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Wednesday, December 31, 2014


I have had three "Shape of Things to Come" postings in the past:
  • 29July2009:  I was mostly right
  • 1January2011:  I was 100% or so right
  • 31December2012:  Worth your click, for I predict what should happen by 2020.  I even, then, suggested that the U.S. would again become the #1 oil producer and a scenario whereby petroleum can drop to $35/barrel.
Here is a beginning excerpt from that 2012 version:

This time, I'll tell you what to expect over the next eight years, to the year I want to survive:  2020.  My version is not as expansive as H.G. Wells' The Shape of Things to Come, which predicted the next 173 years from 1933 when he published the book.  There was an interesting, maybe even gripping, 1936 film (yes, this is the whole 96 minute movie) starring Raymond Massey, beginning with a Christmas Noel.

I might add that Rotten Tomatoes reviewers gave the movie a 92% rating, but only 55% liked it.

So this year, I will indicate what will happen in the Year 2015.  These are not really predictions, for most of the events mentioned are already scheduled to occur:
  • January 1:  On New Year's Day, the first College Football National Championship Playoffs will occur, all on ESPN:
    • Rose Bowl (5PM), Florida State vs Oregon / Sugar Bowl (8:30PM), Ohio State vs Alabama
  • Janury 12:  Monday, at 8:30 PM (ET)  at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the winners will play for the national championship:
    • Tickets can still be bought:
      • Parking starts at $46 and goes up to $546, and will not get you in to see the game
      • Cheapest and junk seats start at $585
      • 50 yard line:  $5096
      • Note how $$$s run the show.  Dr. Pepper is providing up to $35 million per year for this trophy-linkage privilege.  But that's almost nothing.  ESPN is paying $7.3 billion over the next 12 years to annually telecast four major bowl games, the two semifinals and championship.
  • January 1:  Lithuania will adopt the Euro and become the 19th Eurozone country.
  • February 1:  Katy Perry will be the Super Bowl XLIX (49th) half-time show (Sunday at 6:30 ET) in the University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona on NBC.  Maybe not so seriously, Weird Al Yankovic was a finalist.  
    •  I pretty much watch the entire program, but mostly for the commercials. 

      • You can bet Anheuser-Busch will be prominent
      • Doritos, which is owned by Pepsi, will again show public submitted ads
      • The fourth Jurassic film will be featured, Jurassic World (this is the trailer)

      • GoDaddy will have Buddy (a golden retriever puppy) and Danica Patrick
This is taking too long, for here I am only at 1February2015, so I'll present the rest of 2015 tomorrow.  Happy New Year's Eve, with this incredible photo from Sydney, which is already into New Year 2015:


Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Jennifer Runyon, Chief Editor of and Renewable Energy World Magazine, remarkably enough, selected two of her articles as the best and second best postings on renewable energy for the year.  Her news outlets said that #1 was Top Five Cool Renewable Energy Projects.

Keep in mind that the operative term here is "cool," for, surely, there must be several hundred other green efforts of grander and more monumental scale.  But here are her top five:
  • #5:  Solar-powered toilet:  With a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, CalTech designed a toilet which recycles the water, and with the support now of Kohler, could develop a waste recycle system for 2.5 billion people who don't have access to safe and affordable sanitation.
  • #4:  Sausage farm goes energy independent:  Wampler Farms makes their sausage with 100% renewable energy.  They use a biomass-to-energy gasification Proton Power system, a cellulose to hydrogen concept to produce electricity and synthetic fuels.  That's Ted Wampler, Jr to the right.
  • Solar-powered vodka distillery:  Ocean Vodka Craft Distillery on the island of Maui distills organically-farmed sugar cane, uses deep ocean minerals from the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii, and flavors with Kula Lavender and local fruits (citrus, passion fruit, pineapple and strawberries).  Their theme?  LIFE is a journey,  Toast the VOYAGE.
  • The Driblet, a Pico-hydropowered water-saving device:  a small wireless system that monitors and controls water use.  The flowing water provides the power to operate the widget.  
  • The Race to Save the World:  a documentary featuring four passionate renewable energy entrepreneurs, produced by Emmy award-winning filmmaker Joe Gantz.  Watch this 8-minute video.  Hey, I'm into this too, with my blog on SAVING PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY.

In the issue released today, the top ten most commented on articles were listed.  #1 and #2, surprisingly enough, were:

Energy Storage and Biofuels Top’s Most Commented Articles of 2014

There were 155 comments to #1 on batteries.  I found this posting itself and subsequent comments somewhat naive.  Nowhere was it mentioned that, while perhaps nanotechnology and other concepts might improve the performance and charge rate of lithium ion batteries, there is no hopeful future awaiting battery breakthroughs, for, glancing at the Periodic Table of Elements, lithium could well be the final battery.  Not sure if solar-charged nanotube fuels (left), fuel cells, flywheels or supercapacitors are the answer, but, ultimately, it will not be "better" batteries.  They are great for portable applications, but on a mega-scale, batteries are inherently too expensive and inefficient compared to other potential energy storage options.


Monday, December 29, 2014


Surely, this must be pure coincidence, but planes and ships seem to have had the worst luck this year in Asia and Italy. Then, too, oil is down today again.

The Year 2014 will be worst for aviation in Asia, with 757 killed:
  • 28December:  Indonesia AirAsia 8501 (162--Java Sea?)
  • 17July:  Malaysia Airlines 17 (298--Ukraine)
  • 23July:  TransAsia Airways 222 (58-Taiwan)
  • 8March:  Malaysia Airlines 370 (239--South China Sea, Andaman Sea, India Ocean???)

Italy seems to have monopolized ship/ferry disasters, but the Costa Concordia sinking occurred off Tuscany in 2012.  The latest, marine misfortune is an Italian ferry, the Norman Atlantic, half an hour out of Greece, carrying more than 470 on the vessel, where there were at least 8 deaths.

The greater marine tragedy, however was the South Korean ferry, MW Sewol, holding 476 people, which capsized on April 15, killing 304 passengers, perhaps 250 being school children:

Reclusive billionaire and religious leader Ahea (Yoo Byung-eun), who ran the company operating the ferry had a half a million dollar reward for his capture, and was found dead on July 21 in a field under "mysterious" circumstances.  His entire family is in some phase of trial or indictment for a variety of crimes.

I add oil to this list because it too sunk, but in price, and the decline continued today, for the last time I looked, the WTI (American) cost was below $54/barrel.  Refer to that graph in the right column and place your mouse indicator over the 1 month / 1 quarter / 1 year / 5 year periods to appreciate the significant of this halving in value from mid-summer:

While all the ship and plane sinkings were horrible tragedies, the drop in petroleum prices boosted the American economy (the Dow Jones Industrial Average could set yet another all-time high today) and derailed Russia, Iran and Venezuela.  This means almost nothing, but the Chicago Mercantile Exchange price of oil in December of 2020 is projected to be $71/barrel.  Yet, for now, you got to wonder how much lower can it go?  For the truly analytical, note that the price in the late nineties was a lot lower:


Sunday, December 28, 2014


The Idol and Got Talent TV shows are high tech copies of several early versions.  From 1934 to 1945 Major Edward Bowes MC'd the Original Amateur Hour.   Frank Sinatra appeared in a show with The Hoboken Four.  Bowes passed away and Ted Mack brought the show to television, running until 1970.  Discovered were Gladys Knight and Irene Cara in their early youth, Teresa Brewer, Pat Boone,  Jerry ValeAnn-Margaet, and Tanya Tucker.

Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts ran on CBS from 1946 to 1958, finding Pat Boone (before Ted Mack), the Chordettes, McGuire Sisters, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, The Diamonds, Eddie Fisher, Connie Francis, Steve Lawrence, Al Martino, Jonathan Winters and Patsy Cline.  Buddy Holly, The Four Freshmen and Elvis Presley auditioned, but did not make the cut.  Arthur Godfrey can be given credit for putting Toronto on the map for helping spur the early days of Rock and Roll.

It took me 60 years, but I finally figured out that Toronto, Canada was the origin of several of my favorite songs and can be credited with helping kick-off Rock and Roll:
In fact, you can get a lot more specific, for both The Four Lads and The Crewcuts came from St. Michael's Choir School in Toronto.  Mitch Miller signed The Four Lads to  in 1951 sing back-up for Johnny Ray's Cry and The Little White Cloud that Cried.  Then in 1953 came their first hit, Istanbul (not Constantinople, #10), followed in 1955 with Moments to Remember, (#2), No Not Much (#2) and Standing on the Corner (#3).  They never made it to #1.

Two originals from The Four Lads, joined two others to form The Crew-Cuts in 1953, named for their hair style, got their break on Arthur Godfreys's Talent Scouts, and were an opening act for Gisele MacKenzie.  In 1954 they covered The Chords hit, Sh-Boom, and hit #1.  Later that year, they did it again, besting The Penguins by reaching #3 with Earth Angel.  Over time, though, The Penguins sold 10 million copies of Earth Angel.
In 1953, David Somerville was working as a sound engineer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto, and teamed with three others to form The Diamonds.  In 1955 they came in first on Talent Scouts, and after a few minor hits, released Little Darlin' in 1957, reaching #2.  Their Stroll that year peaked at #4.

In 1956 four students at Hollywood High School (in California) formed The Four Preps and in 1957 wrote and performed on 26 Miles (Catalina), reaching #2 in 1958.  They also did Big Man in 1960, hitting #13.  I mention them because in 1966, David Somerville replaced one of the originals, and now sings for both The Diamonds and The Four Preps.

Here is Somerville (extreme left) as a Four Prep from PBS' Magic Moments:

I toss in The Lettermen, because Jim Pike of that group also is part of the Four Preps.  I recall watching The Lettermen entertaining us in Toyon Hall on the Stanford Campus around 1961 with The Way You Look Tonight (#13) and When I Fall in Love (#7).  

Here is a great million dollar question.  Link The Association with these groups.  They had two #1 songs, Cherish in 1966 and Windy in 1967.  The answer?  Go do this research yourself.  In any case, Toronto was an important influence in the very early days of Rock and Roll.  I get many pleasant memories of my stops in Toronto, from picking raspberries to admiring the progressive society for which they're proud.  On the other hand, maybe, with former Mayor Rob Ford, too much so:

Can't end with that, so let me say that a long, long time ago I actually went to a Bubblegum Pop concert there, a genre which featured Tommy James and The Shondells (Mony Mony), The Partridge Family (C'mon Get Happy) and The Lemon Pipers (Green Tambourine).  Of course, the Archies (Sugar, Sugar).  But they were a fictional garage band and never performed.  Oh, unless you really like freezing weather, go to Toronto only during the summer months.


Saturday, December 27, 2014


I'm going to do everyone a favor today...this will be my shortest posting in many months.

  • Gerard Depardieu celebrates his 66th birthday.  He is a French actor, and is a good example of why it can be terrible to get old.
  • Prior to 1978 when Honolulu City Lights was popular, the night view of Honolulu was blue because of mercury vapor lamps.  Sodium vapor took over, and the city became orange at night.  Over the next few years, LED lights will be installed because life cycle costs are lower. They are more efficient and  last three times longer, but are more expensive.  Several dozen cities around the world have already installed them, but there are worries about glare, light pollution, retinal damage and affect on animals. LED street lighting is white:

        Nevertheless, Honolulu at night in a few years will return to becoming a lot bluer:


Friday, December 26, 2014


Okay, this is the day after Christmas, and I can continue to condemn any efforts to waste money on any Mission to Mars for the next century or two, or more (that's the launch of Orion earlier this month) ...

...or discuss the gall of Denmark to gain control over Santa Claus, or explain that I had nothing to to do with the SONY The Interview hack during my stay at the Bangkok St. Regis a month ago.  I could report, though, that, as I expected, there was absolutely no terrorist violence at any of the 300 or so theaters showing the film yesterday.

I certainly could explain why the Dow Jones Industrial Average today broke, again, another all-time record.  Instead, I'll continue my reportage of Purgatory and continue on to a Christmas dinner at the home of the star guard of the first Rainbow basketball Fabulous Five.  In those days they played at the Civi Auditorium, so you might not quite remember them.

The Purgatory known as 15 Craigside has an annual show organized and performed only by actual residents of this establishment.  Arcadia has their Follies, produced by Jack Cione (right), but they bring in professionals.  Arcadia is our sister center, and Jack sat in the front of the audience to view our performance.  I say our, but that would be taking too much credit, for I was asked to participate in the show-stopping Chicken Dance, and found a partly convincing reason to talk my way out of this honor:

Perhaps I'll participate next year.  Then again, maybe not.  The individual who directed most of the show was Charlotte, who, with Alfred, a former aerospace engineer, lives across the hallway from me:

Of course, the audience was in rapt attention:

I think I'm now closer to graduating from Purgatory.  I can't say the same for Fred.

Going back in time, in the early 1950's, I remember attending a University of Hawaii basketball game at the Civic Auditorium.  They beat the University of Southern California.  Some refer to this Hawaii team as the Forgotten Five:  Willy Lee, Harvey Lee (who went on to play against the Harlem Globetrotters), Fred Furukawa, Al Malinguis and Tommy Yasuhara.  They were from Hawaii, fabulous and all graduated.  If any University of Hawaii team deserves greater recognition, it is this group of Hawaii-bred athletes, all who went on to succeed in life.

Well, I mention the above because I had my annual Christmas dinner at the home of Betsy and Harvey, with their son, Patrick.  

Actually, this is an optical illusion, for Patrick is not that small and that glass of red wine Betsy is drinking is not that voluminous.  Harvey and I had our usual drink or two or three or four or more, he vodka, and me, scotch.  Leona was my ride home:

Michelle and Jack with their Tesla:

I think they mentioned something about purchasing another one.  We ferociously discussed every issue imaginable, and no one convinced anyone of anything.  I appeared to be the only moderately Liberal Democrat, outnumbered by individuals who mostly ranged from Libertarian to Conservative Republican, with a few quiescent peacemakers.  All that interchange only enhanced a great Christmas period for me:  walking 18 holes at the Ala Wai Golf Course, dinner Christmas eve with the family of Ken Shiroma, the belated arrival of Polly and Minoru Tamashiro (Termite Professor from the University of Hawaii) at 15 Craigside, Hawaii beating Colorado at the Diamond Head (basketball) Classic, and being so blessed to survive another Christmas, healthy, not so wealthy anymore, but wise (read my posting about fugu and find out why).

To continue, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke, again, its all-time high, up 24 to 18,054.  The Nasdaq Composite Index reached a 14 year high.

Tropical Cyclone Kate, west of Australia, suddenly strengthened into a Category 3 storm at 120 MPH.