Total Pageviews

Friday, August 31, 2012


My posting yesterday on DIACETYL and connection to Alzheimer's drew a wide range of personal responses.  Again, though, there were no comments to the blog site itself.

Anyway, one colleague sent me an article indicating that the French Paradox, in that they eat a lot of butter and fatty foods but remain healthy, can be refuted by fact.  A Guardian article indicated, for example, that French men had the highest cancer rate of Europeans because they drank and smoked too much.  However, that information is now a decade old, so I decided to do some research.

The country did take steps against smoking, now excessively taxing tobacco products, such that consumption/capita has dropped by more than a factor of two in twenty years.  For example, in cigarettes per adult per year:

#1       Greece          3017
#12     Japan            2028
#39     U.S.              1196
#60     France            876
#89     Singapore       406
#121   Ethiopia            52

#1       Monaco          90
#5       Japan             82
#11     France            82
#51     U.S.               78
#100   Samoa-U.S.    74
#200   Niger              53
#223   Swaziland       32

Well, the French smoke less than Americans, and that 4:1 ratio of butter consumption referenced the year 2002, and I'm not into that much R&D to find that comparison today.  But their life expectancy is much better than the USA, and there is little doubt that they consume a lot more butter/person in France, and yet, have a much higher life expectancy.  The latest data shows that the French eat three times more saturated fat than Americans.  However, the French eat less, and more slowly, where two hour lunches are common.  Eating out in the the U.S. is eating too much, as servings are 25% larger than in France, and there aren't all that many eat to the max places there, plus even McDonald's, known as "MacDo," is "different."  You can comfortably sit for, yes, two hours, enjoying your meal.  

But why are the French still relatively thin, while, Americans have become obese:

Adult obesity prevalence, latest available data

Thus, only 11.2% of French are obese, while 35.7% of Americans are.  However, we are not the fattest, being #8 to seven Pacific island nations.  It's so obvious that, when I traveled through Polynesia a few years ago, airline staff passed out seat belt extensions on entry into the plane.

Okay, but back to that French Paradox.  First, those on the Mediterranean diet, where non-saturated fats are featured, had a 70% lower rate of SECOND heart attacks than the saturated fat regimen of France.  So placing all the above into a pot and stirring, it appears that red wine and  resveratrol, a polyphenol, might well be the key to health.  Perhaps resveratrol (this is not mentioned in any study) has a way of neutralizing diacetyl in the process of fermentation.  I don't know.  Marcelle Pick, a gynecologist, in the Huffington Post, provides her opinion regarding the French Paradox:

1.  Food there looks more attractive.  (Which should mean that people would eat more, which makes no sense.)

2.  They walk a lot because gas is so expensive.  (This could be the key.)

3.  Lunch is two hours long.  (I would think this should lead to eating more.)

4.  They have more vacation time.  (But I tend to gain weight when on trips.)

5.  There is less stress there. (I guess this means people under stress eat more.)

6.  The secret of being thin and healthy is to slow down and appreciate life a little more.  (Can't imagine how this would explain the French Paradox.)

Now that Hurricane Isaac is reduced to dumping a lot rain on Arkansas today, there is also 105 MPH Hurricane Eric in the mid-Atlantic.  But, it's heading for....Ireland!  Tropical Storm Leslie at 65 MPH is taking the more traditional track just north of the Caribbean, and will soon become a hurricane, but  will then move north and avoid the East Coast.  In the west Pacific, there is Hurricane Ileana at 75 MPH moving toward Hawaii, but she will soon dissipate.

Oh, let me finally add that tonight will  be our final blue moon until July of 2015.  However, the moon will not be blue.  This is a term applied to two full moons in one month.  This happens around every three years.  However, there will be two blue moons in 2018.  I woke up this morning to a moonset over Honolulu:

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Arghhhhhh!!!  Did you know that popcorn butter can trigger Alzheimer's disease.  (Oh, it gets worse if you drink alcoholic beverages!!)  Whether microwaved at home or purchased at a movie theater, diacetyl (left) is the problem.  So someday soon you will no doubt see a sign indicating that there is no diacetyl in this popcorn.  The initial sign was that people working in microwave popcorn factories had a high incidence of lung problems.  Diacetyl is also found in margarines, baked goods, pet foods and, of all the things, chardonnay wine.  Who led this study?  Robert Vince (right) of the University of Minnesota.  For those who regularly engorge themselves on this snack, is there a cure?  Well, I've had several postings hinting that virgin coconut oil might prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's.  Like in olive oil, virgin means the first pressing.

About real butter, did you know it takes eleven quarts of milk to make one pound of butter?  Also, is it better than margarine?  Well, the American Heart Association continues to suggest purchasing soft, trans-fat free spreads instead of butter or stick margarine.  But if the American Heart Association is only concerned about your heart, we need to hear from the American Brain Association, American Alzheimer's Association and the American Lung Association, or their equivalents, on this.
Read the label and avoid partially hydogenated oils.  If you must have butter, fool yourself by using whipped, light butter or a butter blend.  These have the added benefit of being easier to spread, and you might also want to add EPA/DHA, etc.  Smart Balance does it all, with 40% less saturated fat than butter.

There is, of course, a wide range of substitutes for diacetyl, but most of them are structurally similar and general health effects are not yet known.  If you are really interested in this subject, the Department of Labor has the following publication:

Occupational Exposure to Flavoring Substances: Health Effects and Hazard Control

Must add something on the French paradox, which says that they have a diet high in saturated fats, but yet with a relatively low rate of heart disease.  The French consume 108 grams of animal fat per day, while the American rate is 72.  They eat four times as much butter as us.  Yet, the French coronary heart disease rate is almost 40% lower.  The difference, it is suggested, is that Americans consume 8.6 liters of alcohol/person/year, while the French drink at a rate of 11.4 liters.  Further, this difference is then linked to red wine.  Turns out red wine might be even better than we thought.  Read on.

Here is the part that is stunning.  There is a term for certain white wines like chardonnay about being buttery.  Guess why?  California and Australian white wines are generally low in acidity, so wineries pass them through malolactic fermentation, which results in the formation of diacetyl.  There is thus this connection to diary products and lactic acid.  RED WINES also go through malolactic fermentation, but diacetyl is only barely present.  Hmmm...  This will kill some of us, figuratively and literally, but some beers  and scotch have exceptionally high concentrations of diacetyl.  I couldn't find any details for whiskey, but beer can have from 8 to 600 parts per billion of this chemical, while white wines have from 20-5400 parts per billion.  I thus, hate to say this, but if you are truly worried about diacetyl and Alzheimer's, for now, avoid chardonnays and beer, and be careful about any whiskeys.  Except that:

The diketone diacetyl (2,3-butanedione) has a buttery aroma and is present in almost all distilled beverages. Whiskies and cognacs typically contain more of this than vodkas, but significantly less than rums or brandies.[58]

Totally changing the subject, here is an unscientific study featuring ants.  The top is margarine, to the left reduced fat margarine and bottom right butter.:

We haven't quite answered which is better, butter or margarine, but most publications these days suggest that you skip both for olive oil, avocado or nut oils.   Which makes more sense now because most margarines use diacetyl to provide the butter flavor and diacetyl is naturally found in diary products anyway.  Thus, I remain somewhat confused, and now wonder (but not unnecessarily worry) about diacetyl.

Fortunately, I'm at that age (I'm old) where I can just about eat whatever I want, and this weekend went to a movie and had no problem enjoying buttered popcorn.  Also, on my way home, I purchased a small amount (3 ounces, which is less than a quarter pound) of truffle butter for an exorbitant ($10) price.  However, if you are addicted to truffles, this stuff is amazing.

So, to summarize, nothing is yet medically proven, but the early hint is that butters and margarines could well trigger Alzheimer's, and so might certain alcoholic drinks, but, rums and brandies are the worst.  My sense is that when this issue shakes out, it will become a matter of concentration.  Yes, diacetyl is bad for your health, but at low concentrations, it might not be all that terrible.  Anyway, that is my hope.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I subscribe to half a dozen weeklies and a host of internet newsletters.  This morning, the:


featured the following articles:

Arctic sea ice shrinks to lowest extent ever recorded

With two weeks of melting left in this 2012 season, Arctic monitoring agencies from several countries noted that only 1.6 million square miles of the Arctic were left.  In 2004, at the end of summer, the Arctic ice mass was 13,000 cubic km.  Last summer the volume dropped to 7,000 cubic km.  This year it will be lower, and in ten years there will be no Arctic.  Remember, the Arctic floats, while the Antarctic ice is over land, and is a continent.  According to John Sauven, Greenpeace UK director:

"These preliminary figures provide irrefutable evidence that greenhouse-gas emissions leading to global warming are damaging one of the planet's critical environments, one that helps maintain the stability of the global climate for every citizen of the world,"

What is particularly scary is that the thermohaline circulation could shutdown, which would significantly change the weather of the world, especially Europe.

Another article dealt with methane emissions, the basis of my Venus Syndrome.  Global warming is mostly inconvenient.  The Venus Syndrome could end life for humanity forever.

The following:

Climate-change study forces sceptical scientists to change minds

reported on the findings of a once global warming skeptic, Professor Richard Muller:

"Our results show that the average temperature of the Earth's land has risen by 2.5°F over the past 250 years, including an increase of 1.5 degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases," Muller wrote in an opinion piece for the New York Times.

The following article came from:

Romney's Energy Plan Ignores the Success of Solar and Wind: View

Mitt Romney wants to attain U.S. energy Independence by 2020, using fossil fuels.  He will make it easier to drill for oil/gas and mine for coal.  He will not provide any more subsidies for solar and wind.  I'm not making this up.  Read the details.

Four years ago I wrote in the Huffington Post:

Why Do Republicans Like Fossil Fuels and Not Care That Much for the Environment?

If you click on that title, you can also read the 40 comments.  A few of my Republican friends took exception to the contents, but, clearly, I was right.

Hurricane Isaac began slamming into New Orleans last night, and continues today, unexpectedly slowing down to 6 MPH, so that Louisiana and bordering states are getting inundated by rain.   The eye actually passed 50 miles west of New Orleans.  Plaquemines parish southeast of New Orleans got the brunt of the damage, as water rose high enough to flow over a levee, making the neighborhood look like the Lower 9th Ward during Katrina.  However, New Orleans reacted well, for Isaac, which as a tropical storm killed 23 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, will only cause storm damage in the U.S.  Electricity will be out for a while, and many lost their homes, but those Federal levees held.

In the west Pacific, former typhoons Bolaven and Tembin stormed through South Korea, leaving at least 18 dead.  Where there are couple of cyclonic disturbances in the Pacific and Atlantic that have or will attain hurricane strength, none of them appears to be a threat to land.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The Alamihi Crab Syndrome (watch Israel Kamakawiwowoole sing about this crustacean) derives from the early Hawaiians and the exasperating tendency of pulling down anyone who is on the verge of success, as crabs do in a bucket when one tries to crawl out.  It is said that this practice did not exist until Captain James Cooke brought the first bucket.  Of course this social disease applies to any culture and is more popularly known as the crab mentality.  The State of Hawaii, in particular, has perfected this scheme, for nothing magnificent now has any hope of happening.  

In the 1970's, Hawaii Geothermal Project Well A became the hottest downhole resource in the world.  We produced 3.5 megawatts in our first attempt to tap the energy from this potentially vast underground resource.  A consortium of rain forest people, Pele worshippers, marijuana growers, newly arrived anti-technology settlers, general environmentalists and a few sincere local opponents effectively stopped what could have developed into, perhaps, a 500 MW grid using undersea cables to supply electricity to Oahu.

It was just about exactly twenty years ago that Rene Mansho (left) terminated mass transit for Honolulu.  This was a one-lady crab staying in the bucket.  This one act crippled the future of Honolulu, where the future is now.

Since then, we have killed the Superferry, largely neutralized a major wind farm on Lanai (and disillusioned David Murdock to sell the island to Larry Elison of Oracle), will find a way to stall the undersea electric cable project, ended any development of Kakaako Makai, and we appear to have derailed the latest rapid transit system.  Just wait till Lockheed Martin announces their OTEC project for Honolulu (although all signs indicate that the unavailability of financing might never get this effort to even the complaining stage) and lots of luck to Moana Surfrider for succeeding in building a 26-story addition on the beach at Waikiki.

Compare the above to:

1.  South Korea:

Universal Studios will build a $2.7 billion theme park in Gyeonggi Province (37 miles southwest of Seoul).  Paramount Pictures and MGM will also construct resort parks in Incheon.  Eight such Seoul developments are expected to be in operation by 2012, and fourteen when you count the rest of the country.  They hope to attract lost of visitors from China and Japan.  HAWAII, WHAT ARE WE DOING?

2.  Vietnam

China Beach (picture 100 yards of beach extending for 19 miles, a distance from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor and back to Waikiki) along a five-star mega resort, with five more being built, including a J.W. Marriott and a Hyatt, plus a casino and two golf courses.  Another way to look at the length of China Beach is from Waikiki to Wahiawa.  This is the type of attraction Hawaii will need to compete against into the future.

I suggested Hawaii hosting the 2020 World Expo.  This one did not even gain any status to be placed in the crab bucket.  I have hopes for the Pacific International Ocean Station, proposed by Blue Revolution Hawaii.  If we ALAMIHI this best hope for the future of Hawaii, then...there is no hope for Hawaii.

How do we get our State out of this rut featuring manini* thinking and a crab mentality?  How can we with vision fashion a sustainable and progressive society?  I wish I knew.

(mah knee knee)
Definition: small-time; minute; minuscule; stingy; stems from true, Hawaiian definition: small, striped surgeonfish (Acanthurus triostegus)
Hurricane Isaac at 80 MPH, made landfall with the eye passing New Orleans perhaps 50 miles west of the city, but has considerably slowed down.  This is almost a worst case condition, for that noon to 3 quadrant is blowing water into the  levees all the way east to much of the state of Mississippi coastline, and the reduced speed means a lot more rain.  There is severe danger posed by tornadoes and considerable flooding with up to two feet of precipitation.  However, Katrina was worse.  No deaths mentioned yet. The strengthened levees held, although there is a section which was not high enough.  More than half a million are without power in five states.  While the great flood of Louisiana will continue today to dampen the action at the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney should gain TV attention by Thursday.

Typhoon Bolaven weakened into a tropical storm, turned a bit eastward and stormed right through South Korea.  Typhoon Tembin will follow essentially the same path also as a tropical storm.   There were several deaths and considerable flooding with power blackouts.


Monday, August 27, 2012


Is global warming responsible for all those sudden hurricanes and earthquakes?  Well, hurricanes, maybe, but not those quakes.

There were about a hundred earthquakes of at least 2.4 yesterday, mostly centered from Southern California to El Salvador, with the 7.4 off the coast the most severe.  Chile, Andaman Islands (India) and Indonesia each had a couple of 5.0+ tremors.  At one time, the Richter Scale was used.  The current standard of measurement is called moment momentum (I will use MM, or nothing)

You can feel a 2.0, and will begin to panic at 5.5.  Report your experience to "Earthquake-Report."  You need to scroll to the bottom.

Go to my posting of 14April2010 for everything you wish to calculate about earthquakes.  Compared to a 5.5, the largest earthquake ever, Chile in 1960, was a 9.5.  Subtracting 5.5 from 9.5 gives a difference of 4.  A 4 difference means that (you need to know what to do with the 4 to get you to one million) the Chile earthquake was about a million times more powerful than that 5.5, which merely scares you a bit.  Or another way of looking at this is that a million 5.5 earthquakes would release as much energy as one 9.5 can, with the graph above showing that that the 1960 Chilean itself produced a quarter of all the earthquake energy during the past century.

The Great Tohoku Earthquake on 11March2011 was a 9.0.  Thus, that earthquake generated less than one-fifth the energy generated by the Chilean monster.  Can you imagine an earthquake 560% more powerful than that Japanese quake?  Well, yes, for there was a TV movie in 2004 entitled 10.5 Apocalypse, with tsunamis, etc.  The greater tragedy of the Japan earthquake, however, was Fukushima and the resultant nuclear cataclysm.  As all of Japan's and most nuclear powerplants around the world are located next to the ocean (for cooling water), it is possible that the combination of earthquake-tsunami-nuclear has eliminated this option into the future for the Pacific.

Here are where the largest earthquakes have struck since 1900:

All the top ten earthquakes in the USA occurred on or off Alaska (with the biggest being a 9.2), except that 1700 (approx.) 9.0 at the Cascadia subduction zone off the Pacific Northwest coast.  (Hawaii made the list at #12 with a 7.9 under Kau in 1868.)  For those living along the West Coast, how's this for comfort:

...researchers at Oregon State University, and published online by the U.S. Geological Survey, the study concludes that there is a 40 percent chance of a major earthquake in the Coos Bay, Ore., region during the next 50 years. And that earthquake could approach the intensity of the Tohoku quake that devastated Japan in March of 2011.

That flurry of Southern California earthquakes (said to be in the hundreds) between the San Andreas and Imperial Faults?  All those newspaper articles comfort the reader by indicating that there is no reason to particularly worry, as these micro-events naturally occur every few years.  According to the latest USGS report, though, large earthquakes strike every 150 years on the southern San Andreas Fault.  The last one occurred in 1857.  Let's see now, if you subtract 1857 from 2012 you get 155 years.  Hmm....

Okay, now that there will be some exodus from Oregon/Washington and Southern California, keep in mind that the nuclear reactors in near San Luis Obispo are not that far away from the San Andreas Fault.  Not counting the ingress from Mexico, the population of Arizona has been declining for several very good reasons reasons.  So, where to go?

Okay, the latest projection is that soon to be hurricane Isaac, now at 70 MPH, is scheduled to make landfall slightly west of New Orleans early Wednesday morning, or exactly on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (left). The strongest quarter of any hurricane is the noon to 3 quadrant, so this means the city could be especially affected by higher tides.  Katrina made an eastern veer at the end as a Category 3, but only the less dangerous 9 to midnight quarter impacted the levees.  Supposedly a sum of $15 billion was spent to shore up the weakness.  My personal best guess is that Category 2 Hurricane Isaac will sway even further west, so New Orleans might again just miss the full brunt:

Well, Tembin suddenly weakened into a tropical storm at 65 MPH and moved off the coast of eastern Taiwan, largely sparing the country from truly massive floods.  It could have been worse.  Tembin will very closely track Bolaven into North Korea.

Typhoon Bolaven resulted in a few blackouts on Okinawa, and will largely miss Cheju Island and South Korea.  North Korea will get some rain and wind, but they are in a drought so can use the water.

The U.S. has largely been spared this year, but the eastern Pacific has been overwhelmed by 15 major ocean storms this season.


Sunday, August 26, 2012


This is Sunday.  Entertain yourself.

Watch a K-Pop viral video by PSY called "Gangnam Style."  Makes no sense to you?  Well, click on it, as more than 60 million have.  Four million visited just over the past 24 hours.

Incidentally, the top ten You Tube videos of all time are of Billboard hits, except for #6 "Charlie bit my finger--again!"  At #1, Justin Bieber has had more than 764 million pings.

More recently, the fully enhanced high definition descent of Curiosity on Mars, made available earlier this week, is approaching 3 million (note that this total accumulated over five days, while Gungnam Style had 4 million in a day) views.  This is the real thing, not a simulation.  To the right is an HD photo of the planet.

Here is a surprise, maybe even a shock, and it is a now mostly banned Toyota commercial.  Oh, after watching it, and you're a bit  confused, it's a boy.  The Auris is the European replacement for the Corolla and sits on a Camry platform.  The model is androgynous, and the car is not sold in the USA.  In a similarly controversial mode, here is a Toyota Supra drifting.

If you've come this far, you just got to click on the 100 most viewed videos, in 14 minutes and 28 seconds.  Here is a crash course on what the current generation enjoys.  Yes, there are too many Justin Bieber clips, but surely, you must want to know how Lady Gaga sounds, and I did not realize that Bruno Mars of Hawaii (he started his career as a 3 year old Elvis impersonator in Waikiki) was so popular.  There are babies, including a newborn panda sneezing.   Honestly, you'll thank me.   All this borderline agony in less than 15 minutes.

If you read my posting yesterday, you would be watching the Little World Series championship game on ABC.  As most will see this after the game is over, in the second inning, the score is Japan 3 - Tennessee 0, and pitching for Japan is Godzilla, also known as Kotaro Kiyomiya, whose fastball has topped the equivalent of 100 MPH several times.  Tennessee scored 24 runs to beat California yesterday.  Five of six have thus far struck out.  Maybe I'll later return to post the final score.


Well, Isaac is now officially a hurricane at 75 MPH, but should be reasonably west of Tampa to not seriously hinder the Republican National Convention.  However, they decided to be conservative, and essentially delayed the opening, and are even not totally sure about Tuesday.  Looks to me like Isaac will be making landfall near New Orleans as a Category 2.  Hope they got their levees in better shape.

The eye of Typhoon Bolaven, which had weakened into a Category 3 at 120 MPH (wind gusts up to 161 MPH), passed just north of Naha and cause little damage.  Why?  Even though this was the most severe storm since 1956, everything here is made of concrete.  Next passage?  Just west of Cheju Island, maintaining Category 3 strength, then skirting Incheon as a Category 1.  Might even pass right over Pyongyang as a tropical storm.

Finally, Typhoon Tembin did make that full circle back, is maintaining a speed of 105 MPH, but should weaken into a Category 1 and return to Taiwan, already saturated with moisture.  The first pass already brought rains of the century to parts of the south.  There will be monumental flooding.  Tembin then will move on to China, and, perhaps, maybe even Shanghai, which keeps getting spared.


Saturday, August 25, 2012


I'll be golfing at the Ala Wai Golf Course today.  As I'm creating this posting, I noticed on the Golf Channel that the leader is Lydia Ko.  You probably never heard of her, but she was born in South Korea, is now from New Zealand and won the the U.S. Women's Amateur two weeks ago.  She is of course an amateur, but won a professional tournament in New Zealand, at the age of 14.  If she prevails tomorrow, she will have to forego $300,000, but, now at the age of 15, would become the youngest Ladies Professional Golfer's Association winner.  You can see her tomorrow on the Golf Channel (2PM EDT or 8AM Hawaii Time).

Just finished watching the Japan little league baseball team demolish Panama for the international championship.  The winner of the Tennessee-California (they edged Hawaii to get to Williamsport) game will have the dubious distinction of playing Japan tomorrow (9AM HST on ABC).  Japan has Kotaro Kiyomiya (right), 6 feet tall, weighing 206 pounds.  He only had two home runs today on his two official at bats (they intentionally walked him).  Kiyomiya had 60 home runs in 50 games back home this year.  Oh, he also pitches, and has been clocked at the equivalent of 104 miles per hour.  Their pitcher today, Yuta Ishida, gave up two runs, but those are the only earned runs allowed by Japan in the entire tournament.  They have three more pitchers who have not allowed any, and they average nearly two strikeouts/inning.  

But, Bradley Smith, the starting pitcher today for California, is 6 feet 3 inches tall.  Alas, he just gave up a two-run homer in the first inning.  So maybe it will be Japan versus Tennessee on Sunday.  However, in the bottom half of the first, the bases are loaded, Smith is at bat and...he hit into a double play.

Here is what is great about the Little League World Series, however.  Uganda was the first African team to make it to Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  Here is a quote from Travis Waldron:

...the challenges facing baseball in Uganda and other African countries are immense. Many children use balls made of paper and improvised bats. Gloves are rare, and games are often played barefoot on dusty fields with little or no grass. Even the Ugandan schools where baseball is popular struggle to find places to play.

With all those limitations, they actually beat a team from Oregon in a consolation game.

Tropical Storm Isaac, at 60 MPH, is now expected to roll over the Florida Keys, then strengthen into a Category 2 on Monday, but might be sufficiently west of Tampa, that the Republican National Convention will not be seriously inconvenienced:

In the west Pacific, though, Typhoon Tembin, at 80 MPH, is making a full circular loop south of Taiwan, and will steamroll through the country again:

However, it gets worse, as Typhoon Bolaven, at 140 MPH, is heading straight for Naha, Okinawa: