More jobs from “Game of Thrones”

❝ A former Caterpillar plant on the south end of Santa Fe will become a fabrication, welding, wood shop, art, design and manufacturing facility that will feed Meow Wolf’s creative exhibits as the arts production business expands nationally.

❝ “It’s an ideal space, we can grow into it,” said Vince Kadlubek, co-founder of the arts collective, which has drawn more than a half-million visitors to the interactive House of Eternal Return exhibit it opened last March in a former bowling alley on Rufina Circle. The privately held company created the multimedia complex in collaboration with fantasy-fiction writer George R.R. Martin, who owns that space and leases it back to Meow Wolf.

❝ The 52,000-square-foot building at 2600 Camino Entrada, where until last year Caterpillar workers assembled engine components, was purchased by Meow Wolf with help from its lenders and investment partners. The business saw a profit of about $1 million in its first year of operating House of Eternal Return.

Kadlubek has said that success proved that an immersive space which layers music, visual art, electronics, and theater can draw multi-generational visitors. The new building is a major step toward launching the Meow Wolf brand outside New Mexico.

Keep on rocking in the Free World – of imagination, creativity.

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Crooked stock market investor pretended to be Islamic “terror” bomber

❝ A 28-year-old German-Russian citizen took out a five-figure loan to bet that Borussia Dortmund shares would drop, then bombed the soccer team’s bus in an attack he tried to disguise as Islamic terrorism in a scheme to net millions…

The suspect, identified only as Sergej W. in line with German privacy laws, was arrested by a police tactical team early Friday near the southwestern city of Tuebingen…

❝ …Prosecutors’ spokeswoman Frauke Koehler told a news conference Friday…the man came to the attention of investigators because he had made “suspicious options purchases” for shares in Borussia Dortmund, the only top-league German club listed on the stock exchange, on the same day as the April 11 attack.

❝ W. had taken out a loan of “several tens of thousands of euros” days before the attack and bought a large number of so-called put options, betting on a drop in Dortmund’s share price, she said.

“A significant share price drop could have been expected if a player had been seriously injured or even killed as a result of the attack,” according to prosecutors…

❝ Investigators found notes at the scene claiming responsibility on behalf of Islamic extremists, which Germany’s top security official, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, said was a “particularly perfidious way to toy with people’s fears…”

“The fact that someone wanted to enrich himself by killing people to influence the stock market is particularly reprehensible,” he said.

Adds new meaning to “making a killing in the stock market”.

Hey – We Found Where All That Retail Spending Disappeared To

❝ Retail is in trouble. Sales declined for the second month in a row in the U.S. in March, and there’s talk that perhaps traditional retail has passed a tipping point, with lots of store closings, layoffs and bankruptcies to come.

❝ One obvious reason for retailers’ difficulties is the rise of Amazon.com Inc. and other establishments that the Census Bureau classifies as “nonstore retailers.”…

There have been even bigger shifts over the decades, though, in what we spend our money on, according to the personal consumption expenditures database maintained by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Increasingly, it’s not tangible stuff that you buy in a store or order online, but services…

❝ Health care is by far the biggest contributor to this move from goods to services — spending on health care services has gone from 3 percent of personal consumption expenditures in 1929 to 17.2 percent last year. Spending on pharmaceuticals made up another 3.8 percent of personal consumption in 2015…

These huge spending gains can be chalked up partly to medical advances, an aging population and rising expectations for health care. But they also can lead a person to wonder to whether there isn’t something terribly inefficient about how the U.S. delivers medical care.

What are we spending less on? The two biggest decliners by far have been groceries and clothing, although the share of spending going to cars and to furniture and home appliances has fallen a lot since the 1950s as well…

❝ Then, once again, there’s all that money going to health care and financial services — $3.1 trillion in 2016. Surely some of that could have been spent on shopping instead.

Validating, once again, US consumers spend more on the whole cost of healthcare for less in return than any other developed industrial nation. The details on insurance company ripoffs are easy. Just compare them to Social Security and Medicare charges. Poisonally, I think most of the rest is simple collusion between major healthcare providers, pharma and those folks in the insurance industry – again. They agree on absurd charges for procedures and prescriptions knowing they get rolled into the insurance bill.

Foreign Energy Giants Flee Canada’s Tar Sands

❝ When ConocoPhillips signed a $13.3 billion deal last month to shed many of its Canadian assets, it became the latest in a growing list of foreign firms to sell tar sands holdings to a Canadian company…

All told, five American and European companies have sold nearly $25 billion worth of Canadian oil and gas projects over the past 12 months, the vast majority of them in the tar sands. This week, Reuters reported that Chevron is exploring a sale of its major oil sands stake.

❝ Tar sands projects are among the most expensive sources of oil, and the extraction produces more greenhouse gas emissions than most conventional drilling. With oil prices remaining low, multinationals are shifting investment to higher-return projects like shale in the United States. When Marathon Oil announced the sale of its tar sands projects for $2.5 billion in March, for example, it also highlighted a $1.1 billion purchase in the Permian Basin of New Mexico and Texas. While economics is the leading factor in the sales, some advocates argue that climate change is playing a role, too…

There is one notable exception to the trend: ExxonMobil. The company has been a leader in exploiting the tar sands for half a century, largely through its Canadian affiliate Imperial Oil. Even before the sales, it pumped more oil from Alberta than any foreign company. And despite Exxon’s recent announcement that it had wiped off its books all 3.5 billion barrels of reserves at one of its tar sands projects — a move forced by financial reporting rules — the company has said it remains committed to the resource. That position is now looking increasingly isolated.

I’m really not certain why anyone is carrying tar sands projects forward. It will always require producers to expend more energy per BTU-capability of product and natural gas just keeps getting cheaper to produce. Even our so-called President with his plans to cut environmental requirements for coal can’t beat the lower cost of natgas and renewables like solar.

I guess Canadian companies figure they can always get bailed out by the Canadian government if and when the projects flop. Conservative government or otherwise.

Rare 1907 photos advertising the Southern Pacific Railroad show West Coast in color


Click to enlarge

❝ Check out these rare photos to follow the “road of a thousand wonders,” along the California coast on the Southern Pacific Railroad.

❝ The…images from 1907 start in Los Angeles, and work their way up to Oregon. There are over a hundred stops along the way, including Ojai, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and many of California’s missions, including San Juan Bautista. The trip also includes Carmel-By-The-Sea, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco, including images of the city’s resurrection from the 1906 earthquake.

❝ The images are from Sunset Magazine, shot for the Passenger Department of the Southern Pacific Company. The pictures of the West were meant to stimulate interest in the Rail Highway along the Pacific, joining California and Oregon, passing the spectacular Shasta, over the Siskiyous, to the Columbia River in Oregon.

Each image, which is in the style of a vintage postcard, is captioned as seen in the publication.

My kind of history. I love period photography. Still have my Italian grandfather’s wooden Eastman camera.

Put this article together with tales from the period, a legitimate contribution to our knowledge of where part of our American civilization comes from.

Insurance companies drive physicians crazy – nearly half now prefer upgrading Obamacare to single-payer

❝ There are many reasons people put off going to the doctor. One of the big reasons is cost — a huge arc in the current debate about whether and how to repeal and replace Obamacare, which sought to increase the number of Americans with quality health insurance. Another is access, or finding a doctor who takes your insurance and has appointment openings. But whatever the reasons, the disconnect means that many people choose to become patients only in extreme circumstances and are then at the mercy of the system.

❝ “It really debases and demeans and takes away your dignity to be shuffled around when you know you have something wrong with you,” said Dr. Paredes, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Lakeland, Fla., who practiced in a variety of healthcare settings before retiring two and a half years ago. “I think healthcare is something that should be available to everyone from cradle to grave.”

That’s one of the main reasons nearly half of the 500 doctors who responded to a February LinkedIn survey said they would support a single-payer healthcare system, or Medicare-like coverage for everyone, not just the elderly, instead of the current patchwork model of insurance coverage.

Aside from the crap lies offered by Congressional Republicans…

❝ …For many physicians, the issue comes down to efficiency. In their responses, they cited the administrative hassle of working with multiple insurance companies, each with its own rules and billing procedures. And they pointed to some of the less visible costs, like patients who bounce from one healthcare provider to another as their health plans change.

A total of 48% of physicians said they would be in favor of single-payer healthcare, while 32% were opposed and 21% said they didn’t know.

❝ And even though doctors acknowledged that they might take a financial hit under a single-payer system, many respondents said it would be more than mitigated by getting out of the collection business. In other words, even if they earned less, there would be more patient care and less of the aggravation that comes with negotiating with and tracking down payment from multiple insurance companies.

RTFA for pretty middle-of-the-road analysis. For me, the truth has always been cost. Social Security and Medicare each are national insurance programs with premiums paid by the insured and, generally.their employers. There’s an artificial cap allowing high earners to stop paying the SSA tax at just over $100K income. Still, both of these systems are run with administrative costs less than 3%. And they work well. Helluva lot better than the motley arrangement Obamacare relies on.

Our adorable insurance companies declare their administrative costs run 14-25% and jack up all their rates accordingly. Couple that with a Congress that refuses civilians the same right the military has to negotiate fixed prices for prescriptive drugs – and we get screwed twice by the existing system. That’s the system Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats want to make more expensive and less safe for the insured.

Humbug!

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz


This week’s leading stupid airline’s mistreatment of a passenger

This machine kills fascists

…A musician was booted off an American Airlines flight after the crew said his cello posed a safety risk.

John Kaboff says he was removed from his flight on Tuesday from Reagan National Airport to Chicago O’Hare International Airport after the crew said his cello touched the floor and couldn’t be strapped into the extra seat he brought for it. He says he asked for a seatbelt extension to better cradle the $100,000 cello, but was denied.

The 46-year-old Kaboff of Vienna, Virginia says ground personnel acknowledged the error and booked him on the next American Airlines flight to Chicago.

Only then –

…American Airlines apologized to Kaboff for “the inconvenience” that he experienced.

Since the advent of the crazy quilt of absurd procedures fear-stricken bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland Insecurity have introduced – I no longer fly. I’m not going anywhere I can’t drive to in my 23-year-old pickup truck. Tales like this one point out the amplification of stupidity that has become an ordinary part of any American’s attempt at air travel.