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Saturday, April 25, 2015


Recently, Rifle, Colorado, at 325 watts/person, proudly announced that it was #1 in solar energy.  Turns out that the city government installed a 3 MW solar PV system, and, with a population of less than 10,000, it suddenly did become #1...of minor American cities.   The photo at the left was taken in 2011 and represents 0.858 MW.  Here is a more recent shot of their Clean Energy Collective: (hmm, looks the same to me)

About who is #1, if an isolated mansion for one person installed a 10 kW solar power array, it would then be rated at 10,000 watts/person, or 30 times that of Rifle.  Take the concentrated solar power facility at Ivanpah. rated at 392 MW (or 392,000 kw or 302,000.000 watts), the largest of its kind in the world.  As far as I can tell, Ivanpah is a Ghost Town, with a population of zero, so the w/person is infinity.  Critical articles have appeared using terms like death ray.  So let me quote:

While some have exaggerated claims about bird impacts, in fact, Ivanpah reported only 321 avian fatalities in this post construction analysis between January and June 2014, of which 133 were related to solar flux.  When considering the impact our technology has on birds passing through the concentrated sunlight, or solar flux, it is important to keep in mind the leading annual causes of bird deaths include 1.4-3.7 billion birds being killed by cats, as many as 980 million birds crash into buildings, 174 million birds die from power lines and up to 340 million birds perish from vehicles/roads. 

But returning to who is #1 for per capita solar, Hawaii is #1 for major cities with 265 watts/person.  #2 is San Jose with 97 w, Wilmington at 96 w and San Diego 81 w.  However, as much as we are dwarfing all other cities, the future is in doubt:

Why has there been a decline?  Hawaiian Electric Industries is worried about grid stability.  According to former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu:  this is "another  bullshit argument."  The situation could, however, get worse, for about the most chintzy utility in the USA regarding residential PV is  NextEra of Florida, which is in the process of purchasing HEI.  But this might not be all that bad for Hawaii ratepayers, for NextEra has data to show that centralized solar farms are more cost effective than home installations.  They will support solar, but only those production sites they can control.


Friday, April 24, 2015


A third of a century ago when I was working in the U.S. Senate, I promised myself that when I returned to Hawaii I would spend my Friday lunches at the beach.  Well, I didn't exactly do that, but today is Friday and I thought I'd buy a bento lunch, bring a bottle of beer and sit in a recliner under a coconut tree to watch surfers and Diamond Head on Magic Island:

Here is another view.  I'm having my lunch of chicken nishime and shoyu pork above the "n" on Magic Island.  The surfing is occurring at the "K" representing Kahanamoku Beach.  Some wedding photos are being taken, and Diamond Head is hazy because of the volcanic haze emanating from the Big Island.  This must be a belated honeymoon, for a small child is with them.

The waves were head high and the Hawaii Surfing Association State Championships were being held.  Just as I was beginning my meal, a  babbling homeless person walked up and stood a few feet from where I was sitting.  I thought of giving him my bento plate, but he walked away.  I thought I was thus safe, but fifteen minutes later he came back, but seemed preoccupied with taking to himself, then again walked away.  There are flaws in paradise.

There were, of course, weddings.  They drive up in stretch white limousines:

Yes, I should do this more often.

My bento came from Don Quixote, which is a Japanese department-type store.  I noticed a wagyu Chuck Steak for $14/pound, so bought it with a plate of sashimi:

As this was a Japanese steak dinner, I had a Kirin Beer and some Nigori (unfiltered) Sake.  The meat was well marbled, but, seriously, this is a piece of Chuck Steak.  It was mostly tough, but there were portions of tenderness, and the taste leaned in the direction of the $57/pound Japanese wagyu steak I had in February.  I might try experimenting with this steak in the future.


Thursday, April 23, 2015


I recently noticed a 4-year old posting about global warming in SKEPTIC, a blog site of the Skeptics Society.  The executive director is Michael Shermer, a regular contributor to SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN.  To quote:

Some people believe that skepticism is the rejection of new ideas, or worse, they confuse “skeptic” with “cynic” and think that skeptics are a bunch of grumpy curmudgeons unwilling to accept any claim that challenges the status quo. This is wrong. Skepticism is a provisional approach to claims. It is the application of reason to any and all ideas — no sacred cows allowed. In other words, skepticism is a method, not a position. Ideally, skeptics do not go into an investigation closed to the possibility that a phenomenon might be real or that a claim might be true. When we say we are “skeptical,” we mean that we must see compelling evidence before we believe.

You can read the entire article from SKEPTIC entitled, How We Know Global Climate Warming is Real, written by Tapio Schneider, (Professor of Climate Dynamics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Director of the Linde Center for Global Warming Environmental Science at the California Institute of Technology), but here is my quick summary of a portion with copious quotes, using his visuals:
  • ATMOSPHERIC CARBON DIOXIDE CONCENTRATIONS are higher today than at any time in at least the past 650,000 years.
  • They are about 35% higher than before the industrial revolution, and this increase is caused by human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Figure 1. Carbon dioxide concentrations in Antarctica over 400,000 years
  • Click on those graphics to actually read them.  A few explanatory parameters:

  • Here, the growing complexity of climate change models:
  • Sea level is projected to rise 0.2–0.6 meters by the year 2100, primarily as a result of thermal expansion of the oceans; however, it may eventually reach values up to several meters higher than today when the disintegration of glaciers and ice sheets contributes more strongly to sea level rise. (A sea level rise of 4 meters would submerge much of southern Florida.)
There were 123 comments, mostly supportive, but many inane, and possibly representative of other kinds of skeptic groups, those funded by the fossil fuel industries.  How do I know this?  When I published my climate change articles in the Huffington Post, I noticed similarly insulting responses.  

I was able to trace some of them, and they emanated from organizations like the Heartland Institute.  While direct funding from these companies have now been refined and shielded through third parties, it is pretty clear that  the widespread disinformation campaign is continuing.   A quote from Wikipedia:

In the 1990s, Heartland worked with the tobacco company Philip Morris to question serious cancer risks to secondhand smoke, and to lobby against government public-health reforms. Starting in 2008, Heartland has organized conferences to discuss and criticize the scientific opinion of global warming.

Since publication of the above article by Professor Schneider, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year completed their Fifth Assessment Report,* a monumental effort of 800 of our very best climate change scientists, and the warnings are even more severe.  Who should you believe, the conscientious conclusions of scientists or the disinformation supplied by the fossil industry?
*Unless you enjoy reading the full Tax Code, you will not want to peruse the whole report.  Okay, I'm exaggerating:  tax code = 73,954 pages, IPRC #5 = only around 2000 pp.  However, here is a summary for policy-makers (only 32 pp), which is still formidable, but colorful.  By the way, last month was the hottest March on record, even though portions of the East Coast of the USA experienced record cold temperatures


Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Girl Crazy produced an amazing list of future superstars.  Few identify this broadway show and subsequent films as products of the Gershwin brothers, George and Ira.  First performed in 1930, 85 years ago, in the Alvin Theater, this musical made stars of Ginger Rogers (who was 19) and Ethel Merman (22, in her debut).  Incredibly enough, the opening night pit orchestra had Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Red Nichols, Jack Teagarden and Jimmy Dorsey, with conductor George Gershwin, who died 78 years ago at the age of 37 from a brain tumor.  Remember, this was the time of our greatest depression, and seats sold for as low as 25 cents.  The average price last year on Broadway was $103.88.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any original recordings nor clips, but here is Ginger Rogers (left) singing Embraceable You nearly half a century later, and But Not For Me, in a 1978 recording.   Ethel Merman (right) with I Got Rhythm on TV, and at the Tonys 42 years after her original performance.  Another popular tune was Bidin' My Time by The Foursome.  There was a quick 1932 movie which lost money.

In 1943 the second film had Judy Garland playing the composite of what Rogers and Merman did on Broadway, with Mickey Rooney, in their ninth of ten pairings, June Allyson, and Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra playing themselves.  Fascinating Rhythm was added.  Judy Garland sang Bidin' My TimeBut Not for MeI've Got Rhythm and  Embraceable You.

Watch the full 1 hr 39 min Girl Crazy online, for free.  As this posting is all about nostalgia, here is an innocent Judy singing Zing Went the Strings of My Heart just before she starred in The Wizard of Oz.

It took just about half a century, but in 1992 the show became Crazy for You on Broadway, winning Best Musical, having added Nice Work if You Can Get It and They Can't Take That Away from Me, the latter from the 1937 Shall We Dance, starring Ginger Rogers with Fred Astaire, their seventh collaboration.  The latest roadshow toured the USA last year.  Cincinnati Music Theater has performances of Crazy for You next month.  They've added Someone to Watch Over Me, originally performed by Gertrude Lawrence in 1926.  There were so many versions, but Frank Sinatra is remembered for his rendition.

One of Susan Boyle's albums was entitled Someone to Watch Over Me.  And if you've never seen her in what has become the most stunning talent performance on TV of all time, you absolutely need to click on THIS, featuring Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan.  How did I get here?  Anyway, all those songs came from George and Ira Gershwin.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015


While Hawaii averages 64 inches of rain/year and Nevada is at 10 inches/year, California, for the past 135 years, has averaged 15 inches/year.  Colombia, the country, gets 128 inches/year, while Egypt only receives 2 inches.  Water is relatively cheap, and costs considerably vary:

Nationwide, California water prices to consumers are less than many major cities (you might need to click on the above visual to read it).  The problem is that farmers (and utilities) pay one-tenth that of residences. If agriculture/utility use can be reduced by 10%, that would double the domestic supply.

Earlier this month I posted:


While I did remark that farmers get too good a deal on water pricing, and the combination of environmentalists, industrial lobbyists and politics has royally screwed up water policy, there is no drinking water problem in California, where the main consumer gripe has to do with lawns and landscaping.  Yet, this is not to say that there is no drought problem in the state today.

You would have thought this drought has been ongoing for a decade and longer.  Not so.  California annually uses 400 million acre feet of water, including a little more than 10% from the Colorado River, but this supply has been in a steady 14-year decline.  I can't seem to get exactly comparable data, but regarding rainfall in California:

                                       PER YEAR            135 YEAR AVERAGE
     20009-2010                    16.36                         +1.38
     2010-2011                      20.20                         +5.22
     2011-2012                        8.69                         -6.29

         2013           Driest Year on Record
         2014           Close to Driest on Record

A recent headline article reported that, studying tree rings, this could well be California's worst drought period in 1200 years?  Then, again, maybe not for 2014, as some rain came towards the end of the year.

If you look closely at the above article, in consideration of the gross contradictions, you kind of get the impression that there is almost a conspiracy here.  The government, in cahoots with the media, seems to be orchestrating a plan to allow their State Legislature to finally change their laws.  About time and good idea, actually.

It certainly helps to float a few remarkable before and after photos.  First, Lake Oroville in 2011 and 2014:

Hoover Dam, from 1983 to 2007 to 2014:

Who wouldn't be frightened by this kind of despair.

So what is the California solution to their worst drought in 1200 years?  Again, simple:  resolve the politics / water policy / environmentslism matters...charge farmers (they use 80% and pay a fraction  that of consumers per gallon--go to my previous posting for details) and golf courses a tad more for water...expect vegetables, fruits, wine and green fees to become more expensive...and convert lawns into solar photovoltaic fields or something drought resistant.  It might take a decade and more, but wise future planning can overcome the whims of Mother Nature.