Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cab Thoughts 4/23/13

'Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.' --"E. L. Doctorow 

A woman watching the manhunt in Boston said, "They are so handsome. They seem to have so much to live for. I hope they are not killed." It was in a way a very reasonable response, is if the killers were boys with a temporary illness and would, with time, get better.

Mixed Martial Arts is formalized bar fighting and has attracted the competitors one would expect. But not all. Seth Kleinbeck is a M.D. from University of Arkansas’ College of Medicine, Rhadi Ferguson has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Teaching from Howard and, in 2009, was awarded a PhD in Education from Capella University, and Rosi Sexton (Barr Body positive) attended Trinity College in Cambridge(!), where she completed a degree in Mathematics in 1998 and, in 2003, she received a PhD in Theoretical Computer Science from the University of Manchester.

Last week, Google sold Frommer's Travel Guides back to Arthur Frommer after buying it less than a year ago. But according to paidContent, it kept all of the social media data.

Who or what  is.....No. 361 Great Wall # 61

The U.K. has a lottery where you pick 6 numbers of 49. What are your chances of picking six numbers from the 49 possibilities correctly, assuming that the machine picks winning numbers at random?  One in thirteen million.

The Kirghiz tribesmen of central Asia have long been known to use Golden eagles to catch wolves, and in fact Marco Polo (c. 1254-1324) wrote of “a great number of eagles, all trained to catch wolves, foxes, deer and wild goats.” In current day Mongolia, Mongolian Eagles are trained by feeding them meat pieces fixed into the eye sockets of a wolf skin which is dragged on a rope across the steppe. Their job is to seize the wolf by the face, blinding it, and hold down until the hunter rides up and kills it. Note that steppe wolves are not much larger than North American coyotes.

General Motors pension fund put up $170 million in equity and borrowed another $505 million and invested in a northern Missouri farm raising genetically engineered pigs. Everything went wrong. In May 1996, the pigs defaulted on $412 million in junk debt. In a perhaps related event, General Motors entered 2012 with its global pension plans underfunded by $25.4 billion. These are professional investors.

Michael Lobo, a member of the state assembly for Goa’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in India, is leading the crusade against Playboy, saying he will go on hunger strike if the local government gives the adult entertainment brand a green light to open clubs in his home state. To appease local sensibilities, Playboy has modified their costumes.

A very interesting question was raised about the firing of the Rice, the basketball coach from Rutgers: Would he have been fired if he had not made gay slurs?

Victoria Beale savages Paulo Coelho in The New Republic titled, "The Gospel of Success: Paulo Coelho's Vapid Philosophy": "If you've absorbed any of Coelho's incredible commercial success, without actually reading the 65-year-old, Brazilian author, it's genuinely shocking to realize just how shoddy and lightweight his books are, how obvious and well-trodden their revelations." I suppose she didn't like this from his latest book: "It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

There is a real willingness for the Left to present itself uncloaked, as it were, with brazen confidence. Recently MSNBC ran a promo talking about the idea that children all belonged, not to parents or families, but to "The Collective." It is a bit hard to take at face value as it is so strange an idea with such horrible historical applications. But there it is, just sitting there steaming. And there is a funny rejoinder on the idea from a few years ago by Gramm.
Texas Sen. Phil Gramm once told a woman, "My educational policies are based on the fact that I care more about my children than you do."
She said, "No, you don't."
Gramm replied, "OK: What are their names?"

Citi Research calculates that wind power (without subsidies) is competitive with natural gas today, if gas costs $6 per thousand cubic feet. In most parts of the world, gas costs right now considerably more than $6 per thousand cubic feet. Gas is $4.15 this week in the spot market.

A recent National Academy of Sciences study concludes: "Scientists and battery experts, who have been optimistic in the recent past about improving lithium-ion batteries and about developing new battery chemistries—lithium/air and lithium/sulfur are the leading candidates—are considerably less optimistic now."

Mountain Pure, Gibson Guitar, Ruby Ridge--government middle managers with guns can do the darnedest things.

Golden Oldie:

Household savings near record lows have joined to elevate profit margins more than 70% above their historical norm, as the deficit of one sector has to emerge as the surplus of another. The result is that investors quite erroneously accept the distorted “earnings yield” of stocks (and the associated “forward price/earnings multiple” of the S&P 500) at face value, without any adjustment for elevated profit margins or the historical tendency for such elevations to be eliminated over the course of the business cycle. (Hussman)

“There was a verbal dispute between a fan and Jerry Sands during which Jerry briefly entered into the stands,” Pirates GM Neal Huntington said. “The situation was quickly resolved without further incident, as the fan was ejected for his actions. We do not condone Jerry's actions and support the league's decision to suspend him for one game.”

If the sequester will cause cutbacks in such basics as airline safety, who would invest in or loan money to those vulnerable industries? Shouldn't that be an economic negative?

Chavez was born in the state of Barinas. His family still lives there. Barinas has become one of the kidnapping capitals of South America, higher than Columbia or Mexico. Chavez' family has prospered since he became President-for Life. Here are some noteworthy fragments of the family's success:
In an election last year marred by accusations of fraud, Adán Chávez succeeded his own father, Hugo de los Reyes Chávez, a former schoolteacher who had governed Barinas for a decade with the president’s brother, Argenis, the former secretary of state in Barinas.
Another brother, Aníbal, is mayor of nearby Sabaneta, and another brother, Adelis, is a top banker at Banco Sofitasa, which does business with Adán’s government. Yet another brother, Narciso, was put in charge of cooperation projects with Cuba. The president’s cousin Asdrúbal holds a top post at the national oil company.
Politicians once loyal to the president who have broken with him and his family here contend that Mr. Chávez’s family has amassed wealth and landholdings through a series of deals carried out by front men. (From the NYT)
The presidential family hold five bank accounts in the United States amounting to USD 137 million.
(La Razon)

EIA  expects that U.S. crude oil production will exceed U.S. imports as early as the end of 2013, the first time that will have occurred since February, 1995.

There are 12,338 retired California government workers receiving $100,000 or more in pension payments from Calpers. Michael D. Johnson, a retiree from the County of Solano, pulls in $30,920.24 per month.

AAAAAaaaaannnnnddddd.....a graph:

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