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.