The three nemeses of large trees:

1. lightning

2. drought (causing bubble formation in plant vascular tissues) and

3. invasive pests.

In Palm Beach County you can readily see the evidence of lightning strikes on trees in areas such as the J.W. Corbett preserve and the Jonathan Dickinson State Park. It is never fun to be caught out in those locations in a thunderstorm.

In Dickinson salt water intrusion actually has impacted quite a few trees of all sizes along the Loxahatchee River. And Lygodium (once a nice Japanese ornamental) is the new kudzu–an invasive, climbing vine that spreads easily and wipes out native plants and trees with spores that easily attach and cause Lygodium's rapid and persistent spread.



 An interesting article with a hint (energy/nutrient flow) of the Dailyspec's recommended book, "The Way Life Works" (Hoagland and Dodson) is this: "Soil's Microbial Market SHows the Ruthless Side of Forests".

It should be noted, however, that interactions seen in a petri dish are not always representative of what happens in a living system– in fact, there are antibiotics that are being revisited because they are much more effective in the complexities of the human body than once thought based on petri dish performance.

The cooperative vs. " cutthroat" views of nature are being tested.

Some quotes follow:

"Toby Kiers, an evolutionary biologist at VU University Amsterdam, finds that the interactions among plants and their fungal symbiotes resemble a cutthroat marketplace in which the species negotiate their exchanges of nutrients ruthlessly."


"Based on observations of the free-market system, Kiers suspects that what has stabilized plant-fungal mutualisms for at least 470 million years is not that individual organisms are committed to the good of the community, but rather that, in most cases, both plants and fungi benefit more from trading with each other than from keeping resources to themselves."

Alston Mabry writes: 

One thing I notice is people talking about competition and cooperation as if they are equal concepts on the same level biologically, rather than seeing cooperation as one strategy inside a framework of competition.



 There is a popular new baseball book.

It is making the internet rounds.

It mentions updated and enhanced data analysis techniques.

Excerpts discussing weighted baseballs looked interesting.

Perhaps there are applications to other sports and skilled endeavors.

Leg weights were brought to mind.



"The A Cappella Sea Shanty Playlist"

Interesting and catchy–that it increased productivity and ship morale seems right. 



 I thought this was an interesting article: "Why Soccer Players Take Dives".

There is a rule against flopping in the NBA now but as evidenced in the ongoing World Cup games the use of deceptive practices by soccer players, despite the risk of penalty (yellow card), to influence referees and officials has evolved into an advanced art with strategic dimensions.

Many of the professional players, in fact, are so good at flopping that it is only through a close examination of replays that it is possible to determine whether there was sufficient contact to cause the trip and/or injury being acted out by the aggrieved player.

In some cases very close matches can hinge on the decisions made by referees to award penalty kicks. Teammates add to the drama by frantically arguing the merits of the referees' decisions and then whipping up their nationalistic supporters through various gesticulations into a frenzy of whistles (boos) and catcalls.

I was recently amused while walking past a Swedish elementary school playground to see a young kid apparently emulating the deceptive antics of an Iranian goalie shown on TV during a recent World Cup game. His performance was outstanding as he rolled around on the ground in feigned pain after unwittingly allowing a goal while reaching down to tie the laces on his shoes. The lesson of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" was perhaps temporarily forgotten.

A related article:

"Some scientists have proposed using machine vision algorithms to detect flopping, but soccer is a notoriously stodgy sport. Video replays were just approved for the first time in this year's World Cup, and even electronic goal detection remains controversial."



 There is an interesting ratio of plants: bacteria: fungi: animals in units of GT C (1015 g of carbon) of 450:70:12:2.

With a total biomass estimated at 550 GT C or 550 quadrillion (American system) g.

Roughly 605 billion tons with a natural world emphasis on organisms good at photosynthesis and recycling.

From "the Biomass Distribution of Earth":

"The composition of the biosphere is a fundamental question in biology, yet a global quantitative account of the biomass of each taxon is still lacking. We assemble a census of the biomass of all kingdoms of life. This analysis provides a holistic view of the composition of the biosphere and allows us to observe broad patterns over taxonomic categories, geographic locations, and trophic modes."



 A great article about a fascinating group of intelligent birds.

Bernd Heinrich has written several books about them. 

"13 Surprisingly Weird Reasons Why Crows And Ravens Are The Best Birds"




 The biggest yachts in the world are in town for the holiday season and the grill run by Mr. Lembke was on at Mar-a-Lago yesterday in anticipation of the President's visit for Thanksgiving. Cranes and construction crews are everywhere busy as things locally are on a rapid up and up.

And a da Vinci was sold by a local property owner



 Memory enhancement is an area apparently in need of further research–the recent statement highlighted below by one in the field is surprising to read.

1. "Working memory and distractions were the subjects of the second speaker, Fiona McNab, a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow at the University of York (UK). McNab explained that working memory is important for decision making, reasoning, language, and mathematical processing.

She said there was no scientific evidence to show current brain training games could improve working memory; while games might improve the performance of a specific task intrinsic to the game, they do not have a transfer effect to other tasks. Instead, McNab highlighted the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging and behavioural studies to explore working memory and distraction. She also referred to the Great Brain Experiment, an app that allows users to play games to test their memories and provide data for neuroscience research."

2. There is certainly an interesting history to the idea of memory improvement though. Pelaminism was a popular subject in Victorian England.

It is interesting to consider what combinations of games and training would be most synergistic to improving memory. There are activities like climbing a tree or balance-related exercises that are thought to be helpful in this regard too. Link 2 suggests an IQ increase of 10-20 points over time–that's quite a claim. Further research needed though.

3. "The biggest lesson here was that — yes — intensive training strengthens cognition and the brain, but we still don't understand why and how," Courtney said. "We can't just jump onto a video game and expect that's going to cure all of our cognitive problems. We need more targeted interventions."

4. Here's an example of the dual n back program and here is one of the free dual n back games online.



 A call for preventative measures–less Lamotta, more De Niro?

"Raging Bull: First study to find link between testosterone and stock market instability":

"Based on our findings, professional traders, investment advisories, and hedge funds should limit the risk taken by young male traders," continued Nadler. "This is the first study to have shown that testosterone changes the way the brain calculates value and returns in the stock market and therefore- testosterone's neurologic influence will cause traders to make suboptimal decisions unless systems prevent them from occurring."

anonymous writes: 

That paper fits in well with the overall plan to feminize males in the West. I'm sure this latest generation won't have to worry much about high T levels between the estrogenic impact of leftist culture, environmental toxins, and hormone treatments in youth.



They vet you in Stockholm to see if you're a fellow traveler before giving you the Nobel, and I guess this imposter passed the test.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

The lack of overreaction must be very puzzling.

Of possible interest–NNT has been very critical via tweets and made note in retweet feed of Swedish/Dr. Nudge affinity for a "cashless society". Perhaps risks/dangers of… With that it must be time for a Fika.



 Victor Niederhoffer writes to David Hand:

I am good friend of Steve Stigler and recently read and recommended your book. I came across an interesting coincidence in our mutual field. Every day I post a colored graph of 4 possible outcomes of directions of bond and stocks previous day. 11 of the last 16 occurrences have been yellow days with stocks up bonds down. The binomial prob of that is 1 in 10 million or so. I point out that events have to happen. And this is one of many billions of starting stopping pts and outcomes. Still it seems like an anomaly as I point out, the more important question is what does it portend for future. What's your view? Random or not?

David Hands replies:

Hi Vic,

Thanks for recommending my book!

Can I first check the basis for your calculations. (I may have misunderstood what you meant.) If we take a simple model in which the probability of each of the four types of up/down pairs is equal, and the days are independent, then the probability of getting 11 out of 16 having (stocks up; bonds down) is Choose(16,11)*(0.25^11)*(0.25^5) = about 1 in 4000?

But you presumably chose (to comment on) the pattern (stocks up; bonds down) after having seen the data. So if instead we say what about the probability of any one of the four patterns coming up 11 out of the 16 times, then we have four times the probability. So, now it's 1 in 1000.

That sort of calculation would be ok if we simply had a set of 16 days to look at. But, of course, we are scanning across time. The longer we go on, the more we should expect apparently anomalous sequences to crop up. For example, we should ask not 'what is the probability of getting 11 out of 16 the same?' but 'what's the probability of getting 11 out of 16 consecutive days the same over the past 1000 (or however many) days?'

I really liked your website, which I had not seen before.

All the best


Professor David J. Hand Imperial College, London

Pitt T. Maner III adds:

A 1 hour lecture by Prof. David Hand on this subject (2014) is available here.

I was watching Professor Hand's lecture and thought it amusing that he found himself in a situation where a man with his same name was staying at the same hotel at the same. This reminded me that at the University of Alabama about 39 years ago I had, if my memory is right, a Professor Hand for an advanced, introductory chemistry course who was a Harvard graduate. Ironically, the chemist Dr. Hand liked to grade on a curve and on his first test the grade for a "C" was 35% instead of the normal 70%! The first question on this first test involved multiplying/dividing two large numbers and determining the number of significant digits–this took about 15 minutes of the allotted 1 hour test time to do with a calculator but was only worth 5% out of the 100% perfect test score– such a tricky fellow. Now the professors get rated online by the students!



 Rest in peace Stanley Rumbough.

One of his ex-wives, Margaretha Rumbough, is Swedish, lives in Phipps Plaza, keeps a wonderful, wild garden and is a very nice lady I have met. In the small encircled Phipps Plaza "park", Margaretha has helped to save a strangler fig tree twice that was knocked down first by Hurricane Wilma and now Hurricane Irma; a tree that I climbed as boy and fell out of and broke my arm on one of its shallow, surface roots. She takes an interest in the empty shops that have remained empty along South County Rd. and Seaview Ave. in Palm Beach that front Phipps Plaza in Palm Beach and regrets that there are no art galleries or other fun businesses in them yet.

I did not know Mr. Rumbough but I do know he was one of the few people who author Larry Leamer wrote well of in his book, "Madness Under the Royal Palms". And Mr. Rumbough was especially nice to Leamer even though Larry was a political opposite and certainly not "Old Guard".

To quote Leamer in the 2009 book: " Despite his age and the fact he lost and eye on the golf course, there is still an exuberant impish quality to the man. He loves Palm Beach with passionate loyalty and devotion. He loves the island the way he loves women, the sheer lines of Palm Beach, the nuances, the subtleties, the grace."



What a contrast with the current Wimbledon champion. Becker's rough and tumble play has led to many skinned knees. An anti-role model to ponder:

"How tennis legend Boris Becker blew $167 million"

"Mr Briggs also said Becker was 'not a sophisticated individual when it comes to finances,' and that bankruptcy was likely to have an adverse effect on Becker's image."



 Memory preservation is an area apparently in need of further research, but the recent statement highlighted below by one in the field is surprising to read.

1. "Working memory and distractions were the subjects of the second speaker, Fiona McNab, a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow at the University of York (UK). McNab explained that working memory is important for decision making, reasoning, language, and mathematical processing. She said there was no scientific evidence to show current brain training games could improve working memory; while games might improve the performance of a specific task intrinsic to the game, they do not have a transfer effect to other tasks. Instead, McNab highlighted the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging and behavioural studies to explore working memory and distraction. She also referred to the Great Brain Experiment, an app that allows users to play games to test their memories and provide data for neuroscience research."

2. There is certainly an interesting history to the idea of memory improvement though. Pelaminism was a popular subject in Victorian England.



 A nice story that appeared on CBS news last night. "Living Stronger: Centenarian a fixture in NYC neighborhood by caring about others":

'If it's Saturday night at Pasquale's Rigoletto, it's Joe Binder with the mic. "That is what keeps me going, when I make people laugh," Joe said. He's been entertaining people most of his time on this Earth, but on this day, it's everyone else's turn to sing. Joe just turned 107.'

Here is an article about his secrets to a long life: "no grudges", glass of wine, singing/music, exercise/activity and socializing at the fore.



 It appears that outdoor recreation in Palm Beach area is trending up with a proposed wave pool now making the news. Kelly Slater's wave pool would be located near a large aerospace manufacturing facility that was once the largest employer in Palm Beach County. The wave-making business also appears to be doing well internationally:

"Nowadays, there are seven different wave generating systems in the market: American Wave Machines, CityWave, Kelly Slater Wave Company, Murphy's Waves, Wavegarden, WaveLoch, and Webber Wave Pools."



 An interesting search for new antibiotics from Komodo dragon blood is taking place. The lizards thrive in local Florida zoos.

1) 'We set out to investigate the blood of the Komodo dragon, to try and find out more about its antimicrobial peptides, referring to small proteins that are part of its immune system," Barney Bishop, a professor at Virginia's George Mason University and lead author of the paper, told Digital Trends. "Komodo dragons have a reputation for having robust immune systems that allow them to live in very difficult environments, and be unaffected by bacteria that can cause all types of disease. They also recover very effectively from injuries and wounds inflicted by other dragons.'

2) "Komodo dragons are the largest living lizards and are the apex predators in their environs. They endure numerous strains of pathogenic bacteria in their saliva and recover from wounds inflicted by other dragons, reflecting the inherent robustness of their innate immune defense. We have employed a custom bioprospecting approach combining partial de novo peptide sequencing with transcriptome assembly to identify cationic antimicrobial peptides from Komodo dragon plasma."



 Patrick O'Brian in his book A Book of Voyages reports on a 17th century voyage to Denmark from Russia. The necessity was to take a lead horse tied 30 feet ahead of the two horses pulling the chaise. If the ice broke the rope was cut and the lead horse drowned but the passengers and drivers were saved.

The lead horse was called an enfant perdue. The query is what analogy this has to market moves. It has to be tested of course. Also what other two word aphorisms are relevant. The Judas Goat comes to mind.

anonymous writes: 

Sacrificial lamb.

Loss leader.

Falling knife.

anonymous writes: 

Not an aphorism but market-related: Reading and listening to post-Super Bowl analysis, at the point when the Pats were down 28-3, many people weren't just thinking "the Pats have lost this one for sure", but "this is the end of the Patriots as we have known them", that Brady is too old and Belichick has used up all his tricks and it's all just over. Then the Pats come back and win the game.

This kind of situation happens all the time in markets, at every time scale on the chart.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

Flotsam found while surfing on the subject:

1) "After having led thousands of confiding sheep to their death, "Judas Iscariot," as he is called in the yards of Armour & Co., has paid the penalty of his treachery and has been butchered. For eight years "Judas Iscariot" has been the "leading" sheep for the company.

Last week Judas rebelled. He refused to work, and his execution was decided upon. It is said by stockmen that a sudden attachment for a snow-white feminine sheep among the victims is responsible for his rebellion and ultimate death."

2) This article is about "Assembly bombers" and "formation ships". New terms for me.

Russ Sears writes: 

It seems that every recession a few company's ropes are cut and then the other struggling companies can ask for a bailout or corporate welfare and money or tax relief for their customers, like the auto industry, etc. But I'm not sure how testable this is as recessions have not been too frequent. What seems to occur is that the lead horse seems to be voted on by the others for their aggressiveness, like Bear, Lehman.

Stefan Jovanovich writes:

A further tangent, on the matter of animal attachments and Brian. In the part of the Napoleonic Wars fought on land, horses were the essential element. They not only carried the supplies; they also were the killing machines. Without the horses to haul the artillery, Napoleon had no victories. The collapse on the retreat from Moscow came first among the horses; once the French stopped paying the proper attention to them (cleaning their hooves, wiping them down after each day's march, giving them dry ground to stand on overnight), their feet literally rotted. What all armies found was that only mares and geldings could be used as "war" horses; the stallions would become hopelessly unruly during mating season.



 Virtual Reality technology as it improves should be very useful for training purposes in sports and perhaps in many other game related fields or even the business world.

The opportunity to see what it would feel like to play against great athletes might be fun if not, however, in truth a completely frustrating experience.

That the programs can incorporate so much data obtained from years of actual play is fascinating though.

A futuristic racquetball type VR evidently is available but it looks like more of an entertainment arcade environment heavy on special effects, noise, and lights.

"Trinity VR's 'DiamondFX' Batting Simulator is Made for the Major Leagues"



 Kenny Rogers comes to mind. Not having visible emotions or tells though would also seem to be a machine advantage over the mortal holders and folders.

"Inside the Poker AI That Out-Bluffed the Best Humans"

Through an algorithm called counterfactual regret minimization, it began by playing at random, and eventually, after several months of training and trillions of hands of poker, it too reached a level where it could not just challenge the best humans but play in ways they couldn't—playing a much wider range of bets and randomizing these bets, so that rivals have more trouble guessing what cards it holds. "We give the AI a description of the game. We don't tell it how to play," says Noam Brown, a CMU grad student who built the system alongside his professor, Tuomas Sandholm. "It develops a strategy completely independently from human play, and it can be very different from the way humans play the game."



 This is an unusual paper on collective decision-making by bison–when herd behavior hurts. In which bison have a tough time with environmental cues, discernment of natural vs. man-made areas, and avoidance of ecological traps.

"Mortal munchies: For bison, collective behavior hastens decline":

"In a fusion-fission society, the herd frequently separates and regroups into new clusters. Just one animal who has located a tasty patch, and returned to tell the tale, can be the agent of bad information transmission for many." 


"Collective decision-making promotes fitness loss in a fusion-fission society":

"More generally, our results suggest that when the environment has changed such that environmental cues no longer reflect reliable determinants of fitness, collective information processing may actually be detrimental to fitness."



There is a basketball movie that looks interesting: "Israeli filmmaker Dani Menkin's new documentary, "On The Map," recounts the tremendous achievements of a team nobody thought could win, and captures the unique charisma of the players who inspired a nation."



This is rather amazing:

"Ultra-low-cost, hand-powered centrifuge is inspired by whirligig toy"

"A high-speed camera showed that the human-powered centrifuge could reach rotational speeds of 125,000 rpm, generating centrifugal forces of 30,000 g. This is faster than many commercial centrifuges, yet the device costs just a fraction of a dollar to make."



 I found a couple of fascinating articles about the inhospitable Lut Desert –a nascent "hot" spot for Iranian tourism. It is the hottest location on the planet. It is a place where the ecosystem survives on migrating birds dropping dead from the sky and on a layer of hypersaline groundwater.

"The incredible ecosystem of Earth’s hottest spot":

In March 1937, Gabriel finally conquered the central Lut—and barely made it out alive. He described his experiences a year later in a spellbinding talk to the Royal Geographical Society in London. Late one afternoon, Gabriel recounted, "the landscape darkened under red clouds … and a noise like the roaring of the sea began." The dust storm raged into the night. "For several anxious hours we lay, motionless and helpless, outstretched on the ground." Later, the voyagers were disoriented by mirages that were most vivid when the air was coolest, just before sunrise. Near the end of the 3-week journey, even their parched camels had had enough: "Their legs trembled; they panted, knelt down, and sometimes crept along on their knees."

"Into the furnace in Iran":

Summer is when the mercury peaks but this is also the time of the Wind of 120 Days. This north-easterly can blow for days on end, reaches hurricane force, and whips up great billowing clouds of hot sand and dust. Further east, this gritty gale strips trees of their leaves and causes structural damage to buildings due to sandblasting. The Wind of 120 Days is also responsible for the Lut's dramatic terrain. Millions of years of sandblasting have produced thousands of streamlined ridges known locally as kaluts, wind-carved grooves in the landscape on a huge scale. Some of these ridges are tens of metres high and several kilometres long. They occupy an area of nearly 8,000 square kilometres.



 An accomplished nature photographer from the financial world, David Yarrow, has an exhibit at Palm Beach gallery. He used to manage hedge funds. Two quotes I liked:

"Now I try to have a competitive edge on access. There's a relentlessness in both."


"As soon as you've got too many people doing one thing, it is very difficult to get an edge. If you've got 100 photographers around the court, how can you really get a picture that no one else has got? I work in places where there's no other photographer. I go and I search out some of the toughest places to photograph in the world and I'll be the only person there."



 I am interested in the DAPL story. (It's an unfortunate choice of acronym as "DNAPL" stands for Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid– which often refers to contamination by floating petroleum product).  It's a complex issue in many ways that has been left for the next administration to deal with–hopefully it will be resolved peaceably.

A quote from a recent article:

Pipeline experts said it was extremely rare for an administration to intervene in a permitting process typically handled by career civil servants. The advanced stage of the project’s construction made the Obama administration’s move even more unusual, and experts said they believed it could be easily overturned.

One can understand the support for the American Indians and the impoverished Sioux Tribe in ND.  It's not a good history and many want to make up for past injustices.

The DAPL has become a highly-charged and emotional cause. It's a big topic on Facebook. The legal issues involving tribal lands, reservation lands, and the laws pertaining to the DAPL are not well understood.

One tends to look at the science and engineering side of a $3.8 billion pipeline that is around 90% complete and for which large amounts of money and time have already been spent. Years to do the proper design, to prepare a large environmental (and archaeological) impact report, to hold public discussions during pre-permitting and to go through the rigorous permitting process and to come close to the construction finish line and be denied; well, it just seems that politics, protests and media coverage have now created a very expensive problem.

And what are the underlying reasons/motivations?  Is there something else at work here besides the environmental concerns, broken treaties and cultural heritage? Is environmental rent seeking in play? Are threats to the current use of railcars to transport oil out of the Bakken region even part of the equation?  Are assorted special interest groups trying to piggy-back along on the "black snake" bandwagon by using well-honed shakedown tactics to make cash? Is political legacy involved?  Climate change? Evil oil companies?

Whatever it is, it appears a lot of money has been wasted and the level of bad feelings on both sides of the issue has greatly increased.

The policing of the protest groups, by all accounts , will cost the State of North Dakota millions.  Money that in some measure could have been spent to help the 8000 residents of the Standing Rock reservation.  Goodness knows what the construction delays are costing not to mention what a pipeline relocation effort will cost if conducted.

Ostensibly the main concern with the DAPL is about water and the threat of water contamination.
At any rate, taking the "devil's side" where pesky details abound, it seems I recall reading that the risk of a major pipeline break at some point along the entire DAPL route was roughly estimated to be around 1 in 400 years. Extremely low. With all of the advanced pipeline pigs used to monitor pipeline mechanical integrity perhaps even lower. 

If the DAPL defied the odds and broke 0.5 miles above the Standing Rock Reservation the question then becomes how long would it take for the release to be detected on a newly-built pipeline with new electronic sensors before engineering controls kicked in to cut off flow. The worst case and potential volume loss have doubtlessly been modeled.

For buried pipeline (if not encased to begin with in impermeable cement/grout at environmentally-sensitive locations) the thickness and confining characteristics of the soil around the pipe could be a mitigating factor.

One thing for sure is that a detectable release would unleash a very aggressive spill response.  Pipeline repair and cleanup would likely commence within a matter of hours. Costs are high, the consequences can be serious and good companies know that.  However, for a significant or even detectable amount of petroleum product to get 50 miles down river to where the new water supply intake for the reservation will be located seems highly unlikely.

Assuming the even unlikely smaller, potential releases of petroleum, the river would in time aerate and flush out any remaining product or dilute it to a point that bacteria would use it as a food source.
But it is not easy to eliminate all risk of petroleum releases and associated impacts to surface waters or groundwater this modern world. The "water protectors" might look to remove all existing gas stations located on or in proximity to the Sioux Reservation. Then there may be various locations along the river where the possibility of runoffs of herbicides, pesticides, drugs, phosphates, and many other chemicals and elements could occur. What a hornet's nest. Pristine no longer exists.

To the south another even larger issue, involving the Sioux, the Black Hills and more than $1.3 billion awaits fair negotiation and resolution. An area given proper attention and earnest efforts that could improve the lives of thousands.



 Swifts have an amazing ability to stay aloft.

1) 'Lead researcher Anders Hendenstrom, professor of biology at Lund University, said: "It's mind-boggling that they can stair airborne for 10 months without needing to come down. "Most of the time there is a trade-off between energy use and life: live hard and die young. "But these birds live quite long, up to 20 years, so somehow they have beaten this rule."


2) Why come down when it is safer to stay aloft? "So, what are the main selective forces leading to such an extreme aerial lifestyle as found in swifts? One factor could be that specializing in high-altitude aerial insects as a main food source requires the suite of adaptations for efficient flight shown by swifts which compromises terrestrial locomotion and make swifts vulnerable to predators and parasites had they been landing more often. Our data suggest that even if common swifts settle to roost occasionally, which has been observed also in young swifts if the weather is bad their predominant element during the 10-month non-breeding period is up in the air."



 I find it interesting the difference in public and private thoughts on fracking by the cattle trader. And also the price trajectories of the proppant companies. Sand companies (increased amounts now being used per well) have rebounded. On the other hand a leading ceramic (more useful in higher pressure/deeper wells) proppant producer hitting rock bottom. A tough business to be in.

"Chesapeake Energy Declares ‘Propageddon’ With Record Frack":

'The super-sized dose of sand — known as "proppant" — is able to prop open bigger and more numerous cracks in the rock for oil and gas to flow. Output from the well increased 70 percent over traditional fracking techniques, Jason Pigott, vice president of operations, said during a presentation.

"What we're doing is unleashing hell on every gas molecule downhole," Pigott said.'



 As Cleese would say, "now for something completely different." And just in time for Halloween. Well certain species of trees and plants have already been used to clean up former landfills and contaminated soil areas but it would be very neat if a way were found to further modify them genetically to make them even more efficient at extracting contaminants ("enhanced phytoremediation"). Time is money and reduced cleanup times for impacted properties can save significant amounts of money!

'Mystery of 'ghost trees' unlocked?:

'Now a San Jose researcher is showing that these "ghosts of the forest" may be more than a biological novelty, perhaps solving a generations-old question. Zane Moore, a doctoral student at UC Davis, analyzed the needles of albino redwood leaves in a lab and found that they contain high levels of the toxic heavy metals nickel, copper and cadmium.

The phantom-like plants, which rarely grow more than 10 feet tall, appear to be drawing away and storing pollution, some of it occurring naturally in the soils — particularly shale soils — and some left from railroads, highways and other man-made sources that otherwise could degrade or kill redwoods.



 It's been predicted that wave heights could be significantly above average due to Hurricane Matthew passing our region of the Atlantic Ocean around Thursday of this week. Some have said over 10 feet–perhaps with 30- 40 mph winds. An opportunity for very experienced surfers that does not come that often.

In Palm Beach the favorite spot is near the inlet and it is aligned with and called "Reef Road". Not a lot of public parking there but I imagine a ferry service will evolve to carry local surfers back and forth from this beautiful beach location. It's been said that due to a gap in the Bahamas chain of islands that our area enjoys increased wave amplitudes whenever a storm or hurricane tracks along the Bahamas. I imagine die hard surfers are beginning to monitor all of the technical information available online and start to look at potential treks along I-95 to maximize opportunities.

On another note a photographer in NE Florida near Jacksonville has photographed surfers with over 20 or so years of experience and they look to be a very happy lot. He calls them "Salty Dogs" which is also the name of an old college bar at UF.

Jeff Watson writes: 

Reef Road is very hard to access, as there is virtually no parking and the PB police love to ticket or tow cars parked illegally. I have a friend that lives on the north end of PB and he is very benevolent the few times a decade that we get over for huge swell. There is no place on the East Coast that can handle big waves (Hawaiian size) like Reef Road. It is the premier big wave break in all of Florida, and handles big waves even better than Montauk, NY. Thursday AM, the Surfline forecast is for 10'+ after Matthew has passed by and headed up north, which will be the best time to surf. One can expect that when the storm is parallel to the break that one might see 20'+ waves, but those big conditions will be like a washing machine, totally blown out, almost impossible to surf. I'm trying to put a bug in my wife's head to take the trip over, but the conditions are fluid as nobody has an accurate model of the path. Right now, I'm fixing a ding in my big gun, getting ready for what might be my last time surfing really big waves. To say that I'm stoked would be a very accurate assessment. 

Jim Sogi writes: 

Jeff, catch some good ones for me!

As even Market waves start increasing, it's good to be ready, in shape, and have good equipment. Have good timing by watching the wave sets for a while in advance, and let the daily pattern reveal itself. As Shane Dorian says: "trust your board and ride the wave". It's not good to bail prematurely as that is when you can get hurt. Ride it until the wave has spent its force. That's the safer time to bail or end the ride.



This is a great article: a modern tale of fear and rescue.

'Steve Moon, 24, was on a normal mission to lure red fish using cut bait near Burnt Store Marina. Instead, he was nearly left as the bait, stranded and surrounded by sharks.

"It wasn't a big deal until I counted 10, and they kept getting closer and more aggressive, getting within a foot of me," Moon said.'

Florida man rescued after being surrounded by 10 sharks By Tony Sadiku



 I was dragging my feet in the canal the other day, watching four young men prepare a fire for a common pot of what we used to call hobo stew. That is, they were talking about how delicious it was going to be, while a single girl gathered firewood. I asked her in private why she allowed it. She replied, "Does not the one who serves control them?" Then I enjoyed what unfolded. The girl prepared the stew of beans, potatoes, tomatoes, and cans of this and that. With full bellies, the men doled out what they had come for, methamphetamine for sex. Then, one by one, they fell asleep poisoned by the stew. The girl methodically fleeced their wallets and walked away singing like a bird.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

Looks like SC has been taken over by modern art since I took the tour in 2014. At that time a German film crew was visiting and producing a short piece about Salvation Mountain and they generously provided free beer during their overnight stay.

A truly interesting collection of people reside in Slab City. A patient interviewer could easily write a book– "Slab City Stories". Bring a sand wedge though if you want to play golf at the homemade golf course– and to keep various things at bay.

SC has a MASH-like feel as community members (a fair number ex-military) gather around cocktail hour to watch Air Force jets take practice runs and drop bombs in a valley several miles to the east. The various metal parts and bomb guidance fins left are often salvaged for profit.

Small drone footage is now available on youtube also that captures some of the ambience.



 Drug profits appear low to support so much deadly crime.

"Chicago's West Side overrun by drug markets"

"The shopping list, according to police affidavits, includes sawbucks, which is $10 dollars, "rocks" of crack cocaine, sold $14 to the pack, or "nickel blows" of heroin for $5 dollars apiece. Street dealers typically earn $20 or $30 dollars for every $100 dollars they turn over to their bosses."

There have been attempts to figure out economic solutions.

Here is an early paper that tries to put numbers to the trade: "a systematic miscalculation of risk" 

"This paper provides the first detailed analysis of the financial activities of an entrepreneurial street gang."



 It seems like Alabama is a good state for kids and all to learn about paleontology.

"Alabama's hidden role in Darwin's theory of evolution":

The snail was about 40 million years old, he said, just like the thousands of fossilized clams and seashells littering the surrounding bank. This spot, known as Claiborne Bluff, has been famous for its ancient fossils since the 1800s. But there is something else that excites Becker about the site. "These fossils in Alabama played a part in the development of Darwin's theory of evolution," said Becker, a professor at William Patterson University in New Jersey. "It all goes back to Charles Lyell."



 1. "Understanding rogue ocean waves may be simple after all"

"You have to account for the nonlinearity of the ocean, which is manifested in the lack of symmetry between the crests and the troughs," said Fedele, who also has an appointment in Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "These nonlinear effects can produce an enhancement of 15 to 20 percent in wave height, which adds onto the effects of constructive interference."

2. And here is an article about the math of it all.

"Real world ocean rogue waves explained without the modulational instability"



 I wonder if listening to music that you listened to in the past during times of success would be beneficial to performance.

1. "Mamma Mia! listening to Mozart lowers blood pressure…but ABBA has no impact"

"It has been known for centuries that music has an effect on human beings. In antiquity, music was used to improve performance in athletes during the Olympic Games," said Lead author Hans-Joachim Trappe, of Ruhr University, Germany."

2. "Study Finds Brain Hub That Links Music, Memory And Emotion"

"What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head. It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person's face in your mind's eye," Janata said. "Now we can see the association between those two things – the music and the memories." 



 Here is a topic of discussion to keep and eye on. "Locked and loaded" is a popular expression currently bandied about. Noise reduction statistics used to tease out vertical component may be of interest too.

1. "GPS Readings Showed Large-Scale Vertical Motion Along San Andreas Fault"

Vertical "lobes" along San Andreas Fault give likelihood of large earthquakes happening within the nex… Pulse Headlines noted that the US Geological Survey predicted a possible maximum earthquake magnitude of 8.0 along the San Andreas Fault, with a seven percent probability that the event could occur within the next 30 years.

In the same 30-year period, there is a 75 percent chance of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake happening. The difference between the two magnitude sizes may seem small, but an earthquake with an 8.0 magnitude is said to have 1,000 times more energy than the 7.0 magnitude quake. To help them understand better the possible damages that these events could produce, researchers modeled a 7.8 magnitude quake with a 2 to 7-meter slippage to represent the catastrophic consequences that it could have on California. They were able to determine that the most damage will happen to constructions straddling the fault. The area that will be most affected will include 996 roads, 90 fiber optic cables, 39 gas pipes, and 141 power lines across the zone.



 Everyone talks about the weather without defining 'warm' and 'hot' and applying a scientific plan to deal with it.

Yesterday Sunday was a 'warm' day in Slab City, CA. Warm by my definition means the ambient temperature is above the body temperature. One must move and breathe expertly to cool the body. Examples are volitional or subconscious control to move blood to and from the cool and warm body parts such as the skin, bone marrow and internal organs; and breathing in a manner to cool the air in route to the cool and warm lobes of the lung. A seasoned person who can do these things in outdoor activity is only 'warm'. My shirt left in the shade yesterday was too warm to handle comfortably, but shirts don't have the capacity to train themselves as the human body does. I've been out in the desert for fifteen years working up to the harsh summers by driving the car with the heater on full blast and the windows up, and by exercising gradually into the high temperatures. Yesterday it was 120F at 7pm in the shade of the town thermometer.

When it gets what I call 'hot' then I cannot brag so much. This is when even I can die on a leisurely walk without shade. Yesterday I was able to walk 4 hours with 10 lbs of ankle weights and no water. However, the 'hot' days are coming when it will be impossible for me, and I believe for anyone on a sustained basis. 'Hot' is another quantum leap that occurs when the body can no longer shunt blood and breath inside the body to cool itself. Outside resources are required to exist during exercise such as shade, water, and rest periods. Hot c occurs at about 120F or above depending on the breeze, alkalinity of air, elevation (we're 120' below sea level here in Slab City), and haze above a basin that acts as a magnifying glass of the sun's rays. The 'hot' days are coming in August and you may still be active outside using a baggy full of ice inside a hat that melts through a pinhole, drinking warm water (increases the rate of absorption), and resting ten minutes each hour in the shade.

There was a stream of bicyclers and walkers yesterday from Slab City along a 3 mile stretch to the little store that was sold out of water and nearly out of ice. The people thought they were suffering, but the hot weather is on the way.

Chris Tucker writes:

Stefan J. recommended Essentials of Sea Survival by Golden and Tipton recently and I cannot praise the book enough. It has a very thorough and scientific discussion on how the human body retains and sheds heat and the physical consequences of each.

Pitt T. Maner adds: 

My worst experience as an environmental geologist was working in 95 degree South Florida heat, 80 percent humidity, in modified level C with a full-face respirator, fully enclosed in impermeable Saranex.

Young and not overly cognizant of proper heat stress avoidance procedures, my teammate and I would saw cut through cement and then twist and turn a hand auger to collect soil samples to about 4 feet while a nearby gear testing unit engineers went through throttle up and throttle down torture tests.

It was a taste of what the upper circle of hell might feel and sound like. A couple of red devils with pitchforks were all that was needed.

We soon figured out that we could get fully dressed in our PPE and survive in our suits for about 30 minutes at midday before our gloves pooled with sweat and the level of perspiration inside our masks reached our lower nostrils and began to fill our chemical resistant boots.

We tried hard to avoid the feeling of claustrophobia but a surge of panicky adrenaline paid a visit once or twice a day to both of us.

Getting smarter (by trial and error) on the second day we began working earlier in the morning and wore cheap ice vests with pockets for those cool containers you can freeze over and over in the fridge. Each morning session lasted about 3.5 hours and then we weighed in on a scale (usually I was 7 pounds lighter by then) and headed of to an early lunch and rehydration. After and hour or so we would head back for a quick session to get in another 2 hours in the afternoon.

My teammate and I did this for 5 straight days. On Friday we collected our last samples , filled out the chain of custody and lab task order sheets and shipped the samples coolers to the analytical laboratory. Off to 7-11 for water, Gatorade, and 2 cold beers (wasn't a good idea).

For the next week I felt like I was battling the flu. The accumulation of heat stress and environmental stress each day sapped energy–there was no real training effect–there was a breakdown and exhaustive effect on the body and mind.

Fortunately after about a month the symptoms went away.

So if you are doing heavy work outside in high heat conditions you need to not only be physically trained but also aware of the how insidious heat stress can be. Best to know what the health and safety guidelines are on the matter too and take the advice of experienced medical personnel. Hydration, sitting down and resting, getting out of the direct sun, etc. etc. And for the amateurs a buddy to come along or at least someone who knows where you are and when to expect you and/or radio or smartphone at hand. 

Best regards to the desert dwellers. 



 Here are some food caching strategies from squirrels. It wouldn't be easy to earn a meal off of one of these guys.

"After hoarding food items, animals begin to protect their resources from pilfering by patrolling the caches. First, animals move around the caching areas and check whether the cached food items are safe. However, animals generally change their behavior after they experienced pilfering. Of particular use in this study is an interesting deceptive behavior observed in the food protection strategy of certain squirrels."

"However, if potential competitors are present nearby, tree squirrels visit several empty cache locations. This deceptive behavior attempts to confuse competitors about the food's location, so that they can protect against the loss of their hoarded food. After the potential competitors leave the territory, the tree squirrels move the location of their stored food items, if pilfering occurs."


"Where audience members are attentive to a cache event, it pays for individuals to alter their behaviour to reduce the risk of theft and/or a competitive interaction. One of the ways a number of different species have been shown to do this is through re-caching, when individuals move a food item from one site to another (Emery et al. 2004; Zhang et al. 2014b)."



 I watched Game 7 of the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder NBA playoff matchup the other night and was amazed at how sloppy the game became at times. Not to be overly critical, but the fundamental ability to make a lay-up seemed to be a challenge for a few of the professionals playing.

That being said, the fantastic shooting ability of Warriors Stephen Curry and his sidekick Klay Thompson in the end lead to victory and entry into the NBA Finals. Curry's 3-pt shot is built on tremendous hand-eye coordination, strong legs/core and repeated, consistent practice. Although some say his form is not that far a departure from past great shooters there are few subtle things that appear to make a difference.

While watching Game 7 it was difficult, for instance, to understand how Curry could get off outside shots from around 25 feet over an agile 7-foot center (Adams) with a standing reach of about 9 feet 4 inches (say 112 inches) and maybe a 34-inch vertical leap. But then I started reading a few articles about Curry's 3-pt shot and found that his shot is highly accurate and rarely blocked (unless from the side) for several reasons.

From: "Outsider Artist: Understanding the Beauty of Steph Curry’s Jumper"

1) Quick release and on the rise: "Curry can gather his dribble and release his shot in about 0.4 seconds, much faster than the average player."

2) Almost unblockable shot straight on with say 2 feet of separation: "Furthermore, thanks to an unusually steep shooting trajectory, in the time it takes an average NBA player to gather and shoot the ball, Curry's ball has already made it 12 feet above the surface of the court.

It looks like a 7-footer like Adams with his highest vertical jump and perfectly timed block attempt might still swat air with finger tips 146 inches above court surface unless he has somehow managed to close to within a foot of Curry."

3) He practices being unperturbed as large forwards and centers try to block his shot. "Curry makes 44 percent of his contested 3s. Let me make this totally clear: Curry is as good with a guy in his face as the average NBA shooter is when wide open."

From an article that appeared in the WSJ a couple of years ago it appears that Curry's arc on his shot is higher than the NBA average.

I am looking forward to seeing a good NBA Finals with Curry and crew against Lebron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers.



 It's a harsh environment to drill in, and it's interesting that they would pick this time to begin the exploration process.

"Norway Offers New Offshore Drilling Licenses in Barents Sea"

Norway awarded on Wednesday 10 new licenses for offshore oil and gas exploration in the Barents Sea, including three in previously untouched waters near the Russian border. The Oil Ministry said it is the first time new acreage has been opened for drilling in Norwegian waters in 20 years.

"The potential is huge," Oil Minister Tord Lien said. "If the companies are successful in their exploration, Northern Norway will enter a new era."



 Here is an interesting general hypothesis about the tree snapping point where there is not complete agreement on the conclusions amongst the experts.

1. "Do All Trees Snap at 94 mph?"

"So although a short tree has smaller stress points for cracks, it is thinner and could more easily split. On the other hand, a tall tree has width and stiffness going for it, but larger internal flaws undermine its sturdiness."

2. "Trees break at fixed wind speed, irrespective of size or species"

"Barry Gardiner, a silviculturist at INRA Bordeaux-Aquitaine who specializes in wind damage and was not involved in this study, calls the work very interesting, and a good springboard for helping us to understand better the controls on wind damage in trees. Gardiner cautions, however, that the conclusion of a weak dependence of critical wind speed on tree height appears contradicted by previous studies of storm impacts – which have reported that tree height is a very important predictor of the likelihood of damage. "From a biological point of view, it makes a lot of assumptions that simplify the natural world," he adds – noting that the model assumes a steady wind state and complete branch shedding, two factors that are not typically reflected in real storms. "Another thing that's important to remember is that trees are living, so they're adjusting and acclimating to their environment all the time – they're not a passive engineering structure.""



This is a great article making the internet rounds: "Degree programs I did not get into': A Princeton professor's 'CV of failures"

"Most of what I try fails," Haushofers writes in the introduction to his resume, "but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible." People may think they fail because something is wrong with them, he writes, and not that failures and setbacks happen to everyone. "The world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days," he writes.



 There is a new book with an unusual perspective: A Burglar's Guide to the City

He devotes the book to the "misusers" of cities, people who refuse to be stopped by walls, doors and ceilings in their quest to steal.

Burglars are some of history's greatest architecture critics, finding the flaws in every building — and rebuilding them from the inside, with tunnels under the floors of banks, or perfect portals through the drywall between apartments.



A good book on deception is Cheats and Deceits by Martin Stevens. Also the wikipedia entries on deception and also the books listed in Cheats and Deceit. Everything in our field is colored and infused with deception.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

Here is short article by the author of Cheats and Deceit with a few pictures that may be of interest. Finding lunch or the avoidance of becoming lunch are key concerns.

"The struggle to survive and reproduce is intense for all organisms, and we should not be surprised that cheats are everywhere. What's remarkable is the extent to which animals and plants exploit one another and the level of sophistication involved. Nature is a brutal place, so it's a good idea to cheat and deceive if you want to be successful."

"Nature's Cheats: How Animals and Plants Trick and Deceive"



An interesting area of research is being done at Stanford.

1. "The Sky May Hold the Secret to Efficient Air Conditioning"

Air conditioning accounts for almost 15 percent of all energy use by
buildings in the United States. One way to cut that is to send heat to
outer space, according to Aaswath Raman. 

2. "How do half-inch ants survive the Sahara? Silver hairs, scientists say"

Nature was first! Rather than face predators during cooler hours, silver ants only emerge from their dens at the hottest point in a Saharan day. Extra-long legs keep their bodies as far as possible from the hot sand, and special heat shock proteins allow them to withstand temperatures up to 128 degrees F. But these adaptations can only do so much – any more than 10 minutes in the sun means certain death for the silver ant, so they must hunt quickly, sprinting 70 times their body length every second. and "This is very, very unique," Yu says. "I've haven't seen other examples [of animals] that are so close to perfect in every sense. It is highly reflective in the solar spectrum, so the energy intake is minimized, whereas it's highly emissive in the thermal radiation spectrum, so the heat dissipation is maximized. This is the best thing you can do without electricity. You can only expect to see such extreme engineering in the biological world in such harsh environments."



 I wonder if the Olympics will lift spirits. Is it time to raise a selective cane or two?


The last time Brazil had back-to-back years of recession was 1930 and 1931, and has never had one as deep as that forecast for 2015 and 2016 combined, according to data from national economic research institute IPEA that dates back to 1901.


Brazil is on course for worst recession in century.

"The country of 204 million people was only recently being touted as the emerging markets giant that had finally found its feet — with the Olympic Games due to take place in Rio this August symbolizing that new status." and ' "Brazil has never had such a high level of uncertainty and this is freezing everything up. There is no consumption or investment or credit with this historic level of uncertainty," Daniel Cunha, an analyst at XP Investimentos in Sao Paulo, said.'



The Corvids are a fascinating family of birds.

1)  "It’s a good example of a behavior with widespread anecdotal evidence and the appearance of intelligence and complexity. Overall, there are few animals capable of distracting another individual to steal its food—for most species, food-stealing is always just opportunistic."
Crows: The tail-pulling, food-stealing bird prodigies
2)  Kaeli Swift runs a good blog site on corvids.
3) Swift's research on raven "funerals" and remembering threats is very interesting: The birds that fear death.



 "The Real Reason We Need to Stop Trying to Protect Everyone's Feelings" by Ryan Holiday

Pitt T. Maner III writes:

Ryan Holiday has a great list of "his favorite books":

I used to go around and ask every smart person I met—even emailing important people I didn't know— "What books do books when you recommend to a kid like me?" That's how I was introduced to the Stoics. That's how I found many of the books on the list below. The quake books—as Tyler Cowen put it—that shake you to your core. Having been introduced to them by those kind, patient individuals, I thought I would pay it forward by putting together a list of the books that have shaken up my life and that have helped make me the person that I am. It's a list that has changed over time—and will continue to change—but it's a good enough place to start.

I remember Joyce Carol Oates saying that she liked to tack inspirational quotes on the wall in her writing den. These Bartlett-worthy quotes served her as a kind of touchstone or centering device to stimulate reflection or proper thoughts before starting work. What other short but powerful sayings or books should be included (or omitted) in this list?



Here is a promising area of research.

"Drug to prevent ageing closer as scientists extend life of animals by 35 per cent"

Now scientists have shown that mice who received a special compound to clear out the senescent cells lived 35 per cent longer than those allowed to age normally. They were also stronger and healthier for longer.



 The movie In the Heart of the Sea about the Essex, as previously mentioned, is coming out on December 11th. Here is a cool article about the film:

"How Nantucket Came to Be the Whaling Capital of the World: Ron Howard's new film "In the Heart of the Sea" captures the greed and blood lust of the Massachusetts island":

And here is author of the book the film is based on, Philbrick, on Nantucket:

Bad weather had thrown off Pollard's lunar navigation. On the night of February 11, 1823, the sea around the ship suddenly churned white as the Two Brothers hurtled against a reef. "The ship struck with a fearful crash, which whirled me head foremost to the other side of the cabin," Nickerson wrote in an eyewitness account he produced some years after the shipwreck. "Captain Pollard seemed to stand amazed at the scene before him." First mate Eben Gardner recalled the final moments: "The sea made it over us and in a few moments the ship was full of water."

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

Here is a cool report from the NY Times from 1861 about the whale oil business.

Contrary to what the Smithsonian and Mr. Philbrick have written, Nantucket was never the center of the American whaling industry. The trade journal for the industry, the "Whalemen's Shipping List and Merchants' Transcript," began publication in New Bedford in 1843 and was still being printed (as a single broadsheet) when Walter Sheldon Tower's History of the American Whale Fishery was published in 1907. Tower's comment: "New Bedford was a greater whaling port than Nantucket ever was."

FWIW, Melville's adventure sagas - Typee and Omoo - (also freely available both on Kindle and on Google books) are actually a better portrayal of life at sea than Moby Dick, which Melville wrote as an attempt to emulate Homer's prose poem of Ulysses. The American public loved the South Sea tales but they found the great work heavy going. Contrary to the usual biographies, Melville was not heart-broken by his novel's "failure" (sic), only worried because he needed the money. But, then, he got a decent civil service job and went back to his first love - simple poetry - and became the Wallace Stevens of the NY Custom House.

anonymous writes: 

No argument on the ultimate rise of New Bedford over Nantucket, but give them a little credit for being one of the main birthplaces of commercial US whaling.

Relatedly, I finally successfully made it through all of Moby Dick a few months back. Although not much of it came easy, I enjoyed it overall, and actually found parts of it pretty amusing.

I am looking forward to going to the Whaling Museum in New Bedford for the first time as soon as I can squeeze it in. I've heard it's quite nice.



 While perhaps not a panacea, coffee drinking appears to be beneficial for some people. Figuring out the chemistry is not easy. Here are a couple of recent papers related to the liver that cover some of the literature and studies to date.

"The suggested anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective effects of coffee in our study could be accounted for by several bioactive compounds with high antioxidant capacity. The main compounds in coffee implicated to have protective roles in the liver are caffeine, paraxanthine, cafestol, kahweol, and chlorogenic acids; however, .1000 additional compounds could be responsible for its beneficial effects (43, 44, 45). Additional studies are warranted to evaluate the potential for application of these specific biochemical compounds in HCC prevention."

It seems very likely that coffee, acting through caffeine, and probably through inhibition of adenosinergic signals, prevents complications of chronic liver disease – specifically cirrhosis. Two features of the evidence are of particular importance. First, the fact that the literature in patients supporting coffee's anti-cirrhotic effect continues to accrue without opposing studies suggests that the initial epidemiological associations were real. Although this could be accounted for in part by publication bias favoring positive studies, that is not a fully convincing explanation. Second, the observation that the studies in human are supported by animal and cellular data suggest that there is a rationale to give the human trials greater consideration. At present, it is rational to encourage the use of moderate amounts of brewed coffee in patients with chronic liver disease.

And here is a very interesting article about coffee with good graphics by Nathan Seppa in Science News (Oct 3, 2015).



 Superforecasting by Tetlock is making the internet rounds. Grist or chaff for aspiring prognosticators?

"Having a Crystal Ball":

What emerges is readable and laudable, if less than earth-shattering. In the end, the findings are, well, predictable: an intelligent person who devotes time to researching a problem, narrows the parameters of the question, interrogates the hypothesis, and monitors new information will be better able to predict the future.

From the superforecasting website:

In Superforecasting, Tetlock and coauthor Dan Gardner offer a masterwork on prediction, drawing on decades of research and the results of a massive, government-funded forecasting tournament. The Good Judgment Project involves tens of thousands of ordinary people—including a Brooklyn filmmaker, a retired pipe installer, and a former ballroom dancer—who set out to forecast global events.

A rather lengthy "master class" on the subject:

Over the weekend in Napa, Tetlock held five classes, which are being presented by Edge in their entirety (8.5 hours of video and audio) along with accompanying transcripts (61,000 words). Commenting on the event, one of the participants wrote: "The interesting thing is that this is not about a latest trend that might scale in one or two years, but about real change that might take a decade or two. Also, these masterclasses are not only much more profound than any of the conferences popularizing contemporary intellectualism. The possibility to spend that much time with the clairvoyants in a setting like this also gives you a sense of community so much greater than any of the advertised."



 Quantum computers seem like a promising technology.

1. "Imagine you have a maze and there are billions of ways to turn left and right and you are given five minutes to get through. With conventional computing you would try each path sequentially." But quantum computing would allow all possible paths to be tested simultaneously with an answer given immediately. This is the power that is possible with the technology, he said."

2. "In classical computers, data is rendered as binary bits, which are always in one of two states: 0 or 1. However, a qubit can exist in both of these states at once, a condition known as a superposition. A qubit operation exploits this quantum weirdness by allowing many computations to be performed in parallel (a two-qubit system performs the operation on 4 values, a three-qubit system on 8, and so on). As a result, quantum computers will far exceed today's most powerful super computers, and offer enormous advantages for a range of complex problems, such as rapidly scouring vast databases, modelling financial markets, optimizing huge metropolitan transport networks, and modelling complex biological molecules."

3. With its extraordinary computing power, a quantum computer is potentially able to solve highly complex problems, in particular optimisation issues. In the field of healthcare, quantum computers will "make it easier to analyse genetic information and identify a person's genetic heritage," Murray Thom, Director of Professional Services at D-Wave, one of the first companies to develop commercial applications for quantum computers, explained to L'Atelier, adding: "Researchers will then be able to use this information to decide on treatment options."



 The Siberian snow cover is building up a bit.

The meteorologist who discovered this relationship, Judah Cohen of Atmospheric and Environmental Research, says this October's Siberian snow cover is off to a fast start, which may portend another cold winter for the East. "I think that [the Siberian snow cover] will be above normal," Cohen said in an e-mail. "[But] it is lagging the two blockbuster Octobers of the past two years."



Yes, I think this is relevant to trading…and counting, regime changes, confirmation bias, the lizard brain, and the struggle to understand whatever we can define as objective reality.

"Placebo Effect Grows in U.S., Thwarting Development of Painkillers":

Drug companies have a problem: they are finding it ever harder to get painkillers through clinical trials. But this isn't necessarily because the drugs are getting worse. An extensive analysis of trial data has found that responses to sham treatments have become stronger over time, making it harder to prove a drug's advantage over placebo.

The change in reponse to placebo treatments for pain, discovered by researchers in Canada, holds true only for US clinical trials. "We were absolutely floored when we found out," says Jeffrey Mogil, who directs the pain-genetics lab at McGill University in Montreal and led the analysis. Simply being in a US trial and receiving sham treatment now seems to relieve pain almost as effectively as many promising new drugs. Mogil thinks that as US trials get longer, larger and more expensive, they may be enhancing participants' expectations of their effectiveness.

Stronger placebo responses have already been reported for trials of antidepressants and antipsychotics, triggering debate over whether growing placebo effects are seen in pain trials too. To find out, Mogil and his colleagues examined 84 clinical trials of drugs for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain (pain which affects the nervous system) published between 1990 and 2013.



 Coming to a grocery aisle near you:

 "Forget Amazon gift cards: Give Someone Public Stock with Stockpile"

"There are plenty of people who'd happily become shareholders in companies like Apple and Facebook if the process of buying stock were simpler. They are plenty of people who'd prefer to give the gift of stock but who hand out money or retailers' gift cards for the same reason. Stockpile, a five-year-old, 15-person, Palo Alto, Ca.-based brokerage services firm has a solution to that problem: Stock gift cards. They say they'll be everywhere soon, too, thanks in part to $15 million in Series A funding the company has just stockpiled from Sequoia Capital, Mayfield, and actor-investor Ashton Kutcher."

Stockpile's tagline is: "the world's first gift card for stock. You pick the stock and dollar amount. They get fractional shares of real stock. Even kids and teens can do it!"



 There appears to be a very rapidly growing area of business, and even magazines to help you with your player selections now fill the shelves of grocery store racks. A lower barrier to entry for those with less money to lose?


Sports betting has thrived despite a large skill gap between the average sports fan and the sharp bettor. The reason is that the lines are set by a large, liquid market. You can walk up to a betting window in Las Vegas, select a team at random and still win almost 50 percent of the time. Betting randomly, you will lose money over time, but your average loss will be only slightly over the 4.5 percent vigorish.



Last week, a DraftKings employee admitted to inadvertently releasing data before the start of the third week of N.F.L. games, a move akin to insider trading in the stock market. The employee – a midlevel content manager — won $350,000 at rival site FanDuel that same week.The incident has raised questions about who at daily fantasy companies has access to valuable data, how it is protected and whether the industry can — or wants — to police itself. They also say the incident is "what amounted to allegations of insider trading."This is huge news for fantasy sports, a multibillion-dollar industry that's legal in the US because fantasy sports are considered a game of "skill."



 One for Dr. Bejan.

The Coffee Ring Effect is a well-known phenomenon. A puddle of coffee leaves behind a dark ring, instead of a uniform brown stain. This video explains why— and how this phenomenon resembles what happens in an avalanche.

Dr. Adrian Bejan replies: 

Dear Victor and Pitt,

Thank you for this excellent video. Very inspiring.

I have not worked on predicting the coffee ring phenomenon, but I worked on related phenomena. Here I show you two related ideas:

First, my short video on predicting the architecture of the snowflake, which is based on an article in nature scientific reports.

Second, my article on how to predict droplet impact behavior, splat vs splash. No film about this yet.

The broader domain of life and evolution as physics, to which all evolutionary flow architectures belong, was reviewed during my lecture at the NYC Junto on 3 September.

With best wishes to all,


Adrian Bejan ( MIT ' 71, ' 72, ' 75 )
J.A. Jones Distinguished Professor
Duke University



 So you've decided to go vagabonding.

What you're doing is courageous, logical, and not that unusual these days.

The bottom line is you've decided to jump the fence of your backyard to explore what's beyond. I did this metaphorically and physically as an Idaho spud, and haven't turned an eye back.

For you, good things are ahead. In the 1990s it was just becoming popular for citizens to step outside their country or second nation borders to live. We travelers called their areas 'pockets of ex-pats' and they were small but established in a town or site in nearly every third & second world country.

Now, however, the movement is grander, with hundreds of these pockets around the world, and up to tens of thousands in each. Some I've visited or heard about first hand in the past few years are Saigon, large cities of India, Seoul, Bangkok, a number of Chinese cities, and many more.

The nuts and bolts of finding and selecting one is simple. Get a Lonely Planet guidebook (at any Barnes & Noble) for the country or region you wish to penetrate. Use the guide in plotting a rough itinerary & picking a places to stay–immediately you'll be hooked into the travelers' grapevine. This is because almost every travelers use Lonely Planet, thus end up using the same facilities. You'll be sitting in a hotel, hostel, cafe or bar with dozens of other travelers and tourists from a dozen countries speaking four languages (English dominates) and you simply listen or ask what you want to know– where should i go for this or that.

Nearly every traveler I meet these days is a 'digital nomad', except me with my muddy boots.

If you are targeting India, Bangkok or Buenos Aires, I can provide contacts.

Your exploratory trip should connect the dots of possibilities, staying only a couple days at each, and allowing for side trips to nearby pockets of ex-pats doing the same thing you want to do. It's a scouting trip for overview. In one month, with diligence, you can have composed, and visited, twenty strong potential sites. The next step is to pick the top three, and live at each for one month to get the feet wet. Then jump in.

if you decide not to jump in, you will have had a wonderful time.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

In Central America, Nicaragua, is an interesting and beautiful country I have visited and lived where one can find the finest coffee, good cigars, and excellent rum, or live healthily and eat many exotic and delicious fruits (dragonfruit, nispero, papaya, nancite) and hike through the amazing cloud forests and waterfalls of dormant volcanos. The people are friendly and generally happy and positive. 



One for Dr. Bejan.

The Coffee Ring Effect is a well-known phenomenon. A puddle of coffee leaves behind a dark ring, instead of a uniform brown stain. This video explains why — and how this phenomenon resembles what happens in an avalanche.



 Anything of relevance?: "Rogue Wave Theory to Save Ships"

Stef Estebiza writes: 

Better than "of relevance", it is fundamental. The wave is only the visible part of the situation: "Artificial Surfing Reefs".

Pitt T. Maner III adds: 

Have you seen this video of a rogue wave hitting a tanker? The video is not, by any stretch, a rogue wave though. Those are large enough that their weight simply breaks the ship's steel.

Here is a picture of the damage from a rogue wave to Hornet from WW 2.

Steve Ellison responds: 

Yes, in the markets too there are infrequent "rogue waves" that can be catastrophic. A recent example was the move in the Swiss franc after the Swiss central bank abandoned the peg to the euro. If one is using leverage, such a rogue wave can easily be fatal.

The study of earthquake recurrences might also be fruitful. There was recently some media attention to the possibility of a magnitude 9 earthquake in the US northwest that would have many characteristics of the Japan earthquake in 2011, including elevation changes that would put some areas below sea level and drop others to within range of a tsunami. Such an event could occur tomorrow or might not occur until a later century.

Jim Sogi writes: 

A rogue wave can be a "hole" in the ocean due to random overlapping of normal size waves. Sometimes a hole forms big enough for the ship to drop into the ocean, and get covered up. The waves are not always "high" waves.

In the market, random and other forces can cause big air drops, or a no bid situation. I think these are the ones most damaging to traders. It's not just the big climax peaks.



 With copper selling at $2.50 a pound, wire thefts have become increasingly popular. Last month in fashionable Chesapeake, VA my brother chased down two midnight strippers on his bicycle. Little desert towns around me now in southern California look like war zones with every fourth shanty or mobile home broken into, and stripped. At my own Sand Valley property wire robbers stripped the extension cords, dug up underground wires, and burned them to the precious 'green gold' in my backyard barbeque. The other day in Niland, CA I was house hunting and paused at the sheriff station to inquire about neighborhood safety. The radio blurted, 'Copper stripper in the act in the chartreuse house on Fifth Street.' The sheriff piped, 'Will you stand by?' and I replied, 'Yes'. But secretly I tailed him, turning into an alley behind the chartreuse home. I got out and looked for people or prints, as the officer yelled, 'Police' and banged through door after door inside. He exited, pistol in hand, and yelled, 'Freeze!.' 'I'm the house hunter!' I shouted. We trailed the robber down the alley, and because of the price of copper I've decided to buy a house elsewhere.

Pitt T. Maner III writes:

There is a nice reward for those helping to catch Cu thieves:

"With the theft of copper communications cable increasing in Southern California, Verizon is offering up to $10,000 to anyone who can provide the company with information that leads to the arrest of the perpetrators."

Strange events since the price of copper appears to be near a multi-year low…perhaps the cables are easier targets or the thieves have become more sophisticated in finding and exploiting them.



 With Panama leading the group, a fast-growing economy and deeper canal can't hurt.

1. "Americas Lead Highs, Sub-Saharan Africa Lows in Well-Being"

2. "A researcher explains why Panamanians are the happiest people in the world"

We were curious about why Latin Americans fared so well in terms of their well-being, so we checked in with Dan Witters, Gallup-Healthways Research Director, to get some insight. "It's a culture of positive outlook," he said. "It permeates Latin America." He added: "There are some pretty poor countries there, characterized by many decades of civil strife, human rights abuses, and outright civil war — yet people maintain pretty impressive levels of objective well-being. For those of us who spend all of time in well-being measurement, it was no surprise to see Latin American countries in there.



 Dr. Spector makes some interesting claims in his new book. Gut bacteria are all the rage at the moment but fermented foods do seem to have positive health benefits. The phantasmagorical apparition of the rocket man may be able to quaff Kriek lambic and eat a piece of Bleu d'Auvergne with celery without ill effect.

Tim Spector, author of The Diet Myth, is professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London — and famous for leading the Twins UK team that compares identical and non-identical twins to untangle the genetic and environmental influences on disease and physical appearance. He also leads the British Gut Project and is currently using DNA sequencing to study the microbiomes of 5,000 twins. Spector’s book is the most comprehensive of the three, with dietary advice detailing what is known about the impact on the microbiome of different categories of food ingredient (fats, proteins, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and sweeteners) as well as alcohol, caffeine, antibiotics and other drugs.



 My current challenge is onboarding approximately 200 new traders in the next three months. While we have built sophisticated tools, systems, risk models etc., I have been becoming a bigger believer of the concept that "Who we are as individuals is how we trade in the markets'. I have compiled some of my own weaknesses and strengths and am trying to build a matrix of self-cognition for other traders to follow. It would be great to get the groups feedback on the thoughts below.


Makes and follows long term business plan


Will ignore long term business plan


Will handle times of market volatility and make smart decisions


Will panic when markets are volatile and make stupid decisions


Strictly follows Stop-Loss rules and Protects Trading Capital


Will not be diligent with Stop losses and will risk trading capital


Handles losses and down times in markets


Gets depressed when facing losses and makes poor decisions


Daily updating charts, indicators, business plans, Economic calendars

•Disorganized Too many charts, irregular updations, too many instruments


Willing to change view on market based on where the market is going


Sticks to own views and will fight the market even if he is wrong


Puts in the hours required for daily research, trading and journaling


Trades based on mood, not bothered with daily research and journaling


Accepts his mistakes made while trading and tries to improve


Does not accept his trading mistakes and blames the market


Understands and acknowledges that every day is different in the markets.


Tries to treat every trading day as same and forces his trading style


Follows a strict daily trading routine based on market hours and economic releases


Irregular with trading hours, does not strictly follow economic calendars


Understands why markets are trading up, down or sideways and trades accordingly


Will focus on personal profit or loss to determine trading strategy


Grounded and humble after making good profits - knows that he can lose it all


Thinks he has 'figured out the market' and feels he can always beat the market

•Not Envious

Focuses on personal trading results and how to improve his own trading

•Envious, Jealous

Is troubled by the results of other traders and loses focus on improving his own trading


Has the ability to maintain an inner peace and composure during extensive market moves


Is constantly agitated at every up or down move of the market and keeps fighting the market


Keeps trying no matter what happens and does not give up till he starts becoming profitable

•Quitting, Fickle

Gives up too soon if faced with trading losses and blames the market for his failure


Because he is polite, he can learn from other traders and benefit from expert knowledge


Because he is rude, he is unable to build a network of successful traders and misses out on the learning community


Realizes that he needs to do whatever it takes to support himself and his family and trades systematically


Thinks only of himself and takes rash trading decisions - often willing to gamble it all.


Understands that trading takes time to become profitable and plans his personal expenses accordingly


Is looking to reap profits in trading from day-one and cover living expenses - makes rash decisions


Will only trade based on defined entry and exit rules


Will trade based on mood, greed and fear


Will ensure that he trades less to keep the commissions low


Will overtrade and land up giving up all the profits in commissions


Builds a consistent track record of trading profits and can raise outside funds to manage


Inconsistent track record means no one will give him additional capital to manage


Realizes that all the trading results are of his own making and does not blame markets


Will revenge trade the markets in order to recover losses


Follows all the rules of trading and DOES NOT find excuses for breaking the rules


Willed Breaks trading rules often based on feeling fearful or greedy


Always analyses profits and losses and accepts where he got lucky and where he made a profit based on his strategy


Does not differentiate between getting lucky and making a profit based on trading strategy


Sushant Buttan
Founder and CEO

Brett Steenberger writes:

Interesting! The internal research we did suggests that cognitive variables are more important to profitability than personality variables. Personality variables had a strong relationship to trading style, not necessarily to trading outcomes.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

You are looking for professionals who respond to what seem to be the characteristics shared by most successful traders. But you can not standardize a trader, it's not a HFT robot.

For example, this morning I found this:

Bridgewater's Ray Dalio Simple Advice For Success: "Think Independently, Stay Humble"


"machine learning is the new wave of investing for the next 20 years and the smart players are focusing on it.

"Bridgewater Is Said to Start Artificial-Intelligence Team

Sushant Buttan responds: 

Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated.

The responses are interesting and in some cases the qualities of a good trader seem to be diametrically opposite to the qualities in the list I posted…definitely food for thought. Vic, please feel free to post on the Daily Spec…would love to get as much feedback as possible. Thanks.

Victor Niederhoffer writes: 

Mr. Buttan's List is a good list for a spouse I think. As to whether they are good for traders' success, one would not know. Some of the best salesman and traders are totally disreputable. I would think that one key thing for Mr. Buttan to do is to do as much of the trading in house as he can, thereby eliminated slippage and bid asked spreads and capturing profits for the house. Indeed if Mr. Buttan were to make his trading floor a central exchange for all Mideast trades, so that he can capture the spread, I think his idea might work. MFM Osborne always wanted to create an automated market making system, and it would be great to see that developed to ones' profit. I have a query for Mr. Buttan. Does he want me to put his list up on daily spec. It's a seemingly useful list, and it might get him some helpful feedback. Galton always said the most important qualities for success were health, persistence, organization and a modicum of ability. One would recommend reading his work on eminence, which Jeff seems to have readily available. A good library would be great as a foundation for his traders.

Brett Steenbarger comments:

Yes, persistence in particular is important. The research on "grit" is relevant in that context. It is not necessarily the case that positive personality traits are associated with successful trading. Some of the highest Sharpe ratio PMs I tested score surprisingly high in negative emotionality. It is their fear/concern with the downside and overall vigilance that helps them achieve good risk-adjusted returns and avoid overconfidence biases. I would think putting the list on the Spec List would indeed generate useful input.



 Romance among the termites:

1. "Two of the most destructive termite species in the world– responsible for much of the $40 billion in economic loss caused by termites annually– are now swarming simultaneously in South Florida, creating hybrid colonies that grow quickly and have the potential to migrate to other states. In an article published today in the journal PLOS ONE, a team of University of Florida entomologists has documented that the Asian and Formosan subterranean termite simultaneously produce hundreds of thousands of alates, or winged males and females. Both species have evolved separately for thousands of years, but in South Florida, they now have the opportunity to meet, mate and start new hybrid colonies."

(and here's the PLOS scientific paper)



 The fish are getting smarter. The fishermen may need new methods or find a new "fishin hole". Perhaps there is something to be said for direct counting in light of behavioral change.

Reports on the dramatic decline of fish populations in the ocean which were only based on fishery-dependent data, for example data from the long-line fishery of tuna, cod or swordfish, could also have their cause in enhanced gear-avoidance behaviour of those fishes. We have to rethink our monitoring of fish stocks and take the behavioural changes into account. Maybe some areas with high fishing intensity host more fish than we believe," concludes study leader Robert Arlinghaus.



 At age 3 in Tallahassee I learned the hard way that you can not to play in fire ant mounds. A very adaptable insect– millions of dollars have been spent to eradicate them.

"Fire ants roll 'snowballs' to dig a tunnel":

"The ants' ability to build their home in different types of soil could help explain their global expansion. In the past century, they have spread from their native South America to many other countries including the US, Australia and China. And they're not only comfortable on land: the insects can withstand water as well, by banding together to form unsinkable rafts the size of dinner plates that can handle waves and unforeseen forces."



 Yesterday was the anniversary of the tragic 1906 San Francisco Earthquake (Mag: 7.8 EQ)

Dr. Lucy Jones, a USGS Seismologist (@DrLucyJones) tweeted an interesting fact surrounding the aftermath: "The greatest growth [earthquakes] in Los Angeles was the ten year period after the 1906, while San Francisco shrank"

This has my mind racing on trading ideas for testing. If you figure Earthquakes as single financial instrument and SF & LA as two separate markets with similar securities and something like security volatility as earthquake magnitude (my first guess approximation, there are probably better indicators, perhaps security liquidity.) Which of these would you think are worth testing for similar outcomes:

Various Central Banks maneuvers- Perhaps we're seeing it now as the US Fed unwinds and ECB picks up QE.

WTI vs. Brent

S&P vs Dax or UK or Asia

Currencies- take your pick.

Not a commodity expert so hard to decide there. I would consider gold but it seems universal.

Would love to hear of your thoughts and please feel free to call me out for Ballyhoo.

Enjoy your weekends.



anonymous writes: 

 On or about the 8th March this year I posted a piece on the site that may help clarify your initial thinking on what to test.  ( if you want it sent direct to you please advise ).

Amongst much else, there are two types of waves involved.  So called P -  and S - waves.  ( Wikipedia has a reasonable description of both ).

They P waves travel in the direction of the energy propagation whereas the S waves ( or shear waves) travel in a perpendicular fashion.

One starting point is to consider P wave as movements within and between the same type of markets ( SPU, DAX, NIKKEI) and S Waves as subsequent/coincident moves into unrelated markets. 

The key is that P waves show up first on the seismograph. There is no Mount St. Helens eruption without a P wave but there are plenty of P waves without Mount St. Helens eruptions.

One reads much about the precursors to major things/ events/ phenomena.  They almost invariably focus on only one side of the distribution (ie the crash scenario in markets). I believe the trifling ( yet cumulative /additive) information available in research papers should be used for predictions of melt- ups AND melt downs, not merely the downside.

Paul Marino replies: 

Thanks for the quick response, will certainly track down your post. I totally agree with you at the one-sidedness of looking for the crash as opposed to the melt up and its ramifications elsewhere in the system.

I'm looking at it from the SF side where things stabilized and grew and the calling signs for fut growth there were reinforced by the "event" moving along to the other markets. As Vic says a forrest fire clears the underbrush for future growth and a firmer ground.

I see it as a value with growth opportunity in the initially affected area, SF, and not so much looking for future crashes although you could hedge/pair against the trade by going against whomever is along the fault line thereafter as an idea. 

anonymous writes: 

What grew in the 10 years after the San Francisco earthquake (God's work) and fire (largely the work of the stupid U.S. Army) was construction, development and population in Los Angeles, not "earthquakes". Los Angeles largely owes its pre-eminence in California to the effects of that boom and San Francisco's literal downfall. 

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

Related to the San Francisco discussion, I wonder how the recent dramatic changes in depth to groundwater in some areas of California might change the odds over time.


"Researchers proved that the Hayward Fault, which stretches through largely populated areas in the East Bay as far south as Fremont and as far north as San Pablo Bay at Richmond, actually touches the Calaveras Fault, which runs east of San Jose. There is an estimated 14.3 percent likelihood of a 6.7 magnitude or greater earthquake along the Hayward Fault in the next 30 years and a 7.4 percent chance on the Calaveras Fault, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. "The smooth connection between the two faults means that an earthquake could quite easily break both faults at the same time, making for a substantially bigger and more destructive event," said Roland Burgmann, campus professor of earth and planetary science and co-author of the study. "Deeper in the Earth, we find small earthquakes that clearly define where the connecting fault is.""

2. Average time between ruptures

A interesting list of earthquakes in California



I thought this was an interesting idea:

"Company mortality: Researchers find patterns in the life and death of firms"

"It's a simple enough question: how long does a typical business have to live? Economists have been thinking about that one for decades without a particularly clear answer, but new research by SFI scientists reveals a surprising insight: publicly-traded firms die off at the same rate regardless of their age or economic sector." and ' "It doesn't matter if you're selling bananas, airplanes, or whatever," Hamilton says — the mortality rate is the same. Though the number, of course, varies from firm to firm, the team estimated that the typical company lasts about ten years before it's bought out, merges, or gets liquidated.

"The next question is, why might that be?" Hamilton says. The new paper largely avoids engaging with any particular economic model, though the researchers have some hypotheses inspired by ecological systems, where plants and animals have their own internal dynamics but must also compete for scarce resources — just like businesses do.'



1) "The leechbook is one of the earliest examples of what might loosely be called a medical textbook. It seems Anglo-Saxon physicians may actually have practised something pretty close to the modern scientific method, with its emphasis on observation and experimentation. Bald's Leechbook could hold some important lessons for our modern day battle with anti-microbial resistance."

2) and an interesting blog published by the Society of General Microbiology on resistant microbes and microbes in general



Fascinating story on the BBC World Service :

"For decades, Mark Landis donated art to museums and galleries across the US. He was feted as a wealthy collector but the pictures were fakes that he had created himself."

"I know everybody's heard about forgers that do all these complicated things with chemicals and what-have-you," he says. "I don't have that kind of patience. I buy my supplies at Walmart or Woolworth - discount stores - and then I do it in an hour or two at most."If I can't get something done by the time a movie's over on TV, I'll give up on it." The way Landis presented himself - and his donations - was also very convincing.

"He said everything an art museum would want to hear," says Leininger. He had a "back story about how he had this art collection and supposedly family wealth, promising money for endowments".Leininger sought advice from a former FBI agent who specialised in art crime. But because no money had changed hands for the forgeries, Landis had not broken the law. The burden of due diligence fell on the institutions who accepted his donations and if they displayed his fakes in their collection, that was their problem.

Pitt Maner III adds:

Reminiscent of another artist..

 "Eventually Boggs was acquitted. His lawyers persuaded the jury that even “a moron in a hurry” would never mistake his drawings for pounds sterling. In truth, the threat posed by his art had nothing to do with counterfeiting. If the Bank of England had reason to be anxious, it was because people knowingly accepted Boggs bills in lieu of banknotes."



 A wonderful and brilliant husband and wife team of neuroscientists, Gavin Rumbaugh and Courtney Miller, from the Scripps Institute in Florida, gave a very good summary at the Four Arts Society in Palm Beach of research and findings related to memory loss and Alzheimer's disease.

Things I learned included:

1. It presently takes hundreds of millions of dollars and approximately 14 years to go through about 10,000 potential drug candidates in order to get 1 drug to market.

2. Inserting luminescent genes has made it possible for computers to accurately count the development and location of new, active nerve synapses. This is important in order to more quickly test the effectiveness of new drugs on the regeneration of nerve synapses.

3. Learning or knowing a second language is helpful in the development of additional synaptic pathways so that if you loose one you will have a backup and retain your memory.

4. Getting out of routines can make the brain work harder and improve brain health. Simple things like wearing a watch on your right wrist instead of the left wrist seem to create new pathways. One guesses that hitting or throwing a ball with the left hand (if right-handed and vice versa) would be equally challenging.

5. Rumbaugh gave an overview of amazing compounds in the developmental stage that show promise in countering Alzheimer's. The basic idea is that histones can shut down the actions of genes that are important to the development of new synapses–remove the histones and memories can come back. (Kilgore M, Miller CA, Haggarty SJ, Sweatt JD, Rumbaugh G. (2010) Class 1 histone deacetylase inhibitors reverse contextual memory deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Neuropsychopharmacology. 35: 870-880) 

6. Diet, exercise, and good sleep (dark, cool room devoid of any artificial light source would be conducive) also important to brain health.

7. Dr. Rumbaugh and Dr. Miller invited all to visit their labs and look at things under the microscope. I may have to take them up on that. They said they are not in it for the money but are trying to do research that will be helpful to mankind. Footnote: One wonders if increased dietary intake of cruciferous vegetables, saffron, and healthy fiber to improve the gut biome would not be helpful for HDAC inhibition and thus body and brain health.

There is research that suggests so: "A diet high in fiber promotes colon health, and commensal bacteria in the gut may be protective against colon cancer. The bacterium Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens ferments fiber into short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. Butyrate is an inhibitor of histone deacetylases (HDACs), which function in the epigenetic control of gene expression."

keep looking »


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