Tag: Things that are Toxic

Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains?

Crazy, awesome, completely plausible:

Jaroslav Flegr is no kook. And yet, for years, he suspected his mind had been taken over by parasites that had invaded his brain. So the prolific biologist took his science-fiction hunch into the lab. What he’s now discovering will startle you. Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia? A biologist’s science- fiction hunch is gaining credence and shaping the emerging science of mind- controlling parasites.

In other words, Reading Period continues

Toxie, We Hardly Knew Ye

Some of you may remember that last year we brought you a link to Toxie Cam , where folks at NPR purchased a so-called “toxic asset” to help them understand the mortgage crisis and the financial crisis more generally. To wit,

We bought Toxie for $1,000 earlier this year. Every month, we get a check. It’s a small piece of the payments people are making on their mortgages. And every month, more houses get foreclosed on and sold off by the bank. When enough houses get sold off by the bank, Toxie will be dead.

Hilarity ensued, of course, when they dedicated a live streaming web feed to a stack of paper, a la the live feed of the BP platform gusher. They went on:

She’s not dead yet — but things are looking grim. Last month, we got $72.41; so far, we’ve received a total of $449. This month, our payment was zero dollars and zero cents. We could still get another payment next month — maybe.

Well, it looks as she’s pretty much dead now, and as the value of the “Toxie” is converging to the paper it’s printed on.  So, in a final hurrah, NPR gives us some back story from before Toxie was toxic. This in includes a rather spectacular aerial photo of a neighborhood that was planned but never developed.

The Toxie Cam was part of an NPR series that seems pretty engaging.   Certainly not the worst thing you’ll read about the financial crisis.

Eyes on the Demise

James Hamilton at Econbrowser has a post, similar to one here, about difficulties regulating amidst rapid innovation. The cases of note were the disastrous Gulf spill on the one hand, and the disastrous financial meltdown on the other.

With the help of modern technology, we can now keep an eye on both.

As I’m sure you’ve seen, BP has a live feed up to its gusher, providing a continuous video feed from a mile under the sea.

Where did they get that idea, I wonder?

Perhaps from NPR Planet Money’s round-the-clock coverage of their own “toxic asset” via Toxie Cam.  Here’s just a taste of some screenshots from their thrilling live feed:

And here’s the back story:

We bought Toxie for $1,000 earlier this year. Every month, we get a check. It’s a small piece of the payments people are making on their mortgages. And every month, more houses get foreclosed on and sold off by the bank. When enough houses get sold off by the bank, Toxie will be dead.

She’s not dead yet — but things are looking grim.

Last month, we got $72.41; so far, we’ve received a total of $449.

This month, our payment was zero dollars and zero cents. We could still get another payment next month — maybe.

So, it looks like the toxic asset really was toxic, with a payout of less than 50 cents on the dollar. On the other hand, that seems to be about what my 401K has been doing.

At any rate, video technology is clearly making the world a better place.