Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cab Thoughts 4/27/13

Do not all charms fly / At the mere touch of cold philosophy? -- Lamia, Keats
The constant threat of unrestrained violence from any source and for any or no reason--the American preoccupation with zombie stories is beginning to make more sense.

The strange mandate for ethanol as a more expensive alternative to petroleum continues. Interestingly, ethanol from natural gas is much cheaper to produce but is discouraged by the U.S. government for political-read-financial-influence reasons. Sometimes "financial influence" can create terrible labyrinths.
Paul Kevin Curtis of Corinth, Mississippi arrested for sending ricin to President Obama and Sen. Wicker. Curtis is an Elvis impersonator. When he was released he thanked his fans.

Another thing that makes the impact of the dreaded sequester on air traffic mysterious: Flyers directly fund two-thirds of the FAA's budget through 17 airline taxes and fees—about 20% of the cost of a $300 domestic ticket, up from 7% in the 1970s.
Sometimes stats are pretty clear. It was clear the Catholic vote in the last election was not significant and their vote in the future will likely never be a factor. The Church can pronounce all it wants; they do not have a political influence any more. It is also likely the failure of the gun control bill--really little more than elaboration of existing law with the exception of the loss of medical privacy--shows a real distrust of government.
Children of illegal immigrants that are born into this country are considered legal American citizens because of "Jus Soli" which means "right of the soil" (birthright) by the 14th amendment. They can receive welfare benefits and any of the privileges and rights of any American Citizen. An illegal resident cannot receive any welfare benefits. However, some illegal immigrants can get benefits by acquiring illegal social security cards or from stolen social security cards.  In this way they can get welfare, food stamps, jobs, social security, disability, unemployment, and of course their famed free health-care. According to the FBI 41% of illegal aliens are on welfare.

Former State Department adviser Vali Nasr describes veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke being all but frozen out by President Obama's inner circle, for whom Nasr believes diplomacy was a "lost art."
From a biography on Kipling by Harry Ricketts: "No sooner had he [Kipling} stepped off the boat [in San Francisco] than he witnessed the stabbing of a Chinaman. A sortie to a gambling den in Chinatown produced a dead Mexican, shot before his eyes over a poker game. In another equally unverifiable episode, a 'bunco-steerer' (card-sharp) tried -- unsuccessfully of course -- to get him drunk and fleece him."
In 1870, Erich von Wolf, a German chemist, examined the amount of iron within spinach, among many other green vegetables. In recording his findings, von Wolf accidentally misplaced a decimal point when transcribing data from his notebook, changing the iron content in spinach by an order of magnitude. While there are actually only 3.5 milligrams of iron in a 100-gram serving of spinach, the accepted fact became 35 milligrams. The nutritional value of spinach became legendary until corrected in 1937.
George Orwell's birthplace in India is being turned into a memorial park in honor of Mahatma Gandhi. The birthplaces of Edith Wharton, Eugene O'Neill and Jack London are now Starbucks.
Who was....Richard Jewell?
Warren Buffett  gave an interview in late 2008 with Berkshire stock down 44% at $84,000 per share. The interviewer asked, “How did it feel to see your stock go down over 40%?” He said, “It felt pretty much the same as it did the half-dozen other times it’s happened.”  Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway holding company has endured such declines multiple times during its climb from $15 per share in 1965 when he took over the company to its current $130,000, or so (which is actually still down 10% from its $150,000 peak in 2007) per share
Gasoline prices in SW France: $8.36/gal.
There is a new biography of Keats out by Nicholas Roe with a few interesting and new ideas. One is that Keats' father's death in a riding accident at the age of 31 was devastating to Keats, as was his young mother's remarkable recovery and remarriage to an unemployed and unemployable 20 year old two months later.  These family disasters may have influenced him more than previously thought. The other assertion is his remarkable ability to write prose. Roe thinks, had Keats survived, he would have been an essayist or a fiction writer.
Orphaned at a young age, barely five feet tall and not well educated, Keats was  gregarious and fond of “women, wine, and snuff.” His lovely poetry, his sad and early death, has abstracted him in readers' eyes but he loved the theater, enjoyed watching boxing matches, and would spend an evening cutting cards for half guineas. He also seems to have been treated for a venereal disease, possibly syphilis. For a while he studied under a surgeon. Lemprière’s Classical Dictionary served as a stimulus for his poetic leanings.
Keats died at 25 and was lightly regarded as a poet at his death.
The last known manuscript poem by John Keats sold for a world record £181,250 on 10 April '13 at the sale of the first part of Roy Davids Collection Part III at Bonhams.
Pennsylvania is among the minority of states that ended the electricity generation, state sanctioned monopolies. But in every state the distribution of electricity to customers remains a state sanctioned monopoly.
South Florida has an infestation of invasive giant African land snails, which can grow to the size of rats, readily consume over 500 native species, and are known to enjoy chewing on the stucco common to Florida’s housing.
In 1914, Mary Richardson  took a meat cleaver to Diego Velazquez’s The Rokeby Venus at the National Gallery in London. It is said she wasn't crazy because there was a sort-of-recognizable, if disjointed, "purpose" for this act.  She was protesting the arrest of Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the suffragette movement in Britain. As a militant suffragette herself, Richardson decided to “destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the government for its role in the destruction of Mrs. Pankhurst and other beautiful living women.” 
China is coal-powered, getting about 70% of its total energy from coal, and its surging coal use continues. China built 50,000 megawatts of coal generation during 2012 or about one-sixth of the US coal fleet. In the USA, 9,000 megawatts of coal generation retired in 2012 out of 316,000. While coal provides currently about 40% of America's electricity, coal provides about 20% of our total energy. Coal provides 3.5 times of China's total energy as it does in the USA. And U.S. coal use is declining progressively. The U.S. could retire up to a third of its coal generation by 2016.
"No tax cut would have helped us deal with this." This is a quote from the esteemed Barney Frank, erstwhile legislator, co- owner of a house of prostitution and the champion of sub-prime mortgage lending, on the Boston bombing. There is no topic too wide to fit through their tiny prism.
In the population study of a sample of 55,322 illegal aliens, researchers found that they were arrested at least a total of 459,614 times, averaging about 8 arrests per illegal alien.
Elroy Dimson, Paul Marsh, and Mike Staunton are three professors at the London Business School who have been compiling data on the performance of stocks and bonds for 19 different countries going all the way back to the year 1900. These countries represented 89% of the world equity market at the beginning of 1900 and 85% as of the end of 2011. The return of a globally diversified portfolio over those 112 years was 5.4% above inflation, before fees and taxes.
In 2012, China accounted for about 32% of the total global carbon emissions or twice the total of the USA. Moreover, Chinese per capita emissions are now up to about 50% of a typical American. By 2020, China will emit approximately 4 times more carbon pollution than the USA, and its portion of global emissions could be close to 40% and their per capita emissions will exceed that of the U.S..
Golden Oldie:
Monday's Pulitzer awards news has led to an immediate sales spike for the winners. Sharon Olds' poetry collection Stag's Leap is already sold out on Amazon.
EIA 2013 Annual Energy Outlook contains the projection that each American will use less and less energy from 2011 to 2040. Indeed, EIA projects that per capita American energy use will fall back to 1963 levels by 2040. A big assumption in this forecast is the success of EV and hybrid cars although we certainly do not have the battery for either yet.
The Digital Public Library of America, to be launched on April 18, is a project to make the holdings of America’s research libraries, archives, and museums available to all Americans—and eventually to everyone in the world—online and free of charge. At first, the DPLA’s offering will be limited to a rich variety of collections—books, manuscripts, and works of art—that have already been digitized in cultural institutions throughout the country. Around this core it will grow, gradually accumulating material of all kinds until it will function as a national digital library. The major limitation seems to be copyright questions.
Two major authors were included in Time magazine's annual list of the "100 Most Influential People" — Tenth of December writer George Saunders and Hilary Mantel, the novelist behind Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Poet Mary Karr, who wrote the entry on Saunders, said, "For more than a decade, George Saunders has been the best short-story writer in English — not "one of," not "arguably," but the Best."
Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
AAAAAAaaannnnnnnndddddd.......a graph of demographics during the Great Awakening:

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