Amazon is looking for a North American city for a second headquarters (HQ2), and Thursday was the last day for submissions. The company will reportedly spend $5 billion and bring 50,000 jobs to the winning city. Critics say it’s a race to the bottom (determine who will give up the most tax & other incentives), and that cities should be careful what they wish for (an Amazon HQ2 could bring increases in real estate prices, traffic problems).
Forbes magazine lists the top contenders as: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Pittsburgh and Toronto. We will have to be patient. The decision will only be made sometime in 2018!
Thursday marked the anniversary of the US Stock Market crash of 1987, called Black Monday. The Dow Jones Index fell by 22.6% in one day, a record decline that stands to this day. The impact was felt worldwide. ‘It is a sobering experience’ said my dad at the time. In South Africa, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Index would slump by 38% in the month that followed.
Under current rules, if the broader S&P 500 index falls more than 7.0% before 3:25 p.m. New York time, trading is paused for 15 minutes. If the decline continues once trading resumes, and it is still before 3:25 p.m., the market is again paused at 13% down. If the decline happens after 3:25 p.m, trading continues. But if the decline reaches 20%, trading is suspended for the session, regardless of the time of day. Still, said the traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange today: the forces in the market driven by fear are very powerful, and even the circuit breakers may not prevent the market from going down significantly in a very short time.
We had windy and rainy weather today here in the Puget Sound: not too bad in the city (0.8″ rain at 10 pm), but elsewhere there were some power outages, as well as a few cancellations of ferry sailings (between Port Townsend and Coupeville).
Here’s a little collection of fall leaves, that I picked up in the street and just put in a flat bowl with water. It shows off the reds (anthocyanins) and oranges & yellows (carotenoids) in the leaves.
It has to be a matter of ‘when’, and not of ‘if’, when it comes to a 10% or 20% correction in the US equities market. Yale University economics professor Robert Shiller has an index called the CAPE: Cyclically Adjusted Price Earnings ratio (it takes inflation into account). The index has only been higher before the 1929 crash, and before the 2000 dot-com bubble. It is now over 30, and – if history repeats itself- it has to go back to the trend value of 16-something. Sooner, or later. We just do not know when.
Update Tue: the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly crossed 23,000 for the first time on Tuesday. There is already speculation that 25,000 is possible by June 2018. (Agreed. But let’s add: 20,000 is also perfectly possible).
I went down to South Lake Union today to check out the construction on the old Seattle Times Building’s site.
The original Seattle Times Building was completed in 1931 with offices and newspaper printing presses and all. Operations stopped there in 2011, and were moved to Bothell (some 20 miles from of Seattle). The real estate and buildings were sold in 2013 to a company from Vancouver. The developer has to preserve the exterior facade and roof of the Seattle Times Building, since these were designated a Seattle city landmark in 1996. It’s a little weird that only the exterior walls and roof of a building can be designated a landmark! .. but at least some semblance of the old building remains. The developer has already demolished all of the inside, and while the rooftop is not built on, it is getting a make-over with landscaping and seating.
We went to see the new ‘Bladerunner 2049’ movie on Saturday, and I liked it a lot. Ryan Gosling is Officer K from the LAPD and hunts down replicants (robots that look and act like humans), then discovers he might be a very special replicant himself. Are his memories real or not? is a big part of the movie, as is the destroyed Earth backdrop. There was a Blackout (electromagnetic pulse) event in 2022 that destroyed all digital data records on Earth, and as a consequence Officer K has to knock on doors and ask people (and replicants) questions, to get information.
I loved the enormous fields of solar power generation stations in the opening scene, the massive seawall that protects LA from the sea, and the flying cars. There is also Officer K’s holographic girlfriend Joi (says she: ‘I missed you, baby sweet – what a day, hmm?’), and a cool holographic jukebox player. But in the final analysis, the movie is about what makes us human. A perennial science fiction question seems to be: could artificially intelligent (AI) creatures be made human, say, with implanted memories? What is illusion, and what is ‘reality’, anyway? As Albert Einstein famously said: ‘Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one’.
Today in Copenhagen: at about 13 o’clock on Friday the 13th, Finnair flight 666 took off to fly to HEL (Helsinki). The (regularly scheduled) flight arrived on time, safe and sound. Alas, this was the last flight to Helsinki with this number. Finnair is said to have rearranged their flight numbers, so soon there will be no more flight 666s to HEL.
President Trump has waged war with the media and the press since Day One of his presidency, and it just seems to get even worse.
So many things wrong with these tweets. NBC and the networks hold themselves to the highest standards, while Trump tweets out blatant lies and distortions almost every day. 2/3 of Americans think they are bad for the country. And by the way: there is no ‘license’ that can be revoked for the national networks, only for local TV stations. Also, the Executive Branch cannot even do that – it’s up to the Federal Communications Commission.
Oy vey, what a disappointment! Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifying soccer match of the USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago, ended in a 1-2 loss for the Americans.
After losses of 1-2 to Mexico and 0-4 to Costa Rica as well, it meant that for the first time since 1986, the USA did not qualify for the World Cup. ‘You can’t get a draw, a tie, against Trinidad? You don’t deserve to go to the World Cup’, said an exasperated Taylor Twellman afterwards, in an epic rant on sports network ESPN.
Twitter (#USMNST) was set alight by soccer fans : video of chimpanzees kicking soccer balls; ‘well, they had to beat both Trinidad AND Tobago’; ‘dear Donald Trump, I’m getting tired of all the winning’; ‘On a side note, I’ve been to Trinidad and Tobago. It’s a lovely country’.
I see the Dutch team (called ‘Oranje’ for their orange jerseys) did not qualify, either. Aw.
The Argentinians came perilously close to the same fate, but they have superstar Lionel Messi, and he scored three goals in their critical match against Ecuador, securing their place in World Cup 2018.
South Africa’s ‘Bafana Bafana’ team is still in contention in Africa Group D, but will have to win both match-ups against Senegal in November.
Australia’s ‘Socceroos’ will travel to Honduras in a play-off match, in their quest for a fourth-consecutive World Cup appearance.
It’s World Mental Health Day today. I see a Japanese company is marketing a 2-lb robotic cat-pillow-thing calledQoobo. The sensation of stroking the furry fabric, and the wagging ‘tail’ reaction is going to have a soothing effect, and make the day’s stress go away, they promise. Well. Granted : no kitty litter box is good, but no cute cat face and paws, and no ears to tickle – no good.
Man! Hurricanes, floods (and Las Vegas) have already made 2017 an annus horribilis. Even so, Sunday and Monday brought more disaster : one of the most destructive fire emergencies in California’s history. Some 15 fast-moving wildfires have now scorched 94,000 acres (146 sq mi) and destroyed 1,500 buildings. At least 10 people were killed, over 100 were taken to hospitals, and some 20,000 were forced to evacuate.
We watched Bladerunner (1982)* last night, since we plan to see the new Bladerunner 2049 that just started running in theaters.
The movie showed its age a little (of course), but it became a cult flick and one that has been extensively discussed on the internet.
Anyway – I see the chess game from the movie is actually borrowed from one of the most famous games in all of chess history, called ‘The Immortal Game‘.
The game was played by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky on 21 June 1851 in London, during a break of the first international tournament. Anderssen gave up both rooks and a bishop, then his queen, checkmating his opponent with his three remaining minor pieces.
*From Wikipedia : Blade Runner is a 1982 American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos. The script was written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, and is a loose adaptation of the 1968 novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ by Philip K. Dick. Set in a dystopian Los Angeles in 2019, the story depicts a future in which synthetic humans known as replicants are bio-engineered by the powerful Tyrell Corporation to work on off-world colonies. When a fugitive group of replicants led by Roy Batty (Hauer) escape back to Earth, burnt-out LA cop Rick Deckard (Ford) reluctantly accepts one last assignment to hunt them down. During his investigations, Deckard meets Rachael (Young), an advanced replicant who causes him to question his mission.
Bryan and I made a run out to Kitsap peninsula for dinner with friends. We stopped at Norwegian Point to catch a little of the beautiful fall weather, and then made it down to Bainbridge Island for dinner at a restaurant-store called Via Rosa 11: great wood-fired pizza, and other Italian food.
NBC reported on Wednesday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called President Trump a ‘moron’* in public. This was in July, at the Pentagon, after Trump had left a meeting. Shortly after that VP Mike Pence had to talk Tillerson into staying on and not quitting. *It’s actually worse than that .. whispers are that it was ‘f-ing moron’. The political publication The Hill tells NBC to come clean and report the exact phrase that was used.
Anyway, does it matter? Both Tillerson and Trump denied on Wednesday that anything was amiss. (Tillerson: the President is a ‘smart man’; Trump: NBC is ‘fake news’, ‘totally made-up’). Right. I will go with NBC’s version, to believe.
It does matter. It’s not good that there is such a rift between the President and his Secretary of State. And Trump seems to routinely undermine his cabinet’s efforts by tweeting totally contradicting policy points of view. Example: I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man .. Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!
I am trying again to add greenery to the front of my house, and my gardener recommended astelias (‘silver shadow’). I have to keep an eye on them and keep them watered, since the rainy season is not yet in full swing here.
Check out this mama lynx and her seven kittens that visited Tim Newton’s porch in Alaska. (They picked the right porch! He is a photographer). These are called Canada lynxes. Its cousin from the lynx genus, further south in North America, is the bobcat. Other species of medium-sized wild cats are the Eurasian lynx and the Iberian lynx, the Indian jungle cat, and Africa’s caracal, which we have in South Africa as well.
A gunman sprayed 22,000 country music concert goers with bullets from machine gun fire from his Las Vegas hotel room on Sunday night at 10.08 pm, for almost 10 minutes.
The sheriff from Clark County in Las Vegas just had a news conference (Monday morning), said the ‘body count’ was up to 58, maybe 59, then corrected himself and said ‘number of deceased’. Well, it’s a massacre, and the body count as of now is 58, with 515 wounded. The gunman was a 64 yr old white male, US citizen – they usually are white males & US citizens, the gunmen in these frequent events in the United States. He used bullets designed to do maximum damage. He then committed suicide. The President called it an ‘act of pure evil’ and offered his condolences. The gunman’s brother could not point to anything that triggered him. Congress is not expected to anything, at all.