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Monday, January 31, 2011

WHERE IS THE NEXT EARTH?

My Chapter 4 on Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity details the subject, and was serialized in this blog beginning 17November2009.  I've had a special fascination for SETI from my days at the Ames Research Center more than a third of a century ago when I was acquainted with the leaders of The Next Billion Years (Project Cyclops) and was selected to participate on Project Orion.

In those days, the key question was:  Are we the only solar system in the Universe?  Our illustrious group was asked by NASA to design a telescope to detect planets revolving around other stars.

Since then, scientists have found more than 500 exoplanets, but all of them were surmised from wobbles or lucky transit hits.  There is yet no systematic means of directly detecting planets beyond our solar system.  In fact, since the mid-70's, we have been plutoed, as there are now only eight planets around our Sun.

The newest popular space project is Kepler  (left) to search for Earth-like planets, an effort that was shot into orbit last year.  Kepler will measure diminution of star light on the chance of a transiting planet.

However, in 2006, the European Union launched CoRot (right, for Convection Rotation and Planetary Transit) to do exactly the same thing.  COROPT sounded corrupt.  So why did the USA copy them, especially when Kepler cost $660 million (about the annual budget of all Department of Energy solar energy research/year during both the Clinton and younger Bush administrations)?  Well, something like this takes a long time to succeed, and Kepler took more than a quarter century of planning.  Appreciate, also, that politicians are not as swift as astrophysicists in wordsmithing and as akamai to give the appearance of general harmony.  Try to find one serious article asking why the world needed both CoRoT and Kepler.  Well, on the other hand, better than spending $3 trillion on Middle East wars.

Godspeed, Kepler.  Now on to NASA's Curiosity (left), a space robot to be sent to Mars this Fall at a cost of $2.5 billion.  Hate to say it, but the European Union also has ExoMars (right), once scheduled for this year, but now delayed until 2018.   Oh, NASA is cooperating with the European Union on this parallel project.  Why?  Again, why this redundancy, especially as we won't go to Mars until way past 2100, if then, or ever?

If anything, splurge on MY idea.  What is MY idea?  You need to go to my 24November2009 blog for those details.  In short, both Kepler and CoRoT measure star dimming, while the PAT (for Planetary Abstracting Trinterferometer) terrestrial system is  based on lasing atmospheres so that you can not only track exoplanets, but also determine the composition.  In these days of tight budgets, PAT will cost a tenth of ExoMars.  To express your astonishment and simplify your inquiry, e-mail me at PatKenTak@Hotmail.Com.

You got to wonder if all these space expenses are warranted, and the answer is no, but don't kill the entire effort.  Forget about another Apollo to the Moon or certainly a Man on Mars effort.  And enough for the Space Shuttle, for each shot cost more than a billion dollars.  If they want to, let the private sector take over...although they will still need to lobby Congress for funding.  That is SpaceX's Falcon launch of last month.

As William Borucki, lead scientist for the Kepler Project has waxed, the quest for other worlds is the equivalent of building the great cathedrals.  Yes, but not really, for the grand churches were built and we see them.  If we don't find anything, as is seeming to be evident, then the effort could well attain ghost story status.  But we got to try!

The greatest problem could well be the astronomical distances of potential other Earths.  Voyager 1 (below), traveling at 39,000 miles per hour, will take another 300,000 years just to reach what looks like the most

promising current exo-option, Gliese 581, "only" 20 light-years away (one light year is 6 trillion miles).  The fastest pistol bullet travels less than 1000 miles/hour.  Kepler will look for exoplanets 500 to 3,000 light years away, but in only a certain portion of the sky (see right above).  How relatively insignificant is this?  The distance from one end of just our Milky Way Galaxy to the other is 100,000 light years.

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The Dow Jones Industrials jumped up 68 to 11,892, while world markets were mixed.  Keep in mind that this present economic turmoil probably means U.S. stocks are the the most trustworthy of all, so look for 12,000 soon.  Gold fell $3/toz to $1333 and petroleum is at $92/barrel, although the Brent Spot price is a shade under $100/barrel.

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Queensland, watch out for Tropical Cyclone Yasi, already at 105 MPH, and will strengthen into a Category 4 for expected landfall within 48 hours:



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Sunday, January 30, 2011

*SUNDAY, 30Jan2011, ON PLANET EARTH

A few interesting bonbons for another Sunday on Planet Earth:

1.  Observing the tribulations of American travelers in Egypt can only remind me of the the time Pearl and I went through hell in Cairo when there was peace and security.  And here, I was actually contemplating a stop in Egypt on my upcoming Fall World adventure.  You just never learn.

2.  I noticed that the Hoover Dam bypass bridge cost $250 million, when the whole hydroelectric system was built for $50 million when it was commissioned in 1936.  This is debatable, but around 150 workers died during construction.  Oh, $50 million then is worth about $1 billion ($781 million by Consumer Price Index and $10 billion as relative share of GDP) today.

3.  #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 is Grenade by Bruno Mars.  He grew up in Honolulu and played a cool "youngest" Elvis at the age of 4.  Yes, there is that recent cocaine bust, but his lawyers might gain only probation for him.

4.  Interesting that only 6% of U.S. scientists identify themselves as Republicans, while 55% are Democrats.  Congressional decisions about issues such as Global Warming are thusly being affected.

5.  "No one party can fool all the people all the time.  That's why we have two parties."  (Bob Hope)

6.  Yes, it's a beautiful (but hazy) day again, and on the horizon is where the Pro Bowl will be played in a few hours:


...and my water lilies are happy:


Ending with just another sunset:




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Tropical Cyclone Anthony which did nothing for almost a week, suddenly strengthened and made landfall over Queensland at 93 MPH, causing some damage.  However, right behind is a new storm, Tropical Cyclone Yasi, already at hurricane strength (75 MPH), but expected to strengthen into a Category 4 monster.


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Saturday, January 29, 2011

SO, HAS DOOMSDAY BEGUN?

No!  The government of Egypt might fall (photo above from the New York Times), but the military will take over for a while.  This regularly happens in Thailand.  The U.S. last year provided $1.3 billion in military aid, plus $0.25 billion in economic aid last year to President Mubarak, the sum which is actually less than the $2 billion of almost a decade ago.  Thus, the U.S. will generally maintain good relations with the country.  

Israel (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to left), by the way, got $3.2 billion in 2010 ($0.4 economic and $2.8 billion military).  If any country looms to be in greater jeopardy, this is the one, for as tenuous as the current situation might be, it could get worse as extremists gain in control around them.

The Tunisian and Egyptian revolts occurred primarily because of dictatorial rule and people in an economic survival mode just plain couldn't take it anymore.  This is like a viral infection, for the world wide media feeds this exhibition of public anger to any susceptible hosts, making other countries in Africa and the Middle East particularly prone, as this is all happening in their regional backyard.  Thus, it would not be surprising if a few other countries like Sudan, Yemen and Algeria go through the motions of revolt.

Saudi Arabia should survive, but all their leaders are old.  King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Azia is 86, while designated successor, Crown Prince Sultan is 82, and in bad health.  #3 could be Prince Nayef bin Abdul Azis, but even he is 76.

If, perchance, the revolution bug infects Saudi Arabia, though the world will be in trouble.  And, if Peak Oil is attained during this period, a real economic depression could hit.

There is, though, a kind of check and balance regarding oil prices, as an economic collapse would mean that less oil will be used, dropping the price.  In short, all these contradictions and mixed signals serve to neutralize extreme shifts, so, while the stock market over the next few weeks will become metastable, gold will increase in value and spikes will occur in the petroleum market, the World will, in time, recover and there won't be any kind of ultimate doomsday, at least not in the Mayan sense or The Venus Syndrome.


Friday, January 28, 2011

ENJOY LIFE

I thought my doomsday posting today was too, too gloomy, so, as I just saw the Green Flash at sunset, thought I'd end the day with a more upbeat message.  First, when I awoke this morning, I saw a beautiful rainbow:


Then, for lunch, I went to Padovani's Grill, a relatively new restaurant located in the Uraku Tower near the Ala Moana Shopping Center, where many dining establishments have come and gone.  I remember Philippe Padovani from his La Mer days a quarter century ago.  His later effort at the Doubletree Hotel went bankrupt, so he became a chocolatier in downtown Honolulu until this latest venture.

I had two wines:  an Auvigne St-Veran Chardonnay and a St Francis Chardonnay.  The American one was cheaper, but more to my liking, for I find French chardonnays to be lacking in that buttery quality I savor from the oak of California wineries.  That first piece of bread is always important, and I was served a Black Olive roll, which was okay.
I started with two appetizers together:  baked escargots in porcelain and a weak Caesar salad, but that is because the chef no doubt was trying to improve on it.  I don't think he succeeded. The snail was gritty, but of superb taste.  Yes, I bit into a few grains of a sandy material, which was troublesome.  I hope this was anomalous.
My main course was a pleasant ahi risotto.  I like these fusion combinations.  I only recently began to enjoy this Italian rice dish because I previously thought the rice was not sufficiently cooked.  Now, all my pasta has to be served al dente (slightly firm). While not quite the white truffles risotto of the La Terrazza dell'Eden, that plate in Rome cost at least ten times more.
All in all, irrespective of my less than complimentary comments, lunch today was a positive experience, for the service was outstanding and decor pleasing.  I'll probably go back a second time, for epicurean options are minimal for lunch.



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HAS DOOMSDAY BEGUN?

When Peak Oil finally happens, you will know about it months, if not years, after the true peak.  As the Second Energy Crisis led to the almost great recession of 1980 and the $147/barrel oil spike of 2008 caused the Great Recession, the next oil crisis could well trigger another depression.

However, when was the beginning of this new world crisis?  I would identify the Jasmine Rebellion, which resulted in the end of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, as the spark that catalyzed the fall of Arab dictators.  Still don't know what I'm talking about?  Well, on 17December2010, Sidi Bouzid, street vendor and unemployed computer technician, immolated himself (he passed away on 4January2011), leading to the fall of President of Tunisia Ben Ali.  

The shock was that Tunisia is one of the most successful of African nations, for Ben Ali in two decades of rule built up the educational system, protected women's rights, stamped out Islamic radicalism and expanded tourism.  His problem was that his personal family flaunted their dominance.  The educated are highly unemployed.  A stable government finds jobs for its college graduates.  China is beginning to run into this problem, for it is the younger generation with computer smarts that can instantly turn around a country.  Twitter and Facebook have made a monster out of civil protest.

Now we have Egypt, and President Hosni Mubarak, who might have abdicated by the time you read this posting, for his family has already left the country.  (Right President Mubarak and below a photo by Peter Macdiamid of Getty Images.)  Next, perhaps, Yemen, Sudan, Algeria, Mauritania, Libya and Jordan.  If Saudi Arabia goes, look for $150/barrel oil.  Three things are inevitable:  Muslim extremists will strengthen their position, oil prices will jump and the world economy will again tumble.  Who knows where this will lead.  Doomsday? 


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The Dow Jones Industrials reflected the above doomsday notice, falling 166 to 11,824, as did virtually all world markets.  Gold, of course (people are taking money out of the market into a commodity), jumped, +$25/toz to $1336, and oil, as would be expected, will go up, the NYMEX approaching $90/barrel and Brent spot could reach for $100/barrel.  (See the NYMEX petroleum price to the right.)

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Tropical Cyclones Wilma and Bianca in the vicinity of Australia are weakening.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

GLOBAL WARMING UPDATE



In the right column you can view my current thinking about global climate change.  ExxonMobil, in their annual Outlook for Energy, reported at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi that carbon emissions will rise by 25% in 20 years.  Remember the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 when the world was asked to reduce their emissions by 5% from their 1990 level?  Know what happened? 

Well, first, we know all too well that the USA chose not to sign any treaty, while China and India went ballistic in fossil fuel consumption.  The world carbon emission did not decrease by 5%, but instead increased by 38% between 1990 and 2007, with the U.S. +19%, China +156% and India +140%.  Europe did well, with Germany at -15%.  However, all signs show that the European Union is almost giving up, as their emissions trading system was halted (due to fraud) and they are now beginning to feel that if the world doesn’t cooperate, they too will abandon attempts to control carbon emissions.  Well, that’s not exactly what they want, for they remain concerned, but they are losing economic competitiveness, shackled by these restrictions.


If you really want to view the above, just zoom in, but if you're lazy, particularly note that big purple in the middle, which is China.
Now, with Republicans controlling the House of Representatives, count on nothing progressive happening in the USA for at least two more years.  And if you think the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, China, will suddenly become as conscientious as German, forget about that.  As millions won’t die from a suddenly hot summer, as explained in my 2August2010 posting, ExxonMobil will be correct, and Planet Earth, already showing signs of reaching a critical threshold, could well reach the tipping point.
By the way, 2010 tied 2005 as the hottest year on record, going back to 1880.  House Republicans earlier this month, though, as soon as they gained power, gleefully began the process of burying any global climate change efforts.  Here is the recent Pew Research Center poll on the politics of global warming:

Read this chart and weep for Planet Earth and Humanity.


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The Dow Jones Industrials again loitered above 12,000, but only went up 4 to 11,990.  12,000 tomorrow????  World markets were mixed, gold crashed $33/toz to $1311 and the NYMEX petroleum is now at $85.6/barrel, with the Brent Spot at $97/barrel.






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Tropical Cyclone Wilma is now down to 50 MPH and is heading for New Zealand while Tropical Cyclone Bianca is at 105 MPH, but prefers to remain in the ocean sliding down the west side of Australia.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I WAS DISAPPOINTED WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA'S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

A surprisingly good percentage of viewers (80-90%), but the hardest core Republicans and potential presidential competitors, thought reasonably well of President Obama's State of the Union talk yesterday.  Yes, it was somewhat visionary and called for the country to pull together for the common good, and the general bipartisan seating was an encouraging initial step.

Those were fine and expected, but even some liberal pundits were underwhelmed with the mixed signals.  A few Republicans were especially on the mark, indicating the deficit reductions Obama suggested only amounted to $40 billion/year for ten years, with the total sum of $400 billion but a third of only the 2010 budget deficit.  Obama tried to placate everyone--he should have been a lot more Governor Abercrombie-esque (photo below by Julio Bayez) who pissed off everyone, even his supporters, but did it in a manner that had most thinking, yes, we must do something, as long as we share equally in the burden.


My further disappointment with President Obama is more specific.  The greatest opportunity for budget reduction is in defense.  I've said it a hundred times, and most recently only three days ago, but initially summarized in my Huffington Post article of August 2008.  As a Commander in Chief who leans in the peace direction, with a Secretary of Defense at least open to significant reductions, Obama nevertheless felt compelled to state that the defense budget was immune to any cutback or freeze.  Why?  Even Congressman John Boehner and Congressman Eric Cantor have recently indicated their willingness to consider the bloated defense budget.  Yes, Obama wants to get re-elected, but talk to Governor Abercrombie, please.

All this negativity on my part begs for a story that takes me 30 years back to 1981 when I somehow was selected by Senator Spark Matsunaga to gain a seat in the balcony of the House to view President Ronald Reagan's State of the Union message.  I cannot recollect anything of what he said.  However, how many of you remember that, exactly like the economic collapse Obama faced two years ago, President Ronald Reagan arrived in 1981 under similar recession circumstances, as the Second Energy Crisis had sent oil prices skyrocketing just as they did in 2008.  Congress gave Reagan a $750 billion stimulus package (which today would be worth almost $2,000 billion, or $2 trillion).  What boggles my mind is that Republicans caused the crash of 2008, had to help provide $789 billion to prevent a depression, and then criticized Obama for breaking the budget.  And people believe them!

Why this ending diversion?  I don't know, I guess I'm just upset with the general populace for doing nothing much about the next coming monumental shock to be sparked by Peak Oil and Global Heating.  Yes, blame Congress, the White House, oil companies, the military-industrial-complex, whatever...but the fault is yours, and mine.

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The Dow Jones Industrials jerked around 12,000 for much of the day, but only went up 8 to 11,985.  12,000 tomorrow????  World markets mostly increased, gold jumped $12/toz to $1385 and NYMEX petroleum is at around $88/barrel.

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There remain two hurricanes, Tropical Cyclone Bianca (75 MPH) West of Australia, and Tropical Cyclone Wilma (130 MPH) to the East, just above New Zealand.  As the following shows, Wilma is expected weaken on her trek south:



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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ANOTHER GREAT DAY IN HONOLULU

Imagine a Tuesday when your day involved:

  1.  Riding on a cart at the Ala Wai Golf Course for 18 holes, followed by a draft Heineken and jumbo hotdog.

  2.  After a short wait, reading a dated issue of Scientific American (and tomorrow, or soon thereafter, my blog will be titled, Dark People--no, nothing racial, but if you have any inkling about Dark Energy and Dark Matter--something you cannot see, which makes up about 96% of our Universe--there is at least one theory that a portion of this unseeable 96% could well be people invisible to us, i.e., Dark People...hmmm...oh, they also can't see us...ghosts??), I walked 9 holes with a second group at this same course.  I will repeat this on Thursday.

  3.  Then, after months of seeking the ideal location to find Peking Duck (my next Huffington Post epicurean posting following "How to Roast a Turkey" will be "How to Make Peking Duck"), I saw in this past Sunday's Dining Out section of the Star Advertiser an article on On On, which features this dish.  So on the way home I stopped by and splurged on a take-out order of half a Peking Duck, with all the usual trimmings:  six buns, plum sauce and green onions.  With a bottle of Tsingtao beer, I ate almost the whole thing, but had enough leftover bones and meat to make duck soup.  This was the best Peking Duck I've had in Hawaii, and at only a total cost of $17.05, with the 10% discount that extends until the end of this month.

  4.    I then happened to glance out the window and photographed the following:


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The Dow Jones Industrials slipped 3 to 11,977, with world markets mixed.  12,000 tomorrow???  Gold increased $2/toz to $1333 and NYMEX crude oil is at $86/barrel (London Brent Spot at $95/barrel).

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Tropical Storm Bianca just popped up, is already at 50 MPH, will track the northwest corner of Australia, and attain hurricane force strength tomorrow.  Tropical Cyclone Wilma is now at 105 MPH after blowing through Tonga, causing some damage, will attain Category 4 strength (131-155 MPH) and head towards New Zealand.  Anthony continues to move nowhere in the seas to the northeast of Australia.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

YOU THINK LIFE SUCKS?

Well, you should be eminently thankful, for you can read, are mostly solvent and hopefully are in general good health.  Sure, some of you can continue to feel sorry for yourself, but just imagine being born blind and deaf.  That was Helen Keller.  The miracle worker was Anne Sullivan, seen to the left when Helen was 8 years old.   Keller went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree and became a noted author, even helping found the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920.  Frankly, I think the ACLU has lost it's true purpose today, but maybe that's just me. Anyway, see the movie The Miracle Worker (there is also a Disney TV version), based on Keller's autobiography, and get to appreciate your life a little bit, if not a lot, more.

What inspired me to touch on this topic was Michael Tsai's column this morning on Patrick Gartside.  You can click on the article if you missed it, but here is a 28-year-old from Moiliili who has already donated one of his kidneys to a stranger and awaiting a time when he might contribute part (there is only one in your body) of his liver (yes, this is possible) to another needy person.  He has donated blood 40 times and "his only health issues seem to be a pathological compulsion to continue helping and a severe allergy to praise."  Part of Patrick's extraordinariness is that he is almost normal (you got to wonder  a bit  about something mental--but this is what makes him special).  

Many other handicapped individuals perform off the charts, as for example, Liu Wei, who I featured in my blog of 11October2010.  He brushes his teeth, writes and plays the piano with his toes, as both of his arms were amputated when he was 8.  He won the first China's Got Talent last year with James Blunts' "You're Beautiful."  He believes:

   I have two options--I can die as fast as possible, or I can live a brilliant life.  I chose the latter.

Ben Underwood can "see" without eyes and Daniel Tammet, an autistic savant, has memorized the value of pi to 22,531 places.  There is so much we don't yet know about the brain that could be the hope for Humanity's survival.

There are extraordinary people you'll never know, and, of course the one in a billion truly talented:

1.  Kim Ung-Yong, who has an IQ of 210 (Marilyn Vos Savant's has been reported to be 228--Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates at 160, Benjamin Netanyahu 180, and chess masters Bobby Fisher and Gary Kasparov around 190) began his studies in physics at the age of three at Hanyang University in Korea.

2.  Cleopatra Stratan had a record album out at the age of 3.

3.  Two-year-old artist Aelita Andre:

But most of us are born only normal.  Attitude has almost everything to do with your success if you  are average.    There is so much more any one of you can do a lot better only by showing some decisiveness and being reasonably perseverant.

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The Dow Jones Industrials did not quite reach 12,000, but did jump 109 to 11,981, with world markets also mostly up. Gold fell $6/toz to $1335, while the New York Merchantile Exchange (NYMEX) price of oil is at $87.63/barrel, with the London Brent Spot petroleum at $95.74/barrel.  Two thirds of world oil is quoted through the latter.  Why such a big discrepancy?  Not sure what is happening these days, for there is historically a + or - $3/barrel difference, and the Brent Spot I've seen lower than the NYMEX.  The recent drop on both prices, though, is probably related to a Saudi Arabian announcement that they would be producing more oil to settle the market.

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Tropical Cyclone Wilma is, indeed, a strange storm.  If the following tracking diagram from Weather Underground is correct, Wilma appeared to have formed over Australia (yes, land, although some reports indicate that it formed near Samoa), then moved east at 40 MPH through New Caledonia (maybe), strengthened a bit and traipsed through the Samoas, made an almost about face back southwest, than zagged southeast towards New Zealand, but again twisted back southwest with hurricane force winds of 75 MPH, should pass over Tonga within two days and move in the direction of Southern Australia and Tasmania.  I'll get it more accurate tomorrow.  Today, I'm confused.

That second storm, Anthony, is still lurking East of Northern Australia, and is slowly heading west, but weakening.
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

*HAWAII'S MOST GENEROUS FREQUENT TRAVELER

The Star Advertiser this morning gloated over a most generous and frequent visitor, the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (seen here first entering Pearl Harbor).  Looking like a 280 foot tall golf ball, the article by William Cole boasted of this facility becoming a tourist attraction, and, most importantly, in eleven visits since 2006, according to the Department of Defense, of adding $59 million to our economy.  Yes, our economy depends on tourism, and yes, if not for defense funds, our State would be in even worse jeopardy.  But is an obsolete golf ball needed today?  Worse, our next nuclear aircraft carrier will cost $14 billion.



An irony is that the above floating radar was designed in Norway and built in Russia, at an original cost of just under a billion dollars.  Let me repeat, a billion dollars, more than the George W. Bush provided each year for all the renewable energy R&D funds given to the U. S. Department of Energy.

What has this mega golf ball accomplished in nearly five years of dedicated service?  Remember that joke about that kook banging a cymbal throughout the streets of Chicago and asked why, to which he responded, I'm scaring away stampeding elephants?  Well, score one for the golf ball, for, like that idiot, our highest tech radar has managed to bat 100% in preventing a missile attack.  Actually, this cutting edge observational facility was sailed back from Alaska to Hawaii when North Korea last launched a rocket, as at least one previous shot appeared to be headed straight to Hawaii, but dropped harmlessly into the sea (as planned).  In any case, score two for the golf ball.

If this posting appears to be making fun of the military, that is only because I am.  There was a time during the Cold War when the world was, indeed, close to total annihilation.  I was as patriotic as they came in those days.  But that was two decades ago.   I think I've matured, but our war contractors have not.  Our defense budget is the largest it has ever been, and there is no mortal enemy visible into the foreseeable future.  My blog of only two days ago noted that the USA spends nine times more annually on defense than China.  Russia is continuing to lose it.  Iran and North Korea might crazily someday actually fire of a nuclear warhead, then they'll toast.

The Military-Industrial Complex, however, is too powerful to just brush-off, and articles like this are regularly planted to maintain public support.  It works, for national security remains, with the economy, as the determining factor in getting Congressional members elected.  How to get out of this rut will determine how our nation and world will solve the double hammer of Peak Oil and Global Warming.  Otherwise, Humanity could become toast, especially if The Venus Syndrome results.

The final paragraph of that above posting provides a simple solution:

President Eisenhower was absolutely right.  In 2012, President Obama can join the ranks of our greatest presidents just with one simple 10% solution.  If he misses this opportunity, I'm still working on Xi Jinping for 2013, the next Mikhail Gorbachev, who brought an end to the Cold War. 

But I can't end a glorious Sunday on this note, so here are some happy plants on my roof garden:




In addition to those tomatoes above, there are other edibles--arugula, basil and chives:



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I might finally add that although the U.S. is in the northern hemisphere and, of course, is not currently threatened by hurricanes, there are several storms in the southern half of our oceans, where it is now the middle of Summer.  Stick with me, for news reports confuse me, but chances are that there are only two hurricane-force storms north of Australia.  One is either Cyclone Zelia, Wilma or Vania, and it could be all three, because these storms are being tracked by different jurisdictions, thus the different names.  Anyway, it was reported that  Cyclone Vania last week caused $11 million of damages to New Caledonia.  KHON 2 said Cyclone Wilma was threatening American Samoa.  Then, Cyclone Zelia is currently scaring New Zealand.  All these locations are relatively close enough to each other that the same storm is affecting their weather.


But there is for sure Tropical Cyclone Anthony, now with hurricane-force winds, which first went East, then suddenly West, and is now heading for the Northern tip of Australia.

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