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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

THE MOST ENJOYABLE DAY OF MY LIFE

The most important day of my life was when I was born.  The odds of me being here were very low.  How low?  There are various ways one can determine the odds of my creation.  Let me simplify it with a rough fact that the average male will produce around 500 billion sperms in a lifetime.  Every female is born with around 2 million eggs.  Each combination of an egg and sperm produces a totally different human being.  Thus, there was one chance in a quintillion of me being born, which is one in 10 to the 18th power.  This is a best case scenario, for what were the odds of my father and mother even hooking up.  Each of you is here with this same probability.  That photo to the left came from FX Studios.  Watch the video, with music, no less.  But this was not my most enjoyable day because I was too young to appreciate this miracle.

If the title had to do with the best day of your life, for most of us it would be something close to:
  • being born
  • surviving a life-threatening event
  • meeting your true love
  • getting accepted by Stanford
  • graduating with a PhD
  • making nearly perfect scores on your SATs
  • finding out  that your school was selected to play in the Sugar Bowl
  • learning that some family member or friend got elected or won a major prize
  • ....and I can go on forever for many more
    Most of the above could well have been among my best.  But the posting of the day is "most enjoyable" day of my life.  
These days were not particularly enjoyable, as such because:
  • when I got married, that day was stressful and sweaty
  • when I graduated with a PhD in biochemical engineering, it was terrific, for I did not have to take another exam again in my life...plus the future potential was immense...but it was not a particularly enjoyable day
  • when I retired, my whole life changed, mostly for the better, but that first day was not  memorable
  • ...again, I can go on and on
Among those days that made the final list included, in no particular order:
  • except that in 1989, I had spent a few really stressful days in Papua New Guinea, and succeeded in my escape to Brisbane--those three days in Australia, compared to the previous three in the midst of cannibals, a revolution and malaria, perhaps would rank #2
  • on a trip from Honolulu to Bangkok just about six years ago I actually enjoyed 24 different kinds of alcoholic drinks, but mere survival is no way to enjoy life
  • I can't recall the details, but surely, some Christmas morning when I was very young and opened presents had to be enjoyable...I lost that special feeling of Christmas a long time ago
  • in all my years at the University of Hawaii I helped a range of students win awards, earn degrees, etc., and the totality of them all made were important...but there was no one day when anything monumental happened
  • well, getting promoted to full professor with tenure was a huge relief and enormously satisfying, but I can't even remember if I celebrated
  • I went to five films one day at the Ward Consolidated theaters, but just because I did not nod off once or get a headache is not the same as truly enjoying that ten-hour period
  • there was that two-day period in 1999 when I golfed at both St. Andrews and Carnoustie (the year they hosted the Open--and where the tournament will be played next year), which was a nice achievement, but not ecstatically enjoyable
I can list several dozen more of these pleasant moments, but to my surprise, after giving a lot of thought, my most enjoyable day of my life turns out to be on 19 October 2015 in Venice.  You can read that posting, but here is why:
  • The year was 2015 when I was on day #35 of my Grand Around the World Adventure.  This was the trip where I lost my wallet (which was later returned to me with nothing missing), lost a tooth in Istanbul and caught food poisoning in Frankfurt.  I was staying at the Westin in Venice had breakfast in my hotel.  I went to get some free champagne, and returned to see a pigeon eating my meal.  I quickly took out my camera and took a photo of a Blue-bar flying away.
  • For lunch I went to Quadri where I had five dishes all with white truffles, said to be the most expensive food in the world, three times the price of gold.  The white type costs three times more than the black ones.  Five wines were served.  Quadri is located on the second floor facing St. Marks Square.  
  • To my surprise the same (of course it's not the exact same one, but in subsequent stops on this trip and the rest of my life, I've been taking photos of blue-bar pigeons visiting with me at recognizable tourist sites) bird watched me eat.
  • After lunch I noticed a 100 yards away a theater which was selling tickets for a special tribute to Antonio Lucio Vivaldi by the San Marcos (Italian for St. Marks) Chamber Orchestra of the complete Four Seasons.  I very much enjoy classical music, especially Baroque, with Vivaldi my favorite composer.  I featured his Four Seasons here three years ago. What caught my attention was that this auditorium was where he actually composed some of this piece.  He was born in Venice.  
  • So I walked up to purchase a ticket and found out someone had just returned one, it was now available, and the performance had been sold out for some time.  Watch a 45-minute performance of The Four Seasons.  This experience occurred the day after I visited Leonardo da Vinci's painting of The Last Supper in Milan.  Something about being in the same room where masterpieces were created is difficult to match.
What is happening to our economy?  Today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average again broke its all-time high, up 39 to 22,371:


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Super Hurricane Maria is now at 160 MPH, destroyed Dominica and will make landfall over Puerto Rico tomorrow morning:


Category 4 or 5, Puerto Rico will be devastated.  The white line shows the probable track of Maria, still expected to miss the USA.



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Monday, September 18, 2017

IT and 13 Minutes

Sunday was a crucial fantasy sports day for me.  I manage six MLB and five NFL teams, and if I had any kind of loyalty to them I would have watched TV all day.  But I instead went to two R-rated films:

                         Rotten Tomatoes           Weekend      My Grade
                      Reviewers  Audiences     Box-office

It                          85               88                #1                   B-

13 Minutes          76               57                low                 B  

The hit movie of the weekend, again, was It, earning $60 million, while #2 was American Assassin with $14.8 million.  It (the movie) took $33 million to produce, and in only two weeks has earned $219 million.  This was Chapter 1, with Chapter 2 scheduled for filming next year.

The film  is based on horror writer Stephen King's novel of that name written 31 years ago.  He has clicked on 54 novels, his first, Carrie, in 1973.  In 1977 came The Shining, with The Stand a year later.  In 1980 he released Firestarter, then Christine in 1983.  Four became hit films, with The Stand a successful TV miniseries.

I read and saw all of them, but around this time, stopped reading his books for being same old, same old.  This was a period when I returned to the University of Hawaii after spending three years in the U.S. Senate, and totally changed my reading habits.  I thus don't remember reading It when it was published in 1986.  Will Donald Trump be featured in King's next horror attempt?

Let me try to explain the film without giving it away:
  • There is a kind of horror clown that kills for a short period,  hibernates for 27 years, then returns.
  • While the filming was in Canada, the story occurs in Maine, as does most of King's novels, for that is where he lives.
  • Chapter 2 will occur around today (in time frame), for Chapter 1 took place in 1989.  Big names are being suggested for the adult roles:  Amy Adams / Jessica Chastain, Seth Rogan, John Bodega, Adam Driver and Tobey Maguire.
  • The Losers Club (well defines their status in school, and their family life in general, has one female, who is the object of sexual abuse at home) takes a blood oath to return in 27 years if trouble returns.  Why do you think there will be a sequel?
  • The film is scary, brutal, terrifying, sometimes shocking...you can later add your personal descriptions.
  • I gave it a B- because I just have come around to not particularly enjoying whatever Stephen King produces.
  • He has made 20 cameos in films based on his writing...but I don't remember seeing him in It.
13 Minutes is an entirely different kind of film from Germany (therefore subtitled) of a solitary resistance fighter who tried to kill Adolf Hitler in 1939...but failed, by 13 minutes.  Also in the room were Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Rudolf Hess, and Heinrich Himmler.  George Elser planted a bomb in a bierkeller hosting Hitler for one of his speeches, but he and his entourage left before the explosion.  Because of bad weather, Hitler decided to cut his usual 2-hour speech to one.

If you wish to observe how Nazis tortured prisoners to extract information, this is the film for you.  The production is not listed in Box Office Mojo, but would rank around #25 based on revenues for the week.  It is R-rated, but only because of those torture scenes.  A movie worthy of your time, and well made.

You wonder what the world might be today if the 55 (and maybe up to 80) million deaths in World War II did not happen.  One person CAN make a difference for the future of Planet Earth and Humanity.  Who knows, perhaps someone will run with one of the dozen or so ideas I will propose at my MENSA talk next month.  Maybe it will be the 10% Simple Solution for World Peace.  Someone send this posting to Kim Jung-un.  Incidentally, Wednesday, September 21, is International Day of Peace.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 63 to again break its all-time record, now at 22,331.  Some say this has been an eight-year bull market, so Barack Obama started it all.  Others give full credit to Donald Trump.  In any case, my endowments love it.

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The only two hurricanes today are in the Atlantic.  Jose will not make landfall, while Hurricane Maria, now at 120 MPH, will further strengthen into a Category 4, and roll right over Puerto Rico:



However, most computer models then show Maria taking a Jose track:

More tomorrow about an "American" projection that predicts a closer encounter with Florida.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

IS THERE A SUPREME BEING?

Maybe the primal question facing Humanity today:  Is there a Supreme Being?  I actually have the only possible answer that is irrefutably correct for now.  We don't know for sure.

But what about tomorrow?  Will Humanity here on Planet Earth ultimately reach an overwhelming consensus on the reality of God and the Afterlife?  I will argue for YES!

Part of the problem with this subject has got to be the language used by religious philosophers and thinkers, best epitomized by this paragraph from Wikipedia on The Existence of God:

A wide variety of arguments for and against the existence of God can be categorized as metaphysicallogicalempirical, or subjective. In philosophical terms, the question of the existence of God involves the disciplines of epistemology (the nature and scope of knowledge) and ontology (study of the nature of beingexistence, or reality) and the theory of value (since some definitions of God include "perfection").

If that doesn't wear you out, then the arguments advanced by believers and dis-believers probably will.  Here are only two examples:

  • Christian: “Everything with a beginning requires a cause. The universe has a beginning and therefore requires a cause. That cause is God.” Atheist: “Even if it were true that everything with a beginning requires a cause, how do you know that the cause of the universe is God? Why not a big bang? Maybe this universe sprang from another universe, as some physicists now believe.”
  • Christian: “I have personally experienced God, and so have many other Christians. He has saved us and transformed our lives. We know that He exists from experience.” Atheist: “Unfortunately, your personal experiences are not open to investigation; I have only your word for it. And second, how do you know that such subjective feelings are really the result of God? The right drug might produce similar feelings.
There are countless more points and counterpoints of equal ambivalence.  Here, though, are a few facts:
  • According to the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life, 84% of the world population is affiliated with some religion.  
  • Does this mean they all believe in some form of God?  Well, a Reuter international survey indicated that 51% were convinced there was both an afterlife and divine entity.
  • Surprising, then, that a recent national poll by a university team indicated that more Americans believed in an afterlife than in God.  Take a while to digest that.
  • Another Pew poll showed that 72% of Americans said there is a Heaven, while 58% indicated the existence of Hell.  
  • However, from 2007 to 2014, the religiously unaffiliated in the U.S. grew from 36.6 million to 55.8 million.  Thus, there are now more nones than Catholics, mainline Protestants and all followers of non-Christian faiths.
I'm also guilty, your mind glosses over.  Anyway, as time has gone by, the public is, very slowly, becoming less religious.  But this decline in the U.S. has been rather minimal, and mostly only the younger generation reflects this change:


The same trend shows even for Muslims.  One would think that education will in time erode faith, as is happening in the USA.  But if this occurs, it will take several more generations for any kind of turnaround to occur.

Ultimately, logic should prevail.  Someday science will be able provide a more convincing case for something like the Big Bang.  Education will also play a role.  Surely, evolution should become eminently obvious to most.

Why pose a question when there is no answer?  I wrestled with this thought for a while, imagined 42 and how innocuous that number should be, but isn't, and came to a conclusion that such is the nature of humankind.  Life is full of paradoxes and conundrums.  You can explain most magic tricks, but not much can be elucidated about spiritual conviction.  But over multi-generations, attitudes can change.  My final analysis has faith in the wisdom of humanity over time.

Let me pave the way for my ultimate projection with these two thoughts:


Our early human ancestors hunted, gathered and barely survived.  Fear was everywhere.  What caused thunder?  But this gave them fire.  There had to be a supreme being of higher order.  When we first began to form communities, it thus made sense for leaders to maintain control by inventing something like a God to keep people reasonably honest and cooperative.  Give them a gift at the end of life, say, some kind of afterlife to insure for their loyalty.  Toss in faith and a few other guidelines.  Brilliant, for there is no way to prove that there is no God nor Afterlife if your followers had faith.

I can see why most of this worked to bring Humanity to where we were, say, a century ago.  Then came education and modern communications, which should have begun to send people in the direction of Richard Dawkins.  For anyone ignorant of his beliefs, read The God Delusion.  If you're an Amazon Prime member, the e-book is FREE.

So here is my grand prediction:  By the Year 6000, the overwhelming belief will be that there is no God and no Afterlife.  Mind you, there still will be no way to prove anything, but just the extinction of anyone wondering about these concepts is sufficient to make that statement true.

As the internet and economic progress should hasten societal maturity, just the year 2100 might well have been sufficient, but I thought it was elegant, with a higher chance of success, appreciating  how long religious beliefs have continued to affect sound minds, to select a time frame about as far in the future as back to the founding of Hinduism and Judaism, the oldest religions.
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Oh, oh, that un-named disturbance has now acquired a name, Tropical Storm Maria, seems headed along the same path as Irma, and will at least reach Category 3 strength:


Models, though, suggest Maria will be moving midway on a track between Irma and Jose:


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Saturday, September 16, 2017

DO WANT TO JOIN A REALLY SMART SOCIETY?

I yesterday talked some about MENSA (scroll down to the next posting), the largest and oldest IQ society.  If you think you are among the smartest 2% of Americans, take their exam.  That means 6 million of you living in the USA and almost 150 million worldwide.  However, only 1% of this eligible group in the U.S. belongs and 130,000, or 0.002% on the planet.

However, IQ is not all that standard, in that this 2% means 132 on the Stanford-Binet and 148 on Cattle.  Looking further into the general subject, I noticed this:

Always Someone Better: Mensa is for folks who make it into the top 2%, and it's simply the largest and most well-known of several IQ groups. The following organizations are similar to, but not parts of Mensa. If you are an even higher percentage than 98th, then you can opt to also join:

   The top 1% is Intertel Leans a little more intellectual than Mensa, but it's not really a big deal because if you qualify for it you can join Mensa, too.
   The top 0.003% is The Prometheus Society.  At this level and up you can't really join to be social - there are very few members.
o The top 0.0001% is Mega Society.  Get in there, and you're literally one in a million. You would certainly have the right to brag, though some argue that this far "off the chart" it's hard to gauge exactly what it means with so few examples around to study.

Curious, I searched further, and found:

1. Intertel - the top 1 percent of IQs
2. Top One Percent Society - if you can't figure this out, maybe you should go ahead and apply for Mensa instead. (I'm kidding!!)
3. Infinity International Society - the top 0.37 percent
4. Cerebrals Society - the top 0.3 percent
5. CIVIQ Society - the top 0.13 percent
6. Triple Nine Society - the top 0.1 percent
7. Prometheus Society - the top 0.0003 percent
8. Epimetheus Society - the top .0003 percent
9. Mega Society - the top .0001 percent
10. Giga Society - the top .0000001 percent

Intertel was founded in the UK 51 years ago and there are 1200 members in 30 countries.  They have a journal called Integra.  Here is a link on how to join, and, of all the places, the site emanates from Georgia, USA.

The Prometheus society was started in 1982 and has 120 members.  It publishes Gift of Fire almost monthly.  There is an unofficial IQ requirement of 164.  Marilyn vos Savant is a member.  She is known for having the highest recorded IQ in the USA, which Guinness reports as a controversial 228.  She never earned a real college degree, but on her third marriage became Mrs. Robert Jarvik, developer of an artificial heart.

Mega Society also came to be in 1982 and to be accepted you must score at a one in a million level.  Want join?  Take a test.  They have 26 members.  Here, read one one issue of their journal, Noesis.

Want to be really, really, special?  Try the Giga Society, which puts you in the one in a billion category. Founded in 1999 by Paul Cooijmans of The Netherlands, it, too, has a journal, Nemesis, which appears after each new member.  Cooijmans creates the test himself, 2222 have tried, and less than ten have qualified.  Most of them have IQs over 160.  The expectation is for 30 members by the year 2130.

Which of these has me as a member?  The closest I've been to any intelligence group is helping a friend of mine, George Carter, establish Serteens, a high school gifted and talented group in Hawaii.

I was once, though, affiliated with Chaine des Rotisseurs, a cuisine society which supposedly started in 1248 by Louis IX as a goose guild in France.  If you enjoy caviar, champagne, foie gras and truffles, this is the society for you.  I got to the stage in my life when I just couldn't keep up with the tastes of the members.

Finally, ever wonder what President Donald Trump's IQ might be?

However, Snopes investigated, and was not able to verify the Don's intelligence.  Anyway, did you know that John Quincy Adams (left), our 6th president, had the highest presidential IQ at 169?  #2 John Adams is #8 at 143.  So if Trump is #2, Thomas Jefferson is #3 at just under 156, John Kennedy #4 at 151 and Bill Clinton #5 at 149.  I did not know our Presidents were that smart.

Finally, I do make it among the highest IQ's as an engineering professor:

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There are six ocean storms, and from the left, both Typhoons Doksuri (which for some reason did not make this map) and Tamil are just about now making landfall over Vietnam and Japan, respectively:



While still without a name, a potential tropical cyclone is projected to become a hurricane and follow the same track as Irma and Jose:



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