Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Interesting Story on Small Cap Names

Some very interesting Small Cap stocks in this article.

Yet small caps sailed through 2005, besting their larger-cap peers by a wide margin. For the 12 months ended May 1, 2006, the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks returned 31.5%, compared with 14.4% for the Standard & Poor's 500 index of large-company stocks.

The names the article picks are:

Coinstar (CSTR) which makes coin counting machines and operates kiddie rides and gumball machines.

Landec (LNDC) which has 17 patents related to a synthetic polymer that "thinks" - that is, the material can respond to changes in temperature by changing its viscosity or permeability. They also make a polymer bag that regulates the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels within a package to maintain the optimum atmosphere.

Amerigon (ARGN) which makes heated/cooled car seats.

PW Eagle (PWEI) which makes PVC pipes.

I'm doing some research on Landec and Amerigon. Their products are very intriguing.

New Rover Looking for Places to Land

This really sounds like an interesting Mars Mission. Scientists are still figuring out where the thing should land though.

When NASA next wheeled robot--the Mars Science Laboratory--rockets skyward in 2009, the mega-rover will carry the largest, most sophisticated array of science gear ever shot to the martian surface.

Far more robust and powerful than those smaller robotic look-alikes now laboring on Mars--Spirit and Opportunity--the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is intended to turn a new page in planetary exploration.

It is also nuclear powered as well which sounds pretty cool I think. They should try to land it in Mars' Polar Region to see what the deal is up there.

Ford Rolls out Incentives

Ford said that as part of its "Drive on Us" discount program, which begins on Thursday and runs through July, customers would be given either a prepaid debit card for $1,000 of gas purchases or an equivalent discount on the vehicle purchase price.

I like the idea of giving out $1000 gas rebate. I think more car companies need to roll out something like that. It would defray the added cost of buying a Hybrid.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Interesting New NATO like Grouping Forming

This is a very interesting seed of information about a Moscow/Beijing tract forming.

In the first meeting of its kind, parliamentary leaders from the six countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) met Tuesday in Moscow to discuss ways to harmonize their laws and begin building a legislative dimension for the grouping.

Led by China and Russia, the SCO, founded five years ago, also includes Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Other key countries in the region -- India,
Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan -- currently have observer status and have also expressed interest in becoming full members.

This could be a very serious counterweight against US influence in the area. It is a way to check Washington's Power now that we have troops in 2 different nations in that general area. The Chinese and the Russians have a long history of supporting one another from Cold War days.

This makes sense when you think about how they oppose all attempts to strike Iran militarily. They might even be thinking about letting Iran get the bomb. Iran might be their potential partner in this organization to curb American power. A nuclear Iran changes the entire Middle Eastern power structure and China and Russia are ahead of the equation. They are allying with a country that is a direct threat to Israel/USA but not a direct threat to them. Very canny thinking by the Russians and Chinese.

Goldman Sachs chairman In as Treasury Secretary

So they are putting in Wall Street Insider, Henry "Hank" Paulson in as the Treasury Secretary?
Appearing in the White House Rose Garden with Snow and Paulson, Bush praised the Wall Street executive's ability to explain complicated economic concepts in clear language.

Paulson would continue a tradition in which Goldman has sent executives to Washington, including White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and a former Clinton administration Treasury chief, Robert Rubin.

Hmm, I guess they put him in to explain that complicated economic stuff to Bush. I thought W was supposed to be a business man and understood that kind of thing. I guess Paulson's job is to give Bush those daily economic briefings courtesy of Sponge-Bob Square Pants.

Deputy to the Deputy Fired Over Veterans Mess

So they are firing the little fish on this mess and not the person at the top that allowed the stealing of the Vets info to happen.

Michael H. McLendon, deputy assistant secretary for policy who supervised the VA data analyst who lost the data, said he would relinquish his high-level post on Friday.

So the deputy to the assistant to the assistant got axed. So why hasn't VA Secretary Jim Nicholson resigned yet? This betrayal of the basic tenets of security happened under his watch. The whole idea of the entire records of 26.5 million Vets walking out of the VA admin in a laptop is retarded in the first place. He needs to bite the bullet and resign and the next guy needs to go hammer and tongs to tighten security. This isn't a few thousand credit card records but the private info of guys who bled for this country. Nicholson should go.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Blair Urges Change in the UN

Some of his ideas seem pretty radical but may be needed in this post-Cold War World.

Singling out Iran - whose ongoing nuclear programme has alarmed international leaders - Mr Blair warned technological change and economic globalisation meant western states had to act "pre-emptively" to meet potential threats and crises.

He said: "In the old days, countries could wait, assess over time, even opt out - at least until everything was clear. We could act when we knew. Now we have to act on the basis of precaution."

So this really adds onto the so-called Doctrine of Preemption. We need to hit threats before they grow. This would be the biggest change though and would go a long way toward creating a more effective UN:

His most contentious ideas concerned the Security Council, the UN's highest body, where Britain, along with France, China, Russia and the US, have permanent seats and veto power.

Nations including Germany, Japan, India and Brazil have all been pressing for permanent seats on the council, and Mr Blair signalled he was sympathetic, saying the council in its current form "cannot be legitimate in the modern world".

These other nations will give the UN a more global reach that will reflect the true power players in the world. We have the 2nd biggest economy, the largest democracy, the most powerful South American country, and the other big power player in Europe. I think it will provide them with quite a bit of prestige if they let those four nations in on the Big Game.

There could even have a more altruistic look at certain things because Japan, India, and Brazil really has nothing to gain or lose from putting troops in or sending "preemptive humanitarinism" into a place like Darfur. The U.S. doesn't care about Darfur because there is no oil, gold, or potential consumers there. Britian is on the U.S. team. France probably doesn't want any part of a continent's that they were once the colonial overlords of. Russia and China have no direct interest in anything on the African continent so why should they care?

So bad stuff goes down in Africa and the permanent members just shrug their shoulders because they really have nothing to gain and only something to lose on that continent. The only country that can really act is the U.S. However we can't afford another Somalia and that is what we will get with our troops stretched so thin.

Perhaps Japan, India, or Brazil could take over some of the altruistic World Cop duty since they have no history on that continent. They more or less have nothing to lose. They will go in fresh and might actually help the helpless. And if downed Japanese pilots get dragged through the street there will be world wide condemnation. It won't be hated Americans but selfless Japanese who would be dead. Then you might see the world community actually take Japan's side and not give out candy and shoot off guns like they would if it was dead Americans.

25 Worst Tech Products of All Time

Wow some of there are some real stinkers in this list. I remember how AOL used to cripple some machines when people either tried to uninstall them or upgraded them to a different build. I wonder if anyone actually did a count of the total number of CDs that they sent out in the 90s as well. I bet it is in the billions. Here is the rest of the list.

America Online (1989-2006)
RealNetworks RealPlayer (1999)
Syncronys SoftRAM (1995)
Microsoft Windows Millennium (2000)
Sony BMG Music CDs (2005)
Disney The Lion King CD-ROM (1994)
Microsoft Bob (1995)
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 (2001)
Pressplay and Musicnet (2002)
dBASE IV (1988)
Priceline Groceries and Gas (2000)
PointCast (1996)
IBM PCjr. (1984)
Gateway 2000 10th Anniversary PC (1995)
Iomega Zip Drive (1998)
Comet Cursor (1997)
Apple Macintosh Portable (1989)
IBM Deskstar 75GXP (2000)
OQO Model 1 (2004)
CueCat (2000)
Eyetop Wearable DVD Player (2004)
Apple Pippin @World (1996)
Free PCs (1999)
DigiScents iSmell (2001)
Sharp RD3D Notebook (2004)
(Dis)Honorable Mention

Thursday, May 25, 2006

What is Buffet Buying?

Very interesting article on what Warren Buffet is doing with his stocks. He looks like he is going outside America to get his hands on some good international stocks. He fears large budget deficits will weaken the dollar and send stocks lower. Here are his 38 holdings in order of size with Morningstar ratings:

1. Coca-Cola : Wide Moat, 5 Stars
2. American Express : Wide Moat, 3 Stars
3. Wells Fargo : Wide Moat, 4 Stars
4. Procter & Gamble : Wide Moat, 3 Stars
5. Moody's : Wide Moat, 4 Stars
6. Wesco Financial : Narrow Moat, 4 Stars
7. Anheuser-Busch : Wide Moat, 5 Stars
8. Washington Post : Wide Moat, 5 Stars
9. ConocoPhillips : Narrow Moat, 3 Stars
10. Ameriprise Financial : Not rated
11. Wal-Mart : Wide Moat, 5 Stars
12. M&T Bank (NYSE:MTB - News): Narrow Moat, 3 Stars
13. USG Corporation (NYSE:USG - News): Not rated
14. American Standard : Narrow Moat, 2 Stars
15. First Data (NYSE:FDC - News): Wide Moat, 3 Stars
16. H&R Block : Wide Moat, 4 Stars
17. Comcast (NasdaqNM:CMCSA - News): Wide Moat, 3 Stars
18. Costco (NasdaqNM:COST - News): Narrow Moat, 3 Stars
19. General Electric : Wide Moat, 3 Stars
20. Tyco International : Narrow Moat, 5 Stars
21. SunTrust Bank (NYSE:STI - News): Narrow Moat, 3 Stars
22. Nike : Narrow Moat, 5 Stars
23. Gannett : Narrow Moat, 5 Stars
24. Gap (NYSE:GPS - News): Narrow Moat, 4 Stars
25. Home Depot : Wide Moat, 4 Stars
26. Torchmark (NYSE:TMK - News): Narrow Moat, 3 Stars
27. Iron Mountain : Wide Moat, 3 Stars
28. Lexmark International : Narrow Moat, 3 Stars
29. United Parcel Service : Wide Moat, 4 Stars
30. Outback Steakhouse (NYSE:OSI - News): No Moat, 4 Stars
31. PetroChina (NYSE:PTR - News): Narrow Moat, 2 Stars
32. ServiceMaster : Narrow Moat, 3 Stars
33. Sealed Air : Narrow Moat, 5 Stars
34. Pier 1 Imports (NYSE:PIR - News): No Moat, 4 Stars
35. Lowe's Companies (NYSE:LOW - News): Wide Moat, 3 Stars
36. Comdisco Holdings : Not rated
37. Tesco PLC: Not rated
38. Kingfisher (Other OTC:KGFHY.PK - News): Not rated

Japan's new Media Immersion Pods

On my Googling for other info I found this very interesting article about a new trend in Japan called "media-immersion pods."

ON a recent afternoon, at around 5:30, I visited the Gran Cyber Café in the Shinjuku neighborhood for the first time, to read e-mail and visit a news site or two. Checking in, I was assigned to pod 16-A.

I loved 16-A the instant I saw it. I closed the door, slipped into a low-slung leatherette seat and surveyed the all-you-can-eat tech feast, which includes VHS and DVD players, satellite and regular television on a Toshiba set, PlayStation 2, Lineage II and a Compaq computer loaded with software, all the relevant downloads and hyperspeedy Internet. In the nearby library were thousands of comic books, magazines and novels. On the desk was a menu of oddball snacks, like boiled egg curry and hot sandwich tuna.

The atmosphere is airless and hot, with a permanent cloud of cigarette smoke. Over all the effect is of a low-wattage, low-oxygen casino.

So they are kind of a way for Japanese to get out of the rigid social structure and bustle of city life to be anonymous and have time all to themselves. In that time they get to immerse themselves in tech and manga. A kind of solo buffet of uninterrupted media consumption. The whole idea of these Pods *really* appeals to me. Noone to bother you as you game, watch TV, DVDs, read Manga or whatever. You are just alone with your own thoughts with no distractions or outside stimuli to take your attention away from your media consumption.

Maui Beach Wins Best Beach Award

I knew that Maui beaches were pretty good but now America knows.

Fleming Beach Park, a mile-long crescent white sand beach on Maui's western shore featuring spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the rugged shores of Molokai Island, was named America's best beach in an annual list that also included two Florida beaches.

Nice view.

Abbas Pulls a Fast One on Hamas

Now this is an interesting way of bypassing Hamas control of Palestine.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he will call a national referendum on accepting a Palestinian state alongside Israel if Hamas does not agree to the idea within 10 days.

Such a vote would effectively ask Palestinians to give implicit recognition to Israel by accepting a Palestinian state on land occupied by Israel in 1967. Approval of the 18-point plan would provide a way out of the impasse over acceptance of Israel, which has led to an international freeze on aid to the Hamas-led government.

So he will go right to the Palestinian people and ask them if they want a two state solution and prevent Israel from just unilaterally drawing a border. Palestine is getting a border no matter what but Abbas is the one drawing it and not Israel. A very good gamble I think that will probably pay off.

The two states existing side by side even validates Israel's existence. And even better it will be the Palestinian people calling for it and not it being imposed by the Security Council or Israel or anyone else. I like the sound of that. I wonder how Abbas is going to spend that Peace Prize money?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Leeroy Jenkins?

This is a funny bit of stuff that I found searching the net.

The video was released by the World of Warcraft Alliance player guild PALS FOR LIFE on the Laughing Skull server. Leeroy appears as a paladin in the video, which was apparently intended as a promotion for the guild. It begins with Leeroy away from his keyboard ("AFK") while the rest of his group meticulously plans a raid on the Rookery - a part of the instance dungeon Upper Blackrock Spire. Just as they are discussing tactics and calculating the possible rate of survival for the attack (32.%) Leeroy suddenly springs to life, shouts his battle cry, "LEEERRROYYYY JENNNNKINNNNSSS!!!", and charges fearlessly into the Rookery to the complete and utter incredulity of his team mates. In an attempt to save him, they follow him in and are quickly overwhelmed.

I guess this incident got cemented into pop icon status from this mention on Jeopardy:

Olmert Addresses Joint Session

He said some very interesting things about Iran in his speech to a Joint Session of Congress.

"A nuclear Iran means a terrorist state could achieve the primary mission for which terrorists live and die: the mass destruction of innocent human life," Olmert said in a warmly received address to both chambers of Congress.

"This challenge, which I believe is the test of our time, is one the West cannot afford to fail," he said, estimating that Iran "stands on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons."

"History will judge our generation by the actions we take now ... the international community will be measured not by its intentions but by its results," he said, cautioning that "another dark and gathering storm" was casting its shadow over the world.

And that dark and gathering storm casting its shadow over the world is Sauron err Iran.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Disney and Shanda Team up on Online Game

It seems like an interesting pairing but what sort of online game can Disney hope for from Shanda?

The game, which will be developed for a broader demographic than traditional online games, as well as China's burgeoning segment of female online gamers, will be available in China for open beta in the spring of 2007.

"The market for online games in China is large and growing, and it was important for us to find the right partner. We're pleased to have found that in Shanda," said Mark Handler, executive vice president and managing director, International, Walt Disney Internet Group. "Disney's rich content library, combined with Shanda's capabilities as a leading online game operator, will bring a new, unique and fun experience for the online game consumer. We actively look to bring more of our content to the online interactive entertainment market in China."

I have a feeling that it may be some kind of online version of Kingdom Hearts 2. Perhaps you can play as a character in the World of Disney and Mickey sends you on a quest to collect the still beating, bloody heart of Horace Horsecollar or something.

European Nations Sweeten the Pot for Iran

It looks like use of force is coming off of the table here. I wonder if Bush has just passed the pigskin to Olmert and told him that he is the QB on this one. Put the Israeli Air Force on standby Ehud they are going to be needed.

The compromise, which would drop the automatic threat of military action if Iran remains defiant, is part of a proposed basket of incentives meant to entice Iran to give up enrichment, a possible pathway to nuclear arms. It also spells out the penalties if it does not.

They are getting a pretty good deal if they go along with it though:

If Tehran agrees to suspend enrichment, enter new negotiations on its nuclear program and lift a ban on intrusive inspections by the IAEA, they would be offered rewards including agreement by the international community to "suspend discussion of Iran's file at the Security Council."

The package also promised help in "the building of new light-water reactors in Iran," offered an assured supply of nuclear fuel for up to five years, and asked Tehran to accept a plan that would move its enrichment program to Russia.

So they get some light-water reactors, get their name off of the Security Council Hit List, and they get free nuclear fuel for 5 years. The Russians will even enrich their uranium for them for free. Iran can really look like the winner here if they climb down from the edge and accept this deal. They won't though because they will end up losing the status as the Lion of the Arab World by cowtowing to the so-called European Powers. Nukes are too much of a pride thing for Iran now that Iraq can't thumb their nose at the world anymore.

Mr. Olmert Comes to Washington

It looks like he came for a nice skull session with W on what to do with Iran and Palestinian State borders. I'm glad he is not just going simply wait out Hamas and is going to jump over their head to speak directly with Abbas. That means peace might still be within their grasp.

US officials had also demanded that Israel hold talks with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah president. Mr Olmert on Tuesday said he would “exhaust every opportunity” to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority and pledged to “extend my hand to Mahmoud Abbas” and meet him. Although a date has not yet been set he said it would be “in the near future”.

He added that he accepted the “sincerity of Mahmoud Abbas as the elected president of the Palestinian Authority” but offered the caveat that he “hoped that he will have the power to meet the requirements necessary for negotiations”, such as Israel’s security concerns. He warned that Israel would “not wait indefinitely,” before pursuing withdrawal from settlements.

I have a feeling that the US and Israeli flags together like that will end up on some Islamic Hate site somewhere.

Should You be Short the Market?

I keep seeing more and more articles like this and it is giving me the idea that being short this market is the correct trade.

"More ugly market action on Friday. Bonds fell to a new low and the yield curve steepened (led by long rates) despite a big drop in consumer sentiment. And the dollar continued to fall... In these two moves, we can see big money [taking] the opportunity to sell into good news, overwhelming short term traders. U.S. and global stocks are cracking under the pressure of rising rates."

It would have been better to have gotten short when the market was trading at 7 year highs but it doesn't seem to be too late. I keep seeing these rallies crap out in the last few hours of trading. I remember reading somewhere that that was a bad sign. Whatever the case carrying a big cash position may be a good deal in the coming months. I think the market will be on sale here before too long and it will be time to get in there and buy on the cheap.

Important Info for a Novice Investor

Hmm, this is pretty good stuff if you are just getting into the investing game. I especially liked these four points at the bottom.

1. For long-term money, stocks likely remain the best investment. They may not return what they have in the past, but another asset class that can keep pace with inflation as well as stocks has not presented itself. Because of their volatility, however, stocks remain bad investments for short-term money (cash that you'll use for a down payment on a house in six months, for example). In fact, Siegel says that stocks are inappropriate investments for money that you're planning to spend within five years.

2. Knowing history can help you manage your emotions, which may be the most important part of investing. Just when you want to throw in the towel after a period of stock market decline, those stocks may bounce back. Also, just when you're likely to feel most confident in them is when they're prone to disappoint. Keeping a long-term perspective and trying to focus more on your time frame than on the daily and yearly fluctuations can make you a better investor.

3. Broad-based mutual funds, including index funds that track the S&P 500 or Wilshire 5000 indexes, give individual investors a good chance to capture much of the market's return over time. Stick to these kinds of investments with the bulk of your assets, and try not to pay attention to various sectors that may be running hard for short periods of time. It's easy to feel like a dolt at a cocktail party when you don't own the latest high-flying sector, but armed with history you'll realize that periods of unusually strong performance can't continue for the market as a whole or for an individual sector.

4. Fees matter. Because beating inflation, especially for bonds, is difficult, paying a large expense ratio on your mutual funds is effectively asking you to fight with one hand tied behind your back. Look for low-fee mutual funds. Our Analyst Picks lists are filled with them.

Monday, May 22, 2006

VA Employee Losses 26.5 million Veteran SSNs.

Wow now this is a serious breach of security.

Thieves took sensitive personal information on 26.5 million U.S. veterans, including
Social Security numbers and birth dates, after a Veterans Affairs employee improperly brought the material home, the government said Monday.

The information involved mainly those veterans who served and have been discharged since 1975, said VA Secretary Jim Nicholson. Data of veterans discharged before 1975 who submitted claims to the agency may have been included.

Now this is a serious boneheaded error that they should get to the bottom of. This information is as good as gold to identity theft types who could go after vets to file false claims, open credit card accounts, and a whole list of nefarious things. This is the reason why it all went down:

Nicholson declined to comment on the specifics of the incident, which involved a midlevel data analyst who had taken the information home to suburban Maryland on a laptop to work on a department project.

The residential community had been a target of a series of burglaries when the employee was victimized earlier this month, according to the FBI in Baltimore. Local law enforcement and the VA inspector general were also investigating.

In other words some idiot brought home a copy of something like the master data file on their laptop so they could do some project that they are too lazy to do at work. The idea of such a data file existing in a non-encrypted form that would be able to move to a laptop is mind boggling. There was no VPNing to the .mil Dbase to access this information or anything like that. Hell, even if that person GoToMyPCed into their work computer it would have been less of a security threat.

Then to add insult to injury this idiot lives in a high crime neighborhood and gets the laptop pinched. No laptop lock or any other physical security for the thing at all. I really think they should overhaul the VAs entire computer security setup. If 26.5 million customer accounts for a bank were lost then there would be a run on that bank and maybe the CEO would have to resign. This screw-up should be no different.

Apple Finds Retail Success

Hmm, I think Dell should take a page out of Apples Book. Present the item as a high tech lifestyle choice and not just a tool and people will pay top dollar for the thing. In other words don't compete on price alone. Noone wants a cheap looking item when it comes to their high tech purchase. They aren't buying heads of lettuce but are shelling out $1000s for something. So you have to treat them like they are getting something special.

The Apple items look High-Tech and ahead of their time from a design standpoint so they create a certain "lifestyle." This is the same thing that allows Starbucks to charge 4.50 for a Latte because people are buying into the Bohemian coffee-house lifestyle even though there are a 100,000 Starbucks. The perception of luxury and living a different/idealistic life is what keeps people shelling out the big bucks for these items.

The Apple Store just looks like a high-tech design center of the future. Where you come and buy hip stuff from Apple Zealots to allow you to buy into the I-lifestyle. Dell cannot compete effectivly with this since they cut every corner to make the computer super-cheap. After a while Dells come out looking cheap and crappy. They get the same rep as an E-Machine or other low end PC dealer. Bad Quality, looks like something you find at an office, and not something for a hip, high-tech lifestyle of the future.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Big King Value Meal Comes to the NYSE

That Weird-Assed King commands you to buy some BKC. I think this Burger King IPO would have been even hotter if there wasn't so much talk of interest rate jitters in the broader market.

The initial public offering of 25 million shares, which represents a 19 percent stake in the company, was worth about $425 million.

The shares rose 50 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $17.50, trimming earlier gains of up to 7 percent as broader market gauges slipped for the sixth time in the last seven sessions.

I did some quick calulations and if Burger King at least reaches the market value for Wendys the number 3 burger chain, the stock should be worth quite a bit more then the IPO price of $17.50. BKC seems kind of attractive according to this article:

Burger King has logged eight consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth in the U.S. For the nine months ended March 31, its total revenue rose 5% to $1.5 billion, and its net income declined 18% from a year earlier to $37 million. The company attributed the drop on its bottom line to the dividend payment, other payments made to senior management, a $14 million loss recorded on the early extinguishment of debt and increased income tax expense.

The sale of 25 million shares makes up roughly 19% of Burger King's overall shares, putting its value at about $2.25 billion. McDonald's has a market value of about $43 billion, while Wendy's is worth about $7 billion.

Weird-assed King Commands you to Buy, Buy!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

DaVinci Code a Dud?

Uh oh, this does not bode well for this movie.

"A pulpy page-turner in its original incarnation as a huge international bestseller has become a stodgy, grim thing in the exceedingly literal-minded film version of The Da Vinci Code," opined Variety film critic Todd McCarthy.

"[Howard and writer Akiva Goldsman] conspired to drain any sense of fun out of the melodrama, leaving expectant audiences with an oppressively talky film that isn't exactly dull, but comes as close to it as one could imagine with such provocative material".

Wow and there was even some unintentional laughter which is the kiss of death to a thriller in my book. I guess DaVinci Code is one of those movies that I will be checking out on HBO sometime in the far future.

"At the high point, there was laughter among the journalists. Not loud laughs, but a snicker and I think that says it all," the Associated Foreign Press quoted Gerson Da Cunha from the Times of India.

Gears of War a Hit at E3

Here is a list of new games coming that the guys at Penny Arcade will be buying in the future.

My favorite stuff
Gears of War This was the best looking, most fun game I played at the show. I got to sit down and play a bunch of rounds and it was fucking great.

Bioshock This game is absolutely beautiful. I'm sure Tycho will go into detail later. What we saw during the demo really blew me away.

Dead Rising I probably spent more time playing this on the show floor than any other game. I even went back to it throughout the show. Bashing a zombie in the skull with a bowling ball is a real treat. I will say that the lack of co-op play is a crime.

Stranglehold I'm a huge John Woo fan and I didn't expect this game to be any good. After seeing it in action though I'm ready to buy it. I will say that I saw a super move that involved doves flying in slow motion. That's all I need.

Haze I can't really talk about this one but I was impressed. I had never even heard of it going into E3 and now I'm really looking forward to it.

I have never heard of these games except for Bioshock which looks pretty creepy. That game kind of has a Steampunk meets a terrible plague ravaged area feel to it. Oh and the multiple zombies on the screen at once in Dead Rising looks pretty crazy. I loved House of the Dead even though I have only played it at the arcade.

Here is some screen shots from Gears of War. It kind of looks like Unreal tournament mixed with the Imperial Guard from Warhammer 40K. The badguys look pretty nuts and the graphics are the best I have ever seen on a console. In fact they kind of look like cutscenes and not the actual game. However It comes out on November 1 though so that is about the time I will be making the desicion to buy a PS3 or an Xbox360.

AMD introduces new Turion 64 X2 Laptop Chips

It looks like AMD is going after Intel on all fronts now.

The Turion 64 X2 chips will be the first 64-bit, dual-core processors to reach the notebook market, said David Rooney, mobile division marketing manager for AMD, in Sunnyvale, California. Customers demand 64-bit processing to run multithreaded digital media applications and the future Microsoft Vista OS, he said.

Multicore processing allows control over many applications running on a single PC. AMD says 85 percent of PC users run six applications at once: antivirus, e-mail, firewall, spam protection, a pop-up blocker, and spyware protection.

Hmm I never thought about running six applications at the same time but I guess I am doing it right now. I have an anti-virus, 2 IE windows, Outlook, spyware protection, and a wireless connection app. Sometimes I run even more stuff then that.

Hmm I wonder what the battery life is like on this new Turion chip? You would think it would be pretty bad since it is a dual core chip but AMD is pretty good at making their chips sip power. Also the timing of bringing out this chip in May could goose next quarters profits as well.

AMD could also seize an advantage by launching its new chip first, analysts say.

AMD's decision to launch its new Turion in May gives PC vendors time to get their products on store shelves in time for the back-to-school rush, the second-largest selling season in the U.S., said Nicole D'Onofrio, an analyst with Current Analysis.

Already, vendors planning to sell Turion-based notebook PCs this quarter include Acer, Fujitsu, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, and nine more.

HP to Consolidate Data Centers

Hmm this seems like a pretty shrewd move to save some cash.

HP said the consolidation will help it reduce its IT spending by about $1 billion in coming years. The facilities in Atlanta, Houston and Austin, Texas, also will serve as a showcase for HP's adaptive infrastructure products and services.

HP has designed its new facilities to be "lights out" data centers, capable of being managed remotely. HP also is implementing smart cooling technologies that optimize airflow for cooling of the data centers, leading to utility cost savings of up to 25 percent.

That seems pretty state of the art to remotely control an entire massive building like that. I guess it is possible with today's technology but it still feels like something out of Star Trek or some other Sci Fi deal.

Monday, May 15, 2006

HP a Retail Electronics Powerhouse?

Hmm this is very interesting information that I was not aware of at all:

H-P (HPQ) , a brand synonymous with the enterprise computing and printing industries, has quietly become the leading technology supplier to the nation's largest electronics stores. In 2005 the company claimed more than 13% of the roughly $81 billion that Americans spent on technology products, according to research firm NPD Techworld in Port Washington, N.Y.

"It's a new market, but we look at it more like an IT (information technology) market," said Jan-Luc Blakborn, H-P's director of digital entertainment for North America. "Not everyone can play in this market, but we have the (technological) background to deliver products that can fill the needs and wants of consumers."

They are also looking to expand their share of the digital TV market as well:

Palo Alto, Calif.-based H-P is looking to expand its share even further. In addition to its long-time strength in printing, imaging and PCs, and its moves into the retail photo kiosk market, the company is stocking several of its newest digital TVs on the shelves at Best Buy Co. Inc. (BBY)

H-P's retail television expansion "has the potential to more than triple H-P's addressable market for consumer products," said Harry Blount, an analyst with Lehman Bros.
H-P claims about $30 million in annual revenue from TV sales -- just a sliver of the $26.7 billion in sales its so-called personal-systems division reported last year. However, Blount reckons the Best Buy partnership alone could boost H-P's TV yearly sales to more than $200 million.

Will people really buy HP branded TVs? I guess they can serve the dual role of a TV and a computer monitor. Hmm, they might really have something here since all they really need is to rebrand a current monitor to look more like a TV and less like a computer monitor. That means retrofitting the stand, changing the casing, and maybe changing the buttons on the front. It would seem like a fairly easy thing to do. Whatever the case I just like the sound of $30 million sales turning into $200 million.

Hewlett-Packards Vision of the Future: Very Long Sighted

I just talked about Dell's views of the future according to this article. Here is Hewlett-Packards take on the future:

Lampman, head of HP's research group, said that managing data centers is one of the company's main initiatives over the next five years. Beyond individual machines, data center management includes software, energy consumption and labor.

This is very, very canny move and could be quite a lucrative business for HP. I think data storage will one of the most important challenges to computing in the next 5 years. People are taking more pictures, making more movies, and downloading more worthless crap then ever before. Where are they going to store all of those files?

Some people will store them on the hard drives or maybe cut them to HD-DVDs. While others will move their crap to offsite storage at a data center. This will be especially important when people start downloading HD-DVD movie content. Those files will fill up even the biggest hard-drives in no time flat. So offsite is one of the only places to amass a very big library that you can take anywhere there is a next generation superfast broadband connection. The idea of all of your data available anytime, anywhere on any form of media (PC, TV, IPod etc.) is the Holy Grail of Consumer Electronics.

This is just the consumer side of the coin. The corporate side will dwarf this all-together. With Sarbanes-Oxley, companies have to hold on to more piles of useless, redundant crap then ever before. They cannot hope to have all this stuff stored cheaply and easily in-house and will have to rely on data centers to hold onto this info. The electrical power savings alone of keeping data at a data center and not at the home office will be massive for some companies. This is also great for disaster preparedness and productivity since you will be able to access all of your data at any time from anyplace in the world through that super-fast broadband connection.

Even HPs recent acquisions will tie into this idea of the need to store peoples crap:

Far beyond its history as a device maker, Lampman also said that its online photography business, which HP acquired last year, is a prime example of how the company wants to expand its printing business.

"Snapfish is a real force," Lampman said describing the expectations executives have in the new unit that competes with Yahoo's Flickr and many other Web-based digital photo printing and storage services.

Yup the consumer will be able to snap the photos on a wireless enabled digital camera, upload them to an HP run data center, and then jump onto a network enabled kiosk and print out the photo using an HP printer. This idea will also allow grandparents to go to a kiosk at their local Best Buy to make prints of their grandson falling off of his bike 2000 miles away without any need for a PC, a home network connection, a memory card, or anything more then a user name and password.

They could even streamline the picture taking process to make it so as soon as you snap a picture it will immediately store the data at an HP run data center. You could even set it to print out on your network enabled home printer as soon as you hit a button on the camera from the other side of the world. You won't ever have a need for a bunch of memory cards piled up in your camera bag ready to get lost somewhere. Now that is looking ahead.

Dells Visions for the Future: Innovation Lite

This is a very interesting article on what Dell and HP are planning for the future. Here is Dells vision which seems woefully lacking in the innovation department:

Dell Chairman and founder Michael Dell, speaking at a San Diego technology conference, emphasized selling new consumer devices, such as state of the art computer monitors and media PCs designed to handle television, music and photos.

This stuff can be done with almost any PC you can buy nowadays. You can do this with a cheapo Lenovo or an E-Machines or whatever. You certainly do not need a state of the art PC to watch TV, listen to music, or see photos. Hell you can do all that crap with an Ipod with a TV connected to it.

He described the increased productivity, including his own, from workers using multiple computing screens.

About the only people that I know that uses multiple screens at the same time are stock traders. I assume that some people can be productive with multiple screens but the vast majority of business workers probably won't need them. Hell they may not even have desk space for multiple screens. (I sure don't)

Dell also said that video game enthusiasts, rather than scientists, proved to be the largest customer segment for some of its more powerful machines - a nod to the unpredictability of fast moving technology markets -- a trend he expects will continue as consumers find new uses for their machines.

This is one of the most high margin PC buying groups but it is also one of the most fickle. I have talked to some PC gamers and they say the Dell Gamer PCs are pieces of crap. Most of the gamers I know either buy a barebones system and then soup them up with stuff from Newegg or just build their own. I guess there are gamers that buy Dell PCs exclusively but they probably will only buy the one machine and then switch out the parts when they become obsolete. For instance a gamer won't buy a whole new Dell when the next generation of kick-assed graphics cards come out. He would just buy a new graphics card.

Also the next generation of consoles have very comparable specs to all but the most high end gaming PCs. Gone are the days where the PC smashes the PS2 in graphics quality. Some people are saying that the PS3/Xbox360/Wii might set back PC gaming for years. Why do you need a badassed rig when you can just plunk down $500 for a console that plays pretty much the same games. Plus, the games I play that aren't console games (Civ4, Victoria, and soon to be Europa Universialis 2) can still be played even on my aging rig.

Bush Wastes National Guard Resources

6000 troops are going to be sent to police the border? That is an asinine waste of money, material and manpower. Aren't these guys needed in Iraq and to protect the actual homeland and not waste their time policing a 2000 mile stretch of open ground:

The Guard troops would mostly serve two-week stints before rotating out of the assignment, so keeping the force level at 6,000 over the course of a year could require up to 156,000 troops.

Still, Bush insisted, "The United States is not going to militarize the southern border."

The White House wouldn't say how much the deployments would cost, but said the troops would paid for as part of $1.9 billion being requested from Congress to supplement border enforcement this year.

That is a billion dollars that won't be used for tax cuts or for some other purpose. This is just a throwaway to the Conservative Base that doesn't believe that a Mexican who wants to come here so bad he risks death, won't either become a good American, or produce offspring that will become good Americans.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Paris Hilton Forgets Video Game Name

I think she would forget her head if it was attached to her neck.

Wearing a green minidress and red platform pumps, Hilton made a brief appearance at the Electronic Entertainment Expo to promote "Paris Hilton's Jewel Jam."

"Sorry I'm late," the heiress said. "I'm really excited to have my new video game, 'Diamondquest.' Thank you all for coming, and you can download the game," she said.

"Like video games are stupid anyway." is what I think she is probably saying in this pic:

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Phone Records Scandal Will End the Bush White House

Mark my words this phone records scandal will be more damaging then anything else the Bush White House has faced or ever will face. I have a feeling that he is going to be censured at the very least or possibly face impeachment. It will topple the walls of power.

The idea of the American government is recording the phone records of every American in some massive database is something strait out of Conspiracy 101. It treats every American as a criminal that bears close scrutiny. It now makes every American think about what they did for the past 5 years to see if they were without sin. Let's say you did a little sports betting, or maybe called a 1-900 number, or you were talked to your therapist for 20 minutes it is in the database.

The government admitted that they didn't record the actual conversations but knowing the amount of time and from what number to what number is enough. Also I don't think Americans care what the particulars are as long as they know the government doesn't trust them. The Bush White House has morphed into the Big Brother that the Dems have been accusing them of being all along. They have invaded your privacy even though you did nothing more then dial a number on your phone. They have made *every* American into a mobster, or a "suspected" terrorist, or a drug dealer. And what's worse they have been doing it for years.

Someone's career is going to be over because of this and I have a pretty good feeling it is going to be Bush. He has now found his Monica Lewinsky. Brace yourself America for the big impeachment circus. We are all going to ride that ride again. Just don't call your friends. You never know who is going to be taking that information down.

Cowen & Co. and My View of Netflix the same

Cowen & Co. analyst Jim Friedman view on Netflix (NFLX) gels with mine 100% according to this Forbes article.

First, Friedman said it should take several years for "download-ready" mass market consumer electronics to be adopted widely. Second, "we expect the availability of popular content for digital video subscription platforms to be restricted over the next five-plus years due to existing contracts between studios and premium cable networks," he said. Third, the DVD cycle should be extended because HD-DVDs require several hours to download, he said. Finally, the analyst called Netflix "well positioned to be a significant player in the video download market."

Yup, he touched on all of the points I was thinking about. HD-DVD movie downloads just take too damn long and will be too poor quality at this time to affect Netflix. And when they do begin to affect Netflix maybe 5 years down the line there is nothing in the world that stops them from become a major player in that segment.

They have the brand identity and the subscriber base to become the leader in that field. If that happens the company will expand their margin because they don't have to deal with distribution centers, physical inventory, or sending a bunch of little red envelopes through the mail and eating the postage for users sending them back.

However they will have to ramp up capital spending to get servers, storage, software writers etc. in place. I think they should work closely with Apple (AAPL) to develop a Video ITunes like application with the Netflix logo. Apple will get a chance to become a major player in the digital distribution of HD-DVDs just like they are today with songs. They will be able to dominate a very lucrative industry when networks get faster and content doesn't have to be physically in your hand anymore. Hmm, maybe they will come out with an Ipod that will double as a HD-DVD downloader that will plug into a TV. Now that would be cool.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fed Raises Rates

Well lets hope this is either the last one or nearly the last one. I think people will be watching each bit of economic info coming out like hawks. Any sign of too strong numbers and the market will slip the bit.

In announcing its decision, the Fed emphasized that future moves would be highly dependent on how the economic outlook unfolds and it scaled back the forward-looking guidance it had been giving financial markets.

Golf clap:

Iran Willing to Negotiate?

Hmm it seems that Iran is thinking about playing nice when it comes to the nuclear issue. Or they are just buying time until they get their centrifuges in place. I have a feeling that it is a little of both.

"It has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, or military purposes," he said during a visit to Indonesia. He was speaking in an interview broadcast live on local Metro television.

Iran is "ready to engage in dialogue with anybody," Ahmadinejad said in the interview, responding to a question about a letter he wrote to President Bush this week.

Yeah so the west needs to call his bluff and let the Iranians buy some Light Water Reactors or provide the knowhow on how to make Light Water Reactors. Use that carrot but be ready with the stick incase they are using the North Korean gambit of waiting out the West and then stunning people that they have actually have nukes.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Disney Profit Up by 12%

It seems that these numbers are pretty good and there is some reason to be amped about their future.

Disney benefited from increased attendance at the parks and resorts unit, where sales gained 7 percent. Network revenue jumped 18 percent, boosted by ESPN in cable and hits such as "Desperate Housewives'' and "Grey's Anatomy'' at ABC. Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger, 55, last week completed the $8.06 billion purchase of Pixar to revive Disney's flagging animation studio.

"Ratings were up for ABC over the last couple of years and that's been reflected in these numbers,'' said media analyst Hal Vogel, who runs New York-based Vogel Capital. "Investors will be looking forward to the second half of the year'' with the release of Pixar's "Cars'' and the "Pirates of the Caribbean'' sequel.

I think both of these movies will do great at the box office and will sell fairly briskly on DVD. Plus ESPN will be getting Monday Night Football which might goose affiliate fees during the coming football season. This is the most exciting revenue driver I think:

The hit shows ``Desperate Housewives'' and ``Lost'' were the first that Iger began selling last year on Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod video player. Disney has sold 5 million ABC shows through Apple's iTunes service since October, and this month began airing free shows with ads at its Web site.

That means that people are perfectly willing to shell out bucks for a show they can watch the next day commercial free on their Ipod. It also offers another revenue option from offering the show for free with commercial interruption. So they will get money from advertisers when the show airs on TV and then more money when a person downloads it. It sounds like a good deal to me.

Ah Here is the Carrot in the Iranian Standoff

It looks like the Brits, the Germans, and the French are offering another deal.

Iran rejected a previous EU compromise last August, but the new package - which has yet to be formulated - is expected to offer more technical aid for Iran's nuclear programme, perhaps including help building reactors.

Now the Europeans can show that the Iranians are being unreasonable and breaking the Olive Branch if they reject this compromise. If the enticements are pretty decent and the Iranians get some light water reactors out of the deal then they can't raise that whopper that they need nuclear energy for peaceful power generation instead of bombs. If they reject it then Europe can throw up their hands and say we can't deal with these people we need sanctions.

Bush Should Answer the Iranian Letter

I think it would be a very interesting gambit if Bush responded to Ahmadinejad's letter. He should not totally dismiss it but say thanks for your views and the US is not against opening a dialog. First he should point out some similarities between the Iranian and the American people. They both believe in God and they both want turn to Him to make decisions in policy as well as daily life.

Then he should let him have it with a point by point rebuttal of all of the issues raised by Ahmadinejad. Hit him with, it is against Gods teachings to murder the Israeli people. It is also wrong to commit suicide in order to kill others. It would also be wrong to let the Iranians have nukes since that would be like handing them the destruction of our friend Israel. It would be the kind of man to man talk that LBJ wanted to have with Ho Chi Minh.

If Bush really wanted to stir things up he would invite Ahmadinejad to the White House. It would be about the same thing as Nixon going to Red China. You show your strength by telling the Iranians you are not afraid to let the enemy into your house. Then you give him the carrot or the stick speech face to face.

Monday, May 08, 2006

What Goes in and What Stays out of your IRA

This is a very good article that has some information on what sorts of Assets you want In and Out of your Taxable and Nontaxable Accounts:

Stays In the IRA:

1. Stocks you Trade Frequently: You frequently sell shares within one year of a purchase. Any profits from such trades are short-term gains, taxed at up to 35%.

2. Mutual Funds That Make Large Capital Gains Distributions: Capital gains distributions can generate tax bills. And some of those profits may be highly taxed short-term gains. Consider the case of Fidelity Magellan (FMAGX) with their 25-cent dividend and a $22.11 long-term capital gain.

3. Mutual Funds with Small Caps: They may trade actively and generate gains for shareholders that are taxable if not held inside a tax-deferred account.

4. REITs and Funds with REITS in them: Most of the money REITs pay out to investors does not qualify for bargain tax rates of 15% or lower. Payouts are taxed as ordinary income, up to 35%.

Stays Out of the IRA:

1. Buy and Hold Stocks: If you seldom take gains, you will have little tax to defer. Holding them in a retirement account can waste the tax deferral.

2. High Dividend Paying Stocks: Stock dividends usually qualify for a low tax rate, no more than 15%. Holding dividend-paying stocks inside a retirement plan can waste the plan's tax break.

3. Municipal Bonds: The interest is exempt from federal tax and state levies on munis issued by the state in which you live.

4. Treasury Bonds: Even though the interest is subject to federal tax, it is exempt from state or local income tax.

5. Cash Reserves: In case of an emergency, you'll want tax-free access to this money.

6. International Stocks: If they don't generate capital gains. Foreign taxes may be withheld on these dividends. U.S. investors can get tax credits for withheld foreign taxes. But these credits have no value inside a retirement plan.

Bausch & Lomb Accounting a Tangled Mess

Restatments and revenue recognition problems all over the place and they have a deadline of Oct 2006 to file their annual statement or they default on their debt. It sounds kind of serious on how the problem is escalating:

Bausch said in the filing that it expects the Korean investigation to result in revenue recognition adjustments for vision care sales in Korea from 2002 to 2005.

It said the unaudited impact of an accounting change would reduce previously reported net sales for 2002-2004 and the first and second quarters of 2005 to a total of $8.4 million.

Then we add this in:

The restatement of its prior-period financial results will include adjustments relating to revenue recognition for certain refractive laser sales; certain vision care transactions with a single distributor in Thailand; vision care transactions with two large distributors in Japan; vision care and cataract transactions with the distributor network in India; and the proper handling of certain sales related reserves in China.

I think they really need to looking at their Asian Division because all the problems seem to be in that persons department. I wonder if it is just a case of over aggressive salesmenship or does it go deeper then that?

Iran Writes a Letter to Bush

Hmm this is a very shrewd move by Ahmadinejad to buy Iran more time to get the enrichment process done. This dials down the pressure and makes him look like the peacemaker and puts Bush in the position of the olive branch breaker.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki delivered the Ahmadinejad letter to the Swiss ambassador on Monday, ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told The Associated Press. The Swiss Embassy in Tehran houses a U.S. interests section.

In the letter, Ahmadinejad proposes "new solutions for getting out of international problems and the current fragile situation of the world," spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham told a news conference.

Now Bush needs to counter with an offer to sell the Iranians some light water nuclear power reactors in return for them getting rid of their program. In other words give them the same deal as the North Koreans but make sure the IAEA does their job this time. We would have to augment inspections or put automatic sanctions in place. So if the Iranians have a secret program and it is found out then military strikes/sanctions will be issued ASAP. In other words Bush needs to handle Iran like Libya. They play nice and they will get a carrot.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Retail Sales Up, Way Up!

I love to see Americans out there spending like crazy. That is the true national pastime IMO.

Overall, "it looks excellent," said Jharonne Martis, an analyst at Thomson Financial. She noted that although there are worries about the strength of sales in the next few months, "consumers beat expectations. It seems like all stores got traffic."

Martis noted that a positive sign was the robust results from teen retailers, indicating that younger consumers have a lot of discretionary spending despite high gasoline prices, she said.
Even I bought a pair of cargo pants from Hollister this past quarter. I was also seriously contemplating buying a nice shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch. I was just put off by the $70 price tag and thought it wasn't worth that extra cash.

Pixar Okays Disney Buyout

It seems that the Disney brand can finally polish up its image again. I thought this was a real scathing indictment by Iger though against the Eisner years.

"I was at the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland and standing with a few thousand other people watching the parade go by and I realized that there wasn't a character in the parade that had come from a Disney animated film in the last 10 years except for Pixar," Iger said.

"It really hit me hard that we had had 10 years of real failure in many respects in the business that I believe was the most vital to us."

Wow that is a real smackdown on Eisner but sometimes the truth hurts. Pixar has done more for Disney then Disney has ever done for Pixar. Now with them joined up and Jobs with a stake in the new company we may see some real growth in the coming years.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Rep. Patrick Kennedy crashes car at 3AM

I wonder what he was doing out at that time?

"I was involved in a traffic accident last night at First and C Street SE, near the U.S. Capitol," Kennedy, who represents the New England state of Rhode Island, said in a written statement released by his office Thursday afternoon. "I will fully cooperate with the Capitol Police in whatever investigation they choose to undertake."

He was probably just tired from a late night at the Capital and was driving home and fell asleep at the wheel. It does make you wonder though. Is 1st and C Street SE a prime drug hangout or is it known for prostitution? I read a story in the 90s that some of the most crime infested streets are just a few blocks from the Capital. He does have this little tidbit hanging over him to make you do some thinking:

Kennedy, 38, spent time at a drug rehabilitation clinic before he went to Providence College in Rhode Island. He has openly discussed his personal mental health problems, including having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Early this year he spoke about having been in recovery "for depression, for alcoholism and substance abuse."

Is Meeker Back?

I was surprised that she was still in a job after all the scandals from her fellow net floggers. She seems to be back in a big way and she is pushing China internet as a good pick.

Meeker points to stocks that her colleague Richard Ji, who's based in Hong Kong, recommends, such as wireless content provider TOM Online (Research), online game site NetEase (Research), and Web-based travel company Ctrip (Research).

When I point out that these stocks have doubled over the past two years and sport lofty P/Es, Meeker responds by telling me that the market value of all public Chinese Internet companies is $15 billion, while Japanese Internet companies are worth $75 billion. It's the sort of relative valuation metric that, while compelling, has an odor of late-1990s rationalizing, which makes me wary.

Yeah but that Chinese market is immense and the extra income of the normal Chinese person is growing by leaps and bounds. But it isn't anywhere close to Japan though and won't be for many years. I have to agree that there is a lot of future priced into these stocks and you have to know that when you are getting into them.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Immigrants Flex Financial Muscles

I guess the "Day with No Immigrants" did hurt some parts of the US economy. So all those calls for rounding up all the immigrants and kicking them out will hurt more then help.

"If illegal immigration came to a standstill, it would disrupt the economy," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "It would lead to higher prices for many goods and services, and some things literally would not get done. It would be a major adjustment for our economy, for sure."

Which is 100% true since some companies will not be able to replenish their workforce at all. Seasonal workers, construction, landscaping, and meat packing will be scrambling to hire more workers from an already tight labor market. You would see more expensive meat, fruits, and vegetables almost immediately as well. I still don't understand how people want to take jobs away from people that actually want to work. These aren't the "lazy Mexican" stereotypes here but productive workers.

US Sends No. 2 at State to Darfur

I think the US needs more involvement when it comes to a brokering a peace deal in war torn places where there aren't any financial or strategic gains for the US.

About 7,000 African troops are battling to keep the peace in Darfur, an area about the size of France. The United States and many of its allies would like United Nations peacekeepers to augment the African force but Khartoum has so far rejected this offer.

Why do we have to listen to Khartoum for? We should just say that the situation is deteriorating and just put some boots on the ground. If we want to be the World Super Power that means we have to deal with the little guys as well as the Irans of the world.

Plus, preventing genocide is what we are good at and what the UN stinks at. It would be a good situation where the US can 1Up the UN. It would also make Bush "care" about some black people. When the attacks are leveled that the US only cares about Middle Eastern Oil we can counter by saying we took care of Darfur.

Apple Slow with the Patches

And people are still saying that Microsoft is the security hole people check out this. They do have lots of patches but at least they fix the problems quickly.

Here's what I found: Over the past two years, after being notified about serious security flaws in its products, it took Apple about 91 days on average to issue patches to correct those vulnerabilities. I also found that almost without exception, other open-source Linux vendors were months ahead of Apple in fixing the same flaws.

I guess APPL is concentrating more on Ipod sales and less on fixing holes in their OS.

VW Ads Hit the Mark

I agree that these VW Jetta ads are really pretty good and sell the car.

Volkswagen says that since the ads touting Jetta's crash safety began on April 10, requests for brochures are up 37% at call centers and 56% on the Web compared with the first 15 days of March, and Internet requests for dealer price quotes are up 58%.

I don't agree with this guy though:

Despite the spike in Jetta interest, one auto marketing expert thinks the jarring campaign will dampen sales in the long run. "The vast majority of consumers are going to be turned off by it and they will take VW off their shopping lists," says Art Spinella, president of research firm CNW Marketing.

Most consumers who are looking for a safe car don't care if the car flies around or water evaporates on it or that other crap in most car commercials. Just saying that it has "four-star front-impact crash rating" and "highest government side-impact crash rating," is sometimes not enough when it comes to the the generation that this ad is targeting. They are very visual people and react better to something that is as in-your-face as these ads.