5.21.2017

Investing with the "Dogs of the Dow"



Dog Steps

Excerpt:

Investing in the Dogs of the Dow is relatively simple. After the stock market closes on the last day of the year, of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average, select the ten stocks which have the highest dividend yield. Then simply get in touch with your broker and invest an equal dollar amount in each of these ten high yield stocks. Then hold these ten "Dogs of the Dow" for one year. Repeat these steps each and every year. That's it!
Comment: The 2017 "Dogs"


Not my strategy but interesting. I recently sold 100 IBM and replaced with 100 AAPL. Not keen on CAT or KO. I would pick DE over CAT and PEP over KO


“Take up and read; Take up and read“ - but not just "any book"



Peggy Noonan's Commencement Speech, 128th Annual Commencement, Upper Church, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, May 13, 2017

Excerpt:

But tomorrow put down the smart phone, put aside the internet of things, find the real and actual THING of things. Read and be taken away in a way that enriches, that strengthens, that makes you smarter, more serious, more worthy.

Keep it up. Pass it on. If your generation doesn't, it will disappear.

Civilization depends on it.

And so ends my chance to give you the advice the singing schoolchild made, unknowingly, to a bright, semi-wayward young man who would become a great one. "Pick up the book, take up the book" the schoolchild sang. And the man who would become St Augustine did, and changed himself, and changed our world.
The Confessions of Saint Augustine

Excerpt:

So was I speaking and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighbouring house a voice, as of boy or girl, I know not, chanting, and oft repeating, “Take up and read; Take up and read. “ Instantly, my countenance altered, I began to think most intently whether children were wont in any kind of play to sing such words: nor could I remember ever to have heard the like. So checking the torrent of my tears, I arose; interpreting it to be no other than a command from God to open the book, and read the first chapter I should find. For I had heard of Antony, that coming in during the reading of the Gospel, he received the admonition, as if what was being read was spoken to him: Go, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me: and by such oracle he was forthwith converted unto Thee. Eagerly then I returned to the place where Alypius was sitting; for there had I laid the volume of the Apostle when I arose thence. I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on which my eyes first fell: Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, in concupiscence. No further would I read; nor needed I: for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away.

Then putting my finger between, or some other mark, I shut the volume, and with a calmed countenance made it known to Alypius. And what was wrought in him, which I knew not, he thus showed me. He asked to see what I had read: I showed him; and he looked even further than I had read, and I knew not what followed. This followed, him that is weak in the faith, receive; which he applied to himself, and disclosed to me. And by this admonition was he strengthened; and by a good resolution and purpose, and most corresponding to his character, wherein he did always very far differ from me, for the better, without any turbulent delay he joined me. Thence we go in to my mother; we tell her; she rejoiceth: we relate in order how it took place; she leaps for joy, and triumpheth, and blesseth Thee, Who are able to do above that which we ask or think; for she perceived that Thou hadst given her more for me, than she was wont to beg by her pitiful and most sorrowful groanings. For thou convertedst me unto Thyself, so that I sought neither wife, nor any hope of this world, standing in that rule of faith, where Thou hadst showed me unto her in a vision, so many years before. And Thou didst convert her mourning into joy, much more plentiful than she had desired, and in a much more precious and purer way than she erst required, by having grandchildren of my body.

Comment: “The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.”― Augustine of Hippo. I appreciate Peggy but she completely missed the context.

Aside: Her column in the WSJ this week is a good read: Democracy Is Not Your Plaything  - When the circus comes to Washington, it consumes everything, absorbs all energy

From Satellite Sebring to Buick LaCrosse




Half of today’s vehicles blow away the baddest rides of the 1970s. But the reasons are more complicated than you might think.

Excerpt:

If a 1976 driver were to somehow get his hands on a car from 2017, he’d be at grave risk of whiplash. Since those days, horsepower in the U.S. has almost doubled, with the median model climbing from 145 to 283 stallions. Not surprisingly, the entire U.S. fleet grew more game for a drag-race: The median time it took for a vehicle to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour was halved, from almost 14 seconds to seven.
Comment: I bought a 1973 Plymouth Satellite Sebring new in February 1973. As I recollect it was $ 4,200. It had a 400 cid  (6.55 liter) 185 hp engine. The LaCrosse has a 3.6 liter engine that generates 310 hp. About half the engine with about twice the hp. (and about 10 times the price, but the dollar isn't what it used to be!).

5.19.2017

Carfentanil arrives in the Twin Cities



Elephant tranquilizer carfentanil linked to 5 more overdose deaths in Minnesota

Excerpt:

Ten people in the Twin Cities metro have now died of overdoses related to carfentanil, a powerful opioid that is used as a tranquilizer for elephants and other large animals.

Authorities began warning people about carfentanil in March after it was revealed as the source of five overdose deaths. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner has now linked five additional overdose deaths to the drug.
Comment: Image source

How many American Atheists?



Way More Americans May Be Atheists Than We Thought

Excerpt:

The number of atheists in the U.S. is still a matter of considerable debate. Recent surveys have found that only about one in 10 Americans report that they do not believe in God, and only about 3 percent identify as atheist. But a new study suggests that the true number of atheists could be much larger, perhaps even 10 times larger than previously estimated.

... Atheists have been on the fringe for quite some time. They remain one of the country’s most disliked “religious” groups: Only 30 percent of Americans have a “warm” view of atheists. Research has also shown that even as America has grown increasingly accepting of religious diversity, atheists have been the exception.

Americans express a considerable degree of intolerance toward atheists. More than half of Americans believe atheists should not be allowed to put up public displays that celebrate their beliefs (for example, a banner highlighting Americans’ freedom from religion under the Bill of Rights). More than one-third believe atheists should be banned from becoming president, and similar numbers believe they should be denied the opportunity to teach in public schools or the right to hold a rally.

And therein lies the problem: The stigma attached to the atheist label may prevent Americans from claiming it or sharing their beliefs with others. In certain parts of the country, pressure to conform to prevailing religious practices and beliefs is strong. A reporter with The Telegraph writing from rural Virginia, for example, found that for many atheists, being closeted makes a lot of sense. “The stakes are high,” said a Virginia Tech graduate who was raised Christian but is now an atheist. “Do I want to be supported by my friends and family, or am I going to risk being kicked out of clubs and organizations? It’s tempting just to avoid the whole issue.”

The fear of coming out shows up in polling too. A 2016 PRRI survey found that more than one-third of atheists reported hiding their religious identity or beliefs from friends and family members out of concerns that they would disapprove.

... Despite the fears that some nonbelievers have about coming out, 60 percent of Americans report knowing an atheist. Ten years ago, less than half the public reported knowing an atheist. Today, young adults are actually more likely to know an atheist than an evangelical Christian. These personal connections play a crucial role in reducing negative feelings. A decline in stigma may also encourage more atheists to come out. This would allow us to provide a more accurate estimate of atheists in the U.S. — is it 3 percent, 10 percent, or 26 percent? — and could fundamentally change our understanding of the American religious landscape.

Comment: The bolded sentence in the last paragraph is unsettling

5.18.2017

Social Security Full Retirement Age: Patience is a Virtue




Retirement Planner: Full Retirement Age

The Benefits of Delaying


If you retire sometime between your full retirement age and age 70, you typically get a credit. For example, say you were born in 1944 and your full retirement age is 66. If you intend to take your benefits at age 68, you can get a credit of 8% per year multiplied by two (the number of years you waited). This makes your benefit 16% higher than the amount you would have received at age 66. You can also refer to your annual Social Security statement, which lists your projected benefits at age 62, full retirement age, and age 70. If you need a copy of your annual statement, you can request one from the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you feel like it will be difficult to wait, you're not alone. Even though most people would probably be better off delaying benefits, more than two-thirds of eligible workers take Social Security early.
Comment (what we did): I took my benefit at 66. We are delaying Kathee's until 70 (4 more years)

5.17.2017

JCP vs AMZN - a tale of two stocks


JCP vs AMZN over 20 years



Amazon’s 49,000% Gain: The Most ‘Super’ of ‘Superstocks’ Since 1926

Excerpt:

Finding the next Amazon.com, which first sold shares to the public 20 years ago this week, is hard. In fact, finding the last Amazon was hard, too. From 1926 through 2015, only 30 stocks accounted for one-third of the cumulative wealth generated by the entire U.S. stock market; Amazon was one.

That’s 30 out of a grand total of 25,782 companies that were publicly traded over that period.​ The search might not be completely futile, but many investors are going about it the wrong way. That’s because the average return of the stock market, and the return of the average stock in the market, are nothing alike. Even though the stock market generates positive average returns over time, more than half of all stocks lose money over their lives as public companies, and the number of stocks that make big money is astonishingly small. ...

Amazon beat the return on cash by an average of 36% annually through the end of 2015, the highest rate among any of the superstocks, his research finds. (Altria Group grew at a lower rate but, because it was around for all nine decades, increased investors’ money more than 2 million fold.) “How hard it is to envision how great a great company can become!” says James Anderson, a partner and senior investment manager at Baillie Gifford & Co., an Edinburgh-based firm that has owned Amazon stock since 2004 and is now the eighth-largest institutional holder of the shares. All that time, he recalls, Amazon offered “no earnings and no guidance,” which ensured that even as the stock rose over time, “there wasn’t an excess of enthusiasts or an absence of shorts” who were betting against it.
Comment:  JCP IPO'd on January 13th, 1978. AMZN: May 15, 2017 — is the 20th anniversary of Amazon.com Inc.'s (Nasdaq: AMZN Amazon.com Inc AMZN 944.76 -2.21% ) initial public offering (IPO). Those in the investment industry know that Amazon has been a hot stock for quite some time. However, this was not always the case. When Amazon first went public in 1997, its stock was priced at just $18 per share. From that modest beginning, the online retail giant has seen its stock skyrocket, despite a rocky period during the dot-com crash. In fact, if you had invested just $100 in Amazon's IPO, that investment would have been worth $63,990 by close last Friday. On the 20th anniversary of its IPO, the stock price opened at $958.68, slightly under the all time high the previous week at $962.

I have neither JC Penney nor Amazon. I can tell you that had I been investing 20 years ago, I wouldn't have given AMZN a second look. I could have bought it 5 years ago but passed. Missed opportunity!

The Market and Presidential Crisis



Here's what the stock market did during Watergate — and why

Excerpt:

Everyone these days seems to have one word on the tip of their tongues: Watergate. In the 1970s, the U.S. stock market endured one of the longest and most brutal bear markets in its history. After the Dow nearly topped 1,000 — topping out at 990 — for the first time in 1966, it would not regain this level on a closing basis until 1982. It would never trade below that level again.

In 1979, BusinessWeek famously published its cover declaring the “Death of Equities.” Inflation was running in double-digits while unemployment rose as “stagflation” riddled the economy.

In the months around Watergate, there was certainly political turmoil for investors to worry about, but the economic headwinds were far more problematic for the stock market, which endured one of its worst stretches in history. From the start of 1973 through Nixon’s resignation in August 1974, the S&P 500 fell about 50%. ...

Inflation ... was running in the double-digits. Consumer prices rose 3.6% from the prior year in January 1973. One year later, inflation was running at 9.6% year-on-year; by November 1974, inflation was up 12% year-on-year. Unemployment, meanwhile rose throughout 1974, eventually hitting 9% by May 1975.
Comment: We were kind of in the market then but not strongly and we bailed out completely. We had a brokerage account and had perhaps 100 shares of the Southern Company. I also had bought several hundred shares of a solar company called Alpha Solarco. It failed. We worked for IBM then and bought shares of IBM through a stock purchase plan. In the Fall of 1976 we sold all and used the proceeds  as a down payment on a house in Pittsburgh.

More: Impeachment of Trump "would blow the market away" (Jack Welch)

WSJ: Loose Lips Sink Presidencies

5.13.2017

Stephen Hopkins (Mayflower passenger)


  1. Stephen Hopkins, "Mayflower" Passenger d 1644 signer of the Mayflower Compact  Wiki article 
  2. Constance Snow, "Mayflower" Passenger d 1677 / husband Nicolas Snow
  3. Mary Snow d 1704 m Thomas Paine
  4. Mary Paine d before January 21, 1723 or 1724 / m2 = Israel Cole
  5. Hannah Cole d Feb 25, 1716 or 17 / married Samuel Higgins d 1761
  6. Israel Higgins d 1788 m Ruth (Mayo) Smith

  7. Israel Higgins, Jr. d 1793 m2 Elizabeth Aiken 

  8. William Higgins d 1846 m Abigail Strong

  9. Hugh Higgins d 1876 / m Eliza Osgood d 1860
  10. Ami Whitney Higgins d 1899 / m Henrietta Williams d 1908
  11. Albert Higgins d 1917 / m Sarah Rappleye d 1922
  12. Edna May Higgins d 1941 / m Charles Van Vrankin d 1946
  13. Beulah Van Vrankin d 1980 / m Basil Hayward d 1949
  14. Cleone Hayward d 2016 / m Alvah Peet d 1999

  15. Jim Peet b 1949 / m Kathleen White b 1951 / married 1974

5.12.2017

Millennial celebrates the jacking of his A4



Moral Relativist Applauds Ingenuity Of Man Who Just Stole His Car

Excerpt:

When self-described moral relativist and certified accountant John Hampson walked out of his local gym to discover his Audi A4 being stolen, onlookers expected him to charge the thief and attempt to stop the carjacking.

But Hampson doesn’t believe in objective moral standards, and so, acting in a manner consistent with his lack of beliefs in universal concepts of right and wrong, he merely began nodding in approval and clapping loudly for the man’s clever method of jimmying his car door lock, forcing the door open, popping the ignition, and starting the vehicle with a flat-head screwdriver.

“Man, this guy is good,” Hampson said. “Great job, dude! I applaud your willingness to take any action necessary for your own advancement at the expense of others. You’re the real hero, carjacker guy!” “I am completely unable to condemn your actions, so I congratulate you on your initiative and creative problem-solving in quickly and efficiently stealing my vehicle, bro!” he yelled.

As the man sped off in the car he had paid over $38,000 for, Hampson attempted to get the bewildered crowd that had gathered to join him in a standing ovation for the carjacker’s selfish behavior, which he called a “completely natural human instinct” that no one should condemn.
60% of Millennials Don't Believe in Right and Wrong

Excerpt:

A majority of young people now say that standards of right and wrong are changeable: In other words, the modern quest for relativism has been realized.

Esteemed philosophers like Plato and Aristotle insisted that children be trained in objective morality in order that they may grow up to be sound and rational thinkers:

“Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought. When the age for reflective thought comes, the pupil who has been thus trained in ‘ordinate affections’ or ‘just sentiments’ will easily find the first principles in Ethics; but to the corrupt man they will never be visible at all and he can make no progress in that science. Plato before him had said the same. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting and hateful. In the Republic, the well-nurtured youth is one ‘who would see most clearly whatever was amiss in ill-made works of man or ill-grown works of nature, and with a just distaste would blame and hate the ugly even from his earliest years and would give delighted praise to beauty, receiving it into his soul and being nourished by it, so that he becomes a man of gentle heart. All this before he is of an age to reason; so that when Reason at length comes to him, then, bred as he has been, he will hold out his hands in welcome and recognize her because of the affinity he bears to her.’”

Based on these thoughts, is it possible that we are experiencing such a dramatic decline in rational discourse because so many young people don’t have an objective standard of right and wrong on which to base their reasoning?
Comment: The first article is satire from the Babylon Bee. I changed several items (like the car) to catch the attention. The second article is not satire. For readers who have read this far, the following is important:



What makes wrong wrong?

Christians appeal to God as the establisher of right and wrong (as in the Decalogue):



[Philosophically consider] Aquinas's view of the claim that the natural law is an aspect of divine providence. The fundamental thesis affirmed ... by Aquinas is that the natural law is a participation in the eternal law. The eternal law, for Aquinas, is that rational plan by which all creation is ordered; the natural law is the way that the human being “participates” in the eternal law. While nonrational beings have a share in the eternal law only by being determined by it — their action nonfreely results from their determinate natures, natures the existence of which results from God's will in accordance with God's eternal plan — rational beings like us are able to grasp our share in the eternal law and freely act on it. It is this feature of the natural law that justifies, on Aquinas's view, our calling the natural law ‘law.’ For law, as Aquinas defines it, is a rule of action put into place by one who has care of the community; and as God has care of the entire universe, God's choosing to bring into existence beings who can act freely and in accordance with principles of reason is enough to justify our thinking of those principles of reason as law.
Douglas Groothuis observes:
[The problem for] Relativists [is that they] contradict themselves by their statements. Despite their relativism, they will issue universal and absolute moral imperatives, such as
  1. We should never affirm our own moral views as universal and absolute.
  2. Moral absolutists are absolutely wrong.
  3. Everyone should be a relativist.
None of these imperatives survives the acid bath of relativism. The terms never (1), absolutely (2), everyone (3) do not cohere logically with the rules laid down by relativism itself. Therefore, on relativistic grounds, statements 1-3 cannot be true. Whenever relativists make such statements, they show that their moral system is unlivable and contradictory, and therefore false.

Douglas Groothuis. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Kindle Locations 3574-3577). Kindle Edition.

What Sears and Fundamentalist Churches have in common




Edward Lampert: Sears' Troubles Are Everyone's Fault But Mine

Excerpt:

In a somewhat hard-to-believe interview with the Chicago Tribune, Lampert gave many reasons for the company’s continued downward spiral. His claim: he is going to “...[turn] Sears into a 21st-century merchant focused on catering to its best customers.” It remains a mystery how that will be supported after selling off iconic brands, running the company without a seasoned merchant at the helm, and spinning off parts of the business that actually added value (Lands End).

Yet Lampert seems to think he’s made great progress. In his own words, “We’re ahead of J.C. Penney, we’re ahead Macy’s, we’re ahead of Target in some aspects of where the world is going.” That would be true if where they’re all going is closing stores and selling off assets, but otherwise, it’s really hard to accept. Where’s the great product? Where’s the customer experience? Fellow analyst Cathy Hotka has repeatedly called the Sears Holdings situation “the world’s longest liquidation sale.” It’s very hard to disagree. 

It’s incomprehensible that one of the world’s largest retailers (No. 18 on Stores Magazine 2015 Top 100 Retailers list) is being run by someone with no retail experience whatsoever.

Retail is an industry that plays an enormous part in the U.S. economy. Having been involved in it for my whole life, I can tell you that “Retail’s different.” If you focus solely on selling to your best customers, you might never get any new ones. The best retailers find ways to increase the transaction size (called “market basket” in the trade) and shopping frequency of their average customers. Looked at slightly differently, as a former boss of mine once said, it’s harder to turn an “A” store into an “A+” store. It’s a much better bet to move C’s to B’s and B’s to A’s. That’s a retailer’s challenge. Not catering to true believers.

Recent times have taught us that some chief executives can make an effective transition from other industries into retail. Best Buy’s Hubert Joly comes to mind, as does Home Depot’s now retired Frank Blake. But they have to become students of the customer experience. And they must find ways to empower employees and excite customers. After six years of declining results, you might want to see if you can encourage shoppers to come back to your company, not milk the ones you think will never leave you.
The Decline in Fundamentalism

Excerpt:

We owe a massive debt of gratitude to the pioneers of the fundamentalist movement. Sadly, few Christians understand the necessity of the war they fought in the last century. If not for their bold stand, the vast majority of American churches probably would have capitulated to the influence of theological liberalism—a juggernaut that spiritually devastated Europe, the heartland of the Reformation.

The original fundamentalists were American theologians and pastors who understood that some biblical doctrines are too precious to take lightly. They resolutely defended foundational Christian truths like biblical inerrancy, the exclusivity of Christ, His resurrection, the realities of eternal life and eternal damnation, and human depravity. Those first fundamentalists prevailed through their unwavering commitment to God’s Word and refusal to negotiate on its truth. They are the reason why liberalism never overran the American church landscape, and why we can still find churches today where Scripture is supreme and the gospel is faithfully preached.

Sadly, however, the fundamentalist movement began to unravel almost as soon as it had experienced its initial successes. One wing of fundamentalism, desperate for academic respectability, could not resist the pluralism of the modern age. Schools that had been founded to counter theological liberalism were overexposed to liberal theology and began to compromise on the issue of biblical inerrancy, capitulating at the very point where early fundamentalism had taken its strongest stand. Incredibly, some fundamentalist schools and churches abandoned their commitment to biblical inerrancy within one generation of their founding! Most of these institutions and the people associated with them quickly repudiated the designation fundamentalist.

Another wing of fundamentalism moved the opposite direction. They were keenly aware that an obsession with academic respectability had led their brethren to abandon the fundamentals. For that reason they distrusted scholarship or spurned it altogether. This right wing of the fundamentalist movement was relentlessly fragmented by militant separatism. Legalism led to an extreme emphasis on external issues. Petty concerns often replaced serious doctrine as the matter for discussion and debate. This branch of the movement quickly reached the point where some of its adherents spent more time arguing about men’s hair length and women’s clothing than they spent defending the real fundamentals of the faith.

All the squabbling and extreme legalism eventually sullied the term fundamentalism. Intellectually and temperamentally, these fundamentalists utterly abandoned the high ground that the fathers of the movement had held so tenaciously. As a consequence the movement succumbed to a subtle depreciation of doctrine. The published material from this side of fundamentalism is notable for its total lack of any significant works with real doctrinal or biblical depth. The term fundamentalist became exclusively linked with this militant group.

In recent years, the term fundamentalist has been hijacked by the secular media, who apply it to every conceivable kind of religious fanatic.
Comments: Top image (Church) source. 2nd image (Sears) source.

First the obvious: Sears is a retail store chain and fundamentalist churches are churches. In this they are not the same. Some might conclude that what they have in common is "shoppers" and shoppers have fickle tastes. This may be true but it's not the point I wish to make.

Here's what they have in common:

  • They both were giants in America in their own rights. Sears was the place for appliances, clothing, tools and lawn equipment, auto repair and more. Fundamentalist churches were the bastion of Bible truth, evangelism and conservative worship.
  • They both are a sullied brand. Proof: ask a millennial about his view of Sears. As for fundamentalism ... see this.
  • Excursus: I used to equate the terms "Baptist" and "Fundamentalism" and perhaps at one point the terms were very closely associated. But in time the term "baptist" became diminished and churches became Fundamentalist churches associated with a fundamental lifestyle (perhaps learned at a Bible college and enforced by a student handbook and demerit system). Baptist principles such as the priesthood of the believer and individual soul liberty evaporated.
  • The big "in common" is that just like Sears is looking to "sell [solely] to [its] best customers [instead of] get[ting] any new ones", fundamental churches are looking to gain disciples like them instead of winning new converts through aggressively taking the truth of the gospel to the neighbors next door. Example: Are you the Christian who has a beer now and then? You're not the disciple we want! Fundamentalism with its associated "legalism led to an extreme emphasis on external issues"
  • Reality check for a fundamentalist church: If there are new members, what is their source: For many it's the children of existing members and some changing churches for some external issue that became debatable in their former church: musical style, et cetera.



5.10.2017

Tesla’s Solar Roof Pricing - Estimate your home




Tesla’s Solar Roof Pricing Is Cheap Enough to Catch Fire - The cost of Elon Musk’s remarkable new product is judged “better than everyone expected.”

Excerpt:

Tesla Inc. has begun taking $1,000 deposits for its remarkable solar roof tiles—to be delivered this summer at a price point that could expand the U.S. solar market. Tesla will begin with production of two of the four styles it unveiled in October: a smooth glass and a textured glass tile. 1 Roofing a 2,000 square-foot home in New York state—with 40 percent coverage of active solar tiles and battery backup for night-time use—would cost about $50,000 after federal tax credits and generate $64,000 in energy over 30 years, according to Tesla’s website calculator. That’s more expensive upfront than a typical roof, but less expensive than a typical roof with traditional solar and back-up batteries. The warranty is for the lifetime of your home. “The pricing is better than I expected, better than everyone expected,” said Hugh Bromley, a solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance who had been skeptical about the potential market impact of the new product. Tesla’s cost for active solar tiles is about $42 per square foot, “significantly below” BNEF’s prior estimate of $68 per square foot, Bromley said. Inactive tiles will cost $11 per square foot.
Comment: The estimator. If I needed a roof ...

St. Olaf College: The racist note that never was



St. Olaf: Report of racist note on black student's windshield was 'fabricated'. School president made the revelation after first not disclosing the validity of the note but saying its author had confessed.

Excerpt:

Wells said that the anonymous typewritten note left on her windshield said in total: "I am so glad you are leaving soon. One less [N-word] this school has to deal with. You have spoken up too much. You will change nothing. Shut up or I will shut you up."

Also Wednesday, Northfield police told the Star Tribune that they have closed their investigation into the note, explaining that Wells was unwilling to seek the filing of a criminal case. Wells said in an e-mail Friday to the lead investigator that "I have decided that I am not going to be filing a report." The student said she would be graduating soon, leaving for Europe in June and "would rather not spend the end of my college career and my last month and a half in the U.S. worrying about an investigation."

With Wells' bowing out, police have closed the case and released their file on it. The file pointed out that police did not see the note because Wells "took [it] outside and had a 'ceremonial' burning to destroy it." Wells said she destroyed the note "because she didn't want to look at it or have it anywhere near her," the police file read.
Comment: Previous: St. Olaf campus leaders call for boycott of classes over racist note More Image source

Oh $SNAP



Snap reports awful first-ever earnings ... and the tweets are hilarious

See previous SNAP post: Snapchat mania and the problem of IPOs

James Comey firing: Portends coming crisis? or nothing?





How To Know if The Trump-Russia Story Has Momentum

Excerpt:

When the media talks about President Trump and Russia, it often does so in terms of dominoes falling or pressure building incrementally on the administration. With an investigative story here, a firing or a resignation under suspicious circumstances there, it’s easy for people to assume that eventually something will give, the way Richard Nixon finally broke and resigned after the Watergate story gradually developed from 1972 through 1974. 

It’s certainly possible that the current investigation will build in that same way. The White House’s ostensible justification for firing FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday is that he mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. But canning him when he was in the midst of an investigation into the Trump administration’s ties to Russia is an eyebrow-raising move, especially given that the Washington Post reported that the firing came just a few days after Comey asked for more resources for his inquiry. A person can be somewhat skeptical of the progress of the Trump-Russia story so far and still think that this particular development was a big deal.

But it’s also possible that Comey’s firing is just the latest in a series of short, exciting bursts of activity that don’t ultimately produce any lasting momentum or do all that much to undermine Trump. This has mostly been the pattern of these Trump-Russia stories so far.
Comment: If public opinion on Trump sinks, and Senate Republicans abandon him; there could be a special prosecutor to investigate Trump-Russia.

The outrage

The "well deserved"

WSJ: Comey’s Deserved Dismissal - The FBI chief forfeited his credibility with his 2016 interventions. What concerns Wall Street The Nixon comparison: Just in: