Friday, July 30, 2010

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&#39;King of Crystal&#39; Sinaloa Cartel Leader Ignacio Nacho Coronel <b>...</b>

(July 30) -- Mexican troops have killed Ignacio Nacho Coronel, a top drug kingpin known as the King of Crystal, in a shootout as he tried to escape from a wealthy suburban hideout. His death is a rare victory for President Felipe ...

<b>News</b> Quiz | July 30, 2010 - The Learning Network Blog -

See what you know about the news of the day. ... A 'View' of Obama. 6 Q's About the News | Why do you think the president decided to appear on "The View"? A guest post by our college intern, Carrie Montgomery. July 30 ...

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Where all the <b>news</b> is good <b>news</b> - Canada -

ZoomNB, a free monthly dedicated to reporting good news only.

&#39;King of Crystal&#39; Sinaloa Cartel Leader Ignacio Nacho Coronel <b>...</b>

(July 30) -- Mexican troops have killed Ignacio Nacho Coronel, a top drug kingpin known as the King of Crystal, in a shootout as he tried to escape from a wealthy suburban hideout. His death is a rare victory for President Felipe ...

<b>News</b> Quiz | July 30, 2010 - The Learning Network Blog -

See what you know about the news of the day. ... A 'View' of Obama. 6 Q's About the News | Why do you think the president decided to appear on "The View"? A guest post by our college intern, Carrie Montgomery. July 30 ...

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

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strongly suggested Sherrod was discussing actions she took as a federal

Breitbart: Sherrod's "federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions." In a July
19 blog post
on Big Government, Andrew Breitbart strongly
suggested that Sherrod discriminated against a white farmer in her capacity as the
USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development:

We are in possession of a video from in which Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural
Development, speaks at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia. In her
meandering speech to what appears to be an all-black audience, this federally
appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail, that her federal duties
are managed through the prism of race and class

In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn't do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from "one of his own kind". She refers him to a white lawyer.

Sherrod's racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups' racial

Video proof: Sherrod's interaction occurred 24 years ago

Sherrod to AJC: Encounter happened 24 years ago and was "completely misconstrued" by Breitbart because she
was discussing "getting beyond the issue of race." 
In a phone interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution on July 20, Sherrod said the video was "completely
misconstrued" and "excluded the breadth of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to help ward off foreclosure of his farm, and how she eventually became friends with him and his wife." From the AJC:

But in a phone interview from her home in Albany early Tuesday morning, Shirley Sherrod told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution that the

video posted
online Monday by and reported on by and the AJC completely misconstrued the message she was trying to convey.

But Tuesday morning, Sherrod said what online viewers weren't told in reports posted throughout the day Monday was that the tale she told at the banquet happened 24 years ago -- before she got the USDA job -- when she worked with the
Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance

Sherrod said the short video clip excluded the breadth of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to help ward off foreclosure of his farm, and how she eventually became friends with him and his

"And I went on to work with many more white farmers," she said. "The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it's about the people who have and the people who don't. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race."

Sherrod made similar comments during a July 20 appearance on CNN's American

Video producer confirmed that "the full speech is exactly as Sherrod described...she
goes on to explain learning the error of her initial impression."
Talking Points Memo reported
that, "The Douglas, Ga., company which filmed the banquet for the local NAACP
has refused to release" the video until the national NAACP gives him
"permission" to post it. However, Wilkerson told TPM  "that the full speech is
exactly as Sherrod described, and that she goes on to explain learning the error
of her initial impression and helping the farmer keep his

In the video,
Sherrod says "Chapter 12 bankruptcy had just
been enacted
 for the family
farm," - in 1986.
 Statements Sherrod
made while she recounted the relationship she had with a white farmer during the
NAACP dinner corroborates her claim that she made those statements 24 years ago.
In the video, Sherrod can be heard saying that "Chapter 12 bankruptcy had just
been enacted for the family farm," when she had the encounter with the white

SHERROD: I did enough
so that when he - I assume the Department of Agriculture had sent him to me -
either that or the Georgia Dept of Agriculture - and, uh, he needed to go and
report that I didn't help him.

So, I took him to a
white lawyer that had attended some of the training that we had provided because
Chapter 12 bankruptcy had just been enacted for the family

Chapter 12 Bankruptcy
was enacted in 1986.
In a June 2009 press
release touting Sherrod's appointment to USDA, the
Federation/LAF states that Sherrod had worked for them "Since

have raised questions about Breitbart's editing of


"I am uncomfortable with this 'get' by Breitbart." 
a July
19  post
on The Anchoress, blogger Elizabeth Scalia
questioned Breitbart's selectively edited video of Sherrod's comments (emphasis in the

Nevertheless I am
uncomfortable with this "get" by

the video ends so abruptly!

Sherrod, who
not an impressive public
, says she did not do
all she could for the "poor white farmer" who she perceived to be somehow both
asking for her help and simultaneously "trying to show me he was superior to me;
I knew what he was doing..." She admits that she did just "enough" for the farmer
so as to cover her own sense of accountability and then: "I took him to a white
lawyer . . . I figured if I took him to one of them, then his own kind would
take care of him."

Yes, there is a bit of
paranoid projection, there, and some shocking language-language that has been
rightly rejected by society-that seems to play well to the audience. But then
Sherrod apparently has a revelation. She begins to understand that "it's about
poor versus those who have, and not so much about white-it is about white and black-but you know it opened
my eyes, because I took him to one of his own."

Yes? AND?

Doesn't it seem like,
after all of that sort of winking,
 "you and I know how
they really are" racist crap wherein
Sherrod-intentionally or not-indicts her own narrow focus, she was heading to a
more edifying message? What did it open her eyes about? Was she about to
say "I took him to one of his own, but it shouldn't have
mattered about that; my job was to serve all the farmers who needed

Was she about to
say, "I learned about myself and about how far we still
have to go?"

Was she about to say "it's not poor vs those who have, because we are not
at war, we are just in the same human reality that ever

Was she about to
say, "poor is poor, hungry is hungry and the past is the
past when a family can't eat?"

I want to know. Because it seemed like Sherrod was heading
somewhere with that story, and the edit does not let us get there. I want the
rest of the story before I start passing judgment on

want to see the rest of the tape.
 I cannot believe
Sherrod ended on "I took him to one of his own." Either she said something much
worse after that (which we would have seen) or she said something much

If it was something
"better" then we should have seen that, too.

Allahpundit: "Doesn't it sound like Sherrod was building to a 'but' before the
clip cut out?" 
In a July 19 post on
prominent conservative blog Hot Air, Allahpundit echoed Scalia's
concerns about Breitbart's editing of Sherrod's statement, despite his
"assum" that "Breitbart's edit is fair to the spirit of her

Ed's post on
the vid in case you missed it this morning. It's a great write-up, but The
Anchoress adds
an important wrinkle: Doesn't it sound like Sherrod was building to a "but"
before the clip cut out?

Breitbart has not
released the full video. 
As Media
has noted, Breitbart has yet to release the full
video of
Sherrod's speech.

wife said Sherrod is a "friend" who "helped us save our

wife said Sherrod "helped us save our farm." 
an interview with CNN on July
20, Eloise Spooner - the wife of the farmer who Sherrod
helped - came to the defense of Sherrod, calling her a "friend" who "helped us
save our farm." The Atlanta-Constitution Journal similarly reported
that Spooner considered Sherrod a "friend for life" and said that Sherrod
"worked tirelessly to help the Iron City couple hold onto their land as they
faced bankruptcy back in 1986." From the Atlanta-Constitution

But Spooner, who
considers Sherrod a "friend for life," said the federal official worked
tirelessly to help the Iron City couple hold onto their land as they
faced bankruptcy back in 1986.

"Her husband told her,
'You're spending more time with the Spooners than you are with me,' " Spooner
told the AJC."She took probably two or three trips with us to Albany just to help us

Breitbart has a history of promoting "heavily edited

California attorney general:
ACORN videos were "severely edited by [Breitbart protégé James]
According to the California attorney general's

Videotapes secretly
recorded last summer and severely edited by O'Keefe seemed to show ACORN
employees encouraging a "pimp" (O'Keefe) and his "prostitute," actually a
Florida college student named Hannah Giles, in conversations involving
prostitution by underage girls, human trafficking and cheating on taxes. Those
videos created a media sensation.

Evidence obtained by
Brown tells a somewhat different story, however, as reflected in three
videotapes made at ACORN locations in California. One ACORN worker in San Diego called the cops.
Another ACORN worker in San
Bernardino caught on to the scheme and played along with
it, claiming among other things that she had murdered her abusive husband. Her
two former husbands are alive and well, the Attorney General's report noted. At
the beginning and end of the Internet videos, O'Keefe was dressed as a 1970s
Superfly pimp, but in his actual taped sessions with ACORN workers, he was
dressed in a shirt and tie, presented himself as a law student, and said he
planned to use the prostitution proceeds to run for Congress. He never claimed
he was a pimp.

"The evidence
illustrates," Brown said, "that things are not always as partisan zealots
portray them through highly selective editing of reality. Sometimes a fuller
truth is found on the cutting room floor."

Breitbart repeatedly published
O'Keffe's videos on his website.

Law enforcement
sources criticize O'Keefe and Giles' editing ACORN tape "to meet their
 A March 1 New
York Daily News article reported that "a law enforcement source"
said of O'Keefe and Giles: "They edited the tape to meet their agenda." A March
New York Post article,
headlined "ACORN set up by vidiots: DA," reported of O'Keefe and Giles' ACORN
tapes: "Many of the seemingly crime-encouraging answers were taken out of
context so as to appear more sinister, sources

Breitbart and O'Keefe
released "heavily edited tape" of Philly ACORN
 On October 21, 2009,
Fox News reported
that O'Keefe and Giles released "a heavily-edited video on Wednesday depicting
their visit to ACORN's Philadelphia office." Fox reported that a "new
eight-minute video depicts O'Keefe and Giles entering ACORN's Philadelphia office and
meeting with [ACORN employee] Conway-Russell. O'Keefe and Giles are seen
speaking with Conway-Russell, but audio portions of the video are missing or
edited in some portions." Fox News correspondent Eric Shawn stated,
"They played that heavily edited tape but did not show the ACORN worker's audio
for legal reasons." O'Keefe later wrote: "We muted the audio of the ACORN
employees on the video released today due to ACORN's legal attack upon us. We
call upon ACORN to state publicly now that it has no objection to the public
release of any its employees' oral statements to us. If they are interested in
the truth, why wouldn't they do so?"

In video promoted by
falsely claims he sought advice from DC ACORN on establishing brothel for
"prostitution of a dozen underage
In a voiceover at the
beginning of his Washington, D.C., ACORN video -- which was promoted by Breitbart -- O'Keefe claims that in
Washington, he and Giles "sought housing assistance from ACORN in order to
establish a brothel where we could profit off the prostitution of a dozen
underage girls trafficked in from El Salvador." In fact, at no
point in the
transcript of Giles and O'Keefe's visit to the
Washington, D.C., ACORN office does either Giles or O'Keefe clearly state that
they are planning to engage in child prostitution.

doctored video falsely claimed community organizers were "praying" to
On September 29, 2009, embedded a YouTube video under the headline: "Shock
Discovery: Community Organizers Pray TO President-Elect Obama." The video
included captions reading "Deliver Us Obama" and "Hear Our Cry Obama,"
suggesting that the crowd of people -- members of the faith-based group The
Gamaliel Foundation -- featured in the clip was "pray to" Obama. subsequently updated the original post with an editor's note
acknowledging that "there is a debate over what is actually being said" and that
the crowd may, in fact, be saying "oh God" rather than "Obama." The Gamaliel
Foundation subsequently stated that "at no time have we prayed to President
Obama" and that in the video, the organizers "can be heard saying, 'Hear our cry
oh God,' 'Deliver us oh God,' etc."

The Senate showed strong support for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act by passing it with a 60-39 vote. It will be sent to the White House where President Obama is expected to sign it into law next week.

This historic bill represents a principled effort to bring financial fairness to all Americans and to ensure that lending transactions be both honest and transparent. Any policy that protects those consumers who do not have the means to protect themselves is a step in the right direction.

Many urban communities in America today are in a state of emergency, requiring the highest and most urgent attention of the private and public sectors. Passing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act opens the way for a system that oversees the practices of participants in the financial markets, rewarding those who conduct business in the spirit of honest free trade and holding accountable those who continue predatory and abusive practices.

Certain provisions of the bill go a long way toward addressing the needs of the roots of our economic tree. In particular, this bill effectively addresses the root causes of the predatory lending induced mortgage meltdown that ultimately triggered the global economic crisis.

We are relieved and grateful that the final conference report addresses the crucial issue of foreclosure prevention. While 2.5 million families have already lost their homes to foreclosure, well over 5 million more are in imminent danger of doing so, and potentially as many as 13 million could lose their homes before the end of this crisis if they do not get some kind of assistance.

Overall, homeowners in America will be much safer as a result of the new mortgage standards. More effective foreclosure prevention will not only help homeowners, but also will help stabilize the economy and contribute to a strong recovery.

Again, we very much appreciate the act of congressional leadership shown by passing this historic legislation.

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iPhone 4 hitting 17 more countries on Friday | Apple - CNET <b>News</b>

The newest flavor of Apple's smartphone will arrive in additional markets July 30, including Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, and Singapore--but not South Korea. Read this blog post by Lance Whitney on Apple.

Francine Hardaway: <b>News</b> Died This Week

But both the news and journalist Daniel Schorr died this week. Schorr died peacefully after a long and productive life. The news, however, was murdered. Unworthy commentators destroyed news.

Analyst: Nintendo 3DS to revolutionize industry | The Digital Home <b>...</b>

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter predicts in an investor note that the 3D portable-gaming device will justify game price tags of $29, vs. today's blended average of $25. Read this blog post by Don Reisinger on The Digital Home.

Foreclosure Defense in Florida by Roy Oppenheim

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iPhone 4 hitting 17 more countries on Friday | Apple - CNET <b>News</b>

The newest flavor of Apple's smartphone will arrive in additional markets July 30, including Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, and Singapore--but not South Korea. Read this blog post by Lance Whitney on Apple.

Francine Hardaway: <b>News</b> Died This Week

But both the news and journalist Daniel Schorr died this week. Schorr died peacefully after a long and productive life. The news, however, was murdered. Unworthy commentators destroyed news.

Analyst: Nintendo 3DS to revolutionize industry | The Digital Home <b>...</b>

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter predicts in an investor note that the 3D portable-gaming device will justify game price tags of $29, vs. today's blended average of $25. Read this blog post by Don Reisinger on The Digital Home.

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Foreclosure Defense in Florida by Roy Oppenheim

Monday, July 26, 2010

why internet marketing

And yet, The Hollywood Reporter finds the movie market gurus slightly embarrassed at what they call the “family stampede.” Family films have well outpaced pre-release projections repeatedly since May, and the studio bosses are puzzled over why these movies “outperform” their guesses. "The simplest answer is that the tracking doesn't include the young kids themselves," Disney distribution boss Chuck Viane said.

"It's just harder to get a handle on what kids are thinking," another brilliant marketer guessed. "Tracking surveys are based on what people express in phone and Internet surveys, and you're not going to find the young kids that way." Pre-release tracking surveys focus on parents. "The nag factor is what drives those kind of movies," a studio executive tartly declared. "The parents might be less inclined than the kids to see a picture, but then the kids pester the parents, and the rest is history."

So why don’t the studio bosses start factoring in the possibility of a “nag factor” from young children, wanting to go to the movies with parents who demand quality for their children, and make some movies accordingly? No million-dollar marketing exec has thought of that yet?

"There can be a disconnect in tracking sometimes about how far a picture will reach across all audiences," said Sony distribution president Rory Bruer, whose gone-to-China remake of "The Karate Kid" debuted last month with a much-better-than expected $55.7 million. "There's no doubt that word-of-mouth is important in that aspect." Maybe the studio underestimated the affinity of parents for the first version of the film, released back in 1984. It's well on its way to grossing $200 million.

Sometimes, pre-tracking surveys are wrong the other way, overestimating turnout. Last fall, pre-release surveys suggested the Michael Jackson tribute film “This Is It” could ring up “$40 million or more” on its first weekend. The actual figure was a lot less: $23 million.

“Despicable Me” is a great example of the “out-performed expectations” story line. The Universal cartoon with the inept bald-headed villain who learns to love and parent three young girls grossed $56.4 million in its opening weekend, although the “experts” expected a much lower $30 to $35 million weekend.

"People think it was a whole host of things contributing to the big opening," one executive told the Hollywood Reporter. "You had some fresh-looking characters, funny trailers and a huge boost from running those trailers with other hit family films over the past several weeks." Surveys had suggested “tepid” interest from consumers.

Anyone watching NBC or Universal's cable channels were subjected to repeated on-screen promos during their favorite shows. NBC also ran a 30-minute “behind the scenes” infomercial on the opening night of the film, since Friday night TV in the summertime isn't a hot spot for advertisers.

Only one R-rated movie has grossed over $100 million this year, the Leonardo di Caprio horror flick “Shutter Island.” It has just been squeezed out of the top ten by “Despicable Me.” Three movies have grossed over $300 million to top the 2010 list: “Toy Story 3” (a daring G), “Alice in Wonderland” (PG), and “Iron Man 2” (PG-13). Three more movies have grossed over $200 million: “Twilight: The Eclipse Saga” (PG-13) and the family cartoons “Shrek Forever After” (PG) and “How to Train Your Dragon” (PG).

Why can’t greedy Hollywood just look at the math and put their money where the American public’s eyes want to go?

Here’s what should follow: more respect from the movie awards shows for these animated films. “Toy Story 3" drew rave reviews across the board. The St. Petersburg Times said it “isn't merely the best movie of the summer -- even with summer just kicking in -- but an immediate candidate for best of the year.” Don’t bet the mortgage.

NewsBusters is turning 5. Enter our free t-shirt contest to help us celebrate!

There is no Antennagate.

Well, that’s not true. But what Jobs called Antennagate at today’s press conference is more than just the design flaw in the iPhone 4 they insisted was a non-issue. It’s a design flaw with the entire way the issue was handled — by them and by us. The feeding frenzy around the iPhone 4 has been a months-long affair, for a combination of two reasons: one, that Apple has a unique position in tech coverage, and two, that controversy generates traffic. The result is outrage, confusion, expenditure, flamewars, and everything else that’s been happening online since the launch.

Sorry about that. We’re not perfect.

See, as you may know, Apple enjoys a bit of a coverage bias here and elsewhere on the net. Why is that? You know why, for the most part: sexy products, charismatic leader, a whiff of elitism. They’re fun to write about and many people enjoy reading about them — that’s enough for us. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, when a design flaw, plain for all to see, was detected in what was heralded as the best smartphone ever to be released, the response in the tech community was mixed and misleading.

I say mixed because Apple coverage seems to be opinionated for more than other coverage, anywhere you look on the net. There is very little emotion in reporting on HP or Palm — perhaps it is because, as MG suggests, Apple works hard on building an emotional bond with its customers, something which its detractors see and abhor. Whether that’s the case or not, Apple news is often delivered with a slant. And I say misleading because in some ways, how Antennagate (which I am going to stop referring to as such; “-gate” terms are overused) was reported exposed many of the weaknesses in the online reporting structure of which we are a small part. Let’s get into that.

Apple’s ubiquity in web culture usually works in their favor: a press conference with a couple hundred people becomes an internet-wide festival of love and hate. Of course, part of that is their knowing how to put on a presentation, the value of which is something many companies deeply underestimate. Even when revealing the iPhone’s flaws and return rates, Steve treated it like he was revealing new flavors of candy. But the coverage is unstoppable and in a way, free. A major part of advertising is getting people talking about your product; with Apple, people are so primed to talk that all they have to do to advertise is show a picture with the name of the product. Considering Apple’s marketing reach, the excesses and Jobsian quips that do routinely set the internet on fire are mercifully few and far between.

In the last few weeks, however, that self-same ubiquity has been Apple’s worst enemy. Imagine if everything you did propagated, memelike, to the farthest corners of the internet, where even the die-hard Apple hater must acknowledge every announcement, even if it’s just to criticize it (something I enjoy occasionally). After using that power judiciously and deliberately for years, the inevitable finally happened: they dropped the ball — and it dutifully propagated. When your failure becomes a meme, you’re cooked.

For the record, these were my two contributions:

The signal drop heard ’round the world was followed by many more reports of launch issues. It was rough, and because of the way the internet has set itself up to instantly propagate exactly this kind of thing, soon people were hearing about iPhone 4 issues before they even knew there was an iPhone 4. The launch problems became a bigger story than the launch. Why? Because we liked it that way.

The appetite for this kind of thing is bottomless. Reasons for interest include fanboyism, professional interest, idleness, schadenfreude, legitimate concern… there was something for everybody. Then Apple, knocked off-balance by their own unpreparedness, gave a response that simply made things worse. “Non-issue. Just avoid holding it in that way.” I can’t think of a response that could have garnered a more comprehensively varied response. Shock! Defensiveness! Rationalizing! Minimizing! The circus became a feeding frenzy. And then the official statement, in which they revealed that iPhones had been using a ridiculously inaccurate signal display for years, and that they were going to make the bars bigger? My god!

So Apple was far from innocent in this whole affair, right up to the non-apology given by Steve today. Their only mistake, Steve implied, was a visual element that caused users to involuntarily ruin their own signal. Steve could talk his way out of a sunburn, as the saying goes, but not this time. Scott noted when we were chatting about this that according to Apple, the iPhone is unlike every other phone on the market — except when there is a problem, at which point it’s just like every other phone on the market. That said, I’m glad they decided to give out bumpers, and of course you can always return the phone for a full refund, so as far as I’m concerned, customers are completely provided for. Class-action lawsuits are pending but I wouldn’t hold out much hope for a settlement.

But were we innocent? One could say we just did our jobs, and wrote up what was going on. We detailed it step by step. Was that the extent of our responsibilities, though? If it was, then Twitter did our job as well as we did, and maybe better. I wrote a while back: “Real time, real discussion, real reporting – choose two.” Looking back on all the coverage, there was a lot of real-time discussion, but almost no reporting at all. Some very valuable input came from Anandtech, when Anand systematically tested the attenuation caused by shorting the antenna, but by and large it was theories, counter-theories, rumors, and fabrications getting multiplied and amplified by blogs like this one. Even ostensibly reliable outlets in the old media posted garbage of every kind. Publishing rumors is, of course, a valuable part of the job, since many are true or end up resulting in interesting discussion. I’m glad we posted all the things we posted. But I also think Steve is right: this was a pretty serious mountain-molehill situation.

The antenna problem is real, of course. How much of a problem it really is — that’s harder to say. Although I would normally say that it’s under-reported in those Apple statistics, that probably isn’t the case here. After all, this is probably one of the most widely-publicized product launches in history, partly because of the huge amount of attention given to this very flaw. If a user has an iPhone, they are almost certain to know of the issue. And if they know of it, they are almost certain to notice it when it happens. Although as Apple and others have noted, it mainly occurs in areas with marginal reception, so many people may find later that they are death grip sufferers and didn’t know it when they take a trip to the boonies. For this reason I’d suggest getting a case even if you don’t really need it where you live.

But those numbers: half a percent of iPhone 4 users complaining? 1.7% return rate? Nearly identical call drops to 3GS? Out of 3 million users, that’s around 30,000 — not a trivial number by any means, but in retrospect, does it justify the international wave of mockery? It ain’t exactly Side Talkin, after all: 2.9 million people seem to be happy with their phones.

The Point

What am I getting at here? Well, I think this whole debacle demonstrates the power of the Internet to report in the wrong way, as opposed to the Tiger Woods incident, which I think demonstrated the Internet’s strengths (though it also resulted in my writing the “Choose Two” article I mentioned). When the event is what matters (e.g. Tiger Woods crashing his car with his wife beating on the windows), and updates on the granularity of minutes are warranted, the Internet is the perfect medium. But by applying that toolset to something it is totally unsuited for, we found ourselves groping in a dark and crowded echo chamber, grasping at factual straws and thrusting them into the faces of everyone we encountered. How little it accomplished! Apple is temporarily humbled, but they would have been one way or another. But they have the benefit of being unfairly set upon, of being able to quote hundreds of articles spewing FUD and unconfirmed nonsense — after all this, they get to play the victim card! That’s the real Antennagate.

Unfortunately, the solution is an impossible one. This is because the solution is discretion. Discretion and restraint are things that have more or less disappeared, since the benefits of being first and wrong outweigh the benefits of being late and right. The short-term benefits, I should say, in the form of traffic and popularity — very important metrics to the powers that be (advertisers and such). The long-term benefits of being a reliable source for news and analysis are becoming more and more difficult to discern, which is disturbing to me. Yet I still believe, and this whole thing has made me believe more, that perspective and discretion are as important as ever — and probably only as rare as they ever were to begin with. I’m not going to get all emotional on you here and say “oh no journalism is dying,” as if I know a thing about that, but let’s be honest: sometimes journalism can be pretty hard to find — even if you think you know where to look.

There you have it. I just wanted to put my own lid on this whole iPhone 4 thing, with the conclusions I’ve drawn from it. If it came off like Apple apologia, I don’t think you read closely enough. The way the world reports and is reported is going through all kinds of transitions, and one day I think that this whole thing and other stories like it are on their way to becoming case studies in Mass Communications 101.

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Going Global: George Stephanopoulos And ABC <b>News</b> Execs Discuss New <b>...</b>

Earlier this week, ABC News launched a new iPad application that adds a twist to the way most apps present the news: a third dimension. Fire up the app and you're immediately faced with a nifty-looking globe that's covered in headlines ...

Is all <b>news</b> good <b>news</b>? Ask Pete Carroll | Jacket Copy | Los <b>...</b>

When Pete Carroll signed his book deal in April 2009 -- for somewhere upward of $500000 -- he was known as the most winning active coach in college football, with an 88-15 record in his nine seasons at USC. By...

Pro-Gun Dems May Get a Boost « Liveshots

With the mid-terms looming large in a year where incumbents are expected to take a beating at the. Detailed Traffic From - 06/08/09 by DavidErickson

Sunday, July 25, 2010

1 internet marketing

The big idea

Harbinger Capital Partners took a majority stake in LightSquared back in March. At that time Harbinger laid out an ambitious proposal that uses the spectrum holdings of two satellite companies as a means to break into the U.S. wireless market. I covered them here:

The planned network would launch before the third quarter of 2011 and cover 9 million people, with trials set initially for Denver and Phoenix. The next milestone is that 100 million people have to be covered by the end of 2012, 145 million by the end of 2013 and at least 260 million people in the United States by the end of 2015. Harbinger said in its statements to the FCC that all major markets will be installed by the end of the second quarter of 2013.

In an interview today, Frank Boulben, chief marketing officer of LightSquared, said the company would meet those dates, and that so far LightSquared has been negotiating leases with the “main tower companies” in the U.S. for space for some of the 40,000 base stations the company, or rather NSN, plans to deploy.

The nitty gritty details

Harbinger is taking advantage of a ruling made in 2003 by the Federal Communications Commission that allows satellite firms to also offer terrestrial wireless services as long as they provided dual-mode devices and the terrestrial aspect of the network is “ancillary.” Seeing the demand for wireless Internet rising, satellite companies and their private equity backers flocked to the space, banking on the fact that the satellite companies owned a chunk of the airwaves that are so essential for providing mobile broadband service.

However, mobile broadband via satellite is a slow, clunky affair that requires large, temperamental devices and delivers speeds of less than 1 Mbps down. Broad adoption, which is what LightSquared will need, requires terrestrial networks to deliver faster service and modern devices on that network that appeal to consumers. Boulben notes that LightSquared will be able to offer partners three options for coverage: satellite-only, terrestrial-only or a combination of the two.

All told, LightSquared has access to 59 MHz of spectrum through its own holdings, a lease agreement with Inmarsat and some other purchases. But only 13 MHz of the 59 MHz of that spectrum will be available for terrestrial-only services. That’s not a large amount for what will likely be the most popular type of service that LightSquared’s reseller partners will want. Boulben says the company plans to deploy its spectrum for LTE in 5×5 MHz chunks (with 5 MHz allocated to the downlink and 5 to the uplink). The breakdown for the spectrum holdings are 46MHz in the so-called L band at 1.6 Ghz, 8 MHz at 1.4 GHz band and 5 MHz at the 1.6 GHz block that’s not in the L-band. Those last two are where the terrestrial-only networks could be deployed.

The issue with the combined network boils down to the device and network speeds. Having a dual-mode device has historically meant big compromises on style and battery life. Plus, satellites can’t offer fast speeds like the LTE network could. Beurbon said that new chips inside devices, to be detailed later this year, make the combined satellite and terrestrial devices less clunky. He also says that a new, larger satellite SkyTerra is launching will help reduce the need for big antennas and battery-draining radios inside handsets or broadband dongles.

The money side of things

The release out today from LightSquared notes that the company has so far received $2.9 billion in assets from Harbinger Capital Partners to make its LTE network a reality and says that it has raised up to $1.75 billion in debt and equity. However, it hasn’t raised the full $1.75 billion yet — merely an initial round. Boulben did not disclose the investors, nor the amount raised so far but said the round was oversubscribed. Given the hype about the looming spectrum shortage and the complexities of spectrum rules and network deployments, I’m not surprised that LightSquared could find investors who see only the increase and demand, but may not understand all of the complexities associated with the spectrum or the requirements of a cellular network. But the key is whether or not LightSquared can get its network operating and generating revenue in time to repay them and also pay NSN. LightSquared did not disclose when it’s initial debt repayment would be due.

The history of satellite companies is littered with bankruptcies and near-bankruptcies, and financing the costs of building out a terrestrial and satellite network aren’t trivial. The debt and equity raised will fund both NSN’s contract as well as the satellite requirements. So while this is an essential first step for LightSquared, the news today is somewhat less exciting than it appears if we’re keeping our eye on the goal of building a nationwide wholesale LTE network.

We have a rebranding of an existing company with a few new faces on the executive team, notably a CEO from Orange and an SVP for engineering and operations from Clearwire, an undisclosed amount of new money into a venture that has already swallowed billions and a contract with a reputable vendor to build out an LTE network at a cost of $7 billion. At this point, the Nokia Siemens Networks adds the most credibility to this whole effort. I hope it gets paid.

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub req’d):
Everybody Hertz: The Looming Spectrum Crisis

Condé promoted Bob Sauerberg, former head of consumer marketing (read: circulation) to its presidency. Bob is one of the good guys of Condé Nast (I don’t mean to damn him with faint praise there … sorry, couldn’t resist); he’s smart, mature, experienced. (I worked with him a good deal when I was at Advance’s parent company and he was at Fairchild; I should add that none of what I’m saying here comes from the slightest contemporary knowledge of the company; haven’t been in the cafeteria for many months.) Bob knows management and consumer marketing. The age of the ad sales guy is over because the age of the ad is over.

The problem is going to be that there is only more competition in content and so trying to suddenly charge more flies in the face of basic economics. The absurdity of the strategy struck me yesterday as Amazon tried to sell me a subscription to Time for 28.8 cents an issue while Time is trying to sell its iPad issues for $4.99 and I see no reason to buy either. In what world do these economics make sense? In their dreams.

“I want to collect income from the consumer,” Townsend told The Times earlier. “An annual magazine subscription may be something like anywhere bet $12 and $24. So I’m currently locked into a model that says I get a buck or two a month. How about I get a buck for a click?”

Dream on.

They’re not wrong that they need to get money from consumers but they’re not going to get it for content. Sorry guys. But as Google schooled the newspaper industry (I’ll substitute appropriate words):

The large profit margins enjoyed in the past were built on an artificial scarcity: Limited choice for advertisers as well as readers. With the Internet, that scarcity has been taken away and replaced by abundance. No will be able to restore revenues to what they were before the emergence of online . It is not a question of analog dollars versus digital dimes, but rather a realistic assessment of how to make money in a world of abundant competitors and consumer choice.

Instead, I suggest they have to get new revenue through commerce — through selling the things they once advertised now that advertisers are deserting them to sell direct. Problem is, that’s hard, as Condé knows best from its experience with, which started as an attempt to create a high-end store (I worked there then). They created it in partnership with a retailer and the retailer bagged the effort when times got tough in the first bubble; it then became another ad-supported site. But the strategy wasn’t wrong. Problem is, there is no retail expertise in the company.

More recently, Condé should have bought Net-a-Porter but instead luxury conglomerate Richemont snarfed it up. (Disclosure: I spoke at Richemont’s corporate retreat recently.) Condé should buy Gilt to establish new skills, a new relationship with customers, and new revenue. Its content then becomes just added value: the Cinnabon’s in the mall.

A media company going into retail and selling in areas held by former advertisers has precedent: Media News’ Salt Lake City paper became a real estate broker and undersold the entire business in town. The Telegraph, as I like to point out, sells everything from hangers to wine to betting to its readers.

But if Condé and other media companies are going into retail, they need entirely new skills of merchandising and sales, an entirely new financial structure to cope with inventory costs and tight margins, the ability to cope with entirely new competitors and suppliers (that is, former advertisers — but, worse, Amazon), and an entirely new efficiency (forget the cafeteria; they’d be lucky to have a Wal-Mart lunch room with vending machines as a profit center).

They also have to defeat a calcified, entitled culture. For that, I’d suggest they buy Gawker Media to get the incredibly popular competitor Jezebel and to infuse the company with a new culture. Make Nick Denton editorial director and COO and then watch the fun.

I doubt they heard any of this from KcKinsey because in the few encounters I’ve had with them they remix known models rather than invent new ones, which is what is called for here. I’ll bet they proposed cutting some costs (done) and remixing revenue (started) when what’s really needed is a complete restrategizing.

Or maybe I”m wrong. Maybe 4 Times Square will become the world’s lushest mall, with one helluva food court.

Nevermind my advice. The moral of this story remains that advertising is next to fall into the black hole (as a Time Inc. president once dubbed this damned internet thing). Welcome to Bob Garfield’s Chaos Scenario.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

personal finance books

I met James Montier at a value investment seminar in Italy in 2007 where he presented. We had long discussions later the day and into the evening on value investing and investment strategy.

James was kind enough to put me on his distribution list and I really looked forward to each of his articles as they always taught me something.

Unfortunately James decreased his writings since taking a position with the asset manager GMO in 2010.

I decided to put this resource page together so Eurosharelab visitors can also benefit from James’s investment wisdom.

James Montier’s Amazon Page shows all the books he has authored as well as the following short biography:

James Montier is a member of GMO’s asset allocation team.

Prior to that, he was the co-Head of Global Strategy at Société Générale and has been the top-rated strategist in the annual Thomson Extel survey for most of the last decade.

Montier is the author of four market-leading books:

• The Little Book of Behavioral Investing: How not to be your own worst enemy (Little Book, Big Profits)

• Behavioral Finance: Insights into Irrational Minds and Markets

• Behavioral Investing: A Practitioners Guide to Applying Behavioral Finance

• Value Investing: Tools and Techniques for Intelligent Investment

He is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Durham and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.


In this May 2010 article called I Want to Break Free, or, Strategic Asset Allocation does not equal Static Asset Allocation James Montier talks about in the beginning investing was a simpler and happier.

The essence of investment was to seek out value; to buy what was cheap with a margin of safety. Investors could move up and down the capital structure (from bonds to equities) as they saw fit. If nothing fit the criteria for investing, then cash was the default option.

But that changed with the rise of modern portfolio theory and, not coincidentally, the rise of “professional investment managers” and consultants.

In March 2010 Miguel Barbosa in his Simolean Sense blog interviewed James Montier about his book Value Investing: Tools & Techniques For Intelligent Investing.

In the second part of the interview Miguel talks to James about his other book The Little Book of Behavioral Investing – How Not To Be Your Own Worst Enemy.

In this February 2010 article, the first since joining GMO, James Montier asks Was It All Just A Bad Dream? Or, Ten Lessons Not Learnt from the financial crisis.


In November 2009 article titled Only White Swans on the Road to Revulsion James Montier makes the argument that that the housing bubble and the crisis following its collapse was not an unforeseen event but rather the result of over optimism and the illusion of control, two classic human behavioural mistakes.

This article is the text of a speech called Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, or how EMH has damaged our industry which James Montier delivered at the at the August 2009 CFA UK conference on “What ever happened to EMH”. Dedicated to Peter Bernstein (EMH = Efficient Market Hypothesis)

Here is the video recording of the above mentioned speech by James Montier: Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast. The video is 42 minutes long, but well worth watching.

The financial times in this 24 June 2009 article EMH, AMH: Edwards and Montier ride again motions James Montier leaving Societe Generale to join US investment manager Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo & Co, just after he and Albert Edwards won the Thomson Extel European analysts award in May 2009 as the top global strategy team.

In this 2 June 2009 research paper Forever blowing bubbles: moral hazard and melt-up James Montier explored the bubble phenomenon and what happens in the future after a bubble pops. He explores the possibility that all the government rescue packages initiated in 2008 have the possibility to again inflate a substantial bubble.

In this 24 June 2009 Financial Times article called Insight: Efficient markets theory is dead. James Montier explains why the efficient markets theory is dead but still lives because of academic inertia.

In June 2009 James Montier’s published this list of his Favorite Investment Books as well as a Summer reading list of more recent titles.

In May 2009 shortly after the market started its recovery from its March 9 2009 lows James Montier in this article titled Sucker’s rally or the birth of a bull? asks if this is a suckers rally and if so what investors could do to protect themselves. He also gives a few short ideas from his shorting screen.

In this 27 January 2009 article Clear and present danger: the trinity of risk, James Montier writes about the three primary and interrelated sources of investment risk; Valuation risk, business or earnings risk and balance sheet or financial risk.


In this excellent review of James Montier’s book – Behavioral Investing: A Practitioner’s Guide to Applying Behavioral Finance, Bruce Grantier summarises the main points of the book with emphasis on mistakes and biases followed by a discussion of number of behavioral phenomena.

In the article The psychology of bear markets published in December 2009, during the brunt of the bear market James Montier writes about that the mental barriers to effective decision-making in bear markets are as many and varied as those that plague rationality during bull markets but that they more pronounced as fear and shock limits logical analysis.

In this 25 Nov 2008 article called The road to revulsion and the creation of value, James Montier argues that the road to revulsion – sharply declining prices – ends in an investment nirvana with unambiguously cheap assets.

In this 25 November 2008 Bloomberg article Montier Has ‘Never Been More Bullish’ on Stocks James Montier makes the cast that stocks are “distinctly cheap” because they trade at 15.4 times the 10-year moving average of its companies’ profits, compared with an average of 18 for the U.S. market since 1881.James wrote that fifteen stocks in the U.S. index, pass his test for “deep value,” while a tenth of shares in Europe and a fifth in Asia qualify.

In this 27 October 2008 article – An admission of ignorance: a humble approach to investing James Montier details his investment strategy.

It makes no sense to forecast, the importance of a margin of safety, avoid trying to time the market and buy cheap insurance. But most importantly, humility should be the central theme of a good investment process.

In this October 22nd, 2008 Financial Times blog post by Paul Murphy summarises an article Analysts are rubbish by James Montier about the bullish bias built in to the investment industry by the analysts and that analysts are exceptionally good at one thing and one thing only – telling you what has just happened.

In this 9 September 2008 article – The dangers of DCF James Montier writes about the dangers Of Discount cash flow (DCF) saying its implementation is riddled with problems but the good news is that several alternatives exist.

In this 23 June 2008 article – You are still wasting your time, or, are analysts just overpaid secretaries? James Montier writes about the whether company visits are useful for fund managers. The answer in general is no but they can be improved by learning to look for evidence that disagrees with us, and seek to disprove our ideas, rather than illustrate them with supportive evidence.

In this article The Road To Revulsion 16 June 2008 James Montier writes about bubbles, that bubbles are a by-product of human behaviour, and that human behaviour is sadly all too predictable.

The details of each bubble are different but the general patterns remain very similar. He also touches on the propensity for commentators to continually proclaim the end of the problem and a resumption of business as usual.

In the 30 May 2008 article Inflation Not The Problem Albert Edwards and James Montier explain why they are sceptical of all the market commentators saying that the worse market decline of the recession was over. How right they were, but it’s the way they arrived at their conclusion that makes the article worthwhile reading.

If you have any interest at all in short selling this is an article for you. On 26 May 2008, with the markets particularly overvalued James Montier turned his thinking to short selling writing Joining The Dark Side: Pirates, Spies and Short Sellers.

In the article he explains a simple short screen with surprising results shown through back testing in the USA and Europe.

In the article with the catchy title Asleep at the wheel, or, How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb published on 7 April 2008 James Montier points out that company management and analysts are unwilling to revise their profit estimates in spite of the looming recession as everyone thinks their business is recession resistant. He points out that this is why they are all overoptimistic and how you can avoid falling into the same trap.

In this 13 March 2008 research article called Remember, Cassandra was right! James Montier makes a strong argument that the mess in the US economy and housing market was not caused by a black swan event (unpredictable) but rather was sadly predictable.

It follows the standard pattern of a bubble deflating, some thing that we have seen a thousand times before.

On 12 January 2008 James made the last post on his blog called Behavioural Investing – The application of psychology to finance and the home of an investing sceptic.

The articles he wrote is luckily all still there and it’s a real treasure trove of information.

In this 15 January 2008 article The Dash To Trash And The Grab For Growth James Montier wrote just shortly after the absolute peak in the 2008 bull market he suggests that if you cannot move to cash because of career risk then invest in large dividend paying companies as what is going to happen to growth stocks at already high valuations is not going to be pretty. How right he was.


In this blog post called The Sources of Value, written in October 2007 James Montier analyses which of the component sources of return leads to value, over reasonable periods of time, to outperform growth?

On 3 October 2007 James Montier posted a blog article titled Sector rotation: an investment dead end? He argues that investors focusing on sectors rather than stocks are barking up the wrong tree.

James Montier’s book Behavioural investing: a practitioner’s guide to applying behavioural finance was published in September 2007. At the link above you can read parts of the book at Google Books.

In this 24 September 2007 blog post called The myth of exogenous risk and the recent quant problems James Montier argues that many aspect of investment risk are endogenous (like a gambler playing poker, where the actions of the other plays are integral to the game) to the way in which we invest.

The problems experienced by the quant funds in August may help highlight some of these issues.

In this 10 September 2007 blog post Yet more evidence on the folly of forecasting, or why we don’t need economists! James Montier presents even more evidence that humans cannot forecast and why you should avoid listening to anyone who says he can as well as avoid it yourself.

On 21 August 2007 James Montier posted a blog article titled Earnings manipulation as a source of short ideas. He identifies shorting candidates through a measurement called the M score. Past results are impressive in identifying under-performing companies.

On 15 March 2007 James Montier posted a Macro Research article titled Global Equity Strategy . Investing 101: A reading list. Here he comes up with a collection of his best books in different categories (classics, modern, psychological and hidden gems) that is arguably the best reading list for any aspiring investor.

In the 30 January 2007 article by James Montier CAPM is CRAP James says that the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) is insidious. It creeps into almost every discussion on finance. And them he goes on to systematically take the model apart with real life examples and evidence.

In his 10 January 2007 research paper Contrarian or conformist? James Montier, in his usual style puts himself against the common view saying that the then biggest consensus portfolio bets to him seemed to be small cap and low quality however large cap, high quality looks like the better bet to him. To emphasise he quotes Sir John Templeton once observed, “It is impossible to produce a superior performance unless you do something different from the majority”.


In this 30 November 2006 article with the enticing title Improving returns using inside information James Montier explains the results of a unknown but interesting research paper on share buybacks and how they, when implemented, are a powerful indicator for positive returns.

In this July 2006 research note titled Come out of the closet, or, show me the alpha James features a study that suggests

closet indexing accounts for nearly one third of the US mutual fund industry. Stock pickers account for less than 30% of the market, yet they have real investment skill. A fascinating read.

The article Prophet Among Pinstripes in the April 2006 issue of Fastcompany magazine features James Montier where he gives his five laws about investing bias, evolution, and true happiness.

In March 2006 shortly after the release of Joel Greenblatt’s book The Little Book That Beats the Market James tested the strategy worldwide and in this article called The little note that beats the markets found that on average the Little Book strategy

beats the markets by around 7% p.a. between 1993-2005, and with lower risk than the market! Value plus quality seems to make sense.

In the article Behaving Badly published in February 2006 James Montier features a short test you can take after which you will also become a strong believer in behavioural finance. Give it a try!


In November 2005 James Montier wrote the article Seven Sins of Fund Management – A behavioural critique where he explores some of the more obvious behavioural weaknesses inherent in the ‘average’ investment process.

For example he writes that the first sin was placing forecasting at the very heart of the investment process. An enormous amount of evidence suggests that investors are generally hopeless at forecasting. So using forecasts as an integral part of the investment process is like tying one hand behind your back before you start.

In this 31 March 2005 article called Bargain Hunter James Montier confesses that he is an unabashed value investor. He adds that if the reader does not share this viewpoint, or isn’t open to be persuaded of the merits of such an approach, he should stop reading now for what follows will only distress his.

James teams up with Rui Antunes his “usual accomplice and compatriot in adventures involving large amounts of data” and embarked upon an investigation of value strategies.

In the article Abu Ghraib: Lessons from behavioural finance and for corporate governance, wrote at the end of January 2005 James Montier says even though it is tempting to believe bad behaviour is the result of a few rotten individuals. However, the overwhelming psychological evidence suggests that if you put good people into bad situations they usually turn bad.


In the June 2004 paper If it makes you happy James Montier leaves investment advice aside and explores one of Adam Smith’s obsessions: what it means to be happy.

He also discusses why that’s important to investors, and how we can seek to improve our own levels of happiness. The article further lists

James’s top ten suggestions for improving happiness.

In the article Who’s a Pretty Boy Then? Or Beauty Contests, Rationality and Greater Fools James Montier in February 2004 played a classic Keynes’ beauty contest with over 1000 professional investors.

He found that on average professional investors are using between one and two steps of strategic thinking in forming their expectations. He also found that many investors suffer the curse of knowledge and end up either picking zero or severely underestimating the irrationality of other players.

These results speak directly to the ability of investors to exit the market before the mass exodus. He found, unsurprisingly, that only a very small minority shows the required level of strategic thinking to beat the gun.

In this 76 page presentation Insights into irrational minds and market Applied Behavioural Finance: Insights into irrational minds and market James Montier gave in 2004 he in great detail described the behavioural biases investors are prone to. Its a great summary of a lot of his previous work in a presentation format, summarised in bullet points and graphs.


This November 2003 issue of welling@weeden James Montier offers a reality and earnings checks.

In this January 2003 research paper Running with the Devil: The Advent of A Cynical Bubble James Montier explores the nature and underlying psychology of four different kinds of bubbles. To assess which comes closest to describing the current market.

To us, the current market environment is largely a greater fool market. Because such markets lack fundamental support, they are liable to precipitous declines.


In Darwin’s Mind: The Evolutionary Foundations of Heuristics and Biases James Montier in December 2002 writes that a catalogue of biases that cognitive psychologists have built up over the last three decades seem to have stem from one of three roots – self-deception, heuristic simplification (including affect), and social interaction.

In this paper James explores the evolutionary basis of each of these roots. The simple truth is that we aren’t adapted to face the world as it is today. We evolved in a very different environment, and it is that ancestral evolutionary environment that governs the way in which we think and feel.

In 22 November 2002 James Montier wrote in Part man, part monkey that leaving the trees could have been our first mistake. Our minds are suited for solving problems related to our survival, rather than being optimised for investment decisions. We all make mistakes when we make decisions. The list below gives a top ten list for avoiding the most common investment mental pitfalls.

  1. You know less than you think you do

  2. Be less certain in your views, aim for timid forecasts and bold choices

  3. Don’t get hung up on one technique, tool, approach or view flexibility and pragmatism are the order of the day

  4. Listen to those who don’t agree with you

  5. You didn’t know it all along, you just think you did

  6. Forget relative valuation, forget market price, work out what the stock is worth (use reverse DCFs)

  7. Don’t take information at face value, think carefully about how it was presented to you

  8. Don’t confuse good firms with good investments, or good earnings growth with good returns

  9. Vivid, easy to recall events are less likely than you think they are, subtle causes are underestimated

  10. Sell your losers and ride your winners


I recently reviewed Gary Rivlin's important new book, Broke USA, for the Huffington Post. Thus, I was stunned when I noticed that the book had been reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

I wondered if the reviewer, Katherine Mangu-Ward, and I had read the same book.

f you go by her philosophy, payday lenders and other members of the "poverty industry" are upstanding entrepreneurs, performing a service for society!

She waits until the second to last paragraph to "mention" that payday lenders are providing this wonderful service at "something like a 300% to 400% interest rate."

Ms. Mangu-Ward makes a historic comparison of those in the "poverty industry" with loan sharks of a different era. I'm not sure that Mangu-Ward, a Yale University graduate, has ever met a loan shark. I have.

As I note in my book Son of a Son of a Gambler, loan sharks and gamblers populated my hometowns of Covington and Newport in Northern Kentucky.

Although the sharks were aggressive in their collections policies, any loan shark who charged 400% would have soon been floating in the Ohio River.

I also doubt that many loan sharks were ever touted for their entrepreneurial acumen in the Wall Street Journal.

The sad thing is that the Wall Street Journal would allow such a slanted and biased reviewer to write a review for their newspaper.

She leaps to conclusions that show a lack of research, especially for a graduate of an Ivy League school.

For example, she said that Rivlin brings "a level of financial illiteracy and disdain for entrepreneurs that is somewhat surprising in a man who once covered Silicon Valley for the New York Times."

If Mangu-Ward had done her homework, she would have read Rivlin's books, The Plot to Get Bill Gates and The Godfather of Silicon Valley. The first book shows Rivlin's tremendous empathy with the featured entrepreneur and the second shows some keen insights into how businesses truly operate.

Anyway, Broke USA is not about entrepreneurism. It's about the poverty industry and how loan sharking has become legalized.

Rivlin devotes much of his book to efforts in North Carolina and other states to offer payday loans at a more reasonable interest rate. He notes how the United States armed services put a 36% cap on any payday loans made to military personnel.

None of that important information made it into a "review" that in the author's mind puts payday lenders in the same category as Mother Teresa: Doing good for the poor.

I don't remember Mother Teresa charging 400% interest rates.

Despite what the Wall Street Journal says, Broke USA is an even-handed look at the poverty industry.

A little even-handedness would have gone a long way in the Wall Street Journal's review.

Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC is an award-winning financial columnist and Huffington Post Contributor.

You can read more about Don at

McNay has Master's Degrees from Vanderbilt and the American College and is in the Hall of Distinguished Alumni of Eastern Kentucky University.

McNay has written two books. Most recent is Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win The Lottery

McNay is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table and has four professional designations in the financial services field.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

personal finance budgeting

Here’s a timeline of this presentation:

  • The question

  • The expenses side: What would you cut first in order to survive?

  • The income side: How could you double your income next month?

In order to derive any benefit, you’ll need to really adopt the mindset implied in the question. Don’t focus on whether it’s possible, but instead on what would realistically be the first expenses to go and the first steps to replacing the income.

Once you’ve made a list for both sides of the question, you’ll want to review it for any areas that seem realistic, even at your current full income. For example, your first steps may include selling an extra car, canceling an expensive cable package, and slashing your grocery budget in half. In this situation, you’ve likely brainstormed areas of your budget where you aren’t spending as optimally as you may like. You may choose to go ahead and try some of those options out, or at least take steps to narrow the gap between your life at 100% income and your life at 50% income levels.

The same process is important when attempting to make the income back as quickly as possible. Realistic options could include enrolling in a course (applying for aid if needed), launching a side business, and/or picking up new clients or leads. Nearly every time I brainstorm options for doubling my business income, I unearth something I hadn’t thought of before. Acting on these new ideas has helped me tremendously in generating new income (even if it doesn’t immediately double it)!

The next time you’re feeling a bit complacent in your finances, try exploring this simple question. What would be the first expenses you’d cut in order to survive on only half your income? What would be the first steps you’d take if you had to earn it back? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results of this experiment!

In 2006, recent Harvard grad Alexa von Tobel was headed for a job at Morgan Stanley. But though she would soon be managing the bank’s investments, she realized she didn’t know the first thing about her own finances. Most financial guides seemed to be written for middle-aged readers with millions in assets, rather than recent college grads. "I was reading every book I could find, but none of them spoke to me," she says. So she came up with the idea for LearnVest, an online personal-finance resource for young women like her, and ended up writing an 80-page business plan.

After two years at Morgan Stanley, von Tobel entered Harvard Business School in 2008. But upon winning a business plan competition held by Astia, a non-profit that supports women entrepreneurs, she took a five-year leave of absence and invested $75,000 of her Wall Street earnings to start LearnVest in November. She quickly enlisted advisors, including Betsy Morgan, the former CEO of the Huffington Post, and Catherine Levene, the former COO of DailyCandy, to help develop the site’s content and technology. In January 2009, she secured $1.1 million in seed funding from executives at Goldman Sachs.

LearnVest’s site launched a year later and has since signed up more than 100,000 members. It offers online budgeting calculators, video chats with certified financial planners on the company’s staff, and free e-mail tutorials on topics such as opening an IRA. The company earns revenue from advertising and by referring its users to companies such as TD Ameritrade. In April, after just four weeks of fundraising, von Tobel closed a $4.5 million investment round led by Accel Partners, which has also invested in Facebook and Etsy. (Incidentally, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lived in the same dorm as von Tobel at Harvard.)

Von Tobel likens LearnVest to an online version of The Suze Orman Show, but with the goal of reinforcing positive finance habits early on. “Suze Orman helps 45-year-old women get out of debt,” she says. “Why not reach 20-year-olds to keep them from getting into debt?”

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Liberal journalists suggest government shut down Fox <b>News</b> | The <b>...</b>

FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2009 file photo, President Barack Obama, center, stands near Fox News' Major Garrett, left, in the kitchen of the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) ...

Good <b>News</b> For Lohan! |

Only two weeks in the clink! If Lindsay Lohan ends up behaving herself in prison, she will only serve about 14 days of her 90-day sentence due to overcrowding in the LA County jail system. It had...

Shepard Smith Unloads On Fox <b>News</b>, White House Over Shirley <b>...</b>

Shep Smith laid into his own network Wednesday, calling out Fox News for its role in hyping the Shirley Sherrod story based on an edited videotape (h/t Mediaite). Smith's critique began when he cut into Wednesday's briefing by White ...

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

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Hyperlocal <b>News</b> Site Fwix Debuts Local Trend Search

Fwix, a news site that offers a stream of hyperlocal, realtime news by location, is launching a new portal today that aims to give anyone a real time view of what's happening in a location. You can access the new search portal here.

Intel delivers cheaper six-core game chip | Nanotech - The <b>...</b>

Chip giant is shipping a less expensive six-core processor for the highest of high-end PCs. Read this blog post by Brooke Crothers on Nanotech - The Circuits Blog.

Tropical Trouble? « FOX <b>News</b> Weather Blog

Good morning all! Just read that New York is about to have its hottest July on record, and I can.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

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Last August there was much criticism over the fact that President Obama agreed to give Brazilian Owned Oil Company Petrobras up to $10 Billion Dollars to look for Oil off the Brazil Coast.  At the time it was especially disturbing because the Administration objected to the US Drilling off its own coast, which would have worked toward keeping the price of oil low and help wean us off foreign oil.

Today it is even more disconcerting, Obama's drilling moratorium may have been blocked by a judge today, but Secretary of Interior Salazar intends to announce a new one tomorrow.   And the longer this "moratorium" lasts, the more likely we are to see the Oil Rigs in the gulf move down to Brazil where they are planning to drill for oil in seas twice as deep as the Deepwater Horizon site.

Why would the POTUS pay for a foreign country to drill for oil but object to his own country taking advantage of his own country's resources? And worse why would he fund the oil drilling of another country for it to "steal away" drilling resources from the Gulf sites? Payback.

Last August Ed Morrissey at Hot Air discovered that "coincidentally" just a few days before the announcement of the US Oil Exploration Aid, George Soros the presidential puppet-master, set himself up to make a lot more money from Brazilian Oil Exploration:

His New York-based hedge-fund firm, Soros Fund Management LLC, sold 22 million U.S.-listed common shares of Petrobras, as the Brazilian oil company is known, according to a filing today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Soros bought 5.8 million of the company’s U.S.-traded preferred shares.

Soros is taking advantage of the spread between the two types of U.S.-listed Petrobras shares, said Luis Maizel, president of LM Capital Group LLC, which manages about $4 billion. The common shares were 21 percent more expensive than preferred today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. …

Petrobras preferred shares have also a 10 percent additional dividend, said William Landers, a senior portfolio manager for Latin America at Blackrock Inc.

“Given that there will most likely never be a change in control in the company, I see no reason to pay a higher price for the common shares.” Brazil’s government controls Petrobras and has a majority stake of voting shares.
NICE!  Making money on the spread, and putting himself in a position to make more money from higher dividends just before all the big bucks "donation" from President Obama. Soros must be master of the deal or Obama is the master of the quid quo pro.

According to Front Page Magazine, this Petrobras deal was put in place by the President as a nice way to say thank you to Mr Soros.

Now it’s time for Soros to collect on his investment. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Obama administration has committed up to $10 billion to Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance oil exploration off of Brazil’s coast.

Yet Obama historically has opposed expanded oil drilling. This was not only a strategic decision, aimed at pleasing the environmental Left, but also a personal choice, since Obama sincerely believes that drilling is deeply destructive to the natural environment. Thus, as a Senator, Obama voted against permitting the U.S. to drill for oil and natural gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the grounds that it would be a crime to despoil such “beautiful real estate.” Similarly, during last year’s presidential campaign, he warned of the “environmental consequences” of oil drilling, and insisted that “we cannot drill our way out of the problem.”

But apparently George Soros can. The president has elected to help another nation with the same type of drilling that he opposes so vehemently for this country, and the reason seems to be Soros’s $811-millon investment in Petrobras. The company just happens to be the largest holding in Soros’s investment fund. Soros’s connection to the company is no secret; he has been investing in Petrobras since 2007. A profitable venture, Petrobras has estimated recoverable reserves for the so-called Tupi oil field of between 5 and 8 billion barrels. With his billion-dollar loan, Obama has taken patronage politics to striking new level.
The Petrobras loan may be a windfall for Soros and Brazil, but it is a bad deal for the US. The administration is prepared to lend up to $10 billion to a foreign company to drill off its coast, when it could bring in $1.7 trillion in government revenue, as well as create thousands of new jobs, by allowing drilling off the coast of the United States.

....The oil deal stinks for other reasons, as well. For instance, there is the rank hypocrisy of Soros – an enthusiastic proponent of global warming theory and environmental liberalism – investing in the fossil fuels whose use he otherwise condemns – and doing so in part with the aid of taxpayer funds. For years, Soros has urged the adoption of a global carbon tax that would punish companies that contribute to global warming. But that didn’t prevent him from plowing money into Petrobras.

The cozy Soros-Obama alliance goes beyond favorable oil deals. It’s also playing a role in the health care debate. Huge demonstrations dedicated to enacting Obama’s universal health care are largely a Soros-financed operation. When tens of thousands of people rallied in the nation’s capital in support of Obama’s health care plan, the demonstrations were organized by Health Care for America Now! (HCAN), a new national grassroots movement of more than 1,000 organizations in 46 states encompassing 30 million people dedicated to winning health reform now.

The “grassroots” organization appears to be more like a gang of interconnected ultra-liberal pressure groups. Among the 21 members of its steering committee are such Soros-funded groups as ACORN,, and the Center for American Progress (CAP), headed by Clinton former chief of staff John Podesta, who also has been a key adviser to Obama. Soros’s charity, the Open Society Institute, in 2007 gave CAP $1.75 million and approved added grants of $1.25 million.

Obama’s collusion with Soros and his agenda-driven squadrons is an unfortunate turn from an administration that entered office promising unprecedented transparency in the White House. Soros certainly did his share for Obama. Now, with his backing for a billion-dollar oil loan to a Brazilian company, the president has proven more generous to Soros than to the American voters who put him in office.
 There is that Old Saying, Payback's a bitch. Obama's ten billion dollar gift to Petrobras along with the drilling moratorium designed to give the Brazil-based company partially owned by his good friend George Soros, proves that sometimes payback is not a bitch, its a wallet fatten-er.

Seven secrets of coupon pros [Consumer Reports] "Nancy Niemeyer, an IT project manager from Seattle, says she feeds her family of four for about $10 a week."

5 cheap places to retire in the US [MSN Money] "An expert offers his top picks, taking costs, culture and access to medical care into consideration."

How 5 money blunders ding your credit [Smart Spending] "FICO calls them 'damage points,' and, boy, can they pull down your credit score."

10 Things Funeral Directors Won't Tell You [Smart Money] "The best defense? Shop around, or have someone who is up to it do it for you."

7 Lessons the World Cup Offers on the Stock Market [Wall Street Journal] "Here are seven lessons that 'the beautiful game' can teach you about the money game."


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There has never been a better time to pay off your credit card debt. Credit card interest rates are skyrocketing with the impending recession. Recessions mean job loss, and the credit card issuing banks fear upcoming loss of payments. Not only are credit card interest rates getting higher, but in the event you lose your job, you don't want to be stuck with more credit card bills than you need.

Consider that if you have a $2,000 balance, adding nothing new to the card and paying minimum monthly payments of 3% at a 20% interest rate, you're looking at 183 payments, over 15 years, totaling $2,241! Wouldn't that $241 be more useful elsewhere?

According to this article on MSN Money Central:

23.8% of American households have no credit cards at all -- no bank cards, no retail cards, nothing.
Another 31.2% of the households the Fed surveyed paid off their most recent credit card bills in full.
So together, the households that owed nothing on credit cards equaled 55% of the total.

Of the households that did carry a balance, the median amount owed was $1,900.

Only 29% of households owe $1,000 or more on their cards.
21% owe $2,000 or more.
6% owe $8,000 or more.
4% owe $10,500 or more.
1% owe $21,400 or more.

Getting rid of credit card debt takes determination and willpower. It's easy to pay the minimum payments for years on end, but it's not the smartest thing to do.

Here's how to get rid of that lingering credit card debt.

Step 1: Create a budget. It's not as terrible as it sounds. Be prepared to be shocked at how much you spend. Get your credit card and bank statements together and look at how much you're spending, and on what. $5 here and $10 there really adds up. Create a budget with the realization that the money coming in should always exceed the money going out. If the outgoing money is more than the incoming money, you've got serious troubles. Determine a reasonable amount to spend monthly for food, gas, rent/mortgage, utilities, toiletries, rare and cheap entertainment, etc. If you're finding this too difficult on your own, you can always pay or find a charity personal finance manager to help you.

TIP: Eliminate entertainment expenses and frivolous purchases. Did you have to see that movie in the theatre last week? Did you really need that new lampshade? Shopping for nonessentials and going out should be the smallest portion of your budget.

TIP: If you're trying to "keep up with the Jonses", stop. Examine your priorities and determine if you'd rather be able to support yourself financially or buy that latest gadget or decorative item. If the answer is "buy", go ahead and give up the idea of financial freedom.

Step 2: Perform plastic surgery. Not the expensive kind, but the cheap kind. Take a pair of scissors and hack up those cards you really want to be rid of. If you can't bring yourself to do that just yet, hide them somewhere at home so you can't use them at stores for impulse purchases. You may need to have a trusted friend or relative hold on to them for you for accountability, so that if you want to "borrow" them you'd better have a good excuse.

Also, stop using your debit card. Use cash from the ATM instead for things like gas, food and your allotted spending budget. Consumers are much more likely to spend more when it's on "plastic", because psychologically it doesn't pack as big of a punch. Choose between throwing away a $20 bill and a credit card. You'd keep the twenty. You'll get the reality check at the grocery store, when handing over $4 in cash for a 12-pack of individually canned soft drinks versus $1 for a 2-liter of the same product.

Step 3: Make your debt payment plan. Sit down with your credit card statements and figure out how much you have on each credit card and what the interest rate is. Start with the card with the highest rate. From your budget, you can determine how much you have each month to spend on debt repayment. Pay the minimum monthly payment on the other cards and put as much money as you can towards the card with the highest interest rate. When it's completely paid down, take that money and apply it toward the second-highest card, and so on, until all the balances are gone. If you can genuinely make a budget and stick to it, you can determine ahead of time when you'll be debt-free.

If you have a credit card with a small balance that isn't your highest-rate card, go ahead and pay it off first. Then you'll know the exhilaration of not owing money, which will give you incentive for the bigger ones. Just take care not to create a new balance!

TIP: If you're having a hard time paying in big chunks, pay weekly. Your credit card company will accept money any time you want to send it. Instead of paying $100 a month, try $25 a week. That will also save you a little in credit interest costs.

TIP: Live well under your means. Ideally, you should be able to save and invest 1/3 of your income if you want to. Are you able to do this now? Use an online retirement calculator to determine how much you should be saving in order to be able to retire.

Step 4: Open your credit card bills and laugh at the zero balance. Now what are you going to do with all this money? Buy yourself a little prize, (using cash!), and then it's time to save and invest.

Once you've become financially responsible and can really stick to your budget, use your credit cards for budgeted items and pay them back monthly in full. Not using credit cards at all can damper your credit score. However, take care not to run the credit cards up again! You want to be debt free and stay that way.

Here's another helpful tip: Type or write this affirmation on some index cards or pieces of paper and tuck them in your checkbook, pocketbook, or wallet: "I always pay my credit card bills in full and on time!" Seeing that here and there will implant the subliminal message that you do not have to overspend. It's also helpful to write meaningful positive notes such as "I am debt free!" or "I am a wise spender!" and tape them on your credit cards, debit cards and checkbooks. That will earn you some strange looks and smiles from store clerks, but it will be a consistent friendly reminder to yourself that you are free of credit card debt - and you're going to stay that way!


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Apple iPhone 4 <b>News</b>: Apple Sets Up Cots For Engineers Solving Flaw

At Apple Inc., "working our butts off" means cots in the engineering department and cars in the parking lot at all hours of the night. Seeking a solution to the antenna flaw that is dropping calls for some iPhone 4 users, ...

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