Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange made a $50M offer to buy Southern California’s struggling Crystal Cathedral -

Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange made a $50M offer to buy Southern California’s struggling Crystal Cathedral - 

Officials announced Friday that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange made a $50 million cash offer to buy Southern California’s financially struggling Crystal Cathedral. The site in Garden Grove, California, has been the home for Crystal Cathedral Ministries lead by televangelist Rev. Robert H. Schuller for more than 50 years. The current structure was designed by famed architect Philip Johnson and dedicated in 1980. The Crystal Cathedral is the recording location for Schuller’s internationally televised “Hour of Power,” and home of the over 10,000 member congregation.

The Diocese of Orange said its proposal could pull the megachurch out of bankruptcy by the end of the year. The Crystal Cathedral is trying to sell the property and lease back portions of it for use for services to help erase a $36 million mortgage and settle nearly $10 million in unsecured debt. The church has been plagued by financial troubles after a disastrous leadership transition and a devastating slump in donations.

The church is also mulling several other offers. A real estate investment firm offered $46 million, as did Chapman University, which is considering building a medical school on the sprawling campus. A Norco-based church, My Father’s House Church International, also made a $50 million offer for the property, which includes the famous 234-foot glass-spired church designed by architect Philip Johnson.

Read more -

No Royal Yacht? You'd better borrow mine for Jubilee year - former car park tycoon to lend the Queen his £50M yacht -

No Royal Yacht? You'd better borrow mine for Jubilee year - former car park tycoon to lend the Queen his £50M yacht - 

The Queen has only once shed tears in public – when her Royal Yacht, Britannia, was taken away in 1997.
Now she is ‘delighted’ that she will once again have the use of a luxury yacht, to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. 
The Mail on Sunday can exclusively reveal that former car park tycoon Sir Donald Gosling is to lend the Queen his £50 million super-yacht Leander to mark her 60 years on the Throne.
And neither the Monarch nor the taxpayer will have to pay a penny.
The 246ft yacht is normally available for charter at £440,000 a week, but Sir Donald, 82, said: ‘I wouldn’t expect a fee for something that is on behalf of the nation.

‘It’s a great shame we no longer have a Royal Yacht. And while I wouldn’t put Leander in the same class as Britannia, she is a good ship capable of helping out in the celebrations.
‘The Queen visited Leander in Portsmouth a couple of months ago and liked what she saw. She spent a couple of hours on board and had lunch.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2018124/No-Royal-Yacht-Youd-better-borrow-Jubilee-year-Your-Majesty-says-car-parking-tycoon.html#ixzz1SykBZmAf
And neither the Monarch nor the taxpayer will have to pay a penny.
The 246ft yacht is normally available for charter at £440,000 a week, but Sir Donald, 82, said: ‘I wouldn’t expect a fee for something that is on behalf of the nation.

Not your average two-bed cottage... William and Kate get 'starter home' in Kensington Palace grounds -

Not your average two-bed cottage... William and Kate get 'starter home' in Kensington Palace grounds - 
The Royal couple will use the cottage when they come up to London at weekends

It is the sort of starter home any newlywed couple might move into - a cosy two-bedroom cottage with a couple of snug reception rooms and small yard.
The only difference is that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first marital home is in Kensington Palace... and is only a temporary base before the couple decide on much more majestic London accommodation.
The Royal couple last week moved into Nottingham Cottage, or Nott Cott as insiders call it, which was previously occupied by Princess Diana's sister Lady Jane Fellowes and her husband Sir Robert Fellowes, the Queen's former secretary.
'It's a very sweet cottage,' says a source. 
'Kate has been overseeing a refurb there, but they haven't done much to it, really - it's just a lick of paint to freshen the place up.
'They will use the cottage at weekends when they are in London. 
'Although it's not huge it's their own space and they are delighted with it.'

They are currently deciding on a permanent London base, and are tipped to take Apartment 1a in Kensington Palace, a lavish 19-room suite that was once the home of the late Princess Margaret. 
The couple reportedly also considered Apartments 8 and 9, the former marital home of Charles and Diana where William grew up, but Kate is said to have been uncomfortable with the idea.
'They have been to look around Margaret's apartment and like it very much,' said a source.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2018127/William-Kate-starter-home-Kensington-Palace-grounds.html#ixzz1SyicsVcA
The only downside for green-fingered Kate, 29, is the lack of a garden.
William and Kate -- or WillCat as they have been dubbed since their visit to Hollywood earlier this month -- rent a farmhouse near the Prince's search-and-rescue base in Anglesey, and until recently shared living quarters with Prince Harry at Clarence House.

History Lesson #1: In the 80s, the Gen Xers* were supposed to be the ones willing to end Social Security -

History Lesson #1: In the 80s, the Gen Xers* were supposed to be the ones willing to end Social Security - 

Of course, that was before 30 years of Reaganomics left most of us in much, much worse positions financially than our parents.

My parents didn't have the student loans I do.

My parents didn't have a Depression to live through.

My parents didn't go through 3 periods of longterm unemployment that drained all savings that they had.

My parents had unions pushing wages up.

My parents had Social Security and Medicare and funded Medicaid programs--all on the chopping block now so that the top 2%--including many of the Democratic Party leadership.

My parents had a solid Welfare program that guaranteed if not a good life, at least modest economic security.

My parents never accepted rightwing framing.

My parents center was the center. The current "center", as described by the main stream media, is far, far to the right of the "center" that they knew.

The rules were different in the late 70s and early 80s. The 21st Century is much, much closer to the 1880s. We have Robber Barons and a New Gilded Age. And it sucks as much for anyone not in the top 2% now as it did then.

So when people suggest that the Gen Xers should still be willing to end (or "weaken" or "strengthen" or "swap to a chained CPI" or whatever cow excrement term the PTB are using today) Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid (Welfare being long gone in the modern United States), remember--the rules were changed on us.

It started with "401k"s that were supposed to help us prepare (and before Wall Street Panic after Wall Street Panic reduced the 401k's of everyday people to 201k's and then 101k's and then 0k's). And there was Welfare Reform that shifted Welfare to tax rebates that led to 47% of Americans not paying income taxes and now have led to those 47% being vilified for not carrying their load rather than remembering that this is what was supposed to happen under Welfare "Reform". So now we have a "Democratic" Leadership willing to end that.

40 years of Reaganomics. Bush Sr. was truly right on one thing--Trickle Down is Voodoo Economics. Only far more evil than any actual Voudoun. We've become a harsher, meaner society because the people who were supposed to be protecting us--the "Democratic" Leadership--sold us down the river to endless wage slavery. The precious few who actually fight for the lower 98% get branded in the press as "Liberals", a smear word since 1979. And the popular culture and mainstream media lie to those who really shouldn't need to follow politics as closely as those of us who actually care and tell us that we're being "unreasonable" and "demanding" and "childish" and, get this..."disloyal".

So what do you call people who remain steadfast to the ideals of the Democratic Party ca. 1978? That's right. Now we're the "disloyal" who need to be purged. Those of us who insist that Social Security perhaps could have been ended if society had continued an upward track rather than embarking on a massive downward spiral? "Disloyal". Those of us who fight for our own survival and for those who walk with us who prefer to take care of kids and dogs and daily jobs and chores and grocery shopping? "Disloyal".

And that's the History Lesson for those who actually remember and won't lie.

Giving new meaning to ‘private sector,’ study finds link between penis size and the economy -

Giving new meaning to ‘private sector,’ study finds link between penis size and the economy - 

To his surprise, a Finnish doctoral student has discovered size really does matter when you compare penis length and world economic growth.
But despite rigorous analysis and careful mathematical charting of data, Tatu Westling isn’t quite ready to, as he puts it, “imply that I believe in causality at this point.”
In a study liberally laced with double entendres, the Helsinki University economic doctoral student reports that penis size, more than democracy, has a “robust” effect on Gross Domestic Product.
The healthiest economies grow in countries with the penis sizes of 13.5 centimetres (5.2 inches), just shy of the average. Happily, Canada measures 13.92.
“One striking result is the collapse of the GDP after male organ exceeds the length of 16 centimetres,
Westling concludes. “Male organ alone can explain 20 per cent of the between-country variation in GDP growth rates between 1960 and 1985.”
Westling’s study employs a recognized 121-country dataset also used by leading economists, including chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, to study economic growth. He applies all the usual controls of a serious academic study.
He also relies on two versions of the online “world penis size map,” which not surprisingly depends on self-reporting from many countries.
“It started as a half-serious attempt, but I did not expect the correlations to be so robust,” Westling told Global Post. “The seriousness increased as the study proceeded.”
Westling’s study charts growth from 1960 and 1985. He cheerfully advocates more current research, particularly since the “male organ can be considered quite convenient a variable. It represents a well-defined and concrete object. It is relatively easy to measure.”
For example, “If France with its average size of 16.1 centimetres had male organs on a par with United Kingdom’s 13.9 centimetres, French GDP would have expanded by around 15 per cent more between 1960 and 1985.”
Being a serious student of economics, Westling wasn’t prepared to say size spurs economic growth, just that the statistics show a connection that shouldn’t be ignored.
“To conclude that small male organs have driven GDP growth since 1960 is premature, (but) it clearly seems that the ‘private sector’ deserves more credit for economic development than is typically acknowledged.”
Read more -

Threat of Jail Would End U.S. Budget Gimmicks -

Threat of Jail Would End U.S. Budget Gimmicks - 

It is obviously good news, if true, that Republicans and Democrats may be approaching compromise in the negotiations over raising the federal debt ceiling.
Yet one has to wonder whether the so-called Gang of Six’s proposed $3.7 trillion in long-term debt reductions will ever come to pass, or is even an accurate, well-vetted figure. Or is it, as usual, the federal government plans to thrill us with numbers so artificial that they might land a company president in prison?
The central problem with the federal budgeting process -- and with the way it is reported by a complaisant media -- is its thorough lack of transparency. When officials announce, with great drama, that they have developed a “plan” to reduce the “deficit,” they are usually sincere, but rarely accurate.
The plan is almost always a piece of paper -- the Gang of Six’s struggles to fill five pages -- without any means of enforcement, based on guesses, often poor ones, about the future. Meanwhile, the budgetary process continues to chug along, impenetrable to the mind of man.
Remember the Budget Enforcement Act, adopted in 1990 to limit discretionary spending, while ensuring that Congress adopted no new tax cuts or entitlements without future revenues to pay for them? You don’t? Of course not: Congress gutted the thing once it began to get in the way of distributing benefits without regard to cost.

Balance Sheet Wonders

How about the government’s balance sheet? You know, the sort of thing that corporations have to issue every year, calculating assets and liabilities using generally accepted accounting principles? Haven’t seen it? Small wonder. Congress, in its wisdom, believes that only the troglodytes of the private sector should be burdened by such nonsense, lest their foolish and unsophisticated clients at the banks of Wall Street be deceived.
When you are carrying trillions of future liabilities, you might want your investors -- the voting public, say -- to get a peek now and then at the total financial picture. Or you would if you were interested in transparency. But the federal government is determined that its processes remain as opaque as possible.
Experts have long catalogued the accounting tricks Congress uses -- some would have been prohibited to private firms even before the changes under the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley law, others are unique to the public sphere.

Hard to Resist

For instance, public companies, required to use “accrual method” accounting, must book future liabilities as they accrue rather than when they are paid. Not Congress. As the legal scholar Cheryl Block pointed out in a law-review essay, Congress, by using “cash method” accounting, can easily “manipulate the timing of receipts and expenses,” thus making the financial picture look rosier than it really is. Alas, says Block, “budget gimmicks are often simply too difficult for legislators to resist.”
As former Commerce Secretary Pete Peterson pointed out in his book “Running on Empty,” a private enterprise that behaved this way “stands in contempt of the law and is shunned by Wall Street.”
Block’s article and Peterson’s book appeared during the George W. Bush administration, but the trends they discuss are not improving. A notorious recent example is the way the budget scoring of last year’s health-care reform act was improved by booking tax receipts in the short term while pushing many liabilities beyond the 10-year horizon examined by the Congressional Budget Office, as well as by including some $50 billion in Social Security taxes that will actually be needed to support Social Security. A public company that did the same might face prosecution.

By the Numbers

The Congress that passed Sarbanes-Oxley concluded that the only way to ensure transparency in corporate numbers was to require corporate officers to certify that their numbers were correct. The penalties for falsely certifying are substantial -- fines of as much as $5 million, and up to 20 years in prison -- on the theory that the fear of personal liability will reduce the incentive to exaggerate future revenue or conceal future liabilities.
By contrast, congressional appropriators and federal agency heads, are under no similar constraints. True, the government does have its own accounting principles. But nobody faces liability if the numbers are off. Nobody has skin in the game.
Consequently, if we need Sarbanes-Oxley (as its supporters still insist) to give us reassurance that we can believe corporate America’s numbers, ought we not to have something similar (as Peterson among others has argued) to reassure us that we can believe the numbers coming out of Washington?

Two Proposals

After all, if federal officials really intend to create a plan to reduce the nation’s debt, the least they can do is stand behind it.
This leads to two concrete proposals:
First, the budget act should be amended to require that Congress adopt every year a complete financial statement, including an explicit plan for retiring the nation’s long-term debt. The statement should be vetted, prior to passage, by an independent agency. If the CBO is the agency, it should use generally accepted accounting principles.
Second, the chairmen of the authorization and appropriations panels, along with the heads of all federal agencies, should be required to certify, under the same penalties as in Sarbanes-Oxley, the accuracy of the numbers in their budgets. (OK, the speech or debate clause of theConstitution might cause problems with applying such a law to committee chairs, but you get the idea.)

No Justification

Yes, there are important differences between public and private accounting, and there is a vast literature on how to tweak the rules to reflect those distinctions. But none of the literature suggests that these differences justify the budgetary practice of treating future liabilities as if they don’t exist. Unless we develop a system in which federal officials personally have skin in the game, no plan is likely to succeed.
What’s that you say? These requirements would be unduly burdensome, creating enormous compliance costs and chilling frank discussion of possible courses of action due to a fear of personal liability? Well, sauce for the goose....
In the Congressional debate, you might believe that the Republicans have the better of the argument or you might think the Democrats are right. Either way, until your side produces a set of actual numbers, clear and concise and susceptible to analysis, it isn’t really trying to produce a budget. Rather, both are engaging in the peculiarly childish form of wishful thinking that our politics has become.

Amy Winehouse death sets Twitter on fire -

Amy Winehouse death sets Twitter on fire - 

 It didn't take long for stars to react to the death Saturday of Grammy-winning British singer Amy Winehouse.

The 27-year-old was found dead of unexplained causes at her home in north London.

Fellow Grammy-winner Leann Rimes tweeted: "RIP Amy Winehouse. So sad to see such a talent gone and her life end in tragedy. This makes me terribly sad."

Singer Natasha Bedingfield had this to tweet: "I'm so sad to hear about Amy Winehouse just dying. My heart and prayers go out to her family. Such a terrible loss for us all."

Singer Nicki Minaj wrote: "Please tell me Amy Winehouse didn't die. Is this some sick joke?"

OutKast's Big Boi found comfort in remembering other singing idols who died young:" Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and now Amy Winehouse. All died aged 27. RIP to you all."

Singer Rob Thomas tweeted: "so many people saying that because it's not a surprise that amy winehouse passed, it's not sad. i hope you have more compassion for friends."

From guitarist David Navarro came: "My God! So sad to hear about Amy Winehouse! My deepest condolences to her friends and family and fans. You will be missed Amy xoxox''

Child star Selena Gomez spoke about the probable cause of death: "Amy Winehouse died?! I was dancing to Valerie last week,you serious? See how drugs kill people? R.I.P"

Apparently referring to the tweets of others, Celebrity DJ Samantha Ronson wrote, "I'm not sure how anyone with a soul can make jokes about the passing of one of the most talented artists this generation will see."

Emma Bunton,one of the former Spice Girls tweeted: "Such sad news about Amy Winehouse. My thoughts are with her family."

Other celebrities also had something to add. Wrote "Star Trek" actor Zachary Quinto: "profoundly sad news to wake up to. i hope amy winehouse has found some peace."

Read more -

There's a Solution to the Debt Fight That Could Avert Catastrophe -- Why Is Everyone Ignoring It? -

There's a Solution to the Debt Fight That Could Avert Catastrophe -- Why Is Everyone Ignoring It? - 

When you're this far down the rabbit-hole, who's to say which ideas are crazy and which are serious?

Another day, another round of leaks about a potential debt ceiling deal in the making. Yet this ludicrous standoff could be brought to a conclusion tomorrow, without concessions or the specter of legal challenges. It wouldn't require Congress to take any votes, or a “Gang of Six” to haggle over any backroom deals.

But here's an interesting thing: while it is now considered within the “mainstream” that a small group of intractable reactionaries might hold the economy hostage by threatening not to pay the tab that Congress itself ran up, ending the theatrics by creative but legal means isn't. It's a telling example of how our discourse is narrowed, policed by the Very Serious People who populate the Beltway media.

The escape hatch nobody at the Washington Post or the New York Times is talking about is called coin seignorage. It's based on Title 31 of the U.S. code, which authorizes Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to “mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.”

So tomorrow, Geithner could order the mint to manufacture a couple of trillion-dollar platinum coins and swap them for public debt now held by the Federal Reserve. The coins, unlike the bonds held by the Fed, don't count as debt, so the transaction would bring us $2 trillion below the debt ceiling and the manufactured “crisis” would be averted.
Read more -

The World at 7 Billion People: How Much More Growth Can the Planet Support? -

The World at 7 Billion People: How Much More Growth Can the Planet Support? - 

With global population expected to surpass 7 billion people this year, the staggering impact on an overtaxed planet is becoming more and more evident.

Global warming, food and water crises, even international conflict -- you can trace all these societal problems to overpopulation.

Demographers aren't known for their sense of humor, but the ones who work for the United Nations recently announced that the world's human population will hit 7 billion on Halloween this year. Since censuses and other surveys can scarcely justify such a precise calculation, it's tempting to imagine that the UN Population Division, the data shop that pinpointed the Day of 7 Billion, is hinting that we should all be afraid, be very afraid.

We have reason to be. The 21st century is not yet a dozen years old, and there are already 1 billion more people than in October 1999 — with the outlook for future energy and food supplies looking bleaker than it has for decades. It took humanity until the early 19th century to gain its first billion people; then another 1.5 billion followed over the next century and a half. In just the last 60 years the world's population has gained yet another 4.5 billion. Never before have so many animals of one species anything like our size inhabited the planet.

And this species interacts with its surroundings far more intensely than any other ever has. Planet Earth has become Planet Humanity, as we co-opt its carbon, water, and nitrogen cycles so completely that no other force can compare. For the first time in life's 3-billion-plus-year history, one form of life — ours — condemns to extinction significant proportions of the plants and animals that are our only known companions in the universe.

QR Codes Everywhere Even on Grave Markers -

QR Codes Everywhere Even on Grave Markers - 

When Edouard Garneau died last August, his wife of 53 years ordered a bench-style tombstone.

"I go and talk with him," said Faye Garneau, who admits she isn't so sure she likes that her own name is already are inscribed there, too.

That wasn't all: Several months later, the monument maker added a high-tech innovation — a small, square image known as a quick response or QR code, affixed alongside the big letters spelling out Garneau.

The monument maker — a friend — was working on the code before Garneau died of cancer at age 78.

People scanning the code with their smartphones are taken to a website that includes Garneau's obituary and a photo gallery highlighting the Seattle-area businessman. They learn he was a collision auto body repair expert, a world traveler and a loving uncle. In the future, more photos and stories from family and friends can be added.

"I think it's a neat deal," Faye Garneau said. "It kind of keeps people alive a little longer, down through the generations."

‘Free to think creatively’

The Seattle-based tombstone company is one of many new adopters of quick response or QR codes that also includes, a Florida nature trail and a T-shirt maker.

New uses for the technology are popping up almost daily, said Shane Greenstein, a professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who studies IT markets. That's because "the bugs are worked out" from the code, which was created in Japan in the early 1990s, Greenstein said, adding that "there's no licensing fee; there are no restrictions. Users are free to think creatively."And, they are.

In Seattle, Quiring Monuments has made code-adorned "living headstones" for about two months. It has sold about 30 so far, General Manager Jon Reece said, adding he's gotten "tons" of inquiries, often from people still very much alive: "They say, 'I want my story to be told the way I want it to be told.'"

Quiring Monuments offers the QR code, website and website hosting free to people buying new monuments from the company, Reece said, noting the company will add it to existing grave markers for $65.

On Sanibel Island, Fla., the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge unveiled QR code signs last month along Wildlife Drive, on which nearly 800,000 visitors a year travel by car, foot or bicycle.


Woman kicked off flight over ‘panties’ -

Woman kicked off flight over ‘panties’ - 

A New York woman's lawsuit against airline JetBlue claims she was embarrassed by a worker who asked about her underwear and was later removed from the flight.
Financial consultant Malinda Knowles, 27, said in her Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit she was flying to Florida for a business meeting July 13, 2010, when she was approached by a JetBlue supervisor, the New York Post reported Friday.
Knowles, who said her dark denim shorts were concealed by her baggy T-shirt, said the supervisor placed the antenna of his walkie-talkie between her legs.
"He said, 'I don't want to see your panties or anything, but do you have any on?'" Knowles said.
"I didn't want to show him anything. He wanted me to basically show him my crotch. I was completely humiliated. It was vulgar. It was macho. It was rude," she said.
Knowles said she was escorted off the plane and taken to a John F. Kennedy Airport hangar, where she showed workers she was wearing shorts.
She said she returned to the plane but a worker then told her she had to exit because the pilot was refusing to fly with her aboard.
JetBlue declined to comment.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2011/07/22/Woman-kicked-off-flight-over-panties/UPI-92381311365682/#ixzz1SxrhS3AC

Where's the Beef? - Japan Not Sure Where the Nuclear Contaminated Beef Is -

Where's the Beef? - Japan Not Sure Where the Nuclear Contaminated Beef Is - 

In the wake of Japan’s worst-ever civilian nuclear catastrophe, the government failed to take precautions against radiated feed being consumed by cattle as a result of the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant meltdown. The result has alarmed the population as well as exporters, creating fear that nuclear-tainted meat may be consumed both locally and abroad.
Government officials said Wednesday that they can’t be sure if contaminated beef was sold overseas. They do know that meat from cattle grazing in the Fukushima prefecture, which accounts for 2.6% of Japan’s beef-cattle production, was delivered to 45 of Japan’s 47 prefectures.
At first, 637 cattle were discovered to have eaten hay containing radioactive cesium. Then the number jumped to nearly 1,500.
The United States and Japan have a history of banning each other’s beef exports. Japan imports and exports beef, the latter being small and of a gourmet variety.
In 2001, the U.S. banned Japanese beef over mad cow disease fears. Japan returned the favor in 2003 over the same disease. They lifted their respective bans in 2005. However, six weeks later Japan reinstated its ban, and then six months later reduced it to a partial ban that still stands.
The partial ban resulted in U.S. exports to Japan from 2004-2009 being 15% what they were in 2003. The National Cattleman’s Association estimated that translates to $1 billion a year in lost exports for American producers.
The U.S. banned Japanese beef again in April 2010 over fears of foot-and-mouth disease.  

Read more -

Could U.S. Gas Prices Rise Above $5 Per Gallon? -

Could U.S. Gas Prices Rise Above $5 Per Gallon? - 

Investors -- certainly U.S. stock investors -- would be wise to keep one eye on the goings-on in Washington, and one eye on the price of oil, currently pushing $100 per barrel, once again.

Oil, as measured by West Texas Intermediate crude, Friday closed up 68 cents to $99.81 per barrel.

Moreover, the price of crude is considerably higher if the price of Brent Crude is used. Brent is considered a more-accurate reflection of current price conditions, due to a surplus of West Texas Intermediate oil at the Cushing, Oklahoma storage facility, which has lowered its price. Brent Friday closed up $1.16 to $118.67 per barrel.

And the reason why one should keep an eye on oil's price is obvious enough: once again, oil is approaching the danger zone, from a U.S. GDP growth standpoint.

No one knows precisely at what point oil begins to substantially hinder consumer spending and slow commercial activity - but this much is known: every $1 per barrel rise in oil decreases U.S. GDP by about $100 billion per year and every 1 cent increase in gasoline decreases U.S. consumer disposable income by about $600 million per year.

To be sure, the flexible and resilient U.S. economy is more-energy efficient today that it was 10 years ago - even five years ago -- and it will likely become more efficient in the years ahead, but that doesn't blot-out the fact that the U.S. remains an oil-dependent economy. Most cars still run on gasoline, trucks on diesel, and oil is also a major fuel for heat. Hence, sustained, high oil prices translate in to bagdthings for U.S. GDP, corporate earnings growth, and by extension, for most U.S. stocks.

Read more -

New Spin Revealed on Mysterious Antimatter -

New Spin Revealed on Mysterious Antimatter - 

The puzzling prevalence of matter over antimatter in the universe might be related to the bizarre space-time stretching caused by our galaxy's spin, a new study suggests.
Antimatter is a strange cousin to the stuff that makes up galaxies, stars and us. For every matter particle there is thought to exist an antimatter partner with the same mass but opposite charge. When matter and antimatter meet, they annihilate, converting their mass into energy in a powerful explosion.
Though the universe today is almost completely made of matter, scientists don't understand why. The Big Bang that created the cosmos 13.7 billion years ago should have produced equal parts matter and antimatter, which would have annihilated, leaving the universe barren of either. Luckily, it didn't (hence the Earth and the life it supports are here).
To what we owe our good fortune, physicists haven't much of an idea. But a new study that takes the spinning of our galaxy into account could point the way. [Wacky Physics: The Coolest Little Particles in Nature]
Physicist Mark Hadley of the University of Warwick in England calculated the effects of the Milky Way's spin on the space-time around it. According to the theory of general relativity, the speed and angular momentum of such a large spinning body twists the space and time around it in a process called frame-dragging.
Because of the mammoth mass of our galaxy, this twisting should have an impact on space-time that is more than a million times stronger than that of Earth's spin, Hadley found.
These changes to space and time — in particular a stretching of time called time dilation — could in turn affect how particles break down. Because of their different properties, matter and antimatter particles might react differently to the time dilation and decay at different rates because of it. [Video: Flying Space-time's Warps and Twists]
For some time, physicists have measured this asymmetry in decay rates between matter and antimatter, and called the phenomenon charge-parity violation (CP violation). But no one yet has a firm explanation for how the asymmetries came about.
"These [violations] have been measured but never explained," Hadley said in a statement. "This research suggests that the experimental results in our laboratories are a consequence of galactic rotation twisting our local space-time. If that is shown to be correct then nature would be fundamentally symmetric after all."
Hadley thinks that matter and antimatter aren't actually asymmetric at the root of things, but that their differing responses to the changes wrought by galactic rotation simply give this appearance. He says that if the overall big picture of all particles is taken into account, the variation of different levels of time stretching averages out and CP violation disappears.
"CP violation is seen as the key to explaining the matter asymmetry in the universe, but the measured CP violation is inadequate to explain the universe that we see today," Hadley wrote in a paper describing his findings published this month in the journal Europhysics Letters.
Instead of using CP violation to explain the prevalence of matter over antimatter in the universe, Hadley suggests that space-time warping may solve the mystery. Perhaps the spinning of massive structures formed early in the universe also stretched out time and space in a way that affected the overall distribution of matter and antimatter, he proposed.
To test his hypothesis, Hadley said researchers could investigate the findings of two experiments going on right now: the particle collisions produced inside the world's largest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, and the BaBar experiment at the SLAC particle physics laboratory at California's Stanford University, which studies CP violation in the decay of particles called B mesons.
"This radical prediction is testable with the data that has already been collected at CERN and BaBar by looking for results that are skewed in the direction that the galaxy rotates," Hadley said.

Read more -