Thursday, December 29, 2011

2012 Pedictions: Entertainment and Sports


1. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie stay together throughout the year and are quite happy. Jennifer Aniston gets married during the year but divorces soon afterward.

2. The Kardasians are forgotten as a brand as more and more people jump on a boycott bandwagon. Their show is cancelled on E! and they are largely forgotten by the end of the year.

3. New Shows of 2012:

Renewed: Napoleon Dynamite, Lost Girl, Touch, Luck, Apartment 23
Cancelled: Work It, The Firm, Are You there Chelsey?, Rob, The Finder, Alcatraz, Smash, The River, GCB, Fashion Star, Missing, Scandal, The 2-2, Awake, Bent, Best Friends Forever

4. Top 10 Movies in Order of Box Office for 2012:

Dark Knight Rises,The Hobbit, Twilight Part: Breaking Dawn 2, Avengers, Hunger Games, 007 Skyfall, Men in Black 3, Expendables 2, Wrath of the Titans, World War Z,
Overall box office is down from 2011 and 3D becomes a totally dead issue.


College Football National Title: LSU
College Basketball National Title: Ohio State
NFL: Green Bay Packers
NBA: Miami Heat
MLB: Texas Rangers
NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson
NHL: Chicago Blackhawks
Premier League Title: Manchester City

2012 Predictions: Politics and the Economy

Well, its prediction time again:


1. Mitt Romney will be the GOP nominee and will poll well against Obama at first but will draw even as the campaign goes into high gear. Obama will win a squeaker that will have the taint of fraud in several districts but he will still win a second term. The GOP captures the Senate and the government becomes effectively divided. As a result not much is done.

2. There is a massive fight over the budget with Obama's and the GOPs differing by a wide margin. No compromise is put forth and the GOPs budget passes easily is vetoed and Obama is narrowly overturned.  This becomes a pattern for much of the legislation passed in 2012

3. Obamacare is ruled partially unconstitutional and is sent back to the Congress for fixes. It is gutted by the GOP and Obama vetoes the greatly watered down bill that comes out of Congress. Obama uses the Department of Health to impose some Obamacare tenets that Congress throws out. This becomes a pattern in 2012.

4. There is a crisis and civil war in North Korea as the generals try to seize power from the ineffectual Kim Jong Un. China and South Korea are on high alert but much of the fighting is in the streets of Pyongyang between Kim Jong Un loyalists and the break-away generals. The break-away generals seize power and a military dictatorship that is more open to the west takes power by the end of the year.

5. Iran his hit hard by sanctions against their oil industry and tries to rattle the saber in retaliation. Oil prices rise to $130 before things settle back down. The Green Revolution begins in earnest as the Iran slowly moves the way of Egypt and the rest of the Arab Spring countries. Large demonstrations break out all over Iran and the Mullacrocy totters toward oblivion. Oil stays high throughout the year due to Iranian instability. Many Iranian students are gunned down before the UN steps in and quells violence.


1. More green shoots begin to form in certain sectors and the housing market improves slightly. However, Europe still overhangs everything but a solution to the debt crisis is finally reached by spring. High oil prices challenge the recovery and India and China begin to cut back on the demand side of the equation. Worldwide growth slows as Europe enters a recession by Fall.

2. The market rallies early on but high oil prices takes its toll as growth slows. The market is in a holding pattern and trends downward as Obama is re-elected. Companies still hold vast reserves of cash but Obamacare being struck down by the Supreme Court allows some of it to flow again. GDP growth trends to 3% by the winter of 2012. The US economy does not go back into recession.

3. Unemployment stays at the 8 - 9% level for much of the year as absolutely nothing is done to create jobs. The payroll tax cut and other half-measures continue throughout the year. Companies slowly start to hire and things look somewhat better toward the end of the year.

4. Facebook's IPO does decently but does not come in as the blockbuster that many predicted in the past. Slowing growth and waning ad dollars are sited as the reason for the muted response. Many users stop using Facebook altogether and a "Is Facebook Dead" story is circulated by the end of the year.

5. SOPA does not pass due to the agitation of Google, Ebay, Facebook and other large sites mobilizing against the Congress and the supporters of the Bill. The general public learns about the issue as net titans take to the airwaves against SOPA. Talk of the bill dominates the news for the early part of 2012 and it is defeated by a very wide margin.

6. Here are the numbers for the various indices for the end of 2012:

Dow: 12800
NASDAQ: 2850
S&P 500: 1320
Eur/Dollar: 0.98
10 Year Bond: 2.10%
Gold: $1310 and ounce
Oil: $113 a barrel

2011 Predictions Revisited

One of the fun things about running this blog for multiple years is that I can look back at the predictions I had for the past year to see how I'm doing. Here is a recap:

1. Gridlock in Washington : Yeeap (in the words of that asshole guy on Storage Wars) The only thing that came out of Washington in 2011 was a bunch of rhetoric and people not doing anything. That is usually good for the market but stupid European debt dashed any rally.

2. Debt Ceiling Fight: Yeeap; That was an easy call though.

3. Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare (TBA) this one isn't over yet

4. Big names for GOP nod: Right on Gingrich, Pawlenty running, and Palin not running. Was wrong on Ryan, Cantor and Patreus running.

1. Recovering Economy: much slower than my prediction mostly due to Obama being in office and the massive debt he has put onto us. Also the damn Eurozone (minus Germany and France) gorging on debt and not wanting to pay their credit card bills.

2. Stock market rises. European debt shenanigans smashed this prediction.

3. Unemployment drops to 8%, we dipped into it a few times in 2011 but not enough to matter much.

4. Europe Limping along with Germany leading the pack. No defaults. Yeeap. This was a pretty easy call seeing how bad Greece, Italy, Spain, etc. have screwed up their economies with high debt and freebies to everyone.

5. Emerging market growth. This is still kind of happening but it is a little muted due to European slowdown and its knock-on effects

6. Prediction:                         Actual
    Dow: 13,200                     12,287
    NASDAQ: 3500                 2,613
    S&P500: 1700                    1,263
    GDP Growth: 4.5%             1.8%
    Gold: $1150                       $1547
    Silver: $25.50                    $27.87
    Oil: $98                             $99.66

1. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie still an item.

2. American Idol and Survivor have low ratings compared to past seasons. TV is still dominated by NCIS: various and the Law and Orders on NBC are all but finished on TV with only SVU limping along. I give this prediction a Yeaap

3. Facebook Backlash and Twitter drop off. This is a partial Yeeap since it seems that growth is starting to slow just in time for the IPO. Zynga's damp squib IPO also shows that social network gaming may not be the money spinner that people have though in the past. I guess attending your fake crops is only fun for a few months and then it becomes a chore that is easily forgotten.

4. Tablet market divided between Apple and Google. This is a full Yeeup because it is pretty much Apple vs Google fighting on a mountaintop surrounded by the dying corpses of Sony, and Blackberry and everyone else that made a tablet that is now so much garbage. Amazon is hanging in there though.

I'm still not a good predictor of who will win what in the sporting world. I went a solid O-fer:

1. The following teams win:

Prediction:                                                           Actual:
College Football National Title: Oregon                 Auburn 
College Basketball National Title: Syracuse            UConn
NFL: New England Patriots                                  Green Bay Packers
NBA: San Antonio Spurs                                      Dallas Mavericks
MLB: Philadelphia Phillies                                     St. Louis Cardinals 
NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson                                   Tony Stewart
NHL: Detroit Red Wings                                       Boston Bruins
Premier League Title: Chelsea                                Manchester United

Saudi Women Enfranchised (Well Kinda) only 91 years after We Did

It seems the Saudi rulers keep on moving slowly toward the rest of the world (and keeping from getting Quaddiffied) by letting women vote without a mans approval and even run for office.

Shura Council member Fahad al-Anzi was quoted in the state-run al-Watan newspaper saying that approval for women to run and vote came from the guardian of Islam’s holiest sites, the Saudi king, and therefore women will not need a male guardian’s approval. The country’s Shura Council is an all-male consultative body with no legislative powers.

Pretty soon Saudi women might be able to drive cars and study abroad without a mans approval. If Saudi women get into office in large numbers the rest of the anti-woman laws will probably fall one by one.

Romney Leads Obama by 6%

I often say that an empty suit can beat Obama with the economy in shambles and debt tripling on his watch and it seems we have found that suit.

The Rasmussen Reports poll found Romney ahead of Obama 45% to 39%, while 10% chose "some other candidate" and another 6% remained undecided. 

Actually I am in the 10% of "some other candidate" myself. If Paul Ryan ran I would vote for him in a minute. The current crop of GOP candidates are a bunch of losers but Romney is the most electable I guess.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Coach of the Lakers a Dungeons and Dragons Fan?

He sounds like a great hire as far as I can tell.

Brown told Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated he was the Dungeon Master for D&D games with his buddies while attending Sabin Middle School in Colorado Springs, Colo. Jenkins reports Brown, with perfect penmanship, wrote all the strategies and character descriptions in the Dungeons & Dragons game for his friends, since he felt his buddies' handwriting was a disgrace. That's not all: Once he put together a game board out of plexiglass, using rulers and pennies to form combat zones. When new D&D game modules were sent in the mail, Brown sprinted up to his bedroom to read the entire handbook and take detailed notes -- making his friends wait for hours in the basement.

From this he seems pretty hard core as well. I can't wait for all the Bible Thumpers to say that Brown is a closet satanist because he played D&D as a kid.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Paying Off Layaway Accounts? Now This is a Real Christmas Gift

I have to say that the people that do this are what this season is all about.

"She told him, 'No, I'm paying for it,'" recalled Edna Deppe, assistant manager at the store in Indianapolis. "He just stood there and looked at her and then looked at me and asked if it was a joke. I told him it wasn't, and that she was going to pay for him. And he just busted out in tears."

At Kmart stores across the country, Santa seems to be getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers' layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn't afford, especially toys and children's clothes set aside by impoverished parents.

These benefactors are pretty much funding Christmas for these people and should be given quite a bit of credit for doing it. Also the idea that they are doing it for complete strangers is an even better way to show that they are giving back.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Cain to Make "Major Announcement" Saturday

Why doesn't he just drop out Monday and dominate the headlines on that day?

Herman Cain said he'll make an announcement about the future of his embattled presidential bid on Saturday.
He didn't elaborate when he disclosed his plans while campaigning in South Carolina. 

You know this is going to be his "you don't have Herman Cain to kick around anymore" speech so it would be nice to have a full news cycle to highlight it. I guess Friday is traditionally the day where you bury events so they don't get noticed. At least that is what the White House likes to do anyway. 

I guess Cain might want to get on some Sunday morning shows and let the media have it with both barrels because he was "hi-tech lynched" no doubt about it.

Guy Dies of Airline Food

I know that crap was bad but I didn't know how bad.

After his flight landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Cortes, 73, began to feel "discomfort and pain that included sharp stomach cramps and sudden thirst and other clear outward manifestation of severe physical illness," the suit alleges. Once he'd boarded his connecting flight to Miami, Cortes experienced nausea and shortness of breath and suffered a cardiac event that left him unresponsive. The plane made an emergency landing in Norfolk, Va., but Cortes was pronounced dead on arrival.

Ever since I got violently ill after eating an airline meal coming back from Las Vegas one year I have stopped eating and drinking airline food. I even avoid the free sodas they give you by buying something at the airport store before I board in case I get thirsty.

I have packed sandwiches on just about every flight I have been on and usually eat before I board to avoid getting sick. It might be a little over-cautious but I don't want to take chances of getting sick 30,000 feet up and "being pronounced dead on arrival in Norfolk, Va." like this poor dude.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Yeah Cain I Think your Campaign is Over

Well it seems a mistress of 13 years has come out of the woodwork. One thing the GOP hates is mistresses. So that pretty much does it.

On Monday, Ginger White said in an interview with Fox 5 Atlanta that her affair with Cain ended not long before the former businessman from Georgia announced his candidacy for the White House.

"It was fun," said White, 46, as she described Cain buying her plane tickets for a rendezvous in Palm Springs, Calif. "It was something that took me away from my sort of humdrum life at the time. And it was exciting."

Cain went on television to flatly deny White's claims even before the report aired.

"I didn't do anything wrong," he said then. On Tuesday, he told his staff "I deny those charges, unequivocally," and went on to say he had only helped White financially "because she was out of work and destitute, desperate."

Um, all White needs to do is produce a plane ticket that Cain paid for and he is sunk. I mean no matter how "out of work, destitute, and desperate" someone is they probably don't need plane tickets to travel to Palm Springs to meet up with him. That last part sounds like it could have been written by Berlusconi about some 18 year old Bunga Bunga girl. 

In any case these so-called "bimbo eruptions" are as bad as Clinton's were and are now heavily overshadowing his campaign. I think he needs to bow out now and save his family and friends any more anguish.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

President of Yemen out Bashar stands Alone (well almost)

It seems you have your days numbered if you happen to be an authoritarian dictator.

Yemen's autocratic leader agreed Wednesday to step down after months of demonstrations against his 33-year rule, pleasing the U.S. and its Gulf allies who feared that collapsing security in the impoverished nation was allowing an active al-Qaida franchise to step up operations.

If I was Assad I would agree to elections and either use a puppet ruler or just try to win an 8 year term with a 2 term limit or something. By the time he can't run again he will be well past retirement age. Or just retire to a villa in the South of France and spend your billions. The chance of getting caught by your people and shot with your own golden gun, or the so-called Qaddafi treatment, is getting higher every day.

I Guess Herod Did not Build the Western Wall in Jerusalem

It seems he got credit for it but was actually dead for several years.

But archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority now say diggers have found coins underneath the massive foundation stones of the compound's Western Wall that were stamped by a Roman proconsul 20 years after Herod's death. That indicates that Herod did not build the wall — part of which is venerated as Judaism's holiest prayer site — and that construction was not close to being complete when he died.

That proconsul was the guy that was after Pontius Pilate named Valerius Gratus who was there at 17AD.

Bowl Champion Changes Might End Realignment At Last

Well the idea of Boise State, Air Force and San Diego State going to the Big East might be a big waste of time if these changes go into effect.

Sources with direct knowledge of meetings held in San Francisco earlier this week tell ESPN that the suggested change calls for the BCS to sever its direct ties with the BCS bowls -- the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Discover Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl Game -- and focus only on arranging a No. 1 vs. No. 2 national championship game.

So you can kiss automatic qualifiers goodbye. If you don't have these to worry about then there really isn't any reason for a Boise State to join the Big East. Boise might get more money from being in the Big East but they would have to travel to the east coast and to Florida constantly in order to play sometimes mediocre teams.  Currently the furthest they would travel is to Hawaii and that would be every other year. Without a western contingent they would have to play every road game on the other side of the country.

Also what network would pay extra money to get all of the teams that are supposed to be in the 12 team Big East? I don't see tons people on the west coast trying to see South Florida play just like you don't see people in Florida trying to see San Diego State play.

Also the western add-ons don't seem to be really big jump in competition. I mean SMU and Houston (which is good now but has been just middling in years past) really doesn't add any fuel to their chances to go to the BCS title game. The other Big East western targets are already in their league so that is a sideways move. Currently without an automatic qualifier there really seems to be little to be gained from western teams joining the Big East.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

South Korea Passes Trade Pact Despite a Tear Gas Attack

I wonder is someone needs to tear-gas the "Super-Committee of Worthlessness" for failing to do anything but drop the market 300 points. At least we can get some cool Samsung phones on the cheap now.

South Korea’s parliament approved a free trade agreement with the United States in a chaotic session Tuesday, minutes after an opposition legislator set off a tear gas canister in protest at the pact.

Legislators voted 151-7 in favor of the long-delayed deal after ruling party members had caught the opposition off guard by calling a snap parliamentary session.

Syrian Regime Next in Europes Crosshairs

If I was Assad I would be running scared because Europe backs its threats with bombs now.

A resolution drafted by Britain, France and Germany at the UN General Assembly's human rights committee was passed by 122 votes to 13 with 41 abstentions and received considerable support from Arab states. 

David Cameron urged world leaders to engage with Syrian opposition groups as he warned the country was on the brink of a full-scale civil war. 
Speaking alongside Abdullah Gul, the Turkish president, in Downing Street, Mr Cameron said that Turkey and the Arab League, which has drawn up a peace plan for Syria, had "shown welcome leadership and given us a way to stop the brutality of this morally bankrupt regime". 

That's what they were saying about Qaddiffi before they started to send in the Mirages. Also the Turkish President compared Assad to Hitler. Hmm, I wonder if there might be some Turkish troops sent into the fray to "protect border regions?" A stable neighbor and an Israel that isn't on edge all the time might be worth fighting for if you were Turkey playing the Big Game.

Monday, November 07, 2011

New "Chained CPI" to Cut Social Security Benefits

I think this is a pretty good proposal that actually takes into account how inflation actually works.

The inflation measure under consideration is called the Chained Consumer Price Index, or chained CPI. On average, the measure shows a lower level of inflation than the more widely used CPI for All Urban Consumers.

Many economists argue that the chained CPI is more accurate because it assumes that as prices increase, consumers switch to lower cost alternatives, reducing the amount of inflation they experience.

For example, if the price of beef increases while the price of pork does not, people will buy more pork. Or, as opponents mockingly argue, if the price of home heating oil goes up, people will turn down their heat and wear more sweaters.

Of course the chained CPI will result in lower social security increases per year and thus less money for seniors in the long run. 

Under the chained CPI, yearly benefits for a typical 65-year-old would be about $136 less, according to an analysis of Social Security data. At age 75, annual benefits under the new index would be $560 less. At 85, the cut would be $984 a year, and at 95, the annual income loss would amount to $1,392.

That amounts to a $116 a month reduction in a persons social security over that 30 years time. That doesn't sound like a whole lot and you could easily offset the amount with inflation protected bonds if a person will be missing $116 in 30 years. 

Any change that results in Social Security staying solvent beyond the 18-year bankruptcy date is good for me. Then if they want to complete the savings go ahead and cut the social security benefits of people making over a certain income level as seniors. If you are getting big money from your 401K then you really should be getting your social security money cut by a certain amount.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Most Damning Statistic of Obama's Failed Economic Policies

We spent $4 trillion and this is what all that money has bought us.

About 20.5 million Americans, or 6.7 percent of the U.S. population, make up the poorest poor, defined as those at 50 percent or less of the official poverty level. Those living in deep poverty represent nearly half of the 46.2 million people scraping by below the poverty line. In 2010, the poorest poor meant an income of $5,570 or less for an individual and $11,157 for a family of four.

That 6.7 percent share is the highest in the 35 years that the Census Bureau has maintained such records, surpassing previous highs in 2009 and 1993 of just over 6 percent.

The the poor have grown to a historic number under Obama's watch. I mean no amount of stimulus can obscure the fact that Obama was dealt a bad hand and proceeded to make things far worse.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Could one Marine Expeditionary Unit Defeat the Roman Empire?

This is a very interesting thought experiment that spawned a movie called Rome, Sweet Rome.

An MEU typically contains about 2200 troops, along with their artillery and vehicles. According to Erwin’s original reddit story (which will be altered for the movie), the Marines are transported back in time with what they have with them, including M1 Abrams battle tanks, bulletproof vests, M4 rifles, and grenades.

The year Erwin chose (23 B.C.) falls in the reign of Augustus, great-nephew of Julius Caesar and considered the first Roman emperor. His legions numbered nearly 330,000 men. They wore heavy leather and metal armor, carried swords and javelins, and operated catapults. They would have never heard the sound of an explosion before. "Obviously, there is a massive difference in firepower," says Roman military expert and author Adrian Goldsworthy. "Not only would Roman armor be useless against a rifle round—let alone a grenade launcher or a .50 caliber machine gun—it would probably distort the bullet’s shape and make the wound worse."

I would have to agree with Adrian Goldsworthy that eventually the Romans numbers would wear down the Marines who would not be able to resupply or refuel their tanks in 23 BC. However, if they moved quickly toward Rome with local guides they could take the city fairly easily by obliterating any legions in their way and pounding their walls with artillery.

I mean the shock of an M1A Abrams Tank moving down the Appian Way would scare anyone who opposes them. The Roman government would probably cut a deal with these strange outsiders since they are fairly pragmatic when it comes to people that could kill them with invisible lightning.  
Maybe the Romans would give them a large swath of land in Cappadocia or Thrace far from the seat of the Empire. I can see the Emperor providing ships, gold, and foodstuffs aplenty just to get them far away from the capital as possible. 
Also the Marines being soldiers and not politicians they probably would not have dreams of conquest of the entire Empire on their minds. They would want to find their bearings and either figure a way home (which would be impossible) or just make the best of the situation.

However, the 35th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) which is used in the thought experiment would probably be a formidable power in the Ancient World. I can see Kings and Emperors trying to curry favor with them just to get their knowledge and expertise let alone access to their magic exploding devices. They would probably marry into the local Thracian population and create a fairly decent homeland for themselves. I can see the local Thracian King sending his daughter into the Marine camp to marry their General ASAP.

In fact I can easily see the Roman Emperor turning to a Marine general to lead his forces against the Picts or whomever the Empire is trying to conquer. Marines would probably eventually be hired for jobs in all parts of the Roman world. I could see them using their modern knowledge to reshape the Empire and maybe give it a bit of an American flavor as well. 
It wouldn't be long before a rudimentary electric plant sprouts up on the Palatine Hill. Or the Romans will be watching Team Jimmie Johnson against Team Tony Stewart racing chariots in the Circus Maximus. I could see Romans snacking on corn chips and hotdogs at the Colosseum exported from American Thrace. In fact I could see rock and rap music being written for Lyre or Tibia (roman double flute) or a Roman play that has a plot very similar to Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. The Romans were good at soaking up other cultures and America has one of the most soakable.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hey Women, Taking Vitamins Might Kill You that Much Faster

Well, there is a 2.4% increased risk of dying anyway.

The new study linked a number of individual vitamins and minerals to the slight mortality risk, including multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper.

For example, of the 12,769 women in the study who took a daily multivitamin, 40.8 percent had died by the end of 2008, whereas 39.8 percent of the 10,161 women who hadn't taken a daily multivitamin had died.

Mursu said that the design of the study did not allow the researchers to determine if there was a specific cause for the increased mortality.

That doesn't make sense. Wouldn't the study authors be able to look over the data and determine that this vitamin or that vitamin has a higher chance of mortality then the others? Also I would like to know if there is a trend in how the women are dying. So for instance if they all died of some horrible cancer or something then it would be nice for the authors to point that out. In any case I think there might be a lot less pill popping going on going forward.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Sarah Palin Will Not Run: Thank God!

At least she bowed out early so we can get to the actual people running against Obama and get away from Palin bashing by the press.

Wasilla, Alaska After much prayer and serious consideration, I have decided that I will not be seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for President of the United States. As always, my family comes first and obviously Todd and I put great consideration into family life before making this decision. When we serve, we devote ourselves to God, family and country. My decision maintains this order.

She would suck the air out the room and become an easy win for Obama going forward. I think her reputation is just too damaged by the press to be anything except for a television pundit. I mean even though it was Tiny Fey that made that "I can see Russia from my house" remark it has still stuck with Palin even now. If she ran for president she would be defeated by 20 points I think.

Default Social Networker Found

This is a pretty interesting report by Nielsen Research on the default visitor to a social networking site.

Our most active social networker/reader of blogs is a woman between the ages of 18 and 34 and likely to be Asian or Pacific Islander. She lives in New England, holds at least a bachelor's degree and earns less than $50,000 a year. 

I was kind of surprised that this person is Asian and from New England though. Maybe the poll was skewed that way due to how these people were sampled. In any case marketers need to target this person in order to generate a larger percentage of sales via social networking.  

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Green Jobs Programs Created Jobs: Each one Cost $4.85 Million

Talk about no-bang for big bucks.

After spending $17.2 billion of the $38.6 billion allocated for green-jobs stimulation, the programs have created a total of just over 3500 jobs, for a price tag of $4.85 million each.  Now the Inspector General at the Department of Labor has recommended the shutdown of a green-jobs training program that has only placed 15% of its participants:

I just think the "green jobs" sector is mostly pie-in-the-sky stuff so far. I mean the Red Chinese are better at creating solar panels mostly due to their lax environmental standards. Plus, when companies are cutting back the first thing they think about slashing is any "green" initiatives which have high payouts up front but usually have negligible results. I remember IBM was pushing their green data center a while back and it seems to have been a pretty dismal failure.

In any case $4.85 million for each job is case-in-point on how inefficient the government is at creating jobs.

RIP Steve Jobs

Well, I guess a whole era in computing has ended. He was quite a visionary.

Apple Inc. said the company's co-founder Steve Jobs died Wednesday. He was 56. "We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today," the company said in a brief statement.

"Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve."

With the launch of the IPhone 4S it seems that the people coming up behind him may not have the visionary zeal that this guy had. I used to hate Apple but they have really changed my mind and I can see that their products are really quite superior to anything else out there. Hopefully the rest of the people at Apple can pick up the slack.

Xbox to Support Live TV

I am reserving judgement to see how much this service will cost per month.

You already know about Verizon bringing live TV to the Xbox 360, but it turns out that was just the tip of Microsoft’s great big television-related iceberg.

In an effort to transform the television experience, Microsoft has struck deals with nearly 40 entertainment providers to start injecting more media into their gaming platform.

I will watch ads but I will not pay a per month charge on top of Xbox Live. I can only do this for Netflix and perhaps Hulu but that will pretty much be it. Even the ESPN thing on Xbox Live isn't worth my money. However if Verizon just does it for free I might be watching Verizon TV as much as my regular cable.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Could the Amazon Tablet be the IPad Competitor of Choice?

I was reading my daily "Fast Money" transcript and came across an interesting idea.

How worried should Apple be about Amazon's(AMZN_) new tablet? Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research, said Amazon's first table will be formidable because it will offer content and services. She said the tablet will be more of a concern for non-Apple competitors. She said Amazon will be the Android tablet market a year from now.

I have to agree with this Rotman Epps person. First of all you will be getting a built-in Kindle which is a selling point for me right there. Then if you can run Android apps you actually have a whole host of different options open to you. Plus you have the option of watching Flash if you want to see that type of content. I am seriously going to watching the price of the Amazon tablet and maybe pulling the trigger on it if it is cheaper than the IPad 3.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Obama's Job's Bill: Same old Crap

I was expecting more from his huge speech that was supposed to save his presidency. It turns out it is just an extension of the same stuff that wasn't working before. The only difference is:

The newest and boldest element of Obama's plan would slash the Social Security payroll tax both for tens of millions of workers and for employers, too. For individuals, that tax has been shaved from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent for this year but is to go back up again without action by Congress. Obama wants to keep it and deepen the cut to 3.1 percent for workers.

He also had some crap about cutting another $41 per paycheck for middle class workers. I'm not sure how that creates a single new job. He did talk about cutting corporate taxes but nothing about corporations getting an incentive to bring jobs back from overseas.

I do like the idea of cutting loopholes out of the tax code. I think GE should be paying the same tax rate as Siemens and not have a fleet of tax pros and lobbyists to reduce that rate. He did go after oil companies again but they are such an easy target it doesn't matter.

All in all Obama just served up left-overs and hopes America looks at it like its something completely new.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Nooo! Lucas Messes with the Blue-Ray version of Return of the Jedi

I guess Lucus just doesn't know what to do with his time.

If you're having having flashbacks to the awkward moment in "Revenge of the Sith" when the newly created Darth Vader screams "Noooo!" after the Emperor lies to him about Padme's death (awesome parody here), you're not alone. "Star Wars" fans far and wide have voiced their displeasure. Among the disappointed is filmmaker Simon Pegg, who wrote on Twitter that he "always loved Vader's wordless self sacrifice." Pegg then goes on to use salty language to bring home his point.

I agree with Pegg. The original without the stupid Nooo! is a classic. You get to imagine what is going on inside Darth Vader's head as his master is murdering his son. I guess Lucas isn't the kind of person that lets you imagine what you want and has to slather on the worthless sentimentality. You can add this to the Greedo shoots first as yet another Lucas misfire in a long line of tinkering with the originals

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Retailers Think Young Girls in America Are Dolts

I guess a female scientist is out of the question for J.C. Penny and David & Goliath.

A few months ago, the Internet was up in arms over a white David & Goliath T-Shirt that read, in pink bubble letters, "I'm too pretty to do math." Then there was the one with "Future Trophy Wife" written on it.

But many parents think this one is worse.

The long-sleeve T-shirt that J.C. Penney
pulled off its website today amid plenty of parental outrage read: "I'm too pretty to do my homework so my brother has to do it for me." And, judging by the description of the shirt on the J.C. Penney website—"Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out? She’ll love this tee that’s just as cute and sassy as she is"—it seems like the company didn't have a problem with the shirt until customers started to complain.

If you are cute and sassy young girl then you need to be dumb as well. Hmm, can you sense a little misogyny at J.C. Penny?

It Seems that S&P Gave out 14,000 AAA Ratings

The more I think about them downgrading the US debt the more I see it in purely political terms. According to this article it seems that quite a few different things have AAA ratings that shouldn't.

Even though S&P this month cut the U.S. government's credit rating to double-A-plus, from an earlier triple-A, the ratings company is far less parsimonious in handing out its highest ratings to other borrowers. As Bloomberg's Zeke Faux and Jody Shenn report today, S&P currently assigns a triple-A rating to more than 14,000 securitized bonds in the U.S.

Those triple-A credits include bonds backed by car-dealer loans and farm-equipment leases: two types of borrowings known for higher default rates in economic slumps. S&P also keeps awarding triple-A ratings to some securities backed by subprime home loans, a type of investment that fared disastrously after housing prices began slumping in 2007-08.

Yeah car loans, farm equipment loans, and subprime home loans are all more creditworthy then the number one economy in the world. I still think Congress needs to investigate S&P and make sure they are all on the up-and-up.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tweens Candid Views on Social Networking: It's Pretty Desturbing

This article is strait up scary about how social networking is affecting tweens. I did a double take on the following admissions:

1. I feel safer online than I do offline.  So I do things online that I wouldn’t do in real life.”
--Sadie, 14 years old

This fits a generation brought up with 2 wars (now 3) and in the shadow of 9/11. I'm pretty sure Muslim terrorists won't be bothering your Farmville Farm anytime soon. It is sad how the fantasy world online is more palatable then the real world with real people in it. The Red Chinese are going to run over these kids.

2. “Social networking affects all the things you do in real life now.  Like, if you go to a party, one of the most important aspects of going to the party is to document yourself for online posts.  You have to prove you were looking good, you were having fun, and that you were actually there!  It’s not about the party anymore but about the pictures of the party.”  
--Caroline, 14 years old

This statement gave me a William Gibson/Shadowrun vibe. So meatspace is just a pale extension of cyberspace? Like if you didn't put it on Facebook it didn't happen. This goes a long way to explaining why kids are so insular in their knowledge and let nothing new into their closed off minds. Their world revolves around their little coterie of friends and their online lives. It's pretty sad.

3.  “I feel sad, depressed, jealous, or whatever when I don’t get a lot of “Likes” on my photo or when someone else gets way more Likes than me. Honestly, I’m not sure that parents realize how drastically it affects our self-image and confidence. If I see a picture of a really pretty girl, it’s like ‘Goodbye self-esteem.’  It forces me to compete and do stuff that I don’t want to do, so my confidence will get a boost.”  

--Samantha, 14 years old

I guess this is the first inkling of Facebook Syndrome. Your "Likes" define your self-worth which makes almost no sense at all. She is actually comparing herself to another girl and uses Facebook "likes" as a measure of her own self-esteem. The need for therapists in 10 years will be staggering.

4. “My friendships are really affected by social networking. You have to constantly validate your friends online. And everyone’s like ‘Where were you?’ ‘What have you been doing?’  ‘Why haven’t you commented on my picture yet?’ So you have to be online all the time, just to keep track, so you don’t upset anyone.”  

--Jasmine, 13 years old

I guess this is the result of a Facebook rat race where you have to be present and online at all times or people become upset with you. If I was this girl I would self-delete with a few good friends and take the friendship back into meatspace. I have a feeling that her life will be so much richer and happier because she will only need validation from a few people and not tons of random people.

5. “I really want my mom to be proud of me.  Obviously, I want her to think I’m writing my essay or doing things I should be doing instead of being on Facebook.  But I also want to be online. So I lie or accuse her of not trusting me.  It’s awful, but I’ve become really comfortable with lying.”  
--Maya, 14 years old

This statement is probably the most harrowing to me. A bunch of kids validated by technology that are comfortable about lying is a recipe for disaster later on. Hopefully, there will be a Facebook backlash and these kids will unplug and enjoy meatspace a little bit more.

Yahoo Sports Deserves the Pulitzer Prize for their University of Maimi Expose

It's weird that a web page is doing better reporting than the big news dailies nowadays. In any case they deserve the Pulitzer for all the work they did.

In an effort to substantiate the booster’s claims, Yahoo! Sports audited approximately 20,000 pages of financial and business records from his bankruptcy case, more than 5,000 pages of cell phone records, multiple interview summaries tied to his federal Ponzi case, and more than 1,000 photos. Nearly 100 interviews were also conducted with individuals living in six different states. In the process, documents, photos and 21 human sources – including nine former Miami players or recruits, and one former coach – corroborated multiple parts of Shapiro’s rule-breaking.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

University of Miami Football Might in big Trouble Off the Field

Well, it looks like cheating to win in college football is still live and well after they gave the Death Penalty to SMU.

The NCAA has a checklist when it comes to major infractions cases and Shapiro can click through most of it quickly. There’s no denying his role as an official Miami booster – “an ardent, devoted, intense supporter,” the school website once described him. There is no question he owned part of Axcess Sports, which had signed Vince Wilfork and Jon Beason, Hurricane players who became first-round NFL picks.

And there is no question Shapiro provided scores of Miami athletes with impermissible benefits from 2002-2010. In March 2011, he began working with a team of NCAA investigators and Shapiro said they call it, “the biggest case they’ve ever had.” Multiple media reports say NCAA investigators were on the Coral Gables campus Monday.

The most difficult issue for Miami, the one that will cause the NCAA hammer to drop harder and swifter than any other is this: did school officials know, or should they have known, of Shapiro’s actions?

I wonder if the NCAA would drop the "Death Penalty" on Miami or not? It seems like there were payoffs and other bad things for 8 years and the officials may have known about it. They can't really say that it was the fault of one bad egg coach like Ohio State did. I think the boom will fall pretty hard on the Canes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Cancer Therapy Turns T-Cells into Cancer "Serial Killers"

So far it has been only tried on 3 patients that have leukemia but it seems that two of them were totally cured by the technique.

June and his colleagues made changes to the technique, using a novel carrier to deliver the new genes into the T-cells and a signaling mechanism telling the cells to kill and multiply.

That resulted in armies of "serial killer" cells that targeted cancer cells, destroyed them, and went on to kill new cancer as it emerged. It was known that T-cells attack viruses that way, but this is the first time it's been done against cancer, June said.

It does result in the worst flu of your life as all the cancer cells die off at the same time but two of the patients emerged cancer free. I wonder if you can train these killer cells to kill off other types of cancer too? It seems that Dendreon's trick of taking out the patients blood and then putting it back with all sorts of cancer killers included may be quite a breakthrough. 

I'm looking forward to the "cancer serial killer" technique being scaled up to a large population of cancer patients. If we get a 2/3rd cure rate then maybe we can turn the corner on one of the world's worst killers once and for all.

The Open and Tolerant Liberal Mindset: Yeah Right

This article struck me as funny.

If she someday embraces "family values," the Tea Party or other right-wing agendas, could it damage my relationship with her? Although I try to understand my parents' political beliefs, I don't. When I see what Newsmax "article" or Wall Street Journal editorial my father "likes" on Facebook, or glance at a photo, taken a few years back, of my folks dressed as McCain and Palin for Halloween, I feel physically sick. Sometimes it's hard to even have simple conversations with them. Even the most innocent pleasantry, like "Nice weather," could spiral out of control if I don't watch what I say. (For the record, they are loving grandparents and are far more gracious than I am about not bringing up delicate topics.) If my dad says, "I bet you guys are happy you're not back east this winter. All that snow in New York." I'm tempted to mutter something about climate change, but instead I bite my tongue and say, "Yes, in Portland we don't have to shovel rain." 

So she feels physically sick by her parents being conservative? I have not felt that way at all about liberals and their beliefs. I find them funny sometimes but I am never sickened by them. About the only far-left thinking I feel sick about is the notion of committing genocide and sterilization of 3rd world peoples in order to combat global warming. But only the most radical of environmentalists think that way.

Also I think this mother needs to take a step back and understand that everything isn't about politics. "Nice weather" doesn't have to be an indictment against her global warming obsession. It only spirals out of control because this woman is a nut job that gets sick because her parents wear a costume of hated political figures or dares to "Like" a Wall Street Journal Editorial.

I really hope her daughter becomes a full-throated Hannity-eqsue conservative just to freak her mom out. I mean sometimes the most ardent conservatives were once liberals who opened their eyes about how contradictory and flawed the thinking is on the left. But I bet the daughter won't get physically sick at her mom dressing like Hillary Clinton to a Halloween party.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

New Catwoman Costume: Yeah it Looks Stupid

Well I have to agree with the Internet push-back against the new Catwoman costume. It does look pretty goofy.


It is pretty much a black jumpsuit with some dorky glasses. I mean the glasses kind of look like a cats face but the blue lights also remind me of a Bluetooth headset. What was wrong with skin-tight leather and a whip? Even the purple costume with the green cape from the 50s (the Dick Sprang era Batman) looked a little sexier then this one.

The side view is even more unflattering. She looks like she is either wearing a mullet or a Frankenstein hair-do. The motorcycle is kind of cool looking I guess. Oh well, I'm not a huge Catwoman fan so it isn't as big a deal as it would be to some fan boys out there.

Our Budget Breakdown: Or what we should Cut

This is a pretty good primer on what we need to cut in order to get our house in order.

Though the Federal budget is a lengthy beast, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities neatly lays out the spending breakdown: 20% of spending goes to Social Security, 21% goes to Medicare & Medicaid, 20% goes to defense, about 6% goes to interest payments on our debt and another 14% to so-called "safety net" programs. The remaining 20% is spent on veteran's benefits, medical research, education, infrastructure and other smaller programs. 

So it is pretty clear. Cut social security by 10% by moving the age up or reducing payouts or whatever. Then cut Medicare by 10% by doing the same. I like the Ryan plan that provides you with vouchers where you can buy your own health insurance instead of Medicare. As long as the government stops abuse by insurance companies then it might work out. Whatever the case make both things solvent before I retire or cheerfully refund my money.

Then we can cut defense now that we are winding down one of our wars. Maybe 5% or whatever savings we will get from leaving Iraq. The 14% safety net programs can be cut slightly or just farm some out more to the states or to church and charity groups. That last 20% might be hard to cut but maybe they can shave off 5% somewhere.

Then we raise revenue but cutting out tons of tax breaks and simplifying the tax code and we would be back on the path to solvency again. I would first get rid of the interest deduction on mortgage debt. I mean living in your house is enough of a bonus why should the tax payers also give you some free cash as well? Then get rid of all tax breaks for certain corporations. GE and Exxon needs to pay some taxes like everyone else.

Then you cut the corporate and individual tax rates like the Gang of 6 plan did and suddenly you are back on the path to growth again. Too bad Congress and the White House are full of people that want to be reelected more than they want to fix our economy. Hopefully getting our debt rating cut will wake up some people and get them from playing the blame game to fixing the economy.

It's Been 3 Years and Obama is Still Blaming Bush

These kind of statements just take so much gall it isn't even funny.

"We do have a serious problem in terms of debt and deficit, and much of it I inherited," Obama said. The financial crisis, he said, made the problem worse.

Stop saying this and fix the problems already. Yeah it was bad when Bush left office but at least the unemployment rate was still 6% then. It has jumped to 9% and the White House has nothing up its sleeve to fix the problem. Blaming the other guy does not create any jobs or increase the GDP.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Moody's Reaffirms AAA debt of the US. For Now.

Why haven't we had these people in front of committees right now? I mean they played a huge part in the 2008 Housing Crisis by giving bundles of junk loans top ratings. Now they are holding billions of dollars hostage with their ratings.

Moody's Investor's Service expects to maintain the United States' top-notch rating for now, despite the "limited magnitude" of the deficit reduction plans being discussed in Washington.

But Moody's on Friday warned that affirmation of its Aaa credit rating for the United States will likely come with a negative outlook, meaning it would not downgrade the rating immediately but could do so in the medium term.

I think there should be much more stringent regulation in this debt rating market to prevent further abuses.  The idea that a private company holds so much power over our everyday lives needs some sort of brake or federal oversight involved.

Thundercats Revamped. I Like It!

It seems the Thundercats are getting an anime makeover. It looks pretty good to me. Judge for yourself:

Obama's Approval Rating Hits All Time Low

There is now a 10% gap between the Likes and Dislikes.

Just 41 percent of the public said they approved of the way Obama was handling the debt-ceiling negotiations, while 52 percent disapproved, according to another Gallup poll released Thursday. Nonetheless, Obama still polls better than congressional leadership. Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid both received even lower approval rates.

I think Americans are saying a pox on all houses. I am in agreement. If these ass-grabs don't get a deal together and we go into technical default I will be very angry. If we have a 700 point move lower on the Dow due to these idiots I will be very, very angry.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What If America was a Publicly Traded Company?

Well, I would short it first of all but this is a pretty interesting report from Mary Meeker if America ran as a publicly traded company called America Inc.

America's financial challenges are headlined by a negative net worth of $44 trillion (or $371,000 per household) and gross debt as a percent of GDP in excess of 90%. But they can be solved with constraint and reduction in government spending at the top of the list. Entitlement spending is the largest expense by far and has risen to 57% of annual expenses, up from 25% 40 years ago. By the government's own forecast, our annual entitlement spending plus the interest expense on our debt is expected to surpass our revenue within 15 years. We all need to acknowledge the problems and commit to change. 

Yeah pretty much. I wish we could just toss out the CEO (President) the senior management (Senate and Congress) and hire some guys from Apple to run the company. I'm pretty sure they would get that debt thing under control and it would be a real blast to do any business with the Federal Government (which would all be on the USACloud with an ergonomically designed web page.)

Kudlow Understands How Good the Gang of 6 Plan Actually Is

I really think that more conservatives need to follow Larry Kudlow in his support of the "Gang of Six" Deficit Reduction plan.

The best part of the Gang of Six plan is a reduction in the top personal tax rate from 35% to a range of 23 to 29%. For businesses, the rate would drop in the same manner. And the corporate tax would be territorial rather than global, thereby avoiding the double tax on foreign earnings of U.S. companies. Finally, the plan would abolish the $1.7 trillion alternative minimum tax. That's huge. It's another pro-growth tax reform. 

Just the reduction of the double taxing would unleash billions of dollars for American companies to grow with. Plus, companies can finally stop gaming the tax system with tricks and worry about raising their revenue numbers. I mean GE can stop trying to lobby Congress and the White House for tax breaks and concentrate on creating new products and hiring people so their company can grow.

Also getting rid of the dreaded AMT would save millions of upper middle class people from getting hit with massive tax bills. I would love to see rich people just pay 29% of their income in taxes and not try to claim farm land and other nonsense just to reduce their overall tax bill.

No games or sharp minded accountants gaming the system but just you made X and multiply by 29% and write a check for that amount payable to the IRS.

This thinking actually harkens back to Reagan who wanted a tax system with 3 lines. How much you made, percentage of how much made, and how much you owe. They do raise capital gains by 5% but that can be gamed away with strategic stock sales. Or maybe just let lower income investors like me keep my 15% capital gains tax. In any case just simplify taxes and you will have millions of happy Americans.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Gang of Six" Spending Cut Plan: Looks Good so Far

Um, pass the damn thing already so the market doesn't have an excuse to sell off as we get closer to the August 2nd deadline. On looking at the plan it does seem like a fairly good compromise. This part is red meat for me.

Reform the tax code: The plan would eliminate some tax breaks, reform others, halve the number of income tax brackets to three from six, and reduce rates. 

The rate on the new brackets would fall between 8% and 12% for those in the lowest bracket; 14% and 22% for those in the middle bracket; and 23% and 29% for those in the top bracket. Rates today run from 10% on the low end to 35% on the high end.

I'm in the middle bracket so I would have my taxes cut by 6% hopefully. If they keep capital gains rates for me at 15% I would back this thing wholeheartedly. I mean shaving $4 trillion off of the deficit in 10 years sounds like a great idea in the first place. That means we would only be $10 trillion in the hole and can whittle that down further if the recovery becomes more robust. It would be so cool to have a budget surplus sometime in my lifetime.

I mean if the GOP wins the Senate next year they can push through a Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment and maybe we will be able to finally get something other that $1 trillion in debt added onto our deficit each year.

Wall of Worry at 22 Blocks?

Very interesting article on all the different head-ways that are standing in front of the market now. Yet we are climbing that wall at least of the time being with today's 200 point move upward. Thanks IBM you did wonders. You got the market to not focus on Washington BS and onto companies that are making piles of money with great products. Here are the 22 blocks as put out by Lloyd Khaner.

QE III: Okay maybe just a little scratch to get us over the hump…again.

U.S. ECONOMY: Down, but not out. Emphasis on “down”.

UNEMPLOYMENT: Not looking for some corner office c-suite position, “just talking about some shiftwork, a big ol’ pile of shiftwork, working 7-to-3, 3-to-11, 11-to-7…”
U.S. DEBT CEILING: Playing catch with a hand grenade. Not advisable. (Our Debt Ceiling Countdown Clock is still sticking!)

The patient isn’t dead yet, but we're getting a mighty irregular heartbeat.

HOUSING CRISIS: Seeming more and more like the cavemen had it right.

INFLATION: China and the EU are fighting it tooth and nail. And they're promptly losing their teeth and nails.

“We’re baaaaack.” And spending a gloriously torrid summer in Europe.

OIL PRICES: The sub-$100/barrel price on WTI crude is possibly all that’s keeping the recession screamers from re-emerging en masse.

ARAB SPRING: The normally calm, cool and collected Jordan enters the fray.

Now up to 30-plus countries vs. Mo-Mo & Co., and still no end in sight.

Taking every positive they can get -- and winning the Women’s Soccer World Cup is worth a psychological boast if not an economic one.

CHINA: Doing their best to compete with the US in a who-can-lose-financial-credibility-faster tourney. I advise not sitting in the front row to watch this race.

EARNINGS SEASON: Not going to be terrible. Not going to be great. Going to be okay, like eating jello or listening to Josh Groban music.

SOVEREIGN DEBT: Daily threats of a downgrade of US Debt which has never happened in history. As my mother says, “Sometimes making history isn’t a good thing.”

COMMODITIES: “Rough rice” (aka regular old raw harvested rice) is spiking to 12-month highs. Not great, as 2 billion of us humans subsist on it.

POLICY MISTAKE: None last week. But not for lack of trying!

EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK: It’s big decision time and it has been for a month. So maybe it's also get-a-new-calendar (and a watch) time as well.

Some are suggesting that Greece sell off islands to pay off its debt. I myself have taken out a no-interest, 3-year exploding option ARM loan at 5% on Santorini.

SPAIN: Neatly passed the buck to Italy during a siesta.

ITALY: Now starring in the lead role of “Eurolanden Debtnicus Tragedia” Also see: Italian-Inspired Market Panic Pauses, Awaiting Thursday's Greece Summit

Monday, July 18, 2011

Herman Cain Against Building a Mosque in Tennessee

This is exactly the reason why I sometimes dislike the GOP.

During a discussion on "Fox News Sunday" of a proposed mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn. that has drawn protests, legal challenges and even arson, host Chris Wallace asked the former Godfather's Pizza CEO his feelings about communities that wish to ban mosques.

"Yes, they have the right to do that," Cain replied.

Um, I just have to say that preventing a mosque from being built on private land is strait-up un-American. I mean this is the land of the free what do we have to fear from Islam? Political Islam is starting to show cracks anyway. I mean the Iranian regime will probably not last another 10 years and our form of government seems to be sweeping through the Middle East as we speak.

So what if there is a mosque in Tennessee? If nefarious things are going on there the FBI can look into it. Its not like as soon as they build the thing an Al-Quida cell will move right in or other nonsense. I mean would Cain be against a Synagogue or a Wiccan Church being built there? So the separation of church and state part doesn't matter.

Just let people use private land for whatever the purpose they want as long as it is legal. That is the only way to look at this as an American. It is not the Land of the Free (as long as you aren't Muslim) its the Land of the Free for everyone.

Tom Coburn Takes an Axe to the Budget: $9 Trillion in Savings!

Now this is exactly what we need in order to get this deficit under control. Coburn doesn't spare the axe anywhere even raising taxes and cutting veteran benefits and raises the retirement and Medicare age.

The plan by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is laced with politically perilous proposals like raising to 70 the age at which people can claim their full Social Security benefits. It would cut farm subsidies, Medicare, student aid, housing subsidies for the poor, and funding for community development grants. Coburn even takes on the powerful veterans' lobby by proposing that some veterans pay more for medical care and prescription drugs.

Let's debate some of his proposals. The more I look at Social Security and Medicare the more I think it will go bankrupt years before I retire. If that is the case I better have every dollar I pay into the system refunded to me with interest. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It Looks Like the GOP Leadership is Caving on Rasing the Debt Limit

I think some fairly meaningful spending reform could have come out of this whole mess but instead it seems the GOP is as addicted to spending as the Dems.

Ahead of a fourth negotiating session at the White House in as many days, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell defended his proposal to give President Barack Obama new powers to increase the nation's borrowing limit without GOP support.

"I refuse to help Barack Obama get re-elected by marching Republicans into a position where we have co-ownership of a bad economy," McConnell said on a radio talk show, contending that letting the nation go into financial default would give Obama reason to blame Republicans for the negative fallout.

McConnell is such a spineless weasel. I mean we will eventually default on our debt anyway if we keep spending like we are now. Hell, at this rate Medicare and Social Security will be bankrupt nearly a decade before I retire. If the GOP won't fight for deep cuts in every program then who will?  

I kind of understand that the GOP will be blamed for a debt default though and Obama will be a hero to the markets for marching in and invoking the 14th Amendment. I mean the market is already getting kind of antsy about a default. As we get closer to the deadline it will start to get worse and worse. A US Government Debt default is no joke.

Still a deal could have been reached without McConnell cutting out Boehner's legs like this. I guess McConnell got a call from some Wall Street Hedge funds or bankers or something that are long the market to throw water on the fire before it gets out of hand. 

In any case I think it is about damn time for someone to show McConnell the door. He caved on Obamacare and now he is caving on the debt ceiling. He really isn't on the side of fiscal conservancy so what use do I have with him?

Um, Obama Fly to Germany for the World Cup Already

Yeah, I don't like his political bent or his policies but he is our Commander-and-Chief and our Women's National Team is poised to win the World Cup so hop on a plane and fly out there posthaste.

After beating France 3-1 on Wednesday to book their place in the title game, several members of the squad told how the presence of the Commander in Chief would cap off a spectacular tournament. The Americans would be strong favorites to beat Japan in Frankfurt.

I mean if it was the Men's team vying for the World Cup he would be out there without any hesitiation  So it would be a nice capper for women's sports in general to have the President flying out to see them compete for the games highest honor. Although maybe the last minute security concerns may be a little much but he would be flying to Germany and not Sudan or something so there is that.

Breaking California into 2 States? Hmm, Might be a Good Idea

It is a little too big in the first place and this plan pretty much amounts to the blue portion breaking away from the red portion of the state.

Stone's idea has some merit, some analysts say. It addresses the problematic balance of power between Sacramento and California localities, as well as the political reality that the 13 counties in Stone's secession drive are far more conservative than the rest of the state. But the vision remains legally and politically unrealistic, many add, and is perhaps not the best solution to the problems it seeks address. 

The liberals in the Coastal Cities can then raise their taxes and provide a more socialist utopia without the eastern part of the state trying to inject realism or fiscal restraint. Plus, this would be great for liberals who are for gay rights because they would not have the conservative part of the state striking down their amendments.

I think it should be set up how West Virginia and Virginia are separated. So we would have California and Eastern California. Sounds like an interesting plan even though it will probably not fly.

Friday, July 08, 2011

What did the Philistines Eat?

It seems that quite a trove of information is coming from the ruins of a Philistine town called Gat.

Archaeologists have found that the Philistine diet leaned heavily on grass pea lentils, an Aegean staple. Ancient bones discarded at the site show that they also ate pigs and dogs, unlike the neighboring Israelites, who deemed those animals unclean — restrictions that still exist in Jewish dietary law.

What the hell is grass pea lentils? It sounds like some kind of thing you pick up at Whole Foods. It seems the town was raised by everyone's favorite conqueror, Nebuchadnezzar in 604 B.C. and all of the inhabitants put to the sword. Those ancient invaders did not fool around I tell you.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

TSA to Require you to Remove Your Skin when You Get on an Airplane

I can see the headline from the future already after the latest insidious terrorist plot.

US officials have warned airlines terror groups may be mulling implanting bombs under the skins of passengers, reports said Wednesday, but stressed the alert was not linked to any specific threat.

The Los Angeles Times said the US administration had warned airlines that extremist groups were considering surgically implanting explosives into people to try to beat enhanced airport security measures.

Passengers flying to the United States could now face even tougher screening procedures, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, Nicholas Kimball, told the daily.

Yup the TSA will now require you to remove your entire skin so that they can check to see if there is a bomb hidden under there. I think they should just require everyone to fly naked and they just knock everyone out with a cabin pressure change. Then they wake you up after the plane has landed. In the meantime they will scan every passenger with a total MRI to see if there were bombs implanted or not. The TSA is just ridiculous now.

Massive Storm Seen on Saturn: This one is BIG!

It sure is mind numbing sometimes the things that go on in this solar system.

Imagine being caught in a thunderstorm as wide as the Earth with discharges of lightning 10,000 times more powerful than normal, flashing 10 times per second at its peak. 

Now imagine that this storm is still unfolding, eight months later.

Now this is one impressive sight. The idea of lightning 10,000 times more powerful than earth is pretty nuts. Imagine if one of those things hit your city. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Huge Cheating Scandal Unearthed in Atlanta Schools: 178 Teachers and Principals Involved

Now this is about as bad as it could get for teachers and principals and sets a terrible example to the kids.

Award-winning gains by Atlanta students were based on widespread cheating by 178 named teachers and principals, said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday. His office released a report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that names 178 teachers and principals – 82 of whom confessed – in what's likely the biggest cheating scandal in US history.

It also appears to have all because of filthy lucre.

The 55,000-student Atlanta public school system rose in national prominence during the 2000s, as test scores steadily rose and the district received notice and funding from the Broad Foundation and the Gates Foundation. But behind that rise, the state found, were teachers and principals in 44 schools erasing and changing test answers.

These principals even went so far as to stonewall investigators and punish whistle-blowers. Oh well, I guess no one looks at it as cheating the kids. I mean bonuses are at stake so why shouldn't teachers "teach to the test" or simply erase the answers on the test?

I guess there needs to be more emphasis on other factors rather then teaching. I think it would be interesting to base some of these benchmarks on graduation rate or the number of kids that get into college or technical schools. I mean school is supposed to prepare you for the real world so the idea of real world outcomes might be something to put into the mix.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Treasure Hunt School of Retailing

Hmm, I think this is a great idea that would certainly get me going back to the store again and again.

Constantly cycling in fresh merchandise is critical as the Web makes it harder for stores to compete on price. After all, why drive to a store that offers "everyday low prices" when you can find the same products cheaper online? Surprises also create suspense and encourage repeat visits.

Yeah, you buy the essentials using something like Amazon Prime and then you go to the retail store to buy something interesting. I remember going to Costco and seeing them stock things like German chocolate or funny biscuits from Europe. I would be much more willing to buy something like this on a whim to see how they taste. As long as the price is reasonable then I would try it just to try it.

The Story Behind the CIA Analyst that Caught Bin Laden

I really hope we have many more guys like him working the front lines at the CIA.

The analyst was the first to put in writing last summer that the CIA might have a legitimate lead on finding bin Laden. He oversaw the collection of clues that led the agency to a fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. His was among the most confident voices telling Obama that bin Laden was probably behind those walls.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Can Obama Get Around the Debt Ceiling usng the 14th Amendment?

Now this is a very interesting issue and might be seen as going around the separation of powers.

Critics of the debt limit cite the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states: "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned." (Emphasis ours)

Of course, the Fourteenth Amendment is open to wide, and varying, interpretation and debate. The most basic question here is, does a limit on debt "question" the "validity" of the debt?

I wonder if this means that we can default at all? It seems to be a violation of Constitution if we "question the validity" of the public debt by defaulting on it.  Would we have to find money somewhere no matter what (I guess lease off some monuments or something) to pay off the debt?

I guess Obama would have a shaky leg to stand on if he just tasked the Treasury Department with paying off our debts no matter what the ceiling is and issuing bonds if they have to. I mean after world markets tank if Congress doesn't get a debt ceiling move he would look like a White Knight unilaterally raising the the debt ceiling. Actually the thing he would worry about is the "validity of public debt" to foreign holders. It is a sticky constitutional issue that might come up in August at the earliest.

Reporter Suspended After Calling Obama a Dick

Um, what is so inappropriate about letting out your opinion on the President. I mean they called Bush far worse than that.

"Are we on the seven-second delay?" Halperin asked.

"We have it. We can use it. Go for it. Let's see what happens," co-anchor Joe Scarborough replied.

"I thought he was a dick yesterday," Halperin replied, sending the hosts into a brief moment of panic.

Halperin apologized later on in the show and issued his own mea culpa hours later via MSNBC.

"I completely agree with everything in MSNBC's statement about my remark," he said. "I believe that the step they are taking in response is totally appropriate. Again, I want to offer a heartfelt and profound apology to the President, to my MSNBC colleagues, and to the viewers. My remark was unacceptable, and I deeply regret it."

Well, MSNBC is a mouthpiece for the White House so I understand that they will brook no bad words against the Fearless Leader. What was funny is that some sources I read called it a slur. I was all expecting Halprin to be "suspended indefinitely" because he called Obama some racist name but since when is dick a slur?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Good News Kids: The Government Can't Stop you From Buying Grand Theft Auto

I guess the parents now need to exercise some responsibility if they don't want their kids playing violent games.

On a 7-2 vote, the high court upheld a federal appeals court decision to throw out California's ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento had ruled that the law violated minors' rights under the First Amendment, and the high court agreed.

"No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm," said Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion. "But that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed."

Well, the different anti-video game groups can now go into overdrive saying that it was violent video games that caused whatever social ill they want to scapegoat. What is funny is that the ban probably didn't effect kids as much as some people would believe. I mean most minors have played these games due to lax parents or an older sibling or friends buying them the game. It was one of those laws like prohibition that no one actually followed unless they weren't likely to play the games in the first place.