Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Headed out as usual from Ebisu station around 7am with Graham, Craig and Jon. Collected David and Jerome and then cycled out up the Tama. Onto Tank Road towards Sagamiko, where Craig and Jon left us to return back to Tokyo. Stephen unfortunately had not made the rendezvous at Aihara station, so we continued on our way to the bottom of the Yabitsu pass where we stopped - around 10:30am - for some soba.
The ride up Yabitsu pass was as pleasant as ever. Beautiful scenery. I was mere metres from the top when I heard Stephen greet me. He had managed to find his cycling shoes, drive to Aihara and then get ahead of us - probably as we ate. Good stuff.
Descended into Hadano where Graham bid farewell and hopped the train home. The rest of us continued down to the coast and Route 1. We pushed onto Odawara, then Hakone and the climb to the top previously attacked back in early January on our great Ekiden ride. We spread out a bit at this point with people pit-stopping, but I found myself at the top around 4pm ahead of the others. I rewarded myself with some Hagen Daaz and enjoyed the views and the sunshine.
Stephen decided to turn back about 2/3rds of the way up and cycle back towards Odawara. The four remaining intrepid Positivistas covered the short climb out and the the wicked fast descent to Atami in good time arriving before 5:30pm. We packed the bikes up and were on the shink at 6pm beers in hand.
170km (105mi) ride distance, 2456m (8000ft) vertical, 7:18hrs riding, 12hrs out.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Obama's Secret Plan - Of Two Minds.com
"Tim Geithner believes the economy cannot revive unless the big banks start lending again, and that they won't start lending until toxic assets are removed from their books. Both of these assumptions are highly questionable. And clinging to them gives the major banks enormous power over the administration."
A Critique of Robert Reich - Free Exchange
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
145kms, 1400m of climbing on a beautiful sunny, if blustery, Spring day.
We made good time out of Tokyo, had a pit-stop around the 60km mark then carried onto Wada toge, our goal for the day.
Highlights included a strong climb up Wada by David, meeting Jerome at the bottom of our descent, a cornering of the banana market and awesome ride back along the river with a HUGE tailwind. We were pushing 40km/h+ for most of the river. Has to be record time from the top of Wada to home.
We met as usual at 7am at Ebisu station and I was home at exactly 2pm with a mildly sunburnt right calf to show for my travails. Ichiyama-san's 90min shiatsu was gooood after all that!
Great day on the Cervelo, which yet again performed fantastically. It's about time the rider got a bit stronger and LIGHTER. :)
Friday, April 24, 2009
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If your goal is to be faster, you have to train.
Training, though, can require such a commitment over so many years that many drop out. Not Mr. Gordon, who loves to train. And that love of serious training, coaches say, is often what distinguishes a good athlete from a mediocre one.
Training affects both the ability of the heart to pump blood and the ability of the body to properly use the blood it gets. You can cross-train — do other sports that get your heart rate up — to regulate how your heart pumps. But to improve your muscles’ ability to use that blood, you have to train by doing that sport.“If you are training to run, you need to run,” Dr. Roberts said. “If you are training to inline skate, you need to inline skate."
Want to Go Faster? You Need a Trainer - NY Times
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Good lessons to be learned from the much-despised Thirties - Spectator
The United States investor/consumer is a child spoiled rotten to the core. Real leadership in the United States would be pulling that child aside in the middle of the supermarket and pointing out that not only will no candy be forthcoming, but that there is a substantial body of homework to be done upon returning home and that no, there will be no time in front of the high definition television for awhile. Instead, it seems clear that this child's silence will be purchased with handfuls of candy dumped into the shopping cart with the silent prayer that no screaming will entail until November 2012, when the shopping cart is safely at checkout. The real question is how anyone plans to pay for the dental bills."Human Sacrifice At The Altar Of The Cult Of Buoyancy - finemrespice
Nike sponsored the Stanford team as they were the best of the very best. Needless to say, the reps were a little disturbed to hear that head coach Vic Lananna felt the best shoes they had to offer them were not as good as no shoes at all.
Then there's the secretive Tarahumara tribe, the best long-distance runners in the world. These are a people who live in basic conditions in Mexico, often in caves without running water, and run with only strips of old tyre or leather thongs strapped to the bottom of their feet. They are virtually barefoot.
Come race day, the Tarahumara don't train. They don't stretch or warm up. They just stroll to the starting line, laughing and bantering, and then go for it, ultra-running for two full days, sometimes covering over 300 miles, non-stop. For the fun of it. One of them recently came first in a prestigious 100-mile race wearing nothing but a toga and sandals. He was 57 years old.
Painful Truth No.1
Runners wearing top-of-the-line trainers are 123 per cent more likely to get injured than runners in cheap ones.
tanford coach Vin Lananna had already spotted the same phenomenon.'I once ordered highend shoes for the team and within two weeks we had more plantar fasciitis and Achilles problems than I'd ever seen.
So I sent them back. Ever since then, I've always ordered low-end shoes. It's not because I'm cheap. It's because I'm in the business of making athletes run fast and stay healthy.'
Painful Truth No.2
All that mega-bounce cushioning does nothing to reduce impact.
When you run in cushioned shoes, your feet are pushing through the soles in search of a hard, stable platform.
Painful Truth No.3
Human feet are designed to run without shoes.
Your foot's centrepiece is the arch, the greatest weight-bearing design ever created. The beauty of any arch is the way it gets stronger under stress; the harder you push down, the tighter its parts mesh. Push up from underneath and you weaken the whole structure."
The painful truth about trainers: Are running shoes a waste of money? - Daily Mail (!)
Read the whole article, it's interesting stuff.
I HATE running. And I am not sure how wearing a toga would go down in the gym. The forefoot technique is what Bryon has been pushing. A 'shuffling' technique. Shoulders back, 'sitting' posture. I can feel how it works. But I still HATE running.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Thoughts on Pot vs. Alcohol from a Former Police Chief - Norm Stamper via DF
Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson lobbied the SEC to allow the 5 largest iBanks to be exempt from net capital rules, and then leverage up 40 to 1. Which they did, especially with Mortgage-backed paper and derivatives. Then he becomes Treasury Secretary, and transfers from the taxpayers to these same iBanks — some directly, and some thru AIG — trillions of dollars.
Now, the taxpayer subsidized disaster creator is thin skinned about criticism. Note that the trademark claim is bullshit — its well settled law, via WalmartSucks.com."
Goldman Sachs Sues Blogger “Goldmansachs666.com” - Big Picture
This site has NOT been approved by Goldman Sachs, nor does this website have any affiliation with Goldman Sachs. In case you're one sandwich short of a picnic and need that explained.
It's just the beginning of the WRATH.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Read the whole interview here
What’s perplexing about this argument is that it seems to assume that investors are averting their eyes from all that’s wrong with the current economy, and have driven stock prices up to unusually high levels. But they haven’t. The S. & P. 500 is now about ten points lower than it was in early February, and it’s about five per cent below where it was when the year started. That doesn’t mean current prices are justified. But it does mean that stock prices are not, as one recent analyst suggested, “in the stratosphere.”
Of course, if you believe that stocks were significantly overvalued back in February (or back in December), then you probably believe that they’re still overvalued today. I would argue that there are good reasons to believe that the economy, while still very weak, is much closer to a bottom than it was two months ago, and that the Obama Administration’s management of the crisis—which we could only guess at in January—has been a net plus for the economy (and therefore for the stock market). Yet despite all this, the simple fact is that the stock market has not gone up since February. In fact, for all its ups and downs, after four months of action it’s ended up pretty much where it started. It’s a strange world, indeed, in which that counts as euphoria." "The Stock Market’s Round Trip" - NewYorker
"The question naturally arises: How did the banks, so many of which seemed to be slouching toward extinction, get their act together to the point where they were in the black in January and February?
AIG, desperate to hit up the Treasury for more moola, decided to throw in the towel and unwind its considerable portfolio of default-credit protection. In the process, the badly impaired insurer, unwittingly or not, "gifted the major bank counterparties with trades which were egregiously profitable to the banks."
This would largely explain, according to Zero Hedge, why a number of major banks actually, as they claimed, were profitable in January and February. But the profits, it is quick to point out, are of the one-shot variety, and, ultimately, they entailed a transfer of money from taxpayers to banks, with AIG acting as intermediary.
If by chance it proves out, it just might act as a sobering influence, and not just on the financial sector." Don't Bank on It - Barrons.com
Also read False dawns threaten to blind forecasters - FT.com
We're going lower than the 'March 6th bottom'. When and how far are the questions to be answered.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Headed out today in beautiful spring weather for a ride with Bryon. The plan was a fast ride, out and over Wada toge then home if possible before 1pm. We decided to do the usual loop, but in reverse. The weather was simply beautiful, 20C and sunny skies.
It wasn't much after 9am when we pulled up for a pit-stop in Tsukuicho. Refreshed and watered we headed on.
We made our way around the lake. Halfway between Sagamiko and Fujino, it happened.
A 57yr old gent driving his new white Honda decided to turn right, across the flow of traffic and into our path. With nowhere to go and with the driver not for one second reducing speed, Bryon went left but was unable to avoid a collision.
One full somersault later, a crunching head impact and a slide on his back, Bryon was left face down in the turn-off area. He was lucid and awake, so my initial worst fears faded, he was talking, but obviously felt it best to remain absolutely still. To be fair the driver was out of his car and onto the emergency services immediately. Within minutes we had an ambulance, 2 police cars, 1 police van and a fire engine.
The guys got on with sorting out Bryon, had him neck-braced and on the way to the hospital tout suite. I walked the police through the accident, then hitched a lift with the bikes to the hospital. Given the impact and the evidence of such from a crushed and broken helmet, Bryon had a full set of X-rays done and a CT scan. The helmet saved us from something far more serious. The doctor was very happy with the outcome of these tests and cleaned up his road rash as best he could. The most impressive rash including the bruise from where he landed on his keitei. Now broken keitei.
So bruised, battered and crestfallen, Bryon drove home with his wife and father-in-law whilst I biked it. A mother of a headwind up the Tama for the way home too.
Ride stats: 122km, 980m climbing.
Bryon, get well soon mate.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
What happens to the runners-up?
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
"At the end of the day, despite the pronouncements by the administration and more and more sell-side analysts that the market is merely chasing the rebound in fundamentals in what has all of a sudden become a V-shaped recovery, the "rally" could simply be explained by technical factor driven capital-liquidity aberrations, which will continue at most for mere weeks if not days."
An interesting week ahead?
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Barclays is providing the buyer of iShares most of the finance (£2.7bn in fact) to "buy" iShares; the purchaser will receive £120m if Barclays secures a better offer; and the transaction has triggered handsome rewards for some Barclays' employees.
In normal times, that would be seen as a deal so bad for the bank that shareholders would be volunteering to throw themselves off Beachy Head.
But Barclays' share price rose more than 12 per cent today.
To state the obvious, these are not normal times, these are credit-crunch times: and, I guess, if a bank can raise capital in any way at all without tapping taxpayers, that's seen as good news." peston
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Mr. Cramer, the host of CNBC's Mad Money, recently wrote in a blog that Mr. Roubini is “intoxicated” with his own “prescience and vision” and said Mr. Roubini should realize that things are better since the stock market's recent bottom in early March.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index has rallied 17 per cent since then.
Mr. Roubini said in 2006 that the worst recession in four decades was on its way. He has attracted attention for his gloomy – and accurate – predictions of the U.S. financial market meltdown.
Mr. Roubini said the latest surge is just another bear market rally following the pattern of other rallies after the government intervened. He expects the market will test the previous low because of worse-than-expected macroeconomic news, disappointing earnings and because banks will fail after the stress tests come out.
“Once people get the reality check, than it's going to get ugly again,” Mr. Roubini said.
“He's not a credible analyst. Every time it was a bear market rally he said it was the beginning of a bull and he got it wrong,” Mr. Roubini said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Asked Wednesday if he thinks the market will touch the low again, Mr. Cramer said on CNBC: “I think we are not going to see that level again.”
Mr. Cramer said if the Dow Jones industrial average goes below 7,000 and the S&P hits 650, buyers will come in because there would be a ferocious rally and investors couldn't afford to miss another." source
I'll go with the Doom-meister on this one.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Similar to "autocross" Gymkhana courses are often very complex and memorizing the course is a significant part of achieving a fast time.
Ken Block wanted to take this concept further and on a larger scale for his practice and testing, and this is the result...
Again, watch the 'HQ' version..
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
"As the hot ash rises through the cooler atmosphere, transfer of charge occurs. This excess of electrons within the cloud makes it act like a capacitor, and should the conditions be correct, huge electrical discharges may be observed as bolts of lightning during volcanic eruptions."
"The banking fiasco has introduced so much noise into the system that world leadership can't think straight. We'll soon find out whether an organism the size of the United States can run an economy based on one family selling the contents of its garage to the family next door. We mortgaged our future and the future has now begun."
Howard Lutnick - Cantor's CEO (so one of the head cheeses round here) - thinks new lending is the answer..
"New lending is the only prescription for recovery. Using public money as a sponge and mop to bail out banks isn’t the complete answer. Let’s clean up the mess, but while we are cleaning let’s create and stimulate lending. The economy needs new banks that will make new loans sooner, not later. Without new loans, we’re not in the hospital recovering, we’re not even in the ambulance, we’re still out on the street getting stabbed."
Me - I am not sure we need 'new' lending; I agree we need new banks; I think we need to address how much debt we are currently servicing; I think we 'need' a recession to clear the decks; It is crazy arrogant to think we can borrow, lend or print our way out of this mess; Guarantee deposits and then let the markets work.
John Carney - Clusterstock - says Geithner is wrong, crap assets are correctly priced..
"A new study by Harvard and Princeton finance professors draws three important conclusions:
Many banks are now insolvent. "...many major US banks are now legitimately insolvent. This insolvency can no longer be viewed as an artifact of bank assets being marked to artificially depressed prices coming out of an illiquid market. It means that bank assets are being fairly priced at valuations that sum to less than bank liabilities."
Supporting markets in toxic assets has no purpose other than transfering money from taxpayers to banks. "...any taxpayer dollars allocated to supporting these markets will simply transfer wealth to the current owners of these securities."
We're making it worse. "...policies that attempt to prevent a widespread mark-down in the value of credit-sensitive assets are likely to only delay – and perhaps even worsen – the day of reckoning."
In short, the government cannot save the banks by improving liquidity or changing mark to market rules because the problem isn't illiquidity or accounting. The problem is that highly leveraged financial firms own assets that are worth far less than they thought they would be, and the firms are insolvent as a result. This is why the latest bailout plans secretly give huge subsidies to banks--because the only way to keep the insolvent zombies afloat is to transfer billions of dollars to banks, bank stockholders, and bank creditors. The alternative--allowing the insolvent banks to fail, seizing the assets, wiping our shareholders, giving bond holders a serious haircut--is still not on the official agenda."
And finally, Robert Reich - Robert Reich's Blog - is getting heartburn over hedge funds..
"But what causes me severe heartburn is that these are exactly the sort of investors Tim Geithner is trying to lure in to buy troubled assets from banks, with an extraordinary offer financed by you and me and other taxpayers: If it turns out the troubled assets are worth more than these guys pay for them, they could make a fortune. If it turns out the assets are worth less, these guys won't lose a thing because we taxpayers will bail them out. Plus, they get to pick only the highest-rated of the big banks' bad assets and can review them carefully before buying.
There's a beautiful symmetry here. The hedge fund managers wouldn't have done nearly as well had taxpayers not bailed out Wall Street to begin with. According to John Taylor, a hedge fund manager who tied for ninth on Alpha's list, many funds would have gone belly-up had the government not acted. "Thank god for the government, because if they hadn't intervened, we wouldn't have had anybody to trade with," he told the Times.
So you and I and other taxpayers have kept these hedge-fund honchos flush enough to be able to reap the bonanza that Geithner now wants to bestow on them for cleaning up the mess they and others on Wall Street made -- a bonanza to be financed by you and me and other taxpayers, who are taking on all the risk."
It's not sorted out yet. Not at all.
Go forth armed with knowledge.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Sunday, April 05, 2009
The usual 7am meet at Ebisu saw Michael H, David C, Graham, Ben and I ready and raring to get on the road. We headed out on Komazawa Dori amidst great discussion on who had over dressed or under dressed given the much warmer weather today as compared to last weekend. Ben was soon suffering with back ache - unfortunately a recurring problem for him - although it was proposed that he was perhaps sloping back home because his legs were cold. We might never know.
And then there were 4.
We motored out to Takao , making very good time before the obligatory Takao 7-11 pitstop. I proposed a reverse Wada ride, over the usual Takao climb, then down through Sagamiko before turning right and heading up Wada Toge, a much more challenging climb but without being too daunting or time consuming given the group's promised return times into Tokyo. Takao was straight forward as usual, and the foreskin conversation at the top was enlightening to say the least. The Wada climb came next. We endured and were equally thrilled to make it to the top to see the famous old crone diligently working at her cafe stand. David & I surficed with Cokes, whilst Michael plunged into a curry pot noodle. Luckily Graham hit the summit not too long afterwards as the cloud and higher elevation was providing a fair nip in the air. We descended, headed down the glorious return road to Takao where Graham headed for the station and a train home.
And then there were 3.
David, Michael & I left Takao via Route 47, a new road to us all, but it fairly quickly hooked up with more commonly ridden roads. We followed the tank road and the usual rollers home. I felt a lot stronger this week on this section. A mixture of more sleep through the week, a few more calories during the ride and feeling far more comfortable on the bike with its new compact crank. The gearing with this suits my riding style much better and I was very pleased indeed with Nagai-san's efforts at a quick turn round for my Cervelo on Saturday.
David & I were certainly past our promised return times, but Joli was cool, calm and collected as usual. I managed to get in, shower and even slot in a shiatsu massage, before taking the dogs down to the local vet as had been promised. My take-away curry tonight will not hit the sides!
Thanks guys for a great day on the bikes. Really enjoyed this one. 152km, 1400m of climbing. Brilliant.
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