Wednesday, 7 March 2012

08:18 – Barring a miracle, it looks like Romney will take on Obama in November. Paul never had any real chance, and he knew it. Romney is a horrible choice, but at least he’s not as bad as the contemptible Gingrich. And neither of them are remotely as bad as the Ayatollah Santorum. If I were forced to choose between Obama and Santorum, I’d vote for Obama. What has the American electorate done to deserve only choices like these?


Paul Jones has a new toy. “Bought a Coronado PST in preparation for the transit (and, just ’cause). Here is a shot from this morning.  -Paul”

The Coronado PST is a small telescope that’s specialized for Solar observation. It blocks all of the light except the H-α wavelength, revealing details that are otherwise invisible. The transit Paul refers to is the transit of Venus across the Solar disk. Venus transits occur in pairs separated by eight years. The last was on 8 June 2004. We tried to observe that one, but were clouded out despite chasing it across two states. The next is on 6 June this year. Paul hopes to view that one, because the next one won’t occur until he’s 146 years old.


12:21 – Well, for anyone who’s keeping tabs on the Greek “voluntary” debt swap, with only about 24 hours left until the deadline we’re currently at 40.8% of the eligible debt being held by those who have approved the deal. The absolute minimum required is 66%. Less than that, and Greece won’t go ahead with the deal, which means a catastrophic default on 20 March. If holders of between 66% and 90% agree to the deal, Greece will enforce its so-called Collective Action Clauses to force all holders to accept the deal. Once again, that means catastrophic default. Only if more than 90% of debt holders agree will things proceed without the CACs being triggered. It’s unclear at this point what would happen to the < 10% of debt held by hold-outs. In theory, Greece could avoid formal default by paying off those bonds at face value, but the chances of that happening (or of the 90% level being reached) is so close to zero as not to matter. The real bitch is that even if the 90% level is reached, it's still insufficient to meet the terms required for the bailout to proceed. So, no matter what happens, Greece is going to default, one way or another. The next few weeks are going to be exciting.