Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Curse?

I wonder if Jennifer Hudson is going to succumb to this so-called Oscar curse? Or maybe she will break the curse the same way as Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, and Renée Zellweger did. I unfortunately have my money on Marisa Tomeiisville for her but I could be wrong.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lou Dobbs is Off Base

I just read this article that Lou Dobbs wrote on Feb. 21 and I have to refute some of his points.

The Democratic Leadership Council is obviously frightened that my brand
of independent populism is a threat. The council claims that I, and those who
agree with me, "are simply, factually, decisively wrong about the strength of
the U.S. manufacturing economy itself," and that the more than three million
jobs lost in manufacturing are a testament to corporate America's
technology-based efficiency, not outsourcing and offshoring to cheap foreign
labor markets. Then why are foreign-produced imports rising so dramatically and taking an ever-larger share of many of the most important sectors of our

I think Dobbs discounts the lower prices that Americans pay for these foreign produced imports and how that savings contributes to the middle class. If you save money on a TV that is manufactured cheaper in China then that money goes to buy other things and pay bills. This free trade dividend is almost always forgotten when people talk about foreign made goods. Dobbs just looks at the bad things behind cheap manufacturing but never looks at the good things for both the US and the Chinese. We get cheap goods and they get a better standard of living. I thought Progressives like Dobbs want people to do better in other parts of the world?

Also I think Dobbs also doesn't understand that the people that held these 3 million lost manufacturing jobs didn't just disappear off the face of the earth. Quite a few of these Americans found jobs in other sectors of the economy. That means the unemployment rate has actually been dropping in the last few years. It went from 5.7 in 2002 to 4.6 in 2006. So it seems that quite a few of these people aren't making stereos in a factory but are doing construction, working in front of a computer, or are working for some big corporation. In other words doing knowledge based jobs instead of manufacturing.

About one-third of the families in this country bring in less than
$35,000 of income each year, according to the Census Bureau, a figure that's
nowhere close to ensuring the quality of life and standard of living to which
many Americans have grown accustomed. I fear the American Dream may finally
become the American Pipe Dream.

I don't know what world Dobbs lives in but making $35,000 a year is a decent amount of money and is more then enough to live on for many Americans. Sure they can't afford to drive around in a new car every year and then go home to their McMansion but they should be able to get by pretty well. If the American dream is to own your own home then more and more Americans are actually getting achieving it. Maybe the quality of life and standard of living that Lou Dobbs is accustomed to is different then that of most regular, working Americans. Or maybe the American Dream is different in Dobbs view.

Iran In Violation of Nuke Accord

UN to do pretty much nothing I would bet.
The IAEA detailed recent activities showing Tehran expanding its
enrichment efforts — setting up hundreds of uranium-spinning centrifuges in an
underground hall and bringing nearly 9 tons of the gaseous feedstock into the
facility in preparation for enrichment. It added that Iranian officials had
informed the agency that they would expand their centrifuge installations to
have thousands of them ready by May.

This will pretty much raise oil prices in the near term. Maybe Iran is stoking tensions so they can make out like a bandit on oil sales. It might be time to dip your toe into some United States Oil ETF (USO) if these tensions keep up.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hillary Okay with Racism but Husband called "Reckless" not okay?

Now this is some interesting attacks between the two Democratic front runners. This is what the Hillary camp want Obama to apologize for:

The Clinton campaign demanded that Obama denounce comments made by the
DreamWorks movie studio founder, who told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in Wednesday's edition that Sen. Clinton was ambitious and polarizing and her husband "reckless."

Sounds like the truth to me. While it seems that Hillary is okay with the support of a racist like Robert Ford:
"It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and
is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina state Sen. Robert
Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because 'he's black,'" Gibbs' statement said.

It sure is interesting to see Dems sniping at one another like this. I thought Geffen was a good Democratic soldier/check writer. But if he is on Obama's team then it is time to throw him under a bus. Good job Hillary.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

AmeriCone Dream! It's Truthilecious!

Steven Colbert comes out with a new Ben and Jerry Ice Cream flavor called AmeriCone Dream! Liberals quake in fear!
Billed as "the sweet taste of liberty in your mouth," Americone Dream
is vanilla ice cream packed with fudge-covered pieces of waffle cone and a
caramel—or is that a conservative?—swirl.

"I'm not afraid to say it. Dessert has a well-known liberal
agenda," Colbert said in a statement. "What I hope to do with this ice cream is
bring some balance back to the freezer case."

Americans must buy it by the case! To not do that is a betrayal of all of our essential freedoms! To not buy it lets the terrorists win!

Is Gold a good buy?

It looks like that may be the case because the Chinese and the Saudis have lots of liquidity and people are forecasting dollar weakness. This article is pro-gold but it seems that every article you read is also pro-gold as well.

Meanwhile, crude is back to $58 a barrel, leaving the Saudis with lots
of petrodollars to sock away. China's in the same greenback-heavy boat, having
kicked off 2007 with another huge monthly trade surplus. And the standoff over
Iran's nuclear program doesn't appear especially likely to end well.

Well some of the risk premium might come off now that North Korea is out of the mix. That Iran thing is still front burner though. I wonder what is keeping the Saudis and Chinese to plow that excess money into US or European debt instruments instead of gold? It always seems that every time I hear about gold they have the price going to $1300 an ounce or some crazy thing like that. You never see that kind of pie in the sky talk from Growth mutual funds or something similar. Oh well it seems gold-bugs are always chasing that big gain even though $1300 an ounce gold will mean that the economy is in the toilet.

TRL Circles the Drain

It just seems like the show is not relevant anymore to the tastes of its viewers. So it looks like Viacom is going to put the thing on the chopping block:
Speculation inside MTV and at the major music labels has been mounting
that TRL, a daily afternoon show that has been experiencing declining ratings,
will soon be canceled or scaled back to two days a week. The newest fuel for the
rumor mill: the fact that much of the staff at TRL's studio at New York City's
Times Square was laid off late Tuesday, including members of the wardrobe,
makeup and technical staff.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bumpkin Restaurant Offers Free Food to Skinny Models

Well at least someone is thinking about fattening up those wafer thin models. This restaurant sounds like they have good food (at least to me) as well:
"If I could recommend a dish to a size zero model, it would be a
charter pie containing leeks, chicken and bacon; it's enough to keep you warm
and energised all day," Bumpkin general manager Dariush Nejad said in a
statement on Monday.

Too bad there isn't a place like that in Hawaii. I would love to eat a meat pie that had leeks, chicken and bacon in it. I wonder if it would be too salty though? Oh well, another thing to look forward to when I finally get around to travelling to England.

Mystery Ailment Killing Bees

Now this is a real mystery to be solved. What is killing all those bees?
Reports of unusual colony deaths have come from at least 22 states.
Some affected commercial beekeepers — who often keep thousands of colonies —
have reported losing more than 50 percent of their bees. A colony can have
roughly 20,000 bees in the winter, and up to 60,000 in the summer.

And here are the clues that they have assembled so far:

• Although the bodies of dead bees often are littered around a hive, sometimes carried out of the hive by worker bees, no bee remains are typically found around colonies struck by the mystery ailment. Scientists assume these bees have flown away from the hive before dying.

• From the outside, a stricken colony may appear normal, with bees leaving and entering. But when beekeepers look inside the hive box, they find few mature bees taking care of the younger, developing bees.

• Normally, a weakened bee colony would be immediately overrun by bees from other colonies or by pests going after the hive's honey. That's not the case with the stricken colonies, which might not be touched for at least two weeks, said Diana Cox-Foster, a Penn State entomology professor investigating the problem.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

NYC Cabbies are Honest; Dallas Jewelers are Cheap

Now this is a story of an American immigrant being a better person then some rich-bitch jeweler from Dallas.

Never mind diamonds- a New York cabbie was a Texas
girl's best friend. The driver returned 31 diamond rings he found in his cab
after dropping off the passenger, who had left him with a 30-cent tip on a
$10.70 fare.

Then to add insult to injury for returning maybe a few hundred thousand dollars in diamond rings she does this:
The woman, who said she was a jeweler, got back the gems on Monday when
she arrived at the alliance office around midnight — incredulous at her luck.
She offered Chowdhury a reward — a check for

I hope this guy goes on Jay Leno and gets his 15 minutes of fame from him being so honest. Also I hope this woman is made fun of from the Daily Show/Leno/Letterman for a few weeks. A $0.30 tip is an outrage and should be hung on her like a shaming board.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

India Growth in 2007 Seen as Massive

It looks like India might be one of the fastest growing countries this year according to this.
On Wednesday, India's Central Statistical Office changed its gross domestic
product estimate for fiscal year 2007, which ends in March, to 9.2%.
The government recently revised its GDP estimate for fiscal year 2006 to 9% from 8.4%.

This seems to be one of the reasons given by the government and India watchers:

The so-called National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme guarantees
that one member of each of India's 60 million rural households will work for 100
days every year or receive unemployment benefits if there's no work.

Now that is a pretty weird sort of name. They put the word scheme right in the name to make it seem kind of like a crazy experiment that might not work. They should have just given it a more American name like No Rural Worker Left Behind or something like that.

Root Servers Attacked

It seems that this article is engaging in a little scare tactics to get people to read it. It says that a D0S attack "cripples" Internet root servers however this is what the article says:
Three of the servers were nearly overloaded by the attack, but they did
not go down, says Petro, who adds that they were in a slowed down brown out

A slowed down brown out stage is not "crippled." If they actually went down then I would say that they had be crippled. They should have put the word "nearly" in there to show what actually happened. In any case this is what would worry me about this story:
Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer at the SANS Institute and
chief technology officer for the Internet Storm Center, says more investigation
will have to be done before analysts can figure out where the attacks were
coming from. The Internet Storm Center is a cooperative cyber threat monitoring
and alert system.

If the attack was a little stronger it might have crashed the Internet and then all hell would have broken loose. What is worse is they would not even know where the attack came from. I think they need to develop stronger tracking tools to catch these DoSers before they cause billions of dollars in damages.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Biden Takes Back Racist Remark

It sure is funny to see a liberal run for cover trying to make himself seem less racist. This is what Biden said:
In an interview published Wednesday in the New York Observer, the same
day he officially entered the presidential race, Biden described Obama as "the
first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a
nice-looking guy."

So the other mainstream African-American guys didn't meet one of these criteria I guess. So the other guys were either crooked, dumb, ugly, or little bit of everything according to Biden. It is also funny that Biden went right for the Michael Richards defence after his verbal blunder:
Let me tell you something I spoke to Barack today," Biden told

"I bet you did," Stewart quipped.

"I also spoke to Jesse (Jackson) and Al Sharpton" Biden

Yup when in doubt meet with those black leaders so you don't look as racist as you might seem to everyone else. I wonder if they are going to send Biden to the black rehab camp like they sent Isaiah Washington to the gay rehab camp?

Sony Loses More then Expected on PS3

It looks like Sony is screwing up again.

Facing strong competition from Nintendo (other-otc: NTDOY.PK - news - people )’s Wii, Sony blundered strategically by cutting the price of PlayStation3 by 20% before the consoles went on sale in November last year. Yuhara admitted Sony had underestimated the startup costs of it.

"In the PS3 business, production was very tight, but we knew the market wouldn't wait," Yuhara said. He added that the price cut was aimed at getting the machine a strong debut.

I mean why did they cut the price on the thing right out of the gate like that? I guess they were worried that people would go for the Wii in large numbers since it was quite a bit cheaper then the PS3. This is a very interesting fact though:

Nonetheless, at the end of December, Sony only sold 687,300 units of PS3 in US since its launch while Nintendo shipped 1.1 million sets of Wii and Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) sold 4.5 million units of Xbox 360 in the States, according to research house NPD.

This low amount of of PS3s sold would trouble me if I were Sony. It looks like both the Wii and the Xbox360 trounced them in this crucial holiday season. You could chalk this up to just having more Wiis and Xbox360s around for consumers to buy. I know lots of people that went with the Xbox360 instead of the PS3 since they didn't want to wait in some long line or get robbed or beaten for it.

In any case, it seems that the Wii was the big winner this holiday season. They sold 1.1 million in the US and 3.2 million in Japan. That is quite an installed base right out of the blocks. Now they need a Super Mario Bros. style category killer and they could have the potential to bury their competition.

2006 Savings Rate Negative

Hmm it seems that Americans are spending all of their disposable income plus 1%.

The savings rate is computed by taking the amount of personal income
left after taxes are paid, an amount known as disposable income, and subtracting
the amount of spending. Since the figure has dipped into negative territory, it
means consumers are spending all of disposable income and then some.

For December, the savings rate edged down to a negative 1.2
percent, compared to a negative 1 percent in November. The savings rate has been in negative territory for 21 consecutive months.

I wonder if this savings rate calculation takes into account that some Americans are having their IRAs automatically withdrawn from their paychecks? This automatic withdrawal might not come up in these numbers so boomers won't be left destitute when they retire.