Buy-and-Forget you wasted your money portfolio

This time of year, newspapers and magazines are filled with predictions and stock recommendations and trading ideas. I have repeatedly explained why these are terrible ideas and you should ignore them.

Sometimes, you just have to let the performance speak for itself. And for that, I present Fortune: 10 Stocks To Last The Decade – from the year 2000:

August 14, 2000

1. Nokia (NOK: $54)
2. Nortel Networks (NT: $77)
3. Enron (ENE: $73)
4. Oracle (ORCL: $74)
5. Broadcom (BRCM: $237)
6. Viacom (VIA: $69)
7. Univision (UVN: $113)
8. Charles Schwab (SCH: $36)
9. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (MWD: $89)
10. Genentech (DNA: $150)

Closing prices December 19, 2012:

1. Nokia (NOK: $4.22)
2. Nortel Networks ($0)
3. Enron ($0)
4. Oracle (ORCL: $34.22)
5. Broadcom (BRCM: $33.28)
6. Viacom (VIA: $54.17)
7. Univision ($? )
8. Charles Schwab (SCH: $14.61)
9. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (MWD: $14.20)
10. Genentech (Takeover at $95 share)

The portfolio managed to lose 74.31%, with 3 bankruptcies, one bailout, and not a single winner in the bunch. Even the Roche Holdings takeover of Genentech was for 37% below the suggested purchase price. The lesson is that valuation matters.

There are some piddling adjustments Barry Ritholtz was going to add when he got back to the office. He dashes these things off while traveling between his real job and appearances on TV to grump about the government, the Fed, Congress and other useless organizations.

Pocket device can measure fifty things in a drop of blood

A new device about the size of a business card could allow health care providers to test for insulin and other blood proteins, cholesterol, and even signs of viral or bacterial infection all at the same time — with one drop of blood. Preliminary tests of the V-chip, created by scientists at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center, were just published by Nature Communications.

The V-Chip could make it possible to bring tests to the bedside, remote areas, and other types of point-of-care needs,” said Nanomedicine faculty member Lidong Qin, Ph.D., the project’s principal investigator. “V-Chip is accurate, cheap, and portable. It requires only a drop of a sample, not a vial of blood, and can do 50 different tests in one go.”

Similar assays are typically done using heavy, large, complex equipment such as mass spectrometers, or require fluoroscopy analysis, which must also be done in a lab.

The V-chip, short for “volumetric bar-chart chip,” on the other hand, can be carried around in a pocket. It is composed of two thin pieces of glass, about 3 in. by 2 in. In between are wells for four things: (1) hydrogen peroxide, (2) up to 50 different antibodies to specific proteins, DNA or RNA fragments, or lipids of interest, and the enzyme catalase, (3) serum or other sample, and (4) a dye — any dye will do. Initially, the wells are kept separate from each other. A shift in the glass plates brings the wells into contact, creating a contiguous, zig-zagged space from one end of the V-chip to the other.

As the substance of interest — say, insulin — binds to antibodies bound to the glass slide, catalase is made active and splits nearby hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen gas. This approach is called ELISA, or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The oxygen pushes the dye up the column. The more present insulin is, the more oxygen is created, and the farther dye is pushed up the slide. Tests show that distance is more or less proportional to the amount of substrate present, in this example, insulin. The end result is a visual bar chart. Easy to read and accurate, Qin says, though development continues.

Stunning. First uses coming to mind for me are essential-level medical practitioners. The engineering is an delightful as the science and information provided. Sensible, easy-to-understand graphical results are provided – allowing the practitioner to show and explain results to the client.

Great for any demographic – but, especially for rural, out-of-the-way clients.

Your political party lies in your choice of weapons: words or guns


Click for dream vs reality

An American child grows up in a married household in the suburbs. What are the chances that his family keeps a gun in their home?

The probability is considerably higher than residents of New York and other big cities might expect: about 40 percent of married households reported having a gun in their home, according to the exit poll conducted during the 2008 presidential election.

But the odds vary significantly based on the political identity of the child’s parents. If they identify as Democratic voters, the chances are only about one in four, or 25 percent, that they have a gun in their home. But the chances are more than twice that, almost 60 percent, if they are Republicans.

Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South or a number of other demographic characteristics…

In 1973, about 55 percent of Republicans reported having a gun in their household against 45 percent of Democrats, according to the General Social Survey, a biennial poll of American adults…Gun ownership has declined over the past 40 years — but almost all of the decrease has come from Democrats…Unfortunately, the question on gun ownership was dropped from the 2012 national exit poll…

White voters were substantially more likely to own guns than Hispanics or blacks. But white Republicans were more likely to own guns than white Democrats…And based on demographic inertia, the differences seem likely to grow over time…

It might seem strange that ownership of a single household object is so strongly tied to voting behavior and broader political attitudes in America. But America is an outlier relative to other industrialized nations in its gun ownership rates. Whatever makes this country so different from the rest of the world must surely be reflected in the differences in how Democrats and Republicans see the nation.

Did you grow up with cowboy movies as the most important entertainment in your life? Or did you read Mark Twain? Did you grow up with parents who believed heroes were more important than teachers? Was a weekly visit to the library as important as the Saturday afternoon serial at the neighborhood movie theatre?

As television took over more entertainment from movies – and became every family’s babysitter – did first-person-shooters establish ethical standards overruling Mr. Rogers or the Science Guy? One of the smallish factoids in Nate Silver’s post is that gun ownership rates are inversely correlated with educational attainment.

I don’t pretend to know the whole answer. I grew up with both sides of this dialectic. I do know that I came to a turning point before I was twenty years old and walked away from the gang that owned half of my few friends. I returned to time spent with books and music, reflective thought, conscience – and independence from a society I considered corrupt and intellectually lazy.

A decision worth making.

When climate warms, the ice melts – and volcanos get bigger!

It has long been known that volcanic activity can cause short-term variations in climate. Now, researchers at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, together with colleagues from Harvard University, have found evidence that the reverse process also occurs: Climate affects volcanic activity…

The basic evidence for the discovery came from the work of the Collaborative Research Centre…For more than ten years the project has been extensively exploring volcanoes of Central America. “Among others pieces of evidence, we have observations of ash layers in the seabed and have reconstructed the history of volcanic eruptions for the past 460,000 years,” says GEOMAR volcanologist Dr Steffen Kutterolf, who has been with SFB 574 since its founding.

Particular patterns started to appear. “There were periods when we found significantly more large eruptions than in others” says Kutterolf, the lead author of the Geology article.After comparing these patterns with the climate history, there was an amazing match. The periods of high volcanic activity followed fast, global temperature increases and associated rapid ice melting.

To expand the scope of the discoveries, Dr Kutterolf and his colleagues studied other cores from the entire Pacific region. These cores had been collected as part of the International Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) and its predecessor programmes. They record more than a million years of Earth’s history. “In fact, we found the same pattern from these cores as in Central America” says geophysicist Dr Marion Jegen from GEOMAR, who also participated in the recent study.

Together with colleagues at Harvard University, the geologists and geophysicists searched for a possible explanation. They found it with the help of geological computer models. “In times of global warming, the glaciers are melting on the continents relatively quickly. At the same time the sea level rises. The weight on the continents decreases, while the weight on the oceanic tectonic plates increases. Thus, the stress changes within in the Earth to open more routes for ascending magma” says Dr Jegen.

Cripes. One more thing we get to consider preparing for – as part of climate change.

Perhaps – in addition to requiring climate change-deniers and their Republican flunkies to live on the seashore – we could add an alternative requirement for them to build their McMansions atop “extinct” volcanoes. 🙂

So, uh, no one noticed a skydiver dead in a meadow for days!


Look what we found!

Dutch police say they do not believe any crime was committed in the case of a skydiver who died and lay undetected in a field for more than a week.

Mark van den Boogaard was not reported missing and his body was discovered by chance. His parachute failed to open on his dive on 8 December.

No technical problems were found with the parachute and the investigation was over, a police statement said.

The jump was organised with the largest skydiving club in the Netherlands.

But the club said it had not launched a search as skydivers do not usually report back after their jump.

Say what?

Police information officer Anton De Ronde said a local team had visited Mr Boogaard’s family to inform them, but that he was not close to any of his relatives – which is, the police believe, why no-one reported him missing.

Simon Woerlee, manager of the Nationaal Paracentrum skydiving club, in the village of Teuge near Deventer in Gelderland province, described his members as “shocked”.

He described Mr Boogaard as “a friendly and happy man, but a loner, someone who did not really talk to anyone and was always on his own”.

He was self-employed, so no-one from work called to see why he was absent

A means of checking in with skydivers after their jump is “well worth investigating” Meiltje de Groot, director of Teuge airfield, told the local De Stentor newspaper.

“It’s very sad that someone could lie dead somewhere for so long without anyone missing him”, Mrs de Groot said.

Sad – is only starting to describe all the thing wrong with this scenario. I’ve long been a hermit-type, a loner. But, it’s no big deal to have some simple way to check in after a shared event,