Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cab Thoughts 12/22/12

"I am just going outside and may be some time" Lawrence Oates, leaving his tent to die on Scott's failed return from his doomed South Pole expedition.

Beijing and Shanghai each have more multimillionaires now than Los Angeles. (People with wealth of over 30 million dollars were measured.) New York still has the highest. But wealth is growing--and spreading. Even San Paulo, Brazil has more people in this subset than does San Francisco. This is being viewed as a shift in wealth from west to east. No matter. For the sake of fairness, I'm sure we can get them to share.

Gingrich said on "Meet the Press" regarding a Hilary Clinton presidential candidacy, “The Republican Party of today is truly incapable of competing at that level.” But the Republicans couldn't beat Winnie-the-Pooh. Why would Obama turn his "community organizers" loose for Hilary? Why not for Michelle? The Republicans couldn't beat her either.

Every 48 seconds, someone uses a handgun to defend himself against a crime (according to Florida State University's Gary Kleck, using data collected by liberal pollster Peter Hart in a poll paid for by the anti-gun lobby).

In the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law (2008), Jason C. Matejkowski and his co-authors reported that 16% of state prisoners who had perpetrated murders were mentally ill. And according to a study released in July by the Treatment Advocacy Center, the number of state hospital beds in America per capita has plummeted to 1850 levels, or 14.1 beds per 100,000 people. 

The Orange County Register reported that Disney canceled a scheduled appearance bySuzy Favor Hamilton at the August 2013 expo during the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. So who's the headline getter, this woman or Gabby Douglas?

Why will the coming War on Guns have more success than the War on Drugs or the War on Poverty? Or, for that matter, the War on Alcohol from Prohibition?

If the 4 billion in additional tax breaks identified by the administration for the oil and gas industry were eliminated it would work out to ~$0.014/gallon of gasoline.

Seats for the Notre Dame game are going for $5500.00 a seat.

Cave wrote an interesting article decrying the progression of economist from the failed "scientific socialism" planning to the new, improved soon-to-be-failed "scientific capitalism" planning as they try to decrease risk in the economy. (What Hayek called the "fatal conceit.") He includes one line from Popper: "In an economic system, if the goal of the authorities is to reduce some particular risks, then the sum of all these suppressed risks will reappear one day through a massive increase in the systemic risk and this will happen because the future is unknowable". So the sum of risks is relatively constant and one can take them in small, digestible doses or in one, large, indigestible block.

Question of the day: Who was Maria Crofts Halpin?

Good news: Some of the New Education policies have been successful. According to Professor of Psychology Roy Baumeister, one of the leading criminologists in America, violent criminals have an extraordinarily high self-esteem, much more than the average citizen.

The U.S. is giving the Egyptians twenty F-16s. The F-16 is the best fighter jet in the world, and the U.S. has already made Egypt fourth in the world in F-16s ownership. The other three are: the U.S., Israel and Turkey. I'll bet the Israelis are thrilled with the American largess. But it is nice to know that Armageddon will be fought out high tech.

A Ponderosa Pine forest experiences a lightning-lit fire about once a decade under natural conditions.

Gold is not a consistent inflation hedge and pays no interest so why do people buy it? One reason: If global production of gold continues at a rate of 2,500 metric tons a year, and if the USGS is correct in its estimate that there are only 51,000 metric tons of exploitable gold reserves, then gold production will be exhausted in about 20 years.

Medicare pays 6% under the cost of delivering care, Medicaid 13% under the cost of delivering care. So hospitals lose money on every single Medicare and Medicaid patient. Right now they make it up by charging the private insurer more for the same thing. But what will happen when there is no productive, richer segment to exploit?

New business of the week: The political landscape is crowded with special interest lobbying groups, mostly representative of the state of the nation one generation ago: AARP, unions, teacher groups, illnesses. But the demographics have changed and while the older groups have a lot to lose with change, they are not as numerical as they used to be. For example, In 2011, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union--was 11.8 percent. Bur in 1983 it was 20.1%. Moreover the makeup has changed. Public-sector workers have a union membership rate (37.0 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.9 percent). Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rate, at 36.8 percent. These are not numbers one usually associates with union blue collar tradesmen. And what is not represented is youth, not the Young Republicans or Americans for Freedom but young people with their special interest. Hence, the business of the week is a young American lobby.

Last week was the anniversary of the Apollo 17 moon landing, the last moon landing. Appropriately, politics was prominent. Former X-15 pilot Joe Engle had trained extensively with Cernan and Evans for lunar exploration as the backup LMP on Apollo 14. It was expected that the entire crew would rotate up to prime crew for Apollo 17, but once it became clear that this would be the last lunar flight, the scientific community pressed NASA to select a scientist-astronaut to land on the Moon. NASA administration then pressed Deke Slayton, Director of Flight Crew Operations responsible for crew assignments, to make the change and he presented Cernan with the choice of replacing Engle with geologist Harrison Schmitt on his crew; otherwise Slayton would assign Apollo 17 to Dick Gordon's entire crew (the back-up crew and the planned crew for the now cancelled Apollo 18) to include Schmitt. Cernan opted to fly with Schmitt.

Are increased sales always good? Dollar Stores sales are up 4%.

AAAAANNNNDDDDddddd......a graph:

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