Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King Day Links - China, Gold, Sex and More!

Happy Martin Luther King day.

Here's a point to discuss: Would MLK have been a good, or even effective President?  He did have a lot of extra-marital affairs.  I think political opponents would have made a lot of hay about that. And in our sex-obsessed culture, that can be all the weight you need to sink a great man's career. It's certainly all you need to drown out his message.

He also plagiarized large portions of his doctoral dissertation. Again, does that make MLK not a great man?  I don't think so. I think greatness transcends occasional laziness (which is what plagiarism is). But it's exactly the kind of thing the TV talkers would obsess on to distract from his message.

Snopes has the run-down on MLK myths and facts.

Now, on to today's links ...

Chinese Gold Buying Described as "Spectacular"
In the second weekly report, that covers the five trading days from 6-1-2014 to 10-1-2014, today released by the Shanghai Gold Exchange we can read a spectacular amount of physical gold has been withdrawn from the vaults; 79 tons. Last week I wrote withdrawals were down, but could well pick up this month as China will celebrate Chinese new year on January 31, 2014 according to the Chinese Lunar calendar. And withdrawals did pick up.

This type of demand puts the physical gold market under severe stress, hence the scramble for gold in London a few days ago. “There is a shortage of big bars, especially good-delivery 400-ounce bars”, said Bernard Dahdah from Natixis.

Platinum Mines in South Africa Careen Toward Another Deadly Labor Clash. Sean's note: Did anybody really think the problem was fixed? Too many people with too many expectations squabbling over too little metal.

NSA Surveillance Isn't About Security, It's About Blackmail
Spying has a history almost as ancient as humanity itself, but every now and then the rules of the game change.  This post-9/11 moment of surveillance is one of those game-changers and the National Security Agency (NSA) has been the deal-breaker and rule-maker.  The new rules it brought into existence are simple enough: you -- whoever you are and wherever you live on Planet Earth -- are a potential target.  Get used to it.  The most basic ground rule of the new system: no one is exempt from surveillance.

Top 10 Reasons Sex Is Good for You
Sean's note: I did not know the last reason: #10 --  It Makes You Smarter. Two recent studies found that boning is good for the brain. Last April, researchers reported that sex caused rats to generate new neurons. In November, scientists found that for mice, sex led to better performance on learning and memory tests. That explains all those trap-wise rodents. It’s the sex!

Sony makes a pocket AM/FM radio just for prison.Sean's note: America has whole industries dedicated to making money off of keeping people behind bars. This is just the latest weird example, but worth noting.

Japan to U.S.: You Can't Railroad the Trans-Pacific Partnership
... the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) – would be, if enacted, amongst the defining geopolitical and geo-economic developments of the century. They seek to cement the near- three-decade gains made by commerce and the losses made by nation states and their citizens. Supra-nationalistic legally binding “trade courts”, embedding of the commercial rule of law’s higher ranking over the national rule of law for the rest of us, and prevention of countermeasures to the growth of the global mega corporation are just some of the treats we’ve got in store for ourselves if these agreements are accepted.

 Japan is one of the few sources of information which is a) informed b) reliable and c) engaged in the debate.

Half of Global Wealth 'Owned by 85 People' Oxfam Report Says
Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima said: “It is staggering that in the 21st Century, half of the world’s population – that’s three and a half billion people – own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all fit comfortably on a double-decker bus..

Great charts from Jeffrey Gundlach ...

Seven Sustainable Technologies. Sean's note: Jeez, the Archdruid is a windbag, and seriously needs an editor. That said, once you finally get to the list, it's a good and thought-provoking.

Light From Ancient Quasar Reveals Intergalactic Web
Astronomers say it's the first direct imaging of the long-sought gas filaments stretching between galaxies.

Have a good Monday.

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