My take on things that matter: soccer, F1, politics, financial markets, current events, new technologies, etc.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Sunday, July 30, 2006

F1: German Grand Prix Preview

Kimi Raikkonen took a surprise pole position for the German Grand Prix today at Hockenheim, forcing Michael Schumacher to start from the second place.

Fernando Alonso struggled today and will start from a season-worst seventh position (most likely because Reanult could not get their Michelin tyres to work properly).

With seven races remaining, Alonso has a 17-point lead over Shumi and a 53-point lead over Kimi.

American Scott Speed crashed during the first qualifying. Hope he's OK. Btw, Scott has a cool blog on his site with daily updates.

Be sure to watch tomorrow. LIVE on SPEED Channel - SUNDAY: 7:30am ET/4:30 PT
(Re-airs at 12:30pm ET/9:30am PT)

P.S. Post-qualifying press conference.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY) loves P-O-R-K :(

Sue Kelly was elected to Congress in 1994 and is now serving her sixth term.

She voted in favor of pork projects 16 out of 19 times!! In other words, she's telling us that our taxes are too low.

I have a national debt clock on this site (lower left side) showing the irresponsible amount of debt our free spending politicians ran up. We continue to run huge deficits each and every year. Enough is enough. Time to take action and throw the borrow-and-spend bums out! Sue, you're officially on notice!

Here are Sue's votes in sequential order. A “yes” vote is a vote to remove the spending from the appropriations bill.

Dairy education in Iowa ($229,000) Yes
Hydroponic tomato production in Ohio ($180,000) Yes
National Grape and Wine Initiative ($100,000) Yes
Virginia Science Museum ($250,000) No
Juniata Locomotive Demonstration ($1,000,000) No
Swimming pool in Banning, CA ($500,000) No
“Facilities” in Weirton, West Virginia ($100,000) No
Multipurpose facility in Yucaipa, California ($500,000) No
Strand Theater Arts Center in Plattsburgh, New York ($250,000) No
Mystic Aquarium in New London, Conn. ($1,000,000) No
The Jason Foundation in Ashburn, VA ($1,000,000) No
Northwest Manufacturing Initiative ($2,500,000) No
Lewis Center for Education Research ($4,000,000) No
Leonard Wood Research Institute ($20,000,000) No
Arthur Avenue Retail Market ($150,000) No
Bronx Council for the Arts in Bronx, N.Y. ($300,000) No
Johnstown Area Regional Industries ($800,000) No
Fairmont State University ($900,000) No
Tourism Development Association in Kentucky ($1,000,000) No

Yes Votes: 3 of 19, 15.8%
% of Pork Rejected: $509,000 of $34,759,000, only 1.46%

Be sure to contact her and let her know how you feel about her votes for wasteful government spending!

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) loves P-O-R-K :(

As mentioned in my previous post, I will join the anti-pork blog campaign and plan to analyze how our NY Republican reps voted in Jeff Flake's 19 anti-pork amendments.

Let's start with Congressman Peter T. King. According to his own website, Congressman Peter T. King, a Republican, is serving his seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives. First elected to represent New York’s Third District in 1992, Rep. King has received a greater number of votes than any Congressional candidate on Long Island in each of his seven races. In 2004, he won with 63% of the vote. Rep. King is Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and also serves on the International Relations Committee.

So how does Rep. King feel about pork? Well, I was quite surprised to find out that he voted to keep the pork in all 19 of 19 amendments. This ss totally unacceptable! Time to send these "borrow-and-spend" Republicans a clear message in November!

So, how does your rep stack up? Be sure to call your congressman and let him know what you think!

435 Districts - 435 Blogs Against Pork

The Club For Growth has launched a creative online campaign against wasteful government spending. Andy Roth published a chart that indicates the votes of all 435 voting members of the House on special-interest earmarks in spending bills (a score of 19-for-19 is a perfect, pro-taxpayer record). The data can be viewed by state, rank or last name.

I decided to join their campaign as fiscal conservatism is one of my top issues in every election. I have also contributed to The Club For Growth in the past, although some of their supported candidates turned out to be quite disappointing.

The Pork Scorecard is now listing 64 blogs.

P.S. My favorite anti-pork blog used to be Porkbusters, founded by Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit's owner), but this new 435 Blogs Against Pork campaign will probably be equally educational.

Stock market outlook for the rest of 2006

I've taken a defensive position in my 401(k) after today's market rally, as my analysis shows that we're in for rougher times ahead.

A few interesting analyst quotes:

"Technicians have been talking about a four-year cycle low which fairly consistently has occurred every four years, dating back to 1962. The market bottomed out in 2002, 1998, 1994, 1990, and all the way back in 1962, with the only misstep being in 1986. That would imply that we need another market low in 2006. . . Historically, the second year of a president's term in office has been, by far, the weakest. There are 16 quarters in a full four-year presidential cycle, only two have declined on average in the past—the second quarter we just finished and the one we're heading toward (third quarter). Investors should be encouraged by the fact that the best-performing quarter of all 16 quarters [in a presidential cycle] is the fourth quarter of the second year [which is later this year]. The second best is the first quarter of the third year [which is next year]." - Sam Stovall, chief market strategist for Standard & Poor's

Friday, July 28, 2006

German fan looses World Cup Tickets on Highway

(click image above to begin video)
German fan's tickets blow out the window of his Audi on the Autobahn. Ouch.

Rapid E85 growth in Minnesota

"Some may debate the economic, environmental and national energy security benefits of moving toward wider use of bio-based motor fuels, but Minnesota has forged ahead by adding more than 60 new E85 fueling sites in just seven months. The North Star State is now home to more than 250 E85 stations with another 20 expected by mid-August. On average, two new E85 outlets have opened every week since January."

Source: American Lung Association of Minnesota

Click on this link to find out everything you need to know about E85.

The main reason I support E85 and all other forms of ethanol is not necessarily the environmental benefit (which is debated by some) but the promise of decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. I'd much rather send my weekly $85 to a farmer in Iowa than a terrorist in Iran.

Sports is one of the biggest businesses on earth

See SI's current year list of the 20 best-compensated athletes who are not U.S. citizens, in addition to the US' top 50.

It's not a surprise that Tiger Woods leads the pack with his jaw-dropping $97.6 million in earnings. He has now exceeded a half-billion in career earnings. F1's Michael Shumacher is second.

While you may not be paid like top atheletes, you at least love what you do :)

Q2 GDP: Up 2.5%

Econoday chart courtesy of Barron's

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Real Madrid sign Dutch striker Van Nistelrooy

MADRID, July 27 (Reuters) - Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy will join Real Madrid from Manchester United on a three-year contract, the Primera Liga club said on Thursday. The deal is reported by Spanish media to be worth around 15 million euros ($19.12 million). 'Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Manchester United for the signing of Ruud van Nistelrooy,' the Spanish club said in a statement. 'The player will take a medical on Friday morning and will be presented in the afternoon at 1700 GMT in the Bernabeu.' The 30-year-old scored 150 goals for United since joining in 2001 for a then British record fee of £19 million ($35.39 million).

NY Red Bulls to take on FC Barcelona (Aug. 12 at Giants Stadium)

FC Barcelona - USA Tour 2006 Schedule

August 6:
Los Angeles, CA vs. Chivas Guadalajara + Chivas USA vs. New England

August 9: Houston, TX vs. Club América + Houston Dynamo vs. L.A. Galaxy

August 12:
vs. New York Red Bulls

Tickets still available!

Formula 1: Toyota will power WilliamsF1 in 2007

Other F1 new: Q&A with Frank Williams, German Grand Prix Preview

Exxon Mobil Earns $10.4 Billion in 2Q

Exxon Mobil Corp. said Thursday it earned $10.36 billion in the April-June period, the second largest quarterly profit ever recorded by a publicly traded U.S. company. Its shares rose 54 cents to $67.14 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange after reaching a new all-time high of $67.65 earlier in the session.

Royal Dutch Shell's second-quarter earnings jumped 40 percent to $7.32 billion. BP reported second quarter profits of $7.3 billion and ConocoPhillips said its earnings rose 65 percent to $5.18 billion. Chevron Corp. will round the field of five majors when it reports its second-quarter performance Friday.

If you owned stock in any of these companies, you are a happy person (and you rejoice in seeing gas prices rise even more).

SEC Issues Rules On Executive Pay Disclosures

Excerpts from today's Wall Street Journal:

"For the first time since the options-timing scandal mushroomed this year, federal regulators laid out requirements directing companies how to disclose their grants of stock options.
The new rules won't bar corporate boards from giving executives options at propitious times, but would instead shine a spotlight on such practices through increased disclosure. The guidelines are part of a sweeping overhaul to executive-pay disclosure the five-member Securities and Exchange Commission approved yesterday in a unanimous vote.
The rule takes effect in proxies filed by companies whose fiscal years end after Dec. 14. It will force companies to provide a total compensation figure for each of its top five executives. That number can be used to compare compensation across companies and industries."

I like the new disclosure rules. The more information, the better for shareholders. Unfortunately, the SEC dropped the “Katie Couric clause” that would have required compensation disclosures for highly-paid nonexecutive employees as well as the top five executive employees. The SEC took plenty of heat for the proposal, particularly from the entertainment industry, which claimed that the disclosure of such information would bring competitive harm to them in the negotiation for talent, etc. (See Jeffrey Katzenberg’s letter from SKG Dreamworks.)

Link to Chairman Cox’s introductory comments and a link to the SEC’s press release summarizing the new disclosures.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New Jersey's Titanic

Sales Taxes
State Sales Tax:
7% (food, prescription drugs and non-prescription

drugs, clothing, footwear exempt)
Gasoline Tax: 14.5 cents/gallon
Diesel Fuel Tax: 17.5 cents/gallon
Gasohol Tax: 14.5 cents/gallon
Cigarette Tax: $2.575/pack of 20

Personal Income Taxes
Tax Rate Range: Low - 1.4%; High - 8.97%
Income Brackets: * Lowest - $20,000; Highest - $500,000
Number of Brackets: 6
Personal Exemptions: Single - $1,000; Married - $2,000;
Dependents - $1,500
Additional Exemptions: Taxpayer or spouse 65 or older - $1,000
Standard Deduction: None
Medical/Dental Deduction: Limited to excess of 2% of gross income
Federal Income Tax Deduction:

Paris "Hit and Run" Hilton

More YouTube fun: Paris Hilton's paparazzi caught Paris backing out of a parking spot in her Range Rover and hitting a parked Honda Civic. She then drives away and she ignores the stop sign.

Imagine is she was talking on her cell phone as well :)

GM Posts 2nd Quarter Loss of $3.2 Billion

General Motors Corp. reported a net loss of $3.2 billion for the second quarter, due to special charges related to its employee buyout program and other aspects of its restructuring plan.

The loss of $5.62 per share in the April-June period compared with a loss of $987 million, or $1.75 per share, for the same period last year.

The world's largest automaker is in deep trouble. I wonder how much longer CEO Rick Wagoner can stay in charge given that Kirk Kerkorian is working to get Carlos Ghosn to take over General Motors as well by merging Nissan/Renault with GM.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Honda takes to the air with HondaJet!

Honda announced plans to enter the verylight jet market. (Watch the promo video.)

Honda will establish a new U.S. company to hold FAA type certification and production certification. Honda’s goal is to complete type certification in about 3-4 years, followed by the start of production in the U.S.

Will Honda make Boeing/Airbus look like GM/Ford?

Stay tuned. This will be interesting.

In other Honda news, Honda’s new Accord 2.2 i-CTDi Sport has this week set no fewer than 19 world speed records and achieved 3.07 litres / 100 km (92 mpg) fuel economy to boot.

For the 1st time, U.S. drivers buy more import brands

New statistics compiled by R.L. Polk and Co., which counts new car registrations and excludes sales to rental car agencies and other fleet customers, show foreign brands commanded 52.9 percent of the retail auto market in the first five months of 2006, while domestic automakers fell to 47.1 percent.

Bad news for Detroit. Really bad news.

In January, Ford unveiled an overall company restructuring that it named "Way Forward", a six-year plan to idle 14 plants and eliminate 34,000 jobs, among other cost-cutting moves. Obviously, it's not working. At least, not yet.
Last week, Ford reported a $123 million second quarter loss.

GM, Ford and Chrysler executives need to consider some drastic changes if they hope to continue to stay in business and honor the pension obligations to their millions of retired employees.

Monday, July 24, 2006

MLS 2006 - week 17 goal compilation

Climbing the Ladder Blog has uploaded the goal compilation for week 17.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

NY Red Bulls vs. KC Wizards

Game Previews: Official preview, The Kin of Fish, Big Apple Soccer,, American Soccer News, Yahoo Sports.

Other MLS games today (all times EST):
Columbus v Los Angeles - 4pm on Live ESPN2
Houston v New England - 730pm on Direct Kick
Chicago v DC United - 730pm on Direct Kick
Salt Lake v Dallas - 9pm on Direct Kick

Honda F1 sets land speed records (reaching 400 km/hr)

On the third day of running at the Bonneville International Speedway in Utah, USA, Honda Racing F1’s Bonneville 400 team achieved its target of a 400kph average across the measured mile as 400.459kph was recorded.

400 kilometers per hour (km/hr) × 0.621 = 248.4 miles per hour (mph)!

Don't ask me how driving on salt compares to driving on pavement.

P.S. In other F1 news, it's now official: there won't be an F1 race in Las Vegas any time soon :( Check out Formula1's official website for the latest F1 news and analysis.

Picture of the earth at night

This is what the Earth looks like at night, thanks to NASA.

Interesting to note how populations settled over time. For intance, in Russia you can see the main rail line as the lights follow it right along. Also, most of Arfica is dark and most Canadians live close to the US border.

I wonder what a similar composite image will reveal in 25 years.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Apollo 11 Moon Landing Anniversary

NASA posted an interesting account from the 1st moon landing for the anniversary of this historic mission on 07/20/1969.

Sounds from Apollo 11 - Listen to original recordings of the launch, landing on the moon, and Armstrong's first steps.

"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

I Love New York

It's Friday night!

See hundreds of New York City pictures (at Flickr's I Love NY group)

Can you read this?

Olny srmat poeple can.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Amzanig, huh?

World Cup Marketing Scoreboard

The FIFA World Cup is not only the world's largest and most popular sporting event, it's also the world's largest televised event and the world's largest marketing extravaganza.

Advertising Age has an interesting article on the winners and losers of the $2.2 billion spent by World Cup partners (image on the right is also from Advertising Age). Adidas is the clear winner and Emirates the uncontested loser. While I tend to support World Cup sponsors (and MLS sponsors in general), I don't think Emirates even has flights in/out of the US. I could be wrong.

In other news, eBay users must be soccer fans. Reuters reports that eBay bids dried up during World Cup soccer matches. Hmm, makes sense. PC sales also dropped significantly during the World Cup.

Germany 2006 in numbers
(from FIFA).

Auf Wiedersehen Germany !

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Roo vs Ron

Call me crazy, but thanks to TiVO, I watched all 64 games of the 2006 World Cup (5,910 minutes). In fact, I watched several games more than once :)

I think this video clip of Rooney's red card is one of the top moments of this World Cup. (England's World Cup quarter-final against Portugal) While it's debateable, I think Cristiano Ronaldo encouraged the referee to send him off (despite his denial).

Did Rooney deserve the red card? You decide.

Zidane and Materazzi fined and banned by FIFA

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP)—Zinedine Zidane was banned by FIFA for three games Thursday for head-butting Italy defender Marco Materazzi during the World Cup final. Materazzi was suspended for two matches.

World soccer's governing body also fined Zidane $6,000 and Materazzi $4,000 after a disciplinary committee heard the former France captain's account of what led to the incident. Because Zidane has retired, he agreed to do three days of community service with children as part of FIFA's humanitarian projects.


There you have it. Zidane gets to keep his Golden Boot Award, will make a few appearances for FIFA and gladly sign the $6K check. He should have gotten a much larger fine and a symbolic suspension of at least 10 games. After all 1.3 billion people watched his deliberate attack. Also, Totti was suspended for 3 games after the last World Cup for spitting.

With that said, Happy Retirement, Zizzou!

Lightning strikes the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas

Cool picture from YahooNews. Lightning strikes above the Luxor Hotel during a thunderstorm in Las Vegas, Nevada July 17, 2006. The Mandalay Bay Resort is at left.

I stayed at the Luxor for a few nights several years ago so this picture has some sentimental value to me.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

AOL Retention Manual Revealed

Are you an AOL subscriber? Did you ever have AOL? Did you ever try to cancel their service? If so, you know how difficult it can be to cancel AOL.

One unhappy customer recorded and posted his call online. Take a few minutes to listen to this funny yet infuriating call.

Now, AOL's retention manual was leaked and it's on the web for all to see. Wow!

It really shouldn't take someone 45 minutes to cancel a service. If you have a good product at a fair price, people will stay. Once the competition has a better a product or better price, people will leave. No salesperson can make them stay - at least not for long.

Oh, if you do cancel AOL, be sure to check your credit card statement to ensure they stopped charging you :)

Bruce Arena was named Red Bull New York's new GM and head coach

Bruce Arena is the most successful soccer coach in US history. NY Red Bulls are the least successful team in MLS history (not counting expansion teams).

This is great news for NY Red Bulls fans, for MLS, for Bruce and yes, even for US Soccer.

I have no doubt that this the turning point for the franchise and I'm very optimistic about what the future holds.

Red Bull will pay Bruce a reported $600,000 annual salary.

Nice summary of the press conference by The Kin of Fish More detail on

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

S&P 500 falls for 5th straight day

It's been a while since the S&P 500 dropped for 5 daws in a row. This may be a good time to re-examine your investment allocation.

As always, having a balanced, diversified, global portfolio can smooth out the short-term regional bumps and result in a better long-term overall performance.

MLS 2006 - week 16 goal compilation

Here is a nice compilation of goals from MLS's 16th week.

See links to all previous weekly compilations at

Saturday, July 15, 2006

F1: French Grand Prix tomorrow

Michael Shumacher took pole position today. Alonso will start from 3rd place. Speed Channel's interview with Shumi makes it clear that he intends to win tomorrow.

It's going to be a great race and lots of fun.

French Grand Prix: LIVE on Speed Channel at 7:30 AM EST (replay on Speed at 1:30 PM EST)

US Sales of Hybrids Stay Strong in June 2006, Up 20% from 2005

GreenCarCongress reports that hybrid car sales in June 2006 were up 20% with 23,544 units sold.
GreenCarCongress publishes this great chart that shows hybrid sales by model.

Toyota is the clear leader in hybrid technology and sales. Here's hope that more manufacturers will offer hybrid versions of their cars.

New Blog: First Post!

Well, I decided to jump on the blog bandwagon.

I started this blog to discuss current events, financial markets, politics, sports, travel and just about anything else that captures my attention.

I doubt anyone will find this blog, much less read it :)

Let the fun begin!