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Friday, April 30, 2010

THE GOLDEN EVOLUTION (Part 31): Who is Sylvia Browne?

The following continues the serialization of Chapter 5 on Religion from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:

Who is Sylvia Browne?

Sylvia Celeste Shoemaker (now Browne, having added an e to the Brown of her third of four marriages) is a psychic, medium, bestselling author, regular on TV and radio talk shows and purported aide to police and FBI investigations and doctors (350 of them at last count) for certain types of treatments. She entertains in Las Vegas and the world over. Her grandmother was a so-called psychic, and her son and granddaughter, too, at least by her mentioning. She has written a book on Heaven (Life on the Other Side, Dutton Adult, 2000), which she says is 3 feet above ground at a higher vibrational level with a constant 78°F (25.6°C) temperature, where there are pets. She has also scientifically proven the existence of an afterlife. Scientifically, mind you.

She has been indicted and convicted of investment fraud and has a long running feud with the Great Randi. She got the latest “laugh,” when in 2001 on the Larry King Show she warned Randi about a coming heart attack, which he suffered in 2006. She also foresees prostate cancer for another nemesis, Paul Kurtz, but men of advanced age are prone to this condition. Kurtz remains free of that ailment. All good predictors skew their predictions based on sound statistical evidence.

She agreed three times (they appear together regularly on TV shows) to be tested by Randi, but has conveniently provided excuses, including not being able to find him, which drew the obvious response: if she can locate people in Heaven, how can she not find me in Florida?

In 2004 and 2005, on the Montel Williams TV Show, she predicted that troops would be pulled out of Iraq, Osama Bin Laden was dead, Michael Jackson would go to jail, Martha Stewart wouldn’t, the U.S. would go to war with North Korea and Elizabeth Taylor would die, among some of them. She scored with 25-30% accuracy, but two 4th grade classes in Oklahoma City scored about 50% on the same issues.

She tried again in 2006:

o The weather will be worse than last year (WRONG)

o Hurricanes will hit the northeast U.S. (WRONG)

o Two more earthquakes in Asia. (WRONG)

o Governor Schwarzenegger will lose popularity and reelection. (WRONG)

o The 2008 presidential election will be between Kerry and McClain (not wrong yet, but will be)

o The U.S. will not invade Syria (RIGHT, but that’s pretty easy to predict)

There were 32 issues, and she guessed right on less than 10%, with some of the hits being of questionable nature, like the immediate above.

Her predictions for the next century? Remodeling of face to duplicate any look. People will be able to walk out of their bodies at death. There will be no U.S. presidency, as the country will convert to a Green Senate structure. Tsunamis will wipe out a large portion of Japan. After 2050, the people will turn to spirituality. One planetary government. People will see and speak with deceased ones on the other side. Aliens will begin to appear. There are 40 predictions, and some of them actually make sense.

Her first husband, Gary Dufresne, was quoted in 2007 that Sylvia admitted she had no paranormal abilities, but that the gullibles deserve to be taken. So why am I spending so much time on her? She talks about the afterlife. A lot of Americans believe in her and I worry about why they do.

The Dow Jones Industrials sunk 159 to 11,009, while the Orient was up and Europe down. Gold jumped $11/toz to $1180 and crude oil went up to $86/barrel.

The group today at Wolf Run:


Thursday, April 29, 2010

THE GOLDEN EVOLUTION (Part 30): About Lenora Piper

The following continues the serialization of Chapter 5 on Religion from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity (actually, I should have reported on Sylvia Browne first, so will do so at the next opportunity):

About Lenora Piper

Deborah Blum wrote a book called Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life after Death, where a certain respectable Boston housewife, Lenora Piper, while a lot more wrong than right, nevertheless was able to show some unreal, perhaps even, otherworldly, talent. The New York Times wrote two reviews about Ghost Hunters: on August 14, 2006, by Patricia Cohen, and August 20, 2006, by Anthony Gottlieb.

Alfred Russel Wallace, Charles Darwin’s natural selection co-presenter, during the mid-1800s, was particularly impressed with mediums, levitation and the like, which irritated Darwin no end, for he was fearful that the concept of evolution would thusly be tarnished. As a practitioner, you could even be part of high society then, as Daniel Dunglas Home kept duping the audience, and eventually married a goddaughter of the czar with novelist Alexander Dumas as his Best Man.

Yes, William was the brother of Henry, and with others, in 1882, formed the British Society for Psychical Research in an era when belief in the occult swept through Europe and America. The Society, while serious in their intent, did unmask a bunch of frauds, but, they generally wanted to believe. Their membership included Lord Alfred Tennyson, Lewis Carol, Mark Twain and William Crookes, future president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and discoverer of thallium, chemical element 81, used as rat and ant poison. Skeptics wondered if thallium had a deleterious effect on Crooke’s mind.

But, ah, Lenora Piper, who lived to a ripe old age of 93. She was usually wrong, but never truly debunked, although science writer Martin Gardner, who in 1992 wrote “How Mrs. Piper Bamboozled William James,” was among the many cynics.

The situation was not unlike religion itself, for perfectly sane and respected scientists and solid citizens then believed in the range of paranormal phenomena. Many still do today, certainly the occult, but also religion and the afterlife. These all belong in the X-Files (that Emmy winning TV series that lived on for a decade quenching the thirst for American believers of the occult and spirits). Mostly escape for the general populace.


The Dow Jones Industrials zoomed 122 to 11,167, while world markets were more up than down. The Japan Nikkei crept above 11,000 again. Gold increased $2/toz to $1169 and crude oil jerked up to $85/barrel. The crude oil future price of oil for December 2018 is $97/barrel. I find it difficult to believe that more than eight years from now petroleum will only increase $12/barrel, but this is the web link of the CME Group, which was formed by a merger of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade, now the largest futures exchange in the world.


Day one of our green safari found us at the Reno Lakeridge Golf Course. Yes, the wind chill was below freezing and there were the occasional snow flurries and hail, but this was an improvement over tire chains and 100 MPH winds. Kenji, Dave and Lefty in my foursome:

We did discuss smart energy systems, international cooperation and more.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010


It's almost May. A San Francisco to Reno road trip should not be a problem, certainly not on Highway 80. Wrong!

The problem is Donner Pass, which just exceeds an elevation of 7000 feet. In 1846, American pioneers in covered wagons attempted to cross at this point and were stranded in a lot of snow. Nearly half died, and cannibalism was said to be part of the solution.

So our ordeal, put in this perspective, was mildly stressful, but mostly educational and maybe even exciting. All cars were stopped and, if not equipped with snow tires or chains, were ordered to turn back and purchase them. With some mumbling we did. There has been progress, as chains for cars do not look like those chains of before, and cost us $70.

Installation was an additional $20 and removal, add $15. (Above, Kenji Sumida supervising the process.) Driving was precarious and slow. The hero of the day was Lefty Yamamoto, who did all the dangerous driving in our van. I haven't yet seen the others in a following van, and it has been seven hours since we arrived in Reno. (They made it.) David Block flew in from Florida. Oh, it is now also snowing in Reno. Nothing, compared to two feet in the northeast.

At least we missed yesterday in Reno, which featured 100 MPH winds. Make that 131 MPH on top of the Sierra Nevada. I'm into dogs on this trip. Forty seven of them were rounded up in this city when fences were blown down.

There are three high end restaurants in the Grand Sierra: Fin Fish, Charlie Palmer (steak) and Biscola (Italian), located next to each other. We ended the day with dinner at the fish place. Excellent, especially as we had generous coupons. Service in this hotel we have found to be exceptional. I liked the freedom of just walking out of the restaurant with your glass of wine. Charlie Palmer is a three star (highest number possible) chef with his Aureoles in New York and Las Vegas, plus another steakhouse in his name in DC. We will try his steak room before we leave here.

The Dow Jones Industrials rose above 11,000 again today, up 53 to 11,045, with world markets mixed and the Japan Nikkei at 10,925. Gold remained unchanged at $1167/toz and crude oil is at $83/barrel.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I am now in San Francisco (as sung by Jeanette MacDonald, with an appearance by Clark Gable). I was welcomed at the airport by a Shar Pei, then went on to Walnut Creek, where Carl Weinberg (formerly the R&D director for PG&E) and Terry Surles (Argonne, Lawrence Livermore, Sandia, California Energy Commission, EPRI, PICHTR, University of Hawaii) and I had a useful discussion about smart energy systems over lunch at Carl's son's Walnut Creek Yacht Club restaurant.

I then stopped by the Ferry Building and said hi to a seagull (I think) and purchased my dinner: chili of some sort, a locally made blue cheese, croissant, assorted olives, caesar salad and a bottle of Vine Starr meritage, bottled across the bay in Berkeley.

Tomorrow at 4AM Kenji's entourage arrives for our green safari from Reno through Napa Valley.

The Dow Jones Industrials tumbled 213 (1.9%) to 10,992, but this was largely triggered by world events, as Japan dropped 2.5% to 10,936 and Europe, even more so, mostly due to their problem with PIGS. Gold, though, rose $12/toz to $1167 and crude oil fell below $82/barrel.

I welcome country #148 to my blog:

« Previous Country | Next Country » Back to Top Countries

Formerly an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1896 but regained independence in 1960. During 1992-93, free presidential and National Assembly elections were held ending 17 years of single-party rule. In 1997, in the second presidential race, Didier RATSIRAKA, the leader during the 1970s and 1980s, was returned to the presidency. The 2001 presidential election was contested between the followers of Didier RATSIRAKA and Marc RAVALOMANANA, nearly causing secession of half of the country. In April 2002, the High Constitutional Court announced RAVALOMANANA the winner. RAVALOMANANA achieved a second term following a landslide victory in the generally free and fair presidential elections of 2006. In early 2009, protests due to increasing restrictions on opposition press and activities resulted in RAVALOMANANA stepping down and the presidency was conferred to the mayor of Antananarivo, Andry RAJOELINA. Following negotiations in July and August of 2009, a power-sharing agreement with a 15-month transitional period was established, but has not yet been implemented.

Map data ©2010 Europa Technologies - Terms of Use


Monday, April 26, 2010


My Chapter One of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity reports on wars. I today received one of those regular fear postings about that menacing country, China, and their build-up to conquer us:

I felt compelled to respond thusly:

Dear Dr. X:

The problem is that--why, I don't really know--the American people are afraid of our shadow (airport security, swine flu), and the military-industrial complex finds a way to jerk us around by regularly tossing out yet another fear item about China and Russia. Details are provided in Chapter One of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.

Our awesome military (and nation at large) only needs to contend with a thousand deadly terrorists and a very few dangerous world leaders. We are not focusing on the real problem, partly because doing so will decimate the defense budget.

We spend six times more on defense than China. We will remain supreme for a century. China will get old before it gets rich. Oh, and Russia? Vietnam will have more people in a short while.

Why worry about naval ships...they are obsolete. Please read my original HuffPo of nearly two years ago when Barack was still trying to compete against Hillary.*** We (and the rest of the world, including China) need to get out of the rut of unnecessary big ticket military arms. These funds can better be used to build better schools, stimulate spending for wind machines, and more.


Should we be afraid of China, or Russia, and maintain our defense spending just in case they have nefarious plans? I'd like to hear from you.

The Dow Jones Industrials at this writing is up in low double-digits as I head for the airport, at around 11,222, while world markets were mixed. Gold is down a couple of bucks and oil is at $84/barrel.


Sunday, April 25, 2010


My HuffPo of 14April10 was entitled "The Index of Life." Ray's Virtual Forum suggested that something related to ego is missing. So I responded with the following:

Yes, let's create a more comprehensive index. A few points:

1. My index already includes climate conditions.

2. Ego and related psycho-human factors would be an enhancement. I haven't quite worked out in my mind how this would work.

3. Then we need to arrive at a new Index of _______.

This forum is now in the phase of enhancing The Index of Life. Should anyone have any suggestions, please comment.

Speaking of indexes, my blog stock challenge success quotient is now up to 2.7. That is, for $1 invested, the portfolio is now worth $2.70. If you're keeping score:



Am I a financial genius? Nah, I just happened to initiate this challenge when the market was down towards the end of 2008. The only advice is to invest when the market is down. How to determine bottom? I don't know, but this recovery will be protected by the current administration until the Fall elections. Then, good luck!

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Saturday, April 24, 2010


Chapter 4 in SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth is on the Blue Revolution. My Huffington Post article of 24November2008 is entitled "The Dawn of the Blue Revolution."

Let me summarize some of the dreams of a few big thinkers on their concepts:

Solar Island: a partnership of the United Arab Emirates (Ras al Khaimah) and Neuchatel’s Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology to produce electricity and hydrogen.

Solar Thermal Island: Green Fix Energy from California announced their Ocean Atmospheric Solar Insulated Incapsulation System (OASIIS) concept to produce from ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) and solar thermal energy electricity, freshwater, hydrogen and fertilizer. Watch their clip by clicking on OASIIS. Go to Doug Carlson's blog for details, including the latest on what Lockheed Martin is doing, and other OTEC news.

ExxonMobile has their Blue Ocean Energy, but, whoops, this is a liquid natural gas terminal for New York and New Jersey.

Seasteading Institute (SI): The marine version of homesteading, their Poseidon Project (above) is the seed for the first ocean city-state. The key players are Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, and Patri Friedman, grandson of Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman. SI has patented ClubStead, a 200-people resort at sea (below).

Arup Biomimetics has design an underwater ocean city called Syph (above) for a future Australia.

Lillypad (above), by Vincent Calebaud, has been designed as an ocean shelter for global climate change refugees.

There is 160 room Residensea (The World), which has been cruising for 8 years; the mile long floating condo Freedom Ship for 60,000 occupants, which has never yet quite floated; the dreams of the Living Universe

Foundation, more interested in colonizing space, but envisions ocean versions, while starting on land in Texas; and Celestopea.

Kiyonori Kikutake's Aquapolis (below) was the centerpiece of the Okinawa World Ocean Expo in 1975. As just another of my unsuccesful efforts, I attempted to convince the government of Japan to refurbish it and send it to Lisbon in 1998. Aquapolis would have been the highlight of the exhibition, for there was nothing monumental at this second ocean expo. After a quarter century as a minimal tourist attraction, the floating platform was purchased in 2000 by an American, towed to Shanghai, and reduced to its origins as scrap metal. Kikutake's idea, however, is again beginning to blossom.

Even earlier, Buckminster Fuller in the '60's designed Triton (below), as a floating residence for 5,000 occupants. He seems to be at the root of all architecture.