Carpe Diem

Monday morning links


1. Railroads profit from the oil boom in North Dakota by bringing fracking sand in and taking oil out.

2. North Dakota’s Bakken Oil Patch could be the focus of a new reality TV show.

3. Marketplace interview with George Mitchell, the oil man who cracked the code and figured out hydraulic fracturing.

4. One minute animated explanation of fracking.

Real estate recovery (updated with a few more)

5. The median sales price in November for homes sold in Oahu increased 10.3% vs. last year, while home sales increased 15.5%.

6. Daytona Beach area realtors expect home sales in 2013 to exceed the 10,000 mark for the first time since 2005.

7. From Trulia: In November, asking prices on for-sale homes rose 0.8% month-over-month, for a 3.8% year-over-year increase–the second-largest post-crisis monthly gain (just slightly behind October 2012) and the largest yearly gain to date.

8. November home sales in the Dallas area increased 18%, median sales price by 11%.

9. Detroit-area home sales increased 7.2% in November, while the median sales price increased 25.1% vs. last year.


10. Markets in Everything: Coffee at $50 per cup from beans eaten by Thai elephants and plucked a day later from their dung.

11. Creative destruction: The popularity of smartphones is threatening the compact camera market, forcing traditional camera makers to adapt their products in a bid to stay relevant.

12. NPR reports on the manufacturing reshoring/insourcing boom.

Drug War

13. Coast Guard Officer Killed By Drug Smugglers and becomes the 61st person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations in 2012.

14. The U.K. Waged a “War on Gin” in the 18th Century, Not Unlike Today’s War on Drugs.


15. Google avoided $2 billion in worldwide income taxes in 2011 by shifting almost $10 billion in revenues into a Bermuda shell company.

16. After France’s socialist President Francois Hollande imposes a huge wealth tax, actor Gerard Depardieu buys a house right across the border in Belgium, where there is no wealth tax or capital gains tax.

18 thoughts on “Monday morning links

  1. The fact that cameras on smartphones have gotten so good has dramatically affected the compact camera market.

    That said, I wonder how many people are like me: When I travel, I usually leave my smartphone at home (I buy a cheap, disposable phone. The theory being, if it gets lost/damaged/stolen, I am only out a cheap-o) and I bring a compact camera.

    • dunno.

      i am precisely the opposite and use a phone that can be used worldwide and would never travel without it.

      i also barely ever take pictures.

      i’m not sure i see the logic in leaving you phone at home for fear of loss but then bringing a camera that is likely not too different in price. isn’t that just something else to lose/get stolen etc?

      • The initial cost of the phone and camera are about the same, but I also figure in everything else I have on my phone: older photos, contacts, email addresses, etc. If I were to lose my phone, I would lose most of my social connections (at least initially). At least if my camera were lost, I would just lose that trips photos.

        • jon-

          am i to understand that a youthful whippersnapper such as yourself does not back up his phone?

          you may want to look into that.

          my old phone died (bricked as it could not, for some reason, deal with the new android OS it autoloaded) and i just got a new one, shot the image of my old phone onto it from my backup raid drive, and bingo, good as new.

          • No, it’s backed-up. It’s just a matter of finding where the back-up goes.

            The way I look at it, this is a cheap insurance policy. I spend about $10-$20 on a cheap-o phone, and I don’t need to worry about a) looking like a target on a dark foreign street, b) worrying about someone having temporary access to my phone and confidential work email, c) having to contact Verizon Wireless if my stuff gets stolen, and d) going thru the hassle of getting a new phone and reloading everything.

            Although, this only applies when I travel outside the States. When I am home bound, my phone does come along with me.

          • but doesn’t that mean that you are leaving all your contacts etc behind when you travel?

            how do you keep in contact/get your e-mails etc?

            are you synching a cheapo phone to outlook?

            it seems to me that to avoid the hassle of possibly losing a phone, you are traveling in a state of having effectively already lost it.

            different strokes i guess. it is precisely when i am overseas that i want that sort of mobile connectivity most.

          • it is precisely when i am overseas that i want that sort of mobile connectivity most.

            See, for me it is the opposite. When I am on vacation, I am on vacation. I don’t want to check my emails, or get calls for trivial things, and all that stuff. In the event of an emergency, my parents/neighbor can call the hotel where I am or the disposable phone. Other than that, I am incognito.

            Obviously, if I am traveling for business, it’s a different matter. But for pleasure, this is my routine.

          • ahh, that must be nice.

            i think the last time i was able to get away with that sort of vacation (being unreachable) was 2001 (when i quit my job and traveled for 6 months).

  2. #14, French flee to Belguim border towns.
    French resident personal taxes consist of personal income tax, social levies and payroll taxes(social security).

    The social levies, which provide no personal benefit to the payer, are:

    The General Social Contribution(CSG) is levied at a rate of 7.5% to 8.2% on non-wage income such as rental income or annuities.

    Social Security Debt Repayment Contribution(CRDS) is 0.5%.

    Social Levy and other additional levies of 2.2%. 0.3% and 1.1%

    Additional national taxes are corporate and the VAT(Value Added Tax)

  3. The first line of the article: “The Gin Craze was a period in the first half of the 18th century when the consumption of gin became popular with the working classes in Britain – especially in London. There ensued an epidemic of extreme drunkenness…”

    So, if we legalize drugs, we’ll have a “Drug Craze?”

    • Also, I note that you’ve completely ignored the very thrust of the article: The trade became illegal, consumption dipped but then continued to rise and the law was effectively repealed in 1743 following mass law-breaking and violence (particularly towards informers who were paid £5 to reveal the whereabouts of illegal gin shops). The illegally distilled gin which was produced following the 1736 Act was less reliable and more likely to result in poisoning.

      But don’t let that stop you from thinking that prohibition is a good idea. After all, it’s not like the US is saddled with violent gangs and cartels, along with institutionalized political corruption because of lucrative black market trades, all of which are the primary legacy of 18th amendment.

      • Actually, “you’ve completely ignored the very thrust of the article:”

        When you legalize, and popularize, a drug, you get mass consumption. Then, when you make it illegal, you get “mass law-breaking and violence.”

        But don’t let that stop you from thinking that legalization is a good idea. Just continue to ignore the massive costs and problems.

        • When you legalize, and popularize, a drug, you get mass consumption. Then, when you make it illegal, you get “mass law-breaking and violence.”

          When it’s a ridiculous law that obviously encroaches on liberty, the law does NOT decrease consumption, as is clear from the article. Of course, as it’s illegal to drive over 55 mph on many highways on the road, there is mass law-breaking then as well, the same is true for getting high. All the law abiding pot smokers that still smoke pot are all the sudden classes as “law-breakers”. Your faux outrage is foolish circular reasoning. Using drugs are bad because it’s illegal to use them. Drugs should be illegal because they’re bad.

          And the violence associated with the sale of prohibited drugs is caused by the same things that caused violence for the sale of prohibited alcohol: the systemic violence brought to bear by the state, which brought about enormous profits by those willing to countenance that violence.

          But don’t let that stop you from thinking that prohibition is a good idea. Just continue to ignore the massive costs and problems.

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