Saturday, January 31, 2009
This volcano, if it erupts big, could influence weather from the upper Midwest to the North East.
Alaska and Russian (Kamkatcha) volcano's may have helped drive near record cold winter in the upper Midwest this season.
Will we have "year without summer" ???
Combined with ongoing dearth of sunspots
'scuse me, Al Gore on line 2
The long-running campaign to force the Department of Natural Resources to recognize the wild cougar population in Michigan arrived at the state Legislature Thursday morning, as a Senate committee took testimony from a dozen eyewitnesses and experts who claimed evidence of the animals’ presence is indisputable.
Cougars have been seen by hundreds of people in Michigan over the last 25 years, filmed and photographed, their tracks and droppings confirmed by scientists and attacks on livestock documented, the witnesses said.
Michigan has "a bonafide resident ... self-sustaining cougar population," said Pat Rusz, research biologist with the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy.
But the DNR refuses to acknowledge their presence, and discredits and ridicules assertions to the contrary, he said.
Apparently the DNR says they come from the Dakota's
Guess they are just "passing through"
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Drunk as a Skunk … or a Wild Monkey … or a Pig - Proof Blog - NYTimes.com:
"A large variety of creatures consume alcohol in the wild, ranging from bumble-bees to elephants. Hooch finds its way into their diets via the fermenting fruit, sap and nectar of various plants, and many exhibit signs of inebriation after they’ve enjoyed a good feed. Their weakness for the substance au naturel is understandable: ethanol is a rich food, with 75 percent more calories than refined sugar, and its distinctive aroma makes it easy to locate."
(as well as having lots of anti-oxidants)
Coffee Linked to Lower Dementia Risk - NYTimes.com:
"Drinking coffee may do more than just keep you awake. A new study suggests an intriguing potential link to mental health later in life, as well."
Trouble was that Banking was/is, at it's core, a low margin business.
Bankers wanted it to be a sexy, high margin business.
For a while, something like 40% of corporate earnings came from finance.
Leverage = Risk.
Economic View - Six Errors on the Path to the Financial Crisis - NYTimes.com
"The second error came in 2004, when the S.E.C. let securities firms raise their leverage sharply. Before then, leverage of 12 to 1 was typical; afterward, it shot up to more like 33 to 1. What were the S.E.C. and the heads of the firms thinking? Remember, under 33-to-1 leverage, a mere 3 percent decline in asset values wipes out a company. Had leverage stayed at 12 to 1, these firms wouldn’t have grown as big or been as fragile."
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Five Legal Scams
How is it that many Wall Streeters are prosperous at a time when 401(k)s are decimated? Some insiders are, to be sure, losing bonus pay or even looking at a pink slip. But the money management crowd is still doing pretty well for itself, extracting at least $300 billion a year for carving up our meager economic pie.
The Wall Street bag contains, as I count them, five tricks. If you understand them well, you will hesitate before engaging the next high-priced investment genius to pick stocks for you. You might even take the advice we have often offered, that you put a large chunk of your retirement money in low-cost index funds.
Longtime readers of FORBES will see some familiar themes here; a few of the games have been played for decades. I am inspired to revisit the topic after spending some time with Nassim Taleb, the financier-philosopher profiled by Robert Langreth. More than anyone else I have met, Taleb understands the portfolio tricks that turn dumb luck into something that looks like skill.
Taleb does not entirely agree with my taxonomy. Where I see five kinds of mischief, this holistic thinker sees only two: asymmetry and risk hiding. But you need to read Taleb's last two books (Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan) to understand those concepts. With that caveat, here are the five ways that money managers enrich themselves.
Russian roulette. Say a strategy yields above-average returns for nine years and a catastrophic loss in the tenth. This is a formula for wealth--if you are playing with other people's money. Collect a handsome fee during the good years and then shrug off the tenth.
You could get this profile of wins and losses by insuring levees in New Orleans. On Wall Street you get it selling naked put options, buying junk bonds or operating Long-Term Capital Management. In all these cases, the money manager succeeds by sweeping risk under the rug. Taleb's preferred name for this game is the Rubin Play, in honor of a well-compensated executive at a bank that needed to be bailed out.
Monkeys at the keyboard. Hand out 100 trading terminals and after a time the operator of one will emerge as an apparent genius. Collect a fee on the monkey feeder fund.
Streaking. Almost any investing style--small stocks, emerging markets, momentum--will have a winning streak, lasting 5 to 12 years. At an opportune moment, compare your results with the overall market's.
Portrait of his father by Jamie Wyeth
Shirley posted nice tribute here
I have always been fond of Andrew's work, in part because he had done so much with browns, greys and the colors of winter.
Such as : Snow Hill, started in his 70'th year
Chadds Ford Gallery:
“This is not just a pleasant picture,” says Andrew Wyeth. “It’s a culmination. These are all people I’ve painted in the past”. His models - neighbors all - dance around a winter maypole in gleeful anticipation of Andrew Wyeth’s death. “When I worked, I raised hell with them mentally and emotionally,” he says. “They wish I were dead, so they wouldn’t have to pose anymore.” The models Karl and Anna Kuerner, Helga Testorf, Bill Loper, Allan Lynch and Adam Johnson are dancing on top of the Kuerners’ hill in view of all the locations where they lived and were painted by Andrew Wyeth. The empty streamer represents the artist who once said, “I wish I could be invisible when I’m painting.”"
Along with Russel Chatham, Andrew's work has influenced my eye, sometimes my photography
Friday, January 23, 2009
Now the NYTimes raises questions.
Not like the Times is a Republican mouthpiece.
Freed by U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief - NYTimes.com:
"A Yemeni journalist who interviewed Al Qaeda’s leaders in Yemen last year, Abdulela Shaya, confirmed Thursday that the deputy leader was indeed Mr. Shihri, the former Guantanamo detainee. Mr. Shaya, in a phone interview, said Mr. Shihri had described to him his journey from Cuba to Yemen and supplied his Guant�namo detention number, 372. That is the correct number, Pentagon documents show.
“It seems certain from all the sources we have that this is the same individual who was released from Guantanamo in 2007,” said Gregory Johnsen, a terrorism analyst and the editor of a forthcoming book, “Islam and Insurgency in Yemen.”"
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Well, maybe, maybe not.
Maybe things have been too good for too long for anyone to remember.
Or maybe, just maybe there is a method to the madness, a bit of politics at play?
We just finished a political year when there was no candidate with a vested interest in the upside, all was on the downside.
I will grant that there was much wrong, and much wrong-doing, rampant greed on Wall St.
But will the turn, when it comes be all the new administrations doing?
Time will tell
Economic Scene - The Economy Is Bad, but 1982 Was Worse -
"You often hear that we are now living through the worst recession since the early 1980s, and the comparison is not wrong. But it’s ultimately unsatisfying, because it is a little too vague to be useful."
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Starting to go over my notes, and refreshed myself by visiting Baker's Blog : Bakers Green Acres
Mark and Jill (and family) supply protein for Cherry Capital Foods (mostly poultry).
We visited on the way back from Lansing last Tues
Despite near blizzard conditions (mostly the wind) we had good talk about business, and delicious lunch of home-made chicken soup (of course) with chicken and goat "hot-dogs" muffins and cider... yum.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Harry Connick to Hillary Swank (approx quote)
"Us guys are so clueless, we don't know if you want us to come on strong or not, to make the first move or not, to be on top or bottom"
Hillary whispers in his ear "I'll tell you the secret ...we have no clue what we want ..."
Framing - right on.
Erik Cecil’s Blog:
"New Framing. Doc Searls is one of the smartest lawyers I’ve ever known. It’s probably because he’s not a lawyer that he’s such a damn good lawyer. He’s good because he Gets It. “It” are the details that matter. Truth is, very few details ever really matter; the rest is noise. Blogshpere and the Internet is, in many respects, detail replicating itself utterly out of control without much in the way of meaning, reflection, creativity, authenticity, humiliy or love. Yes. Love. It matters. Doc sees the things few others see; he sees what I only began to see after taking on the machine in 100 days of hearings across 30 or so states pitting the innovation engine (and sometime echo chamber) we call the Internet against “the way things have been.” He clued me in to the power of framing. I can tell you from a regulatory litigator’s perspective, having tested this for about a dozen years before the FCC, every single state public utility commission in the nation and in many federal courts, there are few things that I care about more than framing. Basically, if your framing is superior you win. Period. Great lawyers get this. And so does Doc Searls."
Friday, January 16, 2009
Tues with Marc and Steve through worse, to visit protein supplier for Cherry Capital Foods
Wed into TC for early meetings on CCF
Thurs for TBEDC board, then up to supplier by Charlovoix, back to Frankfort for Food program.
Did not pull camera out for some of the real white-outs
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Will Detroit get blamed ?
Detroit Goes for Electric Cars, but Will Drivers? :
"These are risky bets. There are no guarantees that consumers — for all their stated concerns about global warming, dependence on foreign oil and unpredictable gas prices — will buy enough of them. They may balk, for example, at the limits on how far they can drive on a single charge."
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Encourage a major institution to step up risky trading in mortgage-related instruments?
And by the way, take some $126 million in pay and bonus's
Rubin Leaving Citigroup:
"For Mr. Rubin, his resignation is a sobering turn in a sterling career in Washington and on Wall Street. Since joining Citigroup in 1999 as an adviser to the bank’s senior executives, Mr. Rubin, 70, who is an economic adviser on the transition team of President-elect Barack Obama, has sat atop a bank that has made one misstep after another.
When he was Treasury secretary during the Clinton administration, Mr. Rubin helped loosen Depression-era banking regulations that made the creation of Citigroup possible. During the same period, he helped beat back tighter oversight of exotic financial products, a development he had previously said he was helpless to prevent.
In his capacity as a senior adviser to Citigroup’s top executives and board, he pushed hard for the bank to step up its trading of risky mortgage-related securities and other complex investments as long as it improved oversight — a strategy critics say sowed the seeds of the bank’s current troubles. Mr. Rubin, whose contract specifically absolved him from daily operational responsibilities, has maintained that he could not have foreseen the current mess."
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Yesterday the winter edition of Oberlin College Alumni Association magazine comes, with cover story on Eric Bogosian
class of '76 (half dozen after what I would have been if I'd stayed), and once of my favorite actors."Brooding is bad...Threatening is good."
Last movie I saw him in was Cadillac Records, where he plays Alan Freed
Cadillac Records is "history" of Chess Records, home to artists such as Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry.
The #1 back up for Chuck was Bob Baldori.
We're headed to see a concert with him Sat.
But turns out that friend and business partner was introduced to Bob (both Italian-Americans) and he invested in one of Bob's projects: Boogie Stomp: Short documentary reveals history of boogie-woogie
Just weird set of connections
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Segue "Young at Heart" to "That's Life"
Facebook | Cuckoo Savante
"…Another Irish act to keep a keen eye on are Cuckoo Savante, a Galway band of mixed sexual orientations who peddle a brand of music they call Hurdy-Gurdy Gothique Electra Loungeporn and boast a queer lead singer, one Jaime Nanci, who comes on like Marc Almond channelling the ghost of Nina Simone. He's got star written all over him…."