Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Columbia drug bust

Hmm so I just realized one of the five Columbia students arrested for allegedly dealing drugs was my final project partner in Theory of Monetary Interest last fall.

In fact, IIRC we used to do our homework together, and I distinctly remember him because he was a junior taking a graduate-level course. Crazy.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Transfer a brokerage account with at least a $500 balance and receive $100 from Sharebuilder

1) Open a ShareBuilder account (see last post for $50 account opening bonus for a $50 deposit), or Log in (if existing account holder) and activate your $100 bonus in an eligible account using the ShareBuilderPromo code: TRADEUP100
2) Print an Account Transfer Form
3) Mail in or fax in a signed transfer form and a copy of your most recent statement
4) Receive a $100 transfer bonus

Note the account you are transferring must have at least a $500 balance to be eligible for the $100 transfer bonus

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sharebuilder New Account $50 Bonus

Sharebuilder New Account $50 Bonus

Sharebuilder is offering a $50 cash bonus as long as you open a new account with $50 by December 31st with promotion code 50WS10. (The code is also mentioned on the promo page.) It doesn’t appear that you even need to make a trade.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Long Term Investment: Novo Nordisk

A long term investment for my retirement portfolio: Novo Nordisk

One consequence of China and India's development has been the rapid rise out of subsistence living and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. As living conditions improve, western foods have become more popular in both areas.

Unfortunately, hundreds of years of malnourishment has created a perverse situation in which those who rise out of subsistence living rapidly develop diabetes, and the situation will get worse in the next 20 years as migration patterns move people from rural areas to urban areas where they are more likely to change eating patterns.

Hence the market for Novo Nordisks diabetes treatment products will grow at an accelerated pace over the next 20 years, especially as China and India rapidly develop. Demographics will be the overpowering underlying force that will continue to push this low-beta stock on its upward trajectory.

While past performance does not guarantee future results, Novo Nordisk has indefatigably increased earnings and has never had a return under 50% for any five year period over the past 25 years.

Trading Idea: Long BIDU/SINA/SOHU/NTES

Trading Idea: Long BIDU/SINA/SOHU/NTES

Google's exit from China bodes well for Baidu, and the rapid increase in internet usage and cultural proclivity towards internet use in China bodes well for Baidu, Sina, Sohu, and Netease over the next 5 years.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The death of Atlantic City

Atlantic City is doomed as a gambling destination. It's always been just about the gambling, AC never expanded into shopping, shows, tours, etc... as Vegas did. Philly is going to end up eating AC's lunch, it has all the right ingredients: shopping, food, shows, much easier accessibility than AC from NYC and much of the populated regions of NJ. AC casinos are mostly rundown, with the exception of Caesars and the Borgata.I say this while sitting in the first stage of the SugarHouse casino in Philly. Within the next six years I predict multiple casinos will be here in the Penn's Landing area.

Within a year there I bet poker will be readily available and within 5 years there will be sports betting in Philly. Philly will become the high roller destination of choice for overnight and post business trip gambling stints in the east as higher end casinos and hotels open up and the waterfront will be further revitalized. It's strategic position on the northeast corridor will also be a boon. LA has Vegas, DC, NY, and Philly will will have Philly.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Free rider, expecting a smooth ride, falls of back of train, breaks leg, blames train company

Liberal blogs everywhere are screaming bloody murder after a free loader loses his house to a fire after he thought he could scam the local fire department.

From Huffington Post:

"By now, you've probably heard the news about Gene Cranick and his family, and how the South Fulton, Tennessee fire department stood by and allowed the Cranick house to burn to the ground, destroying everything and killing the family's dogs and cats. All because the Cranicks failed to pay a $75 [yearly fire department] fee. While a raging brush fire neared his home, Cranick begged the fire chief to stop the fire before it engulfed his house. He even offered to immediately pay the $75 [yearly fire department] fee, but the chief refused and the house burned to the ground. "

Most of the commenters on this blog (which is decidely liberal) are claiming that this is all neo-cons and libertarians fault, and this is what the world would look like under them. My guess is that most of those responders live in the NY, LA, SF, DC, Seattle, Boston metro area, because 80% of the municipalities in the United States are covered by volunteer fire departments, and many unincorporated areas (read: choose to not pay taxes because they are outside a city) follow this same practice.

"I hope no one is surprised by this? Because when you are down on the dirt, the Neo-Cons will pick up their shovel and throw dirt at you. When your near death, they will have your grave ready for you. Glenn Beck has a large media audience who makes him a multi-millionaire, and instead of Glenn having compassion and maybe offering the poor family assistance, he kicks dirt in their faces as they lie down on the dirt just to prove a point in that the Republican councils legislation wasn't flawed at all, but rather it was a good law of making everyone pay $75.00 dollars and it was correct for firefighters to see the house go up in flames and do absolutely nothing. If you really cared about the American Citizen, and you know that they lost everything in a house fire, and it could have been prevented, then it doesn't matter which party created the flawed law, what matters is that we are all Americans and we shall help one another and better our country and flawed legislation. But for the Neo-Cons like Beck it's all about themselves. It's not about helping American citizens because if it was then they would be opposed to the US Chamber receiving foreign money for favorable legislation. If they cared about American workers then they would applaud General Motors & Chrysler doing extremely well after being helped by the government. Beck is showing his true colors. Truly disgusting. "

Someone, who clearly did their homework, had this to say in response:

"*Gene Cranick has a huge amount of property that is outside city limits and so is untaxed. The money he DOESN'T pay on taxes, and the money he makes via farming and govt. subsidies, surely provides that 75 dollar payment.

* The FD had, 3 years ago, put out another fire for the Cranicks even though they weren't paying the fee then either. Cranick paid the fee for a few months afterwards and then assumed the fire department would do the same again so he stopped paying the fire services fee; 3 reminder calls and a letter say he did not "forget". The fire department would still have come if a human were trapped.

* The Cranicks' grandson *started* this fire by burning trash in a barrel even though the area was under fire ban. He left the burning barrel unattended. When he came out, the fire had spread to a shed. It didn't reach the house for over an hour; lots of time to get even reluctant pets out before the house caught fire. [But, expecting the neighboring fire department to put out the fire on the basis of their help the last time the Cranicks had a fire but refused to pay the yearly fire department fee, it seems they didn't attempt to move the pets until it was too late]

* The fire department Mr Cranick called belongs to a town they do not live in, paid for by the taxes the *town's* residents pay and the rural residents don't. There is no state tax.

* The rural residents have VOTED DOWN a .13% property tax to support the FD. That leaves only the subscription model to get them to pay into the service they're demanding the use of -- and MOST of the FD's calls are from them.

* The FDs in the area tried a pay-as-you-go model, but fewer than half the people whose property they saved paid them.



I DO live in an unincorporated area; and yes this is exactly how it works, in thousands of communities across the country. Property owners pay NO taxes to the city. That's 'nice' benefit eh? Of course that also means no access to city services like Water, Sewer and Trash pickup. People around here have Well Water/Filtration Systems/Septic Systems. It also means Trash pickup is not included. We have to contract with a local Sanitation service our own selves. That is the way this works. You 'make out' on not paying taxes, but you have to shell out your own money then for services that are available to taxpayers.

It's sad that this guy's house burned down. But, it's idiotic for people to think that someone who chooses to live outside city limits and not contribute to city coffers should be entitled to all the services city taxpayers are.

And again, the Fire. Dept. cannot force taxes on non-residents; and they can't collect monies owed by people who don't want to pay, either before or after a fire.

I don't see how liberals and conservatives see differently on this issue....The same fire department saved the same house 3 years ago, even though they had not paid. Even after that they decide not to pay!!

That is just plain stupid. I am sure they thought that the fire fighters would save them again.
I completely agree with the actions of the fire department and I am a bleeding [heart] liberal. Watch now, every one of those pay the $75 per year.. "


Monday, October 4, 2010

High Speed Rail in the US

China is eating the USA's lunch when it comes to high speed rail. Five years ago the Chinese rail system was an unreliable dinosaur, now they have the most high speed rail of any country in the world.

I've heard many many excuses in the past regarding high speed rail, mainly "Japan and European countries are tiny compared to the United States, it just won't work here."

Well China is not tiny. In fact, the highly populated part of China (eastern half) corresponds nicely to the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, and it is just as population-dense if not moreso!

Hopefully we start getting regional true high speed rail this decade.
I see three viable regional routes:
1) Northeast Corridor
Washington, DC - Baltimore - Philadelphia - New York City - New Haven - Boston
2) Texas T-bone
-------------------/Dallas/Ft Worth
Houston - Austin
-------------------\San Antonio
3) NorCal-SoCal-Vegas
Sacramento - Oakland/SF - Fresno - Bakersfield - Los Angeles - Vegas

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Drugs Stir Debate on Basic Rules of Clinical Trials


If this was a randomized double-blind trial I could see Roche's argument, but what the hell is the point of having a control group if the study isn't blind? Needless suffering?

There are plenty of dead people from stage 3 and stage 4 melanom...a with the B-RAF mutation and tons of data on how long they survived on dacarbazine. Even if the FDA demanded a control group why not have the dacarbazine control group in Canada or another OECD country where Roche does not yet have approval nor is seeking approval for the new drug?If this was a randomized double-blind trial I could see Roche's argument, but what is the point of having a control group if the study isn't blind? Needless suffering?

Friday, September 17, 2010

What are our commanders thinking?

If you abandon a forward operating base, you don't leave useable ammunition or any part of the base intact.

You evac and drop some heavy munitions and flatten the entire base.

Now the Taliban has an intact base to practice attacking.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

US Military using Reaper drones to combat Somali Piracy

In April 2009 I wrote about the need to use MQ-9 Reaper drones to combat piracy off of Somalia.

It appears that in October 2009 the US military eventually came to the same conclusion and deployed MQ-9 Reaper drones based in Seychelles. Bravo!

More Stupid Stimulus, RIMM in trouble, Panic Rooms on Cargo Ships

1) More Stupid Stimulus
$50B for infrastructure? Yes, great idea, let's attempt to replace the epitome of boom/bust cyclical jobs, construction, with another set of boom/bust cyclical jobs... construction.

As I said over a year ago, stimulus money should go directly to states and municipalities. The federal government is quite possibly the worst actor when it comes to allocating stimulus money efficiently, it is impossible for them to know where the money is needed for all 50 states and thousands of municipalities. The direct-to-state and direct-to-muni money would prevent hospital closures, fire/police/teacher layoffs, muni bankruptcies, property tax rate increases, state income tax rate increases.

2) RIMM in trouble
I've had a blackberry for 9 years (6 personal, 3 work), and an iPhone for 2 years.
The blackberry was years ahead of its time in terms of email management, but has always been and will be for the near future, horrible at everything else. The web browser, for example, is unusable. Even the email system has fallen behind the times, I cannot view embedded HTML photos, no workable pdf reader, the ability to read excel files is extremely limited.

With Android's native gmail capability and excellent browser the only reason for anyone keeping the blackberry these days is blackberry exchange server (business email/calendar/address book).

In the non-corporate sector, I foresee RIMM losing customers at an alarming rate (from 2006-2009 RIMM had signficiant penetration in the consumer and small business sector), as those customers will want content rich browsing, email, and the ability to access cloud applications on the phone (what's the point of a cloud system if you can't access it outside the office).

3) Panic Rooms in Cargo Ships
Typically when Somali pirates take over cargo ships, armed intervention is a no-go because of the risk to hostages. The best reponse that crewmembers can take is to seal themselves off in a panic room in the vessel's hold. This allows for commandos to retake the ship:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chevy Volt and the Future of Cars

The Chevy Volt will probably be a flop, but the technology behind it is the future of cars.

A little primer on cars and how they're powered:

Standard car w/recip engine: Reciprocating engine as the prime mover mechanically coupled to the wheels with the engine using either the Otto cycle (gasoline) or Diesel cycle. Toyoto Avalon is an example of this type of car.

Hybrid car w/recip engine:

Gas Electric Parallel Hybrid w/ recip engine: has a battery connected to an electric motor which is coupled to a transmission and then to the wheels and an independent reciprocating engine coupled to a transmission and then to the wheels. The transmission is necessary for torque conversion for the reciprocating engine. There is weight saving from a smaller engine, hower the engine is underpowered and still requires transmission and weight is added from the battery. Toyota Prius is an example of this type of car.

Gas Electric Series Hybrid w/ recip engine: has a battery connected to an electric motor connected to the wheels, with no transmission needed for torque control (simply controlled electronically and electrically), and the prime mover is a reciprocating engine attached to an electric generator which hooks into both the battery and to the electric motor. The benefit here is that the IC engine can operate without discharging the battery. Chevy Volt is an example of this type of car.

Before I get to the future of cars, we need to go over prime mover.

The two main prime movers for transportation are reciprocating engines and turbines. Reciprocating engines are used primarily in cars, trains, cargo ships while turbines are used in planes and warships. Standard turbines have much higher power to weight ratios and similar efficiencies to standard reciprocating engines, however, they have very poor partial load performance whereas reciprocating engiens have relatively constant performance and turbines also have extremely poor torque. They also have to spin up (anyone with a turbocharger has a turbine in their car and knows exactly what I'm talking about) with sufficient mass flowing throught them to provide power, but once that happens their power output increases dramatically (e.g. turbo lag).

The future:
Gas Electric Series Hybrid w/ microturbine: has a battery connected to an electric motor connected to the wheels, with no transmission needed for torque control (simply controlled electronically and electrically), and the prime mover is a microturbine attached to an electric generator which hooks into both the battery and to the electric motor.

The torque issue is solved by the electric motor and the microturbine spooling issue is solved through the battery. At the car start: while the microturbine is spinning up the battery is providing the power to the electric drive. Once the car is started either the battery or the microturbine provides the power to drive the electric motor. For in-city stop-and-go driving the car could be set to use the battery or the battery and microturbine. For highway driving the car would use the microturbine. No heavy transmission needed. No heavy reciprocating engine needed (power to weight ratio is 5x that of a reciprocating engine).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thoughts on Arctic Ice Melt

NRDC: Global Warming Puts the Arctic on Thin Ice
Oil giants zero in on untapped Greenland - Times Online
Arctic Oil and Gas Resource Report.

My thoughts:

-The Northeast passage will definitely become major transit points for shipment of goods between Northern Europe and East Asia

-Greenland will become a player in the crude oil market with ~20 billion conventional recoverable barrels in surrounding waters according to the last USGS estimate.

-The Arctic area directly north of Alaska and Canada will become an even more prolific source of oil and natural gas, to the tune of 30 billion recoverable barrels of crude (more than 1.5x the current total crude oil reserve of the US), 6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids and 220 tcf of natural gas

-Russian oil reserves will increase substantially, to the tune of 20-30 billion barrels, but its gas reserves will increase even more drastically to the tune of 300-600 tcf. It will also ascend the ranks of ammonia fertilizer and methanol producers with its cost advantage for feedstock.

Friday, May 7, 2010

New $100 Bill

How does the new $100 bill thwart counterfeiters when the old $100 bill is still legal tender?

I would expect huge transactions in cash to be scrutinized heavily no matter what...and small transactions would not garner suspicion with the old $100 bills...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bernanke = Bernstein Bear?

Anyone ever notice how Bernanke looks like a Bernstein Bear?