Monday, February 10, 2020

Bird Flu Now Being Reported In Multiple European Countries (TSN; PPC; SAFM)

So we naturally think of the U.S. bird protein processors, above.

Here are the headlines at PoAndPo Agrifish:
As Grandmother used to say, "If it's not one tham ding it's another"
(we knew what she was really thinking)

Capital Markets: "Quiet Start to the New Week in which Politics may Dominate" (plus China)

From Marc to Market:
Overview: The global capital markets have begun the new week on a cautious tone as investors seek to assess the latest news on the new coronavirus. Nearly all the markets in Asia fell but China. European bourses are lower as well, with the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 off about 0.3%. US shares are soft but little changed. Benchmark yields are slightly lower in Europe after Asia Pacific bond yields eased to catch-up the move in the US ahead of the weekend. The US 10-year yield is around 1.57%, The dollar has a heavier bias today, slipping against most of the major currencies, led by the Norwegian krone on the back of a surprisingly strong inflation report. Emerging market currencies are also mostly higher, with the Chinese yuan and Russian rouble vying for the top position, with both up almost 0.3%. After falling by 1.1% over the past two sessions, the JP Morgan Emerging Markets Currency Index is up by about 0.15%. Today late in the European morning. Gold is higher for the fourth consecutive sessions, and oil is in a 50-cent range on either side of the $50 a barrel mark.

Asia Pacific
Reports suggest a mixed re-opening of China's manufacturing companies. Some are extending the shutdown extension another week, and others are suggesting not re-starting until March. Manufacturing in China is labor-intensive, and there can be no work without masks. Two masks per day per worker are needed, and reports suggest shortages. Separately, reports indicate that officials have spent out half of the funds (CNY31.5 or ~$4.5 bln) that have already been allocated (CNY~72 bln) to combat the virus. The PBOC announced a new weekly facility to provide "re-lending" funds to major banks and several local banks that will be re-lend to businesses 100 bp below the one-year Loan Prime Rate of 3.15%.

China reported January CPI jumped to 5.4% from 4.5% in December. Economists had expected something a little shy of 5%. Food prices accelerated to 20.6% from 17.4%. Producer prices ended a six-month deflationary bout and rose 0.1% year-over-year. The news has little policy significance and does pick up the full impact of the coronavirus.

Reports indicate that China's oil demand has fallen by about 3.2 mln barrel per day, and as some industry re-opens, the decline could fall to around 2.5 mln bpd. Next month, demand is projected to be about 1.4 mln bpd less than in Q4 19. OPEC+ awaits Russia's decision whether it will go along with an extension of existing cuts until the end of the year and some additional cuts in H1 20. Meanwhile, Chinese commodity importers are declaring force majeure to turn back shipments, including reports of 35 liquid natural gas cargoes. Australia reportedly may be the most impacted....
....MUCH MORE

Sunday, February 9, 2020

And Why Are LNG Exports So Important to The Natural Gas Storage Report?

I've mentioned that more and more, LNG exports are factoring into estimates of natural gas in storage ahead of the official EIA Thursday reports. here's an example from the last week of January, 2020:
...Data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that a total of 21 tankers with a combined LNG-carrying capacity of 75 Bcf departed the United States between January 23 and January 30.

This compares to 15 liquefied natural gas carriers with a combined LNG-carrying capacity of 54 Bcf, that departed U.S. LNG export facilities in the previous week.
Out of the 21 cargoes, eight departed Cheniere’s Sabine Pass facility, four departed Freeport LNG plant, three were shipped from the Corpus Christi and one each from Cove Point, Elba Island and Cameron LNG.

EIA further noted that natural gas deliveries to liquefied natural gas export terminals jumped compared to the previous week reaching 9.2 Bcf/day, up from 8.2 Bcf/d....
LNG World News, January 31
With China breaking contractual commitments* that gas either has to go to Europe or it has to go into storage.
Here's the export report fort the week ended Feb. 5, reported at LNG World News Feb. 7:
U.S. weekly LNG exports slip
*Total and Royal Dutch Shell Reject Chinese Declaration of Force Majeure on LNG Contracts

Some prior mentions of the topic:
EIA Natural Gas Weekly Update, October 17, 2019
LNG has become more of a factor in the Thursday storage numbers, to the point that the timing of just one or two ships will change the injection/withdrawal numbers.
It makes life interesting.... 

EIA Natural Gas Weekly Update December 19, 2019 (think LNG)

and many more, we've actually been kinda harping on the interplay, use the 'search blog' box if interested.

March WTI futures down 5.7 cents (3.07%) at 1.8010, after trading as low as $1.788.
The price target after the last storage report is getting closer:
EIA Natural Gas Storage Report February 6, 2020 Meh
The bulls are running out of winter and unless the producers can find buyers in Europe for LNG, Henry Hub could see $1.70 before spring.
And another cool spring akin to 2019 and you could see a half-dozen major bankruptcies among the E&P folks (looking at you EQT, CHK)

"Renault batteries find ‘megawatt-scale’ 2nd life use in Belgium"

From Energy Storage News, February 4:
An energy storage system made up of ‘second life’ batteries previously used in Renault’s electric vehicle (EV) has been deployed for Umicore, a multinational materials technology company headquartered in Belgium.

Taken from Renault’s Kangoo utility EVs, the batteries will provide firm frequency response to the grid, acting as a revenue generator for Umicore’s industrial site.

Maintaining stability of the network at its operating frequency of 50Hz is vital for enabling the addition of more distributed energy resources, as the world’s grids move away from centralised generation, also meaning that renewables - described as intermittent, or more accurately as variable energy resources - can be more readily accommodated. The system delivered for Umicore also helps the materials company maintain power quality for running its own operations.

Technology provider Connected Energy said that using EV battery packs as stationary energy storage systems (ESS) in this way can extend their lifetime by as much as seven years. The UK-headquartered company, based in England’s northeast automotive sector powerhouse, celebrated the inauguration of the Umicore project as its biggest to date at 1.2MW of output and 720kWh capacity.
'Doubling the value of the battery asset' 
“We, typically, are receiving the battery packs when they’ve reached, or fallen to 70% capacity,” Mark Bailey, Connected Energy chief commercial officer (CCO), told Energy-Storage.news....
....MORE

This is not the future, Umicore is also working on that, but it is a way to extract some value from what is essentially toxic waste.
More on that next week.

"Coronavirus disrupts China meat imports, food supply during pork shortage"

From Reuters via CNBC, February 6:
Coronavirus is disrupting meat shipments to China as the country faces a shortage due to an outbreak of a fatal pig disease, Tyson Foods Inc and U.S. agricultural groups said on Thursday.

An outbreak of African swine fever, which infects only pigs, has decimated China’s herd, pushing Chinese pork prices to record highs and increasing the need for meat imports.

However, coronavirus - which has killed 563 people so far - is keeping consumers and workers at home in China, delaying purchases at stores and restaurants and slowing the unloading of products at ports.

The disruption exasperates Beijing’s efforts to ensure adequate meat supplies and the plans of global companies like Tyson and JBS SA to profit from the shortage. The dual disease outbreaks also highlight the problems facing import-dependant China in its efforts to feed its population.
“There’s been disruptions at the ports,” Tyson Chief Executive Noel White said on a call with analysts. “That has skewed shipments, receivals.”

China has increased meat imports from the United States, Europe and Brazil as African swine fever has killed up to half its pigs since August 2018.

Beijing pledged to increase purchases of U.S. farm goods in an initial trade deal last month, raising traders’ expectations for more pork shipments. China also eased restrictions on U.S. beef imports and in November lifted a ban on U.S. poultry meat shipments.

But coronavirus has clouded the outlook for Chinese demand, White said, as cities have been quarantined. He said Tyson is still shipping meat to China and has orders on its books.
“Once we get past the coronavirus incident, whenever that might be, I do think there is going to be very strong demand,” he said....
....MORE

And for no particular reason here are China's fish and seafood import/export numbers for 2019, From Fish Information and Services:
Fish and shellfish import and export statistics (Jan-Dec 2019)
https://fis.com/attach_fck/2020020604ING%20-%20China-Importacion%20y%20exportacion%20de%20pescados%20y%20mariscos.jpg


The thinking is that China will export less in an effort to supply home market demand for protein, leaving room for other exporters to attempt to take market share (hint, hint)

British Airways 747 Reached Speeds of 825 mph Riding Jet Stream New York to London

From the BBC:
Storm Ciara helps plane beat transatlantic flight record
Experts are hailing a British Airways flight as the fastest subsonic New York to London journey.
The Boeing 747-436 reached speeds of 825 mph (1,327 km/h) as it rode a jet stream accelerated by Storm Ciara.

The four hours and 56 minutes flight arrived at Heathrow Airport 80 minutes ahead of schedule on Sunday morning.
According to Flightradar24, an online flight tracking service, it beat a previous five hours 13 minutes record held by Norwegian.

The BBC has been unable to independently verify the record as no complete database of flight times was available.

Aviation consultant and former BA pilot Alastair Rosenschein said the aeroplane reached a "phenomenal speed"....
....MORE

825 mph in a 747 is quite fast.

By comparison the world's fastest plane, the SR-71 did the run, 3,461.53 miles, in 1hr 54 min 56.4 secs for an Average Speed of 1,806.95 statute mph.
While carrying only two people.
It did have to slow down for the refueling tanker though.

On This National Pizza Day: A Warning

Be safe out there.
Lifted in toto from the New York Post, February 6 2020:

Pizza sent a record number of Americans to the ER in 2018 
Who knew a slice of pie could be so dangerous?
The number of hospitalizations in the United States involving pizza rocketed by more than 50% in 2018, compared to the previous year.

Whether it was caused by falling upstairs while carrying a delivery or someone slashing a finger with a pizza cutter, there were no fewer than 3,800 visits to the ER two years ago related to the tasty Italian food. That figure compares to 2,300 injuries in 2017.

The statistics come from medical service provider Babylon Health in honor of National Pizza Day on Sunday, Feb. 9. The 2018 figures mark the highest number of injuries since the company started counting them.

The company analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which is run by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Findings were based on medical records from an extrapolated sample of 100 emergency departments across the country in which the word “pizza” was included in doctors’ notes.

The unfortunate pie-related cases in 2018 included a 17-year-old man poking the roof of his mouth with a fork while eating pizza, an 18-year-old woman swallowing her tongue ring after feasting on a slice and a 21-year-old woman preparing a pizza who slipped with a bread knife in her hand.
Babylon Health's "Accidental Injuries: A deep-dive into America’s most dangerous accident hazards" is chock-full of stats and facts.

Also at the Post:
Liquor pours out of water faucets after booze contaminates well

The Terrifying Science Behind the Locust Plagues of Africa

From Wired:
Tearing across East Africa right now is a plague of biblical proportions: Hundreds of billions of locusts in swarms the size of major cities are laying waste to the crops in their path. It’s the worst outbreak in 25 years in Ethiopia. In Kenya, make that the worst in seven decades.

Fueling the locusts’ destruction is a bounty of vegetation following unusually heavy rains. All that food means the landscape can support a huge number of rapidly breeding insects. And the problem is about to get a lot worse—the insect population could boom by a factor of 500 by June. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN is calling the situation in the Horn of Africa “extremely alarming,” and estimates that a swarm covering one square kilometer can eat as much food in a day as 35,000 humans. Farmers throughout East Africa now face food shortages, as the plague consumes both crops in the field and in storage.

Locusts are actually special kinds of grasshoppers known for their gregariousness, and not in a good way. Around 20 species of the 7,000 known grasshopper varieties transform into what’s known as a gregarious phenotype, which means their bodies actually change as they socialize into swarms. Normally solitarious (a word that locust biologists made up, by the way), they change color and grow bigger muscles as they gather into massive clouds, rolling across landscapes and devastating crops. “They have this sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde switch,” says Arianne Cease, director of the Global Locust Initiative at Arizona State University.

(The kind of desert locust currently plaguing East Africa is in fact named for this tendency to socialize: Schistocerca gregaria.)

But why does the desert locust go gregarious, when the vast majority of grasshopper species remain solitarious? That might have something to do with the dry environments these species call home. Desert locusts only lay eggs in moist soil, to keep them from drying out. When heavy rains come in to saturate the desert, locusts—ever the opportunists—breed like mad and fill the soil with their eggs, perhaps 1,000 per square meter of soil. When those eggs hatch, they’ll have plenty of vegetation to eat, until things dry up once again.

As soon as things start getting crowded, desert locusts become gregarious and migrate away in search of more food. “If they were to stay locally, one potential is that there are too many of them and they would run out of food,” says Cease. “And so they migrate to find better resources.” By doing so in swarms, the locusts find safety in numbers—any individual is less likely to get eaten. But for farmers in surrounding countries, the locusts’ newfound mobility can spell ruin.

To adapt to this new social life, the locusts’ bodies transform, inside and out. They change color from a drab tan to a striking yellow and black, perhaps a signal to their predators that they’re toxic. Indeed, while solitarious locusts avoid eating toxic plants, the gregarious locusts are actually attracted to the odor of hyoscyamine, a toxic alkaloid found in local plants. Sure, by eating those plants and assuming their toxicity and changing color to yellow and black, the insects make themselves more conspicuous, but that isn’t such a big deal when there’s millions of them barreling across a landscape—no one’s trying to hide. Being bright and alone, especially in a barren desert, probably isn’t a good strategy for the solo locust, so they stay drab.

And speaking of food, you might assume that to fuel their epic migrations—an individual locust might travel over 90 miles in a day, consuming its own weight in plant matter—the insects would need to load up on protein, especially since their new bodies come with extra muscle mass. To put it in human terms, says Rick Overson, research coordinator of the Global Locust Initiative, “If your friend told you that they were going to become a vegan, one concern you might have for them is to make sure to get enough protein.”....
....MORE

Our posting on the current outbreak goes back to October 14, 2018's "Saudi Arabia—Oh Just ^#@&*%^ Great: Now There's A Cyclone Bearing Down That's Going To Jumpstart The Locusts".

If interested use the 'search blog' box for the rest.

A Very New York Story: "How New York’s Bagel Union Fought — and Beat — a Mafia Takeover"

From Grub Street:

The mob saw an opportunity. Local 338 had other ideas.
This article was featured in One Great StoryNew York’s reading recommendation newsletter. Sign up here to get it nightly.
In 1944, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, some enterprising thief stole a truckload of more than 1,500 bagels slated for delivery from Fisher’s Bakery on Norfolk Street. It was a newsworthy event, and local papers covered it duly — especially the primary mystery confronting policemen on the scene. At question, reported the Associated Press: “They wanted to know what a bagel was.”
Even into the modern era, the presence of bagels in America was largely confined to Jewish enclaves, predominantly in New York City, the old-world bread still sufficiently exotic that every mention of it in the New York Times (usually brief items concerning labor issues) assumed no previous knowledge on the part of readers. “A bagel,” the newspaper of record explained in 1960, “is an unsweetened doughnut with rigor mortis.”

Despite a decidedly limited reach through the first half of last century, demand kept dozens of bakeries in business throughout Manhattan and the eastern boroughs. They were miserable places to work, located in the basements of apartment houses and other large buildings with coal-fired furnaces that could be converted into ovens. Ambient temperatures in those rooms reached 120 degrees, with bakers frequently stripping down to their underwear, even in the dead of winter, while furiously sidestepping infestations of roaches and rats. “There appears to be no other industry, not even the making of clothes in sweatshops, which is carried on amid so much dirt and filth,” reported the state of New York in one of several scathing industry safety reviews. It was not uncommon for poor tradesmen to ply temporary homes in the corners of these rooms, sleeping on empty flour sacks in the handful of hours between shifts. So dire were conditions that they even inspired a Yiddish curse: Lig in der erd un bak beygl. “Lay in the ground and bake bagels.” (Alternatively translated: “Go to hell and bake bagels.”)

The excessive hours mandated in such environments were so brutal that in the late 1920s, bagel bakers, primarily immigrants from Eastern Europe, banded together in protest. The result — Union Local 338, under the umbrella of the Bakery and Confectionery Workers (B&C) International — offered a measure of professional leverage. Beginning in the 1930s, if one wanted to run a bagel shop in Manhattan, one had no choice but to employ union bakers. They were, after all, virtually the only men in town capable of making a proper bagel, not to mention exceedingly judicious when it came to imparting their wisdom. So comprehensive was this mandate that bakery owners were prohibited from manning their own ovens at the risk of costly and relentless picket lines outside their shops. (Picketing was the official response to virtually all major labor disputes. The union prevailed every time.)

Union Local 338 never grew much past 300 bakers, but the power it held was enduring. Membership was intentionally exclusive, based on the lineage-driven, old-world tradition of passing down a generationally honed craft from father to son. On this basis, acceptance was limited to the sons of existing 338 members (with the rare son-in-law and occasional nephew sliding quietly under the rope), a structure that retained an exclusively Jewish identity. Until American-born offspring began to turn over No. 338’s roster in the 1950s, the local communicated primarily in Yiddish, its correspondence and record-keeping entirely indecipherable to outsiders. The newspaper of record, the one read by bakers during their breaks, was the Yiddish-language daily Forverts — the Forward — which today publishes online in both English and Yiddish.

Under the union, bakers’ hours were soon strictly controlled, with wages rising to match those of high-end plumbers and electricians, plus paid vacations, life insurance, and pension plans. With a direct line between union members and their fathers who worked the benches before them, it was impossible to take such gains for granted. It also made concessions nearly impossible when it came to negotiating contracts.

Ultimately, it barely mattered to shop owners. In a thriving industry that by the mid-1960s was pumping out more than 2 million bagels per week to a market only just beginning to reach beyond New York City, they could afford it. With their industry grossing some $20 million per year, these men purchased homes on Long Island, drove fancy cars, and sent their children to prestigious colleges. It was a copacetic ecosystem, working out favorably for all involved.

Naturally, the Mafia wanted in.

By the time Johnny Dio — given name: Giovanni Ignazio Dioguardi — got involved with Manhattan’s bagel industry, he was 50 years old and, in the words of United States Attorney General Robert Kennedy, a “master labor racketeer.”

A capo in the Lucchese crime family, Dioguardi had already made a fortune skimming off the top (and frequently the middle) of fraudulent New York labor unions he’d formed for that very purpose. (Dio’s paper unions — bearing full voting rights despite no membership to speak of — were instrumental in electing his pal Jimmy Hoffa to the national presidency of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 1957.) In 1963, Dioguardi — having just served three years of a four-year mob-related prison sentence for tax evasion — proclaimed himself a changed man. He portrayed the work he’d lined up upon his release, for a company called Consumer Kosher Provisions, Inc., as legitimate. He was a hardworking frankfurter salesman, he said, who left his home in Point Lookout at 4 o’clock each morning and drove some three hours to Sullivan County to make sales calls....
....MUCH MORE 

Do Civilisations Collapse?

One of the reasons we stopped paying attention to Jared Diamond after Guns, Germs and Steel was his false take on what happened to the Easter Islanders in his book, Collapse!*
From Aeon:

The idea that the Maya or Easter Islanders experienced an apocalyptic end makes for good television but bad archaeology
There’s a common story of how the Maya civilisation was wiped out: they fell foul of unstoppable climate change. Several periods of extreme drought withered their crops and killed off thousands in their overpopulated cities. ‘There was nothing they could do or could have done. In the end, the food and water ran out – and they died,’ wrote Richardson Gill in 2007. The jungle reclaimed the cities with their palaces and pyramids until they were rediscovered in the 19th century by intrepid explorers.

Likewise, we all know that the Easter Islanders chopped down all the palm trees on their small, isolated island to clear farmland for their ever-growing population and to move their characteristic moai statues, not realising that they were eroding their landscape, reducing their food production, and ultimately cutting themselves off from the bounty of the sea – and the possibility of escape. The Europeans who found the island in the 18th century wondered how such primitive people could ever have had a civilisation developed enough to carve the majestic stone heads.

These stories come from frequent reports in the mass media, from luridly titled history documentaries such as the History Channel’s Who Killed the Maya? (2006) or the BBC’s Ancient Apocalypse: The Maya Collapse (2012-14), and especially from books on the environment and sustainability. Jared Diamond’s bestselling Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005) is only one of many works that recount them – ensuring that they have reached an audience of millions. There are similar stories about many other past societies, whether it is the Puebloans of the southwestern United States, the Harappans of the Indus Valley, or the ancient Mesopotamians. It has even been claimed by some that climate change has been the major driver of collapse, and by others, such as Diamond, that deforestation and environmental damage have very often been to blame.

The stories are often presented as cautionary tales to frighten us into correcting the error of our ways – lest we bring about the end of our own global civilisation. They promote an ethic of environmental responsibility that we ignore at our peril. It is no coincidence that they focus on climate change, human-caused environmental impacts and overpopulation because these three factors are the major global concerns of our times. They have a strong appeal to us because of the ubiquity and antiquity of disaster-based stories. Daily, the media shows us images of both real and fictional disasters: earthquakes, famines, plagues, tsunamis and so on, and these are recycled into yet more fact and fiction in an ongoing process of cultural production and continuity. When we think of what a collapse would look like, a ready-made set of ideas and images comes to mind.

But are these stories right? Is that really what happened to the Maya and the Easter Islanders? In the view of many archaeologists, collapse is not quite so simple – the silver-bullet theories grow less convincing the closer they are scrutinised. As the eminent archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler sagely pointed out in Civilisations of the Indus Valley and Beyond (1966): ‘The fall, like the rise of a civilisation is a highly complex operation which can only be distorted by oversimplification. It may be taken as axiomatic that there was no one cause of cultural collapse.’

Like jargon in any field, ‘collapse’ has specific meanings that can be misunderstood or taken out of context. Many archaeologists follow Colin Renfrew’s Approaches to Social Archaeology (1984) and Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988), which both see collapse as an abrupt political change and reduction in social complexity that has knock-on effects throughout society, visible to archaeologists in the material culture. If we think of complexity in terms of the ‘parts’ a particular society has, or the levels in its social hierarchy, we can visualise this kind of collapse easily.

In After Collapse (2006), Glenn Schwartz compiled a useful list of circumstances in which archaeologists might identify collapse: ‘the fragmentation of states into smaller political entities; the partial abandonment or complete desertion of urban centres, along with the loss or depletion of their centralising functions; the breakdown of regional economic systems; and the failure of civilisational ideologies’. For some non-archaeologists, such as Diamond, who approach collapse from an ecological perspective, collapse means primarily population collapse – the deaths of many people and, of course, significant cultural, political and social change. Archaeologists might also identify decreases in population, but this is not their primary characteristic of collapse.

Take the Mycenaean culture of Late Bronze Age Greece. Several states with central palaces developed by around 1400 BCE. At the heart of each palace was a distinctive building called a megaron. These throne rooms had large central hearths, surrounded by four columns, and a throne in the middle of the right-hand wall. They were usually decorated with elaborate frescos. Aegeanists link the development of kingship with the development of this architectural scheme – which is the material expression of a distinctive ideological system. We know that there were kings because some of the palaces kept selective records of goods and materials that came in and went out or were stored on clay tablets in the Linear B writing system; these mention a figure called the wanax, who could appoint people to positions, took part in ceremonies, and held the most land.

Around 1200 BCE, perhaps over a span of a few decades, the palaces were destroyed in fiery events – Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos and others. Though there was rebuilding at some sites – most clearly visible at the major site of Tiryns, where a new palace was built over the earlier megaron’s foundations – it followed quite a different architectural form, without the hearth and four columns. Linear B fell out of use and, we surmise, the system it represented came to an end, or at least reduced in scale. The palace at Pylos, which had been the centre of a large territorial kingdom in Messenia, was abandoned. Around Greece, the number of visible sites drops considerably in this ‘Postpalatial period’ (though conspicuously not in the parts of Greece that had had no palace centres to begin with). There was no more building of impressive tholos (or beehive) tombs that the kings of Mycenae had built, of grand Mycenaean fortifications, or of public works such as bridges, harbours, and drainage. It seems clear that we can usefully term what happened in Mycenaean Greece around 1200 BCE as a collapse.....
.....MUCH MORE

Here's a 2011 post with some thoughts on Diamond:

"The Worst Mistake In The History Of The Human Race" – 1987 article by Jared Diamond
Diamond, at least since Guns, Germs and Steel, has struck me as lightweight, just coasting, trying to force observations into a prejudiced worldview. I know his impressive c.v. but it had gotten to the point where any time I read something of his I thought of Churchill's comment:
A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
It turns out that he was like that a quarter century ago.
More spleen venting below.
Via Value Investing World:
by Jared Diamond, Prof. UCLA School of Medicine
Discover-May 1987, pp. 64-66.....
*****
...This neo-Rousseau-ish babble makes me want to grab a mongongo nut and crack it on his head.

Painting the image of hunter-gatherer superiority he makes no mention of the agricultural peasants of the middle ages who worked between 180 and 260 days per year, the rest of the time being taken up with Sundays, feast days, holidays, fair days etc.

Denigrating the division of labor he makes no mention of the benefits that he has personally derived. I would estimate his Sasquatch-sized ecological footprint to be equivalent to 500-1000 Bushmen.

In many ways the best thing he could do, if he truly believed what he writes, is join the Voluntary Human Extiction Movement instead of jetting off to his next book-signing.

In the meantime we have 7 billion people to feed. ...
 
If interested see also:

"Lessons From The Last Time Civilization Collapsed"
“1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed. 

The Journal Nature Has Dropped Its Paywall for Coronavirus Reporting and Research

From Springer:

Novel Coronavirus

(2019-nCoV)
A novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, has been identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness that originated in Wuhan, China, and which has spread to several other countries around the world. As a leading research publisher, Springer Nature is committed to supporting the global response to emerging outbreaks by enabling fast and direct access to the latest available research, evidence, and data.

Below are the research articles from our journals that we have identified as the most recent and relevant to coronavirus research, as well as additional commentary on this topic and relevant books. You can search for additional content on Biomedcentral.com, Nature.com and SpringerLink. All content listed here is free to access. If you are not able to get access to an article that you believe to be important in both understanding and addressing this emergency, please contact our customer services team.

Springer Nature encourages early sharing of research submitted to all our journals through preprints, and our In Review preprint service is available for many journals. We strongly urge authors submitting articles related to this emergency to Springer Nature journals to share underlying interim and final research datasets relating to the outbreak as rapidly and widely as possible, including with public health and research communities and the WHO....
...MUCH MORE

Saturday, February 8, 2020

“'Mooke, fylthe and other vyle things': Tudor dirt and dung"

History: very important.
Sanitation: ditto.
From the BBC's HistoryExtra:

Pamela Hartshorne describes householders' daily battles with rotting vegetation, dung heaps and overflowing cesspits in Tudor England
An illustration of a Tudor street
Faeces, dung and droppings… blood, urine and slops. These words hardly conjure the drama and glamour of Shakespeare’s Globe or the Elizabethan court, but for the ordinary inhabitants of Tudor towns, they were an everyday fact of life.

The average householder lived on a narrow street crowded with people and animals: horse-drawn carts blocked the way, flocks of geese were herded to market, sheep and cattle were driven to be sold or slaughtered, hens pecked in the yards, dogs and cats scavenged, and then there were the rats, mice and pigeons…

Together, they produced a mountain of “mooke and fylthe”: entrails, bones and scales, fur and feathers, which mingled with rotting vegetation, food scraps, general household rubbish, dust, mud, ashes, the sweepings from workshop floors and “other vyle things”.

So if you’d have been a householder in Tudor England, how would you have gone about winning the daily war with waste? Here, with some help from the city archives of 16th-century York, are some tips… 
As a Tudor householder, how would you have dealt with your rubbish?
You’d probably have had some hens scratching around in your back yard, and they’d have eaten most of the vegetable waste. Any other scraps went to the pig, assuming you had one. Pigs eat everything – it was known for some wretched maids who had given birth to unwanted babies to try and dispose of them in pigsties – and you could feed them blood, entrails, bones or anything else you couldn’t use in your cooking.

Pigs had to be penned in a sty and not allowed to root around in the streets where they spread muck and posed a threat to children. You had to make sure your servant didn’t carry any buckets of such refuse before 9pm, or risk a fine of 6s 8d.

Maidservants cleaned the house of dust and ashes, sweeping the floors and changing the rushes. All these ‘sweepings’ and any other rubbish could be piled up outside the front door from where it was taken away on dung carts by officials called ‘scavengers’ (see the section on cesspits later in this feature) three times a week. In 1580, collection days were Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The rubbish was collected early in the morning, but householders had to beware of allowing their servants to put out the household filth before 7pm – as the barker (a kind of tanner) Thomas Rogerly did – or they’d be liable for a fine of 3s 4d. Rubbish put out too early blocked the narrow streets and was a nuisance to everyone.

You could always send your servant to the midden (a dump for domestic waste) with any rubbish, too. A convenient place was set aside within every ward for a neighbourhood dung heap. The 1575 Monk ward midden was in Thomas Barker’s garden in Elbow Lane, just inside York’s city walls at Monk Bar. Unfortunately, Barker was a rogue who restricted access to the midden and tried to sell the dung for his own profit. However, if you were a householder in the ward, you were entitled to take anything you needed for free. 

If the street outside your front door was filthy, could you complain to the council?
No. As a householder you were responsible for cleaning and maintaining the street adjoining your property, up to and including the gutter. You had to sweep any dirt or rubbish into a pile at your front door, repair any paving and scour the gutter to make sure there were no obstructions to the flow of water.

If your street was narrow, there would have been just one gutter running down the middle of the street, but in wider streets there was a gutter on either side. The city’s chamberlains were responsible for cleaning and paving that middle part, as well as the markets. You could certainly complain that they hadn’t done as they should and ask them to maintain it better. 

What did you do when your cesspits started overflowing?
Send for the scavengers! They were paid to clear away filth and rubbish from the cesspits, which were lined with brick so that they could be cleaned out. It wasn’t the most pleasant job in the world, but the scavengers were happy to sell the contents of cesspits as fertiliser for the fields and gardens outside the city walls.

Human and animal waste might smell, but it was only regarded as a problem when causing an obstruction in the street or sewers. The rest of the time it was a valuable commodity, and none of it went to waste.

It didn’t pay to let it accumulate in a dung heap at your door or let your servant be lazy and toss it over the wall. Your neighbours wouldn’t have appreciated it, and you might well have been fined, like Miles Robinson, a butcher, who was told to remove “all that great dunghill” lying in his yard in Davygate, central York. Not only was this “very noisome” to his neighbours but also “most perilous for infecting the aire”. 

Where would you have gone to the loo?
The average Tudor householder would have had a pot in their chamber – just in case they got caught short at night – but that didn’t mean they could dispose of the contents out of the window with a careless warning of ‘Gardyloo!’ Contrary to popular belief, the practice was frowned upon, and might incur a fine. For example, one York resident, John Myn, had to stump up 2s in 1495 for throwing human urine and other “sordida” into the street at night....
....MUCH MORE

"You could always send your servant to the midden..."
Ha!
Have you ever tried to send your servant to the midden?

Previously on the mooke channel:
"A brief history of human filth"

The Moon Is Made of Money

Well duh, you don't think Luxembourg has a Space Agency for grins and giggles do you?
From EARTH, jointly published by Nautilus and the American Geosciences Institute:

The Moon Is Full of Money
Capitalism in space.
I was slung in my favorite deck chair, drink in hand, having a gawk at the night sky. Andromeda, Pisces ... I trawled the constellations, mind abandoned, still aware in some curve at the back of my brain that the world is coming apart at the seams and we’re all fucked, and enjoying the gentle paradox of it, the clink of the ice in my glass and the slumber of the dog.
By and by I found my gaze resting on the moon. There it was, the great provider: breeder of wonder, werewolves, and all those songs. The place where beauty meets philosophy, where hope and despair alike are lost.

Gnawing through the romance though was a little something I’d read not long before. An astrophysicist had claimed that the moon could save our planet. Not immediately: This would be in about 4.5 billion years when the sun explodes and roasts us in wrath and fire unless we get out of the way.

Frankly, the notion of Earth making a break for it seemed implausible to me, but this Canadian professor said we could do it by shooting off an army of rockets on the far side of the moon. Slammed out of its orbit by the collective blast, the moon would sail off with Earth, yoked by gravity, trailing behind it. A thousand years’ travel and we’re out of harm’s way—albeit dark and freezing unless we initiate phase two of the plan. As the sun receded in the distance, we would replace its rays with a trillion lunar argon arc lamps. A flip of the switch and the moon would become the sun: blue sky, puffy clouds, everything just as before.

I’m gazing up at the night, not quite in a reverie thanks to the gnats, but thinking yes, well, lovely. Imagine the parades. Still, to get that opportunity the human race would have to last (long pause, phone math) 22,500 times longer than it has already. At that point I heaved myself up and went inside for more booze.
Looking back, I believe that night marked the shift in my thinking from save it (Earth) to save us (me). Or if not me, someone. Because when you’ve got surfing champs riding the curl from an ice wall collapsing in the Arctic, when an Ivy League egghead offers mathematical proofs that the human race is doomed if we don’t get off-world, and Stephen Hawking and others are ululating on the same theme, and thousands are tunneling and stockpiling ahead of TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World As We Know It), then you have to start wondering if it’s not time to break camp. Or at least to establish a beachhead on the moon, just as some governments, corporations, scrappy start-ups, and freestanding oddballs are trying now to do.
On the moon, our genius can fly free.
Granted, we’ve heard such talk before, back in the days of the Apollo program. Lunar colonies they promised us, farms, industries, a platform to the universe. What did we get? June 2008: “Space Station Resident Fixes Toilet.” The big difference today is that some people are actually serious about it. In the ’60s it was just something to say. For despite all the soaring rhetoric, the only thing Washington really cared about then was beating the Soviets there.

As a kid when I heard the word Soviets, I got a taste in my mouth like lead pencils. I remember a Weekly Reader from maybe fourth grade with a picture of J. Edgar Hoover beneath the headline, “What You Can Do in the Fight Against Communism.” What winning would mean—Let’s Win the Cold War!—no one ever explained, but the consequences of losing were clear. The Kremlin and the Kingston Trio agreed, when the big one hit, we’d all go, next year, next month, tomorrow ...

Everyone lived in a state of controlled hysteria and doublethink. To safeguard the nation the Atomic Energy Commission put out a call to any and all Americans to get out there and find more uranium so the government could build more bombs. We pay cash! People were streaming across the Colorado Plateau with picks and shovels, Geiger counters, whole families, some in the newly popular uranium designer-wear including the form-fitting “U-235 suit” for Mom and the “Diggerette Jr.” model for Sis. No protection from radiation expressed or implied, but so what? Handling uranium was safe.

People believed this not just because the Mouseketeers were out looking for it, or even because the government said it was safe. They believed it because it was impossible. A lot of these same folks were putting fallout shelters in their homes. Everybody was. My parents got one immediately. We had a small basement and the shelter took up half of it: a little blockhouse of dank concrete with cans and shelving. My mother had to squeeze past it to get to the dryer. Even as a child I knew that sealing the five of us up together for more than an hour and a half was inconceivable on its face. I’d returned home from the dentist one day to find our cat had killed our hamsters and our dog had killed our cat. That was the kind of vibe our house produced among pets in the living room. Put the people in a hole and you can imagine.

Then Sputnik went up. This was in the fall of 1957, and the whole country plotzed. I remember standing in the backyard on those autumn evenings, like millions of other Americans, staring dumbly at the sky trying to spot its winking light. Every 90 minutes the thing passed overhead, accidentally opening and closing garage doors, and with each orbit the Soviets claimed the universe one more time.
What would the Commies do next? Would they bomb us from outer space? Would they bomb us from the moon?

Not to worry, the Russians said. True, in five to 10 years they would be enthroned there but strictly in the interests of peace and science. At 8 I was merely skeptical. Washington’s response recalled the time the great acting teacher Stella Adler told her students to react to the bombing of Pearl Harbor as if they were chickens. One of the first ideas advanced, perhaps predictably, was to nuke the moon.

To be fair, it wasn’t the only thing American officials wanted to nuke. If there was one group in those days even more in thrall to the bomb than everyone else, it was the people in charge of it, many of whom united the self-surrender of cultists with a sort of mad curiosity about what it could do.

The Atomic Energy Commission went on a campaign to create a deep-water harbor in Alaska with five thermonuclear bombs. But the moon! Not only could we keep the Russians at bay by firing a warning shot into its head; the demonstration of strength would have “beneficial psychological results” for our citizens, as Jet Propulsion Lab chief William Pickering explained—plus, he said, scientists could harvest and study the hail of radioactive debris. Thus in 1958, top-secret Project A119 got the go-ahead with prestige support from the RAND Corporation and JPL. A modest strike, the planners said. We won’t be obliterating the whole moon any more than we destroyed all Japan.

Ten months of work was sunk in this scheme. Along the way team member Carl Sagan, later the face of space on public television, established that a Hiroshima-sized blast in lunar gravity would fly in all directions, not mushroom as on Earth, a plus propaganda-wise since it would be easier to see.

Then just like that it was over. NASA was born and the project was scrapped. The new, karmically improved plan was to put men on the moon before the Russians could. For a time this looked unlikely. The Soviets orbited the first animals, the first man, two men, three, the first woman, with a vaudevillian’s arrogant skill, while NASA’s small successes splashed down to a mix of scorn and anxious clapping. But derailed by in-fighting, the Russians flagged, and on July 20, 1969, there was Apollo 11 touching down and America waving the big foam finger.

Ironically, when TV screens showed that white beetle climbing down the ladder, it didn’t matter who had won.

That’s what people said, and for a moment it was true. We’re on our way! NASA cried. Next stop the stars! But with the Russians beaten the rest was gravy, or would have been except there was no gravy: Up close the moon seemed to have nothing a person would actually want. By the mid-1970s NASA’s budget had dropped dramatically, and as an icon of the age the moon faded out, to be replaced by the disco ball in Saturday Night Fever.

Why then, all these decades later, the hunger to return to the big white stone? What’s driving it? The one-world ethos of the Apollo program is long gone. Humanity in the main couldn’t care less about understanding the cosmos. Saving mankind? You couldn’t get the funding.
We’re going back because, like the voice of Gatsby’s beloved Daisy, the moon is full of money.

In the 1990s the rumors began: talk of new fuels there, strange isotopes. Probes from India, China, the United States dove and hovered like hornets over a jam pot. Then water! Confirmed! In two shakes the moon went from a circular corpse to a whiteboard covered in calculations. Some picture it now as the industrial hub of the inner solar system. They see alien-hunting telescope farms, hotels, zoos, gardens, and everyone having sloooooow sex in one-sixth of Earth’s gravity. Plus swimmers like flying fish, cubic basketball, gymnasts like figures in a dream. Lunar eveningwear! Genetic warehousing! Glass roads! And there’s a vision even more extravagant …

Alfred, Lord Tennyson had some thoughts on buying and selling in outer space. As he saw it, when “the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails / Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales,” universal peace would shower down as well. A foolish dream, you say? Tell that to today’s entrepreneurs who’ve caught the opiate perfume of phrases like “Persian Gulf of the 21st century,” “Saudi Arabia of platinum,” and “biggest wealth-creation opportunity in modern history.” They believe that new energy sources from the moon, non-polluting and inexhaustible, could transform and heal our planet. Equally excellent, they see themselves profiting unimaginably from these sources without interference or restraint.

Capitalism this pure, it’s almost too good, it’s like uncut heroin, it stops the breath. Look at the target market! Everybody!....
....MUCH MORE

 Possibly related:
Luxembourg's ^#@*&! Space Agency and Fund
Goldman Sachs on Asteroid Mining: As If Luxembourg Wasn't Insufferable Already
Luxembourg’s Asteroid Mining Plan
Luxembourg Invests €25 million in Asteroid Mining
Luxembourg’s Bid to Become the Silicon Valley of Space Mining
Luxembourg's New Space Mining Law Is Basically "Finders, Keepers" 
Morgan Stanley—"Space: Investing In the Final Frontier"
Swiss space agency boss is kidnapped by hitmen who beat him senseless then tried to burn him alive
Swiss Space Systems founder accused of ‘staging’ own attack
Swiss Space Systems: Just "Fugget About It!"
Swiss Space Systems Declares Bankruptcy-Parabolic Story Arc

Chernobyl Fungi Eats Radiation

Is there anything they can't do?
From Fox News:
Chernobyl shocker as fungi that eats radiation found inside nuclear reactor
A type of black fungus that eats radiation was discovered inside the Chernobyl nuclear reactor.
In 1991, the strange fungus was found growing up the walls of the reactor, which baffled scientists due to the extreme, radiation-heavy environment.

Researchers eventually realized that not only was the fungi impervious to the deadly radiation, it seemed to be attracted to it....MORE
Previously:
"...Eating mushrooms could slash risk of cognitive decline by 50%"
When The Apocalypse Comes Mushrooms May Save Your Life
"Her Royal Highness?... Magic mushrooms at Buckingham Palace"
"Is Fungus the Material of the Future?"
 I tried a chocolate bar that replaces sugar with mushrooms — and couldn’t tell the difference
"The Super Rich Are Investing In Magic Mushrooms And Fancy Batteries"

Possibly also of interest:
Hawaii's Orgasm Inducing Mushrooms
"8 Startups Using Fungi for Innovative Applications"
"NASA says astronauts on the moon and Mars may grow their homes there out of mushrooms" 
Deaths Of 550,000 Confirm Which Mushrooms Are Okay To Eat
Complex Systems: How the Internet Grows, How Viruses Spread, and How Financial Bubbles Burst

"How speculative attacks on currencies led to the East Asian Crisis of 1997"

From Winton's Longer View:

Riding the Asian Tigers
During the 1980s and the early to mid -1990s, the East Asian Tigers leapt ahead, fed on a rich diet of foreign capital. But in the wake of Mexico’s default (1994) and Japan’s banking crisis (1996), international investors began to regard Asia more warily and savagely attacked regional currencies one by one.
Massive and rapid growth is a wonderful buffer. Like a river in flood, it hides the rocks on the river bed.
Easy Tiger The rise of the Tiger Economies in the early 1990s was intimately tied to the after-effects of the Japanese asset bubble. Diminishing opportunities at home encouraged Japanese banks to ramp up their lending to other Asian countries – in particular to highly speculative real estate concerns – and by 1995 they were providing nearly half the credit of the region.

At the same time, falling Japanese interest rates led to the emergence of a carry trade in yen, where international speculators would borrow cheaply in yen and then invest in higher yielding regional currencies, such as the Thai baht, and earn the spread. Such arbitrage trades resulted in massive flows of hot money into countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

This deluge of easy money led to construction booms throughout the region, climaxing in mid-1997 with the completion of Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas towers.

During the early and mid-1990s, almost everywhere in East Asia had become a building site. Entire cities were transformed. For example, by the end of the decade Hanoi, which in 1992 had been a sleepy town of French colonial villas, swishing bicycles, with restaurants known by their street numbers, had metamorphosed into a sprawling, dynamic city.
As had been the case in Japan a decade earlier, real estate prices skyrocketed. Although the growth was based on a splurge of speculative credits, many Asians attributed the boom to strong fundamentals and their superior ‘Asian values’: diligence, respect for authority, the elevating of collective rights over individual rights.

They also believed that these same values would offer protection against the social and political pressures which have frequently accompanied periods of rapid growth in the West, allowing their boom to continue forever. In this way they were able to rationalise the prevailing euphoria.

Baht Out of Hell
The first clouds upon the horizon appeared in the wake of the 1994 Mexican Peso Crisis, which gave investors pause for thought about investing in emerging markets. The region’s troubles then intensified in mid-1996 when Japanese banks began repatriating capital from Asian countries, due to a domestic banking crisis.

These developments were particularly unwelcome for Thailand, which had been the primary beneficiary of the carry trade, and by early 1997, the Thai baht – pegged at B25 to the US dollar – was looking highly vulnerable.

Events gathered pace in early May, when Goldman Sachs released a research note predicting that the baht would soon undergo a competitive devaluation. A few days later, there was a speculative attack on the baht to which the Bank of Thailand (BoT) responded by calling for the intervention of regional central banks and creating a liquidity squeeze in the offshore market.

It did this by forbidding local banks to supply baht to foreigners, pushing up overnight lending rates to 1000–1500%. Hedge funds reportedly lost $300m. Then, on 2 July, BoT floated the baht which by the end of the day had lost 14–19% of its value, prompting the BoT to request IMF assistance.

The shockwaves of Thailand’s currency crisis spread throughout the region in what the Thai foreign minister termed the ‘Tom Yum Koong Syndrome’, referring to the famous Thai hot shrimp soup, which is ‘very spicy and dangerous for those who come unprepared’.

Speculative attention then turned towards the Philippines, whose central bank was forced to spend $540m in a single day on defending the currency....
....MORE

"Mrs. Post’s Mar-a-Lago"

From one of the tiny treasures of the internet, New York Social Diary:
*****
Marjorie Merriweather Post liked to live large. Really large.
The world knew the size of her fortune, the length of her yacht and the speed of her Vickers Viscount turboprop jet with a Rolls-Royce engine. But her family, friends and staff were the ones aware that regardless the extent of Post’s inheritance, there were few as compassionate and generous. “There are others better off than I am. The only difference is I do more with mine,” Mrs. Merriweather Post once told an interviewer.
July, 1920. Marjorie Merriweather Post and E. F. “Ned” Hutton’s wedding announcement. New York Herald, July 10, 1920. Library of Congress. Two months later, Ned’s 19-year-old son Halcourt Hutton, from his first marriage to Blanche Horton, died from injuries following a horseback riding accident. During the next several years, the newlyweds focused on expanding Camp Hutridge, later known as Camp Topridge, spending more than $200,000 on their rustic Adirondack compound. Outfitted with an electric elevator, the main lodge was centered around a 65-foot by 50-foot living room. Guest cabins were staffed with their own butler.
Her secretaries, cooks, maids, footmen, and chauffeurs especially were mindful of Post’s uncompromised standards at Palm Beach, whether accommodating notable house guests, holding black-tie dinners or underwriting a charitable gala. They could attest she was as confident hosting dignitaries beneath the gold-leaf ceiling in Mar-a-Lago’s living room as she was welcoming underprivileged children with peanuts and hot dogs to a circus tent put up on her lawn.

So they were probably not surprised in April 1944 when Mar-a-Lago, Post’s more than 15 acre, 100+ room ocean-to-lake enclave with a nine-hole golf course, was converted into an occupational therapy center for convalescent WW II veterans housed at The Breakers, then operating as the Ream General Hospital.

Her readiness to share her private realm during wartime foreshadowed what she expected might be one of her lasting legacies: Her dream of having Mar-a-Lago repurposed for a greater good, as a presidential retreat and sanctuary for visiting heads of state.

However ambitious Post’s aspiration, the mansion’s construction posed obstacles that at times made its completion in 1927 as unlikely as the roundabout way it eventually fulfilled Post’s objective – as the Winter White House of President Donald Trump, who bought the property late in 1985 and opened it as his private Mar-a-Lago Club a decade later.

Hogarcito, facade. Golfview Road, Palm Beach. Marion Sims Wyeth, architect. In October 1921, the Huttons received a building permit valued at $28,000. By late March, the Huttons had moved from one of the Everglades Club’s maisonettes across the street to their new villa located on the club’s golf course, naming it Hogarcito. With their yacht anchored nearby and one of Hutton’s brokerage offices located at the club, Ned Hutton bought several lots along Golfview Road, retaining Wyeth to design spec houses that were sold to several of their friends. Augustus Mayhew Photography.
Hogarcito, façade detail. In March 1924, Ned Hutton was a key member of the Everglades Club’s reorganization committee after Paris Singer announced plans to retire and turn the club over to the members. Five months later, when those plans were dissolved because some members did not want to become burdened with the responsibilities of owning the club, Singer and Hutton pursued other interests. Singer bought Whitehall with plans to convert it into a hotel, acquired Gus’ Bath and established the private Palm Beach Swimming Club, and purchased a large stretch of oceanfront that today is known as Singer Island. With the building of larger Palm Beach homes becoming more fashionable, the Huttons acquired a more sizeable ocean-to-lake property that would afford them more privacy and amenities.

Mrs. Hutton builds
In April 1925, news broke that E.F. Hutton, then 50, and his 38-year-old wife Marjorie had made plans to build a new home in the town’s South End. By then, the couple’s architect, Marion Sims Wyeth, and his associate Maitland Belknap had already created drawings for a “master’s house, another for the children, another for guests, and other unique features,” according to a Palm Beach Post report.

The couple found Hogarcito “too small for their needs and not near enough to the ocean,” especially since her daughters from a previous marriage were now joined by their new half-sister born in December 1923, Nedenia Marjorie Hutton, later better known as actress Dina Merrill. Setting out to elaborate on Hogarcito’s camp-like configuration, Wyeth formulated a sprawling house sited along the coral rock ridgeline. Set back from the ocean boulevard with its more imposing crescent-shaped profile visible from the lakeside, the house was then described as “the largest residential undertaking in the resort’s history.”

The month after the Palm Beach announcement, Ned Hutton was reported aboard the yacht Hussar anchored off shore in the South End, along with the Huttons’ friend, Broadway impresario Flo Ziegfeld, inspecting the ongoing preconstruction work. The 17-acre parcel was being cleared and the foundations set. Along the estate’s South Ocean Boulevard frontage, crews planted 14 of the island’s tallest coconut palms....
....MUCH MORE

In March 2019: 

A Different Sort of Tesla Story
Well, it's about time I outed myself on this.
I am a fan of New York Social Diary.
I can't tell you how many times I almost linked to one of their posts but refrained.
Today though, today we hit "publish."....

Spears' Magazine on Africa

From Spears':
It’s time to invest in an African future – inside the latest issue of Spear’s
January 13
The latest issue of Spear’s magazine makes the unarguable case that Africa is the future of our planet – whether you’re talking in terms of human capital or economic heft, writes Alec Marsh

In about 1903, no one can quite remember, my great-grandfather, a medical man who had gone stone deaf, upped-sticks and moved the family to Kenya, in what was then British East Africa.

We have some photographs to show for it, and a bit of family folklore, but mostly all that I’ve inherited is a quiet a ffinity for Africa. This may have something to do with the African theme of this edition of Spear’s. More likely, it’s because of the unarguable case that I hope we make in this edition that, in many important respects, Africa is the future of our planet – whether you’re talking in terms of human capital or economic heft. This is a theme addressed in our leader, in our Spear’s interview with the entrepreneur and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim on, and explored further in our special 11-page Africa section.

Here we detail the extent and breadth of the economic expansion that Africa is embarking upon. We also look at the impact of tourism, the diamond industry, and we hear from our columnist and long-time Africa-watcher Robert Amsterdam....
....MORE

This is the start of a crucial decade for Africa
January 30
Not before time, Africa is on the verge of a rapid economic expansion – but who will benefit from it? Robert Amsterdam has an idea

Since liberation swept across Africa in the Sixties, there have long been high hopes for a breakthrough economic moment – a clear set of events and circumstances that could unlock the continent’s vast potential, transforming the region into a global investment hotspot.

So far, that moment hasn’t yet come to fruition. Instead, we’ve seen many opportunities for growth squandered – sometimes by poor governance, often by conflicts and crises, and in other cases just bad timing. But many observers, myself included, feel the coming decade has the potential to be very big for Africa, and if everything finally falls into place you won’t want to be left behind.

What is different now from the past? For one thing, we are finally seeing a sweeping generational change of leadership, as many of the sclerotic despots left over from the post-independence and Cold War eras are finally being chased from power. Robert Mugabe is gone, there are new governments from Algeria to Gambia to Sudan, while the old stalwarts like Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni are increasingly regarded by their own citizens as illegitimate and unwelcome.

Perhaps a high point for the continent was the 2019 Nobel Prize being awarded to Ethiopian prime minister Dr Abiy Ahmed, whose pursuit of peace with Eritrea, successful political reforms and pro-growth agenda have shown many neighbours Africa’s tremendous potential with his own version of African ‘glasnost’.

In addition to fresh, youthful leadership, the continent also has its demographics trending in the right direction, with a massive population of youth about to become productive workers and avid consumers in relatively untapped markets.

Home to four of the fastest-growing economies in 2018, soon 43 per cent of Africans will join the middle and upper classes, while consumer spending is expected to reach $6.7 trillion by 2030. And yet, despite all the strong fundamentals, a paltry 0.47 per cent of global investments are destined for the region, leaving many opportunities.

Certainly, there are risks that need to be addressed, from property rights to rule of law to basic insecurity and inequality. One of the main problems has been Africa’s tremendous fragmentation. But there are finally some signs of hope for integration to take off. In March 2018, 55 member countries of the African Union signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which will eliminate tariffs on most goods, liberalise trade of services, establish mechanisms to sort out intraregional trade disputes, and eventually create a continental single market with free movement of labour and capital....
....MORE

‘Over the next 50 years this is where you should be putting your money’
January 20
As Chinese growth decelerates and Western economies slow to a crawl, investors of all stripes are asking the same question: Where will growth come from? Edwin Smith discovers that Africa could be the answer

A large part of the challenge facing the world economy – particularly in the West, but also in China and Japan – is the spectre of ageing populations. They threaten the balance between profit-making, tax-paying workers on the one hand, and public service-reliant pensioners on the other. However, there is one part of the world where things couldn’t be much more different.

Africa is the only region of the world where the number of people under the age of 25 is increasing; they already account for 60 per cent of the continent’s 1.3 billion people. By 2036, the working-age population of the continent will exceed each of India and China’s, according to research by the Institute for Securities Study and International Futures. By 2050 the population of Africa is expected to grow to 2.5 billion people and, from there, on to 4.2 billion by the end of the century, according to the Pew Research Center. As a result, many of Africa’s growing urban hubs are expected to evolve into megacities....
....MORE

January 30
Meet Jack Ma’s favourite African start-up

February 3
Mo Ibrahim: ‘We invested in Africa…I made embarassing amounts of money

And a few of our prior posts
January 2020
"African economies will outperform global growth in 2020 despite a lag from its biggest countries"
 
October 2017
Needed: 800 Million Jobs For Africa
By now most of our readers have seen a version of the U.N. projections for world population in 2050 and 2100. If not, here's a post from April with the graphic:

IMF: Sub-Saharan Africa has Just Completed One of its Best Decades of Growth--It's Not Enough (UPDATED)

Update below.
Original post:
This may be one of the more important graphics you are likely to come across today.
Africa's population is projected by the United Nations to reach 2 billion people by 2045, 4 billion before the end of the century:


http://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/posts/2014/09/pop_image_1/f03a2d201.jpg

We followed up with "To Jumpstart Development, Should We Give Africa Bonds a Whirl?"
The problem, as always, is keeping the money from sticking to the hands of the kleptocrats,
And whether investment will actually do any good.

Following on "IMF: Sub-Saharan Africa has Just Completed One of its Best Decades of Growth--It's Not Enough" here are a couple women who have thought about this stuff, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala a former two-time Finance Minister of Nigeria and World Bank Managing Director, currently a senior advisor at Lazard and Nancy Birdsall, former EVP at the Inter-American Development Bank where she ran a $30 billion loan portfolio....
And today it's the population analysts at Populyst, September 28:

Africa: 800 Million Jobs Needed
African economies are in a race to get ahead of the demographic boom.....MORE
 
Up to 500 Million Sub-Saharan Africans Would Like to Move to Europe; Mayfair, Monte Carlo Favored
 
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