Recent comments by aleister perdurabo

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26232-feedback-ig-nobel-prize-for-watching-dogs-urinate.html?cmpid=RSS|NSNS|2012-GLOBAL|online-news#.VBtyzvldX8k

The "completely unexpected" result was that 41 per cent of the 750 patients with cat bites – many of whom, by hypothesis, will have cats – were depressed. "We were looking for anything interesting, and this one really jumped out as a strange and bizarre correlation."

Depression affected only 9 per cent of the total pool of 1.3 million patients, and 29 per cent of dog-bite patients (doi.org/vn9). Do depressed people seek out cats, or do cats depress their owners? Hanauer sighs: "Our paper raises more questions than it answers."

Meanwhile Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, and his colleagues found that intelligence and novelty-seeking scores in men conscripted to the Czech army were both lower if they were infected by the cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii. They also suggest the parasite might be linked to schizophrenia (see doi.org/cjng4f and New Scientist, 17 October 2009, p 48).

New Credit Default Swap Terms To Be Implemented In September - Finance and Banking - United States

Earlier this year, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association Inc. (ISDA) published the 2014 Credit Derivatives Definitions (the 2014 Definitions). The 2014 Definitions introduce a new government bail-in Credit Event trigger for credit default swap (CDS) contracts on financial Reference Entities in non-U.S. jurisdictions and also modify the typical terms of sovereign CDS contracts in light of the Greek debt crisis, by allowing a buyer of protection to deliver upon settlement the assets into which the Reference Obligation has converted even if such assets are not otherwise deliverable.

Further, they create a concept of a Standard Reference Obligation, which means that most CDS contracts on a given Reference Entity would have the same Reference Obligation, thereby increasing the fungibility of such CDS contracts.

Much like the predecessor 2003 ISDA Credit Derivative Definitions (the 2003 Definitions), which they are intended to supersede, the 2014 Definitions provide the basic legal framework for certain credit derivative transactions and, among other things, provide standard provisions that may not otherwise be specified by parties in a confirmation. As with other product-specific definitions, parties may elect to modify or supplement the standard terms set forth within the 2014 Definitions.

Bad Request

Fitch Ratings today downgraded Sears Holdings Corp.'s credit rating to CC from CCC, a move driven by the retailer's continuing decline in profitability and the rate at which it's burning through cash. The agency warned that Sears may not have enough funding to support operations beyond 2016.

Lehman's Land Legacy--Plots & Ploys - WSJ

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. continues to sell prime California land left over from its ill-fated partnership with SunCal during the boom years. The failed investment bank is listing for sale the Pacifica San Juan project in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., a 318-lot subdivision that is one of the last large undeveloped tracts in Orange County.

Daily Press Briefing: September 10, 2014

QUESTION: Okay. On Benghazi, and as quickly as possible --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- last year, our esteemed colleague Eli Lake published a story in the Daily Beast stating that CIA had failed to vet properly the February 17th Martyrs Brigade. Does the State Department share in that view?

MS. HARF: Well, there’s – I think we’re talking about two different things here. The group we worked with was the 17 February Militia. There is a separate group called the 17 February Martyrs Brigade which is not someone we worked with.
But I just – I know there’s – sometimes they get mixed up in the press reporting, so I actually want to be very clear. The 17 February Militia is an umbrella group of militants. Obviously, that’s not all that’s different. We need to distinguish between groups of militants that were working with us. And I will say about the 17 February Militia that we regularly rely on host nation support for external security, and due to the state of the transitioning Libyan Government at the time, the Libya Government-sponsored militia – this was their sponsored militia – provided support for foreign missions in Benghazi.
This militia had been effective in responding to prior attacks on the special mission in April and June of 2012. The DS Regional Security Officer for Libya Eric Nordstrom noted in his congressional testimony that the 17 February Militia “was able to provide us consistent arms security since the very earliest days of the revolution.” The ARB did find that the militia response was inadequate the night of September 11th. The Department is fully in agreement. Obviously, that’s something that we take very seriously, but given the challenging situation, that’s who was responsible for providing these services in Libya.
But I do want to distinguish between Libyan militias jockeying for domestic political power and violent extremist groups. I think we need to be careful when we talk about groups that start with 17 February, because there are a couple of different ones that are very different.

QUESTION: And might we even say, though, that amongst these various militia, including February 17 Militia and February 17 Martyrs Brigade, that in fact, it’s very difficult to tell them apart sometimes?

MS. HARF: Well, I wouldn’t assume that, though. This was a government-supported militia and I wouldn’t assume that that’s difficult, actually.

Revel casino-hotel property sold for $90M cash

The just-shuttered Revel casino and hotel in Atlantic City has been bought by a Florida developer for $90 million in cash, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
Acquisition of the gleaming resort by Glenn Straub's Polo North Country Club appears to be a glimmer of good news for the city's economy, which has been battered by a rash of casino closings and bankruptcies.
Straub told The Wall Street Journal that he could partially reopen the property in six months, and then in two years, "we'll be 100% open." It isn't clear whether he will operate the location as a casino, the Journal says.

When the next housing bust hits, blame the bankers - MarketWatch

Mortgage lending is slowing as well. The Mortgage Bankers Association forecasts a 74% decline in mortgage originations this year to $1 trillion, with a 61% drop in refinancing volume to $431 billion.

To parse those numbers, the decline in refinancing volume was expected, since the federal government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, was curtailed dramatically last year. And slowing refinancing itself isn’t alarming because so many people with higher-rate loans have already refinanced, and refinancing doesn’t raise home values.

But sales do. And the MBA expects the volume of mortgage-loan originations to slump 12% this year to $576 billion. That is happening even though interest rates are still very low, with a national average rate of 4.23% for a 30-year loan.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26123-painful-memories-eased-by-inhaling-xenon-gas.html?cmpid=RSS|NSNS|2012-GLOBAL|online-news#.VAC4c_ldX8k

It's odourless, colourless, tasteless and mostly non-reactive – but it may help you forget. Xenon gas has been shown to erase fearful memories in mice, raising the possibility that it could be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if the results are replicated in a human trial next year.

The method exploits a neurological process known as "reconsolidation". When memories are recalled, they seem to get re-encoded, almost like a new memory. When this process is taking place, the memories become malleable and can be subtly altered.

This new research suggests that at least in mice, the reconsolidation process might be partially blocked by xenon, essentially erasing fearful memories. Among other things, xenon is used as an anaesthetic.

Bad news: Wages are down for pretty much everyone - The Washington Post

Real hourly wages are down for workers at all education levels in the first half of this year compared to the first half of 2013, according to the Economic Policy Institute paper. Pay fell by 1.1 percent for people with high school diplomas, by 1 percent for people with some college, 1.6 percent for people with college degrees and by 2.7 percent for people with advanced degrees. “The last year has been a poor one for American workers’ wages,” writes Elise Gould, an economist with the institute, in the report.

Gould notes the pay decreases seen over the last year are part of a longer trend: Wages have pretty much been flat or on the decline since the start of the recession. In fact, the only group that hasn’t seen a drop in real wages since 2007 is workers with advanced degrees, for which wages are basically flat.

Europe's Banks to Offload $770 Billion of Non-Core Property Assets - WORLD PROPERTY CHANNEL Global News Center

Based on recent estimates from Cushman & Wakefield's Corporate Finance team, European banks and asset management agencies have a gross exposure of $770 billion (€584 billion) to non-core real estate which is subject to disposal or work-out strategies.

The findings, published in the firm's European Real Estate Loan Sales Market H1 2014 update, reveal that despite the record volume of commercial real estate (CRE) and real estate-owned (REO) sales seen so far this year, the deleveraging process throughout Europe is far from over.

Cushman & Wakefield Corporate Finance carried out extensive research into the non-core real estate exposure of 46 banks and asset management agencies throughout Europe for the in-depth report. The nine European 'bad banks' analyzed hold over 46% of the total gross exposure to non-core real estate, indicating their importance in the CRE loan and REO sales market in the next few years.

Ants May Boost CO2 Absorption Enough to Slow Global Warming - Scientific American

CO2 is currently the primary greenhouse gas emitted via human activities, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Overview of Green House Gases. And the volume released has only increased since the industrial revolution, contributing to global warming.

Using ants to help capture CO2 and help fight global warming stems from a study Dornpublished recently in Geology linking ants to the acceleration of natural carbon dioxide absorption in rock by up to 335 times, compared with absorption in ant-free areas.
Responding to the study, David Schwartzman, emeritus professor of biogeochemistry at Howard University who reviewed but was not a part of the research, said that encouraging ant colonization “will be important in carbon sequestration” from the atmosphere.

Of course, both he and Dorn note, the ants themselves may not always be necessary once researchers learn more about how the insects promote carbon sequestration. “I don’t know if you can just have massive ant colonies hanging around a power plant. But if we know what particular secretion of an ant gland is doing this trick, or combinations of secretions,” Dorn says, then those substances could potentially be produced in quantity.

Kary Mullis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mullis details his experiences synthesizing and testing various psychedelic amphetamines and a difficult trip on DET in his autobiography. In a Q&A interview published in the September 1994, issue of California Monthly, Mullis said, "Back in the 1960s and early '70s I took plenty of LSD. A lot of people were doing that in Berkeley back then. And I found it to be a mind-opening experience. It was certainly much more important than any courses I ever took."[32]During a symposium held for centenarian Albert Hofmann, "Hofmann revealed that he was told by Nobel-prize-winning chemist Kary Mullis that LSD had helped him develop the polymerase chain reaction that helps amplify specific DNA sequences."[33] Replying to his own postulate during an interview for BBC's Psychedelic Science documentary, "What if I had not taken LSD ever; would I have still invented PCR?" He replied, "I don't know. I doubt it. I seriously doubt it."[34]
Extraterrestrial life[edit]
Mullis reported an encounter with a glowing green raccoon at his cabin in the woods of northern California around midnight one night in 1985.[35]

Man claiming immunity from US law convicted - Westport News

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A man who claimed he had immunity from U.S. law has been convicted of producing and distributing false diplomatic credentials.

A federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday convicted 60-year-old James T. McBride of Columbus, Ohio, one count of conspiracy, one count of causing the impersonation of a diplomat and four counts of producing false identification documents.

Prosecutors say McBride was the leader of a group called Divine Province and promised people they could avoid taxes and debts if they pay to enroll in his society.

Authorities say McBride produced and distributed false diplomatic identification cards to the group's members, and encouraged them to make claims of diplomatic immunity to avoid arrest, debts or taxes.

A sentencing date has not been set.

How Much Does One Lego Piece Cost? | Science Blogs | WIRED

Let’s look at the linear function that fits this data. The slope of this line is 0.104 US Dollars per Lego piece. Boom. There is your answer. On average, one Lego piece costs 10.4 cents. Also, I think it’s nice to notice that this data is fairly linear.

But wait. What about the y-intercept for this fitting function? The value from the fit is 7.34 USD. That means that for this function, if you had a Lego set with zero pieces in it, it would still cost $7.34 – you know, for the box and instructions and stuff. Yes, I know that there are Lego sets cheaper than $7.34 – this is just the y-intercept for the fitting function.

Now let me point out the three outliers in this plot. Notice that all of these (one from Duplo and two from the City theme) are train sets. Of course train sets are going to be more expensive than a set with the same number of pieces (but not a train) because of the electric motors and stuff.

If you are looking for a “good deal”, might I suggest the Trevi Fountain (21020). This set has 731 pieces for just $49.99. According to the fitting function, a set with this many pieces should cost about 83 dollars.

65 Words Just Caused Argentina's $29-Billion Default - Kathy Gilsinan - The Atlantic

When Argentina last defaulted, in 2001, it had roughly $80 billion worth of debt it couldn’t pay back. It was, at the time, the biggest sovereign-debt default ever. This time, Argentina—Latin America's third- or fourth-largest economy, depending on who you're asking—had the money on hand to pay a $539-million bill due by close of business on Wednesday. It didn’t make the payment, and as a result has now technically defaulted on the entire $29 billion it owes international creditors. All this, in turn, is the result of how an 83-year-old judge interpreted the following 65 words:

The Securities [i.e., the bonds] will constitute . . . direct, unconditional, unsecured and unsubordinated obligations of the Republic and shall at all times rank pari passu and without any preference among themselves. The payment obligations of the Republic under the Securities shall at all times rank at least equally with all its other present and future unsecured and unsubordinated External Indebtedness (as defined in this Agreement).

The above, in the words of the Financial Times’ Joseph Cotterill, is “a piece of dusty boilerplate,” more than a century old and ubiquitous in sovereign-debt agreements. Legal analysts sometimes refer to it as an “equal-treatment” clause, because it suggests that a borrower has to treat all its lenders equally—if I borrow money from Jane and Jack, I can’t choose to pay back Jane and not Jack.

Sales Surge on European NPLs | Private Equity content from National Real Estate Investor

Forget Wimbledon and tourist attractions such as the Roman Coliseum, U.S. investors are flocking to Europe to pursue lucrative opportunities in the non-performing loan (NPL) market.

Loan sales during the first half of the year reached €40.9 billion ($55.5 billion)―a 611 percent spike compared to the same period a year ago. And American buyers are leading the charge. U.S. private equity firms such as Blackstone and Cerberus accounted for three-fourths of that buying activity, according to a new report issued by Cushman & Wakefield.

For example, Cerberus has nearly 50 professionals on the ground in Europe focused on underwriting, acquiring and servicing NPLs. “Currently, we are primarily investing in the U.K., Germany, Spain, Ireland and Italy, but have also acquired or are in the process of acquiring NPL portfolios in other European countries as well,” says Lee Millstein, head of European & Asian distressed real estate and senior managing director of Cerberus Capital Management in New York City.

Wealth inequality doubles among US households

"American families experienced significant losses in wealth during the Great Recession, and these losses were distributed very unequally," said Fabian Pfeffer, assistant research professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research.

In 2003, households at the top 5th percentile of wealth had 13 times more wealth than the median household, according to the analysis. By 2013, this gap nearly doubled to 24 times as much wealth.
While households at the top lost large amounts of wealth during the recession, those at the bottom of the wealth distribution lost the largest share of their total wealth.

Price Increase Reflects Shift to More Costly Homes

A factor with a larger bearing on the rising prices however, was what RealtyTrac identified as a shift away from lower cost homes to those in the higher price ranges. The share of home sales in all price ranges below $200,000 decreased from a year ago. The lower the price, the larger the decrease. The share of homes priced between $100,000 and $200,000 decreased 5 percent from a year ago, while the share of homes between $50,000 and $100,000 decreased 13 percent and the share of homes priced below $50,000 - often highly distressed homes - decreased 22 percent.

Conversely, sales of homes priced above $200,000 increased as a share of total sales, both from the previous month and from a year ago. In general the higher the price, the greater the increase with sales in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range up 2 percent from the previous month and 6 percent from a year ago, but the share of home sales in all price ranges above $750,000 was up more than 20 percent from a year ago. Sales of homes priced in the $200,000 to $400,000 range accounted for 32 percent of sales, the highest percentage since September 2008.

Real Estate Assets vs Passion Investments

High net worth individuals (HWNI) are reported to allocate an average of 16.9% of their investments to Art and 19% to luxury collectibles including classic cars and the report lifts the lid on where the smart money has been invested over the last quarter of a century.

Savills used their own indices and those from Art Market Research and Nationwide to compare the performance of 'passion investments' including the Art100, Old Masters, classic cars, 18th century furniture, UK property, prime central London property and UK farmland.

Looking at the assets performance since the financial crisis, the biggest growth has been in the classic car market, recording an increase of 134.9% since the peak of the housing market in September 2007. Prices in this market have not fallen since 2006 showing the asset's strong resilience to recession.

Farmland has long been considered a safe haven asset and hedge against inflation and prices have historically performed well during economic downturns. According to Savills' data, average values have not fallen since 2003 and have increased an average of 105.2% since 2007.

before falling into technical default

As opposed to real default.

So does FIFA allow players to get water during the course of play? Or do they have to feign injury then re-enter?

World Cup 2014: Bizarre incident in Uruguay-England puts spotlight on concussions - SOCCER - Sporting News

Soccer’s issues with head trauma are somewhat different than in other sports. It starts with the fact the head is a fundamental instrument of competition; the head is used to maneuver the ball in the same way a basketball player might use his hand.
The conflict is exacerbated by the sport’s unique substitution rules. Only three players are allowed to be substituted per game, regardless of the injury circumstance. A team that spends its three subs and then has a player go down as Pereira did would not be able to replace him -- even if he could be persuaded to leave.
“It’s disappointing. It’s 2014. This is barbaric treatment of players,” Twellman said on late Thursday on ESPN. “This is the power struggle that everyone’s talking about the elite levels. This can’t happen. The player and the doctor have no business having a say in this.”
Twellman said, as FIFPro suggested in his release, that competitions at the highest levels need a medical official “that’s independent, not working for either team” to intervene when concussion is an issue.

They would have to add many digits to the scoreboard.

Just like the Federal Reserve. Team America!

I'm for "blue lines" (like in hockey) so that the off-sides rule would apply to less than the half of the field it applies to now.

Howabout no goalie. I'd love to see the score in hockey or soccer around 47 to 39.

A little historical perspective:

Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein 

The U.S. involved several U.S.-based multinational corporations in planning the project. International financier Bruce Rappaport, a friend of CIA director William Casey, was also a central figure in the proposed deal. (The final report of the independent counsel for the Iran-Contra "arms for hostages" scandal cites reports indicating that Rappaport's bank in Geneva was the recipient of a mysterious $10 million payment from the Sultan of Brunei to fund the Nicaraguan contras that subsequently disappeared. Rappaport denied this; the final report says that the issue remained unresolved. He was invited to testify in 1999 at a House Banking committee hearing on corruption in Russian financial transactions, but declined.) The project was complicated by demands that the U.S. arrange for ironclad security guarantees from the Israelis, since the pipeline would have been vulnerable to their attack. The Israelis, for their part, demanded guarantees that pipeline facilities would not cause environmental damage.

All involved had their reasons for at least hypothetical interest in the project. For Iraq, it would have been a manifestation of improved U.S.-Iraq relations - they wanted as much U.S. financial and other involvement in the proposed deal as possible. For the U.S., it would have provided an alternative, theoretically secure outlet for oil and created a nexus for entangling Iraqi interests with those of Jordan and Israel, consistent with U.S. plans to create a wider consortium of Arab countries that would cooperate with the U.S. and would be willing to resolve the Palestine-Israel dispute on U.S. terms. Israel would have benefited from new oil facilities in its vicinity, and won points with the Reagan administration. Also, according to internal documents from a friend of Reagan administration Attorney General Edmund Meese, brought in as an intermediary because of his Israeli ties, payoffs would have been skimmed from complex financial guarantee arrangements for the Israeli government and Labor Party.

Daily Press Briefing: June 20, 2014

QUESTION: So you believe – so you’re going to double-down on the – what some call the anachronistic British imperialist-imposed border that now exists? Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure if I would put it in those terms, Matt, but --
QUESTION: Post-World War I border of Iraq, the existing – that’s what you are intent on keeping. Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re --
QUESTION: Not – maybe not you, but that’s what you support. You do not support any revision to the current borders of the – Iraq.
MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed in our view. Go ahead, Arshad.
QUESTION: Well, I was going to say the same thing. I was going to ask it very simply. I mean, would you oppose a breakup of Iraq?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speculate on that. It’s never been our position, so I’m not going to speak to a hypothetical that we’re not currently looking at.
QUESTION: It’s not a hypothetical. People are generally inside the country talking about it too. I mean, it’s not totally hypothetical. I mean, there are moves for people to move in that direction.
MS. PSAKI: That’s not the position or the view or the support of the United States Government.
QUESTION: So you disagree with --
QUESTION: Can you say no? Can you say you don’t want Iraq to break up?
QUESTION: -- the notion that --
MS. PSAKI: I think we’re done with this question.

Here's the link to all the gruesome details. You can poke around for all casualties by month, year, nation, state, name,etc...

iCasualties | Operation Enduring Freedom | Afghanistan

Anyone want to make a guess as to what percentage of casualties in Afghanistan can be assigned to each President so far?
I'm going to bet 40/60

iCasualties | OEF | Afghanistan | Fatalities By Month

Trader sues over skimpy $8.25 million bonus - CBS News

A former Goldman Sachs (GS) trader, still furious at getting only an $8.25 million bonus in 2010, has taken the giant investment bank to court to get paid millions more.

Deeb Salem says he helped Goldman earn more than $7 billion and that a little more money in his pocket would only be fair considering all his contributions. He wants about $5 million in additional pay from Goldman.

In his petition filed last week in New York's State Supreme Court, Salem said things at Goldman started to unravel when he got a written warning about his 2007 job self-evaluation, Bloomberg reports. In that self-evaluation, Salem reportedly discussed a short squeeze involving derivatives linked to subprime home loans in 2007.

High Times Starts Marijuana Industry Investment Fund - Businessweek

When a pot smuggler named Tom Forcade approached Michael Kennedy in 1974 with his plan for a magazine devoted to helping Americans grow weed, Kennedy asked, what’s the point? “He said, ‘The point is, if the government cannot control the means of production of a commodity, then their prohibition is bound to fail,’ ” Kennedy recalls. “Well, 40 years later, we have ’em trembling, don’t we?”

The magazine, High Times, has survived as an icon of dope culture, and Kennedy, a criminal defense lawyer, has improbably ended up as its controlling owner. Now, with marijuana legal in some form in 22 states, the counterculture institution is aiming to raise $300 million for the High Times Growth Fund, which will make private equity investments in the marijuana business.