Thursday, December 29, 2005

The new IMeat?

This is a funny story from here in Hawaii. I have shopped at the Mililani Wal-Mart quite a bit but I never thought they would be selling meat in an Ipod box. I wonder what type of meat it was and if it came from Apple. This article says this:

Cambra says the box was sealed and that it didn't appear to have been tampered with when she brought it home from the Honolulu Wal-Mart where she works.

She says she had put the iPod on layaway so that she could afford the device's hefty $300 price tag.

"I know what I went through to get this for him," said an incensed Cambra. "To open up and find this? I don't know what to say."

"This" appeared to be some kind of sealed fish or meat product, certainly not a state-of-the-art MP3 player.

I think this is Apples new way of getting into the sealed food business.

WIFI matches Ethernet Speed

We may be entering the non cabled age at last.

Wireless networks may be convenient to set up, but wired ethernet has always been faster. Now a new generation of Wi-Fi products is challenging ethernet's superiority for high-bandwidth apps. We sampled some of the first of these Wi-Fi products--Netgear's $180 RangeMax 240 Wireless Router and $100 Notebook Adapter--and found that at close range, even with encryption enabled, data speeds were only a little bit slower than on a standard 10/100 megabits-per-second ethernet network.

Audit Finds FEMA Corrupt

It looks like FEMA needs a real overhaul here.

"When one considers that FEMA's programs are largely administered through grants and contracts, the circumstances created by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita provides an unprecedented opportunity for fraud, waste, and abuse," the report said.

It said while Homeland Security was taking steps to manage spending for Katrina, the size of the response and recovery efforts created "an unprecedented need for oversight."

The bad thing is that they were not prepared for a natural disaster of that magnitude even in a worse case scenerio form. Lack of planning just shows that the people at the top of FEMA were incompitent and shouldn't have had that job in the first place. They should have a plan for any possible disaster that happens in the US. If a meteor hits in NW Ohio they should just pull out a folder and put the plan into place. I wonder if they have a plan for another terrorist attack? Probably not depending on the idiots running the ship.

Windows WMF Flaw Found not Patched Yet

This one looks bad because they can execute the code simply from going to the website and currently there is no patch or workaround. I'm staying in the corporate part of the internet until they can get this thing patched.

The attacks can be carried out thanks to a newly discovered vulnerability in those operating systems' handling of corrupted.WMF (Windows Metafile) graphic files, the firms said.

The firms describe the exploit as "zero day," because malicious hackers are taking advantage of it while there is no patch or certified workaround against the vulnerability.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

JK Rowling Starts on last Harry Potter

Well she just started on the last book in the series with Harry 17 I think. I wonder if he is going to get a girlfriend in this one. It would give the story an interesting dynamic. I also think Ron and Hermoine will get romantically involved in this one as well.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mild Winter Bad for Natural Gas

Hmm it looks like the fear that people will be seeing sky-high heating oil and natural gas bills is starting to fade. I wonder if consumers will be using that cash to buy more crapola though. It will be interesting to see the retailers numbers next week though. This Christmas seemed pretty busy as far as I could tell.

Yield Curve Inverts Recession Imminent?

It looks like hte yield curve inverted today and it smacked-down stocks. This is interesting news:

Such an unusual event typically has foreshadowed a noticeable economic downturn. Usually, a recession has followed.

Despite the warning signs in the Treasury market, however, few economists expect a recession in the next year. This time, they say, things are different.

This time will be different? I'm not so sure about that. The yield curve only inverted once and there was no recession. Here is when:

The yield curve briefly inverted in 1998 during the Asian financial crisis -- the only time in the past 30 years that an inverted yield curve has not preceded a recession.

One time in 30 years isn't anything to bank on. It may be time to be vigilant in the market and start hedging your stocks well.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

John Whitehead claims Spitzer is a mean bastard

Wow, now these really are some fighting words if they are true. Here is what Spitzer supposedly told him:

"Mr. Whitehead, it's now a war between us and you've fired the first shot," Whitehead quoted Spitzer as angrily stating.

"I will be coming after you. You will pay the price. This is only the beginning and you will pay dearly for what you have done. You will wish you had never written that letter," Whitehead claimed Spitzer said.

The letter he refers to is an op-ed piece that talks bad about Spitzer. If what he said is true through it sounds like the kind of thing an evil overlord says to the hero in some fantasy novel. "You will pay dearly for what you have done!" Maybe Spitzer and Voldemort from the Harry Potter novels are one and the same?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Kerkorian Bails out of GM

It looks like the stock may be going down the toilet here soon. This is what he has just did with a little tax losses offsetting gains smokescreen attached:

Kerkorian disclosed in a regulatory filing Tuesday that his sale of 12 million GM shares generated a loss that would be used to offset gains elsewhere in his investment company's portfolio for tax purposes.

This is how much he is down in the stock already:

Kerkorian spent about $1.7 billion to build a 9.9 percent stake in GM this year. But he's now about $600 million in the red, counting the almost $110 million loss on the sale of the 12 million shares and the reduced value of his remaining 7.8 percent stake.

Wow, $600 million in paper losses should make even a billionaire sick to his stomach. He couldn't get his guy on their board either so he may be bailing out on the whole mess. Could a bankruptcy filing be in the cards? Even though everyone from the CEO on down has denied it?

If you are conspiracy minded then Kerkorian had heard a little something from his people in and around GM and is pulling out as fast as is prudent. Or maybe he just doesn't have faith in the guys running GM and since he can't get his people in there he is taking his loss like a man. Either way the stock will probably be in for a lot more bruising going forward.

RIMM Beats Street

RIMM seems to be hitting on all cylinders dispite the looming threat of a shutdown.

Net income rose to $120.1 million, or 61 cents per share, from $90.4 million, or 46 cents per share. Revenue rose 53 percent to $560.5 million from $365.9 million and was above analysts' forecasts of $549 million.

Adjusted net income of 71 cents per share topped the 65-cent mean estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

They gave the numbers a pretty bad beat and that revenue growth looks pretty good as well. The CEO seemed pretty pumped up as well:

"The business is really soaring. It's not just doing OK. It's soaring," James L. Balsillie, RIM's chairman and CEO told The Associated Press in an interview. "A lot of people have said `Wow, I thought it was all kind of tough,' but we've been telling everybody sales are fine."

They may have some subscriber problems due to the possible shutdown and they forcasted that number to be lower in the 4th quarter. If they settle those problems then it will be like a weight got lifted off of the stock. Seems like a decent time to put this guy back on the watchlist.

2006 Could be a Good Year to Invest

It seems like we will have a pretty decent year in 2006 according to this article. They say that the GDP growth numbers will be slightly less next year. Also profits may be a bit down as well. Other then that it seems pretty rosy since the FED will probably finish tightening by spring. Here is what has them worrying though:

A sharp dropoff in housing activity and home prices may not be the expected scenario, but it is at the top of most forecasters' worry lists of what could go wrong in the economy in 2006. So is the price of oil. Its ups and downs could be either a positive or a negative for growth. Any sharp swing out of the range of $45 to $70 per barrel would affect growth and overall inflation.

Throw in concerns about a possible plunge in the dollar, shrinking foreign capital inflows, and new acts of domestic terrorism, and you have enough in the mix to make any investor queasy.

Bullets Fly and Knives Brandished at Notorious BIG party

Wow now this is some kind of launch party for the new Duets album that is coming out with people singing with the rapper from beyond the grave. The whole idea of an album with people singing along with a dead guy is weird and sure enough gunfire crackled and knives were drawn at this party:

Police said that at 3:10 a.m. patrol officers heard gunfire at a parking garage near the club. Inside, they found three men with gunshot wounds; all were taken to the hospital in stable condition.

Moments later, police received a 911 call reporting a stabbing at the club. Officers found three victims — two men who were slashed in the face and one who was stabbed in the stomach; all were hospitalized.

I wonder why the people were stabbed and shot in groups of three? That seems almost ritualistic. Perhaps they were West Coast rappers or hangers-on shot and stabbed by the Ghost of Notorious BIG? Are Tupac and Biggie continuing their West-Coast vs. East Coast war from beyond the grave? Now that would be nuts.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Intelligent Design dealt a Deathblow by Judge

It looks like Evolution won out against all comers today.

A federal judge on Tuesday banned the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution by Pennsylvania's Dover Area School District, saying the practice violated the constitutional ban on teaching religion in public schools.

I guess this is a good deal. I don't see what is wrong with teaching some kind of religion in public school though. They could have an optional religion elective that goes through the various kinds of religion and their history and beliefs. Since it is an optional elective then anti-God types can just have their kids take basketweaving or something instead. They may already have something like this but they didn't when I was in public school in the 90s.

Iran Fights Back Against Music Ban

It looks like the common Iranian doesn't care too much for Ahmadinejads stupid ban on their music.

"This president speaks as if he is living in the Stone Age. This man has to understand that he can't tell the people what to listen to and what not to listen to," said Mohammed Reza Hosseinpour as he browsed through a Tehran music shop.

I wonder if the AP is putting this man in danger though. The secret police can round up Mr. Hosseinpour and put a bullet in the back of his head out in some wild and empty place. They should have used the words Iranian music buyer instead of his full name. Whatever the case Mr. Hosseinpour is a pretty brave dude for talking to the press like this and badmouthing their insane leader.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Nick and Jessica File for Divorce

It looks like it is final. The two "Newlyweds" are headed for divorce court. I guess when you turn off the camera Simpson didn't seem all that appealing anymore. I mean she is barely mentally coherent and is totally controlled by her father. She can barely keep an adult conversation going.

And with Ashlee Simpson cracking up in Tokyo. The plans Joe Simpson had for building a Simpson Empire are beginning to fall apart. Jessica will still get some bad movie rolls but I don't think Ashlee is ever going to live down her SNL Lipsink and Jig episode. I wonder if we will still hear about either one this time next year?

West Wings Leo died

This sure was a sudden development. John Spencer the guy that played Leo on the West Wing died of a heart attack at the age of 58. I wonder what will happen to the new episodes of West Wing now. Will his character actually die or will he be written out of the show in some other way. It is a sad story but it will be interesting to see how it is handled.

Google to buy 5% stake in AOL

Hmm this is a strange deal for AOL to make.

"Why would Time Warner shareholders be happy sharing some of AOL ownership?" asked Blake Warner, an investment banker at Thomas Weisel Partners. "What does AOL suffer from? It suffers from a declining dial-up subscriber base. Time Warner is still stuck with that."

Unless Google comes up with a solution that fixes the migration of AOL subscribers to the broadband offerings of other access providers, it's unclear what Time Warner shareholders stand to gain, he said.

Perhaps this could be a good faith thing so Google can get in the door before MSFT. So it is like a $1 billion dollar payment with an option to buy the company in the future. I think things could be really heating up for Time Warner before too long.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tough Talk from Morgan Freeman

He really raises some interesting issues with this 60 minutes interview. This is what he said:

"You're going to relegate my history to a month?" the 68-year-old actor says in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" to air Sunday (7 p.m. EST). "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history."

He also goes on to say:

Freeman notes there is no "white history month," and says the only way to get rid of racism is to "stop talking about it."

The actor says he believes the labels "black" and "white" are an obstacle to beating racism.

"I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man," Freeman says.

Yup, if we get away from the labels we will eventually see everyone as just Americans. Sometimes the words "white and black" carry some of the baggage of racism. Nowadays something like a "White History Month" could only be seen as something that would exclude other races. I can already hear the cries of racism pointed toward a person advocating such a month.

So a black history month *could* be thought of as doing the same. In other words providing a history month that excludes other Americans points out that they are singled out from other Americans. So their history could be misinterpreted as separate from everyone else's.

They should have a shared history because they do have a shared history. And thus they should be included with all the other races living in the US with an American History Month. Such a month should go through the entire American experience warts and all. Celebrate building the Panama Canal and the going to war for Europe but at the same time denigrate the killing of the Indians and Slavery. So it would go from Americas highest highs and then our lowest lows and everything in between. We should be honoring all of us and not just singling out one group or the other for whatever reason.

Retailers Not so Hot this Holiday Season

It looks like consumers are playing chicken with the retailers again according to this article. It looks like heating bills may be the culprits this time around:

HereÂ’s the bottom line: So far the retail picture has been a decidedly mixed bag. Consumers are spending, but stores have had to rely on heavy discounting. After what could be described, at best, as a decent start to the holiday season, indications are that sales have already started to tail off. The last few days leading up to Christmas will be critical. Unfortunately for retailers, this will come immediately after many consumers receive their first winter heating bills. Sticker shock could lead people to lower their thermostats on holiday spending, leaving many retailers out in the cold.

I'm not sure if this will be the case though. I think Americans will still be able to buy what they want this holiday season. They will probably tighten somewhere else instead. I wonder what the statistics are about heating oil usage this year? People could be using less oil or just heating one room to save money like the Europeans.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bush Offers a Mea Culpa on Iraq

Well it looks like he is finally owning up that the pre-war intelligence was junk and we went to war using the wrong cover story. He says:

"It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq, and I am also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities and we're doing just that," he said

So he is finally owning up to what went wrong. I guess that makes him a stand-up guy. This part I agree with also:

But he said, "My decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision" because he was deemed a threat and that regardless, "We are in Iraq today because our goal has always been more than the removal of a brutal dictator."

I thought this should have been the focus from the very beginning. Remove the brutal dictator so you can put other brutal dictators on notice that the US may come after them. Then they should have had the propaganda blitz focus on Saddams atrocities and finding evidence of them.
In other words go from the weapon inspectors to the forensic pathologists searching for evidence of atrocities. Do it under the guise of helping the Iraqis find their missing relatives or something similar.

They could have made this switch at the very beginning and downplayed the WMDs. Now switching the tune 3 years in just shows that the White House did not have the spin mechanism that Clinton had. It seems that a democratic Iraq could come out of all this. And if it does it will be one of the greatest good deeds in US history.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Best Buy misses numbers

BBY missed by 2 cents and wow their stock get a real haircut today. Here is the reason:

Best Buy Co. Inc. has been adding personal shoppers, business experts, and home theater installers so it could focus on its most profitable customers. But its hiring spree dragged third-quarter profits down by 7 percent, and on Tuesday Best Buy trimmed its full-year forecast.

I guess going after their big dollar customers has hurt the bottom line quite badly. I guess trying to shoehorn personal shoppers and such into such a low margin business like electronics was the recipe for disaster. It seems that some other companies can get away with this extra service quite well. I guess when people buy a $399.99 PC they don't care where they buy it from or how good the extra service is.

I mean most of the time a person's children/friends can be as good as the Geek Squad, businesses know what they want, and most people can install a home theater quite easily. Also personal shoppers are for people that shop at Neiman Marcus and not for people looking to buy some DVDs and an Ipod for Christmas.

Fed Raises Rates Again

It looks like they are near the end of the tightening cycle though. They also did this:

In a statement outlining its widely expected step, the Fed dropped an oft-repeated description of policy as accommodative, or stimulative -- acknowledging that rates have risen to more-normal levels from an emergency low of 1 percent hit in mid-2003.

It looks like we are finally in the 8th or 9th inning judging by them dropping the language. This should be good for the stock market going forward.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Britain sure has a Tough Death Tax

Wow talk about weird stuff. This guy put a bet down to hedge against paying an inheritance tax of 3000 pounds. He is 91 so they gave him 6/1 odds that he would die. So if he did take the dirt nap he would have that tax bill covered.

It is a funny story but it makes something like a death tax sound downright evil. A 91 year old man shouldn't have to take out a contract on his own life so his 85 year old wife doesn't have to live in the street. And the idea that if he can't come up with 3000 pounds he needs to stay alive at all costs. I guess that is what insurance (or in this case a bookmaker) is for.

GM Circling the Toilet

It seems that S&P thinks that GM is in danger of bankruptcy.

"At this juncture, it's our conclusion that this isn't a far-fetched possibility if the kind of deterioration in results we've seen over the last few quarters should continue," Sprinzen said.

It seems that they may also spin off the GMAC financing arm.

The developing status reflects the possibility that GM may sell a controlling stake in GMAC to a highly rated financial institution, in which case its investment-grade rating could be restored, S&P said.

If GM does not sell a majority stake in GMAC, GMAC's ratings would be lowered to the level of GM's, Sprinzen said. S&P has long rated GM and GMAC the same because of the control GM has over GMAC and because their businesses are intertwined.

That should be a nice item for a big bank to run. It would seem to take in quite a bit of money and is one of the better run parts of GM. I'm hoping Citigroup gets it. They seem to be good at running consumer banking type products.

Joss Stone Best Dog Owner

This is a nice thing for an 18 year old dog owner to be named.

Stone, who has a poodle named Dusty Springfield, volunteered for the North Shore Animal League America after seeing images of pets stranded in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, said The New York Dog and The Hollywood Dog magazines.

While Paris Hilton is the worst dog owner.

"First she loses Tinkerbell, then she ditches her for a cuter dog, then replaces that dog with a ferret, then a kinkajou monkey and then, I gather, a goat," Padgett said in a statement. "Recently Tinkerbell was spotted back in Paris' arms. But how long will she be in favor this time?"

I feel sorry for Tinkerbell. It sounds like a bad relationship. First she loses the dog then she ditches her for a ferret and then she comes back to the dog again. I think Tinkerbell needs to get into some therapy.

Schwarzenegger denys Clemency

He told Tookie "your fired." Then he lights a cigar and laughes heartily while Tookie is blown up in the background. It looks like Tookie is going to face the death house here. I guess he shouldn't have done this:

Williams was condemned in 1981 for gunning down a clerk in a convenience store holdup and a mother, father and daughter in a motel robbery weeks later. Williams claimed he was innocent.

He has been good with anti-gang stuff but he still needs to pay up for his crimes though. He seems like a stand-up guy too:

"Me fearing what I'm facing, what possible good is it going to do for me? How is that going to benefit me?" Williams said in a recent interview. "If it's my time to be executed, what's all the ranting and raving going to do?"

Xbox 360 will be Scarcer

MSFT may be blowing its chance to lead the market by not having enough Xbox 360 machines ready to go. It looks like they are starting to sell out all over the world now.

We knew we had one of the hottest products for the holidays on our hands but even I was stunned by reports the next morning of fights breaking out and guns being drawn," Moore said.
As a result, the
Xbox 360 has become one of the hottest products on the eBay online auction site.

"The hunt for the 360 seems to be a keen sport now. We are replenishing the channels every week and a lot of retailers, quite frankly, took more preorders than they had stock coming in and they are only now fulfilling those. So for the consumers in Europe and the U.S. who think they can just walk up and buy one, I don't know when that is going to happen."

Um, Mr. Moore you should have knew this was going to happen. The video game industry has been stagnate for about a year now. There hasn't been a Tickle-Me Elmo or Furby this holiday season. Of course the new latest and greatest game system will sell like hotcakes.

All I can say is that they better have a ton of them ready to go by January when people use up their gift cards. If they don't they may really miss the boat and the Sony PS3 will eat their lunch again. It is good to see this though:

Among those inconvenienced by the shortage has been Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive officer. Ballmer said last week that his children had yet to get an Xbox 360 because he hadn't been able to buy one and Sarbanes-Oxley rules prevented him from getting a free console.

"He's right, he's a section 16 officer that operates under Sarbanes-Oxley," said Moore. "I can't give him one, even if I had one, because he can't accept it and I don't think he pre-ordered it from our local BestBuy, which he lives pretty close to, so Steve is [out of luck] right now."
"I'm sure the Ballmer boys aren't happy with that because he has to get in line at retail like everybody else," said Moore. "He can come to my house if he needs games to play."

Wow even the CEOs son can't get his hands on an Xbox 360.

Bin Laden May by out of the loop

It looks like experts believe that Bin Laden may no longer be at the helm of al-Qaida and is in deep hiding in that North Waziristan region. This is kind of intriguing though:

Turki, a former director of the Saudi intelligence service, said he believes bin Laden is alive but there is some question about whether he still leads al-Qaida. Bin Laden has not been heard from since an audiotape released in December 2004.

He believes he's alive but hasn't released an audiotape for an entire year. I mean they seem to have tape recorders so I wonder why he doesn't release a statement of some kind. I really have a feeling that he is dead but the intelligence guys can't be sure so they are erring on the side of Bin Laden alive. They don't want to be surprised by a Bin Laden coming back from the dead like a zombie. This was interesting too:

The al-Qaida No. 2 was last heard from on a tape that surfaced Sunday, urging all Muslims to take up arms and saying a refusal to join the fight against Jews and Christians would lead to the defeat of militant Islam.

He said the global Islamic community had "no hope for victory" until all Muslims signed on to the al-Qaida-led jihad. His comments were contained in a 48-minute tape entitled "Impediments to Jihad."

These killers seem kind of demoralized here. If *all* Muslims don't rise up then they will have no hope for victory? So it looks like they could be whistling before the gallows. They have already pissed off the Jordanians with their Islamic wedding bombing. The Pakistanis want them dead because they tried to ice their leader.

Iraq seems to be slipping away with new elections and the security forces coming on line. When the "crusaders" leave who are they going to blow up? The US will leave no matter what happens as well. The political cost is way too high to keep troops in Iraq for more then a few more years at most. It is just a matter of leaving in strength with a democratic Iraq in our wake. Or sneaking out the back door while leaving a brewing civil war behind us. Either way we are out of there by the next election at least. So I guess al-Qaida can go back to blowing up wedding parties and hapless-Muslims again.

Paramount to buy out Dreamworks

It looks like the Shrek-makers have gone to:

Paramount Pictures agreed to buy the independent film studio for $775 million in cash. It will also assume $825 million in debt and other obligations, company officials said Sunday.

Sounds like Paramount is only getting their film library and the right to distribute the animated movies for 7 years. It also seems that NBC may have dropped the ball on this one:

Paramount put its offer together just last week, after DreamWorks had been discussing terms with NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co., for nine months.

NBC Universal made an offer in September, then reduced it at the last minute. That angered Geffen, who said he was still talking to NBC Universal as late as Friday before finally accepting the Paramount offer.

I wonder why they reduced the deal at the last minute? I guess it could have been because of the dropoff in DVD sales that Dreamworks has been having. So the bean counters may have cost them this deal. It really seems that NBC is crapping out on at full force.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Picture of Me for Blogspot

Here is a picture of me I want to change to use for my profile:

Child Murders Shock Japan

Wow this is some scary stuff about kids being killed Japan.

Armed policemen patrol streets on the way to school, education officials draw up safety maps and young students carry alarms to call for help in an emergency. A spate of grisly crimes targeting schoolchildren has horrified Japan and dealt a serious blow to its image as a safe country for children.

Here is what has got the officials horrified:

On Nov. 22, the strangled body of 7-year-old Airi Kinoshita was discovered taped inside a box on a parking lot in Hiroshima in southwestern Japan.
On Dec. 2, Yuki Yoshida, also 7, was found stabbed to death in a forest northeast of Tokyo.

The first killing generated fevered coverage in Japanese media when a Peruvian immigrant was arrested, fanning growing fears that increasing numbers of foreigners are responsible for rising crime.

No arrests have been made in the second killing.

I guess the Japanese need to be more vigilant when it comes to their kids. You don't know what kind of lurking crazies are out there.

Iranian Leader is Nuts

It looks like he is a holocaust denier as well as wanting to destroy Israel. I think he needs to read a history book as well:

Iran's official news agency IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying of the Nazi Holocaust "Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces..."

"Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, our question for the Europeans is: is the killing of innocent Jewish people by Hitler the reason for their support to the occupiers of Jerusalem?" he said.

"If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe -- like in Germany, Austria or other countries -- to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe."

Yup he forgot to mention the gas chambers there. I think he was fantasizing about putting Jews in furnaces and got confused. I wonder if he used air quotes to say innocent Jews as well?

Also take a look at the tortured logic of saying if the holocaust happened then the Europeans need to take the Jews out of their ancient homeland. Give them some land in Germany or Austria and anywhere but Israel. I think this idiot needs to get an Hellfire missile assassination courtesy of the IDF.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Motorola Well Positioned for Growth

It seems this analyst is seeing consolidation coming down the pike in the wireless handheld business. He says:

Motorola is "well-positioned to benefit" as the complexity of handset technology increases and research and development becomes more important. The trend will favor companies with sufficient scale to fund in-house R&D such as Motorola. "This will likely raise the bar for others in the industry and result in continued consolidation though more from 'natural selection' than mergers and acquisitions," the analyst said.

It seems that their inhouse R&D is doing a good job at least when it comes to innovative new products. The RAZR phone seems like a real must have gadget. Their design arm is really cutting edge as far as I can see. I just like how they are taking market share away from rivals. This guys raised targets seem quite doable too:

Um raised Motorola's 2006 earnings estimate to $1.31 per share from $1.26, and raised the 2007 estimate to $1.52 from $1.39, citing increased estimates for global handset-unit shipments and market-share gains made by Motorola. The analyst raised the global handset-unit-shipments estimate for 2006 to 881 million from 851 million, and raised the estimate for 2007 to 949 million from 903 million.

The analyst raised the price target on Motorola to $30 from $27, and reiterated a "buy" rating on the company.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Kerkorian may join GMs board

This should be good news for the beleaguered automaker. Kirk has already lost a bundle on paper and he needs to do something to make that money back.

Analysts have said Kerkorian's presence on the board could lead to drastic restructuring measures such as plant closings and job cuts, in part because his shares have lost so much value. When Kerkorian acquired 18.9 million shares in June, he paid $31 apiece. On Tuesday, GM shares were up 65 cents to close at $23.04 on the New York Stock Exchange. They have traded in a 52-week range of $20.60 to $40.82.

So it looks like he has lost about $151 million on paper from that June trade alone. This could be a good time to buy the stock since we have a billionaire on the hook for multi-millions in losses looking to shake things up by being on the board. Could be a good buy at these depressed levels. I have added it to my watch list already.

Coke Launches Coke Blak

Hmm this sounds like an interesting drink.

The new drink, a combination of Coca-Cola Classic and coffee extracts, will be first launched in France in January before being rolled out in the United States and other markets during 2006.

I think KO is getting back into being ahead of Pepsi instead of following them. They are probably hoping this Coke Blak (which sounds to me for some reason like the Japanese gum Black Black) will have the success that Vanilla Coke had. I'll check it out for sure when it comes out in 2006.

Christina Applegate to divorce

It looks like the Hollywood breakup story is still in full force.

Looks like Christina Applegate will soon be divorced...without children.

The actress' husband, Johnathon Schaech got the ball rolling by filing for divorce Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences.

I think this may be the case of one spouse career going in one direction while the other goes in the toilet. Check out these differences:

After her post-Married television series, Jesse, was canceled in 2000, she proved her comic mettle with starring roles in films including The Sweetest Thing, opposite
Cameron Diaz and Selma Blair and Anchorman, with Will Ferrell.

She also earned the Emmy for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy in 2003 for her turn as
Jennifer Aniston wacky sister on Friends in the episode "The One Where Rachel's Sister Babysits."

Over the past several months, Applegate has shown she's good for more than just a laugh with her leading role in the Broadway musical Sweet Charity, which required her to sing and dance, and even garnered her a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical.

That means she starred opposite Cameron Diaz and Will Ferrell. I think Anchorman made a pile of money as well. Plus she got an Emmy and a Tony Nomination. Her career prospects can't get any more brighter. While this is what happened to Schaech:

next slated to appear in the action film Road House 2: Last Call. The project is currently in preproduction, per, and is expected to be released sometime next year.

Yup he is in the sequel to a 16 year old Patrick Swayze movie. If that movie makes more then a few million at the box office then I would be really surprised. It sounds like a direct to DVD mess any way you slice it. He should be happy like Kevin Federline to ride a more successful spouses coattails. Well KFed and Britney may be headed for splitsville as well.

Ballmer Keeps Mouth Shut About AOL deal

I wonder how much this deal is going to be? Ballmer seems tight lipped about it but I wouldn't see past MSFT throwing some of that cash horde at this thing. Here is what Ballmer is saying:

Online advertising is of keen interest to us and I have absolutely nothing to say about the AOL deal or no deal whatever," said Ballmer.

"If you ask, particularly our consumer-facing businesses, what will be the most rapidly growing revenue stream at Microsoft, it's absolutely going to be advertising."

It looks like MSFT is putting Google directly in their sights by challenging their core revenue streams. I mean fancy free programs like Google Earth are one thing but when MSFT comes after you then they better be bunkering up. I mean MSFT has a $40 billion warchest to fight them tooth and nail. I hope Google is up to the task.

NY Stock Exchange to Trade

Well its about time. It has been 213 years since the NYSE has been in business. Too bad they aren't trading on the NASDAQ. It would be nice to see them have the ticker symbol of NYSE. It would be nice and elegant that way. I'm just wondering if the floor specialist will be going the way of the buggy whip though.

Housing Slowdown in 2006

This news seems to be hitting the homebuilders pretty hard. It will be especially hard on the buildings materials and morgage specialist industries as well. Here is what they are forcasting:

The slowdown is likely to last several years, with as many as 500,000 construction jobs and 300,000 financial sector positions lost, the quarterly Anderson Forecast predicted.

• New construction of housing in October was down 5.6 percent from the previous month, with new construction of single-family housing accounting for a 3.7 percent dip.

• New home sales have declined.

• Applications for home mortgages have trended downward since late September as rates increased.

• In some regions, homes are remaining unsold longer and the pace of housing construction is outpacing population growth, which could spell a decline in demand.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Apple really humming along

Well, I was a doubter about APPL in years past but they have reinvented themselves quite well. Now we have an all-time high in the stock with some recent analyst upgrades. Here is what he said:

"We are excited about the prospects for further revenue contribution from iPods due to what we perceive as a positive mix shift to video iPods," Benjamin Reitzes of UBS said.

The analyst boosted his earnings estimates on the company through fiscal 2007 and lifted his target price for the stock to $86, up from $74 previously, reflecting "Apple's ability to grow rapidly with relatively high margins vs. its peers." Reitzes rates the stock a buy.

That seems pretty doable too. Ipods already have the precieved excess value effect associated with them. That is the ability of consumers to pay more for an item due to its luxury, buzz, or coolness factor. A person will pay more for an Ipod then almost any other video or MP3 player. So those companies have to compete on price while AAPL can compete on coolness.
The stock is in uncharted territory here and priced to perfection. But betting against the reinvented AAPL may be a sucker bet judging on how low the short interest is.

Everyone still wants AOL

AOL used to be the drag on TimeWarners stock and now everyone seems to want a piece of it. It looks like MSFT and Google are the last ones putting in bids though. This was an interesting piece of news though:

Google has generated about 11 percent of its revenue in the first half of this year from its current deal to provide search technology to AOL, but this figure overestimates the importance of the deal to the company.

Analysts said the deal only accounts for 4 percent of revenue after Google returns fees to AOL in its revenue-sharing agreement.

So it seems that Google has to give 2/3rds of the money it gets from AOL back to it in the form of fees? No wonder they wanted to get an equity stake in the company. I would hate to make 11% of my revenue from once source and then have to pay them back 7% for the privilege of letting you make that revenue in the first place.

And you can see why MSFT wants to push Google out. They can deal an 11% revenue hit to their main competitor in one shot. They could forge a deal with AOL and immediately get a revenue boost out of nowhere. It should be interesting to watch which horse in this race prevail. I think it will make the loser into the winners sworn enemy.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Movie Review: Rent

Well this past week I got to watch a few movies at the theatre so I'll write some reviews. Rent was pretty good for a musical but I had some thoughts on it. I have never seen the play or really heard much about it so I was going in cold. Also I'm not the biggest fan of musicals.

So at first I had a hard time getting used to the constant singing. They seemed to be sing every single word. It was like "I'm going to the stooore! He's going to the stooore! Their going to the stoooore! The Store!" I saw Chicago before and there seemed to be much less singing in that movie. I did get used to it after a while though.

I may have been expecting something else when I was going in. I thought it was going to be a drama with some singing parts. It was actually an all-singing movie with some dramatic parts thrown it that had people saying lines. The storyline was pretty good. It followed a year in the lives of some New Yorkers. They have various problems with relationships and by the end they figure it out more or less.

One thing that I thought was interesting was how there were some things that may have been viewed as controversial in the late 90s but didn't seem that way anymore. There were two gay couples in the movie one male and the other female. Their relationships seemed perfectly natural and the two females even got married in some sort of civil ceremony at a snooty club. That may have all been some radical stuff in the late 90s but humdrum nowadays.

The reason that I felt the movie wanted to portray these characters as controversial was due to this one scene where the various gay couples take turns kissing at this restaurant. It all went on during this elaborate dance number where people were dancing on tables and jumping around.

The couples kiss and are affectionate in front of a yuppie guy played by Taye Diggs and these two white guys. So in other words they seem to be showing off how outrageous they are in front of these Squares. They are attempting to freak the mundanes. That seemed to play better in the late 90s when what they were doing could be considered outrageous but it has kind of a "been there done that" vibe nowadays.

Also the subject of AIDS was central to the theme of the movie with 4 of the main characters having the disease. For some reason it didn't have the resonance of a movie like "And the Band Played On." I think it was because the characters were taking AZT and even had beepers that told them when to take it. AIDS is incurable affliction but people can live a fairly long life with it nowadays. It would have been interesting to see this movie set during the time before AZT. It would have made the relationships seem more like embers burning bright before the fireplace goes dark. They would have been doomed, Shakespeare tragedy sort of relationships.

In the movie AIDS seemed thrown in as a plot device that could have been swapped out for cancer or something. So when one of the characters dies you go why didn't that guy take his AZT? Collins seems to have a good job. Why didn't he spring for that persons meds? Or they could have approached the yuppie guy for some money. Maybe they explained why that person didn't take AZT in the play version of Rent but they didn't in the movie version.

All in all the movie is worth seeing if you are a fan of the play or if you like musicals. I thought the songs were catchy, the actors sang well, and New York is one dirty hellhole in the Rent version of the late 90s.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

How 50 Cent Can Become a Billionaire: Take Over The CAE

This is the stated aspiration of rapper 50 Cent:

"GQ" says the hip-hop icon is now a "Leading Man." 50 says he`s working on some serious change, though; he wants to be a billionaire within the next six years.

Here is a way that he could become a multi-billionaire in less then that. He could follow the Executive Outcomes model. That means 50 cent needs to start his own mercenary army.

EO was paid $20 million a year during its 1995 to 1997 stint in Sierra Leone, and routed the RUF forces with a force of less than 300 mercenaries, allowing elections to take place.

So with about $60 million and 300 mercenaries EO was pretty much able to take over the government of Sierra Leone. 50 Cent has a net worth of about $60 million so he could probably swing it with some corporate backers. Or he could wait a bit until he has the cash and fund the army on his own dime. He would have to incorporate the company and call it something innocuous like G-Unit Special Projects Corporation or C. Jackson Consulting LLC.

He would then try to take over the Central African Republic. They seem to be a prime target since they have a military expenditure of only $15 million a year, a military junta in charge, and no air force. They have diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil, hydropower and they have a GDP of $4.248 billion a year.

He would be a billionaire as soon as he takes over. He would then get Exxon in there to exploit that oil wealth and become a multi-billionaire in the first year. I don't know much about the hip-hop community but taking over a country at the head of a mercenary army should really be worth some street cred. Plus his own nation would produce its own diamonds so he doesn't need to see Jacob the Jeweler for his bling.

Catholic Church to suspend Limbo?

Hmm, this seems like a pretty good change to the Catholic doctrine. They are thinking of getting rid of the idea of Limbo.

The Catholic Church teaches that babies who die before they can be baptized go to limbo, whose name comes from the Latin for "border" or "edge," because they deserve neither heaven nor hell.

That seems like a pretty good change. I think it is kind of unjust to send the unbaptized babies who can't help being unbaptized. I wonder if they can just get rid of the idea of Limbo that quickly. It seems like a retcon in comics. "Well, this doesn't fit modern sensibilities so it gets the axe." Kind of like how Superboy didn't start up the Legion of Superheroes and they instead drew their inspiration from the Teen Titans.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

NASCAR to go International?

Brian France might be on to something here. I think NASCAR can really thrive overseas but the sport will have to change a bit. I agree with this point:

"I don't think that works in the long term. You have to build stars who are from Europe, teams that are from Europe and get manufacturers who have an interest in Europe," he said

Nor would NASCAR try to displace Formula 1, which France said was totally different. However, NASCAR would likely have to incorporate some road racing as opposed to racing on tracks like in the United States.

The Europeans like their road courses and rally racing. I think they may need to allow more manufacturers into the sport to get any kind of European recognition. That means BMW and Porsche may need to submit bids for NASCAR cars in the near future. I don't think the American auto-dealers want to compete with these guys though. So European expansion might be kind of hard in the near term.

However Japan would seem to be a great place to start their expansion. Toyota is almost ready to put their car into the mix in 2007. If this new car model is successful then they should think about having a race in Japan. The Japanese seem to like amateur racing quite a bit so I can see a NASCAR race that is run on the streets of Tokyo be quite popular. They can run it similar to a road course like that one level in the PS2 game Gran Turismo. Getting the cars to Japan may be pricey but I think it could be quite a boon for the sport.

Congress Addresses E-waste

Finally Congress is stepping in and talking about E-waste.

Representatives of manufacturers, consumers, and recyclers are advising Congress on legislation that would create a national standard for disposal of e-waste. Earlier this year, a group of congressional representatives formed the E-Waste Working Group to target the growing problem.

And this problem will get worse and worse as the years pass. I mean most gagets that we are seeing are only in their 2nd or 3rd generation so far. As the years pass this will be one of the things that a digital society will really have to deal with.

I mean cell phones have only been around for a few decades. I have replaced mine 3 times so far in my lifetime. Imagine how many I would have gone through when I am at retirement age? And I am not really a high turnover gageteer. I can see some people generating 100s of times more e-waste a year then me. And multiply this by all the Indians and Chinese that will soon be entering their own e-item replacement cycles.

And finally Congress is doing something about it. Well, I guess forming a working group is the first step. I think government will eventually need to step in and create some sort of nationwide e-waste recycling program. Haling your old PC down to CompUSA will not cut it anymore.

Blackberries may be shut off in the US

This looks like it will be a bad deal for all the crack-berry addicts out there. I think a shutdown of their service would be something that Palm should exploit. I mean they should go as far as to give out free Palm Treos to anyone who's Blackberry does not work. A shutdown of service would be a competitive misstep that comes along once in a lifetime. Palm will have the opportunity to change the entire landscape when it comes to handhelds.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Mr. Miyagi died!

Pat Morita passed away at the age of 73:

There were conflicting reports about the cause of death. His daughter Aly Morita said he died Thursday of heart failure at a Las Vegas hospital; longtime manager Arnold Soloway said the actor died of kidney failure at a hospital while awaiting a transplant.

He was also the original Arnold on Happy Days. He certainly made the 80s decade for all the Xers like myself. With all that "wax-on-wax off," crane kicking, and drum punches.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sound Advice from Investors Business Daily

It seems they use the 7% to 8% loss point to jump out of a stock. That seems like good advice to me. They say:

The primary rule of investing is to sell a stock if it falls 7% to 8% below your buy point. This kind of attitude takes discipline, plus the ability to suppress your ego for the sake of your portfolio.

That is why you just make a stop at that point so you don't have to think about it. Your ego doesn't even get involved at all. I have been doing this for some time and it works for me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sony Sued by Texas and EFF

Well it looks like the cashola that I sent to the EFF has been put to good use.

Texas has become the first U.S. state to sue Sony over its distribution of flawed copy protection software, while representatives for the EFF, a digital rights watchdog group based in San Francisco, said the organization will bring a class-action lawsuit against Sony in California.

The Texas lawsuit accuses Sony of violating the state's 2005 antispyware law by distributing the software on 52 of the company's music titles this year.

So it seems that they are accused of knowingly distributing spyware. I wonder if there are criminal charges that they could attach to this. It would be nice to see Sony hit for billions in damages. I would also love to see some of BMGs top execs doing the perp walk as well. The allegations of what XCP copy protection software did get even worse:

The Texas attorney general's office is also investigating reports that XCP may be collecting user information and sending it back to Sony, as well as improperly concealing the fact that it does not work with Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod music players.

Yup that program may have dialed home and sent some information without your knowledge right to Sony. I hope it was just demographic information and systems specs they stole and not confidential e-mails and bank account passwords. Who knows what was stolen. You can never tell with a company like Sony.

ITunes the Number 7 Music Store

It seems that ITunes is climbing up the list of music stores. They were number 14 this time last year. They beat out beat out Tower Records, Sam Goody, and Borders to take that spot. Here is the rest of the list:

Wal-Mart Stores retained its first place ranking as the top music seller, followed in order by Best Buy, Target, and, all of which held onto their previous spots, according to NPD. For Your Entertainment leaped to fifth place from tenth, and Circuit City Stores dropped one spot to sixth.

I wonder what For Your Entertainment is. I guess that is a store we don't have in Hawaii. I was surprised to see Wal-Mart at the top of this list too. I guess throwing a music CD on the pile of ones everyday shopping needs is something alot of people do.

Debra Lafave found Guilty

It looks like the Florida teacher that had sex with her student has pleaded guilty. This is a kind of interesting defense that they tried though:

Fitzgibbons said in July that plea negotiations had broken off because prosecutors insisted on prison time, which he said would be too dangerous for someone as attractive as Lafave. He said then that she planned to plead insanity at trial, claiming emotional stress kept her from knowing right from wrong.

So if the prosecutors pushed for prison time then she would have pleaded insanity. That seems pretty interesting to me. Here is a pic of the Lafave looking like there are only two brain cells rattling around in her head:

Xbox 360 Flipping on Ebay

Looks like people are already selling the thing for double the price on Ebay.

EBay said the average price for consoles, including those sold with games and other add-ons, was $660. However, the company said some console packages were selling for as much as $2,500, with bidding and sales prices varying widely.

Whoever is paying $2500 for it has more money then sense. They will have lots of these things on the market before too long. It will be interesting to see how this perceived shortage will play out in the US:

Still, Microsoft has conceded that an ambitious plan to launch the console worldwide within a few weeks -- rather than staggering releases over months and months, as is typical -- will mean fewer consoles initially in North America.

Xbox 360 Released!

It has just come out and the reviews seem pretty positive. Lots of people were waiting in line down here at Wal-Mart to get a shot at it. Let's see if MSFT can keep up with the demand. There seems to be gripes that people had to buy the $300 version instead of the $400 one. it seems that the add on kits will be pretty good sellers as well this Christmas. Lets hope that Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices division isn't just blowing smoke:

Microsoft's Bach repeated the software giant's plan to deliver up to 3 million consoles to consumers in the first 90 days.

Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter estimated that 900,000 Xbox 360s are now available. He expects 450,000 to be shipped in the United States, 300,000 to be shipped to Europe and 150,000 to be held back for restocking this weekend.

That means a third will soon be sold. That means MSFT will soon rake in $315 million in revenue. I'm wondering what the final installed system tally will be when the PS3 comes out.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Buybacks Not So good for stocks

It seems that massive stock buybacks actually cause stocks to lose value according to some research.

The same appears to hold true over the longer haul. Take the 10 largest buybacks announced last year. On average, the group saw its share prices decline by 1.8% in the year following their announced buybacks, according to MarketWatch research. Seven of the 10 posted negative returns for the period.

Yup if you bought the $1 billion or more buyback company you would have actually lost money. That is why I like one time dividends instead. You get a nice chunk of change that is usually a few 100 bucks. The stock usually stays about the same price so it is just guaranteed money for just holding the stock for a few months. Can't beat that kind of thing. I agree 100% with this statement though:

"We occasionally run into circumstances where a stock seems to be misunderstood, and a buyback in those cases can demonstrate confidence of management," Oberweis said. "More indicative in my book is to have management themselves buying the stock, because it's very different to do something with your own money instead of someone else's money."

Insider buying is a massive vote of confidence when it comes to a stock. That means the managers have their money on the line exactly the same as you. It makes you feel like you are on the same team as them.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

More on the Sony Mess

It looks like they have finally recalled the offending CDs due to pressure from the Blogosphere. This guy needs to be the first one fired out of this mess:

Thomas Hesse, Sony BMG's Global Digital Business President, attempted to do just that by dismissing the online protests. "Most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?" he said in a November 4 interview on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. He added, "The software is designed to protect our CDs from unauthorized copying and ripping."

Yup, he said that the people that buy Sony are stupid. They are just too stupid to even care about the spyware hidden in their BMG Music CDs. Whatever the case it looks like Sony is just going to get a slap on the wrist for all this. Let's hope some of these lawsuits have some teeth though.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

EFF comes to the rescue against Sony XPC CDs

I Googled and found a pretty good site called that talks about how to recognize and protect yourself from this XPC technology. I love the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They seem to be looking out for the little guy like me. I just gave them some cashola for their efforts to protect us from predators like Sony. Here is the list:

EFF has confirmed the presence of XCP on the following titles (each has a data session, easily read on a Macintosh, that includes a file called "VERSION.DAT" that announces what version of XCP it is using). If you have one of these CDs, and you have a Windows PC (Macs are totally immune, as usual), you may have caught the XCP bug.

Trey Anastasio, Shine (Columbia)
Celine Dion, On ne Change Pas (Epic)
Neil Diamond, 12 Songs (Columbia)
Our Lady Peace, Healthy in Paranoid Times (Columbia)
Chris Botti, To Love Again (Columbia)
Van Zant, Get Right with the Man (Columbia)
Switchfoot, Nothing is Sound (Columbia)
The Coral, The Invisible Invasion (Columbia)
Acceptance, Phantoms (Columbia)
Susie Suh, Susie Suh (Epic)
Amerie, Touch (Columbia)
Life of Agony, Broken Valley (Epic)
Horace Silver Quintet, Silver's Blue (Epic Legacy)
Gerry Mulligan, Jeru (Columbia Legacy)
Dexter Gordon, Manhattan Symphonie (Columbia Legacy)
The Bad Plus, Suspicious Activity (Columbia)
The Dead 60s, The Dead 60s (Epic)
Dion, The Essential Dion (Columbia Legacy)
Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten (Epic)
Ricky Martin, Life (Columbia) (labeled as XCP, but, oddly, our disc had no protection)

Several other Sony-BMG CDs are protected with a different copy-protection technology, sourced from SunnComm, including:

My Morning Jacket, ZSantana, All That I Am, Sarah McLachlan, Bloom Remix Album

This is not a complete list. So how do you recognize other XCP-laden CDs in the wild?
Tip-off #1: on the front of the CD, at the left-most edge, in the transparent "spine", you'll see "CONTENT PROTECTED" along with the IFPI copy-protection logo.

DO NOT BUY Sony Music CDs!

This is something that passed under my radar recently probably because I don't really buy music CDs very much.

That antipiracy software - which works only on Windows PCs - came with a cloaking feature that allowed it to hide files on users' computers. Security researchers classified the program as "spyware," saying it secretly transmits details about what music the PC is playing. Manual attempts to remove the software can disable the PC's CD drive.

So in other words Sony infected PCs with spyware just to protect Sony from people putting music on their Ipods. That is highly unethical but it gets far worse:

The program also gave virus writers an easy tool for hiding their malicious software. Last week, virus-like "Trojan horse" programs emerged that took advantage of the cloaking feature to enter computers undetected, antivirus companies said. Trojans are typically used to steal personal information, launch attacks on other computers and send spam.

Yup nothing like a big company putting spyware on your PC and then making the spyware so crappy that virus writers can exploit it. And this blows it into a boycott all Sony stuff at all costs until they fire top management territory:

To get the uninstall program, users have to request it by filling out online forms. Once submitted, the forms themselves download and install a program designed to ready the PC for the fix. Essentially, it makes the PC open to downloading and installing code from the Internet.

"The consequences of the flaw are severe," Felten and Halderman wrote in a blog posting Tuesday. "It allows any Web page you visit to download, install, and run any code it likes on your computer. Any Web page can seize control of your computer; then it can do anything it likes. That's about as serious as a security flaw can get."

Yup the fix makes it even worse. To uninstall their spyware you have to go and fill out a form which downloads more spyware that makes your PC even more open to attacks. That is something that only the worst of worst spyware offenders have done. And this bit is the most ironic thing about this whole mess:

Other programs that knock out the original software are also likely to emerge. Microsoft Corp. says the next version of its tool for removing malicious software, which is automatically sent to PCs via Windows Update each month, will yank the cloaking feature in XCP.

That means MSFT is coming to the rescue of a mess that Sony made. That is ancient Greek style irony. Whatever the case it is time to buy a Panasonic or Samsung TV and DVR player instead of anything by Sony. Who knows what will happen if I watch a DVR disc made by a Sony player in my PC.

I am also thinking of not buying a PS3 until that thing has been vetted by security pros. Or forgetting about the thing all together. It could download some spyware to my PC when I connect it to my home network. Finally, I *definitely* won't buy a thing from BMG music or even allow a CD from them to touch any electronic item I own for the rest of my life.

This is the kind of screwup that should cost top managers their jobs. If Sony does nothing to address the culture that made them put spyware on PCs, then more spyware if you want to get rid of the first batch of spyware, then I will never buy anything from Sony ever again.

Castro may be on his way out?

It looks like he has Parkinson's disease. It seems it could be affecting his ability to govern the nation:

The Miami Herald, which originally reported the CIA assessment on Wednesday, said Castro could be entering a period in which medicines are less effective and mental functions start to deteriorate.

But the newspaper said Cuba analysts fear the possibility of a tumultuous period during which an incapacitated Castro refuses to give up power but can no longer lead.

Maybe the CIA needs to start the mechanisms where they can get the right guy as the head of their government. Some chaos followed by UN peacekeepers. It sure would be nice to see the second to the last real communist government vanish into the mists of history.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pics of My Hiking Trip

Now these are some pics from a hiking trip I took last Saturday

Here we are all ready to hike:

Here we are at the end of the hike:

A real before and after kind of thing.

GM Bankruptcy fears?

Hmm, it looks like we could have the biggest bankruptcy in a while if they go belly up:

Concerns about the future of the world's largest automakers are showing up in the credit default swaps market, where investors effectively buy insurance protection against defaults. Holders of GM debt who want to arrange a hedge against the risk that they won't be repaid are finding that the cost of buying the protection has risen dramatically in recent days.

Also there seems to be a pretty healthy amount of short interest in the stock at 11% of the float. Could high gas prices and lots of big gas guzzling trucks spell the end for GM? These prices have already hurt the Airline Industry. Could US automakers be next?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Quake Hits Northern Japan

Good thing there was no damage at all. It seemed like a powerful one though clocking in at 7.2 and it created:

A 12-inch tsunami wave hit the city of Ofunato, and two 4- to 8-inch waves generated by the quake struck two other towns in the area, the agency said.

That's good news for the people on Northern Japan. A 7.2 earthquake in a metropolitan area would have created havoc.

Belleville, Ind hotbed of violence?

Hmm this is kind of a weird story I think. It seems that this little Indiana town has had some strange things happen recently:

A man wanted in a Pennsylvania double homicide and apparent abduction of a 14-year-old girl was captured Monday after a car he was driving crashed in Indiana following a police pursuit, State Police said. The girl was found unharmed.

Also earlier there was this:

On Tuesday, police shot and killed 23-year-old Daniel B. Faust hours after he allegedly shot one of three officers who had gone to his home with a traffic warrant. The officer, Jevon M. Miller, was critically wounded.

Lots of weird gun violence for such a small town. The 18 year old man in the first crime, David Ludwig seemed like a regular kid that wouldn't be prone to violence. He shoots and kills the parents and then rushed off with the 14 year old girl. Maybe there is something in their drinking water.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Carl Edwards Wins 2nd Strait Race

Wow now this is good news that I missed while I was in Japan. Carl won his second strait race this time it was the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. He did well previously at Atlanta Motor Speedway so I thought he would do well again there. He won that one and now he comes through and wins this one in Texas too. That Office Depot Ford of his is really humming. Now he has a shot at the title if he can do well in these last two races. Here is a pic of Carl from the Texas win:

Well I'm back from Japan

I'm back from Japan and ready to do some posting again. I have lots of pics to share so keep watching this space.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Two New Moons Found Around Pluto

Now this is an interesting discovery.

The newfound moons orbit about 27,000 miles (44,000 kilometers) from Pluto, more than twice as far as Charon, Pluto's other satellite. They are 5,000 times dimmer than Charon.

Right now they are named S/2005 P1 and S/2005 P2. They should think about calling one Cerberus after the guardian dog of the underworld and the other should be Persephone the Queen of the Underworld who Pluto abducted.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Iran Confiscates Mannequins?

The Iranians are some funny people I kid you not. They are confiscating lewd mannequins just in case some upstanding Muslim man may want to have sex with a plastic dummy.

A spokesman for the city's judiciary, who asked not be named, explained the drive would tackle problems of "public chastity." He said 65 mannequins have been impounded so far.

Actually they were Zionist mannequins that want to corrupt the Iranian people and make them turn away from Allah. Their plastic forms make men want to do unchaste things I tell you!

Stewart Wanted to get rid of Trump?

Now this could turn into a real Biggie vs Tupac thing before too long. Check out the first signs of disrespect by the Ex-con:

"I thought I was replacing The Donald," Stewart says in the Nov. 14 issue of Fortune magazine, on newsstands Nov. 7. "It was even discussed that I would be firing The Donald on the first show."

When did Trump learn that she intended to bump him off his own show? "I don't think he ever knew," Stewart tells the magazine.

Then Trump fires back:

I think there was confusion between Martha's `Apprentice' and mine, and mine continues to do well and ... the other has struggled very severely," Trump said recently on a radio program.

"I think it probably hurt mine and I sort of predicted that it would."

Trump better watch himself. Martha could pull a shank on him at any time with some of those prison skills she developed. And after the big house she has nothing to lose:

"I have learned that I really cannot be destroyed."

It'll be 187 on Trump's ass.

Bush Nominates Judge Alito

Finally, Bush has the common sense to nominate an actual judge to the Supreme Court. He has been a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 1990. So he seems pretty qualified. He seems to be against abortion though:

In the early 1990s, Alito was the lone dissenter in Planned v. Casey, a case in which the 3rd Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law that included a provision requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses.

It should be the kind of fight that the Republicans are looking for. A rumble over a conservative Court pick. Whatever this pick's fortunes are I think that even though abortion is made illegal in the US people will end up going to Canada to get them. Demand will always go to where the supply is. Here is a pic of Alito and Bush:

$450 Billion for Exxon?

I know that this is a hoax by this Chinese concern called King Win Laurel Ltd. It would really be something if this much financing could be rounded up. I have a feeling that only the Chinese government could round up this much money. So the conspiracy theorist in my has the Chinese Government pumping money into this secret buyout firm. It sure would be interesting to see Exxon bought out in this way.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Oil Companies Record Profits while US consumer gets clipped

Now this is the kind of thing that makes me mad. I really think someone should do something about oil companies getting record profits while the economy and consumer spending are hit by high energy prices. This I agree with:

"These companies are turning in record profits -- they have a responsibility to expand refining capacity," U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman told a Senate Energy Committee hearing on hurricane damage to the industry.

This idea is totally stupid and muddle headed:

Democrats have also introduced bills that would impose a windfall profits tax on crude oil. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York wants to assess companies up to $20 billion annually to help consumers and develop new energy technologies.

Yeah, lets just steal their profits without getting much of anything back from it. It becomes a disincentive for them to increase capacity, pump more oil, or even deliver more gas. So the prices of oil, gas, and distillates would go up because the demand is still there but the supply is constrained.

I would bet that the oil companies would go out of their way to get under the profit tax including shuttering refineries, stopping the exploration of new sources, or even hiding profits or spinning off parts of their business. It's either that or their money gets stolen by the US government.

Whatever the case Exxon and the other oil companies had better increase dividends, create a special one time dividend, or increase their stock buyback program. They need to return some of these record profits to shareholders.

Bye Bye Libby!

Well, it looks like the leaker is none other then I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr the vice president's chief of staff. And he just resigned his post. These allegations are pretty serious I think they include obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements .

I'm glad they got rid of these kind of people who pull these Clinton/Nixon era dirty tricks. Even though I'm a moderate I still believe in the integrity of the White House. Not just for the President but for all the staff working there as well. I mean there was no reason to bring this Wilson's wife into the thing at all. Even if she may have gotten him the job these White House types know that a CIA agent with a blown cover could get a lot of people killed.

I hope the Bushies can get this behind themselves and get back to the domestic issues at hand. I mean where is the push to make the tax cuts permanent. What can they do to curb the oil companies who just made record profits. That sort of stuff.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

White Sox Win the World Series!

Well it is about damn time. 1917 is a long time to wait. Did you know that the last time the White Sox won this thing the US was just getting into WWI after the Lusitania was struck by a torpedo? There was still an Ottoman Empire as well as an Austria-Hungarian one during that time. Also during that year the Russian Revolution happened.

Almost every single thing that I see around me has been invented since that time. Everything from this computer I'm typing this on, to the chair I'm sitting, on to the network, that you are reading this on has been invented since 1917. The entire world including almost all of the maps, the cultures, the social boundaries, the morays, and the behaviors have been reinvented since the last time the White Sox hoisted the trophy. Now only the Cubs are left.

Cellborg Created!

Now this is pretty weird stuff that University of Nebraska scientists just figured out. Here is what they did:

Scientists first coated a silicon chip with a layer of live Bacillus cereus bacteria. Some of the long, rod-shaped microbes lodged between two etched electrodes on the chip’s surface, forming a bridge. The chip was then washed in a solution containing tiny gold particles, each one about 30 nanometers across.

This what the weird-assed gold cellborg can do:

The cellborg sensor is extremely sensitive: a drop from 20 percent to zero humidity results in a 40-fold decrease in current flow. In humidity sensors that are solely electronic, the decrease is only 10-fold.

If they could get it to reproduce itself then we will have some science fiction style stuff going on.

Barry Cowsill missing?

Hmm, now here is an interesting case for the team at Without a Trace. It looks like the former child star just vanished after Katrina hit New Orleans.

He left a message on his sister Susan's cell phone that was retrieved a few days later. He said he was holed up in his apartment. He said he'd seen looting. He asked for help.

That was the last his siblings heard from Barry Cowsill.

I wonder if he parished in the storm or he just moved to a shelter somewhere and isn't reading the newspapers and such. This line could move this into the Urban Legend catagory:

There have been some leads, some reputed sightings, including one that had Barry Cowsill showing up on CNN, but nothing that as of yet has reunited the siblings.

Harriet Miers out of the Running

Finally, Miers came to her senses and bowed out of the nomination. She got Bush off to hook for nominating her in the first place. I think this is exactly why I didn't think she was right for the job:

Republicans and Democrats alike questioned her qualifications — Miers had never served as a judge — and Bush faced charges of cronyism for tapping his former personal lawyer for the highest court in the land.

She was never a judge and wanted her first job on the bench to be the most powerful one in the nation? I think there should be some sort of list of qualifications that the person must meet to be considered for the job. Like years of experience as a appeals court judge or something.

And that cronyism charge is part of the reason why Bush's number are down. He keeps putting his friends and confidants in at posts even if they are unqualified. He's acting like a Tammany Hall Boss here. This is worryingng statement though:

Conservative jurists who received serious consideration last time or somebody outside what Bush calls the "judicial monastery," perhaps a current or former senator who would be welcomed by the GOP-controlled Senate.

The judicial monastery? Well these are judges considered for a job for a judge right? It's like getting professional tennis stars to play football. Sure they are athletic but they don't have the right skills to excel at the position. And a senator is right out unless he was a former judge. That guy will really get the unqualified tag pretty fast. Maybe he should tap a constitutional law scholar of some kind. Kind of like his FED chief is a former economics professor.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Iran wants Israel off the Maps

Looks like Iran wants to put some nukes on Israel if we aren't careful. This is what this nutjob said:

Referring to Palestinian suicide bomb attacks in Israel, Ahmadinejad said: "there is no doubt that the new wave in Palestine will soon wipe off this disgraceful blot from the face of the Islamic world."

Her goes one step further by going Muslim nations who normalize relations with Israel as well.

Ahmadinejad also condemned Iran's neighbors which seek to break new ground in their relations with Israel. "Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury," state-run television quoted him as saying.

Yup so there might be a nuke going to Bahrain and Qatar as well. And we are supposed to reason with these madmen? Good luck with all that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

McDonalds to put Nutrition on Packaging

This seems like a step in the right direction for MCD. Finally, consumers can see just how much fat they are eating when they belly up to the counter at McDonalds. I guess they are trying to make themselves seem more health conscious.

McDonald's has been a magnet for complaints that fast food is unhealthy. It was targeted by the 2003 documentary "Supersize Me," which focused on the health risks of an all fast-food diet, and hit with a lawsuit blaming the company for the obesity of teenage customers, although that suit was dismissed.

It should be good for the bottom line as long as the Senate backs that anti-suing the fastfood companies Bill that went through Congress. It seems like a good bill because there is nothing addictive about McDonalds or any other fast food. The only problem I have is that it is cheaper to eat unhealthy then healthy in America. Oh well, I guess that is just an economies of scale thing.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Excerpt from Bernanke's Economic Meetings

Here is an excerpt from Bernanke's economic briefing with Bush. Patrick the Starfish usually gives a rundown on foreign markets. While Sandy Cheeks gives Bush the briefing on the US dollar.

Here is Bernanke with Bush

Here is a pic of the new FED chief at the welcoming ceremony with Bush. One more thing at Bernanke and transparency at the FED. He must to be good at explaining the economy because he has to explain it to this guy in the gray suit every day. I think Bernanke uses either a puppet show or a well produced cartoon starring Spongebob Squarepants to do it. I thought I would beat Jay Leno to the punch.

Bernanke In as Fed chief

It looks like Bush has picked a successor to Greenspan. He also happens to be Bush's economic adviser and a former member of the Board of Governors. He also seems pretty qualified for the job unlike Harriet Myers. This is from the White House site:

Before becoming a member of the Board, Dr. Bernanke was the Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Professor of Economics and Public Affairs and Chair of the Economics Department at Princeton University (1996-2002). Dr. Bernanke had served as a Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton since 1985.

He seems to have a really good economics background and know what he is talking about. He also wrote three textbooks. This is good news:

Bernanke, 51, is a top monetary economist who has long advocated setting formal targets for inflation to help guide monetary policy, a position Greenspan has long opposed.

Maybe the FED will have a lot more transparency when it comes to monetary policy. No more "what inning is it in the rate tightening cycle?" arguments. Let's hope Bernanke will give us a decent gauge on how much they will be raising the rates so the market won't freak out. It's tough to gauge things when economists have such wide opinions when it comes to what level they are willing on raising rates to. I hope he takes some of the uncertainty out of FED moves.

California Milk Processor Board should not Pull Ad

Now this is a very humorous ad and the stiff necked people at baseball are just getting stupid.

The latest "Got Milk?" commercial hit a little too close to home for Major League Baseball. Poking fun at the leagues steroid scandal, the television ad for the California Milk Processor Board talks about a player getting pulled from a game "after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance."

In the next scene, a coach pulls a carton of milk from the slugger's locker.

Baseball is saying this crap about this ad:

"There is nothing humorous about steroid abuse," said Tim Brosnan, executive vice president for business for the league. "I would think that the California Milk Processor Board and their advertising agency would know better regarding an issue that threatens America's youth."

If it threatens Americas youth so much then why hasn't baseball come down harder on the people that abused steroids and still continue to do so. Rafael Palmeiro only got a 10 game suspension for his steroid use. His team had to cut him for bad press for him to feel the sting at all. Now they are getting all righteous about this ad making fun of this kind of thing.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bill could make TV Shows and Films into Porn

Now this is an interesting provision stuck into the new Children's Safety Act. It says that:

Currently, any filmed sexual activity requires an affidavit that lists the names and ages of the actors who engage in the act. The film is required to have a video label that claims compliance with the law and lists where the custodian of the records can be found. The record-keeping requirement is known as Section 2257, for its citation in federal law. Violators could spend five years in jail.

So the filmmaker will have to file this 2257 record or spend 5 years in jail. Now this article goes on to say this:

Industry executives worry that the provision, which is retroactive to 1995, will have a chilling effect on filmmakers. Faced with the choice of filing a 2257 certificate or editing out a scene, a filmmaker might decide it's not worth getting entangled with the federal government and let the scene fall to the cutting-room floor, the executives said.

Um, if the scene is crucial to the filmmaker vision then just file the 2257 certificate. Why is it chilling to have to file the same form as porn movies do? It seems pretty routine because the porn industry has had to do it for years and it isn't cutting into their business any. They still make billions a year. I guess Hollyweird is just chilled to have to be lumped in with those hideous porn purveyors. Hey come to think of it if they file the form they can be as graphic as they would like. They could conceivably have this Bush White House Porn Bill create more pornography in mainstream movies instead of less. Ah, unintended consequences.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Buffett Gets a Free Ride?

This is a pretty interesting article that confirms lots of my speculations.

"Professional speculators and arbitrageurs use our regulatory filings in a manner that yields them quick profits, at the direct expense of fund investors. In particular, information provided on Form 13F -- a formerly routine regulatory filing -- is being used in a way that was never intended and is harming fund shareholders," former ICI president Matthew Fink wrote in a 2002 report to members.

Other people, a select group of sophisticated investors, including Warren Buffett, are given "confidential treatment" from even having to file 13F disclosures with the government. That means they can keep secret for as long as a year trading information that would otherwise be made public.

I agree with Thomas Kostigen when he says that everyone should have to file these kind of disclosures. Or they should all be put in the dark by making it so no one has to file 13Fs at all. Whichever the case Buffett and his ilk should not get any kind of preferential treatment at all. Especially if it is harming fund investors.

Google Squashes Estimates

Now these are some impressive numbers from Google.

If not for charges related to a recent acquisition and employee stock options issued before the company went public 14 months ago, Google said it would have earned $1.51 per share.

That figure easily exceeded the consensus estimate of $1.36 per share among 31 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. Even the most bullish analysts hadn't expected Google to fare as well as it did; the highest earnings estimate had been $1.46 per share.

Google's revenue for the quarter totaled $1.58 billion, nearly doubling from $805.9 million last year. After subtracting the commissions that Google paid to other Web sites in its advertising network, the revenue stood at $1.05 billion, exceeding the Wall Street estimate of $944 million

Now that really is blowing past the numbers. I especially like how their revenues grew so much. That means more people are going to Google then before and ads there are hot properties. I wonder if they will really be buying out AOL here. That would certainly make Google a force to reckoned with. AOLs portal with Googles search engine, e-mail, blogging and instant messaging. I would probably make it my new homepage. Sorry Yahoo.

Pfizer Stock Blasted

PFE got its ass handed to it today. It looks like Lipitor and Viagra aren't selling as well as they did before. I wonder if this is a function of high gas prices on now high heating oil prices?

Part of the problem is Lipitor, the anti-cholesterol drug whose U.S. revenue rose just 1% in the quarter due to "an unexpectedly rapid slowdown in the U.S. lipid-lowering market as a whole and marginal Lipitor prescription share erosion during the quarter of one percentage point," the company said.

Maybe people are filling up the tank instead of filling their Lipitor prescriptions. I mean getting to work is much more important then possibly getting heart disease some time in the future. Hmm, this could be bad for Americans who are already overweight because they won't be taking their cholesterol meds. They also may be eating more fast food because everyone knows that eating healthy costs far more then eating junkfood. Also if you can't stay warm/get to work you certainly don't need erectile-disfunction drugs:

Sales of the impotence drug Viagra skidded 4% worldwide to $386 million, with U.S. sales losing 7% and foreign sales gaining 14%.

Perhaps this is why Americans are getting ruder. They have high cholesterol from not taking Lipitor. All their money goes to gas or heating oil. And they can't get laid anymore because their Viagra is too expensive.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Some God with you Latte?

It looks like Starbucks is going to put quotes from Rev. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life on its coffee cups. It seems like an interesting way to get people to discuss things while downing their $3.50 coffee. Here is what they have been doing:

In 2005, Starbucks is printing 63 quotes from writers, scientists, musicians, athletes, politicians and cultural critics on cups for company-run and licensed locations to carry on the coffeehouse tradition of conversation and debate.

I wonder if the ACLU will jump on them for doing this. I mean it is infringing on the rights of non-believers to drink their coffee without having to think of God. Separation of Church and coffee they will say. They need to organize a million atheist march that culminates in pouring Lattes into the street.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hurricanes make egg prices go up?

Ah this is the reason why egg prices went up 49.3%. The article says:

The hurricanes may also be responsible for a record 49.3 percent jump in the price of eggs. This surge contributed to a 1.4 percent increase in the wholesale price of food last month. Katrina and Rita tore through areas of the Gulf that are major poultry producers. Higher egg costs are likely to be passed on to consumers, at least to some extent, at the grocery store.

Hmm, I guess lots of chickens bought it when those hurricanes blasted through those areas. Time to cut back on my Egg Mcmuffin consumption.