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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

#Einhorn Enters $1 Million Buy-In #Poker Tournament for Charity - Businessweek

Einhorn Enters $1 Million Buy-In Poker Tournament for Charity

By Mason Levinson on June 22, 2012
Greenlight Capital Inc. co-founder David Einhorn entered next month’s $1 million buy-in tournament at the World Series of Poker, donating any profits to the charity City Year.
Einhorn, who finished 18th in the World Series of Poker’s main event in 2006, is among at least 42 entrants for the July 1-3 charity event in Las Vegas, known as the Big One for One Drop, Jonathan Gasthalter, a spokesman for Einhorn, said in a telephone interview.
The champion at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino will win at least $16.4 million, topping the $12 million Jamie Gold won by claiming the World Series of Poker’s $10,000 buy-in Texas Hold’em world championship, known as the main event, in 2006. Gold’s win is the largest ever in a poker tournament.
City Year, based in Boston, is partnering with public schools to build more engaging and supportive environments so as to reduce student dropout rates.
One Drop, which is the main beneficiary of the poker event, fights poverty worldwide by supporting access to water.
Other confirmed entrants include poker professionals Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Gus Hansen, 2010 main-event champion Jonathan Duhamel, Patrik Antonius and Tom Dwan.
It’s the first year for the $1 million buy-in charity event at the World Series, which is comprised of 61 different poker tournaments. The annual series concludes with the main event.
Greenlight, the $7.8 billion hedge fund based in New York, can bet on rising and falling prices. Einhorn is known for shorting Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. before it collapsed in September 2008.
The 43-year-old Einhorn offered $200 million for a 33 percent stake in Major League Baseball’s New York Mets last year before withdrawing the bid.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

Einhorn Enters $1 Million Buy-In Poker Tournament for Charity - Businessweek

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Exoplanets by estimated size #Infographic - xkcd

Planets are turning out to be so common that to show all the planets in our galaxy, this chart would have to be nested in itself--with each planet replaced by a copy of the chart--at least three levels deep.



xkcd: Exoplanets

Thursday, June 21, 2012

French Bookstores Are Still Prospering - NYTimes.com

The French Still Flock to Bookstores

PARIS — The French, as usual, insist on being different. As independent bookstores crash and burn in the United States and Britain, the book market in France is doing just fine. France boasts 2,500 bookstores, and for every neighborhood bookstore that closes, another seems to open. From 2003 to 2011 book sales in France increased by 6.5 percent.

E-books account for only 1.8 percent of the general consumer publishing market here, compared with 6.4 percent in the United States. The French have a centuries-old reverence for the printed page.

“There are two things you don’t throw out in France — bread and books,” said Bernard Fixot, owner and publisher of XO, a small publishing house dedicated to churning out best sellers. “In Germany the most important creative social status is given to the musician. In Italy it’s the painter. Who’s the most important creator in France? It’s the writer.”

A more compelling reason is the intervention of the state. In the Anglophone book world the free market reigns; here it is trumped by price fixing.

Since 1981 the “Lang law,” named after its promoter, Jack Lang, the culture minister at the time, has fixed prices for French-language books. Booksellers — even Amazon — may not discount books more than 5 percent below the publisher’s list price, although Amazon fought for and won the right to provide free delivery.

Last year as French publishers watched in horror as e-books ate away at the printed book market in the United States, they successfully lobbied the government to fix prices for e-books too. Now publishers themselves decide the price of e-books; any other discounting is forbidden.

There are also government-financed institutions that offer grants and interest-free loans to would-be bookstore owners.

The contrast between the fate of English- and French-language bookstores is playing out in Paris these days.

Next month, after 30 years in business, the leading English-language Paris bookstore will close. For a generation authors like David Sedaris, Susan Sontag, Raymond Carver and Don DeLillo gave talks and readings at the store, the Village Voice, on one of the chicest streets of St.-Germain-des-Prés.

“When Stephen Spender gave a talk, Mary McCarthy was in the audience,” Hazel Rowley wrote in a 2008 essay on the bookstore. “One evening Edmund White introduced Jonathan Raban, with Bruce Chatwin among the audience.” But the Village Voice could not survive the deep discounting of Amazon and sellers of e-books.

The specter of loss hovered over a party there Saturday night, when hundreds of well-wishers crammed into the store and spilled out onto the narrow street to mourn its passing.

“I want you to know what a privilege it was to have you come and sit with me in my dark and cramped little den at the back of the bookshop, to chat, talk about books, about your own work and about life,” said Odile Hellier, the founder and owner. “I will dearly miss those moments and can only hope that there will be another dark little den where I can sit and share ideas, and all the rest.”

It may have to be in a French-language bookstore like L’Usage du Monde across town in the heart of a gentrifying neighborhood of the 17th Arrondissement, which will celebrate its first anniversary in August.

The owners, Katia and Jean-Philippe Pérou, received grants from the National Center of the Book in the Culture Ministry and the Paris regional government and an interest-free loan from a group with the unwieldy name the Association for the Development of the Bookstore of Creation.

“We couldn’t have opened our bookstore without the subsidies we received,” Ms. Pérou said. “And we couldn’t survive now without fixed prices.”

Beneath the surface there are predictions that France is only delaying the inevitable, and that sooner or later market forces will prevail. Despite the appeal of the neighborhood bookstore 13 percent of French books were bought on the Internet in 2011.

An agreement that Google announced this month with the French Publishers Association and the Société des Gens de Lettres, an authors’ group, should allow publishers to offer digital versions of their works for Google to sell. Until now sales of e-books have lagged in France and much of the rest of Europe in part because of disputes over rights.

“We are in a time of exploration, trial and error, experimentation,” Bruno Racine, president of the French national library, wrote in his 2011 book, “Google and the New World.” “Many scenarios are envisioned. The least probable is certainly that of a victorious resistance of the paper book.”

A 59-page study by the Culture Ministry in March made recommendations to delay the decline of print sales, including limiting rent increases for bookstores, emergency funds for booksellers from the book industry and increased cooperation between the industry and government.

“Running a bookstore is a combat sport,” the report concluded.

One tiny operation determined to preserve the printed book is Circul’livre.

On the third Sunday of every month this organization takes over a corner of the Rue des Martyrs south of Montmartre. A small band of retirees classify used books by subject and display them in open crates.

The books are not for sale. Customers just take as many books as they want as long as they adhere to an informal code of honor neither to sell nor destroy their bounty. They are encouraged to drop off their old books, a system that keeps the stock replenished.

“Books are living things,” said Andrée Le Faou, one of the volunteer organizers, as she hawked a three-volume biography of Henri IV. “They need to be respected, to be loved. We are giving them many lives.”

Read the article online here:
French Bookstores Are Still Prospering - NYTimes.com

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In #Iran, They Want Fun, Fun, #Fun - NYTimes.com

In Iran, They Want Fun, Fun, Fun

ALONG THE CASPIAN SEA, Iran

One of the most pernicious misunderstandings in the West about Iranians is that they are dour religious fanatics.

About half of Iranians are under the age of 25, and Iran has done a solid job of raising their education levels. I was struck on my 1,700-mile road trip across Iran by how many of them share American values, seeking fun rather than fanaticism. They seem less interested in the mosques than in amusement parks (which are ubiquitous in Iran).

“Young people don’t really go to the mosques,” said a 23-year-old man in eastern Iran, cheerfully exaggerating. “We want more ways to have fun.” He said he drinks — alcohol is illegal but everywhere — and, until recently, used drugs. Iranian officials have suggested that perhaps 10 percent of the population uses illegal drugs, traditionally opium and heroin but increasingly methamphetamines as well.

This man had joined the 2009 democracy protests, but then, he said, he was detained and beaten for several days, losing a tooth in the process. That soured him on political activism, and, like many others, he now just wants to go abroad.

In the northwest, that sense of hopelessness has led some young Iranians of ethnic Turkish origin to favor seceding and joining Azerbaijan. In soccer games in Tabriz, fans sometimes outrage the authorities by roaring secessionist slogans.

You wouldn’t think a New Yorker could be made to blush in Tehran, but I was taken aback by the hookup scene of one-night stands: young men with flashy cars troll for women, chat them up and then drive off with them. There is also prostitution, and Tehran’s former police chief was arrested in 2008 in a brothel together with six prostitutes.

Remember that Iran is the homeland not only of stern ayatollahs but also of the romantic hedonism of “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.” In Richard Le Gallienne’s verse translation: “Did God set grapes a-growing, do you think,/And at the same time make it sin to drink?”

In the 1970s, disgruntled young Iranians rebelled against a corrupt secular regime by embracing an ascetic form of Islam. Now they’re rebelling against a corrupt religious regime by embracing personal freedom — in some cases, even sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.

They often also look warmly on the United States, which is quite dizzying. In  Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt, we Americans hand out billions of dollars in aid and are often hated. I come to Iran, and people hand me gifts!

This youth culture of Iran is nurtured by the Internet — two-thirds of Iranian households have computers — and by satellite television, which is banned but widespread. A BBG/Gallup phone survey conducted in March found that one-third of Iranians acknowledged watching satellite television in the previous week, and the real number may be much higher.

“The effect of satellite TV is very big,” said one young woman who said that she was initially aghast when she saw fellow Muslim women in Turkey wearing bikinis but gradually decided that there was more than one way to live.

Police stage raids to confiscate satellite dishes and can fine homeowners as much as $400 for having them, but they’re not very efficient.

“You recognize that it’s the police taking the dishes away, and you just don’t answer the door,” said a shop owner in Gorgan. “So they take the dish and just go away,” without imposing the fine.

Pirated music, videos and video games are widespread. One popular — but banned — game now is Battlefield 3, in which American military forces storm Tehran. In one home I visited, the kids were playing Grand Theft Auto.

These young people are Iran’s future, and they can be our allies. But while we have a strategy in nuclear negotiations, I’m not sure we in the West have a strategy for Iran itself.

Western policy makers see Iran as fanatical, the same way they saw China in the 1960s. There was talk back then of a military option against China, and if we had taken that route, Beijing might still be ruled by Maoists — a larger version of North Korea.

My road trip across Iran leaves me convinced that change will come here, too, if we just have the patience not to disrupt the subterranean forces at work: rising education, an expanding middle class, growing economic frustration, erosion of the government monopoly on information. My hunch is that if there is no war between Iran and the West — which would probably strengthen the regime — hard-liners will go the way of Mao, and Iran will end up looking something like Turkey.

I think of a young man I met who said wistfully: “It’s normal for a boy and a girl to want to hang out together. What’s wrong with that?” The romantics are on our side and far outnumber the fanatics. We should bet on them, not bombs, as agents of change.


In Iran, They Want Fun, Fun, Fun - NYTimes.com

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The modern maestro - the ‘#Dudamel effect’

The modern maestro
--
By Andrew Clark
Financial Times, 10:39pm Friday June 15th, 2012
--
Conductors used to be famously autocratic, inaccessible – and old. Not any more. FT music critic Andrew Clark explores the 'Dudamel effect'

Read the full article at: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/ac8c4148-b47d-11e1-bb2e-00144feabdc0.html



The Real Cost of Sleepaway Camp: Off to Camp We Go - Bloomberg

Sending your kids To camp this summer requires a full budget. And pity those that have more than one...

See the presentation here: The Real Cost of Sleepaway Camp: Off to Camp We Go - Bloomberg

Thursday, June 14, 2012

This Mocking Illustration Of Greece's Top Left-Winger #Tsipras Has Gone Viral In The Last Hour #SYRIZA


ATHENS, GREECE -- A source in Greece's econ/finance community says this illustration of SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is going viral in the last hour or so.
For those unfamiliar with SYRIZA, it is the left wing coalition party that threatens to massively destabilize everything if it comes in first at the Sunday election. The elite Greek community seems fairly terrified of that possibility, although the buzz right now is that it will probably come in second.
Meanwhile, I'll be going to see Tsipras speak at a rally tonight. Will have a full report later.
Alexis Tsipras


Read the article online here: This Mocking Illustration Of Greece's Top Left-Winger Has Gone Viral In The Last Hour

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hong Kong's Future M Museum Gets $163MM #Art Donation from Swiss Collector Uli #Sigg


Reuters
Art collector Uli Sigg poses in front of Wang Keping’s ‘Chain,’ one of the 1,463 Chinese contemporary artworks he donated to M+, Hong Kong’s future museum of visual culture.
Years ahead of its anticipated opening date, Hong Kong’s visual-arts museum M+ received a significant boost on Tuesday when collector Uli Sigg, a former Swiss ambassador to China, donated the majority of his Chinese contemporary art collection to the institution in a gift valued at $163 million.

A Trove of Chinese Art

 
In a gift valued at $163 million, Swiss collector Uli Sigg has donated almost 1,500 Chinese contemporary artworks to M+, Hong Kong's future museum of visual art. View highlights from the new M+ Sigg Collection.


The 1,463 donated artworks will be supplemented by 47 additional pieces, which M+ has agreed to buy for $22.7 million. The collection includes works by Ai Weiwei, Zeng Fanzhi and Zhang Xiaogang, with highlights such as Yue Minjun’s “Liberty Leading the People,” a 1995 nod to Eugène Delacroix, and Wang Keping’s “Chain,” a 1979 wooden sculpture of a man being strangled.

Mr. Sigg said that China’s freedom-of-expression “constraints” moved him to give his collection to a Hong Kong museum rather than one in the mainland. He added that he hoped his contribution would act as a “vote of confidence” in the city’s bid to become a global art hub. Hong Kong is currently the world’s third largest art-auction market after London and New York, while its international art fair, Art HK, has been acquired by Art Basel.

The museum, part of the city’s West Kowloon Cultural District, plans to open its doors in 2017.

Corrections & Amplifications: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled Zeng Fanzhi’s given name.


Read the article online here:  Hong Kong's Future M Museum Gets $163 Million Art Donation from Swiss Collector Uli Sigg - Scene Asia - WSJ

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ponzify: The new breed in swindles....MasterTech

MasterTech

_______________________________________
Check it out on The MasterTech Blog

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Paulson Buys Saudi Prince’s Ranch in $49 Million Deal - Bloomberg

just a place in the country to relax...

The ranch, is Aspen’s largest residential property and includes a 55,000- square-foot (5,000-square-meter) main house

After the prince built the ranch, Pitkin County limited home sizes to 15,000 square feet, according

Paulson Buys Saudi Prince’s Ranch in $49 Million Deal

Billionaire John Paulson bought Hala Ranch, a 90-acre (36-hectare) property in Aspen, Colorado, that belonged to Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and a separate site in the town for $49 million.
The ranch, built by the prince about 20 years ago, is Aspen’s largest residential property and includes a 55,000- square-foot (5,000-square-meter) main house, according to Tim Estin, a broker with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate in Aspen. It was initially marketed for $135 million, making it the most expensive U.S. home listing, the Aspen Times said in 2006.
“Hala Ranch is one of the most beautiful properties in Aspen,” Paulson & Co., the hedge-fund manager’s investment firm, said in a statement. “The purchase price represents a substantial discount to the asking price.”
Paulson also bought Bear Cabin, located on a separate 38- acre parcel that was never previously offered for sale, according to the statement.
The statement didn’t disclose the exact price for the transactions, which were reported yesterday by CNBC. Land records in Pitkin County reflect two sales totaling $49 million to an entity called Starwood Mountain Ranch LLC.

Aspen Sales

The dollar volume of Aspen home sales declined 27 percent this year through May from the same period in 2011, to $277 million, according to Estin, publisher of the Estin Report, a monthly analysis of the Aspen home market. He wasn’t involved in the Paulson transactions.
The dollar volume fell as fewer homes priced above $10 million changed hands, Estin said. The tally doesn’t include Paulson’s purchase, which was completed in June, according to property records. The deals for Hala Ranch and another $30 million home that went into contract last week will bring sales volume in line with a year ago, he said.
After the prince built the ranch, Pitkin County limited home sizes to 15,000 square feet, according to Estin.
Paulson, directly or through his funds, owns real estate across the U.S. including properties in Colorado, Arizona, California, Nevada, Florida and Hawaii, according to the statement.
To contact the reporter on this story: Oshrat Carmiel in New York at ocarmiel1@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net

Paulson Buys Saudi Prince’s Ranch in $49 Million Deal - Bloomberg


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