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Friday, July 31, 2015


What credentials do I have to make political and technological predictions?  For the former, I worked in the U.S. Senate for three years and seven years ago in my very first Huffington Post article, I predicted that Barack Obama would both prevail over Hillary Clinton, then go on the become the 44th President of the USA.  True, he did not listen and ignored my 10% solution for eternal world peace, but that's beside the point.

About technology, I have a PhD in biochemical engineering, and in addition to being a professor of engineering, I've worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on laser fusion, the NASA Ames Research Center on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and ran a geothermal program on the Big Island of Hawaii that was scuttled by Hawaiian and partner protestors.  My staff also has been stopped by ocean environmentalists from doing research in the sea and forty years ago ran afoul of the Audubon Society, hoteliers and their protestors to install a wind energy conversion system at Kahuku on the island of Oahu.  But I can understand those views that killed my programs because all the while I was, effectively, the campus ecologist, teaching courses in Technology and Society and running the Environmental Center.

If nothing else, I learned that you must begin the planning process by involving all the stakeholders, including environmentalists and potential social critics.  There has been a tendency for project developers to foist on the general public major enterprises, because by then the effort would be too far along to stop.

So steeped with all that experience and acumen, here are my latest predictions:
  • Hillary Clinton will prevail over Jeb Bush on 8 November 2016.  The margin of victory will be almost a landslide if Donald Trump runs as a third party candidate.
    • How did Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush in 1992 with only 43% of the popular vote? Ross Perot got 19%.
    • The year 2000 was a strange election.  Not only did Al Gore beat George W. Bush 48.38% to 47.87%, but Ralph Nader got 2.74%.  No Nader and Al Gore would have become president, if you run the numbers by expected votes in key states.
  • Both the 4 meter Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on Haleakala and 30 Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea will be built.  The outer housing for the Dan has already been constructed.  The TMT effort will be messy, but first seeing almost to the beginning of time should occur around 2026.  One concern is that some irrational element of the opposition could well end up exploding a bomb in the $1.5 billion facility.  How this would happen would be an inside job, something all nuclear power plants today fear.  However, all these delays have made the TMT essentially obsolete.  The 39.3 meter European Extremely Large Telescope (right) is already under construction on top of Cerro Amazons in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, with first light expected to occur in 2024.  EELT will have almost twice (1.71) the area of the TMT.
  • Malaysian Air 370 will never be found.  That wing component will be shown to have been part of the that plane, but that only insures for the fact that it crashed in the Indian Ocean where they have been searching all these past 17 months.  For insurance purposes, though, this piece of flotsam evidence might well mean that the maximum $175,000 payment/person could well be significantly magnified.
Hurricane Guillermo is up to 90 MPH, will strengthen into a Category 3, head straight for the Big Island, maybe, but weaken before landfall:

North or south, chances are that some wind and a lot of rain will arrive in a week.

In the West Pacific, Tropical Storm Soudelar will become at least a Category 3 typhoon and move towards Okinawa:


Thursday, July 30, 2015


Chaine des Rotisseurs is an international gastronomical society tracing a history back to 1248 at the time of French King Louis IX.  The Kauai/Oahu Bailliage (everything is in French, and the term means jurisdiction in English) is led by Bailli (means King's representative, but effectively stands for president in our organization--French was my PhD language, so I should know all this...but don't) Kathryn.  I am a chevalier, which means a chivalrous man, and is the lowest rank.

Last night we dined at Grondin in Chinatown Honolulu.  First, though, Carter (who personally created this experience) provided a grand World War II Red Light District Tour:  a historical walking tour of debauchery and corruption.  We learned about boogie houses (hotels which were not hotels, but brothels, and there were 20 of them, all on the second floor), the history of prostitution, strip clubs and tattoos.  The charge was $3 (worth $40 today) for 3 minutes (yes, three minutes), and the prostitutes made an annual income of around $25,000 ($350,000 today).

Wo Fat, the first Honolulu restaurant, opened in 1882, closed in 2005, and is today, sadly, a run-down market:


This was the home of the original Glades, a mahu-friendly club, now a religious media outlet:

Grondin, a French-Latin fusion restaurant, opened two years ago and is owned by Jenny Grondin (father was a French chef) and David Segarra (from Ecuador).

At the start, a Drappier Carte Blanche Brut Champagne with Pate de Campagne (country pate), Gateau de Foie (duck liver mouse on crostini) and Salmon Rillette (a salmon concoction):

Dame de la Chaine Bobbette and Don.  

I sat at a table for five, with Tom (president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii) above, Carol (Pacific Aviation Museum) / Donna (executive director of Hawaii Pops)  and Kathryn (our leader) below:

The meal began with Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Blanc (a French Chardonnay) with some amusement, then Scallop Crudo (raw scallops in a lemon emulsion topped with lamb prosciutto flakes and green onion threads), a very fancy ceviche:

Then, maybe the dish of the evening, Duck Prosciutto (means cured by drying) with herbs and olive oil:

Followed by some exquisite Chorizo Clams (Manila clams with chorizo, lime and cilantro):

Very tasty.  Then with a Jean-Marc Brocard-Chablis les Vieilles Vignes (another fancy French Chardonnay) an olive oil poached market fish (forgot what was mentioned) with prawn jus and beurre blanc (white butter):

It was okay, if not excellent, but, as in many Chaine meals, with so many people to be served, as at 15 Craigside, the food temperature was less than optimal, especially so for the two following meats.  The first with a Meiomi Coast Blend Monterey, Sonoma and Santa Barbara Pinot Noir - Petit Syrah meritage (a truly excellent blend) came a Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin with king trumpet mushrooms and sauce forestiere (just means wild mushroom sauce).

I remember this dish as uninspiring, with Seared Tajima Wagyu Ribeye served with confit Cipollini onion puree, roasted garlic and Parisienne potato almost cold, and, therefore a disappointment.

Further, the taste of original wagyu from Japan also was lacking.  I did not ask, but if this was a true Tajima Wagyu Ribeye, the cost is around $150/pound.  A terrific Emblem Michael Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon (enhanced with some Syrah, Petit Syrah, Zinfandel and Petit Verdot) came with the steak. The dessert was a superb Spiced Chocolate Torte:

The wines were all quite good with essentially bottomless glasses.  Many of us drank way too much and I'm feeling the aftereffects this morning.  There was much joviality, the ambiance was electric and Kathryn again produced an epic feast.  I took The Bus to dinner and eventually caught a ride home, but we got lost looking for the car and  had an unexpected night tour of Chinatown.  Surprisingly enough, there seemed to be no sense of danger as we roamed around Chinatown at 10:30 PM (I arrived at 4:30 and started with a Dalwhinnie Single Malt Scotch, so this was, on a dollar/hour basis, a cost-effective gustatorial adventure).  No vehicles, no homeless, just us walking about.

There are six ocean storms:

The most dangerous is Tropical Storm Soudelar, now at 45 MPH, but expected to attain Category 2 typhoon status and head for Okinawa:

Tropical Storm Guillermo is now at 60 MPH, but will attain hurricane strength and aim for Hawaii:

However, computer models show the storm weakening, with the eye probably sliding north of the islands on a westward path.  However, maybe not:


Wednesday, July 29, 2015


When you write about everything, a few topics will be controversial.  Compound this situation with the human fact that virtually any subject matter will have proponents and detractors.  The whale shark happens to fall in this category because there are passionate whale protectors, vegetarians with a compassion for anything mammalian, and sincere but possibly misguided individuals and organizations dedicated to conserving any large animal species (that 1368 pound marlin caught today by Guy Kitaoka off the Big Island will no doubt draw some ire), but appalled at confining them to zoos and aquaria.  I probably get more hate mail for advocating whale shark steaks (which also happens to be among my most read postings) than anything else I publish, for not only would this beautiful creature be confined, but, horrors, killed and eaten.

So let me begin by stating that a whale shark:
The whale shark is the largest fish, with females up to 42 (fish stories go up to 75) feet in length, and is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.  However, every community (except China) so values this exotic attraction for gracing their marine environment that it is protected.  "Blame" this on tourism, if you must.  Whale sharks reach maturity at the age of 30 and can live up to a hundred years.  National Geographic loves to show them.  Pods of as many as 400 whale sharks have been observed in locales off Yucatan. Here is their habitat:

It is reported that the Gulf of Tadjoura in Djibouti is where they congregate in October and March, and you can snorkel with them.  There is even a Sheraton (left) in close proximity to the bay, my fall world adventure features stays at Starwood properties, I will be in the general vicinity in October and I can still adjust my schedule.  Hmmm....  (For the record, I looked into this option, and I can fly from Dubai to Djibouti City, stay for two days, and move on to Istanbul, my next stop anyway.  However, it takes five flights, beginning at ungodly hours, and I'm already at the limit of total flights allowed, 16).  Here is a photo featured by this hotel, and this detour remains enticing:

Returning to a more sober reality, I too decry the unfairness of this all, for, while sharks cause 20 human deaths/year, we, apparently kill 100 million sharks/year, mostly just for the fin.  Interesting that toasters and chairs are responsible for around 700 lives/year, while coconuts claim 150 people/year.  There has never ever been a record of a whale shark killing a human being.  But this is because their esophagus is only 3 inches in diameter and they consume mostly plankton and tiny seafood matter.

That fact is one reason why the Blue Revolution could someday produce next generation fisheries cultivating whale sharks, for, with the limited nutrients available from artificial upwelling induced by the ocean thermal energy conversion process, you would be able to produce a thousand times more whale shark matter than, say, a blue marlin fishery.  Large fish eat smaller fish which eat even smaller fish, etc., where each trophic level results in ten times more nutrients.  Whale sharks mostly survive at the lowest trophic level.

Notably, a particularly key factor could also be that, while cows only give birth to one calf (twins occur 5% of the time), a whale shark mother can produce up to 300 pups.  While these photos seems almost cruel, whale shark flesh is prized in China, and is much healthier, with low saturated fat and higher omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

What about aquaria around the world showcasing whale sharks?  I've come to the conclusion that they don't belong in captivity.  Read my posting of my visits to the Osaka Aquarium (left).  The following photos show whale sharks in Okinawa (Ocean Expo Park, 2-3 hours away by vehicle), Atlanta and Yantai (China):

Here is a history of whale sharks in captivity, from as early as 1934 in Japan, and includes India, Dubai and other cities in Asia.

So will there be whale shark steaks in your future meals?  Actually, you can already get them in China, but there it is known as tofu steak, so I suspect the texture will not remind you of the more conventional form.  The Huffington Post had a misleading article a year ago entitled, China Takes Pangolin and Whale Shark Off the Menu.  As much as the world has criticized China for allowing the fish to be caught, the fact of the matter is that there are laws, but they are not being enforced.  Each carcass is worth about $30,000 for a variety of consumer products, and southeastern China harvests around 600 of them annually.

So China is criticized for taking whale sharks, while Japan continues to catch whales.  Can there be a more sustainable way to provide seafood into the future.  Perhaps the Ultimate Ocean Ranch can be part of the solution.  Stay tuned to the development of the Blue Revolution and the coming of the Pacific Ocean International Station.

There are four looming ocean storms, but none seems threatening: