Thursday, May 28, 2015

Visa Might Dump FIFA is Things Aren't cleaned up #FireBlatter

Hopefully many more sponsors will jump ship unless FIFA roots out the corruption.
Worried that their reputations will be tarnished by their links to FIFA, major sponsors are demanding that soccer's global governing body clean up its act, with Visa even warning it is prepared to jump ship.

Coca-Cola also made it clear it is unhappy with the scandals rocking the organization, which saw the head of European soccer, Michel Platini, urge FIFA President Sepp Blatter to step down Thursday.
Yeah Blatter needs to go. He oversaw all the corruption and scandal overtaking the "charity." Yes FIFA is a charity that makes billions a year.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ryanair Makes a Pile of Money

I recently saw the CEO of this company on Squawk box and it seems they had a huge quarter while other European carriers lost money for some reason or another.
Recently, Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair Holdings plc RYAAY reported robust financial and operating numbers with net profit for the year ended Mar 2015 rising 66% year over year to €867 million. Moreover, load factor increased by 500 basis points to stand at 88% while air traffic jumped 11% to 90.6 million.
It also seems like they are coming to America with their low cost fares.
Ryanair is also eyeing the transatlantic route with extremely low fares for a one-way trip. If successful in implementing its plans, the company will likely pose significant competitive threat to U.S. low-cost carriers like Southwest Airlines Co. LUV and Spirit Airlines.  
Hopefully he can give our legacy carriers a run for their money.

FBI Goes after FIFA on corruption Probe

At long last someone is investigating FIFA.
The world's most popular sport was plunged into turmoil on Wednesday as seven powerful soccer figures were arrested on U.S. corruption charges and faced extradition from Switzerland, whose authorities also announced a criminal investigation into the awarding of the next two World Cups.

The arrests of the senior FIFA officials in a dawn raid at a five-star Zurich hotel mark an unprecedented blow against soccer's powerful governing body, which for years has been dogged by allegations of corruption but always escaped major criminal cases.
The idea of rousting them from a Swiss Luxury Hotel is something out of a movie as well. It would be interesting to see if they were perp-walked with mistresses and high classed call girls in tow or not. It is also nice to see someone going after the rampantly corrupt FIFA after all these years.

Veggie Burger for McDonalds? Tips to Fix McDonalds is spot on

I think this might be a hit depending on how it tastes.

Introduce an improved, protein-based version of the old McVeggie Burger. “This would be a great option for vegetarians and people trying to reduce meat in their diet,” said Mistry. “McDonald’s is sometimes the only option for people traveling or in remote areas or in a late-night pinch.” But don’t do it as an afterthought — make it delicious, said Erin McKenna, founder of Erin McKenna’s Bakery, the vegan outposts in New York, L.A., and Walt Disney World in Orlando. “Make it an item that even meat-eaters can’t resist.”
It would have to be very tasty though but I would at least try it to see if it is any good. I agree with this suggestion as well.
“Put a Big Mac up against ‘Big Macs’ made by Shake Shack or In-N-Out Burger and I guarantee you that no one will pick the McDonald’s Big Mac.” A few chefs suggested organic and grass-fed options. “Higher quality ingredients and a slightly thicker patty would make a great burger,” said Kris Yenbamroong, the chef of Night + Market and Night + Market Song in L.A. 
I actually enjoy the taste of Big Macs but I think it is more nostalgia based then anything else. If I didn't have them as a kid I would not rush out to eat them now. The burgers at Shake Shack and Teddy's Bigger Burgers here in Hawaii are a 100x better than a standard Big Mac. Their burgers have a bigger patty and have nice melty cheese on them that the Big Mac lacks. The bun is also nice and fresh and much better than the generic sesame bun on a Big Mac. I think the thin grey meat patties and the sauce turns off a lot of burger lovers out there. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Saudi's Move Toward Getting the Bomb: The Arms Race Begin! #MiddleEasternColdWar

I can see their position when playing the "Great Game" against Iran.
The Sunday Times reported the move by the Saudis -- said by the newspaper to have been bankrolling much of the Pakistani nuclear program for three decades -- comes amid concern among Sunni Arab nations over a framework deal on Iran's nuclear program that aims to limit Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions.
The framework deal was hammered out by world powers and Tehran in talks that ended in early April. The parties have until the end to June to work out the details and finalize the plan. 
They Saudi's have been sold down the river by Obama's White House so they have to fend for themselves. So they need the right of deterrent when Iran goes nuclear. It is a perfectly logical way to protect their interests. Now they will be able to have a freer hand in any proxy wars that should pop up against Iran. In other words a cold war is now settling over the Middle East thanks to the Obama White House. A more dangerous world indeed.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Food for Thought: Declining Productivity is Due to Waning Technological Inventiveness #TechStagnation

This article is very interesting in trying to explain why productivity is only growing at 0.4% in recent years.
In somewhat different ways, John Fernald of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, two leading productivity experts, have argued that the greatest productivity gains from information technology came years ago, and that recent inventions look puny by comparison. Compare Facebook with the Internet, or the Apple Watch with the personal computer. Maybe inventiveness has not waned, but the productivity-enhancing impacts of inventions have.
The Apple watch is certainly case-in-point in this argument. I was reading a different article on how businesses are trying to bend over backward trying to figure out how to incorporate the Apple Watch into the workplace. All of the reasons just looked like a way for executives to get a free Apple Watch and not a tool to make them more productive. I mean anything work related you can see on the watch you can see on your iPhone already and much easier at that.

All Facebook and Twitter have done is made yet another place to show you ads for things you don't want to buy. Mobile ad revenue is going strait up over there but it certainly isn't helping anyone do their jobs more efficiently. This article actually says they might be a drag on productivity as well depending on how much of the workday they take up. Most of the ideas where companies help your company "get on social media" are pretty much a way to put up a digital billboard.

While Big Data is pretty much a way to parse the mountains of somewhat useless data and hopefully find a use for it. I watched an IBM ad that had some way of figuring out who is important in your emails and social interactions. Do you really need that at most businesses? I know the people in my department are important and my boss is the most important. I saved my company the millions it would have taken IBM to implement this useless application.

The Internet of Things is basically an excuse to sell you stuff you don't really need. If my refrigerator tells me when my milk goes bad and re-orders the milk I would need to turn that function off. I don't always want milk so I don't want my refrigerator making decisions for me.

What I noticed is most of the technology today is just deck-chair re-arrangers. A thinner phone where you can use the edge of it for something or another. A bigger phone with a better camera and display. A laptop that turns into a tablet. A way to watch TV shows and 2nd run movies at home for small sum a month. A car service where you don't need a taxi license to participate in and can be called using an app. A different app that rents out your house when you are away. That is the innovation in 2015. These are all things that replace something that we already had. Uber vs. the taxi, the Samsung Edge vs. a regular smart phone, Netflix vs. Blockbuster Video.

Its all just a little nudge better and a little cheaper cost for pretty much the same thing as last year. I mean a bigger iPhone is not going to do anything special to move the productivity bar. You will still read the same email, use the same apps, and waste time with the same games and social media. So the idea that technological stagnation is something that might be putting a damper on productivity growth is a very good one indeed.


Obama's Plan Just Knee-capped SWAT teams throught the country

The White House again sticks its big nose into policing around the country.
To curb the “militarization” of local police that upset so many people during the Ferguson protests, President Obama has authorized a series of recommendations to regulate the transfer of equipment from federal agencies to state/local law enforcement.

The plan divides equipment into two main categories: (1) “prohibited” equipment – including bayonets, grenade launchers, weaponized aircraft, tracked armored vehicles and large caliber weapons – that have been deemed inappropriate for local law enforcement and should not be made available local police “under any circumstances,” and (2) “controlled” equipment – including riot gear, explosives, armored vehicles, and specialized firearms – that police departments can acquire only if they comply with certain “vigorous” controls.
Okay a grenade launcher can fire a smoke or tear gas grenade so I guess SWAT teams don't get that. I guess they also don't get to use a tracked vehicle in case of a bomb threat as well. Also what caliber is large caliber? Hopefully doesn't leave them with pop guns when the criminals can use any caliber of firearm they want. 

Also on the "controlled list" why is riot gear on this list? This gear protects the cops when there are riots like there were in Baltimore. Maybe explosives or armored vehicles might be on this list by why is protective gear there? I guess there will just be more injured cops next time there is a riot.

Kid Dodges all 8 Ivies for University of Alabama: #Smartchoices

Now this is a kid that is interested in his financial future.
Yet despite the accomplishment, Nelson declined offers from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Penn. He chose a state school instead: the University of Alabama. His reason for choosing to Roll Tide? Nelson wants to avoid mountains of student loan debt.

Nelson, who is his senior class president, has a 4.58 weighted GPA, is an award-winning saxophone player, and has plenty of merit-based awards to his name, told Morning Joe Monday that he analyzed all of the offers and asked himself one simple question: “Where am I going to get the best education possible, while still making sure that it’s financially reasonable for both me and my family?” said Nelson.
In other words he chose free college instead of having to work for decades to pay off a mountain of debt he would get from an Ivy. He can always choose to go to an Ivy for grad school or maybe law school if he was so inclined. Instead he gets 4 years of free college then he can go into debt for a fraction of the amount he would need. Smart kid.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

They are Going to Run Out of Straws!: 36 People on the #RNCStrawPoll including Mark Whitty Everson. Who? Read Further

Can't they whittle this group down to a more manageable number?
The RNC then throws in a few senators and governors for good measure. Nikki Haley, John Thune, Brian Sandoval, Kelly Ayotte, Susana Martinez, Tim Scott. Add former congressman Allen West, a potential candidate in his own mind, and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, and you're at a ridiculous 35 candidates.

Who's number 36, you ask? Mark Everson. Who's Mark Everson, you ask? Beats me.
Time to Google:

He is the former Commissioner of the IRS under George W. Bush (points off) but has an interesting middle name: Whitty (not sure if he actually fits this name.) He went to Yale (points off) and NYU school of business for an MBA in accounting (points: I would love a Beancounter in Chief.) He was the CEO of the Red Cross (big points) but knocked up a married subordinate while he was there (points for Clinton-istas) but ended up divorcing his wife and marring that woman (tie score to the Christian Reich: your sin Mr Everson? ADULTERY! Your penance? MARRIAGE.) He is currently working as a consultant for Alliantgroup which is a tax consultant (if they can cut my taxes then points.) Said Alliantgroup has a David Tepper clone on their website. When I first clicked through I thought "wow Tepper has his hands in everything." Turns out it was Dean Zerbe who is some dude I never heard of.

Total Score: I would not vote for him but he would make a decent Tax functionary in an imaginary Condoleezza Rice White House. (Yeah I'm not a fan of any of the people running on the GOP ticket so far)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How to Combat #Hack-a-Jordan: Spike the Ball off the Backboard and Rebound

I was watching the Clippers vs. Rockets snoozefest where they hacked DeAndre Jordan 28 times in the first half of that game. I know it didn't work during that game but it didn't matter.
For one thing, there's the perception that Hack-a-Whoever, in many instances, just doesn't work. Remember, the Clippers decimated the Rockets in Jordan's 34-freebie game, thanks in large part to the combination of Houston completely sabotaging its rhythm, forsaking the possibility of generating live-ball turnovers, and having to repeatedly attack the Clips' set half-court defense, loaded up to snuff out every last James Harden isolation. (Also, the Rockets kind of seemed to quit.)
I'm pretty sure the Rockets quit because they were forced to play against how they wanted to. Harden seemed like he hated having to use a trick instead of playing tough defense.

Before I changed the channel on that game (this tactic actually lost at least one viewer)I was trying to think of ways to get rid of this tactic. Anything like giving the team that got fouled possession if it was intentional rewards them for having a poor free throw shooter. You could have a good free throw shooter sub in for the poor one only if the foul was intentional but that would be a reward as well.
One thing I think would be interesting is to have DeAndre Jordon spike the ball off the backboard on the second foul shot. Then rebound like crazy or even have Jordon try for a tip dunk. I think a strong fellow like Jordon can fire the ball hard enough off of the backboard so one of his teammates can rebound it. If he can do it enough then that intentionally missed free throw can turn into a whole new possession.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Starbucks' Ethos Water Brand Flees California

Well the drought has pushed out this company.
Beginning in May and over the next six months, Starbucks said it plans to move production to its Pennsylvania supplier.
The Seattle-based coffee chain also is looking for a new source and supplier for its West Coast Ethos Water distribution.
The announcement comes a week after the magazine Mother Jones published a report showing that Ethos Water was sourced in areas deemed to be in "exceptional drought.
Yeah it probably doesn't look good to Ethos waters liberal drinkers to be bottling during a drought.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Growth Slowing to a Crawl

We may have had a contraction in Q1 and maybe an anemic Q2.
But the number that really caught our attention is the new "GDP Now" figure put out by the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank. That number uses data, as they come in,to make real-time estimates for near-term GDP growth.
It's not perfect. But in the first quarter, GDP Now estimates were way below the Wall Street consensus by two full percentage points or more. But its final forecast of 0.1% growth came closest to the real number.
So with Wall Street again expecting a pickup in the second quarter — the consensus calls for 3%-plus growth — what does GDP Now see? An anemic 0.8% GDP gain. That estimate, if again correct, may mean the U.S. is falling into recession before the Fed even raises rates.
Well the good news is that the FED will probably not get a chance to raise rates anytime soon. The bad news is we will have 2 recessions on Obama's watch. It is strange that everyone else is running stimulus while the US wants to raise rates. I think the Government should cut payroll taxes again and give everyone a little spending shot in the arm.