Category Archives: Awesomeness

US ambassador to Panama steps down

The US ambassador to Panama has resigned from his post, telling the State Department that he can no longer serve under President Trump, according to reports.

He informed the State Department of his intention to step down early Thursday — before Trump reportedly referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole” countries,” a Panamian news outlet reported.

“As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies,” Feeley said in his resignation letter, Reuters reported.

“My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come,” he added.

The State Department confirmed the departure, saying Feeley has decided to “retire for personal reasons, as of 9 March this year.”

Panama’s DiaaDia reported his resignation before The Washington Post broke the news about Trump’s offensive remarks in an Oval Office meeting with senators about immigration.

Feeley was nominated to the diplomatic post by then-President Obama in July 2015.

The Marine Corps veteran flew amphibious assault helicopters in and over Lebanon in the mid-1980s following the 1983 bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut.

°°°°°°°°°°

Too bad the President of Panama did not tell Mr. Trump to “shove our canal up your ass”

Day after China announced they are building a new “container port” miles away the ocean to load and ship containers to the Eastern US.

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Our Best Blogs of 2017

#1 HOW DID ONE GET TO THE PENTAGON IN 1944?
https://penneyvanderbilt.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/how-did-one-get-to-the-pentagon-in-1944/

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#2 THE TOBIN PACKING COMPANY OF ALBANY (MAKERS OF FIRST PRIZE HOT DOGS)

https://penneyvanderbilt.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/the-tobin-packing-company-of-albany-makers-of-first-prize-hot-dogs/

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#3 TROY UNION RAILROAD

https://penneyvanderbilt.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/troy-union-railroad/

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#4 WHO OWNS GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL IN NY CITY?

https://penneyvanderbilt.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/who-owns-grand-central-terminal-in-ny-city/

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#5 THE FABLED RUTLAND MILK

https://penneyvanderbilt.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/the-fabled-rutland-milk/

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Met opera suspends conductor after sex abuse accusations

WTNH

New York’s Metropolitan Opera on Sunday said it was suspending its relationship with longtime conductor James Levine pending an investigation into multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

“Mr. Levine will not be involved in any Met activities, including conducting scheduled performances at the Met this season,” the Met said in a statement.

The Met also said it has appointed attorney Robert J. Cleary, a former U.S. attorney and the current head of the investigations practice at the Proskauer Rose law firm, to lead the investigation into the allegations that took place from the 1960s to 1980s.

The move to suspend Levine came a day after the New York Post first reported that one of Levine’s accusers claimed he had sexual contact with Levine as a teenager. Met officials said they were launching an investigation. Then on Sunday, The New York Times reported similar accounts from two other men accusing Levine of sexual misconduct.

One of Levine’s accusers, Ashok Pai, also spoke to The Associated Press in recent weeks but declined to tell his story on the record at the time. He declined to be interviewed again when contacted this weekend.

According to the Times, Pai said he was sexually abused by Levine starting in the summer of 1986, when he was 16. He reported the allegations to the police department in Lake Forest, Illinois, in October 2016. Details of the police report were first reported on Saturday on the New York Post’s website. Met officials said they learned of the police report last year.

Pai said he reached out to police in Lake Forest because some of his encounters with Levine took place there in the mid-1980s. Levine served as music director at the Ravinia Festival, outside Chicago, from 1973 to 1993.

Chris Brown played principal bass in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for more than 30 years. He told the Times that he and Levine masturbated each other when Brown was 17 at the Meadow Brook School of Music in Michigan, where Levin was on the summer program’s faculty.

James Lestock described a similar account there when he was a 17-year-old cello student.

“Based on these new reports, the Met has made the decision to act now, while we await the results of the investigation,” said Peter Gelb, Met General Manager. “This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected.”

An email to Levine’s manager seeking comment on the accusations was not immediately returned.

Met officials said in an earlier statement that Levine has denied the charges.

On Saturday afternoon, Levine conducted a performance of Verdi’s “Requiem” that was broadcast on radio worldwide. It was expected to be his last appearance at the Met for at least the rest of this year and possibly the foreseeable future. Levine was scheduled to conduct a New Year’s Eve gala performance of “Tosca.”

The opera company honored Levine with the title of Music Director Emeritus after the end the 2015-2016 season.

The Associated Press does not generally name alleged victims of sexual abuse unless they come forward with their allegations. In this case the three alleged victims agreed to have their names published in the Times.

The accusations against Levine, among the most prominent classical music conductors in the world, are the latest in a stream of sexual misconduct charges involving high-profile men in entertainment and the media that have rocked the nation since accusations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein were reported in October.

Levine served as music director of the Met from 1976 to 2016, when he assumed the position of music director emeritus.

Levine has struggled with health problems including Parkinson’s disease in recent years but was scheduled to conduct several productions this season.

We’d only have 15 minutes of notice if a space storm were to hit

NY Post

Devastating space storms could strike Earth at any time – and we would only have 15 minutes of warning.

A direct hit from a space storm would wipe out power across the globe plunging the earth into complete darkness.

Chillingly, experts would only know about the cataclysmic phenomenon 15 minutes before it ploughs into us.

Space storms can come in a number of different forms but the most destructive is a coronal mass ejection (CME.)

These can send billions of tonnes of matter hurtling through space at more than seven million mph in a spectacular explosion.

They are caused by the sun shooting a giant cloud of magnetized plasma off into space and would cripple the earth by affecting technology, satellites and disrupting power supplies.

CMEs are often associated with solar flares – a giant explosion on the surface of the sun that sends energy and particles streaming off into space – but can occur independently.

Fly the Red White & Blue on Veterans Day

On November 11, we will be celebrating Veterans Day. Originally the day proclaimed to celebrate the end of WWI, and to honor those who served in that war, it is now the day, and rightfully so named as Veterans Day, to remember and honor ALL our veterans. To honor and remember all who have served in our Armed Forces, a day to honor and thank all who have served in the military, in wartime, and in peacetime.

While we can and should say “thank you” to a veteran, we should also display our American Flag, which represents our country that they fought for, in their honor While we may have different opinions regarding our military effort worldwide, we must not forget these service men and women that are fighting for, and dying for us, each and every day.

Second, fly our American Flag somewhere on your property. From your house, your porch, flagpole, and any proper place where it might be seen. Fly it properly, but do fly it. Please show proper respect for our flag, wherever it is displayed, and Please show proper respect whenever our National Anthem is played at various functions. There is a proper way to show respect, and it would be nice not only to explain this to the younger people but also to show how to by example.

Lastly, ask your friends to do the same. Talk to them, Email them, and ask them to do the same. Your effort will make you feel good, and it won’t cost you anything.

As an aside, Congress has a week in November as “National Veterans Awareness Week”. This resolution calls for educational efforts for our school children concerning the contributions and sacrifices of our veterans. Our young people must be kept aware of the sacrifices that so many have made, and are still making for us.

Delivery by rocket could change the game for UPS and FedEx

The Loadstar

Morgan Stanley believes SpaceX could change the game for United Parcel Services and FedEx.

Elon Musk says his company’s BFR vehicle could be a reusable mode of Earth transportation, for up to 150 tons of cargo.

The parcel service “industry could see a fundamental reset with the introduction of rockets as a transportation modality,” Morgan Stanley says.

The rationale for this hypothesis from Morgan Stanley analysts is the plan by Elon Musk’s SpaceX to operate Big Falcon Rockets, being designed to transport people from Earth to Mars, but also around Earth – New York to Shanghai in half an hour. And with a payload of 150 tonnes, it could revolutionise the express business. It would certainly make it a lot quicker…

Airplanes and Panamax cargo ships redefined the parcel service in the 20th century, but those days may be fading quickly.

Morgan Stanley believes the SpaceX plan for the Big Falcon Rocket as a reusable mode of Earth transportation could change the game for United Parcel Services and FedEx.

“The freight transportation business — especially parcel delivery — is on the cusp of transformation from multiple new transportation modalities,” a team of Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note Thursday. “Elon Musk recently announced a new option that could potentially have the biggest impact of all — rockets.”

Wal-Mart Stores: Fighting Back

SeekingAlpha.com

Summary

In a world spiraling towards e-commerce which is dominated by Amazon, Wal-Mart is fighting back by reinventing itself as a technology company with physical stores.

Wal-Mart’s secret weapon is its Data Café: a state of the art, analytics hub which is the world’s largest private cloud.

Wal-Mart will enjoy PE expansion if it succeeds at this transformation.
Leverage 55 years of Experience and Assets

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) is the world’s largest retailer with $485 billion revenue in its fiscal year 2017, $14 billion profit after tax, and an operating cash flow of $31 billion. It has over 11, 600 stores in 28 countries. In U.S. alone, it has 4,700 stores which is located within a ten-mile vicinity of 90% of the U.S. population. Effectively, this is a very powerful and cost-effective delivery network as it expands its e-commerce platform.

For the past 55 years, when Sam Walton first founded this discount store in 1962 and disrupted the entire retail industry then, it has grown in financial strength by disciplined growth, capital allocation and delivering an EDLP (Every Day Low Pricing) policy for its customers. Over the past decade, as buying habits are dramatically remolded by online e-commerce, Wal-Mart has lost market share and its revenue growth declined. But it is not dead. On the contrary, it has quietly been amassing assets to fight this inevitable battle for customers’ dollars.
Goal: Transform into a technology company

Big Data and Data Café is at the heart of this transformation. Wal-Mart now can chew and spit 40 petabytes of data, and to give its management and associates “real time” solutions to complex business problems, which in the past, would have taken weeks to compile, compute and analyze. This ability has far reaching benefits: from increased sales, more efficient inventory control, supply chain management, merchandising, efficient delivery options, and climate control and the switching of lights in the stores.

Wal-Mart is using technology both online and offline to maximize the seamless experience for its customers. For example, customers can elect to pick up their online orders at a Wal-Mart location. Instead of having to go inside the store, customers can pick up their order at an automated pickup tower which looms 16 feet tall and holds 300 small to mid-size packages. As the customer walks towards the tower, its doors would automatically open. A screen scans the mobile receipt and the bar code, and disburses the packages. Viola!

The demonetisation of housing

SmartPropertyInvestment.com By Kyron Gosse

It seems kind of counter-intuitive as a property investor to be sitting here talking about how housing might one day be free, particularly when so much of the current conversation around housing consists of unaffordability, intense capital growth and generations condemned to rent, writes Kyron Gosse.

Yet the signals are there for those who know where to look. There is an impending sea change just around the corner that may result in housing becoming demonetised to the point where we can no longer charge our tenants.

Now before you start scoffing and calling me a communist – I am not saying this is going to happen anytime soon, nor am I saying that it is going to happen everywhere. All I am saying is there are some signs pointing towards a decreasing cost in living which might one day influence rents and house prices.

When we look at the biggest costs of housing, there are four things that contribute to the bill: land costs, construction costs, council bureaucracy and living costs.

Yet with the advent of hyperloop and flying cars, we will be redefining what a city means. These technologies will open up large amounts of land to be a commutable distance from cities.

In fact, if we look at Sydney, considering the possibility of hyperloop in the near future, everything from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast would be considered a commutable distance from the CBD.

What’s more, in the years to come we might see a decline in our reliance on traditional farming. Between vertical farms in urban zones and plant-based meat there will be very few farms left. This will result in thousands of hectares of farmland now accessible from major cities becoming almost insignificant of value.

On the construction side of things, we have found ourselves as spectators in the race for a commercially viable house 3D printer. China and Russia are neck and neck in this race, with each party having proved they can print houses for as little as $10,000. Given these are simply the first prototypes, costs are sure to come down in the future.

Energy costs are shrinking thanks to solar. Solar is now the cheapest form of energy available, and with Tesla’s Powerwall we are able to store that energy better than ever before.

Also thanks to water collection and reverse osmosis technology, as well as breakthroughs in sanitation, it is becoming possible for nearly anyone to move off-grid. Or better yet, to sell excess energy back to the grid thereby offsetting their mortgage payments.

So, imagine being able to pick up a section that is a 30-minute commute to Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra or Brisbane CBD’s for next to nothing. Spend $10,000 3D printing your home, utilising technology to be entirely self-sufficient and sell any excess to cover your mortgage.

However this plays out and how strategies might change, I will always remember something taught to me by my mentor Steve McKnight – “as long as people live in houses, there will be an opportunity to make money”.

Gripes About My Week plus a Great Sears Story

It has been a tough week in the land of blogs and website posts. Did not meet my objectives this week.

First of all I think I should not try and work with the TV on in same room.

Golf, especially FedEx ads, tick me off. I see their ads and it looks like Tour de France. Golfers must now throw their fists and kick their legs in the air. Used to be they take hat off and shake hands.

Change to News channel and get what looks like unpaid ads for Amazon and Apple. Cannot understand love for the IPHONE. Go out other day and first two people I pass are talking on IPHONE with cracked glass on the thing.

Change pace and check my email. OUTLOOK (formerly HotMail) gets slower and slower each year. YAHOO MAIL was just as bad. Glimmer of hope few weeks ago when VERIZON bought them. Actually gave me ENGLISH when I log on. But now back to normal shitty service. What do you expect from Verizon….it is just bad old New York Telephone Company still!!! Thanks to GMAIL.

Then must change links in many WebSites because many links no longer work! I live outside US so must be a “bad guy”. Hits me when I link to “Bridgeport” or “Utica”. Thank God for the WIKI.

OH! “Home Delivery”. So important to TV commentators. I do not want it. Even with cell phone, a big PAIN IN THE ASS. Live in little house behind big appartment buildings. Must go to street and guide person through entrance. Rather buy local.

Finally, hate when people refer to me as an EXPAT

TGIF

Now for a cute little story:

Wild-Eyed Sears CEO Convinced These The Flannel Pajama Pants That Will Turn Everything Around

From The Onion

CHICAGO—Rambling to no one in particular as he paced back and forth across his office, wild-eyed Sears CEO Eddie Lampert was reportedly convinced Thursday that he had found the flannel pajama pants that will turn everything around. “Finally! I’ve done it! These woven pajama pants are gonna put Sears Holdings Corporation back on top!” said Lampert, adding that newest line of sleepwear would fly off shelves so fast that “Bezos is gonna shit his pants.” “It’s for men, women, and children! And we’ll offer one with hearts on it! A red-and-green checkered one, too, just in time for the goddamn holidays! Ha-ha-ha! It’s game over, assholes, because soon I’ll have shipped out 10 million of the comfiest goddamn PJs in the entire fucking retail universe! Yes! Yes, yes, yes!” At press time, Lampert had filed for bankruptcy after converting the company’s entire inventory to pajama pants.