Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekend Potpourri

Regardless of your political leanings, I hope that you can appreciate this chart for its pure simplicity. 

Without making this a political discussion consider that:

* 93% of our $14.3 trillion of debt has been accumulated in the past 30 years.

* 59.5% of our total debt has been accumulated in the past DECADE!!!

What do we have to show for this roughly $8 trillion of debt?  A new national electric grid?  A national air transportation system that is the envy of the world?  The best education system in the world?  Nope.  In many ways, it feels like Congress and our presidents have bought into the world's worst Columbia House CD club.

I hate to keep harping on this issue, but the Fukushima story just isn't getting enough coverage here.  This weekend there was a story in the NYTimes that 20 radioactive hot spots are located around Tokyo.

"Takeo Hayashida signed on with a citizens’ group to test for radiation near his son’s baseball field in Tokyo after government officials told him they had no plans to check for fallout from the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Like Japan’s central government, local officials said there was nothing to fear in the capital, 160 miles from the disaster zone.

Then came the test result: the level of radioactive cesium in a patch of dirt just yards from where his 11-year-old son, Koshiro, played baseball was equal to those in some contaminated areas around Chernobyl.

The patch of ground was one of more than 20 spots in and around the nation’s capital that the citizens’ group, and the respected nuclear research center they worked with, found were contaminated with potentially harmful levels of radioactive cesium."

This story should get your attention if you're the parent of a US student with plans to attend college in the next 15 years.  The US Ivy league schools are becoming safety schools for the best and brightest from India. 

"Moulshri Mohan was an excellent student at one of the top private high schools in New Delhi. When she applied to colleges, she received scholarship offers of $20,000 from Dartmouth and $15,000 from Smith. Her pile of acceptance letters would have made any ambitious teenager smile: Cornell, Bryn Mawr, Duke, Wesleyan, Barnard and the University of Virginia.

But because of her 93.5 percent cumulative score on her final high school examinations, which are the sole criteria for admission to most colleges here, Ms. Mohan was rejected by the top colleges at Delhi University, better known as D.U., her family’s first choice and one of India’s top schools."

Just for giggles, I might apply for entrance to Delhi University's class of 2016 :)

This is just a single data point but it's worth watching because it won't be long before we'll start hearing the "but, but, Christmas sales will save the stock market" stories.

"The five busiest container ports in the United States said that imports in August 2011 were lower than or even with 2010 volumes. In Long Beach, the second-busiest container port by volume, August imports fell by 14.2 percent from August 2010."

If that trend were to continue into September it would be a problem.


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