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Monetary Warfare December 31, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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What are the threats that could make the U.S. economy look less like America and more like Zimbabwe? He sees them everywhere – in the Chinese ownership of vast amounts of American debt, in Russia’s increased centralization of its economy, in Al Qaeda’s long-established fascination with damaging the U.S. economy.

Four of the scenarios keep him up at night (more…)

From the left, a call to end the current Dutch notion of tolerance December 30, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Religion.
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Labor’s line seems to stand on its head the old equation of jobs-plus-education equals integration. Conforming to Dutch society’s social standards now comes first. Strikingly, it turns its back on cultural relativism and uses the word emancipation in discussing the process of outsiders’ becoming Dutch.

Not clear enough? Ploumen insists, “The success of the integration process is hindered by the disproportionate number of non-natives involved in criminality and trouble-making, by men who refuse to shake hands with women, by burqas and separate courses for women on citizenship.

“We have to stop the existence of parallel societies within our society.”

via From the left, a call to end the current Dutch notion of tolerance – International Herald Tribune.

Social Security and Madoff – Both Pyramid Schemes December 30, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Politics.
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madof121820081. Legitimate investment vehicles take investor funds and invest them in businesses, real estate, and other assets. These investments are intend to generate returns for shareholders. Madoff didn’t do this. He paid off early investors with cash from subsequent investors. Investment assets were never purchased.

Similarly, Social Security has no investments. It pays retirees benefits with cash deposited by younger workers. What’s worse is that Social Security has taken in a surplus of funds over the years. Instead of investing the extra funds legitimately, the government spent it on other programs. Now Social Security is completely unfunded — something that’s illegal for companies to do but not the government.

2. Madoff’s early investors received excellent returns, which averaged 12 percent to 14 percent a year. Similarly, Social Security provided excellent returns to its early participants. The first person to receive monthly Social Security benefits was a woman named Ida May Fuller. She paid $24.75 total into the Social Security system over a three year period, and received $22,889 during her lifetime. Even Madoff was not so egregious to provide such a large return to his early investors. (more…)

Petro-Dictators Reeling December 27, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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The depression — let’s call it what it is — leaves us, well, depressed. But there is very good news from around the world. Our enemies are collapsing under the strain of dropping oil and gas prices.

What we had all hoped conservation and offshore drilling would achieve, the global economic collapse is accomplishing: the defeat of OPEC, Iran, Chavez, Putin and the weakening of the financial underpinnings of Islamist terrorism. In each of these nations, the hold of the dictator is weakening as, one after the other, they face the consequences of dropping oil prices.

The pressure to stay in power will be so intense that these leaders will force production as high as they can to offset the shortfall. The result is that there will be constant deflationary pressure on oil prices, a vicious cycle that will impoverish all the right people.

via Newsmax.com – Suppliers Feeling the Sting of Oil Prices.

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God December 27, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in philosophy & politics, Religion.
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The answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? “Because it’s there,” he said.

To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It’s… well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary’s further explanation – that nobody else had climbed it – would stand as a second reason for passivity.

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I’ve just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.

via As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God | Matthew Parris – Times Online.

The Future of Fish December 26, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment.
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one_dollar_koi__new_version_by_orudorumagi11With monitoring systems that reduce bycatch by as much as 60 percent and regulations providing fishermen with a stake in protecting the wild resource, it is happening. One regulatory scheme, known as “catch shares,” allows fishermen to own shares in a fishery — that is, the right to catch a certain percentage of a scientifically determined sustainable harvest. Fishermen can buy or sell shares, but the number of fish caught in a given year is fixed.

This method has been a success in a number of places including Alaska, the source of more than half of the nation’s seafood. A study published in the journal Science recently estimated that if catch shares had been in place globally in 1970, only about 9 percent of the world’s fisheries would have collapsed by 2003, rather than 27 percent.

via On the Farm – A Seafood Snob Ponders the Future of Fish – NYTimes.com.

Megayacht “Legacy” Stuck Again December 26, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Lifestyle.
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S/Y Legacy, the 158-foot Perini Navi sailing yacht shipwrecked by Hurricane Wilma in October 2005 and freed from the shallows of a marine sanctuary off Key West in early 2008, remains anchored in Key West Harbor, and for an unusual reason.

legacy_839911411Having been able to get her engines and generators running again, along with the air conditioner and thrusters, owner Peter Halmos thought she would be out of there by now.

But at some point – it isn’t clear when or how – Legacy’s retractable keel slipped down and workers can’t get it raised.

via The Triton – News for the megayacht and superyacht industry – Halmos: Legacy ‘doesn’t want to leave’

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France’s Obama December 24, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in News and politics.
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Born in France to poor Muslim immigrant parents, French Justice Minister Rachida Dati is a powerful symbol of a society that is changing rapidly, if reluctantly. Intelligent, young, ambitious, attractive, she is a fighter driven by outsize ambition and cheekiness in a country where immigrants rarely attain stellar heights in business, academia, the media, or government. Her ascendance is the French version of “Yes We Can.”

via The Storm Around France’s First Muslim Cabinet Minister, Rachida Dati – US News and World Report.

Extreme Waves Getting Bigger December 22, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Enviroment.
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The largest waves in the Pacific Northwest are getting higher by seven centimeters a year, posing an increasing threat to property close to the shore. And the strange part is: Scientists aren’t sure why.

Oregon State researchers found that the danger to property from these larger extreme waves will outweigh the impacts of rising sea levels caused by global warming over the next several decades.

via Surfers, Rejoice: Some Extreme Waves Getting Bigger | Wired Science from Wired.com.

The New Millionaire Psychology December 22, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Lifestyle.
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Our culture has changed from buying books on “How To Be A Millionaire” to watching a TV Game- Show with an entitlement angle – “Make Me A Millionaire”.

“California, sales are down 10% since the beginning of fiscal year 2009, which began on July 1” says Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the California lottery. Traverso says he hopes sales will revive with larger jackpots and with the January launch of a new televised game show called Make Me a Millionaire.

via Losing Faith in Gambling’s Allure – BusinessWeek.

Why No UAW In The South December 22, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business.
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Thus, historians agree that unionizing southern plants would require a dramatic cultural shift.”In the North you work for the UAW first and the company second,” says Hoffer at Virginia Commonwealth University. “It’s just never been that way in the South. You work for the company first.”

That attitude certainly is reflected in previous failed attempts to organize the transplant factories. Two decades of work by the UAW to force a vote at a Toyota factory in Georgetown, Ky., have yielded no results; votes at a Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tenn., were rejected out of hand by workers in 1989 and 2001.

“There is considerable tension between the union and Southern autoworkers,” says John Heitmann, a history professor at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, who has studied the auto industry for a decade. “It’s in part due to the strong strain of individualism that’s a part of the South. There’s no real compassion for union brothers down there.”

via Auto Bailout: Southern Workers Watch and Worry – BusinessWeek.

GPS With Built-In Stereotypes December 21, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Humor, Video.
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[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.764032&w=425&h=350&fv=]

more about “Personalized GPS“, Thanks to Jeff Ullian

Peggy Noonan: Who We (Still) Are December 20, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in philosophy & politics.
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We should experience “the current crisis” as “a gigantic wake-up call.” We’ve been living beyond our means, both governmentally and personally. “We have to be willing to face up to our problems. But we have a capacity to roll up our sleeves and get down to work together.”

What a task President-elect Obama has ahead. He ran on a theme of change we can believe in, but already that seems old. Only six weeks after his election he faces a need more consequential and immediate. In January, in his inaugural, he may find himself addressing something bigger, and that is: Belief we can believe in. The return of confidence. The end of absence. The return of the suit inhabited by a person. The return of the person who will take responsibility, and lead.

via Peggy Noonan: Who We (Still) Are – WSJ.com.

2008 Mug Shots Of The Year December 19, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Humor.
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On the following pages you’ll find the 2008 Mug Shots of the Year, 20 booking photos selected from among the tens of thousands reviewed this year by TSG’s staff (all three of us). While most of the images speak for themselves, on some pages you’ll find links to stories providing additional details about the arrestees. Tthe list, arranged in descending order, kicks off with an unruly Jersey girl who got bounced from a Shore bar and then kicked, punched, and bit some cops

via 2008 Mug Shots Of The Year – December 17, 2008

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Dolphin Rave December 18, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment.
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This video was shot in the Sea of Cortez between Isla la Guardia and Bajia de los Angeles. While fishing we ran through a pod of several hundred dolphins.

Bling Goes Stealth December 18, 2008

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At Hermès and a handful of other exclusive retailers, “secret shopping” has becoming the winter season’s newest trend. Anyone who can still afford, say, the three cashmere throws at $2,225 each that Mrs. Fuld bought when she stopped by the store that day isn’t likely to advertise it. Instead, the city’s most extravagant shoppers are ferrying their purchases home in unmarked bags; delegating delivery to assistants; or manipulating credit card bills to disguise their spending from outsiders—and their spouses.

via What Rich People Don’t Want You to Know About Their Spending – The Daily Beast.

South-Central USA Most Deadly December 18, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment.
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Heat and drought caused 19.6 percent of total deaths from natural hazards, with summer thunderstorms causing 18.8 percent and winter weather causing 18.1 percent, the team at the University of South Carolina found. Earthquakes, wildfires and hurricanes combined were responsible for fewer than 5 percent of all hazard deaths.

The most dangerous places to live are much of the South, because of the heat risk, the hurricane coasts and the Great Plains states with their severe weather, Cutter said.

The south-central United States is also a dangerous area, with floods and tornadoes. California is relatively safe, they found.

via Reuters AlertNet – ‘Death map’ shows heat a big hazard to Americans.

Hispanics – Social Shoppers December 17, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Business.
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Compared to non-Hispanic shoppers, Hispanics tend to be browsers. Only 16 percent of Hispanics found it was important to get in and out of a store quickly, compared to 39 percent of non-Hispanic shoppers.

Hispanics’ purchase decisions are also more likely to be influenced by in-store promotions and advertising with 34 percent saying they are influenced by in-store ads and coupons compared to 14 percent of total shoppers. More than a third (34 percent) of Hispanic shoppers also claim to be influenced by in-store price reductions compared to 22 percent of non-Hispanic shoppers.

“Trips to the store for Hispanic consumers are about more than just availability of goods, it is also largely about service and the store experience. This sense of trust is a key reason that community based stores (bodegas and supermercados) are successful despite limited selections and often charging higher prices,” said Emil Morales, TNS executive vp and general manager.

via TNS: Hispanics Are Browsers.

Hurricane Bernie Slams Palm Beach December 17, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business.
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Sunday afternoon there were supposedly four multi-million dollar condos at Breakers Row already put up for sale by Hurricane Bernie casualties forced to evacuate. Partly true. A real estate broker pal of mine told me on Monday morning there were actually only two on the market, one at $7.6 million and the other at $8.6 million.

By Tuesday morning it was good news for both broker and seller of the Breakers condos. Both were under contract at almost their full asking price. Somewhere, someone has some dough left. What is true is that Hurricane Bernie will have a long term effect on the fabric of Palm Beach life—financially, socially and philanthropically.

via I Survived Hurricane Bernie – The Daily Beast.

The Aggressive Drunk Gene December 16, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in cool stuff.
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Alcohol appears to trigger violent behaviour in people who have a particular overactive gene.

The MAOA gene produces an enzyme that breaks down brain chemicals involved with mood.

When alcohol is mixed with high levels of the enzyme it can create a ‘dangerous cocktail’, according to new research.

The finding raises the possibility that people could be screened for the gene and offered treatment, behavioural therapy or be warned to abstain from alcohol

via Faulty gene causes some people to become aggressive drunks – Telegraph.

Gay penguins expelled from zoo colony December 16, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment.
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A pair of gay penguins thrown out of their zoo colony for repeatedly stealing eggs have been given some of their own to look after following a protest by animal rights groups.

Last month the birds were segregated after they were caught placing stones at the feet of parents before waddling away with their eggs.

But angry visitors to Polar Land in Harbin, northern China, complained it wasn’t fair to stop the couple from becoming surrogate fathers and urged zoo bosses to give them a chance

via Gay penguins expelled from zoo colony for stealing eggs are given their own to look after following animal rights protest | Mail Online.

Palm Beach In Shock Over Madoff December 15, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Business, In The News.
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bebBelow is a piece that I posted on Huffingtonpost.com yesterday. About ten minutes after it went on line, the metropolitan editor of the New York Post emailed me about running it and it’s on page four in Saturday’s paper. The piece has reacted in a full range of opinion, from overwhelmingly positive to outrage. I’m trying to understand why some people are so upset. And as soon as I have a full grasp on this I’m going to publish again at Huffingtonpost.com and put it in my personal blog as well. (Thanks to Randy Marks)

via THE WAGES OF WEALTH.

The Skeptical Doctor December 12, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in philosophy & politics.
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One of the effects of the concentration on the lives of celebrities, who are often people of little obvious merit or achievement, is that it transforms ambition into daydreams. Constantly comparing your own life with the fairy-tale life of celebrities means that small but achievable ambitions appear trivial and meaningless; but actually civilization is maintained not only by major achievements and talents, but by the striving of millions of ordinary people. This is undermined, I believe, by celebrity culture

The Skeptical Doctor.

Jellyfish Gone Wild December 12, 2008

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1. 1/3 of the total weight of all life in Monterey Bay is from gelatinous animals.

2. 3 minutes after a person is stung by a deadly box jellyfish, s/he may be dead.

3. 8 years after fast-reproducing comb jellies invaded in the Black Sea, they dominated it.

4. 20 to 40 people are killed annually from box jellyfish stings in the Philippines alone.

5. 100 foot-long tentacles may dangle from the Lion’s Mane Jelly.

6. 400 vast Dead Zones in world oceans are too polluted for almost all life except jellyfish.

7. 1,000+ fist-sized comb jellies filled each cubic meter of water in Black Sea jelly blooms.

8. 45,000 eggs may be released daily by a single jellyfish.

9. 500,000 people are stung by jellyfish in the Chesapeake Bay annually.

10. 500 million refrigerator-sized jellyfish float into the Sea of Japan daily during blooms.

via NSF – Jellyfish Gone Wild. Click on the Flash version for pictures

Obama’s Double Found In Nicaragua December 12, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos.
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hijo

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