Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com July 31, 2012 at 9:00 am 3,019 32 Comments

Dark Star Park Day Tomorrow — Tomorrow morning Rosslyn will celebrate “Dark Star Park Day.” At precisely 9:32 a.m. on August 1 of each year, the shadows cast by the stone spheres and iron poles in Dark Star Park (1655 N. Ft. Myer Drive) line up with the permanently-installed artistic images of shadows on the ground. Tomorrow’s event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will include a photo contest. [Rosslyn BID]

Record Contributions to Affordable Housing Fund — Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) saw a record $10.4 million in loan repayments and developer contributions in Fiscal Year 2012. The AHIF, which is used to help fund affordable housing projects, is set to receive $9.5 million in tax dollars in FY 2013, in addition to any repayments and contributions. [Arlington County]

County Looks for Investment Consultant — Arlington is looking for an investment professional to consult on private investments for its $1.5 billion Arlington County Employees’ Retirement System. The retirement fund is reportedly looking to invest $100 to $200 million in private equity. [Pensions & Investments]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

  • TryTheTacos

    Forgive the stupidity of this question… but wouldn’t leap year kind of mess with the date/time of the concrete balls magical powers?

    • drax

      Not a stupid question, a good one. Leap year fixes the slight error created over the previous three years. These rocks are probably not precise enough to pick up the error anyway though. Bet you can’t tell it’s off today, or Aug. 2, or next week.

  • speonjosh

    If I understand correctly, leap year would only help to restore the magicality of it. Otherwise, the moment would begin slipping either backwards or forwards (it’s too early for me to figure out which) and eventually happen on March 23rd or something. Right?
    So it can’t be exactly 9:32 *every* year, can it?

    • Undereducated

      I’m with you. I suspect it falls behind about 15 minutes of azmuth per year and then is corrected on leap years. But I’m open to other explanations.

      • drax

        Should be 6 hours each year.

        • speonjosh

          I see the logic there, but somehow I can’t believe that’s right. Because then wouldn’t the sun be setting at noon the year after leap year?

          Seriously, if someone can explain the difference, please do.

          • drax

            No, the sun is setting at the same time – it’s the sculpture that isn’t lined up with the sun.

            The length of days don’t change. The alignment of the earth to the sun, relative to the days, does. Hence the leap year to fix it. Since the sculpture is a year clock, not a day clock, it’s going to drift 6 hours a day each year.

            That’s how I figure at least. I’m no expert.

            Without a leap year, our calendar would shift (as it did 11 days before leap years were adopted). Pretty soon, August would be in winter. Which isn’t such a bad thing if you think about it.

          • CourthouseChris

            Earth’s orbital period is 365.25 days/year. The leap-year essentially shifts our position in our orbit over by one day. Our measurement of time is (effectively) dependent on the revolution of the planet, not our position in orbit. Each non-leap year we are off in our orbit by six hours, but the revolution of the planet is not affected – so our perception of sunrise and sunset is relatively unaffected.

            I believe for the same reason these rocks are unafected by leap-years because the effect on the angle of the sun’s light is more dependent on the planet’s rotation than our position in the orbital period; a 12-hour shift over 365 days is relatively minor and doesn’t adversely affect the angle of light required for these rocks.

            Playing fast and loose with grammar and word choice this morning because I’m just not feeling up to it…

        • Undereducated

          .Yes, 6 hours a year equals approximately 1/4 of a degree, or 15 minutes, of azimuth, or the angular measurement of revolution around the sun. The earth traverses approximately 1 degree of azimuth per day (360 degrees in a circle and 365 days in a year.) While I haven’t seen the rocks, the further apart they are, the more noticable will be the error until it is correct by a leap year.

  • John Fontain

    Regarding investments, why waste time and money paying an investment manager who in all likelihood will perform no better than the broad markets will perform. Why not just buy some Berkshire Hathaway class A or B shares, skip the large investment expenses of a professional manager, and call it a day?

    You’ll have a safer investment with better returns and less expenses.

    • UA

      Until Buffett kicks the can.

      • BreakPause02

        His children will run it!

        • SteamboatWillie

          Hasn’t Buffett famously stated that he’s not leaving a huge inheritance to his kids? If that’s the case, he wouldn’t pass along management of BH to them, would he?

          • John Fontain

            His son Howard will become the non-executive Chairman responsible for overseeing the new (unnamed CEO) and ensuring Berkshire’s culture remains intact.

          • drax

            To Buffett, “not a huge inheritance” means only one or two billion dollars instead of gajillions.

      • John Fontain

        He’s already got two great investment managers working for him that are ready to take over the full portfolio of non-wholly owned investments when he goes. Succession has been well planned.

      • Clarendon

        Charlie Munger is probably just as key in that group. On the other hand, Charlie is older than Warren (88 vs 81). Yeah, I’m on a first name basis with those dudes. 🙂

    • JohnB

      “You’ll have a safer investment with better returns and less expenses.”

      BRK.A has underperformed the S&P 400 over the last 10 years. You are here-by disqualified from being my investment adviser.

      • NoVapologist

        Not to mention that the Venture Economics private equity index has trounced the S&P over the last five and ten years with far lower volatility.

      • John Fontain

        “BRK.A has underperformed the S&P 400 over the last 10 years.”

        LOL, given that the S&P 400 has only been in existence since 2005. It has no 10 year record.

        However, over the last 10 years BRKA is up about 80% compared 40% for the S&P 500. Extend the time period further and it only gets better for BRKA. Since 1990, BRKA is up 1,600% vs. 260% for the S&P 500.

        And some smart investors would say that Berkshire right now is selling at a relatively modest price compared to intrinsic value, which bodes especially well for future investment results.

        Or the county can pay millions of dollars in investment management fees to someone who will most assuredly perform worse than Berkshire with more investment risk.

        • JohnB
          • John Fontain

            Ah, you’re referring to the Spiders (MDY) rather than the actual index (^MID).

            Performance looks about the same over all long-term periods. MDY carries an annual investment fee while Berk does not.

          • JohnB

            No. I’m referring to the index as referenced in the document. My simple point is that your initial thesis is incorrect. Buying BRK.A and calling it a day is the same thing as hiring an investment adviser. There might not be explicit fees, but they exist as the compensation and overhead required by Buffett and Munger and their teams. It also means that you’re going to take a value approach and only have equity exposure. Given that the return of even the best managers is 50% attributable to the asset class, it would make sense that a little asset class diversification would be prudent. There is a great deal of research that shows that investing in non-correlated positive returning asset classes simultaneously reduces the volatility of returns more than it reduces the returns. Choosing Buffett and Munger as your equity managers is a completely valid decision, but I would suggest that it not constitute your entire portfolio nor that you fool yourself into thinking that there is no management fee.

          • John Fontain

            “There might not be explicit fees, but they exist as the compensation and overhead required by Buffett and Munger and their teams.”

            Compensation is already included in Berkshire’s net income. The returns on the Midcap index to which you refer are pre-fee returns. So you are right, they aren’t comparable. Factor in the fees on the Mid-cap index and Berkshire’s returns are even better.

            “It also means that you’re going to take a value approach and only have equity exposure.”

            You’re technically right that owning just Berk means you just own an equity, but that ignores the underlying investments Berk holds, which are vary widely diversified and some of the highest quality equity investments, wholly-owned subsidiaries (insurance, railroads, utilities, energy companies, manufacturers, retailers, etc.), and fixed income securities available.

  • Vision Quest

    Dark star crashes, pouring it’s light into ashes.
    Reason tatters, the forces tear loose from the axis.
    Searchlight casting for faults in the clouds of delusion.
    Shall we go, you and I while we can
    Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

    • speonjosh

      Would have gone well with the movie “Melancholy”…..

    • SD

      Happy Birthday Jerry Garcia!

  • novasteve

    Can it be renamed to Death Star Park?

    • Vision Quest

      Only when it is fully operational

  • WeiQiang

    Dark Sky Park … sponsored my Musco and Arlington County ONE

  • Elmer

    I would like to be the first, to my knowledge, to nominate the crane (no, not the bird) to be depicted on our new county stickers as Arlington’s symbol.
    That would be such a vibrant statement!

  • JnA

    Private Equity? You mean like out-of-state REITs?


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