Major Derailment–Quake Coming?

Time to place detective on a rail wreck.  Why?  We’ve had anecdotal reports from readers in the South (Arkansas) of noises reminiscent of ”Seneca Guns”  [mistpouffers] in the last couple of weeks.  But our antennae are up even more this morning with word of the massive oil train derailment up in North Dakota.  They a 100+ car oil tanker train of crude oil derailed and the town of Casselton has been evacuated.  Reports of the incident show a tremendous fireball and the like.

All of which is interesting, in and of itself, but one has to wonder whether land movement, or something else, is at fault. (So to speak.)

An inspection of our library of our extensive research tools reveals that Casselton is about 18u-miles west of Fargo, ND, and majority of traffic east-west is on the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe line.

Casselton is where several other lines cross.  To the north of town, there’s an abandoned right of way that used to connect up to Amenia and Vance, ND.  And the rail library shows a Red River Valley & Western line running down to Chaffee Line Jct. and another Red River line used to head southwest toward Lucas, ND.

West of Casselton about 3 1/2 miles is a switch point where the main BN/SF continues west and  a branch heads northwest up toward New Rockford, ND.

imageAs we paw through the reports, what we find are references to the derailment being “about a mile” west of town.  That’s where the Red River Valley & Western line heads south.

Our little mapping exercise here was done compiling data from North American Railroad Map for Windows  and Microsoft Streets and Trips 2013  – some valuable tools for the news junkie to have in the hot/standby mode.  The rail map is a must-have for preppers looking for ways to get around in the event of whatever…after the fact, level, yada, yada…

A quick check of rainfall (that might contribute to trackage issues, shows the month to date precip is about half an inch over normal, but normal is pretty dry and it was –18 when I looked this morning, so nothing’s going to be slipping around much

So, based on the location and other factors, my guess is that it’s just a regular accident.  The kind of thing that happens when pipeline opponents delay in-ground and rail takes up the job of moving oil around.  Both have issues, but Monday, Casselton, ND’s number came up.

Automating Airport Security

Remember our discussion is past weeks about how robotic applications will come along to replace humans whenever they can?  Well, an article in the Wall St. Journal is squarely on point this morning with a discussion about how IATA members are working on automated systems to reduce delays and increase security using things like hand printing and iris scans.

Is it only going to be a matter of time until those sex machines sold on porn sites are reworked to do cavity inspections?  The mind reels….

Markets End Well

As the final trading day for stocks of 2013 rolls around, we can expect the market to open very slightly higher.

Still, the year as been a corker: From its 52-week low at 1,426.19, the S&P 500 closed yesterday at 1,841.07 and that’s a 29% gain for the year.  Impressive when you’re comparing that to 0.1% passbook savings rates at the banks, lately.

On the Tech side, the 52-week low was 3,076.6 by the NASDAQ Composite, while yesterday’s close was 4,154.2.  This one pushes out to a gain of a hair over 35%. 

Lesson?  The spread isn’t as impressive (or as runaway wild) as, oh, the Internet bubble times, but there’s still going to be a future tomorrow and betting on that is still slightly more popular than betting on mere continuation of trends and growth/recovery overall.

Twitter had its butt kicked again on Monday, down another 5 percent.  But Facebook was up 3% yesterday, so not everyone is as skeptical of social media stocks as I am.

There’s not too much left in the way of economic news for the week.  Next week things will get to popping again with factory orders Monday, Trade balance Tuesday, Fed Minutes and ADP jobs data Wednesday and consumer debt, too…that’s in the afternoon.  Thursday will have Challenger job cuts and the official unemployment data from the Labor Department will be out a week from this Friday. 

You’ll want to rest up for those, I’m sure.

Gold’s Ass-Kicking

Down another $10-in the futures, around $1187.  After opening the year (2013) at 1,693, or so, we are likely to end under $1,200 today.  Looks to me like a 29% or greater loss and I’ve been telling you for a good while that the “bloom is off gold for now” and gold bug, including me, hate it.

So I was dead right on this one, but not happy about it.

Taken in by Humor?

A reader of ours was wondering if it’s really true, the headline at the NewsBiscuit that reads “Chinese lunar rover finds no evidence of American moon landings…”

Well, no, that story is humor – at least until Jade Rabbit is done.  How do I know?  Well, for one the front page of the NewsBuicuit site offers a story a bout how “Druids working round the clock to restore ley lines” in the wake of the recent bad weather in Britain which, it notes, has left the Brits without “spiritual energy…” 

Although, their report of a camper sighting of a Joe Biden lookalike appearing “sasquatch-like” well that is maybe something we could believe.

Remember:  Open minded, but not so open as to let your brains fall out…

Similarly, I figure my odds of winning the next PowerBall are higher than “Jim Garrow reveals Obama’s secret plan to use aliens and Canadian to plot against America.”

I didn’t even buy a PowerBall ticket and my odds of winning are still higher…

Worthy Watchings

If you want to get some keen insight in the  WWD (Ward war: data) that’s being waged, the keynote at the 30C3 conference by Glenn Greenwald is on YouTube.

Meantime, the ex head of NSA says president Obama should reject recommendations to rein in surveillance.  But come on, what would you expect him to say?  So, look who’s covering the call to reject…and ask yourself “Why are they stumping for continued surveillance?”

Farmer Bill

I’ve been preaching the “learn to grow food or die” in the future mantra for a long time.  This morning I note that Prince William is planning to take a 10-week quickie in ag management.

I’m not sure if this is a coincidence, noise, or a strong hint from the MSM…time will tell.