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Saturday, June 30, 2012


o  Similarly, Cumbre Vieja Volcano on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, also off West Africa, is a particular concern for Simon Day and Steven Ward of the University of California. A combination eruption and landslide with a speed of 350 kilometers per hour would have an energy release equal to 6 months of electricity consumption in the U.S. Tsunami waves of up to 650 meters (2132 feet) would be created with a wavelength of 40 km (25 miles), traveling to West Saharan shores at an amplitude of 100 meters (328 feet), and Florida at up to 50 meter waves, eight hours later. On October 12, 2000, BBC2 showed, “Mega-tsunami: Wave of Destruction,” about this potential disaster, which became a most controversial TV program. This program is updated with regularity and again was shown in June of 2006.

A 164 foot tsunami would pretty much roll over all of Florida!  But my book discounted this potential as hyperbole, even after meeting with Bill McGuire of University College London, one of the co-authors.  Here is a 7 minute You Tube video explaining Bill.  Keep in mind that the largest possible earthquake (such as the 9.2 scale Indonesia monster of 26December2004--yikes, I'm posting this from this country) at the ocean bottom will only generate a wave, at most, of 10 meters (33 feet) in the far field (thousands of miles away).  A gigantic landslide can produce waves of several hundred feet.

Here is a recent clip of 13 minutes by Mary Greeley that sounds downright scary.  Not La Palma, but El Hierro (on the left) in the Canaries.  Scientific speculation is that both volcanoes share the same source of magma.  El Hierro has grown in elevation by at least two inches over the past few days  Mind you, her blog site is most definitely apocalyptic.  Yet, there too are reasonably ominous scientific reports.  Floridians will have eight hours of warning if something truly bad happens.

There is a long history of El Hierro (island to the right) earthquakes and eruptions, with three major subsequent landslides.  However, the most recent was 15,000 years ago.  Plus, there is no evidence of Florida ever being impacted by any tsunami from the Canary Islands.  But, it's something extra to be concerned about if you happen to live on the east coast of the USA, like a few of my friends...who I'll alert. 

Certainly, I wouldn't lose any sleep if you are reading this from the Canary Islands or Florida.  Hurricanes, maybe, but there are no imminent storms in the Atlantic.


Friday, June 29, 2012


In short, YES!  Then why aren't we doing anything about it?  Politics.  Politicians influenced by lobbyists. The world economic slump.  Countries like China and India continue to argue that they first need to catch up economically.  Surveys show popular concern is slumping.  Gallup polls in 1989 and 2011, for example, show that the drop was from 66% to 51% during this period when each subsequent decade showed a continuous increase in average world-wide temperatures.  The list can go on and on.

However, the epic failure of Rio+20 particularly underscores this unfolding tragedy.  The fact that a whole host of world leaders (Obama, Merkel and Hu Jintao were absent, for example) were at the G20 gathering in Los Cabos (Mexico), but still did not feel it was important enough for a reasonable plane hop to Rio de Janeiro, was particularly disappointing.

I provided my history with climate change in SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth.  I was involved from the early '80s.  

A couple of friends sent me information about a paper James Hanson co-authored in 1981:

 ‘Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide’, J. Hansen, D. Johnson, A. Lacis, S. Lebedeff, P. Lee, D. Rind, G. Russell.

This was the year I was still working for the U.S. Senate (Hanson's famous Senate testimony actually came seven years later) and began to get concerned, even though the potential of global cooling was then currently in vogue.  Here is an excellent encapsulation of the above summary paper and James Hanson especially:

  •   -  Was right about the 1980s warming, even though this was just after the media frenzy about a coming ice age.

  • -  Was right about erosion of ice sheets, rising sea levels and opening of the fabled Northwest Passage – a pretty good call.

  • -  Was right about warming at higher latitudes being greater than the global mean.

  • -  Was right about the increased growing season.

  • -  Was right about increased snow fall and net ice sheet growth – yet 'skeptics' today still use this as an argument against global warming.

  •  -  Was right about a partly ice free Arctic modifying neighbouring continental climates – if the most recent research about lack of ice causing a shift to the jet stream, and making colder winters is accepted – another good call.

  • -  Appears to be right about 2C warming being reached within a century and that temperature being the accepted limit before irreversible and detrimental effects occur.

There is nothing obviously incorrect in this paper.  All this was predicted using models that according to 'skeptics', are not supposed to work, over 30 years ago in 1981, the year IBM released it’s first PC with Microsoft MS DOS


Thursday, June 28, 2012


Romney or Obama?  You can argue all you want, agonizing with each gaffe and sound bite, but the reality is something else.  Here are two ways to avoid the frustration and gain a less stressful life.

Earlier this year I posted on one way to keep track of the Fall Presidential Election.  INTRADE, which actually originates out of the Republic of Ireland, provides an opportunity for you, like in sports betting, to invest in your candidate.  The latest board shows Obama at around 54% and Romney at 44%.  Incidentally, there appears to be a 72% chance of the Supreme Court declaring healthcare as unconstitutional.  The official word could be announced any minute now.  (Just came out, and Obamacare was upheld, meaning, approved or deemed constitutional, with certain language regarding the individual mandate as a tax.  Chief Justice John Roberts was the swing vote with the liberal four to make the difference.  When Obama was a senator, he voted against Roberts for Chief Justice.  A big victory for President Obama, but maybe a liability for his re-election because of the tax implications.)

Well, anyway, I was sent another political calculus, this one by Nate Silver.  The current electoral count has Obama at 288 and Romney at 250.  Obama is given a 61% chance of winning, while Romney, 39%.  As you read the newspaper/www or watch TV, though, keep in mind that polling services have an inherent bias:

That is, if you see a Pew poll, it tends to give Obama a 3.2% edge, while, as would be expected, Fox News favors Romney by 1.5%.  Gallup leans in Romney's direction by 2.5%.   It's mostly related to who they survey.

So the status today, if nothing changes, is that Barack Obama will be re-elected on November 6, only 131 days away.  But things do change!  Only 1594 days to the 2016 election.

I flew today from Busan to Bangkok.  Interesting that there was the regular audio/visual system, but I was also provided the latest iPad for movies.  The audio fidelity was excellent and the video was in high definition, unlike the "old" system.  The meal was okay:

If you are ever in this position, be very careful about that kim chee packet, for opening it is a non-trivial operation.  Imagine a hand grenade exploding this foul-smelling concoction.  The second course was a beef stroganoff, followed by cheeses with port and dessert with Kahlua and coffee.

I can't believe I was watching Barry Manilow in concert through the meal.  My flight successfully arrived in Bangkok:

One of my very favorite hotels is the Sheraton Grand Sukhumvit.  It is next to the Skytrain station, with the Westin and Robinson Department Store across the street.  My view on the other side:

I had dinner at Rossini's, an Italian restaurant in the hotel.  My entre was an ossobuco.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012


A few finals thoughts from South Korea:

1.  Rainfall in South Korea is at a 104-year low, when they first starting taking measurements, so who knows how far back this drought beats.  The irony is that it began raining last night here in Busan, and continued all day today.

2.  First, I feel blessed that I went to Yeosu yesterday (scroll down to the EXPO).

3.  Because of the weather, I decided to catch the subway, for just two stops away is Shinsegae Centrum City, the largest shopping complex in the world.  It was built in 2009 and is, indeed, worth a stop.  There is something special about this mall.  All the major Japanese and Korean department stores have a floor or two in the basement featuring food and a market.  The one here had more than most, with a tank of King Crab:

and and another for abalone:

Also, some restrooms have an additional child-sized toilet:

In these rooms there is a dispenser to allow you to wipe the seats with a special cleaner.

4.  There are two food courts, plus, on the 9th floor, some high class restaurants.  Of course, I went there, and got a table at a Korean restaurant that featured barbequed meats.  I ordered a Korean soju, and kalbi.  Unfortunately, I was told that this can only be had for two or more.  So, in a mild huff, I left, and strolled around.  Of all the things, Macaroni Grill (no relationship to Romano's), an Italian restaurant, caught my interest.  I ordered their lunch special with a beer, an incredible bargain, as you shall see.

I was told to first go to the salad bar, where I fixed myself a generous bowl of vegetables covered with an assortment of nuts.  Then, to my surprise, their salad came, which was fabulous.  The third course was a pumpkin cream soup.  Outstanding!  The official soup was saffron shrimp, but I'm allergic to crustaceans.  The next was capellini with a red sauce that was unusually good.  They left out the shrimp, but what came had onions, broccoli and some pork:

I should mention the bread dish, which had a small baked potato.  Nice touch.  The final entree was a steak:

The meat was perfect, although there was too much sauce.  I turned down the dessert and had coffee to rest for a while.  I was supersaturated.  There is something exceptional about the taste: of the salad dressing, soup and pasta.

Would you believe all the above cost about the same as that Belgian stew meal yesterday (just scroll down to my Yeosu lunch) and only a tenth of Pierre Gagnaire?  How much is that in American dollars?  Well, you need to read about those other lunches to calculate this amount.  Considering the classiness of the restaurant, quality of the food and excellent service, this might well have been my best value meal, ever.

Later that afternoon I walked two miles on Haeundae Beach.  Here is the view from the other end:

I have never walked this far in bare feet in my life.  I did worry about glass and sharp shells, which I saw here and there.  This beach averages around 100 yards wide.  The Westin is the low rise to the extreme left.

5.  Maybe I'm gaining a foot fetish, but I noticed on the subway that the high majority of females paint their toenails in Seoul and Pusan.  The popular nail polish colors are red/pink, black, white and blue.  I haven't seen any yellow.  Many of them don't bother to color their fingernails.  There is a comment that Korean women only paint their big toe, but I found this to be an exception.  Interesting and strange.  Also you can hardly find a girl with black hair in Japan and Korea (more and more males, too).  Some say this is to escape reality  Another indicates that this makes them more sexually confident.  If you have black hair and want brown or blonde, you first need to bleach it.  Then you dye the color you want, and this can get pretty smelly, sometimes with ammonia.  It would not surprise me if it later turns out that Asian females will more and more wear wigs, for their hair follicles won't be able to tolerate all this regular damage.  Aha, the next big trend if you want to start a company.  There is no medical evidence because what government can justify this kind of research?  You will only read of studies made by bleaching and dying companies, and you know they won't hint about going bald.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I love expos!  The very first was London in 1851 with the Crystal Palace (above).   Remember the movie, Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland?  That fair was in 1904.  I was not able go to either, but my first was in Seattle, 1962, just about the time I graduated from Stanford.  Since then I've been to expos in Montreal (1967), San Antonio (1968), Osaka (1970), Knoxville (1982), Tsukuba (1985), Vancouver (1986), Seville (1992), Lisbon (1998), Hannover (2000), Aichi (2005) and Shanghai 2010. But this is the year of the Yeosu (pronounced like the Japanese guy, YASU) Ocean Expo.  To be official, the real expo's are now held every five years, so the one in Shanghai was a universal fair, and those  in other years are "merely" special exhibitions.

The first featuring the seas occurred in Okinawa in 1975.  I was not able to participate, but did visit Aquapolis (right), the showcase exhibit, several times.  The next ocean expo was in Lisbon 28 years later, and I was on one of their planning committees, but, alas, there was little of the ocean observable.

Yeosu edged out Tangier, Morocco when the International Exhibitions Bureau selected this Korean city in 2007.  Fortuitously, the Secretary-General of the United Nations today is Ban Ki-moon from Korea.

The mascots, Yeony and Suny, represent a water droplet and plankton, respectively:

This quote brings perspective to these international events.  You think your life is tough?  Here is what Helen Keller said:

If that name does not quite register in your memory, she is that child in The Miracle Worker who was born blind AND deaf, but went on to graduate from college.  Mark Twain said it well:

So true.  This "special" expo site covers 670 acres (half the size of the recent China site) on which sit 76 exhibitions from 105 countries (Shanghai had 250 countries and organizations).  As Seoul is 250 miles away, and Busan only 112 miles, I thought I'd stay in this city that was once known as Pusan.  Mistake!  The KTX high speed train takes 3.5 hours from Seoul, and brings you right to the site, for a cost of around $45.  I had to walk 10 minutes from the Westin Chosun to the subway station, spend 45 minutes on a train, then transfer to a bus, which took 2.5 hours.  Finally, I had to catch a confusing shuttle to the fair.  Try doing this when you can't speak the language.  Then I had to repeat in reverse, walking back to my hotel late at night.  With waiting time (you just can't afford to miss that bus, for the next one is 3 hours later), I spent a roundtrip of 10 hours and could only afford 4 hours at the Expo.  The total roundtrip cost was around $40.  If you go and have time, take a cruise ship that stays two whole days at the expo port.

I might further mention that the Shanghai Expo drew 73 million visitors, while Yeosu will only attract, perhaps, 8 million.  I noticed that 99% of the fairgoers were Asian, and, I don't think I saw even one black person.  There was a lot of hoopla about attempting to make advanced reservations online, which I tried to do, and failed.  However, I walked into the two I most wanted to visit:  Marine Civilization and City Pavilion and Marine Industry and Technology Pavilion.  I also noticed there was no line for the aquarium, which I could not reserve online, but had to bypass because I was rushing to return to Busan.

But on to my Yeosu experience:

I have long advocated Hawaii hosting an expo, and you need to read one of my HuffPos to understand why.  That  quote above provides a hint.  I took a lot of photos, and without much explanation, here are some interesting architecture:

I asked several information booths which was the best restaurant.  They all said Belgium.  So I went, ordered their special, and got:

A stew with rice, small chopped salad and Belgium fries, which tasted the same as French fries.  Cost, $35.  Oh, there is a Belgium beer not shown.  Anyway, all the restaurants I poked my head into are essentially of the fast food mode.  The most disappointing was that not one restaurant served kalbi.  Apparently, it missed the cut because it takes too much work.  The colors were spectacular:

Here are some ocean gadgets and cities:

I found the experience, even with the transport ordeal, worthwhile.  There was excitement, innovation and color.  Best Ocean Expo I've ever attended.  Next, Milan in 2015.  Kazakstan and Liege (Belgium) are being considered for a special expo in 2017    In the running for 2020 (again, the universal expos are held every 5 years) are Izmir (Turkey), Ayutthaya (Thailand), Yekaterinburg (Russia), Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Dubai (UAE).   My guess is Sao Paulo.  Hawaii for 2025?  2020 is the VISION year, so a shame.

This posting is already too long, but I just had to add my view as I am today adjusting this article:

Here is a closer view of Haeundae Beach, which looks like Ipanema in Rio:

It's not totally clear, but I see at least a dozen construction cranes.  There are even more here.  Hawaii:  when was our last new resort, or hotel?  Mind you, I'm not for more tourists, but that is our only real revenue generator.

Oh, when I got off the bus on my way back last night, just at the foot of my subway station was a Family Mart and Kentucky Fried Chicken.  So:

The whole meal with beer was around $7.50.