The Biggest Day in Motorsports

Jenson Button continued his unlikey conquest of Formula One at Monaco today. Billed as a race with little passing (overtaking for the knowledgable), the thrill comes from watching the drivers push their cars through the narrow, tortourous turns of the city squeezed between the mountains and the sea. As we saw this morning, the merest slip in focus and attention can wreak havoc with both car and driver. What a race!









This was sent by my brother-in-law from the Speedway:














His seats are in the Turn 2 Tower suites, perhaps the best seats in the house. The cars will come tearing down the front straight, reaching 240 miles per hour, and then take a 90 degree turn to the left. There is virtually no banking, so the drivers will depend on the tremendous downforce created by aerodynamics and what grip remains in their tires to keep the car on the correct path through the turn. Then there is the "short shute" and another 90 degree turn. The wayward driver who errs in the entry to Turn 1 will pay the price on the exit of Turn 2. We will be watching from the comfort of our den. Although we will have great views throughout the race via our television, the only life-sized aspect of the race experience will be this:


Here’s hoping Paul Tracy gets the justice he deserves today.


On The Menu Tonight….

To celebrate the completion of the spring semester, wherein we, like Obama, will look forward to a promising future and not backwards to a time of stress and conflict, a return to the Wine Lover’s Cookbook is in order for assistance in preparing a menu for tonight’s supper. From the book:

Wine: Sauvignon Blanc

Dish: Radish Slaw with Remoulade and Pistachios – The tangy bite and bitterness of radishes provide interesting flavor components for wine matching, particularly when amplified by a light spicy remoulade. In this case, the crisp, fruity character of Sauvignon blanc is the perfect counterpoint to the bitterness and creamy texture of the slaw. An Oregon Pinot Gris with a hint of fullness and a crisp acid backbone is a worthwhile option. This dish is a great accompaniment to a summer barbecue, particularly with grilled lamb or pork dishes.

Wine: Zinfandel

Dish: Grilled Flank Steak with Roasted Corn-Pancetta Salsa – Here’s a special summer dish with a sassy kick to get your juices going. While chile heat and red wines are not necessarily always a match, this combination works due to the restraint of the marinade and salsa. A zinfandel that’s a little lower in alcohol (under13.8 percent) helps immeasurably in making the connection work. The juicy cherry-fruit flavors and good acidity of Sangiovese will also support this pairing quite capably.

Both recipes will require some prep time (I’m planning about 1 hr this afternoon) and some preliminary marinading and such, but it will be a very pleasant interlude and a welcome diversion from the seemingly endless grind of study. Sprinkled throughout the afternoon will be other diversions; a short nap, a nice bike ride with the iPod, watering of just re-potted plants, and so forth.

It’s going to be a great evening!

A Fish Out of Water

The picture below captures perfectly the essence of my being. The Osprey, a magnificent raptor, is the symbol for Calculus and Computer Science. The fish, an insignificant link in the food chain, is the symbol for I, the hapless student.

Observe the grasp of the Osprey, with it razor sharp talons embedded in the brain and spine of the poor student fish, whose eyes are wide open and apparently focused on the immediate future, i.e., evisceration and consumption while alive. The Osprey, surely an efficient predator, has grasped the prey in such a way as to ensure its grip, while streamlining the fish to make flight less difficult, and, I assume, to allow the prey to see its impending doom. One can’t help but think that Nature has created these two creatures, Osprey/Math-CompSci and Fish/Student solely to ensure the fulfillment of the natural order of things. Some fish get caught, some get away. It’s really the luck of the draw….

For What It's Worth

There’s something happening here.
What it is ain’t exactly clear.
There’s a man with a gun over there,
Telling me I got to beware.
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.

There’s battle lines being drawn.
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.
Young people speaking their minds,
Getting so much resistance from behind.
It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.

What a field day for the heat.
A thousand people in the street,
Singing songs and carrying signs,
Mostly say, “Hooray for our side.”
It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.

Paranoia strikes deep:
Into your life it will creep.
It starts when you’re always afraid.
You step out of line, the man come and take you away.

The Buffalo Springfield (1967)

From Information Arbitrage:

Another train wreck is the auto companies. Chrysler is currently staring into the abyss, soon to become part of the Fiat family. In the meantime, Chrysler’s bondholders are in a game of chicken with the US Government, which would like to portray them as "obstructionist" and "putting their interests in front of preserving the company." Well, duh. What else did the the Government expect them to do, donate their holdings to the Chrysler pension plan? The kind of coercion and stiff-arming going on here, if not amicably settled, will land the Obama Administration and recalcitrant Chrysler creditors in a pitched court battle, which could have ramifications for not just the auto industry but any sector where the Government seeks to get "enthusiastically" involved. Is restructuring under the Administration’s watch somehow more beneficial to all constituencies than under the experienced eye of the bankruptcy court? While the Administration has been pulling strings from the sidelines and tacitly engineering the bailout of the financial sector, it has steadfastly refused to force troubled institutions to face into their problems, whether through bankruptcy or radical restructurings of their businesses. The inconsistencies between the treatment of the autos and the banks is blinding, likely leading to suboptimal outcomes in both cases. Pussyfooting around with the banks. Wielding the hammer with Chrysler and GM. It just doesn’t make sense. (Emp. mine – Ed.)

Mish Shedlock has more thoughts, and provides some quotes from John Mauldin:

And before I close, let me make a few comments about the Chrysler and GM issues. I tell my kids all the time that actions have consequences. If I hold senior secured debt of a company and the government tells me I have to take less than unsecured junior debtors, I am not going to be happy. I may have been dumb to make the loans in the first place, but I did it under a very specific contract and the rule of law.

If the Obama administration arbitrarily changes those rules to favor a political class (unions), then that is going to have a chilling effect on future lending to all corporations. As an aside, they are spending $12 billion to save 54,000 Chrysler jobs (at $22,000 per job). With 600,000 jobs a month being lost, why are these 54,000 jobs more special than those of the rest of the unemployed, who get a fraction of that amount in unemployment benefits? (Emph. mine – Ed.)

Actions have consequences. The lenders who are forcing the Chrysler deal into bankruptcy court are not all "predatory hedge funds." They are mutual funds, pension funds, and other financial firms with small stakeholders as their investors.

Cerberus, the hedge fund that originally bought Chrysler, deserves to lose their money. They made a bad investment. But those who lent money deserve to be treated in accordance with the contracts they signed.

Demonizing investors and businessmen is hardly helpful. They are precisely the people we need to help get this economy moving. Governments don’t create true job growth, businesspeople do, and mostly small businesses. I am not certain why small business owners, the job creation engine of the country, should see their taxes raised in order to protect bond holders of automobile companies or banks, or for union jobs to be preserved in companies that are clearly not competitive.

What is going on here? Is Obama turning the Constitution into a worthless scrap of paper and ignoring 226 years of case law?