Friday, August 30, 2013

White House Telegraphics the Punch on Syria: What if Syria sinks Our Ship?

This article on Obama's potential Syrian adventure is priceless.

Having leaked to the world, and thus to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a detailed briefing of the coming U.S. air attack on Syria — (1) the source (offshore warships and perhaps a bomber or two), (2) the weapon (cruise missiles), (3) the duration (two or three days), (4) the purpose (punishment, not “regime change”) — perhaps we should be publishing the exact time the bombs will fall, lest we disrupt dinner in Damascus.

I wonder what would happen if Syria started firing ship-killer missiles that they got from Russia at those warships? If Assad sinks one of them you figure it would kill 300 sailors and the US would have to escalate the war. If Obama doesn't do so then he would be in serious trouble. Those are the kind of complexities that will happen if we do some feckless missile firing and then running away.

Liberal Commentator from Slate Says Obama is a Bad Person for Going to Private School

It is funny when liberals accidentally indict their beloved President when they criticize parents that send their kids to private school.

You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.

I guess Obama needs to feel bad that he went to one of the best schools in the state of Hawaii i.e. Punahou. I mean his grandparents could have sent him to Farrington where he would have gotten a true public school education. This woman Allison Benedikt would have loved it if that happened and he would not have been the bad person that he is today according to her twisted logic.

However, there might be a pretty decent chance that young Barry Soetoro would not have gone to Occidental, Columbia and then to Harvard if he went to Farrington. Only 47% of kids coming out of Farrington went to college with the majority of them going to 2 year colleges. That is if he was one of the 65% that actually graduated from that high school. With his nearly daily drug use it would have been very easy for Soetoto to drop out and smoke pot and sell drugs full time. I'm sure quite a few conservatives would have loved for that particular thing to happen.  

RadioShack’s Revival Plan Sounds Pretty Dumb

Well I still won't be tempted to go there but I just have to say that this idea won't have me rushing back.

Magnacca’s solution is “Let’s Play!” a business plan designed to make the retailer “a neighborhood technology playground.” Prototype stores have a cleaner look, a change from the tangled collection of cables, cords, adapters, and batteries that most customers associate with RadioShack. Shoppers can connect their iPhones to a wall of speakers for test drives, while sensors on the gear selected call up information on a screen above. Five such stores reimagined for upscale, high-traffic areas such as Manhattan’s Upper West Side are already open; 15 more are scheduled to open by the holiday shopping season. The company plans another 2,000 less-slick store redos (without speaker walls and interactive features), starting in the New York area, New Jersey, and Texas.

Why would you test drive your IPhone with some speakers and have some sensors call up information on some screen? It doesn't seem like something that I need to rush out and do. I guess it would be nice if you are in the market for an IPhone speaker but the idea of connecting my phone to some communal outlet just makes me leery. 

Shailene Woodley Makes her Own Toothpaste and Cheese?

It seems refreshing to see a young actress take this road instead of going the way of conspicuous consumption.

"I think everything about my lifestyle is fairly alternative," Woodley revealed. "I gather my own spring water from mountains every month. I go to a farm to get my food."

And don't expect the 21-year-old to rely on a fancy chef to whip up her organic goods into a healthy meal for her. On the contrary, the Golden Globe nominated actress is very hands-on when it comes to stocking her home with all the essentials.

"I make everything from my own toothpaste to my own body lotions and face oils. I could go on for hours," she says. "I make my own medicines; I don't get those from doctors. I make my own cheese and forage wild foods and identify wild plants."

Hmm, I wonder if more Americans will follower her lead. It would make for a much more self sufficient nation for the Zombie Apocalypse/Kaiju destroy the cities/world-wide blackout/the Rapture/Killer Tomatos attack.

FEDs Step Back from Marijuana Prohibition: Kicks it Back to the States

It seems that the FEDs are perfectly okay with states legalizing pot use.

Despite 75 years of federal marijuana prohibition, the Justice Department said Thursday that states can let people use the drug, license people to grow it and even allow adults to stroll into stores and buy it — as long as the weed is kept away from kids, the black market and federal property.

In a sweeping new policy statement prompted by pot legalization votes in Washington and Colorado last fall, the department gave the green light to states to adopt tight regulatory schemes to oversee the medical and recreational marijuana industries burgeoning across the country.

This is quite a victory for states rights. I'm pretty sure Hawaii will now move forward with their legalization attempts since it is a serious cash crop over here. I mean just taxing large growers will be a huge windfall for the state.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Looks Like We Are On Our Own in Syria: Brits Back Out

It seems Obama is going to have to channel some GW Bush because it seems that he has no friends left if he tries to bomb Syria.

British lawmakers rejected their government's call for punitive military strikes against the chemical-armed Syrian regime, leaving the United States to act alone.

Before and after the shock House of Commons vote to defy Prime Minister David Cameron's bid to win support for military intervention, the White House said America was ready to take unilateral action.

I wonder where all the liberals are hiding that railed against Bush taking unilateral action in Iraq? 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Aaron Rodgers Burger Needs to Be Banned by the Geneva Convention

I think forcing someone to eat this awful mess should be a crime against humanity.

It contains bacon, peanut butter, swiss havarti, avocado, pickles, jalapeno, crispy fried onion rings, mayo and ranch. First of all bacon, peanut butter, and onion rings at the same time sounds stomach churning. You have oily deep fried stuff mixed with peanut butter melted by the heat of the other ingredients. Then you add jalapenos, havarti and ranch dressing and you have to go the Hague for restitution.

Manziel Gets a Wrist Slap: Half Game Suspension

Well it seems that Rice will only have to face Johnny Football in the second half of Texas A&Ms season opener.

It reportedly took six hours of interviewing Manziel on Sunday for the NCAA and school to determine that he will sit out, at most, two hours of football. And thus concludes what will go down as the most overblown college football story of 2013.

Half a game. Against Rice. Not quite worth all the hot air devoted to the investigation over the last couple of weeks. 

I wonder if this means that Manziel actually did get some cashola for his autograph or not? It seems that A&M is not admitting guilt:

When the first guy with the news is A&M mouthpiece Billy Luicci of, you know where it came from. The same story then was repeated to other media outlets as well. The immediate spin from "sources" (read: A&M) to ESPN and others is that the NCAA "acknowledged Manziel did not receive money for signing autographs."

If that is true why is A&M accepting a suspension? I guess he just signed the autographs and some other guy sold them later on. For whatever reason an NCAA player needs to make sure his autograph is not sold while he is still playing. Maybe Johnny Football should put an RFID tag on each piece of memorabilia to track its movement until he has left college. The NCAA is such a joke organization.

Miley Cyrus and Kanye Skipped VMA Afterparty to "Lay Down Remix"

This has to be the most innuendo filled article I have seen in a while.

"He was in a creative mood," the source says of the impromptu late-night recording session. "You know 'Ye: He does everything last minute and just decided to capture their energy and record right after the show. They decided that night."

The source notes that in addition to Cyrus' "Black Skinhead" verse, the pair "messed around with other tracks," some of which may appear on the 20-year-old pop star's new record. (The Disney alum announced earlier this month that her fourth album, Bangerz, would be released on Oct. 4.)

Mmm hmmm, this reminds me of this Monty Python skit:

Strange Bedfellows: If We Attack Syria the US Will Team Up with Al-Quida?

It seems we will have some weird-assed allies if we go into Syria.

In a mark of the complexities of the region, Assad faces not just retribution from neighbouring countries and the West but from al Qaeda. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) said it was launching an operation called "Volcano of Revenge" that would strike Syrian security forces in Damascus.

Assad has said for years that Al-Quida terrorists were lining up against him and he was right. The whole idea of the US lobbing cruise missiles while Al-Quida is detonating suicide car bombs should make you sick. I'm sure Al-Quida would love to get in on the fight so that they can grab some chemical weapons while US bombs rain down.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

IRS Finally Approves Penalties for Not Buying Insurance

Well it seems like it might be fairly steep to not have insurance for any length of time.

If individuals choose not to carry insurance, they are subject to a penalty, starting at $95 per person per year or 1 percent of income in 2014, whichever is greater, and eventually reaching $695 per person or 2.5 percent of income by 2016.

It is not bad at first but it gets worse and worse as the years pass. This is especially bad if employers start cutting their employees health insurance to save money. It will be interesting to see what kind of insurance you can get off of the Obamacare exchanges.

Also I wonder how long you have to have insurance in order to avoid this penalty? You could buy health insurance for a month and then cancel it and say you have had it for the entire year. I wonder how the IRS will figure out how long you have had your insurance and when you have cancelled it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Syria Re-crosses the Redline: Kerry Admits that Assad Gassed His People

I'm sure America is going to do exactly nothing but use stern words and "condemn with the strongest possible terms."

"The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable and — despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured — it is undeniable," said Kerry, the highest-ranking U.S. official to confirm the attack in the Damascus suburbs that activists say killed hundreds of people.

"This international norm cannot be violated without consequences," he added.

My guess is we will lob some cruise missiles and call it a day. Obama does not have the stones to commit actual forces especially when Syria has state-of-the-art Russian anti-aircraft missiles. If we get an F-22 shot down and they parade our airman around the square Obama would enter Carter territory.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ballmer to Leave Microsoft: Getting out While the Getting is Good

Well, there was a so-called Ballmer Bounce when he announced his early retirement. On of the worst CEO of modern times pretty much did this with one of the largest companies in the US.

After 33 years at Microsoft (MSFT), the last 13 spent as CEO, Steve Ballmer is surely due the quintessential gold watch for his dedicated service to the company. And yet, in announcing his plan to step down in the next twelve months, the 57 year old outgoing executive is more likely to receive a ration of ridicule for leading the world's largest software company essentially nowhere during his tenure, having inherited a $50 stock in January 2000 that is trading at $35 today.

Yup 13 years at the helm and the stock is down during that period. This is after growing and bringing in cash nearly every year. Now the company is facing all sorts of competition from nearly every corner and their main business of Windows and Office is slowly dying. I mean personal computer sales are nosediving and that is pretty much their cash cow for decades. The guy that replaces him has quite a tall order fixing 13 years of mismanagement and stupidity.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ron Paul Loves Gold: His Portfolio is a Non-Diversified Mess

Well it is always fun to see the portfolios of various powerful political figures and laugh heartily at how poor their allocation is. But Ron Paul is just hilariously bad.

Paul's investment portfolio is dedicated almost solely to hard assets, with 64 percent in gold and silver miners, 21 percent in real estate and 15 percent in cash, according to an analysis from the StreetAuthority blog.

The other 1 percent? An allocation to stocks, but on the short side in a bet against the equity markets.
(Read more: Why Detroit is good for gold: Ron Paul )

His top five stock allocations are to Goldcorp (Toronto Stock Exchange: G-CA), Barrick Gold (Toronto Stock Exchange: ABX-CA), Newmont Mining (NEM), Silver Wheaton (Toronto Stock Exchange: SLW-CA) and Kinross Gold (Toronto Stock Exchange: K-CA). 

What is messed up is that 64% is in miners who traditionally lag the actual metal itself. If he had 64% in GLD or something then at least he doesn't have to face the vagaries of the miners themselves. If he just had that money in GLD he would have lost only 13% for the year. Instead he gets to eat a 30% loss. What is worse is that the lower gold goes the harder it is on the miners. They have massive capital requirements and if they barely break-even mining the gold they have in reserve they will stop doing it to stabilize prices.

Movie Review: Lee Daniels' The Butler: Watch it On Netflix

I just saw this movie and I have to say that Oprah sure can chew the scenery. Also Lee Daniels does not play the Butler because I had to Google it to see why his name was attached. The movie is basically a retelling of the civil rights movement through the eyes of a butler that served 8 presidents.

For the most part the movie is very open about its view that American is a bad place full of hateful white people but sometimes there are good white people from time to time. The movie traces the life of Cecil who is played by Forest Whitaker in a role that might get him another Oscar. He does it in a very understated manner of a person that wears two masks. One to the people he serves (basically white people) and the other to his family and friends (all black people.) There is only two parts where he loses control and freaks out. In some ways he reminded me of Carson on Downton Abbey. Always in control and always a professional with a good heart and a sense of humor both of which he keeps hidden.

Cecil is raised in near slavery where a white person can kill a black person and there is no repercussions. He even sees the bodies of two lynched guys and knows how bad it is down South and knows he needs to escape. He moves up the ladder like many people in America and goes from picking cotton (where his father is summarily killed by the son of the plantation owner) to being a butler in a southern hotel. He then moves from there to a fancy Washington hotel and then finally moves to the White House after catching the eye of the head of the staff there. It is a very American story of upward movement that is told fairly well for the most part.

As Cecil serves the 8 Presidents in Office his son takes up the banner of Civil Rights through the entire history of the black struggle in America. He is kind of like the Forest Gump of the civil rights movement. He starts off doing the sit-in in segregated lunch counters as a college kid at Fisk. Then he moves on to the Freedom Riders where he is menaced by angry whites who burns their bus. He then is sprayed with a fire hose and attacked by dogs in Bull Connors' Alabama. After that he gets with Martin Luther King and hangs out with him at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis.

There is a nice scene where King actually sticks up for black help and tells the son how important people with his Dad's job is to their movement. The son then joins the Black Panther Party with his girlfriend who sports a giant afro but leaves when he can't bring himself to murder people. Finally, he runs for office in Tennessee and eventually wins. Most of the time he is in conflict with his father and they eventually become estranged when the son does not attend his brothers funeral after the brother is killed in Vietnam. As soon as the son says he was going to join up to protect his country in Vietnam I knew he was doomed.

Oprah does a decent job as Cecil's wife. She is an alcoholic at first that cheats on Cecil with the next door neighbor because Cecil is home late after working in the White House. Oprah does a pretty good job of making herself look unappealing and smokes and drinks throughout the movie with abandon. She has good rapport with Whitaker and their chemistry works on screen. She is pretty much a spectator as various things happen around her.

Finally, the Presidents are played in a series of cameos by various actors. They say a few lines and do a few comical things and that was it. We see LBJ on the toilet, Nixon trying to get black votes and looking creepy, JFK looking Presidential as friend to the black man (there was an interesting scene when Jackie O sat in the White House and wouldn't change out of her blood-soaked clothing,) and finally Reagan (who is played by the British actor that played Severus Snape in Harry Potter) who looks like a decent enough guy that doesn't want to put pressure on South Africa.

One interesting scene during the Reagan-era is where Cecil argues with the guy that hired him for equal pay for the black staff and the guy threatens to fire him. Then Cecil says to take it up with the President if he doesn't want to make the pay even between blacks and whites at the White House. There were some cheers and clapping from the audience after that scene.

However, they stick-it to Reagan right afterward when Cecil is invited to a State Dinner by Nancy. Cecil says that they were invited as a prop and not as a reward for decades of service and is bitter about what happened. They make a point of showing him and his wife as the only black people at the State Dinner and they of course felt powerfully out of place. He then scowls at the young kids who visit the White House who he serves cookies to instead of with a big smile like earlier in the movie. The whole reaction to being invited to the State Dinner rubbed me the wrong way but I guess that is how the character felt.

Finally, the end of the movie we see Cecil waiting to vote for Obama (they went to the polling place 5 times to make sure they had the right place) and being shocked that a black man will not just be serving in the Oval Office but actually sitting behind the desk. Obama of course calls on Cecil to meet him and I bet the producers and Oprah hoped like hell to get him in the movie to play himself.

I was actually waiting for Obama to pop up like he seems to do all the time but I guess since he wasn't campaigning anymore he didn't find it appropriate. Or maybe Michelle just hates Oprah too much to have her husband be in her movie.

In any case I would have liked to see a meeting between Cecil and Obama as a nice bookend to the movie. You would start it with two black guys getting lynched and then you end it with two black guys shaking hands, one of which, is the most powerful man on the planet. I guess that would have been one of the few times I actually wanted to see Obama outside of the political arena.

Verdict: Watch it on Netflix but maybe see the actual history of the Civil Rights era on a documentary first.

Movie Review: Kick-Ass 2: Verdict: Redbox It

Well I saw Kick-Ass 2 the other day and I have to say that it really was not as good as the first one. The first one was a real surprise hit that snuck up on me. I didn't rush out to see it and ended up catching it on Netflix after it had debuted. I just couldn't get over how dorky his costume was and it just looked like yet another super-hero spoof so I missed its initial run. However, when I finally got to see it I saw that it had a great take on a super-hero as a regular person and had a pretty good dynamic.

However, the sequel was just not as good as the first one. The basis of the story is that the son of the bad-guy from the first one who played the Red Mist is now the main villain who now calls himself the Motherfucker. He forms a super-villain team from a bunch of mob guys to go after Kick-ass. Pretty standard faire as super hero movies go.

Kick-ass also joins his own super hero group formed by born-again Christian named Captain Stars-and-Stripes, who used to be a mob killer played by Jim Carrey. You really could have gotten a half-dozen different actors to play this roll and Carrey was pretty nondescript in it. He had a few good lines but nothing to write home about.

Kick-ass tries the entire movie to get Hit Girl to join him but her guardian who was her dead fathers partner on the police force makes her give up the mask. The movie is pretty much about people giving up being a hero for various parts of the movie and denying what "their real face is." It was told much better in Spider-man 2 with more pathos and depth.

In any case the action was pretty cool and there were a few places where I laughed out loud as a good super-hero satire should do. It was nice to see the 16 year old Hit Girl beat the crap out of a bunch of people and also show her softer side when she is victimized by the "Mean Girls" at her high school. I think Chloe Grace Moretz could become a female action star if she plays things right. Maybe a female version of Jason Bourne would be an interesting direction or even her as Supergirl would not be too much of a stretch. However, she has a weird upper lip that distracted me some of the time. It looked collagen injected but it is hard to tell. Hopefully, the producers didn't let a 16 year old girl pump a bunch of collagen into her lips but you never know.

In any case this movie was decent enough but just nothing special in terms of super-hero movies. It sets up a third movie at the end but it getting trounced by Lee Daniels The Butler does not bode well for it. However, that might be an artifact of scheduling. If they had it later in the year it probably would have done well but I think audiences are sick of yet another group of people shooting guns and running around.

Verdict: Redbox it if you like pop-corn action with a super-hero chaser.

Tim Tebows Time in the NFL is almost Over

Well it seems that his career is almost at an end according to this.

He completed just one of seven passes for a loss of one yard, and had one interception on a badly overthrown pass. He was sacked twice on his first nine plays. But the lefty who has trouble reading defenses and zipping passes did what he does best, running six times for 30 yards.

A week earlier, in his debut, he was a bit better — 4 for 12 for 55 yards with four runs for 31 yards in a 31-22 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Those stats add up to a 0.0 passer rating. It would just be easier to get some rookie from a BCS school that can actually throw down field and be done with it. Tebow might get some reps at fullback but that position is slowly disappearing in the NFL thanks to the read option.

Tebow just can't be good in a read option because you need to throw the ball accurately from time to time so that teams can't just load up for the run. That is what makes Kaepernick and RG3 so effective in running it since they can actually throw a decent spiral and not that wobbly 15-yarder that is all that Tebow is capable of.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Case-in-Point About Why People Are Afraid of Young Black Men: 22 Year Old Aussie Gunned Down Because Teens were "Bored"

This is exactly why people are suspicious and afraid of young black males.

Prosecutors charged 15-year-old James Francis Edwards Jr. and 16-year-old Chancey Allen Luna with first-degree murder on Tuesday. Police say the two killed 22-year-old Christopher Lane on Friday to overcome boredom. Under Oklahoma law, anyone who is 15 or older and facing a first-degree murder charge is automatically tried in adult court.

They pretty much saw the guy run by their house and they piled into a car and drove after him and then shot him in the back. This is what they said to police.

Ford said a 17-year-old defendant, Jones, told officers that the three teenagers were bored and shot Lane for "the fun of it."

Jones said in open court "I pulled the trigger," but the judge directed him to remain quiet, saying Tuesday was not the day to discuss the facts of the case.

"They saw Christopher go by, and one of them said: 'There's our target,'" Ford said. "The boy who has talked to us said, 'We were bored and didn't have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.'"

Hell, they didn't even try to rob him. They just shot him in the back and drove off. That has to be one of the most callous things I have heard of in a long time. Thankfully Oklahoma law allows someone that commits a capital crime to be tried as an adult. Although the thought of having to pay to house these psychopaths for the rest of their natural lives really sucks.

Do We Have to See Matt Lauer's Smug Face on Sunday Night Football?

Ugh I hate that NBC can't let a good thing alone. I have dodged the Today show for years in order to avoid Matt Lauer the smug asshole who backstabbed Ann Curry. Now I have to see him on Sunday Night Football?

The video vignettes, which will appear online starting Tuesday and debut on TV this weekend in pre-season football coverage, feature various NBCU celebrities, including Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel (from NBC’s “America’s Got Talent); Joan and Melissa Rivers (from E!’s “Fashion Police”); Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski (from MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”); Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales (from NBC’s “Today”) and Ken Jeong (from NBC’s “Community”), all taking part in ersatz try-outs to sing “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night,”which has been the “SNF” theme song since 2006.

I guess I have to switch over to NFL Network whenever there is a commercial break.

Sports Prevents Cable Cord Cutting? Yeah, Pretty Much

That seems to be the case until the FCC steps in.

Surprisingly he doesn't think the answer lies in cutting the cord and using direct viewing via streaming service. The answer, he says, is the long-awaited government intervention in the form of a la cart pricing. That means getting ESPN would mean paying specifically for that service (for which Disney charges affiliates more than $5 a month).

If and when the FCC allows a la cart pricing, the bill will be broken out and customers will be able to see exactly how much they're really paying to support their teams. Unless or until that happens both your cable bill and your urge to cut the cord will only grow.

If they had a la cart pricing I would cancel the vast majority of the channels on cable. The only cable channels I watch are BBC America for Star Trek Next Gen, Cartoon Network for Family Guy reruns, ESPN for SportsCenter/NCAA Football, NFL Network for NFL Football, CNBC for Financial News, and HBO for Sopranos reruns/True Blood/the Newsroom/Girls. 

Of those channels I could stream 3 of those options since Star Trek Next Gen, Family Guy and HBO Go can be watched on my XBox360. So that pretty much leaves ESPN and CNBC as the only things I usually watch. If they had a la cart pricing I would probably have like 15 channels total on my cable box.

Friday, August 16, 2013

NBC Blinks: Might Pull "Hillary Clinton, the Making of a Legend" (Or whatever it is called) Mini-series

Well it seems that the GOP has more of a pull than the partisan hacks at NBC.

“The Hillary Clinton movie has not been ordered to production, only a script is being written at this time,” NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said this afternoon in a statement. “It is ‘in development’, the first stage of any television series or movie, many of which never go to production. Speculation, demands, and declarations pertaining to something that isn’t created or produced yet seem premature,” he added.

Yeah a script has been ordered and a star has been attached. That is not too far into the cycle but still of all the people you can make a mini-series about you make one of the presumptive nominee for 2016. It was so laughably partisan that even NBCs own newsmen were rolling their eyes. In any case I hope NBC changes their mind and decides to go with it so that the GOP can freeze them out of the debates. That would be really funny.

Social Mobilty aka the American Dream Studied by Harvard and Berkeley Researchers

Hmm this is a fascinating article on how social mobility is an economic boon for America.

It is certainly plausible that low mobility is a factor behind weaker growth in the areas of the US identified by Chetty. In metro areas like Des Moines, Salt Lake City, Santa Barbara, Wisconsin and Pittsburgh, the chances of someone born into the poorest fifth of the income distribution making it to the richest fifth is at least 10 per cent. In Indianapolis, Memphis, Charlotte and Atlanta, the equivalent odds are less than five per cent. It is unlikely that there are only half as many able people born into poor families in this latter group.

It would be very interesting to see more data on what the differences are from Des Moines from Memphis for instance. That 5% gap is pretty large and it would be smart of the mayors of the two cities figure out why it exists. Also I wonder what the percentages of the poorest 5th can get into the middle 3/5ths? However the chances of the poorest 5th staying the same are such:

First, the presence of a semi-permanent welfare class is a drain on public resources. Money going to income replacement programs, fuelled by multi-generational poverty, could otherwise go to pre-K education, infrastructure and job programs. The fact that 40% of the children born into the bottom fifth of households in the US remain there as adults is a strong signal means that a sizable chunk of welfare payments go to the children of welfare recipients. The inheritance of poverty is therefore a fiscal drag, as well as a moral stain.

So it seems that if that if money were spent on education, infrastructure, and jobs programs it would be much better for people to move up into the other 5ths.  I think it should be a moral imperative to move people out of that bottom 1/5th into the other 4/5ths of society. 40% of people stay in poverty from generation to generation unacceptable. That number should get down to 20% or less and politicians and academics need to figure out a way to do it.

Pepsi Flavored Cheetos Sound Awful

Well Japan is well known for weird tasting snacks but this one might be pretty out there.

The Smell: "I immediately identified something very close to flat cola. Flat Pepsi? I dunno. My nose palate is not so refined," he reports, noting that there's also a hint of cinnamon donuts.
The Taste: "It's very citrusy, almost sour. And it hits hard. It tries to capture the citrus notes of Pepsi, but it's over the top. Too lemony."
The...Feel? "Did I mention these fizz a little?! Yea! Not like crazy Pop Rocks fizzing, but there is some definite popping and crackling. It's all about attention to detail, guys. I tip my hat to Frito-Lay for that one.
The Verdict: "They do linger in the mouth for quite a while to leave you with a weird, marginally accurate, if lemony, Pepsi aftertaste."

Too bad these can't be imported to the US at least in small quantities so I could try them. I like lemony stuff so it might not be as bad as you would imagine.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Thanks Mr. Buffett: Housing Recovery Driven By Investors: Still Has Room to Run

Well it seems that Wall Street is finally helping Main Street by driving up single-family home prices in quite a few places around the country.

"There were stories in 2012 of people being outbid for homes—individual homeowners getting outbid by all-cash buyers," said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move Inc., the parent of 

Blomquist said buying activity really started to pick up in mid-2012 after Warren Buffett said on CNBC that he would buy up "a couple hundred thousand" single-family homes and rent them out if he had the logistical ability to manage the properties. 

"That was really when there was a paradigm shift in the market," Blomquist said. "We started to see these institutional investors jump in and buy single family homes." 

They see value in homes that are selling at a deep discount to what they see as their fair market value. I mean in many cases the idea of a stream of rental revenue is beating nearly anything that an investor can get into. If they think the stock market is overvalued and 1 year treasury bonds are yielding like 0.13% then real estate rentals can look quite lucrative in comparison. They could even flip the house or eventually use the equity in order to leverage themselves up if they wish.

This might also be a lucrative new business for a company that provided the "logistical ability to manage the properties" that Buffett is talking about. The investor just writes a check on a certain amount of properties and the company does all the dirty work like listing the rental, making sure there is a person to fix the toilets, etc.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong AKA the Douche that Cannot Be Filmed Offers Watery Apology

Well I guess the damage control is going full speed at AOL in the wake of the CEO summarily firing an employee during a morale building phone call.

On Friday, Armstrong fired Abel Lenz, a creative director for AOL’s Patch local-news business, in front of other co-workers and 1,000 employees listening in on a conference call to discuss changes at the unit, including layoffs and site closings.

In a memo to employees on Tuesday, obtained by Bloomberg News, Armstrong wrote, “I am writing you to acknowledge the mistake I made last Friday during the Patch all-hands meeting when I publicly fired Abel Lenz. I am the CEO and leader of the organization, and I take that responsibility seriously.”

He pounded his chest "I am the CEO!!!!" and at least he is "acknowledging the mistake" he made. He isn't sorry about it or regretted the mistake he is simply acknowledging it. He also did a little CYA tap dance.

In the memo, Armstrong wrote that this wasn’t first time the staffer had “recorded” a confidential meeting. ”As you know, I am a firm believer in open meetings, open Q&A and this level of transparency requires trust across AOL,” Armstrong said in the memo. “Internal meetings of a confidential nature should not be filmed or recorded so that our employees can feel free to discuss all topics openly. Abel had been told previously not to record a confidential meeting, and he repeated that behavior on Friday, which drove my actions.”

Well if it was such a confidential meeting why didn't he simply have his secretary or someone have everyone put their cell phones and cameras in a box until the meeting was over. She could have just met them at the door to whatever conference room they were using for the webcast and took their recording devices until the meeting was over. The CEO would have been the first person to do it to show how important it is to not be recording these events. Instead he fired someone on the spot like the kind of plutocrat CEOs that Americans hate.

I Agree With Newt: The GOP Needs to Move Away from Being Against Obama and Be For Americans

I have to agree with Newt's sentiment in his speech to the Republican National Committee.

"We have to get beyond being anti-Obama and we have to convince people you can have hope in America," Gingrich said on Wednesday. "What we have to do, in a sense, is be a party of optimism and a party of hope and show actual cases of how it can work."

Speaking at a Boston hotel adjacent to where Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney delivered his 2012 concession speech after failing to unseat Obama, Gingrich said the party needed to be more alert to ways Americans were changing, particularly in their use of technology.

That means not having a ton of symbolic votes to repeal Obamacare and instead fix some of the problems with it. Obamacare will be the law of the land soon so the GOP needs to understand that and try to shield Americans from the worst parts of it.

So incentivize small businessmen who are cutting the hours of employees in some way to counter Obamacare. Maybe offer them a sales tax reimbursement or a tax credit if they have over a certain amount of full time employees on salary or something.

In other words Newt is saying that the GOP needs to show how they will help Americans and instead of showing how they will cut things and "terrorize" the old, sick, and poor. In other words offer the 47% them a hand-up instead of a hand out.

Monday, August 12, 2013

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is a Giant Douche

Well I guess the beatings will continue until morale improves at AOL.

The call was supposed to be Armstrong's attempt to rally the troops.

During the first minute or so of the recording, Armstrong says things like: "If you don't believe what I'm about to say, I'm going to ask you to leave Patch…We have to get Patch into a place where it's going to be successful."

But then things go suddenly awry.

At exactly two minutes into the recording, Armstrong addresses someone in the room with him.

He says, "Abel, put that camera down, now."

Then, without taking a breath, Armstrong says, "Abel, you're fired. Out."

Yup whoever Abel was he got fired for holding up a camera. Supposedly he was supposed to take pictures for that Patch website but I guess the CEO didn't want that happening. If I was on that board I would look into replacing Armstrong with a decent human being.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Well I Guess It is Time to Get a German Email Address to Avoid the NSA Reading Your Emails

It seems that the two largest German Telecom companies are now providing their customers with encrypted email and will only route e-mail traffic through their domestic servers.

Two of Germany's biggest Internet service providers say they will encrypt customers' emails by default following reports that the U.S. National Security Agency monitors international electronic communications. Deutsche Telekom, Germany's leading telecoms operator, says it will start channeling e-mail traffic exclusively through its domestic servers in response to public outrage over revelations of U.S. spy programs accessing citizens' private messages. The company launched the "E-mail made in Germany" initiative after a month of public indignation over reports on intrusive U.S. snooping based on documents leaked by fugitive former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Strange "Angelic" Priest Appears and Helps Crash Victim

Now this is an interesting story of the unexplained.

An unidentified allegedly drunken driver hit Katie Lentz, of Quincy, Mo., head on Aug. 4 while traveling on Route 19 near Center, Mo., pinning the 19-year-old in the front seat of her convertible. With her vital signs failing fast, she asked rescue crews to pray with her.

That's when first responders say a man who looked like a Catholic priest seemed to appear out of nowhere, despite a 2-mile perimeter blocking the scene.

"He began to pray and use the anointing oil," New London Fire Chief Raymond Reed said. "There was a calmness that, to me, seemed to come over the entire scene."

But that's not the only seemingly divine detail. Firefighters say their equipment kept failing until the mystery man showed up.

"The words were to remain calm, that our tools would now work," Reed said. "Instantaneously, at that moment, our neighboring department arrived with fresh extrication tools."

Lentz survived, but the man vanished before crews could thank him.

The young woman is recovering in the hospital with broken legs and ribs, but some say it could've been worse, if not for the mystery man on the highway.

It would have been awesome if their extraction tools actually miraculously started to work but it is still a pretty cool story.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Macklemore Effect: Reason Why Teen Retailers are Doing so Poorly?

Well I sometimes listen to current music and I keep hearing a song which is about a year old called Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. The song is pretty much about a guy with $20 in his pocket and how he is getting that money to stretch when he is buying clothes for the club. One line that I really liked in the song was.

“Oh that Gucci, that’s hella tight”
I’m like “Yo, that’s fifty dollars for a t-shirt”
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a t-shirt, that’s just some ignorant bitch shit
I call that getting swindled and pimped, shit
I call that getting tricked by business.

With recent bad comps from teen retailers I wonder if there is some sort of dim and tenuous of correlation between the two.

On Monday, teen retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc. slashed its second-quarter outlook because of weak traffic and sluggish sales of women's merchandise. The teen retailer cited a highly promotional environment that only got tougher in July. 

On Thursday, rival Aeropostale Inc. warned that it would have a wider loss than expected when it reports its second-quarter results later this month. It also blamed weak traffic and lots of discounting. 

It would be interesting to see if Thrift Stores are actually picking up sales on deep discounted clothing as young people with only $20 in their pocket make their money stretch. Well it seems to be the case at least in some parts of the country.

“Once you find something great,” explains Porter, “you’re hooked. I’ve always shopped at garage sales and thrift shops. Your money just goes further.”

In fact, one of her friends was reluctant to shop thrift stores until she scored a $200 pair of designer jeans for just $11. Porter’s biggest coup was finding a Louis Vuitton bag in near mint condition for $10. She estimates it is worth close to $200.

“You can find really good brands,” says Porter. “I found a North Face jacket for $10 on Goodwill’s half price day and a New York & Co dress that I wore to Cotillion and Winter Formal for $15.”

I think young people are just getting more frugal on certain things like clothes and there is no stigma attached to shopping at Goodwill anymore. $50 for a T-shirt is just not something that teens are rushing out to pay anymore.

Also the idea of treasure hunting at a thrift shop might be drawing in some people as well. Getting a Louis Vuitton bag for $10 would make quite a few women very happy if they found such a deal by digging through a bin. The Great Recession plus record student loans might make a much more frugal Gen-Y is we are lucky. 

Orbitz Leaps 40% Due to Great Numbers but Teen Clothing Retailers Suck

I have tried Orbitz for my last trip and was pretty happy with the results. It seems that they are doing very well this past quarter.

Before the market opened, Orbitz reported earnings of $561,000, or breakeven on a per-share basis, on revenue of $225 million, compared with a profit of $4.6 million, or 4 cents a share, on $201 million in sales in the same period a year ago. Excluding one-time items, Orbitz would have earned 17 cents a share. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast Orbitz to earn 9 cents a share on $218.9 million in revenue. The company said its results were helped by gains in sales of hotel rooms and vacation packages, which made up 48% of Orbitz's revenue in the quarter. Orbitz also said it now expects revenue for the year to come in between $840 million and $850 million, while analysts had estimated sales of $831.4 million.

I guess this means Americans are starting to travel more and are spending more money. The jump in vacation packages are especially telling since Americans had sworn off vacations for the last few years. What is interesting is that Teen Clothing Retailers are seeing pain at the same time.

Aeropostale slumped after the teen apparel retailer said same-store sales in the second quarter plunged 15 percent and the company now sees a second-quarter loss of between 23 cents a share and 25 cents a share, versus Wall Street estimates for a loss of 17 cents a share. Teen specialty apparel store Zumiez posted a weaker-than-expected 0.8 percent gain in July same-store sales. Roth Capital cut its price target on Zumiez to $32 a share from $36. 

And earlier this week, rival teen clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters said its second-quarter profit will likely be less than half of what Wall Street was expecting, citing weak sales and lower margins.

NBC Hillary Clinton Miniseries: "Hillary: The Greatest Story Ever Told" or Whatever its called Panned by NBC News Reporter

Well it seems that even the White House Corespondent at NBC Chuck Todd is turning on his handlers.

Todd was on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Thursday morning to discuss the controversy surrounding NBC's miniseries plans. He said there is a definite division between NBC News and NBC Entertainment, which is responsible for the miniseries, and that the relationship between the two was often "very bad." That should continue today, as Todd also snarkily asked the entertainment to "please make some money."

Todd then went on to say that "this is why this miniseries is a total nightmare for NBC News."
"We know there's this giant firewall, we know we have nothing to do with it. We know that we'd love probably to be as critical or whatever it is gonna be if it comes out, but there's nothing we can do about it and we're gonna only own the negative," Todd said.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Media Matters Supports Reince Priebus: Is that the 3rd Sign of the Apocalypse?

Well it seems that Reince Priebus (what a goofy name) might be getting support from a very unlikely source.

"You ought not be doing feature films or documentaries and miniseries about what we know to be a very likely candidate," Priebus said. "CNN and NBC can do what they want to do. That's their right. But it's also my right, Erin, as chairman of the party, to say if you go forward with this then I'm going to choose not to include you in the debate process and the moderating of our primary debates in our party. I think this is a reasonable thing for me to be doing."

Even conservative media watchdog group Media Matters agreed with GOP, possibly for the first time in recorded history. On Tuesday, founder David Brock sent letters to CNN and NBC urging them to cancel their Clinton plans.

Yeah having CNN and NBC showing some 15-part mini-series about Hillary out of the clear-blue sky right before she runs of President is so very non-partisan. They should have just come out and endorsed her like a local newspaper endorses a city councilman. CNN and NBC supports Hillary Clinton for President and just leave it there. 

I love CNN rolling this out as a defense as well.

CNN has said that its news division has nothing to do with the CNN Films banner the documentary is being produced under.

Oh of course not. They are so separate that CNN will be showing the "The Hillary Clinton Story: Time Has Come for Greatness" or whatever CNN will call its documentary right on CNN. I wonder if it will be hosted by Wolf Blitzer or maybe simply Hillary herself will step in and do the work. Maybe they will just have her Vice Presidential candidate do the honors and save some steps.

Congress Votes to Dodge Obamacare: In Other Words the Plebs are Forced Into Obamacare while the Lords Keep Whats Theirs

Well it seems Congress is all about Obamacare for thee but not for me.

The decision by the Office of Personnel Management, with Obama's blessing, will prevent the largely unintended loss of healthcare benefits for 535 members of the Senate and House of Representatives and thousands of Capitol Hill staff.

When Congress passed the health reform law known as "Obamacare" in 2010, an amendment required that lawmakers and their staff members purchase health insurance through the online exchanges that the law created. They would lose generous coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

They were afraid of this happening:

This caused fears that staff would suddenly face sharply higher healthcare costs and leave federal service, causing a "brain drain" on Capitol Hill.

The last thing they wanted was to have people in Congress have to fend for themselves in the private sector. I guess they felt that they didn't want to move down the road and become lobbyists and give up the power they have amassed just to hold onto their gold-plated health insurance. Too bad the vast majority of Americans can't vote to keep themselves out of Obamacare or even hold onto the insurance that they have.

I think a good idea is that Obama should go ahead and drop his gold-plated Federal Health Insurance and go into the exchanges in good faith. Then make the rest of his cabinet do the same. If it is good enough for the President it should be good enough for everyone else.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Product Review: Muddy Buddy Chex-Mix: Snickerdoodle Flavor

Well I saw these at the local Walgreen (aka the place where strange flavors of things pop up from time to time) and decided to give them a try.

Well I have to say that they are not too bad. Not overly sweet and they have a pleasant cinnamon taste to them. They aren't too waxy in the mouth and they are not powdery like they look on the package. They do taste vaguely like a Snickerdoodle cookie but not too much. When I think of Snickerdoodle cookies I think of the buttery, sugary taste of the cookie mixed with cinnamon. These snacks don't really have that butter taste to them. There is a slightly salty aftertaste from the actual Chex cereal so you have to be aware of that. The salt isn't overpowering like Kettle Corn so I didn't find it too bad.

Verdict: Will buy again and willing to try other Muddy Buddies Chex Mix in the future.

Well Obamacare is Live: You can make a username and password on the Site

I guess it is time for the GOP to forget about "repealing" Obamacare and instead try working with the plan in order to help their constituents.

Just eight weeks before the Oct. 1 launch of open enrollment under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law, administration officials announced Monday that the Affordable Care Act is a step closer to reality for millions of uninsured Americans. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said consumers can now go online to and create personal accounts by establishing a username and password. 

However, serious shopping will have to wait until sometime in September, when details on insurance plans and premiums offered in local areas will become available through the new online marketplace. 

They hope to sign up 7 million uninsured people next year which sounds so pie-in-the-sky that it is laughable. Here is a headline from the future "Total Obamacare Exchange Signups Disappointing." Most people are not going to even sign-up (and might not even know about) these Obamacare accounts until they absolutely have to.

Japan Launches "Destroyer" with a Flat Deck

Well it seems that Japan might be feeling the pressure from the Red Chinese navy.

The ship, which has a flight deck that is nearly 250 meters (820 feet) long, is designed to carry up to 14 helicopters. Japanese officials say it will be used in national defense — particularly in anti-submarine warfare and border-area surveillance missions — and to bolster the nation's ability to transport personnel and supplies in response to large-scale natural disasters, like the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. 

It could be turned into a pocket carrier if need be with just the addition of a catapult system. The name of the ship, Izumo, is interesting as well. It was the name of the flagship of the Japanese 2nd fleet commanded by Admiral Baron Kamimura Hikonoj┼Ź during the Russo-Japanese war. It actually docked in Hawaii for a time on the way to the West Coast to celebrate the 140th Anniversary of the founding of San Francisco in 1909. In any case you will probably see the Japanese navy start to build out going forward.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Android Flips the Table in the Tablet Wars, Microsoft Surface not as Bad as Before but Still Pretty Bad

Oh what a difference a year makes.

According to IDC, Apple shipped 14.6 million iPads in the second quarter of 2013, a 14% drop from the 17 million tablets it shipped in Q2 2013. Over that same time, Android tablet shipments surged from 10.7 million in Q2 2012 to 28.2 million in Q2 2013, an increase of just under 163%. These reverse trajectories caused iOS and Android’s market shares to essentially flip over the past year: While Apple held a 60.3% market share and Android held a 38% market share in Q2 2012, Android now holds a 62.6% market share and Apple holds a 32.5% market share.

Well I am considering buying a new Nexus once I get my Chromecast in. I want a device that I can browse the Internet with and will allow me to push tabs to my TV. In other words I want to browse the Internet on my TV if I choose to. Microsoft increased its market share from 1% to 4.5% which is really not bad. The bad news is that might be the extent of the growth.

In other news, IDC has found that Windows-based tablets accounted for 4.5% of all tablets shipped in Q2 2013, a big increase from the 1% share that Windows tablets held in Q2 2012. However, Microsoft can’t be pleased to see that Windows RT tablets only accounted for 0.5% of all tablets shipped on the quarter and just barely beat out BlackBerry’s PlayBook, which accounted for 0.3% of all tablets shipped.

Art Donovan Hall of Fame Colt Passed Away. End of an NFL era

Well I have to agree with this article that Pro Football used to be like Pro Wrestling once and not the slick, multi-billion dollar spectacle it is now. One of the funniest guys from that era Art Donovan died recently and that transition is complete.

When Kusen died, Artie was the executor of his will. This wasn't unusual; all of the Colts -- Fatso (Artie), Mumbles (kicker Steve Myhra), Boulevard (tackle Jim Parker, because of the size of his butt,) Big Daddy (the imposing Eugene Lipscomb), Spats (the natty Lenny Moore) -- would regularly accept invitations from fans in the neighborhoods to kids' birthday parties and cookouts. It was Baltimore. It was family.

I used to watch him when he was on ESPN doing NFL commercials years ago. He used to play a kind of court jester character that was just hilarious. He would do a double-take where his jowls would wobble and the other people on those commercials would poke fun at him. This is a video of him on Letterman from the 80s that got me laughing out loud. He was a real artifact from a bygone era of NFL History.

Dividend ETFs Become Really Popular: Stocks Becoming the New Bonds?

As if there was any wonder why they have had pretty large inflows in the past few months. I guess you can call stocks the new bonds

“Many income-starved investors have turned to dividend stocks as bond alternatives. Exchange traded products focused on dividends have rushed to meet this demand,” according to a recent note from BlackRock. The firm manages the $13 billion iShares Select Dividend (DVY), one of the largest ETFs in the group.
“Record low yields have led to the bondification of the equity market. Investors are buying quality companies with predictable earnings and dividend income,” according to BlackRock.

The only problem is that as the economy improves these stocks will probably not appreciate as fast as the cyclical stocks. In any case being paid to hold a stock is almost always a good idea if the companies are strong.

Beer Consumption Down by 20%: Could College Binge Drinking?

It seems America is no longer the beer-guzzling culture that it once was.

Gallup's new alcoholic preferences survey, summed up in the image above, finds that beer's lead over wine has slipped by 20 percentage points since the early 1990s. But the demographic breakdown is even more brutal. Young drinkers and nonwhite drinkers saw the steepest falls in beer preference. In other words, the fastest-growing segments of the country are also running the fastest away from brews.  

Well I think part of the change is that many young drinkers have been brought up in a culture where the harder stuff gets them drunk faster and for less so that is what they go for. Their paychecks are stretched pretty thin already (if they even have one) with student loan debt and the Great Recession so they want more drunk for their bucks. They just don't want to drink like 5 Bud Lights anymore to get them the same buzzed as they would a few Vodka and Red Bulls. They are used to shots of Vodka and not cans of Bud Light (the hipster love of .

You also add to the fact that craft beers/European beers taste about10x better than anything that Budweiser makes and you can see beer consumption drop. I could not see someone going back to Bud Light after drinking nearly any German beer.

I have to agree with this article when it says that liquor ads are what is driving some of the move away from beer as well. They usually have an air of the badass for men (Michael Imperioli as the spokesman for 1800 Tequila) or are part of the rap culture (Diddy for Ciroq) which is important to younger drinkers. Most non-craft/non-European beers just don't have the cultural cache of a Jack Daniels or a Patron so that might be part of the decline. 

Friday, August 02, 2013

This is Why the Roots are so Cool: Blurred Lines Played with Kids Instruments

I can't wait for them to make the jump to the Tonight Show when Fallon moves to that earlier spot. Hopefully, many more Americans can see how talented they are.

Watch Fashion Folks go from 0 to Crazy in 10 seconds

This video almost looks staged but from what I hear it is very real. It shows the depth of human depravity when something is given away "free." The price is ones human decency.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Snowden Given Asylum in Russia: Probably Being Roughed Up By the KGB (err FSB) As We Speak

Well it seems that Putin doesn't care too much about the US or what Obama wants.

The anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks said in a statement that Snowden left the airport with the group’s legal adviser, Sarah Harrison, and “headed to a secure, confidential place.” The statement quoted Snowden as thanking Russia “for granting me asylum in accordance with its laws and international obligations” and accusing the Obama administration of showing “no respect for international or domestic law.” 

Maybe Putin will do the interrogation personally. I mean he probably hasn't beaten anyone up or tried to get information out of someone for years and he might be out of practice. In any case it seems Snowden if going to be a problem for the NSA for years.

Looks Like I found My New Phone: Moto X; But Google Change the Wallpaper on the Phone it Looks like the Sceen is Damaged

Well it might be time to buy a new phone and this one sounds like a pretty cool device.

This is the signature feature in the Moto X—a way to access the Google Now service without turning on the phone, touching it or even taking it out of your pocket. Google Now not only does pretty much everything that Apple’s Siri does—answers queries, schedules appointments, and plays the song you request—but draws on a vast wealth of data to act as an omniscient personal assistant. (Classic example: It will warn you to end a meeting because it knows that traffic is so snarled, you might not make your next one in time.) It also embodies the grand tradeoff that’s at the core of Google’s ambitions—in exchange for allowing Google to aggregate a bounty of your personal information, drawn from your inputs on multiple services, the company promises to make your life better. By building Google Now into the Moto X front and center, Motorola reveals its potential value to its owner. As Ron says, “This is a great example of Motorola shining a light, via our hardware capabilities, on software and services that Google has.”

Well, I use Gmail, Google Maps, Google Play Music, and Google Drive quite a bit. I will probably be using the phone to change channels and operate my Chromecast once it comes off of back-order.

If they got their Google Finance apps (and Google Finance in general) better I would move my portfolio monitoring to that site there from Yahoo. I will be cool to have individual stock information ready for me to look at every morning while it is still charging.

However, Google seriously needs to change their marketing photo though. I thought the screen was crazed or something from the phone being dropped. I figured this was Wired's way of making the phone look like it has "broken out" or some other graphic design decision. Actually it is a red white and blue painted wooden wall that has suffered weather-damage. I think the little Android robot-guy would work better as a wallpaper.

Product Review: Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino from Starbucks

Well I like trying new things so I might as well do reviews whenever I actually get a chance to try stuff. In this case I tried the Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino from Starbucks.

It was one of the sweetest drinks I have had in a long time. The sugary taste just coats both sides of my tongue and the caramel leaves a kind of aftertaste as well. I really think it is caramel overload. I normally like the taste of caramel as well so this thing is just too much for my tastebuds. The caramel aftertaste that I talked about earlier makes me want to eat something salty to kill that taste. If you like very sweet drinks then you would probably like it but it just isn't for me.

Verdict: Avoid and buy something else