A Cold Epiphany

A few years ago, the Russian Orthodox Church celebration of the Epiphany “had issues”. Due to thin ice, it was canceled in some years, and folks got an unexpected “dunk” in others. They now have a minimum ice thickness that must exist before the event can take place.

For anyone not familiar with it, the river is “blessed” and then folks take a ‘triple dip’ in the ice water. This is purported to cause some folks to be inspired. I’m pretty sure I’d “see God” after a triple dunk at -10 C ;-)

At any rate, back in 2009, they had a bit of a problem:


Unexpected baptism: 70 get an ice-cold dip during Orthodox celebrations

Published: 19 January, 2009, 13:54
On Sunday night in Tver 70 people accidentally fell into icy water during Epiphany celebrations.

As part of an Orthodox tradition, nearly 500 believers gathered on Sunday night on the Volga riverside in Tver in order to take a plunge into consecrated water on the night of Epiphany, Komsomolskaya Pravda Daily reports. 10 policemen were present to control the situation.

After the priest carried out the ritual of water consecration, people immediately started to rush on to the ice. Part of the crowd was subsequently pushed onto thin ice patches, which couldn’t carry the weight of the crowd and soon gave in. About 70 people found themselves in freezing water. It took 10 minutes to rescue all of them safely.

According to the Ministry of Emergencies, there were no victims in the incident and nobody was hospitalized. However, ITAR-TASS reports differently, stating 24 people sought medical assistance, and 11 were admitted to hospitals.

Now, not so much. IMHO this is a handy little indicator of the reversal of our prior warm phase PDO / AMO into the present cold phase.


More than 90,000 Orthodox Christian believers took a ritual dip in icy waters throughout the city to commemorate Epiphany early Thursday morning — almost double the number from last year — in the latest indication of growing enthusiasm for the church.

More than 1,700 police and volunteers were on hand to supervise 60 designated swimming holes across Moscow, Interfax reported, citing a police spokesperson. About 120,000 people attended Moscow’s 111 working Orthodox churches and monasteries for services, up from 88,000 last year.

In unrelated news, but a “Cold Epiphany” of another sort looming, France has decided to play with the Socialism Shiny Thing, again…


Sarkozy Is First French President in 30 Years to Fail Reelection
By Mark Deen and Gregory Viscusi – May 6, 2012 11:09 AM GMT-0700

Nicolas Sarkozy’s defeat in the French presidential election makes him the ninth European leader to be booted out since the region’s debt crisis began.

Sanctioned for his flamboyant personal style and slowing economic growth, Sarkozy lost to Socialist Francois Hollande, who got 52 percent of the vote against 48 percent, five polling estimates showed.
Sarkozy joins a long list of victims of the crisis, which began with subprime mortgages in the U.S. before causing government yields to diverge across Europe. Leaders in Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Netherlands were elbowed out from their posts.
The exit of Sarkozy, who with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, was at the heart of the efforts to resolve the region’s debt crisis, may slow the region’s recovery plan. Sarkozy and Merkel, leaders of Europe’s two largest economies, worked so closely the duo was called “Merkozy.”
AAA Rating

“Along with Angela Merkel, Sarkozy saved Europe, but he grates on the nerves of many French,” said Lutecia Capital’s Seiman.

Disagreement between European leaders on how to end the debt crisis and the growing burden of support for euro area members cost France its AAA credit rating for the first time.

Standard & Poor’s stripped France of its top rating by one level on Jan. 13. Sarkozy called it a non-event, saying it “changes nothing” and he has found vindication in the markets.
Hollande has repeatedly accused Sarkozy’s government of increasing borrowing to fund tax breaks for the rich, swelling the public debt to 1.69 trillion euros, or 85.8 percent of gross domestic product from 64.2 percent in 2007.

Well, if electing a socialist can eliminate the “Socialism for the rich”, maybe it’s not so bad… But I can’t help feeling there is going to be a cold shock headache at the end of this particular plunge.


Socialist Holland won the president election 2012 France

Sunday May 6, 2012

Socialist Holland won the president election 2012 France. Live election news : Nicholas Sarkozy loses French presidential polls
Hollande got 51.9% of vote.

Socialist candidate Hollande wins French presidential polls: Reports

Francois Hollande was elected France’s first Socialist president in nearly two decades on Sunday, dealing a humiliating defeat to incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and shaking up European politics.

The result will have major implications for Europe as it struggles to emerge from a financial crisis and for France, the eurozone’s second-largest economy and a nuclear-armed permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Yes, “major implications”…

I think Merkel is in for trouble and the whole EU bailout process is up for grabs. France will now be more inclined to the Spanish and Italian solutions. Give money to the people and the Euro stability be damned. Flush the banks, and the bankers, down the printing press sewer. We’ll see.

Also on a news crawler was that the “Right Wing” had won in Greece. Not finding any online reference as I type this, but give it time. I don’t know what “Right Wing” means in Greece (as “right wing” is an essentially meaningless term these days, mostly meaning “what the socialists don’t like now”, and can include either Republican Libertarians or Fascist Socialists or even Kings) but I suspect it’s going to be some kind of Nationalist group that is willing to ditch the Euro and / or tell Germany to stuff it on Austerity. Ought to be interesting watching that one sort out…

In Conclusion

I think much of Europe is about to have its own Cold Epiphany. I can only hope that the “throw the incumbents out” theme caries over to the USA (and Australia and…)

At least it will be interesting times.

In the sort run, I’d expect this to be bad for the Euro, and for Euro Zone investments. Watch for a spike in precious metals as folks position out of Euro Paper. Likely also to show strength would be the Swiss Franc and the Yen (but need to look at a chart to see if other trends are at work… that WSW posting is next in queue.)

In the longer run, the demise of the EU Unelected and the fall of their grand unification schemes might be worth a few more “learning experiences” and “bad examples” from a couple of European countries. Just hope it doesn’t lead to another war like the last couple of adventures in Fascist / Socialist land did. IF it does, the USA ought to just sit back and let it go where it will. Besides, the Chinese might not loan us the money to keep Europe orderly… they will make more money selling the Europeans replacement stuff after the destruction. Can’t offend our mortgage holder, after all.

Sigh. I just wish it didn’t take so many years for the obvious ‘future history’ to finish so we could get back to normal economic growth under market based liberty.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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14 Responses to A Cold Epiphany

  1. E.M.Smith says:

    Looks like in Greece the two major ‘centrist’ parties lost big and BOTH the “left” and the “right” picked up a load. Now that’s going to be interesting. Nobody has enough to form a government without deal cutting. Maybe now we’ll see just how close “left” and “right” can be…

    The two that lost were for “austerity”. It looks like the hard left and hard right were not. I think this likely means the exit of Greece from the Euro Zone. (To be followed by Spain and Italy? Or will they all band together with France and toss out the Germans? ;-)

  2. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: As you are not a youngster but an old goat like me, you must remember that Greece decline began when the Greek monarchy was ousted from power by a leftist revolution….the rest was just things as usual for the blessed lenders. Now everything is ok there to be easily bought by a few coins (thirteen perhaps, because it entailed also a treason).

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  4. J Martin says:

    Francois Hollande could prove to be something of a surprise and turn out to be a capitalist in socialist clothes.

    According to Bloomberg, whilst a junior minister he helped sell nationalised industries.

    More from Bloomberg;

    ” Hollande has proposed higher taxes for big companies and cuts for small and medium-sized businesses; a 75 percent levy on incomes above 1 million euros a year and special taxes on banks and oil companies.

    His platform would raise spending by 20 billion euros ($26.3 billion) over his five-year term and the retirement age for those who started working at 18 years old pushed back to 60 from 62. He said he would discuss with France’s banks the split of their retail and investment activities.

    Tax increases and eliminating loopholes would seek to raise 29 billion euros. The budget plan aims to eliminate the deficit in 2017, one year later than under Sarkozy’s plan, with a 3 percent of gross domestic product deficit target for 2013. ”


    My guess is he will simply re-arrange whatever cash is already spent on social projects, the available money supply is only so large regardless of whichever party is in power. He will postpone the retirement change as it will cost too much too soon.

    Otherwise, tax cuts for small and medium companies is surely a capitalist growth vehicle, and, eliminate the deficit, ie. live within your means are both surely good for the economy.

    In my view loopholes are a form of economic distortion and so eliminating loophole is a good thing.

    Overall he may just turn out to be Mr Financially Sensible, and surprise the market analysts.

  5. Pascvaks says:

    As Act I comes to a close for the latest, greatest Off Broadway Smash Hit “E.U. Is Or E.U. Ain’t My Baby?” the Greeks are heard to start sing in an ever increasing number, joined by the Italians, the Spanish, and the French, the Irish, the Poles, the Turks, and the chorus of hundreds of millions.. “Don’t Cry for me Angelina, the truth is I never loved you..”

    Following a brief pause, we begin Act II with that World famous classic “Oh when ‘dem cotton balls get rotten” and then the ever popular heart tugging show stopper smash “Singing in the Rain” performed by the newly elected President of France…

    Stay tuned America, this is NPR hostess Gretta Dumbroadski, don’t touch that dial. (SarcOff)

  6. E.M.Smith says:


    Remember the movie “Z”? Yup…

    @J. Martin:

    One can only hope. First off, he has to get some kind of agreement from others to whatever he does. That can either constrain the worst Socialist Impulses or he may be held hostage to his “base”. It all depends on the attitude of The French, and that’s aways hard to explain ;-)

    His “tax evil banks and oil” is a fairly typical Socialist Strategy of picking winners and losers. Some industries evil, others good. It is its own kind of distortion.

    The major issue, IMHO, is the one essentially ignored: What will be done to grow Net National Wealth? Taking money from the banks and energy companies to give it to workers and early retirees does not increase wealth. At the same time, splitting investment banking from retail is going toward Glass-Steagall so a good thing. Similarly working toward a balanced budget and tax relief for small business could also be good.

    But the devil is in the details. Socialists always like to “meddle” in things. It disrupts the ability to reasonably plan. For example, the sporadic nationalization of various industries or the demonizing and taxing with special taxes particular industries. At best you can say “we’ll see”.

    For me, the biggest point is just that the Franco-German pact is on the rocks. The Teutonic EU vision is toast. A great deal will depend on how Angela and Hollande can work out a new deal…


    Cute, very cute ;-)

    But I think it’s cotton bOlls not bAlls:


  7. Pascvaks says:


    Touche’, my tongue was coverin’ one of ma’ eye teeth there an’ I couldn’t see what I was sayin’. I do think “boll” is a dyin’ word though, and it won’t be long fore the Boll Wevel is a Ball Wevel;-)

  8. Pascvaks says:

    PS: Down her’ war’ I be, which’ere way ya’ spell it we stil say it da’ same. Fer folks in dis part ah da country, spellin be a lost art. (Not that it er’was popular with da boys.) They all still talkin’ da same but spellin da new “e’tex” way. Hear tell it’s imported from yer neck of the woods. Tell me it ain’t so;-)

    I never found it difficult to write stupid, but trying to sound stupid and write stupid at the same time is a real hard jog.

  9. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: I was revisiting “Z” by googling it. Those were the days of the “revolution of the roses” in France, of hippies and all that “new age” liberalism, which though seemingly it appeared spontaneously, it was managed afterwards, like those of the “occupy WS”, to favor the same groups. Then all sane people, being called “conservatives”, while really trying to preserve property and individual liberty were equated to those dictators that were their real and direct butlers too and who paved the road for their “democracy”.

  10. Randall says:

    Gutsy move by Delta Airlines to buy a PA refinery. I wonder if that signals a temporary top in oil.

  11. E.M.Smith says:


    There is likely a ‘local top’ in oil, but for other reasons. The refinery deal may well mark it, but as a consequence not a leader.

    Delta has an annual fuel bill measured in the $Billions. Fuel costs reached the point where the ability to hedge those costs determines the winners and losers in the Airline Business. (IIRC, Southwest has been stellar at hedging, so ‘winning’.) For who knows what reason, Jet Fuel does not have enough contracts directly against it. So Delta had to either choose Crude Oil, or Heating Oil, as proxies for their hedging. That puts a discontinuity in the hedge…

    (There are kerosene futures http://www.theoptionsguide.com/kerosene-futures.aspx but the interview I saw on TV implied they could not get enough without undue influence on the market. It’s hard to hedge when you are a large part of the total market.)

    By going for vertical integration, Delta gets control of that hedge of ‘crack spread’ fairly directly. They contract out the heavy and very light fractions (oils and gasoline) in exchange for kerosene in other locations of need. They use the kerosene from this facility directly. Now all they really need to do is hedge the crude oil. Much easier. (The questions of ‘do they have the skill to run a refinery?’ and ‘will they be as good as Exxon on costs?’ are left to answer…)

    Now, to your point:

    Why now? Because costs and risks were so high as to be that significant. When does that happen? When oil has run up in price quite a bit. IMHO that frequently happens just before the “local top”. Things run too high, then drop back. So I would assert that yes, it does “signal” that local top. But there is a bit more. Crack spreads have widened so much as to be an issue. Seeing that no refineries are being built, Delta may well have figured high crack spreads were going to continue, so the deal got some ‘added sugar’.

    But Delta is doing retrofit work on the refinery for the next year, and will then run it for many years. This is not a one year deal. So Delta likely cared more about the cost of the refinery and availability in a location where they needed kerosene. It’s a strategic deal, not a tactical one. To that extent it is orthogonal to oil having a local top.

    From my POV, the bigger impact is just the downturn in the Asian economies coupled with the Euro Zone going wobbly again. During economic downturns, oil drops. We’re likely looking at a ‘flat at best’ with a probable slight recession overseas. Add in margin requirements changes and Saudi saying they will pump more; that makes a temporary top.

    Could Delta get a refinery cheaper in a couple of years? Would one even be for sale? Would it be near where they want the kerosene? I doubt it. IMHO it was just a strategic decision to buy a ‘natural hedge’ for one of their major (if not THE major) costs. Will it work? The history of such vertical integration is “not good”, but sometimes it does work. “Conglomerates” come in waves with shifts in fad. Near as I can tell, it doesn’t really make much difference if one is doing “vertical integration” or “divesting to focus on core operations”. It’s more just a question of which change will get the executives a bonus… and what fad is current on Wall Street.

  12. adolfogiurfa says:

    All that Delta has to do is buying P.G.Sharrow patents of his saucer….

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  14. Stirner says:

    The Marcus Hook refinery just up the road from Delta’s new refinery is currently for sale. Currently it is being shopped around as a transfer and storage point for Marcellus shale gas. If this analysis is correct, then the refinery would be a logical candidate for US Air to purchase, given that PHL is a major US Air hub.

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