Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Fragments of Thought

After yet another wild week, today seemed really quiet. Maybe that is nothing or maybe something is big is going to happen this weekend. We will see.

Shipwrecked by OMEX
A while back I highlighted the company Odyssey Marine Exploration (OMEX). I took a small position in the company at that time. I was looking at their TV show "Treasure Quest" to be the perfect catalyst for a move up if/when they found another great site similar to the Black Swan project. We are now past the half way point of the series.

I have been disappointed with the company thus far. While I feel they are the best in the business at what they do, the material presented in their series has been mostly of historical value. I have yet to see any real possibilities for a major recovery site. They also just released their 10-k and I found nothing in it that was impressive. So far this one has been a dud.

I will continue to hold my position in OMEX, as I still admire the company and have some hopes for a big find. At this point I would say the odds are against that happening in 2009. As I wrote when I covered this stock before, it is like a lottery ticket. At this point color me unimpressed.
Full Disclosure: I own OMEX stock

Number Six With a Bullet
Gold ETF's continue their assault on gold tonnage and today it was reported that the largest fund, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) took over the number 6 spot in the world for gold holdings, displacing Switzerland’s central bank:
Biggest Gold ETF at Record, Surpassing Swiss Holdings
March 13 (Bloomberg) -- SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest exchange-traded fund backed by bullion, expanded to a record, overtaking Switzerland’s central bank holdings as the world’s sixth-largest stockpile.

The fund now holds 1,041.53 metric tons, equal to more than five months of global mine production, data on the company’s Web site show. Switzerland’s gold reserves stood at 1,040.2 tons in December, according to the producer-funded World Gold Council.

Exchange-traded products linked to commodities attracted a record $8.7 billion in February, Barclays Capital said in a report yesterday. Gold and energy led $14.3 billion of inflows in the first two months of the year, the bank said.

“What’s been interesting is throughout the past year, when there’s a fall in prices, we’ve still seen people putting more into the ETFs,” Moore at RBS said. “As more of these gold ETFs are launched,” holdings “are likely to increase. They’re now part of supply and demand.”

The Obama administration soon will push Congress for legislation that allows the International Monetary Fund to “mobilize” its stockpile of gold to boost its funds, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said March 11.

Those are impressive numbers.

My take home point is that while gold is practically every trader and banks favorite short right now, the buyers of these funds are not playing games. The steady addition of bullion in increasing and decreasing markets has been impressive. This gold in not "in play" in my opinion subject to price swings and technical factors. I would advise the IMF to sell a bunch of their gold and depress the price so that the bullion can be purchased by the ETF's. Hey, it worked out so well for England!

And another thing to consider: if the GLD and others end up controlling enough gold the world central banks will no doubt try to do something about it. That is going to be an interesting day guaranteed.
Full Disclosure: No position in GLD or any gold ETF; I own gold mining stocks

No Idea What This Means
A little while back I had written that foreclosure numbers would show declines as the myriad of moratoriums and other programs kept proceedings from getting started until April. I had expected the "decrease" to be highly touted by the press. So what is this?:
Foreclosure Surge in Feb. is “Surprising,” RealtyTrac Says
Foreclosures nationwide surged 6 percent from January levels, and were up 30 percent from year-ago, according to data released Thursday morning by RealtyTrac, which provides nationwide listings of properties in foreclosure and owned by banks.

The company’s data showed that foreclosure filings — default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — were reported on 290,631 U.S. properties during the month, compared to 274,399 one month earlier.

The increase in foreclosure activity from January to February is somewhat surprising, given that many of the foreclosure prevention efforts and moratoria in place in January were extended through most of February as well,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.

I have no idea other than people want to leave the homes and do not want to participate in any plans to make them debt slaves forever. Good for them.

China's Treasury Stash
Today the Chinese finance Premier Wen Jiabao said he was "worried" about his country's US debt holdings. Welcome to the party pal! Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism had a great article covering this, and details that the US may have never defaulted on it's debt, but we sure have renegotiated terms! I will not excerpt because you really should read the whole thing.

This exercise by China got me thinking about a post I had written a while ago. I dug it up and you can see it here, under the header "Revenge of the Communists".

In summary of China's options regarding their treasury stash:
Option1: Nuclear Option
China stops buying US debt causing a run on the dollar, and a major meltdown in US markets. A new smarter communism has crushed the US economy and exacts revenge for the loss in the 1980's.
Option2: Trading Time
Faced with the above mentioned nuclear option, the US signs a treaty of non aggression with China, and Taiwan is left to its own devices under a Chinese invasion. The US will sell out Taiwan in the face of such a catastrophe.

I am still of the same opinion.

Friday Night Entertainment
Sorry, no puzzle tonight as I am a bit pressed for time. I know you are all very sad there will be no strings of annoying letters trying to tell you something! If you really need a molecular biology fix, then check out the tale of restriction enzymes. These are my "tools" to splice and dice DNA into whatever forms I need.

Comic Relief
Here is a perfect example of the biological phenomenon of "advantageous mimicry":
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Rock Blogging
the day I feared would happen has finally happened. I got a request for Beatles music! And now I must reveal my unabashed hatred for all things Beatles.

I hate their music. It stinks. What's more galling is the gushing and awe given to that band by musicians and music writers alike. I remember an early interview given by Ozzy Osbourne in which he credited the Beatles with forming Black Sabbath's sound. COME ON! Sabbath plays entirely different chords, speed changes and had bluesy undertones. I call baloney. But all artists must say the Beatles were the greatest like it is some inalienable rule of nature. Safe to say no Beatles tonight. Pour forth the hate comments!
P.S. John Lennon had the only talent in the band! HA!

Now on to the tunes, if anyone is still reading.

For some real genius of rock I go with the old standby. On the Ozzy/Randy album Tribute (oh no not again GYSC!!!) they play a live show of the Sabbath classic Children of the Grave. When in the hands of the great Randy Rhoads this song gets new life as the very movement of the song takes a new shape through his great guitar work. Pay particular attention to the 3:10 time mark on as the solo almost feels alive with energy:

REO Speedwagon is always a good listen. Here is a live version of "Take it on the Run:

Another old one, remember Styx and "Mr. Roboto"?:

I had this on over a year ago, but I was thinking of it tonight. Please enjoy the very pretty "Libera Me" from the soundtrack of Interview with the Vampire:

Last one for the night. Found a rough and raw live performance of Metallica playing "Enter Sandman":

Have a good night.


Lisa said...

I am the Beatle-loving scourge among us! LOL I grew up listening to the Apple label, so it's nostalgia for me :) Never would claim they are the greatest ever. I'm almost afraid you'll hate me if I tell you my darkest secret, but I love Elvis Presley, too.

As for China- I read some news several months back that the US had sold Taiwan some massive weapons. I wondered if we had just given Taiwan some self-defense and wished them luck, before we walked out on them. We are the last defense for Taiwan, or at least we were. Time will tell.

getyourselfconnected said...

Now Elvis, there is a pure and timeless talent. His version of "My Way" is one of my favorite songs and "Are You Lonesome Tonight" is another classic performance (I think the HBO concert in Hawaii). Sorry about my Beatles bias!
The Taiwan theme is something I feel sick about. I hope I am as wrong as can be.

watchtower said...

You really are trying to bring out the haters by dissing the Beatles, I almost got the feeling that you put them right up there with disco and rap.

I remember watching the Beatle's "Yellow Submarine" on TV when I was a child and having a nightmare after that (blue meanies I suppose), never have been a big fan although I can tolerate them to a certain extent.

Here is a quote that I like though from John Lennon;

"Before there was Elvis, there was nothing."

Anonymous said...


What would you do if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me?


Lisa said...

LOL, Kevin, you crack me up! GYSC, at least we agree on Elvis...whew! :)

We aren't the only ones thinking the US sold Taiwan down the river. I hope nothing happens, too.

Have a great night all!

Anonymous said...

Ditto on the Beatles.

Counter-intuitive that it may seem to be, the pending IMF gold sale is bullish for gold. They are desperate. Plus, the sale will almost certainly be a transfer to some other central bank, not an auction/open market transaction.

Anonymous said...


"Kevin, you crack me up!"

Life can be a tragedy or a comedy, the way I look at I might as well try to laugh my way threw it.

Poor GYSC would have had to of been sent threw diversity trainning several time where I use to work. There you could think anything you wnated but you beter damn well not say anything.

Anonymous said...


1st thought - They have a market cap north of 150m. WTF?

2nd thought - The P/S is 36! Dump this turkey, and do it before Thanksgiving...unless you like owning pinksheet issues.

getyourselfconnected said...

Anon 6:30pm said "Counter-intuitive that it may seem to be, the pending IMF gold sale is bullish for gold."---I agree. It is my thought that even if a big central bank dumps gold (as a eastern european bank has been doing at 10am in NY every day for 2 weeks!) the depressed gold price will only transfer more bullion to the real holders of gold. We are on the same page as to the longer term meaning of that event.
Anon 7:18:
I hear you. I never got into OMEX with a practical investment menatlity, I love the romance of hunting for lost treasure! That said, 2 ships located and salvaged could triple their market cap, in real terms, overnight. A lotto ticket for sure, but only play with what you can lose.
Great comments all, but ditch the anon posts, make up a name!

getyourselfconnected said...

2 notes:
1.)did anyone see the restriction system for DNA I linked to? There may be a puzzle next week based on that info!
2.)did anyone listen to the "children of the grave" tune after the 3:10 mark? If so, did you FEEL the movement and fluidity of the music? Did it not make you feel inspired? Like you could do anything? I used to listen to that section (on tapes!) before all of my boxing matches. Very stirring.

GawainsGhost said...

Well, I love the Beatles, always have. Saw them on the Ed Sullivan Show when I was a child, and have been a huge fan ever since.

You cannot deny their influence. They were the first band to record distortion. Srgt. Pepper was the first album with printed lyrics, and it changed the entire music industry.

But you're wrong, GYC, Lennon was not the real talent behind the band. The Beatles were all McCartney. Paul drove the other members damn near insane during the recording of Srgt. Pepper because of his obsession with perfection. They recorded over 2000 hours of studio tape for one 35 minute lp. Think about that.

Then there were their marked experiments with sound compression, overdubbing and the like. Putting microphones into headphones, then putting them around the body of a violin to capture a unique sound. They were innovative to say the least, and rock and roll wouldn't be the same if it weren't for them.

That said, only one other band has sold as many gold albums as the Beatles. Kiss, another of my favorites.

But I too remain principally a Black Sabbath fan. Most people don't really understand their music. It isn't heavy metal, although that's what it's called, it's actually heavy jazz. Extremely technical and complicated. And the lyrics are incredibly profound. Apocalyptic rock--that's Black Sabbath, the judgement day.

I personally consider Sabotage one of the best albums ever recorded. Master of Reality, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Technical Ecstacy are pretty high on my list too.

By the way, did you know that they're all Catholics? Yeah, Geezer Butler was actually studying to be a priest before he became a musician. He's the primary lyricist, which is why their songs have such religious undertones and apocalyptic overtones. Take a listen to The Wizard, After Forever, Lord of This World and Spiral Architect, not to mention their signature song Black Sabbath, and you'll see what I mean.

Also, it was Ozzy's father who gave them the iron crosses to wear. He feared evil spirits would possess them while they were playing in seedy night clubs, so he gave them the crosses to ward off demons. Not sure how much good it did, but that's the story.

Oh, I'm also an enormous Elvis fan as well. First concert I ever saw was Elvis Presley in San Antonio, 1972. He was phenomenal. To this day I've never seen anyone better, and I've seen a lot of bands, from Sabbath to Kiss to the Stones.

I actually have an autographed photo of Elvis from 1956. My mother got it when she was 14. Elvis came to San Antonio on the Lousiana Hayride, and she and her girlfriends went backstage to meet him after the show. She was too modest to kiss him though, and she still says that is the biggest regret of her life.

She gave me his autograph when I got out of college, because the first thing I did when I got a job was to buy her a new car. Elvis did the same for his mother, so I figure I'm in good company.

Anonymous said...


"did anyone listen to the "children of the grave" tune after the 3:10 mark? If so, did you FEEL the movement and fluidity of the music? Did it not make you feel inspired? Like you could do anything? I used to listen to that section (on tapes!) before all of my boxing matches. Very stirring."

You my need those get those boxing gloves out to fight off these beatles fans, I think you might stirred up a hornets nest.


getyourselfconnected said...

We can agree to disagree on the Beatles but your take on Black Sabbath is probably the best one I have ever seen. I never thought of it as "heavy jazz" but that is perfect description. A tune like "The Wizard" is heavt blues as well.
I really opened myself on this one with the Beatles knock, but I think (hope) we can all remain friends!
Best to all

Anonymous said...


I don't have to many strong feelings about any particular group or style of music, I tend to listen to a little bit of everything, and half the time I couldn't tell you which group or performer is even playing the music.
I don't really care if you want to cap on the Beatles or not personally so we're still friends

Lisa said...

I agree with everything Kevin wrote :) I'm the same way about music and I still think you're the best!

watchtower said...

I like people who have strong opinions and then stick with them even if it's unpopular or I don't agree with them.
As I've said before I live smack dab in the middle of the bible belt but every now and then I'll see a car with one of those walking Jesus fishes that has "Darwin" written inside of it and I think "man that takes a pretty big set of cojones to drive around here with that on the back of your car" so I respect that person even if I don't believe in his (or her) philosophy.

"It takes every kind of people
To make what life's about, yeah
Every kind of people
To make the world go 'round"
I like Robert Palmer's version of this song.