Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bush Sure Looks Pretty Shady in This Pic

I would hate to see this guy lurking around behind my car. They should release more photos of him not looking like a wanted felon. Yeesh!

Some thoughts on the Pee err Wii.

You could very well say that this could be the biggest naming screw-up in a very long time. This is as bad as the "John Romero's about to make you his bitch" ads for Daikatana. Going from the Revolution which denotes a battle between themselves, the PS3, and and the Xbox360 to something that will make people think of the toilet is really something. And this is the next generation console that could make or break the company.

It is getting quite a bit of buzz already but not the kind you really want. I am betting even money that the urine reference will end up dogging this system from now until the thing is a distant memory. I'm sure this won't drive Nintendo out of business because they still have the their amazingly popular hand-held gaming system but it will probably hurt their profitability quite a bit.

Sometimes a name becomes a phenomena like Ipod but those make you think of good things. Ipod makes me think of Intelligent Pod like a really smart pea or similar legume or maybe a futuristic house. I think that name as well as the look is what made APPL a pile of money. I wonder what Penny Arcade is going to say about all this.

Here is the Nintendo Pee's err Wii's new Controller

I'm not sure if it comes in yellow though:

Nintendo Officially Loses Their Mind

I think Nintendo really needs to lay off of the LSD at their corporate headquarters. Their new console is going to be named the Wii. Yup, it will be called the Why? or perhaps the Wee because it is going to be shaped like a urinal. Or maybe it is somehow related to the W Hotel. Maybe Nintendo got a naming rights fee from them. But to not get it confused with the hotel they added the ii part to tell people that they got $2 million from it. Some of this stuff people wrote is priceless:

“I’ll be damned if I am going into an electronics store and asking when they get “Wii” in’s totally insane,” said Nomad Gamer in a blog post.

Yeah the store clerk might just drink a cup of coffee then go into the bathroom and say "hold on a minute I'm getting it directly from the supplier."

“Is it an acronym for What an Idiotic Idea?” asked another, while many made references to Wii and the name’s connection with urine.
or is it the

Bausch & Lomb CEO says MoistureLoc has No Fungus

I'm glad CEO Ronald Zarrella stands behind their product. It doesn't bode well though for the quality assurance though. He is pretty much stumped on how (or even if) MoistureLoc is causing the eye fungus. That is not a good endorsement of the product when (or if) the product gets back to the market. At least Biogen Idec figured out it was TYSABRI causing the progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML)

In a conference call with analysts, the CEO was quoted by The Associated Press as saying, "As far as speculation about theories, there's a lot of them, we've run a lot of them to ground and come up with nothing." He continued, "Every additional test we've run suggests that the formulation is as safe and effective as anything on the market and in particular with regard to Fusarium."

This is a pretty scathing indictment as well:

And In a statement on the company's Web site, Zarrella declared, "Bausch & Lomb's first priority is the health and safety of consumers. ... Based on our extensive testing, analysis and further internal reviews, and communications with leading experts, the available scientific evidence does not establish any type of ReNu solution as a cause" of the infections.

Bausch & Lomb did not issue a recall or say the product should be removed from stores. But individual retailers are making their own calls on the delicate matter.

Yup we care about your safety so much that we aren't issuing a recall or even say that the product should be removed from store shelves. It was up to the retailers to make that call themselves. It feels weird that Wal-Mart cares more about my safety then a company that makes a product that goes into my eye.

Bausch & Lomb Knew About Eye Fungus since Last November?

It looks like BOL was tipped off about the Eye Fungus last year.

Hong Kong health officials told Bausch & Lomb in November they had seen an increase in hospital admissions due to lens-related keratitis infections, company spokeswoman Meg Graham said. But investigations by both Hong Kong and company officials found no cause-and-effect link to MoistureLoc, Graham said.

"We looked into it, they looked into it and, as far as we know, the case was closed and this was just considered to be some sort of an aberrational occurrence," Graham said.

I guess they didn't look into it hard enough. Or maybe the top management guys said its no biggie and swept it under the table until there were more cases. They only treated it like any kind of a problem when this happened:

When the Singapore Ministry of Health notified the company Feb. 18 it had recorded dozens of lens-related keratitis infections, Hong Kong "decided to go back and take a look at some of the data that it had in that earlier investigation," Graham said.

You really can't rely on Hong Kong Officials when it comes to a product that brings in $45 million dollars a year. They should have jumped all over the Hong Kong cases to rule out that it was or wasn't their product causing the fungus. Since they moved too slowly they ended up having to pull the whole line. I guess this problem is what kept them from focusing in on the eye fungus at that time. It sucks when the management is focusing in on some improper practices when fungus related production problems creeps up to really wallop your company.

The eye-care company said Thursday it will hold off for a month or more on filing fourth-quarter earnings as it investigates allegations of improper sales practices at its South Korean subsidiary. In December, it moved to restate financial results back to 2000 because of accounting shenanigans at its Brazilian unit.

Microsoft Misses Estimates

Wow, they missed by .02 cents and they even brought out a bad outlook for the next few quarters. At least the reasoning about why it will be incuring these higher expenses is sound. They are trying to become a market leader in other spaces which seems sound:

In an interview with The Associated Press, Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell said its third quarter earnings and fourth quarter outlook were below Wall Street's estimates in part because the company has decided to increase research and development spending in areas where it isn't a market leader but sees potential.

These include things like security, high-performance computing and voice over Internet Protocol, VoIP, or Internet calling. In the current quarter and beyond, Microsoft also plans to invest more heavily in its Internet properties, MSN and Windows Live, he said.

It also is taking it on the chin from the Xbox360 shortages. They must be paying top dollar to get components so they can rush more machines to market. I wonder which components are the ones that they are paying more for. Could be worth investigating since that company will probably have a better then expected quarter:

In the third quarter, Liddell said Microsoft also had higher-than-expected expenses for Xbox 360, because of the cost of rushing to get consoles into consumers' hands amid a shortage. Microsoft loses money each time it sells an Xbox 360, although the eventual goal is to break even.

A Good Plan to Reduce the Gas Burden?

I was thinking about High Gas Prices and I thought of something that may be worth looking into. This is just brainstorming. We could tax every sale of an SUVs or Full Sized Truck in the country. Put a Gas Consumption Tax on the vehicle of a certain percentage added on at the dealer. For instance if you buy a Ford F-350 you have to pay an extra $2,000 in taxes on top of the sale price.

1. It would allow the government to get an extra cut of every large vehicle sale. There are several million trucks and SUVs sold each year and at $2k a pop that would be billions of extra dollars coming into the government.

2. It would reduce the amount of gas consumed because fewer big vehicles will be purchased in the US. Also since there will be less gas demand prices might go down.

3. Perhaps the tax can be waived if depending on the persons job. If a contractor needs a large sized truck to haul building materials or something then they will get a tax credit back later. That way people that like large trucks will be separated from people that actually need large trucks.

4. It would be a boon to the rental industry because you would need to rent a truck every time you want to haul lumber or dispose of clippings or something like that.

5. It would probably be better on the environment since sedans need less energy and emit less crapola then large trucks.

1. It would probably put a death blow on the US car industry since much of their sales come from these big gas guzzlers. The government might have to subsidize the US car industry to keep them from going bankrupt until they can change their fleets to sell more smaller sedans and hybrids.

2. It would hurt the oil and gas industry since less oil will be needed to make into less gas. Hope they bank those record profits for the lean times ahead.

3. It might lead to a rise in power-hungry sedans. Perhaps car companies could go back to the land yacht and 400 HP 12 mile per gallon muscle car. I mean that is one segment that US car companies will probably excel over the Japanese.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Another Great Article about Netflix

Ah I was right when I talked yesterday about digital distributions being the ITunes effect according to this very interesting article.

He's trying to protect a customer base of more than 4 million as digital entertainment shifts rapidly. Broadband distribution of movies and TV shows is fast becoming reality: ABC will start testing free online delivery of Desperate Housewives and other top shows next Monday.

Online retailer Amazon has talked to Hollywood studios about adding movie and TV show downloads to its website. Apple Computer hit the gas pedal last fall when it launched $1.99 downloads of ABC shows and other videos at its iTunes online store.

"All these competing products via digital delivery and not mail order," says analyst Frank Gristina at investment banker Avondale Partners. The pace, he says, has "clearly accelerated."

This can't be bigger hogwash when it comes to actual DVD movies that Netflix is sending out. The TV shows that you can download from iTunes cannot approach the quality of something that comes off of DVDs. About the only real good thing about them is that they are portable since you can watch them on your Ipod when you are riding the bus or something. This article hints at what I thought would happen as well. Netflix is working on their own digital download solution:

Hastings, a Boston native, isn't sweating yet. He's aiming to build an even bigger customer base - 20 million as early as 2010 - to ready Netflix for an eventual shift to downloads. That switch depends on several factors, he says. Critical hardware and software haven't been perfected. There aren't enough movies available in downloadable form. Plus, studios must still work out licensing agreements with existing distributors.

Apple Will Now Recycle your old Mac.

At last APPL steps up and gets into the computer recycling game.

Apple Computer Inc. will soon adopt an environmentally friendly twist for buyers of new Macintosh computers by offering to recycle their old computers for free.

The Cupertino-based company said its expanded take-back offer will begin in June. U.S. customers who buy a new Mac through the Apple store online or any Apple retail store will receive free shipping and recycling of their old machines.

This is the most annoying problem about buying a new system. You have to get rid of the old one and the various things to do it aren't very good. You can sell it on Ebay but you had better be sure to wipe every bit of that hard drive and I mean well or someone can steal your stuff. Or you can lug it to CompUSA on their recycling day but that is a hassle. The other computer companies need to advertise this service better because I didn't know that Dell and HP have a recycling program:

Environmental advocacy organizations that have criticized Apple's recycling initiatives in the past applauded the computer maker's expanded program, saying it is now closer in line with those of other major PC makers, notably Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc.

Microsoft Gets Massive

Hmm this is an interesting acquisition by MSFT.

Massive sells ads and manages the insertion of ads into live video games with the permission and participation of the publishers. Until now, ads in video games were one-shot, permanent deals programmed into the software at the time of manufacture.

This probably means that Xbox360 games will include more advertising content. So a cityscape in a new game will have lots of billboards filled with real world ads. I recently noticed Hollywood Reporter popping up in the game The Movies. As long as this product placement doesn't impact game play then I am okay with it. If we see all the shields have an Old Spice Logo on them in Neverwinter Nights 2 then that would suck.

Bush Taps Tony Snow for Press Secretary

This sure seems like a good choice for press secretary.

The job will give Snow a chance to put into practice his advice that Bush should be much more aggressive in confronting his critics. His appointment pleased Republicans who share that view, but skeptics questioned Snow's ability to influence an organization known for buttoned-down discipline and devotion to the president.

It seems that Bush doesn't is finally learning that putting yes-man cronies into these positions isn't helping anyone. He needs guys that can disagree with him and give him some strait talk about things. Snow seems like the kind of guy that can criticize him without looking like a Bush bashing lunatic.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Thoughts on Netflix Article by Forbes

I have no idea how this guy came up with this when it comes to NFLX. I guess he is looking at the company in very long terms like years from now.

"While we expect solid near-term performance, we remain concerned about the potential entry of near-term competition and the long-term impact of digital downloading alternatives," wrote analyst Jim Friedland in a research note

I think Blockbuster just can't compete since they were forced to raise prices recently back to parity with NFLX. I mean BBI is weighted down with their underperforming retail stores with their rents and staff while NFLX is more nimble in their business model. I don't see any competitors of note coming down the pike. By the time these phantom competitors get in place Netflix will have grabbed a solid market leadership in the space.

I also think downloads will only become popular only when networks get faster. Most DVDs are like 5 gigs or more and moving them through standard broadband takes a while. Also there is nothing in the world that stops Netflix from rolling out their own download service when networks eventually speed up. That would certainly save money on shipping costs and increase their margin.

I think this guy is reading too much into ITunes allowing certain TV shows to be sold online. Once HD-DVD and Blue-Ray take hold and start to increase the clarity and look of the DVD experience (and in turn the file size of the downloads) we won't have to worry about digital downloading for quite a while.

In fact I think the HD-DVD vs. Blue Ray mess may be a boon for Netflix. I would much rather accidentally get an incompatible DVD in the mail for my fixed price per month then have to pay $25 for it. You may see Netflix get more popular going forward.

Mopeds Becoming More Popular

Hmm I guess gas prices are really getting up there so people are buying the put-puts. This guy explains it as a generational shift and a nod to the environment.

Though Gen-Xers and baby boomers are among those flinging a leg over these two-wheelers, the vehicles may owe their newfound cachet to their embrace by a younger set. Sometimes called "the millennials," they are said to embody a sense of social purpose, adopt a "team" approach to life, and rebel from their elders by hewing to the small-scale. It's an attitude with a simple message: Small-bore is cool.

"This [moped resurgence] is a reflection of a deeper generational shift going on," says Neil Howe, a cultural historian and coauthor of "Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation." "The idea of a big, bad, dangerous gas-guzzling machine is not the millennial style. They prefer something that is not only socially responsible in a big sense, but also in a little sense: It makes less noise, and it's less likely to get them into an accident."

That would be a very interesting book to read by Mr. Howe. Here is the link to the book on Amazon. Too bad I'm trying to get through like 3 books right now.

Israel Launches Spy Satellite

Shouldn't they be keeping this kind of thing secret? Oh well I guess it was because it was launched in Russia so there was no sense covering it up.

"The capabilities of the satellite speak for themselves. I do not need to say anything about what the purpose of its use might be," Shimon Eckhaus, the chief executive of manufacturer ImageSat International told Reuters.

Monday, April 24, 2006

It Must Be because of all the Beef and Potato Burritos I Ate

Yum Brands looks like they are getting fat off their profits.

The parent of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut beat Wall Street expectations, and raised its earnings-per-share outlook for the full year. The company's brands also include Long John Silver's and A&W All-American Food Restaurants.

I especially like this China growth. I guess it won't be long before the Chinese are as fat as us Americans. I wonder if Taco Bell is strong in China or not. It would be interesting to see if the Chinese like Taco Bell as much as us Americans do.

Yum said its operating profit totaled $58 million in its China division in the just-ended period, up 10 percent from a year ago. The growth was fueled by continued expansion as Yum's mainland China operations grew by 63 restaurants in the quarter. The China division also includes Thailand and KFC Taiwan business.

Black Holes the Most Efficient Engine in the Universe

This is a very interesting article about black holes.

"If you could make a car engine that was as efficient as one of these black holes, you could get about a billion miles out of a gallon of gas," said study team leader Steve Allen of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University. "In anyone's book, that would be pretty green."

I just had a Sci-Fi thought and came up with a small black hole surrounded by a massive engine at the heart of a galaxy spanning Empire. The people of the Empire are connected to the gigantic engine in a massive honeycomb. It would be kind of like a huge Dyson Sphere from this Next Generation episode.

FDA needs a Month to Test for Eye Fungus?

I hope they are just being thorough and figure out what caused the eye fungus to get through Bausch & Lomb's quality control (or the lack thereof.) I wonder if they are checking B&Ls full line of ReNu items.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday they may need up to a month to complete an investigation into whether a Bausch & Lomb Inc. product caused a fungal eye infection.

Netflix Beats Estimates and Guides Higher

It looks like they brought in a solid quarter and they raised their revenue estimates.

Heartened by the showing, Netflix predicted its sales this year will total at least $990 million, a $30 million, or a 3 percent increase, from its last projection three months ago. But management didn't change its earlier earnings projections, reflecting plans to spend more money on advertising to attract more customers.

I still think their service is gaining traction and is starting to become the accepted way of renting movies nowadays. I know at least three people at work that use Netflix exclusively. I mean the value cannot be beat. You can rent 1 DVD from Blockbuster for $6 or you can rent a whole month full of movies for just a few bucks more.

Plus I kept Footballers Wives for like 3 weeks strait and I didn't have any problems. I remember rushing to get movies back to Blockbusters before 12AM or I would have to pay either to rent it again or a late fee. Now when I was done with the DVDs I just dropped them in the mail and waited for my next ones to come in. It is a great deal.

Worker Can't Be Fired for Browsing the Internet

Hmm, this seems like a very interesting case IMO. It shows that internet use is the same as talking on the phone about non work-related matters:

In his decision, Spooner wrote: "It should be observed that the Internet has become the modern equivalent of a telephone or a daily newspaper, providing a combination of communication and information that most employees use as frequently in their personal lives as for their work."

He added: "For this reason, city agencies permit workers to use a telephone for personal calls, so long as this does not interfere with their overall work performance. Many agencies apply the same standard to the use of the Internet for personal purposes."

Bush Approval Rating Falls to 32%

These are positively Herbert Hooverian numbers now. I think he needs a reality show to get his numbers back on track. I suggest who wants to be Press secretary with Cheney playing the Simon role, Bush can be Paula, and Condoleezza could be Randy.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Citi Downgrages Dell to Sell

Hmm, it seems that the once mighty PC company is having some troubles.

The brokerage slashed its price target on the computer company's shares to $28 from $37, saying Dell must adjust its profitability expectations in order to kick-start growth and market share. In premarket trading Friday, the shares slipped 74 cents, or 2.6%, to $27.50.

Or maybe Dell should start putting out a quality product and not cutting every corner in the book to make their PCs super cheap. Lenovo will always beat them in price because that company's labor force is really cheap. HP then dominates them in the buy-the box-from-CompUSA market. I think many computer buyers don't want to pay $70+ for shipping when they can go down and buy a very comparable quality HP at the store.

Dell is still strong in the corporate market and should really concentrate on growing market share there. Maybe they can provide all in one service for a company that wants to upgrade say to Windows Vista. So the company will pay a certain set price and Dell provides the desktop and laptop PCs and server upgrades as well as charge a service to get everything up and running. They could even dispose of all of that companies old PCs. Call it something like the Dell Total Upgrade Plan or something like that. This way they can sell a bunch of product and provide a high margin service as well. Whatever the case Dell just can't compete with the Chinese in the cheap PC space.

Radio Shack Disappoints Bigtime

Wow it really sucks to be the Shack.

On Friday, RadioShack (nyse: RSH - news - people ) posted earning per share of 6 cents for the period, "well below" the analyst's estimate of 22 cents per share. The company's gross margin fell 209 basis points, which was in-line with expectations. Selling, general and administrative expenses as a percent of sales, however, beat the analyst's forecast "due to investment in higher store labor hours."

How Times Have Changed

I bet some of the Cold Warriors from the 50s are really beside themselves about some of the stuff that came out of this visit from Hu Jintao. I bet none of them would even imagine that this picture would be shown just 50 years later. Stops School Shooting

In some ways MySpace is bad but in this case it may have saved a bunch of lives.

The teens planned to wear black trench coats and disable the school's camera system before starting the attack between noon and 1 p.m. Thursday, Norman said. Sheriff's deputies found guns, ammunition, knives and coded messages in the bedroom of one suspect and documents about firearms and references to Armageddon in two suspects' school lockers.

Apparently, they had been plotting since the beginning of the school year. Norman said school officials began investigating Tuesday after learning a threatening message had been posted on

If not for MySpace or if these teens didn't have access to the internet they may have carried out this crime without tipping off the authorities. In this article they are already scapegoating video games as the culprit. I would bet you even money that they had Grand Theft Auto in their video game collections.

Norman also mentioned bullying and said investigators had learned the suspects liked violent video games.

While this is the real culprit though:

Ferneau and other students described the teen as a class clown who was often in trouble with the teachers.

He was an "oddball," student Trenton Berry told ABC. "Everybody picked on him and everything."

That is why people shouldn't pick on the "oddball" students because the next group of teen spree killers may not have time to chat on MySpace and just go into the next high school with guns blazing.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Wal-Mart to Fix Health Care?

It seems they have a prescription for changing healthcare.

The retailer offered up its information technology expertise to help develop a system for keeping electronic medical records as another means of reducing costs.

Wal-Mart also said that lessons could be learned from health clinics it is opening in dozens of stores around the country, many of which serve uninsured patients who would otherwise go to the emergency room -- a major drain on health care resources.

These clinics that they are talking about are the mini-clinics that I have read about in Business Week. These are smaller clinics that handle non-serious problems for a set fee. So if you have a sore throat you can go here. Then an RN checks you out and prescribes drugs that you can buy at the same pharmacy that these clinincs rent space from. Here is some information about them. I think they are a good idea and they could bring down healthcare costs. I'm waiting for the first one to go public so I can get in when the stock is still cheap.

Apple Beats Estimates

It seems they are running at full speed and the recent sell off may be a good time to buy into the company pretty cheaply.

Cupertino-based Apple said it earned $410 million, or 47 cents per share, in the three months that ended April 1. In the same period a year ago, the company earned $290 million, or 34 cents a share.

The analysts' consensus earnings forecast was 43 cents per share.

Now the impact of the switch to Intel will really be felt next quarter since they are only halfway through the transition. I wonder how their market share will be effected by this change.

Some think another boost in Mac sales might come from Apple's historic release earlier this month of software that gave Macintosh users an easy way to install Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system and switch between the two platforms on a Mac.

I guess the effect of this program on their future market share is a real question mark with the stock. In my case this program is the only thing that is making me pay any attention to Apple PCs at all. Also I wonder if they can get all the Intel PCs in place for the education buying season which usually starts in summertime.

McClellan Out and Rove Reassigned

The White House is really cleaning up shop just a year into Bush's second term.

Just over a year ago, Rove was promoted to deputy chief of staff in charge of most White House policy coordination. That new portfolio came on top of his title as senior adviser and role of chief policy aide to Bush.

But now, the job of deputy chief of staff for policy is being given to Joel Kaplan, the deputy budget director.

It seems that Rove is going to concentrate on the midterm elections. I still have a feeling that the constant hammering of Bush is going to cause the Republicans to lose control of the Senate.

Panasonic Busts out the 103 Inch Screen

Now they have the current biggest Plasma by 1 inch. Here is a picture of the monster:

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Kiplinger Says Don't Buy Bausch & Lomb for a Quick Comeback

This is an interesting article on not buying B&L expecting it to come back quickly from its fungus debacle. Plus they have accounting scandals on top of all this.

This is a big deal for B&L. It generates 23% of its sales from lens-care products, sold under the Bausch & Lomb, Boston, ReNu and Sensitive Eyes names. It launched ReNu with MoistureLoc in 2004. Bank of America analyst David Maris says that brand isn't likely to return to the U.S. market, resulting in the loss of $45 million in potential sales this year.

He figures B&L will lose share of the overall lens care market and that its contact lens sales could be hurt as well. "We think the brand damage on ReNu will be sizable and carry over into the Bausch & Lomb overall brand globally," he says. On Wednesday, Maris lowered his 2006 earnings per share estimate from $4.24 to $3.05. He also lowered his 12-month target price for the stock from $49 to $40 and maintains a "sell" rating.

Trial Lawyers jump on the MoistureLoc Fungus

Well it looks like it is about time for the trial lawyers to get in on the deal.

Parker & Waichman, LLP ( announced that it has filed a class action lawsuit against Bausch & Lomb, Inc. (NYSE:BOL - News) on behalf of all users of ReNu with MoistureLoc Solution. Last week, the CDC and FDA warned that ReNu with MoistureLoc may be linked to serious fungal infections. The suit seeks damages against Bausch & Lomb, Inc. to cover medical screening and medical monitoring expenses for all class members. The suit was filed yesterday in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. For more information on this suit please visit.

Good Atricle on Hewlett-Packards new Direction

I know trusting this Mark Hurd guy was the right move he sounds like the kind of guy that can turn this company around after Carly Fiorina nearly ran it into the ground. This article really goes into some detail on his cost cutting and his vision for the future of the company.

H-P now is divided into six buckets of revenue, with imaging and printing accounting for about 29% of revenues but 57% of total operating profit; personal systems (desktops, notebooks and mobile devices), 30% of revenues but only 11% of profits; enterprise computing, 19% of revenues and 13% of operating profit; services, 18% of revenues and 19% profits; financial services, 2% of revenues and 4% of profits; and software, 1% of revenues and losses.

I think only their software divison is a weakpoint in the company. Most of the time HP printers come with lots of crappy bloatware that most people don't really need. Many times a driver file is massive and has lots of different options that many end-users don't really need. The driver itself is pretty solid and works like a champ though. The stuff it comes with it seems like a big waste though.

I'm sure people use all the digital photo product suites and other things that come with their printers. But most of the time they are just thrown in a drawer and forgotton or loaded onto the PC with the driver install and quickly get moved into the Rarely Used Icons folder. I wonder if HP does focus grouping on how much their excess software gets used.

Bush to Nuke Iran?

I think he should at least rule out this option. I know we have to get tough with Iran but not ruling out using tactical nukes is potentially damaging.

Asked if options included planning for a nuclear strike, Bush replied: "All options are on the table. We want to solve this issue diplomatically and we're working hard to do so."

The use of nukes would probably be the most damaging thing that the US would do and it would establish the worst precedent. So far no disputes have been solved with the nuclear option since WWII because the leaders knew that it would escalate into something that they couldn't stop.

I think the reason why India and Pakistan haven't had a massive war is because they both have nukes. Nukes automatically make a nation more respected and feared in the world. That is because other nations know that one bomb could wipe an entire city off of the map. That kind of power shouldn't be thrown around recklessly. If we nuke Iran to stop their program then you can definitively say that the Bush White House has lost all their marbles.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hamas is Just More of the Same

Well, it looks like they are choosing terror over statesmanship and the US is rightly justified for cutting these murderers off of the world stage:

"Defense or sponsorship of terrorist acts by officials of the Palestinian cabinet will have the gravest effects on relations between the Palestinian Authority and all states seeking peace in the Middle East," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the bombing showed the "true nature" of a Hamas government.

"They would rather encourage 16-year-olds to go out, strap explosives to them and go out and try to kill other 16-year-olds, other innocent civilians. That's the kind of government that you're dealing with," McCormack said.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Oil ETF good for Diversification

This ETF dubbed USO seems like a nice buy when you are looking for diversification but don't want to deal with the oil majors. Too bad the ticker symbol could'nt be OIL though.

Economists have shown that even though oil itself is volatile, when added in small amounts (generally under 10%) it dampens the overall volatility of a typical stock-heavy portfolio. Since volatility is the traditional measure of risk, a certain amount of oil will lower risk. Pure energy analysts probably don't see this hidden benefit because they focus on single asset classes, not portfolios.

Pope Not Convinced By Gospel of Judas

It seems that the Pope still thinks of Judas as the same turncoat as the Bible does.

Pope Benedict XVI Thursday recounted the Biblical betrayal of Jesus by Judas, calling the apostle a double-crosser for whom "money was more important than communion with Jesus, more important than God and his love."

Benedict's traditional depiction of Judas came during his Holy Thursday homily, a week after the release of an ancient Egyptian Coptic text dubbed the "Gospel of Judas," in which Judas is portrayed not as Jesus' betrayer but as his confidant who was doing his will by handing him over to his enemies to be crucified.

Immigration Marchers Lose Jobs

Why don't these people just call in sick and not just walk off their jobs without a good reason.

Six employees at a seafood restaurant in Houston were fired this week after skipping work to take part in a pro-immigration march. In Detroit, 21 immigrants lost their jobs as meat cutters after attending a similar protest last month.

And several students at a high school near Tampa, Fla., were suspended this week for walking out of class to go to a demonstration.

Just say they are not feeling well and they have to stay home. I mean the employers really don't want sick people to serve food or cut meat. Plus those kids should have just cut class for the whole day instead of walking out of class. I guess they saw the HBO movie Walkout and decided to do that instead of just ditching school for the day.

Kelsey Steltings Kidnapping a Hoax

I wonder what went through her mind to make her pretend to be kidnapped like this. Maybe it was a desperate cry for attention or something. This statement is rather cryptic too:

Authorities would not say what motivated the girl.

"That's between her and her family," Bynum said. He said answering such questions might require him to reveal medical information that he's not qualified to discuss.

Did the girl have mental problems or something? That is a weird statement anyway you slice it. She seemed to be a pretty okay girl by outward appearances:

Friends and acquaintances described Kelsey as bright, a good student who is involved in softball, cheerleading, dance squad and student government. They said they didn't see signs of trouble at home or school or anything to cause them to doubt that she'd been abducted.

Here what ReNu MoistureLoc Looks like

This is the stuff:

Sears Next to Pull Fungus producing MoistureLoc

I didn't know that Sears even sold the stuff:

We felt this was the appropriate step to take for our customers, while we await the outcome of the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention investigation into reports of a rare fungal eye infection linked to contact lenses," Peter Whitsett, Sears Holdings merchandise officer for general merchandise, said in a statement

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Walgreen Steps to the Plate and Bans all of the ReNu line

The seem to care about their customers more then Bausch & Lomb seems to.

"There's a lot of customer confusion out there, which is why we decided to remove the entire ReNu line," the Walgreen spokesman said. He said that Walgreen is continuing to sell other Bausch & Lomb products.

At least get those things off of the shelves until the FDA can study it better. I think the idea of a fungus that grows on your eye making you go blind is making me passionate about this subject. Plus, this is all over a substance that cleans something that is in my eye 7 days a week for 14 hours a day.

Come to think of it contacts are something I use more then anything else in my daily life. I only eat 3 times a day (and snacks.) I only use a computer for about 7 hours a day for maybe 6 days a week. I only play video games for a few hours a day for maybe 2 or 3 days a week at most. I only read for a few hours a day as well. That is really interesting how one little piece of plastic made by J&J can get so much use.

Some Companies will Prosper from Bausch & Lomb Eye Fungus

Some analysts are thinking that both the number 2 and 3 eye care products makers could have a market share bump.

"Based on our discussions with multiple consultants and industry contacts, we believe it is likely Johnson & Johnson will enter the market in the next 12 to 18 months," said Ulrich. "If Johnson & Johnson comes to market in 2007, we estimate that it could capture approximately 15% market share in four years."

In addition, the UBS analyst said rival eye care products maker Advanced Medical Optics (nyse: AVO - news - people ) could also benefit as it has the third-largest market share in the lens care market behind Bausch & Lomb and Alcon (nyse: ACL - news - people ).

J&J makes the Acuvue line of products which are the contact lenses that I own. I can see them growing like a fungus once they enter the eye care line. It is the classic integration idea. Make the lenses and the cleaner and then make money on both.

Bausch & Lomb CEO stays Mum on Fungus

I guess they aren't really taking these allegations seriously judging by this response:

Still, Zarrella said, investigators have so far found no problem -- either with MoistureLoc's formula or its manufacturing process -- that could be causing the infections. Indeed, he said, the cleanser continues to look "as safe and effective as anything on the market."

Even so, he said, Bausch & Lomb will continue to withhold shipments of MoistureLoc in the U.S. market while government authorities continue with their investigation. He said he expects some answers "over the next couple of weeks" but could offer no definite timeframe for when the entire investigation might come to an end.

Still they seem to be selling it to the non-US markets for some reason. I guess those so-called "dirty foreigners" can have Shitake growing out of their eyesockets for all they care. They need to just take every bottle of MoistureLoc off of the market until the FDA can deem it safe. At least Biogen and Elan pulled Tysabri totally off of the market when they found out it was dangerous to a few people.

Trade Deficit Drops

Well it looks like the Chinese are buying more of our crapola for once.

For February, the deficit with China narrowed by 22.7 percent to $13.8 billion, the smallest imbalance since March 2005. The improvement reflected a sizable 19.9 percent jump in U.S. exports to China to $4.1 billion, the second highest level on record, led by big gains in exports of American cotton, soybeans and semiconductors.

They need to throw the book at Sarah and Kris Everson

This is the reason why people are so pissed off nowadays. These people hoaxed the birth of their sextuplets so they can solicit money from good Samaritans. I hope Sarah and Kris Everson got 20 years to life for preying on kind-hearted people like this. You even feel bad for the media because they accidentally spread the good word for these scumbags. Having sextuplets is news especially when the couple is poor and cannot afford it:

"I think that we fell victim to the hoax. There were people out in the community who were doing fund-raisers already, and we feel bad for them and for us that we were the victims of that," Brendel said. "In retrospect, there were things we could have done better from a newspaper standpoint, in terms of our investigations and trying to flesh out some of the red flags there were about the story."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Venus Probe Deployed by the European Space Agency

This should bring back some interesting new information from the planet Venus. Check out some of the factoids about our so-called sister planet. If the sensors on this probe picks up screams of souls in Hell then all bets are off.

1 VENUS lies some 108,200,000km, or 67,232,000 miles, from the sun and is just over 12,100km (7,520 miles) in diameter.

2 Venus spins extremely slowly compared to the Earth, and in the opposite direction. One full revolution of the planet takes 243 Earth days. A year on Venus - the length of time the planet takes to travel round the sun - is shorter than the length of its day, at 225 Earth days.

3 The average surface temperature on Venus is more than 30 times warmer than Earth at 465C. This is at least partly because of the massive amount of carbon dioxide present in the planet's atmosphere. The so-called greenhouse gas makes up around 96 per cent of Venusian "air", with nitrogen accounting for just 3 per cent. The atmospheric pressure of Venus is 9,300 kilopascals at ground level, which is about 93 times the atmospheric pressure found at sea level on Earth, and equivalent to the pressure at a depth of 1,000 metres in Earth's oceans.

4 Scientists believe that the Venusian "mists" may be made of metals such as iron pyrites (or fool's gold) and tellurium, which have been vaporised because of the extreme heat and pressure on the planet. These compounds can also fall as snow on upland areas.

5 Winds on the cloud tops run at more than 215mph.

6 It is thought that Venus once had large amounts of water, much like Earth, but that it boiled away, leaving the planet extremely dry.

7 The centre of the planet is thought to be similar to Earth's: an iron core with a molten-rock mantle.

8 The landscape of Venus is mostly a "gently rolling plain", with little in the way of mountain ranges. However, there are two large upland areas, one about the size of Australia in the northern hemisphere, called Ishtar Terra, and another called Aphrodite Terra, which is about the size of South America, on the equator.

9 Venus's tallest mountain is called Maxwell Montes, after the Scots physicist James Clerk Maxwell, and it is 12,000 metres (39,370ft) above the planet's average surface, despite being only 10km (six miles) wide at the base. On Earth, the base would be too narrow to support such a large structure.

Some Info on the ReNu MoistureLoc Eye Fungus

This stuff sure sounds like bad news according to this site.

Fusarium infections are difficult to treat and the invasive forms are often fatal. Amphotericin B alone or in combination with flucytosine or rifampin is the most commonly used antifungal drug for treatment of systemic fusariosis [1992]. Lipid formulations of amphotericin B, such as liposomal amphotericin B [450] and amphotericin B lipid complex [2339, 2418] are also used. However, most cases remain resistant and fail to respond to amphotericin B treatment. Granulocyte and GM-CSF transfusions concommitant to amphotericin B therapy may be life-saving in some immunosuppressed patients with disseminated fusariosis [2113]. Despite its limited in vitro activity, posaconazole appears effective in murine fusariosis [1365]. Human data are awaited for verification of this finding.

What is even worse is you have this crazy looking thing growing on your eyeball. They kind of look like pointy pieces of dill or something.

SEC to Demand "Katie Couric" clause?

I'm not sure what the SEC is getting at but it sure will be interesting reading if this measure passes.

The regulation in question would require a company to disclose the pay details of as many as three non-executive employees whose individual compensation exceeds that of any of its top five executives.

I wonder if they will disclose the perks and stock compensation too? It sure will be interesting to see who the top three highest paid stars at any media company is. You will also get to see if they get free company jets and that sort of thing as well. When I saw Katie Couric clause I thought the SEC was going to start asking questions in the form of a biased statement. "You had revenues of 5.6 billion but are killing 10,000 Jub Jub Birds a year and destroying the environment. How do you defend such widespread destruction and maiming?"

ReNu MoistureLoc gives you Eye Fungus!

Wow this is a real bad deal if it is true.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday that 109 preliminary reports of a rare fungal infection that may cause loss of vision had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 17 U.S. states.

The agency said it was not aware of a direct link between the Fusarium fungus and any specific product, but in 26 cases so far, patients used the ReNu MoistureLoc solution.

Hmm, 26 out of 109 is 23% which a pretty high chance I should think. I would never use something that has a 23% chance of making you go blind. And the idea of a fungus growing on your eye sounds like some kind of attack by a Myconid or other DND monster. The worst part about it is that they are still selling this vile substance:

The FDA said Bausch was not pulling its existing MoistureLoc product from U.S. stores, but urged the roughly 30 million Americans who wear soft contact lenses to keep their hands and lens cases clean.

Is this a picture of a Bausch & Lomb scientist? Nope this is what a Myconid looks like:

McDonalds vs. New Fast Food Nation

It looks like McDonalds is taking some real steps toward blunting the Fast Food Nation fallout coming from a new film and a children's version of the book.

"A lot of work is going on behind the scenes ... from a crisis management standpoint," the document said in outlining plans to blunt the film's impact. It noted that "big names in Hollywood will produce, direct and star" in it.

The cast includes Canadian pop singer Avril Lavigne, who franchisees were told will appear as a restaurant crew person who " 'sees the light' and then works to reverse the ills of fast food."

"Trust-building" will be a focus of McDonald's "campaign to tell the real story," and is likely to include mobilization of a "Truth Squad," the document said. A rapid-response grassroots team also is contemplated as McDonald's assembles "ambassadors of the brand."

Hmm, Avril Lavigne is a big name in Hollywood? She isn't even an actor and judging how bad some singers are when they take on an acting job McDonalds might not have much to worry about. Maybe she is just there in a cameo roll and not as the films main character.

Iran Enriches Uranium

Well they are now well on their way to becoming a nuclear power.

"I am officially announcing that Iran has joined the group of those countries which have nuclear technology. This is the result of the Iranian nation's resistance," Ahmadinejad said in a televised address from the northeastern city of Mashhad.

What is the next move for the UN Security Council? Sanctions or the Military option? I have a feeling they will do nothing and let Iran get the bomb. Then they will "condemn in the strongest possible terms" the nuking of Tel Aviv.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Boutique Banking Taking Off?

This could be an interesting industry to check out since these stocks are pretty hot now.

Boutiques offer companies advice and services without the potential conflicts created by the full range of services provided by larger investment banks.

Their particular approach also is catching on, according to Goldman Sachs, one of the top full-service banks. Independent advisory firms increased their share of M&A business to more than 25% in 2005, from about 10% in 1994, Goldman analysts wrote in a note to clients last July.

"We see this trend continuing as corporate clients seek advice that is independent of lending and underwriting relationships," the Goldman analysts added.

Marching for Immigration

Hmm, I wouldn't mind actually marching in something like this since this is something that I feel pretty strongly about it.

Hundreds of thousands of people demanding U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants took to the streets in dozens of cities from New York to San Diego on Monday in some of the most widespread demonstrations since the mass protests began around the country last month.

There should be some kind of way for these people to become real tax-paying, bank account holding, society contributing Americans (with an emphasis on the tax-paying.) It is good that they are actually waving American flags too. There is nothing more patriotic then a freshly minted American citizen.

Books on the Gospel of Judas

On Saturday I was at Borders Express and saw they had an entire religeous section and what books did I see but ones on Judas. I guess they were written fairly recently and look very interesting. One is called the Gospel of Judas and the other was called The Lost Gospel : The Quest for the Gospel of Judas Iscariot . I would think about reading them if I wasn't about half-way through 3 different books.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Judas not Such a Bad Guy?

Hmm, it sure seems so according to the Gospel of Judas which was an ancient Coptic manuscript from 1700 years ago.

The papyrus manuscript known as a codex maintains, as the bible does not, that Jesus requested that Judas "betray" him by handing him to authorities, something it says pained Judas greatly.

"The codex has been authenticated as a genuine work of ancient Christian apocryphal literature on five fronts: radiocarbon dating, ink analysis, multispectral imaging, contextual evidence and paleographic evidence," said Terry Garcia, executive vice president for Mission Programs for the National Geographic Society.

That seems to really change the whole deal about him. And it puts Jesus in a slightly different light too. Not only did he know he was going to die he even had Judas go out and tell the authorities where he was. In other words he knew that he wouldn't make it to the day after next and made sure of it.

Maybe Jesus sent Judas out to protect the other Disciples from getting the beatdown along with him. I mean it was Judas who came up and pointed out Jesus from the rest of the bearded, fishermen looking fellows. I can see how Judas would have been broken up by it too since he was protecting his friends by betraying his Rabbi on that guys very own orders. Also if Judas never pointed Jesus out then they probably would have grabbed all of the Disciples and tortured them to make sure none of them were pulling an "I am Spartacus" trick.

Judas probably may not have even knew what was going to go down once Jesus was in custody. Judas probably didn't think Jesus would be crucified at all and just roughed up a little and maybe banished from Jerusalem. So when they crucified Jesus maybe Judas couldn't take it and then hanged himself. I mean the Disciples probably didn't believe that Jesus told him to become a rat so he was out of their group too. Hmm, I wonder if this is going to change the thinking on Judas?

McKinney Offers Lukewarm Mea Culpa

It looks like she is finally changing her tune on this whole Capital Hill altercation mess. It is interesting how she worded the thing though:

"There should not have been any physical contact in this incident," McKinney said in brief remarks on the House floor. "I am sorry that this misunderstanding happened at all and I regret its escalation and I apologize."

She didn't say that the hitting by her was wrong but *any* physical contact should not have happened. Supposedly the Capital Policeman put his hand on her to prevent her from rushing through a checkpoint after warning her three times to stop.

She also isn't sorry that she hit the guy but just sorry that the thing even happened at all. She also doesn't regret *her* escalating it by hitting a cop but just how it escalated at all. Kind of like she was powerless to control her actions and it just escalated by itself. Sometimes politician speak is very interesting indeed.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mac to Run XP, good job Mr. Jobs!

I have just been made a potential Machead. I have always toyed with buying one but I actually wanted to play PC games on the thing. Now I don't have to worry anymore.

Van Baker, analyst at research firm Gartner Inc., said Apple is removing one of the hurdles it faced in its long-standing battle to win over Windows-based converts.

"Consumers who were thinking about Macs but hesitated don't have to worry anymore about not being able to run PC software that didn't run on a Mac," Baker said.

Yup now you can run XP on a Mac with some new beta software called "boot camp." I am looking forward to seeing benchmarks on the software but now I can have the nice movie and picture editing software, and the robust OS that comes with a Mac and still dual boot to play some games. This is very good news I think. And it was even better for APPL shareholders:

Apple shares rose nearly 10 percent on the news, raising its market capitalization to $57.04 billion -- an increase of more than $5.1 billion.

Netflix Sues Blockbuster

This seems like an interesting lawsuit coming down the pike:

"Blockbuster has been willfully and deliberately copying Netflix's
business methods," Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey was quoted by the AP as
saying. Blockbuster issued a statement, saying that, "The company has not
yet had an opportunity to review the suit, so it would be inappropriate for
us to comment on it."

I wonder what took them so long. Blockbuster was offereing the same sort of rentals as Netflix for about a year or so now. Only now they are going after the infringement. Maybe Netflix got new lawyers or something.

Time to Watch Today Show Again

Well, the rumors are true and Katie Couric is jumping ship to CBS. Finally, we can get away from her annoying remarks and terrible interviews. She has a way of asking questions so it is just a muddle-headed far left statement and not an actual question and that really irks me.

I guess I am going to watch NBC with Brian Williams only from here on in. I was just starting to watch Bob Schieffer on CBS too. I like him because he is old school. With Katie on there though it is just a big waste of time.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

AMC Theater Pulls United 93 trailer

I recently saw this trailer and I have to admit that it would be upsetting for people not expecting it.

The AMC Loews Lincoln Square 12 theater in Manhattan said it made the decision after viewers complained they found it too upsetting.

"I don't think people are ready for this," theater manager Kevin Adjodha said.

"One lady was crying," Adjodha told Newsweek. "She was saying that we shouldn't have played the trailer. That this was wrong."

I guess it broke her good mood with a dose of reality. Whatever the case it looks like a very good movie that I will be checking out.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Uranium Looking Hot

Hmm this seems like an interesting play on the commodities market. With all the reactor building that will be happening in the next few years. Those reactors need uranium to to run and this article describes some good ways to make money in this field.

Index Fund Allocations mentioned

Here is the breakdown of the allocations that they mentioned in that Cramer article. Hmm it may be an interesting idea to change allocations so they are better diversified:

IFA US Large Company Index 12%

IFA US Large Cap Value Index 12%

IFA US Micro Cap Index 20%

IFA US Small Cap Value Index 20%

IFA Real Estate Index 5%

IFA International Value Index 6%

IFA International Small Company Index 6%

IFA International Small Cap Value Index 6%

IFA Emerging Markets Index 4%

IFA Emerging Markets Value Index 4%

IFA Emerging Markets Small Cap Index 5%

Mad Money Picks up 16.2%

It seems Jim Cramer is beating the market since his show has been on.

Based on this incomplete list, Cramer's picks have gained 16.2%, on average, from the show's launch March 14, 2005, through March 27, 2006. That makes the Standard & Poor's 500 gain of 7.3% look pretty sad. Cramer says he's made his viewers lots of money. "I'm very proud of my record," he says.

That is a pretty good track record for the most part.