Saturday, November 26, 2011

NASA launches $2.5 billion rover to Red Planet



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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA has launched its next Mars rover, kicking off a long-awaited mission to investigate whether the Red Planet could ever have hosted microbial life.

The car-size Curiosity rover blasted off atop its Atlas 5 rocket at 10:02 a.m. ET Saturday, streaking into a cloudy sky above Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here. The huge robot's next stop is Mars, though the 354-million-mile (570-million-kilometer) journey will take eight and a half months.

Joy Crisp a deputy project scientist for the rover at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., called the liftoff "spectacular."

"This feels great," she said as she watched the rocket lift off from Cape Canaveral.

Pamela Conrad, deputy principal investigator for the mission at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said, "Every milestone feels like such a relief. It's a beautiful day. The sun's out, and all these people came out to watch."

The work Curiosity does when it finally arrives should revolutionize our understanding of the Red Planet and pave the way for future efforts to hunt for potential Martian life, researchers said.

"It is absolutely a feat of engineering, and it will bring science like nobody's ever expected," Doug McCuistion, head of NASA's Mars exploration program, said of Curiosity. "I can't even imagine the discoveries that we're going to come up with."

Long road to launch
Curiosity's cruise to Mars may be less challenging than its long and bumpy trek to the launch pad, which took nearly a decade.

NASA began planning Curiosity's mission — which is officially known as the Mars Science Laboratory, or MSL — back in 2003. The rover was originally scheduled to blast off in 2009, but it wasn't ready in time.

Launch windows for Mars-bound spacecraft are based on favorable alignments between Earth and the Red Planet, and they open up just once every two years. So the MSL team had to wait until 2011.

That two-year slip helped boost the mission's overall cost by 56 percent, to its current $2.5 billion. But Saturday's successful launch likely chased away a lot of the bad feelings still lingering after the delay and the cost overruns.

"I think you could visibly see the team morale improve — the team grinned more, the team smiled more — as the rover and the vehicle came closer, and more and more together here when we were at Kennedy [Space Center]" preparing for liftoff, MSL project manager Pete Theisinger of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said a few days before launch.

A rover behemoth
Curiosity is a beast of a rover. Weighing in at 1 ton, it's five times more massive than either of the last two rovers NASA sent to Mars, the golf-cart-size twins Spirit and Opportunity, which landed in 2004 to search for signs of past water activity.

While Spirit and Opportunity each carried five science instruments, Curiosity sports 10, including a rock-zapping laser and equipment designed to identify organic compounds — carbon-based molecules that are the building blocks of life as we know it.

Some of these instruments sit at the end of Curiosity's five-jointed, 7-foot-long (2.1-meter) robotic arm, which by itself is nearly half as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity.

The arm also wields a 2-inch (5-centimeter) drill, allowing Curiosity to take samples from deep inside Martian rocks. No previous Red Planet rover has been able to do this, researchers say.

"We have an incredible rover," said MSL deputy project scientist Ashwin Vasavada of JPL. "It's the biggest and most capable scientific explorer we've ever sent to the surface of another planet."

Curiosity is due to arrive at Mars in early August 2012, touching down in a 100-mile-wide (160-km) crater called Gale.

While the rover's launch was dramatic, its landing will be one for the record books, if all goes well. A rocket-powered sky crane will lower the huge robot down on cables — a maneuver never tried before in the history of planetary exploration.

A giant mound of sediment rises 3 miles (5 kilometers) into the Martian air from Gale Crater's center. The layers in this mountain appear to preserve about 1 billion years of Martian history. Curiosity will study these different layers, gaining an in-depth understanding of past and present Martian environments and their potential to harbor life.

Life as we know it depends on liquid water. So the rover will likely spend a lot of time poking around near the mound's base, where Mars-orbiting spacecraft have spotted minerals that form in the presence of water, such as clays and sulfates.

"Going layer by layer, we can do the main goal of this mission, which is to search for habitable environments, " Vasavada said. "Were any of those time periods in early Mars history time periods that could have supported microbial life?"

If Curiosity climbs higher, its observations could shed light on Mars' shift from relatively warm and wet long ago to cold, dry and dusty today, researchers said.

"We want to understand those transitions, so that's why we're headed there [to Gale]," said Bethany Ehlmann of JPL and Caltech in Pasadena.

Setting the stage for life detection
Curiosity isn't designed to search for Martian life. In fact, if the red dirt of Gale Crater does harbor microbes, the rover will almost certainly drive right over them unawares.

But MSL is a key bridge to future efforts that could actively hunt down possible Martian life forms, researchers said. Curiosity's work should help later missions determine where — and when — to look.

"We don't really detect life per se," Vasavada said. "We set the stage for that life detection by figuring out which time periods in early Mars history were the most likely to have supported life and even preserved evidence of that for us today."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Market Participants Fighting For Direction

Equity stock market continues to decline for the week. Despite continuous selling pressure, market participants do not enter into panic selling as most of them are already thin in portfolio but rich on cash holding. Trading volume remains relatively low and a large portion is changing on the hands of day traders and speculators. Market manipulators maintain short positions and suppress rebound of market. Day traders and speculators are watching closely on market trend and any sign of short covering.

Market falls back to a level close to previous bottom. A lot of market participants are waiting for the time to replenish the portfolio if market exhibits sign of support after the extended decline. Currently market sentiment is largely pessimistic. But market participants are also anxious about excessive cash holding which gives minimal return on investment. Therefore the behaviour of market participants are diverse and direction of market movement is highly sensitive to market events.

Equity stocks may exhibit random fluctuation and there are both sellers and buyers on speculation. There is probability that market may drop below previous bottom and dive further on the favor of market manipulators. On the other hands, sideline cash buying and portfolio replenishment may give support to market.

Market participants should remain cautious and follow closely on market development until a clear direction emerges.



"Disastrous" bond sale shakes confidence in Germany
A "disastrous" German bond sale on Wednesday sparked fears that Europe's debt crisis was starting to threaten even Berlin, with the leaders of the euro zone's two biggest economies still at odds over a longer-term structural solution.

The borrowing costs of almost all euro zone states, even those previously seen as safe such as France, Austria and the Netherlands, spiked in the last two weeks as panicky investors dumped paper no longer seen as risk-free.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso unveiled proposals for much more intrusive oversight of euro zone countries' budgets and efforts to meet macroeconomic targets, and set out the options for introducing common euro zone bonds.

"I welcome Barroso's proposals, which are a real step forward on many points," Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees De Jager said in a statement. "It will, however, still be an uphill battle, for there are those who resist further discipline.

"Eurobonds are not a magic solution to the current crisis and could even worsen it," he said. "We have to do first things first, and that means establishing strict supervision and enforcement of budget discipline."


IPOs stoke San Francisco housing market
Adam Holm has been looking to sell his three-bedroom Victorian house in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood all year, but he needs one thing to happen first: gaming-company Zynga's initial public offering.

The IPO-driven real estate strategy is suddenly a common one in San Francisco as companies including Zynga and the review service Yelp prepare for public offerings. With the rise of secondary share markets that enable some employees of pre-public companies such as Facebook and Twitter to cash out, moreover, even the promise of an IPO is helping to drive residential real estate activity.

San Francisco had already enjoyed a healthier housing market than most places. But the competitive bidding in some city neighborhoods recently has taken real estate professionals by surprise, with prices up more than 15 percent from last year in some areas.

San Francisco's southern neighborhoods are benefiting not just from the suddenly rich, but also from start-ups increasingly locating in the city rather than suburban Silicon Valley. Employees who like to live near work will drive up residential prices in nearby neighborhoods, the theory goes.

The renewed strength in the local housing market has caught even some who work in real estate by surprise. Stephen Rossi, who heads business-services marketing at Trulia, wanted to move out of his SOMA condo and was planning to rent it out, thinking he couldn't sell if for the roughly $760,000 he paid back in 2009.

But when a neighbor with an identical unit across the hall got multiple offers on his place and sold it in October for $800,000 to an employee at a cloud-based software company, Rossi had second thoughts. Rossi sold his condo two weeks ago to a bidder who had lost out on his neighbor's home, also for $800,000, and had backup bids of his own.


German bonds fall; stocks, euro vulnerable
German government bond yields hit their highest in nearly a month and world stocks held near 7-week lows Thursday, a day after a weak debt sale in Berlin fanned fears the euro zone debt crisis is starting to threaten its biggest > falling 115 ticks on the day to 134.66, the lowest since October 31.

"The Bund auction got people wondering about how big German debt is and it coincided with (European Commission President Jose Manuel) Barroso talking about euro bonds.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

裸女哄動中環

【東方日報】妙齡女子在中環街頭打人後赤裸遊街。一名女子昨傍晚在人來人往的皇后大道中等人期間,突襲派傳單的女子,被保安員制止後情緒失控當眾表演脫衣騷。本報記者現場直擊奇女子「剝光豬」遊街十分鐘,期間更走入一間名錶店參觀,逾百市民駐足「呆看」,無不嘩然。她在街頭步行約二百米後,卒被帶上警車送院。


裸女衝出錶店,男警緊拉著她的手。

與父傾手機突發狂打途人

大鬧中環的裸女姓黎(廿三歲),昨傍晚六時許站在娛樂行門外用手機與父親聊天時,突然情緒激動,將電話大力扔落地,更衝向身旁一名派傳單女子,將她的頭推向牆邊。遇襲女子大聲呼救,驚動附近大廈保安員趕至制止及報警。黎女聽到「報警」二字後面色大變,隨即將上衣、牛仔褲、胸圍、內褲及鞋襪逐一脫光,連同手袋丟在路旁。


裸女跑出馬路,人車讓路。


裸女站在街頭,以手遮掩胸部。


名店賞錶

黎女一絲不掛向戲院里方向漫步,當時正值下班時間,大批途人駐足觀看,行經的車輛更紛紛慢駛。她步行近二百米後走進一間錶行,大模廝樣在店內四處走動看錶,店員被不速之客嚇得手足無措,慌忙跑出店外求救。剛巧一名軍裝男警巡經入內協助,惟他不敢觸碰黎女身體,只好要求她留在店內,但黎女不理勸喻衝出街外,男警只好緊隨其後拉著她的手,又脫下警帽為她遮蔽下體。「係唔係拍緊戲?我簡直唔相信我對眼﹗」圍觀市民更取出手機拍攝。


途人借衣


喝水回氣


慈父救女

此時,黎女父親趕至,拾起衣物後急問途人:「我係個女仔嘅爸爸,知唔知佢去咗邊呀?」他經熱心途人指示尋獲女兒,當時黎女正在警員陪同下步往警車,一名女途人脫下外套給她蔽體。黎父最後抱女兒上警車送院檢驗。


警車帶走

蘋果日報 - 20111124 - 港台忽然改革 熄烽煙叮走吳志森 周融 冇晒批判聲音



【蘋果日報】 AO廣播處長鄧忍光上場不足三個月,港台便即「改革」兩個早晚時段的時事烽煙節目。經常批評政府的吳志森、常為政府護航的周融齊被「叮走」。前日接獲「大信封」的吳志森對­港台「忽然改革」感愕然,難理解為何突然遭撤換。撐港台運動成員毛孟靜批評港台自廢武功,此番換人將令烽煙節目「冇晒批判聲音」。
記者:姚國雄 盧文烈

港台兩個烽煙節目《千禧年代》、《自由風自由 Phone》將透過「換人」改革。副廣播處長戴健文前日通知節目主持周融和吳志森,將於明年起與二人終止合約,二人「任期」至下月底,而每周主持《自》一至兩次的梁旭明、­黃英琦、劉佩瓊同樣「無得留低」。兩節目明年起分別由港台公務員梁家永和節目監製陳燕萍唱獨腳戲,會繼續接聽聽眾電話。

港台否認受壓換人

近年「被正名」為政府部門的港台突然換人,勢令人懷疑政府或港台高層有心「整治」。戴健文回應指,十分明白公眾對此會有猜疑,但否認受壓下換人:「兩個節目已有逾十年冇變­,好多節目都會變,點解呢兩個節目唔可以改變?」他保證兩節目的公眾發言時間不會減少。

港台發言人稱,兩節目名稱及時間維持不變,由一人主持可讓聽眾有更多時間發表意見,以及提供資料讓聽眾掌握時事新聞背景,希望做到聲音多元,發言人否認港台今次乘機大清洗­,強調節目改革不會削弱言論自由的空間。不過,港台節目製作人員工會主席麥麗貞擔心,日後只由一人擔綱,會影響節目多元性,但現無證據顯示換人與政府或高層施壓有關。

吳志森擔心節目「去政治化」

吳志森形容換人安排「幾突然,冇先兆」。他自問稱職、有支持者、收聽率亦算高:「如果係因為我成日批評政府而要換走我,我覺得好悲哀。我唔願意相信呢個係事實......;節目要有改革,但係咪要換走一個聽眾熟悉主持人嚟改革呢?」他擔心日後兩個節目會「去政治化」減少批判。

他指,港台並無通知他停止主持諷刺時弊的電視節目《頭條新聞》,還已預約他明年的拍攝檔期:「但一切無保證,今日可以通知你聽日唔使你做。」另一主持周融則不欲對節目改革­多作回應,稱明白港台要改革:「咁天下無不散之筵席嘛。」

曾擔任港台烽煙節目主持的公民黨毛孟靜批評,港台此舉是自毀長城兼自廢武功。她指一個出色的烽煙節目,除要反映民意,更要帶領民意,港台突然撤換主持人,將會令節目「冇晒­批判嘅聲音」。她指無論今次決定是否由鄧忍光親自拍板,都不能接受。她質疑港台是想藉換主持消除反對政府的聲音。

HK↑香港發明家創立意念資訊科技

Monday, November 21, 2011

內地金絲楠木炒成了天價 一根可換一棟樓


內地繼紫壇木、黃花梨木等每噸逾百萬元(人民幣.下同)的木材被炒高後,從前是帝皇專用的金絲楠木亦成為追捧目標,一根可換一棟樓;不少炒家四處尋找金絲楠木,挖河刨樹根,更有炒家買下古宅,拆掉舊柱尋寶。

金絲楠木多出現在 500歲的楨楠當中,四川邛崍是偵楠產地,近日到當地尋木的人增加,估計有 10支淘木隊、近 100人。當地人楊林在深圳打工近 10年後,也加入「淘木熱」,聘請 20多人進山尋木。他表示,近日金絲楠木的價格水漲船高,一根長兩米的木料能賣到十多萬元,金絲楠木家具更是一日一個價,吸引不少人囤積。

過去,木材都是以水利從四川運到北京,需時四年至十多年,不少木材可能在山泥傾瀉中被埋,淘木人便在山中挖河、刨樹根,希望找到萬年不朽的木材。

尋木要靠運氣,不少買家向古宅埋手,雖然明、清時規定民間私藏金絲楠木可以處斬,但不少當地人都冒生命危險,以金絲楠木作為蘚,保留下來,成為現在現成金絲楠木的來源。

邛崍一棟古宅內,楊林發現有六根柱是楨楠老料,估計總共可賣 600萬元,他向劉姓女屋主提出以一棟兩層高樓房再加 500萬元,但劉女仍不為所動,並稱此前有人出價千萬也被她拒絕。她稱,這屋及湯柱已經五代相傳,當年祖先冒死留著金絲楠木,無論出多少錢她都不會賣掉。

由於在楨楠中只有 2%會發現金絲楠木,有北京收購商高價收購古宅後,才發現噥是與金絲楠木極類似、但極易腐的潤楠,損失慘重。

金絲楠木是中國特有的珍貴木材,分擎在四川、貴州、等地、海拔 1,000至 1,500米亞熱帶地區的山谷、山窪及河旁,生長緩慢,但質地堅硬、百蟲不侵,且有千年不腐萬年不朽之說;有獨特光澤,不上漆都會越用越亮,令它成為明、清時皇家專用木材。

明朝時若民間進貢一顆金絲楠木即能陞官,清朝時若民間私藏金絲楠木,則隨時被入罪甚至殺頭。時至現代,重要書籍、紀念品以金絲楠木做盒, 2005年胡錦濤送給宋楚瑜的宋家族譜就是金絲楠木做的書函箱。

Sunday, November 20, 2011

YouTube Video On Cosmology - Q&A With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Tyson hosted the casual conversation about stars, planets, the universe, and beyond.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Hot Capital On Market Speculation

Market sees another sell-off in the week. But the rebound is much weaker than previous sell-offs. Market manipulators return to market to participate in the selling, but less aggressively and in increments rather than continuous selling. The amount of hot capital flowing around the market is large and market participants have different speculation. But the common factor to drive hot capital into the market is low return of investment in money market and accumulation of personal wealth from economic activities.

Market manipulators adjust the strategy to match with current market dynamics. The main strategy remains selling. However, instead of a massive selling to create panic in the market, market manipulators are selling repeatedly in smaller increments to ensure that day traders and speculators are following to create a trend to push down market for extended period of time to provide enough spread to take profit. As a result, market remains depressed for several days and there is still no short covering rebound yet.

Market participants are watching closely on the next move of market manipulators who make the largest profit while others are mostly suffering loss from the market sell-offs. Although many days traders and speculators are following closely on the selling, market manipulators are more cautious than before and open far less positions than before. As year end is approaching, it would be better to protect the profit and be less aggressive. On the other hand, market participants are looking to catch up and become more aggressive.

It appears that there may be headwind in the market as the risk appetite of investors are increasing and the flow of hot capital creates turbulance in asset markets.



Hanging on to Home, Even After a Fall
BERNIE AND JOYCE MURPHY are still convinced that they did everything right when they bought their home. And by all indications, they did.

Four years ago, the couple, who have been married 41 years, moved from a small town in Ohio to Stallings, N.C., just outside Charlotte. Mr. Murphy, 65, was retiring and they wanted to be near one of their sons and his family. They saved up, put 5 percent down on a $160,000 two-story townhome, got themselves a plain-vanilla 30-year mortgage and settled into a new life at the end of a quiet street. A small creek runs through the tree-lined development, where model homes have names like Riverbirch and Magnolia.

So what is it that is keeping the Murphys from walking away? Partly it is the morality issue: they promised to pay and they are able to pay, though not without some adjustments to their future financial plans. They also noted that they were not in the same dire straits as others in their neighborhood who walked away, including a young family of four that left in the dead of night some months ago. Mr. Murphy receives monthly pension payments after 22 years in state government in Ohio. He also gets Social Security benefits from 17 years of work at a private college, though those are reduced by Internal Revenue Service rules because of his pension.


“Don’t Get Too Bearish”: 5 Keys to the Market’s Next Move
After a third quarter of wild swings and a big rally in October, the stock market heads into the home stretch virtually unchanged for 2011.

Four key issues hold the key to whether 2011 ends up being the first down year since 2008 or whether the Santa Claus rally comes to town, according to Greg Zuckerman of The Wall Street Journal:

The Core of Europe: Now that Europe's debt crisis has moved from the "periphery", markets will take their cues from interest rates in Italy and France.

It's the Economy, Stupid: A big reason for the big rally in October was better-than-expected U.S. economic data. Many money managers were braced for an imminent "double-dip" and the positive surprises on GDP, employment, retail sales and other metrics helped account for the S&P's nearly 11% rise last month.

China's Landing: Whether China's economy has a 'hard' or 'soft' landing is the critical question on many investors' minds. As the world's second-largest economy and a major importer of myriad commodities, the outcome will have a major impact on financial markets worldwide.

As of Oct. 30, the average hedge fund was down nearly 3% for the year and underperforming the S&P 500, according to Hennessee Group.

Considering the fees being charged by hedge funds and the "reputational risk" of lagging mutual funds, Zuckerman notes underperforming money managers may be tempted to "chase" the market if it exhibits any signs of strength.

As a result, Zuckerman's conclusion is that investors should "not get too bearish" before year-end, even if there are plenty of things to worry about these days.


How to steal like Wall Street
On Wall Street, you gamble. You gamble big. But you gamble with other people’s money.

Borrow as much as you can. If it doesn’t work out, too bad — for someone else. Heads you win, tails they lose.

But reflect that the top 10 people at Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers walked away with nearly $1 billion before those banks collapsed. A billion dollars. That money went to yachts and mansions and mink coats. The people who ran subprime firms like Countrywide Financial walked away with fortunes.

Reflect, too, that the bonus bonanza has been back on Wall Street for at least two years now.

Which brings us to “Occupy Wall Street,” and the protest movement.

America’s bankruptcy laws are crazy. You can shelter all sorts of money in things like 401(k) plans and still walk away. By the standards of the real, “moral” economy they are unconscionable.


Tackling Income Inequality
The Occupy Wall Street protesters have focused attention on rising income inequality in the United States, and they are right to do so.

Income and wealth disparities have reached levels not seen in the United States since the Roaring Twenties. And the concentration of income and wealth contributed to the speculative excesses that brought on the 2008 financial crisis (see Robert Reich's "Aftershock" and Raghuram Rajan's "Fault Lines").

According to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office, rising income inequality is a long-term trend that began in the late 1970s and strengthened during the last two decades.

The top 1 percent's share of national income has also been rising in most other advanced industrial countries, but it is by far the largest and has grown the most in the United States (see Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson's "Winner-Take-All Politics").

The top 0.1 percent earns about half of all capital gains, and such gains account for about 60 percent of the income of the top 400 taxpayers.

Large cuts in federal tax rates on capital and business income have been very beneficial to the top 1 percent over time.

As a result of these changes, along with President Bush's across-the-board cuts in income tax rates, federal taxes as a share of household income fell for the top 1 percent. Over all, the Bush tax cuts were the largest -- not only in dollar terms but also as a percentage of income -- for high-income households and increased the concentration of after-tax income at the top. Far from curbing escalating inequality, the Bush tax cuts exacerbated the problem.

A credible plan to reduce the long-run deficit requires a significant increase in revenue. Polls indicate that the majority of Americans, like the Wall Street protesters, believe that higher taxes on the rich are warranted both to reduce the deficit and to contain mounting inequality.

Restoring the top income tax rates and capital gains and dividends tax rates to their levels under President Clinton, as President Obama has repeatedly proposed, would be useful first steps. Taxing some carried interest as ordinary income would make the tax system more efficient and curtail outsize compensation in the financial sector. Adding a progressive consumption tax would augment revenue while encouraging saving and discouraging spending on luxury goods, both by the very rich and by those down the income ladder struggling to keep up.

The majority of Americans, like the Wall Street protesters, also believe the corporate tax rate should be raised.

Raising tax rates on capital gains and dividends to the levels under President Clinton would curb the growth of income for the top 1 percent and could finance a substantial cut in the corporate tax rate that would bolster wages and job opportunities for American workers.


U.S. Economy Growing at Fastest Pace of the Year
The U.S. economy may end 2011 growing at its fastest clip in 18 months as analysts increase their forecasts for the fourth quarter just a few months after a slowdown raised concern among investors.

Behind the revised fourth quarter forecasts: Consumers have not cut back on spending even with the turmoil in world financial markets, putting pressure on companies to rebuild inventories they ran down because of concerns about Europe.

Housing construction permits climbed last month to their highest level since March 2010, according to Commerce Department data, as the near record-low mortgage rates lured some buyers into the market.

The future pace of consumer spending ultimately will be decided by the growth of household income, which in turn is tied to the health of the job market.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Man Reported to Find $500,000 Worth of Treasure in Storage Unit



A San Jose man needed no treasure map when he reportedly stumbled on to $500,000 worth of gold and silver after bidding on an abandoned storage unit. The man, identified only as John, apparently paid $1,100 for the unit only to see his blind investment turn into a goldmine after a number of rare coins and a few gold and silver bars were found in the blue Rubbermaid container.

The reported find, in Contra Costa County, was so unexpected that even though the auction was held by American Auctioneers, the subject of A&E's Storage Wars, there were no cameras present when the cache was discovered.

Even without cameras Laura Dotson, the co-owner of American Auctioneers along with husband Dan, still said she was delighted.

"It helps, it solidifies what we're doing in the business," Dotson told ABCNews.com. "It shows hope that with all these units, that there is treasure to be found."

Although the buyer wants to remain anonymous, Dotson said he called her after getting the gold and silver appraised. According to Dotson, the first thing he said was, "Wow, this is a wonderful life."

In recent years storage unit auctions have gained wide-spread recognition after becoming reality fodder for shows like Storage Wars and Spike TV's Auction Hunters.

In California, where American Auctioneers is based, a storage unit is available for auction if rent has not been paid in three months. Bidders are able to view the storage unit from outside for five minutes to glean what they can, and then the bidding starts. While some units are worth little, the possibility of a big payoff draws in participants who are willing to take a chance.

John Cardoza of Storage Auction Experts, which was not involved in the auction, told ABC News that for people who know what they're doing, "Six out of seven units can make money." However, he stresses that the chance to make half a million dollars off a $1,100 bid is a bit rarer. "I hear similar stories about once a year," said Cardoza.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the unit was owned by a recently deceased elderly woman. Cardoza says that since the storage units must be listed in the paper prior to the auction, some bidders use names to try to decipher what's in the unit. "What some people do is, they look at the names. If it's Ethel or Myrtle, it sounds older," said Cardoza, who says an older person may have more collectibles than a younger person.

While the coins were apparently found in the unlikeliest of treasure chests -- a Rubbermaid container – it was said to have been heavy enough that three men had to carry it out.

Dotson says the plastic container initially piqued the buyer's interest, although for more pragmatic reasons. "He said that he liked it was in [plastic] and clean and easy to move," said Dotson. "It's a chance of a lifetime."

Friday, November 11, 2011

二戰炮彈出土 「震」撼筲箕灣







【頭條日報】「轟隆!轟隆!」七十年前日軍進攻香港,在鯉魚門與英軍激烈炮戰的一幕,昨日在海防博物館旁邊「重現」。土木工程拓展署在筲箕灣東喜道一個鞏固斜坡地盤,月前接連挖出炮彈,署方為工人安全即時停工,五日前更聘用澳洲退役軍人在山坡展開搜索,昨晨尋獲七枚炮彈,當中引爆時威力巨大,身處一百米外也感到震動。

筲箕灣海防博物館對開一個正在進行護土工程的山坡,昨日在澳洲退役軍人協助下,掘出七枚戰時炮彈,其中六枚斷裂或化成碎片,已經失效,但有一枚直徑六吋的英國炮彈彈身完整,估計仍有爆炸力,警方於早上及下午接連封鎖現場對開的一段東區走廊,進行引爆。

澳洲前軍人來港尋彈

尋獲炮彈的澳洲前軍人阿Mark,五十餘歲,目前在東南亞的老撾居住和工作,有豐富清除地雷經驗,故受聘來港,僅僅五天便在一大幅山坡之中,起出七枚炮彈。

連番發現炸彈的山坡,月前起進行鞏固斜坡工程,但今年九月五日及九日,工人在斜坡挖開泥土,發現兩枚炮彈,需要警方專家到場引爆,由於上址在二戰時曾是英軍和日軍爭奪的重要據點,英軍在現時的海防博物館現址設有炮台,儲存大批炮彈不足為奇。

負責工程的土木工程拓展署,暫停斜坡工程,並聯絡專家阿Mark來港,阿Mark周一抵達後,連續幾日都在斜坡工地以儀器搜索,昨晨九時許,在山坡上起出七枚炮彈。本港警方、爆炸品處理組、消防處人員先後到場戒備,經檢查確定其中一枚炮彈有爆炸危險,需要即場引爆。

爆炸一刻 百米外感震動

早上十一時三十八分,現場對開的一段東區走廊封閉,但第一次引爆只聞聲響,並無感到震動,專家解釋,當時只用小量炸藥將炮彈外殼炸開;至下午二時十五分,第二次引爆時,山坡傳來隆然巨響,被疏散到一百米遠的記者,也感到腳下震動,而山坡上揚起一陣泥沙,飛上東廊的路面,幸車輛已被截停沒有受損。

警方及專家其後在路面檢回炮彈碎片,清理沙石,路面重開。

人民力量區選檢討

時窮節乃見
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兩間餘一卒荷戟獨徬徨
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人民力量不會退縮不會迴避
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人民力量的下一步 / 2012立法會選舉初探 / 問梁家傑(上)
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問梁家傑(下)/ 海明威、約翰‧多恩的格言
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Market Wild Swing; No Panic Selling Or Frenzy Buying

Market ends flat from last week with wild oscillation between days. In the volatile market, investors learnt to stay calm from experience of prior panic sell-offs when panic market participants sold stocks at market bottom. Unlike prior sell-offs, market manipulators do not initiate the sell-off this time. Day traders are the major participants in this sell-off. As mentioned in previous post, the sell-off duration is getting shorter. And the sell-off in this week lasts only one day. Market recovers the loss in the following two days. Market manipulators cannot profit from short pulse market swing as there is not enough spread and volume for the trades of market manipulators large liquidity. But day traders are eying on small profit between trades in the correct trend.

Day traders are the major participants during the sell-off and following rally. Individual investors also make some speculation trades with the cash on hand. The majority of market participants remain calm and wait for opportunity. There are still a lot of investors waiting for an ideal re-entry point to the market as the bottom of the dip is still above last market bottom and many investors cannot replenish the portfolio at the cost below the selling price when the portfolio is trimmed.

Market participants remain cautious and stay with significant cash on hand to wait for some kind of market collapse. Market manipulators previous selling strategy does not work well as market participants do not go into panic selling to create a wide gap for market manipulators to take profit.

The oscillation in market provides opportunity for speculative traders. Some individual investors are anxious with the mountain of cash on hand due to the extremely low return. As the confidence in equity stock market is still low and trades are crowded in blue-chip and high-dividend stocks, some capital goes into the commodities market on speculation.

Market exhibits little confidence in outlook. On the other hand, market participants are flooded with cash but thin on portfolio holding. Many investors are looking for a market collapse to find an entry point. There are different views on the support level which only the actual market will reveal. The next move of market manipulators may give a hint on market direction.



How to Rest Easy in a Crazy Market
If the market's roller-coaster ride has caused you a lot of heartburn, this might be a great time to do something about it, before another slide is just one too many.

With that in mind, here are seven pointers to calm your portfolio and your stomach:

Get real about your tolerance for pain.
When stocks are mostly going up, many investors believe they have the fortitude to tolerate a fair amount of risk. But as soon as prices sink, so does their gumption. They realize they really aren't willing to ride the roller coaster down as well as up.

Favor funds that cast a wider net.
The narrower the scope of your funds, the greater the risk of outsize losses during market downturns. Consider switching from some of your most narrowly focused funds to funds that hold a wider mix of stocks, or funds that combine stocks with other holdings, such as bonds.

Hire a pilot who charts a smoother ride.
In stock-picking or other strategies, some fund managers try to limit the downside risk. When they succeed, their funds can be easier to keep for the long term. Funds managed with an eye to reducing volatility won't deliver top-of-the-charts performance when the market is surging. But they can hold their own over time, because it's easier for a fund to recover from a modest drop than a steep one.

Another volatility-reducing tack is owning a fund that focuses on blue-chip, dividend-paying companies. Shares of such companies are viewed as safer bets during tough economic times, and they tend to fluctuate less than those of growth-oriented stocks.

Don't try to wager on where stocks are headed.
Investors have a bad record of calling market tops and market bottoms. But over many years, stock prices will appreciate as the economy grows.

If you're holding a lot of cash, you are giving up an opportunity to benefit from that long-term appreciation, says Constance Stone, a certified financial planner in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. But if jumping back into the market all at once might fray your nerves, do it gradually, she says.

Fine-tune your cash stash to your family's needs.
You'll rest more easily if you know you don't need to tap your stocks and stock funds when they are down in order to meet expenses. That's one reason advisers often suggest clients keep on hand cash or readily saleable assets equal to three to nine months of spending.

Don't assume that a stock-free portfolio is risk-free.
As stocks plummeted this summer, investors shifted a mountain of money from stocks into bank accounts and government bonds.

But returns on those two investments are very low. And you could actually lose money on bonds if interest rates—which move the opposite way as bond prices—were to shoot higher.

Don't be ashamed to seek help.
A financial adviser or planner can help you realistically assess your risk tolerance and tailor your investment strategy to it.

Advisers not only aid in creating a strategy, but will help you avoid shooting yourself in the foot by abandoning it at the worst time.


Profits Are at Record Levels, So Why Aren't Stock Prices?
With almost all of the third quarter results out, it's safe to say that companies in the S&P 500 Index (INDEX: ^GSPC - News) have achieved record earnings and profit margins on a quarterly and one-year basis, fully exorcising the 2008 credit crisis and reflecting the aggressive cost cutting efforts underway since that calamity.

"Third quarter 2011 establishes a new quarterly and trailing four quarter EPS peak while trailing four quarter net margins remain at peak levels," according to a Goldman Sachs Research, which came to this conclusion using the figures from the 90 percent of the S&P 500 members that have reported and the firm's estimates for the rest.

"The last four quarter EPS total of $94.80 (for S&P 500) exceeds the previous peak of $91.47 achieved in second quarter 2007," Goldman Sachs said.

So if stock prices are a reflection of future earnings, why hasn't the U.S. benchmark returned to this record high yet? Currently, the S&P 500 is 20 percent below that 2-year old peak.

"The expectation is that earnings may decline if Europe can't get out of its own way," said Karen Finerman, president of hedge fund Metropolitan Capital Advisors.

Companies are sitting on a record cash hoard that they have started to deploy on buybacks and dividends, but have yet to use to hire more employees. Jobs data released Friday showed a 9 percent unemployment rate. Average profit margins in the S&P 500 are at a peak 8.9 percent, according to Goldman.

"You want to buy depressed profit margins and sell record ones as it's a mean reverting statistic," points out Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak.


Finding Good Opportunities in a Bad Market
If your outlook on the markets was literally "a decade of blah" it is hard to imagine why you would even stick around for more given all the other intriguing ways there are to invest money. But for Malcolm Polley, the president & CIO of Stewart Capital Advisors, blah markets make for great deals; similar to the 1970's period that spawned some of Warren Buffett's most lucrative investments.

Not surprisingly, Polley is more confident making market calls for the next decade, rather than for the next few months. And who wouldn't be given the current degree of volatility and broad range of economic forecasts that seem eager to humble even to the most savvy of money managers (three-quarters of whom are reportedly underperforming their benchmarks).

Polley says he is also a long-term bull on technology, but advises against diving into the entire sector all at once. Again, he deploys an updated overlay to this perennial favorite of the growth crowd, saying that in fact, tech is now largely cyclical due to the size and cost involved in purchasing computer equipment. Here, he refers to the sector as "an interesting animal," and then dissects the group with a preference towards things like software where the capital expenditures aren't quite as large.


Market Technicals: Is 2011 a 2008 Redux?
Katie Stockton is relatively bullish over the near-term, the operative terms being "relatively" and "near-term." "It's not a comment on the next couple of months," the chief market technician at MKM Parnters tells me, but a chart of the major indexes "looks a lot like what we saw in late 2007 and 2008," she warns.

Her bottom line: "Position for the rally" but don't expect it to last. As a stick-with-it-until-it-stops-working kind of guy, my bottom line remains: Hold your nose, ignore the noise, and buy the dips.


NEW POLL: Americans Now Think Economy Favors Super-Rich
A new Wall Street Journal poll suggests that Americans have woken up to the extreme inequality that has developed in the country in the past three decades, in which the richest Americans have gotten much richer while everyone else has stayed in place or lost ground.

60% of the poll's respondents believe that the current structure of the economy favors a small portion of the rich over the rest of the country. They also think that the power of major banks and corporations should be curtailed. And that the government shouldn't subsidize or bail out companies.

It's very hard to imagine that we will find a way out of our economic predicament that doesn't involve significant pain of one sort or another. But it does not appear that most Americans have woken up to that.


Why European Crisis Fears Slammed U.S. Stocks
The explosive moves in the stock market recently are testing the resolve of investors worldwide, and today there was no relief. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 389 points, or 3.2% to 11,781, the Nasdaq fell 3.88% to 2,622, and the S&P 500 fell 3.67% to 1,229.

The market opened lower this morning on concerns out of Italy and whether Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi would truly resign his post due to his failure to stem the country's debt crisis. As a response, Italian bond yields soared to crisis levels, rising above 7%. Later in the afternoon new details emerged that European officials are reportedly considering an overhaul of the European Union we've come to know.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

MF Global Did Indeed Pay Bonuses Before Bankruptcy, But They Were Already in the Pipeline: Source


MF Global paid UK employees their bonuses just before the company filed for bankruptcy protection in the US.

A source familiar with the matter, who wanted to be anonymous because of the sensitivity of it, confirms that bonuses were paid to UK and US employees, but says they were regularly scheduled payments, based on formulas in employment contracts, that were processed several days before the bankruptcy filing.

So, according to this source, it is not as if MF Global employees were getting bonuses furtively shoved in their hands just before the doors closed. But it will still be cold comfort to those customers still waiting to just get their money back.

Video Clip - Stow Lake In San Francisco Golden Gate Park

Sunday, November 6, 2011

【The Secret History Of Hacking】Discovery Channel

'Invasion of the data snatchers,' screamed a New York Times headline in 1989, reflecting rising panic over insecure computer systems.

A hacker is a brilliantly devious criminal mind breaking the world's most secret IT systems for money or political espionage, if you believe many similarly hysterical press reports. In fact, the truth is a lot more intriguing.

"The Secret History of Hacking" uncovered the real story of a counter culture that has corporate America on the run.

Confusion and anxiety surrounds this word hacking, yet, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, hacker simply means 'an enthusiastic computer programmer or user' or 'a person who tries to gain unauthorised access to a computer or to data held in one'. There was nothing sinister about these early hackers, or phreakers. The driving force for this band of techno wizards was exploration.

The same spirit was at work with the appearance of the home computer. The pioneers were keen to share and explore the technology for its own sake. Among the most prominent players was Steve Wozniak who went on to develop the Apple computer. Only when the commercial element crept in did the shutters come down on the ownership of ideas.

A strong undercurrent of mischievous daring runs through the hackers' ethos. Since the sixties, hackers have been breaking into much of the globe's state-of-the-art electronic systems involving government, military institutions, businesses and individuals. The code was always 'look but don't touch'.

But now, as the world becomes ever more entwined with the Internet, some hackers are becoming more sinister, spreading damaging computer viruses and capitalising on access to personal files and millions of bank accounts.

【achieving the unachievable】Discovery HD

An inquiry around the mystery behind the missing hole in M.C. Escher "Print Gallery".

M.C. Escher is among the most mathematical of artists. In 1956 he challenged the laws of perspective with his graphic Print Gallery, and found himself trapped by an impossible barrier. His uncompleted master-piece quickly became the most puzzling enigma of modern art, for both artists and scientists. Half a century later, mathematician Hendrik Lenstra took everyone by surprise by drawing a fantastic bridge between the intuition of the artist and his own, and completed Escher's work mathematically. This story is presented in the 52 minute film Achieving the Unachievable by documentary filmmaker Jean Bergeron.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dilbert: Copyright Infringement

Sell-off Again But Short Lived

Market manipulators use Greece referendum to trigger sell-off which is short lived. The duration of market sell-off is becoming shorter each time as market participants learn the strategy and do not want to sell at the bottom. Many market participants have not yet replenished the portfolio which is trimmed in the last sell-off when major US banks are downgraded. The sell-off is then followed by a strong rebound when market manipulators cover the short selling.

The short lived sell-off is the recent effort of market manipulators to use the positions on hand to drive market down. Since this is only overbought positions of market manipulators during short covering in the last sell-off, the amount available for selling is limited and thus the duration lasts less than two sessions. The sell-off attracts day traders and speculators to follow on the two days. But market participants do not react overly based on experience in prior sell-off. Instead, when market manipulators finish the selling, market participants follow closely and start to recover or buy back. As a result there is not extended panic selling and market manipulators make only relatively small profit as compared to prior sell-off events.

Many investors including institutional investors, individual investors, as well as hedge funds are still holding large amount of cash and waiting for market dip so that the portfolio can be replenished for the trimming in the last sell-off. As a result, there is no extended panic selling similar to that happened after US debt downgrade at which time market participants saw the first panic selling initiated by market manipulators after a long gradual selling from year high.

Since market peak in May, market manipulators have triggered one slow extended sell-off and four panic quick sell-off. The sell-off duration becomes shorter in each occurrence. If market manipulators have not acquired the positions sold in this sell-off at the bottom of last sell-off, a short-covering rally would cut a lot of the profit. If market manipulators maintain the sell-off strategy, the risk would be higher since equity positions are liquidated and new short selling positions will be needed for the next sell-off and it will require a larger stretch of the selling period, which is indeed getting shorter each time, to provide enough room for short selling and then short covering to make profit. Market participants would watch closely on the strategy of market manipulators next move. It may be extended panic selling on market disaster or some other strategy.



Tough Year for Hedge Funds
Hedge funds have posted a drop of 8% year to date, with Susan Roberts, RG Niederhoffer Capital Management.

Groupon shares soar in public market debut
Groupon, the company that pioneered online group discounts, saw its stock soar nearly 50 percent in its public debut Friday, showing strong demand for an Internet company whose business model is considered unsustainable by some analysts.

Have you heard? Buy the dip
With the S&P 500 about to end its best month in almost 40 years, many would be happy to cash in gains and start packing for the ski slopes.

But some underperforming investors are being cornered into putting yet more money into U.S. stocks.

The S&P 500 on Friday closed its fourth week of gains and is up more than 13 percent in October alone. But many, including hedge funds, were caught wrong-footed by the rally.

Hedge funds, among the equity market's power players, are on average sitting on losses of 8 percent for the year according to Hedge Fund Research. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 is up for the year, if only a bit more than 2 percent.


Biggs Boosts Bullish Stock Bets
Barton Biggs, the hedge fund manager who bought stocks when the market bottomed in 2009, boosted bullish bets on equities in his Traxis Global Equity Macro Fund after European leaders took action to contain the debt crisis.

Investors remain too pessimistic, meaning the rally will continue as they change their mind, he said.

"There's a tremendous amount of money that's trapped out of stocks," Biggs said today. The rally is "going to continue for a while."

Biggs said that while he's not buying European stocks, he is drawn to their valuations.

"I must admit I don't own hardly any European stocks, but I'm intrigued by them because they are so cheap, and because it would certainly be a contrarian trade," he said.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Electronic Game - "Game of NIM" Designed By Raymond Redheffer (Professor of Mathematics) Circa 1942

In 1948 Raymond Redheffer from M.I.T published an article on how to play the NIM device which he created through 1941 - 1942. It is a mathematical device designed to play the game of NIM. Public demonstration was done in 1948. His device was put on display at an open house exhibition on May 13, 1950. This device wins against anything but a perfect defense.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

28OCT2011 (齋sir)陳士齊分析民主精神 鬧爆人民力量 扼殺基層民主

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28OCT2011 (齋sir)陳士齊分析民主精神 鬧爆人民力量 扼殺基層民主 2/4


28OCT2011 (齋sir)陳士齊分析民主精神 鬧爆人民力量 扼殺基層民主 3/4


28OCT2011 (齋sir)陳士齊分析民主精神 鬧爆人民力量 扼殺基層民主 4/4