Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cab Thoughts 4/13/13

"'Politics is not the art of the possible. It is choosing between the unpalatable and the disastrous'.--Galbraith

Sydney Crosby's devotion to the game of hockey is legendary. His entire life, from a child, has been in the pursuit of its excellence. His success has been as much a triumph of will as talent. When he was 12 he asked his coaches to help him improve his speed because he felt the professional game was becoming speed oriented. That said, one wonders when that intricate balance between sacrifice and reward tips away from reward, even at this incredibly high level.

North Korea, Iran less so, gives the lie to any and all international pretences of individual nation's sacrifice for the greater good. An important prejudice seems to be the Western idea of homogeneity among people and the possibility of similar chords struck during negotiations. In some cultures that simply does not exist.

There is a court case involving a physician who runs an abortion clinic in Philadelphia where a girl died. It has revealed some remarkable things. One, the anesthetic was usually given by a 15 year old girl. When she was not available, a girl in her 20's took over; she had a sixth grade education. Two, little worked. The ultrasound used to target the fetus had no image. That is, it showed nothing when turned on. The "crash cart" had no working EKG, no working automatic electronic defibrillator.
Standards seem to have some variability depending on the circumstances. And, more importantly, when killing is the objective, death and pain, by necessity, become acceptable. This probably explains why this gigantic scandal has received virtually no coverage.

Who is....Kathy Boudine?

Gas supplies about 26% of America's total energy, ranking behind only oil in meeting America's energy needs. Coal provides 19% of our total energy and ranks third. Renewable energy in all its forms, including hydro and bio fuels, ranks fourth and nuclear power fifth. 38% of natural gas supplies is used to heat buildings, 33% to generate electricity. The displacement of coal as an electric generator, from 50% ten years ago to 37% now, is the single largest reason U.S. CO2 production has dropped.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 57 percent of Mexican immigrants will go on to use means-tested benefit programs, against only 6 percent of British.
And “one-fourth of public school students now speak languages other than English at home.”

In 1949, the Yale anthropologist George Peter Murdock published a survey of some 250 'representative cultures' from different eras and diverse parts of the world. He reported, 'The nuclear family is a uni­versal human social grouping. Either as the sole prevailing form of the family or as the basic unit from which more complex familial forms are compounded, it exists as a distinct and strongly functional group in every known society. No exception, at least, has come to light.'
In 1950, four million adult Americans lived alone. Today, thirty-one million do. In 1950, 22 percent of American adults were single. Today, more than 50 percent of American adults are single.

Geologists mea­sure eruptions by the Volcanic Explosivity Index, which uses whole numbers from 0 to 8 to rate the relative amount of ash, dust, and sulphur a volcano throws into the atmosphere. Like the Richter Scale for earthquakes, each step along the Explosivity Index is equal to a tenfold increase in the magnitude of the eruption. Tambora in Indonesia rated an Index score of 7, making the eruption approxi­mately one thousand times more powerful than the Icelandic vol­cano Eyjafjallajokull, which disrupted trans-Atlantic air travel in 2010 but rated only a 4; one hundred times stronger than Mount St. Helens (a 5); and ten times more powerful than Krakatoa (a 6). Only four other eruptions in the last hundred centuries have reached a score of 7. The year following Tambora, 1816, was known throughout the world as the year without a summer.

Clausewitz saw that the limited wars of the eighteenth century on which he had been brought up had been transformed into the total wars of the Napoleonic era – and all subsequent eras – not by any change in the nature of weaponry, but by the enlistment of “the people”; people whose emotions would distort the rational calculations of governments and the professional expertise of the military, but could never again be left out of account. According to Emile Simpson, a British war veteran, in his book "War from the Ground Up" the paradigm (still largely accepted by Clausewitz) of “bipolar” wars fought between discrete states enjoying the support of their peoples has now been shattered by globalization. Popular support can no longer be taken for granted. “The people” are no longer homogeneous and the enemy is no longer a single entity. Further, “the enemy” is no longer the only actor to be taken into account.

The first kangaroo was seen by Western eyes in 1770. Proof of the existence of the gorilla was returned to the West by 19th-century explorer Paul Du Chaillu.

The Bank of Japan has doubled its bond purchases and lengthened its duration. This will undermine the yen's buying power. There is the equivalence of $9 trillion (T!) in Japanese yen holdings in Japan. The yen’s decline will deliver a global deflationary shock, especially for Japan’s biggest export competitors, then even German bunds yielding 1.25% might look attractive for the long side of the trade against the Japan bond short.

BBC America and its British sibling, the BBC, said on Monday that they would produce a television adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s best-selling novel, “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell,” which would be shown as a mini-series in 2014.

The 245thNational Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, is meeting this week with 12,000 presentations on advances in science and other topics. One presenter, Walter Rakitsky, Ph.D, is from Solazyme, a company claiming a breakthrough biotechnology platform that unlocks the power of microalgae to produce oil. He said that microalgae are the original oil producers on earth, and that all of the oil-producing machinery present in higher plants resides within these single-cell organisms.“For the first time in history, we have unlocked the ability to completely design and tailor oils,” he said. “This breakthrough allows us to create oils optimized for everything from high-performance jet and diesel fuel to renewable chemicals to skin-care products and heart-healthy food oils. These oils could replace or enhance the properties of oils derived from the world’s three dominant sources: petroleum, plants and animals.”

Golden Oldie:

According to the Pew Research Center, 52 percent of Americans are now in favor of legalizing marijuana while only 45 percent oppose it, marking the first time in over 40 years of polling by the company that a majority of citizens have backed pot’s legalization.

From the economist Anatole Kaletsky:
Here is a list of economic questions that have something in common. In a recession, should governments reduce budget deficits or increase them? Do 0 percent interest rates stimulate economic recovery or suppress it? Should welfare benefits be maintained or cut in response to high unemployment? Should depositors in failed banks be protected or suffer big losses? Does income inequality damage or encourage economic growth? Will market forces create environmental disasters or avert them? Is government support necessary for technological progress or stifling to innovation?
What these important questions have in common is that professional economists can’t answer them.
(As an example)...The world’s most important central banks, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, hold diametrically opposing views about the effects of quantitative easing. If economics were a genuinely scientific discipline, such disputes over fundamental issues would have been settled decades ago. They are equivalent to astronomers still arguing about whether the sun revolves around the earth or earth around the sun.

Australia was sort of created January 26, 1788, when a fleet of eleven vessels carrying 1,030 people, including 548 male and 188 female convicts, under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip in his flagship Sirius, entered Port Jackson or, as it would soon be known, Sydney Harbor. There was the belief in Britain that there existed in England an incorrigible "criminal class" and this exile, never done on this kind of scale before or since, was an effort to eliminate the "class." The Crown shipped more than 160,000 men, women and children (due to defects in the records, the true number will never be precisely known) in bondage to Australia. To my knowledge it has never been called a "gulag."

Fulton and his steamboat were innovators in the New York travel market and Fulton was granted a monopoly in New York waters. In 1824, in the landmark case of Gibbons v. Ogden, the Supreme Court struck down the Fulton monopoly. Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that only the federal government, not the states, could regulate interstate commerce. The "Gibbons" in the case was the man who hired a young man named Cornelius Vanderbilt to pilot his steamboats in defiance of the monopoly. He, of course, eventually struck out on his own.
AAAAAnnnnnnnnddddddd......a graph:
Chart of the Day

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