Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thin Blue Line


The thin line of Earth's atmosphere and the setting sun are featured in this image photographed by the crew of the International Space Station while space shuttle Atlantis on the STS-129 mission was docked with the station. Image Credit: NASA

Friday, November 27, 2009

Behold. The $9 billion cheque

"Morgan Stanley received a $9 billion investment from Mitsubishi UFJ in the fall of 2008 that kept the firm from collapsing. The payment was supposed to be wired electronically, but because it needed to be made on an emergency basis on a holiday, Mitsubishi cut a physical check, perhaps the largest ever written."

That investment worth around $25 billion today. Not bad. via theDailyBail

Зулусов! Их тысячи!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Recovering unevenly

"So the trend is toward recovery. More broadly, the world seems polarized between the Asian economies, which are enjoying strong economic growth and high residential property price rises (Thailand excepted), and Eastern Europe and the UAE, where growth has stalled and property markets have crashed. Even there, figures for the latest quarter offer hope."

World's housing markets recovering unevenly: Q3, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gold

If you've been living under a rock you might have missed the run up that Gold has made this year.

How to know when the rally is done? When do you sell?

* Goldman Sachs will be running bus tours to visit gold mines, like they’ve arranged for technology companies in the past.

* Instead of TV ads telling people to sell jewelry, we’ll see ads on CNBC hawking gold to the masses.

* Banks will have found some highly complicated scheme for gold investing, “because no modern mania has ever ended without the banks finding a way to lose money in it.”

* There will be a flurry of mergers and acquisitions, and one or two leveraged buyouts for good measure.

* BusinessWeek will discover that gold is “the wave of the future” and feature it on its cover.

Tongue in cheek, but fairly true to be honest.

Taibbi on Palin

"We’ve now got a whole generation that is accustomed to screaming at cultural enemies as an end in itself, for the sheer dismal fun of it. Start fighting first, figure out the reasons later. Sarah Palin is the Empress-Queen of the screaming-for-screaming’s sake generation. The people who dismiss her book Going Rogue as the petty, vindictive meanderings of a preening paranoiac with the IQ of a celery stalk completely miss the book’s significance, because in some ways it’s really a revolutionary and innovative piece of literature."

Sarah Palin, WWE Star - Matt Taibbi

Read the whole piece, it's full of gems.

Then, there is this....



And this....



And of course....



And in a related piece..

Ex-CNN anchor Lou Dobbs is considering running for president in 2012

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bank Holiday Monday

Labour Thanksgiving Day here in Japan, so markets closed and I have the day off.

Hence a day in the life of.

Woke at 6:00am, smiled to myself and went back to sleep. Got up at 7:15am, grabbed my swim stuff - flippers, paddles, pool buoy, goggles, etc. - and dashed across the road to TAC.

7:30am Masters Advanced Swim, technique day, as follows:-

400 warm up
10 x 50 fly w/fins (25m underwater fly kick on your side / 25m fly swim) on 1:10
10 x 50 back w/fins (25m 3L 3R drill/25m back swim) on 1:05
5 x 100 breast (25m 1K 3P/25m breast swim) on 2:15
10 x 50 free (25m drill / 25m free swim)
100 swim down
(Total 2.5km)

Showered, shaved and back home for breakfast with Milly, then finished updating my nephews' new photo blog. I've started a blog for all the photos my sister-in-law sends us of the three boys back at home in England. We did something similar for Milly and I think it's potentially a great way for keeping track and looking back, plus they might find it amusing in a few years too. Locked out yesterday due to too many posts!

11:30am and off to Hiroo to meet Bryon of Dynamic Fitness for a Computrainer session.

Warmed up, did some spinscan analysis which showed I favour my right side - no surprise I guess - and how I need to work on more power through the upstroke on both sides. Circles, not squares! Then a couple of power tests, 650watt avg, 900watt peak approx. followed by an anaerobic threshold test. Interesting stuff, as I think this will give me a better set of parameters to train within going forward. I strongly recommend keen cyclists to have a go, great geeky stuff.

1:30pm and put the bike away, on with the gloves for 40 mins of boxing. I'm really enjoying this training, far more technical than I ever imagined before I began, but a really good workout. We ended with some core work, and finally done an hour later.

Rode back home, showered and just in time to get Milly up from her nap. Perfect. Happy, smiley daughter today, well over her recent bout of illness/cold/flu.

Now I am going to swap the Rolf wheels to the Mavic wheels on my Klein, which means swapping the cassette over, but that shouldn't take too long. The Rolfs can be a back-up spare set as I don't think anyone would buy them off me.

I have a shiatsu booked at 5pm. Well deserved IMHO.

At 6:30pm, Joli and I are over to TAC for Tour de Vin. Looking forward to it.

Hope your day off - individual results may vary - was as fun.

UPDATE.
Tour de Vin wines
Pol Roger NV
Hugel Gentil 2007
Hugel Riesling 2007
Hugel Jubilee Pinot Gris 2004
Chateau de Beaucastel Rouge 2006
Perrin Gigondas 2006
Perrin Coudoulet de Beaucastel Rouge 2006
Alter Ego Palmer 2006
Chateau Palmer 1998

The 'Hugels' were the stand out wines for me, really good. Very good evening, great food, interesting presentation, clever format. I hope they do something similar again.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Paw print

Friday, November 20, 2009

Good news

Outrage and alarm in the Daily Mail

"The financial speculators are holding us all to ransom and governments and regulators, on both sides of the Atlantic, are doing little to ease the pain."
Held to ransom by the oily spivs - Daily Mail

"These tankers have been parked off our shores for months, refusing to unload their oil until prices have risen even higher. The delay makes millions for speculators... and keeps your petrol costs soaring."
Sharks off the British coast - Daily Mail

Erm. No. Wrong.

"Oil traders are storing oil in tankers because the market structure allows them to; the structure is reflective of there being a glut of supply on the market. And there isn’t enough onland storage. Opec turning on the taps therefore would not, as per the Daily Mail’s useful suggestion, solve the problem.

Prices are not dropping, if anything, because oil is proving an inflationary hedge against unconventional international monetary policy — a fact that arguably has disconnected crude prices from physical reality."
The Daily Mail discovers contango - FT Alphaville

Rat Race

"The stress-reducing changes wrought by exercise on the brain don’t happen overnight. We may require more weeks of working out, or maybe less. And no one has yet studied how intense the exercise needs to be. But the lesson, Dr. Greenwood says, is “don’t quit.” Keep running or cycling or swimming. (Animal experiments have focused exclusively on aerobic, endurance-type activities.) You may not feel a magical reduction of stress after your first jog, if you haven’t been exercising. But the molecular biochemical changes will begin, Dr. Greenwood says. And eventually, he says, they become “profound.”"

Phys Ed: Why Exercise Makes You Less Anxious - NYTimes

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Banging. The. Same. Drum.

"The inherent problems of the international economic system have not been fully addressed," said China's president Hu Jintao. Indeed not. China is still exporting overcapacity to the rest of us on a grand scale, with deflationary consequences. Markets are still in denial about the structural wreckage of the credit bubble. There are two more boils to lance: China's investment bubble; and Europe's banking cover-up. I fear that only then can we clear the rubble and, very slowly, start a fresh cycle."
China has now become the biggest risk to the world economy - Telegraph

"In the past eighteen months, the hedge-fund industry has nearly halved in size, falling to an estimated $1.2 trillion in assets. The end of the bubble, of course, doesn’t mean the end of hedge funds: They’ll survive in a more modest, more regulated form. Mutual funds, for instance, were at the center of a similar bubble in the sixties and now plod along unremarkably. The lack of transparency provides enough cover to make managers look like geniuses. It also provides cover, surprisingly rarely, for the occasional con man. As Randy Shain pointed out in Hedge Fund Due Diligence, the biggest variable in evaluating a hedge fund is figuring out the character of the manager."
Hedgies Unhinged - NYMag

"Sometimes, however, economies end up in a different place, based on the physics of bungee jumping. The economy falls off a cliff. Activity drops a long way. Then there's a rebound. For a while, the rebound looks very good and it's easy enough for economists to stick to their straight-line thinking. But the economy never returns to normal; instead it is left dangling by a thread."
Stephen King: Gold prices are a dead giveaway - Independent

""I don't know what's going on in the market right now because it makes no sense to me," she said."
Stocks Overvalued, Recession Will Return: Meredith Whitney - CNBC

Monday, November 16, 2009

Magic Moments


"You conquered your fears, you didn't even throw up!"

Car Geek

AND PASSED WITH AN EXCELLENT SCORE! A+

Times have changed

"The view on Japan as a focus for hedge funds was distinctly mixed. Indeed, many funds of funds are zero-weighted on Japan these days. Said one manager: “Japan always ends up being very painful for pan-Asian managers”. Two complaints were low sentiment and valuations, as well as ageing demographics, big public debt and forex risks, the marked decline in savings rates and deterioration of the trade balance.

Still, Japan had its defenders among the hedgies. One veteran manager at the gathering noted: “Speaking of Asia ex-Japan is like talking about North America ex-USA”. Said another: “Japan has more breadth and depth than any market outside the US. A tremendous landscape for long-short. Probably there will be a reversing of sentiment and valuations from 10-year lows. The catalyst is the ongoing IP cycle.”

On Asia in general, the mood was more optimistic, summed up in the remark of another veteran hedgie: “People don’t actually realise that retail investors are back [in Asia] — and they’re making money”."

Goldman’s de-glitzes its Tokyo fest for Asia-focused hedgies - FT Alphaville

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Spin Scan on a Computrainer

Finnish Rally Driving

The Finns are the world's best rally drivers. Practice makes perfect.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Aquarium



Give this some time to load before watching for smooth playback.

At the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, the main tank called the "Kuroshio Sea" holds 7,500-cubic meters (1,981,290 gallons) of water and features the world's second largest acrylic glass panel, measuring 8.2 meters by 22.5 meters with a thickness of 60 centimeters. Whale sharks and manta rays are kept amongst many other fish species in the main tank.

Must take Milly to the Shinagawa aquarium soon!

Wednesday Linkage

Busy day for me, but some stuff that caught my eye today.

Copper on pigfarms and giant lots of new cars - Mess That
"There's a bit more to this and it's well worth the look, including a frightening comparison of the U.S. subprime collapse to a coming "overcapacity" collapse in China."

Is China headed toward collapse? - Politico
"We believe the coming slowdown in China has the potential to be a similar watershed event for world markets as the reversal of the U.S. subprime and housing boom."

New Rules and More Lies Hide Cancerous Commercial Real Estate Loans - Mish
"The Fed and FDIC always seek to buy time, even when buying time does nothing but make the problems worse."

"Twitter-equipped scale tells the world how much you weigh." via MR
"How's that for purchasing self-constraint? Or do you just stop weighing yourself?"

Jacqui Janes accepts Gordon Brown's apology - Times
"Today he looked sincere. He looked humbled."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This is Britain

Photographer of the Year 2009

"Pictures entered in this category should seek to reveal the essence of contemporary Britain and Britishness. Get under the skin of British culture and take a fresh look at the familiar. Document the British at work and at play." photoradar





For more shortlisted entries from the This is Britain category, click the links below:
Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4

Monday, November 09, 2009

Vaccinate

"Can you not read how mad people are at you? When most people saw the headline 'Goldman Sachs Gets Swine Flu Vaccine' they were super happy until they read the word 'vaccine.'"

-- Amy Poehler on last night's Saturday Night Live, commenting on the news that Wall Street banks have already secured thousands of doses of the H1N1 vaccine while many at-risk Americans are forced to wait; Goldman Sachs alone has received 200 doses of the Swine Flu vaccine -- as much as New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital. via Deus Ex Malcontent

Friday, November 06, 2009

Bigger, stronger, faster

Google the title and watch the documentary by Christopher Bell. Then comment.

Sent from my iPhone

Seen this before

It leads to trouble....

Friday Linkage

Bad News Bears: The Guys Who Bet Against the Bubble and Won - NY Mag
"..a look at the backstories of some of the eccentrics, nerds, and late bloomers who made bank as the economy burned."

The Roots of the Coming Crash - Felix Salmon - Reuters
"In that sense, every move upwards in US stocks or gold or the Aussie dollar or junk-bond indices is another step in exactly the wrong direction: it’s a step towards yet another massive crash. And it’s all being turbo-charged by Fed policy. If there’s a painless way out of this situation, I can’t see it."

Japan, Einhorn and ‘tontine’ fantasies - FT Alphaville
"Shorting the Japanese government has all the hallmarks of an attractive trade. That said, he readily admits that losing money on shorting JGBs is a “long-standing tradition for macro-traders”."

The decade of Steve - Fortune
"The rare pairing of micromanagement with big-picture vision is a Jobs hallmark."


PLUS:
A couple of favourite phrases from the US Commercial property market;
“Extend and pretend”
“a rolling loan gathers no loss”

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Um.. I believe you're playing with my money...


via the Reformed Broker

Behaviour as a measure of intelligence

"Kelly the dolphin has built up quite a reputation. All the dolphins at the institute are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their pools until they see a trainer, when they can trade the litter for fish. In this way, the dolphins help to keep their pools clean.

Kelly has taken this task one step further. When people drop paper into the water she hides it under a rock at the bottom of the pool. The next time a trainer passes, she goes down to the rock and tears off a piece of paper to give to the trainer. After a fish reward, she goes back down, tears off another piece of paper, gets another fish, and so on. This behaviour is interesting because it shows that Kelly has a sense of the future and delays gratification. She has realised that a big piece of paper gets the same reward as a small piece and so delivers only small pieces to keep the extra food coming. She has, in effect, trained the humans.

Her cunning has not stopped there. One day, when a gull flew into her pool, she grabbed it, waited for the trainers and then gave it to them. It was a large bird and so the trainers gave her lots of fish. This seemed to give Kelly a new idea. The next time she was fed, instead of eating the last fish, she took it to the bottom of the pool and hid it under the rock where she had been hiding the paper. When no trainers were present, she brought the fish to the surface and used it to lure the gulls, which she would catch to get even more fish. After mastering this lucrative strategy, she taught her calf, who taught other calves, and so gull-baiting has become a hot game among the dolphins."

Deep thinkers - Guardian via MR

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Palinoia

I am still, and will remain, totally fascinated at this train wreck of a woman that has seemingly captured the hearts and minds of many Americans (71% of Republicans! OMG).
"Palin’s paranoid ramblings and self-pitying tantrums on the way out of office not only didn’t injure her chances for national office, they actually appeared to help, as polls taken in the week after her resignation showed that 71% of Republicans were now prepared to vote for her for president in 2012. Just as she had during the campaign last fall, Palin defied rational analysis by making a primal connection with the subterranean resentments of white middle America, which is apparently so pissed off now at the rest of the planet for not coddling its hurt feelings in the multicultural age that it is willing to embrace any politician who validates its insane sense of fucked-overness.

..reminded everyone of what we might have to look forward to in 2012, when the Republican Party may well nominate a woman who would lose at Trivial Pursuit to a Chilean sea bass, who makes George W. Bush look like Sir Isaac Newton. What’s incredible about Palin isn’t that she has a few gaps in her knowledge base, but that she doesn’t know anything about anything at all; she moreover doesn’t seem to feel the need to make sure one idea follows the next when she talks, instead just blurting out random unconnected bits and pieces of deep-seated resentment and persecution complex. Even ideological consistency is an alien concept to her (she wears her religious fundamentalism on her sleeve, but lets her unmarried daughter shack up with a human hard-on in the next room over) and she appears to resent the notion that it shouldn’t be.

All of which makes Sarah Palin the perfect leader for the inevitable pushback against the Obama era, when America in a vague and superficial sort of way decided to celebrate the values of culture, tolerance and knowledge. The other America doesn’t read and doesn’t remember anything it didn’t learn in the last five minutes; it’s angry and unhappy but doesn’t want to think about why, and knows only that it wants someone to pay the price for what it feels.

These people don’t want a president who reads Urdu poetry, they want a president who thinks Urdu is a Swedish dog food and doesn’t care if you know it. Just like them, Sarah Palin is now an unemployed loser who lost her job and her status thanks to forces beyond her comprehension and thinks she knows exactly whom to blame – laugh at her now if you like, but see if her humiliating exit doesn’t turn out to be the hole card that wins her the Republican nomination."

Palinoia - Matt Taibbi

Great writing, great imagery. He alludes to the fact that she is perhaps doing a 'take the money and run' in his piece. I think that if it is anything more than this, then 2012 could be fun or scary or both.






Master Swim

Got back in the water this morning after a two and a half week hiatus. Was a tad slower over the test set (20x50), but didn't drown.

From the WSJ regarding 'speed suits'.
"For many of these adult Masters competitors, speed suits are a fountain of youth. The costume magically helps the wearer shed decades and seconds off the clock. The suits provide a kind of support that elite athletes never have to think about. They suck in nonaerodynamic paunches, flatten aging flab and bolster arthritic knees.

Alex Boutov of La Grange, Ill., tried to persuade his fellow teammates to boycott the suits for a local meet. Unsuccessful, he then slipped one on to swim 1,500 meters. "As soon as I put the suit on, I shaved two minutes," said the 53-year-old. "I couldn't believe the clock."

Many of the suits' fans say that it's ridiculous for the federation to bar them after letting the world see what they can do. Cycling organizations, they point out, approved lighter metals, transforming bicycles and shortening race times. FINA "opened up the can of worms. It's too late," says Rowdy Gaines, an Olympic gold medalist who is a paid endorser for the suit maker Blueseventy LLC. "Accept that the suit is a technological advance in our sport.""
Some Aging Competitors Call High-Tech Swimsuits Dirty Pool - WSJ via Shane

Given my interest in bike tech, I guess the only question is why haven't I got one yet? Then again, I will NOT be the first guy to try it. I'll let someone else go first. Pool closes end of this month, maybe next season.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Xx - Islands - Live in Session



Video of The Xx performing Islands Live In Session in BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge for Zane Lowe.

Get the album, they produced it themselves, and it's fabulous.

Still banging the same drum

"Concepts of value don’t mean a whole lot next to the powerful forces of low interest rates and generous liquidity. At the same time, momentum is also helping to push stock prices higher, to a point where the market is looking silly again.

This will end – he guesses in the first few months of next year – due to two factors. First, economic and financial data will disappoint, revealing the longer-term troubles of the developed economies. This will put pressure on profit margins at a time when labour cuts are no longer a quick fix.

Second, with U.S. stocks looking overvalued, gravitational force will at last kick in."

Grantham: Markets getting silly - The Globe and Mail

Delinquent



This isn't very encouraging given that the "recovery" so far has been a jobless one.

Sunday, November 01, 2009