Hydrogen Sulfide May Kill Us, Bring Us Back to Life, Paleontologist Peter Ward Says: “Millions of years before the dinosaurs were apparently killed by an asteroid hitting our planet, the Earth experienced another mass extinction that was far more devastating. The cause for that, paleontologist Peter Ward says, was actually homegrown: Hydrogen sulfide in the oceans and atmosphere turned the sky green and choked off oxygen for plants, animals and marine life.”
Hydrogen Sulfide, Not Carbon Dioxide, May Have Caused Largest Mass Extinction: “While most scientists agree that a meteor strike killed the dinosaurs, the cause of the largest mass extinction in Earth’s history, 251 million years ago, is still unknown, according to geologists.”
‘Black Swan’ Author Sees Trouble Exceeding 1930s – DealBook Blog – NYTimes.com: “The author of “The Black Swan,” Nassim Nicholas Taleb, predicts that the global financial crisis will be harder to end than the Great Depression and it may force the United States government to nationalize some banks.
The world has a much more complex financial system than in the 1930s, Mr. Taleb told Bloomberg Television, and that makes the current problems worse. Bonuses paid on Wall Street encouraged risk-taking with no regard for losses, he added.”
Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street – Boing Boing: “A year ago, it was hardly unthinkable that a math wizard like David X. Li might someday earn a Nobel Prize. After all, financial economists—even Wall Street quants—have received the Nobel in economics before, and Li’s work on measuring risk has had more impact, more quickly, than previous Nobel Prize-winning contributions to the field. Today, though, as dazed bankers, politicians, regulators, and investors survey the wreckage of the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, Li is probably thankful he still has a job in finance at all. Not that his achievement should be dismissed. He took a notoriously tough nut—determining correlation, or how seemingly disparate events are related—and cracked it wide open with a simple and elegant mathematical formula, one that would become ubiquitous in finance worldwide.
For five years, Li’s formula, known as a Gaussian copula function, looked like an unambiguously positive breakthrough, a piece of financial technology that allowed hugely complex risks to be modeled with more ease and accuracy than ever before. With his brilliant spark of mathematical legerdemain, Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels.
His method was adopted by everybody from bond investors and Wall Street banks to ratings agencies and regulators. And it became so deeply entrenched—and was making people so much money—that warnings about its limitations were largely ignored.
Then the model fell apart. Cracks started appearing early on, when financial markets began behaving in ways that users of Li’s formula hadn’t expected. The cracks became full-fledged canyons in 2008—when ruptures in the financial system’s foundation swallowed up trillions of dollars and put the survival of the global banking system in serious peril.
David X. Li, it’s safe to say, won’t be getting that Nobel anytime soon. One result of the collapse has been the end of financial economics as something to be celebrated rather than feared. And Li’s Gaussian copula formula will go down in history as instrumental in causing the unfathomable losses that brought the world financial system to its knees.”
BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Failure hits Nasa’s ‘CO2 hunter’: “Nasa’s first mission to measure carbon dioxide (CO2) from space appears to have failed after a rocket malfunction.
Officials said the fairing – the part of the rocket which covers the satellite on top of the launcher – had failed to separate properly.
If the finding is confirmed, the mission will be lost.”
Seth’s Blog: Is marketing evil?: “If you spend time and money (with skill) you can tell a story that spreads, that influences people, that changes actions. Marketing can cause people to buy something that they wouldn’t have bought without marketing, vote for someone they might not have considered and support an organization that would have been invisible otherwise.”
BBC NEWS | Business | US shares at nearly 12-year low: “US shares have fallen sharply on concerns about the government’s latest attempts to shore up the banks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 250.9 points, or 3.41%, at 7,114.8, its lowest since October 1997.”
DIY: Roast Your Own Coffee: “Roasting your own coffee might seem like an arcane craft, but it’s surprisingly easy. With some basic tools and a little practice, you’ll be turning out top-notch, customized coffee without a hitch.”
“In simple terms this crisis was caused, not because many bright people did not see it coming, but because there has been a completely inadequate ‘separation’ and ‘balance of powers’ between the executive and all those accountable for overseeing their actions and ‘reining them in’ i.e. internal control functions such as finance, risk, compliance and internal audit, non-executive Chairmen and Directors, external auditors, The FSA, shareholders and politicians.
As I recently commented on the BBC Money Programme called HBOS: Breaking the Bank ‘Being an internal risk and compliance manager at the time felt a bit like being a man in a rowing boat trying to slow down an oil tanker.’ If we could turn that man in the rowing boat into a man with a tug boat or even the Pilot required to navigate big ships into port, I feel confident that things would have turned out quite differently.
When I was Head of Group Regulatory Risk at HBOS, I certainly knew that the bank was going too fast (and told them), had a cultural indisposition to challenge (and told them) and was a serious risk to financial stability (what the FSA call ‘Maintaining Market Confidence’) and consumer protection (and told them).”
“To mix a few well known similes / metaphors / stories, the current financial crisis is a bit like the story of the Emperor’s new clothes. Anyone whose eyes were not blinded by money, power and pride (Hubris) who really looked carefully knew there was something wrong and that economic growth based almost solely on excessive consumer spending based on excessive consumer credit based on massively increasing property prices which were caused by the very same excessively easy credit could only ultimately lead to disaster. But sadly, no-one wanted or felt able to speak up for fear of stepping out of line with the rest of the lemmings who were busy organising themselves to run over the edge of the cliff behind the pied piper CEOs and executive teams that were being paid so much to play that tune and take them in that direction.
I am quite sure that many many more people in internal control functions, non-executive positions, auditors, regulators who did realise that the Emperor was naked but knew if they spoke up they would be labelled “trouble makers” and “spoil sports” and would put themselves at personal risk. I am still toxic waste now for having spoken out all those years ago! I would be amazed if there were not many executives who, if they really examined their consciences closely, would not say that they knew this too.
The real problem and cause of this crisis was that people were just too afraid to speak up and the balance and separation of powers was just far too weighted in favour of the CEO and their executive.”
BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Google dismisses ‘Atlantis find’: “The Lost City of Atlantis is still lost – despite hopes that Google Earth had located the fabled city on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.
Observers noted what seemed to be a grid of streets and the outlines of a big city on the sea floor about 960km (600 miles) off the African coast.”
“When you land at Mogadishu’s international airport, the first form you fill out asks for name, address, and caliber of weapon. Believe it or not, this disaster of a city, the capital of Somalia, still gets a few commercial flights. Some haven’t fared so well. The wreckage of a Russian cargo plane shot down in 2007 still lies crumpled at the end of the runway.”
The Phoenix Mars Lander May Have Detected Liquid Water on the Martian Surface | Universe Today: “Liquid water may have been discovered by the late Phoenix Mars Lander. This astonishing (and controversial) claim comes from some very intriguing images of the lander’s leg shortly after Phoenix landed on the Red Planet last year. The series of black and white images appear to show droplets of water hanging off the robot’s bodywork in the shade; it seems possible that the water droplets were splashed from the surface during Phoenix’s rocket-assisted landing. Far from being static blobs, they appear to grow, much like water droplets here on Earth as water vapour is absorbed from the atmosphere.”
BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Race for ‘God particle’ heats up: “Cern is losing ground rapidly in the race to discover the elusive Higgs boson, its American rival claims.
Fermilab say the odds of their Tevatron accelerator finding it first are now 50-50 at worst, and up to 96% at best.
Cern’s Lyn Evans admitted the accident which will halt the $7bn Large Hadron Collider until September may cost them one of the biggest prizes in physics.
The two rivals are trying to identify the ‘God Particle’ – one of the fundamental particles of matter.
Finding the Higgs boson, whose existence has been predicted by theoretical physicists, might help to explain why matter has mass.”
Snow finally goes now for the reckoning – News – Leighton Buzzard News: “After the snow… the potholes.
Motorists throughout the county have been complaining about damage to vehicles.”
This could be Canada, but is Leighton Buzzard instead.
I would agree with this. The Inland revenue service is organised, straight forward and streamlined in comparison to overseas.
Trying this recipe tonight, on salmon (linked to the Jamie Oliver recipe)
Will let you know how it turns out.
Tandoori Spice Recipe | Indian Recipes: “Ingredients
3 tablespoon garlic salt
2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoon coriander
2 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoon ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon”
Directions: How to Cook Tandoori Spice
Toss bite-sized peeled carrots, potatoes and turnips in baking pan with a little olive oil and Tandoori Spice. Roast in a 400¡F oven 35 – 45 minutes.
Sprinkle on fish fillets before broiling; on turkey or chicken cutlets before panfrying.
Per serving: 171 Calories; 5g Fat (25% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 33g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 18478mg Sodium
NOTES : Makes a scant 1 1/2 cup
This is a good article on the crash of the two satellites recently.
How and Why Did Two Satellites Collide This Week? | Universe Today: “The collision this week involving an active U.S. commercial Iridium satellite and an inactive Russian Cosmos 2251 satellite in low Earth orbit has, if nothing else, raised public awareness of the growing problem of space debris. But how and why did this collision happen? If NORAD, the U.S. Air Forces’s Space Surveillance Network, NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office and other entities are tracking space debris, did anyone know the collision was going to occur? Those who analyze data and track satellites say predicting collisions is difficult because of changes in satellite orbits which occur due to solar radiation and the gravitational effects of the Moon and Earth. Therefore, the orbit analysis is only as good as the data, which may be imprecise. ‘The main problem here is the data quality for the data representing the satellites locations,’ said Bob Hall, Technical Director of Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), the company that released video and images on Thursday recreating the collision event. ‘Given the uncertainty in the accuracy of the TLE orbital data, I do not believe anyone was predicting or necessarily expecting an event.'”
BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Neanderthals ‘distinct from us’: “Scientists studying the DNA of Neanderthals say they can find no evidence that this ancient species ever interbred with modern humans.”
Online games reach the long tail – Telegraph: “If you have a moment, visit bailoutbrown.com and lob a wad of cash at Gordon Brown. If that leaves you unsatisfied, head over to sockandawe.com and add to the 84,503,339 shoes that have been hurled at former President Bush – I managed a pretty poor 10 loafers in my allotted 30 seconds.
Now this all sounds a little silly, but simple, free internet games like these, often launched within hours of an incident happening in the real world, are a growing phenomenon. And potentially they are big business.”