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Friday, August 15, 2014

PIECES OF MY MIND

I probably was a reasonable person for most of my life.  Engineer, professor, research administrator...sometime golfer.  After retirement, nothing much changed.  Wrote a few books, went around the world several times.

I've always had opinions, but, more recently, I have become opinionated.  This is not good for personal relationships, but, I tell myself, more interesting for a blogger.  Today, for example, just in the Star-Advertiser, I scanned through a series of mostly non-news items that troubled me:

1.  DEEDY NOT GUILTY OF MURDER:  Sure, this federal agent who just arrived in Hawaii, did have alcohol in his blood, and without doubt fatally shot a "local" guy with attitude who appeared to be harassing "non-locals" at this Waikiki McDonald's.  Here is a 10-minute video, which does not reveal much.  Let's face it, Kollin Elderts was a punk, and in 2008 was convicted for disorderly conduct.  You see this all the time.  Mother and family honestly feeling that their meaningful son did not deserve premature death.  Read my three strikes and you're dead to gain another point of view.

Eminently admirable, for Deedy was apparently just standing up for the feelings of those bullied by Elderts.  Unfortunately, instead of gaining some kind of medal, things went badly wrong, with the taunter skipping a step and being prematurely terminated, also forever ruining the rest of Deedy's life.  Last year there was a  hung jury for murder, and at the second trial that ended yesterday, the verdict was not guilty of murder and deadlocks on manslaughter and assault.  Yet, deputy prosecutor Janice Futa wants a third trial.  While Hawaii laws allow this, kind of sounds like triple jeopardy to me.  Defense attorney Thomas Otake was quoted to say:  They had every chance in the world. First without manslaughter. Now with manslaughter. And they have not been able to obtain a conviction. Our position is enough is enough.  I agree with  him.


2.  PRELIMINARY WORK GETS STARTED ON MOVING U.S. MILITARY BASE;  What the USA is doing is relocate the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa into Henoko Bay.  There are 50,000 American troops (double this number for dependents and civilian staff) in Japan, and the media reported that Japan will pay $3.1 billion for relocation.  However, the bill will be $8.6 billion, so our tax money will need to shell out $5.5 billion.  Note:  there is, of course, also the significant cost of our military in Japan.  Which leads me to say, World War II ended exactly (15 August 1945) 69 years ago.  Why are we even there?  China?  North Korea?  A couple of task forces should be sufficient.  We have 160,000 active-duty personnel serving outside the U.S. in 150 countries!!  There are 41,000 just in Germany.  We have more military in either Japan or Germany than Afghanistan and Iraq combined (31,450).  Yes, these countries provide support funds, said to be $2 billion/year for Japan, and "rent" for bases is forgiven in Germany.  These 160,000 foreign-based military presence costs around $25 billion/year.  So what troubles me is that we remain burdened 69 years after World War II and 61 years after the Korean War.  Bring the troops home.  Eliminate them from active duty over time, and use some at the Mexican border in the transition.  The Cold War ended 23 years ago.  Symbolic presence, okay.  But technology can replace boots on the ground.

3.  CHINA AND SOUTH KOREA OPPOSE TO JAPANESE OFFICIALS' YASUKUNI SHRINE VISIT:  A more accurate term is:  reacted ballistically.  These two, and other, countries in the Orient get royally pissed off several times/year when any high official in government pays respect.  There are 2.47 million war dead buried at Yasukuni and fourteen war criminals, including Hideki Tojo.  Simple solution?  Re-inter those fourteen skeletons somewhere where no one one will bother to visit, and all this brouhaha will evaporate.  Well, maybe not all, but this would remove one relationship impediment.

4.  GROUPS DEMAND ANSWERS ON PUNA POWER PLANT:  I too was taken aback when it was announced during the peak of Tropical Storm Iselle's assault over the Big Island that Puna Geothermal Venture's power plant was releasing hydrogen sulfide.  First, that made no sense to me, as they don't just collect this gas and store it somewhere.  Hydrogen sulfide is a natural component of volcanic gases, and in New Zealand and Japan, this rotten-egg smelling compound is deemed therapeutic at onsens and hot steam resorts.  True, 30 minutes of exposure to 500 ppm does result in headache, dizziness etc...  However, the incoming geothermal steam in Puna is at  1 part per million.  The problem is that your nose can detect 0.00047 ppm, or 0.47 parts per billion.  With the released steam being dissipated, there had to be considerable dilution, perhaps by a factor of a thousand by the time any nearby occupant smelled this contaminant.  Thus, you can still detect this malodorant, and your mind can panic.  I suspect that is what happened.  Oh, that headline article did say that the groups and individuals are trying to close down geothermal development in Puna.  My take is that they saw an opportunity to embarrass Puna Geothermal Venture and exaggerated the truth.  I've personally been involved with this subject for about 40 years.  My opinion is that even geothermal is better than nuclear power, or importing in more coal or any fossil fuel for generating electricity.  This not in my backyard attitude is understandable, but unfortunate.

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