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.