Wednesday, December 27, 2006

December Madness at What If Sports is Awesome!

Now this would be some awesome games with a 16 team playoff instead of an 8 team field. Some of the first round games they have may be different if the games were actually played. I agree with Ohio State smashing Troy State but I can see Florida losing a close one to Central Michigan. They might be looking ahead to that Oklahoma game and get shocked by the Bulls.

That elite 8 they pick though would be one football feast! We have Ohio State/Auburn, LSU/USC, Michigan/Louisville, and Oklahoma/Florida. Every one of those games will be a barn burner and no sports picker will be safe. I would pay good money to watch Michigan's insane defence verses Louisvilles massive offence.

I think the top teams would like Bowden's 8 team playoff system a little better. If they follow that format they could dodge the potential for a Central Michigan to shock the world. However what red-blooded football fan in America would not be rooting for the 16 seed to knock off Ohio State and throw the whole mess in the hopper?

I think it is just a matter of time before the NCAA wises up and goes to a playoff system. They get to keep the Bowls but now they would make 15 of them actually count toward the national championship. Also Ohio State would have to knock off Troy State, Auburn, LSU, and Michigan for the 2nd time to win it all. If they do all that, then they will truely deserve to be called National Champion.

More on Ford's Athletic Skills

Ford was quite a football player at Michigan:

Ford, who has died at age 93, played center on the University of Michigan football team, where he was a three-year letter winner. His teams enjoyed consecutive undefeated, national championship seasons in 1932 and 1933. He was the Wolverines' most valuable player in 1934 and, on Jan. 1, 1935, he played in a college all-star game known today as the East West Shrine Game.

I didn't know he could have gone pro and could have played for either Detroit or Green Bay but decided to go to Yale law school instead. He also played both ways at Michigan at both Center and Linebacker.

Speaking of IPod Sales

They seem pretty robust at least at Amazon.
Top sellers in Consumer Electronics include Apple iPods (various),
Canon Powershot Digital Elph Cameras and Garmin GPS Systems.

It is interesting to note that Amazon also sold 1000 Xbox 360s in 29 seconds as well. Notice that this doesn't say PS3 or Wii here. I wonder if this shortage is going to affect them in installed base. I know that if I had a so-called "shittin kid" that wanted a PS3 for Christmas I would buy them a XBox 360 because it is basically the same thing. I mean almost all of the games are cross platform anyway.

I just want the PS3 for the Blu-Ray player installed in it. I will probably use it to watch Blu-Ray DVDs more then play games on it anyway. The fact is I can wait until they are everywhere before I go out and spend the bucks on it.

Apple falls on "Falsifying Data" Claim

As long as the CEO isn't indicted or something this may be a good buying opportunity for APPL shares.

Apple shares fell $3.37, or 4.2 percent, to $78.14, in morning trade on Nasdaq. It was the biggest one-day drop
since July. Earlier they traded as low as $76.77.

"Any time you get the stock options probe mentioned, especially
with rumors of falsifying documents, the hot money tends to shoot first and ask
questions later," said Tim Biggam, options strategist at Man
Securities, an options brokerage firm in Chicago.

I hope there is more bad news that comes out of this options probe so it will drive the shares down even lower. One of my biggest winners came from buying Citigroup after they were plagued by a scandal. As long as the company doesn't go bankrupt due to fighting the SEC then scandal time is the best time to buy a stock. However, if IPod sales are light this holiday this stock will really get pounded. Either way it may be a good Straddle Opportunity.

Russians Make Wild Claim on Litvinenko murder

How is an oil tycoon living in Israel supposed to get Polonium 210? I guess he whipped it up in a homemade nuclear generator in his basement or something. I still think the KGB should have just killed him in a random "mugging gone bad" or or just sent Red Grant with a garrote to kill him when he was alone in his house. Instead they had to get all fancy. Oh well I guess they are going to tap dance this thing forever until Putin is out of office.

"A version is being looked at that those who ordered these crimes could be
the same people who are on an international wanted list for serious and very
serious crimes, one of whom is ... Leonid Nevzlin," the prosecutor-general's
office said in a statement.

Gerald Ford Dies.

It looks like Gerald Ford has finally passed away after a long illness. He seemed to be one of the funnier presidents who seems to have taken one too many hits to the head in the leather helmet era of football. I hope the Michigan Wolverines do something nice for him like put his number on their helmets or something. He was even immortalized on the Simpsons for liking Nachos and Beer. He seemed like a pretty good guy who just happened to be President.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dem Machine Goes after Obama Already?

And there is still 2 years to go before the election. Hillary plays for keeps, and I think Obama stands in her way, so he is going to get squashed by any means necessary. This is just the first salvo in this long war. And they say Rove is a ruthless bastard.
Rezko has pleaded not guilty to charges he plotted to squeeze millions
of dollars in kickbacks out of investment firms seeking state business. He also
has pleaded not guilty to obtaining a $10.5 million loan from GE Capital through
fraud and swindling a group of investors.

Rezko's wife bought a vacant lot next door to Obama on the same day
last year that Obama and his wife, Michelle, closed on their home, according to
published reports last fall. In January, Obama paid Rezko $104,500 for part of
the lot to balance the space between his house and the fence.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Letters From Iwo Jima doing well in Japan

It seems like this movie is really affecting people in Japan.

About halfway through a showing of "Letters From Iwo Jima" - Clint
Eastwood's epic about Japan's futile stand during the World War II battle - a
30-something Japanese salaryman takes off his glasses to wipe
away the tears from his eyes. He does this several times during the movie, the
first time after a young American soldier dies.

It is odd that Clint Eastwood, a non-Japanese guy, is putting humanity into the portrayal of Japanese soldiers. I would think that Japanese filmmakers would be doing this for years but not according to this article. In fact the last Japanese movie about Iwo Jima was made in 1972. I guess all that emphasis on ignoring what happened in WW2 is why there are not so many war movies made in Japan.

In the US WW2 is about as popular as ever before with hundreds of video games, series, and movies being made about it. I guess Abe (with some help from Dirty Harry) is out to change that by making it cool to be patriotic again.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Turkmenbashi is Dead Long Live the Next Guy!

Saparmurat Niyazov the nutty leader of Turkmenistan is finally dead after 21 years of rule. this is quite significant because that country contains the third largest amount of natural gas in the world and is pretty much unexplored. These are some of this guys weird acts:

A massive golden statue of a leader known as Turkmenbashi rotates to
face the sun in the capital Ashgabat, just one of many ostentatious gestures
towards his own self-regard. All children must learn a book he wrote, weaving
medieval fantasy tales with his philosophy of life.

In perhaps his most notorious gesture, the book was blasted into
space in a Russian rocket and then burned up on re-entry over the Earth, so that
the Turkmen people could look up at the skies and think of their leader's
writings for inspiration, rather than the stars.

Yup they paid money to blast a book into space and have it burn up so he can have their eyes on him instead of the stars. In other words he was trying to outdo the stars. He sounds like Dr. Doom.

Red Wine May Prevent Obesity

Hmm this seems like just the thing for all those winos out there.
The researchers further discovered that resveratrol activates a Sirtuin
protein located in the mitochondrion organelle, which is responsible for energy
production, reported. This activated protein in turn
stimulates the activity of another protein involved in mitochondrial

The enhanced mitochondrial activity led to increased
energy production, which may result in a reduction of weight gain, the
researchers were cited as surmising by

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bush to Outflank on Minimum Wage Hike

It seems like Bush is pretty good at taking the fight to the opposing team. It seems like the Dems winning winning the Congress was just the smelling salts this Admin. needed.
Bush said he supports a $2.10 raise for minimum-wage earners, but over
a two-year period instead of three, and added that "we should do it in a way
that does not punish" small businesses.

"I support pairing it with targeted tax and regulatory relief, to
help these small businesses stay competitive and to help keep our economy
growing," he said.

This is a great piece of outflanking since he puts the Dems on the defence again. He says you get what you want and at a faster pace but you have to accept this round of tax cuts for small businesses. So if the Dems nix the thing then they look bad because the Repubs. can portray them as anti-small business as well as not taking "yes" for an answer. Very shrewd move.

It Costs $12 Billion to Run Santas Workshop?

Now this is a neat breakdown of Santas expenses. This line I though was pretty interesting:

Elves, the backbone of the entire enterprise, make about $14.50 an
hour. Benefits at the nonprofit operation match the average at about 40% of
payroll, bringing total elf compensation to $4,228,432.

Workshop operations also required temporary help from Kelly
Services, whose elves-for-hire pitch in during the last two months when
telephone hotlines start buzzing and the mailroom overflows with children's
letters. The extra elfpower comes to $116,970, including data-entry clerks hired
at $14.65 an hour and mailroom clerks hired at $13.20 an hour.

I think these elves are going to unionize after they find out that seasonal temp staff makes more then them. I mean these elves are supposedly highly trained manufacturing workers that in years past have built the toys from scratch. They also have to work in arctic conditions at the North Pole and probably can't leave the area or they freeze to death.

Maybe their low pay reflects globalization since the majority of toys are probably made in China. The days when an elf can make a toy train out of wood or something have gone the way of the buggy whip. Now that same train is made from injection molded plastic in a Chinese manufacturing plant and then shipped to the North Pole. The elves now simply unload the pallets and then take the toys and load up Santa's Sleigh for Dec 24.

Perhaps if the elves unionized they would make the same as dock workers in the US which is $19.94 per hour and increases by $1 per hour after accumulating 1,000 hours. I wonder if Santa would be a cruel union breaker and keep his elves from making that extra $5.44 per hour by any means necessary.

I guess the elves are lucky since Santa could go to a Japanese automaker model where he has the toys made in the target country (or shipped there) and then warehouse them for that Dec. 24th delivery. That way he would only need tech guys and data entry clerks to update his Naughty/Nice Database and sleigh and reindeer maintenance engineers in his Arctic Lair. Santa could then cut his entire elf staff and reduce delivery time and cost.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"You" Media Goes to the Next Level

It seems a British Magazine is going to fill its entire issue from MySpace.

Reports from the United Kingdom find Marmalade magazine sending out an
open call for content to flesh out its March issue, cover to cover. The monthly
read, with an estimated 30,000 subscribers, is accepting submissions through its
MySpace page and scouring through the site to recruit talent.

It doesn't say anything about paying for that talent though. It would seem that most of the stuff you would get off of MySpace would probably be pretty crappy. There might be some gems. However judging from most MySpace pages I have seen it will probably be lots of shots of guys and girls holding up liquor.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Gifts that Give Back

Here is a list of gifts that help people other then the person that gets the gift. I thought these two gifts were kind of funny:
Adopt an animal from the World Wildlife Fund and help your friends save their favorite animals. Plus, they get a card, stuffed animal, or other gifts as acknowledgement.

I'm pretty sure noone is going to adopt one of those weird, ugly creatures. There will be alot of adopting of baby seals or kittens but not too many razorbacked boars or Praying Mantis adoptions.

No child could possibly resist a horse tire swing, and you'll feel good
knowing it's made of recycled tires. That's just one clever find from
of the Yahoo! Shopping team

I could resist getting poked by the steel belted pieces that lie inside some tires. I remember swinging on those things when I was a kid and getting poked all the time by those little bits of wire. I guess they need to donate gently used tires and not those that are falling apart.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Funny Bush Photo

Hmm this Baby must be a Blue Stater. By the way Reuters has all sorts of funny pictures here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Retail Sales up Big for November

This seems pretty good for a person that is overweight retailers right now.
Retail sales surged in the important holiday shopping month of November
as shoppers flocked to malls in search of juicy deals on toys, electronics and
other popular gift items.

The Commerce Department said retail sales jumped a much stronger
than expected 1 percent last month, compared with a revised 0.1 percent decline
in October. The government had originally reported a 0.4 percent decline for

It seems that gas prices dipped at exactly the right time to get everyone into the malls. I wonder what January sales will be like so we can see how many gift cards are being redeemed. This year I vow to use every gift card I have been given and not let them sit and gather dust.

More on "Tommy Hilfiger is a Racist"

This is a pretty good rundown debunking the rumor that Tommy Hilfiger said that his clothes aren't for poor blacks. Oprah even had to come on her show and deny the rumor in person. This is a really interesting example of an internet rumor that blows up and becomes an urban legend.

Virgin Mobile USA and American Eagle Outfitters Helps Homeless Kids

This seems like a pretty good program that helps homeless teens.
Virgin Mobile has introduced "Txt2Clothe," allowing anyone to donate
clothing to homeless teens via his or her cell phone, regardless of carrier.
Specifically, anyone who texts the word "KARMA" to mobile number 68405 will
trigger Virgin Mobile to have one piece of clothing given to a homeless teen.
American Eagle Outfitters is the first apparel company to step up and partner
with Virgin Mobile by making a specific contribution of clothing to this

You notice Abercrombie & Fitch isn't following suit on this program. Maybe they think that their clothes don't belong on homeless teens but only on affluent ones. Perhaps they think it will "cheapen the brand" or something like that. Kind of like how Tommy Hilfiger was thought to have said that his clothes aren't for black people. Or it was just the case of noone asking ANF if they wanted to get in on this pretty easy to do tax writeoff.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ahmadinejad Pops Off About Israel Again

I think he just wants to get his country nuked saying stuff like this:

"Thanks to people's wishes and God's will the trend for the existence
of the Zionist regime is downwards and this is what God has promised and what
all nations want," he said.

"Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist,
so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out," he added.

Um, all nations don't want an end to the Zionist Regime Ah"MAD"inejad. Maybe just your little cabal of Holocaust deniers and Mullah crackpots. And they want to be responsible wielders of nuclear weapons?

Olmert Spills the Nuclear Beans

Now this is a real slip up but probably designed as a direct threat to Iran.

In a German television interview broadcast on Monday as he began his
first official visit to Berlin, Olmert said: "Iran, openly, explicitly and
publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same
level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France,
Israel, Russia?"

I think this is a little nod to Israel having an arsenal and willing to use it to smack down any Middle Eastern power that is willing to challenge them. Especially if that power wants to wipe them off of the map. If the UN fails on this one I would be willing to bet there will be mushroom clouds rising up all over Iran.

Friday, December 08, 2006

What Me Worry?

Bush sure has a knack for looking like a doof:

Merry Christmas Is Back

It looks like another big win for the anti-Happy Holidays crowd.
The majority of Americans surveyed - 95 percent - said they were not
offended by a "Merry Christmas" greeting in stores, according to a poll by Zogby

However, 32 percent of respondents said they took offense at "Happy
Holidays," the religiously neutral alternative promoted over the last few years
as inclusive and inoffensive.

Not only are people not offended by Merry Christmas but they actually took offense at the term Happy Holidays. I think these far left secularists who keep pushing their atheist agenda are way off base. They need to know that this holiday rose out of Judeo-Christian beliefs and separating the holiday from its roots is just not going to work. These people need to know that they are the fringe group and the vast majority of Americans are not listening to them and are offended by what they are trying to do.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

First Litvinenko now Kovtun?

It looks like the Russians might be knocking their critics off one by one.

Dmitry Kovtun, a contact of dead Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko, is in
critical condition in hospital from radiation poisoning, Interfax news agency
quoted an unnamed source as saying on Thursday.

It also doesn't pay to talk to investigators into Litvinenko as well.

Interfax also reported that Kovtun fell into a coma after British and
Russian investigators working on the Litvinenko case had finished questioning
him in a Moscow hospital. However, it gave no source for the information on a

I keep getting a picture in my head of Rosa Klebb firing a hidden polonium 210 bullet into Litvinenko from her shoe while doing the bidding of SMERSH.

Wii has Faulty Strap

It seems that the strap on the Nintendo Wii breaks off sometimes when you swing it around.
"We are investigating," Iwata said of reports about the Wii's strap
coming off as players swung around the controller, at times causing the remote
to fly out of their hands.

Players use the Wii remote like a tennis racket, sword and other
devices to play games.

"Some people are getting a lot more excited than we'd expected,"
Iwata said. "We need to better communicate to people how to deal with Wii as a
new form of entertainment."

That would be just my luck. One vigourous swing of the controller and it slips out of my hand and breaks my TV.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Blockbuster Desperate

Now Blockbuster is really getting desperate with their tactics.
From Dec. 5 through Dec. 21, folks bearing the Netflix tear-off sheets can
go into Blockbuster and get a free movie rental. They will have to sign up for a
free Blockbuster membership. And of course, what does the customer care if he or
she is signing up for a free account? Increasing membership this way doesn't
necessarily translate into revenues for Blockbuster.

I'm waiting for Blockbuster to offer some kind of free DVDs or coupons or something to switch over. They need to make it worth my while to go through all the trouble of cancelling my Netflix and switching over to Blockbuster Total Access. I still hate driving over to the video store so they have to make it better then walking to the mailbox to get my movies.

Russell Simmons Gives Back to Africans

Now this is a good deal from a Hip-Hop Mogul.

The 49-year-old entrepreneur announced his "Green Initiative" jewelry,
which is manufactured and designed by Simmons Jewelry Co. Twenty-five
percent of proceeds from sales will go toward the Diamond Empowerment Fund,
which will support institutions, like schools and colleges, in South Africa and
Botswana and help boost economic development.

I feel Africans really need the money and concern much more then blacks in the US. I mean many Africans live in some of the worst conditions in the world and the black community in the US doesn't seem to care. There are more activists speaking out about Kramer shouting racial slurs in a comedy club then about blacks being murdered every day in Darfur. Maybe fighting a racist Kramer here at home is more important to them then fighting Umar Hassan al-Bashir (the Sudanesse head of state) on some other continent.

Wii vs. PS3: Motley Fools Take Off Base

I think this article by Motley Fool is off the mark from what I see. This is the passage that I take issue with:

This market clearly represents a huge opportunity for Nintendo, but it also
poses a dilemma for Sony. As Christensen accurately explained in his first book,
The Innovator's Dilemma, Sony must now figure out how to create products for
this new "nonconsumption" market of first-time gamers.

I agree that this "nonconsumption market" will be big for Nintendo but only at the very beginning. Mark my words it is going to wane before too long. Nongamers don't become gamers for the most part. What I mean by gamer is one that buys multiple games per year (or sometimes per month.) A nongamer will buy a few games at first but eventually forget about the system once they get tired of it. They might go out and buy a new game later on based on word of mouth or media reports but they can't sustain the system for a number of years. More then likely the nongamers' Wiis will be collecting dust by this time next year. It might be possible to turn these nongamers into gamers but the numbers will be too small to sustain the console throughout its life. So Sony could safely ignore this fickle market and focus on the true cash cows of the industry, the gamer.

Nintendo however could keep up with the PS3 if they serve up enough exclusive fare that will make the gamer crowd stick with them instead of Sony. That means they need to crank out the Metroids, Zeldas, Mega Mans, Mario games and make them compelling for both crowds. It would be a tough balancing act because a Metroid made for the nongamer crowd will make for a lot of angry gamers. Or they need to crank out enough nongamer titles and make them compelling enough for the these people to dust off their Wiis several times a year. If Nintendo can manufacture a Sims type of game (big seller with sustainable sequels/addons) that is exclusive to their console then they will move into the top console spot.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Lindsay Lohan in AA

At least she is admitting that she has a problem. I have to give her a load of respect for at least knowing that partying to much isn't the right thing for her even though she is still young. This is the kind of thing that would make me angry if I had to read it as well:

A sad Lohan wrote the rambling letter "on the fly" on her Blackberry,
Sloane said.

The letter, in which Lohan signs off with "BE ADEQUITE," has been
criticized by a number of media observers for its grammatical errors and
misspellings, among other things — including exploiting Altman's death for her
own publicity purposes.

Patt Morrison, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, derided it on
The Huffington Post Web site as "alarmingly incoherent" and said Altman might
find it "comedic."

So pretty much everything that she does is scrutinized in the media. Even when she writes a sad message about a legendary director's passing she is ripped apart by the press. She really can't do anything right in their eyes. I saw an interview with her on Leno and she was really prickly about how thetabloidss and press see her. I see that things like this are the reasons why.

Casino Royal Movie Review

My review of Casino Royal is up on my Personal Blog.

Neolithic Tsunami had 130 Foot Waves

Now this thing sounds almost like something out of a movie.
Their recreation suggests the tsunami's waves reached heights of up to 130 feet and maximum speeds of up to 450 mph, making it more powerful than the Indonesian tsunami that killed more than 180,000 people in 2004.

It was caused by 6 cubic miles of rock falling into the sea from Mt. Etna.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Funny PS3 Listing

Even thought this article from Motley Fool is kind of old it is still pretty funny. Here are the Top 10 PS3 Complaints:

Top 10 complaints from PlayStation 3 shoppers

10. "Where are all the chicks?"

9. Didn't grasp the irony of having to sell the television to afford the PS3.

8. Awesome Tekken fighting skills not applicable to beating back crowds.

7. "Dude, put on some deodorant!"

6. Two days in line destroyed the pasty white pallor so carefully cultivated by two years of basement gaming.

5. Uber-nerd Anders Bylund humiliated lesser nerds with his extensive knowledge of PS3 components.

4. "Once in the store I said I had to 'wee,' and they gave me the Nintendo Wii."

3. "I can't wait to go home, plug it in, and see it blow up in flames like some of the other fine Sony products lately."

2. Those darned eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) listing fees.

1. "Actual girlfriend" accessory is not available at launch.

November Good Month for Specialty Retailers

It seems that Wal-Mart's pain might be American Eagle/Limited Brands/Coach's gains.
UBS Investment Research also forecast strong sales from American Eagle
and Limited Brands.

"We are expecting robust (same-store sales) from American
Eagle due to trend-right merchandise, lifestyle branding, new holiday floor set,
and Black Friday offers on fleece and dorm wear," UBS analyst Meredith Love Kent wrote in a client note.

"Also possible upside from Limited, as there were compelling gifts
with purchases at Victoria's Secret, and Bath & Body Works offered a variety
of Black Friday promotions" such as discounted gift items and hand soaps, Kent

Friday, November 24, 2006

Real World: University Edition?

It sure would be interesting if MTV would stop making Real Worlds set in some debauched world of heavy drinking, partying, and serial hooking up and class things up a notch. They can make it "5 strangers picked to live in a dorm and have their lives taped etc." They can have all of the people be A-personality college students full of world beating attitudes and showing some actual smarts.

It would be cool to set it in different colleges and show how college life is like in each place. They can have one season set in an Ivy League college, while another is set in Michigan or Ohio, while still another is set at South Carolina, or Alabama. They follow the kids as they are away from home for the first time and get homesick etc. I would also put people of different cultures, political backgrounds, religions in that dorm together. They can all question each others beliefs and get in each others faces to make the drama come out.

MTV did try this with a show about Sororities but make this one with the full Real World treatment. Make sure they follow the kids on spring break also so we can get the usual helping of T&A that MTV seems to pride themselves on.

Maybe it would be a bad idea knowing how much people tried to mess up previous Real World tapings. Seattle went all out to ruin the show as best they could. Plus, I remember there were all kinds of fights and arrests in the Boston show. I think some college kids would go crazy trying to pick fights with the Real World people and mess up the show.

Oh well, I would just like to see some go-getters who are smart and together on the Real World and not a bunch of drunks that the show usually focuses on.

Real World: Denver Sounds Pretty Nuts

Now this is a pretty thorough review of Real World: Denver.
here's how to summarize it in a nutshell: like Vegas, except less
cerebral. Yes, it was an action-filled premiere, or at least, the last ten
minutes were.

And this is what happened in the last 10 minutes:
It was all going swimmingly until Jenn suddenly had a crisis of
conscience. She realized she was having sex! With the guy that Colie liked! And
if she continued, Colie would get hurt! She liked Colie too much to do that to
her. But then again, she also like Alex too. What would Jenn do???

Remember this all happened in the first show in what looks like a few hours/days of meeting one another. This season sounds like a real winner in the making. I guess if viewers keep watching this drek MTV will keep shoveling it. I wonder what sad-assed service project they will fail miserably at doing this season?

Litvinenko Fingers Putin as his Killer

Wow this thing is quickly heating up. It seems the Putin critic was poisoned with polonium-210 and not Thallium as some people believed. This is what Litvinenko had to say about Putin:

He accused Putin of having "no respect for life, liberty or any
civilized value."

"You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price.
You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile
critics have claimed," the statement said.

"You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from
around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Speaking of Scarlett Johansson

It's her Birthday today according to this. She is 22 now so that means she is a *little* closer to my age. :P Here is a really nice pic of her that I found on the internet. She doesn't even look like a starlet here at all. She looks just like any cute girl you might see on the street.

Rosie Outs Clay Aiken

Clays gay and ugly according to Rosie O'Donnell of the View. As if this was news to anyone though. I have to kind of agree with her in principal though. If it was Hugh Jackman or someone like that I don't think Ripa would have pulled his hand away like that. Hell, I would let Scarlett Johansson cover my mouth any day of the week. However I wouldn't let Rosie within a 100 foot radius of my person for any reason at all. The cute factor is a bigger deal then one may think.
O'Donnell said Tuesday on "The View": "If that was a straight man, if
that was a cute man, if that was a guy that she didn't question his sexuality,
she would have said a different thing."
Ripa said O'Donnell misunderstood her

"He's shaking hands with everybody in the audience. I mean, it's
cold and flu season. That's what I meant," she said. "And to imply that it's
anything homophobic is outrageous, Rosie, and you know better."

"I understand cold and flu season," O'Donnell replied. "I'm just
saying from where I sit as a gay person in the world, I have to tell you, that's
how it came off to me."

Aiken has been the target of speculation about his sexuality.
Tabloid reports earlier this year suggested he had a gay affair. Aiken has never
directly addressed the rumors.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Moscow Crackdown

It shows how little I pay attention to some things that are going on in England when this little tidbit struck me as real news.

But the two exiles expected the worst this year when the Russian parliament
adopted a new law in July allowing the FSB, the successor to the Soviet KGB, to
track down and eliminate enemies of the state wherever they might be hiding
around the world.

Now that seems almost like an Israeli style anti-terrorist law that forgets about extradition treaties and that kind of stuff. That means they can go into any state and off "enemies" whenever they feel like it. And it looks like they have just put this new law into affect:

All that changed this month when Alexander Litvinenko became the first
Russian immigrant to be targeted by an assassin, in a poison attack that he and
his colleagues have blamed on the Kremlin.

It seems they poisoned him with Thallium which was an old school KGB poisoning agent. This is what it looks like:

Monday, November 20, 2006

Some Thoughts on Yahoo's "Peanut Butter Manifesto"

Now these are some very interesting thoughts from a senior member of Yahoo's executive team.
Dubbed the "Peanut Butter Manifesto" for its description of Yahoo's
strategy as "spreading peanut butter across [a] myriad [of] opportunities" that
results in "a thin layer of investment spread across everything" and a "focus on
nothing in particular," the memo calls for a major shake-up at the struggling
Internet giant. Garlinghouse's suggestions include a reduction in workforce by
15-20% and the elimination of duplicative functions between Yahoo's various
business units.

I think they should seriously concentrate on search and try to get the title of best search on the internet back. Yahoo's search engine is a massive joke that rarely finds anything that is worth searching for. Google is just head and shoulders better and they are using their success in search to bring in advertising dollars. The Yahoo experience can be summed up by having a great Toolbar full of useful stuff but then having to use the Google Toolbar to actually search for things. That means their content is great but some other company gets the money that could be going to them.

This peanut butter analogy is almost spot on. They have a ton of services but none of them are the best in category. They have a Personals that gets smashed by They have Search Engine that gets smashed by Google. They have a Map function that is blasted by Google Earth/Mapquest. They have a Yahoo Communities that gets smashed by MySpace. Now they even have a Yahoo Videos section that sucks compared to YouTube.

I think they need to go item by item and strive to make each one the best in category. Or just simply concentrate on things that have the strongest revenue streams and forget the rest until those strong items are the best. I think that would be the only way Yahoo will keep themselves from being valued at 1/4 that of Google even though their revenue is only 1/3 less.

Kramer (Michael Richards) a Racist?

So Mel is an Anti-Semite and now Kramer is a racist? It sure seems like it when he was heckled by a couple of black guys.
His Laugh Factory tirade began after the two clubgoers shouted at him
that he wasn't funny. A videotape of the incident was posted on

Richards retorted: "Shut up! Fifty years ago we'd have you upside
down with a f------ fork up your a--."

He then paced across the stage taunting the men for interrupting
his show, peppering his speech with racial slurs and profanities.

"You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now mother------. Throw
his a-- out. He's a n-----!" Richards shouts before repeating the racial epithet
over and over again.

Moderating his tone at one point, Richards tells the audience: "It
shocks you. It shocks you" and refers to "what lays buried."

Newscorp Pulls Simpson TV Show and Book

It looks like Rupert Murdoch slammed the door on this despicable sweeps stunt.
I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an
ill-considered project," said Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman. "We are sorry for any pain that this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown

At least OJ won't make any more money off of the murdered corpses of his wife and Ron Goldman. It would be nice to never hear OJs name again for the rest of his life.

Mint Offers New Dollar Coins

I wonder if people are going to actually use these things in any large number? I know I didn't like the other dollar coin alternatives because they were just too big to carry around. I guess they could aim them at the collectors market but I'm still skeptical. Here is a picture of the coin:

Newt Running for President, Kinda

Well this is what he is planning on doing anyway:
"I'm going to tell you something, and whether or not it's plausible
given the world you come out of is your problem," he tells Fortune. "I am not
'running' for president. I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by
offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I
have to be president, it will happen." So he's running, only without yet
formally saying so.

At least he is going to offer compelling solutions and not alot of hot air like the Dems have been doing when they were in the minority. I don't think Newt has a snowballs chance though but whatever.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Man Robbed Another Beaten for PS3

Now this is getting out of hand. Just wait a little while and you will get all the PS3s you would ever want.
Two armed thugs tried to rob a line of people waiting for the new
PlayStation 3 game system to go on sale in Putnam early Friday and shot one man who refused to give up his money, authorities said.

About 30 miles away, another shopper was beaten and robbed of his new
PlayStation 3 just minutes after he bought it at a store in Manchester, police

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

These Statements Show Dems naivete

All my fears about the Dems taking the foreign policy lead has been realized when Dems pop off like this:
On the Democratic side, Rep. Brad Sherman of California proposed that the
United States offer North Korea a nonaggression pact as part of a deal in which
the North Koreans permanently and verifiably give up their nuclear

Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., accused the
administration of "dithering" and said the U.S. was placing too much reliance on
China to stop North Korea's programs. China played a leading diplomatic role in
persuading North Korea to end its boycott of negotiations.

So the North Koreas get a reward for developing the bomb and raising tension in the region? What prevents the North Koreans from signing the pact and then fooling us like they did during the Clinton administration. I mean they fooled investigators once. What keeps them from doing it again? Do the Dems really think that a nonaggression pact will keep the North Koreans from shrinking the bomb down far enough to mount it on a long range missile?

And this move would really show our allies that we have their back. If they shoot some more rockets over Japan then what are we supposed to do? Shrug our shoulders and say "well you are on your own now because we can't deal with them, sorry about that." If we did sell the Japanese down the river like this I would hope they would develop The Bomb. Then the Japanese will know that the Dems do not have their best interests in mind when it comes to North Korea.

And placing your hopes on China is not just practical but the only way anything will truly get done. China is the only country in the world that North Korea listens to. Kim respects/fears China and knows that if the Chinese cut off ties with the North his regime will crumble. Also if he pushes the Chinese too far they may go ape and simply regime change the North Koreans themselves. I still think it was Chinese agents that tried to eliminate Kim with that train bomb a few years back.

I was willing to give the Dems the benefit of the doubt about North Korea until I read stuff about nonaggression pacts and downplaying Chinese influence. I think someone needs to brief Mr. Sherman and Mr. Ackerman before its too late. We can't afford to have another Madeline Albright Style pact with the North Koreans while they build up their nuclear stockpile.

A Comprehensive Review of the Zune

This is a pretty good primer for anyone who is interested in buying a Zune. I think the idea is a pretty good one but I don't listen to music enough to warrant buying one of these things. A low end Ipod would be enough to safely store every MP3 that I own all in one place. I do like how the Zune has a really large screen though. It will make watching those tiny downloaded videos go from a room-spinning headache to simple eyestrain.

US Airways to Buy Out Delta?

It seems that we may get a little more consolidation in the airline space. This is the rub however:
Potential opposition from regulators, labor and Delta management all
have the potential to derail a transaction with strategic logic but heavy
political baggage.

It would make a lot of sense for there to be consolidation in the airline space especially with the companies that are coming out of bankruptcy. You add on new routes and get a bunch of extra planes added to your fleet for one merger price. I wonder who is going to be the next potential target for a buyout?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rudy Might Run in 08

It looks like Rudy is throwing his hat in the ring for '08. I would certainly vote for him if he ran against Hillary but I would have to do some soul searching if a Dem like Lieberman ran instead.

The former mayor filed papers to create the Rudy Giuliani Presidential
Exploratory Committee, Inc., establishing a New York-based panel that would
allow him to raise money to explore a White House run and travel the

11 Disruptive Ideas and some Comments

This is a great article on 11 innovations that will disrupt how we do business and even how we live our lives. Some of these ideas are revolutionary sounding while others may not be as big as one might think. Here are my comments on each item:

NETVIBES: (cutomizable web start pages)
I think this is a pretty good idea from the most part but I can see Yahoo, Google, or even Firefox adapting to do alot of the work that this article claims that this thing does. Perhaps it will really catch on with people that haven't already customized their browsers with lots of toolsbars and addons. Also I'm not sure if portals will allow this thing to post their content without a fight of some kind. I need to test the thing out to give a good opinion on it.

EESTOR: (super powerful ceramic power source for electric cars)
This thing sounds like one of those "cars that are powered by seawater" kind of things. If it is true (and I am kind of sceptical) it will change the way we drive. It will single handedly break the oil monopoly and make the Saudis, Iran, and Venezuela paupers. If this thing is as powerful as they claim I would be willing to lay even money that every oil power has a spy in that Cedar Park, Texas lab.

COGHEAD: (Easy to use tools to make Business Apps)
Sounds like an interesting idea but are users smart enough to create custom business apps that work without any problems? We have to see what apps are created from this thing to make any judgement calls on it. If it is as easy to use as they claim then we will see these custom apps pop up all over the net so companies can take a look at them.

NEXTMEDIUM: (Automated Product Placement big through an online exchange)
This sounds like something that could change the ad industry. You can't fast forward through product placement and if this company can measure its effectiveness then it will be a major player. This will probably lead to a world where we will see Jack Bauer holding up a can of Coke and then moving it to clearly show the label and other crap like that.

APPLIED LOCATION: (GPS system for toll collection, traffic congestion management etc.)
Now this is the dumbest idea on this list. The only way a person would install a GPS tracker onto their car is if it was mandated by the government. If carmakers were forced to put this into all cars then it will be one of the most heavily hacked items next to a computer. If you thought the wiretapping was bad wait until they get GPS data that shows every single place you drove during the year.

SALESFORCE.COM: (AppExchange 2.0 is shared programming for enterprise apps) This sounds like alot of hot air but it could be a great deal. It looks like they are using the Linix model of shared programming to help them build enterprise apps. The Linix model is proven to work so the chances of pulling off a big win is definately possible.

BLUELITHIUM: (Highly Targeted Ads that spawn due to your Clickstreams)
This idea sounds almost like spyware.

Each of those ads drops a cookie on your browser, and when you show up on another site that serves BlueLithium ads or on one of its advertisers' websites, it adds that history of clicks to its database. Using this "clickstream" data, it determines within 10 milliseconds which ad to serve up the next time you come to any of the 1,000 handpicked sites where it buys ad inventory from.

So you go from to you will get a Taco Bell ad instead of some other banner. It seems that bluelithium is almost like tar that sticks to you whenever you go to another affiliated site. So now it seems that Taco Bell will follow me like a ghost and pop up in every affiliated banner space until I delete the bluelithium cookie. I like Taco Bell but I am going to set anti-spy to block that tracking cookie in a minute.

CLEARWIRE: (National Wi-Max Broadband)
Now this could be the big change once the modem becomes smaller then a paperback book. If you can just put a card into a laptop and you get Wi-Max connectivity speed you can kiss wired broadband goodbye. Plus it is available in Hawaii. I may be testing this innovation first hand before too long.

ZOPA: (Peer to Peer Lending)
This seems like a very interesting way to earn 7% on your money. The uncollectable debt rating is pretty low but it will rise as more and more borrowers get on this thing and default. I could see big companies getting into the act if this thing takes off. I know that some asian societies have lending clubs like this and they have been popular since ancient times. Too bad it looks like it is only in England right now.

JAJAH: (Free phone calls without all the crap you need for VOIP)
Now this could be a category killer. The only drawback is you do need some kind of network connection to get yourself to the site. So if your power is out like we had recently in Hawaii then this little service is worthless to you. It's hard to argue with free though.

NANOLIFE SCIENCES: (cancer treatments using a proton beam)
This sounds very Star Trek but it may be a good deal when comparing it to chemotherapy. This one is quite a few years off so it is still Future Tech. It would be great if it does come to pass.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Dems and the Next Ethanol Bubble?

Hmm it seems that Ethanol stocks are going to pushed again in the new Congress. I wonder if the Dems are going to switch the subsidies for big oil to big Ethanol instead. I would certainly applaud them for that. The article has a list of some Ethanol stocks that are currently publicly traded. I kind of like VSE after it has sold off so much. I also like ADM for their size and high production capacity. They would be able to take advantage of any Dem pork going toward renewable energy.

December Delirium Would be Massive

I think Terry Bowden is projecting some of the best games of the year packed into the Christmas and New Years Holidays. These games would be outstanding any way you look at them. Here is a look at Bowdens Brackets:

That Ohio St./Texas Cotton Bowl game would be absolutely outstanding. I would actually a half day off work to see these two games back to back. The hype and the leadup would be otherworldly and would seriously make postseason college football a bigger deal then it already is. I would love to see that Michgan/Auburn Sugar Bowl game as well.

Bush is Being Conciliatory

Let's hope his bipartisan skills that he used to such good effect in Texas haven't left him yet. He could conceivably ratchet down the rhetoric and the Washington heat machine and come out of his term with a semi-decent approval rating. All he needs to do is pick his battles carefully.

Agree with anything that isn't worth fighting for. For instance agree on raising the Minimum Wage, attacks on Big Pharma and Big Oil, and clean energy. Only fight on socialized medicine, calls for all the troops out of Iraq by summer 2007, or anything spouted by the Far Left Fringe Elements. His goal now is to make himself an asset and not a liability to the GOP crop in 2008 .

I Agree with the Governator

I think Arnold is spot on with this assessment of the Dems win.

"I think it is good that there are new ideas and new blood because
Washington was stuck. They could not move forward, not much was accomplished; I think it was terrible," he told reporters on a trip to Mexico.

The GOP Congress was just a bunch of squabbling, scandal prone idiots that didn't get much done other then confirm some conservative judges. They did cut taxes but they were so inept that it will probably run out without becoming permanent. And all that immigration mess was just a sideshow that showed that they were willing to get rid of a potential source of votes/jobs/tax dollars/patriotic Americans in the name of xenophobism. I can say that the do-nothing Congress really fit them to a T. Lets see if the Dems do better.

Allen Macacaed Right Out of the Senate

Well it looks like he is the bigger man and conceeded rather then drag Virginia through months of litigation and bad feelings. Not like a certain wooden Global Warming Alarmist we all know. This loss was another self-inflicted injury that the GOP managed to pull off.
Allen was comfortably ahead in polls until August, when he mockingly
referred to a Webb campaign volunteer of Indian descent as "Macaca," regarded by some as a racial slur. The incident, caught on videotape, became international
news. Some former football teammates from the University of Virginia also
charged that Allen had commonly used a slur for blacks — something he

Sometimes it is just better to keep your mouth shut about something rather then try to say an off the cuff remark. They almost always backfire a la John Kerry.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bye Bye Rummy

It looks like he is going to be the first casualty of the Dem sweep.

The Iraq war was the central issue of Rumsfeld's nearly six-year tenure, and
unhappiness with the war was a major element of voter dissatisfaction Tuesday and the main impetus for his departure. Even some GOP lawmakers in Congress became critical of the war's management, and growing numbers of politicians were urging Bush to replace Rumsfeld.

It looks like Bush is tapping a veteran spook as the next Secretary of Defense:

Bush said Robert M. Gates, 63, who has served in a variety of national
security jobs under six previous presidents, would be nominated to replace
Rumsfeld. Gates, currently the president of Texas A&M University, is a Bush
family friend and a member of an independent group studying the way ahead in

This guy had a long history in the CIA and may be able to plug all the leaks coming out of the Pentagon in recent years. I wonder howthe defenseee community is going to accept this guy coming out of the CIA and all. Maybe Bush should have gone with an ex-general. Whatever the case Gates is going to have a tough road ahead of him trying to prevent a full scale civil war in Iraq with the Dems pounding on him the whole time to "get the troops out faster."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

K-Fed and Britney Split

This was two years in the making but it has finally come to pass.
In the divorce papers, Spears asks for custody of the couple's two
children, with visitation rights for Federline. The filing lists as separate
property, and thereby off-limits to Federline, "miscellaneous jewelry and other
personal affects," earnings and other assets to be determined later.

I guess the easiest gravy train in America has finally come into the station.

The Dems and the Iraqi Death Spiral

After the Dems win the House their first order of business will be to create a referenda on Iraq and try to ram some sort of "redeployment timetable" through. They will probably try to shift some of the troops into Afghanistan but end up sending the majority home.

This timetable will be exactly what the Jihaddis have been waiting for. As the time table nears its end the Jihaddis will ratchet up the violence and turn things into a full scale civil war. This will put pressure on the Dems to try to pull the troops out as fast as possible. A 100 dead in a month will look like small potatoes compared to a poorly thought out withdrawal under heavy fighting. It will then look to the whole world that the US can be beaten if you just wait them out. This will embolden all rogue powers that threaten their neighbors and give them the freeist hand that they will probably ever get.

Iraq will certainly fall into a civil war as soon as we pull out. I have a feeling that the Shiite majority will totally annihilate the Sunnis without Iranian intervention. The Shiites will probably increase the Death Squads by 100 times and Sadr City will be cleaned out to the man. When all eyes are off of Iraq then you will see the real slaughter begin. That blood will certainly be on the Dems hands for getting out or Iraq without any thought about whether the Iraqis are ready to perform the security tasks and keep their nation from falling into civil war.

In any case I think Iran will be the biggest winner when the Dems get into power. They will finally be able to create nukes and be the leader of the region. They will certainly dominate post-America Iraq and might mold it into a client state. Or they can simply annex the southern half of the nation to "protect their fellow Sunnis" with only a "condemnation in the strongest possible terms" by Pelosi and her ilk.

The Dems will never use force no matter what Iran does. I think they could conceivably go to war with Iraq to "stop the Shiite Death Squads" but mostly just seize Iraqi oil wealth. When the only force standing in your way doesn't have the stomach to fight, is tired of hearing about the area, and won't give you any payback then the sky is truly the limit. If I were the Mullahs I would send Nancy Pelosi and her ilk a gift basket with a card saying "Job well done. You got our only obstacle to Middle Eastern dominance out of our way. You should be highly commended"

2006 Election Predictions

Here is my fearless predictions for this 2006 midterm election:

The Dems will get 26 seats in the House to give them a majority and win only 2 Senate seats.

That prediction is based on gut feeling and nothing more. I think the voters are pissed off enough about Iraq and the do-nothing Congress to change the House but not enough to change the Senate too.

Now if the Dems do win and they *don't* go after Bush on some trumped up impeachment charge then I will give them all the credit in the world. They know that they can't go after a sitting President in a time of war and not get burned by it. I think the Repub. Congress that went after Clinton damaged our national security. The White House and the Senate were going over what the meaning of "Is" is and debating stained dresses while Osama was putting the 9/11 pieces in place.

If the Dems go after Bush I would be willing to lay even money that a major terrorist attack will get through while people are preparing depositions and other stupid stuff. It will probably happen on the next president's watch but it will still be devastating to the people involved.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Chinese Gamers Protest Japanese Flag in Game

Now this is a weird sort of deal that actually affected Netease's (NTES) top line this quarter.
In addition, our revenues from online games were affected by increased
competition, particularly from free-to-play games offered by some of our
competitors, and in-game protests by certain users of our Fantasy Westward
Journey game who mistakenly identified an image in this game as being a Japanese flag.

Wow and this accidental flag adding even led to some conspiracy theories that led some Chinese gamers to think that NTES was actually taken over by a Japanese company.

Netease (Nasdaq: NTES) gamers are protesting an in-game image on the
wall of a building that resembles a Japanese rising sun flag, reports Beijing
Evening News. The offending image appears in Netease's bread and butter game
Fantasy Westward Journey. The image touched-off deep-seated anti-Japanese
sentiments in many gamers, and on July 7 almost 10,000 gamers have gathered at the location to express their disapproval. According to the report, some
protestors have even speculated that the image was added as a result of some
change in the shareholder structure of Netease.

I guess some gamers will believe anything.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Nintendo Wii to Offer 62 games by December

Wow they are really going to launch this thing in a big way. Now this item mentioned in the article, along with the $250 selling price, is really making this system look good.
In addition to the new selections Nintendo will offer, it will also
sell 30 classic games for the Wii Virtual Console on or shortly after the
systemÂ’s launch, including games from the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the Super NES, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis and the TurboGrafx16
console. Gamers will be able to purchase “Wii Points” via Nintendo’s
website or at participating retailers at $20 for 2,000 points, according to the
release. The points can then be exchanged for games to be downloaded and
played on the Wii Virtual Console. NES games will sell for as little as
500 Wii Points, Super NES and Sega Genesis games will start at 800 points,
Nintendo 64 games at 1,000 points and TurboGrafx16 games will start 600 Wii
Points, according to the release.

That means I can finally play Kid Icarus, Legend of Zelda, Megaman, Mike Tyson's Punch Out, Contra, Golden Axe, Final Fight etc. in a non-emulated form. To think I was just bashing this thing in April. I still think the name is a colossal mistake but I guess people have gotten used to it more or less. But $250 for the Wii vs $499 for the 20GB or $599 for the 60GB version of the PS3 makes the choice much easier.

Kerry Bashes Troops but Says it is a Joke

Well it looks like Kerry is showing his true Far Left colors in this statement.

Kerry, D-Mass., said he meant no offense to troops when he told a college audience Monday that young people might get "stuck in Iraq" if they don't study hard and do their homework.

This is the same far left liberal view that anyone serving in the military is an idiot that doesn't know any better or has been duped by someone. The Far Left have a long history of holding the military in contempt that goes back to the Vietnam war and Kerry has let it loose again. He says his statement was a joke and he actually meant to say this line instead:

Kerry said he mangled the delivery of a line aimed at Bush. According to aides, the language was originally written to say that "if you're intellectually lazy, you end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq — just ask President Bush."

What is he talking about? The first statement was about if you don't do your homework and study then they send you off to Iraq. I guess he said this to scare the kids or to say that the troops fighting over there are too stupid to have gotten out of it. I guess he still thinks there is a draft on or something. He should that these men and women signed up for the military knowing what they were getting into. I guess they just didn't study hard enough in Kerryworld.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Why Economists Suck with the Crystal Ball

This is a great article on why economic predictions are so off the mark usually. I have noticed that economists almost never get the numbers correct. I have seen predictions of growth and their is a slowdown. Then I see a prediction of a slowdown and then there is unexpected growth. It seems like they are sometimes picking numbers at random. These are the 10 reasons from this article. I wonder if anyone keeps percentages on how close/far off these predictions are to the mark?

1. The forecasting skill of economists is on average about as good as
guessing. In fact, predictions by the politically driven Council of Economic
Advisors, Federal Reserve Board and Congressional Budget Office were often worse than guessing.

2. Economists cannot predict the turning points in the economy. Of 48
predictions made by economists, 46 missed the turning points.

3. Economic forecasting accuracy declines with longer lead times.

4. No economic forecasters consistently lead the pact in accuracy.

5. No economic ideology consistently produces superior forecasts.

6. No economic forecaster has consistently higher forecasting
skills predicting any particular economic statistic.

7. Consensus forecasts do not improve accuracy (although the press
loves them).

8. Psychological bias affects forecasters and their forecasts. Some
economists are naturally optimistic and bullish, others are consistently
pessimistic bears.

9. Increased sophistication provides no improvement in forecasting
accuracy. Remember the Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund? Two brilliant Nobel Economists backed by Wall Street's elite nearly sabotaged the world economy.

10. Finally, Sherden says there's no evidence that economic
forecasting has improved in recent decades. In fact, forecasting appears to be
deteriorating as partisan politics, Wall Street gaming and unpredictable global
events invent new illusions.

Red Cross to Reform itself

It looks like they are trying to push through some much needed reforms. I did not know they had a 50 member board. It must have been like a meeting of the UN general Assembly every time they had a board meeting. Here are the other reforms that they are trying to impliment:

_Explicitly delegating responsibility for day-to-day operations to the Red Cross' full-time professional management, with the board focusing mainly on longer-term strategic oversight.

_Reducing the board of governors to between 12 and 20 members by March 31, 2012. An interim goal is to have no more than 25 members by 2009.

_Creating a single category of board members. Now, most are elected by local chapters, some are elected by the board, and others, including the chairman, are appointed by the U.S. president.

_Shifting seven of the presidentially appointed governors — all but the chairman — into a newly created Cabinet Council that will be merely advisory.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Safeway's Prices are Outrageous

I have shopped quite a bit at Safeway since there is one within walking distance of my apartment. It always seems like their prices are more then anywhere else in Hawaii and this article confirms it. I am part of the Safeway Club thing so it seems like I am getting a deal when I shop there. However it seems that I am getting ripped off.

J.P. Morgan analyst Stephen C. Chick said a food-retail pricing study
showing that prices at Safeway are at an 18.5 percent premium to Wal-Mart, while Kroger's prices were at a 19.6 percent premium to Wal-Mart. That gap makes it hard for the grocery chains to raise their prices in hopes of improving their profits.

"These were still high relative to the premiums 6 months ago,
when SWY (Safeway) was at 27.5 percent and Kroger at 11.5 percent," he wrote in a research note. "As the result of continued price reductions, gross profit
margin expansion is unlikely for the group, despite what the stocks' valuations
seem to imply."

So just 6 months ago prices at Safeway were almost 30% higher then that of Wal-Mart? I know people that comparison shop probably knew this a long time ago but it was quite shocking to see it in print like this. I guess Safeway is pretty good at fooling its customers into paying 30% more (and now just 18.5% more) for the same exact thing you can get at Wal-Mart.

Pretty soon a Whole Food Market is moving into my area and I'll probably do more grocery shopping there instead of the rip off artists from Safeway. I will be willing to pay more for fresh or organic foods that I can't always get.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Vampires Impossible According to Math

It seems that Math trumps Vampires every time.
Efthimiou's debunking logic: On Jan 1, 1600, the human population was
536,870,911. If the first vampire came into existence that day and bit one
person a month, there would have been two vampires by Feb. 1, 1600. A
month later there would have been four, and so on. In just two-and-a-half years
the original human population would all have become vampires with nobody left to feed on.

In some vampire mythos the vampire can feed off of one person up to three times before that person turns into a vampire. That would increase this by a few years before the earth would be thick with vampires. Only in the game Anne Rice novels can vampires feed off of something with blood and not turn it into another vampire.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cell Phones Make you Infertile?

Now this is ripe for Jay Leno territory.
Within the study group, those men who did not use mobile phones were
found to have average sperm counts of 86million per millilitre. This dropped to
69 million per millilitre for men with mobile phones who used them less than two
hours a day, 59million per millilitre for usage of two to four hours and
50million per millilitre for more than four hours a day.

I think this researcher may need to do more research rather then just making up the causes of this lowering of the sperm count on the fly.
"The effect of mobile phones on sperm may be due to the electromagnetic
radiation the devices emit or to the heat they generate," Dr Agarwal said

I'm pretty sure these guys are not using the cell phone with their crotches. Well with wireless Bluetooth earphones maybe people in Ohio (where the study was conducted) are doing just that. Perhaps they are storing the phones in their underpants while they talk hands free for some freakish reason. However this guy is probably on the right track:
"People who spend more than four hours a day on their mobile phone are
probably not doing physical work. They're probably sitting down for long periods
of time, which increases heat to the scrotal area, which affects sperm
production," Professor Driscoll said.

If you are on a cell phone for 4 entire hours a day then low sperm count will probably be the very least of your worries.

U.S. Starts "Out of Iraq Countdown"

It looks like the Bush Administration has finally switched gears in Iraq in what kind of looks like a purely political move.
General George Casey, who commands 140,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq
despite hopes early this year that a pullout might be under way by election
time, again forecast Iraqis would be able to handle most tasks in 12 to 18
months, with some U.S. support.

So that looks like the timeline for all intents and purposes. It sure is interesting that this revelation comes just two weeks before the election. It makes Bush look like he is actually doing something about Iraq and not just parroting "stay the course over and over."

It finally looks like he has gone to the generals and they gave him a strait answer. It isn't from some leaked reports or crap like that but it is the real deal from the guy commanding the troops. Bush should have done this far sooner and the American people would have had an idea of where we are going in Iraq far sooner. Thus they might have been able to head off what I think would be sure Dem win of the House.

Christmas in October?

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas whether we like it or not.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. are some
retailers hoping to get consumers into a Christmas shopping frame of mind two
months early. Sears Holdings Corp.'s Sears and Kmart stores kick off the
Yuletide mood in late October or early November. Costco Wholesale Corp. said
it's always put out Christmas ornaments, gift wrap, cards and artificial trees
as early as September.

I guess this is a good deal if your the kind of person that likes to finish their Christmas shopping early.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Wal-Mart Thinks They Are Too Big

Yup they are going to sacrifice capital expenditures to focus on profit growth. So you might see less Wal-Mart stores opening in favor of growing same store sales.

"Our long-term goal is to have our capital expenditures grow at a rate equal
or less than sales growth," said Wal-Mart Chief Financial Officer Tom Schoewe.
"Over time, we expect our new capital efficiency model to reduce the impact of

I guess they are finally tired of competing with themselves in certain markets. Maybe they will start of focus on bringing up their profit margins or return some of that cashola to their shareholders. I have a feeling that this could be the thing to propel this stock out of that almost 5 year or so trading range the stock has been in.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Why I Don't Mind if the Dems Win the House

It makes the Stock Market go up for the most part. Check out this article.

One of the more noteworthy aspects of the chart given the upcoming election
is that divided executive and legislative branches have generally been good for
the stock market. In fact, in the thirteen instances where the same party did
not control both houses of Congress and the Presidency, the market has risen in
all but two periods for an average gain of 23%, while in the ten periods where
the same party controlled all three branches, the market has risen in seven
periods for an average gain of only 11.3%.

That chart they have on that site is pretty good because it shows which sectors do well in a divided government. The 1981-1985 period is where the Senate and the Executive is controlled by the Repubs and the House is controlled by the Dems. In those years the best performing sector was Consumers Discretionary for one year and Consumer Staples for two years.

China Puts Pressure on North Korea

It looks like the only country that could talk sense into North Korea has just done so.

An Asian diplomat at the United Nations said Friday that Kim's comments to
the Chinese could provide an opening to restart six-party talks. The diplomat,
who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue,
said the United States should not be so dismissive of Chinese efforts and that
Beijing has developed sticks in addition to carrots.

The idea of sticks in addition to carrots is very interesting. I wonder if China threatened North Korea with serious sanctions or maybe even a military response if they didn't ratchet down the tension. I still think it was Chinese operatives that tried to blow up Kim's train at Ryongchon, North Korea in 2004. If they get rid of Kim they can get rid of the wild card that keeps the US in the region and blocks their road to hegemony in Asia.

This is Why France is an Economic Basket Case

Why should their courts have anything to do with how long people in hotels, bars and restaurants work?
On Wednesday the country's highest administrative court -- the state
council -- decided that a 2004 deal under which the 850,000 employees in hotels,
bars and restaurants can work 39 hours a week instead of 35 contravenes the key reform of the last Socialist Party (PS) government.

The decision left an estimated 200,000 businesses in legal limbo,
uncertain over the costs of implementing the measure, as staff expressed fears
that they will see their already low-level incomes shrink still

This is clearly stealing 4 hours of pay right out of the pockets of people who are already not getting a ton of money. This is the kind of "reforms" that keeps Old Europe's growth so stagnate. If people are willing to work 4 more hours then why is the government stopping them. Oh well, this is just another thing that makes us lucky to live in the USA.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rogues Everywhere Rejoice

It looks like scientists have invented a cloak of invisibility.

It's like a mirage, where heat causes the bending of light rays and cloaks
the road ahead behind an image of the sky.

"We have built an artificial mirage that can hide something from would-be observers in any direction," said cloak designer David Schurig, a research associate in Duke University's electrical and computer engineering department.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why Yahoo is Doing So Badly

This is according to Henry Blodget. He's calling for Terry Semel to either crack heads or step aside for someone who will. This is pretty much the situation that Yahoo is in now:

From the outside, it seems as though Yahoo!'s senior managers, having
rescued the company from a brush with death, have collectively decided that
they've done enough and that just being "good" is now good enough. (A less
charitable interpretation, one I've floated before, would be that the company
got fat, happy, and lazy.) Unfortunately, Yahoo is now competing against
companies for whom being good isn't enough (Google) as well as against old media giants that are thrilled to finally be playing in the Internet big leagues
(Newscorp). And these companies are kicking Yahoo!'s ass

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Yahoo Has a Bad Quarter but Project Panama Goes Live

All of that self advertising is hitting the bottom line this quarter.
Net income for the third-quarter dropped to $159 million, or 11 cents
per share, weighed down by $80 million worth of stock-compensation expenses,
compared with the year-earlier quarters profit of $254 million, or 17 cents per

They have to get rid of some of those options expenses or it will be like an anchor on them. However there is one ray of sunshine that the stock sorely needs. They at last got their new Search Technology called Project Panama online.
Yahoo was supposed to unveil Panama in the third quarter but told
analysts in July that it would come out during the fourth quarter

But during the conference call, Semel said that Panama was now live
and that the company was in the process of shifting advertisers to it over the
next few months.

Boyd said that it was crucial for Yahoo to not postpone the rollout
of this new search technology any further or else many investors would have
given up hope on the company.

Now if if they can buyout Facebook and make it a success they might be a credible threat to Google's Ad Search supremacy.

Vote for the New 7 Wonders of the World

Here are the finalists for the 7 Wonders of the World contest. You can vote for your favorties at this site. I would probably go with Pyramids, Acropolis, Colosseum, Great Wall, Stonehenge, Taj Mahal, Statue of Liberty.

1 Acropolis, Athens, Greece
2 Alhambra, Granada, Spain
3 Angkor Wat temple, Cambodia
4 Chichen Itza Aztec site, Yucatan, Mexico
5 Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
6 Colosseum, Rome
7 Easter Island Statues, Chile
8 Eiffel Tower, Paris
9 Great Wall, China
10 Hagia Sophia church, Istanbul, Turkey
11 Kyomizu Temple, Kyoto, Japan
12 Kremlin/St.Basil's, Moscow
13 Machu Picchu, Peru
14 Neuschwanstein Castle, Fussen, Germany
15 Petra ancient city, Jordan
16 Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
17 Statue of Liberty, New York
18 Stonehenge, Amesbury, United Kingdom
19 Sydney Opera House, Australia
20 Taj Mahal, Agra, India
21 Timbuktu city, Mali

Monday, October 16, 2006

Tough Life for Goalkeepers

Wow I did not know that this was one of the most dangerous jobs on the Soccer Field.
Bert Trautmann was a German prisoner of war who stayed in England after
World War II and played for Manchester City. At the 1956 FA Cup final at
Wembley, Trautmann dived at the feet of Birmingham City's Peter Murphy and
injured himself. He continued playing for the last 15 minutes of his team's 3-1
victory. He later discovered he had a broken neck.

In 1931, Celtic goalkeeper John Thomson dived at the feet of
Rangers striker Sam English and his head smashed into his opponent's knee.
Thomson never regained consciousness and died soon after.

APPL may have a Merry Christmas

It seems that the Intel Powered Macs may be selling like hotcakes this holiday.
"In a world where a 1% market share change represents $2 billion in
sales, we're forecasting a historic market share shift in the PC space for
laptops and desktops with these new Intel-based Macs," said Tobin Smith, founder of ChangeWave Research and editor of ChangeWave Investing. "Market share grabs like this just don't happen in the PC world. Our numbers say that the Mac is surging."

This could be a really nice add on this holiday season since they are already forcasting brisk IPod sales.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Air America Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

I guess the Liberal Talk Radio format just doesn't work in practice. I wonder if the Libs are going to still be going on about the inequality of media outlets now? They had their chance and it ended up going bankrupt.

Air America Radio, the liberal talk and news radio network that features the
comedian Al Franken, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a network
official told The Associated Press.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Weird Temple

Now this looks like a dreamscape out of a fantasy novel or maybe a D&D adventure.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 has a list of Blue Companies

Upon researching this Blue Fund I came across this site that has a rundown of different "progressive" companies. There are some interesting things on this site that I can actually get on board with. I like the idea of sustainable living and cutting back on oil so we don't have to put more money in the pockets of the Iranian Mullahs and crazy idiots like Chavez. I don't give a crap about Global Warming I just don't want my money to fund suicide bombers and anti-American crazies.

Some of the Stocks in the Blue Fund

This article has a few more of the stocks listed in the Blue Funds stock prospectus:

Among the 75 different companies included in the Blue Fund are eBay (Charts), Apple (Charts), Liz Claiborne (Charts), Lehman Brothers (Charts), North Fork Bank (Charts) and Starwood Hotels (Charts).

There are some tech names including GOOG like the last article has said. It does seem to be heavily weighted in the Big Caps though.

Here is a link to their site and sure enough the people they have touting the fund are the usual suspects when it comes to "progressives." You have the grey haired 50-something woman that remembers when her generation could "change the world." She's all "Free Huey" and "Hey Hey LBJ how many kids did you kill today" but is probably living the Yuppie dream. Then you have the asian woman with the interesting blouse ties to fit the multi-culti bill. Finally, you have the dreadlocked black guy with the blue short sleeved collar shirt. All they would need is a grey haired guy with a pony tail and a tie-dyed T-shirt and you have all of the usual suspects.

Be a Dem when it comes to Picking Stocks?

This is a very interesting article on the comparisons between Democratic giving and Republican giving when it comes to stocks. A "blue" stock is one that gives more money to the Dems then to the Republicans.
According to the firm's research paper, "The Blue Factor," an index of
76 companies in the S&P 500 meeting certain ethical criteria and favoring
Democrats -- "blue" stocks -- would have topped a group of about 380 Republican
"red" stocks by 15.6 percentage points annualized over the five years through

In addition, the large-capitalization blue companies did 13.1
percentage points better than their S&P benchmark, the study said. Moreover,
blue S&P companies achieved this result without any representation in the
high-octane energy sector.

I have a feeling that most of the "blue" stocks happen to be tech names like GOOG and APPL while "red" stocks are mostly big oil, tobacco, etc. Also I would have a hard time comparing a list of 76 companies to a list of 380 companies. I'll hunt around for the lists to compare them better.