2009 Vacation Photos!

Running Eagle Falls
Finally, after a lot of work, I have completed choosing, editing and uploading my pictures from my June vacation to Yellowstone and points beyond.
Old Faithful Geyser
I uploaded a total of 633 photos from my trip. The entire collection is here.
Mother Moose shows her baby how to cross the road
But don’t despair if that sounds like too much. Taking the excellent advice given to me by Carl on my last photographic venture, I have chosen 50 representative pictures from my trip. They may not necessarily be the best, but they give the width and breadth of my experience. So why not take a look at those?
St Mary Lake
The Highlights from my trip are available here
So, go, enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Summer Sunset Time

Via Paul Huttner’s mention on Updraft.

The later sunsets and long evening twilight provide valuable extra time for outdoor evening activities this time of year. They also occur a week after the summer solstice due to a quirk in earth’s orbit. Because earth’s orbit is an ellipse instead of a circle, small differences in sunrise and sunset times occur near the solstice. That reuslts in the latest sunsets of the year coming just after the summer solstice. A similar quirk effects sunrise and sunset times near the winter solstice.

So let’s do some comparisons.
Here in the Twin Cities, tonight, the sun will set at 9:04 pm. (Oh, by comparison, on December 13th, the sun will set here at 4:30 pm!)
Other Cities:
New York, my home, has a sunset time tonight of 8:31 pm.
Anaheim, CA, where I used to live, has a sunset time of 8:06 pm.
London, UK has a sunset time of 9:21 pm.
Wherever you live, enjoy your extra sunlight!

First a pitchman, then an angel, and now a Pop Star

Rest in Peace: Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.
Ed McMahon:
Not being a fan of the Tonight Show (none in my family, really, so it never really was something I wanted to watch) (because I preferred to go to sleep for school; other people in my family watched it) paradoxically, I first remember encountering Ed McMahon in his role as a pitchman (especially for a sweepstakes) and for Star Search. I only later realized his main job.
(As an aside, this also happened with Phil Rizzuto, who was a pitchman for “The Money Store” and I had no idea for years that he was a famous Yankee player and announcer–he was “the Money Store” guy to me first)
Farrah Fawcett–One of Charlie’s Angels. What else can I say?
Michael Jackson–I never was a big fan. However, I remember the bizarre-but-entertaining Captain EO, since I got to see it in Disney World on my one trip there.
His scandal plagued life diminished his star and made him a joke, but there is no denying his influence and power at the height of his powers and fame. I think that, today, in our Fractured Media Landscape, Michael Jackson would not have done as well as he did in the 80’s. So, for the sake of his influence on music, he was definitely born at the right time.

Ten Best Picture Nominees next year?

You’ve probably seen this announcement by now:
The 82nd Academy Awards, which will be presented on March 7, 2010, will have 10 feature films vying in the Best Picture category, Academy Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis announced today (June 24) at a press conference in Beverly Hills.

“Having 10 best picture nominees is going allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize,” said Acad prexy Sid Ganis in announcing the shift. “I can’t wait to see what that list of 10 looks like when the nominees are announced in February.”

Clearly they are trying to shake things up, given declining ratings and the atomziation of consumer interest in media overall. We have so many choices, the individual share of anything is smaller than it used to be. I suppose this is an attempt by the Academy to get interest in movies in general and the Oscar telecast in particular to rise.
I agree with the Monkey See blog, though: This probably will make the Oscar telecast longer.
In a good and strong year, this change wouldn’t be a bad thing. There have been years where a deserving 6th and 7th movie might have been added to the list, or at least would be there alongside a weaker nomination. The Dark Knight last year, for example.
In a weak year, though, this change would just lead to even weaker offerings than usual being touted as “Oscar Nominee!”

From the Fed: Better Late Than Never: Addressing Too-Big-To-Fail

From the Fed: Better Late Than Never: Addressing Too-Big-To-Fail by Gary Stern

Destiny did not require society to bear the cost of the current financial crisis. To at least some extent, the outcome reflects decisions, implicit or explicit, to ignore warnings of the large and growing too-big-to-fail problem and a failure to prepare for and address potential spillovers. While I am, as usual, speaking only for myself, there is now I think broad agreement that policymakers vastly underestimated the scale and scope of too-big-to-fail and that addressing it should be among our highest priorities.

From the Fed: Why the Bank Holiday Succeeded

After a month-long run on American banks, Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed a Bank Holiday, beginning March 6, 1933, that shut down the banking system. When the banks reopened on March 13, depositors stood in line to return their hoarded cash. This article attributes the success of the Bank Holiday and the remarkable turnaround in the public’s confidence to the Emergency Banking Act, passed by Congress on March 9, 1933. Roosevelt used the emergency currency provisions of the Act to encourage the Federal Reserve to create de facto 100 percent deposit insurance in the reopened banks. The contemporary press confirms that the public recognized the implicit guarantee and, as a result, believed that the reopened banks would be safe, as the President explained in his first Fireside Chat on March 12, 1933. Americans responded by returning more than half of their hoarded cash to the banks within two weeks and by bidding up stock prices by the largest ever one-day percentage price increase on March 15–the first trading day after the Bank Holiday ended. The study concludes that the Bank Holiday and the Emergency Banking Act of 1933 reestablished the integrity of the U.S. payments system and demonstrated the power of credible regime-shifting policies.