Monday, February 27, 2012

Ways to Fix the Oscars

Well changing hosts might not be a good idea but I agree that the show is looking pretty old and tired.

1. Go Back to Five Best Picture Nominees:

I have to agree with this point. This year you knew that The Artist was a sort of lock to win it all so the other 9 movies are just a waste of time. It narrows the field and if Oscar watchers are interested they could see these movies before the telecast so they can handicap it. Only one year did I watch all 5 movies that were nominated but it is kind of nice to see a movie that I saw and loved win the award (ie Kings Speech, Return of the King, The Departed)

2. When the Academy Gives You Lemons, Make What Jimmy Kimmel Did

Yeah I think amping up the comedy regardless of what movies are nominated is a good idea. I think the Oscars get to stiff-necked sometimes and need to make fun of themselves more often.

3. Make the Show About the Year in Film, Not the Year in Awards Season:

This is a great idea. Make it a celebration of the year in movies more than a celebration of a few movies that almost nobody goes to see. That way, when you watch, at least you can see a few of your favorites along with whatever black and white silent film the Academy is honoring.

4. Old Flim Clips: Just Bury Them at Sea Already:

Yeah we don't need to remind people how much better Casablanca, Patton, or Bridge Over the River Kwai is than most of the crap that comes out these days. 

5. More Sacha Baron Cohen:
They should have so made him a presenter and allowed him to go ape-shit. The buzz seems to be what we remember from the telecast anyway so they might as well ramp it up a bit. I remember Roberto Benigni getting all nutzo when he won Best Actor far more than the movie that won that year. I think getting a few stunts in makes the show memorable and goes back to the notion that the Oscars should not be so stiff-necked about themselves. Maybe they should let everyone get drunk like the Golden Globes?

Obama Sneaks Dividend Tax Hike Into Budget

This guy just can't resist hiking taxes on everyone and hitting retirees directly in the teeth.

Mr. Obama is proposing to raise the dividend tax rate to the higher personal income tax rate of 39.6% that will kick in next year. Add in the planned phase-out of deductions and exemptions, and the rate hits 41%. Then add the 3.8% investment tax surcharge in ObamaCare, and the new dividend tax rate in 2013 would be 44.8%—nearly three times today's 15% rate. 

We are only just getting dividends back up to a decent level and this ignoramus wants to tax them at nearly triple the rate? The funny part is that they think that only people making $200K or more will be affected by this stupidity.

Companies don't make dividend decisions based on people making more than some magic "not paying their fair share" number. They make it on the total amount of people receiving dividends. So if dividends are taxed at 44% then companies will just sink them into stock buybacks and cease paying them out.  It seems like the kind of plan a person who owns nearly no stocks (Obama the king of the Profit and Earnings Ratio) would come up with.

Actually, the people this hoses are retirees who are using income mutual funds to augment their social security money. They get like 0.5% interest from the bank, treasury bonds pay hardly anything, and now Obama wants to indirectly steal their dividend money as well?

It almost seems like a reckless plan to get all seniors on Social Security (and Social Secuity only) so that they can be easily manipulated. So it comes down to vote for the Dems you retirees or we will starve you to death. Luckily this budget can be safely ignored. I was praising the damn thing too just a little while ago. I guess Obama just can't resist the impulse to hike taxes anyway he can get away with it.

Scientific Ethics Task Force Chair Resigns After Phishing Attack on Climate Skeptics

I think this really is no way for a scientist to act when they are trying to convince people to fork over billions to prevent something that they say are happening.

Peter Gleick resigned as chair of AGU’s Task Force on Scientific Ethics on 16 February, prior to admitting in a blog post that he obtained documents from the Heartland Institute under false pretenses. His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives. It is a tragedy that requires us to stop and reflect on what we value as scientists and how we want to be perceived by the public.

Yeah, after Climate scientists were caught fooling with models and "hiding the decline" they are now phishing their skeptics in order to dig up dirt on them. I didn't think they could have done any more damage to their reps but this makes things even worse. It really shows that they will stop at nothing like modern day Crusaders to get their point across.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Brave Kid Goes Home Rather Than Face more Painful Cancer Treatments

Now this 12 year old has more guts then 20 guys my age.

A 12-year old boy who has battled a rare form of cancer since he was 7 has made a bold decision. He is stopping his treatments so he can go home and be with his family.

Alex Rodriguez  is aware of what his decision means. So is his hometown of Shelbyville, Tenn., which has rallied around the boy who is facing such a stark decision with such maturity and good humor.

That is quite a tough choice for anyone to make. It's also good to see the town rally around him. This part touched me:

Jeffrey McGee, a minister from Edgemont Baptist Church who set up a bank account for donations, is asking stores in the area to cover up their signs with messages to Alex so when he rides through town he can see people supporting him.

Florists in town are putting together blue ribbons for people to hang outside on their mailboxes or street lamps to show their support.

That will probably be his last ride and it will be surrounded by an outpouring of support from his entire town. A great way to go out I should say.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Obama Considers Lowering the Corporate Tax Rate; Good Job Barry

Well I guess he seems to want to cut taxes somewhere at long last.

The president wants to lower the U.S. corporate tax rate from the current 35 percent, the highest in the world after Japan. Under his plan, manufacturers would receive incentives so that their effective tax rate could be even lower. 

Obama's election-year plan would set a new 28 percent corporate tax rate, still higher than the 25 percent rate sought by congressional Republicans. 

At least it is a starting point to jump off from. Also getting rid of all the corporate welfare that allowed GE to pay $0 in taxes is also something I get behind as well. I'm not so sure about having some minimum tax on overseas profits but something needs to be done to repatriate those funds.

Some companies have billions of dollars trapped overseas because they don't want to give 35% of that money to the government as soon as they ship it back. Maybe tax it at half the rate or something for a period of time then bring it up to the normal rate later on. Companies should not be penalized for growing their companies outside of the US but they should pay some taxes on that money though.

Christie Tells Buffett to Shut Up

Well, I have to agree with the governor on this point.

"He should just write a check and shut up," Christie said. "I'm tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he's got the ability to write a check -- go ahead and write it."

Earlier in the interview, responding to a question on class warfare in the political system, Christie, who has developed a reputation for not mincing words, said he didn't want to discuss Buffett.

"I'm so tired of talking about Warren Buffett," Christie said. "What are you going to bring up next, his secretary?"

There is a line on his taxes that says Taxes Owed. If Buffett thinks things are unfair then take whatever figure on that line and add 15% or 25% when he makes out the check. Call it the Leaving a Generous Gratuity for all the good work that Buffett thinks the government does. I'm sure it will be wasted in some record time or go to pay off some Red Chinese banker somewhere.

Hell, if I could get my way (and not go to jail) I would not pay taxes until there is a firm auditing of every department by an unimpeachable outside source. Once I know my money isn't poured down a crap-hole somewhere then I will gladly pay taxes.

I will still bristle at paying capital gains taxes though. I took the risk and did the Due Diligence why should the government get a cut of my gain when the company I invested in has already paid taxes? The same goes for dividends and interest. Any meaningful tax reform should lower my capital gains and dividends taxes to 0% or it is just crap to me.

Hot Water World Found Only 40 Light Years Away

I wonder if this would be a prime candidate to send a probe out to some time in the future.

But GJ 1214b, which is located 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer), is something new altogether, researchers said.

This so-called "super-Earth" is about 2.7 times Earth’s diameter and weighs nearly seven times as much as our home planet. It orbits a red-dwarf star at a distance of 1.2 million miles (2 million kilometres), giving it an estimated surface temperature of 446 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius) — too hot to host life as we know it.

Scientists first reported in 2010 that GJ 1214b's atmosphere is likely composed primarily of water, but their findings were not definitive. Berta and his team used Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 to help dispel the doubts.

I'm sure the surface of this super ocean is too hot for life but I would be willing to bet that there is something interesting far below the surface. Also it is quite a bit closer to this red dwarf star so the gravity on the planet would be much higher than that of earth. So my money would be on super worms as long as subway trains, and massive whales as big as office buildings, fighting sharks the size of an industrial earth movers. It would be one strange world indeed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is Linsanity Helping the Asian Male?

Well according to this article it is going a long way toward doing just that.

This is why the Jeremy Lin phenomenon has been so spectacular. While it does transcend race -- his story is the perfect storm of underdog elements being played out in the media capital of the world -- it does not exclude race. Lin is a breakthrough because the Asian American male has always lagged behind in cultural visibility and acceptance. There has been progress in other areas, particularly entertainment, but sports has been the final frontier. "If you look at it historically, the dominant group has always favored the female of a minority, seeing them as assets, commodities or possessions," says Ruth Chung, a USC professor who specializes in Asian American cultural identity. "Males are seen as competition, and for Asian American men, their greatest threat to white males was perceived to be their intelligence, so it was always easy to stereotype them as being geeky and socially inept."

Yeah the stereotype was that Asian American men were good at math but poor at driving to the hoop or getting the girl in a movie. The only bad-assed Asians I know are martial arts guys from China or Japan and not really many Americans. However, Lin breaks this stereotype by being really good at a sport where there really isn't any social promotion. You can either blow past defenders and score 28 points a game or you can't.

Now all Lin needs is a super hot girlfriend who is not Asian and we will have liftoff. I mean if he dates the typical demure Asian girl then he goes right back into the stereotype. However, if he dates some awesome looking Latina or even a black girl then all bets are off.

Troy Aikman Says Football Might Not Be No.1 Sport in 20 years

I have a feeling he might be right on some counts.

The Super Bowl XXVII MVP said the NFL Network's struggles should be a red flag to owners: "People couldn't get [the channel] in the homes and, all of sudden, fans, me included, were saying, 'I wasn't getting the Thursday night game and I was OK with that.' That’s not a good thing."

Aikman spoke of his worry about the dilution of a product that is currently wildly popular. 

"At one time, watching football was an event," Aikman said. "'Monday Night Football' was a big event. Now you get football Sunday, you get it Monday, you get it Thursday and, late in the year, you get it on Saturday."

I have to agree with Aikman that the only Thursday game that I regretted seeing was one where the Houston Texans were playing. That was only because I had Arian Foster as my running back on my Fantasy team.

I think in some ways Fantasy Football might be contributing to both a resurgence in the sport but might also cause a crash as well. I know before this season I really only cared about what team had my players on them and only watched their games.

The season I had Ray Rice on my team was the one that I watched a ton of Ravens games. I haven't watched one since because I don't have anyone from that team anymore. Just like this coming year I would probably not watch many Texans games because I doubt I will get Arian Foster on my team again. If Fantasy Football lost popularity for whatever reason you might see ratings dip right afterward.

However, I will be following the 49ers because I finally settled on a team that I can back. Before that I really didn't care too much about any one team and I would only tune in to the one good matchup per week. That usually meant the Sunday Night Football game and nothing else. I usually don't get up early on Sunday morning to watch any of the early games and I watch the UH game instead of the late morning games.

I think what the NFL needs to do to create lasting fans in areas where there is no home team presence is to section off the country by team. This was similar to how baseball did it in the 80s. There are all sorts of Braves fans out here because TBS used to show all of their games and people followed the team from day to day.

What they need to do is show the Raiders game and then the 49ers game with the hometown feed instead of whatever crappy East Coast game CBS and Fox wants us to watch. I'm so tired of watching Philadelphia playing the Giants or whatever. I doubt there are many fans of either team at all in Hawaii.

I'm not really sure how much of a following these teams have outside of the East Coast in general as well. The idea of "America's Team" is long gone as far as I can tell. So when the Philly/Giants game is on I check my roster and say I have Victor Cruz on my team so I watch the game. If I have no one on either team I just switch over to Antiques Roadshow. My experience might not be typical but I have always enjoyed college football more than the NFL in the first place.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Home Ownership Might Not Be Much of a Money Maker Long Term

This wealth manager crunched the numbers and it looks like owning your own home is not a wealth builder but mostly a store of wealth.

McBride crunched the numbers in a pre-bubble era (2004) for a home purchased at $200,000 by a buyer in the 27 percent marginal tax bracket. Factoring in a 30-year mortgage, $1,200 in annual home insurance, closing costs of $5,500 and maintenance costs of $100 a month, along with property taxes, he calculated that it would take a selling price, 10 years later, of $395,404 just to break even. His conclusion gave Arzaga's view credence: "Homeownership may not be the moneymaker you think it is." 

So your house would nearly have to double in order for you to make your money back. That is a 9% gain each year or you will be falling behind. I wonder what this breakdown would be for owning an apartment?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Can Linsanity be the End of the Bear Market?

It at least would coincide with a national mood recovery.

Jeremy Lin is different. While at 6'3” and 200 pounds he's anything but undersized for an ordinary man, he's physically, culturally, and emotionally someone Americans can relate to. After what we've gone through as a country over the past decade, who among us can't understand feeling too small, overlooked, and seeking job stability, just hoping anyone will give us a chance?

Yeah even though he had a Harvard degree two teams passed up on him and the Knicks nearly cut him. Now he is on top of the world. The thing that is interesting is that he looks like Jeremy from Accounts Receivable and not your typical tattoo covered NBA star that was special from birth like Kobe or LaBron. 
I mean Americans can relate to the idea that they are overlooked by Washington,Wall Street, and the rest of the world just like Lin was overlooked by the rest of the NBA. The everyman that makes good meme is deeply ingrained in America. It shows up with Abe Lincoln (lawyer from Illinois becomes President,) James Braddock (Longshoreman from Hells Kitchen becomes Champ)
Maybe the "everyman that makes it good" spirit will be reflected in a doubling of the S&P500 like what happened when Jackie Robinson and Fernando Valenzuela burst on the scene in the 40s and 80s respectively.

Jaworski out on Monday Night Football

Well, it seems that Jaws was one too many for the MNF booth.

Jaworski will remain at the network and appear on various programs, including "Countdown" and "Matchup."

The longtime ESPN analyst had been in the MNF booth since 2007, replacing Joe Theismann after one season. He was supposed to add a respected football voice to a broadcast that included Tony Kornheiser. He dutifully played that role for two years until Jon Gruden was brought in as Kornheiser's replacement. It was all downhill from there.

I think Jaws sounded too much like Gruden and it was kind of hard to figure out who was talking sometimes. I mean the pitch of their voices were almost exactly the same so it was pretty strange to hear them agreeing with one another. I think a two man booth will be much clearer and easier to listen to.

However NFL Matchup is an awesome show that is one of the best on ESPN. You really get the behind the scenes Xs and Os view of football that many fans do not see. They need to expand the format and maybe bring in Mike Ditka and have it on more often. Maybe have it on right before Monday Night Football to have them break down the game before it starts. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

5 Treaties the Obama White House Should Not Sign

Well it seems that we are negotiating some seriously flawed treaties that will take away American sovereignty in a big way. The thing that Morris doesn't seem to get though is that these treaties will probably not get halfway through even a Democratically controlled congress in their current form.

This one sounds especially egregious:

Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) has been signed, and the Obama administration — with the aid of RINO Sen. Richard Lugar (Ind.) — will push for its ratification as soon as Lugar’s primary in Indiana is over this year. LOST requires that the United States pay an international body half of its royalties from offshore drilling. The body would then distribute the funds as it sees fit to whichever nations it chooses. The United States would only have one vote out of 160 regarding where the money goes. LOST will also oblige us to hand over our offshore drilling technology to any nation that wants it … for free.

I would be willing to bet even money that Mexico, Brazil, and Nigeria would never sign onto this treaty because it would damage their home grown undersea drilling. The idea that Petrobras would kick back 50% of their profits to some international body would be ludicrous. Also they would never drive away the other drillers (and the money they pay the Brazilian government) that are taking advantage of their huge offshore oil strike.

Also the idea that offshore drilling technology will be handed off is not some terrible thing. Currently much of the drilling technology seems pretty homogeneous and Petrobras is using the same super deep water drilling technology as TransOcean does as far as I can tell. I mean any country or company domiciled anywhere in the world can commission the building of a super deep water rig for whatever billion it costs. I mean this is not nuclear secrets we are talking about.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

For the First Time Since 1978 the US Okays the Building of Nuke Plants

It has been about time the nuclear regulatory agency has gotten off their asses and started to address our power issues.

The newly approved AP1000 reactors for the Vogtle plant — to be made by Westinghouse — have safety features that would give people "days instead of hours" to restore electric power in a Fukushima scenario, McFarlane told InnovationNewsDaily. The Fukushima reactors suffered a meltdown after the lack of electricity knocked out their cooling systems.

In the new models, which Westinghouse already has built for China, "the water needed to cool the reactors is stored inside the containment building rather than outside of containment," explained Robert Buell, a risk analyst at Idaho National Laboratory. "You use physics and natural circulation along the containment walls to cool the reactors instead of relying on mechanical systems."

Wait until we get some closed fuel cycle reactors online and we can forget about the nuclear waste problem and the meltdown problems all at once. I hate how Fukushima damaged the nuclear industry for years to come. It is the only viable energy source that doesn't use coal or the increasingly expensive oil. Only natural gas comes close in price but does not have the efficiency of 3rd generation reactors.

It Seems Google+ might be a Competitor After All

Well I signed up for Google+ a while back because it was tied to my Gmail and I thought I might as well. It seems they are growing pretty fast so far.

Among social networks, Google + (GOOG) is growing faster than Facebook, just after one year of existence. While it took Facebook nearly a year to reach a million users and more than four years to reach 100 million, it took only Google+ about two weeks to reach 10 million, and less than a year to reach 100 million.

About the only thing Facebook does better than Google+ is that it has more people on it. So you have a better chance to find people you know. But as Google+ builds I can see it actually going head to head with Facebook. So far the only thing I have been doing on Google+ is playing Gardens of Time but once more people I know go on there I can see me spending more time there.

20 - 30somethings Voted for Obama in Large Numbers and Have Nothing to Show for It

Well, it seems that 20 and 30 somethings are seriously hurting in the Obameconomy.

—The share of young adults 18-24 who are employed has dropped to 54.3 percent, the lowest level since the government began tracking such data in 1948. In the downturn, the employment decline has been steeper for this age group than any other; at the end of 2011, the unemployment rate was 16.3 percent for 18-to-24-year olds and 8.8 percent for adults ages 18-64. After the recession technically ended in mid-2009, the gap in the unemployment rate between those two age groups stretched to the widest on record. 

In other words they aren't getting employed right out of college anymore. The job that usually goes to them instead goes to an older person with tons of experience that was displaced from some other job. This statistic was really nuts I think:

—About 19 percent of men ages 25-34 were idle in the weak job market, neither working nor attending school. That's up from 14 percent in 2007. 

So that is 1 out of 5 men are not looking for work but not going to school either. I guess they are sitting on their couch playing Modern Warfare 3 or something. I really hope they come to their senses and vote for ABO (anyone but Obama) come this November.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Now Timmy Tebow don't do Anything Un-Christian with Maria Menounos

It seems he may have made a love match at the Super Bowl festivities.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports Tebow was "quite taken" after being introduced to Maria Menounos during his travels around Indianapolis for Super Bowl week. According to the newspaper, Tebow was overheard talking to a friend about the fetching "Extra" host at a Friday party. "Wow!" Tebow reportedly said. "She's not only gorgeous, she's really sweet too." 

The pair was spotted getting "very cozy" at the ESPN Party, according to the Sun-Times. Menounos and Tebow reportedly ran into each other at several other Super Bowl shindigs over the weekend.

Yeah don't do anything with your "Satan parts" that Jesus would not approve of. I mean she does hang out with skeezy-looking director types like Keven Undergaro. (I'm sure he is a nice enough person but he looks like the kind of guy that would pinch a passing Italian woman's butt.)

When I Wasn't Looking Everyone Turned on the BCS

Wow, I was not keeping up with college football for a few months and suddenly everyone turned on the BCS and are finally talking playoffs. In the words of Jim Mora: PLAYOFFS! PLAYOFFS? Indeed yes.

The Big Ten is open to more than a four-team playoff – expanding access to increase the likelihood a team from the conference makes the field. It also is contemplating a plan to have the semifinals played at campus sites and for the championship game to be open to bid by any city, not just traditional bowl sites. That would include some in the Midwest, particularly Indianapolis, which just flawlessly hosted the Super Bowl.

The idea of the National Championship then the Super Bowl all hosted in one city sounds like a great idea. Just have the various cities bid for it and have it move around the country like the NCAA Final Four. Also the idea of the higher seed having a home field advantage is an outstanding idea as well.

This also would create incredible inter-regional matchups in the game’s best settings: USC playing at Bryant-Denny Stadium? Oklahoma in the Horseshoe? Nebraska in the Swamp? Boise State at LSU’s Death Valley? Texas at Autzen? And so on. And so on.

Or would you prefer the Alamodome?
That would be such a a huge incentive to win out in order to get your home playoff game in front of 80,000 of your screaming fans. So this gets rid of the asinine "the regular season wouldn't matter with a playoff in place" argument.

Also it's always good to see national powers square off in games that matter and not just that opening game of the year. It would have been so cool to have seen Hawaii get slaughtered by Georgia at Sanford Stadium "between the hedges" instead of the Super Dome. One of the greatest football games I have seen was at Bryant Denny Stadium when Hawaii played Alabama. Imagine if that game was for the chance to play for the National Title?

Monday, February 06, 2012

SOPA Dead! Now Congress Take a Break

Well at least someone in Congress decided to stop the destruction of the next Google or Facebook before it was too late.

In the aftermath of the defeat of the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, a long list of organizations have sent a letter to Congress asking members to “take a breath” before they trying to push through new piracy legislation.

I have to agree with this group because rights need to be protected but not at the expense of innovation. I think a few hearings with tech giants would be in order to understand exactly what is needed going forward.