Daily Archives: September 19, 2008

(A much better) thought for the day

Thought for the day

Oil returns to $100 per barrel, or why it is all relative

After the meltdown on Wall Street this week, the news that Oil Prices Return to $100 Territory seems like a ho-hum announcement in relation to that. The high price of oil is still significant, and likely will have at least as big an impact on the world economy as the meltdown, but it can’t compete with the sheer terror of seeing the global financial market seize up to the point that the U.S. government needs to swoop in and buy up hugh chunks of the financial market in a fire sale.

The Metropolitan Opera Remember Pavorotti …

…in a very fine way: with a free concert of Verdi’s Requiem conducted by James Levine, who is recovering from serious illness but who managed this with gusto. Bravo indeed. It must have been a great night.

See The Met Remembers Pavarotti – Review – NYTimes.com

Quote of the day

From the globeandmail.com

‘Living with a teenage daughter is like living with the Taliban. Mothers are not allowed to dance, sing, flirt, laugh loudly or wear short skirts.’

Australian-born author Kathy Lette

Open Source Genetics

Can a wiki cure cancer? Can a crowds hack genetic disease? Over at the blog, Bits, they are speculating why “Google co-founder Sergey Brin on Thursday disclosed that he carried a genetic mutation that gave him a higher-than-average risk of contracting Parkinson’s disease.” Their speculation is that Brin might be thinking that it…

“…could be useful to have one’s DNA code open to the public, where it could follow a sort of open-source model. If his data was public, he said, doctors — or anyone who was interested — could look at his results and make suggestions about how he should handle them, offering treatment suggestions if it showed he might be susceptible to a disease.”

That would assume that there is information that is decentralized and unshared, which of course, is a category that the DNA of individuals falls into.

But would people share their DNA? I think they would, for the same reason that they share so much on the Internet now: the risk is very low and the reward is not insignificant.

It is only a small posting, but the post, Why Sergey Brin May Have Disclosed His Risk for Parkinson’s at Bits Blog on the NYTimes.com is interesting.

More things to keep the financial crisis in perspective

When do you think this cover is from? 2008? Nope, 1972. The quote that goes with it?

“The nation is not running out of money so much as it has misallocated its resources so badly that it now faces a staggering bill for the public services that citizens have a right to expect. Tax and governmental reforms can and must apportion that bill more fairly; to the extent that the taxpayers’ revolt is a protest against inequity, it is only too justified.”

From Time Covers Wall Street – Photo Essays – TIME

Good blogs: Looking Around – Art – Architecture – TIME

There are so many good blogs these days, it impossible to keep up with them all. The nytimes.com has more than a dozen, all of them filled with lots of great material.

TIME has it’s share, too, including one by Richard Lacayo called Looking Around, that covers art and architecture.  Worth adding to your bookmarks or feed reader if you are interested in those subjects. And unlike me, his posts on people like Damien Hirst are based on actually talking to the artist. So there’s that… 🙂

He highlighted something sad. Namely, the damage done to the Farnsworth House, a work of Mies Van der Rohe. Too bad Mies didn’t put it on stilts: it’s been hit with seven big floods since it was built. 😦 Not good.

(photo actually from the site The New Modernist).

Words for the wise today on Wall Street

From the good folks at The Poster List

On why I find the current worldwide financial crisis fascinating

It seems every hour news is coming out in reaction to the financial
devistation that is occurring. It appears to be just the U.S., but the
effect will be felt worldwide. It is similar to the World Wars of the
20th century, in that, while they were initially European wars, they
soon were fought across the world.

And the financial crisis is as significant as the world wars, I
believe. No one is saying that yet, but in time, they will. And while
it may not be as terrible as the Great Crash and the Great Depression,
it will be very tough on Americans for some time to come. Because all
of this money that is going to used to bailout the banks is money that
will not be bailing out the people with failing mortgages and failing
savings.

For more detail, see Vast Bailout by U.S. Proposed in Bid to Stem Financial Crisis – NYTimes.com

P.S. See the people in this photo by Brendan Hoffman of the New York Times? They don’t know what is going to happen either, although they have to act like they do. That’s Nancy Pelosi speaking with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on the far left and Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman and apparently an expert on the Great Depression, on the far right. I have no doubt that Bernanke has history in mind with everything he does.

So you are ready to retire and run a vineyard in France? Here’s your chance

If that sounds appealing, check out this page: O’Vineyards Winemaker Associates – Buy a vineyard in the south of France

You are responsible for doing your own “due diligence”, of course, not me. 🙂

But yes, it does sound appealing to me, and yes, it is certainly something to dream about as you spend two hours in some boring-as-watching-paint-dry meeting you may be in sometime today!

If you are a conservative investor, read this


If you are a conservative investor, you may have a significant investment in money market funds. If you do, you may have been shocked  by what has been happening with them over the last few days. While money market funds are much lower in risk than other funds, there is always a risk when it comes to money, even if you lock it up in a safety deposit box or tuck it under your mattress (then the risk is inflation).

If you are worried, I recommend you read this article: Your Money – Money Market Funds Enter a World of Risk.

It’s a good article, and there are some reassuring things you can read and consider.

Finally, remember: there is always a risk. If you are a conservative investor, you simply want to minimize that risk and still profit from the money you do have. Money market funds are still a good way to do that.

(Photo of an old vault door from Daniel Leininger’s photostream on flickr)

The 15 Cars with the Best Gas Mileage

If you are thinking of buying, leasing, or even (like me) renting a new car, the question that will come to mind is: is it good on gas? And if you want the answer to what is best with gas, see this: The 15 Cars with the Best Gas Mileage from BusinessWeek.

While some are dead obvious (Toyota Prius), others surprised me (Ford Escape Hybrid). See for yourself, at businessweek.com.

Oprah goes on to become more powerful

Oprah appears to be going from the being the most powerful woman in American media to the most influencial woman on the planet. And why not? She has a universal appeal that transcends cultural barriers. And she has the means – her TV show – to reach people all over the planet.

For people who think Oprah is too mainstream for their liking, I’d like to point out this one key quote in this article,  Saudi Women Find an Unlikely Role Model – Oprah,

“In a country where the sexes are rigorously separated, where topics like sex and race are rarely discussed openly and where a strict code of public morality is enforced by religious police called hai’a, Ms. Winfrey provides many young Saudi women with new ways of thinking about the way local taboos affect their lives — as well as about a variety of issues including childhood sexual abuse and coping with marital strife — without striking them, or Saudi Arabia’s ruling authorities, as subversive.”

And that may be the most subversive thing about Oprah. It certainly allows her to be highly influential.