Friday, September 30, 2005

Q4=Energy and Financials

They should be growing their earning like gangbusters in this upcoming quarter. According to the article we should be selling off retailers, consumer-discretionary, and materials.

Meanwhile, retailers and consumer-goods wholesalers are especially vulnerable to rising gasoline prices as consumers put more of their income into their gas tanks, leaving less to spend at stores

As for consumer-discretionary companies, they are seen posting earrings growth of just 1%. That is the second-worst performer only to the materials sector, which is expected to decline.

Still, that's better than what's expected out of the materials sector, which is projected to post and earnings decline of 5%, according to Thomson Financial. Dow Chemical, DuPont and U.S. Steel Corp. (X) will be responsible for most of the fall-off. Natural gas is the primary fuel used to run factories, and it's the most-used raw material in manufacturing.

However here is why we should be buying:

As a result, the energy sector has delivered the most substantial upward estimate revisions of any sector of the economy since the first quarter of 2003. ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips (COP) are the three biggest factors behind the sector's bullish profit outlook, according to Thomson data.

After the energy sector, financial firms are expected to post the second-highest growth rate, up 21%, with total earnings coming in at $45.7 billion vs. $37.1 billion in 2004.

Seems like sound advice to me. I like this company myself:

Then there's Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) , which on Sept. 20 reported an 84% gain in third-quarter earnings, booking a record profit of $1.6 billion, or $3.25 a share, and greatly lifting the sector's overall prospects.

As was expected Syria put the hit on Hariri

It looks like the Syrians were the ones who killed off former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. At least this is what some defectors have claimed. This is something that concerns me though:

Bush's national security team is due to meet Saturday to review policy toward Syria, the officials said. Options range from tougher economic sanctions to limited military action. One official involved in the deliberations said military action is unlikely for now.

Let's not bomb them just yet. I know if the choice is between Syria which we could probably take in a few weeks and Iran (which would be a terrible Vietnam style slog) we would choose Syria any day. We can barely get the corner turned on Iraq and we are beating the war drums again. I think merely isolating them and helping internal anti-Syrian groups would be good for a start. Any protracted land war will result in another costly rebuilding process.

Maybe a few years down the line we can have Iraq attack them with our logistic and technological help. I mean we are an Empire so we can get our satellite to declare war on the enemy and come in and give them free weapons, planes, and logistical help. I may be playing too much Victoria lately. :P

Oracle to Crush

Now this is an arrogant ass. Here is what this President of Oracle says:

"In this case I think it would be much more fun to crush them," Oracle President Charles Phillips said of at a press briefing in New York. "We see a lot of ways to compete with them. We will try that for a while."

I really hope beat Oracles face in the areas where they compete. It sure would be nice to make this arrogant SOB eat his words. I also hope that would put some kind of poison pill or something in their bylaws to prevent Oracale from ever taking them over. Or they should be acquired by SAP which as I recall is Oracle's nemesis.

Whatever the case I will never own Oracle as long as idiots like this are in charge. Well the stock has flatlined for about 3 years so it really isn't worth owning anyway. Perhaps if they got rid of arrogant jerks like Phillips here the stock will do a little better.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Yahoo Sued

It seems they poached an executive from a company called Nuance Communications and they are getting some payback via the courts. I think Yahoo should either settle or just bought the whole firm. I mean they have $3.39 billion in cash just sitting there doing nothing. Oh well I guess they could give Nuance the old MSFT treatment and smash them into the ground.

Bible to be Taught in Public School!

Here is a new course on the Bible that shouldn't draw fire by the various militant-atheists out there. I think Bible knowledge is very important to figure out quite a bit of things in society nowadays. You can see how the various religions think and get their basis from. It seems you can really understand Shakespeare better as well. I never knew this about his work:

Students may gain a more nuanced understanding of Shakespeare, with his 1,300 biblical references;

When I was going to school they only taught Bible knowledge in Advanced Placement English which I was one level too low to qualify for. I ended up watching History Channel documentaries and reading the free Bible that the Mormons gave me. I think this would have been a great thing to learn about in High School instead of much later on.

Good time to Buy Yen

Looks like the time is ripe to switch your dollars into yen if you are going on a Japan trip like me. The yen is trading at 113 yen per dollar. If that Tankan survey is really good then the Yen price may move a few yen stronger. However this other guy thinks:

Alan Ruskin, foreign-exchange analyst with 4Cast, thinks any significant yen gain hinges on factors beyond a rosier near-term economic picture.

Ruskin says the yen needs at least two of these developments to play out before it will gain: acclerated yuan appreciation; Bank of Japan interest-rate tightening; the end of U.S. interest-rate hikes; and the end of so-called carry trades, particularly in emerging markets.

I do like how the Japanese stock market is at 4 year highs though. That is good news for people who own shares in the iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund (EWJ)

Roberts is In as Supreme

Looks like he passed the Senate and will be the nations 17th Chief Justice. He looks like a solid Justice and should be a fairly moderating force that will follow the Constitution. Much more so then some left-wing firebomber like they have in the 9th district. Whatever the case we have to get used to him because he will be on the Court for many, many years.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Gas Prices Cut into Wallets

This doesn't look good for the Credit Card Industry. It seems Americans can't pay for the high gas and keep up with their ballooning credit:

The American Bankers Association reported Wednesday that the seasonally adjusted percentage of credit card accounts 30 or more days past due rose in the April-to-June quarter to 4.81 percent. That followed a delinquency rate of 4.76 percent in the first quarter and was the highest since the association began collecting this information in 1973.

It seems that Americans are living too far beyond their means. The low savings rate provides little cushion for these people as well. Let's hope the disruptions don't give us $4 gas anytime soon. Now that will really send Americans reeling.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Deaths at Superdome Urban Myth?

It seems that they found only a handful of people dead in the Superdome.

They have no official reports of rape and no eyewitnesses to sexual assault. The state Department of Health and Hospitals counted 10 dead at the Superdome and four at the convention center. Only two of those are believed to have been murdered.

So there seems to have been only 2 real murders? The media I think is to blame for swirling all of this out of control. They needed to have had a reporter in the Superdome showing people what was really happening. But I guess the reports of:

children with slit throats, women dragged off and raped, corpses piling up in the basement —

were just to scary for reporters to brave. Ormaybee officials were keeping the reporters out of the Superdome for their own safety or something. But this is the stuff of urban legends. Here is how it will start I think. The FEMA officials or perhaps National Guardsmen dragged the bodies out of there early on. There were hundreds of dead spirited away by black painted trucks.

A week after the floodwaters poured into the city, an Arkansas National Guardsman told The Times-Picayune of New Orleans that soldiers had discovered 30 to 40 bodies inside a freezer in the convention center's food area. Guardsman Mikel Brooks told the newspaper that some of the dead appeared to have met violent ends, including "a 7-year-old with her throat cut."

So this guy started the rumor that children were getting their throat cut. I wonder if this guy was an actual eyewitness or just got this info from someone else. It would be interesting to follow up to see if this guy meets a suspicious end in the coming months. Death by hunting accident alone in some barren place with a different caliber of bullet in his back then the rifle he was carrying. Or he was found dead at the wheel of his car at a red light of an apparent heart attack. That would solidify the coverup if there was one.

In any case this incident would be great for a social scientist who studies the psychology of crowds. Finding out how the rumors were started and how they were spread would be some interesting reading.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Japanese ditch Hollywood Stars

Seems like there will be less and less Lost in Translations out there. This is a very interesting article on how the advertising industry is changing in Japan. It seems Hollywood stars will have to shill items in the US if they want to make the big bucks. The Japanese have Asian Fever now. And this is why:

The catalyst for the change, almost everyone agrees, has been Japan's raging love affair with Korean culture that took everyone here by surprise two years ago.

The phenomenon was spearheaded by a drama series called "Winter Sonata," a tragic love story featuring Bae Yong Joon, a South Korean actor affectionately referred to as Yon-sama in Japan. With his baby face and great teeth, Yon-sama, 33, flutters the hearts of Japanese women in their 30s and older, who tell market researchers he rekindles the romantic urges they felt in their youth.

Yup, this guy is the best thing since sliced bread in Japan now and he is the kind of person that advertisers want to sell things. The article goes on to say:

It's a demographic that makes marketers swoon, too. Yon-sama is now the biggest foreign star in Japan. Bigger than Brad. Bigger than Leo. Dozens of Japanese companies are desperate to attach their brand to Yon-sama, or at least to find the next great Korean star.

"Five years ago, two years ago even, I could never have imagined this happening," said Tomoko Kamiguchi of Dentsu Casting & Entertainment, which negotiates with talent agencies to get stars for its clients' ads.

So is seems that American stars aren't such a big deal anymore in Japan. They have wan Koreans to fawn over nowadays. I mean this guy isn't the most manly looking guy on block but
he moves the product in Japan. I wonder if the reason for this guy popularity is his non-threatening and metrosexual look? This could be the reason why Richard Gere is still making money in Japan. He seems anything but manly nowadays. He's more of a peaceful Buddahman. Even that Nick Cage ad mentioned in this article was 4 years ago before this Yon-sama burst (well crept preciously) onto the scene.

When BoSox Win Emergency can Wait

I guess when the BoSox are winning people go to the emergency room 15% less. I guess it is because they are sitting at home watching the game and not doing something that they would have to go to the emergency room for. Sitting on ones couch watching the ballgame is probably one of the safest pursuits a person could engage in. Well the people could have heart attacks or something once Boston finally one the World Series. I mean the people that remember them winning their last one are quite frail I would assume.

Friday, September 23, 2005

These Oil Guys Don't fool Around

Wow I don't think the refineries are going to be hit as hard as people think from Rita. These guys are really ahead of the game. Transocean a company whos shares I owned last year is doing this:

installed hotlines out of affected areas and ordered satellite phones for people who support its operations in the Gulf of Mexico, said Guy Cantwell, company spokesman.

"We also learned it could be a 15-hour drive to get the phones to someone in Houston, so we had them sent in by chopper," he said.

While Valero is:

"We are about two or three days ahead of where we were with Katrina," said Mary Rose Brown, spokeswoman for San Antonio-based Valero.

"RVs are rented and ready to go; trucks are packed and ready; we have generators ready; and we've sent refinery managers cash that way we can get it to employees affected," she said.

I think their refineries have to take a direct hit to not be up and running the day after the storm hits. It seems that gas prices shouldn't be affected as much by the storm as people think.

Buying songs on your cell phone?

It seems Wireless carriers are trying to get people to buy songs on to listen to on their cell phones now. I'm very skeptical that this will take off. I can see people put songs onto their cell from their desktops depending on how easy it is. They would just need a USB connector and they are all set. I would be willing to bet that some wireless providers like Verizon will cripple their phones to force you to use their service. I think this approach is the wrong one though:

Published reports suggest that Sprint plans to charge around $2 for its full-length song downloads, which would be double the desktop price. Although Nancy Beaton, Sprint's director of entertainment and personalization, declined to discuss details, she said "customers will put a premium on the convenience."

I'm not sure they will if they already bought the song on the desktop. If they paid $1 for the song already they might not want to pay $2 just to listen to that same song on their phone. I can see people paying for ringtones since it takes some work to make a ringtone on a PC and then get it to work on a phone. Paying double for a song that doesn't sound as good just so you can listen to it on a phone is not something that people will run out and do. This may be the same sort of growth white elephant that watching TV or DVDs on your phone will be.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Germans sure like their Beer

And I sure like these Germans.

Global Warming to Create Social Unrest?

This is quite a jump according to this report by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Australian Conservation Foundation. Here is what could come of global warming in the by 2100:

"As stresses increase there is likely to be a shift toward authoritarian governments," the report said.

"At the worst case, large scale state failure and major conflict may generate hundreds of millions of displaced people in the Asia-Pacific region, a widespread collapse of law, and numerous abuses of human rights."

Well at least the authoritarian governments will be done in by the collapse of law and the major conflicts. So global warming may be a bad thing and a good thing at the same time.

The thing that this report doesn't take in is that by 2100 we probably won't be burning too much fossil fuel because we will have used it all up by then. Even the Saudis may start having declining oil pumping rates before too long. Eventually, oil prices will get so high they won't be economically sustainable and people will move on to fuel cell, methane, or even steam power if it becomes a cheaper alternative. There is no way to project global warming to 2100 without taking into consideration all of the things that will have happened in that 100 years time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Interesting Article about the possible AOL/MSFT merger

Hmm this article is very interesting regarding this possible merger. The Bullish guy raises some very good points. While the Bearish guy has thinks MSFT should undercut its rivals in paid search (since they have money to burn) instead of merging with AOL.

One thing MSFT should try is to make all of AOLs customers into broadband subscribers by any means necessary. They should try to make the dialup connection obsolete. They can work with local broadband suppliers to create a MSFT branded broadband service that they can provide to AOL customers on the cheap. They could even make this the default setting in Vista. It could mean that more people will be going to Google and Yahoo but they will be paying MSFT $19.99 to do it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Microsoft Reorganizes

This seems like a great idea for MSFT. They seemed to be having all sorts of communication problems and were losing people to Google due to bureaucracy. Here is what they are doing:

One of the three new divisions, Microsoft Platform Products and Services, will include the company's Windows, server and tools, and MSN online divisions. It will be led by Kevin Johnson, formerly in charge of worldwide sales and marketing, and Jim Allchin.

The other two units are Microsoft Business division, which will include its Office products and products for small- and mid-sized businesses, and Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division, which will include its Xbox game console, other games, mobile phone and handheld devices products.

I like how they are joining the all of those items in the MSFT Platform Products and Services together since they all pretty much work in concert with one another. Now they can seriously integrate things so they work together well. Let's hope we'll see the end to those weird server side errors that you have to be an MCSE to fix.

It also seems they had a WWII German army system going before:

"There's a whole set of decisions that might have had to percolate to Bill Gates' and I because they crossed the seven ... Business groups that are now contained in these three divisions, and I think that ought to lead to crisper, faster actions on certain kinds of decisions we need to make," Ballmer said.

So there seems to be lots of decisions that Gates and Ballmer had to work on personally. Just like Hitler had to personally okay almost everything army related. So they couldn't commit the Panzers on D-day because they didn't want to wake him up.

It looks like they are switching to a more Napoleonic Army system of thinking instead. The French allowed the Marshals to maneuver on their own initiative but were answerable to the Corsican if things went badly. So maybe the Marshals of the three new departments will get to do their own things without having Gates or Ballmer around to okay everything. That seems to be the aim:

The company's reorganization will merge seven business units into three divisions. That is aimed at helping the company become more nimble and giving executives broader power to make decisions without bringing in top leaders.

FED Raised Rates Again

Yup they pulled the trigger. I guess they think that the Hurricaine's impact will not be felt for too much longer. I hope they know that gas prices are starting to crimp peoples buying habits out there. The gas cap here is making people delay purchases hoping that prices will go down. They also seem to be buying less cars as well. If that is happening in the rest of the nation then that can't be very good for the economy.

Maybe that is the FEDs gambit. They are thinking that much of the high prices are because of speculation and should drop before too long. So they are just moving along at their measured pace hoping gas prices don't hurt the consumer too much. It seems that any threat to supply however tenous is driving prices strait up. That seems like bubble behavior to me.

I Agree with Jobs when it comes to Online Music

I think Jobs is right on the money when it comes to raising music downloading prices. I think ITunes may have saved the music industry from a death spiral and now they want to try to crash the plane again. Even with the low price of $.99 cents per song people are still pirating music. I think an even larger number will go back to pirating if they are charged more.

It seems that $.99 is the absolute ceiling per song. People are finally being conditioned to think that free is not the default price of music. They are now thinking the default price is $.99 or lower. The hassle of piracy will look better each cent charged over what they have been conditioned to pay. I mean free is much better then $1.50 or whatever they jack the price to. This guy is totally clueless:

Sony BMG CEO Andrew Lack said at a Reuters gathering earlier this year that Apple is benefiting from two revenue streams, sales of both the iPod devices and song downloads, while the music industry has only one.

"I'm not making any money on this," he said. "I've got one revenue stream that a proctologist would have a hard time analyzing. It's not pretty."

Umm, then get your parent company to make an IPod killer then. If they don't know how then you will have to make due with that one revenue stream. They have already cranked album prices to such a level that it is cheaper to buy the songs from ITunes. Now they want to choke off the only profitable revenue stream they have left. I think these guys just want to be the next airline industry. Just counting the days until they all go bankrupt.

Monday, September 19, 2005

That's how Kate Moss stays so thin

I guess being like a supermodel means snorting some coke every now and then. At least the Mirror got some real photographic proof this time. I wonder if she is going to give back her settlement because is seems that the story was true. This is the funniest part though:

After she agreed in writing to abide by H&M's policy that its models be "healthy, wholesome and sound," the company decided to keep her on, spokeswoman Liv Asarnoj said

Hmm I wonder if sniffing coke makes one healthy, wholesome and sound? Maybe this is the 2000s version of early to bed, early to wise, makes one healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Activision Chief Seems Optimistic

This some very interesting comments on the state of the video game industry. I agree with what he is saying about increasing their margins. I can see games going to $60 as they first introduce the new consoles. Some of the consoles seem to have graphics that compare favorably to computers. A $60 game is just $10 more then computer games go for but you only have to pay $200-300 to get situated with a console instead of $2000 for a computer. This part I'm not so sure about this though:

Activision had ten franchises selling over 1 million units this past fiscal year. Kotick says that Activision could expand this number to 12 in fiscal 2006 and is particularly bullish on the prospects for "Gun," a Western-themed shooter title.

I checked out the trailer for the game and the graphics really weren't all that hot. Although, it would be fun to play a western First Person Shooter this one doesn't do anything for me. Also the blood shooting out of people look really strange for some reason. The story elements seem kind of interesting but nothing too spectacular

It does seem to have some good doses of sex, violence, and cussing which should sell some copies I guess. Also Deadwood shows that an adult style Western will get people to stand up and take notice. Let's hope the game version will reach the same audience.

Good news for STEM

This seems like a very good deal for the StemCells (STEM.) Well down the line quite a bit anyway. The thought of allowing people to recover from paralysis is something that will capture people's imagination. Too bad this is so far off though but these kind of companies that push the technology envelope are fun to follow.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Jeb Bush Son Arrested

They picked him up for public intoxication and resisting arrest. I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. I mean W was a boosehound way back when as well.

Bush Writing Checks he Can't Cash?

Wow $200 billion added to the deficit to rebuild New Orleans? Now that is a pretty big chunk of change on top of Iraq and Afghanistan. I think they are getting ahead of themselves here. It seems that quite a few of the people that fled are not going back to New Orleans are going to settle in the evacuated areas.

I think the government agencies should go in there and interview each survivor and gauge their intentions first before federal rebuilding money is tossed around. If they plan to stay in Texas lets say and prosper then money shouldn't be poured into New Orleans. And with those corrupt and incompetent officials there the money may be wasted or embezzled faster then it can pour in. Lets hope the feds keep a tight reign on this money.

Still it rankles my fiscal conservatism to just throw money at something like this. Let's hope there are checks and balances in place and they have thought things through. If this move impacts the economy beyond high gas prices and the general devastation caused by the hurricane then I will be joining the "I hate Bush" camp.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Microsoft To Buy AOL?

This seems like an interesting development. I mean Time Warner can finally get rid of that underperforming business and Microsoft can add their users to the MSN name. This article says they are collaborating pretty deeply. MSFT has a ton of cash but haven't made many acquisitions recently so there might be something brewing. Here is the extent of the collaboration:

More recently, the executive said, the two companies have been talking about the possibility of deeper relationships, such as collaborating in the lucrative market of selling advertising online.

The person familiar with Microsoft's thinking said the company's MSN unit has always been interested in striking a deal that would allow it to benefit from AOL's market-leading instant messenger program.

Hmm, adding the user base of AIM and MSN could be an easy way for MSFT to increase their installed base. Also they seem to be trying to make an inroad into Google and Yahoo's lead in internet paid search. Could be a good fit as long as MSFT doesn't send out millions of those annoying free CDs.

They Lost Plague Mice?

Wow there should be some kind of accounting for this screwup at the Public Health Research Institute. They lost some mice that were infected with Bubonic Plague. And this is a very weak answer by them:

Federal official said the mice may never be accounted for. Among other things, the rodents may have been stolen, eaten by other lab animals or just misplaced in a paperwork error.

Paperwork error? Eaten by other animals which are probably infected with Bubonic Plague right now? Hopefully not stolen by Al-Quida operatives? I think someone needs to be reprimanded for this mess.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Techland M&As Big Again

This is a very interesting article about how big internet companies are flush with cash and looking to buy certain companies. It also covers how the environment is different now then it was in the Bubble years. Both companies are more solid balance sheet wise and have weathered the tough times. It talks about the EBAY/Spype deal and has this interesting tidbit:

The software industry will remain active. Big corporations increasingly want to purchase their software from a few big players. That's forcing the smaller outfits into the arms of larger buyers. (NYSE:CRM - News) is viewed as a likely takeover target, according to analyst Stuart Williams of Technology Business Research. Potential buyers could include big software companies, possibly even Oracle itself.

Hmm, this could make the stock even more attractive then what I was thinking yesterday.
I can see a big company like Oracle scooping this company up instead of building a web based CRM solution from the ground up. Very interesting news.

Lets hope this Doesn't happen here

Looks like the Brits are having some gas shortages. Let's hope the idiotic gas cap here in Hawaii doesn't cause us to deal with stuff like this picture.

Delta the first Airline casualty of expensive oil

Looks like Delta is going to go into bankruptcy protection. And Northwest may soon follow it. I guess those mechanics decided to strike at the worst time. Now they are going to get whatever the court is going to give them. It probably won't be as good as anything they could have gotten when Delta was actually making some decent money.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Nanotech the Wave of the Future?

It looks like the nanotechnology consortium is adding two new members. Some of the things that are on the drawing board sound really interesting and futuristic. For instance:

Millennium Chemical is the world's second-largest producer of titanium dioxide and has already used titanium dioxide nanoparticles in its interesting new product called Ecopaint. What makes the environmentally friendly paint so special is that its custom-made nanoparticles can soak up and neutralize nitrogen oxide gases produced by car exhaust, manufacturing operations, and other sources of pollution.

So the paint on a a freeway divider will actually cut down on car exhaust? Now that is the kind of environmentalism that I like. No work and the environment is made better. It sounds like expensive stuff so you probably won't be painting you house with it anytime soon. This is another neat invention:

Other companies are also using titanium dioxide to do interesting things like make self-cleaning glass. In this case, it reacts with sunlight and causes a chemical reaction that breaks down the dirt. This neat little trick not only reduces the need for costly detergents, it may also cut down on the human labor associated with cleaning windows -- a substantial cost for owners of skyscrapers and office buildings.

You can finally have a car that has windows that will never have water spots on them. Also the job of window washer could go the way of the chimney sweep if this stuff becomes affordable.

Seems like may be a nice Stock

This article has some very interesting information about (CRM) It says that: is the clear leader in the young, but growing, market for customer research management software offered as a Web service, a market research firm said Monday.

This kind of software is very valuable because it lets companies know exactly what their consumers want. And since CRM is offering it via a Web Service these companies don't have to integrate some sort of complicated Oracle database to get the info they need. They can just go to the CRM website and find the specs for their next ad campaign or a product design tweak.

This is also great news about the stock from:

Robert Schwartz, a Jefferies & Co. analyst who said attendees at the company's annual conference Monday were enthusiastic about's performance, and that he found a number of customers planning to expand their usage of its service.

"We believe customers will be confused and concerned about the numerous customer-relationship management offerings from Oracle Corp. and will look for a rational alternative with a clearer future," Schwartz wrote. " is the most likely beneficiary."

Yup I think the ease of use that CRM offers is what is making it take market share from the big boys. From what I hear any Oracle solution is very complicated to use and needs special expertise to maintain. CRM does that work for the customer who only needs to see the data that goes in and is spit out. It's been on my watch list for a while now. I like these scrappy stocks that change the game against the big boys out there.

NASCAR helping to build Combat Vehicles?

Hmm this seems like an interesting way for NASCAR to help out America's war effort. I wonder if that blast deflection technology will protect those vehicles better from IEDs. They seem to be shredding the those Humvees like they were made out of paper.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Carl Edwards is in the Chase!

It was a pretty good race Saturday even though Carl came in 21st. I never got to watch the end of the race so I was sweating when I saw his position. I knew that he had to be at least 20th to clinch a spot and I thought he may be out by just a few points or something. Luckily the drivers that were trying to race their way in did badly. I feel bad for Jeff Gordon though because he could barely turn his car for most of the race. I think his team let him down a bit. Here is a picture of the car that Carl drove:

You can buy the little model version from here.

Bye Bye Brown!

I guess FEMA Director Michael Brown is going to be first to fall on his sword. I think it is a good deal for him because now the scrutiny will probably be much less into his background. You might see him again during some kind of hearing but now he can exit the national stage. It seems that many Americans want that 15 minutes of fame but you sure don't want to take the heat that Brown took.

Katrina Monetary Losses Worse then Expected

It looks like the money damage may turn out to be $60 billion instead of the $35 billion that people were thinking. And it seems that the reinsurers are taking it on the chin from it. It may be a pretty good time to buy them now since Katrina is a finite loss that they should be able to absorb. This is an interesting bit from the article:

"(Katrina) will be a loss of an enormity that will change the basis on which we do business in the industry," deputy chairman Charles Cantlay of reinsurance broker Aon Re UK, part of Aon Corp., told reporters at an industry conference in Monte Carlo.

Hmm, maybe one thing they should change is to hold the industry conference in New Jersey or Paquima instead of Monte Carlo.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Very Interesting Katrina Predictions

Lets hope at least some of these predictions come true. I really would like to see a full accounting of what went wrong in this thing. Who was to blame and what they could have done differently. I'm talking from Bush on down to the local police. I think an independent report will be some good reading.

Looks like they are Sacking Brown

It seems that he has used up all of his chances as the head of FEMA. I saw on the various Late shows that they are really making fun of him. Leno had Fred Willard play him in a skit they had on the Tonight Show. He looks like the scapegoat of this whole mess even though there seemed to have been all sorts of breakdowns at all levels. Let's hope the Repubs decide to put in an independant investagator to figure out what went wrong in all this. I think having a Repub only group would just lead to alot of ass covering.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

This seems Like an Interesting Read

This book called What Goes Up : The Uncensored History of Modern Wall Street as Told by the Bankers, Brokers, CEOs, and Scoundrels Who Made It Happen looks like it would be right up my alley. I like to read about history and I enjoy watching the stock market as well. It should be pretty entertaining. I'm just finishing Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power. It is a pretty good overview of the British Empire during the Vicotrian era.

Greg Gutfeld is Really Funny

This is a great blogpost that made me laugh out loud several times. I think this line is the best part:

- do you see "looting" as a function of poverty?
- brought on by Bush's policies?
-do you think you and a looter might get along over a beer?
-as you both agree over the point you just made about poverty?
-do you press charges after he stabs you?

And this line is funny too:

HUFFPO QUICK QUIZ!: Could you have predicted that the cause of a lifetime - making Cindy Sheehan the sympathetic icon of our times - could be so easily dropped once we found better dead bodies than Casey to use against the President? NOW LET'S CONTINUE!

Speculation about the Skype Ebay deal

I have to agree with this guys assessment on the proposed buyout of Skype by Ebay. It looks like that business has nothing to do with getting to buy more things at an auction. They may be doing this:

"Offering eBay users a calling service could foster better communications between buyers and sellers, but there doesn't seem to be anything that could be considered more compelling to a Skype strategy, say analysts.

It shouldn't cost $2 to 3 billion just to make it easier for a buyer and seller to talk. Maybe adding some sort of chat service or client would do about the same thing. An Ebay branded Yahoo messenger like thing would do just fine.

Unless Ebay is still committed to become a brand of brands similar to Yahoo. They have already added a similar but slightly different offering to their core business when they bought They also bought Paypal recently as well. Those two companies connected to their core business fairly well but Spype is quite a departure. It may be interesting to watch Ebay in the coming months. It seems they are in a developmental phase that could lead to a much different company in the future.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Emerging Markets Info

This is a very interesting article on Emerging Markets that I just read. I had no idea why the Austrain ETF was going like gangbusters recently. Whenever I checked the ETFs this one was near the top in appreciation.

It seems their banks are financing eastern European expansion to the tune of big profits. They are also pumping their retirement fund into the stock market and pushing the price of shares up. EWO seems like a very interesing add to the Watch List.

One for the Darwin Awards

Looks like this drunk woman died when she tried to pee in a cemetery and accidentally pulled a gravestone on top of herself. Hmm, maybe it would have been a better idea to pee under a tree or behind a hedge or something. But dying like this is one for the Darwin Awards I think.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Refugee a Racist Term?

When did this happen? I always thought these were people fleeing and taking refuge from something. Maybe it is the wrong term since the danger of the actual hurricane is over. I guess you could call them disaster or flood refugees though. Or maybe if there was a war in Louisiana then maybe this term was more appropriate. Or loony liberals fleeing to Canada could be called political refugees.

It does sound elitist though to not refer to US citizens as refugees. So all those people fleeing from persecution/wars/famines shouldn't be lumped in with Americans or something. It smacks of the dirty foreigner mindset that the left (and sometimes the right) is guilty of. So this is said:

"It is racist to call American citizens refugees," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

So is is quite all right to call Sudanese, Bosnian Serbs, or Timorese refugees since they aren't American. This is the same attitude that the Liberals when they say the Iraqi people are incapable, too dumb, or aren't worth losing American lives to form their own democratic country. The Right has this attitude about Mexican Immigrants as well.

Gilligan Dead at 70

Too bad Bob Denver died today at University Baptist Hospital in North Carolina of complications from treatment he was receiving for cancer. At least he was part of one of TVs most celebrated shows. I really enjoyed Gilligan's Island and still do.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Just a Half Hour later Oil prices fall

You really can tell that some of the high oil prices are bubble related because the prices fell so quickly.

October-dated crude oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell $1.90 to $67.57 a barrel and unleaded gasoline futures tumbled 22.5 cents to $2.18 a gallon, its first drop in five consecutive sessions.

Thank your IAE it would be pretty cool if you chased some of these speculators out of this market. Only time will tell though if this pullback was just profit taking or if it does pull some wind out of the sails of Oil prices. I have a feeling it was just profit taking based on the IAE move and nothing permanent.

IEA to put Oil on the market

This will hopefully slow down prices a bit. The article says:

Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Japan are expected to send the bulk of these supplies, mostly in the form of refined products, the energy secretary said.

That is good that the product is already refined into gas though. That way it will avoid the problem the 30 million barrels that are coming out of our reserve will have. That oil still needs to go into the production bottlenecks that the refiners are having. With less refiners because of Katrina it may not be much help to gas prices. This is certainly worring it it comes true:

In the wake of the storm, retail gasoline prices have soared above $3 a gallon for regular unleaded in many parts of the country, with rationing and shortages in areas of the Southeast served by Gulf Coast refiners. At least one analyst has predicted pump prices will hit $4 a gallon in the near future.

That $4 gas sounds pretty bad for the economy to me.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Give to a Charity for Katrina Relief has a great rundown of different charities where you can give some bucks to help out the people affected but this terrible storm. Hey if I can give some cash so the Israeli Defense Force so they can get a nice delivered pizza. I can give some cash to help some Americans out in this time of dire need.

This little ribbon is something that is on the Google front page. I figure it is the symbol of this tragedy.

High Gas Prices didn't slow Consumers in August

Looks like retail sales are still coming in strong despite the high gas prices. Hmm it seems that $3.00 gas may not as much of a killer for retail as some people think. For example I was thinking that most SUV gas tanks hold 20 gallons so that is $60 for a fillup with gas at $3.00.

But when these robust retail figures came out gas was averaging about $2.65 a gallon or so. So a fillup already cost $53. So if a person needs to fillup 3 times per week then they will need to pay $180 a week for gas. They are already paying $159 a week and were able to continue their robust spending. That $21 difference is like one less collar shirt at American Eagle, a meal at a sit down restaurant for one person, a DVD, or a a trip to a fast food place for the family.

However all bets are off when gas goes to $3.50 a gallon ($70 a fillup.) If they are filling up 3 times a week like above then they will be paying $210 a week for gas. That would be a $51 bite taken out of their paycheck every week. That means they will be going to one less family movie night, one less video game for the kids, 2-3 less trips to a fast food place (no fast food for the week maybe?), or one less credit card bill. In other words people may seriously cut back on purchases.

I hope the Fed has a certain number in their head when they feel gas prices will cut spending. That number for me would be $3.50 a gallon. I only fill up once a week and only half a tank (7.1 gallons usually) so I currenty pay $13 for gas. If gas prices went up to $3.50 I would pay $24.50 to fill up the same tank. For me that is an entire week of fast food lunches, three weeks worth of comics, or a hard backed book. I guess its ramen noodle time if we do see $3.50 gas.

Greenspan says Katrina is short term Blip

I seem to agree with him as well. It looks like they may pause in raising rates this time too. Should be a nice bump for the bond market. Here is what the Fed thinks:

"In the immediate future, this will show up as a big blip in CPI (the consumer price index). But that is not relevant for long-term price stability in this county," said Robert Rasche, director of research at the St. Louis Federal Reserve.

This is really up to when they can get those refineries and oil rigs back on line. If it takes months then we will surely be reeling from these high gas prices all through the winter.