one of the greatest unknown scientists, native tribal tattoo, secretive bankers and derivatives

Who decided to call dinosaurs, dinosaurs and  founded the world’s greatest natural history museum – Richard Owen: the greatest scientist you’ve never heard of

In 1861, William Gladstone, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, stood up in the House of Commons and paid tribute to a man he called a “splendid genius”, and the world’s greatest living naturalist. Yet today, Professor Richard Owen may be remembered as the first superintendent of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, but for little else.

In fact, when listing his achievements, it is hard to know where to start. Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1834, at the age of 30, he was a comparative anatomist with an extraordinary range and depth of knowledge in zoology, biology and palaeontology. He described and named an astonishing number of creatures new to science, and published more than 600 books and papers on subjects as diverse as the duck-billed platypus and the gorilla. It was Prof Owen who gave the name “dinosaur” to the order of great extinct reptiles that were then being discovered.

Owen’s greatest legacy is the Natural History Museum, but he was also an adviser to governments, reported on environmental health issues and was awarded more than 100 honours – including a knighthood. He was a famous lecturer, tutored the royal children in science and was awarded a grace-and-favour home by Queen Victoria. His friends included Charles Dickens, Sir Robert Peel and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Actually it is difficult to say which is the best natural museum in the world. The British Natural History Museum opened its doors in 1881 while the American Museum of Natural History started in 1861 and opened in 1877. Roy Chapman Andrews (January 26, 1884 – March 11, 1960) – who few have ever heard of was either, one of the American Natural History Museum’s closely associated paleontologist/naturalists and one of several scientists who inspired the Indiana Jones character. The AMNH broke new public science ground when it opened the “Hall of the Age of Man” 1921 ( now called The Bernard and Anne Spitzer Hall of Human Origins). It was the first science exhibit in the U.S.A. which explored human evolution.

native tribal tattoo. this is an exaggerated or corruption of a native American design. Because it is both distorted and the eyes given a more realistic quality than one actually finds in native symbol art it is difficult to say what tribe it came from. it reminds me of both Alaskan native symbols and Mayan.

Haida tribal symbol. This symbol from the Haida – an indigenous nation of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America – has the kind of imaginative exaggerated eyes and beak of the kind used in the tattoo.

This report from just five days ago – A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives

On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.

The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.

Drawn from giants like JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the bankers form a powerful committee that helps oversee trading in derivatives, instruments which, like insurance, are used to hedge risk.

In theory, this group exists to safeguard the integrity of the multitrillion-dollar market. In practice, it also defends the dominance of the big banks.

The banks in this group, which is affiliated with a new derivatives clearinghouse, have fought to block other banks from entering the market, and they are also trying to thwart efforts to make full information on prices and fees freely available.

Banks’ influence over this market, and over clearinghouses like the one this select group advises, has costly implications for businesses large and small, like Dan Singer’s home heating-oil company in Westchester County, north of New York City.

This fall, many of Mr. Singer’s customers purchased fixed-rate plans to lock in winter heating oil at around $3 a gallon. While that price was above the prevailing $2.80 a gallon then, the contracts will protect homeowners if bitterly cold weather pushes the price higher.

But Mr. Singer wonders if his company, Robison Oil, should be getting a better deal. He uses derivatives like swaps and options to create his fixed plans. But he has no idea how much lower his prices — and his customers’ prices — could be, he says, because banks don’t disclose fees associated with the derivatives.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know if I got a fair price, or what they’re charging me,” Mr. Singer said.

Derivatives shift risk from one party to another, and they offer many benefits, like enabling Mr. Singer to sell his fixed plans without having to bear all the risk that oil prices could suddenly rise. Derivatives are also big business on Wall Street. Banks collect many billions of dollars annually in undisclosed fees associated with these instruments — an amount that almost certainly would be lower if there were more competition and transparent prices.

Like capitalism and incorporation there is nothing wrong in the basic concept of derivatives. Derivatives are a form of insurance. As long as the company issuing the derivative has the assets to actually pay off if the bet goes sour – like betting on fuel oil prices, housing prices or commodities. During the housing bubble the derivatives sellers and traders were betting they would never have to pay off, the housing bubble would last forever. Here we are in a jobless recovery and it seems some of the same delusional thinking and arrogant traders are back at the same game. Republicans are fighting enforcement of the oversight passed in the financial reform bill. The banks are relying on them to keep as much secret as possible. One of the frequent and inane defenses of the worse parts of the Patriotic Act was the assertion that if you are not doing anything wrong you have nothing to hide. It is largely the same people who are fighting for the banks right to hide from competition and transparent prices. A corruption of capitalism, financial corporations and derivatives. Just as there are two Americas there are proponents of two kinds of capitalism. There are those who favor as much competitiveness, transparency and basic ethical standards as possible and then there are conservatives and their corporate collectivism which they sell as bright and shiny free market snake oil. How many stomach aches does America have to have before it stops buying the snake oil.

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