Monday, April 19, 2010

Nothing to See Here, Move Along

Another very long Monday........

Tonight's post will be short as I am out of energy this evening. Vacation cannot come soon enough.

Off Topic But Interesting
I caught this link over at Naked Capitalism today:
Mat of microbes the size of Greece discovered on seafloor
Gargantuan whales and hefty cephalopods are typically thought of as the classic marine mammoths, but they might have to make way for the mighty microbes, which constitute 50 to 90 percent of the oceans' total biomass, according to newly released data.

These tiny creatures can join together to create some of the largest masses of life on the planet, and researchers working on the decade-long Census of Marine Life project found one such seafloor mat off the Pacific coast of South America that is roughly the size of Greece.

A single liter of seawater, once thought to contain about 100,000 microbes, can actually hold more than one billion microorganisms, the census scientists reported. But these small creatures don't just live in the water column or on the seafloor. Large communities of microscopic animals have even been discovered more than one thousand meters beneath the seafloor. Some of these deep burrowers, such as loriciferans, are only a quarter of a millimeter long.

I have written plenty of times on the biodiversity available in the worlds oceans. Getting these bugs to grow in a lab is the holy grail of new drug discovery. Natural products have long been a high source of new drugs, and untapped ocean creatures could hold promises of new molecules. Some more story:
Thanks to high-throughput DNA sequencing, researchers have been able to vastly expand their catalogue of marine microbes. "Scientists are discovering and describing an astonishing new world of marine microbial diversity and abundance," Mitch Sogin, of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole and leader of the International Census of Marine Microbes, said in a prepared statement.

This genetic data has revealed that there might be as many as 100 times more microbe genera than researchers had assumed. One study conducted in the English Channel landed 7,000 new genera alone. Current estimates place the number of marine microbial species at about a billion, according to a prepared statement by John Baross of the University of Washington and chair of the International Census of Marine Microbes's scientific advisory council.

And research has yet to plumb the guts and surfaces of more macro ocean life, which, like humans, can play host to billions of microbial cells. The species living on and in "marine animals alone may account for hundreds of millions of microbial species," Baross said. "This is a huge frontier for the next decade."

I actually have experience doing this kind of thing. I shotgun cloned soil DNA from California tidal pools and sequenced the Ribosomal binding units (ubiquitous in bugs) and found the diversity level to be enormous. I am always looking at this area for progress and possible future investment. It is very interesting in any case.

Is the Goldman Sachs Story Over Already?
Just when it seemed Friday that the Goldman fraud charges were going to open a new chapter in how banking is done in the country, I think the markets are moving along. Just when the pressure on GS was reaching a high over the weekend on all the news shows, Monday brings this deflator:
Market Powers Higher As Investors Realize SEC's Case vs. Goldman Sachs Is Weak
Adding to that was the news the Republicans were voting against the charges on GS:
SEC Republicans Were 100% Against Going After Goldman

So far I have not chimed in on my thoughts on the whole thing. Here is my quick take:
-Goldman did not break the law nor conduct "fraud" in the strict legal sense of the law.
-This matters about zero to me if the charges bring to the surface all kinds of shady dealings that the big banks conduct. I would settle for trumped up charges that lead to a real pulling back the curtain on the banking industry.
-Did you forget that GS is a "bank-holding" company now? That privilege needs to be rescinded immediately.

All told, this story was chilled out a bit today. No doubt the one down day in the last year on Friday may have cooled the jets of players everywhere. I do find the humor in that once it is clear GS will not really be taken to task, the markets get happy! Why change what's working? Indeed.

For another reminder how banks are using fraud, I mean, accepted accounting rules to make monster profits, check out this article from The Golden Truth:
Citigroups Mark to Fantasy Profits: Is Vik Pandit Dealing Medical Marijuana?
Short version: Mark to Myth is the best game in town.

Levels Above My Pay Grade
There are two stories I wanted to point out today because I think they really flesh out just how big a gamble, and it is a gamble, the FED has taken by supporting trash assets with the taxpayer balance sheet at risk. These two tales are very important, so no excerpts, you should read them!

First up from The Baseline Scenario:
The Discount Rate Mismatch
A sweeping look at a key issue going forward.

Along the same lines comes this item from Alan Boyce (via Chris Whalen and Zero Hedge):
A Return To Rate Normalcy Will Cost The Fed Hundreds Of Billions; The Fed Will Go "Negative Carry" In 2015: D-Day For America
A great summary of the side effects of the FED buying all the mortgages for the last year. Make no mistake, this is a gamble in process and it is not clear it will work out in the end.

Have a good night.


getyourselfconnected said...

From the previous thread by Gawains:
"Oh, and here's another little piece of trivia. The only guitar player Brian May would allow to play with Queen was . . . wait for it . . . Tony Iommi. Makes you think, doesn't it?"

Ok, here i thought I was a Black Sabbath histroy buff, but that's another one I never heard before. I don't doubt it! Imagine "Bohemian Rhapsody" done heavy......NICE.

getyourselfconnected said...

Wow, some great pics of the Iceland Volcano:

GawainsGhost said...

You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger Black Sabbath fan than me, GYC. I've followed them studiously for 36 years now.

But, yeah, Iommi used to jam with Queen in the studio on occasion. He and May are good friends. Too bad they never recorded anything together.

You don't remember the Freddie Mercury tribute concert when Iommi appeared with Queen and Roger Daltry?

And here's one with James Hetfield. Heavy stuff.

And Gary Cherone. Really heavy.

And here's a clip of Iommi with Tull. It's easy to see why he left the band. The guitar work is downplayed.

That's an interesting story of those marine microbes. Back when I studied botany, the one that got me was the plasmodial slime mold, an absolutely fascinating creature. It's life cycle formed the basis for the plot structure of Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, by the way.

getyourselfconnected said...

Ha! Awesome clip! I think that one is getting air time on Friday night. Thanks so much, I had never seen it.

Slime molds, how about worms growing and acting as one large organism?:


GawainsGhost said...

Yeah, I knew you'd like that one.

Be sure to check out the one with Cherone. Iommi and May are on fire.

getyourselfconnected said...

I would point out that Roger Daltry was a recurring character in the "Highlander" series. Other guests on the show:
-Joan Jett
-Vanity (very nice!)
-Sheena Easton
-Roland Gift
-Sir Nigel Terry
Not too bad.

GawainsGhost said...

On a side and unrelated note, the NFL schedule will be announced tonight at 6:00 PM, first on NFLN then on It will be interesting to see how the schedule turns out, since the league demanded the final two weeks of the season be comprised of mostly divisional games (this to discourage teams from resting starters).

I, of course, am primarily if not singularly intersted in the Cowboys schedule. Every year I fly my brother down from Maine and take him to a game in October. It's a tradition I started after our father passed away. The game I want to see this year is against the Saints. But I'm at the mercy of the schedule makers.

If the Saints come marching into Dallas in October, that's the game I'm going to. We'll be going through Cowboy Touchdown Travel, because they are the best of the agencies I've travelled with.

2 nights at the Marriott with daily breakfast buffet, free transportation to and from the airport, bus transportation to and from the stadium, tailgate party, and game ticket. Prices range from about $650 to $1000 per person, depending on seating section. An extra night at the hotel is about $125 per room. A great time will be had by all.

Several of my friends from all over will be joining us. It would be great if you could come too, GYC. It's going to be one hell of a football game, and one of the more interesting weekends you've ever spent.

getyourselfconnected said...

You think ther will be tickets available for a Saints vs Cowboys game?? That may be an idea I have to try out. I was in Arlington Texas once for a wedding and LOVED it! We actually looked into moving there once. HMMMMMM.

GawainsGhost said...

Well, they scheduled the Saints game for Thanksgiving! That's going to make it difficult for most of my friends, because of family considerations. But I just might drive up to Dallas and go to that game by myself.

And, yes, there will be tickets available. Even if a game is "sold out," a lot of those tickets were purchased by travel companies and are for sale.

Over the years, I've gone to Cowboys games with five different companies. Touchdown Travel is by far the best. Here is the link.