What’s It Gonna Be, 2013?  (jdargis)
Now that at least one million households are looking to move somewhere better, investors are looking to buy houses on the cheap — not to flip, but to rent. (The Blackstone Group, the private-equity colossus, has spent more than $1 billion this year buying up thousands of single-family homes around the country.) New residential construction starts also came back strong last year, and much of the growth was from multiunit apartment buildings designed, yes, for renting.
Global Gold Outlook For 2013  (Taki T.)
In this scenario central banks worldwide abandon their current monetary policy and return to a more prudent approach. This is coupled with higher real economic growth in the world.
Probability (estimate): 10%. Due to the very high debt levels in western economies we hardly think that central banks can return to their normal monetary policy. The lack of any real growth impulses leads us to believe that this scenario is not a very realistic one for the foreseeable future.
Banking Icon Taken Down By Tax Evasion: Seven And A Half Things To Know  (westcoastjan)
Competitors like Microsoft argue that Google -- which receives 70 percent of all search queries -- is pushing its own results to the top at their expense, a claim that the FTC found not to be true. But as The Huffington Post’s Gerry Smith notes, consumers don’t seem to care. Though the FTC admitted that Google highlights its own services in its results, the agency argued that the internet giant was doing so to provide a better experience for users, not to purposefully put competitors at a disadvantage.
A report released by the Toronto-based Citizen Lab three years ago found that Chinese cyber espionage is a major global concern. Chinese authorities have made it clear that they consider cyberspace an important strategic domain which helps offset the military imbalance between China and other countries.
The biggest trend is obviously the domestic boom in shale gas and oil, and hence the biggest question is what will happen to it. Frankly, I don't see anything happening to change the current trend. Plentiful fossil fuels do have obvious short-term economic benefits that the Obama administration is not blind to. Insofar as the administration wants to reduce fossil fuel consumption—and it's not clear that they do want to—there is enough opposition, both in Congress and in the courts, to justify a policy of doing nothing.
Unlocking sorghum's gene bank: Adapting agriculture to a changing climate  (Arthur Robey)
The team behind the current PNAS publication – which also included researchers at Cornell University, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in India and Niger, the University of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – used genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) to determine the individual genetic makeup of 971 sorghum varieties taken from world-wide seed collections. The scientists identified more than a quarter million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs); that is, single letters in the genetic code where individual variants of sorghum can differ.
Recent patterns of crop yield growth and stagnation  (guardia)
In the coming decades, continued population growth, rising meat and dairy consumption and expanding biofuel use will dramatically increase the pressure on global agriculture. Even as we face these future burdens, there have been scattered reports of yield stagnation in the world’s major cereal crops, including maize, rice and wheat. Here we study data from ~2.5 million census observations across the globe extending over the period 1961–2008. We examined the trends in crop yields for four key global crops: maize, rice, wheat and soybeans. Although yields continue to increase in many areas, we find that across 24–39% of maize-, rice-, wheat- and soybean-growing areas, yields either never improve, stagnate or collapse. This result underscores the challenge of meeting increasing global agricultural demands. New investments in underperforming regions, as well as strategies to continue increasing yields in the high-performing areas, are required.
U.S. tested top-secret ‘tsunami bomb’ to flood coastal cities  (westcoastjan)
“It was absolutely astonishing,” said Mr Waru. “First that anyone would come up with the idea of developing a weapon of mass destruction based on a tsunami — and also that New Zealand seems to have successfully developed it to the degree that it might have worked.”
Satisfying the Need for Dirty Fingernails  (jdargis)
As a child I’d watched my father manage cattle on the same Kansas prairie tended by my grandfather and great-grandfather. But after spending more than half my life in the city, what discernible skills I’d acquired were all but forgotten. And while I still dreamed of those horizons and grasslands, I wondered whether my longing to carry on the family legacy was folly.
Then, early on Oct. 16, my father died unexpectedly, leaving the ranch to my sister and me. Suddenly common sense and romance collided.
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