Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cab Thoughts 2/23/13

The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong....The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on "I am not too sure." -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

In 1970, 1 in 51 American workers were on disability. Last year it was 1 in 13.

What is a "mondegreen?" It is the misheard lyric --rock has a zillion like "The ants are my friends/They're blowin' in the wind" (" "The answer my friend/Is blowing' in the wind"). Where did it come from? From a woman who had misheard the line in the folk songthey had slain the Earl of Moray/and laid him on the green” as “they had slain the Earl of Moray/and Lady Mondegreen.” There is a book of them called "'Scuse me While I Kiss this Guy." So everyone is theoretically employable.

The BBC reported yesterday that, for the first time, white Britons are now in a minority in London, the country’s largest city.

"Moore’s Law doesn’t apply to batteries. It may take another 10 years to 20 years before the industry can produce an electric vehicle with the range and flexibility consumers expect." --Tom Gage, who led production of the Tesla drive-train at AC Propulsion Ltd.

The American Poverty Program was started in 1964 with a budget of $64 Billion that year. (Inflation corrected that is about $330 Billion.) In 2012 the poverty program received $664 Billion. Since 1964 there has been a total of $16 Trillion taken out of the economy and contributed to the poverty program.

There is an ongoing debate over Lincoln's real feelings about slavery, the black man and the Civil War. One explanation of Lincoln's decision to fight the Civil War is economic: Throughout most of our history, the only sources of federal revenue were excise taxes and tariffs. During the 1850s, tariffs amounted to 90 percent of federal revenue. Southern ports paid 75 percent of tariffs in 1859. The North just could not let them go.

Lehman Brothers had, at the time of their bankruptcy, $35 trillion (with a "T") in derivative exposure and 52 billion dollars in transaction costs alone.

As a young man the the eventually urbane and well-traveled Jewish historian Josephus lived as an ascetic in the desert.

Samuel Morse who invented the telegraph was sued over the work in sixty separate cases. Alexander Graham Bell would face more than six hundred lawsuits over his invention of the telephone. Five of them would reach the U.S. Supreme Court. One rival in particu­lar, a brilliant inventor named Elisha Gray, would insist to his dying day that the telephone had been his invention. Years later, Gray's own partner would sigh, 'Of all the men who didn't invent the telephone, Gray was the nearest.' "

In the late 1800s and early 1900s Howard Thurston was America's preeminent magician, besting even his friend and rival Harry Houdini. He was a runaway as a child and spent his early teens riding the rails, jumping on and off freight trains living a surprisingly common feral train life.

During 2012, China generated 100.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from wind, more than nuclear.

There is a significant problem in Denver with rabbits eating battery wires in the cars at the airport. Mechanics say coating the wires with fox or coyote urine can discourage the rabbits. So all of you who have been saving coyote urine are vindicated. There is a coyote urine market!

This is lifted directly off of a due diligence summary for a small company looking for investment money: "...(We)....will first market the device in select European markets given the more favorable regulatory clearance path and the need to collect clinical data to support US clearance." The Europeans are more friendly to entrepreneurs than the U.S..

Output of CO2 gas fell 13 percent in the past five years in the U.S. to a level last seen in 1994. The U.S. is still No. 2 worldwide in net CO2 emissions, trailing only China, but remarkably (and rarely noted) is only number 10 per capita. I am not sure which is more surprising.

Nutrition and its impact on growth: A study comparing poor boys recruited by the Marine Society (in essence a charity that supported poor boys going into the British Navy) to upper-class entrants to the elite military academy of Sandhurst near London, showed a slow upward trend for cohorts born between 1750 and 1825 but clearly demonstrate a large disparity in height between the two groups. At the age of 14, the Sandhurst recruits were almost 10 inches taller than their poor compatriots. Interestingly, not having a father in the home was a separate factor in retarded growth.

The Fed is keeping interest rates low and plans to continue this for several years if they can be believed. The net effect is the search outside government debt for yield (and the government selling debt that is way overvalued.) Here is a summary of the effects as seen by a money manager: "The artificially low T-Bill rates first work their way slowly up the curve. Next, the most obviously competitive type of equities – high yield stocks – begin to be bid up ahead of the rest of the market, as has happened. “I’ve just got to squeeze out some higher rates somewhere, anywhere,” is the pension fund plea. Then, this low rate competition begins to filter into other securities, historically sought after for their higher yields: higher-grade real estate, where the “cap rates” slowly fall; and, unfortunately, also forestry and farmland, mainly of the larger and more standard varieties that appeal to institutions, which show declines in their required yields, i.e., their prices rise. The longer the engineered rates stay below true market rates, the higher asset prices become until, yes, you’ve got it, corporate assets begin to sell way over replacement cost. Then, if the heart of capitalism is still beating at all, a long period of over-investment begins and returns are bid down and everything moves into balance, often helped along if asset prices get too high, as in 2000 and 2007, by a good healthy market crunch." (Grantham)

The Buffalo Bruins fine goalie Ryan Miller's career record against the Penguins is 5-11-3, his worst against any opponent.

The Quinnipiac opinion poll has Gov. Christy at the highest job approval he has ever had, 74 percent. That is the highest New Jersey Governor approval in the 17 years that Quinnipiac has been polling the state, and the highest of any Governor in the seven states that Quinnipiac polls now.

Only 16 percent of all murders and 7 percent of sexual assaults aboard cruise ships lead to convictions or plea bargains, according to FBI statistics.

Fisker Automotive Inc., the U.S. plug-in hybrid carmaker seeking a buyer, is weighing several bids, including a $350 million offer from Dongfeng Motor Corp. that would give the Chinese car maker majority control, said people with knowledge of the matter. Dongfeng, based in Wuhan, China, would gain 85 percent of Fisker under the terms of its bid, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the process is private.

Private investors put in over $1 Billion into the company would now own only 15%. (If 350 million is 85% then the total value of the company is 412 million. 15% of that is 61.8 million, 16% of the original 1 billion dollars. Yikes.)

Aaaaaaaannnnnnddddd.....two graphs:

Merger and Acquisitions by U.S. states:
Mergers and Acquisitions by country:

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