7.24.2014

Sodastream Option Pop



Sodastream trader makes 3,000% profit in 2 hours

Excerpt:

Two minutes before 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, one options trader bought 500 weekly 30-strike calls in Sodastream for 15 cents each (or $15 per contract, given that each contract controls 100 shares) that expire Friday. It was by far the biggest Sodastream trade of the day in terms of the number of contracts. The purchase gives the trader the right to buy Sodastream shares for $30 at the close of Friday trading. The reason those options were so inexpensive is that the stock was trading at about $29.50 at the time, meaning the chance of the stock closing Friday above $30 was considered to be especially low. But then, shortly before noon, Bloomberg reported that the company is in talks with an investment firm about taking the company private. After a halt, the stock sailed as high as $36. The news created an instant windfall for the trader, as these options, which were bought for $7,500, became worth as much as $250,000.
Comment: Jimmy does not do options . Image

7.23.2014

Raqqa: Christian Life in a Caliphate



In a Syrian City, ISIS Puts Its Vision Into Practice

Excerpt:

Raqqa’s three churches, once home to an active Christian minority, have all been shuttered. After capturing the largest, the Armenian Catholic Martyrs Church, ISIS removed its crosses, hung black flags from its facade and converted it into an Islamic center that screens videos of battles and suicide operations to recruit new fighters. The few Christians who remain pay a minority tax of a few dollars per month. When ISIS’s religious police officers patrol to make sure shops close during Muslim prayers, the Christians must obey, too. The religious police have banned public smoking of cigarettes and water pipes – a move that has dampened the city’s social life, forcing cafes to close. They also make sure that women cover their hair and faces in public. A university professor from Raqqa said ISIS gunmen recently stopped a bus heading to Damascus when they found one woman on board insufficiently covered. They held the bus up for an hour and a half until she went home and changed, the professor said. More pragmatically, ISIS has managed to keep food in markets, and bakeries and gas stations functioning. But it has had more trouble with drinking water and electricity, which is out for as much as 20 hours a day.
Comment: Image snip from Militant Islamist group in Syria orders Christians to pay tax for their protection Excerpt:

A militant Islamist group has demanded Christians living in the north-east of Syria pay it a tax in return for protection as it seeks to build a traditional "Caliphate" in areas it controls. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) published the terms under which minorities could live under its rule in a statement on the internet. "Christians are obligated to pay Jizya tax on every adult male to the value of four golden dinars for the wealthy, half of that for middle-income citizens and half of that for the poor," their decree said. "They must not hide their status, and can pay in two instalments per year." Four dinars would amount to just over half an ounce of gold, worth £435 at current prices. In return, Christians will not be harmed and will be allowed to worship privately, maintain their own clergy without interference and keep their own cemeteries, it added. They are implicitly allowed to continue drinking alcohol and eating pork, but may not do so publicly or trade them with Muslims. Nor may they build or renovate churches, or display the cross.
Comment: Map source


The Annual Mayfly Gross-Out in Radar

Wisconsin Is Getting Smothered by Millions of Gross, Horny Flies

Comment: Image from the article. Many gross photos in the article. The upper midwest version of Florida's lovebug. More on: The mayfly’s lifecycle: a fascinating, fleeting story
The mayfly’s lifecycle is one of the most fascinating and fleeting stories in the natural world. One of the many charactersistics that makes mayflies the unique insects they are is the potential for two different winged adult forms in their life cycle. The nymph emerges from the water as a dull-coloured sub-imago (or dun) that seeks shelter in bankside vegetation and trees. After a period of a couple of hours or more, the sub-imago once again sheds its skin to transform into the brightly coloured imago (or spinner). It is not clear why mayflies have retained this unique step in their lifecycle, however it is thought that they may not be able to achieve the change from nymph to sexually mature adult in one step. A mayfly’s life cycle starts with the males forming a swarm above the water and the females flying into the swarm to mate. The male grabs a passing female with its elongated front legs and the pair mate in flight. After copulation, the male releases the female, which then descends to the surface of the water where she lays her eggs. Once mated she will fall, spent, onto the water surface to lie motionless, with her wings flat on the surface, where fish pick them off at their leisure. The male fly rarely returns to the water but instead he goes off to die on the nearby land. The eggs fall to the bottom of the water where they stick to plants and stones. Flies of the Mayfly family Baetidae pull themselves under the water to attach their eggs directly to the bed before being drowned by the current. The nymphs take anything between a few days to a number of weeks to hatch depending on water conditions and the species, and the resultant nymphs will spend various lengths of time, up to two years, foraging on the bottom before emerging as an adult fly. When it is time to emerge, the nymphs make their way to the surface where they pull themselves free of their nymphal shuck and emerge as a sub-imago. While they rest here to dry their newly exposed wings, they are at their most vulnerable to attack from fish. Some species exhibit great synchronicity in their hatching. The North American species Hexagenia limbata hatches in huge numbers from the Mississippi every year. The total number of mayflies in this hatch are estimated to be around 18 trillion – more than 3,000 times the number of people on earth. The newly emerged insects are attracted to lights in riverside towns and villages and the local authorities deploy snow clearing vehicle to remove their rotting corpses. Ironically, what is seen as a nuisance in America is seen as a gift in Africa. Locals around Lake Victoria gather adults of the mayfly Povilla adusta together with Chironomid midges to make a type of patty called ‘Kungu’. This protein rich food stuff is an important part of their diet.

Miguel Panduwinata's haunting premonition about Malaysia Airlines Flight 17



A haunting premonition: 'What will happen if the airplane crashes?' asks boy boarding MH17

Excerpt:

In a bedroom in a townhouse near Amsterdam, Miguel Panduwinata reached out for his mother. "Mama, may I hug you?" Samira Calehr wrapped her arms around her 11-year-old son, who'd been oddly agitated for days, peppering her with questions about death, about his soul, about God. The next morning, she would drop Miguel and his big brother Shaka at the airport so they could catch Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the first leg of their journey to Bali to visit their grandmother. Her normally cheerful, well-traveled boy should have been excited. His silver suitcase sat in the living room, ready to go. Jetskiing and surfing in paradise awaited. But something was off. A day earlier, while playing soccer, Miguel had burst out: "How would you choose to die? What would happen to my body if I was buried? Would I not feel anything because our souls go back to God?" And now, the night before his big trip, Miguel refused to release his mother from his grasp. He's just going to miss me, Calehr told herself. So she stretched out beside him and held him all night. It was 11 p.m. on Wednesday, July 16. Miguel, Shaka and the 296 other people aboard Flight 17 had about 15 hours left to live. The next morning, Samira Calehr and her friend Aan ushered her sons onto the train to the airport. They were joking and laughing. Shaka, 19, had just finished his first year of college, where he was studying textile engineering, and promised to keep an eye on Miguel. Their other brother, Mika, 16, hadn't been able to get a seat on Flight 17 and would travel to Bali the next day. At the check-in counter, Calehr fussed over her boys' luggage. Shaka, meanwhile, realized he'd forgotten to pack socks. Calehr promised to buy him some and send them along with Mika. Finally, they were outside customs. The boys hugged Calehr goodbye and walked toward passport control. Suddenly, Miguel whirled around and ran back, throwing his arms around his mother. "Mama, I'm going to miss you," he said. "What will happen if the airplane crashes?"
Comment: Image capture from article. Another article with more about other victims. My view. Get the questions answered early in life: "What will happen when I die?" and then live life having trusted Christ and not worrying about it.

Stripes the New Orange



Sheriff buys jail jumpsuits after orange becomes 'cool'

Excerpt:
"It's because as you see shows on television, like 'Orange Is The New Black,' some people think it's cool to look like an inmate of the Saginaw County Jail with wearing all-orange jumpsuits out at the mall or in public," Federspiel says, referring to the Netflix drama. "It's a concern because we do have our inmates out sometimes doing work in the public, and I don't want anyone to confuse them or have them walk away. "We decided that the black-and-white stripes would be the best way to go because it signifies 'jail inmate,' and I don't see people out there wanting to wear black-and-white stripes."
Comment: I could like! They are reasonably priced at "$11.73 per jumpsuit" and last "two to three years"

7.22.2014

The New Breakfast



As Cereal Slips, a New Battle Over Breakfast Dollars - Kellogg Gets Squeezed by McDonald's, Taco Bell as Tastes Shift to High-Protein Foods

Excerpt:

... as consumers back away from cereal to experiment with more protein-rich foods, their habits remain otherwise entrenched: most Americans still eat breakfast at home and follow morning routines more rigid than during the rest of the day. "People are time-pressed in the morning and know exactly where they're going, and that doesn't vary much," said Alex Macedo, Burger King's North American president, in a recent interview. That chain claims 2.8% of the $47 billion spent each year on fast-food breakfasts in the U.S., according to brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. This year it started offering its value-menu items at breakfast and added burgers to the morning menu in an effort to boost sales. Many fast food and fast casual restaurant chains smell opportunity around breakfast. Of consumers who eat out at least twice a week, 30% say they do so for breakfast, compared with 40% for lunch and 50% for dinner, according to Bernstein.
Comment: See "How We Eat Breakfast - By the Numbers". Our daily breakfast M-F is Cherrios for Kathee and Grape Nuts for me. Saturday is pancakes. Sunday is single fried egg with English muffin.

Hamas: On Asymmetry in Warfare and Civilian Cannon Fodder

Hamas's Civilian Death Strategy - Gazans shelter terrorists and their weapons in their homes, right beside sofas and dirty diapers.

Excerpt:

Let's state the obvious: No one likes to see dead children. Well, that's not completely true: Hamas does. They would prefer those children to be Jewish, but there is greater value to them if they are Palestinian. Outmatched by Israel's military, handicapped by rocket launchers with the steady hands of Barney Fife, Hamas is playing the long game of moral revulsion. With this conflict about to enter its third week, winning the PR war is the best Hamas can hope to achieve. Their weapon of choice, however, seems to be the cannon fodder of their own people, performing double duty in also sounding the drumbeat of Israeli condemnation. If you can't beat Iron Dome, then deploy sacrificial children as human shields. Civilian casualties will continue to mount. The evolving story will focus on the collateral damage of Palestinian lives. Israel's moral dilemma will receive little attention. Each time the ledgers of relative loss are reported, world public opinion will turn against the Jewish state and box Israel into an even tighter corner of the Middle East. All the ordinary rules of warfare are upended in Gaza. Everything about this conflict is asymmetrical—Hamas wears no uniforms and they don't meet Israeli soldiers on battlefields. With the exception of kaffiyeh scarves, it isn't possible to distinguish a Hamas militant from a noncombatant pharmacist. In Vietnam, the U.S. military learned guerrilla warfare in jungles. In Gaza, the Jewish state has had to adapt to the altogether surreal terrain of apartment complexes and schoolhouses. There are now reports that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are transporting themselves throughout Gaza in ambulances packed with children. Believe it or not, a donkey laden with explosives detonated just the other day. The asymmetry is complicated even further by the status of these civilians. Under such maddening circumstances, are the adults, in a legal and moral sense, actual civilians? To qualify as a civilian one has to do more than simply look the part. How you came to find yourself in such a vulnerable state matters. After all, when everyone is wearing casual street clothing, civilian status is shared widely. The people of Gaza overwhelmingly elected Hamas, a terrorist outfit dedicated to the destruction of Israel, as their designated representatives. Almost instantly Hamas began stockpiling weapons and using them against a more powerful foe with a solid track record of retaliation. What did Gazans think was going to happen? Surely they must have understood on election night that their lives would now be suspended in a state of utter chaos. Life expectancy would be miserably low; children would be without a future. Staying alive would be a challenge, if staying alive even mattered anymore. To make matters worse, Gazans sheltered terrorists and their weapons in their homes, right beside ottoman sofas and dirty diapers. When Israel warned them of impending attacks, the inhabitants defiantly refused to leave.
Comment: A reminder that the US Government regards Hamas as a terrorist organization. Hamas' stated purpose is the destruction of Israel. : "On the Destruction of Israel: 'Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.' (Preamble)". Reminder that Hamas has lit off 1600 rockets towards civilians in Israel. A reminder that Hamas broke with Fatah (who would make peace)

CIT dives into the adult pool (joins "big boy" club")





CIT Group to Buy OneWest; Profit Tops Estimates - Deal with IMB Holdco, OneWet's Parent Company, To Bump CIT's Assets to $67 Billion

Excerpt:

CIT Group Inc. agreed to buy OneWest Bank NA's parent company for $3.4 billion in the largest bank acquisition announced so far this year. The cash-and-stock deal with IMB Holdco LLC, which is OneWest's parent company, will bump CIT's assets up to $67 billion, making the bank large enough to be considered "systemically important" by regulators. CIT, a lender to small and medium-size businesses, had $44.15 billion in assets as of June 30, CIT shares rose more than 10% in early trading as investors cheered the company's move, which will add deposits, a presence in California retail branch banking and a stable source of funding. "My first comment was wow," said Sterne Agee analyst Henry J. Coffey Jr. on CIT's earnings call. "This is incredible." CIT Chief Executive John Thain recently told investors he was looking for a significant deal so that his firm jump comfortably over the $50 billion level rather than edge over it by a bit. That is because the avalanche of regulations that comes with topping $50 billion isn't worth it without a significantly bigger earnings engine.
Comment: Love the typo (red box)

For Banks Near Cutoff, Bigger Isn't Necessarily Better - For Banks About to Grow Into 'Systemically Important' Designation, Size Brings a New Set of Headaches

Excerpt:


Mr. Ficalora is CEO of New York Community Bancorp, a lender in Westbury, N.Y., with $47.6 billion in assets as of the end of the first quarter. The bank is projected to reach the $50 billion mark by the end of the year if it continues to expand at its current rate. But with that milestone will come myriad headaches. Once the bank reports assets of more than $50 billion on average for four quarters in a row, NYCB, as it is known, will be large enough to be considered "systemically important" by regulators. That status will require it to comply with stiff rules on capital, submit to yearly "stress tests" and create a road map to wind down the bank in the event of a crisis, moves that will add to its costs. As a result, Mr. Ficalora says NYCB is restraining its lending growth, since loans amount to assets. The rule characterizing bank holding companies over $50 billion as systemically important is part of the regulatory overhaul that followed the financial crisis and is aimed at keeping a closer eye on banks whose potential problems could endanger the broader financial system.
Comment:  Images snipped from articles. NYCB has a 6.4% dividend! Interesting





The end of Obamacare? Subsidies on Federal Exchanges invalidated



Court Deals Blow to Health-Law Subsidies on Federal Exchanges - Ruling Is Major Setback to Implementation of Affordable Care Act

Excerpt:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on a 2-1 vote, invalidated an Internal Revenue Service regulation that implemented a key piece of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The regulation said subsidies for health insurance were available to qualifying middle- and low-income consumers whether they bought coverage on a state exchange or one run by the federal government. The ruling potentially could cripple the law by making subsidies unavailable in as many as 36 states where the federal government has run some or all of the insurance exchanges. The court sided with challengers, four individuals and three employers, who argued the health law allowed subsidies only for insurance purchases made through state exchanges. The issue became an important one after the law was enacted because more than two-thirds of the states chose not to set up their own exchanges, relying on federally-run exchanges instead. The appeals court's opinion, by Judge Thomas Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee, acknowledged that the decision has "major consequences," but the court said the IRS rule wasn't a permissible interpretation of the health law. Both judges in the majority were appointed by Republican presidents.
Comment: Image source (and these movies used to really scare me!). Perhaps had anyone read the law before they passed it ...!!!

7.21.2014

Vladimir Putin: A bully then ... a bully now!





Why Putin Is Willing to Take Big Risks in Ukraine

Excerpt:

"I think [Russia's] goal is a weak and divided Ukraine, and a bigger goal is a weak and divided Europe—a weak and divided EU," says Robert Hormats, under secretary of state in the first Obama term. Moreover, to the extent a country such as Poland prospers, he adds, "it creates a very, very stark contrast to the troubled economic prospects in Russia" itself. Mr. Putin had to move quickly to reverse those trends, for he is at a moment of relative but passing strength. Today, Western Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas gives him some economic leverage. As Europe has gobbled up more of Mr. Putin's gas, EU trade with Russia has tripled in value over the last decade. This Russian economic advantage doesn't figure to last; eventually, Europe will wean itself away from its dependence on Russian carbon fuels. But for now, Mr. Putin must have calculated, he could make his play in Ukraine and face a muted Western response. And if that was his calculation, he was mostly correct. Business interests, not just in Europe but in the U.S., have resisted toughening economic sanctions. Perhaps the downing of an airliner has changed that; we'll learn more at a meeting of EU leaders Tuesday. This also explains why Poland looks with alarm at Russian bullying of Ukraine, and at the Western response so far. Poland knows from history that it is vulnerable to being yanked back toward the east, so it seeks more help from the Western club to which it now belongs. "The crisis in Ukraine could have been prevented," Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said in an interview with German journalists published over the weekend. "Europe has done too little to influence Russia's behavior in the different stages of the conflict. When a Russian trade boycott against Ukraine was imposed last year to punish it for its European course, I pleaded with my colleagues to take action." If the West had moved then, he added, today's "escalation" probably would have been avoided. If Poland is indeed the success story, it's a particularly troubling note for President Barack Obama that a Polish magazine last month quoted Mr. Sikorski as saying, in a leaked tape of a private conversation, that Poland's defense ties to the U.S. were "worthless."
Comment: HT for image / AND you can't make this stuff up ... check out his campaign site / translate the image from Russian to English!

9225 Medicine Lake Road, Golden Valley



9225 Medicine Lake Road, Golden Valley

Comments:

  • Visited yesterday afternoon
  • Nice but not spectacular. 
  • Needs paint and carpet. 
  • Extra parking spot would be $ 10K
  • Based upon Zillow looks like the price should be between $ 165 to $ 200K. I estimate it could be had for $ 185K.  

7.17.2014

Vladimir Putin and the Buk Launcher - Blood on his hands!




Malaysian Airlines Jet Shot Down By Missile Near Ukraine-Russia Border
Image sources: Putin, Buk Launcher. Others agree with my conclusion

How Major Tech Firms Failed to Appreciate the iPhone's Potential



Apple competitors still smarting from iPhone blow

Excerpt:

Back in January 2007, when Jobs first showed the new device, he pitched it as a combination phone, music player and Internet communicator. But competitors including Microsoft's (MSFT) then-CEO Steve Ballmer and Motorola's former CEO Ed Zander could barely contain their disdain. "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share," Ballmer said of the lineup that has since sold more than 500 million devices.
Comment: Image source .... one of many in Apple IPhone's history in pictures. I was an early crtic of the IPad ... now I've had one for 3 years. I was critical of the costs of smart phone connectivity. Today I have an IPhone with me at all times (and pay nearly $ 100 a month for that connectivity). I hardly use it as a phone ... mostly as: a computer, and a navigation device. Not so much as a camera either. My next one will probably be an IPhone 7 (skipping the 6)

7.16.2014

Kia Optima / Ford Fusion: Twins separated at birth?

I have a good eye for cars. This week as a car passed on our left I said to Kathee, "check out this Kia Optima". Turns out it was a Ford Fusion. Top Image is the Kia ... bottom is the Fusion. They are just about the same in specifications too.


Bad Day at Black[berry] Rock



Did Apple and IBM just kill BlackBerry?

Excerpt:

Apple (AAPL) and IBM (IBM) announced a partnership that will let Big Blue offer souped-up iPhones and IPads to corporate customers. Shares of BlackBerry (BBRY) plunged nearly 12% Wednesday on the news
Comment: Image Source. What I've learned about Blackberry at work: workers don't want them! When I replaced my company phone this year, I was offered (and it was pushed hard!) a Blackberry. I took a dumb phone instead. Upper execs have IPhones. I use my own personal IPhone for business calls when out of office.

7.15.2014

Meet Lsjbot - author of 10,000 new Wikipedia articles - in a single day



For This Author, 10,000 Wikipedia Articles Is a Good Day's Work

Excerpt:

Sverker Johansson could be the most prolific author you've never heard of. Volunteering his time over the past seven years publishing to Wikipedia, the 53-year-old Swede can take credit for 2.7 million articles, or 8.5% of the entire collection, according to Wikimedia analytics, which measures the site's traffic. His stats far outpace any other user, the group says. He has been particularly prolific cataloging obscure animal species, including butterflies and beetles, and is proud of his work highlighting towns in the Philippines. About one-third of his entries are uploaded to the Swedish language version of Wikipedia, and the rest are composed in two versions of Filipino, one of which is his wife's native tongue. An administrator holding degrees in linguistics, civil engineering, economics and particle physics, he says he has long been interested in "the origin of things, oh, everything." It isn't uncommon, however, for Wikipedia purists to complain about his method. That is because the bulk of his entries have been created by a computer software program—known as a bot. Critics say bots crowd out the creativity only humans can generate. Mr. Johansson's program scrubs databases and other digital sources for information, and then packages it into an article. On a good day, he says his "Lsjbot" creates up to 10,000 new entries. On Wikipedia, any registered user can create an entry. Mr. Johansson has to find a reliable database, create a template for a given subject and then launch his bot from his computer. The software program searches for information, then publishes it to Wikipedia.
Comment: Click link in article for Swedish article on LsjBot.

Louis Comfort Tiffany's "The Tree of Life"


Comments: Louis Comfort Tiffany. Categorized as "one less thing to move" our small replica crashed and shattered when window washers placed a ladder against a window and rattled it off the window sill and onto the floor. I ahd bought it for Kathee for an anniversary some years ago. Meanwhile maybe the next time I'll buy her a bigger one