Monday, August 31, 2020

End of August Links

  • The probability of kills revealed by figures 4 and 5 have enormous security ramifications. The US military assumes that Russian SS-18 and TOPOL missile silos are hardened to withstand a pressure of 10,000 pounds per square inch or more. Since with the new super-fuze, the probability of kill against these silos is near 0.9, the entire force of 100-kt W76-1/Mk4A Trident II warheads now “qualifies” for use against the hardest of Russian silos. This, in turn, means that essentially all of the higher-yield nuclear weapons (such as the W88/Mk5) that were formerly assigned to these Russian hard targets can now be focused on other, more demanding missions, including attacks against deeply-buried underground command facilities. In effect, the significant increase in the killing power of the W76 warhead allows the United States to use its submarine-based weapons more decisively in a wider range of missions than was the case before the introduction of this fuze. [BAS]
  • My conspiracy theory is that the Obama Administration was a giant outgrowth of a successful conspiracy of around 1989 by Chicago Democratic insiders, such as Valerie Jarrett (Obama consigliere), Rahm Emanuel (Obama’s first chief of staff), William Daley (Obama’s second chief of staff), and Penny Pritzker (Secretary of Commerce), to demolish the black housing projects near Chicago’s Loop and gentrify the neighborhoods. The plan was literally to marginalize blacks by moving them out of the convenient areas near downtown to the far edges of Chicago, much as in Paris blacks were traditionally relegated to inconvenient banlieues. Mayor Richie Daley frequently vacationed in Paris and loudly trumpeted ideas he brought back from Paris, such as the pleasing one of shining spotlights on Chicago River bridges at night. But nobody seems to have noticed the biggest idea he saw in Paris: that the central city should be for the bourgeois, not the underclass. It turned out to be reasonably successful and Richard M. Daley ruled Chicago for 22 years (1989-2011), even longer than his famous father Richard J. Daley. [Sailer]
  • I don't like that it tastes like vanilla cherry cola. Leave it to an American winemaker to find a way to remove the pyrazine character from cabernet and replace it with more familiar childhood flavors of fruit syrups for an ice cream sundae. [Cellar Tracker]
  • A real man would have pulled the engine, tore it down on the kitchen table, replaced the Type-4 crankshaft with a counterbalanced unit, (Stroker crank? Maybe?) weighed and balanced the rods and pistons (That’s why god created Dremel tools and cheap scales) lapped the valves, and replaced the rings. It would help a lot with vibration. A good balanced flywheel would help too. I got a buddy who’s been known to do all of that starting at 8:00pm the night before a race, and have it on the track the following morning when the gates opened. [Jalopnik]
  • Company founder Aaron Richardet began restoring Defenders in 2009 and eventually realized a truism that applies to any sufficiently thorough restoration: If you're replacing nearly every component anyway, you may as well just start from scratch. "We'll do it either way, as a restoration or from the ground up," Richardet said, "but you end up at about the same price." [Car and Driver]
  • Superficially, you might look at the Land Cruiser's dimensions and powertrain and wonder why you wouldn't just save $20K or so and get a Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro. This ain't a Sequoia. The Land Cruiser is a certified Finer Thing, a rig that feels like it was built to be passed down to your grandchildren's au pair. Like the Mercedes E-class wagon (whose buyers have the highest household income of any Benz model), the Land Cruiser is one of those moderately obscure affluent-person cars that says, "I'm rich, but I don't need to show it off, except that I totally am if you know what this is." [Car and Driver]
  • One friendly but sharp-eyed commentator on Berkshire has pointed out that our book value at the end of 1964 would have bought about one-half ounce of gold and, fifteen years later, after we have plowed back all earnings along with much blood, sweat and tears, the book value produced will buy about the same half ounce. A similar comparison could be drawn with Middle Eastern oil. The rub has been that government has been exceptionally able in printing money and creating promises, but is unable to print gold or create oil. [BRK]
  • At a share price of $75 for the HNFSA (non-voting) share class, the market capitalization of the company (with 715,205 common shares outstanding) is now about $54 million, compared with net current assets of $126 million ($176 per share), and a book value of $245 million ($342 per share). Hanover's results improved from FY 2019 to FY 2020. Their revenue went from $395 million to $401 million, but more impressively gross profit grew from $32 million to $41 million. Meanwhile, SG&A shrank by $2 million, with the result that operating profit went from just over breakeven to $12 million. [Oddball Stocks]
  • So now we know why the company has been experimenting with solar and agricultural investments instead of dumping overpriced timberlands and returning that cash. The company has been forced out of its comfort zone with predictable results: as they said at the meeting “wild cards & skunks” like the mobile solar generator Ponzi scheme and the table grapes that had a $2.1 million loss because of unseasonably warm followed by unseasonably cold weather. (The CEO did say that they are going to “take a breather” and are not investing in subsequent phases of the grape and almond projects.) [Oddball Stocks]

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