Saturday, September 21, 2013

Near Nuclear disaster over North Carolina in 1961

I never heard this story.  Nuclear bombs were dropped over North Carolina in 1961 when a B-52 bomber came apart in flight and released the bombs - and in the process one of the bombs began arming itself as it fell.  One of the bombs was only 1 fail safe away from detonating.  According to the story the bomb was @260x as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb.

US plane in 1961 'nuclear bomb near-miss'

" three out of the four fail safe mechanisms failed"

Here's the event detail from wikipedia

Apparently the uranium from one of the bombs was buried so deeply after the bomb impacted into the field that it is still there - at estimated 180 ft below the surface of the ground.

 Here's some eye-witness reports from the local papers in Goldsboro, NC

"So despite the fact the the military claims to have recovered many components of that Mark 39, those who live near the site say there is still a bomb in the ground."

Here's apparently a picture of the land where the bomb is buried under

According to comments here ( of the two bombs that fell, the parachute on only 1 opened (apparently the bombs are designed to float down on parachutes) and that bomb was the one that was only 1 fail safe from detonating.  The one has parts still buried in the field apparently fell so fast that it was less of a risk and couldn't arm properly as they were designed to fall slowly by parachute and that process would arm them.  There's good comments at that site.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Voyager 1 leaves solar system

Cool story for the day.  The voyager 1 spacecraft has left the solar system about 43 yrs from it launch - according to changes in measurements on it's internal devices.  It's now at a distance of @ 121 times the distance from the earth to the sun.  It's a really good article.

Monday, September 9, 2013

NSA spying and international cohesion

I try to stay away from political stuff on here, but I've found an interesting theme arising in international news that seems worth thinking about.  It feeds into the observed lack of international cohesion on the Syria question - but it speaks largely to the fracturing of U.S. allies due to revelations of the NSA spying activities.  In Germany news in particular there has been "heavy" coverage of the Snowden leaks.  Here's a story from Spiegel online that shows the ongoing theme:

NSA Affair: Germans Conduct Helicopter Flyover of US Consulate

This isn't the only article - other international news sources like the BBC as well as an Indian news source I read have run quite a few articles about U.S. spying activities.  The summary impression is that there's a very high level of doubt that these activities (even if in concert and collaboration with the the nations themselves) center primarily around security and terror prevention.  The underlying theme of much of it is the U.S. as a bad guy.  We don't see this type sentiment much in the U.S. as those country's leaders still seem to publicly align with us on the surface - these are difficult issues - but the underlying sentiments of the people seem to be eroding.

I can't help but wonder if the lack of international cohesion in Syria is to a large degree a statement about  NSA spying activities that have been revealed.  Dependable allies that used to act as if we were on their side now seem to be sending a signal that they think we don't have their back anymore and/or are not acting in western interests.

Overall - I wonder if we're seeing a wider move toward more hands-off isolationism globally and recognition that some of the issues at hand are not presently solvable no matter what is done.  They're messy and are likely to stay messy for a long time.  Good thing or not?  We'll have to wait and see. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Portfolio holdings 9-2013

It's been a while since I posted positions so just wanted to go ahead and do that.   Below are my top stock holdings from larger to smaller

INTC Intel   (added to this recently)
WDC Western Digital
BRK.B Berkshire Hathaway
CMI Cummins
OUTR Coinstar (now called Outerwall)
CHRW CH Robinson Worldwide   (added to this recently)
NEU Newmarket
QCOM Qualcom   (added to this recently)
CTSH Cognizant Tech  (added to this recently)
CHKP Checkpoint Software
ORCL Oracle
CF  CF Industries 
....there are several more smaller positions but I'll stop here

Just looking through it I guess I'm a bit tech heavy right now.  It's not intentional - I guess the tech just looks attractive to me right now.

What I'm interested in and might be opening positions in soon:
SNI Scripps Networks - based on valuation and diversification reasons.  They have quite a bit of cable TV content like HGTV, Food Channel, Travel channel, among others, and seem to have decent growth prospects.

VMI Valmont Industries.  - another pick based on valuation and diversification.  They make a whole bunch of stuff related capital infrastructure like stoplight poles, light poles, guard rails, irrigation equipment, communication towers,  metal handrails/steps...

Both of these are kindof boring businesses, but seem to be run well with high returns on capital which is something I look for - so boring in this context is a good thing.  I'm also kindof into boring at the moment as I'm trying to put together portfolios that I can hold for extended period of time without monitoring closely.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Encouraging response in congress around Syria question

I've been watching some of the C-SPAN congressional member's responses to the briefing given  today regarding Syria.  It's been a long time since I've seen congressional members speaking as thoughtfully and in what seems to be a deeply considered way.  At least right now this is not a conversation of predetermined talking points - but is an adult conversation that even seeks to help the public understand the issues in a broad way.