Saturday, June 23, 2012

What will Larry Ellison do with Lanai Island?

In the press, Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle, claims that he plans substantial investment in Lanai Island (Hawaii’s 6th largest island) and support to create jobs and stimulate tourism. We wonder if he will bring technology companies to Hawaii, move Oracle or one of his other Silicon Valley corporations to the island, or just use the island as a getaway and reward destination for his top sales people? 

Lanai Island has been owned by billionaire David Murdock since 1985 and he apparently plans to continue to maintain a home there.  Ellison purchased the island for about $600 million and takes on its annual losses of about $20 million a year.  The sale includes the island's two hotels, the Four Seasons at Manele Bay and the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele, two golf courses, and more than 88,000 acres of land.  The 88,000 acres include the Koele and Manele residential properties, Lanai City, stables, a shooting range, two water companies, a transportation company, and part of a solar farm that sells power to Maui Electric Company. Lanai Island is in Maui County along with the islands of Maui and Molokai and the state, county of Maui, and a few private property owners retain the remaining 2% of the island.  The island is said to be down to less than 2000 residents since the slowdown in tourism to the island.

We live on the island of Hawaii, which has its share of billionaires who hide deep within the tripled gated Kukio complex and dine at the Four Seasons where the staff use code names to protect their identities.  We drive by their private jets parked in rows at the Kona airport.  The purchase of Lanai Island by Ellison is a whole new game in the rise of software billionaires and their private retreats.  Will he create an even more secure location for billionaires and their collections of private jets or will he use his substantial wealth to invest in the infrastructure required to resolve the barriers Hawaii has to becoming a major technology center in the Pacific?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Joy of Hawaii Residency

Voting in Hilo, Hawaii

Living in Hawaii we have learned that being a legal resident of the state has a lot of benefits both financial and non financial. As Hawaii residents, “kama’aina”,  we get special prices at hotels, restaurants, and for many services on Hawaii Island and in Honolulu. The savings have added up over the years and allowed us to stay in resorts we could not have even considered if we were vacationing from the mainland. As residents we have been able to volunteer at some extraordinary places and participate in organizations that require a Hawaii drivers license.  

Most important to us is that as residents we get to vote and participate in the politics on the island. We have met and spoken with more elected officials in Hawaii County than any place we have lived before. Perhaps this is due to the small number of Hawaii County voters or the Island’s “talk-story” culture. The dialogs with elected officials and public meetings we have attended have given us a deeper understanding of the unique and complex issues Hawaii County faces. Of course the best part of residing in Hawaii is that year round we get to enjoy the warm climate, laid-back life style and delicious foods, and we want to keep Hawaii wonderful by fully participating as residents.

We know many people who live year round in Hawaii yet maintain residency in another state just to avoid paying Hawaii state income taxes. This is a strange phenomena that we have never run into before; most newcomers are eager to get their drivers license and join the community fully. For us, our taxes in Hawaii are much lower than they were in California and we feel we get much more in public services and infrastructure for our money.  Though they choose not to participate, for some reason these “non-resident” residents seem to complain the most about all the “crazy things” the local government is doing in the community. Their contempt for local law makers keeps them in a constant state of frustration and less able to fully enjoy all that Hawaii has to offer.  We cannot help but wonder how much maintaining a residency in another state really saves compared to what is being lost by not participating in county and state governance and fully being in Hawaii. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Predictions of the Venus transit in Hawaii

On June 5th, Venus will be visible moving in front of the sun and provide a show to those of us in Hawaii not seen since the last King of Hawaii sat on the throne. The transits of Venus occur in pairs eight years apart (this event’s twin event occurred in 2004) about every one hundred years. This unusual phenomena in the heavens will not be seen again until 2117.

From a Hawaii perspective, the transit of Venus has been prominent in the islands’ history. In 1769, Captain Cook first voyaged to the Pacific Ocean to observe the Venus transit and map the region from Australia to Hawaii. Ten years later, on his third and final voyage to the Pacific Ocean, he landed in Hawaii to observe the longitude of Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii Island and met his demise. One hundred years later, King David Kalakaua invited British astronomers to observe the Venus transit in Hawaii. Seven astronomers arrived in Honolulu Bay in 1874 with telescopes, chronometers, photographic chemicals,  equipment and supplies of all types for a six month expedition to record and photograph the Venus transit event. The astronomers set up observation areas in Honolulu, Kona, and in Waimea on Kauai. King Kalakaua, who had only recently been crowned, greeted the astronomers upon their arrival, but was in Washington DC during the transit to negotiate a treaty offering Pearl Harbor to the US in exchange for duty-free sales of sugar from the islands. Now, over one hundred years later, the telescopes atop Mauna Kea Volcano are prepared to view the Venus transit from the best place in the world to see the event in its entirety. The transit will start tomorrow, June 5, at 12:10 PM (Hawaii Standard Time) and the small black dot of Venus will be visible slowly moving across the sun’s surface for 6 hours until 6:45PM. It is not safe to look at the sun; you must have special glasses to observe the event.

We have been researching the meaning of this rare planetary event in Chinese and Western astrology. Surprisingly, both the Western and Eastern astrologists seemed to have missed the Venus transit events completely. It may be due to the extremely rare occurrences of visible Venus transits across the sun. Though the Chinese carefully monitored sun spots, they never mention Venus transits. The Greeks misattributed the transit of Venus to Mercury. The Europeans realized Venus transits must be occurring but missed it in 1631 because Kepler miscalculated its timing. The first person credited with observing a Venus transition was Jeremiah Horrocks in 1639 who corrected Kepler’s calculation and was able to catch of glimpse of it in between his business meetings.

The planet Venus is also known as the Morning Star and is associated with love, beauty, relationships, harmony, and unity. When considering the implications of a visible transit of Venus across the sun, some astrologers focus on the changes within the 8 years of the two transits claiming a doorway opens and then closes. Others focus only on the year of the event itself. Some claim that intense periods of social and religious enlightenment take place during the 8 years between transits which sets into motion major changes in institutions of justice, equality, medicine, arts, and religion.

During the Venus transit doorway from 1874 to 1882, the Impressionists were painting their great works, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo, Jules Verne, and Ibsen wrote their major works, Thomas Edison switched on the first electric plant in New York, Tessla invented the “permanent magnetic”, TB and other diseases were identified, and the Great comet –C1882R1 – arrived and was so bright it was visible during the day.

In the past 8 years, major discoveries in our solar system and beyond were made with the landing of rovers on Mars, a probe successfully landing on Saturn's moon Titan, the discovery of a huge white dwarf star BPM 37093, and identifying a record number of planets circling other stars – exoplanets - due to improvements in optical telescopes (Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in 1600 for claiming exoplanets even existed). SpaceShipOne became the first privately funded space plane to achieve spaceflight in 2004 and just recently the first private space ship docked with the space station. The tallest structures in the world were built during the past 8 years in Shanghai (1614 feet), Taipei (1670 feet), Mecca (1971 feet), Tokyo (2080 feet), and Dubai (2723 feet). The first same-sex marriage licenses in the US were issued in Massachusetts in 2004 followed by other states and cities around the nation. A 9.3 magnitude earthquake in 2004 created a tsunami which caused devastation to nations in the Indian Ocean killing at least 230,000 people. The Earth has been wracked with earthquakes since then with the largest earthquake and tsunami last year in Japan causing massive destruction and death in Japan and radiation exposure worldwide from destroyed nuclear reactors.

Whether this transit is the closing of a Venus transit doorway opened in 2004 or yet another significant astrological event for 2012, already crowded with a calendar of astronomical and astrological events as well as foreboding predictions, it is an event not to be missed considering all of us on the Earth today will be long dead by 2117, when Venus, the Earth and the sun are once again in a direct and visible line.

The transit event will be webcast live by NASA.