Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Without in any way endorsing the source: food for thought.

... Now in order for you to fully know how (much [sic]) worse it is going to get, you have to first remember what it was like…and there is no better example for you to understand this than the eighth-grade final exam given in 1895 to 13-year-old students from Salina, Kansas…see how many you can answer:

Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.

2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.

3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.

4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.

5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.

6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.

7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?

3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts. Per buy, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?

4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?

5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.

7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?

8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.

9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?

10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.

2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.

3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.

5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.

6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.

7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?

8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?

The 13-year-old students who passed this exam went on to higher educational levels where the classical languages (Latin and Greek) were REQUIRED subjects. In 1900 every single high-school, collage and university in America required at least 2 years of classical language study, but do you know why?

Firstly because they were considered an obvious requirement for educated people. Latin, for instance, trains your mind and memory. Unraveling a Latin sentence is an excellent exercise in thought, a real intellectual puzzle, and a good introduction to logical thinking. Secondly because without one knowing the classical languages they would have no independent way to verify the entire history of the modern world as ALL OF IT is written in either Latin or Greek.

How many of you know either one of these classical languages? Why don’t you? Because they have been DELIBERATELY taken out of the curriculum of your schools to keep you from knowing some of the most basic truths of whom you are and why you are here!

But guess what? What has been done to you, your children and your grandchildren, the elite classes WOULD NEVER DO to their children. Why do you think they send their children to private schools in the first place? SO THEY WILL KNOW MORE THAN YOU CAN EVER KNOW SO THEY CAN ALWAYS BE YOUR MASTERS!

One example (and there are many of them) is the Groton School, an elite private, Episcopal, college preparatory boarding school located in Groton, Massachusetts, US. It enrolls approximately 350 boys and girls, from the eighth through twelfth grades. Groton is a portal to power whose graduates trod a well-worn path to the US State Department and the CIA…here’s just part of the curriculum for their students….

“The curriculum in the 2nd and 3rd Forms challenges students across the intellectual spectrum and encourages students to immerse themselves in the basic disciplines. The definition of “basic disciplines” includes at least two years’ study of a classical language, Latin or Greek, in the belief that this exposure will provide an ability to analyze carefully and to synthesize various expressions of thought.”

Now at this point you may be thinking that even though Latin and Greek have been taken away from you at least your children and grandchildren will always be able to read you own historical documents. You’ve thought wrong!!!

With very little exception, the entirety of all of America’s historical documents were written in Latin and English using what is called the cursive style of writing. Cursive is any style of handwriting that is designed for writing notes and letters quickly by hand.

In the Arabic, Latin, and Cyrillic writing systems, the letters in a word are connected, making a word one single complex stroke. In fact, the word comes from the Latin cursivus, meaning “flowing”. Cursive is considered distinct from the so-called “printing” (what you’re reading now) or “block letter” style of handwriting, in which the letters of a word are unconnected, and from “print-writing”.

And the most important thing about cursive writing you need to know RIGHT NOW is that it is due to become extinct because the vast majority of American schools are no longer teaching it to their students!

Even worse is that under President Obama’s “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” over $77 Billion was given to US schools with a ‘mandate’ to totally eradicate the teaching of cursive writing in every classroom as it has been deemed ‘outmoded’ for the 21st Century American Economy where the computer will be ‘king’.

So here’s what we have folks…for the past 100 years there has been a deliberate plan to de-educate the American people and deny them the ability of knowing the truth behind their history by not allowing them to be taught the very languages they need to understand what has been handed down to them and is their right to know.

For these past 100 years the elite classes have separated their educational system from that of the publics and continue to teach their children subjects forbidden to those of the ‘lower’ classes. For these past 100 years the ability of Americans to know the truth of what is happening in their country and in world has been severely limited by the destruction of ‘free’ media to that of ‘pay to know’ and thus disenfranchising those without the ability to pay from knowing the truth.

Any way you want to look at this folks is fine, but make no mistake about it….for the past 100 years you have seen the deliberate establishment of what is called a two-tier society….one of masters and slaves….which one do you belong to?

/... http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index1327.htm

Friday, 25 December 2009

Let’s walk through the logic. The most reasonable estimates suggest that, given a crash program and the best foreseeable technologies, renewable sources can probably provide the United States with around 15% of the energy it currently gets from fossil fuels. Since every good and service in the economy is the product of energy, it’s a very rough but functional approximation to say that in a green economy, every American will have to get by on the equivalent of 15% of his or her current income. Take a moment to work through the consequences in your own life; if you made $50,000 in 2009, for example, imagine having to live on $7,500 in 2010. That’s quite a respectable income by Third World standards, but it won’t support the kind of lifestyle that the vast majority of Americans, across the political spectrum, believe is theirs by right.

That’s the bomb ticking away at the heart of America’s political system. When it goes off, the entire system of government by pork barrel will explode messily, and it’s only in the fantasies of reformers that what replaces it will likely be any improvement. (My guess? Anything from a military coup followed, after various convulsions, by a new and less centralized constitution, to civil war and the partition of the United States into half a dozen impoverished and quarreling nations.) In the meantime, we can expect to see every possible short term expedient put to use in an attempt to stave off the explosion even for a little while, and any measure that might risk rocking the boat enough to set off the bomb will be quietly roundfiled by all parties.

A meaningful political response to the growing instability of global climate is one such measure, and a meaningful political response to peak oil is another. No such project can be enacted without redirecting a great deal of money and resources away from current expenditures toward the construction of new infrastructure. The proponents of such measures are quick to insist that this means new jobs will be created, and of course this is true, but they neglect to mention that a great many more existing jobs will go away, and the interests that presently lay claim to the money and resources involved are not exactly eager to relinquish those. A political system of centralized power could overcome their resistance readily enough, but a system in which power is diffused and fragmented cannot do so. That the collapse of the entire system is a likely long-term consequence of this inability is simply one of the common ironies of history.

--> http://www.energybulletin.net/51089

--> http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2009/12/political-ecology-of-collapse-part.html
--> http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2009/12/political-ecology-of-collapse.html
--> http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2009/12/human-ecology-of-collapse.html

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Copenhagen was much worse than just another bad deal, because it illustrated a profound shift in global geopolitics. This is fast becoming China's century, yet its leadership has displayed that multilateral environmental governance is not only not a priority, but is viewed as a hindrance to the new superpower's freedom of action.

--> http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/22/copenhagen-climate-change-mark-lynas

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

- Will the ECB will try to play politics and pressure Zapatero in the run up to the 2012 general elections in Spain?

- Is the situation in Spain similar to the situation in Greece?

- Why don’t Zapatero and the Spanish government seem to be reacting?

- Why is there no coherent plan to get Spain back on its feet?

- What is going on with Spanish banks?

- Will unemployment in Spain reach 25% by the end of 2010?

- Which is more important in Spanish economics: image or hard data?

- Will it be possible for the Spanish government to reduce the deficit from over 10% of GDP to less than 3% by 2012 or 2013?

- What state will the Spanish economy be in by the end of 2010?

- What will happen to Spain when the ECB raises eurozone interest rates?

- Might Spain soon be in a worse economic position than Greece?

- What are the ratings agencies trying to achieve with their warnings on Spain?

- Why won’t the Spanish government tell the Spanish people the truth about what’s going on with the Spanish economy?

- Is José Luis Zapatero really the biggest problem for the Spanish economy right now?

--> http://fistfulofeuros.net/afoe/economics-country-briefings/podcast-on-the-present-state-of-the-spanish-economy/

Sunday, 1 November 2009

October 3 2009: Just the naked eye

Detroit Publishing Co. Great Grand Ma 1900
Thisbe, 'quite the Babylonian'

Ilargi: I’m starting to wonder how many people there are left who actually believe all the talk about the economic recovery we're supposed to have entered. You know, the one proclaimed by governments, central bankers, institutions such as the IMF and the entire flock of parrots and parakeets that call themselves media and are all set 24/7 to repeat their every word, chirping, tweeting and twittering as they go along. And I'm afraid there still are far too many such believers left. They have a great shot at losing a lot of money in the next few months.

I also wonder how many people have gotten real nervous by now. Who've asked themselves what I asked a while back: what are the odds that the stock markets will keep on rising? And on what grounds would they do so? Surely many must have realized by now that perhaps that talk about a recovery is just that, talk. The strength of their belief may depend, to a large degree, on the job market. After all, it should be obvious that "jobless recovery" is a term used exclusively by people who do have jobs, and often cushy ones.

I like this little graph, because it provides a very nice picture of the effect of the hundreds of billions in taxpayer money spent by the American government on the job market. From about May through September the country has bought itself a slight decrease in the rate of job losses. Still, the unemployment rate has gone up despite all the cash and credit so generously supplied by you, the taxpayer. And it by no means tells the entire story; indeed, it may well relate only the rosiest parts available.

Now other, less positive, parts are slowly being revealed that could change and even shatter the image we have of the job market. Here's a few choice bullet points from the reports that came out this week:
  • Job losses for September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' U3 calculations, were 263.000.
  • This brings the U3 unemployment rate to 9.8%.
  • While the U6 rate reached 17%.
  • The household survey by the same BLS indicates that employment fell by 785,000.
  • An alternate view at the household survey suggest 995,000 fewer people were working in September than in August, while the labor force contracted by 1,262,000 people and the number of people "not in the labor force" rose by 1,516,000.
  • More than a half a million people dropped out of the labor force
  • 551,000 initial jobless claims were filed.

I don't know about you, but I assure you that I have a hard time seeing the forest through the trees here. It's simply too much of a strange coincidence that the number most trumpeted in the media is always the lowest (U3) one. As soon as you peel away just the first few underlying layers, it becomes clear that this number merely scratches the surface. Most of the 10 million or so people who get counted in U6, but not in U3, are very much unemployed or at least underemployed. The bottom line is that even though the 263,000 number is unrealistically low, likely by a lot, it is the one that government and media stubbornly keep providing, as if the American people, who after all pay the salaries of the BLS employees, are too stupid to have a right to hear the real data.

The latest report does lift the veil a little bit: The Labor Department yesterday admitted it may have underestimated unemployment numbers by as much as 17%, partly because of its faulty birth/death model, which is a useless tool in times like these. The BLS data missed 824,000 lost jobs for the year through last March, with most of the additional job loss occurring in the first quarter of 2009. The potential revision would mean that the economy lost 5.6 million jobs for the period instead of the 4.8 million suggested until now.
[..] the tax records showed the Labor Department’s payrolls figures overestimated payrolls by about 150,000 [..] That implies the estimates missed the mark by about 675,000 in the first quarter of this year [or 225,000 per month] , which currently shows a 2.1 million drop in payrolls.[..]

Calculated Risk added these new numbers to his usual graph which compares job loss percentages in recessions.

Catherine Rampell at Economix provides a similar graph, but using the share of employment:

Awfully bad as it is, the unemployment situation, of course, is but one aspect of an economy that will now grow weaker at a rapid clip.
  • US personal bankruptcy filings will exceed 1.4 Million by the end of the year, more than the 1.3 million they reached right before the bankruptcy laws were altered with aim of bringing bankruptcy numbers down.
  • Bank card delinquencies hit a record high last month.
  • Meredith Whitney says:
    • Anyone counting on a meaningful economic recovery will be greatly disappointed. How do I know? I follow credit, and credit is contracting. Access to credit is being denied at an accelerating pace. Large, well-capitalized companies have no problem finding credit. Small businesses, on the other hand, have never had a harder time getting a loan.
    • Small business loans are hard to find, and credit-card lines (a critical funding source to small businesses) have been cut by 25% since last year.
    • [..] more than 32% of U.S. homes are worth less than their mortgages.
    • Small businesses primarily fund themselves through credit cards and loans from local lenders. In the past two years, credit-card lines have been cut by over $1.25 trillion. During the same time, 10% of all credit-card accounts have been cancelled.

But the worst part of it all is that deflation is here, and it’s here to stay for a while. In the past few days, we could see heavy hitters like David Rosenberg, Joseph Stiglitz, Janet Tavakoli address deflation in the same way that we at The Automatic Earth have even for longer than the 20 months that this site exists. Ironically, at about the exact same moment when we figured perhaps we were the only ones left (with Mike Shedlock, Bob Prechter and a few Minyans) to warn of the perils of deflation, it is slowly turning into a mainstream concern. As Tavakoli tells Max Keiser (who still can't believe it), the debts are simply too overwhelming. Not that anyone has seriously attempted to address them.

  • "We are certainly in a deflationary state," said David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist with Gluskin Sheff and Associates in Toronto. "Of that, there's no doubt."
  • "I think people still have no clue as to just how weak the economy is," Mr. Rosenberg said. Remove the "impressive medication" administered by governments, and most economies are at a virtual standstill. The U.S. economy faces a decade of stagnation, he said.
  • [..]"deflation will last until we see the next secular trend of expanding household balance sheets, and that is some time away" Mr. Rosenberg said.

The Federal Reserve decides to stick with another label for the exact same phenomenon.
  • "Disinflationary winds are blowing with gale-force effect," [Chicago Fed president] Evans said in a Sept. 9 speech in New York.
  • The Fed needs to "keep inflation expectations from slipping to undesirably low levels in order to prevent unwanted disinflation," Vice Chairman Donald Kohn said Sept. 10 in Washington during a speech at the Brookings Institution.

In other words, the government's unemployment data have proven to be unreliable. That in itself is not new, but what is, is the Labor Department's own admission that its stats are flawed. It still hasn't fully opened up by any means, but the cracks are now visible to the naked eye.

The potential for a continued rally in the stock markets is becoming more questionable by the day. If those markets start caving in, as we think they simply must, the hollowness of the recovery proclaimed by governments and media will also lie exposed to naked eye. Whether or not the government and the Federal Reserve have been busy painting lipstick on the markets pig though the past 6 months is no longer even relevant; they will be powerless to do so going forward.

We have the likes of Paul Krugman, Robert Reich and, in the UK, Samuel Brittan, shrieking loudly for more, much more, stimulus. They see the problem coming, that's true, but they fail to see that the US and UK governments opted sometime in 2007-2008 to pour money into their financial systems, and that money cannot be spent a second time.

Many of us remember how a trillion here and a trillion there were doled out withe message that the taxpayer was likely to make a healthy profit on this "investment". Haven't heard that one for a bit. The reality is that between what Washington has thrown into AIG, the Wall Street banks and the Fannie and Freddie and Ginnie family, as bankrupt as it is incestuous, there are only losses.

If and when financials stocks get hammered, banks and insurers -among others- will be forced to execute additional gigantic writedowns and losses. With a 3.6 million official housing inventory, to which we can add a 7 million shadow one, America will have a 25 month supply of unsold homes. If Fannie and Freddie weren't dead yet, that would do it. The losses are yours.

The Krugman clan now wants you to finance a second stimulus. And it will come (albeit under an alternative moniker), but it can bring only more misery for the people. The government will get a little more transparent in a desperate fight for credibility, but it was lost a long time ago. And it's not a specific government, it's the entire system that's morally broke. The entire economic, financial and political sytems, all of it and all of them, broke, broker and broken.

I asked above how many people are left that still believe all the talk about that heavily promoted recovery. And though I know they are there, scores of them, that at the same time is something that I'm starting to find hard to believe. Look at the numbers, and never forget that many of them are not even anywhere near as bad as the real ones.

Yes, consider this your storm warning. Batten down the hatches, don’t let your kids wander off, and please, take off those silly rose-colored glasses. From now on in, just the naked eye.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Stocks, oil slide on recovery worries

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar rose and global stocks fell on Friday as energy shares followed crude prices lower and investors worried about the pace of a fledgling U.S. economic recovery.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed below the 10,000 mark, as weak results from industrials overshadowed robust earnings from bellwethers in technology.

The dollar and euro soared against sterling after data showed Britain was still mired in recession, with the economy shrinking 0.4 percent in the third quarter, which stunned investors who had expected a return to growth.

Sterling plunged nearly three cents against the dollar and notched its biggest one-day decline against the euro in six months as traders bet the Bank of England was more likely to expand its quantitative easing program to secure a recovery.

The euro retreated, falling below $1.50.

Oil stocks reversed early gains as U.S. crude futures settled almost 1 percent lower on scepticism that recovery was robust enough to spur demand.

"Any time the dollar shows signs of life, the stock market goes down. There's a flight to safety," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.

"The (weak) UK GDP gave strength to the dollar. And when the dollar is up, oil falls."

World stocks fell, with the MSCI All-Country Word Index .MIWD00000PUS losing 0.76 percent.

Weak industrial sector earnings also made investors question the recovery's strength, which overshadowed robust results from technology heavyweights Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).

Shares of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp (BNI.N), the No. 2 U.S. railroad, slid 6.5 percent after it posted a 30 percent drop in quarterly profit. The stock helped drag an S&P industrials index .GSPI down 1.7 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed down 109.13 points, or 1.08 percent, at 9,972.18. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX slid 13.31 points, or 1.22 percent, at 1,079.60. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC fell 10.82 points, or 0.50 percent, at 2,154.47.

For the week, the Dow was off 0.2 percent, the S&P 500 shed 0.7 percent and the Nasdaq slipped 0.1 percent.

Stocks fell despite a surge in sales of previously owned U.S. homes to a two-year high in September. Analysts said the rise was partially driven by a soon-to-expire tax incentive for first-time buyers.

Weekly U.S. government data showing a decrease in stores of gasoline helped push crude prices lower, even as overall fuel inventories are still much higher than a year ago.

"Oil is holding around $80 but the decline in equities markets and a stronger dollar mean the rally in oil prices has been stalled for now," said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

U.S. crude for December delivery settled down 69 cents a barrel at $80.50, while Brent crude settled down 59 cents to $78.92.

The dollar rose against a basket of major currencies, with the U.S. Dollar Index .DXY up 0.48 percent at 75.476.

The euro was down 0.18 percent at $1.4995, and against the yen, the dollar was up 0.74 percent at 92.07.

U.S. Treasury debt prices eased as investors positioned to cut prices ahead of next week's record sales of government notes.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 19/32 in price to yield 3.49 percent.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top shares closed down 0.6 percent at 1,008.88. The index is up 21 percent this year and has gained almost 56 percent from a record low hit in March after sliding 45 percent in 2008.

"If you go through the corporate earnings results, the top line is still suggesting it's a difficult environment for improving sales," said analyst Jane Foley of FOREX.com.

Gold dropped in choppy trade. U.S. December gold futures settled down $2.20 at $1,056.40 an ounce in New York.

But copper climbed to a 13-month high on favourable economic data. Copper for December delivery rose 3.65 cents to settle at $3.0345 a pound, after touching $3.0620.

The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks traded outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 1.3 percent.

The Nikkei index .N225 in Tokyo finished up 0.2 percent.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Spooky World Of Quantum Biology
This is just too cool not to spread around. And since the article mentions solar cells, I think it's marginally eligible for inclusion here.

The Spooky World Of Quantum Biology

Quantum computation, a science still in its infancy, promises swiftness and efficiency vastly superior to anything possible with conventional silicon chips. Rather than relying on binary bits like contemporary systems, quantum computers use “qubits” that include all possible superpositions of a particle’s classical state. Instead of being “trapped” in a single configuration, the logic gates of a quantum computer employ multiple possibilities in synchrony -- using the entire set of alternative outcomes to arrive at an answer.

It’s a promising avenue for people with big plans for strong AI or virtual reality. The only complication is that coherence -- in which the many possible states of a particle or group of particles stay hung in superposition -- is something scientists have only been able to study under extremely controlled conditions. It’s only possible when that system doesn’t interact with anything else that might “collapse the wave function,” and so most of the major options for quantum computing involve impractical scenarios like creating a supercooled vacuum.

This is one of the reasons that many scientists have considered quantum biology both unlikely and unscientific. The thermal noise of biological systems seemed too great to allow for quantum weirdness; and even if it could, how on Earth would we study it? But science is the story of ingenuity’s victory over shortsightedness -- and one research team, led by Gregory S. Engel at UC Berkeley, has devised a way to directly detect and observe quantum-level processes within a cell using high-speed lasers.

They were trying to establish exactly how organic photosynthesis approaches 95% efficiency, whereas the most sophisticated human solar cells operate at only half that. What they discovered is nothing short of remarkable. Using femtosecond lasers to follow the movement of light energy through a photosynthetic bacterial cell, Engel et al. observed the energy traveling along every possible direction at the same time. Instead of following a single trajectory like the electrons on a silicon chip, the energy in photosynthesis explores all of its options and collapses the quantum process only after the fact, retroactively “deciding” upon the most efficient pathway. (My emphasis)

More at the link.

To quote J.B.S. Haldane, "The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose."

1. And with our "one shot" thinking, we fell entire forests ('it'll all grow back'),
destroy fisheries and water quality and numerous "unimportant" species, pollute ecosystems with "one shot" pesticides and other gunk that we invent for ONE purpose, ignoring all other possibilities--most of them destructive--and proceed like silicon chips to decimate the web of life upon which we and everything else depends, by viewing Nature as merely a 'gold mine' from which corporate PR departments lie that we can extract single, high profit products, without ripping the web of life to shreds. I have great admiration for human cleverness--it gives me hope; and I think trade and "the marketplace" are a human need. But our conglomeration into corporate entities that live forever, accumulating vast wealth and power, will be the end of Nature and our own demise, if we do not beef up our national governments and our own democratic power to rein them in. We need to be like the photosynthesis cell, and explore every conceivable pathway to this end. And we need to do it yesterday.

3. This is what they're referring to
From CERN:

Efficiency of photosynthesis depends on quantum coherence

Photosynthesis is an amazingly efficient process, capturing 95% or more of the light energy that hits a leaf. Now a study led by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley reveals at least part of how this is done. The trick, revealed by beat patterns in two-dimensional Fourier transform spectroscopy of a bacteriochlorophyll, seems to be that incoming light causes coherent excitation of many different states simultaneously in superposition. This then allows a very efficient search of the various possible reaction complexes into which the energy could be delivered.

The discovery hinged on the two-dimensional electronic-spectroscopy technique developed by the group, which is led by Graham Fleming at Berkeley. This enables the researchers to follow the light-induced excitation energy at it passes through molecular complexes, with a time resolution of femtoseconds. It involves flashing a sample sequentially with femtosecond pulses of light from three laser beams, with a fourth beam to amplify and detect the resulting spectroscopic signals.

The finding contradicts the classical description of the photosynthetic energy transfer process as one in which excitation energy moves step-by-step down the molecular energy ladder from pigment molecules to reaction centres. Instead, the process seems to depend on quantum coherence, which is also what underlies quantum computing. Further research into this effect could lead to a better understanding of how life uses quantum mechanics, and perhaps could also lead to new ways of making solar cells.
About the author

Compiled by Steve Reucroft and John Swain, Northeastern University.

7. Thanks for mentioning the "spooky' thing. I was gonna, but got off on another subject.
By calling it "spooky," they promote the kind of superstition that makes it oh-so-easy for corporate PR departments to manipulate public opinion on environmental issues, for instance, coining a brainwashing phrase like "trees, the renewable resource." But the intricate web of life that comprises the ecosystem in which high value trees grow is NOT "renewable" once they have driven key species to extinction. They can grow crap trees for wood chips, maybe. But the dense forest and rich ecosystem that is so vital for the health and continuance of the earth's biosphere is gone, along with high value older trees and the conditions that created them. Corporate logging has led to the extirpation of numerous forest species, including species that we never got to know much about--fungi and bacteria that interacted with everything else. That web of life is irrecoverable, and the trees it grew will never grow again in the same way.

The elaborately balanced, intricate web of species in a natural system is not "spooky." It is REALITY. It is how things are. It is how WE are--as individuals. It is how everything works. We sometimes think of it as a "mystery" because we don't understand the million filaments of the web and how they interact. I think "mystery" is an okay word, re Nature, because it implies respect. But "spooky" implies fear. Neither quantum physics nor quantum biology is "scary." It is merely the best description of certain phenomena that we have. Those phenomena may be quite surprising. They are not "spooky."

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Indexes end down as financials slide

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks ended lower on Wednesday, hurt by a late-day sell-off in financial shares after an influential analyst recommended selling Wells Fargo (WFC.N).

Based on the latest available data, the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 92.12 points, or 0.92 percent, to unofficially end at 9,949.36. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was down 9.66 points, or 0.89 percent, to finish unofficially at 1,081.40. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 12.74 points, or 0.59 percent, to close unofficially at 2,150.73.


Surprising Sell Off, Beige Book Positive, Unemployment Grows

Stocks traded in positive territory for the majority of the session then late day downgrades triggered a surprisingly sharp sell off. Positive words from the Fed's Beige Book report indicating that the economy has indeed grown modestly were offset by a climb in unemployment across 23 states. Wal-Mart's dire predictions for a difficult holiday season and a Wells Fargo downgrade sent shares tumbling in the final hour. The DJIA dropped -92.12 to 9949.36, the Nasdaq fell -12.74 to 2150.73 and the broad based S&P 500 gave back -9.66 to 1081.40.

Wells Fargo (): Shares tumbled 5.12% or $1.56 to $28.90 after an analyst at Rochdale Securities discovered that the positive results were due to fees rather than better business.

Boeing (): Warned it will cut prices to weather the coming stressful holiday season, sending the stock down by 2.07% or $1.07 to $50.63.

Knight Capital (): Missed analysts estimates resulting in shares tumbling 16.80% or $3.66 to $18.13.

Gold climbed $5.90 to 1064.50, oil added $2.25 to $80.97 and the VIX index climbed 6.31 to 22.22.

European Stocks Rise on Morgan Stanley Earnings; Natixis Gains

By Adam Haigh - http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=acVJYVdQ9snk

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- European stocks rose as higher-than- estimated earnings at Morgan Stanley bolstered speculation that the seven-month rally in equities is justified.

Natixis SA surged 11 percent after Credit Suisse Group AG added the bank to its so-called focus list. Tesco Plc gained 2.3 percent as Nomura International Plc boosted its share-price estimate by more than 25 percent on prospects for increased profitability and foreign sales. Deutsche Bank AG, Germany’s largest bank, sank 2.4 percent after pretax profit missed some analysts’ estimates.

Europe’s Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index added 0.4 percent to 249.19, having earlier slid as much as 1.1 percent. The regional gauge has jumped 58 percent since March 9 as the French and German economies unexpectedly exited recessions, pushing valuations in the index to more than 52 times reported earnings, the most expensive level since 2003, Bloomberg data show.

“The market has gone up a little too quickly in a short period of time,” said Chirin Gill, a London-based fund manager at Daiwa SB Investments, which oversees $60 billion. “Following that we’re likely to see a rally through the seasonally strong November and December as strong earnings results lead to another round of upgrades” from analysts, he added.

In the U.S., Morgan Stanley posted third-quarter profit of 38 cents per share today, exceeding the 30-cent average analyst estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Boeing Co. posted a loss that was bigger than analysts estimated and reduced its full-year profit forecast.

U.S. Earnings

More than 130 companies in the S&P 500 are scheduled to report third-quarter results this week. Earnings have surpassed analysts’ projections for at 79 of the 97 companies that released results so far, according to Bloomberg data. More than 72 percent beat the average estimate in the second quarter, matching the highest proportion in data going back to 1993.

The S&P 500 has rebounded 62 percent since March 9 as the Federal Reserve lent, spent or guaranteed $11.6 trillion to combat the worst U.S. recession since the 1930s and companies from Alcoa Inc. to JPMorgan Chase & Co. reported earnings that beat estimates.

Natixis climbed 11 percent to 4.40 euros after Credit Suisse raised its price estimate on the shares 36 percent to 5.70 euros.

Tesco gained 2.3 percent to 392.45 pence. The U.K.’s largest retailer is a “disciplined, defensive, sustainable growth story that is significantly undervalued by the market,” Nomura analysts including Matt Truman wrote.

Russia, Sweden

Tele2 AB, Sweden’s second-largest telephone company, soared 5.1 percent to 101.80 kronor after reporting third-quarter profit rose as it added new customers in Russia and Sweden. Net income was 1.7 billion kronor ($244 million), from 831 million kronor a year earlier when the company booked writedowns in Austria. Analysts projected net income of 975 million kronor.

Deutsche Bank retreated 2.4 percent to 54 euros even after third-quarter profit more than tripled to 1.4 billion euros ($2.1 billion). Net income was boosted by tax credits and the resolution of tax audits related to prior years, the bank said. Pretax profit was about 1.3 billion euros.

“We saw a similar fairly ambivalent response to U.S. investment banking numbers and the headline pretax figure wasn’t a blow out,” said Matthew Clark, a London-based analyst at Keefe Bruyette & Woods Ltd. who has an “outperform” recommendation on the stock.

PSA Peugeot Citroen slid 4.8 percent to 23 euros as Europe’s second-biggest carmaker said third-quarter revenue dropped 7.7 percent to 11.8 billion euros from a year earlier.

PPR SA, the owner of the Gucci brand, sank 4 percent to 81.80 euros after sales declined 7.6 percent to 4.56 billion euros, missing the 4.63 billion-euro median estimate of three analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

SEB AB declined 4 percent to 45.10 kronor after posting net income of 25 million kronor in the third quarter, trailing the median estimate by analysts in a Bloomberg survey. The second- biggest lender in the Baltics also said it sees slowing growth of non-performing loans in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Haigh in London at ahaigh1@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: October 21, 2009 12:57 EDT

Dos de cada tres empresas familiares posee un consejo de administración compuesto por accionistas y parientes


La mayoría de empresas familiares españolas (un 66%) se encuentra en un periodo de "transición", es decir, su consejo de administración está compuesto tanto por familiares como por consejeros externos, según se desprende de un estudio presentado hoy por el Centro de Gobierno Corporativo, una iniciativa conjunta de Bankinter, Iberdrola, el Instituto de Empresa (IE) y PwC.

Por el contrario, el 4,2 por ciento de las empresas familiares no posee Consejo de Administración mientras que un porcentaje idéntico cuenta con un consejo integrado por consejeros externos. En este punto, el estudio condiciona la mejora de la aplicación de normas de Buen Gobierno a la presencia de miembros familiares no externos, por lo que vaticina "la retirada de la familia en la gestión diaria de la empresa", según la experta del IE, Cristina Cruz. "Las empresas familiares van hacia la profesionalización", aseveró.

Por su parte, el profesor del IE, Joan Amat, destacó que gran parte de las empresas familiares han superado una primera fase en la que el Consejo de Administración no tiene actividad alguna, o "es inactivo". Posteriormente, se convierte en un "elemento ceremonial", para pasar por una etapa de transición, llegar a ser un 'Consejo activo', y finalmente un 'Consejo progresivo', compuesto por la mayoría de consejeros externos.

A pesar de ello, el 47 por ciento de las empresas encuestadas define de "inactivo" su Consejo de Administración, mientras que el 53 por ciento considera que es más bien "pasivo", o que existe "un protagonismo excesivo" de algún familiar.

A la hora de llevar a cabo este estudio, se analizaron un total de 24 empresas familiares españolas, con una plantilla de entre 50 y 1.000 trabajadores. Los encuestados dieron una valoración media sobre la utilidad de un Consejo de Administración de tres puntos sobre cinco.

El documento también sitúa la duración media de los cargos de presidente o máximo ejecutivo en 15 años lo que, en opinión de los autores del estudio, conlleva el riesgo de acomodarse, la posible pérdida del espíritu emprendedor y una influencia negativa en la aplicación de normas de Buen Gobierno.

Asimismo, el estudio determina que la existencia del Consejo de Administración es "más frecuente" cuando existe un accionariado disperso y está compuesto por miembros no familiares. Por otro lado, la mayoría de las empresas encuestadas no cuenta con un sistema de evaluación del Consejo y de los consejeros, mientras que las Comisiones existen en el 16 por ciento de los casos.

Respecto a la composición de los Consejos, la presencia de Consejeros Familiares es muy superior a la de no familiares. En este supuesto, se trata de personas cercanas al círculo de la familia, o con algún tipo de relación contractual. La entrada de accionistas no familiares está ligada con la incorporación de Consejeros Externos y con la profesionalización del Consejo.

En el capítulo de recomendaciones, los expertos abogan por incorporar Consejeros externos para potenciar el espíritu emprendedor y profesional de la empresa; incorporar un criterio en la selección de los Consejeros que representen a la familia, en el que pese más la profesionalidad que el carácter familiar; el cumplimiento de buenas prácticas de Gobierno Corporativo; fomentar la evaluación periódica del Consejo y de los Consejeros; y potenciar el uso del Consejo de familia, complementario del Consejo de Administración.

/. http://www.europapress.es/economia/noticia-economia-dos-cada-tres-empresas-familiares-posee-consejo-administracion-compuesto-accionistas-parientes-20091020145346.html