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Gotta learn how the brakes work

Markets don’t like uncertainty.

You want uncertainty? From today’s New York Times:

WASHINGTON – Russia has roughly doubled the number of its battalions near the Ukrainian border, Western officials said Monday, and could respond to the Kiev government’s gains there by launching a cross-border incursion with little or no warning.

Over the past several weeks, Russia has built up 17 battalions – totaling 19,000 to 21,000 troops, according to one Western estimate – into a battle-ready force of infantry, armor, artillery and air defense within a few miles of the border. In addition, it has vastly expanded its firepower, increasing the number of advanced surface-to-air missile units to 14 from eight, and deploying more than 30 artillery batteries, according to the officials.

The Kremlin’s intentions in increasing its military abilities remain unclear. … Read more. Click here.

The only thing we know for sure is that Putin wants his Russian Empire back. He sees Eastern Ukraine as part of that empire.


He’s already taken Crimea. He could easily take eastern Ukraine. I’m dubious Europe would lift a finger to help Ukraine. Europe is very dependent on Russian natural gas. Why jeopardize their future for Donetsk or Dnipropetrovsk?

This will not play out well for our stockmarkets — especially speculative, fashionable stocks with few earnings and no dividends.

And stocks with a big Russian exposure? (Are there any?)

A little more cash and a little more gold wouldn’t hurt.

Scene: The Metropolitan Opera.

The curtain is about to open. A tepid stage manager appears. “I’m sorry,” he says, “Enrico Caruso has just died and will not perform this evening.”

From way back comes the voice, “Gib him an enema.”

The stage manager, now flustered, says, “Perhaps you don’t hear me. Mr Caruso has died. An enema is not going to help.”

From way back comes the voice, “Ain’t going to hurt him.”

Ditto for the way I feel about a little cash and a little gold.

The South Sea Bubble Myths exposed. Remember back in 1720? Begins a wonderful article in the latest Times Literary Supplement (TLS for you cognescenti):

 The South Sea Bubble was definitely not a Good Thing, or so we used to think. It has become a byword for financial collapse, along with the embarrassment of institutions shown up as behaving badly. When stocks in new-tech companies plummeted around the turn of the millennium, the fall was quickly christened the Dot-com Bubble. After Wall Street crashed in 2008, market watchers trotted out the earlier episode in London almost as often as they invoked 1929.

Shares in the South Sea Company, founded as a rival to the Bank of England in 1711 to take over part of the national debt, dropped precipitously in the summer of 1720, following a hubristic attempt to assume the entire debt. Moreover, it emerged that leading politicians had been implicated in dodgy deals, among them the First Lord of the Treasury, Charles Spencer, Earl of Sunderland (son-in-law of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and an ancestor of Princess Diana). Even members of the royal family, including a mistress of George I, were allocated large tranches of stock without payment. The crisis ushered in a wave of speculative frenzy, disrupted the British economy, and led to social unrest. Hoards of moneyed men saw their fortunes disappear almost overnight, and even small investors faced ruin. Only the timely application of rescue measures by Robert Walpole put things back on an even keel. This enabled him to take control for the next twenty years, as the first (and still the longest-serving) British prime minister.

But how true is such a version of events?

And how relevant is it to what’s happening today? Read more. Click here.

The South Sea Bubble was not the first. At the peak of tulip mania, in March 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble, says Wikipedia. Read more about tulipmania. Click here.

We all can rent this nice boat. Do it while you’re still rich.


It costs $931,300 for a week. On top of that we have to pay 30% APA. That stands for Advance Provisioning Allowance.  That covers food and fuel and the leftover usually goes to a tip to the crew and the captain.  APA is often provided in cash to the captain a week or so before charter starts. Google “luxury yachts for rent.” You’ll be impressed with the number and variety of the boats (ships, yachts – what do i know?). The business is booming. Rich Americans will happily pay $1 million a week for a family getaway. I haven’t been invited. Nor have I managed to talk my way onto a boat, even for a peekabo, yet.

Brazilian culture at its finest.


Coyote solution poses a problem. I have no idea if this is true. I don’t care. It’s funny.

The Sierra Club and the U. S. Forest Service were presenting an alternative to the Wyoming ranchers for controlling the coyote population.

After years of ranchers using the tried and true method of shooting or trapping the predators, the Sierra Club had a “more humane” solution to this issue. They proposed that the animals to be captured alive. The males would then be castrated and let loose again.

The ranchers thought about this amazing idea.

Finally an old fellow in a big cowboy hat stood up, tipped his hat back …


… and said, “Son, I don’t think you understand our problem here. These coyotes ain’t fuckin’ our sheep; they’re eatin’ ’em!”

The meeting never really got back to order.

Harry Newton whose city rents bikes. Millions of them.


Of course, nobody wears a helmet. (This picture was posed.)


You also don’t need a license. Which brings me to You’re not gonna believe this:

I’m driving my bicycle through the Broadway/57th Street intersection (one of the city’s busiest) when I hear these priceless words from a fellow bicyclist:  “I really got to figure out how these brakes work.”

I don’t make this stuff up.


  1. jon says:

    Maybe Radio Shack will get back to a buck a share, they really don’t want to be delisted.