Saturday, May 5, 2012

SAR #12126

Americans are incredibly short-sighted when it comes to money, politics and health care...

Día de los Muertos: At dawn, 9 bodies showing signs of torture were found hanging from a a bridge on a major highway in Nuevo Laredo. Later in the day, 14 headless corpses were discovered in a van abandoned in the parking lot of the Association of Customs Agents of Neuvo Laredo. Corresponding heads were found in coolers left near the US border. Foul play is suspected.

Golden Years: Half a million Americans left the labor force in April, while the labor force participation rate – at 64.3% - reached a 30 year low. Ah, early retirement.

At Your Service - Or Not: The latest GDP data shows the service sector of the US economy growing, if that's the term, at an annual rate of only 1.2%. Before the recession began in 2007, services had never grown at less than a 4.2% annual rate. Services make up well over 80% of the 70% of GDP that is consumer spending.

Slip Sliding Away: In the last 10 years, Americans have revised their target age for retirement from 60 to 67. In 1996, 45% of workers in the 60-64 age group were working; today that's grown to 55%. Similar increases have happened in older age groups, with even the 70-74 year workers increasing from 12% to 20% .

Beneath Contempt: I believe in anthropogenic climate change and haven't killed anyone. Yet.

Garrison Was Wrong: All the children are not above average, not in Lake Woebegone and not in your town. A couple are extraordinary and the rest just scrape by. The bell curve that we were forced into in school turns out to be a bad fit - new research says that just a few are exceptional and those few drag up the scores for the rest of us. It's called a power distribution and - on average - you wouldn't understand the explanation.

Essay Question: What happens when oil becomes unaffordable? Extra credit for contriving a happy ending, given the rather direct relationship between fossil fuel consumption and economic activity.

Margin Notes: Analysis of the production costs for the 50 largest listed oil producers shows that costs grew in 2011 at 26% y/y, far above the ten-year average. Unit cost is now at $35.99/bbl and the marginal cost (the most expensive to produce) was up 11% to $92/bbl. The production cost for the marginal barrels plays a big role in world oil prices.

Vive la Difference: Noam Chomsky says, "The United States and Europe are committing suicide in different ways, but both doing it.” The European's prefer slashing spending and cutting social benefits, while the Americans put cutting social benefits first. Both have the goal of doing away with the long-established social contract between the rulers and the ruled.

Hot Enough For You? Our recent warm weather has convinced 63% of the ever-fickle American public to endorse regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Shh, don't tell them that weather does not equal climate; let them think of it as previews.

Boogeyman: The Economist has declared that Hollande's election will doom Europe to the Dark Ages because he “genuinely believes in the need to create a fairer society”. No wonder we're doomed.

Night Watch: In addition to having our phones constantly monitored (no warrant needed), our emails intercepted (no warrant needed) and our internet use recorded (no warrant needed), the police following us through our cell phones (no warrant needed) and retailers tracking our every purchase (no warrant needed), now come the drones. Imagine what our friends in Homeland Security can do with the hummingbird drone, than can fly through a window and around the house, transmitting everything it sees along the way.


CKMichaelson said...
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Rick said...

In re the distribution of individual performance, it's been long known in my field of software development that among experienced individuals (not comparing new grads with those with experience) there is at least an order of magnitude difference(1) in performance. That's a 1000% and not too surprisingly there's not that kind of range in compensation.

1) Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering by Robert L. Glass