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Wednesday, August 31, 2011


At the end of 2005, The Economist showed the following:

In June of this year, The Economist showed essentially the same bar graphs, but Venezuela had jumped to #2 with slightly more than 200 billion barrels of oil reserves.  These are heavy oils and expensive to produce.  Venezuela's remaining oil reserves ROSE from 73 to 234 years, Saudi Arabia's 66 years  ROSE to 72.4 years, Iran's dropped from 93 to 88 and the United States dropped from 12 years to 11.3 years.

The Oil Drum consistently and comprehensively reports on petroleum.  Their lead article today is:

The Seneca Effect: why decline is faster than growth

This is the Seneca Cliff:

Who is Seneca?  Click on that blog site to find out.

The Dow Jones Industrials jumped 54 to 11,614, sneaking 0.31% above what it was at the start of the year.  All major world markets also increased, Europe in particular from 2% to 3%.  Tokyo Electric Power, most people don't know, actually dropped from more than 30 to less than 15 from about a year ago until March 11, when Fukushima happened.  Then the crash down to 5, where it remains today, a drop of 83% from a year ago.

Gold dropped $5/toz to $1824 and oil remains steady (Brent at $115/barrel and WTI at $89/barrel.)

Tropical Storm Katia at 70 MPH, will very shortly become a hurricane, and strengthen into a Category 2 over the next few days.  

However, current projections show her heading in a more northernly direction than Irene at this early stage in the Caribbean.

Tropical Storm Talas will become a typhoon by Friday, with eye projected to be over Osaka and Kyoto very early Saturday morning:


Tuesday, August 30, 2011


U.S. News annually publishes their version of Best Colleges, but I just noticed in Forbes their Best Undergraduate Schools, based not on reputation, but student outcomes.  The list is surprising:

  #1  Williams College (yes, their mascot is a purple cow)
  #2  Princeton University
  #3  U.S. Military Academy (West Point) (what?)
  #4  Amherst College
  #5  Stanford University
  #6  Harvard University
  #7  Haverford College (huh?)
  #8  University of Chicago
  #9  Massachusetts Institute of Technology
#10  U.S. Air Force Academy (indicated that the worth of education here was $415,000)

The list last year was about the same, but I noticed that Yale (mascot is a bulldog, left), at #10 in 2010, was #14 this year, and, what happened to Columbia University (mascot is a royal lion, right):  #13 in 2010 and #42 in 2011.  The U.S. Naval Academy was #17 and Duke University #22.

Stanford University once was known as the Indians, but that became unacceptable, so they then turned to the Cardinal, a color, not the bird. So, by default, on came the tree:

For the record, Webometrics, out of Madrid, Spain, has a Top 50 Global Universities ranking, with #1 MIT (mascot is a beaver), #2 Harvard and #3 Stanford.  40 out of 50 are American universities, with the best international schools being National Taiwan University (right) #12, Tokyo University #16 and University of Cambridge #19.

As this posting is all about education, let me end with a few jokes from Forex Mom:

1.  Why teachers drink.

2.  If you are a mother, you must, absolutely must, click on gonna be a bear when I die.

Dow Jones Industrials, after being down 123, ended up plus 21 at 11,560, with world markets being mixed.  Gold jumped $40/toz to $1829, and oil is at $89/barrel (WTI) and $115/barrel (Brent).

Tropical Storm Katia will become a Category 3 hurricane by Friday and is following essentially the same path as Irene:

In the West Pacific, Tropical Storm Talas, to soon become a typhoon, is now heading for Kansai:
Fukushima appears to be safe.


Monday, August 29, 2011


Monday summaries:

1.  The new Prime Minister of Japan will be Yoshihiko Noda.  Will be because the process is:  a) being elected head of the ruling party, which was today Japan time, b) must still be designated by the Diet (their Congress), then c) appointed by the Emperor.  In addition to Fukushima (100,000 still in shelters, and the area around the powerplant will be unlivable for centuries), their biggest problem is that Noda will be the fifth PM in six years with twelve still living.  Barack Obama is president #44.  Since 1885, Japan has had 95 PMs.  However, the system kind of works because the new administration generally honors the promises of the past PMs.

2.  The total damage from Hurricane Irene will probably amount to $7 billion, but it depends on what you count.  According to that article, Hurricane Katrina was the most expensive disaster (9/11 was #2 at $23 billion) at $45 billion, but there are reports of the cost being $108 billion.  So you would expect insurance stocks to drop today?  Nope, everyone expected worse, so AIG, America's largest insurer, is, as of this writing, up 7% today.  There were 21 deaths, mostly from the high winds.  Lot of sevens, as, perhaps 70 million felt some effects of Irene and up to 7 million went without electricity for any period.  Was Irene as large as Europe?  Probably not.  Texas sized, maybe, and this state may be next to face a major storm.  Incidentally, it's kind of, again, what you count, but Europe is slightly larger than the U.S. in area, with a population about double ours.

The relieved Dow Jones Industrials jumped 255 to 11,539, with world markets also mostly up.  Gold dropped $43/toz to $1787 and crude oil is slightly up, the Brent Spot at $112/barrel, with the WTI at $87/barrel.  The Chicago Mercantile Index has oil in December of 2019 (more than 8 years from now) at $98/barrel.

Hurricane Irene has left the continent, although there is a storm brewing following the same path in the Caribbean as her, destined to become another hurricane.  In the West Pacific, Typhoon Nanmadol breezed over Taiwan and is now a tropical storm to crash into China close to Xiamen.  However, Tropical Storm Talas will attain Category 2 status in a couple of days, and the current projection predicts landfall over Yokohama by this weekend, and weakening, but, interestingly enough, heading right over Fukushima:


Sunday, August 28, 2011


When you have lunch or dinner in France, kir is often the starter drink.  To four parts chardonnay, add one part of creme de cassis, a black currant liquer.  I usually upgrade this to kir royale, which replaces the chardonnay with champagne.  This drink was supposedly invented by Canon Kir, mayor of Dijon.

My Buca di Beppo waiter today, Alfredo, and I created the Italian equivalent:  prosecco with limoncello.  Until we find a better name, we will call it a Pat Royale because kir was named after someone, so why not Patrick Alfredo Takahashi, or PAT.  He said he would advance this concept up the Buca chain.  So, when you next go there, or any Italian restaurant, order a PAT Royale.

I also went to see two movies:

1.  Columbiana, a French-American revenge film, produced and co-written by Luc Besson, of a young girl who experiences the murder of her parents in Colombia, and returns as a young adult (Zoe Saldana) to assassinate more than twenty of those who participated in the killing, all in Titan XC.  The reviews were rather negative, but 64% of those viewed it, according to Rotten Tomatoes.  Gruesome, mostly tense and action-packed, I can understand why.  The writing and editing could have been much better.  I just don't understand the title.  For one, it is called Colombiana and Columbiana.  Second, a far more appropriate name would have been Cattleya, as Cataleya, is the name of this executrix, and she wears a pendant of this flower.

2.  Crazy, Stupid, Love, a Steve Carrell gross comedy with Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon.  RT gave it an 85% audience rating  The writing was superb and a whole series of unexpected twists occurs, with a Hollywood ending.  For my classmates, the babysitter has been accepted to Stanford.   Reviews were tepid.  I loved the film.


What a relief.  A few casualties and a good amount of damage, but the worse case scenario did not happen.  Here is Tropical Storm Irene on Sunday morning...

after sparing New York City only as a tropical storm.  Times Square already has people wandering around.

Here is Irene around mid afternoon on Sunday:

By the way, Tropical Storm Jose is just to the east of Irene, but will dissipate over the next few days.  There are two other depressions to watch out for in the Atlantic.

In the West Pacific, Typhoon Nanmadol at 85 MPH is a day away from striking southern Taiwan.  When last mentioned it was a storm east of the Philippines predicted to move north towards Okinawa.  But, no, in the past few days, Nanmadol went west towards the northern Philippines, became a Category 4 storm, brushed the island, weakened into a Category 1, and is scheduled to move over Taiwan.  To the right (Reuters), residents of Baguio City.  Nanmadol will probably kill as many people as Irene, if not more.

Well, can't guess them right all the time.  The next Japan Prime Minister will be Yoshihiko Noda, their Minister of Finance.

Before I leave, Hawaii's Michelle Wie did okay today at the Canadian Open, but did not win, for Brittany Lincicome (right) did.  There will be a second coming of Michelle in a year after she graduates from Stanford and focuses on golf.  Her form below at the Canadian Open yesterday:

Sunday was wet because of Hurricane Irene, the rain band getting all the way to Montreal:

Note her bag, which she designed.  Reminds me of a Filipino jeepney:
Note that this one says Patrick.  Have a great weekend!


Saturday, August 27, 2011


Well, Saturday morning is here in North Carolina, Irene is now a Category 1 storm and is as large as Europe.

New York City will apparently face similar conditions.  The eye will get in the range of 100 miles east of DC, but the storm has tropical storm force winds out to a radius of 400 miles, so the nation's capitol will get some wind and a lot of rain.  New York City will be shut down for the very first time in history from Noon today, soon to suffer from the outer fringes.  Best guess now is that the eye will also miss Manhattan, passing slightly to the east and over Long Island (middle of the City is from 5 to 118 miles away) around 10AM on Sunday, then slightly west of Boston by 4PM.

If the city gets more than a foot of rain, subways will be inundated.  If the current speed of 15 MPH drops to ten or less, that will be bad, because the grounds are already saturated from the previous storm.  Hurricane Connie in 1955 dropped 13 inches over southeast New York.  The tall buildings themselves will survive, of course, but the wind speed increases with altitude, so higher floors could suffer from window blow-ins.

The most powerful hurricane to strike New York City was a Category 3 in 1938, called the Long Island Express, killing 682 people (60 in the City) and causing damages of nearly $5 billion (2005 dollars).  Also over Long Island, Category 2 Hurricane Donna in 1960 resulted in no deaths and relatively minimal damage.  On this basis, as the threatened have been warned and moved, Irene should swiftly move past DC, NYC and Boston without much ado.  

But there will be a few deaths, from things like falling trees, and water will cause more actual damage than anything else, especially if the New York subways become unusable for a while.  Certainly, millions will lose power.    This will not stop CNN, mayors, governors and anyone responsible from hyping the potential.  But, as they say, much better to be safe than sorry, making sense to overreact than not.  

Current projections show Irene maintaining Category 1 strength all the way to Boston.  I wouldn't be surprised, though, if she weakens below hurricane status by New York City, as much of the eye spent some time on land over North Carolina.

Well, watch the Weavers singing, Goodnight Irene at their last concert:

And Good Night Irene in their prime just about 60 ago, where they gave credit to Huddie Leadbetter (who had just passed away, known as Leadbelly) for inspiring them with his 30's Irene Goodnight.  The song itself has amorphous roots leading back into the 1800's.

COUNTRY #188: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Welcome country #188:


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Resistance by native Caribs prevented colonization on St. Vincent until 1719. Disputed between France and the United Kingdom for most of the 18th century, the island was ceded to the latter in 1783. Between 1960 and 1962, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was a separate administrative unit of the Federation of the West Indies. Autonomy was granted in 1969 and independence in 1979.

Map data ©2011 MapLink, Tele Atlas - Terms of Use

One of the Pirates of the Caribbean films was shot here:

A typical beach shot:
And another:
Some young girls: