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Friday, September 22, 2017

WHAT IS THE LATEST ON BITCOIN?

The bitcoin began to be traded in 2009.  At its mid-life four years ago I posted on this digital currency, which allows anonymous trade on the internet.  Nothing can be traced--drugs, porn, anything--and you avoid bank and credit card fees.  Well, maybe not so, as the U.S. government has arrested four individuals for illegal transactions.  The value in 2013 was $450.  Today?

Yes, $3634.98.

However, on the second of this month, the bitcoin was listed above $5,000, but problems with China banning this currency at the end of September triggered an almost free fall.  Yesterday:


Japan, which already handles half the value, is stepping in to stabilize the account.  There are bitcoin exchange markets the world over.  China only handles around 6%, plus the country manipulated the market in 2013, so this adjustment could well be beneficial in the long run.  On the other hand, there are so many exchanges that trading becomes confusing.  If interested anyway in investing, click on that link.

I almost hate to mention this, but will anyway. This exchange is based on artificial scarcity.  There will only be 21 million bitcoins in total, but this limit will not be reached until around 2140.  The numbers are released every ten minutes and the rate at which they are generated would drop by half every four years until reaching that limit.  If you're confused, join me.


A lot of mystery with bitcoin, the foremost, perhaps, is the speculation that 42-year old Satoshi Nakamoto invented it, and disappeared with a today value of $4 billion.  No photo of him.  He published Bitcoin:  a Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System in October of 2008, and in January of 2009 released the first bitcoin software to launch the network.  He passed on control to Gavin Andresen (right) in 2010 and literally evaporated.  

The current conjecture is that Satoshi could be a group of people, a host of individuals from Europe, the CIA, or, even, a 64-year old Japanese-American from California, Dorian Nakamoto, a physicist and libertarian.  The only reality is that no one knows for sure.

Of course, I can't leave any controversial topic without implicating President Donald Trump:


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The fatalities in Puerto Rico were minimal, but Hurricane Maria left an impression that will not be corrected for many months.  She's now projected to follow a similar path as Jose:




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Thursday, September 21, 2017

THE NEW OLDEST PERSON IN THE WORLD

The new oldest person in the world, Nabi Tajima:
  • born on August 4, 1900
  • 117 years old
  • from Kagoshima, Japan
  • 160 descendants, including 35 great-great children
  • mostly eats ramen noodles, beef stew, hashed beef and rice mackerel sushi
  • 7th oldest person ever, with #1 being Jeanne Calmet (to the right at the age of 20) of France, who lived 122 years + 164 days (here is a video of her at 119)
  • Nabi is the oldest ever Japanese, and is said to be the last surviving person born in the 19th century.
There are currently 46 supercentenarians, those older than 110, with five of the top ten being from Japan.  Seven Americans are on this full list, with 114-year old Delphine Gibson at #10.  Here is a video of the top ten produced two months ago when Violet Brown of Jamaica was the oldest. 

Many, however, just cannot be verified, and Brazilian Maria Lucifer Pereira, living along the Amazon River, could well be 127.  She only eats natural foods from the forest, with no salt, sugar or processed foods.  The last report about her existence was earlier this year.
Note that all the elders above are female.  Across the globe, women live from five to ten years older than men.  For those over 100, 85% are women.  Theories change, but the latest is that menstruation causes females to become iron-deficient, which tends to delay the onset of cardiovascular diseases.  Worse, those who eat meat, especially men, don't live as long as those who don't.  Got to watch my wagyu diet.  Oh, one other reason is that men are idiots.

You can't blame your parents much.  The latest data shows that the environment is responsible for 70% of your longevity.  While calorie restriction helps mice live longer, my blog has indicated that overweight people live longer than those in the norm.  Mice are not men.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average all-time high will not today be challenged.

Tomorrow I will post either on bitcoin or taming hurricanes.

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Puerto Rico will not be the same for a long time to come.  Hurricane Maria came ashore at 155 MPH, with the eye traveling across the island:


At least the continental USA will not be affected by Maria.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

PAT versus the SEA-BASED X-BAND RADAR

I relish in deprecating Hawaii's giant floating golf ball, also known as the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBXBR), designed by Boeing, and do this at least annually.  But even The Los Angeles Times called it a floating flop.  But who am I to cast aspersions, as the SBXBR or GFGB has worked.  Not once has Hawaii been threatened since 2006 when this Alaska-based protector came to us.  It's highly probable, though, that this golf ball would not have detected the Japanese planes attacking Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 until it was too late, for it is known as a powerful soda straw radar, meaning that the field of vision is so narrow that it can only see what you tell it to view.

It would be almost impossible to compare two more disparate entities on Planet Earth:  SBXBR versus me.  First, though, we do have a few things in common:
  • Looks like a golf ball, and I golf once or twice per week.
  • Is home-based in Hawaii, and so am I.
  • It goes on long vacations, and even when at work doesn't do much.  Sounds like me.
William Cole is the local Military-Industrial-Complex writer.  He said this radar is so all-seeing that it can  detect a baseball 2,500 miles away.  After cataract surgery, I can now observe a golf ball rolling on the green 200 yards away.  Cole indicated that the system cost $2.2 billion.  I'm almost worthless.  

The Los Angeles Times, though, reports that $10 billion has been sunk into the SBXBR and related family of non-starters.  According to L. David Montague, former president of missile systems for Lockheed Corp, and now at Stanford University, this radar should never have been built.  Not referring to the media but defense officials, retired Air Force General Eugene E. Habiger, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command, said "They are totally off in la-la land."  In counter-attack, Henry Obering, retired director of the Missile Defense Agency blamed the Obama administration for not doubling down with more spending.  There are  almost always two sides to everything about war, especially when jobs are at stake.

Interestingly enough, I noticed a June article by Malia Zimmerman of Fox News touting the success of Hawaii's X-band radar.  In August she was implicated in one of those untruths involving Fox News, the White House and the Russian government.  I thought, gee, that name sounds familiar.  Turns out that in 1991, while she was reporting for Environment Hawaii, a monthly newsletter which still publishes, she had what she called an expose' of the Pacific International Center for High Technology Center, and specifically mentioned me by name.  There were some facts combined with general ignorance and an embarrassing lack of understanding on how things work in Hawaii.  Story went nowhere, but makes for interesting historical reading.  

Patricia Tummons, a philosopher, who helped start the company, was interviewed in 2015 on their (Environment Hawaii) 25th year, and indicated that the newsletter:
  •  In 1993 shut down the Hawaii spaceport effort and former admiral Tom Hayward in particular.  He was such a fine gentleman.  Too bad.
  • Then they picked on the Western Pacific Regional Management Council about turtles and tuna.  Good effort.
  • They did a number on Charles Chidaic and the Hawaiian Riviera Resort.  Met him.  He promised building a research center on the Big Island for my support, which I distanced myself from as fast as possible.  Later, everything crashed and he fled Hawaii.  
Environment Hawaii has done some good work.  Wish them well.

So what about defending Hawaii from Kim Jung-un's nuclear-tipped missiles?  It would take only 20 minutes for an ICBM to reach this state.  Former Hawaii Congressman Charles Djou in July indicated:
  • We are the most vulnerable target because of key military installations.
  • Recommends the Congress allocated funds for
    • a permanent Aegis Ashore system with SM-3 interceptors
    • a truck mounted THAAD system with AN/TPY-radar
  • The U.S. has already quickly armed Israel and South Korea...what about Hawaii?
  • Cost?  THAAD is available only for $1.6 billion.  There is already an Aegis Ashore test system on Kauai (above right), but is not operational with no missiles.
The state government is taking a calmer approach, indicating that it did not want to cause undue stress for the public, so Vern Miyagi, a former Lieutenant General, and now administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, advises us, if the worst approaches, get inside, stay there and follow TV/radio instructions.  That's it?  Well, what more do you want or can you do?  The tourism industry is already unhappy with this campaign to spook tourism.  A more complete plan is being developed.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average again broke its all-time record, up 42 to 22,413.

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Super Hurricane Maria is causing havoc over Puerto Rico at 140 MPH, but will then mostly stay in the Atlantic:



However, that median white line will not just stop there.  Puerto Rico has a population of 3.4 million, has been in a recession for the past decade, experienced its first Category 4 hurricane in 85 years and at this writing had no power.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

THE MOST ENJOYABLE DAY OF MY LIFE

The most important day of my life was when I was born.  The odds of me being here were very low.  How low?  There are various ways one can determine the odds of my creation.  Let me simplify it with a rough fact that the average male will produce around 500 billion sperms in a lifetime.  Every female is born with around 2 million eggs.  Each combination of an egg and sperm produces a totally different human being.  Thus, there was one chance in a quintillion of me being born, which is one in 10 to the 18th power.  This is a best case scenario, for what were the odds of my father and mother even hooking up.  Each of you is here with this same probability.  That photo to the left came from FX Studios.  Watch the video, with music, no less.  But this was not my most enjoyable day because I was too young to appreciate this miracle.

If the title had to do with the best day of your life, for most of us it would be something close to:
  • being born
  • surviving a life-threatening event
  • meeting your true love
  • getting accepted by Stanford
  • graduating with a PhD
  • making nearly perfect scores on your SATs
  • finding out  that your school was selected to play in the Sugar Bowl
  • learning that some family member or friend got elected or won a major prize
  • ....and I can go on forever for many more
    Most of the above could well have been among my best.  But the posting of the day is "most enjoyable" day of my life.  
These days were not particularly enjoyable, as such because:
  • when I got married, that day was stressful and sweaty
  • when I graduated with a PhD in biochemical engineering, it was terrific, for I did not have to take another exam again in my life...plus the future potential was immense...but it was not a particularly enjoyable day
  • when I retired, my whole life changed, mostly for the better, but that first day was not  memorable
  • ...again, I can go on and on
Among those days that made the final list included, in no particular order:
  • except that in 1989, I had spent a few really stressful days in Papua New Guinea, and succeeded in my escape to Brisbane--those three days in Australia, compared to the previous three in the midst of cannibals, a revolution and malaria, perhaps would rank #2
  • on a trip from Honolulu to Bangkok just about six years ago I actually enjoyed 24 different kinds of alcoholic drinks, but mere survival is no way to enjoy life
  • I can't recall the details, but surely, some Christmas morning when I was very young and opened presents had to be enjoyable...I lost that special feeling of Christmas a long time ago
  • in all my years at the University of Hawaii I helped a range of students win awards, earn degrees, etc., and the totality of them all made were important...but there was no one day when anything monumental happened
  • well, getting promoted to full professor with tenure was a huge relief and enormously satisfying, but I can't even remember if I celebrated
  • I went to five films one day at the Ward Consolidated theaters, but just because I did not nod off once or get a headache is not the same as truly enjoying that ten-hour period
  • there was that two-day period in 1999 when I golfed at both St. Andrews and Carnoustie (the year they hosted the Open--and where the tournament will be played next year), which was a nice achievement, but not ecstatically enjoyable
I can list several dozen more of these pleasant moments, but to my surprise, after giving a lot of thought, my most enjoyable day of my life turns out to be on 19 October 2015 in Venice.  You can read that posting, but here is why:
  • The year was 2015 when I was on day #35 of my Grand Around the World Adventure.  This was the trip where I lost my wallet (which was later returned to me with nothing missing), lost a tooth in Istanbul and caught food poisoning in Frankfurt.  I was staying at the Westin in Venice had breakfast in my hotel.  I went to get some free champagne, and returned to see a pigeon eating my meal.  I quickly took out my camera and took a photo of a Blue-bar flying away.
  • For lunch I went to Quadri where I had five dishes all with white truffles, said to be the most expensive food in the world, three times the price of gold.  The white type costs three times more than the black ones.  Five wines were served.  Quadri is located on the second floor facing St. Marks Square.  
  • To my surprise the same (of course it's not the exact same one, but in subsequent stops on this trip and the rest of my life, I've been taking photos of blue-bar pigeons visiting with me at recognizable tourist sites) bird watched me eat.
  • After lunch I noticed a 100 yards away a theater which was selling tickets for a special tribute to Antonio Lucio Vivaldi by the San Marcos (Italian for St. Marks) Chamber Orchestra of the complete Four Seasons.  I very much enjoy classical music, especially Baroque, with Vivaldi my favorite composer.  I featured his Four Seasons here three years ago. What caught my attention was that this auditorium was where he actually composed some of this piece.  He was born in Venice.  
  • So I walked up to purchase a ticket and found out someone had just returned one, it was now available, and the performance had been sold out for some time.  Watch a 45-minute performance of The Four Seasons.  This experience occurred the day after I visited Leonardo da Vinci's painting of The Last Supper in Milan.  Something about being in the same room where masterpieces were created is difficult to match.
What is happening to our economy?  Today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average again broke its all-time high, up 39 to 22,371:


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Super Hurricane Maria is now at 160 MPH, destroyed Dominica and will make landfall over Puerto Rico tomorrow morning:


Category 4 or 5, Puerto Rico will be devastated.  The white line shows the probable track of Maria, still expected to miss the USA.



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Monday, September 18, 2017

IT and 13 Minutes

Sunday was a crucial fantasy sports day for me.  I manage six MLB and five NFL teams, and if I had any kind of loyalty to them I would have watched TV all day.  But I instead went to two R-rated films:

                         Rotten Tomatoes           Weekend      My Grade
                      Reviewers  Audiences     Box-office

It                          85               88                #1                   B-

13 Minutes          76               57                low                 B  

The hit movie of the weekend, again, was It, earning $60 million, while #2 was American Assassin with $14.8 million.  It (the movie) took $33 million to produce, and in only two weeks has earned $219 million.  This was Chapter 1, with Chapter 2 scheduled for filming next year.

The film  is based on horror writer Stephen King's novel of that name written 31 years ago.  He has clicked on 54 novels, his first, Carrie, in 1973.  In 1977 came The Shining, with The Stand a year later.  In 1980 he released Firestarter, then Christine in 1983.  Four became hit films, with The Stand a successful TV miniseries.

I read and saw all of them, but around this time, stopped reading his books for being same old, same old.  This was a period when I returned to the University of Hawaii after spending three years in the U.S. Senate, and totally changed my reading habits.  I thus don't remember reading It when it was published in 1986.  Will Donald Trump be featured in King's next horror attempt?

Let me try to explain the film without giving it away:
  • There is a kind of horror clown that kills for a short period,  hibernates for 27 years, then returns.
  • While the filming was in Canada, the story occurs in Maine, as does most of King's novels, for that is where he lives.
  • Chapter 2 will occur around today (in time frame), for Chapter 1 took place in 1989.  Big names are being suggested for the adult roles:  Amy Adams / Jessica Chastain, Seth Rogan, John Bodega, Adam Driver and Tobey Maguire.
  • The Losers Club (well defines their status in school, and their family life in general, has one female, who is the object of sexual abuse at home) takes a blood oath to return in 27 years if trouble returns.  Why do you think there will be a sequel?
  • The film is scary, brutal, terrifying, sometimes shocking...you can later add your personal descriptions.
  • I gave it a B- because I just have come around to not particularly enjoying whatever Stephen King produces.
  • He has made 20 cameos in films based on his writing...but I don't remember seeing him in It.
13 Minutes is an entirely different kind of film from Germany (therefore subtitled) of a solitary resistance fighter who tried to kill Adolf Hitler in 1939...but failed, by 13 minutes.  Also in the room were Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Rudolf Hess, and Heinrich Himmler.  George Elser planted a bomb in a bierkeller hosting Hitler for one of his speeches, but he and his entourage left before the explosion.  Because of bad weather, Hitler decided to cut his usual 2-hour speech to one.

If you wish to observe how Nazis tortured prisoners to extract information, this is the film for you.  The production is not listed in Box Office Mojo, but would rank around #25 based on revenues for the week.  It is R-rated, but only because of those torture scenes.  A movie worthy of your time, and well made.

You wonder what the world might be today if the 55 (and maybe up to 80) million deaths in World War II did not happen.  One person CAN make a difference for the future of Planet Earth and Humanity.  Who knows, perhaps someone will run with one of the dozen or so ideas I will propose at my MENSA talk next month.  Maybe it will be the 10% Simple Solution for World Peace.  Someone send this posting to Kim Jung-un.  Incidentally, Wednesday, September 21, is International Day of Peace.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 63 to again break its all-time record, now at 22,331.  Some say this has been an eight-year bull market, so Barack Obama started it all.  Others give full credit to Donald Trump.  In any case, my endowments love it.

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The only two hurricanes today are in the Atlantic.  Jose will not make landfall, while Hurricane Maria, now at 120 MPH, will further strengthen into a Category 4, and roll right over Puerto Rico:



However, most computer models then show Maria taking a Jose track:

More tomorrow about an "American" projection that predicts a closer encounter with Florida.

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