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Friday, October 31, 2008

CHAPTER 2: CRIME AND WARS (Part 6)

The following is excerpted from Chapter 1 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.
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Cocaine, Marijuana and Ice

Cocaine, a crystalline tropane alkaloid, was first isolated by German chemist Albert Niemann in 1860, and has a chemical formula too long to include here, but is simply, C17H21NO4. The powder is commonly snorted, that is, inhaled through the nose. It can be dissolved in water and injected, and smoked as crack. The drug has been used by South American Indians for 5000 years. Mama Coca was considered to be a benevolent goddess, and chewing the coca leaf provided contact with the spiritual world, while maintaining endurance. In pre-Columbian times, coca was reserved for Inca royalty. The Spanish conquistadors initially banned it, so, it is said, the Catholic Church took on the cultivation. In recent times, during the 1980’s, the American CIA teamed with drug dealers to fight communism.

South America (Columbia, Peru and Bolivia) produces most of the world cocaine, but cultivation has dropped from 221,200 hectares in 2000 to 159,600 in 2005. Cocaine production has remained relatively constant, as efficiency has improved. Columbia is the largest producer of cocaine, but it is reported that Bolivia has almost doubled its production since current president Evo Morales took office and is already the second largest producer to Columbia. Almost all the cocaine produced in South America finds its way to the U.S. Cocaine is valued at $1,762/kg.

I’m writing this, but not quite believing it. You surely have seen those tiny black poppy seeds on cakes and rolls. Well, eating two rolls or a slice of poppy seed cake will, for 24 hours, produce a positive drug test from your urine sample. There is some exaggeration here, for the official test was raised in 1998 to a higher level, but, yes, that innocuous bakery additive comes from that same poppy flower from which heroin is produced.

Cannabis (marijuana and hashish) is grown in 176 countries, and even in Hawaii, where Maui Wowee and Kona Gold are noteworthy. There is paleontological evidence that this plant was smoked as far back as the Neolithic Age. Three thousand year old mummies from China showed such evidence, too, and are mentioned in Greek and Roman bacchanalias. Certainly, cannabis was used by Hindus in India and Nepal, and as a religious sacrament by ancient Jews and early Christians.

It is tetrahydrocannabinol, normally 10-15% of hashish, that creates intoxication. Hashish is the dried resin from the flowering tops only of female hemp, Cannabis sativa. Marijuana is a concoction of various parts of the plant, and has one-eighth the potency.

While the prevailing sociological and medical politics are that cannabis is addictive, causes psychosis, augments cancer and heart ailments, and can affect perception, memory and coordination, there is countervailing evidence to the contrary, or, at best, only little evidence of medical support. An important point is that anything to excess can be dangerous. All in all, marijuana and hashish appear to be less harmful to the individual and society than any illicit drug, or, even, tobacco and alcohol. But there is bio-development progress, as breeders have created a strengthened indoor-produced sinsemilla, a highly potent form, obtained from unpollinated female plants.

How significant is marijuana? Well, it has been reported that, at $35 billion/year, pot boasts the largest farmed crop, bigger than corn or wheat.

There are amphetamines, or a-methylphenthylamine, a synthetic drug that is used as pep pills and called Bennies. Then came methamphetamine, a slight chemical variation, with a stronger effect and more addictive properties, known as speed. A particularly dangerous variant is crystal methamphetamine, a colorless and odorless form of d-methamphetamine or methamphetamine hydrochloride, which is inhaled or smoked, although it can also be injected. It resembles shiny blue-white rocks and is, therefore, called ice. The cheapest form is a smelly yellow ice called crank. Up to 5% of high school seniors have used ice at least once.

These non-biological, amphetamine-type stimulants were once mostly produced in Europe, but the danger is that with a few accessible chemicals, they can be churned out in any home, and are. Use causes violent behavior, paranoia, anxiety, confusion and insomnia. Psychotic symptoms can last for years.

There was a period when crystal methamphetamine (ice) began to replace cocaine, until 2006, when enforcement success hiked the price of ice from $2,000/ounce to $3,500/ounce. Cocaine held below $2,000/ounce. In any case, both drugs are truly bad.
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The Dow Jones Industrials climbed 144 to 9325. World markets were mostly up a few percentage points, although the Japan Nikkei dropped 5%. Crude oil increased $2/barrel to $68/bbl. About monthly drops, commodities (like corn and gold, which, for example, sunk the most since 1982; copper plunged 36%), experienced their worst month in 52 years. With all our Wall Street travails, our American dollar strengthened, indicating that the World is in worse shape.
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All quiet with regard to hurricanes.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

CHAPTER 1: CRIME AND WARS (Part 5)

The following is excerpted from Chapter 1 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.

Opium and Heroin

Opium contains two alkaloids, phenanthrenes (morphine, codeine, C17 H19 NO3) and benzylisoquinolines. First exploited as a narcotic in Sumerian and European cultures 6,000 years ago, Muslims spread the use to India, then on to China. Clearly, throughout time, ancient priests and warriors found ways to utilize this powder. Homer described such a combatant, and so did the founder of medicine, Hippocrates. Laudanum, opium in ethanol, was widely prescribed into the 19th century.

For centuries in China, even a small village without a rice shop could have an opium distributor. British merchants in the early 1800’s smuggled this drug as trade for tea, leading to the Opium Wars, through which the U.K. gained control of Hong Kong.

Chinese emigrants employed for the transcontinental railroad brought this habit to the U.S. Opium was smoked, but derivatives were used in various tonics. President Theodore Roosevelt convened an international conference in 1902, spearheading the control of this opiate at a time when 27% of the adult male population of China was addicted. Yet, if it is true that 6,630 metric tons were produced in 2006, and the price on the streets is $16,000 per kilogram, then the value that year was in excess of $100 billion, with 150 times more going to drug traffickers than growers. And that’s only opium, which the general populace thought only was smoked by old Chinese men in dark dens. Further, this opium, losing 90% the weight, can be processed into heroin, which has a value of about $300,000/kg. We are now up to $200 billion/year if the entire crop were converted to heroin.

With apologies to Teddy, the media reports that international drug control as a multilateral program is older than the United Nations, even older than the League of Nations, beginning in 1912 to deal with opium. This has been a success story, for then, the production of opium was 30,000 metric tons. Today, it has dropped below 10,000 metric tons, so with four times more people today, the reduction of use per capita is down more than 90%. But was it this international organization, or just, plain, China, and how it governs? A century ago, with one third the present population, there were 25 million opium users. Today, there are 8.5 million drug addicts with a much larger population. The incidence is still high, but certainly better.

Regarding supply, in 2006, Afghanistan produced 92% of all the opium (obtained by drying the milky juice of the unripe seed pods of poppy), with Columbia, Mexico, Peru and the Golden Triangle (Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Viet Nam) supplying the rest. Heroin (which is diacetylmorphine, C12H23NO5, is converted by your liver to morphine) is synthesized from opium. In 2007, the Afghanistan supply went up 34%, but their world share only increased by 1%, meaning the rest of these countries also had in total a similar increase.

To make heroin, the raw opium is first boiled in water. Slaked lime (calcium hydroxide—which is made by mixing lime, or calcium oxide, in water) is then added to form a solution, which is filtered to remove any impurities. Ammonia is used to precipitate the morphine, which is filtered out as white chunks of morphine base, known as Heroin Number 1. But this is not yet real heroin. Heroin #1 is dissolved in acetic acid and heated at 85 degrees Celsius for two hours, chemically producing Heroin #2 in solution, to which sodium carbonate is added to produce heroin base. This is still not real heroin. To produce Heroin #3, or smoking heroin, #2 is mixed with hydrochloric acid, dried and crushed into what generally looks like brown sugar, and is thusly so called. At this point, the heroin is 20-30% pure. To make Heroin #4, or injectable heroin, both ether and hydrochloric acid are added to #2, filtered and dried. This 80-90% heroin can then be injected.

Thus, if one had that early vision of only smoking opium in hazy oblivion, well, the true danger is injecting the refined product into the blood stream. Where total cultivation dropped from 275,000 hectares in 1991 to 150,000 today, production is bullish and growing. Looks like we did not decimate the Taliban, for they are largely responsible for this recovery.
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The Dow Jones Industrials leaped at the opening bell and settled plus 117 at 9108. Hong Kong rebounded 13% and Japan 10% today. European markets mostly increased a couple of percentage points. Crude oil slipped a couple of bucks to $65.21/barrel. If you follow inventory and supplies, it appears as if government and private reports manage to somehow surprise buyers with continuing regularity. Anyway, the latest Energy Information Administration report showed higher inventories for what is projected to be a mild winter. Gold dropped $27/toz to $736/toz.
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No major storms over the ocean around the world.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

THE WALL STREET CRASH OF OCTOBER 29

In 1929 Wall Street first crashed on Thursday, October 24, then continued through Monday and Tuesday, with October 29 dealing the temporary death blow. The market had been rocked with metastability for months, as on September 3, the Dow Jones Industrials had increased fivefold to 381.17. On Black Tuesday, October 29, a record 16 millions shares were traded (not be exceeded for 40 years) dropping the DJI to 230. By November 13 the Dow was down to 199, then peaked at 294 in April of 1930, only to drop again to 41.22 on July 8, 1932, the lowest in the 20th century. There are frightening similarities of that period to today, nearly 80 years later.
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Today, October 29, the DJI merely dropped 74 to 8991. The market waffled all day awaiting the Federal Reserve decision to drop the prime interest rate to 1% (where it was as recently as 2004), which stimulated a three hundred point rise, only to precipitously drop more than 400 points during the final twenty minutes, to slightly jerk upwards in the final minutes to 8991. This means that the most credible borrower will be able to get a 4% loan from a bank...not you. Can you believe that the DJI has yet to post two consecutive days of gains this month, which ends on Thursday. Except for Germany, European markets leaped up more than 5%, with Japan increasing by almost 8%. It's that volatility factor that is dangerous. We show all the signs of 1929.
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So that I would place my money where my pontification suggests, I thought I would access my internet Ameritrade and E-Trade accounts and buy Microsoft, General Electric and Johnson/Johnson. To my shock, I found out that I am actually ahead from the last time I checked a year or so ago, at least on E-Trade. Well, I did not have enough money in those accounts to do much, so I thought I would instantaneously transfer funds from my bank. This I did by clicking on the appropriate sites, but, there, apparently, are people and policies to hurdle, and finality takes up to a week to go through the motions. Can you believe this? If I flew over to their headquarters and handed them the money it would be faster, by several days. So I called Ameritrade and was told that if I immediately went to my bank and wired them this money, I might just make it for tomorrow's opening. This I did, and found out that money is not wired out of Hawaiian banks after 10AM if to the continental United States, and the whole process would take 2 days to become official. What? Here I am, then, at the threshold of taking advantage of the stock market when prices are down, and I can't do a thing! Now, if the market experiences a truly horrific Black Thursday tomorrow, I will be in great shape.
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Gold increased by $4 to $757/toz and platinum dropped 14 to $816/toz. Silver looks particularly attractive, having inched up 6o cents to $9.93/toz, because it exceeded $50/toz in the 1970s. The world market for silver is increasing while supplies are disappearing. I wonder if I should take this step, as I can't seem to buy stocks today. A discussion on what is a toz and other precious metal secrets can be found in the Golden Evolution (religion) chapter of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity. What has gold to do with the afterlife? Read the book and find out.
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Crude oil jumped 7.6%, or $4.77/barrel, to $67.50/bbl. All commodities surged on the one half of one percent prime rate cut. Why did stocks drop? This rate cut was anticipated yesterday, when Wall Street prices skyrocketed up. If you understand the process, rate is seconday to liquidity operations, something way beyond my comprehension.
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No storms are currently being tracked in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans?
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

THE VENUS SYNDROME

Chapter 5 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth dealt with a worse case scenario for global climate change. Seth Borenstein posted "Methane Thaw Worries Climate Scientists" yesterday in The Huffington Post. I felt compelled to comment:
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Chapter 5 of a book I wrote last year, SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth, delves in some detail on the potential danger of methane. The above article seems to imply that methane is only a recent phenomenon. Actually, since 1750, carbon dioxide has increased by only a third, while methane has MORE THAN DOUBLED. My concern, in particular, are the marine methane hydrates found at the bottom of the ocean, for there is something on the order of twice the amount of energy in these deposits than that of all the known oil, coal and natural gas. There are various theories purporting that methane might have been the true culprit in global warming through geologic time. The fear I have is that man-made global warming might trigger the more fatal release of ocean methane. Mere species extinction, slightly warmer temperatures and slow sea level rise are inconveniences. What happens if we totally lose control and are threatened with a temperature of 900 degrees F? In June I posted a two part series in the Huffington Post on the THE VENUS SYNDROME.
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The Dow Jones Industrials experienced their second highest one day jump on record, gaining 889 to 9065. As indicated in my previous posting, bargain hunters were lurking, plus, the Federal Reserve is expected to lower interest rates on Wednesday. The world markets also increased, with Germany soaring slightly more than than the U.S. (both about 11%), Japan Nikkei 6% and Hong Kong Hang Seng 4%. But is the bottom yet to be attained, for this volatility is dangerous. The NYMEX Crude Future increased to $64.53/barrel, anticipating a second OPEC production drop.
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No hurricanes/typhoons in the Atlantic or Pacific.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

THE WORLD ECONOMY LOOKS TERRIBLE

I'm on travel, and in consideration of the exhorbitant rate I'm paying for this connection, will keep this short. The world stock exchanges largely tanked today, with the Hong Kong Hang Seng market free falling by 13% and Japan Nikkei by 6%. The Korean Kospi stayed barely positive because interest rates were significantly dropped. Average European stock exchanges slipped about 5%, with Germany being the only non-negative.

The Dow Jones Industrials largely stayed positive, remained close to even for a while, then, in the final half hour or so fell about 300, only to recover in the final few minutes, ending down 203 at 8176. Is that closing recovery a sign that the bottom has been reached? Probably not.

Interesting that gold prices have waffled in the $700+/toz range, when the bottom has dropped out of the stock market...particularly as, soon after the Lehman debacle, gold suddenly jumped from $740 to $925. The explanation is that this recession is international, in combination with about half a dozen other reasons.

Crude oil settled down to $62.81/barrel, although the Dated Brent Spot is now at $59.50/bbl. Read about $50/bbl oil in Chapter 1 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth.
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No active hurricanes anywhere, although Tropical Cyclone Rashmi just made landfall close to Kolkata (formely known as Calcutta) in the North Indian Ocean.
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Friday, October 24, 2008

OUR ECONOMY AND THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

The economy is everything these days. The Dow Jones Industrials are 40% lower than they were a year or so ago and 20% for the month. Crime will need to wait.
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The Dow Jones Industrials futures hinted that there could have been a drop of up to 1000 points today. Well, at the opening bell, this seemed to be happening, and fell a bit more than 500 at very high volume. However, as the day unfolded, this crash recovered some and meandered down in the 200 to 400 range The volume dropped after the first five minutes. Don't be particularly surprised if the Dow Jones Industrials fall below 8000, if not today, then next week, as European markets all dropped about 5% today, and the Japan Nikkei fell nearly 10%. However, it is the final hour of this final day of the week that could be scary, and that is three and a half hours away. Then what will happen on Monday, when those mega-crashes tend to occur? WE ARE IN RECESSION. IS THE DEPRESSION COMING?
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With all the above and lowered demand, OPEC suddenly (they normally hand-wringe all day, if not days, but today made the decision in two hours) agreed to reduce production by 1.5 million barrels/day. The only sticking point was that 2 million was close to being the target. Yet, December futures at $50/barrel tripled because even with this announcement, crude prices dropped into the mid $60/bbl range and the Dated Brent Spot at midday was at $60.63/bbl. The only conclusion to all this is an expected very serious recession leading to major demand slips into next year.
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Our auto industry is particularly in bad shape, as GM stock was 15% lower at this point and Chrysler has announced serious layoffs. Gold appears to be finally increasing, $30 to $746/toz at this point. Mergers will be occurring, unemployment will drop further and all international governments will further cut borrowing rates. But General Electric (down from 40 to 17), Microsoft and Johnson and Johnson are becoming extremely attractive buys.
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We now await Monday when votality is at max and metastability is the norm. Well, I'm off to catch a plane and will report next on Black, Red or Green Monday. Who knows what it will be. Certainly, Barack Obama, now in Hawaii, is torn between the horrible state of the economy, but the solidifying assurance that a terrible economy only insures his election on November 4 as President of the United States.
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A tropical depression is strengthening southwest of southern Mexico moving north, to turn west in a day. Now with 40 MPH winds, it might become a tropical storm soon, but should largely dissipate in a few days.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

CHAPTER 1 (Part 4)

The following is excerpted from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.
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Drugs

If there is one thing different about crime a half century ago (when I was in high school) and today, it is the current presence of drugs, and how family and society are now affected. Much of the following comes from the early version of the 2008 United Nations World Drug Report. The English version is all of 7.3 MB and 310 pages long. According to this tome, 200 million people have used illicit drugs at least once in the past 12 months. That’s about 3% of the world population.

Tobacco, a licit (legal) psychoactive substance, is used by more than one fourth of the world adults (approaching 2 billion smokers), versus 4% on marijuana and 1% for all other illegal drugs. This legal drug (tobacco) is, actually, a relative newcomer, compared to the illegal variety, and probably gained prominence in the Americas in the early AD period. Columbus was given a few leaves, but threw them away, coining the term after his visit to Tobago. Portuguese and Spanish sailors spread the habit to Europe. Virginia colonists in the later 16th century were responsible for the introduction into England, where it was then called, sotweed, about the time Sir Frances Drake passed on the practice to Sir Walter Raleigh.

The more expensive drugs induce crime because they are illegal, and this is the case because our authorities have declared them bad for you. There are 40 million problem drug addicts, or 0.6% of the world population. Thus, it is this relatively small portion of society that is tormenting the rest. As any amount of threat will not cure these souls, a simple solution would be to legally, morally and responsibly terminate this small fraction causing all the problems. Is this possible? Not today.
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The Dow Jones Industrials increased 172 to 8691, although the world stock exchanges mostly slightly dropped today. Crude oil eased up to just below $70/barrel.
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A tropical depression popped up south of Mexico, should move north, then west, but weaken in a couple of days.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

CHAPTER 1 (Part 3)

The following excerpt is from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.
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Crime Statistics

The island of Dominica was visited by Christopher Columbus in 1493. The French claimed it in 1635, but ceded it to the U.K. in 1763. Dominica, which should not be mistaken for the Dominican Republic, another Caribbean nation, became independent in 1978. Most of the 70,000 citizens are descendents of African slaves. If you scan through Wikipedia or the CIA World Factbook, you might be tempted to plan a vacation there, although the latter reports that there is 23% unemployment and money laundering enforcement is weak. Actually, Dominica leads the world in crimes. A selected ranking from the latest, and seventh, United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, covering the 1998-2000 period, can show the following (all, per 1000 people): (sorry about the crummy tables, and it gets worse...go to the book above if you wish for the columns to line up)

o #1 Dominica 114
o #2 New Zealand 106
o #3 Finland 102
o #4 Denmark 93
o #5 Chile 88
o #6 United Kingdom 86
o #7 Montserrat 80
o #8 United States 80
o #10 South Africa 77
o #11 Germany 76
o #12 Canada 75
o #13 Norway 72
o #15 France 62
o #20 Switzerland 36
o #24 South Korea 32
o #30 Uruguay 21
o #34 Japan 19
o #40 Tunisia 12
o #47 Thailand 9
o #50 Malaysia 7
o #57 Papua New Guinea 2
o #59 India 2
o #60 Yemen 1

There are a lot of surprises here. Make that, incredible illogicalities. New Zealand at #2 and Finland at #3? Papua New Guinea at #57? I’ve been to all three places. The first two, I thought, were really safe and the third, truly dangerous. Is good, bad? Bad…good? What does all this mean?

Well, the 2006 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index lists Finland, New Zealand and Iceland at the top as the least corrupt countries in the world. For the record, the U.S. is #20, better than Spain (#23), but not as honest as France (#18) and Japan (#17). What this appears to mean is that honest countries report all their crimes. So, maybe, Dominica should not be tarnished by this crime ranking. Thus, be careful of statistics.

In the same 7th UN crime survey (per 1000 people):

ASSAULTS MURDERS ROBBERIES
v #1 South Africa 12 #1 Colombia 0.6 #1 Spain 12
v #2 Montserrat 10 #2 South Africa 0.5 #2 Chile 7
v #3 Mauritius 8 #3 Jamaica 0.3 #3 Costa Rica 5
v #6 U.S. 8 #5 Russia 0.2 #11 U.S. 1.4
v #12 Iceland 5 #12 Papua NG 0.08 #19 Russia 0.9
v #31 Dominica 1 #24 U.S. 0.04 #27 Papua NG 0.6
v #50 Costa Rica 0.2 #50 Tunisia 0.01 #50 Macedonia 0.1
v #57 Azerbaijan 0.03 #62 Quatar 0.01 #64 Quatar 0.005

Overall, NationMaster.com reports that Columbia has 0.62 crimes/1000 people, South Africa (0.50, #2), U.S. (0.043, #24) and Qatar (0.001, #62).213 Another way of looking at this is that Columbia has about 15 times more crimes than in the USA and more than 600 times that of Qatar.

Well, I’ve heard that South Africa and Colombia are bad places, and I personally almost was robbed in Spain, so, the worst countries, here, make some sense. Yet, I was recently in Cartegena and did not feel in any way threatened, so there are micro-climates of good and bad within one country and any city. Yet, as you can see, if you want to avoid crime, live in Azerbaijan or Qatar. Also interesting that Costa Rica is about the safest place for assaults, but the third most prone to robberies. The United States is not a good place to be for crimes…but maybe that is because we report well. As for example, in police efficiency (there were only 17 countries listed):

o #1 United States 89%
o #2 Canada 87%
o #3 New Zealand 79%
o #16 Italy 52%
o #17 Netherlands 52%

You can reasonably guess that most other countries, if they were included, would have fared worse.

In the United States, Statemaster.com reports:

o Lynchings (1882-1968): #1 Mississippi (581), #2 Georgia (531)
(six states had zero)

o Murder (per 10,000): #1 DC (3.6), #2 Louisiana (1.3)
#51 Maine (0.1)

o Burglary (per 10,000): #1 North Carolina (117), #2 Arkansas (108)
#51 North Dakota (30)

Since 1993, property and violent crime rates have dropped by more than half, while rapes and robberies by two-thirds. Now, there is “only” one violent crime each year per 47 residents. Why the drop? There are more criminals in prison and there are 100,000 additional police officers. It can be better, for in Honolulu alone, which is not far from the norm, there was in 2006 a backlog of 61,500 bench warrants (mostly for traffic crimes) because of a lack of personnel. The city of Chicago saw a 25% drop in killings to 445 for its 2.9 million citizens. Yet, Berlin, with 3.4 million, experienced only 71 murders in 2004.

There was a disturbing reversal beginning in 2007, though, as Google on July 24, 2007 showed that the crime rate was rising in New Orleans and San Bernardino, and murder rates in New York City and Philadelphia. Murders and robberies increased in 2006 for the second year in a row, said the FBI, and watch out if you are a transgender lady of color in Northern California, as murder rates are really skyrocketing.

Part of the problem with crime is that perpetrators are not caught. Only 15.6% of all crimes were solved in the U.S. in 2002. In Hawaii, 90% of crimes remain on the books, but most of this is due to an 8% conviction for property (burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft) crimes. Then when you hear of car thieves actually arrested and convicted innumerable times…only to steal another car…the conclusion is that a whole lot of cars are stolen. A paltry 3.6% of burglaries were cleared in 2004. These are generally carried out by those on drugs, so while this sorry type just has to be lacking in sense, it then must be that it is really safe to live this lifestyle. Then, if, somehow, they are thrown in jail, you, the taxpayer, will be saddled with their food, air conditioning and whatever bills. There has got to be a better way.
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The Dow Jones Industrials sunk 514 to 8519. The NYMEX Crude Future settled at $67/barrel, with the Dated Brent Spot at $63/bbl.
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For first time in a long time, there is today no major storm being tracked.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

CHAPTER 1 (Part 2)

The following is excerpted from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:



HISTORY OF CRIME

Human nature being what it is, if there were no formalized social controls, the law of the jungle would take over. There are some, though, who believe that a civilized society is by nature honest and good, and Chapter 5 on religion will further discuss whether a Supreme Being is necessary for a crime-less future.

In any case, we are not mature as a civilization to enjoy utopia, so crime enforcement is necessary and defined by law, which somewhat differs and changes among cultures over time. Some form of government must be the operating element to impose order, carry out adjudication and punishment, and administer a penal system.

The Sumerians 4000 years ago had written criminal laws. A couple of centuries later, Hammurabi, ruler of Babylon, became known for his code of 282 entries, where “an eye for an eye” governed. Later, Roman and Teutonic laws formalized a court system and provided for compensation. Behind all this was the notion to maintain peace among clans and states. The position of the government came into prominence in England after the Romans left, thus the common law was born. Thomas Aquinas wrote about the natural law theory, to wit, it is morally appropriate to coerce citizens to conform to any morally acceptable law.

Napoleon codified Roman law. Forty-nine states use English common law. Louisiana follows Napoleonic Law. At one point in my graduate career at Louisiana State University, I contemplated switching to law, but, after taking two courses, decided that this odd system might not be ideal for Hawaii. English law is based on court precedent, that is, the ruling of a judge can limit, if not control, a judge in a subsequent case. The Code of Napoleon takes the citizen law approach, that is, allow for the judge to interpret the legislated laws.

Our judicial system, to put it mildly, seems to be imperfect. How can we convict and jail a reasonably good citizen and model homemaker, Martha Stewart, and release so obvious a murderer as O. J. Simpson and child abuser, Michael Jackson? This is all the more ironic, because blacks are traditionally stereotyped by law enforcement agencies as guilty. Or, what frustrates the common citizen: how can a car thief be convicted a fifty times and still steal another vehicle? A solution will be offered, but, first, let us look at where it is safe, and not.

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The Dow Jones Industrials dropped 232 points to 9034. Will it drop to 8000 or lower? Companies are consolidating or downsizing. Unemployment is rising. Crude oil dropped a dollar to $71.18. The Dated Brent Spot is $66.77/barrel.

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Tropical Storm Omar is headed to oblivion. There are a couple of minor tropical cyclones in the Indian Ocean, one just above Le Reunion Island.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

CHAPTER 1: ENDING CRIME AND WAR FOREVER (Part 1)

From SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.

Black and White: Crime and Punishment / War and Peace

In my Book 1, both black and white were used to represent subject areas, but never together. Black is the absence of color, and white, or transparent, could well include the full spectrum. They are opposites…ying and yang…good and bad…crime and punishment…war and peace.

I draw on the masterpieces of Russian writers Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy because the former was an engineer and the latter a part time teacher. I am both. In the first novel, for two murders, the punishment was hardly worthy. In the second, while there was considerable agony from war, there was not much of a peace. There is a lot of character building and details about living in Russia in the 1800’s, but in the end, what do you really get out of these notable works of fiction? Yes, something about life in Russia, then. Some might say, too, the satisfaction of having experienced greatness. Simple Solutions has only two characters—you and me. But we might accomplish a lot more than the two novels. Perhaps we will be able to provide the ultimate punishment to eliminate crime and the rational key to world peace. If we fail here, in this first chapter, there are a few others to which we can contribute.

My interest in crime and wars influenced me to look into studying law forty years ago when I applied to the New York University School of Law, was accepted, but till today feel a bit guilty for not informing them I was not coming. I do know that in parallel, I also took steps towards becoming a graduate student at Louisiana State University in chemical engineering, and went there because they offered a full fellowship, plus the sugar industry continued to pay me for a while if I did so. Later, after I got my PhD, during my early academic career at the University of Hawaii, the local School of Law began operations in 1973, the same year John Houseman in The Paper Chase, convinced me that I should add a juris doctorate to my record. Again, there was something about the challenge. This is why, perhaps, people run marathons. However, sanity prevailed, I continued being an engineering educator and never ran the marathon, leading to my career in energy and extending to this book.

But on to the subject at hand, so let me start with the two most significant attacks on the United States, leading to World War II (WW2) and the World War against Terrorism (WWT), although a case has been made that terrorism is just a weapon, and the real world war is religious-based (WWR). In my mind, religion could well be the ultimate solution to wars, and is so pervasive, that I am spending a whole chapter on the Golden Evolution, the simple solution for religion, which itself, is in deep trouble.

On December 7, 1941, as a 15 month old child growing up in Honolulu, I witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, or, at least was so told by my mother that she pointed to the smoke while I was in her arms. Two thousand four hundred and three Americans died, plus 59 Japanese airmen and sailors. A few more were killed almost 60 years later, on September 11, 2001, when Islamic terrorists hijacked four commercial jetliners; each loaded with nearly 25,000 gallons of jet fuel, and crashed them into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon, with the fourth falling in a Pennsylvania field. Nineteen terrorists died, plus 265 on board the planes, 125 in the Pentagon and 2,603 in the World Trade Center, with 24 still listed as missing and presumed dead. But this should not have been a particularly big surprise because al-Qaeda in 1993 detonated a 1,500 pound bomb in the basement of the WTC, hoping to wipe out up to 250,000 people, but ended up only killing six.

Pearl Harbor I don't really remember. Being an American of Japanese extraction, I have pondered on what would have happened if WWII did not occur. As terrible as any war is, I came to a conclusion that I, personally, actually benefited from this inferno, and to boot, the USA subsequently ascended to become the world economic leader and the champion for peace and prosperity. A close analysis shows that continued access to oil was an important reason why we won WWII, and the need to continue to protect this natural resource is mostly why WWT/R started. In fact, it turns out that we also won WWI because the Allies were able to convert from coal to oil more effectively.

Thus, one way to avoid future wars is to remove oil as a competitive resource. Solar, renewable, and all sustainable resources are de-centralized and universal. We will largely be able steer clear of these major conflagrations when Green Enertopia, the Free Hydrogen or Biomethanol Age and the Blue Revolution begin to flourish.

But, in a sense, war is not necessarily bad. The Falklands victory buoyed the spirits of Margaret Thatcher, Grenada gave Ronald Reagan and the American people our first military victory in a long time and the first Gulf War, plus eradication of the Taliban in Afghanistan, reinforced our international credibility. In each case, the Good Gal/Guys entered into a state of war through provocation. We did not start it. We wanted to be of assistance, and we benefited.

So, then, is war justified? War is bad, not good, though sometimes necessary. World War I was supposedly fought to end all wars. World War II stopped Hitler and the spread of fascism. Starting wars is immoral, but value systems are not the same. China will more and more become a concern because of its large size and a dissimilar culture. But there is a simple solution.

I was there via the omnipresence of television, lying in bed, on 9/11, and actually saw, live, that second crash into the south tower of the World Trade Center. It was 6:03AM in Hawaii. I, too, was stunned. How could this be happening to the United States?

Yet, the U.S. was not really threatened with extinction. Pearl Harbor could have been an imminent threat to my life and country, but terrorist acts today seem not unlike the television series, 24. Yes, terrible, but safe, for most of us. Subsequent to 9/11 I wondered about the passing of the Patriot Act and was troubled by those vexing airport rituals. Invading Iraq the second time was okay, for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) could have been there, and the Bush Administration did a great P.R. job on the public. Hey, world oil was protected and our globe was now a better place with Saddam disposed, and who knows, those other Arab Nations could have subsequently fallen in line. President Bush and Vice President Cheney would have then been considered beneficent heroes. The crucial factor in this Domino Theory was that Iraq would have served as the model for the rest of the Middle East to become democracies. But a few things went wrong.

We are all becoming increasingly frustrated at the inanity of how we are going about saving us from what, terrorists? Almost every day on the evening news, and certainly when I travel by air, I see increasing amounts of my tax dollars being spent protecting me from a rag-tag bunch of Islamic fundamentalists with a point to prove. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, or his handler, is right up there with the person who invented those ads that fall out of magazines. From April 2005 to July 2006, 16 million cigarette lighters were confiscated at airports, representing 80% of all seized items.256 It costs the Transportation Security Administration $6 million/year just to dispose of them, but the absurdity is that personnel could have spent the time looking for more dangerous articles. Or maybe fire everyone, stop being so paranoid, save a lot of my tax dollars and go on with our life, as those same terrorists, with what they carried, probably would pass through the TSA check routine today.

At this point, these amorphous terrorists are actually winning the war, maybe even smirking during prayer time. Yes, we won the Battle of Iraq, but we are losing the more important mission of securing the peace, and, like Vietnam, looking for any responsible way out.

I once work for U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga, who had, as his noblest goal, the establishment of the U.S. Peace Academy, for, if we are training warriors for war, he felt we should spend more to instruct peacemakers for peace. In the early 80’s, the Matsunaga Commission listened to what amounted to 6,000 pages of testimony, and recommended a national peace academy. Matsunaga was the lead sponsor of a Senate bill that was adopted on June 22, 1984 to establish a U.S. Academy of Peace. The furthest this went, though, was the establishment in 1986 of the U.S. Institutes of Peace to conduct research on the subject. More recently, Representative Dennis Kucinich, in 2005, introduced a bill to establish cabinet-level Department of Peace and Non-violence. He reintroduced HR 808 with 65 cosponsors in 2007.

I have on my office wall a press release from Spark M. Matsunaga entitled, “Matsunaga on Crime, Punishment and Energy.” Dated April 1, 1981, it says Sen. Spike Matsunaga introduced a bold and historic measure called the National Crime Prevention, Research, Development and Demonstration Act, featuring mild to severe torture. This was apocryphal, of course, and only a reaction of fellow office-mate, Harvey Meyerson’s, and my, playful response to a recommendation of Sparky’s re-election campaign to feature crime as his major platform focus, something we thought was idiotic on strength of his past legislation. Certainly, this press release never was even shared with the staff, for we probably would have been fired if it ever got out.

Well, this is a fitting segue to start with combating crime. Why link crime to war? Well, both kill, or, otherwise inconvenience, our society. Can you imagine a world without crime and wars? Well, then, why not also eliminate natural death? Sure. But that’s in the next chapter. What about needless infighting in a family or the injustices that goes on in jungles? Where there are people, there will be differences of opinion. In the jungle, that’s the law of nature…survival of the fittest…evolution. Let us focus on crime and major wars, something fundamentally human, yet potentially manageable.
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The Dow Jones Industrials leaped 411 points to 9265. Stock exchanges the world over experienced similar gains. The New York Stock Exchange just had the largest one week gain in five years, so, is the recession over...will stock prices now continue to increase? There is a sufficient number of "experts" who feels that there will yet be a third mini-crash. We'll see. In the meantime the New York Mercantile Exchange Crude Future increased to $75.46/barrel. It is reported that OPEC is talking about cutting production by as much as two million barrels/day on October 24, but Goldman Sachs speculated this would not affect prices much. One wonders why anyone reads these wild guesses because they have more often than not proven to be wrong.
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Tropical Storm Omar continues to meander north northeast in the middle of the Atlantic, with 40 MPH winds, and should soon become a remnant.
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Saturday, October 18, 2008

SIMPLE SOLUTIONS FOR HUMANITY

This is Part 2 of the Introduction from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.

In the cosmic perspective of time, we only have a very short period left. Most of you no doubt have been too busy to do anything truly monumental for humanity, and, in fact, have generally been mostly in a survival mode, with a bit of pleasure tossed in now and then. If you are the average American, you are among the 61% who believe they are not living the American Dream. Only one in ten of you agree that it is easier today to attain that goal. Maybe you can leapfrog over whatever that dream might be by making a crucial difference on something personally important or monumentally significant. You are encouraged, at any time, to leap to the very end, the Epilogue, to embark on your mission, guided by Rainbow Vision.

Occasionally you wonder if you’re here for a purpose, and deep inside, would sincerely like to do something memorable for society…but, save for the occasional charity stuff, haven’t done all that much yet. It is not too late! You still can make a difference, and throughout this book are stories of many who did just that…just normal people who took that fateful step. The EPILOGUE provides guidelines for you to consider. It is very similar to the guide from Book 1. If this publication inspires only one tenth of one percent of the world, that means more than six million of you will be out there doing great things for humanity.

Finally, the cover shows my family crest or mon. I colorized this mon into the rainbow version shown on the cover of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth because most of the simple solutions represented a color. This time, the simple solutions are nearly all black or white, but nevertheless can still be represented by this same bridge (Takahashi means high bridge) connecting country to country, people to people, you to me, as is suggested in the Epilogue. However, as a testament to religion, or, perhaps, a marketing ploy to catch the buyer’s attention, I have colorized the mon a metallic gold.
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Omar in the Atlantic is now a remnant, but a yet unnamed tropical storm, now at 50 MPH, with potential to strengthen, popped up southeast of Japan. It is not expected to make landfall.
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Friday, October 17, 2008

INTRODUCTION TO SIMPLE SOLUTIONS FOR HUMANITY


Book 1, SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth dealt with the present and future of our globe. Book 2, SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity is about your life and death, and, perhaps, even beyond that. How and where did life originate? Will it be possible to eradicate crime and wars (Chapter 1) and find a cure for aging (Chapter 2)? The ultimate solutions will come from a better educational system (Chapter 3) and maybe even from above, extraterrestrials (Chapter 4) or God (Chapter 5). How truly possible is an afterlife? Just in case this is it, why not live in the best place on Earth (Chapter 6)?

Rather than complicate an already complex set of challenges, I have instead provided SIMPLE SOLUTIONS. How can we stop aging? Are there signals coming from space with clues on how to solve humanity’s problems and attain our dreams? Can religion save itself and steer the way towards universal peace and a sustainable future for our society? What can you do to make the crucial difference?

Dan Boylan, Hawaii columnist for MidWeek, headlined his August 22, 2007, comment with “There are No Simple Solutions.” He said that things are always more complicated than they appear. He is, of course, absolutely right. My SIMPLE SOLUTIONS are part common sense, part sarcasm, and one reasonable, albeit extreme, point as any to begin the analysis.

Book 1 suggested SIMPLE SOLUTIONS to accelerate the development of green (or clean) technology and blue (from the ocean) resources. Certainly, simple solutions are not slam dunk answers, nor will they be easy to accomplish, and, in fact, might be downright impossible to achieve, for, depending on your point of view or belief, they could be inhumane or patently ridiculous. Even the more outrageous offerings, though, provide a platform for discussion so that society can more closely approach optimal solutions to seemingly despairing quandaries. These are the best of what others, mostly, have advocated.

Of course, I’m writing this primarily as an American for Americans. However, there are universal applications to virtually everything recommended. There was a saying some years ago something to the effect that what was good for General Motors was also good for the Nation. That logic failed the test of time, so I’m not saying that what is good for the USA would also be true for the World, but why not initiate the analysis with the most powerful country, ever.

Why am I qualified to write this Book 2? I had credibility in Book 1, for the topics formed the basis of my professional life. Book Two is a bit more nebulous, but, nevertheless, is closely linked to my existence. I like to quote Arthur Schopenhauer, 19th Century German philosopher:

All truth passes through three stages:

---First, it is ridiculed.
---Second, it is violently opposed.
---Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Many of the technologies I advocated in Book 1 passed through the first two stages. Most of the concepts I present here in Book 2, though, could well still be in stage 1.

There is a book out, edited by John Brockman, entitled, Dangerous Ideas on the Loose (HarperCollins, 2007). This anthology is a gathering of one hundred essays on the concept, and, while entertaining and provocative, could also be hazardous for the individual authors. As Book 1 was written with a few dangerous ideas, I awaited with some trepidation for the repercussions…but a year later, nothing. Well this Book 2 is, perhaps, an order of magnitude more perilous, and a fellow author, George Carter, mentioned to me that Socrates was tried and executed just for such dangerous ideas, only one being an irreverence of religion, my Chapter 5. Well, this classical Greek philosopher was convicted by a 280 to 220 vote, and, frankly, I would be euphoric if as many read this publication, with 220 siding with me. Under any circumstances, I will find a way to forego the hemlock.
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The Dow Jones Industrials settled 127 points to 8852, while crude oil inched upwards to $71.85/barrel. The European and Japanese stock markets increased in value, while that of the rest of the world generally declined. Is the world economy stabilizing?
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Tropical Storm Omar is still at 60 MPH, but should continue to move north, albeit more east than west, and should someday soon dissipate.
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

THE DIRECT METHANOL FUEL CELL POWERED CAR

The Honolulu Advertiser reported on a high school micro fuel cell car competition today. The winning entry had an efficiency of about 3 miles/gallon. I drive a Honda Fit with ten times that gas mileage. The Toyota Prius, a hybrid (battery plus internal combustion engine-ICE) can do slightly better, but in June of 2006, the University of British Columbia won the university Supermileage Competition with a 3,145 miles per gallon vehicle featuring optimal aerodynamics, light-weight construction, and a small displacement engine (54 cc). Details can be found in Chapter 2 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth. Clearly fuel cell efficiencies will improve over time, but they have a long way to go.

One possible trend is from the ICE to battery to fuel cell powered vehicles, or some combination thereof. The problem with the hybrid car today is that the gasoline is an imported fuel which produces carbon dioxide. An electric vehicle is perhaps worse, because the electricity to charge the battery usually comes from coal-fired powerplants. The standard hydrogen fuel cell leaves a lot to be desired because hydrogen is very expensive and the infrastructure is non-existent. An excellent debate between Daniel Sperling and Joseph Romm on the subject is found at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3210/01-point.html .

In time ICEs could well disappear. A second problem with batteries is that, unless the ultra-capacitor concept can be perfected, the lithium battery could well be the final one. Thus, most futurists point to the fuel cell as the power source of future cars. Wouldn’t it then be ideal if a cost-effective renewable liquid fuel can be found which can be fed to a fuel cell without reforming (converting the liquid to hydrogen, which is an expensive process)?

Well, actually there is such a biofuel. Given biomass, the simplest alcohol, methanol, should be more economical to produce than ethanol. This is the part difficult to comprehend, but: one gallon of methanol has more hydrogen than one gallon of liquid hydrogen. Why not, then, side-step the cost and infrastructure problems of hydrogen by using a direct methanol fuel cell. Yes, methanol has half the energy density of gasoline, but the fuel cell is twice the efficiency of the ICE, so the storage tank remains the same size and the vehicle goes about the same distant on a fill-up. Unknown to most, the direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) will begin to replace batteries in portable applications next year. Unfortunately, no government funding has gone into developing this option for vehicular applications. Plus, for reasons beginning with the Farm Lobby, renewable biomethanol does not qualify for any Federal incentives. Information of how to start a team to gain control of this promising field and change the existing laws can be found in The Huffington Post.
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With ground transportation hopefully to soon be well in hand with the DMFC, my next hypothetical feat of magic will deal with air transport. I will later this month report on a simple solution for the future of aviation.

Well, there are stirrings of recovery, again, as the Dow Jones Industrials jumped 401 to 8979, tracking similar gains around the world, and the price of oil dropped to $72.66/barrel. Guaranteed, Japan, Europe and world stock exchanges will increase even more tomorrow. Our unstable economy, perhaps manic-depressive, is becoming psychotic.
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Omar is now a tropical storm with a crazy projected pathway: continued movement in the northeast direction for a bunch of days, then, perhaps, a wild swing west for several days, then another amazing move east, dissipating somewhere in the mid-Atlantic a month or so from now.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I PREDICT THAT OBAMA WILL BE OUR NEXT PRESIDENT

The final presidential debate today was again won by Barack Obama. John McCain had to succeed with a Hail Mary pass, and was intercepted. Resultant polls favored Obama on all counts. The electoral college votes look particularly rosy for Obama. The Dow Jones Industrials fell 733 to 8578, the greatest drop since Black Monday 21 years ago. This was an 8% decline. I've said it again and again, but the fearsome condition is the seemingly uncontrolled volatility.
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The Japan Nikkei tumbled 11% and Europe at large about 7%. The recession has solidified worldwide. The economy will be the determining factor on November 4, and McCain/Republicans/Bush are blamed more than Democrats for this condition. Under these conditions, Barack will be elected the next President of the United States. The House will remain Democratic and the only question is whether there will be 60 Democrats in the Senate come January. Oh, crude oil dropped to $72.34/barrel today and the Dated Brent Spot price is now down to $67.94/bbl. Maybe my earlier prediction that oil could drop to $50/barrel will also occur if recession leans in the depression direction. However, in three years, oil will certainly jump way over $100/bbl, and $200/bbl might not be out of the question, if the world economy quickly revives.
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Omar is now a hurricane at 125 MPH, should miss Puerto Rico, but could threaten other island on his northeast path. Hurricane status should remain for at least another two days.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

BILLIONS AND TRILLIONS REVISITED

On July 29 I published an article in The Huffington Post entitled, Billions and Trillions. Let us today re-visit this subject in light of all mega dollars being discussed.
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If gasoline costs $2.57/gallon (we used 142 billion gallons in 2007), we spend $1 billion/DAY on this fuel. Up to $4/gallon, the daily cost is a bit more than $1.5 billion/day. The current national average price of gasoline is $3.15/gallon. Of course, crude is now back down to the $80/barrel range (or $1.90/gallon). Of course, Hawaii still pays around $4/gallon, and note the profit margin someone is making from crude oil.
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The average annual U.S. Department of Energy renewable energy budget over the past decade has been less than $1 billion/YEAR (Remember, we now spend $500 billion/year on gasoline). In comparison:
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a. We pass on to Pakistan $1 billion/year for counter-terrorism activities and they are not even helping much with finding Osama bin Ladin.
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b. Each Space Shuttle shot costs $1 billion.
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c. Each new Nimitz class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier costs $4.5 billion. We will have 10 when the H.W. Bush is commissioned early next year. We have no naval threat into the foreseeable future.
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d. Is it true that farm subsidies this year will be $25 billion? And farmers are now doing really well. Does the Farm Lobby spend $80 million/year on lobbying? In these good times for them and bad times for energy, why don't we shift just half of this sum for renewable energy R&D?
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e. The U.S. military is planning to move from Okinawa to Guam by 2014 at a cost of $15 billion. Why not just sell everything we can to Japan and send the troops to Afghanistan? By the way, it is reported that our military personnel have been involved in more than 200,000 accidents and crimes in Japan.
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f. The top four oil companies made more than $100 billion in profits in 2007. General Motors lost $39 billion. Toyota sold more cars in the first half of 2008.
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g. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 will cost $850 billion, or $0.85 trillion. That calculates out to be $2783/person.
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h. Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz estimates the true cost of the middle east war to be $3 trillion, six times more than reported by the Department of Defense. Over a seven year period, that would be about $1 billion/day.
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i. The International Energy Agency reported that it will take $45 trillion dollars to cut emissions by half to prevent global warming.
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Are the above numbers too large to comprehend? Well, if you add the cost of the Manhattan Project, Marshall Plan and Apollo Project, then bring them up to actual 2008 dollars, the TOTAL COMBINED COST was $266 billion, or $0.266 trillion. This total is less than a third of the Wall Street bailout package. Of course, we're comparing apples and oranges because these atomic bomb / Europe saving / moon project funds were actually spent, while the fiscal rescue budget is sort of a loan. It is possible that we will gain a return over time for our personal $2783 investment. Sure.
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Then, too, $0.266 trillion is about one half of one percent the sum needed to remediate global climate change. You will need 180 Manhattan/Marshall/Apollo equivalents to meet that challenge. What are we doing? Well, our Congress refused to pass the carbon cap and trade legislation and the G8 Nations merely begged Saudi Arabia to produce more oil. What about the general public? They seem content now that gasoline seems to be heading below $3/gallon. What a world! What priorities.
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The Dow Jones Industrials dropped 77 to 9310. As predicted yesterday, the Japan Nikkei jumped 14% today and European exchanges generally gained. Crude slumped down to $78.74/barrel, and the Dated Brent Spot actually dropped below $75/bbl.
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Tropical Depression Nana in the mid-Atlantic is soon to become a remnant. Tropical Storm Omar should head from a position south of Haiti in the northeast direction, somewhat of a surprise, as most of these storms generally go west or northwest. It will become a hurricane before the day is over and could approach 100 MPH in three days. There doesn't appear to be any threat to the U.S. A tropical depression formed off the coast of Honduras, but is not expected to become a hurricane. All quiet in the Pacific.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

THE TRUE HISTORY OF COLUMBUS DISCOVERING AMERICA

Today we celebrate Columbus (or Discoverers) Day. We all know that more than 5 centuries ago, Italian explorer, Cristoforo Colombo, sponsored by Spain, on October 12, 1492, spotted the Bahamas Archipelago.

It was a comedy of compounding errors, as Columbus thought that the globe was much smaller (yes, most of the navigational world had long accepted that the world was not flat—in fact, Greek scholar, Erastosthenes, estimated a figure very close to the actual circumference of our planet as early as the second century BC.) However, Columbus, seeking Asia, did not use this correct distance, but botched the already incorrect guess of another Greek, Marinus of Tyre, and that of Muslim astronomer, Alfraganus (Columbus was ignorant of the fact that the Arabic distance for a mile was being used), so the resultant estimate to the Indies of about 2400 miles turned out to be about the distance to North America, which he was not aware even existed. He thus called the indigenous people, Indians.

We today honor a journey that would not have been taken if the real physical facts were known, for the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria were far too small to carry sufficient food/water for an actual westward trip from the Canary Islands to Asia. In fact, King John II of Portugal turned him down because their experts did not believe that the distance was only 2,400 miles. King Henry VII of England actually agreed to finance the adventure, but King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, whose experts also had no confidence in Columbus’ numbers, nevertheless prevailed, and that became history.
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The world stock market jumped by more than 10% today. The Dow Jones Industrials leaped 937.42 to 9,387.61, an all time best one day increase of 11%. The Japan stock exchange was closed because of Health and Sports Day, a national holiday. Guess what will happen tomorrow. Hint: the Nikkei will increase. Oil prices surged to $81.90/barrel, so, there must now be some confidence that the recession might not be all that bad, after all. Amazing what one day can do to perceptions. The volatility, though, now frightens me even more.
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Tropical Storm Nana at 35 MPH appeared in the middle of the Atlantic, and is moving west, but should become a remnant in a day or two. A tropical depression also just formed south of Haiti, will move northeast, and could well become a hurricane in three days. Hooray, nothing in the Pacific.
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Saturday, October 11, 2008

For next few weeks I will provide excerpts from Book 2, SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity (http://simplesolutionsbook2.com/). Here is the Table of Contents for Chapter 1.

INTRODUCTION.. 10
Background. 10
Colors. 12
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CHAPTER 1: ENDING CRIME AND WAR FOREVER.. 15
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Black and White: Crime and Punishment / War and Peace. 15
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The End of Crimes. 18
History of Crime. 18
Crime Statistics. 19
Drugs. 22
Opium and Heroin. 23
Cocaine, Marijuana and Ice. 24
Status of Drug Control 26
Prisons. 26
About the American Civil Liberties Union. 28
On the Morality and Efficacy of Death Sentences. 28
Life in Prison is Cheaper than a Penalty of Death. 29
The Death Penalty Does Not Work. 30
The Death Penalty Works. 30
Capital Punishment and the World. 31
How Does the Public Feel about the Death Penalty. 32
How are the Condemned Executed?. 32
The Seven Minute Solution: Lethal Injection. 33
Nitrogen: The Next Generation. 34
Draco the Lawgiver 35
The Three Strikes Law.. 35
The Singapore Solution to Crime. 36
The Simple Solution to Crime. 37
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The End of World Wars. 40
World War Trends. 40
Civilizational Trends. 44
What about the United States of America?. 45
The Most Powerful Nation on Earth, Ever?. 46
Why are Americans so Despised?. 47
President George Bush, #43. 49
Bush’s Axis of Evil 51
About Iraq. 57
Then there is Iran. 59
What about North Korea. 61
Then the Rest of the Terrorist World. 62
Let Me Add Israel 63
But, Darn It, America is the Best Country. 64
Japan, the European Union and India. 68
What About Russia?. 68
Peace with the People’s Republic of China?. 70
Weapons of Mass Destruction. 75
How to Make a Dirty Bomb. 75
How to Make an Atomic Bomb. 76
How to Build a Hydrogen Bomb…Not 77
Global Terrorism, Redux. 78
The United Nations. 81
Is it Possible to Survive Without a Military?. 83
Is World Peace Possible?. 83
Is Democracy Working?. 84
A Simple Solution to Wars. 86
The Simple Solutions to Crime and Wars. 90
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How bad is the U.S. economy? Credit remains tight and the Dow Jones Industrials are down 40% from a year ago. How bad is the world economy? About the stock exchanges, year to date change: USA (S&P) and UK -39%, France -43%, Germany -44%, Japan -46%, Hong Kong -47%, China -70% and Russia, down 64% just since May 19. Oil, at $77.80/barrel is 19% lower and gold has increased 2.5%.
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Hurricane Norbert has stormed through the Baja Peninsula at close to 100 MPH. Tropical Storm Odile at 45 MPH is just touching the southwest coast of Mexico, but should turn west and weaken. While headed for Hawaii, the speculation is that Odile will become a remnant in a few days.
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Friday, October 10, 2008

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?

The following excerpt concludes my prelude to SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:


The End of the Cold War


The war on poverty has just begun and interest in the environment is but a budding concept. But there has been at least one monumental societal accomplishment. Many have called the end of the Cold War as the most significant step to preserve civilization. Who was responsible for affecting this magnificent victory?

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (founded by a group of Manhattan Project scientists in 1945) created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 to draw attention to the potential for nuclear Armageddon. In the 61 years, the time has only been reset on 17 occasions. In 1947 it was initially placed at 7 minutes to midnight, clearly meaning that in the span of 24 hours, or 1440 minutes, we were then close to the end of civilization.
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Today it is at 5 minutes to midnight, thus, the situation is supposedly worse. It was set to 2 minutes in 1953 when both the U.S. and the Soviet Union exploded Hydrogen Bombs, jumped as high as 12 minutes in 1963 when the U.S. and S.U. signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty--SALT I), but with several ups and downs, re-set to 3 minutes in 1984 when our two countries upgraded our Cold War posturing. The time did not change when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Doomsday jumped to 17 minutes in 1991 when the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed. One would think, anyhow, that the world is now a far, far safer place, for Pakistan, India, the Middle East and North Korea do not evoke terminal fear or threat of MAD, mutually assured destruction. Yes, there are still sufficient nuclear weapons potentially ready to be reactivated to cause some mischief, but the politics of the times are such that I think the clock should be reversed, to at least 15 minutes, if not one hour. (Aside from the global economy and environment, we are in great shape.)

The clock was at 9 minutes in the Fall of 1979, which was not a good time for the American Nation. I arrived in the U.S. Senate. Well, that was the best part. Earlier in the year, China had invaded Vietnam, the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster occurred not that far from the national capitol, the YMCA sued the Village People over their song of the same name and the second oil crisis with those interminable gasoline lines made life tedious. Just around then, the USA hockey team was being selected by their coach, Herb Brooks, the Iranian crisis happened, with 66 Americans held hostage in Teheran, followed the next month by the Soviets occupying Afghanistan. National pride was at an all time low and we felt powerless, when a miracle came to pass. For the record, I treat miracles in Chapter 5 of Book 2 on the Golden Evolution.

Early in 1980, the USA ice hockey Olympic victory accomplished by a bunch of college students over the supremely dominant Soviet team, triggered a return of will to the American people, embarrassed by the Vietnam War and weakened by the Iranian hostage crisis. This indelible moment in all of U.S. sports history, it is said, inspired President Ronald Reagan to, two years later, confront the Evil Empire (Ronald Reagan, to the British House of Commons, June 8, 1982). Actually, Republicans and Reagan historians like to try to forget this, but the real Evil Empire Speech was given on March 8, 1983, to the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals (yikes!) near Disney World in Florida. Anyway, Coach Herb Brooks, who was the last cut on the 1960 American ice hockey team (which went on to win the gold medal in Squaw Valley that year--less than 200 miles from where I was then attending college), had this vision, delivered, and, perhaps, aided in ending the Cold War. In my estimation, this was the most crucial triumph for humanity ever, yet.

Maybe one other person set the stage for the end of the Cold War: Charlie Wilson. Charles Nesbitt Wilson went to Annapolis and graduated 8th from the bottom (better than John McCain, who was 894th out of 899), going on to an assignment in the Pentagon analyzing the Soviet Union. A state legislator at the age of 27, he later served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 12 terms, and was known as “Good Time Charlie” for being an alcoholic womanizer. However, as a member of the subcommittee overseeing the Central Intelligence Agency, he single-handedly influenced the diversion of largely black (covert, secret) military funds to help the local patriots fight the Russians in Afghanistan, resulting in their ignominious retreat in 1981, the year Ronald Reagan first became president. You might have seen the movie: Charlie Wilson’s War, starring Tom Hanks and directed by Mike Nichols. Houston socialite Joanne Herring played by Julia Roberts, and Gust Avrakotos, the rogue CIA agent, by Philip Seymour Hoffman, might share some of the credit.

American actor Ronald Reagan played the most important role of his life as the 40th president of the USA, and is sometimes credited with ending the Cold War, as his purposeful confrontational defense budget beginning in 1981, particularly Star Wars, fundamentally terrified the Soviet Union into overspending on defense, leading to effective bankruptcy. But, should Edward Teller, who convinced Reagan about this strategy, be the hero? Or one of his staff members I earlier talked about at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory? It had to start somewhere, and inevitably this would be at some primary, if not lower, staff level. Remember, presidents, governors and legislators almost never have the time to think out simple solutions. You have to do it for them. Charlie, though, as a real exception, after the initial influence, might have done most of it himself.

When Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power in 1985, his response to Reagan was glasnost (openness to public debate) and perestroika (restructuring) policies, followed by summit offers to reduce their nuclear arms stockpile. This initiative set the mechanism in motion for arms reduction, and also to the disestablishment of the Soviet Union. How he pulled this off without being sent to some far off Gulag site is a mystery to me. Cowed, inspired, whatever, Gorbachev in 1990 won the Nobel Peace Prize. Let's, thus, give credit to both Reagan and Gorvachev. Also, too, one wonders, who in Russia had the ear and mind of Gorbachev?

It is an exceptionally rare situation when the individual who gets credit actually came up with the idea. It is the leader’s position and prevailing circumstances that were essential, but someone else out there started it all. I credit Ronald and Mikhail for making the critical decisions regarding the Cold War, but nominate Herb, Charlie, the guys at LLNL, Claire and Kevin as my heroes for finding and delivering on these simple solutions for peace, poverty and Planet Earth. Thus, you, too, someday, could well join these unknown heros.

There are, of course, innumerable ways to undertake your personal mission. Former president Bill Clinton wrote Giving in 2007. The book goes into vivid detail about how each of us can change the world. He wrote that six year old McKenzie Steiner organized a beach cleanup club in San Diego. Yes, 6 years old. Who knows who she will be affecting or what she will do when she turns 7.

Now, go to the various web pages. Learn a little more about the ultimate matter of your greatest interest and begin to make a difference by coming up with just one simple solution. How best to get started? Reread this appendix. Or e-mail me at PTakahas@Hotmail.com. Together, with some dedicated others, we can help save Planet Earth and Humanity! Aloha, and have a great rest of your life.
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What a ride today. The Dow Jones Industrials initially fell almost 700 points to below 8000, then rose into the plus category, but ended minus 128 at 8451, slightly more than 40% below what it was a year ago. The speech by President Bush did not hurt, but did not help much, either. China stocks had their worst week on record, and are down by more than two-thirds over the past year. Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Europe all fell by more than 8% today. The Japan Nikkei 225 suffered its biggest one day drop in 21 years and the Indonesian stock market halted trading. Russia had recovered by almost 10 percent yesterday, but, interestingly enough, suspended trading today. The Russian stock exchanges had dropped 68% (about the same as China--our two, so called, challengers)since May before this recovery. In the meantime, crude oil dropped around 10% today to $77.70/barrel. To add to the confusion, gold also dropped today, minus $73/ounce to $851. An investor might want to look closer at silver as a holding opportunity.
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Hurricane Norbert, now at 103 MPH is weakening, and should cross the Baha Peninsula over the next 24 hours, maybe as a tropical storm. Tropical Storm Odile should just skirt southwest Mexico and head west. Now at 58 MPH, Odile seems destined to become a hurricane in a few days and move towards Hawaii.
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Thursday, October 9, 2008

BARACK OBAMA IS GRAY

The following article was published today in The Huffington Post:
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Patrick Takahashi
Posted October 9, 2008 12:04 PM (EST)

Barack Obama is Gray

My very first HuffPost a few months ago was entitled Well, Barack, We have a Problem. It was a wishful paean in search of the individual perhaps best suited to save our planet from global warming, while galavanizing world peace. In a Ray Bradbury Sound of Thunder reversal, I have come full-circle back to Barack Obama, but to a harsh real world on the verge of something worse than a recession.

Towards the end of CNN's post-presidential debate discussion on October 7, David Gergen declared it was too early to proclaim Barack Obama the victor of the 2008 presidential race simply because Obama was black. Polls are not totally believable, said Gergen, and Obama's blackness may cost him as much as six points. Gergen will be criticized, no doubt, for dealing this racial card, but he injected a very crucial point. This might well be the only factor left standing in the way of an Obama presidency.

Obama had his Reverend Wright, Khalid Al-Mansour and Tony Rezko. John McCain has been linked to the Keating Five, is on his second marriage and was operated on melanoma in 2000. Nothing much is left to uncover. Yes, there is the upcoming third debate, but no game-changing surprises are anticipated.
The numbers are such that Obama should win. Yet, as that venerable Yankee catcher Lawrence Peter Berra might have said, "It will never happen until it happens." A non-white person has never been elected president of the United States. Pundits like to point out the Bradley and Wilder Effects, when black candidates for governor lost even though polls showed them ahead at the end. Gergen knows all this, and when I observed him making that fatal statement, his facial and body language seemed to be that of a positively concerned observer who very carefully felt compelled to blurt out this almost verboten fact. In my mind he did Obama a great favor. He hammered home the first nail on McCain's campaign coffin.

By all common sense, the people of the Nation should mostly vote for Obama on November 4:

1. Obama is 47; McCain is 72. Because of his bout with cancer, there are reports available hinting that McCain had only a 65% chance of surviving into the year 2010.

2. Obama graduated #1 in his Harvard Law class; McCain was 894th out of 899 at the Naval Academy. If you were rating heart surgeons to operate on you, which medical equivalent would you choose?

3. Joseph Biden has a Juris Doctorate from Syracuse University; Sarah Palin meandered through five colleges over a six-year period, to finally graduate from the University of Idaho in journalism.

4. McCain supports President Bush in Iraq and the economy; Obama is for change.

5. Obama won the first two presidential debates over McCain.
The list can go on and on, but 66% of Americans are white and 13% black. All things being equal, people tend to vote their ethnicity. Hawaii has only minorities, but Filipinos vote for Filipino candidates and Japanese for Japanese. A person running for office actually gains when of mixed race, for a Chinese-Hawaiian will get most of the Chinese and Hawaiian votes.

This is where Barack Obama should have a huge advantage, for he is both black and white: his father is a PhD Kenyan, and his white mother was born in the heartlands of Kansas. Because she was busy saving the world in the Pacific and gaining her PhD at the University of Hawaii, Barack was in large part reared by her two white parents, and in Hawaii, where, again, there are only minorities. We are not a perfect society here, but equality trumps over prejudice in our mélange melting pot.

There is a simple solution for the Obama campaign. Neutralize the Bradley/Wilder effect from the decision-making equation. Just make sure that the American populace knows that Barack Obama is Gray, or, better yet, both black and white, tinged with a variety of other colors from his upbringing and experience.
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Post a Comment by going to:
- ScarletKnight1307 See Profile: Something interesting that I didn't think about that came up on Rachel Maddow show last night when she was talking to Gov. Mike Easley of North Carolinawas talking about rural voters in North Carolinawhen asked about the Bradley effect (people saying they will vote for a black candidate and then don't)he offered something very differentfrom what he has heard from peoplehe thinks there could or will be a Reverse Bradley effectrural voters saying they won't vote for a black guy and then go in and vote for him.he summed it up like this "They Like McCain, but they like their Jobs better"
Posted 01:08 PM on 10/09/2008

- MeiLing See Profile: As one of the pundits said, "linking John McCain to the Keating 5 is like linking John Lennon to The Beatles! Wait! Wasn't John Lennon, a Beatle!"
Posted 12:38 PM on 10/09/2008

- PDinCA See Profile: McCain was not "linked to" the Keating Five. McCain *is* the Keating Five. Without McCain, it's the Keating Four.
Posted 12:12 PM on 10/09/2008
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It was exactly a year ago that the Dow Jones Industrials hit a record high of 14,164.53. Today, the DJI closed at 8,582.13, a drop of 675.97 for the day, nearly a 40% drop in a year. A recession is supposed to reflect something on the order a 20% fall, so, clearly, we are now officially in dangerous times. This is a day after the Federal Reserve and world-wide counterparts all dropped interest rates (25% in the U.S., from 2.0% to 1.5%) and almost week after President George Bush signed the $850 Billion Bailout Package. Yes, our economy is in serious trouble. Anticipating the slowdown, oil prices dropped more than $4 today to $84.80/barrel. The Dated Brent Spot is now at $80.04/bbl. While the renewable investment credits were thankfully rolled into the rescue plan, the plunging price of oil and difficult credit period will almost assuredly dampen solar investments over the next year.
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Hurricane Norbert is now at 115 MPH, should weaken a bit, and will begin to affect Baha Saturday. Newly named Tropical Storm Odile is strengthening, and while only with 50 MPH winds now, could become a hurricane in two days. Odile is tracking the coastline of Mexico. It is uncertain at this time if Baha will again be hit. If this happens, it should be about a week from today. No major storms currently in the Atlantic or West Pacific.
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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

LIVE EARTH AND GLOBAL WARMING

The following is an excerpt from the EPILOGUE of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.

In 2007, Al Gore borrowed Bob Geldorf’s concept to stimulate the remediation of Global Climate Warming with Live Earth, which some reported as the biggest benefit concert ever, as the kick-off point for a three year campaign for Planet Earth. TV (in Hawaii on wide-screen high definition HDUNI) and the internet carried over a 22-hour period 150 acts from twelve locations, including, after beating off the Republicans, Washington, D.C., and from all seven continents (six, if you’re from Europe, for they combine North and South into one America), even Antarctica. This was an incredible carbon light rock spectacle, interspersed with Green messages from 60 short films.
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Of course, nothing major can proceed these days without detractors. Geldorf, himself, labeled this as a “hollow spectacle,” Roger Daltrey of The Who said, “the last thing the planet needs is a rock concert,” and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals demanded that hot dogs and hamburgers not be served. Oh well, you can’t please everyone all the time. But this act helped gain Gore a Nobel Prize, and more importantly, provided a well needed galvanizing spark for Planet Earth.

While Tipper has long served to censor music, Al, since the days of Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind, has felt that music was an agent of change. But it was Kevin Wall, an American concert promoter, who really invented Live Earth. He was involved with Live 8 in 2005, the effort by Geldorf and Bono to pressure the G8 about African poverty. Wall saw that millions viewed Inconvenient Truth, so why not billions? But, maybe it was Wall’s secretary, or her son, who planted the idea. In any case, this is all good for Planet Earth. Listen to the critics, but move on from here. In the long term, the repercussions will be significantly positive.
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The NYMEX CRUDE FUTURE settled to $88.16/barrel, while the DATED BRENT SPOT did, too, down to $82.58/bbl. The Dow Jones Industrials went wild today again like a yoyo, finally dropping 189 to 9258, even though the Federal Reserve and global central banking authorities together dropped their prime rates, in the U.S. from 2% to 1.5%.
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Hurricane Norbert is shaping up to be a significant storm, now at 133 MPH, and could well strengthen to 140 in a day or two. It should then slightly weaken but still hit Baja as a hurricane this weekend. Another tropical depression just formed in the Pacific just south of Central American, and should skirt the west coast up to Mexico.
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