Archive for May, 2010

Baby Falcon Update

Posted in Uncategorized on May 24, 2010 by a4synapse

All three of the fledglings are motoring around the nestbox.  They look like large balls of white fluff.  Then they sit on the porch in the sun (on their butts) with their yellow claw legs and their fat bellies out in front of them.  Their heads swivel as the world goes by; you can measure it by their big noses.

Their new feathers are peeking through the fluff.  The feathers must itch.  They pick at them.

From Those Great Folks Who Brought you the Meltdown

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19, 2010 by a4synapse

Check out this article from Bloomberg here.  It’s long and has a lot of padding, but worth it.  It involves rigging bids in the municipal bond market.  It’s been going on for a while and it’s pretty blatant.  And it’s a direct cost to the taxpayer.

“The whole investment process was rigged across the board,” said Charlie Anderson, who retired in 2007 as head of field operations for the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt bond division. “It was so commonplace that people talked about it on the phones of their employers and ignored the fact that they were being recorded.”

The U.S. Treasury Department encourages public bidding for GIC contracts to ensure that localities are paid proper market rates. Banks that conspired in the bid rigging for GICs paid kickbacks to CDR ranging from $4,500 to $475,000 per deal in at least 10 different transactions, government court-filed documents say.

A GIC is similar to a certificate of deposit, but its rates aren’t advertised publicly. Instead, towns rely on advisory firms such as CDR to solicit competing offers.

In the bid-rigging deals, CDR gave false information to municipalities and fed information to bankers allowing them to win with lower interest rates than they were otherwise willing to pay, the indictment says. Banks took their illegal gains from the additional returns and paid CDR kickbacks, according to the indictment.

Municipalities and states raise $400 billion a year by selling bonds. They invest much of those proceeds in GICs, sold by banks or insurance companies. Those accounts hold taxpayer money and earn interest before public agencies spend it.

Banks and advising firms illegally siphoned money from taxpayers by paying artificially low interest rates in the GICs, the CDR indictment says. The money was intended to build schools, hospitals, roads and sewers and refinance higher-cost debt.

The bid-rigging schemes were orchestrated by CDR and other advisory firms, according to the indictment and the civil suits. Advisers are unregulated private firms hired by local governments to consult on public finance deals — and are almost always paid by the banks that arrange the transactions or manage the GICs.

So, more stomach-turning news on the financial sector.

I’d like to know how long this went on before the government went for indictments.  It’s difficult not to feel that everyone is a crook.  It would be nice if the financial press was investigating more thoroughly.  As the article mentions, few people understand the financial mechanisms that run the markets.  Ignorance is expensive.

The Hummers Has Arrived

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19, 2010 by a4synapse

Two males made a joint appearance today.  Very late.  They look a little tuckered out.

Post Preakness

Posted in Uncategorized on May 17, 2010 by a4synapse

Glad to see Lookin’ at Lucky win.  Sorry to see Super Saver run out of gas in the stretch.  Completely missed First Dude; Dale Romans did a fantastic job with him.  And Jackson Bend, one of my faves, did very well to get up for third.

At this point, only First Dude will go to the Belmont.  Ice Box will be there and Stately Victor.  There’s a list somewhere of other horses that plan to make the trip.

Three weeks.

Drugs, Mexico, & Guns

Posted in Uncategorized on May 17, 2010 by a4synapse

This is scattershot.  End the drug war.  Legalize drugs.  If you want to kill yourself or remove yourself from general reality,  go ahead, but leave the rest of us out of it.  Part of the reason that Mexicans cross the southern border of the United States is to gain a better life for themselves.  This is a universal aspiration.  It’s reasonable to ask then, what is so rotten about life in Mexico?  No jobs or safe places to live?  No education?  No meaningful path to a better life?  These are reasons to risk death, ruination, and maltreatment.

Secretary of State Clinton publicly apologized for the downstream effect of the drug war on Mexico’s culture and economy.  The border states of Mexico are ruled by a shadow government of drug lords.  Transparent government is long gone.  The levels of cruelty and violence have escalated beyond imagining.  This leads to instability and instability leads to economic regression.  Any reasonable person must conclude that the only sensible response is flight.

It is time and past to legalize so-called ‘illegal drugs’, and eliminate the flood of money that accrues to the hyper-violent and that is costing the U. S. Government stupid amounts of money in a demonstrably futile effort to keep Americans from consuming banned substances because they don’t like reality very much.

We could spend the money on teachers.  People would not feel the need to defend themselves against a stream of humanity.

Sunday Morning Peregrinations

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 16, 2010 by a4synapse

Dad’s hanging out with them this morning after feeding them.  I’m concerned about the smallest one.  He’s(?) noticeably smaller and less active than the other two, who are now staggering around the nest box and starting to preen themselves.  They’re learning how to be falcons.  The sun is shining on the box horizontally.

Preakness Day

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2010 by a4synapse

Yikes!  Sighted a rose-breasted grosbeak at the feeder.  Haven’t seen one in a long time.  I am concerned: no sightings of hummingbirds yet.  They’re usually around by mid-May.

Baby falcons are starting to motor around the nest box.  Dad is spending much less time sitting on them and their necks are much stronger.

Have a thing about Latigo Shore (Zito) in the sixth race at Pimlico.  And Nicanor is running in the 11th race (Dixie Stakes) on the grass.  Can’t wait.

Have money on SuperSaver, Dublin, Jackson Bend, Lookin’ at Lucky and Paddy O’Prado.  Trifecta’d some, win bets on others.  Threw out most of the newcomers because of how well I think they’re coming into the race, the new distance, and the fact that none of them has carried 126 pounds.  Most have not carried anything close to that.

Updates on Baby Falcons

Posted in Uncategorized on May 13, 2010 by a4synapse

Dad just fed them and they’re cuddling underneath him.  Sometimes he drifts off, but mostly he’s looking around.  He’s probably keeping an eye on Mom who’s doing the hunting.  The nestlings snug up to each other face forward to keep warm.  They’re nine days old now and have roughly doubled in size to the point where he can’t keep them completely covered.  He does this waggle dance to get as much of them underneath him as possible.  Their eyes are watching now, learning how to be falcons.  They have really big feet.  Under the white fluff, you can see seams of dark where feathers are developing.  One of them keeps turning his head to pick at his butt.  It probably itches.  They hold their heads much better now and can get around on their feet.  They keep shifting the pile and now when they do that, he gets moved around.  He has this zen thing going on: sitting on the kids, keeping them warm, and staring out on the weather.  They do another interesting thing: after he feeds, they do this projectile shitting.  The box is beginning to be covered with white poop streaks.  Why do birds poop white?

Preakness Field

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 11, 2010 by a4synapse

Doing the windup for Saturday.  Probable field here.  Thanks Joe Drape and THE RAIL, which is the New York Times coverage of Triple Crown season.  There is a lot of coverage all over the web, but thoroughbred racing and standardbred racing, dogracing, muleracing, arabianracing are all redheaded step-children as far as the sports world and the NYT are concerned.  Personally, I would be just as happy if dog-racing went extinct.  I love greyhounds: they are amazing dogs.  The culture and other questionable (!) things that have grown up around the basic betting operation is just sleazy, smarmy, low-rent, etc.  There are lots of things about horse racing that are sleazy, smarmy, etc.  But, to me, it is just incredibly beautiful.

As for Saturday’s race, the unknowns are overwhelming right now.  There are some throwouts as far as I’m concerned.  They are:  Yuwanna Twist (second in the Illinois Derby to American Lion), First Dude, Mission Impazible (Louisiana Derby win and rough trip in the Derby notwithstanding, I think he’s in the wrong spot and in declining form), Schoolyard Dreams (think he was in peak form for the Florida spring races, not now), Aikenite (not in peak form either).

I’m on the fence about Northern Giant, Caracortado, Pleasant Prince, and Hurricane Ike.  Northern Giant looked fairly good in the Arkansas Derby, but that’s going back two months now and I haven’t seen a work.  Caracortado is in excellent hands, but coming across country and from synthetic to dirt and haven’t seen a work.  Hmmm.  Pleasant Prince is just a big cipher.  He ran well in Florida, but I haven’t seen a work.  Hurricane Ike impressed in the Derby Trial and Borel says he’ll run on, but he had Borel at Churchill in the Trial and will not have either of those factors in his favor at Pimlico.  Does anybody know a site that posts videos of recent works?  It might help with the confusion.

I’m fairly enthusiastic about Dublin (new jockey, reliable hands and still love Afleet Alex).  Lookin’ at Lucky has a new jock and reliable hands; I just hope he’s not too discouraged by three rotten outings.  I think Paddy O’Prado is wicked fast and if the track comes up fast (as forecast), and if Kent Desormeaux can keep him out of trouble, I’m thinking there’s a big race in there.  I love Jackson Bend.  Don’t know why.  It’s on the order of my love for Grasshopper and The Pamplemousse and Teufelsberg.  Last: Super Saver.  I think that the positives remain and have seen nothing to think he won’t run another monster race if the racing gods are ok with it.  A fast track will mean the opposition will have less to deal with, but a smart ride and a good trip should help him prevail.

Does anybody know why some horses love a sloppy track?  Is it their feet?  Is it some obscure physiological advantage?  Do they simply prefer more humid conditions (sort of like asthmatics)?  I’d love to have more information on this.

Daddy Dearest

Posted in Uncategorized on May 10, 2010 by a4synapse

Have been watching a pair of peregrine falcons with 3 nestlings.  It’s fascinating.  The female is larger and seems to do most of the hunting, while the male sits on the three of them and keeps an eye on things.  She provides fresh meat, and then he rips it to tiny bits and puts it gently in their gaping maws.  No sound, so I can’t tell if they’re yapping at him.  He stops when they’re so full they can’t open their mouths any more, then he eats all the rest and if there’s something inedible, he removes it.

See it here!