Sean King

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San Juan, Puerto Rico, United States

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

China is a Bubble

The interesting part starts about 1 minute and 10 seconds in:

This should serve as fair warning to those who think that a little more "central planning" can prevent bubbles.

(I'm not sure why it takes the likes of Al Jazeera to get the word out.)

California Dreamin'

California's dire and ongoing budget predicament is raising a tough - and touchy - question about the state's finances, one that some at the Capitol do not want discussed: Is California bankrupt?

Why Am I Not Surprised?

More than 70 percent of congressional offices violate OSHA safety standards.

When Will New Home Sales Stop Declining?

When economists stop being surprised by their decline:

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that new home sales dropped 11.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 309,000 units, the lowest level on records going back nearly a half century. The big drop was a surprise to economists who were expecting a 5 percent increase over December's pace.

"Tops" occur when everyone starts to think that an asset will appreciate forever (think real estate circa 2006), and "bottoms" occur when everyone becomes convinced that an asset will fall in value forever. So long as economists are regularly surprised by real estate's decline, we are no where near a bottom.

Son of Hamas founder spied for Israel for more than a decade


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Politics of Archaeology.

Christian Pedophiles
A 49-year-old Bible teacher has been charged with child rape after allegedly having sex over the past six months with a 15-year-old student at Auburn Adventist Academy in Auburn.

King County prosecutors charged Scott Allen Spies on Thursday with third-degree child rape and two counts of first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor.

Wanna Live Longer?

Stop driving.

Another Prediction of Evolution Confirmed
Evolutionary biologists have long predicted that natural selection should favour extending the lifespan of animals that live relatively safe lifestyles.

In fact, birds and bats, whose ability to fly helps them escape from predators, do have particularly long lives.

Like fliers, tree-dwelling mammals can easily escape many predators.

According to a report in New Scientist, to see if this might also help them live longer, biological anthropologists Milena Shattuck and Scott Williams at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign gathered data on the lifespans of 776 species representing all the major groups of mammals.

They discovered that the maximum lifespans of tree-dwellers were almost twice those of terrestrial species of similar sizes.

Passing the Buck

BMW lays off the longevity risk associated with its pension plan to Deutsche Bank.

Big Brother is Watching?
The U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI said on Monday that both agencies are pursuing an inquiry about allegations that Pennsylvania's Lower Merion School District activated Web cams on notebook computers issued to students at Harriton High School.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

If The Private Sector Had Done This...

...people would be going to jail:

The crisis stalking the euro economy began with a footnote.

When the European Union predicted in 1997 that Italy’s budget deficit would exceed the threshold to qualify for the single currency, it buried in the fine print the observation that with “additional measures” the Italians could pass.

They did, thanks to a one-time tax and a yen-denominated swap. It was an early example of the balance-sheet fiddling deployed since then by countries eager to share the benefits of a $13-trillion market and lower borrowing costs, yet unwilling to cede control over their budgets, wages and welfare systems.

Now Greece, by setting a standard for fiscal creativity, has exposed the flaws in Europe’s hybrid of monetary union and fiscal indiscipline. The crisis risks extending the euro’s 6 percent slide against the dollar this year, its expansion into eastern Europe and its prospects to challenge the dollar as an international reserve currency.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The prices of US goods and services, excluding food and fuel, fell last month for the first time since 1982 as aggressive measures to stimulate economic growth failed to inflate the cost of living.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More On the Importance of Vitamin D
Adding to its growing list of health benefits, researchers have determined vitamin D can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes in the middle-aged and seniors by approximately 43%.

People Are Taking Notice of the Looming Demographic Crisis... Nova Scotia and Canada in general. I wonder when the US will wake up and smell the coffee?

UPDATE:> This issue is getting some attention in the UK too.

Bright Light Equals Good Sleep
Riding in school buses in the early morning, then sitting in poorly lighted classrooms are the main reasons students have trouble getting to sleep at night, according to new research.

Teenagers, like everyone else, need bright lights in the morning, particularly in the blue wavelengths, to synchronize their inner, circadian rhythms with nature's cycles of day and night.

Pot Can Be Good For You
The first U.S. clinical trials in more than 20 years on the medical efficacy of marijuana found that pot helps relieve pain and muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and certain neurological conditions, according to a report released Wednesday by a UC research center.

The results of five state-funded scientific clinical trials came 14 years after California voters passed a law approving marijuana for medical use and more than 10 years after the state Legislature passed a law that created the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego, which conducted the studies.

I expect it will be legal in many states by the end of this decade.

The States are Even More in Debt Than We Have Supposed
U.S. states must contend with a more than $1 trillion gap between what they have saved and what they have promised to retired workers for pension and health-care benefits, the Pew Center on the States said in a report today.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What If?

Bob Drogin:
The crisis began when college basketball fans downloaded a free March Madness application to their smart phones. The app hid spyware that stole passwords, intercepted e-mails and created havoc.

Soon 60 million cellphones were dead. The Internet crashed, finance and commerce collapsed, and most of the nation's electric grid went dark. White House aides discussed putting the Army in American cities.

That, spiced up with bombs and hurricanes, formed the doomsday scenario when 10 former White House advisors and other top officials joined forces Tuesday in a rare public cyber war game designed to highlight the potential vulnerability of the nation's digital infrastructure to crippling attack.

The results were hardly reassuring.

Aspirin Really is a Wonder Drug
A new study suggests aspirin reduces the odds of death in breast cancer survivors.

The Nurses' Health Study conducted the research, following 41,064 female nurses who were diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.

The nurses who took the aspirin, usually to protect against heart disease, were 50 percent less likely to have the cancer spread. They were also 50 percent less likely to die from breast cancer.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When government controls health care...

... it controls everything. Witness the UK:

Up to 2.5 million years of life are being lost in England to those people dying prematurely each year, according to a new report.
The gap between the lifestyles of the rich and poor is having a major impact on the chances of living a healthy life, it suggested.
Life expectancy for the worst off has improved in the last decade - by an extra 2.9 years - but more needs to be done, said Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who led the Government-ordered review.
The report said: "Reducing health inequalities is a matter of fairness and social justice. In England, the many people who are currently dying prematurely each year as a result of health inequalities would otherwise have enjoyed, in total, between 1.3 and 2.5 million extra years of life."
The report called for an overhaul in some areas, including the income tax system. It said action is needed in six key areas, including giving every child the best start in life, creating fair employment and encouraging people into work, and working to prevent people falling ill in the first place.
One recommendation is for parents to be at home in the first year of a child's life, perhaps by the mother taking six months of paid leave, followed by six months for the father.
The report also calls for an overall increase in the amount of money spent supporting children in the first few years of life. Other recommendations are for more work-based learning schemes alongside closer links between schools, families and the community.

Once the government becomes responsible for your health, it becomes responsible for your life.