Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cab Thoughts 3/30/31

Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. (A concept articulated by Chinua Achebe)

Less than 4% of depositors account for almost 60% of the deposits in Cypriot banks.

The Nazis ran 42,500 concentration camps in Europe during the second war according to a new report from the Holocaust Museum.
In the 30's, 40's and 50's in the U.S. the door-to-door salesman became a local staple. The king was the Fuller Brush Man. In the Disney animated version of 'The Three Little Pigs,' which won an Academy Award in 1933, the Big Bad Wolf tried to get into the pigs' houses by disguising himself as a Fuller Brush Man. Donald Duck earned his living for a while selling Fuller Brushes. In 1948 Fuller salesmen, all of them independent dealers working on straight commission, made nearly fifty million house-to-house sales calls in the United States -- a country that at the time had fewer than forty-three mil­lion households.

A Chinese national, a Mr. Jiang, was arrested trying to flee to China. He works for the NASA at Langley. NASA Inspector-General Paul Martin said he believes there are nearly 200 Chinese nationals working in positions that afford them significant access to the agency and its programs. Does this sound at all reasonable?

The Marcellus is now America's biggest gas producing field that provides already 9 billion cubic feet per day and soon will produce an amazing 10 billion cubic feet per day. Gas principally from Pennsylvania but also West Virginia and Ohio now totals about 15% of America's daily gas supply. (The opponents used to claim this was a Ponzi scheme.)

The M in the NiMH battery is the rare earth metal lanthanum and the planet can't produce enough to satisfy current demand, much less additional demands in automotive. Toyota cleverly locked up their lanthanum and NiMH battery supply chain and leaving their competitors out in the cold. lithium batteries are actually the second choice.

In 1954, about 96 percent of American men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. Today that number is around 80 percent. One-fifth of all men in their prime working ages are not getting up and going to work. 

In the nineteenth century Francis Cabot Lowell toured England and visited its industrial sites. He was horrified. He left fearing that Britain was teetering on the brink of social upheaval because of child labor. Back in New England he instituted new labor conditions. He paid higher-than-normal wages and created decent mill housing for young farm girls willing to work away from home for a few years. The idea was that the girls would leave the farm, build up some savings, then return. Their facilities were cleaner and often safer than farm work and generally it was a great success. Charles Dickens, on a trip to America commented on the facilities: "I am now going to state three facts, which will startle a large class of readers [in England] very much. Firstly, there is a joint-stock piano in a great many of the boarding-houses. Secondly, nearly all these young ladies subscribe to circulating libraries. Thirdly, they have got up among them­selves a periodical called The Lowell Offering . . . [of which] I will only observe . . . that it will compare advantageously with a great many En­glish Annuals."

In two sentences I heard read aloud many years ago in a large auditorium, Wright Morris introduced me to the virtues of an unadorned prose. The two sentences were these: “The father talks to his son. The son listens and watches his father eat soup.”--Annie Dillard

Golden Oldie:

Nicholas Maduro, aged 50,  is the front runner in the election to replace the giant brained Hugo Chavaz, who died recently after creating poverty in an oil rich nation. Maduro, a former bus driver who is trumpeting his working-class roots like Chavez, has a lead over Capriles--a guy who wants to recreate Brazil in Venezuela-- of more than 10 percentage points, according to two recent opinion polls. Maduro has recently said that several old Bush staffers are plotting Capriles' assassination, a revelation that should worry Capriles plenty. Both of these men are new breed of South American leaders: No uniforms.

The sentimentalized version of C.S. Lewis' relationship with Joy Davidman is largely known through the play and movie “Shadowlands.” An American divorcee with two small children, Davidman seems to have been, at least initially, little more than a gold digger who contrived to make Lewis her rather willing “sugar daddy.” But when Davidman grew seriously ill, the relationship deepened into real love, and the two were married by an Anglican priest. There followed a short period of happiness, before Lewis was utterly traumatized by Davidman’s death at age 45. “A Grief Observed” was his attempt to deal with the resulting emotional devastation. Lewis himself died, after much suffering from “renal failure, prostate obstruction, and cardiac degeneration,” at the age of 64, on the same day that John F. Kennedy was shot.

2.9% of workers are minimum wage and over 50% are between 16 and 24 years of age.

A new book from prominent primatologist Jane Goodall "contains borrowed passages without attribution," according to a report in The Washington Post. The book, Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder From the World of Plants, is due out next month and was co-authored by Gail Hudson, who worked on two of Goodall's previous books.
A science fiction story years ago had the U.S. jettison the Congress and provided for national computer voting on every national topic. The result was, of course, chaos. These two Supreme Court cases on same-sex marriage, Hollingsworth v. Perry (the Proposition 8 case from California) and U.S. v. Windsor (the Defense of Marriage Act case), have the same feel to me, precipitous, meddling and premature. The Court should be a filter, evaluating national opinion, not creating it.

In the 1990s, Bhutan expelled or forced to leave nearly one-fifth of its population in the name of preserving its Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist culture and identity, claiming that those expelled were illegal residents. The decision was motivated by the concern that the fast growing Nepali minority would take over the country, recalling similar events that caused the collapse of the nearby kingdom of Sikkim in 1975.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute’s latest survey on retirement shows most households saving for retirement but unsuccessfully. Excluding the value of a primary home and any defined benefit plans, 57 percent of households say they have less than $25,000 in savings and investments. Twenty-eight percent say they have less than $1,000. Only 18 percent of American retirees are very confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement, compared to 41 percent in 2007. At the same time, 14 percent are not at all confident and 22 percent are not too confident.

A report in Federal Computer Week, a magazine covering technology within the federal government, cites anonymous sources claiming that the CIA has signed a contract with Amazon worth about $600 million over the next decade to develop cloud computing technology.

While on the campaign trail in 1912 in his effort to win a third Presidential term (this time for the new Progressive Party) Teddy Roosevelt was shot in the chest. The would-be assassin was a thirty-six-year-old psychotic New York bartender named John Schrank, a Bavarian immi­grant who feared--prompted by a dream--that Roosevelt's run for a third term was an effort to establish a monarchy in the United States. Roosevelt's heavy overcoat, folded speech manuscript and spectacle-case he carried in his pocket saved his life, but the bullet traveled five inches deep near his rib cage, giving him a superficial but bleeding wound. Roosevelt delivered his speech, his coat unbuttoned to reveal a bloodstained shirt and his speech held so that all could see the two holes made by the bullet. He cried "It takes more than that to kill a bull moose!" Because of the incident, the party became known as the Bull Moose Party.

There is an assumption that people are essentially the same--in virtually all ways--and that subjects are interchangeable and valid proxies for all. A 2008 survey of the top six psychology journals shows more than 96 percent of the subjects tested in psychological studies from 2003 to 2007 were Westerners—with nearly 70 percent from the United States alone. So 96 percent of human subjects in these studies came from countries that represent only 12 percent of the world’s population.

An announcement in Pittsburgh marked the opening of the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, which has established 15 initial performance standards representatives said are designed to ensure safe and environmentally responsible development of the Marcellus and Utica shale plays. At least one of the participants at the announcement, made at the office of the Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh, likened the initiative to Pittsburgh’s earlier efforts to make the city less polluted
The group is made up of environmental groups and several industry leaders. Think supply control.

An old observation by Richard Cantillon (writing decades before Adam Smith) is called the “Cantillon effect." He argued that those closest to the money source benefited at the expense of others. His original observation was of the mining of gold and silver. Those who benefited most were closest to the creating of the wealth and they, in turn, used that wealth to buy goods which raised the price of those goods down the line to the later consumer. In other words, the beneficiaries of newly created money spend that money and bid up the price of goods with their higher demand. Those who suffer are those who have to pay newly higher prices but did not benefit from the newly created money. One wonders if there is any application of this theory to current government policy where the politicians and bankers are closest to the money created, literally, and then the inflation of price is passed on down the line to the less fortunate citizens.

Kipling and his sister were sent home from India as children in the care of total strangers and lived with them for five years before seeing their parents again. This was a common practice among the Brits who were fearful of the intimacy that Indian servants developed with all children; the English felt this attention made children unmanageable when they grew older--and the men less manly. Maud Driver in her 1909 book The Englishwoman in India was one of the first publicly to express these fears. According to her, it was necessary to send Anglo-Indian children 'Home' in order to remove them from 'the promiscuous intimacy of the Indian servants, whose propensity to worship at the shrine of the Baba-log [the children] is unhappily apt to demoralize the small gods and goddesses they serve'.

Chinua Achebe has died. One of a group of well regarded novelists, he was a Conrad foe. In his first and most famous novel, Things Fall Apart, he showed the devastating effects of colonialism on a Nigerian village in the late 1800s. He wrote: "The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart."

Obama would like to change the computation of inflation to "chained CPI." Right now most feel that inflation is underestimated. Obama's plan would be to assume that, if prices rise, the consumer will not buy less of a product, they will switch to something else. If beef goes up, people will not pay more for it, they will switch to chicken. The end result is that chained CPI is generally lower than the current CPI used for measuring inflation. The CPI for the past 12 months was measured at 2.0%. The chained CPI for the same period would be 1.8%.

AAAAnnnndddddd........a picture:

A Great White Shark is believed to have pulled the swimmer under

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