Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

links for 2010-12-03

  • An email to students at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs says: "The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. [The State Department] recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government."
  • …Gold. The backtested model of shorting gold ahead of NFP has just broken. Margins calls coming in. JPM/Blythe Masters scrambles to prevent an all out rout as the $1,400+ stops are triggered. [Of course, don't expect it to stay at this level. Recently gold has established a pattern of spike and retreat. But the long term trend points to higher prices. Gold responds to world inflation, not just U.S. inflation.]
    (tags: gold economics)
  • Each tree is owned by an identifiable person; none is subject to the theory of the commons. Individual tree-owners rent the leaf crop to other farmers. Thus, a specific individual has an important stake in making sure that the tree is not stripped so bare that it dies. Wood products are a significant portion of an essentially barter economy. All the land is privately held, with the exception of the most-used tracks between villages.
  • Health and wealth plotted over 200 years. MUST SEE. Everyone should watch this and get some perspective on how much technology, economics and trade have improved the world, even in the poorest corners of the globe.
  • I think the democratization of media has come full circle. Bloggers who have spent the last 10 years sneering at the rules and customs of mainstream journalism are having a moment of clarity, as WikiLeaks teaches them about the power of information, and the consequences of indiscriminate publication.
  • Talk to any woman in Moscow, and, regardless of age, education, or income level, she'll have a story of anything from petty infidelity to a parallel family that has existed for decades. Infidelity in Moscow has become "a way of life," as another friend of mine put it—accepted and even expected.
  • When, last year, it was revealed that the Russian navy had set 10 pirates adrift with no navigation aids in the middle of the Indian Ocean, there was little surprise in the shipping world. It's one way of dealing with them.
  • A report by Britain's Maritime Charities Funding Commission in 2007 found that "the provision of leisure, recreation, religious service and communication facilities are better in UK prisons than … on many ships our respondents worked aboard."
  • Every time I question whether the classes I build mean too much organized schooling for the students (I wish I could just trade for their hours in the regular classroom), parents tell me that I’m not the one stealing childhoods — it’s the sports. For a while I didn’t believe it was that bad. But now I’ve witnessed kids with 150 IQs who want to take a math class at MIST Academy reluctantly opt for the sport they’ve played for eight years (because four days of playing just isn’t enough), and then fall from third place to thirteenth place at local math competitions — or to win national awards in the sixth grade, but fail to make the school math team in the eighth grade. And then they don’t know how to catch up with the top students, and rarely do. Nobody tells them what they missed, and by high school there isn’t time left in the day for any but the most absurdly talented and interested students to catch up.
  • Ships always have to pay something to someone, either officially or unofficially. Traversing the canal costs somewhere between seven and 11 cartons of cigarettes in "gifts." Without Marlboro, a dissatisfied pilot or immigration official can have the ship stopped for hours. Unplanned customs inspections, audits, immigration checks, all running up delays and costing money. The cigarettes are cheap in comparison. In some West African ports, I am told, agents and port staff turn up in the bond room with a shopping list. Chocolate, cigarettes, Coke, please.
  • "Our people have grown to look upon this indispensable bridging of the ocean for the supply of our daily food as something no more needing our thoughtful attention than the recurrence of the seasons or the incidence of day or night." Or as the captain might say: Merchant navy, scum of the earth.

Written by Michael B. Duff

December 3, 2010 at 23:11

Posted in Uncategorized

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