:10 Alright, so I get the ball a few feet inside the foul line and I get set to throw the hook shot…You know the shot! No matter who’s on me, that shot is good. Nobody blocks that shot. I’m talking about “ballin” with the best of them over 30 years and nobody. I mean nobody ever…ever…ever—ever…Neal! Neal!…Nnneeeaaalll! What!!! Just stop it man and tell the people the truth. What—do—ya— mean? I’m telling the story just the way it happened. No you’re not. What happened was Kenny Roebuck, aka “Buck” b-slapped your so called hook shot back to 1970 when you first started throwing it. Matter of fact, he didn’t even jump. He just reached up and slapped it. It was nasty. Just nasty. If you needed a reason to stop showing up at the gym . . . now you got it!!:9 The second best upset in Western Pa. history has to be Robert Morris beating the great and powerful “Oz” aka the Kentucky basketball team. Coach Cal, welcome home mmmaaannn! Oh, the No. 1 greatest upset …you know it, Maz sends one over the wall at Forbes Field to send the Yankees home and win the World Series.:8 You wanna talk streaks? Here’s some streaks. The Top 10 of all time (you know I do Top 10s):1. Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak in baseball; 2. The Boston Celtics win 8 straight NBA titles; 3.Cal Ripken’s 2756, baseball games without a miss; 4.UCLA’s 88 game college basketball domination; 5.Brett Favre’s 297 NFL games under center (including the day his dad died); 6.Richard “King Richard” Petty’s 10 straight racing titles; 7. Wayne Gretzky’s 51 straight hockey games with at least one point; 8. The 1971-72 Lakers win 33 in a row on the hardwood; 9. Okay, here’s your Miami Heat, 27 in a row and counting. You happy now?! 10. And one of the most impressive streaks of all time…me going three straight years writing this column and never being wrong!! (Say what??):7 Hey ya’ll, guess who the No. 1 golfer in the world is again? I told ya he’s back—Tiger Woods, that’s who—so all you players—play on!:6 Movie review time. You know you love it. Yes you do! I finally caught up with “Gangster Squad.” If you like seeing lots of people get killed, especially bad guys, then this is your movie…not quite as good as DeNiro’s Al Capone in “The Untouchables,” but close. I give it 3 basketballs.:5 Indiana to win the NCAA crown. Take it to the bank!:4 I can’t tell you her name or who she was. All I can tell you is that I saw the finest woman in the world…that’s right, in the whole wide world, at The Savoy, Saturday night. I mean FINER THAN FROG’S HAIR. Yes sir, that’s fine alright! So fine, in fact if she promised me one night of heavenly bliss with her if I hunted you down and did away with you, all I can tell you is you better run and hide cause I’m coming!!!:3 Quote the Ravens Never More. The Baltimore Ravens and Joe Flacco and all his millions are done. Ray Ray is gone. Bolden is gone. Reed is gone and a half dozen others are gone. Thanks for the memories you xxxx – xxxx – xxxx!!!:2 If you’re reading this, it means you still have time to go to your closet and pull out your best dress. Look for “Harlem Nights” R&B classic par-tay being held every last Friday at 3 Lakes Golf Club in Penn Hills (6700 Saltzburg Rd).With a Feb. opening night of 100 plus old and new school sharp dressers, the party rocked till 1 a.m. with a sophisticated atmosphere, including food, drinks, and the legendary Pittsburgh United Rays Corvette Club. Coming at ya again Friday, March 29 with good weather predicted, 8 p.m.-1a.m., $10 advance and $15 at the door (call 404-721-2174 for advance ticket sales. You still have time.) Cash bar—cash kitchen open till 11p.m.—50/50 raffle—and this month’s special Harlem Night Give Away, you can win the Corvette Club bringing the baddest wheels in town to show off at your cook-out this summer. (Weather permitting and in a 20 mile radius)—And yes ladies and gentlemen a cash prize to the best dressed man and woman—call Five Starr Corporation at 412- 628-4856 for more information. Let’s Par-Tay!!:1 If you love the game, then you love the game. So you don’t and won’t want to miss the 38th annual W.Pa. High School All-Star Basketball Classic (the oldest H.S. All-Star game in W.Pa.—the grandfather of them all, Sunday, April 7 at Penn Hills High School, co-sponsored by The New Pittsburgh Courier, 100 Black Men of Pittsburgh, Judge Dwayne Woodruff, Jerry Cippinelli, Joe Luvara, Penn Avenue McDonald’s and Chuck Sanders Charities, Middle School Girls Tournament—9 a.m. –noon, Middle School Boys Tournament—12 p.m. – 3 p.m. H.S. Senior Girls City vs. WPIAL— 3 p.m. H.S. Senior Boys City vs. WPIAL—5 p.m. Adults-$5, youth-$2 all day ticket-and you can win $500 cash in the 5 for $500 at 5 p.m., half court shot brought to you by the Penn Hills Democratic Committee and State Representative Tony DeLuca. This is basketball at its finest. For more information, call the Champions at 412-628-4856.:00 DOUBLE OVERTIME. I’ll put Michael “M.J.” “Your Airness,” Jordan the 2nd greatest of all time one-on-one against your LeBron “King James” any day of the week all day, and “M.J.” destroys him. #1 LeBron doesn’t have the killer in him Michael has and No. 2 Boy you’re forgetting how bad Michael was. He changed the world! And LeBron against the greatest player ever, yep, Wilt Chamberlain…Please! No chance. None. Zero. Forget about it. Now…Run tell that mmmaaannn!!GAME REALLY OVER…HUH ?!?
The six-foot, 170-pound Fyfe was out of hockey after being traded to Peninsula Panthers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League from Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the KIJHL.Fernie dominated the game, out shooting the Leafs 55-30.Adam Maida was in goal for Nelson.Friday, Nelson could not solve the Columbia Valley netminder Jason Sandhu en route to the shutout loss.Sandhu stopped all 25 shots Nelson registers.Harrison Davies, Sam Young and Malcolm Fenelon scored for the Rockies past Nelson goalie Joey Karrer.Nelson returns to the NDCC Arena for action Friday against Creston Valley Thunder Cats.Game time is 7 p.m.Nelson plays four if its next five games at home to round out the month of January.LEAF NOTES: Despite clinching a playoff berth, Nelson could run itself right into fourth spot in the division and a first-round series against defending KIJHL champion Beaver Valley should the Heritage City franchise not right the ship, and soon. Spokane trails Nelson by two points in Murdoch Division standings. . . . Nelson lost Patrick Croome during the second period against Fernie after the Leafs defenceman was issued a game misconduct. Croome was back in the lineup for the weekend trip after being out with injury since November 22. . . . Nelson also saw the return of forward Blair Andrews to the lineup. Andrews has played three games since being injuried December 5 against Golden. . . . Matt MacDonald, Aaron Brewer, Dylan Williamson and Brandon Chow all did not play during the weekend due to injury. The Nelson Leafs weekend excursion into the Eddie Mountain Division proved to rank right up there with a National Lampoon Vegas vacation.The injury-riddled Leafs lost two straight — 5-1 Saturday to Fernie and 3-0 Friday to Columbia Valley — Kootenay International Junior Hockey League games to fall into third spot in the Murdoch Division — five points behind Beaver Valley Nitehawks.The two losses ran Nelson winless streak to three games.Five different players scored for the Ghostriders in the romp over the Leafs.Fernie snapped a 1-1 game with three second-period goals.Derek Georgopoulos, Aaron Neufeld, Doan Smith, Joel Burgess and Tayler Sincenness scored for Fernie.Newcomer Tyler Fyfe scored his first goal for Nelson.
Moussa Dembele’s 24th-minute goal put Fulham ahead at Craven Cottage.Dembele went past Leeds captain Sol Bamba and fired underneath keeper Marco Silvestri – the striker’s fourth goal of the season.Fulham had looked dangerous early on and Ross McCormack, playing against his former club, fired wide of the near post.At the other end, Joe Lewis, playing in place of the injured Andy Lonergan, was called into action to keep out a shot from former Brentford midfielder Stuart Dallas.Leeds, in their first match under new manager Steve Evans, had plenty of possession after going behind but struggled to create clear-cut chances before finishing the half strongly.Lewis Cook tried his luck with a long-range effort which on-loan keeper Lewis comfortably held.Lewis produced another save two minutes before the interval, this time to deny Gaetano Berardi.And in the final seconds of the half, Bamba missed a chance to equalise when he headed over at the far post from Luke Murphy’s right-wing free-kick.Fulham: Lewis, Richards, Stearman, Burn, Garbutt, Christensen, Tunnicliffe, O’Hara, Pringle, McCormack, Dembele.Subs: Rodack, Hutchinson, Fredericks, Parker, Kacaniklic, Husband, Woodrow.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
Several recent news stories touch on the uniqueness of Earth.Eccentric neighbors: A story in Science Daily draws attention to the highly eccentric orbits of most extrasolar planets found so far. The press release from Northwestern University begins, “Except for the fact that we call it home, for centuries astronomers didn’t have any particular reason to believe that our solar system was anything special in the universe. But, beginning with the discovery 10 years ago of the first planet outside our solar system, evidence suggests that, as far as planetary systems go, the solar system might be special indeed.” The point is that, because gravitational interactions between planets often slingshot them into extremely elliptical orbits or even eject the smaller ones away, having a solar system with planets mostly in circular orbits is a rare thing. One scientist in the article stated, “This is what makes the system so peculiar. Ordinarily, the gravitational coupling between two elliptic orbits would never make one go back to a nearly perfect circle. A circle is very special.” The long-term stability of our system is also “rather peculiar,” he said. A similar story is found on Space.com. A related article on Space.com reviews what is known about extrasolar planets after ten years of cataloging them.Ionic Breeze: A press release from Purdue University proposes that our atmosphere may be more effective at removing pollutants than previously thought. Some naturally-occurring chemicals can react with sunlight to produce ions like OH radicals that can scrub the atmosphere of smog. Unlike Titan, the Earth may possess a self-cleaning atmosphere.Heaven or Hell? Two articles seem to contradict each other about the early Earth. Bjorn Carey on MSNBC News suggests that the “Early earth [was] not so hellish” as previously thought. But then Robert Roy Britt on Space.com surmises that “The Sun might have had an incredibly violent youth in which tremendous X-ray flares battered the Earth into being, a new survey suggests” – yet somehow these favored the formation of rocky planets. A short piece on Science Daily agrees that super-flares from the early sun might have helped form our rocky planet. Based on Chandra X-ray Observatory data, scientists propose that “The bigger flares would prevent Earth-like planets from plummeting into the star, while such a planet would likely be drawn into a star with smaller flares and disintegrated.”For comparison, we can now look at Titan. This week in Science,1 the first detailed research papers from Cassini relate findings that, compared to our planet, look both familiar and bizarre. No life has been found there, of course.1Brooks Hanson, “First of Many Returns,” (introduction to seven research papers on Titan), Science, Vol 308, Issue 5724, 968 , 13 May 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5724.968].Nothing in any of the observations suggest life is common on other planets around other stars, but rather the opposite. In the Q&A of the film The Privileged Planet, Guillermo Gonzalez asked how his hypothesis could be tested. If the observations continue to support the connection between habitability and discoverability, he said, it would gain strength, and if not, it would lose credibility. So far it’s looking pretty good.(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
David Martin is intrigued with the idea of replacing his existing roof with a standing-seam metal roof. It should last longer than the alternatives, he says, and it would be compatible with photovoltaic panels should he decide to add them in the future.So what’s the issue?David Martin is troubled by some of the advertising claims he’s seen about metal roofing, specifically a statement from the Metal Roofing Alliance that a “cool metal roof can save 25% in energy costs compared to a dark grey asphalt shingle.”“I’ve searched around the Internet and found a lot of the industry’s advertising,” David Martin writes in a post at GBA’s Q&A forum, “but I’m a bit skeptical, especially after reading what [GBA senior editor Martin] Holladay says about the dubious claims made by manufacturers of bubble foils, radiant barriers, and open-cell spray foam.” RELATED ARTICLES Rating the cool factorDavid Meiland also likes metal roofing — for its durability, recyclability, and ease of removal if the need arises. But he suspects that light-colored asphalt roofing would perform similarly, with or without ventilation. “Comparing a ‘cool metal roof’ and ‘dark gray asphalt shingle’ is apples to oranges,” he writes.Kevin O’Meara says the difference in energy performance is due to more than just the color of the roofing. “The paint that the metal companies apply to the metal has added chemicals that are designed to reflect infrared wavelengths,” he writes. “Most metal companies will list these ratings under each color. There exists a ‘cool roof’ tax credit and a website for approved metal roofs.”Indeed there is, as Meiland discovers. A products directory maintained by the Cool Roof Rating Council lists solar reflectivity and thermal emissivity values for hundreds of brands of roofing.Meiland finds that many shingle/shake products are not as reflective as the most reflective metals, although there’s a wide variation in metal colors as well.“You need to look at the published specs of the roofing material and that will tell you how ‘cool’ it is,” adds Bob Coleman. “In some areas it may not be the best if you want some of the sun’s heat…Also, venting the roof underneath changes things. There is no magic bullet. It’s all part of a system that should be geared toward your solutions.”And as to the claim of a 25% energy savings?“Ridiculous,” says Holladay. “That would only be true in a very poorly designed house (one that doesn’t meet code and is therefore illegal). Assuming that the home is equipped with a properly installed layer of deep insulation, roof color doesn’t matter much – unless the ducts are installed in the attic. But as we all know, ducts belong inside the home’s conditioned space.” Our expert’s opinionHere’s how GBA technical director Peter Yost sees it:All “cool” roof claddings work based on their surface properties: initial reflectance, “aged” reflectance, and emissivity. The difference between the first and the second is how the surface (shiny and smooth out of the factory) degrades to some degree over time (duller and dirtier). In the case of an Energy Star-rated roof product, “aged” means after three years of standardized exposure. Emissivity is important because heat not reflected becomes heat absorbed, and you want high emissivity to re-radiate that absorbed heat.Energy Star includes in its specs that “roof products can help reduce the amount of air conditioning needed in buildings, and can reduce peak cooling demand by 10–15 percent.” Big difference between claims of 25% reduced energy consumption and possible 15% reduced peak cooling demand.EPA Energy Star bases its ratings on initial and aged reflectance but also reports emissivity values. Not surprisingly, the best performers are white metal roofs (ACM Regal White metal roofing with initial reflectance – 0.68; emissivity – 0.86) with some asphalt shingles qualifying, but with much lower reflectance values and similar emissivity (CertainTeed Star White shingles with initial reflectance – 0.29; emissivity – 0.90). You can download a pdf or excel file for all qualified products with their performance properties.NOTE: the paired terms reflectance and reflectivity; emissivity and emittance are often used interchangeably. Though similar, the “-ivity” terms refer to the property of materials in general and the “-ance” suffix refers to the specific value of a specific material.When it comes to venting (dead end air space between cladding and deck) and ventilating (open ended air space between cladding and deck), there is no doubt that they can have an effect on the energy performance of the roof but their main purpose is increased concealed free drainage (venting) and drying potential (ventilating gives both), not increased energy performance. And no doubt ventilating the back side of a roof cladding (air flow) would be more effective thermally than just venting, but I don’t think their effects have ever been measured.I suppose making metal roofing with a low-e surface on the back side could help some, but manufacturers are unlikely to fuss with the backside surface of their metal roofing with the uncertainty of that surface facing an empty space. Highlighting the Benefits of Light-Colored RoofsGBA Encyclopedia: Roofs Roofing and Siding Jobs Are Energy-Retrofit OpportunitiesMartin’s Ten Rules of Roof Design Job-Site Recycling: Asphalt Roofing ShinglesGreen Product Guide: Roofing Products Winning an Energy Star ratingRoger Brisson likes metal roofing over asphalt for a variety of reasons, too, but some of his claims may bear more checking. “With all things being equal,” he says, “and standard underlayment, metal roofing performs much better than asphalt in its overall insulating capabilities; this is why the Energy Star label is applied to metal and not to asphalt roofing.”He adds that metal roofing is “incomparably better” for the environment than asphalt shingles.“Asphalt roofing is a [wasteful] disaster,” he says, “and yes, its lifetime is generally much less than what it is rated (at least here in coastal New England). Replacing asphalt roofing is dirty and messy work, which is why cheap, immigrant labor is used for it. And there’s no way asphalt will perform as well as quality Energy Star metal roofing over the course of 50 years (the rated lifespan of most metal roofing). This is why in more technologically advanced countries asphalt roofing is virtually non-existent. It is prevalent in the US for one reason: the upfront costs are cheap, cheap, cheap, which is also what you get.”Holladay is quick to reply, pointing out that asphalt shingles, in fact, can be Energy Star rated, as is the case with Duration Premium Cool Shingles manufactured by Owens Corning.David Martin adds that the EPA’s Energy Star website notes that roofing material itself has nothing to do with whether it can be Energy Star rated, only its measured reflectance.As to Brisson’s comments on immigrant labor, Holladay adds this: “This comment does not deserve to be dignified with an answer, since it implies that immigrant workers are only fit for dirty and messy work. My only comment: I used to work as a roofer, tearing off asphalt shingle roofs and installing new asphalt shingle roofs, and I was born in the U.S. Moreover, I have the highest respect for the work ethic and skills of most immigrant workers in the U.S.” It seems to David Martin that the biggest variable in energy efficiency is whether they roof is vented. “I figure there would be a negligible benefit, if any, on a vented roof,” he says. “On an unvented roof, would the benefit be comparable to a radiant barrier on the underside of the rafters?”His questions about the energy benefits of a metal roof are the subject of this month’s Q&A Spotlight.
Fans can now take a selfie with football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo wherever and whenever they please, and help kids at the same time.Today, the master of selfies has launched his CR7Selfie: Fans with a Cause app, in which fans can take a selfie with Ronaldo in one of several different outfits and poses – in a tux, holding the European Golden Boot, singing karaoke, to name a few – then share it with their friends, family, followers and other CR7 fans on various social media platforms. Available globally on Apple App and Google Play stores, the app, developed by 7Windows Consulting, will cost €1,99 to download, with a portion of worldwide proceeds of every download going to Save the Children.“I am thrilled to launch this app to engage with my fans in a new way,” said Cristiano Ronaldo. “From the very beginning, I knew that I wanted this app to support a charitable cause I believe in. I have been involved with Save the Children for several years now and knew they were the best partner for this app. As a father and Global Artist Ambassador for Save the Children, I am committed to working towards giving all children a better and brighter future. I invite everyone to be a fan with a cause, so be sure to download the app, take a selfie with me anytime, anywhere and everywhere – and at the same time help kids in need!”In the app, fans can select from among 68 photos of Ronaldo in different outfits and poses, and scroll through 39 filters to apply to their selfies. New photos of Ronaldo will be made available at select times throughout the year through in-app purchases for 99 Euro cents each. Save the Children also will benefit from a portion of worldwide proceeds of every in-app purchase.Funds raised for Save the Children through CR7Selfie: Fans with a Cause app sales will go to giving children around the world a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. In 2015 alone, Save the Children helped 185 million children through its global work in 120 countries.Cristiano Ronaldo was named a Global Artist Ambassador for Save the Children in January 2013. With over 230 million followers on social media, the world-renowned football player regularly uses his platforms to shine a much-needed spotlight on the most pressing needs of children around the globe and to engage his fans to do more to help children in need, both in their own communities and all over the world.“We are so grateful to Cristiano Ronaldo for this new partnership and the work he has done in bringing attention to children’s issues around the world,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. “One in 11 children is out of school worldwide. Refugee children fare even worse; they are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children. Education is critical to helping children build opportunities for success, as well as realize their dreams. Together, this partnership and the power of social media can have an incredible impact on children globally, opening the door to learning and other opportunities to put them on the path to reach their full potential.”To help children, supporters can download the app and smile, shoot and share with Ronaldo by visiting CR7Selfie.com, and posting and tagging their photos to @Cristiano and @SaveTheChildren on Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Twitter and Weibo.
UPDATE as of 9:10 p.m. – THe outage is affecting over 34,000 customers in Northeast B.C. There is no estimate yet on when power will be restored.UPDATE as of 9:07 p.m. – Early reports suggest the power is out all over Northeast B.C. We are still waiting for more information from B.C. Hydro.FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – There is a large power outage affecting Fort St. John and Charlie Lake.At this time we are waiting more information from B.C. Hydro, but we understand power is out in a large part of Fort St. John and Charlie Lake. UPDATE as of 11 p.m. – Power has been restored in Fort St. JohnUPDATE as of 10:50 p.m. – There are now only 40,000 customers without power. Hydro is slowly restoring power to the region after an outage knocked out power to over 125,000 customers. The last community should see power restored by 12:30 a.m.UPDATE as of 10:30 p.m. – B.C. Hydro is working to restore power to over 125,000 customers in Northern B.C. According to Bob Gammer with B.C. Hydro, crews are working to restore power stagged approach, to reduce the chances of any other power outages. They will slowly restore power to each community affected and the last areas should see their power back on by 12:30 a.m. UPDATE as of 10:10 p.m. – The power could be back on by 12:30 a.m. Hydro says power could be restored by 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept 12. BC Hydro says the outage is believed to have been caused by a lightning strike.Large outages in northern BC tonight are caused by a suspected lightning strike. Crews are beginning restoration efforts across the region, working to restore all customers in the next few hours. Most of #cityofPG has been restored and we expect most customers back by 12:30am.— BC Hydro (@bchydro) September 12, 2019UPDATE as of 10 p.m. – Over 125,000 customers are now without power. The outage is affecting a number of communities in Northern B.C. There is no estimate on when power will be restored. Reports of fires in Prince George and Taylor are only flaring. The gas plant in Taylor and the refinery in PG are flaring due to the power outage.UPDATE as of 9:40 p.m. – Approximately 100,000 customers in northern BC are out of service due to a transmission failure. Affected communities run north and west of Prince George including Vanderhoof, Smithers, Fort St John, Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, Hudsons Hope, Houston and Burns Lake. Crews are investigating and we will begin restoration efforts as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience. We will continue to provide updates as soon as they become available.UPDATE as of 9:25 p.m. – There are over 100,000 customers in Northern B.C. without power. BC Hydro is still investigating why the power is out and does not have an estimate on when power will be restored. The outage covers areas like Smithers, Prince George, MacKenzie and all of Northeast B.C. Is the power out where you live?We will post updates as soon as information is available from B.C. Hydro.
New Delhi: The Indian Premier League (IPL) is back and the 12th edition of the cash-rich league couldn’t have hoped for a better start as defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are all set to take on the star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the opening game at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Saturday. Cricket might be a team game, but come Saturday, it will be all about CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni versus Virat Kohli, captain of the RCB. He might be the former skipper of the Indian team, but for his legion of fans, Dhoni is no less than god. Add to that the home factor, and there are no points for guessing that Chennai will be all yellow on the night of the opening game. Kohli, on the other hand, might be a demi-god himself for his fans, but when it comes to fighting it out against Dhoni, he might just come out second best. For the record, RCB have lost six of the seven games they have played so far at the Chidambaram Stadium and the numbers are again pitted heavily in favour of CSK. Overall, in 22 meetings between CSK and RCB, the Bengaluru outfit have managed only seven victories. In fact, the last time these two teams met — in Pune last season — Chennai were all over Bengaluru and it was a cakewalk for Dhoni’s boys. But a lot has changed since then and the senior most team in the IPL — CSK — have grown a year older. The positive for RCB is the fact that AB de Villiers is fit and raring to go after resting his back during the last stretch of the Pakistan Super League (PSL). They also have a young power hitter in Shimron Hetmyer of the West Indies to add to the arsenal. But CSK have the experience to tackle the swashbuckling batsmen in the RCB ranks. If Harbhajan Singh was the stand-out bowler for CSK last season, Deepak Chahar too showed great maturity to earn an India cap on the basis of his IPL performance. Not to forget the tactical acumen of part-time spinner Suresh Raina and Kedar Jadhav. In the batting department too, if RCB have a run-machine in Kohli, Dhoni too is coming on the back of an outstanding previous season when he showed why he is still one of the best in the business. In fact, Dhoni has scored 710 runs against the RCB, the most by any batsman against the franchise. The IPL might not have an opening ceremony this time around as the fund budgeted for the same is being handed over to the families of the Pulwama martyrs, but one couldn’t have asked for a more blockbuster start to the 12th edition of one of the most followed domestic T20 leagues in the world.
The slowdown in real estate over the last few years and the constraints that India’s infrastructure sector has faced due to non-performing assets (NPAs) have had a significant impact on allied industries, none more than on the cement sector itself. A quick look at the share price returns for listed mini-cement stocks (smaller cement companies) over the last one year gives a good idea about the woes of the sector, with shares losing anywhere between 20 to 72 per cent of their market capitalisation. However, despite the slowdown, for patient investors wagering on the “India growth story” in the decades to come, the cement sector is one that provides for interesting opportunities through a platform structure. Also Read – A special kind of bondScale is critical to creating a successful cement-focused platform company in India. Operational efficiencies across the value chain and an aggregated distribution strategy will be the two pillars that may help build a profitable and better-hedged business. A smaller cement business faces greater headwinds under challenging market conditions. At a fundamental level, a smaller company is far more exposed to the vagaries of both input price fluctuations and selling price dynamics. Greater exposure to the vagaries of price fluctuations is due to a lack of scale of operations, lacking in geographical diversification, lower negotiating power with sellers and buyers, lack of consistent brand building and lower capacity to create the operational infrastructure to build an efficient supply chain at a relatively low cost. Also Read – Insider threat managementA large platform company will be able to build a distribution network through both scale and better negotiation capacity with suppliers and customers to create more robust contracts. Access to energy inputs is vital for cement production, and so is transportation to cater to a large user base. A platform with scale and resources can better identify potential synergies across both input costs and the sales process than relatively smaller firms. Additionally, the use of robust back-end technology platforms will help scale and operate effectively. To emphasise on the importance of input and logistics costs, one must look at the numbers for a significant cement operator such as UltraTech. In Q3 of 2019, power and fuel costs were approximately 23 per cent of the final sale price while logistics costs were a little less than 25 per cent even for a large-scale operator. The numbers drive home the fact as to how significant a component of the total cement value chain are power input prices and logistics cost. Utilising a platform company to aggregate, reduce and manage these costs will be vital for success. In a capital-intensive business such as cement, focusing on Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) is as critical, if not more, than in other industries. A financially savvy operator can help boost ROCE through aggregating smaller firms to focus on reducing costs, lowering input price and logistics cost volatility and building a more recognisable brand. Additionally, it is also vital to take a disaggregated view of the business to boost ROCE. The ability to view each asset in a portfolio regarding profitability is crucial to the aim of maximising ROCE. At a disaggregated portfolio level, assets that fail to recover their variable costs will need urgent attention from the platform operator to ensure that inefficient units aren’t hidden within a large aggregated business. Essentially, in a commoditised business a larger platform company will be able to generate greater cash flows during periods of high demand and when the business cycle downturn occurs the available cash and structural advantages of better contracts, and more efficient supply chains, will help weather the storm. The much researched and discussed Mexican cement business Cemex provides a template that can teach investors and operators alike. Improving efficiencies, lowering costs, negotiating longer-term low volatility contracts and creating a premium brand synonymous with quality even in a commoditised business such as cement is the way forward. True, the cement business faces challenges given the commoditised product and the sporadic instance of the loss of pricing power, but it is as much true that the impending housing and infrastructure demand in India is one that will create a significant opportunity. The ability of an operator to aggregate smaller cement businesses in India into a robust platform is a value proposition worth considering. (The author heads Development Tracks, an infrastructure advisory firm. The views expressed are strictly personal)
Gururgam: There seems to be no respite for the residents of Gurugram as dusty winds have resulted in the city’s air being in the very poor category.On Monday, the particulate levels of 2.5 microns in Gurugram was registered at 350 micrograms per cubic metres. This is way above the prescribed limits of 60 micrograms per cubic metre set by the world health organisation (WHO). According to the met department, dust storm conditions are making the situation in the city worse. Also Read – Odd-Even: CM seeks transport dept’s views on exemption to women, two wheelers, CNG vehicles”Dust particles from the Thar in Rajasthan are blowing towards this region. That is a major cause of continuous deterioration in air quality. Also, wind direction is west-south-west, leading to the transportation of more dust particles from the desert,” said the Met official. If weather conditions were not favourable for the air to breathe what made the matters worse was the dust and vehicular pollution in the city. There was a high concentration of posonous gases like nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide that is mostly emitted by the vehicles. Also Read – More good air days in Delhi due to Centre’s steps: JavadekarIn order to save the cost, there are a large number of vehicles especially the three-wheeler that use low quality fuel that further causes more harm to the people breathing the air. Large scale construction activities and the receding green cover has resulted in dust being the major contributor to pollution in the Millennium city. Even as strict orders have been issued by the National Green Tribunal to not allow the burning of the waste, the brazenness of not following the law can be seen even in the crowded area of National Highway-8. “There is a need for sustained and committed effort in dealing with such a major challenge. Unfortunately, a few days of favourable weather conditions cannot help us escape from the big challenge that surrounds us.” “The citizens and the government must collaborate together to fight this menace. Unfortunately, even though the awareness about pollution has improved, the pro-activeness about it has not changed much,” said Shweta Narang, a city resident. Most of the citizens from the city have taken to digital platforms to highlight the challenges that are resulting in a spike of deadly air levels.