Coping: Marvel’s Franchise/DLT?

Lots of buzz coming out of San Diego where Comic-Con has been going on and with it, word of a new super-hero (Avengers: Age of Ultron) flick to start shooting in February. 


I have a terrible confession to make:  I love those comic book movies:  Super Man, Green Hornet, Spiderman…Yessir, that’s one thing America is really, really good at:  Escapist pap.


All of which got me to thinking back on my youth because I figure things are pretty much the same for young people today as they were back in the day.


When I was a kid (1950’s) comic books were going for a dime…this was in ’55 to ’57, or so.  By the time I finished high school (’67) the price of a comic was up to a quarter.


Just for the hell of it, I decided to see what a 1967 comic book should be going for in 2013 dollars.  Turns out the answer adjusted for inflation is $1.75.


To be sure, the cost of printing has been backed out, and the price of video distribution clicked back in, but Yessir, this explains how my kids were watching comic book-like flicks for a buck each when the video store down the street was having “Dollar Tuesdays” in the 1980’s.


Marvel was acquired in 2009 by Disney for $4.24 billion, but seems to me that when you step back and look at the category broadly that assuming we don’t blow ourselves up in the meantime, Disney’s approach (buying a franchise like Marvel) will continue to play well at the cash register.


So, while there are reports that  Disney’s The Lone Ranger” will lose $200-$300 million, seems to me that over time, the mouse is still alive and one of the few things I could put in a portfolio without dirty hands.


Besides, new upcoming stars like Zac Efron are generating plenty of ink.


Now, if they would just get on with building a theme part on all that land they have acquired here in Texas…


There’s been a lot of speculation around the web over the past few years that a 10,000 acre Disney property in Texas would make sense…and a poll over at WDWMagic suggests that the leading site would be near Austin.  There’s good transportation there, nice airport, land is not as pricey as up in Dallas, and the weather less “iffy” than down on the Gulf around Houston.


I’m going out on a limb here, but Disney announcing a new park would make sense over the next year, or so for a number of strategic reasons:

  • The interest rates for big projects may never get much lower than it is now. 

  • The price of land has been stagnant in many parts of Texas (down at 2003 prices nationally) so that’s one major cost to consider.

  • Politically, it would be a slam dunk since fair-haired Rick is already running for the White House, you can bet his administration would been over backwards to help Disney – plus it would be a capper for him politically in his “What I have done for Texas” PowerPoint’s.

  • The Texas economy is already leading much of the rest of the country so investment risk would be lower.

  • And…in terms of local/regional visitors, the combined population of Dallas and Houston, both within driving distance from Austin, is somewhere over 6.5 million in the Dallas Metroplex and another 6.2 million in Houston….there’s almost 13-million.

  • Now toss in Austin/Round Rock (1.8 million) and San Antonio (2.2 mil) and you come up with…

  • 16.2 million potential visitors, which means the population density is almost as good as for the original Disney Land.

Mind you, I’m not saying they will make any announcement, but intuitively it seems to me that if anyone really wanted to prove the recession was over and that good times were just ahead, an announcement by Disney of a new US park anywhere would be about as good an indicator as you could find.


Sometimes, a short-term hiccup in planned cash flows can be overcome with a bold new vision.  I don’t think anyone would question that and I think it Walt were still alive, he’d be putting down bets about here.


Thanks to the liberalized use of “eminent domain” putting the land together shouldn’t be that difficult….but whether Disney is run by visionaries or accountants is what’s on the table.  If interest rates begin to climb (and go up more than half a percent, or so without Disney announcing a vision) I guess we’ll have a hint which faction won.

Less than amusement:  7 people were injured this weekend at the Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio when the log flume ride malfunctioned.


And a woman was killed after falling out of the roller-coaster at Six Flags Texas Friday night.


Power of the Purse?

Don’t have second-source on this, but here’s some interesting blowback reported by Reader Rick from up in the Dallas area:


“Waiters are getting Trayvoned. At restaurants some black people come in, eat, leave no tip with note “No justice, no tip.” Happened to my son THURSDAY night at a 5 star restaurant in Dallas. “


Of course there are also lots of white people who also don’t tip based on race but it strikes me as one of those “anyone who stiffs the help is wrong” kinda things.  Bad manners on either side.


Coming for Your DNA

Reader Michael, who worries about such things, says buried in the latest Obama HIV initiative is a plan to get DNA samples of everyone in the country.  Or, at least those under 65.


Which is interesting, since people over 65 might actual remember the Constitution and the promise years ago that your “Social Security Number wouldn’t never be used as a form of National Identification.”  Yeah, uh-huh, you bet.


Lab Notes

One other lab leftover:  Did you see the UK Mail’s report on the biggest virus ever found on earth has been spotted?  And yes….it may have come from (you’re gonna love this…) Mars!


OK, that might explain men…we’ll be looking for the Venusian equivalent next…


Sure seems like it would fit with the Velikovsky spin-off notion of Venus arriving, ripping up Mars and planting Earth, though…


Write when you get rich…

George Ure (george at ure dot net)


Here are some useful ways to spend your money…


Now on the website ($40/year premium content)

A Course in Surveillance Algorithms

An algorithm is simply a set of instructions for a computer system to follow in a particular order.  In the case of Big Data, the steps are capture, organize, integrate, analyze, and act.  Using this approach, we can build a fine example of the many trip-wires an innocent civilian could stumble over in the modern surveillance society.  Plus we have our monthly check of west coast port data with is oftentimes a decent truth detector about the economy and an update on many headlines and our trading model.  You may need a third cup for this morning’s report…



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