fox News was perplexed and astounded.  You would have thought you were watching CNN.  For reasons that are becoming all too obvious, Trump is being nailed by the Mueller investigation, and has become dangerous to the future of the Free World.  Watch Chris Wallace interview Putin after the summit on the Fox News Channel at 6PM (EDT, noon in Hawaii on Oceanic 109 or 1109).

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

FAMOUS ATHEISTS

On Day 74 of the Lower Puna Eruption, the Star Advertiser seems now to be ignoring it all, but what does Wikipedia say?
  • Activity began on 3 May 2018.
  • This is a continuation of the Kilauea Volcano event which began on 3 January 1983.
  • Fountains in Puna have shot up to about the length of a football field (100 yards).
  • Largest earthquake occurred in Puna at 6.9 moment magnitude.
  • 2000 residents have evacuated.
  • Puna Geothermal Venture facility wells partly overrun by lava, but the power plant remains untouched.

  • A total of 24 fissures near Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens, with #8 the most prominent.
  • Flow into the ocean began on May 19.
  • Second started on May 29 and continues, forming a small island in Kapoho Bay.
  • On June 7, Mayor Harry Kim announced that approximately 600 homes have been destroyed, reaching 700 in July.
  • Over 12.4 square miles of land has been covered by lava.
  • Around 655 acres of new land have been created in the ocean.
  • Second most destructive volcanic activity next to  Mount St. Helens in 1980.
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Last week I reported on nones, where 23% of Americans were religiously unaffiliated.  However, only 3% of us are atheists, with another 4% agnostic.  Interesting, then, that in the entire history of the USA Congress, there has been zero atheists or agnostics, although a couple admitted so after leaving office.  

Today, while this figure should be 23%, only Arizona Democrat Krysten Sinema (U.S. House) says she is religiously unaffiliated.  While Senator Bernie Sanders has said he is not an atheist, he must be one of those nones without saying so.  Being of the Jewish faith provides a kind of humanistic reference that absolves you of non-belief, whatever that means.  To the left, you know them, they are all Jewish, while also agnostic or atheist.

While there is a common sense rule that Americans won't vote for an avowed atheistic presidential candidate, one wonders if Donald Trump has ever "lied" about his religious beliefs.  He has actually said during his campaign that he regarded The Bible to be his favorite book!  He got 81% the evangelical vote.  He doesn't act moral, only goes to church for ceremony and is a super salesman, one who tells customers what they want to hear.  God must be concerned, for Trump is only all for himself:  Trump Hotel, Trump University, Trump Steaks...the list goes on.  Regardless of what he says,  evidence shows that Trump clearly is a practicing none.

Here is a list of the top World Atheists from a Google search conducted by The Best Schools:

  #  1  Woody Allen
  #  2  Stephen Hawking
  #  3  Richard Dawkins
  #  4  Christopher Hitchens
  #  5  Michel Houillebecq
  #  6  Phillip Roth


  #  7  Sam Harris
  #  8  Ian McEwan
  #  9  Michel Onfray
  #10  Peter Singer
  #13  Steven Pinker
  #15  James Randi
  #16  Edward O. Wilson
  #17  Ray Kurzweil
  #18  Daniel Dennett
  #20  Michael Shermer
  #22  Steven Weinberg
  #24  Lawrence M. Krauss
  #32  Paul Kurtz
  #40  Victor Stenger

According to Pew, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln might have been atheists.  So are Julia Gillard (Australian Prime Minister, 2010-2013) and Francois Hollande (past president of France).  However, atheistic world leaders have been notorious:
  • Vladimir Lenin
  • Joseph Stalin
  • Leon Trotsky
  • Benito Mussolini
  • Hideki Tojo
  • Adolf Hitler
  • Ho Chi Minh
  • Josip Tito
  • Mao Zedung
  • Deng Xiaoping
  • Leonid Brezhnev
  • Kim Il-sung
  • Kim Jong-il
  • Kim Jong-un
  • Pol Pot
  • Fidel Castro
  • Che Guevara

  • Jiang Zemin
  • Jim Jones (of Kool Aid fame)
  • Lee Harvey Oswald
  • Jintao Hu
  • Add Ted Bundy, Ted Kaczynski (Unabomber), David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) and Jeffrey Dahmer. 
Vladimir Putin?  His father was an atheist, mother Orthodox Christian.  He talks like an American politician about religion, but so does Donald Trump.  I'd like to hear them having a drink or two or three in private sharing personal feelings on this subject. 

Aren't you glad we have so many religious people on Planet Earth?  I live in a church-run seniors' community and most here believe.  Hard to find a more secure and comfortable place to call home.

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