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Saturday, May 27, 2017

DONALD TRUMP VERSUS PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY

Just about a year ago The Huffington Post published an article by William Astore, where I quote:

Trump has the makings of a tyrant.  His approach to the presidency is fundamentally undemocratic.  His statements and behavior suggest if he becomes president he’ll do what he wants and expect others to fall into line, even the U.S. military, which swears its oath to the U.S. Constitution and not to any one leader.  At a time when Congress has abdicated its responsibility to declare war or to check executive warmaking prerogatives, a tyrant like Trump is an especially dangerous prospect as president.

In that contribution entitled What Is So Awful About Donald Trump, Astore lists them all:
  • crass womanizer who brags about his penis
  • bigot who attacks Mexican immigrant and Muslims
  • ignoramus who knows little of foreign policy
  • posturing tough-guy who supports torture
  • serial liar
  • a bully
  • shameless showman who exploits the media while professing to hate it
But we are now familiar with all the above.  Trump's faults will embarrass our Nation, but our country today is so supreme and reasonably unbreakable that we will survive.

You know what was missing?  The environment. Global warming, for example. Could Donald Trump's most consequential blunder be to catalyze the end of the world as we know it?

It was almost a decade ago that my HuffPo was entitled:


Congressional Republican voting on the environment has only continued to decline since then:

A good part of these scores is influenced by who supports your campaign:


Donald Trump is preaching to his choir when he rebuffs attempts to address this issue, for a recent survey showed that only 25% of those who voted for him believe climate change is occurring now and is caused by human activity.  For the record, 90% of Hillary Clinton voters believe human-induced climate change is happening.

No question that many Republicans have a disdain for Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth.  Can you believe that movie was released eleven years ago?  Frankly, I thought very highly of Al Gore when he was one of the senators from Tennessee during my three year stint in the U.S. Senate.  I still do, and truly wonder how much better the future health of Planet Earth would be if he had beaten George Younger Bush...and Hillary had won.

But returning to President Trump, have you been keeping up with his Group of 7 discussions in Sicily?  The other six world leaders all are pressuring Trump to reconsider his America first position with respect to climate change.  Sure you need to strengthen your national economy, but we are part of a global society, and we have screwed up our environment.  The time has come to do something now.  The response of Gary D. Cohn, Trump's chief economic advisor at the Italian summit:

     If those things (like the environment) collide, growing our economy is going to win.

Cohn previously served as president of Goldman Sachs, and is now Director of the National Economic Council.

So far, Trump has hired Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Pruitt denies that carbon dioxide causes global warming.

It is a recorded fact that 53 of 100 senators and 232 of 435 house members are CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS!  Senator James Inhofe, who until recently chaired the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, wrote a book:


A surprise to me, but he is no longer chairman because there is something called term limits in the Senate now.  However, the new chairman, John Barrasso of Wyoming, is also a climate denier (extreme right, with Inhofe in the middle).

Say global climate warming is real, for there seems to be around 97% agreement by world scientists on global warming, and that humans are the cause.

If our country in total partnership with the rest of the world takes steps to develop rational solutions, that would be a simple solution.

But leading the USA on this issue are climate deniers, coal lovers and America First bullies.

So what do you think will happen to Planet Earth and Humanity with Donald Trump as President?


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Friday, May 26, 2017

OKAY, IS THIS HEAVEN OR WHAT?

This blog site has been vacillating about whether 15 Craigside is Purgatory or not.  Well, after my 44-day Global Adventure and anticipating a week on the Big Island next month to interact with another group of friends--ocean resources, this time--with golf at the Four Seasons Hualalai, where I'll be staying, the events of the past couple of days seemed to indicate that I actually could well already be in Heaven.  If you choose to stay with me on this rather lengthy posting, you might agree on this potentiality.

First of all, Pearl's Gold Tree is blooming throughout Honolulu:


The shower trees are also resplendent.  This bottom photo shows the gold tree flowers on the ground just outside my Manoa Campus office, where I entertained a few colleagues participating in the 11th Asia-Pacific Marine Biotechnology Conference held at the East West Center.  My memory is weak, but I think I chaired their 2nd gathering 15 years ago.

My PhD dissertation reported on the tunable laser irradiation of E. coli not long after the laser was invented and a only few years after Watson and Crick discovered the double-helix, where I "jiggled" the DNA-RNA bonds to catalyze growth or sterilize the bacterium.  After I graduated, one of my very first research projects more than 40 years ago was involved with growing micro algae in raceways to both produce a renewable biofuel while remediating global climate warming.  With Gordon Dugan, we co-authored a book on  ocean microbes.  

Later, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) became the National Science Foundation Marine BioProducts Engineering Center.  During that period, Tadashi Matsunaga (right in the photo below), the First Visiting Professor for the Blue Revolution, sent his students on lengthy assignments to my Institute.  Matsunaga went on to become President of Tokyo University A&T for six years, and recently completed that role.  With a lot of good memories, it was a pleasure then for former students, Haruko Takeyama (Waseda) and Tsuyoshi Tanaka (TUAT), who are now Full Professors running their own laboratories:


We went on to dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.


To the left, Brandon Yoza (who works at HNEI) is the only American of more than 20 PhD's Matsunaga has mentored.  I asked them who is the foremost marine biotechnologist today, and there was a consensus that Matsunaga, who was the first editor of The Journal of Marine Biotechnology, where my co-authored paper (and that was just about a quarter century ago) was the only U.S. contribution in the charter issue, remains #1.  Perhaps Grant Burgess (left) of the UK, who now is editor, and a Post-doc under Matsunaga, is also near the top.

Tadashi and I the next day visited Pearl's Gold Tree:


Then later we went to the best restaurant in Hawaii, Vintage Cave.  While no doubt VC is among the best restaurants in the world, they have the worst and scariest entrance environment of all.  First you need to walk through the dark basement level of Ala Moana Shopping Center, hopping over ponds of water, with no obvious sign of their doorway

However, once inside, the whole experience is a fantasy, as for example, 18 Picassos:


And two more:


A particularly striking combination is of Hiroshima--before the A-Bomb, the explosion and the aftermath:


Owner Takeshi Sekiguchi provided his personal chandelier:


I should underscore that this is not a museum, but a restaurant, and, while the place can probably sit a hundred comfortably, with all their side rooms, they have chosen to only use three to five tables every night to maintain tranquility.  Here, the Ruby Room, where the Obamas were entertained:


One shot (two ounces, not the whole bottle) of McCallan and Glenfiddich can cost you up to $6500:


We toured their wine cellar:


There was a time when I actually bought a case of Opus One for several years in a row.  Now, it's gotten so expensive that  last night we settled for one bottle:


They said this same wine would cost twice as much in Japan, and Matsunaga confirmed that on his smart phone.  Oh, the food was spectacular, and evocative of Narisawa and Noma, but that is because the current chef, Misao Masuda, learned from Ferran Adria of El Bulli, Rene Redzepi and Hiroshi Ishida (Mibu).  The cuisine is French fusion with mostly Japanese touches.  Simplicity, color, micro flowers, naturalness, and art summarize the gastronomy.  The servings are tiny.

VC's French Kaisiki dinner (there is no other option) costs $300/person.  The initial Amuse Bouche was a clear tomato caprese:


The zensai (meaning small pretty things) was a challenge for me.  First, crispy ayu (a freshwater fish) where you consume everything, including bones, worries me.  Second, there was something about Amagaeru, which means tree frog:


The sashimi pieces were the smallest I'd ever seen--Bluefin Tuna Otoro from Wakayama, Matsukawagarei Barfin Flounder from Hokkaido and Aori-ika Bigfin Reef Squid from Iwate (still radiative?) with spots of wasabi that were tasteless:


The California (I think) white sturgeon caviar on Miyagi Oyster was outstanding:


Next was supposed to be sea urchin and lobster soup, but, as I'm allergic to crustaceans, they substituted something else.  Very bland.


At this point we were running out of the Opus, so I ordered a glass of beer.  The next course was fried Golden Eye Snapper and Beltfish from Chiba:


Those ant-looking particles on the left were fried capers.  Next, pan fried Hudson Valley Foie Gras:


Like artistry on canvas, but eminently edible.  Dish #8 was a seafood stew of Sea Bream Milt, Kona Abalone and Sablefish from Washington, plus shiitake mushroom with a Madeira wine reduction:


The taste of the broth was magical, the essence of umami.  A yuzu sherbet was followed by the two main entre's, lamb and beef:


That rectangular ceramic was sizzling hot, so you barbecued the wagyu yourself.  Some time ago I came to a conclusion that Japanese wagyu from anywhere in the country was terrific, even from Sendai, if you can accommodate the notion that it is perhaps 60 miles from those Fukushima nuclear reactors.


Finally, raspberry tart with vanilla ice cream:


The Asahi Dry Beer was $15 and so was my cup of coffee.  How much did this all cost?  The total bill was just the equivalent of four days at the Tokyo Westin.  But, unlike just sleeping, the experience at VC was, really, priceless, even though I believe the first time I dined there four years ago, the cuisine was tastier.  Here with original chef Chris Kajioka, who not too long ago opened Senia in downtown Honolulu.

I inquired about becoming a member:
  • $5,000/year
  • But you get 30% off on beverages and they delete the 20% service charge and 4.7% tax.
  • Most importantly, that $5,000 contribution is the credit from which you pay your bills.
  • You also get special consideration for securing a table when you want one and use certain areas of the site set aside only for members.
  • There is wine storage, but you must purchase the wines from them.
If I don't go around the world only once, those savings can cover four years with Vintage Cave.  They provided a folder with details.  It's tempting.

TSA Group owns Shirokiya and has been involved with Ko Olina, the Four Seasons in Wailea/Hualalai, Westin Maui/Kauai and Hilton Waikoloa Village.  Takeshi Sekiguchi is the primary owner.  He wants to expand his restaurant franchise around the world, and has already created a more modest Italian version, Vintage Cave Cafe, located on the Bloomingdale's side of the shopping mall.

Today, I'll probably walk nine holes at Ala Wai, then stop by Marukai for some sashimi, J-Shop for a small piece of Japanese wagyu, and have yet another feast on my lanai.  As I suggested in the opening paragraph, surely, this must be Heaven.

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