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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

THE FUTURE OF ENERGY: Part 2

A SIMPLE SOLUTION FOR PEAK OIL AND GLOBAL WARMING

I have now penned two SIMPLE SOLUTION books, one on Planet Earth and the second on Humanity.  Let me draw from the first one and provide just one simple solution to solve our energy/environment problem.  But first, some background.

The current issue of Time (5July10) reports on Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Jeffrey Immelt (GE), representing a group of corporate titans, beseeching Congress just last week to TRIPLE U.S. spending on energy research.  They underscored that energy gets less than $5 billion/year, but $80 billion goes for military R&D.  Said Immelt:

  "This is about innovation.  This is about competition.  This is about energy security."

Never have industrial leaders collectively made this kind of plea.  If we can spend $3,000 billion (also known as $3 trillion) on just the Iraq War, supposedly to neutralize Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, but, more to protect oil and bring peace to the Middle East, hindsight argues that if this sum had been applied to spur our private sector to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, we might not today be at the precipice awaiting the dual hammer of Peak Oil and Global Warming.

My second Huffington Post article of two years ago blamed the lack of will on part of the people for our current predicament.  This aloof attitude remains, for our masses are now accustomed to $3/gallon gasoline (remember, Europe is double to triple this price), plus, they can't appreciate hardly detectable global temperature increase and sea level rise.  It hurts that the disinformation campaign from oil and coal interests are easier to believe than the rantings of a bunch of scientists accused of a possible hoax.  But what do you expect from a nation attracted to vampires and the afterlife.

Swine flu and oil spills bring out the personal concern and general ire on the part of our populace, but energy  and carbon dioxide policies are somewhere between ho hum and who cares.  The fact that many Democrats in the Senate from fossil fuel states are preventing the Obama Administration from pushing along the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy Bill, which was approved by the House more than a year ago, is just another symptom of how much our decision-makers care about any national energy policy, something we have never had.

As I have underscored in my HuffPos, I actually don't blame the Republicans, George W. Bush, oil companies or OPEC.  They were maximizing their interests, and in a free enterprise system, that's fine.  Well, I do have a gripe about what President Ronald Reagan did when he came into office in 1981, for he decimated the solar budget.  However, the real reason why our sustainable resources were never commercialized was the price of oil, an essentially unpredictable commodity.  Very few can actually remember that petroleum in terms of 1998 dollars was the cheapest, EVER, that year.  Yes, less expensive than just before the First Energy Crisis in 1973.
Just trace the red line until you hit the bottom, and see that you're in 1998.

What responsible financial institution would take the  risk of loaning a hundred million dollars for a  solar energy project during those days? While the Chicago Mercantile Exchange today predicts a light crude oil future price of $91.65/barrel in December of 2018, would you stake the future of our country on that investment conundrum?  Remember, it was only two years ago this month that oil peaked at $147/barrel.  But who knows where the current $75-$80/barrel range will go.  $150/barrel if Israel bombs Iran?  $35/barrel if there is a more serious double dip grand recession?  This fickleness will continue to bedevil renewable energy investments.

We thus need to take extraordinary action, and Gates/Immel's proclamation was an excellent start.  Here they are, actually asking government to spend more money on something not directly related to their profit margin (well, GE does sell wind turbines).  The marketplace cannot determine the fate of our world, for it takes a full generation (25 years), and longer, to shift energy sources.  WE NEED TO START TODAY.  So, here is my simple solution:

1.  Immediately enact a 5 cents/pound carbon dioxide credit.  Okay, this is the same as a tax, but read my HuffPo on this subject.  This credit will only increase gasoline by a buck a gallon and double the price of coal electricity.  Congress needs to pass this measure, which President Obama should sign, and he further needs to have the G8 nations, China and India comply.  Ah, but you say, easy to suggest, but impossible to do.  Sure.  Simple solutions can be difficult to accomplish.  So what next?

2.  Get Mother Nature to raise the temperature of the atmosphere so high this summer that tens, if not hundreds, of millions perish.  On my contention that we have a fatal flaw in our society--that we cannot make important decisions until it is too late--we then need a cataclysmic event, the more horrible the more effective.  Yes, this is terrible, but, save for those who actually die, this would be like taking some bitter medicine to cure your ailment.  Then you say, but we have no influence over Mother Nature.

3.  Not true!  This is all a matter of time.  A kind of doomsday will occur if we largely continue on our current consumption pathway, for more species will become extinct, weather will go haywire, and humanity will interminably suffer before action is finally taken.  Clearly, our decision-makers will not have the courage to just do it, and the American people just do not riot in the streets for this sort of cause.  I was kind of hoping that this world wide web would more directly replace marching protests, but, I haven't yet figured out how to catalyze response.

4.  So what then?  Await THE VENUS SYNDROME, or at least the upcoming novel of that title.  Three degrees F rise?  Try an increase of 800 degrees and the end of life on Planet Earth.

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The Dow Jones Industrials further sank 96 to 9774, while, save for Europe, world markets also dropped.  The Japan Nikkei is now at 9281.  If this decreases below 9000, the timing might be right to consider buying.  Gold remained unchanged at $1241/toz and crude oil is at $75/barrel.


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Hurricane Alex a Category 2 at 100 MPH, is now making landfall south of the Rio Grande.  Apparently, this is the first June hurricane in the Atlantic (you're either in the Pacific or Atlantic when it comes to American hurricanes) since 1995.  Hmm...that does sound ominous.


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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A GOOD DAY FOR PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY

Part 2 on the Future of Energy will be posted tomorrow.  For today, let's look at the good side of life.

1.  Tomorrow will be our last official day in Iraq.  American troops are leaving Iraq cities to local security.  Mind you, there are still more than 30,000 of our forces in that country.  In 13 months, we are also supposed to depart from Afghanistan.  This month became our longest war, ever, at 104 months and counting.  Cost so far?  Apparently, more than $3 trillion.  Mind you, we got rid of Saddam and oil prices have sort of stabilized.  According to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the current December 2018 price of oil should be $91.65/barrel.

2.  Hurricane Alex is, indeed, turning West towards Mexico, sparing the oil spill area.

3.  Branjelina staying together, at least according to the latest report.  Jolie and Pitt have six children, three adopted, from Cambodia, Ethiopia and Viet Nam.  She has been married twice, he to Jennifer Aniston, but Brad and Angelina are just living together in sin.  She finally reconciled with her father, Jon Voight earlier this year.  They split their time on acting, their children and humanitarian causes.  Why is this good news?  Well, why not.




4.  U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye (Hawaii-D, with Senator Daniel Akaka on the right) is now the longest serving senator and #3 on the succession chain to the Presidency as President Pro Tempore.  I remember three decades ago when I worked in the U. S. Senate about Senator Robert Byrd already being old.  Turned out his condition had something to do with a chemical imbalance, and pills kept him going for almost thirty years.  Byrd was once a high ranking Klu Klux Klan leader and filibustered against the civil right bill in 1964.  He is a good example of someone who somewhat changed.  Now that Byrd and Senator Ted Stevens are gone, Dan Inouye is the unquestioned champ of pork.  Senator Inouye, at the age of 85, will run for re-election this Fall, and will pass Byrd as the longest serving congressional member if he serves anywhere close to a full next term.

5.  I wonder why, but I was about the 3 millionth person to purchase an iPad.  It only has G3 capability, and the latest iPhone is into G4, so I should have waited.  However, terrific battery life and shows potential for something.   Haven't figured out what yet.  I did add The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest into my iPad, but learned that I should read The Girl Who Played with Fire first, as this is number two in the series, following The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  So both are now ready to be read.  Interesting, but neither could be obtained through Apple.  I had to add the Amazon.com ap, and the price of each averaged about $8, cheaper than the book form.


6.  The University of Hawaii Board of Regents approved building the billion dollar 30 Meter Telescope (TMT, to become the world's largest telescope) on Mauna Kea.   Led by Canadian and California universities, with Japan, China and India as partners, the team chose Hawaii over Chile, and will design a system capable of viewing the beginning of the Universe.  Construction is scheduled to begin next year, but with Hawaiian and environmental activists wary, you just never know.


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The Dow Jones Industrials sunk 268 (-2.65%) to 9870, with world markets all down.  Shanghai crashed 4.27% and the Japan Nikkei fell 202 to 9368.  This is also good news, sort of, as a couple more days like this and I will buy a few choice stocks.  Gold edged down a buck to $1241 and crude oil is just under $76/barrel.

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Tropical Storm Alex should soon attain hurricane strength, then make landfall Wednesday evening south of the Rio Grande in Mexico.  Both Celia and Darby have dissipated in the Pacific.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

THE FUTURE OF ENERGY IN HAWAII--Part 1

Dan Bent sent me the following from Jay Fidell:


Just to let you know new videos are available on ThinkTech:
See these and other videos on http://www.thinktechhawaii.com.

Mahalo.  See you there,

Jay Fidell
ThinkTech Hawaii
841 Bishop Street, Suite 1500
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone 
808.566.2105 
I urge you to find some time to view some of these interviews.  If nothing else, I got inspired to overview the current state of energy policy-making for our future.  I noticed a DVD inspired by Representative Mina Morita in Amazon.com.  My SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth provides a lot of background.)
I have two conflicting points of view on this matter.  My gut feeling is that our activity level is woeful, and, once the dual hammer of Peak Oil and Global Warming strikes, our local economy will enter into a long period of depression.  Basically, it is too late!  The other has to do with attitude.  This first is hopelessly negative, and will only tick people off and not much else.  Thus, I also have a hopeful message:  let us work with what we have and do whatever we can to get us off all fossil fuels as fast as possible.  
That said, it would still make sense to combine our strengths towards monumental goals.  We need a total attitude shift for the better, and my Huffington Post article on "The Sustainable Expo for 2020" suggest one such pathway.  Tomorrow, I will offer other directions for consideration.
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The Dow Jones Industrials edged lower 5 to 10,139, with European markets up and rest of the world down.  Gold almost ended with another record high, but fell $17/toz to $1239.  This precious metal went up to $1258/toz  on June 18, although trading was as high as $1263 that day.  Crude oil is up to $78/barrel, but the swing of Hurricane Alex west should result in lower prices over the next few days.
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Tropical Storm Alex should attain hurricane strength by tomorrow, but is turning west and will not be threat to the oil spill process.
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

*HUMAN EXTINCTION

Professor Frank Fenner of Australia pronounced about a week ago that humans would go extinct in a hundred years. The driving cause, he says, is global climate warming.  Well, he is 95 years old.

However, in 2003, Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society (UK), wrote a book, Our Final Hour, where he predicts that there is a 50-50 chance the end of humanity would occur by 2100, again, about a century from publication.  He fears technology, like nanotechnology and bio-terrorism.

I've been tracking doomsday notions for some time now, and in my SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth, arrive at The Venus Syndrome (triggered by global warming) and Blackout, a mega-tsunami wiping out Seattle, or not.  Myself, I'm actually an optimist about the fate of humanity.  However, I participate in a number of virtual forums, where ten to twenty percent of the contributors appear to either have given up on our ability to overcome, and some already live in sustainable communities awaiting the worst.

The dual hammer of Peak Oil and Global Warming, in particular, has inspired these dark visions.  But the real danger is climate change, so I wrote a Huffington Post article on Geoengineering of Climate Change, as one insurance measure.

I can go on and on, but will stop here.  The sky is blue, sun shining and life is great.

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There are two storms each in the Atlantic and Pacific.  Tropical Storm Alex appears to be heading West to Mexico, not the oil spill region, and both Pacific hurricanes have weakened into tropical storms.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

MUSKOKA DECLARATION TO SAVE PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY


I could not find the typical G8 group photo, where they sometimes are dressed in goofy local garb.  The above shows these world leaders plus two European leaders.  Note that half of them are from Europe.  Must also mention that all 27 members of the European Union are in the United Nations.  The United States has a huge voting disadvantage in these organizations.

I yesterday indicated that this would be a do nothing Canadian G8 summit.  What they actually accomplish, however, is not necessarily important, although you can't help but feel that these golden opportunities are being wasted.  What is more significant is that they meet at all and talk to each other.  Perhaps equally key is that leaders use these gatherings to spur or prepare for what is to come.

For example, you will recall that this week China announced that they will allow their yuan (also known as renminbi) to appreciate.  The timing meant that currency concerns will now not be an issue at both the G8 and G20 meetings.  Also, the U.S. Congress met through Thursday night and at 5AM yesterday announced accord on the Wall Street reform package.  The World largely blames the USA for causing the Grand Recession.  Now, with that financial regulatory legislation, the heat is off President Barack Obama in Canada. 

Oh, they did announce the Muskoka Declaration.  The agreement said a lot and nothing, at the same time.  Every country stuck in in something good or useful, all of 41 separate issues were wordsmithed, plus two annexes.  Health, food and security were highlighted.  Digs were made about Iran, North Korea and Myanmar.  There was a healthy amount of "concern" about climate change, but nothing about energy.

At the World Cup, the score was USA 1 - Ghana 1.  So on to overtime, two fifteen minute periods.  Play to the end.  If still tied, then every one from each team will take a penalty kick versus the goalkeeper.  Whichever team scores the most goal wins the match.  If after five rounds the score is still tied, then sudden death prevails.  This game will not get that far. Whoops, Ghana just score, so it might all be over for the USA.  Note that Landon Donovan wears #10.  The playmaker or primary striker wears this number, as did Pele and Maradonna.  Argentine Lionel Messi of course wears #10.  Thus, when you watch the game, always look for #10.

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Tropical Storm Alex at 45 MPH will pass over the Yucatan Peninsula, lose something, then strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico.  All signs indicate that Alex will swerve more West than East and spare the oil spill operations.

In the Pacific, Hurricane Celia continues to move into cooler waters, and now at 90 MPH, should lose strength over the next few days.  Hurricane Darby, now up to 110 MPH, seems to be going in circles, but should move towards Mexico.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

THE STATE OF PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY ON 25JUNE10






1.  The G8 is meeting in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada.  If you don't know anything about them, watch this clip.  It was the G6 until Canada and Russia were added.  Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South America could be next.  They dabble in the environment and energy, and every so often do something about poverty, but the focus is almost always on the world economy.  Next year France hosts, then, in 2012, President Barack Obama.  The exact locations have not been announced.

2.  The G20 meets in Toronto from tomorrow.  How can the leaders be in two places at once?  Well, these are finance ministers and bank governors from the most prominent nations, plus the European Union. Europe remains dominant in the proceedings mostly because they invented the concept.  Seoul will be the next gathering in November.

3.  I have a prediction on both meetings.  Nothing monumental will be decided.  Maybe Barack is waiting for the 2012 summit to foist on the world the 10% solution, although I wouldn't hold your breath waiting.

4.  This is Day 67 of the oil spill, and BP reports about 15 million gallons of petroleum have been recaptured.  That is less than 10% the 169 million gallons that might have leaked.  Remember, the Exxon Valdez was 11 million gallons.  However, at least 30% of the gush is now being recovered, and might well be 75% if the high end 2.5 million gallons per day is, instead, say, 1 million GPD.  However, there remain 2 billion gallons in that reservoir.  I can't imagine how two relief wells tapping into this same pool will stop the flow from the damaged one.  The big fear now is a possible major storm (see below).

5.  Congressional negotiators apparently reached agreement on the financial regulation legislation, meaning that President Obama should be able to sign the bill soon after the July 4th break.  Bank stocks zoomed up because the compromise allows them wiggle room to compete at the international level.  The uncertainty is gone.  Let's see now, medical care has passed, now Wall Street has been checked.  That's a pretty good record for the Administration.  What about energy and the environment?  You would think that the oil spill would have greased the track for passage.  However, there is something about direct personal grief that is not present with gasoline prices steady and carbon dioxide increases not inconveniencing anyone.  Unless tens of millions perish from heat this summer or oil suddenly skyrockets to $150/barrel, nothing much will happen.  Who is to blame?  Read "Why is There No National Energy Policy?"

6.  Televised coverage of Ghana (#32) versus the USA (#14) on ABC will begin Saturday at 2:30PM EDT or 8:30 Hawaii time.  On the basis of ratings, the USA should win.  Ah, but there is something about this game that makes this all so unpredictable.  Ironically enough, Ghana knocked the U.S. out of the World Cup in 2006.  Interesting that, if American prevails, they won't need to play against the victor of Germany versus England.  Instead, we would play the winner of South Korea versus Uruguay.  Oh, John Isner got zapped today at Wimbledon.



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The Dow Jones Industrials edged down 9 to 10,144, while world markets also mostly dropped, the Japan Nikkei minus 191 to 9737.  Gold increased $13/toz to $1256 and crude oil is around $79/barrel.

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There are three storms in the Atlantic (one close to Africa) and two in the Pacific.  Hurricanes Celia (130 MPH) and Hurricane Darby (120 MPH) are monsters, but, if you look at those colors, it is almost certain that they will begin to dissipate over the next few days by moving over cooler waters.
Global Sea-Surface Temperature

However, that pestiferous tropical depression is still expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico, and BP says it needs 5 days notice to safely evacuate.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

USA 71 - FRANCE 68

Huh? How can this be?  I'll explain, but first, tomorrow I'll cover portions of the 67th day of the oil spill, Obama-Medvedev meeting in the White House (Medvedev was on the Stanford campus yesterday), the beginning of the G8/20 summit in Huntsville (140 miles north of Toronto) and whatever else of import is happening on Planet Earth.

For today, this will be all sports, and, 71-58 is the combined score of the U.S. versus Algeria (territory of France for more than a century until independence in 1962) World Cup victory (1-0) and the 70-68 game five ultra marathon of John Isner (USA, ranked #19, AP photo) over Nicolas Mahut (France, #73) at Wimbledon.  

My only true athletic passion was during a two year period from my sophomore to senior year of high school (and I covered this in one of my Epilogues) when I actually played tennis on 698 of 700 days.  This was always in the heat of the afternoon, and, there was no such thing as sun block then.  My face shows it today.  This was way before Kurt Vonnegut didn't warn MIT graduates in 1997 about sunblock.  This was, it turns out, a cyber-joke, leading to the following statement by, Chicago Tribune reporter Mary Schmich:

"Oh, Kurt Vonnegut may appear to be a brilliant, revered male novelist. I may appear to be a mediocre and virtually unknown female newspaper columnist. We may appear to have nothing in common but unruly hair. But out in the lawless swamp of cyberspace, Mr. Kurt Vonnegut and I are one. Out there, where any snake can masquerade as king, both of us are the author of a graduation speech that began with the immortal words: "Wear sunscreen".

But back to that incredible tennis match, I've gone, maybe, 10-8 in a game, but not much further.  You can click on Wimbledon for the details, and in a clip wonder what a shrimp Mahut must be.  He is 6 feet three inches tall!  It's just that Isner is 6'9''.   Ivo Karlovic is reportedly just a shade taller.  The match was called for darkness twice (meaning they were on Day 3, but they "only" were on the court for a little more than 11 hours), and the previous highest score in a professional match in my memory was in the low to mid twenties for both players.  Isner, incidentally, next plays Thiemo de Bakker (Netherlands, #49) who squeezed by to win his fifth by a score of 16-14.  There is something about the grass surface and dominance of serves that induce such numbers. For people living in Hawaii, they play at 11PM tonight (9AM GMT on Friday).  You can live stream online, but those ads are irritating.  Also at Eurorivals.



THE U.S.-GHANA SOCCER KNOCKOUT ROUND WILL BE SHOWN SATURDAY ON ABC BEGINNING AT 8:30AM HAWAII TIME, OR 6:30PM GMT.  The World Cup Championship will be aired by ABC at 7:30AM (Hawaii time, 5:30PM GMT) on Sunday, July 11.

My lunch today was a Rainbow Drive-In spaghetti special:  kind of a bolognese, with a hot dog, macaroni salad and two scoops of rice, just what my body does not need.  If I die prematurely, this take-out bento place will be to blame.  I had this terrific meal with a beer close by this golden tree on the slopes of Diamond Head.

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The Dow Jones Industrials sunk 146 to 10,152, and the Japan Nikkei might have been the only market to remain plus for the day.  Gold went $6/toz to $1243 and crude oil is at $76/barrel.


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That minor disturbance in the Caribbean, still at 30 MPH, is appearing to strengthen, and most models show it striking the Yucatan Peninsula, but recovering in the Gulf of Mexico.  How serious?  Not sure yet, but two of those pathways go right by the gulf oil spill.

Those two Pacific storms are now hurricanes, Celia and Darby.  Celia is at 130 MPH, but expected to weaken over the next few days as she heads towards Hawaii.


Darby is at 80 MPH, and, if anything, should veer towards Mexico.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

USA 1 - Algeria 0

I'm not a soccer fan.  I've been reporting on the World Cup, but find greater interest in vuvuzelas and vultures.  This morning I got up at 3:58AM to take a pee, and on returning to bed vaguely remembered that at 3:30AM America was playing some African team in this competition, so turned on the TV.  I guess they start half an hour late, as the game had just began.  Five minutes later I fell asleep, but woke up at the 80 minute mark (play goes on for 90 minutes plus any stoppage time).  Then I learned that the U.S., still at zero to zero, had to win to remain in the Cup, as England was close to beating Slovakia 1-0.  The final group matches are played at the same time (in different stadiums) so the teams don't automatically play for ties if both would automatically get into the next round by doing so.  Somebody is thinking, but that was caused by a previous incident.

At some point after the 90 minute mark was reached (stoppage was determined to be 4 minutes), a miracle! Landon Donovan, the best soccer player ever for America, booted in the most significant goal ever for his country.  (That's Donovan with what appears to be the ball being hit by his right hand--but that's an optical illusion.)  The USA beat Algeria 1-0, and not only made it to the next round of 16, but edged England to win Group C, meaning the team will now face the second place team of the group featuring Germany.  You don't want to play Germany.  The last time we ever won a group was 80 years ago.  Next match on Saturday.

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The Dow Jones Industrials crept up 5 to 10,298, while world markets were almost all down, the Japan Nikkei dropping 189 to 9924.   Gold fell $4/toz to $1237 and crude oil is at $76/barrel.

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That Atlantic storm is still there, but in the Pacific, the three have dropped to two.  Hurricane Celia is turning into a strong one, now at 115 MPH, but soon to surpass 130MPH
Right behind her is tropical storm Darby, already up to 65 MPH.  I thought the Atlantic was supposed get all the hurricanes, leaving the Pacific somewhat quiet?
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GOLD

I daily report on the price of gold because a sudden rise usually means that recession is coming.  In my serialization of Book 2, the 23December09 posting of this blog featured gold.  The following shares additional information.

1.  One troy ounce (toz) = 1.097 ordinary or avoirdupois ounce = 480 grains = 31.1 grams.  In other words, if gold is worth $1200 / toz, should you receive this precious metal in ounces, your value would only be $1094.  


2.  The highest price of gold was about $1250/toz on 11June10, and about because it depends on whether you are citing futures, a point during the day and so on.  Of course, this is nothing compared to the $875/toz peak of 1980, which today, would have a value of $2,280.

3.  South Africa is where most of this gold comes from, right?  Wrong!  South Africa is third to China (by far the leader) and Australia.  The U.S. is #4, but dropped 9% over the past year.   Russia is #5 and Indonesia #6, but increased 55% from the year prior.

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The Dow Jones Industrials dropped 149 to 10,293, while world markets mostly went down.  The Japan Nikkei fell 171 to 9942.  Gold decreased $3/toz to $1243 and crude oil is at $77/barrel.

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There is a small disturbance south of Cuba, and computer models hint of a possible pathway into the Gulf of Mexico.

There remain three storms in the Pacific, with Hurricane Celia diminishing now to 90 MPH, but expected to strengthen over the next day or two, then decrease again.


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Monday, June 21, 2010

THE LONGEST DAY





1.  Yes, today is the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere, which means it is the shortest day in the Southern Hemisphere.  The North Pole has 24 hours of sunlight, the South Pole zero and Equator, as always, 12 hours.  This means that, surprisingly enough for most, the Sun sets at 8:33PM in Sacramento and 8:07 in Los Angeles.  Could the North-South location cause this large difference?  Honolulu's sunset is 7:16 because we are not on daylight savings time.  But Honolulu is at around the 21st parallel and Los Angeles is at 34 (much more north), so something is amiss here.  Ah, it must also be that East-West position relative to the time zone.  Thus, for that Sacramento-Los Angeles sunset time differential, the East-West positioning also materially contributes to the difference.  Hard to believe, but Sacramento is WEST of Los Angeles.

2.  Day 62 of the oil spill meant more suits, countersuits, static for President Obama and pain for BP and the people (small and large) of the region.  Here are some interesting comparisons:

a.  About 100 million gallons of oil have spilled over the past two months.  That is 0.1 billion gallons.  BP reported that this reservoir from which they are tapping has 2.1 billion gallons.  THERE ARE 2 BILLION GALLONS REMAINING.

b.  If refined into gasoline, Americans would use that up in less than 4 hours.

c.  If each American were given this oil, it would amount to four cans of soda.


3.  Did you know that the deadlines of American pullout from Iraq and Afghanistan are getting real close?  From Iraq, only 9 days away. From Afghanistan?  About a year.  Will this happen?  Of course, but not quite, for, remember, we are still in Germany, Japan and South Korea.  Just remember that we need to lose the war, as in Vietnam, to get kicked out.


4.  Noticed that 90% of those vuvuzelas annoying everyone at the World Cup come from China.  The sound emanating from just one of them go up to 127 decibels.  See the story in You Tube.  Actually, as long as you don't already have a headache, the buzzing background adds a unique character to the competition.  South America still has not lost a game.  USA (#14) plays Algeria (#30) on Wednesday.

The day ended with Mufi and Amy.



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After a good start because China yesterday announced that they will play fair on their monetary policy, the Dow Jones Industrials eased back down 8 to 10,442.  Markets in the Orient zoomed up and the Japan Nikkei is now at 10,238.  Gold sunk $24/toz to $1233 and crude oil seems headed to a 6-week high of $78/barrel.


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We're back to one storm in the Atlantic and three in the Pacific.  Hurricane Celia is strengthening:

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

*YOU WILL BE AMAZED TO LEARN THAT...


1.  Last month was the warmest May on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Well, that was not so amazing, but this is:  the 303rd consecutive month that a month was warmer than its 20th century average.   That's a monthly string of more than 25 years.  Global warming?   Kuwait City hit 51 degrees C (124 F) this week, but the Planet Earth record is 58 C (136 F) in El Azizia, Libya on 13September 1922.  The hottest in the U.S. was Death Valley, California on 10July1913:  57C (134 F).  A ways to go to get to the Venus Syndrome, though, as that planet is at 464 C (867 F).  The atmosphere is almost 97% carbon dioxide.  Now that is truly global warming.

2.  Will global warming result in more twisters?  Most serious scientists are loathe to link the two, with a general response that these studies are just beginning.  But it's just about being accepted now that a warmer ocean will induce more ferocious hurricanes.  Warmer atmospheres must also have an effect on winds and twisters.
If you think we have been having more tornadoes this year, well, the USA averages 1200/year, the most of any country, although the Netherlands has more per unit area, and the UK is probably #2.    Amazingly enough, Nebraska and Kansas are lamenting the lack of twisters.  None so far this year.  Why is this bad?  Well, tornadoes draw chasers, the media and tourists.  Restaurants and hotels are having a down year, and not only because of the economy.







3.  In the World Cup, I this morning actually watched the greatest soccer match played by the All Whites (as opposed to All Blacks for their world class rugby team), as New Zealand (their basketball team is known as All Tall, or was that Tall Blacks?)  tied Italy 1-1. The amazing thing is that I have never watched an entire soccer game from beginning to end before.  European teams are officially in disarray, especially France, which could lose its coach, Raymond Domenech, today and name Laurent Blanc (above) to replace him.  Anyhoo it's just a matter of time.

Incredibly, the most unlikely victim could well be the already endangered vulture.  There is a general belief that smoking (yes, smoking) the brain of this bird increases your power of prediction.  People pay $500 just for one fowl.  The World Cup causing a species to go extinct?














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The Atlantic storm has dissipated, Tropical Storm Blas is also weakening, but Tropical Storm Celia is gaining strength and heading in the Hawaii direction.  A red dot means from 111-130 MPH.



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I should have started with Happy Dad's Day.  Two years ago I wrote about Father's Day, so that should suffice.  Otherwise, the Manoa Campus around my office is gorgeous in June.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

THE GOLDEN EVOLUTION (Part 44): Religion and Politics in the United States

The following continues the serialization of Chapter 5 on Religion from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:



Religion and Politics in the United States

 


While the United States has since its founding separated church from state, the election process is deeply influenced by religion. Clearly, the Democrats regained control of the White House and Congress because they neutralized religion in politics by using a trump car, the Iraq War. This is the simple solution and a personal opinion shaped by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life 2005 survey on the subject of religion in politics in the United States. The Pew Charitable Trusts fund the Pew Research Center, and while the Foundation was founded by Sun Oil money, sentiment is now mostly liberal. The Pew Foundation’s entire executive office is reportedly run by women. Notwithstanding, I think their survey report makes a lot sense.

From this publication, it is no surprise that 44% of the American public thinks that liberals who are not religious have too much control of the Democratic Party, while about the same percentage says that religious conservatives have too much influence over the Republican Party. About half feels that Republicans protect religious freedoms (versus 28% for Democrats) and half that Democrats protect individual freedom (versus 30% for Republicans). There is thus a definite sense: Republicans for Church, Democrats for the People. Social programs are not enough.

Thus, getting elected in America, a country where, according to this survey, 78% say God created life on Earth, means you must do something about this belief gap. It would be impossible to quickly modify the family structure or teach some higher sense of reality in an educational system which seems to have no influence anyway, so how do you  contend with the current public impression where 59% see Republicans as friendly to religion, with the figure for Democrats being 29%?


o      Catholic 95%
o      Black 94%
o      Jewish 92%
o      Woman 88%
o      Mormon 72%
o      Atheist 45%


An atheist came in last, that is, only 45% of Americans would even think about voting for an atheist. Now you know why Congressman Stark was the first member to say that he did not believe in a god.

Beliefnet, in partnership with Time magazine, has a web page featuring the God-o-Meter (www.beliefnet.com/godometer). Presidential candidates are rated, with ten being perfect (Mike Huckabee, former Baptist minister, is a 10) and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton safely maintain a rating in the range of 8. Interestingly enough, Mit Romney now and then drops below 5 because Beliefnet seems somewhat conservative in philosophy, and I’m not sure if a Mormon meets their test. An atheist would score a 0. Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, believes in God, but not in evolution.

Read the book: How the Republicans Stole Christmas. The author, Bill Press, says that Democrats are uncomfortable talking about God. Plus, Republicans simply ask, do you want to stop abortion and gay marriage? Most Americans do. They vote Republican. They voted for George W. Bush. Democrats might ask, picture God, or Jesus. Would he be a caring liberal Democrat or a grabbing Republican ultra conservative? There surely must be a marketing plan being refined on this theme, as the Iraq War is soon to be over.

There are 6 to 7 million Muslims living in the U.S. There are 535 members in the U.S. Congress. One is now a Muslim, and he was only recently elected. (The number was recently doubled, as Andre Carson of Indiana was elected to Congress in 2008, complementing Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota.  Both are Democrats.)  On a per capita basis, this number should be around 10 members. The problem, of course, is that Muslims tend to be scattered across the Nation and have not yet attained any critical voting mass status. Ethnicity and religion are dominant factors in the election process.

The 2008 presidential elections provide an apt platform for diversity. All Republican candidates are White, Christian and male, even Mormon Mitt Romney. The Democrats have a rare gender (female) and ethnic (Black-White and Spanish) mix. The U.S. has never had a female nor black president. One of these two will most likely become the next President of the United States of America. But no avowed atheists have been announced, although in an early debate, three Republican hopefuls admitted that they don’t believe in evolution: Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado. Frighteningly, from my perspective, there was potential for one of these politicians to lead the country.

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There remain, apparently, one storm in the Atlantic and three in the Pacific.  Tropical Storm Blas, instead of weakening, strengthened to 65 MPH and is continuing to move West towards Hawaii.  All indications, though, hint of dissipation.  But Tropical Storm Celia, also heading West, is on the heels of Blas, and should attain hurricane status tomorrow!
Global Sea-Surface Temperature
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