Thursday, May 26, 2011

Herman Cain post

As I announced a few weeks ago, I'm trying a new way of doing things and this post is part of it. I've posted an opinion piece on This is Reno (TIR) which you can read in full by clicking on the link below. It's all subject to change, of course, depending on whether it works or not. I've already changed the other half of my new format idea, so it may only be a matter of time.

Anyway, this first one is about Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. There's been a bit of a dust up among libertarian/conservative types about whether or not he's the real deal.

What Herman Cain wrote, and when he wrote it

Herman Cain is running for president and has quickly established himself as a TEA Party favorite. He is usually identified in the press as a former CEO of Godfather's Pizza. There is much to admire about Herman Cain. He has had a very distinguished and successful business career. What has raised some eyebrows in some conservative circles is his involvement with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (FRBKC), and specifically, his idea's on the bank bail-outs including a dismissive comment about "free market purists." Uh-oh.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A lap around Le Mans

The 24 hours of Le Mans is still three weeks away, and so far it looks like TVU is the best bet for a livestream. There are other possibilities, so I'm keeping my options open.

In the meantime, I found a nice video featuring an Oreca flm09 much like this one.

Oreca flm 09

The Oreca is a French built car that is made from a variety of parts suppliers. It's turned out to be very popular with teams and drivers due to its dependability and relatively low budget. It races in the LMPC class, which is the slowest of the three prototype classes, but still tops out at 180 plus.

The Circuit de la Sarthe, as the Le Mans course is called, takes place mostly on public roads. In this video, driver John Elton crosses the start/finish line at about 13 seconds in. Shortly after passing under the Dunlop Bridge, it's on to the public byways for some very long straightaways, giving the Oreca plenty of room for sixth gear. And what would a straightaway be without some hairy high speed corners at the end?

Hold on to your popcorn on a romp through the French countryside. (Click the lower right corner for full screen and crank the audio for the full effect)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Aston Martin prototype porn, a mysterious blog stat, and evidence that women are smarter than men

Crank up the volume

For those patiently waiting for the sports car world to start racing again, ALMS got some shots of the Muscle Milk Aston Martin testing at Road Atlanta. It’s unclear if they plan to race at Le Mans next month, but you can bet I’ll be seeing it in person at Laguna Seca in September. This video has no particular point or socially redeeming value. It is this weeks prototype porn.

A mystery solved (sort of)

One of the things I’ve started doing again, after not blogging for seven months, is checking my blog stats. To my surprise, I was still getting 5-10 hit’s a day just from google searches. I guess geese and Japanese robot women will always be popular.

I especially like the “recent visitor map.” I received a hit from what at first glance, appeared to be Libya. What was especially intriguing was someone there was reading my old post, How to build a corporate state using a simple yield curve.

I imagined a dusty little border town, with goats in the streets and bearded men in traditional Arab garb with AK-47’s slung over their shoulders. Somewhere within the confines of the white-washed, mud brick buildings, the revolutionary leaders were discussing my theory and plotting strategy.

Upon closer inspection, the hit seemed to come from the middle of the Chott El Fejaj, a large lake in Tunisia. OK, how about a group of rich Arabs, out on a yacht, discussing my theory and plotting revolution?

Not likely. The Chott El Fejaj is a seasonal lake that forms on a salt flat, much like the ones in Nevada, only bigger.

Chott El Fejaj
Sunrise on Chott El Fejaj by sianeth

How about a random tourist with some downtime and a nice view?

The feminists may have a point

If you're squeamish about snakes, you may not want to read this. However, if you enjoy stupid human stories, this is can't miss territory. Emily Anthes, writing on Wonderland, researches how people manage to get bit in the face by snakes. If one spends enough time in the countryside, getting bit on the ankle seems like a reasonable possibility, but on the face? Her post includes this gem:

A 24-year-old man with a medical history of mild asthma but otherwise healthy was staying in a house by the ocean for the weekend with some friends. It was early spring time (March), and during a walk on the beach, they found a Common European Adder (Vipera berus) lying in the dunes. Identification of the adder was done by a friend who was an amateur collector. The adder was captured in a box and brought back to the house.

In the evening, under heavy influence of alcohol, the man tried to kiss the adder, which bit him on the tongue.

Ms. Anthes notes that in all her research, she never found a case involving a woman. In stories like this, it's always men. Usually, drunk men. Hopefully, for the sake of humanity, drunk men at the starting point of the intelligence bell curve.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Silver update

In my last post I mistakenly used a chart that wasn't quite as up to date as I thought, so the comparison between paper silver and physical silver wasn't accurate. My bad. Here is an updated comparison using the closing prices from Friday, May 6th.

Yearly SLV ETF closing at $34.48

slv 5-7-11

Yearly spot silver closing at $35.62

silver 5-7-11

The charts are roughly similar, with a $1/oz edge going to physical silver. Note that since August, silver has still doubled in price. Two years ago it was selling for $12/oz. If a silicon valley high tech firm posted a 50% gain followed by a 100% gain, they'd be putting the CEO's picture on the cover of Time and making movies about him. In any case, the reasons for silver still hold. I repeat:

The dollar is still in decline, the Fed is still out of control, and Wall St. and congress are still full of crooks.

From what I've read, the whole episode started when the futures market authorities raised delivery rates. Normally, speculators in the futures market never take delivery on what they buy. They either sell the contract before it expires or roll it over to be sold at a future date. With the dollar falling, many speculators were taking delivery. Once the rates were raised, the higher cost would mean less demand and the big banks and hedge funds took out short positions on both silver and gold. Once word of that got out, everybody joined in and the route was on.

I expect the spot price will bounce around in the $30 range for the next 2-3 months while the Wall St. goons take their profits and make their campaign contributions. Once the short positions are worked through, silver should start to rise again, albeit much slower. Without the speculators, it will just be us poor folk building our rainy day stashes and the cycle will repeat. At least, that's what my Chrystal Ball said.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Trophies, silver, and traditional cities

The trophy hunt

So what really happened in the Bin Laden raid? Assuming there really was one, I mean. There have been so many official statements followed by official denying the previous statements, combined with a complete lack of any evidence whatsoever, it all seems tailor made for the conspiracy crowd. All we have so far is the word of a not very credible government. Who knows what the government really does? After all, it's not as if we live in an open democracy, or something.

One small point made by an administration spokesperson I'll take issue with, is the idea that the trophy shot is not in the American character. I couldn't disagree more. Here's a trophy shot from the 1930's of Bonnie and Clyde.

Bonnie and Clyde

There's plenty more where that came from. In fact, one of the first uses of the camera, after it was invented, was capturing the slaughter of the Civil War.

Confederate dead

There's plenty more where that came from too. And, just to put a final point on it, here's a trophy shot from the family archive.

Way to go, Ricky! Nice one.

Physical silver versus paper silver

Rumors were flying late last week that a number of banks and hedge funds were taking short positions on silver futures. Apparently, those rumors were true. The old Wall St. adage, "sell the rumor, buy the news" is just as true in commodities as it is in equities. Here's one silver ETF to illustrate the point.

slv 5-5-11

It also illustrates another Wall St. adage, "bulls climb the stairs, bears fall out the window."

Contrast that with what happened in the spot silver market.

silver 5-5-11

None of the reasons for silver's rise have changed. The dollar is still in decline, the Fed is still out of control, and Wall St. and congress are still full of crooks. If you have a stash of silver, there's no reason to panic. If you prefer paper silver, well, I hope you got out in time.

In praise of narrow streets

I'm probably late to the game on this one, but I happened across an idea that is new to me. It's called the "Traditional City."

Nathan Lewis, along with being an authority on the gold standard, is also a proponent of the traditional city. A good primer on the idea, with lots of links and pictures, is here:

It got me thinking about Reno's alleys. Downtown Reno is already a walking town, but did you know that the alleys used to be more than a place to park the dumpsters? Here's a postcard showing Douglas Alley during the 1940's.

Douglas Alley

If the alleys were to stage a comeback, we'd need something other than casinos and pawn shops, as well as an alternative location for the dumpsters. Maybe the city counsel or some other group has already thought of this. It seems to tie in well with the Riverwalk and so forth. Anyway, it's something I'll be researching more in the future.