Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Google CEO Dr. Eric Schmidt Joins Apple’s Board of Directors

Google CEO Dr. Eric Schmidt Joins Apple’s Board of Directors

I hope this can be looked upon as a shot over the bow to Microsoft. For a company that spends over $5 billion a year in research and development, Microsoft seems only to be able to come out with products that copy google and apple. I hope this appointment rekindles the old wars between apple and gates and co, oops, ballamer and co.

If Google and Apple can start working together on some serious stuff, and this Board appointment is a long way off from doing any of that, but, if they develop some strong relationships down the road, this could be very interesting indeed.

I'm tired of hearing and reading about the rumors concerning Apple turning their hardware into PC clones with the new Intel chips and working towards powering up the Microsoft OS only on future Macs. Gosh, that would be awful.

I like reading and thinking about this kind of stuff where Jobs still might have a chip on his shoulder for Microsoft, and so, he is aligning himself and the company with people like Schmidt and Google for further anti-MS wars down the road. Let the rumors begin! Luke Skywalker (Apple) will ultimately prevail over Darthvader (Microsoft) !

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rumsfeld: Terrorist Groups 'Actively Manipulating' U.S. Media - Rumsfeld: Terrorist Groups 'Actively Manipulating' the US

In past posts, I have been critical of Rumsfeld, particularly in regards to sending too little troops in the beginning of the Iraq War, and then not having a plan once they got to Baghdad. Additionally, he grossly underestimated the costs associated with the war, once openly marketing the idea that the war would pay for itself through increased oil production from Iraq, and that the people of Baghdad would openly welcome and embrace the U. S. soldiers upon arrival. None of these things have happened, and here we are $500 billion, yes billion later. However, as much as Rumsfeld is a polarizing figure, he is correct in these statement below. The American media is being manipulated day and night by the thugs over there. I became really convinced after Reuter's ran doctored photos of the lebanese dead children supposedly after a bombing raid from Israel. It never happened (haifa). Total manipulation, particularly in the "Drive By" media.

"'The enemy lies constantly — almost totally without consequence,' he told the veterans group, which was presenting him with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Distinguished Service Award. 'They portray our cause as a war on Islam when in fact the overwhelming majority of victims of their terrorism have been thousands and thousands of innocent Muslims — men, women and children — they have killed.'

In his prepared remarks at Reno he also said, 'While some argue for tossing in the towel, the enemy is waiting and hoping for us to do just that.'

Rumsfeld often complains about what he calls the terrorists' success in persuading Westerners that the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are part of a crusade against Islam. In his remarks at Fallon he did not offer any new examples of media manipulation; he put unusual emphasis, however, on the negative impact it is having on Americans in an era of 24-hour news.

'The enemy is so much better at communicating,' he added. 'I wish we were better at countering that because the constant drumbeat of things they say — all of which are not true — is harmful. It's cumulative. And it does weaken people's will and lessen their determination, and raise questions in their minds as to whether the cost of the war is worth it."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hitchens Gives the Finger to Maher's Audience for 'Frivolous' Jeering of Bush |

Hitchens Gives the Finger to Maher's Audience for 'Frivolous' Jeering of Bush |

I just happened to be channel surfing last night and came upon Bill Maher's first show of the year. Chris Hitchens put it right back in Mr. Smart Arse's face and it was beautiful. A sight to behold. I may not agree with President Bush some of the time, but I certainly cannot stand the acerbic, whiney host of this show. Chris Hitchens has been given a lot of grief for his drunken outbursts in the past, but he was totally right on during the Maher show last night, much to my amusesment. It definitely caught Maher off gaurd. This paritcular episode will be repeated a great deal the next few weeks, so try to catch it. Click the link below or read the text below:

"Writer/author Christopher Hitchens on Friday night gave the finger to the Los Angeles studio audience of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. As he laid out the case for how it's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who wants World War Three, not George W. Bush, Hitchens cited how Ahmadinejad “says the Messiah is about to come back.”

Maher quipped: "So does George Bush, by the way.” That caused a loud eruption of audience applause and cheering, which led Maher to clarify: “That's not facetious.” The crowd continued to applaud as Hitchens remarked, about those in attendance who had earlier cheered and laughed as Maher called Bush an “idiot” repeatedly: "That's not facetious. Your audience, which will clap at apparently anything, is frivolous.” Loud oohs and groans emanated from the audience, prompting Hitchens to give them the finger as he castigated them, “Fuck you, fuck you,” while the groans continued. (Transcript follows)

Video clip (41 seconds, includes vulgarity): Real (1.2 MB) or Windows Media (1.4 MB), plus MP3 audio (250 KB)

Joining Hitchens (Wikipedia profile, a list of his articles) on the panel, Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival, and former Democratic Senator Max Cleland.

Transcript of the relevant portion of the discussion about Iran on the August 25 season premiere of the weekly HBO show aired live Friday nights at 11pm EDT/10pm CDT:

Christopher Hitchens: “Who wants a Third Word War? The Iranian President says that one member state of the United Nations should be wiped physically from the map with all its people. He says the United States is a Satanic power. Members of his government, named members of his government have been caught sponsoring deaths squads. He's lied, he's lied to the European Union about his nuclear program-”

Bill Maher: “But you know that a lot-”

Hitchens: “He says the Messiah is about to come back. Who's looking for a war here?”

Maher: “So does George Bush, by the way [audience applause]. That's not facetious [audience applause continues].”

Hitchens: “That's not facetious. Your audience, which will clap at apparently anything, is frivolous. [oohs and groans from audience, Hitchens gives them the finger] Fuck you, fuck you. [groans continue]”

Maher: “I was just saying what the President of Iran and the President of America have in common is that they both are a little too comfortable with the idea of the world coming to an end.”

Hitchens: “Cheer yourself up like that. The President has said, quite a great contrast before the podium of the Senate, I think applauded by most present, in his State of the Union address, that we support the democratic movement of the Iranian people to be free of theocracy -- not that we will impose ourselves on them, but that if they fight for it we're on their side. That seems to be the right position to take, jeer all you like.”

UPDATE: This edition of Maher's hour-long show will re-air (schedule page for the program) Sunday at 7pm EDT on HBO 2 East/7pm PDT on HBO 2 West; at 1:05am EDT Sunday night/Monday morning on HBO East/1:05am PDT on HBO West; and at 8pm EDT Monday night on HBO East/8pm PDT on HBO West.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs

This is parody and satire at it's best. No one knows the author of this blog, but obviously, it's someone with Apple and Silicon Valley connections. Scott McNealy and Larry Ellison are the targets of the latest posts as well.

I got the link from Rich Karlgard of Digital Rules.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Rex Hammock's Weblog From New Orleans Rex Hammock's Weblog

This is one of the most compelling, rational, and totally
level headed introspective overviews of post Katrina New Orleans that I have ever read. My hat is off to Rex Hammock. This post could easily be picked up by any national "op-ed" page. Kudos to Rex and his son for this most special post.

"Lamenting and celebrating in New Orleans: I'm in New Orleans with my son today. On Sunday, we spent several hours with a life-long resident of New Orleans visiting the areas of this city that were devastated by the floods of Katrina one year ago. Nothing will capture what we saw. No words. No pictures. No video. No documentaries. Nothing can communicate what has happened to New Orleans. I'll post a few photos and some video and write a few paragraphs, but, frankly, there's little I can do to add to the comprehension of what Katrina did one year ago -- and what has taken place since.

Like I wrote in March after my son and I spent a couple of days doing volunteer construction work on the Mississippi gulf coast, the scale of the devastation is incomprehensible. The statistics of relief efforts and volunteer support are enormous -- perhaps unprecedented -- but when viewed in the context of the devastation and need, all that has been done seems like a spit in the ocean compared to all that remaining to be done.

In New Orleans, lamenting and celebrating have always been paired. Even in the Where magazine sitting in my Hotel Room, New Orleans native Wynton Marsalis, who is leading a part of the recovery efforts, has this quote about why the ironic word 'celebration' is being used to describe many of the one-year anniversary events taking place over the comng days: "In New Orleans, lamenting is a form of celebrating. With our funerals we lament, and then celebrate. Many times when you get stripped down, you get a chance to see just who you really are. And in the most painful times, that's when it's time to celebrate and rise up even stronger.

I'm in New Orleans as a guest of a magazine publisher, Romney Richard, who I did not know this time last year. But, for several months throughout the fall and winter, my colleagues and I at Hammock Publishing pitched in to help Romney and her small staff publish their magazine, Louisiana Cookin'. Romney and her staff lived close to one another, but after the flood, they found themselves in five states. Their homes were flooded and their lives turned upside down. I couldn't begin to imagine what they were going through, but I knew that the folks who work with me at Hammock Publishing could help them coordinate putting out a magazine -- it's what we do. When I talked with Romney the first time, it was a couple of weeks after Katrina and she and her husband were living in an RV at a relative's home in Baton Rouge. She was in shock and dealing with so many issues, her magazine seemed the least of her problems. But I could only think of was another small publisher (like us) with a few employees who needed a little back-up -- frankly, they were all eager to do their jobs: writing, designing, holding together a means for their advertisers -- the great restaurants in this region of great restaurants -- to continue reaching readers who love the various cuisines of Louisiana. We enjoyed helping them out on some technical, administrative and marketing ideas.

Tonight (Monday), my son and I -- along with Hammock Publishing's John Lavey and his wife -- are Romney's guests at an annual benefit dinner Louisiana Cookin' sponsors to honor five up-and-coming regional chefs and to benefit a wonderful restaurant and training program for future New Orleans chefs, Cafe Reconcile. It is a celebration of the chefs who have returned to New Orleans, as well. For the local, chef-owned restaurants have been the first to display their commitment to rebuilding their businesses and their lives and the life of this community.

Yesterday, Romney drove us around New Orleans -- through all of those communities and neighborhoods we've heard about this past year. There is no way one can drive around this city without being angry. Or stunned. Or inspired. Or confused. In the end, it's overwhelming to drive the breadth of the area flooded and to see the extreme nature of the destruction.

A lot of the debris has been cleared -- the one thing FEMA gets praised for -- so in some ways, the scene is moving away from one appearing like the aftermath of a nuclear bomb and more like one from the aftermath of neutron bomb, where all the buildings are left standing (or leaning) and the people are gone. And while I have gotten the impression from TV coverage that the devastation was mainly concentrated in inner-city low-lying areas, a three-hour drive around town convinced me that "poverty" and "low-lying" may be synonymous but in New Orleans, "middle-class" and "low-lying" are also synonymous and "upper-class" and "low-lying" are also synonymous. Katrina was a an equal-opportunity disaster that wiped out massive neighborhoods of all races and economic stratas.

Lamenting and celebrating are part of the same in New Orleans. I was in a restaurant last night with my son, one of my favorite restaurants in this city of world-class restaurants. The restaurant is one of those favored by characters out of Faulkner wearing seersucker suits and discussing how many cigars in a box one should expect to draw well (that actual conversation was taking place at the table next to me). It was a Sunday night at six p.m. but the restaurant was filled with different groups of celebrants. I say celebrants, because they were celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and reunions of one sort or another.

I overhead enough of the conversations around me, however, to realize that a lot of lamenting was going on, as well, as people were discussing their living in temporary quarters, or they had traveled back to New Orleans from some place they had been for months. But for this evening, they were smiling in this one-hundred-year-old restaurant with waiters they recognized and food that is familiar.

I am but a visitor to New Orleans. It is a foreign land to me, so I do not know enough to comprehend whether the pervasive celebratory nature of the place -- the charm and aura of the place -- has always been based on denial or innocence: Denial that one day it would all be under water; or the innocence that comes from believing some power, divine or governmental, would keep the water out.

It's hard to be here for more than a few minutes and not feel like some individual or divinity needs to be blamed. The locals I’ve talked with most universally blame the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Government. I'm happy to join in with the chorus of those who blame the ineptitude of leaders at all levels of government, from George Bush down. Or the mayor or dogcatcher, for that matter. However, at the end of the day, when all guilty parties are blamed, all punishment has been parceled out, what will be left? Innocence? The belief that a city built below sea level will not flood again? Denial? Acceptance? In the end, everything related to Katrina will be up for debate by historians centuries from now.

I can't begin to comprehend what I see now.

I do know this: I will look for any opportunity to travel to New Orleans and to do business or to have fun here and in the gulf-coast area. I love the people, the culture, the food, the spirit. I want to support the economy. I want to do my very little part by sticking one little finger in the dike.

But this is a place where lamenting will continue for a long, long time.

I bought a Hybrid Car

Those few of you who check this blog from time to time know that I post fairly often about the energy crisis and my long held belief belief that high oil prices are here to stay (nothing too far fetched now that August 2006 is here), and that our country is in a transition when it comes to efficient transportation of people, goods, and services.

There are hundreds of start up ventures raising millions of dollars in "grain-fed" states that are convinced that corn, grain, and grass are the next big thing when it comes to powering our need for motorized vehicles. Personally, I believe they are correct, but I don't have any idea which entity will succeed. President Bush is content on letting the private markets figure it out, but it sure would be nice if the federal government dumped billions of dollars into alternative energy development instead of billions of dollars into regime changes. But that is another topic altogether since the headline for this post is "I bought a Hybrid".

So, I bought a Hybrid. Why? Because, it is going to take 10-25 years for whatever the capitalists (whom I applaud) are working on now--to get their products to market. The best technology now is to buy a Hybrid car from the foreigners, not the domestic auto makers. The domestic hybrids are a joke. They are first generation hybrid cars, they are slow, and they are based upon 20 year old technology.

My new 2007 Lexus GS 450 H is a 4th generation hybrid and combines the efficiency of a 4 cylinder engine with the power of an 8 cylinder engine. It is awesomely cool. Completely the coolest car I have ever had in my life. Plus, it's on the cutting edge. Usually, I wait for cutting edge stuff to wean itself into being more mainstream, but this time, I couldn't wait. Not meaning to sound overly pompous, but this car gets 30 MPGs, and can go from 0-60 in about 5 seconds. Plus, it surpasses the California standards for minimal air pollution, and as the brochure says, my car gives more to the driver, and takes less from the world.

And forget about plugging in the electric motors into receptacles to "recharge". It recharges itself through recycling the energy created from braking, along with a 3rd electric motor that continually recycles energy from the hybrid motors and the gas engine. This car completely blows me away.

Okay, a little bit of negative stuff just to keep this post "balanced". Because of the 6 hybrid batteries (oh yeah, they have a 100K mile warranty top to bottom), they have to go somwhere. They go behind the back seat, which, accordingly, takes away from the trunk space fairly dramatically. I can barely get a set of golf clubs in my trunk. We won't be taking this car on any family vacations. Plus there is no "ski" pass through from the back seat, which is where I would normally stash my umbrella or related paraphalia so as not to junk up the back seat.

Minor inconveniences for such a fast, fuel efficient and cool car. Forgot to mention this--under 20 miles per hour, the engine never comes on--the car is powered by the hybrids and the electric motors--it's like driving a very cushy golf cart in traffic and down the road----you can't even hear the gasoline engine when it effortlessly turns on and off to support the hybrids and the electric motor, depending on the situation....all in an effort to be as efficient as possible and to use as LITTLE gasoline as possible.

I heartily recommend any hybrid car from Lexus OR Toyota. No wonder this company will soon be the biggest and best car manufacturer in the world. I'm all for American companies, but our Detroit guys have had their fingers in their ears way too long in the name of short term profits, pension plans, and union bull hockey.

Ten reasons we're past the tipping point on economic disaster - MarketWatch

Ten reasons we're past the tipping point on economic disaster - Paul Farrell on

I like this columnist a great deal (Paul Farrell), but he quotes a guy named Gary Shilling, who is a long term columnist for Forbes Magazine, a pub of which I've been a subscriber for over 20 years. Shilling is always a negative twerp, always cautioning, always signaling the latest pothole or the latest "threat" that he sees. On the other hand, Paul Farrell is usually pretty pragmatic, and has the ability of cutting through the crap and giving his opinion without a great deal of complexity. In any event, if Farrell is quoting Shilling, as he does in the referenced article (and I'll quote the 10 reasons below) Farrell must likewise be concerned about a major slowdown in the economy.

I particularly agree with number 10 below, in which, the Federal deficit is grossly understated. I don't know what has happened to Bush and Co, and why he is spending, spending, spending, but I can tell you this--the 2006 Congress is LIGHT YEARS away from the 1994 Congress that was elected on the concepts of spending control and balanced budgets. The Republicans have sold out to the politics of being re-elected and that is so sad.

"My filing cabinets are bulging with all kinds of early-warning signals screaming that we've passed the tipping point. A few are deafening: One by the CEO of Countrywide Mortgage. Another by the CEO of Toll Bros. Then hedge fund losses drove us to pull together a total of 10 warnings that signal the popping of the bubble and the start of a recession and a bear market.

1. Mortgage lender: 'Never seen a soft landing'
When a CEO like Countrywide's Angelo Mozilo speaks, his message is far more important than all the happy talk coming out of Washington and Wall Street: "I've never seen a soft-landing in 53 years, so we have a ways to go before this levels out. I have to prepare the company for the worst that can happen." Investors better prepare too.

2. Housing warns of sustained downturn
Robert Toll, CEO of luxury home builder Toll Brothers reports dramatically declining sales and revenue. Toll says the slowdown "will last for at least six months more, it may last for two years more. We don't know." Reminds us of the 2000-2002 recession.

3. Hedge fund losers the past two months
Hedge funds have been in the news a lot since topping the $1 trillion mark in assets. This unregulated industry is a loose cannon. They've become the new dot-coms now that most retail markets are so volatile and flat, forcing portfolio managers and investors to look for alternatives to the $9 trillion mutual fund market. As a result, hedge funds are chasing anything that hints of higher returns.
For example, the main data tracker, the Hennessey Group, just announced that hedge funds have underperformed the S&P 500 for the second straight month. Other warnings have all been reported in the news lately, screaming risk, risk, risk! Flashing like neon signs on the Vegas Strip:

* Congress is giving hedge funds more access to pension fund money.
* In spite of underfunding due to past errors, corporate and state pension funds are now betting more on riskier hedge-fund deals to increase returns.
* The success of Yale and Harvard has inspired small-college endowment funds to start betting on similar risky hedging games.
* The lure of huge, fast profits for hedge-fund managers has young inexperienced college grads jumping into the business and getting backers.
* Retail mutual funds are asking shareholders for permission to engage in more aggressive hedging strategies, like short-selling and derivative trading.
* Like hedge funds, private-equity funds are now signaling a top; too much new capital is forcing them to chases fewer, riskier deals.
* After a record year, IPOs, a hedge fund competitor for new capital, are also topping as many deals are falling below issue prices.

And get this, hedge funds have been making big bets on Hollywood movies, using sophisticated programs to pick winners. This sounds like a sequel to the 1998 LTCM disaster; call it "Déjà vu Dot-coms!
4. Rentals squeezing ARM borrowers
The cost of renting in Los Angeles is up 88% the past decade according to Realfacts. Santa Monica is up 279%. Potential buyers can't buy so they rent. And owners can't sell to recoup the high costs they paid in the recent bubble, so they're renting out. But they can't make enough to make their mortgage payments.
USA Today estimates that nationwide median mortgage payments are $1,687 while rents are only $868. So now all the cheap money that sucked buyers into ARMs is putting the big squeeze on everybody, owners, renters and lenders, further driving inflation.

5. Inflation hits pickup truck sales
As new construction falls and gas prices skyrocket, pickup truck sales have been falling dramatically. So now, as Americans buy fuel-efficient Asian imports, the Big Three is paying a heavy price for relying too much on profits from gas-guzzlers. No wonder Toyota is now bigger than Ford, may soon pass GM.

6. Corrosive domestic oil policies
Free market? Or surreal? Since 2000 America's energy policies have been made in secret. Last year oil executives didn't have to testify in Congress under oath. This year as gasoline prices skyrocket, so do oil company profits and their executives compensation. So when we recently saw the Alaskan oil fields shut down because pipelines are physically corroded, the symbolism was obvious; America's energy policy is as corroded and corrupt as the oil companies poorly maintained pipes and their executives thinking.

7. Markets 'unfazed' by terror threats
The day after the recent bomb threat against 10 commercial aircraft traveling from Britain to the U.S., headlines read: "Markets unfazed!" Read that "oblivious." Yes, we all know that historically markets are resilient after major crises. But this lack of response reminds me of the happy talk during the 2000-2002 period when delusional bulls grabbed any excuse to deny America's long and painful freefall into a bear recession.

8. Main Street investor sentiment dropping
The gap between the top and bottom of America's economic classes is rapidly widening. Our "ownership society," a small group of investors that control over two-thirds of the stock market may be "unfazed." But the truth is, the incomes of America's middle class have been level, while inflation has been eating away at the incomes of minimum-wage workers. Most Americans aren't party to the drama played at the Wall Street casino, while insiders, corporate CEOs and Congress have all enjoyed substantial increases in personal income the past decade.

9. War costs accelerating
In spite of all the hype about controlling the insurgency, violence is increasing. Iraq can't stand up, so we can't stand down. We're trapped in a no-win, no-exit conflict, policing a civil war. And unfortunately America's domestic partisan politics is creating inflexible strategies that are draining huge resources: The Iraq and Afghan wars are now estimated to top $1.27 trillion amid mounting Middle East tensions and rising domestic terror threats, while a depleted military is unprepared for another major war.
10. Federal deficits grossly understated

Our government spending is totally out of control, no fiscal restraint, no legislative oversight and Enron-style accounting that disguises how bad things are. USA Today says federal deficits reported as $318 billion would actually be $760 billion if standard corporate accounting rules were used. And if we were honest and accounted for Social Security and Medicare costs, the deficit would be $3.5 trillion, 10 times what we're led to believe. Lay and Skilling were rank amateurs.

Bottom line: All these signals tell us the tipping point was crossed, the bubble has popped and we are heading into another bear market and recession.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Optmism Vanishes In K-Town

John Pennington on the Vols From

John Pennington finally posts his reviews from the scrimmage last Saturday night in Knoxville. You've probably read some of this already, so this post is kind of late, but it's still worth reading.

Here are the highlights after Pennington watched the entire scrimmage on tape:

"1. Inconsistent play from the quarterback (one minute, Erik Ainge would throw a perfect dart... the next he would float a spinning duck).

2. Shaky decision-making from the quarterback (tell me if you've seen this one before, Ainge is pressured deep in his own end of the field and throws up a duck that SHOULD have been easily picked off at the 10 yard line).

3. Failure to take care of the football (on back-to-back runs David Yancey and Arian Foster negated good runs with fumbles... also, the quarterbacks behind Ainge bobbled at least 5 snaps).

4. Not knowing what to do (the Vols had practiced for a week, they had put in the 'new' offense, their quarterback now understood the offense, so when they step to the line to run the very first play of the scrimmage they... call time-out. And then they call another one just a couple of plays later).

These aren't the 'defense being ahead of the offense' problems that are to be expected at this time of the year. These are the same problems that plagued last year's offense. They're the bad decisions and 'failure to protect the ball' issues that turned possible victories over Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama into defeats.

Hey, 8-3 would have looked better than 5-6 wouldn't it?

All of this isn't to say that the Vols are a wreck. They have plenty of time to fix things. But, going into the CAl game, things could get pretty tense".

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Healing Iraq ( an Iraqi blog)

Healing Iraq

This is from a decent Iraqi Blogger, Zeyad. The name of his blog is Healing Iraq. As most affluent Iraqi's have done, Zeyad has fled to Amman to wait out the war and the constant infighting or insurgent fighting in Baghdad. He offers his comments on the state of blogging in general, and if you are a regular reader of this blog, as am I, you get the feeling that he in enjoying his stay in Amman, although he cannot get a permanent Visa yet. He talks about the intolerable conditions in Baghdad in previous posts.

"Dave Sifry, CEO and founder of Technorati (the ultimate weblog tracking portal), offers another timely report on the present state of the blogosphere. Key findings: Technorati tracked its 50th millionth blog two weeks ago; the blogosphere is steadily doubling in size every 6 m"onths or so; and the blogosphere is more than 100 times larger than it was 3 years ago.

Blogs never fail to fascinate me.

I was telling the Iraqi bloggers in Amman yesterday that a majority of Internet users (an estimated billion people) would soon have blogs, just as it’s given now that they all own personal email accounts.

We also discussed where the Iraqi blogosphere stands in the midst of these developments. Iraq Blog Count lately counted its 212th Iraqi blog, which can be somewhat impressive, given that there were only 4 Iraqi blogs before October 2003, just before the launch of the second wave of Iraqi bloggers, which added exponentially to the growth of the Iraqi blogosphere.

But still, looking at Sifry’s data, one cannot help but wonder: is that all we can offer to the blogosphere? 212 Iraqi blogs?

More on this later.

Mills Corp. To Divest Its Foreign Mall Stakes

Mills Corp. To Divest Its Foreign Mall Stakes

Again, from the Washington Post. Upon further reflection, the articles on Mills probably ranks low on the TNSN's radar as well as that of the Nashville Post, only because Mills HQ is not in this area. If this were about a hotel on the brink that Gaylord operated out of state, I'm sure both would be all over such a developing story, as it would impact the parent company which is locally based. Wow, there was probably an easier way to say that. Opry Mills is just a part of huge number of malls operated and partially owned by Mills Corp, which is based in the DC area, hence, covered aggressively by the Washington Post. There I go again.

For some reason,this story is still very interesting to me. I never dreamed that a
retail developer in these boom times of the 21st century as big as Mills Corp might go under.

Chevy Chase-based mall developer Mills Corp. yesterday announced plans to sell its stakes in three foreign malls to a Canadian firm, as the struggling company tries to stay afloat.

The deal is expected to net $500 million for Mills and would go toward paying off about $2 billion in debt. After a series of inquiries about its accounting practices, the company is under a year-end deadline to find a buyer or face a possible loan default.

"The deal is expected to net $500 million for Mills and would go toward paying off about $2 billion in debt. After a series of inquiries about its accounting practices, the company is under a year-end deadline to find a buyer or face a possible loan default.

The three malls, which were sold to Montreal developer Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc., are Vaughan Mills in Ontario; St. Enoch Centre in Glasgow, Scotland; and Madrid Xanadu. Ivanhoe Cambridge already has a 50 percent interest in Vaughan Mills and St. Enoch Centre.

Mills has been plagued by financial troubles in the past year: a series of layoffs, ballooning construction costs at its massive Xanadu project at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, and a more than 50 percent reduction in the profits recorded from 2003 to 2005.

Monday, August 14, 2006

(Opry) Mills Corp. In Jeopardy Due to Debt, Accounting

Mills Corp. In Jeopardy Due to Debt, Accounting

Despite an earlier post this Spring about the Mills Corp being out of financial trouble, financial auditors are now saying that the grim reaper is making another appearance.

Lost in the details of the huge round of financing that Mills received last Spring was a requirement that the company find a buyer by 12/31/06, or pay a huge fee to continue the financing (which it cannot afford and of which, no buyer has been found).

What does this mean for Opry Mills here in Nashville? Probably business as usual as the financial geeks figure out a way to restructure the company or to find multiple owners piece meal for all the parts in all the malls across the country.

Since Gaylord exercised their option to buy a larger interest in Opry Mills earlier this year, they may be interested in taking over the whole enchilada.

It's nice to have a partner with more money than you---one caveat of business that is true in both small and large operations--!!!!

My main question is this--why isn't the Tennessean covering this evolving story, or, at least, the Nashville Post, supposedly Nashville's source for business information??

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Apple receives delisting letter from Nasdaq - MarketWatch

Apple receives delisting letter from Nasdaq

Fat chance of anything happening here in terms of a delisting, but Apple has not cleared up the back dating of options for it's executives, some thing that most public companies took care of in past years when the rules were changed.

I guess they were too busy cranking out IPODS and revolutionizing the digital music world to realize that they definitely dropped the ball on the new accounting regulations.

If the stock gets hit tomorrow based upon these headlines, it may be a good time to buy AAPL.

Even though MAC heads continue not to like the INTEL chips because the software makers for MAC have not caught up yet, I think AAPL has a very bright future, and the best is yet to come for this company.

Pennington on the Vols-Optimism Rising

Go Vols Xtra Pennington's Big Orange Business Vol Fever... Catch It

These comments are from my favorite UT blogger, John Pennington, who hosts a TV show in Knoxville about everything VOLS, but is pretty level headed about the boys wearing orange, and does not usually buy into a whole lot of hooey, although he did predict the Vols would go 10-2 last year, and what, the Vols ended up 5-6! This was written before the scrimmage on Saturday where Ainge threw 2 interceptions!

I can tell you that the dog days of Summer are here and with them has come the low rumble that... maybe, just maybe... the Vols will be better than most folks think.

A month ago, everyone in the media (and some folks close to the program) didn't see blue skies on UT's horizon. The outlook was 8-4, 9-3 at best. Some even said 7-5.

But as the stories emerge from Fall practice, it seems that a lot of people are saying the right things. Ainge now understands the offense, which he didn't last year. Special teams are getting more attention and looking better. There's not a rotation of injured backs who didn't play this Spring... there's a FLEET of high-quality game-breakers.

And all that talk is starting to sink in. Fans, 90% of them anyway, always want to believe the positive. Take a look over the last few weeks at how many people have said, 'we'll kick Cal's butt' (my word, not theirs). Those same folks probably typed the same thing before last Fall's games with Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Vandy, etc, etc.

That's the nature of fandom.

What I find interesting is that jaded members of the media and press... people who are paid to be unbiased, to have a keen eye, to have seen all of this stuff before... are now starting to buy into" the excitement. Just a little.

After my TV show on Sunday, some of the guys I spoke with said, "I'm hearing the right things." Some are wondering if they should have gone with 8-4 instead of 7-5, with 9-3 instead of 8-4, or with 10-2 instead of 9-3.

"Remember," I said to one of them, "Phillip Fulmer is at his best when you least expect it. It's when expectations are high that he can't reach them. Right now, they're low." I was gigging the guy a little... but he had a look in his eye that said, "you're right!"

I said 9-3 back in January. After the Spring, watching the offensive line, I dropped it to 8-4. I'm going to sit on that prediction for now.

Last year, when I predicted 10-2 (due to the Vols' tough schedule), the "they're going to the Rose Bowl" crowd almost led me to change my pick to 11-1. But I held to my guns, and was right (well, "righter" than the folks who said Rose Bowl).

So I'll stick with 8-4. But there's a rising tide of optimism in Knoxville, without question. I reserve the right to switch to 9-3 before the Cal game.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Smith: McNair brings confidence to Ravens

One thing the Ravens are forgetting about is this--McNair will get injured. I predict he will not last through September before missing an entire game for some reason. He will play well amongst the lower tier teams. When Pittsburg or Indianapolis comes to town, all bets are off.

In the mean time, Michael Smith from ESPN writes the following:

"Twas the night before training camp, and Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan was playing for his players a highlight reel from last season. You know, get them amped up for the camp grind. He showed them the things you'd expect: big hits, picks, recoveries, returns for touchdowns. Then, toward the end of the presentation, Steve McNair appears on the screen, speaking at his press conference following the offseason trade from Tennessee to Baltimore. From that point on it was the Air McNair show, complete with completions from McNair to (teammate then and now) Derrick Mason.

If you're familiar with the Ravens' offensive history, particularly the franchise's quarterback lineage, then Ryan's point in including the McNair clips was fairly obvious.

'I wanted those guys to realize the type of quarterback that we have now,' Ryan explains. 'There are no excuses why this football team can't win and win big. There's no more, 'We don't have this.' Sometimes guys would get caught up in other teams having this and that QB. Well, now we've got one".

Bring it on.

Latest on U.K. Airline Plot

This report is from the Power Line Blog

"The names of the plotters have been released; all are described as British Muslims. The London Times confirms that the plan was uncovered after two Britons were taken into custody in Pakistan last week. (Don't worry, though; I'm sure the Pakistani authorities just asked them if they would pretty-please reveal whatever they knew about terrorist schemes.) The Times reports:

Reports from Pakistani intelligence, suggesting the direct involvement of senior Kashmiri militants linked to al-Qaeda, convinced British intelligence that the plot had to be taken seriously. Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist branch was brought in to the operation last December.

It is unclear from the reports so far how much the authorities knew, or whether any of these individuals had been identified, prior to the last few days. It is being reported that the terrorists were planning their attack for August 16 (not August 22 as some have speculated), so it is fair to assume that they were identified in the nick of time.

The Sun has details of the terrorists' plans:

It was believed the gang intended to use a liquid, peroxide-based explosive which could be mixed mid-flight to bring down the aircraft in three waves of three.

The deadly fluid components would have been hidden inside drink bottles and even baby milk.

The method would have foiled airport security."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Reuters Photo Fraud

Reuters Photo Fraud:

The below is a quote from (a blog that I read occasionally):

"The recent discovery that the Reuters news agency released a digitally manipulated photograph as an authentic image of the bombing in Beirut has drawn attention to the important topic of bias in the media. But lost in the frenzy over one particular image is an even more devastating fact: that over the last week Reuters has been caught red-handed in an astonishing variety of journalistic frauds in the photo coverage of the war in Lebanon.

This page (linked above) serves as an overview of the various types of hoaxes, lies and other deceptions perpetrated by Reuters in recent days, since the details of the scandal are getting overwhelmed by a torrent of shallow mainstream media coverage that can easily confuse or mislead the viewer. Almost all of the investigative work has been done by cutting-edge blogs, but the proliferation of exposés might overwhelm the casual Web-surfer, who might be getting the various related scandals mixed up. "

Basically, the murder of innocent children by Israel so heavily covered by the media in July in Qana, Lebanon could very well have been manipulated by Hez. and carried across the world by Reuters.

Just use the word "Muslim" and not "Community Activists"

Power Line: " the eagle-eyed William Katz writes:

We are at war with extremist Muslims, plain and simple. We need to forget about political correctness and go after these bastards--from PowerlineBlog below

" I happened to be up in the middle of the night - common for a writer - and caught the first bulletins on the UK terror plot. We're now about six hours into the coverage, and the MSM is going through major self-abuse to avoid the 'M' word. But here it is, finally, in one of the most tortured quotes I've seen about terrorism. This is from the London Times website: Meanwhile police chiefs and John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, have spoken to community leaders to keep them in touch with the investigation.

Mindful of the outrage amongst the Muslim community when Met anti-terror officers raided a house in Forest Gate last month, Mr Stephenson was careful to stress that Muslims were not being targeted by the police.

'This is not about communities: it is about criminals, murderers, people who want to commit mass murder. This is about people who might masquerade in the community, hiding behind certain faiths, but who want to commit acts that no right-minder person would want to applaud,' he said.

Meanwhile, back at the BBC – just blasted by the Israeli government
for its blatantly biased war coverage – they haven't quite gotten
to 'M.' This is as far as they go on their website:

According to BBC sources the 'principal characters' suspected of being involved ". No mention of the "M" word, Muslims, but that is exactly who is in custody.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dennis Miller on the Middle East

Thanks to my brother, Dortch, for passing these quotes to me

Comments from Comedian Dennis Miller

Dennis Miller on the Middle East

For those who don't know, Dennis Miller is
a comedian who has a show called Dennis Miller
Live on HBO.

He is not Jewish.

He recently said the following about the Mideast

"A brief overview of the situation is always
valuable, so as a service to all Americans who
still don't get it, I now offer you the story
of the Middle East in just a few paragraphs,which
is all you really need.

Here we go:

The Palestinians want their own country.

There's just one thing about that...........
There are no Palestinians.

It's a made up word. Israel was called Palestine
for two thousand years.

Like "Wiccan," "Palestinian" sounds ancient
but is really a modern invention

Before the Israelis won the land in the 1967 war,
Gaza was owned by Egypt, the West Bank was owned by Jordan,
and there were no "Palestinians."

As soon as the Jews took over and started growing
oranges as big as basketballs, what do you know,
say hello to the............"Palestinians,"
weeping for their deep bond with their lost.....
"land" and "nation."

So for the sake of honesty, let's not use the
word "Pal estinian" anymore to describe these
delightful folks, who dance for joy at our deaths,
until someone points out they're being taped.

Instead, let's call them what they are:
"Other Arabs Who Can't Accomplish Anything In Life
And Would Rather Wrap Themselves In The Seductive
Melodrama Of Eternal Struggle And Death."

I know that's a bit unwieldy to expect to see on CNN.
How about this, ! then: "Adjacent Jew-Haters."
Okay, so the Adjacent Jew-Haters want their own country.
Oops, just one more thing. No, they don't.

They could've had their own country any time in
the last thirty years, especially two years ago at..
Camp David but if you have your own country, you have to
have traffic lights and garbage trucks and Chambers
of Commerce, and, worse, you actually have to figure
out some way to make a living.

That's no fun. No, they want what all the other
Jew-Haters in the region want: Israel. They also want
a big pile of dead Jews, of course -- that's where
the real fun is -- but mostly they want..... Israel.

Why? For one thing, trying to destroy Israel - or
"The Zionist Entity" as their textbooks call it --
for the last fifty years has allowed the rulers of
Arab countries to divert the attention of their
own people away from the fact that they're the
blue-ribbon most illiterate,poorest, and tribally
backward on God's Earth,and if you've ever been
around God's Earth . . . you know that's really
saying something.

It makes me roll my eyes every time one of our
pundits waxes poetic about the great history and
culture of the Muslim Midleast.

Unless I'm missing something, the Arabs haven't
given anything to the world since Algebra, and,
by the way, thanks a hell of a lot for that one.

Chew this around & spit it out: 500 million Arabs;
5 million Jews.

Think of all the Arab countries as a football field,
and Israel as a pack of matches sitting in the middle of it.
And now these same folks swear that, if Israel gives them
half of that pack of matches, everyone will be pals..

Really? Wow, what neat news. Hey, but what about
the string of wars to obliterate the tiny country
and the constant din of rabid blood oaths to drive
every Jew into the sea?

Oh, that? We were just kidding.

My friend Kevin Rooney made a gorgeous point the
other day:

Just reverse the Numbers. Imagine 500 million Jews
and 5 million Arabs. I was stunned at the simple
brilliance of it.

Can anyone picture the Jews strapping belts of
razor blades and dynamite to themselves?.......
Of course not.

Or marshaling every fiber and force at their
disposal for generations to drive a tiny Arab State
into the sea? Nonsense.

Or dancing for joy at the murder of innocents?....

Or spreading and believing horrible lies about
the Arabs baking their bread with the blood of
children? ......Disgusting.

No, as you know, left to themselves in a world
of peace,the worst Jews would ever do to people
is debate them to death.

However, in any big-picture strategy, there's
always a danger of losing moral weight. We've
already lost some. I didn't know some of that..........!