Wednesday, December 27, 2006

December Madness at What If Sports is Awesome!

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

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

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

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

More on Ford's Athletic Skills

Ford was quite a football player at Michigan:

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

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

Speaking of IPod Sales

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

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

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

Apple falls on "Falsifying Data" Claim

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

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

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

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

Russians Make Wild Claim on Litvinenko murder

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

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

Gerald Ford Dies.

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

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dem Machine Goes after Obama Already?

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

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

Friday, December 22, 2006

Letters From Iwo Jima doing well in Japan

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Turkmenbashi is Dead Long Live the Next Guy!

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

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

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

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

Red Wine May Prevent Obesity

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

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

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bush to Outflank on Minimum Wage Hike

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

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

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

It Costs $12 Billion to Run Santas Workshop?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"You" Media Goes to the Next Level

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

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

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

Monday, December 18, 2006

Gifts that Give Back

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 15, 2006

Funny Bush Photo

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

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Retail Sales up Big for November

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

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

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

More on "Tommy Hilfiger is a Racist"

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

Virgin Mobile USA and American Eagle Outfitters Helps Homeless Kids

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

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ahmadinejad Pops Off About Israel Again

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

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

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

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

Olmert Spills the Nuclear Beans

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

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

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

Friday, December 08, 2006

What Me Worry?

Bush sure has a knack for looking like a doof:

Merry Christmas Is Back

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

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

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

Thursday, December 07, 2006

First Litvinenko now Kovtun?

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

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

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

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

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

Wii has Faulty Strap

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Blockbuster Desperate

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

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

Russell Simmons Gives Back to Africans

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

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

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

Wii vs. PS3: Motley Fools Take Off Base

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 01, 2006

Lindsay Lohan in AA

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

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

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

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

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

Casino Royal Movie Review

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

Neolithic Tsunami had 130 Foot Waves

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

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