Thursday, September 30, 2004

Stocks: Do Drugs Make You Sick?

Big news out this morning, is the pulling of Merck's Vioxx from the shelves because of fears it can cause heart attacks and strokes. The stock is taking a beating, but it could be just the beginning as the lawsuits are filed from patients on Vioxx who have experienced cardiac events.

The public health angle on all this, might be regarding over-medication. Are we treating too many symptoms, instead of targetting the simple things like diet and exercise? Lifestyle changes may make a difference for many of the common maladies that affect Americans. The idea that one can just take a pill to compensate for a lack of common sense lacks, well, common sense.

The investor angle on drug stocks? There could be closer scrutiny on existing treatments, and new drugs in the pipeline. I wonder if drug stocks, which are generally seen as safe stocks, see some selling as investors move money around to other areas. Drug stocks tend to pay dividends, so could stocks that pay dividends see some buying?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Quick Hits

* Mount St. Helensvolcano cam.

* Fox news is getting more audience than the other cable networks combined.

* Stock market? Still long. I'm wary of the Sept-Oct selloff, though. But instead of trying to time it, I'm playing the other trend in effect: The presidential election trend. We also seem to be getting the end of quarter gaming of stocks. Pimco had a sell on bonds today, so that's something to keep an eye on. And the latest commentary from Pimco's Bill Gross is out!

* LA County finds $337 million surplus. (Don't you wish you found $337 million?) They should use it for one-time expenses, but they're giving employees raises. Bad idea, because that means they'll have to come up with that cash again next year. I bet they don't run that surplus again anytime soon.

* Remember: The Apprentice is on tonight!

* Clouds are covering Mt. St. Helens right now.

* I think the Dodgers have the West won at this point. A's and Angels? That's the race to watch!

Movies by Mail

Lets face it, we no longer have to know anything thanks to Google, so that frees up some work time that we used to spend researching things, to focus on the diversions. What kind of diversions? First, it was Amazon. Next, it was Ebay. And it's always been Yahoo.

But the online rage around here is selecting and rearranging your "movie preference" list. So many coworkers and friends are signing up for Netflix ($21 a month) and now Blockbuster ($19 a month), to have their movie rentals sent by mail, instead of having to drive to the store and rent one. Remember the days of browsing selections after work, and spending 30-45 minutes of your free time picking your movie? No longer, now you can spend that 30-45 minutes at your office instead! As long as you're sitting at your desk, you might as well have something fun to do, right?

The online rental companies send you 3 movies at a time, by the order that you rank them on your preference list. When you mail a movie back, they send you the next one on your list.

I'm convinced! Movies by mail? No brainer. Sign me up! Not only will I catch up on my movie watching, but now I have something to do for 30-45 minutes a day instead of working...

"Hmm, should 'Passion of the Christ' be ranked #7 or #11 on my list? I do want to see 'Mean Girls,' so maybe I should put that up around #4. Say, Tom Hanks had a couple films out I didn't see, I wonder if they're on DVD yet?"

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Can You Hear Me Now?

I love the wireless world. From wifi networks, to cellular phones, and even bluetooth, there are many conveniences heading our way if we can find the patience. I read today that Philly is going to install a free, citywide wifi network. New PDAs (think ipaq, palm pilots, etc.) are equipped with both wifi and cellular technology. Some hotels offer free wireless, so if you're equipped to log on, you can.

But I have to give jeers to the hotels that are installing cellular jamming equipment. The hotels used to make quite a bit of revenue from phone calls made from the hotel room, and most guests are opting to use their wireless minutes instead of pay the outrageous hotel connection charges.

Is that ridiculous, or what?

Monday, September 27, 2004

Quick Hits

* When I was in school, some teachers read the roll last names first, first names last. For example, I'd be "Dog Muck" in the roll call. So, I felt a little sorry reading a column by a guy named Dick Moore. I hope he went by "Richard!"

* I started Vinny Testeverde tonight in my Fantasy Football league. Or, maybe ESPN's Chris Berman would say Vinny Barbarino Testaverde! Up the Redskins noses, with rubber hoses!

* The stock market? Looks like we're getting the seasonal weakness. I'm not going to try and play this. Maybe the market is reacting to oil prices, Iraq, terror, the election, or who knows what, but I'm still optimistic that the economy is growing. This economic growth will show up in corporate bottom lines, and eventually stock prices. That's my intermediate term theory. In the short term? Maybe we get that September-October bottom that seems to happen most years.

* Baked Doritos. Mmmmm....

* Another weekend, another hurricane. And another $14 billion in damage. I wonder how property insurance companies are doing in Florida these days?

* Memo to the Miami Dolphins: You call THAT an offense?

* Interest rates sure have gone down again. Remember in the summer, everyone was saying that they'd be going higher. WRONG.

* I wonder if the nation would be best served with a Kerry win, and the GOP retaining Congress? At least then, nobody would ever agree with anyone. We'd have gridlock again; which, served us VERY well from 1994-2000.

Politics: Bush Wins the Debate

The thursday presidential debate will grab the headlines this week. Will many watch? Will most be upset that "Joey" and "The Apprentice" are upstaged? I think the latter, but I also believe that the nation is so polarized that folks have already made up their minds who has won the debates.

The winner is: George Bush!

Why? Elementary, my dear Watson. Lets Quick Hit the reasons:

* Bush is more charming.
* Foreign policy favors Bush.
* Kerry is too pessimistic.
* Kerry has the worst advisors ever.

Why is Bush more charming? He smiles more. He's folksy. He drops the "g" off of words like hopin' and learnin' and trustin' and believin' in 'Merica. People identify with Bush. Kerry comes across exactly the opposite. As a guy who's trying to be all those things, but somehow you sense he's just fakin' it.

Iraq is a losing issue for Kerry. He's been all over the map on it. Nobody knows what his position is at this point. Bush has been steadfast and determined.

Bush's delivery style is full of hope and optimism. Contrast that to Kerry, who seems to focus on every negative he can find. His word and phrase choices like "wrong" and "we can do better" are negative. He needs to pick up his delivery, because nobody likes a pessimist.

Kerry's team of advisors stink. His comments that this is the worst economy since Hoover? Nobody believes it, except for the Kerry cultists who are voting for him anyways. How can he attract the undecideds, who are lined up at Best Buy purchasing a big screen TV and a satellite dish for the NFL season, by telling them that the economy is horrible? How can the economy be so horrible, if all the big screen TVs are out of stock and it'll take 3 weeks to get one delivered? The undecideds are more pissed-off about missin' 3 weeks of the NFL package!

Bush will win thursday night, because he'll be more optimistic, more endearing, and the undecideds will gravitate to the more positive candidate.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Quote: On Raising Taxes

"...raising taxes is the antithesis of fiscal discipline. Raising taxes is akin to buying larger pants in lieu of exercise and a low-calorie diet. "

J. Edward Carter

Quick Hits

* I've been away from the web all week. I missed it!

* CBS is getting some fallout over the Rather blunder, eh? From one extreme to the other, as the conservative hacks are reporting some TV stations are dropping their affiliation, etc. I think this is serious and needs to be investigated, but lets all count to ten slowly before reacting.

* Miami Dolphins are playing some great defense. Unfortunately, you have to put points on the board to win, and that offense is dismal. Even a stoned Ricky Williams would help at this point!

* Speaking of fiascos, are the Dodgers going to fade in September? Big weekend series with the Giants!

* The market? Well, everyone seems to be expecting the seasonal Sept-Oct swoon. Maybe everyone will be right, but I'm going against my gut feeling and staying long. Long and strong, baby!

* "The majority of American youth are sedentary and do not eat well." Ya think? But they don't really latch on to the idea of eating brocoli and cauliflower, either.

* Here's how my brain works: I see a Yahoo news title "India, Pakistan Leaders Hail New Chapter in Ties" and I think, "Solid? Stripes? Wide or narrow? Pink?"

* One of my favorite satire sites? Scrappleface. This one about Fighting the Right War is hillarious. Win the peace!

* The cartoons will be back! (October)


The Apprentice: Out with the 8-Ball

Who could create more buzz for Crest Vanilla Mint toothpaste? The girls go for Mike Piazza, the boys throw three $5000 raffles and hire circus acts. The folks from Proctor and Gamble like the Piazza idea, but thr girls go over-budget and lose the competition. To the boardroom!

Stacie J gets the boot, and rightly so. This is one of those times where I wish I could watch some of the scenes that didn't make it to the 1-hour show. I'm sure there was much more going on that led this year's team to be scared of her.

I think Maria has to go. While all the women seem very catty, Maria seems less trustworthy than the rest.

This show is addictive. 5 stars, Donald Trump!

Friday, September 17, 2004

The Apprentice: Bradford's Blunder

Bradford blew it.

In business, sports, life, love and the persuit of happiness, once you've achieved your goal, you NEVER look back. If you have an advantage, you play it early, often, and for all it's worth. Bradford had immunity this week. It was a FREE week. Perhaps his cockiness got the best of him; or, maybe he's an idiot. But he got what he deserved.

Outstanding show. Great marketing hook to watch the rerun over the weekend, with "an additional 12 minutes from the boardroom!"

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Quick Hits

* Does anyone else have an issue with CBS seemingly attempting to throw the election? Is that what this is?

* Stock market? There's a saying to sell Rosh Hashanah and buy Yom Kippur. I have no idea how that's worked out over time. I'm still long stocks.

* Okay... I've had a few days to unwind from the football immersion last weekend, and I'm ready to do it all over again!

* Do a google search for Dan Rather. My Lord, people are funny.

* Life at the Fun Factory is okay. Still have that new employee thing going. Trying to get acquainted and up to speed. I have enough to keep me busy, but I'm certainly looking forward to the months ahead.

* The hurricanes are incredible. I've been watching the TV news, and it's kind of eery the way they seem to be hoping for the worst.

* I received an email saying I could buy the 7th season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for 30% off or something like that. I don't know about you, but those last few years of Buffy were pretty awful. Except for the singing episode...

* CBS News is getting smoked in the ratings. Poor Dan Rather.

* Episode 2 of The Apprentice tonight. Did you read how the first episode viewership was down? Somebody needs to be fired! Joey has episode 2 as well; I kind of liked the first one.

* Cable TV or Satellite TV?

* I miss my broadband internet. Soon. Weeks. And then a site update! New look and feel! Bells and whistles, minus actual bells and whistles! It's going to be GREAT!

* ollywoo!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Larry Kudlow: Mr. Optimism

If you read or watch any of the financial media or TV shows, it's nearly impossible to miss the ever-optimistic grin of Larry Kudlow. It is also nearly impossible to have a neutral opinion on Mr. Kudlow, as he is a supply-side economist that promotes economic growth as a cure-all for most all of society's complex issues.

I happen to agree with him most of the time.

In today's National Review column, Mr. Kudlow discusses the economy, the election, and compares Kerry vs. Bush on his economic growth measuring stick. Read the article.

I like the concept of the "ownership society" that President Bush is promoting during his campaign. But I wonder, if most folks in America are educationally equipped to manage themselves and their futures. The Republican Party seems to be one regarding personal choice and individual responsibility. This means saving and investing your money, managing your expenses vs. lifestyle, living healthy, and emerging into retirement equipped to live comfortably.

While the ownership idea concept would benefit myself, as I have embraced taking charge of myself and my future, I wonder if others would be left behind? I don't have the same confidence in society at large that I have in myself. I could envision the Democrats countering that this "ownership society" would just be more transfer of wealth to those who know how to manage their lives, from those who don't.

In the final analysis, I have to be responsible for myself and be encouraged about the ownership society concept. Especially compared to the ever-growing entitlement mindset in the Democrat party. I'd love to see leadership in the Democrat party embrace education and self-reliance over handouts and dependency. If only the Democrats would take ownership of that as a start!

Mr. Kudlow has many articles archived up at the National Review that are worthy of your, well, review!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Cheese Puffs

Walking the halls here at the Fun Factory, I've seen the same woman twice with a pack of Marlboro reds and a bag of cheese puffs. Something to munch on while she's on her smoking break, I suppose.

I was walking to get a banana for the record. Although, the cheese puffs were looking mighty fine. How can you not like cheese puffs? But I can't eat just a handful. I'd be like diving in, and they'd be gone. Bananas and apples? One is plenty. More than plenty! But cheese puffs? Good grief, I don't know my limits.

Battle of the Marts

As in, Kmart vs Walmart.

Jim Cramer has an article up over at, and the headline suggests that Kmart is gaining ground on Walmart. I skimmed the article. Maybe he's talking about potential gains in stocks, on a risk vs. reward basis or something, because he can't be talking about business viability.

Where I live, the Walmarts are packed and the Kmarts are closing their doors (as in, closing stores). I've speculated on a bunch of stocks over the years, but heck if I'm going to buy shares in one that's closing stores. I know they're just cutting expenses and streamlining their business, but it brings to mind the old saying, "Just think how much overhead we'd save if we closed all our stores!" Makes me also think of Gateway computers shutting their stores, trying to compete with Dell and HP/Compaq.

I think Walmart expanding into the grocery venue will also increase their sales. Shoppers love saving an extra dime on their peanut butter.

Quick Hits

* One of my favorite features of My Yahoo website settings, is the RSS page, where you can add XML feeds of your favorite blogs. One web page that shows you when your favorite blogs make an entry? Hoo-ah!

* Common thinking on Wall Street is that the stock market is pricing in a George Bush 2nd term. I don't believe in dancing in the endzone until the game is over. It probably doesn't matter much who wins in the big picture, but I'm not too impressed with Kerry. So, I guess I'm hoping W gets the win in November.

* I'm footballed out. My God, I watched a bunch of games over the weekend.

* I just had one of those 500 calorie muffins. Bleh.

* Now if only all blogs created a site feed... Sigh.

* Good news for this blog, is that I've got a new template about ready to go. Of course, it does retain the chalkboard and school theme. Life is all about going down the learning curve one step at a time.

* I was in Nevada over the weekend, and after 3 days of drinking, gambling, and hanging out in casinos, I'm ready to hunker down and read a good book. Hah. I'm thinking The Amber Room looks like a good read.

* I heard on the news, that teenage women drink more than teenage men. Peer pressure, trying to fit in, etc. Blah blah blah. I think the men do some serious catching up in their 20's and 30's, but that's just a guess.

* Stocks? The thought is that September is weak normally. Yet, in presidential election years, we often rally to the election. "Pick 'em" is the way that would be termed at the sports book, when neither side seems to have an edge.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Gridlock TV

A new way to keep yourself entertained while stuck in traffic, as cell phone companies race to bring TV to your handset.

Link to story.

Quick Hits

* Texans for Truth? NOT! Forgeries? Are all these recent attacks on George Bush's National Guard service a lie? Well... Take a look.

* NFL kicked off last night in a very exciting fashion. Congratulations to those Fantasy Football teams helmed by New England quarterback Tom Brady!

* Not all fiscal conservatives happy with President Bush. Although, is it safe to say they still prefer W over John Kerry? I think so.

* The second coming of Donald Trump's The Apprentice kicked off last night with a contest over which team could design the best toy for boys ages 6 to 8. Mattel reviewed the prototypes, and the team that created a radio controlled car with interchangeable parts won. Heck, young boys like to crash stuff! The first casualty was Rob, who came across as too passive for The Donald.

* Naomi Campbell coming clean about her drug use. "I did a drug, a speedy drug," she said.

* Would somebody please cancel the order for another hurricane? I think we've had enough!

* John Kerry is out there pounding deficit spending, but you be the judge. How big of a deal is it in this large economy?

* You know, that Ashlee Simpson CD isn't bad. Who knew that sweet little Cecilia from 7th Heaven had such angst?

* The stock market is rallying! Funny (strange), on a friday before 9/11/2004. I wonder if there will be some selling later today. So many folks have bailed on technology stocks and semiconductors, you wonder if yesterday's ramp up was just gaming for option week or if all the bad news is priced in and the only way up is, well, up?

* Life at the Fun Factory rolls on. Still feeling quite like the New Employee, but have some folks to chat with.

* The war on terror remains the focal point of the 2004 election. There are lots of other issues moving to the back burner, as safety comes first.

* Are you going to buy the Seinfeld DVD sets? Or, have you seen enough of the reruns already?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Political Shills For Truth

In the ongoing battle of which candidate best served their country back in the day, a pro-Kerry organization has stolen a page from the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth and are running ads questioning Bush's National Guard service. Texans For Truth are rehashing the 2000 "Where was George?" attempt to discredit W. Is this a valid attempt to discredit Bush? Does it help Kerry? Is it relevant?

George Bush has been the President since January 2001. As he was taking the oath for office, the stock market was deflating from the monster tech bubble of the 90's and a recession was getting underway. Terrorists were planning and plotting the 9/11 attack on New York. So, how has George done?

He cut taxes twice, putting more money in consumers' pockets as he promised during the 2000 campaign. He did say that we all know how to spend money better than the government. Turns out, he was able to right the ship and get the economy growing again. We should rightfully give an assist to Alan Greenspan for keeping interest rates low, and creating a booming housing market and letting folks refinance to improve their monthly cash flow situations.

After 9/11, he promised that those who attacked the Twin Towers would hear from us soon, and they sure did. He led the US into defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan. He led the US into Iraq, with maybe some faulty intelligence but worthy objectives in the war on terror.

Where was George in 1972? I don't know either; but, I know where he was in 2001 through 2004. He's been right here with us, leading America during some troubled times.

John Kerry is an unknown to most Americans, and he is running his campaign not on his Senate record, but on his heroic record in the Vietnam War. Kerry's record as a soldier and his war protesting that followed, have rightfully been examined by Americans trying to figure out who this John Kerry fellow is. All people can seem to agree on, is that his Vietnam era is controversial. But it doesn't stop there, as folks are also quite perplexed as to where he stands on many of today's issues.

Kerry's past is much more of an issue than that of George Bush's. We've acknowledged the bad choices of Bush's youth, and still elected him in 2000. Rehashing it serves no purpose, as we have a first term to help us decide whether or not to punch the chad for Bush in 2004. We're all still just getting to know John Kerry and trying to determine what kind of leader he would be.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Investing, Casino Style!

Back in the late 90s and 2000, there was lots of talk about the Nasdaq and tech stocks being "like a casino." Speculation was rampant, and many investors jumped into the latest hot stocks thinking that fortunes were easy game for those who "get in now." In retrospect, we all know that this investing craze was a mania, like the "tulip mania" in the past. But we still liken the fast action in the late 90s and 2000 that of a casino.

Certainly, from the investor side, this is true. Much like the slot players throwing coins in the one-armed bandits, the clicking of the mouse button at online broker websites simulated casino-like action, albeit without the free cocktails and noise! At least one could simulate the casino noise by turning the volume on high with the TV on CNBC. Office small talk and conversations at parties and the gym were focused on the latest hot stocks and how much money was being made in this new era of investing.

In the real world of casinos, players line up at tables and slot machines seeking to strike riches much like the stock investors in the 90s-2000. But the other side of casinos is the casino itself. Casinos make money by returning 98% of money back to the players. It's the small percentage over a long period of time that results in large amounts of profits.

Every mouse click resulted in a transaction for the broker, who made money no matter which direction the stocks moved. The broker made money on the volume and hype in the market. The market makers and stock exchanges made money for facilitating transactions, no matter who made money long or short. It just doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong if one gets to take a little out of the middle on entry and exit.

As an investor, it makes more sense to be the casino than to be the player. Over a long period of time, seek to make small percentage moves in investments that will compound and grow.

Tivo and Netflix

Tivo and Netflix have a deal, so now you can download movies and watch them instead of doing the mail-thing. I think this is a big deal, but that there will be lots of competition. Comcast, Charter, et. al, better get their deals going with Netflix.

Of course, right now NetFlix gives you the flat-monthly rate deal for as many movies as you can watch (3 at a time). Does this mean there will be a per month flat rate or a per movie rate with the Tivo deal?

Friday, September 03, 2004

It's the Economy, Stupid!

* Rah, Rah, Rah. George Bush invoked patriotism last night, and did a really good job. I was moved by his speech, and think that it was one of his best to date.

* The Russians stormed the school. You knew they would. I'm glad Bush declares that we'd rather fight the war on terror somewhere other than our turf. Can you imagine such an event here, or worrying about exploding busses on your commute to work?

* Good article on the cure for poverty. Get a job!

* The jobs numbers today continue to show growth, there were upward revisions in previous numbers, and the unemployment rate ticked down to 5.4%. Bush has to be happy about that. Kerry will say it's not enough, but remember Alan Greenspan would be more aggressive in hiking interest rates if the economy is too hot.

* I don't think Kerry owns any issues at this point. The environment I suppose. Maybe that Bush talks kinda funny. Other than that, Bush owns foreign policy and he got the economy going again after the recession and 9/11.

* Lynn Swann did a great interview post convention, as he'll be out campaigning for Bush. He said, that the Democrats give you crutches, the Republicans give you tools. He mentioned that many blacks may be more Republican than they think. That's a theme this year that has gone unnoticed mostly. The Jeff Foxworthy "You may be a Republican!" bit; Arnold did it, too.

* Maybe Intel's news last night was company specific. It's hitting the semiconductors a bit, but the market seems okay right now. I was thinking ahead of a long weekend in light trading volume, we'd see more selling today.

* Unofficial last weekend of summer ahead, so turn off the TV and fire up the Barbeque!

Thursday, September 02, 2004


* Ashlee Simpson or Jessica Simpson?

* Zel Miller probably irked a lot of Democrats last night, ya think?

* Intel just nuked the afterhours

* You think I can find a mouse around here that works well? No.

* I watched that Father of the Pride animated show. Is it me, or is it just a little creepy to see adult topics being animated? I thought the funniest part was the Sigfried and Roy characters. Animal Pheromones!

* I think George Bush is right about the War on Terror.

* What's up with the Naked Cowboy at the GOP Convention?

The Economic Numbers Today

I see political bloggers aren't letting critical thinking get in the way of following the party line. Today's numbers are getting spinned by both sides, and the Stepford Voters will believe whatever their told to believe by their respective leaders.

Friday's numbers should be more interesting. Even then, we have been getting the Payroll report from the large companies showing us that the whole nation is standing in soup lines and living in cardboard boxes, and the Household survey which shows steady job growth.

I've been giving more weight to the latter number only because the unemployment figures have been coming down. So that makes me skeptical that folks aren't able to find work.

I think we're seeing a transformation in this country away from traditional employment. Maybe that's what the disparity between the two numbers is telling us.

Anecdotally, I know in the tech industry that we're getting away from hiring employees, and now hiring small businesses or independent workers (contractors) to perform a particular service. When that service is complete, we let them go or extend the contract for more services.

The retail numbers are down, but of course that tends to happen when energy prices rise. Rising energy prices act like a tax on consumers, and money that normally gets spent at the store, movie theater, or wherever, gets spent on the home bills and at the fuel station.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


* Arnold's speech last night was one of the best I've heard. He was great, especially with the Jeff Foxworthy bit about "YOU MAY BE A REPUBLICAN!"

* I hate what's happening in Russia. And the terrorists blowing up busses, threatening to behead people, etc.

* Hurricane steamin' towards Florida. Again.

* Football season started with a USC win over Virginia St. It just seemed wierd to watch football already.

* Rudy 2008?

* I've been on a granola bar kick lately. Go figure.

* Coke vs. Pepsi? Diet Coke vs. Diet Pepsi?

* Low carb craze hurting Krispy Kreme.