Wednesday, October 26, 2005

ConocoPhillips Unholy Profits?

I've been seeing this story everywhere, including Drudge today, and it was mantioned on Rush this morning, and I get the impression that people are upset that an oil company's profits went up over the last quarter. Even worse, I have heard people refer to the story as ConocoPhillips making 89% profits.

That's just not the case, and I don't see that this is much of a story at all. They made $3.8 billion profit on revenue of $49.7 billion. Not even 8%. But the 89% number is what sticks out. All the 89% really means is that last quarter they made about half that percentage of profits, almost 8%.

As an example, if you were selling a chair you bought for $40, and you spent a couple dollars on transportation and your time, and you sold it for $50, you'd be in roughly the same boat, and I doubt you'd be excited about getting rich or you'd think you were "gouging" anyone. If you put $46 billion on the line, you better hope you're going to get a few back.

Just a quick look at another story from today, also reported by Reuters. Motorola made $1.75 billion profit on revenue of $9.42 billion, or almost 19%. I don't see any similar coverage or implications around this story, though, even with double the profits by percentage.

I applaud both efforts of course, but I wish people would take a second and realize exactly how much ConocoPhillips has at stake to make that much in profits. The best news of all is that when profits are increasing, there is more room for competition at the pump, and gas prices will likely continue to fall. Which, again, puts the lie to the gouging idea. Why would companies in collusion, on a product everyone claims is absolutely necessary regardless of price, reduce prices by more than 10% in a month?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bad Movie? Blame the South

"Audiences want their war films straight. From the day we opened, we did not do business in the South."
Yeah, that must be the reason. He's smart though, I'll give him that, because without the "controversy" there's no reason that movie stays in the news so long.

Why is it Offensive to Keep Private Life Private?

ShowBizData has a story today about the Houston Voice claiming Shepard Smith and Anderson Cooper are gay. Apparently, to the Voice, they "choose to hide and deceive -- and to protect their incomes and images -- at the expense of contributing important weight and star power to the gay civil rights movement."

I don't know what about them proclaiming their sexual preference would lend weight to the gay civil rights movement. And I don't know if they could lend star power to any movement. But it seems to me pretty sad and hypocritical when a gay group lashes out at someone for behavior that in almost every instance is best left in the bedroom.

I can't imagine what me knowing Anderson Cooper is gay would add to the news coverage he does. He's exactly right that he's not supposed to be the story himself, so why should he be telling anyone anything like that?

I am not a fan of either of them to begin with (see: Katrina Hysteria) but for crying out loud let their business be their business instead of scaring gay people out of public careers altogether.

Any Decent Blog Recommendations?

Holy moly, there's nothing but Miers coverage in the blogs I read, and it's sooo tired at this point. I don't really see the big deal, she's the one that, as far as I know, has been helping with great picks for other judges like Brown, Owen, and now Roberts. My bottom line is I trust her judgement, and I don't understand why the President should try to get a bead on some else's beliefs if he already knows her.

Either way, though, it's a boring, boring story. So why did I write about it? I'm not smart.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Washingotn Post Clarifies Plame Scandal

This Washington Post editorial "Rush to Judgment" explains the basic stakes and known facts about the Plame affair better than just about anything else I've read, so if you're curious even after all the over-reporting or you've been ignoring it so far, it does in 4 paragraphs what took me probably 4 hours to clear up.

Maybe I'm just slow, though.

Bush Cranks Wilma To 5

All the better to cover the imminent frog-marching of Rove and Cheney, of course. He's working on aiming it at a black population center, but it's still early.

Monday, October 17, 2005

China's Space Flight

Look at these pictures and tell me China was anywhere near the upper atmosphere.

My favorite is the last one:

I had no idea anyone had the technology to add such big thrusters and fuel to such small craft, look at the actual size of the module compared to a man.

I knew those space costumes weren't real.

Can Companies Facilitate Censorship?

This NY Times article points out that some US companies are involved in helping some repressive governments filter access to the Internet in their countries.
It should come as no surprise that the Internet in Myanmar, the southeast Asian state once known as Burma and in the iron grip of a military cabal for decades, is heavily filtered and carefully monitored.
Of course it is no surprise, because they've been doing it for years. And as distasteful as it may sound, I don't think it's a problem at all that US companies are involved. In fact, I doubt most people had any idea of exactly how much filtering goes on in these countries before. If anything, I think our business involvement has brought more publicity to the problem than anything else in recent memory, and it makes it more and more obvious to the world just how repressive these places are.

Countries like China try to put on a good PR face to the world and show off modern cities like Shanghai, but it is a thin veneer over a terrible system of government. So I applaud the fact that this business takes the mask off of these states and shows them openly for what they are as they wouldn't be otherwise.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

At this time, Google policy does not permit...

"At this time, Google policy does not permit ad text that advocates against an individual, group, or organization."

Keep up the good work, Google. I wonder what their "Don't be evil" mantra even means, it obviously doesn't mean "Don't be a liar".

For the record, I am aware that it is not censorship for Google to pick and choose the viewpoints they allow to advertise. They have no real power over whether you can or cannot advocate a point of view, they have power over their own ad network.

And we are free to point out that Google's self-righteous little "Don't be evil" slogan means jack squat, and so apparently, do their stated ad acceptance policies.

A side note, it is not lost on me that I am using a free Google service to post this, and they are free to cancel my account anytime. It doesn't change the facts, it's just slightly ironic.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Reminder - Pakistanis Are People Too

My apologies if you've already given, I'm just exhausted from Miers coverage when this is still in the critical stage where aid can really help.

Please give to the relief effort here: Salvation Army South Asia Zone Fund.

More Innaccuracies on Katrina - Toxic Flood

Good news for New Orleaneans, bad news (again) for the press coverage of Katrina. The report on the floodwaters in Katrina concludes - Floodwater Not as Toxic As Feared, Experts Say.
"What it most looks like is the storm water that is present in New Orleans every time it rains," said John H. Pardue, an environmental engineer at Louisiana State University, who headed the team whose research was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. "We still don't think the floodwaters were safe, but it could have been a lot worse. It was not the chemical catastrophe some had expected."
Other than the location, and the fact that it was all Adolf O'Bushiburton's fault, I wonder what the news got right on this story?

Oh yeah, oops. I must be wrong, Dan Rather thinks it was great: "It's been one of television news' finest moments," Rather said. "They were willing to speak truth to power."

Keep up the great work.

Kind of Sick - Earthquake Dropping Off the Radar

The death count in Kashmir is well over 30,000, could possibly reach 40,000, and I am not seeing a whole lot about it around. For example, it's off Drudge, and I haven't seen anything on the bigger blogs I read since the 9th (Instapundit, Powerline, LGF, etc.). I know it's not something we can write a lot about, being on the other side of the world, but for crying out loud, how about a donation link at the top of the page? I actually sent those blogs the link below in hopes they would, but no such luck. Kind of disappointing, but it's their own business I guess.

Please give to the relief effort here: Salvation Army South Asia Zone Fund.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

How Bad is North Korea?

They are building their first bicycle plant? And they need help from China to do it? Holy moly.

These Guys Are Brave

I mean come on, those are dollar store halloween costumes, not spacesuits. Somebody please tell them before it's too late!

Really though, I'd love to see a poll of whether Chinese support the expenditure, but you can't, because their government are dirty commies.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

An Actual Disaster Now Seems Less

I see this headline, "Quake Kills More Than 18,000 in South Asia", and I think, "Wow, another big disaster like New Orleans." The feeling lasts for a second, maybe, until I remember that our media blew the casualty predictions by an entire order of magnitude. This isn't Anderson Cooper or Shepard Smith reporting, this is Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, who isn't likely trying to get his 15 minutes by reporting exaggeration and rumor. The count actually started around 3000 instead of 200,000, can you imagine that?

This Kashmir earthquake is literally 20 times worse already than the real (as opposed to portrayed) Katrina but somehow I'm so numb from it already being the end of the world that I don't notice it quite as much. It makes me wonder if any of the countries that sent aid for us are irritated that we blew it so far out of proportion.

So when you choose to donate, keep in mind the real magnitude of this disaster. These figures are likely to rise as they find more people. As a first step, you can give to the relief effort here: Salvation Army South Asia Zone Fund. Let's get it going. You know, all three of you that see this.

Update: The figures keep climbing, at this point no one knows where it'll stop, but it's terrible. Donate if you can.

Friday, October 07, 2005

InTouch with Reality

This is just a remarkable cover of a magazine. An absolute classic. Talk about answering your own question, just look at the photos in sequence.

For starters, we have possibly the most offensive question you can direct at a woman, "Are you pregnant?" It's just not something to guess on, period. Besides which, Angelina looks great in the picture. But she must be pregnant, see the telltale bump? Any girl with a belly like that's just got have a bun in the oven.

Britney's looking nice as well, for that matter, and I'm not exactly a fan. But apparently she's 70 pounds overweight, can't you tell by the photo? I must like girls 100 pounds overweight, because I've done double-takes and rubbernecks on chubbier girls than this, and I am not alone.

OK, I guess Oprah's never been attractive to me. But I am going to claim this is a good picture of her, and does not look like what I'd consider a woman with a weight problem.

Now here's a weight problem, in my opinion-- and although it's probably just a bad photo, Julia Roberts looks older than she should, and worse than she could. "Why so thin, Julia? Why so thin, Terri Hatcher, Nicole Richie, Mary-Kate Olson, Kate Hudson, Lindsay Lohan..?"

Angelina Jolie looks pregnant! Britney has 70 pounds to lose! Oprah is gaining again! But Julia, why so thin? Who is making these women feel fat and lose so much weight?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Thanks Iain - Mass Transit in Disasters

Finally found somebody on my side, and even better, someone much more persuasive than me, on the subject of the worthlessness of public transit in an emergency.

Read Iain Murray's "Sic Transit Maria Landrieu" for more.