Saturday, May 11, 2013

Cab Thoughts 5/11/13

Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference.
Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

Barnes and Noble stock shot up 24 percent in trading Thursday amid rumors that Microsoft is interesting in buying all of Nook Media's digital assets.

North Korea has created a perfect counterfeit $100 bill, so good the U.S. government has decided to change their own bill. Today's quiz question: How is North Korea's flooding the world with made-up money different from the Fed creating $2 Billion a day of theirs?

One of life's mysteries is why people think that young people can be taught to blow themselves up with strangers but can not be taught to be good citizens.

President Obama has attended 44% of daily intelligence briefings since his election. That is somewhat higher than in his previous term. That is extremely low for a president.

Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald were terrible drinkers and Zelda was insane. They liked to crash parties and were prone to show up at the door uninvited, on all fours and barking like dogs. If the host let them into the house, they might strip naked and take a bath in the master bathroom tub. Zelda frequently disrobed in public.

The 5000 tickets for the annual Apple App conference sold out in 90 seconds. 5 years ago it took 61 days.

Journalist Michael Wolff on The New York Times Book Review in The Guardian: "There is an untested assumption ... that the NYTBR is quite a vital and even necessary part of the Times. ... That day is gone. Only the awkwardness of admitting otherwise maintains the assumption of a necessary Book Review."

The so-called cash economy is an indicator of the amount of money floating about uncounted, depending on the honesty of the participants in the commerce. It reflects illegal trade like drugs but also is indicative of the underground economy that has developed to augment government supported people who would lose that support should they report income as well as employers trying to minimize additional mandatory payments like medical care, taxes ans FICA. Estimates are that underground activity last year totaled as much as $2 trillion, according to a study by Edgar Feige, an economist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, double 2009's. (The total economy is about $16 Trillion.)

John Smiley was a power left-hander in the days of Pirate dominance. In addition to his power pitches he threw a great circle-change to complement his other pitches. He pitched a one-hitter against the then Montreal Expos. Years later one of the Expos on the team told him he was tipping his change. (The grip on the circle-change is awkward and some pitchers accidentally "flare" the glove fingers while positioning the grip.) Smiley was "flaring" during his one-hitter but, despite the foreknowledge the Expos had of his pitches, they still could not hit him; he--and his circle-change--were that good. Lesson? Nothing beats quality.

Golden Oldie:

Heracleion was an Egyptian city of extraordinary wealth mentioned in Homer, visited by Helen of Troy and Paris but it supposedly disappeared beneath the Mediterranean around 1,200 years ago. Also called Thonis, it was in the center of the Egyptian trade routes. French underwater archaeologist Dr Franck Goddio was the first to rediscover the city while doing surveying of the area while looking for French warships that sank there in the 18th century Battle of the Nile. The remains of more than 64 ships have been found as well as huge statues and the site of a temple.

In a book, "Why We Cheat," comes a disturbing hypothesis. Social contagion may help explain the high prevalence of cheating in relatively small groups of people. For example, 125 Harvard students were recently under investigation for cheating on the final examination in an introductory government course. (More than half these students were told to withdraw from school for up to a year as punishment.) It is statistically unlikely that nearly half the 279 students in that class are sociopaths given the low prevalence of sociopathy -- about 3 percent in males and 1 percent in females. A more plausible explanation is contagion. One can only wonder what that means in a society, if true.

In the mid-nineties, the British Home Office analyzed 184 crimes to see how many times profiles led to the arrest of a crimi­nal. The profile worked in five of those cases. That's 2.7 percent.

50% of working people do not have access to 2000 dollars should they need it in an emergency. That is true for 52% of retirees.

Who was....Francis Gary Powers?

SN 1006 was a supernova, widely seen on Earth beginning in the year 1006 AD; Earth was about 7,200 light-years away from the supernova. It was the brightest apparent magnitude stellar event in recorded history. In Asia it was called the "guest star."

Sports Illustrated estimated in 2009 that 78 percent of NFL players are bankrupt or facing serious financial stress within two years of ending their playing careers and that 60 percent of NBA players are broke within five years of retiring from the game.

Afghanistan won't let the "international community" leave "before we are fully on our feet, before we are strong enough to defend our country, before we are powerful enough to have a good economy, and before we have taken from President Bush and the next administration billions and billions of more dollars,” Karzai said in an interview in 2008. The New York Times reported Monday that the CIA dropped suitcases, backpacks and shopping bags full of money for Karzai in a bid to purchase influence.

Some 50 well-known authors, including J.K. Rowling, Seamus Heaney, Tom Stoppard and Ian McEwan, have agreed to annotate first editions of their novels for an auction benefiting English PEN, an organization that supports freedom of expression.

Watching the football draft would make one think every one of these super humans will have great careers. Everyone moaned at each selection as everyone thought their team was missing a great athlete. But the numbers are harsh. Over a ten year period the average draftee played 1.6 years as a starter, 1.9 years for the most successful drafting team (Ind) and 1.2 for the least (Clev). The first several picks did considerably better than average. From pick 136 down they averaged less than one year as a starter. And a few starters can make the stats look good for a lot of guys that never played.

One of the aspects of the debate over debt is where the borrowed money is spent. In the Second War the money went for armaments and the tools that created them. They were all adaptable when the war ended. And that spending stopped. But current borrowed money is not going for production or growth, it goes to entitlements and pet projects. It does nothing to assist the future economy. Borrowing money to build a factory shop floor is a lot different than using it to live.

Winnie-the-Pooh author and prominent pacifist A.A. Milne secretly wrote propaganda during World War I for MI7b, a now-defunct arm of British military intelligence services, according to recently discovered documents.

A rendition of the probable appearance of Heracleion
Lost city of Heracleion gives up its secrets

No comments: