comic distraction...

I'm not sure if The Godfather would approve of this post based on his previous statement that he likes her pragmatism...but I've been finding that when I want to stop thinking about the market, Palin has been an excellent distraction. There is a lot of context that goes into interviews, but I think the section I'm about to paste in below is fairly self explantory in a lot of ways. It is a CBS interview between Palin and Couric. I welcome any comments or criticism on my posting of this; I'm not even going to get into her total inability to speak proper English, I just think this brings her lack of qualification and knowledge to light...

Couric: You've said, quote, "John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business." Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?

Palin: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie - that, that's paramount. That's more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.

Couric: But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.

Palin: He's also known as the maverick though, taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about - the need to reform government.

Couric: But can you give me any other concrete examples? Because I know you've said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?

Palin: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.

Couric: I'm just going to ask you one more time - not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

Palin: I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you.

the end of CDS?

Can't help but notice that over the past few days there have been increasingly menacing articles about the role of Credit Default Swaps in the current crisis. Not to mention explicit "regulatory" investigations. My concern is that it won't be long until CDS - a vital form of debt insurance and a strong source of additional market information - are completely blackballed out of the system. And my suspicion - to be investigated and then expounded upon here at a later date - is that they had very little to do with the current crisis and that other factors like the Federal Reserve's undue expansion of credit and the government involvement with - peddling of - the subprime mortgage business has much more to do with what's led to this crisis.

Norm would want me to note here that the DJIA went down 777 points yesterday. Don't even know what to say except...we should all be scared. And a mixed economy is the most dangerous of all.

Shorts, converts, and consequences

the WSJ today highlights that it turns out that the short selling ban even harms the companies it's meant to protect - as some of these companies struggle, they would normally raise money through convertible bonds. Only problem is that a major buyer of these issues are hedge funds. Who rationally and almost always hedge/arb these bets by shorting the underlying equity. With the ban on shorting somehow the bottom has fallen out of demand for converts...which could wreak havoc for the companies (as they try and fail to raise money) the SEC is purportedly trying to protect.

On a separate note, as temporary author of this blog I will admit immediately to being much more skeptical of the govt bailout in its current form than the patriarch, Norm, himself. So I'm glad to see some in Congress (like Jim DeMint) opposing quick passage without examining moral and economic consequences of such action...

On a final note, the Franklin Gold Star of Freedom goes, today, to those funds/publicly traded companies who have asked to be taken off the short-selling ban list. And I'm hoping the next recipient of this prestigious award is the entity who successfully enters a persuasive case in Federal court claiming that soon-to-begin reporting of short positions is a violation of fund managers' intellectual property.

Germany

Norm will be Germany until the monday after next. Franklin will become acting editor in chief.

Norm

Hayek

Classic free market economist, found by Frankie:

Friedrich von Hayek in 1932:


"Instead of furthering the inevitable liquidation of the
maladjustments brought about by the boom during the last three
years, all conceivable means have been used to prevent that
readjustment from taking place; and one of these means, which has
been repeatedly tried though without success, from the earliest to
the most recent stages of depression, has been this deliberate policy
of credit expansion. . . .

"To combat the depression by a forced credit expansion is to
attempt to cure the evil by the very means which brought it about;
because we are suffering from a misdirection of production, we
want to create further misdirection--a procedure that can only lead
to a much more severe crisis as soon as the credit expansion comes
to an end. . . .

"It is probably to this experiment, together with the attempts to
prevent liquidation once the crisis had come, that we owe the
exceptional severity and duration of the depression. We must not
forget that, for the last six or eight years, monetary policy all over
the world has followed the advice of the stabilizers. It is high time
that their influence, which has already done harm enough, should be
overthrown." (from the introduction to Monetary Nationalism and
International Stability)

Irony

The biggest irony I have seen in a long time is prime brokers being targeted by hedge funds. Hedgies are all ex-ibank traders. The primes got them started, they made them famous, they armed them to the teeth with leverage, with technology. They made them what they are. And then, when the children turned on them, the ibanks ran to the Feds, begged for protection, and claimed market abuse. Ironic.

Vodia Group Note on SEC regs

Vodia Group Comments on Recent Short Sale Rulings

 

Josh Galper (well, I actually wrote 75% of this, but so it goes)

Managing Principal
September 19, 2008

 

Vodia Group response to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announcement of emergency orders banning the short selling of 799 financial stocks and eliminating naked short selling for the entire market.

 

While we strongly support the SEC's position against naked short selling, we are concerned with their decision to ban legitimate short selling. We have seen no evidence or data to support the notion that the banning of short sales in financial stocks will provide anything other than a short-term price stimulus. There is however reason to think that move will cause substantial damage to the US equity and options markets in the medium and long term.

 

The distinction between naked short selling and legitimate short sales cannot be overstated. The SEC is long overdue in eliminating naked short selling. For many companies naked short selling has had a detrimental impact on their ability to do business for years. The data indicating the damage from naked short selling has been clear from every release of the SEC's own Fail to Deliver datasets and stock exchange Reg SHO Threshold Lists. We welcomed the SEC's decision on September 17th to prevent naked short selling.

 

Legitimate short selling however is vital in the provision of accurate market sentiment and enhances market liquidity. While the SEC has recognized the legitimate nature of the practice, it implemented the ban to prevent perceived abuses of short sales, including the use of market rumor and naked shorting, and to prevent further short-term declines in the stock prices of financial firms. We do not believe that there have been any rumors unbeknownst to the general public that have been circulating about the stocks in question. The action of September 17th banned short selling. And lastly, we do not believe it is the role of the regulator to make decisions about the direction of stock prices. When the ban is lifted investor desire will show itself once again.

 

The effect of the temporary short sale ban on 799 financial stocks will be to reduce liquidity, undermine the stability and legitimacy of the US financial system, limit brokerage and hedge fund activity, and prevent the accurate expression of market sentiment. In a confused and volatile market, leadership from the government in creating stability can have a positive effect, but a seemingly arbitrary regulatory regime and handicapping of market sentiment are not the paths to well functioning markets.

mad crazy: the SEC has lost it

What the !@*$#*!& was the SEC thinking? Banning short sales? WTF. Yeah, it means that my C is doing well, but seriously, is this actually the USA? Free markets? Heard of them? Because we are losing them as we speak. Transparency is good. Banning naked shorting is good. Banning short selling is the craziest piece of interventionist crack smoking that we have seen in a long time. The SEC is a loose (%*@(#! cannon which needs to be reeled in and controlled.

WWII Deaths

This is interesting to me largely in that Europe, so ravaged by the war and at the center of how we view WWII (it was the center of WWII after all), did not have the largest loss of life, by far, unless you count Russia. The surprise to me was how heavily India, Indonesia, and China were affected, though how exactly these statistics are counting I am not sure. And of course, as they were largely undeveloped, they were not really central areas of conflict, though Japanese occupation of China did lead to the civil war.

Image:World War II Casualties2.svg

4th Fleet: Back, and Ready for Hugo?

The US recently reactivated its 4th fleet, a fleet which did not exist between the 1950's and this summer. From wikipedia:

The Fourth Fleet was originally established in 1943, during World War II, along with the other numbered fleets. The fleet was later absorbed by U.S. Second Fleet and disbanded in 1950 before being re-established in 2008.

The United States Fourth Fleet is a major command of the United States Navy in the South Atlantic, operating as a component of the joint U.S. Southern Command and is re-forming as of July 1, 2008 under the current command of RADM Joseph D. Kernan. Fourth Fleet is based at Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville, Florida and is responsible for U.S. Navy ships, aircraft and submarines operating in the Caribbean, and Central and South America.[1]

The Fleet began operations again in the summer of 2008, but will not be fully staffed until 2009, in keeping with a manpower study conducted by U.S. Fleet Forces Command. According to the United States Department of Defense, the Fourth Fleet's aim will be to assist in narcotics interdiction efforts, humanitarian and goodwill interventions, and joint training with regional security partners.[2] This reactivation, without consulting regional partners, sparked concerns within their governments. The governments of Argentina and Brazil made formal inquiries as to the fleet's mission in the region.[3][4]

In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez accused the United States of attempting to frighten the people of South America by reactivating the fleet. [5] Cuban ex-president Fidel Castro warned that it could be lead to more incidents such as the Colombian intervention in Ecuador. [6]

Russian Bombers

Russia, in a move that made the headlines, sent two of its advanced jet-powered Tu-160 bombers (similar to the American B-1), across the Atlantic, down the Eastern seaboard, and to Venezuela. They were trying to show that they can project power across the world. Hugo made a big deal about this, talking up a storm about a "pluripolar" world and suchlike. There are two things I love about this though.

1) The two Tu-160's are 1/8th of all of Russias Tu-160s, which are in turn 100% of their modern large-bomber fleet. In other words, they aint got shit. (and they lost way more than they claim they did, about 8-10 aircraft instead of 4, in the Georgian war).

2) We knew they were coming so long before they got close, we had jets escort them all the way across the atlantic, down the east coast, and to Venezuelan airspace. I wish a picture of that made the news.

McCain - Bashing Wall St.

Wall St. is having a tough time. If things get any uglier, it could be a disaster. And yes, they largely engineered their way into this mess by creating the CDO/CMO industry. But, let the market sort out what the market created. Obama of course is going to be against Wall St. (why the hell do all the hedge fund managers give money to Obama? I will never be able to figure that one out), and he has come out deriding the evil money loving elves on the street as evil money loving elves. McCain though, who should be pro-free-market, has also come out against the street. I dont think he has called them elves yet, but he has called them a lot of other things.

The basic rule which seems to be coming out is dont do too well, becuase then you are cheating Americans out of their hard earned money and we are going to create a "windfall" tax, and dont do too badly, because then you are destructive and greedy and you dont care about the american public and their hard earned money. Just be mediocre, and be happy in your mediocrity.

Anyone out there who has read Atlas Shrugged... yeah.. its like that.

Naked Short Selling - SEC new regs

The SEC put out new regs today on naked short selling, basically banning the practice. Which is interesting, because for years they claimed it did not exist and it was not an issue.

In essence, short selling is borrowing something, selling it now while agreeing to buy it back at a later date and give it back to the person you borrowed it from. Except, under US regs previously, you could actually just sell something you did not own, and then you had to find it in three days (T+3 settlement in the US). But a lot of hedgies or brokers did not really bother with the finding part, they just sold. This of course had a pretty big effect, as it created "fake shares" basically due to the way the DTCC works, and created artifical negative pressure on naked shorted securities.

Today, the SEC put out new rules making this hard to do. If you dont settle properly on t+3, the broker handling the short sale is not allowed to short any more of that security unless it has a firm pre-locate (already borrowing the stuff) for each sale: tying their hands behind thier backs. It also gets rid of the option market maker exemption, a loophole which had yet to be closed.

This is, overall, a very good thing, and will help curb actual market abuse while having very little impact on those who are not abusing the system.

Palin

Two points.

1) The more I learn of her past, the more I am wary of her. A born again Christian who went though 6 different low-tier colleges before graduating, her past does not instill a sense of confidence. And I am not going to even get into the pregnant teenager thing.

2) The more I learn of her policies, especially while as the AK gov. the more I like her. She is pragmatic and effective.

At this point, I have not yet made up my mind on her, but it seems the American public at large has. She has been a big boost to the McCain campaign, especially among white women (the demographic which got Billy Bob Clinton elected, because he was "hot").

Brokerage goes Boom: a dire week for brokers

Will post more later, but basically the world is going to shit right now, at least the world that I work in. Basically, with Lehman down, and Merrill being bought out, that leaves the big two (Morgan and Goldman) as the only major independent investment banks (and thus prime brokers). Liquidity is crashing (again), and the fed is taking in all kinds of crap to try and shore up the markets. The only good think is that Bazooka Ben actually let Lehman fail instead of trying to bail out the whole US financial industry.
 
But "it aint over":
Even if markets can be stabilized this week, the pain is far from over—and could yet spread. Worldwide credit-related losses by financial institutions now top $500 billion, of which only $350 billion of equity has been replenished. This $150 billion gap, leveraged 14.5 times (the average gearing for the industry), translates to a $2 trillion reduction in liquidity. Hence the severe shortage of credit and predictions of worse to come.

Old Pictures/Graphic Work

A kind of vertical poster I made a while back, came across it when organizing my pictures.

Performance Bargains

Slow day at work for me. Which means I have time for this, one of my favorite subjects = )

Performance cars, on the cheap. Did not follow my own advice here.. but these are some great cars that you can have a blast without spending a ton. I am not trying to be at all practical, these are just for fun.

My best advice is to buy a older car with lower mileage from the generation that you want. Car generations come in 4-7 year increments, and hardly change inside a generation. "Older" just means more years, and is worth a lot less than "newer" with a lot more miles... so you might sacrifice some paint and brightwork for a better car mechanically, a no-brainer if you are just looking for a fun, cheap, performance car.

10. The Saab 9000 turbo, 2nd gen
2nd-gen 9000 (US)
Production 1992–1998
Pro: its cheap, you can find them all over the place, they are safe, they are a 4-door "saalloooon caar" (as Jeremy Clarkson would put it), and with the I4 they actually get good gas mileage, with 200+ hp.
Cons: Not exactly a looker. And she's heavy. And there is a lot of torque steer. But then again, this could be a daily driver and a winter car.. not common on this list.

9. Mazda RX-7, Series 5 (1989-1992)
1991 Mazda RX-7 FC S5 Naturally Aspirated Package A
Yeah, its not the series 6. Because that would be too expensive. For those who dont know, the series 6 became an icon of the time, along with the Toyota supra and Nissan skyline, as a fast, furious, and easily tuneable car. And it looks great. Series 5 however... does not look as good, because it is copied from a Porsche 928. But it is far, far, cheaper.
Pros: Good handling, high-revving crazy rotary engine with 190/200hp. Weight under 3000lbs.
Cons: Rotary engine sucks gas, hard to maintain.

8. Golf GTI Mk3 (1992-1999)
VW Golf Mk3 North American version
I actually like the look of this one the best, and it is damn cheap at this point, especially the early ones. It is also very easily tuneable. If you really want performance on the cheap, get one that someone has already tuned, though do your homework. Tuning a car often decreases it value, even with thousands of dollars spent on upgrades. Get the i4, not the VR6.
Pros: Cheap, cheap to maintain, fun to drive, practical, and VW = nice interior and good quality.
Cons: GTI I4 = 115hp. Yeah. Basically equal to a bottom-of-the-range Kia today. With 2600lbs.

7. Ford Taurus SHO (1989-1999)
1991 Ford Taurus SHO with the "Plus" package
Yeah. A Ford Taurus. What form of bovine feces is this you ask? Well let me tell you. Ford took its everyday sedan (which was pretty good in the late 80's early 90's) and dropped in a Yamaha V6, usually with a manual stick. And they stiffened the suspension etc. Its not going to win a beauty contest (especially the third gen blobmobile - that gen Taurus being one of the ugliest and most ubiquitous lumps of crap ever designed), but its is fun to drive. And CHEAP! Like under $1000 cheap. For 220HP in a 3000lb car! (if you can still find one that gets that much out of the engine...). The second gen though added 500lbs (!!) in weight.. mostly safety stuff... the 3rd gen is unspeakably ugly.
Pros: Crazy cheap. Very nice engine.
Cons: Craptastic.

6. Jaguar XJS (1981-1996)
1976-1980 Jaguar XJS Cabriolet (Germany)
Yeah, I'm not crazy. I always loved Jags, and though this looks downright awful next to a XK8 that replaced it, or the E-type before it, it is cheap. And fun to drive. Until it breaks down. Notoriously unreliable, totally impractical, but you can get it with a V12. Thats 12. Yeah. And from that giant engine you get..... wait for it... about 260hp. Goes up to over 300 in the 90's, but still not that much. Actually, the standard engine is a much better deal, still putting out about 240-280hp. Supposedly the mid 80's are the sweet-spot, not costing too much, but with better build quality.
Pros: Its a jag. It looks good. Its goes fast.
Cons. Its a jag. It falls apart. Its made of tin and bakerlite.

5. Mazda Miata 1989-1997
Mazda Miata (US)
Basically a British 2-seater built by the Japanese. Which means it does not fall apart. And parts are cheap, because this is a common car. Two basic options here (they are all convertibles): Pre 1994 120hp 1.6l or post 1994 1.8l 131hp with dual airbags. Any way you look at it, this is a great car.
Pros: Light, fun to drive, convertible, good gas mileage
Cons: Dont get it in white, then if you are a guy you will just have to drive around with the top up

4. Porsche 944 (1982-1991)
1986-1991 Porsche 944 coupe
Hands down, one of the best performance deals out there. Except for keeping it running. Ranging up to the Turbo S in the late 80's with a 250hp engine (the most expensive 4 cylinder production car of all time, still). This thing was a blast to toss around and has become a weekend racer and tuner classic. Its cheap, because it costs a lot to run, and because it is not a "real" Porsche. Until the Cayenne SUV came around and Porsche turned its attention to building rich-soccer-mom cars, most (the 911) Porsches were rear-engined with a straight six and rear-wheel drive. The 944 had a v4, in the front, powering the front wheels. Sacrilege. But good for buying one now.
Pro: Very fast, very good handling, a blast to drive.
Cons: Expensive to maintain.

3. Subaru SVX 1991-1997
JDM Alcyone with BBS wheels
Yeah... so before they had the WRX, they had this. Made for the American market, it had a opposed 6 cylinder engine that made 227hp (actually the same as the WRX). It was by no means the light, tossable, icon of driving that the WRX has become, but it would be an everyday supercar, with AWD, "unique" looks, and relatively low cost.
Pros: Its a subaru, so AWD, boxer engine, and great handling.
Cons: Because it was made for America, it comes with only one transmission: a crappy automatic

2. C4 Corvette (1984-1996)
http://www.totalpcsolution.com/vette.jpg
Yeah, its like that. Big. Bold. You look like an idiot driving one. Especially if you are a guy. And no, it is not the sexy curvyness of the C3 Stingray, which is rightfully remembered as one of the most beautiful cars of all time. The C3, for all its sexiness, drove like crap, with terrible handling, a front heavy design, and little power. The C4 correct all of that, and you even get 80's style digital gauges! Ok, the best thing about this car is that it is cheap, fun to drive, targa top with 230hp and a manual transmission that loves to play rough. Its a big, hairy-chested beast of a car, and its a blast.
Pros: Engine, handling, targa top, style, cheapish to maintain
Cons: You look like a tool driving one

1. Nissan 300zx 1989-1996
Image:RedZ32.JPG
"What the hell is that" you say? Yeah. Most people likely have never heard of this thing, and rightfully so. Basically a competitor to the c4 vette above, this was, some think, a bad time for Nissan Z cars. But I think its fantastic. It was pretty heavy at 3300lbs. The looks are polarizing, but I love them, and think they still do quite well 15 years later. The regularly aspirated car has 198hp, and to be honest, that is 50 less than today's toyota camry v6. But then, there is the twin turbo, a 300hp beast that can be easily tuned to 400 or 500hp (with a resulting loss in reliablity and bank account). Car and Driver put it as a 10 best car (best in its category) for 7 years in a row. In 1990 it was the "import car of the year." It is actually a relatively safe car, pretty easy to maintain (being a Nissan), but still not exactly practical. Whatever, I have wanted one of these for years, because they are cheap, fun to drive, and a supercar. Sadly, I am not the only one to know about these things, and good quality twin-turbos are still selling for north of $10,000 used, which pretty much knocks them off the list. But with a little searching, one can be found for for $5,000, and that is a heck of deal.
Pros: Drives, performs, and to some extent looks, like a supercar
Cons: possibly the most expensive car on this list, especially the twin-turbo

StockMood and EmergInvest

I was checking in on EmergInvest, a company that I have worked with and we did a little consulting for, and ran across another good find. Both were featured in TechCrunch 50, a public coming out for 50 new tech startups that gets a ton of press and attention.

Basically EmergInvest wants to be the "yahoo finance of emerging markets." In my opinion, they are going to have a tough time doing this, but I wish them the best of luck. If you are interested in investing in (getting data on stocks) the rest of the world, checkout their site.
www.emerginvest.com

The second one I cam across is StockMood, which as far as I can figure uses a bot to crawl around financial and general interest news sites across the web, run some algos, and come up with a "sentiment index" telling you what people think right now. This is, if it works, quite an interesting tool for momentum and contrarian investing.

I signed up for the beta (stockmood.com) and it seems to work well, but basically seems to cover the DOW 30 right now, or maybe the top 100 securities by mktcap. It did not for example include SNDK, quite a large and visible public company. I think that there is going to be a fee once it goes live? Not sure of what the status will be of "beta testers" at that point.

And why do all tech startups have to delete the space between words? StockMood and EmergInvest at TechCruch. Ridiculous.

The Taos Hum

About 2% of the residents of Taos New Mexico consistent report hearing a low-frequency hum in the background. No one has been able to find where it comes from, but it is there, day after day, humming along. And nobody has any idea why.

Shiny Toy Guns

Alt Nation informed me this morning why Shiny Toy Guns has fallen from 9.7/10 to 7/10:
the female lead singer left the band. She did so to date some Swedish guy. Good for the Swede, bad for the rest of the world.

Her replacement, who sings the new song "Ricochet," was the winner of the "Next Pussycat Doll Contest." WHOoo Whee ee whoo ee oooo... crap.

Bill Gates and Seinfeld.. trying on shoes? New Windows ad...

World Likely to Implode Wednesday

Actually, not really. But it will be the first time CERN is run - the shiny new atom smasher over in Switzerland. Basically, its going to be able to figure out a lot of ridiculously cool things, like how many dimensions are there? How do black holes work and form? What happens when you smash things together? Etc.

So actually, the world is going to end in a couple months. Because that is when they start making black holes...

Fannie and Freddie down and out

And so ends one of the most screwed up attempt at a quasi-private government company. Fannie and Freddie never should have existed in the first place, directly lead to the financial crises of the last 18 months and the practice of over-lending to under-qualified borrowers. They are going to be taken private, by the worlds largest buyout fund, and then will be run with all the efficiency and effectiveness of a government agency.....

.....cause he had high hopes, he had high hopes He had high apple pie, in the sky hopes.....

Brady = (

Out for the season... which sucks. It was not a dirty play in my opinion, but still too bad. And Matt C. is not going to be pulling a Tom Brady and endearing himself to fans, I dont think.

Long Term Call: SNDK... = )

A norman pat on the back on this one, with a 30% jump from news that Samsung may be looking at buying them out (given their current low price).

Clash of Civilizations? Islam's internal struggle.

Contrary to the notion that the great battle of the 21st century will be between Islam and Christianity, the Islamic world is increasingly turning inward in its aggression. Sectarian violence is now the main cause of terrorism, and Muslims the main target. This is a major shift from the early 90's. My take on the cause is simply that as you mix radical religion (or belief) and violence, "true believers" start to turn on those who they are most directly in conflict with, the "non-believers." Historical precedents abound, with three of my personal favorites (and most screwed up) being the October Revolution in Russia or the Cultural Revolution in China and the 100 Years War in Europe. It is, quite simply, easier to pick a fight with those around you, if it's a fight you are after.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122059157681303377.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
 
From the article:
Taking the long view, one might note that intra-Islamic feuding is as old as the religion itself. Of Muhammad's immediate successors—the "righteous caliphs," according to Sunni tradition—the first, Abu Bakr, may have been poisoned; the next three are all known to have been assassinated, with the murder of the third caliph (Othman) resulting in the schism from which the Shiite branch of Islam emerged. The Abassid revolt destroyed the Umayyad caliphate in the 8th century; the early 9th century was marked by civil war between the sons of the fifth Abassid caliph, Haroun al-Rashid. Al Qaeda itself has ancient Islamic antecedents: the 8th-century Kharajites, for instance, were notorious for their extreme puritanism, frequent recourse to violence, and the belief that they could declare their Muslim opponents to be infidels and treat them accordingly.

Least Believeable news story of 2008.. so far..

This is truly ridiculous, and such a setup that I cant even believe they are putting it out. I wonder if Putin is the strongman of Russia....?

Photo
1 of 1Full Size

By Guy Faulconbridge

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was feted by Russian media on Sunday for saving a television crew from an attack by a Siberian tiger in the wilds of the Far East.

Putin, taking a break from lambasting the West over Georgia, apparently saved the crew while on a trip to a national park to see how researchers monitor the tigers in the wild.

Just as Putin was arriving with a group of wildlife specialists to see a trapped Amur tiger, it escaped and ran towards a nearby camera crew, the country's main television station said. Putin quickly shot the beast and sedated it with a tranquilizer gun.

"Vladimir Putin not only managed to see the giant predator up close but also saved our television crew too," a presenter on Rossiya television said at the start of the main evening news.

The 55-year-old former KGB spy, who cultivated a macho image during his eight years as the Kremlin chief, was shown striding through the taiga in camouflage and desert boots before grappling with the feline foe.

Beastie Boys

Why do alternative stations insist on still playing the Beastie Boys? They were terrible when they were new, and their music has aged far worst than most, to the point like it now sounds like a cross between a bad McDonalds commercial, Vanilla Ice, and an SNL skit. Except its not funny.

Long Term Call: SNDK

With the Jan 2010 C call already making a fair return (but who really cares at this point, it will be in year that it will be really worth something), I have decided to expand the strategy, as the 2010 options are surprisingly cheap for what you get. SNDK (San Disk) I am now going long on. I took a dip on these last fall before selling out at stop loss, but I think they have bottomed out or are close to it. Its a pretty volatile stock, but I think that the universal move to flash storage and away from spinning platters, along with the increasing use of flash in cameras, cellphones, smartphones, camcorders, laptops etc will mean this company will continue to do well. Most of its value is in its patents and royalties, but the retail side is also pretty strong, with it as the 2nd largest US mp3 company.
.YSDAECALL-SANDISK CORP JAN 25 01/16/2010

1.61

Tramdock: wow

Amazing..

Lord of The Rings Alternate Version

Hrm blogger does not like animated gifs.... this is too funnt though, will have to find another way..

Avoid that RFID Tag

Credit Cards, Passports, Drivers Licenses, pretty much everything is going to come with a RFID tag. And that means more convenience right? It also makes it a damn sight easier to steal all of your info... and to that effect, Mythbusters was going to do an episode on RFID security (and how it sucks) until lawyers from all the major credit card companies shut it down. Mayhaps the legal fees would be better redirected to coming up with moderately reliable encryption..

Google browser

Coming tuesday ---- Chrome. A new web-browser from Google (of all people). Since there always seemed to be a pretty close tie between Mozilla (firefox) and Google, I find this one kind of odd, but nevertheless, a beta will be out in a couple days.

tramdock.com

Backcountry.com, basically my favorite place, has really been expanding out its one-at-a-time sales sites. First there was steepandcheap, then there was whiskeymilitia (snowboarding), then chainlove (biking), but us skiers still had to wait and hope for stuff to show up on steepandcheap.... but no longer.

Tramdock.com, which used to be just a site that sold the ski-gear of backcountry.com (kind of a dumb idea really) is now a SAC for skiiers. w00t w00t!! Hell yeah!!!

100 Ugliest Cars

As voted on by readers of the Telegraph over in the UK. Which makes it pretty Euro-focused, but highly entertaining. I completely disagree with some choices (the new Range Rover and the Chrysler 300 come to mind) but a good quick read. Best of the lot (and not to spoil the top pick) is this:

5 - Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayenne

A masterclass in engineering… but this predominantly V8-engined SUV solves all kinds of problems that don't exist. That said, it does have the ability to tear along at 140mph in areas that don't yet have speed cameras (fields, the River Spey, Ben Nevis, Blackpool beach – that kind of thing).