Friday, August 25, 2006

McCain Bumper Sticker

I think I'll buy a few of these and give them away. Too bad it isn't in blue though.

McCain Bringing in the Heavy Guns for 2008

It looks like the Strait Talk Express is loading up the Bunker Busters for a 2008 run.

The first catch is Robert Zoellick, current US Deputy Secretary of State has agreed to work full-time for the 08′ campaign. He will consult on foreign and trade policy issues.In a more surprising move, Nicco Mele will work on the campaign website. Mele is known for being the webmaster for HoHo Dean’s 2004 White House run. Zoellick and Mele will be joining Mike Connell of New Media Communications. He designed, developed and managed the Bush campaign’s websites in 2000 and 2004. Bush’s media guru, Mark McKinnon, consults for McCain on strategy and the husband-wife team of Mark and Nicole Wallace out of the WhiteHouse and U.N. will consult also.

I think I'll declare my allegence early and officially jump on the "Draft McCain in '08" bandwagon. I want to get in on the ground floor so I can say I am a McCainiak two years before he wins the Presidency in a landslide win over Hillary Clinton. I got this button from this site.

Pluto Memorabilia New Collector Craze?

This article thinks that Pluto is going to be a new collectors craze now that it has been demoted to dwarf planet status:

Time will tell how strong the market for Pluto products really is and
much of it depends on whether the public embraces the astronomers' resolution or
decides to keep Pluto a planet, at least culturally.

If the demotion sticks though, Pluto also runs the risk of being
lost among the hundreds of dwarfs that are sure to follow its

Whatever may be, the hot toy this Christmas may just be a
polystyrene solar system kit, Pluto not included.

This Pluto controversy sure has resonated through the blogosphere though. Checking Technorati you can tell that some people have some real strong opinions on this thing.

William H. Macy blasts Lindsay Lohan

These are pretty strong words directed at Lohans usual lateness:

"I think what an actor has to realize [is that] when you show up an hour
late, 150 people have been scrambling to cover for you," Macy said when asked
about Bobby costar Lohan's usual check-in time. The two share a scene together
in the Emilio Estevez directed drama about the 16 hours leading up to Robert
F. Kennedy's assassination in 1968.

"There is not an apology big enough in the world to have to make 150 people scramble. It's nothing but disrespect. And Lindsay Lohan is not the only one. A lot of actors show up late as if they're God's gift to the film. It's inexcusable. They should have their asses kicked."

Survivor: Segregation Island

The first shots back at Survivor: Segregation Island are coming from some sort of NYC officials and civil rights groups.
A group of New York City officials and civil rights groups have blasted
CBS' announcement that it has split the contestants on Survivor: Cook Islands
into tribes by race, claiming the producers' decision to pit blacks, whites,
Asians and Hispanics against each other during the early rounds of the show
would only promote divisiveness among competitors and viewers alike.

I can already see the subsequent protests which end up leading to record viewers tuning in for the sake of curiosity.

Logitec Brings out Motorized Mouse

This will really help out those accountants or legal aides that have to scroll through lines and lines of text.

The MX is configured to automatically switch between motorized and manual mode,
based on the application being used, Logitech said. In Excel, for example, the
mouse will go into free spin if the wheel is spun rapidly. People can also
toggle manually between modes by pushing down and clicking the wheel.

The mouse itself looks a little bit like an Anime spaceship

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ford is Getting Desperate

Ford (F) is really scraping the bottom of the barrel in this new promotion.

For those of you keeping score, automakers Ford and GM (NYSE: GM
News) first introduced the concept of large-scale 0% financing in response to flagging sales trends in the wake of the twin disasters of the 2000 bubble burst and Sept. 11. But back then, the deal was much more limited in scope, being extended only to buyers with strong credit histories, and for no more than three or four years' duration. Ford's latest gambit breaks the rules in both respects,
targeting buyers who are huge credit risks, and enticing them with longer
interest amnesties.

So they are extending 0% financing to people with bad credit histories and trying to get them to pay for their cars for a longer period of time. I guess Ford figures they can at least clear the deck of all the 06 cars that aren't selling anyway. However this article points out that they will end up stuck with those cars if these people default on their loans. Those cars already have a bad resale price because they are American made. So Ford is pretty much trying to boost this current quarter by potentially morgaging their future. I guess that is why they are thinking of going private.

Japanese Consumer Loans

This is an interesting article on how consumer loans are handled in Japan.
Things look better for the banking business in Japan now than they have
for a long time, but truth be told, the recovery has been a long time coming.
However, consumer lenders in Japan such as Acom, Aiful, Promise, Takefuji, and
Honobono Lake have always had a pretty good deal over the same period.

Debt in Japan is relatively low-cost, and if you can lend out money at
interest rates greater than 20%, you have a pretty good business on your
hands. In recent years, some of the large consumer lenders partnered up with large banks in Japan, including Acom with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (NYSE: MTU - News) and Promise with Sumitomo-Mitsui Financial Group providing additional, and likely cheaper, capital. It's worth noting that the economics of the business are attractive enough that General Electric (NYSE: GE - News), through its consumer finance business, owns Honobono Lake, and Citigroup (NYSE: C - News) has a division of its own, CFJ, as well.

Now that is a good lending rate. I wonder how the credit card business is in Japan. If access to consumer loans is so easy it seems that people won't use a credit card when it comes to a big purchase. If they want to go on a trip to Hawaii or something they can pop into Promise and pick up one of these loans and spend the next few years paying it down. This industry would be a very interesting one to further look into.

New Economics of Hollywood?

This article really gives a good overview on why the studios are fighting back.

Studios, seeing profits shrink as box-office flattens and DVD sales
decline, are trying to dump the long-held economic system in Hollywood that led
to stars earning paychecks north of $20 million.

"Studios see things are slowing down and they can no longer afford
to make big movies" and agree to lucrative deals for actors where, in some
cases, "the star makes more than the studio at the end of the day," said media
analyst Harold Vogel.

I think studios are tired of shelling out $200 million to make a movie that probably brings them only about $20 million or so after they give the celeb gets their front-end cut. Also the studio have to shell out for marketing costs that don't get counted in the actual making of the movie. So the studios not only have to worry about the movie bombing but also about the movie coming in below expectations. You shell out $200 million and you are forcing the movie to break records at the box office or you end up making hardly anything for all that invested capital.

So I think studios will start bankrolling more movies like Sideways or backing more stars like Tyler Perry. These are things they can pay about $16-$20 million for and have the potential to make $100 million or more. Even if they bomb the studio isn't out too much money.

One interesting side effect of this would be that the studios can afford to take risks again. You can't mess up when you have $200 million on the line but you can make a few mistakes when you have only $20 million or so on the line. Thus, they might be able to bankroll more experimental stuff or decent movies that aren't studded with high priced celebs. So scripts would not have to be dumbed down because you won't need millions of people in the audience to make back your initial outlay.

That means you will see a lot more horror movies done on the cheap like Saw or book adaptions with only one big star in them like Devil Wears Prada. Devil was made for only about $35 million according to this and raked in $120 million so far. That is a nice profit margin when you compare it with movies like Miami Vice and even Superman Returns. These movies froze up $135-$270 million+ of capital and had a far lower profit margin. Devil was a 3 bagger while Vice will probably barely break even and Superman might barely be a 1 bagger.

There might come a day when the only $100 million+ movies that some studios will make would be animated CGI types from proven money makers like Pixar. I mean Cars cost $120 million to make and has already doubled its money with a $385 million. It will be a sure blockbuster on DVD and all of the toys and stuff will push it into the stratosphere. This it is really likely to be a 5 bagger or even better.

It will be sad to see the Blockbuster Summer season go into movie history. What we will get in return is many smaller budget movies that might end up being far better then the $200 million shlock and TV remakes that we are getting today.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tom Cruise Booting Signals Sea Change in Hollywood?

This is a very interesting article about the Tom Cruise booting from Paramount.
To some, Redstone's comments signal a major change in Hollywood.

"There is a definitive, palpable change in
climate," one source at a major Hollywood talent agency said.

"Stars' demands have gotten so over-the-top, and they've gotten so
petulant. And the studios, because they're part of publicly traded
companies, have to maintain quarterly results, I do think they are less
intimidated by the stars," he said.

I think this means that the stars won't run the studios as much as they did in the past. Perhaps paychecks will start getting lighter now that the conglomerates are starting to fight back against the largesse demanded by the stars. This will be especially true of the moonbat Celebes like Cruise who act crazy (Oprah chair incident,) give the studio ultimatums that effect their other properties (Getting Comedy Central to axe a South Park episode,) and generally drain off a bunch of money and get a disappointing return in the process (MI3.)

Here are some Funny Quotes from Talladega Nights

Here are some quotes collected at this persons blog. The Tom Cruise one is especially front of mind to me nowadays.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Quotes from Talladega Nights!!! Current mood: amused
Talladega Nights Quotes!!

"You can't have two number ones, if you do that makes 11"

" I got mauled by a cougar, didn't learn anything about driving a car and I ruined my crystal gayle shirt"

"Help Me Jesus! Help Me Tom Cruise, use your witchcraft to get the fire off me"

"When I wake up the in morning, I piss excellence"

"If I wanted sissy boys, I woulda named you Dr.Quinn and medicine woman."

"I'm as hard as a diamond in an ice storm!"

"Shake and bake"...gotta have that one

"Your magic man and im el diablo...Whats that?Its like a fighting chicken"

"I liked to thank the lord baby jesus, for my two sons, walker and texas ranger"

"Chip I'm gonna come at you like a spider monkey"

Tips on Setting Up a Budget

This is pretty sound advice from Motley Fool on how to go about setting up a Budget. I have been doing this for about a year now and it is a very interesting thing to do. What I tried to do is to make my budget similar to an Income Statement from a company.

1. The first thing I do is figure out my Revenue (I just total up my 2 paychecks for the month) and put it on the Revenue Line.

2. Next I figure out my Fixed Expenses for the month. Here I put how much I pay for housing and also various monthly subscriptions like Netflix, the phone bill etc. These things are pretty much fixed in stone so the number doesn't really change too much from month to month. I put this stuff in the Cost of Revenue line.

3. I then put the Variable Expenses next. Here I put the cost of fuel, eating out, clothing and entertainment. You can break this out futher if you wanted to by listing the places you eat out at, where you purchase clothing from, and how much you spend on each entertainment item. You can make this easier by linking excel sheets together.

4. I then put in a line for Non Recurring Expenses. This is where I put how much cash I spent on various things in everyday life. Here I would put the magazines I bought from Barnes & Noble, or the Açai Supercharger I bought from Jamba Juice. This is usually the stuff I bought with cold, hard cash so I can track it pretty easily by just checking out how much I take out from the cash machine and then breaking it down. Putting down the entire amount you took out for the month is more important to me then figuring out what I bought.

5. Finally, I put down my Net Income by minusing the Fixed, Variable, and Non Recurring Expenses from the amount I have for Revenue. My goal is to have this number be positive each month no matter what. If it is negative I go into cost cutting mode to see what fat I can trim mostly from non-recurring expenses.

K-Fed Embarrasses the Human Race on Teen Choice Awards

I never got a chance to see this affront to humanity but luckily I found a clip on Defamer and it is actually worse then I imagined. He gestures wildly and jerks spasmodically like some kind of stiff-jointed automaton. In one point of the video he actually sits down and rests for a bit. I guess he was all tuckered out by all that talk of "rims, chains, and tax brackets." Also at the end of it (if you can make it that far) you can see that K-Fed does a dance that seems very similar to Charlie Brown in this picture. I have a feeling that Charlie Brown and K-Fed rapping may sound very similar.

Are Matt Stone and Trey Parker Behind Cruise's Ouster?

It sure makes a lot of sense but is just pure speculation and innuendo.

Viacom Conspiracy Theory: Please note that the pissing contest between
Sumner and Xenu began on the same day that Paramount announced a two picture deal for the South Park guys. How's this for a scenario: Tom gets wind of the deal and calls Brad Grey telling him to cancel the Important Pictures pact or
he'll leave. Brad Grey kicks it up to Freston who kicks it up to Sumner who
-- knowing that negotiations are going poorly and not so fondly recalling
being forced to pull the Trapped in the Closet episode or else Cruise
wouldn't do press for MI3 -- says, "Fine, goodbye. You and your alien race
will bully me no more."

Redstone seems like the kind of man that doesn't like to be pushed around by his employees so instead of just quietly severing the ties he fires the guns on the way out. I mean Redstone could have just said they didn't want to renew Cruises deal but instead he blasted Cruises weird behavior in a press release. He is making it known that Cruise is the one that forced himself out by acting like a space cadet.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Paramount Dumps Tommy Boy Cruise

Looks like all the couch jumping, Today Show freakouts, and Suri hiding have finally hit Tommy Boy in the wallet.
Sumner Redstone, Viacom chairman, said the behavior of the star of the
"Mission: Impossible" series and "Top Gun" was unacceptable to the company,
according to the Wall Street Journal story e-mailed to

Redstone must have really been angry at Cruise because Paramount is giving up a sure $100 a movie property. Maybe Paramount is afraid of further, unanticipated freakouts coming down the road. Maybe he would have bitten off Matt Laurer's ear or something like that. In any case I'm going to follow this story because it will probably be the wall-to-wall du jour in the next few days.

What Kids Are Buying for Back-to-School

This is an interesting article about what things people are buying their kids for their return to school. One interesting thing is how much parents spend nowadays:
The National Retail Federation (NRF) has a very optimistic view
estimate for this year's average back-to-school spending. The trade
association's annual survey claims that the average American family will spend
$527.08, up from $443.77 last year.

It seems that parents are mostly buying electronics (PCs and IPods) but some are buying more clothes too. And it seems like the 80s trend may be what is in now:
We'll just have to see how the 80s-inspired looks will go over, "skinny
jeans" and all. Fashionistas claim the look's definitely hot, but teens have yet
to confirm that opinion. Although many retailers had a heyday with denim over
the last couple years, they might have to stay on their toes, seeding their
stores with the right balance of trendy goods and more conventional duds, since
the retro-'80s trend is still pretty new on the scene. This year has been a
bloodbath for many retail stocks, so investors will be watching teens' shopping
trends closely.

Judging by recent solid earnings reports, some of the "most likely
to succeed" retailers for back-to-school wardrobes include American Eagle
(Nasdaq: AEOS) and Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF). Plenty of other retailers hope for teens' and college students' dollars as well, including J. Crew (NYSE: JCG) and Urban Outfitters.

Cisco the Set-top Box King?

Arroyo seems like a pretty good add to CSCO.
Taken together with the Scientific-Atlanta acquisition last year, the
Arroyo deal is further proof of Cisco's ambition to run your living room. In
announcing the deal, a senior executive noted that the entertainment industry is
shifting to personalized anything-on-demand with "any content delivered to any
end device." I agree with that assessment, and I believe that Cisco is doing the
smart thing in positioning itself for leadership in that space.

It seems like a good fit because they can go from networking equipment to consumer equipment quite easily. Perhaps we will see a digital set-top box that doubles as a wireless access point sometime in the future.

Dark Matter Found

This seems like a pretty interesting discovery in the field of Astronomy. Now they just need to find that Dark Energy.

The dark matter is not seen, but its gravity has a predictable effect on the observations. The resulting blue color in a new image represents the gravity fields observed by noting how the light from each background galaxy is distorted

Here's what the image reveals:

The hot gas-normal matter-was slowed by a drag force described as the cosmic equivalent of air resistance. But the dark matter was not slowed by this effect, presumably because it does not interact with normal matter, as theory had predicted.

So the normal matter and dark matter became separated.

"This proves in a simple and direct way that dark matter exists." Markevitch said in the teleconference.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Democratic Republic of Congo Actually Democratic?

It seems they actually pulled off an election there for the first time since they were a Dutch colony. Now there will be a runoff election between Joseph Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba.

Kabila, the young former soldier who inherited the presidency from his
father following his assassination in 2001, won a landslide victory in the east,
where life proceeded normally after the vote. Congolese here in the east call
Kabila "Le Pacificateur," crediting him with bringing an end to years of brutal
conflict in which an estimated 3.9 million people died.

In Kinshasa and elsewhere in the west, Kabila is un- popular. He speaks Swahili,
the language of the east, and has only a loose grasp of Lingala, the main
western language. Kabila's opponents branded him a foreigner during the campaign period.

Lots of gunfire later and maybe they will have an actual President of the Congo heading some kind of coalition government. This is Africa so almost anything from a Coup placing a dictatorship in charge, to a military takeover, to the country breaking into two parts could be in the offing. But let's hope democracy can actually take hold after 3.9 *million* people have died.

Interesting Article About Media Overexposure

This is a pretty interesting article about how the media goes ape over stories like catching Jon Benet's supposed killer.
The problem is that when the media, particularly television news shows
and especially the 24-hour cable networks, turn their focus on an issue, most
everything else disappears. That means the issue is much larger than the
JonBenet saga. Anything can be overdone, even serious topics such as the crisis
- or crises - in the Middle East.

It seems the media always end up doing this. I guess this guy dubs it "Blocking out the Sun" and I really agree with it. The news media seems to just go after a story and run it into the ground and then totally forget about it. When they bring one story to the front the other ongoing stories seem to be like background noise.
Meanwhile, Iraq slowly becomes a daily casualty report, the fall
elections become a discussion about "security moms," the economy boils down to
the daily stock numbers, and Afghanistan essentially disappears from the

It would be interesting if they gave the news in an update format keeping each update the exact same length. So they would have an Update from Iraq, and Update from Afganistan, Update from the Campaign Trail, Economic Update, Washington Update etc. Each update would be 5 minutes long and be all the current news about a topic and maybe some background or human interest stuff if they have to fill in some time. It would be kind of like RSSing the news.

The Dems should use the "Shift Doctrine"

I recently read this article on how the Repubs are using the Terror War to justify Iraq and it got me thinking. What the Dems need is to stop the perception of them being Cut-And-Runners. What they should do is call for a "Shift of Troops" from Iraq to Afghanistan. They need to loudly make the argument that staying in Iraq is preventing our troops from "smashing Al-Quida once and for all."

They should call it the "Shift in Operational Priorities Plan" or simply the "Shift Doctrine." They first have to make the case that the Terror War must be fought in its main theatre. This means our troops must be in that mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan and not dodging roadside bombs in Tikrit. They need to say that the Iraqis are able to stand up on their own (not might be, or could be in some undefined future time.) Since the Iraqis are ready then the US priorities must be shifted into "eradicating all Al-Quida influence" in that Afghan border region.

The Dems need to say that "Al-Quida our most dangerous enemy" is hiding in Afghanistan and we don't have enough "boots on the ground" to flush them out. They should say that the best way to flush them out would be to shift "combat trained soldiers" from the "Iraqi Theatre" to the "Afghanistani Theatre." They need to say something like "300,000 more troops, forged in the crucible of Iraq, need to be injected into the Afghanistani Theatre to sound the death knell of Al-Quida influence in that region forever."

They can then use the visual of "Al-Quida types" hiding in that area thumbing their nose at the inadequate American presence in a region that they run as a mini-fiefdom. "Al-Quida types" are free to "plot and plan" knowing that our troops in Iraq are not "hunting them down in their mountain hideaways." The "Al-Quida types" are still hatching plots like the foiled London plane bombing knowing that there are not enough US troops putting pressure on them. In this case they could use Bush's rhetoric against him.
They also need to stop using "bogged down in Iraq" so much because it makes the Dems sound like they are saying "its a big mess so we have the run away ASAP." They need to emphasize that the Iraqis are ready and we are needed elsewhere.

Finally, the Dems really need to make sure they amp up the use all of this military rhetoric as well. All of the words in quotes should be like codewords the Dems can use to say that we aren't soft on terror, defense, are anti-military etc. I think this military rhetoric offensive would sound the best out of guys like Wes Clark, John Kerry, and John Murtha. They need to make sure that anti-military types like Hillary don't parrot this stuff to lessen its impact.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Israeli Soldiers say their army is Unprepared

Wow it looks like the Israeli army may really be showing how unprepared they are for any kind of prolonged ground action.
Israel's largest paper, Yediot Ahronot, quoted one soldier as saying
thirsty troops threw chlorine tablets into filthy water in sheep and cow
troughs. Another said his unit took canteens from dead guerrillas.

Now that is inexcusable in a 21 century military situation. Troops need to be properly hydrated at all times and shouldn't have to resort to foraging like they were some Napoleonic army. It seems the situation got even worse for the reservists.
Israeli newspapers quoted disgruntled reservists as saying they had no
provisions in Lebanon, were sent into battle with outdated or faulty equipment
and insufficient supplies, and received little or no training.

"I personally haven't thrown a grenade in 15 years, and I thought
I'd get a chance to do so before going north," an unidentified reservist in an
elite infantry brigade was quoted as telling the Maariv daily.

After this revelation Hezbollah may have been testing the clay feet of Israel for their Syrian and Iranian masters. I mean this IDF does not seem like the same force that could take on the entire Arab world in 1968. In fact they almost seem like a Paper Tiger.

I think Syria might be thinking long and hard about a preemptive invasion of Israel. Judging by this information there is a pretty good chance that Syria could defeat Israel in a stand-up fight if they had Iran on their side. Perhaps an Iranian surprise air strike coupled with a Syrian quick thrust deep into Israel. It would be possible for Syria to cut the nation in two and possibly besiege Tel Aviv in the first few days on the campaign.

Also if Syria coordinates things with Hamas to launch a guerilla campaign of suicide bombings, random attacks on civilians, etc they might have a decent chance of victory. All they have to do is count on the US being too scared to step in and help Israel militarily. I think a Hillary Clinton White House will give them just the kind of weak-willed foreign policy they might need to actually defeat Israel. Then when they have what they want they can have the UN step in and stop the fighting. This time Syria and Iran will be in the drivers seat.

Snakes on a Plane Lives Up to the Hype

Now I really can't wait to see this movie next week upon reading this article.

Heading into the screening, it was difficult to imagine that the movie would
deliver on the monumental Snakes on a Plane build-up. But it does. The film
succeeds in every way it sets out to: it is at turns an intense thrill ride, a
hilarious comedy, and a truly gory horror film. Sure, it's coated in a sheen of
camp, but who could expect anything less?

I stopped reading after this paragraph so I can go into the movie cold. All I know is Samuel L. Jackson was awesome on Daily Show the other day and he really sold the movie well. This movie could be the sleeper blockbuster of the summer. Could it be a $100 million smash that came out of left field?

Israel Shelves West Bank Pullout plan

That is a good thing too because it will just let the terrorists set up shop and give Israel's enemies the sense that they are "beating the Jews."

Others say that the unilateral decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip
a year ago, without prior agreement with the Palestinian Authority, led to an
upsurge in violence directed at Israel in the form of primitive home-made

Yeah, letting the Palestinians have a state sometimes leads to an upsurge of violence. Hamas can't have it both ways. They either get the land back and have a state or fight Israel off-and-on for the next 100 years. I guess they are choosing the fight forever option. If that is the case Israel shouldn't give back a single inch of land until they have a lasting peace deal. Giving land back just gives terrorists fuel to continue to fight and a place to launch rockets from.

The French Send only 200 Troops to Lebanon

Well the force is 13000 strong so if the French actually do surrender then it will not result in too much degradation of the force. It makes the UN kind of cross though:

Mark Malloch Brown, the UN's deputy secretary general, said he was
disappointed with France's failure to offer more soldiers and urged European
countries to act.
"The next few days are going to be very challenging to make
sure that we meet this commitment to 3,500 troops," he said.

The UN always seems to scramble for troops whenever the US isn't involved. I just wonder if Hezbollah will jump the UN peacekeepers or not. If they start disarming Hezbollah then there will be an armed struggle. Now that would be the ultimate nose thumb at the world if they are able to drive those peacekeepers out of Lebanon.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Dems Compare Illegal Immigrants to Terrorists?

This is what this political ad actually says.

The ad opens with the words "Security Under Bush and GOP?" It features
scenes of a masked man with a bazooka, scenes from terrorist attacks and police
inspecting a subway train. It also shows Osama bin Laden and Iran's President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a docked ship as it claims "4 times as many terrorist
attacks in 2005."

Then comes footage of a person climbing over
a corrugated metal border fence and another preparing to climb it as the words
"millions more illegal immigrants" form on-screen. In the following scene,
viewers see the words "North Korea has quadrupled its nuclear arsenal" with
footage of a tank and North Korea President Kim Jong Il.

Yup, the so called "Progressive Party" just lumped illegal immigrants between Iran and Kim Jong Il. This is the kind of craziness that should come out of the anti-immigrant far-right and not the Dems. Could it be some subliminal moral equivalency going on? Is the "progressive" equation Terrorist=Illegal Immigrant=North Korean Nukes?

Gap Turns In Terrible Quarter

They also had to guide lower for the year as well.
Gap lowered its full-year forecast of earnings per share to a range of
between $1.08 and $1.12. In May, the company predicted that full-year
earnings would range between $1.23 and $1.27. Analysts, on average, expect
full-year earnings per share of $1.11, excluding one-time items, according
to Reuters Estimates.

It looks like they can't get a good fashion mix and are trying to compete with Target and Wal-Mart in the casual apparel space. That is not a good receipt for success since those Big Box guys can undercut them like crazy. I have no idea what Gap could do better but they need to do something soon or they will be at the back of the apparel pack.

More Bad News For Dell?

Now they are being investigated by the SEC for revenue recognition and other accounting matters.
Shares of the world's largest personal computer maker fell 4.8 percent
in after-hours trading. Dell said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
told it in August 2005, that it was conducting an informal investigation of the

This shouldn't be more then a distraction for the company. However this distraction comes at the worst possible time for Dell
Net income for the three months ended August 4 fell to $502 million, or
22 cents per share, from $1.02 billion, or 41 cents per share, a year earlier.
Revenue advanced 5 percent to $14.1 billion, the slowest growth in at least
three years, even though Dell cut prices to boost market share.

This means that their margins are shrinking due to price cutting, their revenues growth is anemic and HPQ is stealing their market share. So they are cutting prices and losing market share at the same time. That is the receipt for an ailing stock. I wonder how low Dell will go?
No. 2 personal computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HPQ
news) on Wednesday reported better-than-expected quarterly profit as it took market share from Dell, which can no longer rely on price advantages from its
direct-sales model to trump rivals and is struggling to improve its battered

Hewlett-Packards New Products

This seems like a very interesting new product that HP may bring out in the future.

In an upcoming issue of Nano Letters -- a technical journal of the
American Chemical Society -- HP researchers, working in partnership with
researchers at the University of California at Irvine, describe a new process
for manufacturing nanoparticle-based ultrasensitive chemical sensors that have
the potential for detecting a single molecule of an explosive or other hazardous

The detection system, which can be built using existing
semiconductor manufacturing methods, suggests that the sensors could be employed on battlefields and even in airports -- where they might be able to detect the minutest presence of a variety of liquid explosives.

That sort of thing will really come in handy for Israelis trying to keep suicide bombers out of certain areas. They can have the detector at a check point and might even catch militants who are merely handling the chemicals to make bombs. Whatever the case that business could be quite a blockbuster that HPQ could get into on the ground floor.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

HP Raises Outlook, beats Street

The leadership in the PC space may have moved to HP now. Dell seems more and more like the beaten giant that can't do anything right. They have had service woes, margin shrinkage, and now 4 million battery recall. HP however is just chugging along:

Sales in the fiscal third quarter rose 5 percent to $21.89 billion from
$20.76 billion last year. If not for currency fluctuations, sales would have
increased 6 percent.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.48 billion, or 52
cents per share, up nearly 40 percent from the same quarter last

On that basis, which does not comply with generally accepted
accounting principles, HP beat Wall Street expectations by 5 cents per share.
Analysts were expecting the company to earn $1.37 billion, or 47 cents a share,
on sales of $21.8 billion, according to a Thomson Financial survey.

One good thing was they were able to take market share without having to resort to margin shrinking sales. They were also able to raise their outlook for the year as well.
Looking ahead, HP said it expected earnings for the full year of $2.14
to $2.16 a share, up from an earlier estimate of $2.02 to $2.06 a share.

Lebanese Army moves into Southern Lebenon

Well lets see if they start to disarm Hezbollah or are they just going to hang around for a few months and let Hezbollah rearm and take another stab at Israel.

Some 15,000 troops gathered in several parts of Lebanon overnight,
preparing to cross the Litani River, about 20 km (13 miles) from the Israeli
border, from several points, security sources said.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

List of Dell Batteries to be Recalled

Here is the complete list:

Dell Latitude D410, D500, D505, D510, D520, D600, D610, D620, D800, D810.

Dell Inspiron 6000, 8500, 8600, 9100, 9200, 9300, 500m, 510m, 600m, 6400, E1505, 700m, 710m, 9400, E1705.

Dell Precision M20, M60, M70, M90.

XPS, XPS Gen2, XPS M170 and XPS M1710.

The batteries were also sold separately for $60 to $180, including to customers on service calls.

To dispose of the batteries you can go here:

The company planned to launch a Web site,, at 1 a.m. CDT on Tuesday. Customers can also call a toll-free Dell number, 1-866-342-0011, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT.

Iran and Syria Hails Hezbollah "Victory?"

This is the kind of thing that should make Israelis hopping mad.

The leaders of Iran and Syria said Tuesday that Hezbollah defeated
Israel, with the Iranian president telling a cheering crowd that "God's promises have come true" and the Syrian chief saying U.S. plans for reshaping the Middle East have been ruined.

Yup, tinternationalnal community fought up and down for the Israelis to back down and the UN, EU, the Dems and whomever demanded a cease fire "immediately." They put all sorts of pressure on Israel and they finally caved in to it. So the Israelis bow to UN demands and their enemies talk trash right afterward calling it a "victory."

I think the Israelis need hearkenken back to the same era that defeated the entire Arab World at the same time. They have to know they cannot rest until the nations that want to destroy them either sign a peace deal or have their insane leaders pulled out of a spider hole.

The only thing these regimes understand is force and the only time they will back down is if every Israeli is in the sea. So Israel needs to understand that their ultimate survival is almost predicated on Syria and Iran either being defeated militarily or having their leadership decapitated. We took out Iraq for Israel now Israel needs to solve the Syrian or the Iranian problems for us.

At the very least the "moderate" Arab regimes are trying to shut off the gloating of Iran and Syria. They are looking like the statesmen in the region that Iran could be if they stopped messing with Israel and started playing ball with the West.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are already pushing back. Saudi King Abdullah
met with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and underlined that the
U.N. cease-fire resolution, which calls for disarming Hezbollah, be

A front page editorial in a state-run Egyptian newspaper
derided Assad in a rare overt criticism by one Arab government of
another. Al-Gomhuria daily scoffed at Assad, saying he was celebrating "a
victory scored by others."

"You should be prepared now for political and economic pressure put
on you because of this speech," it said.

Drunken Britney Spears Video

I got a chance to see this video that this article talks about and she really does seem dazed and confused in it.
Wearing a white tank top and baseball cap, Spears appears dazed and
confused as she digs into a meal of takeout chicken and fries - and
philosophizes on what her fame has cost her.

"I feel like I've been missing out on life," she says, letting out
another enormous belch in the middle of the sentence.

The singer then describes in vivid detail what she meant. "Like
things and things going on. Like I feel like I'm behind or

The interesting thing is that K-Fed sounds like he is the brains of the outfit. She rambles on like a crazy person and he is the one moderating her about the Spawn DVD and even about the time travel stuff that she talks about. In any case the conditions that are depicted in the video look like they would probably smell like cigarettes, BO, spilled liquor and rotten take-out all mixed together. Plus you can almost smell her nasty belch right through the screen.

American Eagle Has Great 2nd Quarter

It seems that thy really are the bellcow of back to school retailers after all.
American Eagle Outfitters Inc.'s profit was up 24 percent in its second
quarter, the youth clothing retailer said Tuesday.

For the three months ended July 29, income rose to $72.1 million,
or 47 cents a share, from $58 million, or 37 cents a share, a year

Sales increased 17 percent to $602.3 million, from $515.9 million last

It is interesting that some of my money is in that sales increase. I recently bought a striped polo shirt from them that is similar to this one but red. This Motley Fool article has some interesting insight into a new store concept for AEOS called Martin + Osa.

Of course, some of that capex is going toward the much-anticipated (by me,
anyway) Martin + Osa chain, American Eagle's clothing concept for 25- to
40-somethings. The company now hopes to have at least 20 of these stores
open by the end of 2007, and with the usual suspects like Gap
(Nasdaq: GPS) and
Abercrombie & Fitch's
Reuhl failing to resonate with this demographic -- it's just a weirder,
louder, darker, Disneyland caricature of Abercrombie, really -- I think
Martin + Osa has some great opportunities ahead.

I have to agree with this author about A&Fs Reuhl store. That place is kind of spooky looking with a fake brick front that gave the place a dark and sinister appearance. They have one in Ala Moana and I thought it was some kind of over-trendy womans store because you can kind of see bags and womens clothing through the murky darkness. I did catch sight of a pretty female salesperson through the gloom but it might have just been a Fell Phantom waiting for some unsuspecting shopper to venture in so she can give them a taste of the Wail of the Banshee. In any case Reuhl certainly didn't scream "25-40 year old please come in and buy some stuff."

Wal-Mart Posts First Earnings Decline in 10 years

You can chalk this one up to them being run out of Germany by other established brands. When I lived in Germany as a kid we used to shop at a place called Maasa that seemed very similar to Wal-Mart. I guess Wal-Mart thinks retreat is the better part of valor.

Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, reported a 26 percent drop in
quarterly profit -- its first earnings decline in more than 10 years -- because
of a charge for selling its German stores to a rival. The company also forecast
a third-quarter profit that could fall below Wall Street

Monday, August 14, 2006

Some Info About the Motorola Q

It seems like a pretty interesting item but it does have its drawbacks.
What is the Moto Q Missing?

The Moto Q has many innovative features but does lack some
functionality. The device does not support WiFi (802.11b), but you can add WiFi
support via a MiniSD SDIO Card. The device is also missing AKU2, which means no support for MSFP (Microsoft Push E-Mail), which can be solved by the release of an upgraded ROM for the device. Its also important to note that the previous
version of AUTD push email does work with the device, which is not a serious
problem for the Verizon network.

That push e-mail seems pretty important to keep this device competing with RIMMs Blackberry 8700s. I wonder if this fact will slow the sales of the expected rollout of 5 million handhelds by the end of the year. That Wi-Fi thing shouldn't be too bad because a MiniSD SDIO card runs about $50 or so. It would have been nice to have them include that since the some of the newer Blackberrys already have that built in.

More Tales of Woe From Blue-Ray vs. HD-DVD

This article makes it seem kind of like the Israel/Palestinian Peace Stand-Off now:

The ongoing peace talks between the two camps, which have been on-again, off-again for months now, seem to have finally dissolved. It's disappointing, but however you feel about the fact that the HD DVD and Blu-ray factions squandered countless chances to make it right and come together, it looks like in just a few short months they're going to be duking it out mano a mano right in our livingrooms.

Yeah but I have a feeling that more Americans are going to care about this stand off in the long run then the Israel/Palestine one. I will be willing to put down even money that this is going to be the talk of the US in about a years time with TIME covers, Jay Leno jokes, Daily Show skits, and the whole bit.

Dell Recalls 4.1 Million Batteries

More bad news for Dell. They are recalling 4.1 million laptop batteries.

A Dell spokesman said the Sony batteries were placed in notebooks that
were shipped between April 1, 2004, and July 18 of this year.

"In rare cases, a short-circuit could cause the battery to
overheat, causing a risk of smoke and/or fire," said the spokesman, Ira
Williams. "It happens in rare cases, but we opted to take this broad action

Just another case of poor quality of Dell's products. They cut costs to the bone and hope their batteries don't catch fire.

Microsoft Lets You Build Your Own Xbox games

This seems like a very shrewd move on Microsoft's part.

Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio Express is a new development kit, to be released
in beta form in August, that will be available for free to anyone using a
Windows XP PC. The kit is designed for game developer novices as well as
studios, Microsoft said.

That means they will be able to get some nice free content for Xbox live from the robust modding community out there. Sometimes the modding community creates far better content then even the pros can crank out. It should be interesting to see what XNA Game Studios will be able to create. The next Red Orchestra or Day of Defeat perhaps?

NewsCorp to Offer Free Downloads of TV Shows

It seems that NewsCorp is leveraging the crap out of its newly acquired Internet properties.

Not only will people be able to buy shows like 24 and movies like The Omen
through MySpace and other News Corp. sites, but also they will be able to
download them to any device that runs Microsoft's (Nasdaq:
News) Windows operating system. TV shows will be available for $1.99 a pop, and movies will cost about $20.

They are even using the Direct2Drive technology that they acquired when they bought IGN to deliver the content. I wonder what other things they have in store for MySpace and their other internet properties? It seems that NewsCorp could be the next big player in internet media by following IAC Interactive's model.

Cracked is Back

I was at the bookstore the other day and I thought MAD had finally upped the amount of money they spend on their magazine but instead the magazine I saw was Cracked. It really looked like an interesting magazine and I find out that it has a new publisher and a new format.

That potential will be revealed when the new Cracked hits newsstands on
Tuesday after a two-year hiatus. It had a press run of 100,000 and has a cover
price of $3.99. True to its heritage as a lampooner of pop culture, its debut
cover features a doctored photo of Tom Cruise's head pasted onto the body of
Steve Carell and asks if he is "The 44-Year-Old Virgin?"

That picture of Tommy Boy Cruise that they refer to is what caught my eye in the first place. I thought it was Mad but I saw the cracked part. I will have to look into it now that Cracked has decided to up the ante on these lampooning magazines. Their site is super funny as well.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Screen Digest Thinks HD-DVD and Blu-Ray Will Merge

This seems like a perfectly sensible way to approach this issue.

The ongoing battle between the Toshiba-developed HD-DVD format and the
Sony-backed Blu-ray digital disc will likely end in a draw, with both
technologies merging into one instead of either format winning out,
Reuters reports.

I think the battle will probably cost them many millions in lost revenue as people hold off purchases until they find out which one is superior. Some may just wait until China or whoever just makes a DVD player that would be able to show both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD.

UN Agrees On Plan to End Israel/Hezbollah War

They finally came to some kind of conclusion to this thing that should be to ISraels likeing at least.
The resolution, negotiated by the United States and France, authorized
up to 15,000 U.N. troops to be deployed to monitor a withdrawal of Israeli
troops from southern Lebanon and to help the Lebanese army enforce a

I would hate to be in that UN Force because they will probably be stuck there for years. I wonder if they would be able to fight back decently if Hezbollah goes after them to push them out? Also it looks like Blair may go about legacy building by dipping his bucket into the "Peace In the Middle East Well" that Clinton tried years before. I guess that is the last hail mary pass that world leaders most throw before they leave the World Stage.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomed the resolution and said
he planned to visit the Middle East soon to search for ways to bring peace
between Israelis and Palestinians.

"We must work to address the
underlying root causes of this conflict," Blair said in a statement. "We
must never lose sight of the fact that the conflict in Lebanon arose out of
the desire to exploit the continuing impasse in Palestine."

FED Pauses=Big Selloffs?

This is just coincidence but I was reading a PDF that my Dad sent me and this interesting thing popped up. The crises of 1994 (Askin Capital,) 1987 (Black Monday,) 1998 (LTCM, Russia) and 2001 (tech bubble bursting) all happened at the very tail end of a tightening cycle or just before it was over. You add this to slowing housing, cooling consumer spending, and the yield curve inversion last year and you may have a case for a stock market selloff followed by a possible recession. It might be a good idea to hold cash and go on the defence coming into the normally weak September.

Israeli Companies Pop Up in the US

This Aroma Coffee store sounds like an actual contender to Starbucks insane dominance.
Now his company, Aroma, Israel's largest coffee chain with 73 outlets,
has brought the American-style espresso bar back to New York with a Hebrew
twist. In July, the company opened a flagship cafe in SoHo, replete with
Mediterranean interior design and food.

So you have an old time coffee house vibe with a Mediterranean feel. It sounds like the kind of thing that could put a little fear into the largely homogenized Starbucks coffee experience. Well then again maybe not, since Starbucks is quite dominate in their industry. However, I think a place like Aroma could only thrive in the big cities where people have more eclectic tastes and are willing to try a weird Mediterranean style coffee experience.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Terrorist Attack Foiled By the Brits

It seems like this one was a pretty close run affair for the most part.
The terrorist attack foiled by British authorities on Thursday was
aimed at blowing up as many as 10 airplanes on trans-Atlantic flights, and
plotters had hoped to stage a dry run within two days, U.S. intelligence
officials said.

The actual attack would have followed within days.

So we would have had 10 planes blasted out of the sky on or about 7/14-1/15. Talk about coming in at the wire. And what they planned to do is pretty devious as well:
One official said the suicide attackers planned to use a peroxide-based
solution that could ignite when sparked by a camera flash or another electronic

So what they seemed like they were going to do is use hydrogen peroxide inside of a water or soda bottle. Then maybe use a diode or a battery or something to ignite the bottle and the blast would violently depressurize the cabin. It looks like they were going to use about 20 people too so that would be two blasts per plane somewhere over the Atlantic. Now that is a scary thought. I would hate to be Arab looking and flying in the next few weeks. They will be scrutinized every time they reach into a carry-on bag.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Is the Mac Pro Worth it?

It certainly sounds like quite a machine from this article in Techsploder.

Mac Pros come with the Intel Xeon 5100 CPUs, or Woodcrest as they're code-named. These dual-core 64-bit beasts run at up to 3GHz, have 4MB of shared L2 cache, and fast 1.33GHz front speed buses - independent ones too, and capable of hitting 21GByte/s in bandwidth.

With two Woodcrests in each, you'll do quad-core damage with the new Mac Pros. Woodcrest should be a good deal faster than Conroe which I have tested (review coming soon) and which is very fast by itself.You can squeeze in some 16GB of 667MHz DDR2 RAM, and the memory bus is 256 bits wide.

The other specs are impressive too, like space for four 500GB SATA drives, four PCI Express slots for expansion, and Nvidia Quadro FX4500 and 7300GT video cards plus, surprisingly enough, an ATI X1900 XT option too, despite AMD now owning the Canadian graphics card maker.

The bottom line for me is how fast it can run Boot Camp and whether I could play my games on the Windows side without any slowdown or annoying problems. This bad boy clocks in a $2500 though. I priced a complete upgrade of my old box and it weighed in at about $1200 with a top end graphics card so I am still on the fence about it.

At Least Georgia Dems Know What they are doing

They booted Cynthia McKinney the 9/11 conspiracy theorist and Capital Hill Scuffler. Maybe the common sense wing of their party is a little stronger then one might thing. There was even a scuffle at her news conference:

WXIA-TV said on its Web site that a boom microphone had struck members of McKinney's entourage and In the confusion, McKinney staffers struck an 11Alive photographer and knocked his camera equipment to the ground. Earlier in the day, the station said a McKinney staffer had scuffled with another 11Alive photojournalist.

Boom mike accidentilly hits an entourage member and someone is getting the rolling smack down from her crew. Georgia politics must be some pretty dangerous stuff.

Lieberman to Fight On!

I feel bad that the Dems axed Joe Lieberman in such a distasteful manner. At least he is going out with a bang when he runs as an independent in the coming election.

"I think it would be irresponsible and inconsistent with my principles if I were to just walk off the field," Lieberman said in an interview with The Associated Press a day after his loss to the political newcomer in a race that was considered an early referendum on the
Iraq war.

It is too bad because this guy truly votes his conscience and tells it like it is. He didn't toe the party line of the Cut-And-Runners and instead did his own thing. I hope he wins the Primary or at least seriously thinks about running for President in 2008. I also agree with Cheney when he says this about the Dems.

"When we see the Democratic Party reject one of its own — a man they selected to be their vice presidential nominee just a few short years ago — that would seem to say a lot about the state the party's in today," he said.

Yup he was a Democrat through and through in everything except the Iraq War and they turned on him like rabid dogs. A man that stands up for his principals and what he truly believes in is torn apart by the so-called "Progressive" party. I guess "Progressive thinking" is just echo-chambered group-think. While "Progressive measures" are punishing those that don't agree with the entire party line. Man he looks beat in this pic:

Why Americans are So Fat

Ah, so my Mom was right when she says that it is sugary drinks that is making people in the US so damn fat.

An extra can of soda a day can pile on 15 pounds in a single year, and the "weight of evidence" strongly suggests that this sort of increased consumption is a key reason that more people have gained weight, the researchers say.

It seems that whenever I see a very, very fat person they seem to be drinking a Big Gulp type Soda or something similar. I wonder what the effect of removing all the soda machines from public school is having on how fat kids are nowadays. I guess it will be another decade or so before we can know for sure. This fact also floored me as well:

Regardless of this debate, a single 12-ounce can of soda provides the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of table sugar, the Harvard review says.

I'm glad I switched to Diet Coke instead of the regular stuff. Now it tastes too sweet for me.

Israel Goes to the Ground Offensive

Here comes the invasion part of plan to Pacify Hezbollah. I wonder if they are going to stay in that area for good?

Israel approved a massive new ground offensive into southern Lebanon in an effort Wednesday to inflict further damage on Hezbollah and halt most rocket attacks before the
U.N. Security Council demands a cease-fire.

And of course the Nasrallah talks trash from the safety of Syria or wherever he is hiding.

In a televised speech, Hezbollah's leader taunted the Israelis.

"If you enter our land, we will throw you out by force and we will turn the land of our invaluable south into your graveyard," Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said. "We will be waiting for you at every village, at every valley. Thousands of courageous holy warriors are waiting for you."

He should say he is in Beirut or Tyre and dare the Israelis to off him. Now that would be worthy of a brave "Muslim Warrior." I'm sure Saladin wouldn't cower in some basement and talk a bunch of smack if he was heading Hezbollah.

Monday, August 07, 2006

"Post Mortem" of a MySpace Outage

This is a very interesting web sociology project that came up when MySpace was down for two days. Where do people go when a massive social networking phenomenon goes down?

According to Tancer's MySpace outage "Post Mortem", Google gained the greatest increase in market share, as measured by page impressions. Dating sites experienced a 10 percent increase and adult sites had a slight rise.

Tancer said he believes the rise in Google activity was due to long-tail behavior, like recreational searches. Facebook, a competitor in social networking, also saw an increase in use, according to Tancer.

While MySpace shares of page impressions dropped from about 16.5 percent to 11 percent, Google shot up from 11.5 to 16.5, according to Hitwise. Facebook impressions rose from about 11 percent to 16.5 percent of the market share at the same time, according to Tancer, who did not provide figures on the adult sites' increase. He described those as a "mild bump up."

Google and MySpace Partner Up

Seems like a good fit between the two companies. I wonder if $900 million is a good price just to capture the Ad Content of MySpace? I guess so judging from the article:

After months of speculation on which company might win the MySpace search business, considered by analysts to be the biggest advertising prize in the online market, an agreement was hammered out six hours before it was announced, the companies said.

With barely enough time to figure out what else they could do together, executives said they planned to discuss expanding the partnership in areas such as potential content licensing or video search and advertising.

Initially, Google-branded search bars will appear on all pages of MySpace, along with more than a dozen other Fox Interactive Web properties, including its for video gamers and for video lovers, they said.

FED Mulling Interest Rate Pause

I think they might pause the Interest Rate hikes here now that the economy is noticably slowing down.

In the futures market, chances of a rate increase are near 20 percent, given recent evidence of a slowing economy. A Reuters poll of primary bond dealers on Friday found that 17 of 22 think the Fed will hold rates steady.

Oil Pipeline May be Shut Down for Months

It seems that the corrosion on that BP pipeline is worse then they thought it would be.

BP PLC said it will have to replace most of the 22 miles of so-called transit pipeline at Prudhoe Bay, which produces about 2.6 percent of the nation's daily supply, or about 400,000 barrels a day.

That should move Oil Prices higher in the near term. I wonder if we are going to tap the Petroleum Reserve to make up for that 2.6 percent shortfall?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Could Israel Widen the Conflict?

This is an interesting article on the power of Hezbollah's anti-tank missiles which were shipped in from Iran. I wonder is Israel would be willing to widen the conflict like we did by bombing Laos in the Vietnam war. This is the passage that got me thinking about that:

The report cited Western diplomatic sources as saying that Iranian authorities promised Hezbollah a steady supply of weapons "for the next stage of the confrontation."

Top Israeli intelligence officials say they have seen Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers on the ground with Hezbollah troops. They say that permission to fire Hezbollah's longer-range missiles, such as those could reach Tel Aviv, would likely require Iranian go-ahead.

In other words there are Iranian Army is on the ground acting as advisors to Hezbollah. In a way it would be the Iranian Army actually helping fire missiles on Tel Aviv. It seems to be exactly how the US served as advisors to the SVA in the Vietnam war.

In any case this is a very interesting gambit for Iran to play. They use a proxy army to get Israel stuck into a war that is turning further against them with every civilian that they accidentally kill. Iran knows they have world opinion on their side since only the US is in Israel's corner. Our credibility is shot to hell and we are in our own quicksand in Iraq so we really can't put much more then token pressure on Iran, Hezbollah, or anyone for that matter.

Iran also has a chance to showcase their top-of-the-line weapons in actual combat situations. This is very much like how the Nazis supplied Fascist Spain with tanks and planes during the Spanish Civil War. Iran has shown that they might have the tech know-how to defeat Israel in strait-up fight on the ground.

Iran just needs to figure out a way to neutralize Israel's air superiority. Maybe they would go with a first strike of Israeli Air Bases and try to knock out as many planes as they could while they are still on the ground. Maybe they could follow up with a Syrian led invasion into Israel betting that the US won't put troops in to protect Israel.

Maybe it would be a better idea to bide their time until Hillary gets into the White House and we cut and run in Iraq. She would most likely abandon Israel when Iranian Rockets rain down and Syrian Tanks cut their nation in two. I can see the Looney Left running around with "No Blood for Israel" signs and Syrian flags on their cars.

Culture War Not Such a Big Deal to Americans

At least according to this recent poll.

Best illustrating the willingness of Americans to consider opposing points of view is that two-thirds of poll respondents supported finding a middle ground when it comes to abortion rights -- a solid majority that stood up among those calling themselves evangelicals, Catholics, Republicans or Democrats.

This is good news because the polorization of America is something we can't afford to have when there are people out there that want to kill us. I think some of the various entrenched camps should find middle ground when it comes to different issues.

An example that I push a lot is evironmentalists and security hawks can come together on reducing the need for foreign oil. The environmentalists don't want the global warming and the hawks don't want to pay our enemies in order to drive to work every day. They can both agree on the problem now they just need to hammer out a solution.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

American Eagle the Back-to-School Leader?

It seems that back to school is going to be choppy depending on the companies fashion mix. American Eagle may have that mix according to this article.

"Our fashion consultants feel that American Eagle is positioned well for back to school compared to rival teen retailers, particularly Hollister," she wrote, referring to a competing teen chain run by Abercrombie & Fitch Co. "Since our buyers were very enthusiastic about AE's new assortments, we think that this could be an opportunity for it to gain market share."
I need to do more recon on AEOS but they seem to have an interesting assortment of jeans that are pretty affordable. I think some kids not wishing to pay Abercrombie's outrageous markup may start going to American Eagle to make their dollar stretch out more.

I think teens who drive will really be hit by these higher gas prices because they don't make nearly as much to absorb the added cost. So that kid for instance will be more likely to buy the $34.50 AE Artist Stretch Jean instead of the $69.50 Emma Low Rise Boot Cut.

This hypothetical girl going back to school will save $35 by buying pretty similar jeans from AEOS instead of ANF. That represents a tank of gas, some shoes, a blouse, or something in a similar price range.

Also if it is the parents buying the clothes it gets even worse. They might have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage and may have taken on too much house then they can afford. Thus those parents are now facing higher monthly mortgage payments, $3.50 gas, and inflated prices for food. So even if their daughter complains she is still going to be getting those aforementioned Artist Stretch Jeans. This should be a good deal for AEOS any way you look at it.

Consumers Are Slowing But Only Slightly

It seems that high gas prices and the super hot weather in the mainland hasn't slowed all the retaliers.

Thursday's reports showed some pockets of strength despite the high-profile disappointments from Target, Costco and Gap.

Department stores such as J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (JCP) and Nordstrom Inc. (JWN) were among the winners with better-than-expected growth, but J.C. Penney said it remained cautious about August sales because of a tough economy.

Dollar stores were also surprisingly strong, with Family Dollar Stores Inc. (FDO) and Dollar General Corp. (NYSE:DG) beating July sales forecasts, and Dollar Tree Stores Inc. (Nasdaq:DLTR) posting strong second-quarter sales.

So the strength again comes from the high end consumer and from people trying to save a few bucks by buying cheap stuff.

Arizona Considers $1 million Voting Lottery

I think this is a great idea to increase people going to the polls:

Arizonans will vote on the reward idea Nov. 7. The proposal made it onto the ballot in June after supporters turned in nearly 184,000 signatures, or about 50 percent more than required.

If the measure passed, election officials would assign a number to each voter who casts a ballot in a state election. The state commission that oversees the Arizona lottery would then hold a public drawing to pick a winner, with the prize money coming from unclaimed lottery prizes.

I would even vote several times so I could have more chances to win. Wait maybe this isn't such a good idea after all.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sector Based Mutual Funds getting Hammered

It seems that buying ETFs have replaced investing in Sector Based Mutual funds.

During just May and June, investors poured $2.48 billion into sector ETFs, while sector mutual funds saw net outflows of $3.32 billion, according to fund tracker Lipper. Most interesting, during that two-month period of rising energy costs, funds holding natural-resources stocks saw a net outflow of $25 million, while natural-resources ETFs received $1.83 billion in new assets.

I would rather buy an ETF then a Mutual Fund just because I can trade it faster if oil or gold prices start to drop again. You have more control over portfolio weightings if you stick to ETFs. Plus I like them because you just have to see what sectors seemed poised to do well and not have to drill down and own individual stocks to get that sector exposure. This article touches on why I like ETFs vs. Sector Mutual Funds. I hate those redemption fees.

The redemption fees are a growing issue, particularly when it comes to sector investing. Investors pour money into a given sector quickly, then get out when sentiment shifts. People who want to time the market often have to pay redemption fees for these short-term trades — more so now since the mutual-fund scandals of 2003 shone light on the practice of market timing — which drives up the cost of trading. ETFs don't have such redemption fees, so are better suited for those who want to trade sectors, rather than invest in them over a longer term.

Starbucks Sales in July Disappoints

It looks like they were not fast enough with those Frappuccino's to have same store sales be higher then 4%. In recent months they were pulling in 10% same store increases so they are really slowing down in terms of sales. At least the CEO has pointed the finger at the problem:

"We are experiencing stronger-than-expected -- actually unprecedented -- customer demand for blended beverages during morning peak hours," Chief Executive Jim Donald said on a conference call with analysts. "We still have work to do with service efficiencies around our Frappuccino blended beverage preparation."

I have noticed more people buying Frappuccinos then hot coffee when I go in the morning sometimes. I guess they could put in a machine that auto mixes Frappuccinos like those big Orange Slushy machines at the 7-11. Whatever the case this stock was priced for perfection and that little hiccup in same store sales last quarter mixed with this big time miss will probably cause a selloff in this stock.

I guess We Forgave France

It like "Freedom Fries" are finally going to be relegated to small blurb status in the history books now. It will join the same notable place as "Hanging Chad," and "18 1/2 minute gap."

Of the five food outlets that had heeded calls by House Republicans to inject patriotism into their menus in March 2003, the last two that still used "freedom fries" reverted back to the original name in the last two weeks.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Coal Stocks the new Oil Stocks

It sure seems that way from this article.

Stocks of U.S. coal producers have handily outpaced those of Big Oil over the past two years. During that period, for example, shares of oil giant ExxonMobil gained 37%, while the stock of Peabody Energy, the world's largest private-sector coal producer, more than quadrupled.

The real appeal of coal is that it isn't underneath countries that just love killing Americans. Too bad the Stanley Steamer went out with the 20s.