Total Pageviews

Monday, September 1, 2014

TWO BANEFUL DAYS IN THE HISTORY OF JAPAN

These next two days are historically memorable, but grim, days for Japan:

  • September 1:  Tokyo and Yokohama 91 years ago were struck by a calamitous earthquake that killed 140,000 people.
  • September 2:  Japan formally surrendered 69 years ago on the USS Missouri (right).
The 7.9 Great Kanto Earthquake shook the area around Tokyo for up to ten minutes at around noon on 1 September 1923.  That was the most powerful tremor until the 11 March2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake of 9.0, which killed 19,000 and left the country with more than a $100 billion bill for cleaning up the Fukushima nuclear debacle.  However, the economic loss alone could be $500 billion.  Yet, a secret French report indicates that a nuclear disaster in the country would cost at least a trillion dollars, and worst case scenario of $7.5 trillion.  Thus, the real cost of Fukushima could well be equally staggering.

(How much bigger is a 9.0 moment magnitude earthquake compared to a 7.9?  The only comparison that counts is the relative strength of each, so the impact on the environment for the former is 44.7 times more than the latter.  To do this calculation in the future, start with 31.6, then take this figure to the power of the difference between  the magnitude of the two earthquakes, which here is 9.0 minus 7.9, or 1.1.  31.6 to the 1.1 power is then 44.7.)

So what was the headline issue in Japan yesterday (it was September 1, and is the 2nd today, for they are on the west side of the international dateline) on Disaster Prevention Day?    The PR slogan was "Let's stockpile toilet paper."  Huh?  The Japanese take the matter of earthquakes seriously, actually, and Shizuoka Prefecture, a metastable area, provides 41% of the toilet paper in the country.  Government officials feared that if a major earthquake hit Kanto (the region surrounding Tokyo, including Shizuoka), the substitute, tissue paper, would clog the pipes.  

When will be the next big one?

 In 2009, scientists at the Earthquake Research Committee said there was an 87 percent chance that a massive quake registering 8 or more on the Richter Scale would occur before 2040 in area south of Tokyo and east of Mt. Fuji that Japanese call Tokai. The epicenter of this Tokai quake is expected to be in the west-central area of Shizuoka Prefecture about 160 kilometers southwest of Tokyo.

and
According to one prediction, a major Tokai quake could result in 7,900 to 9,200 deaths and cause $310 billion in damage. An earthquake preparedness center in Shizuoka has identified 6,449 likely landslide locations and deemed 58,540 houses vulnerable to quake-started fires.

But this study was reported before Fukushima.  Guess where the nuclear power plants are located in Japan?


None of them are today generating electricity, but the current Abe administration is doing everything possible to resurrect these reactors.

The USS Missouri is now a tourist attraction, here berthed next to the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor:




There were 280 Allied warships in the Bay, just in case the Japanese changed their minds.  Also, just after the signing 2000 planes flew over the ceremonies, the mightiest display of air power ever.  Watch the movie, Emperor, with Tommy Lee Jones as MacArthur, providing one version of the aftermath, for Japan was able to recover and attain superstate status within a quarter century. 


Sunday, August 31, 2014

JACKIE AND CHLOE ARE GROWING UP

On Sundays I go to the movies.  I just don't have the desire to post on any energy nor environmental matter.  The most popular show on TV this summer is America's Got Talent (AGT).  The final competitive night will be on Tuesday, September 16, with Wednesday to announce the winner for Season #9.  

I first began watching in Season #5, when Jackie Evancho (left) charmed the world, a much cuter version of Susan Boyle (right) of Britain's Got Talent in their Season #3.  However, Susan's first audition before Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan could well be the #1 video clip of all time.  You got to watch this, a 7-minute video that will make your day.  Maybe even evoke a few tears.  The looks of astonishment are priceless.  And Simon was Simon.

While Boyle's performance was endearing, redeeming and heartwarming, Jackie's first audition was absolutely astonishing.  Here, a 10 year old girl was singing like a diva.  Piers was also a judge for AGT, while Simon created the show.  Incredibly enough, although both Boyle and Evancho have gone on to become famous, they finished as runners-up.

On December of 2012 I got into some hot water with my viewership, for several complained that one of the photos showing Jackie was not her.  Couldn't possibly be.  Click on this posting to see that shot, but, as I explained in my retort, that really was her, and she was growing up.

Well, this is going to again be controversial, but here is Jackie at 14:


While I'm at this, let me feature Grace Chloe Moretz, here in her second film at the age of 8, The Amityville Horror:


She kind of looks like Jackie.

While Moretz was good in Hugo, which was nominated for 11 Oscars in 2011, she has, in general, played darker, troubled characters, and her latest, If I Stay, deals with "out of body experiences." One immemorable moment was last year in Movie 43, where she here experiences her first period:


Of course, this was nothing compared to Hugh Jackman with visible testicles for an adam's apple and Halle Berry making guacamole with her bare and computer enlarged breasts,  This film has been labeled as one of the worst flicks of all time, garnering a 5% reviewers' rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

Now 17, she, too, is growing up.   Chloe at Cannes earlier this year:


Perhaps I'll later today go see If I Stay, now playing at your local theaters.


-

Friday, August 29, 2014

CAN YOU GET SMARTER AFTER A CONCUSSION?

When I was four years old I fell through a window down to a concrete pavement and suffered a concussion.  I think I was told I landed on the top of my head.  I don't remember any pain or anything, except that all through my upbringing one of the family stories many times retold was this accident, usually accompanied by some statement about why I was so smart.  Which caused more laughter than anything else, but might have convinced me that I  was, indeed, kind of smart.

The downside to this mishap was that I regularly got headaches.  After a while Empirin seemed to work best.  However, while I was in college, I heard that this form of aspirin was soon to be discontinued.  Interestingly enough, when they stopped selling Empirin, my headaches went away.  I today searched through the internet to find out why sales of this pill was halted, but only could now find Empirin Codeine.  So if my headaches return, I might have a possible remedy.  That photo to the right is a really old bottle that shows an expiration date of 1980.  Interesting that eBay sold an old bottle of Empirin, without the pills, for $122.50.

I bring up this subject because I just read the latest issue of Scientific American where there was an article entitled Accidental Genius.  If you can't access this article, click on The Acquired Savant--Accidental Genius.  The stories are similar.

The operative medical term, acquired savant syndrome, is the process by which a blow to the head or another insult to the brain (as through meningitis) can stimulate various types of genius capability:
  • Orlando Serrell (above right) is knocked unconscious by a baseball, and suddenly can now remember the activities and weather for any date after the accident.
  • Jason Padgett (right, visit his web page, very interesting) becomes a victim of a brutal mugging and became an expert on fractals (has to do with mathematical patterns).
  • Derek Amato, while diving to catch a football, slammed into a pool's concrete floor while in high school, lost some hearing, had headaches and some memory loss. He awoke from nearly four days of sleep, with his friends in the room, spotted a cheap electric keyboard, and was able to produce rich chords.  He had never before played any keyboard instrument.
Males outnumber females 6:1 in autism and savant syndrome, which appear to be somewhat linked.  The genius act performed is not comprehensive, as this special ability has a narrow range.

It is not a sure thing that a concussion can jiggle you into brilliance.  Football players and boxers, for example, are not known to now and then become geniuses.  What exactly is happening anyway?
There are numerous examples of such aftereffects, but the cardinal point is:  Can medical science devise a means of accessing what possibly must be in the minds of all, without having to suffer through anything like a concussion?  

I debated getting into the details, but to reveal the depth to which research is delving:
  • There is a technology called Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.
  • A coil is placed over the left temple.
  • A pulsed magnetic field is delivered.
  • This charge shuts off the brain circuits on the left.
  • However, the right side, which is dedicated to spatial tasks, now prevails, and the patient  can better guess how many objects are in a bottle.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could someday walk into a brain doctor's office, get strapped into something like a CAT scan type device and walk out the world authority on "something?"  Sure, at this point of knowledge you won't know what you'll become, and you could well be ruined for life, but the potential of perfecting a process to create geniuses is something that has been on my mind since....well...

Actually, I did not acquire any savant capability when I fell 70 years ago.  If I have any special skill, it is not recognized by the authorities.  It turns out that what I'm best at is bringing together disparate concepts and people with varied skills and personalties toward the development of extraordinary opportunities that, to me, is obviously fabulous, but no so for most.  Part of the strategy is to not take credit for anything, and instead, pass on the benefits to those who participate.  Unfortunately the one flaw in my multidisciplinary efforts thus far is that nothing has really yet attained any kind of success.  But I continue to work on them.  My legacy someday will hopefully find reality in the Blue Revolution, Rainbow Colored Pearl Necklaces, Hawaiian Geo-Spas, The Venus Syndrome, BioMethanol Economy, Three Strikes and You're Dead, the Planetary Abstracting Trinterferometer and a full range of clever systems you can read about in my books (there are more, but three SIMPLE SOLUTION books are to the right above).

So, well, can you get smarter after a concussion?  Not impossible, but don't try it.  Someday medical science could well, though, find a way to tap your inner genius.

-

OUR OIL COMPANIES ARE DOING IT TO US AGAIN

I today received an e-mail from a colleague indicating that our oil/gas companies are in trouble:


The subtitle was:  Returns diminish as energy companies resort to higher-cost, higher-risk hydrocarbons.  The message was that 127 of the largest oil and gas companies are running out of cash.  To quote:  "They are now spending more than they are earning."

Okay, something is wrong somewhere, for why are their profits still astronomically high?  So I looked further into this and sent the following response to my friend:

***************************************

Dear Mr. X:

About that soaring oil debt problem, yes...but.  In 2013 the Big 5 oil companies ranked first (Exxon Mobil), seventh (Shell) and eighth (Chevron) of all all global companies in profits.  Here is a paragraph from an article entitled, "With Only $93 Billion in Profits, the Big Five Oil Companies Demand to Keep Tax Breaks":

The 2013 profit totals are in for the big five oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell. Their financial reports indicate that they earned a combined total of $93 billion last year, or $177,000 per minute. (see Table 1) After years of oil production declines, the big five oil companies actually increased their total production* in 2013, predominately due to BP and ConocoPhillips almost doubling their total production. The companies’ higher oil production yet lower profits indicate that it is becoming more expensive to produce oil as the number of newer, easier, and cheaper fields shrink. This is why, despite their outsized earnings, the oil companies are not only fighting to keep their tax breaks but also lobbying to lift the crude oil export ban. But doing so could hurt working families, our economy, and our energy security. Instead, we need to invest in cleaner transportation alternatives.

In other words, this "decline in profit" matter is now their key to maintaining the annual $2.4 billion tax break they get from Congress.  This "break" only was enacted in 2004.  They are also using this same excuse to allow them to sell domestic oil on the world market, which, as you know, is around $10/barrel higher.  This has not yet been approved by Congress, but it looks like it will happen, which will mean an additional $10 billion to our our annual gasoline bill.   The average annual compensation of the top exec for the Big Five is $20 million.  Oil companies spend $45 million/year on lobbying and, in addition to the above, will no doubt insure their immunity from any future carbon tax. 

Aloha.

Pat


P.S.  I'll leave your name out, but will use the above as my blog posting later today.

***************************************************************

Anyway, this is Friday, so have a great weekend.  The University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahines open their volleyball season against Ohio tonight and the Rainbow Warriors are in position to get crushed by #25 Washington tomorrow, which is the first real weekend of college football.  Well, there is always hope, which peaks for all teams the day before the season starts.  Pro football begins next (not this) Sunday.  I have eight fantasy football teams this year.


-

Thursday, August 28, 2014

COUNTRY #216: GUINEA

Welcome, country #261, Guinea.  I didn't know there was such a nation.  It joined the United Nations in 1958, the year it gained independence from France, and when I graduated from high school.    Don't confuse this country with Equatorial Guinea or Papua New Guinea.

More than half a century later, the first free and fair election was held in 2010.  Alpha Conde (left) is now president, but in 2011 he survived an attack on his residence by the military in a coup attempt.  He finally kicked out military members from his cabinet.  This is a republic.

Guinea is located in West Africa, in the region of the current Ebola crisis:

The country is about as large as the United Kingdom with a population of around 10.5 million, with a life expectancy of only 55.  Eighty-five percent are Muslims.  It is the world's second largest producer of bauxite and has rich deposits of diamonds and gold.  The official language is French.

If you're thinking of traveling there, don't.  Ebola is here.  Lawlessness and criminality are widespread.  Most of the crime is committed by officials in military uniform. and foreigners are considered targets of opportunity.  Especially watch out at the airport and markets.  Don't take photos near military bases and political buildings.  The police are completely ineffective.  Corruption is widespread.   Tap water is unsafe for drinking.  Malaria is prevalent.  Appreciating that some people can be perversely adventurous, here is a tourist guide.  I had to show at least one photo, for I liked the color scheme.

-

ARE WE FAIR TO POLICEMEN?

The average Patrol Police Officer in the nation makes $52,056.  The per capita income in the U.S. is $28,051, and median household income is $53,046.

No question that the job is stressful, for it is entirely possible that you won't make it home from work.  However, the reality is that fishermen have an on-the-job death rate of 116/100,000, loggers at 91, farmers/ranchers at 41, roofers at 32 and police/sheriff patrol officers at only 19/100,000.  The psychological difference of course is that you are not too concerned about the fish or anyone trying to kill you on a fishing boat, while a patrol officer is mostly under threat.  


Thus, it is understandable that news articles regularly pop up indicating that police officers have high suicide, divorce and alcoholic rates.  According to reliable studies, though:
  • While the suicide rate of 18/100,000 is higher than the 11 for the general population, the truth is that this figure is a little lower than an equivalent population when gender, race and age are factored into the comparison,
  • According to The Badge of Life, police myths are just that.  There are no studies available about police having the highest rates of alcoholism and divorce.  So I found an article that indicates the divorce rate of law enforcement officers is lower than the national average (14.47 versus 16.96).
  • There are also uncertainties about life expectancy, etc.

Why am I reporting all the above?  I initially wanted to gain some sympathy points for police officers.  After all, five years ago I did suggest a Three Strikes and You're Dead law in the Huffington Post.  Saying all that, there is a generalization that our best citizens from high school do not go into this occupation.  Here is a news article delving into Darren Wilson of St. Louis.   
Anyway, that job patrolling our dangerous cities requires a certain judgement, call it stereotyping, if you want, about how to deal with tense situations.  Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, came under fire for claiming that he'd cross the street if he saw "a black kid in a hoodie."  While not a smart thing to say on the heels of Donald Sterling's diatribe, many in our society would nevertheless do the same.  Any oppressed minority population can be a boiling pot of previous miscarriages awaiting justice.  The spark many times is the wrong one, as in Ferguson (Michael Brown was not an innocent, he was a thief carrying his booty) and Los Angeles (Rodney King was already a convicted robber and later died of a cocaine overdose).  There are national figures, Al Sharpton for sure, and extremist organizations, just waiting to jump in to inflame the  issue.  Thus, dedicated officers just doing their job sometimes get engulfed in an aftermath that almost assuredly will ruin their lives.  Click on Why Do People Riot for details.

Since that posting last week, I've noticed that the media overwhelmingly saw the Ferguson issue mostly through rather dark glasses.  There was only one article that was pro-Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Michael Brown:


Written by Frances Robles of the New York Times, it was indicated that $300,000 was raised to help Wilson relocate his family and defend himself from suits.  Another fundraising on the same crowdfunding site for the Brown family reached $200,000.  At last check, GoFundMe had $420,000 for Wilson.

Robles was the lead reporter for the Miami Herald covering the Trayvon Martin killing when she resided in Florida.  Read about I Have All My Fingernails Intact, which includes her time in a Cuban prison.

Joe Klein of TIME, had a particularly well balanced column in the 1 September 2014 issue:
  • Ferguson was a perfect metaphor for 400 years of oppression.
  • On the one hand, Michael Brown was a gentle giant with no adult criminal record,
  • On the other, Brown's nickname is Bodyguard, and there is a crippling surveillance video where he is seen taking a box of cigarillos from a convenience store and tossed the clerk into a snack display.
  • This robbery occurs 10 minutes before the confrontation with police officer Wilson.
  • Reverend Al Sharpton says the video is an attempt to "smear" the young man.
  • Blacks represent 13% of the population, but commit 50% of the murders in our Nation.  (as terrible as this might be, we live in a relatively safe environment, for here are homicide rates in 2012 per 100,000 by country from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime:
    • Honduras  90.4  
    • Venezuela  51.7
    • El Salvador 41.2  (El Salvador was 139 in 1995)
    • Guatemala  39.9
    • South Africa  31.0
    • Columbia  30.8
    • Brazil  25.2
    • Mexico  21.5
    • USA  4.7
    • Canada  1.6
    • China  1.0
    • Sweden  0.7
    • Switzerland  0.6
    • Iceland  0.3
    • Japan  0.3)
                    I might note that most of the the migrant children crossing
                    our border with Mexico come from Honduras, El Salvador,
                    and Guatemala.  But that must be why they leave.
  • Race remains an open wound.
  • Black crime rates are much higher than they were before the civil rights movement.
Klein wrote Primary Colors:  A Novel of Politics, which became a Mike Nichols directed movie (Rotten Tomatoes reviewers rating of 89%) starring John Travolta as  Bill Clinton, although that was not the name used.


-

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WARNING: GLOBAL WARMING APPEARS TO BE REAL!

Yesterday I again posted on maybe the worst case weather scenario:  The Venus Syndrome.  That killer gas was methane.  So today I return to carbon dioxide.  Absolutely essential, but perhaps counterproductively, we keep getting those scare releases from yet another new United Nations report about the coming dangers of global warming, that the masses might actually be getting immune to the  noise.   But this latest indicates:

  • Grain production has dropped by several percentage points.
  • Higher seas.
  • Devastating heat waves.
  • Torrential rain.
  • Super hurricanes.
  • Loss of the ice sheet over Greenland will cause a sea level rise of 23 feet.  (Of course, this will take centuries to unfold.)  If Antarctica melts, with 90% of the world's ice and 70% of the freshwater liquifies, add another 200 feet.  (This might take millennia.)  Note that total melting of the Arctic will essentially add zero inches to the level, for this ice is already floating.  Anyway, if all the ice melts, and the seas warm as expected, the sea level will be around 250 feet higher.  Florida will disappear:

          But I wouldn't move out of Florida for that reason because this will take many millennia.

So the matter of time is a factor, and the relatively lethargic pace of the effects is deluding.  But, more so, there are elements in society dedicated to misleading the public so that they can maximize profits:
  • The fossil industry is not run by idiots, as their misinformation campaign is clever and effective:
    • "Dark money" donations fund much of the climate denial efforts.
    • The ExxonMobil and Koch (that's their logo to the right) Affiliated Foundations gave heavily to these deniers up to 2008.  Then this link ended.  The money became dark.  Read this article.
    • 140 third-party foundations funneled $558 million to 100 anti-global warming organizations from 2003 to 2010
  • The temperature of our atmosphere actually stopped warming 15 years ago.  Well, not really, but cherry-picking data can lead to this conclusion.
  • Read Forbes and the National Review, watch Rush Limbaugh and Fox News:  global warming is a hoax.
  • Honestly now, do you really feel the higher temperatures?  If the atmosphere warms 3 F by 2100, that means, on average, the increase is 0.03 F/year, or a total of 0.3 F in a decade.  You won't be able to detect this change.  In fact, too many winters remain much too cold.  The problem, though, is that while you should be able to tolerate a 3 F increase (and no one reading this will be alive in the year 2100), the effect on Planet Earth will be calamitous:  droughts, super hurricanes, specie extinctions, unproductive farmlands, failure of major economies and worse.
The headline article of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser today, taking the up the full first page, was entitled:


The front page had Duke Kahanamoku's statue chest high in seawater, and the reasons were global warming and sea level rise:
  • Hawaii's hotels are located near the shore.  They will all be endangered.
  • Beaches will erode.  According to Charles Fletcher of the University of Hawaii:  By the end of the century, I would be surprised if Waikiki Beach is still there.  The sea level will rise by 3 feet.  Sand replenishment in 2012 cost $4.5 million.  Might be cheaper to move Waikiki elsewhere.
  • Lost visitor expenditures of nearly $2 billion.
  • There will be higher energy costs for air conditioning, and Hawaii pays THREE times more for electricity than the national average.
  • Environment will deteriorate.
  • Freshwater will become expensive.  Yikes, golf courses will be hard hit.  Come to think of it, my Ala Wai Golf Course already shows evidence of seawater when the tide is very high.  Three feet more would inundate the whole playing area.
To the credit of researchers and planners, this study was released not to necessarily alarm the residents, but more to educate and urge for better planning and execution of solutions.  As I indicated exactly a week ago, Hawaii is a Special Place.  However, the negatives are frightening.  Can we avoid the impending doom?  Of course.  We have time, and I don't expect most of the core of Honolulu to someday be under water.

-