January 17, 2007

Netflix Getting into Online Rentals, Acing Out Apple

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 2:30 pm

Netflix has fired the first shot in making online movies available for rent:

Netflix Inc. (NFLX) will start showing movies and TV episodes over the Internet this week, providing its subscribers with more instant gratification as the DVD-by-mail service prepares for a looming technology shift threatening its survival.

The Los Gatos-based company plans to unveil the new “Watch Now” feature Tuesday, but only a small number of its more than 6 million subscribers will get immediate access to the service, which is being offered at no additional charge.

Netflix expects to introduce the instant viewing system to about 250,000 more subscribers each week through June to ensure its computers can cope with the increased demand.

The article says the service won’t work with Macs, but I have to believe it will work with Macs running Windows through Boot Camp or Parallels.

I am left wondering why Apple didn’t get into this business first instead of sticking with the buy-only model for movies on iTunes. Maybe Hollywood’s moguls knew the Netflix initiative was on the way, and didn’t want to put too much power in one guy’s (i.e., Apple’s Steve Jobs’) hands.

What, No MSNBC Programs? I’m Shocked

Filed under: Business Moves,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 9:39 am

Fox clearly enjoys being Number 1 (HT Return of the Conservatives):

FoxTop14of15_2006

This Would Explain Why Browne Is Stepping Down Early

Filed under: Business Moves,Corporate Outrage — Tom @ 6:18 am

From CNN International:

BP Failed on Safety — US Panel

POSTED: 1533 GMT (2333 HKT), January 16, 2007

HOUSTON, Texas (AP) — British oil company BP failed to emphasize safety at its U.S. refineries before the 2005 Texas City explosion that killed 15, according to a report released Tuesday by an independent panel led by former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III.

The panel, in a statement summarizing its 300-plus page report on BP PLC’s operations, said the company had made strides in personal accident prevention but came up short on the bigger picture.

“The panel maintains a central theme that prior to the Texas City tragedy BP emphasized personal safety and had achieved significant improvements in personal injury rates, but the company did not emphasize process safety,” the statement said. “BP mistakenly interpreted improving personal injury rates as an indication of acceptable process safety performance at its U.S. refineries.”

It’s hard not to think that losing focus on safety was not at least an inadvertent casualty of Chief Executive John Browne’s misguided forays into “Corporate Social Responsibility.”

________________________________

Previous related posts:

  • Jan. 12, 2007 — BP: Browne Stepping Down Early
  • Nov. 25, 2006 — Friedman and ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ — It’s Not the Line That’s Blurred, It’s Peoples’ Thinking That Has Moved the Line
  • Sept. 14 — BP CEO Lord John Browne Should Resign, Says Group
  • Sept. 9 — The Corporate Social Responsibility Appeasers Are Probably Long-Term Market Underperformers
  • Aug. 22 — Column of the Day, Plus Timeless Essay of the Day, on “Corporate Social Responsibility”

About Cali’s Citrus Damage

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:13 am

I guess global warming took the week off.

(I know, the “climate change” globalarmists will say the humans are causing more extremes in weather. They’ve got a globaloney excuse for every reason, and every season.)

Carnival Barking for BMD (011707)

Boring Made Dull’s 29th Roundup on Economics and Social Policy is here.

How about this for a reax to my carnival entry on the taxes from the exercise of Google stock options helping to carry California?:

One would certainly have to question both the sanity and morality of Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. It’s close to insane to not take simple steps to mitigate a tax burden like this. It’s probably immoral as well – If the(y) left California, they could do more good with the tax savings by giving it to targeted charities than the kleptrocrats working for the state of California could.

Thus, staying in CA and paying the taxes is probably a net moral and economic loss to society.

You might argue the former, I suppose, though the case to me is compelling, but I think there’s little you can do to dispute the latter.

Deficit Independence Day?

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:03 am

Skeptical Optimist projects (HT Willisms) that the federal budget will go from deficits to breakeven by July 3, 2008, just in time for Independence Day.

I think that’s a bit optimistic, because it’s hard to imagine that spending will continue to increase at less than 1% year over year, as has been the case during the first three months of the federal fiscal year. But it’s nice to dream, and SkepOp is right: The political bobbing and weaving in response to such a situation would be fun to watch ahead of the ’08 presidential vote.

For the record, I realize that the deficit elimination would be reduced only by netting the true deficit against the Social Security surplus (as explained here last year). But an improvement is an improvement.

Positivity: Tadd Fujikawa Has Accomplished a Lot, Even If His Pro Golf Career Doesn’t Take Off

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

The article excerpted below had to have been written before Fujikawa shot a Sunday round of 72 to finish 20th at the the Sony Open PGA Tour golf event in Honolulu.

I hope more people get to know about Fujikawa’s life story thus far — he’s lucky to be here; his survival is a tribute to the marvels of medicine. Read on:

Miracle Child Having Dream Week in PGA
Monday, January 15, 2007

HONOLULU – Tadd Fujikawa stood 50 feet away from the cup on the other side of the 11th green, staring at a birdie putt that not even the best players in the world expect to make.

Then again, the kid is used to defying the odds.

He was born 3 1/2 months premature and given only a 50 percent chance to live. In a sport ruled by high-priced swing gurus and golf academies, the only person resembling a coach is his mother. He looks out of place at the Sony Open not so much because of his age _ he turned 16 on Monday _ but the short, choppy strides from his 5-foot-1 frame.

The putt dropped into the heart of the cup and Fujikawa lunged forward and thrust his fist, sending some 1,500 people into another frenzy as they watched the pint-sized sophomore pull off another shocker Saturday.

First, he became the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour with a birdie-par-eagle finish Friday for a 4-under 66. If that wasn’t enough, shot another 66 and was tied for eighth at 7-under 203, six shots out of the lead.

“Nothing in this game surprises me anymore,” said defending champion David Toms, who played in the group ahead of Fujikawa and waited until his shots were over to cope with crowd noise. “He’s having a good time.”

….. Fujikawa stayed up past midnight to watch highlights of him making the cut, then must have decided that wasn’t enough. Starting with a pitching wedge that stopped 4 feet from the flag at No. 5, he ran off five birdies in eight holes and was on the leaderboard.

His mother, Lori, stayed some 250 yards behind and couldn’t believe what she was watching.

But then, her only son has been full of surprises since he was born 3 1/2 months early, so small he fit into his grandfather’s palm.

“I don’t know why he came so early,” she said. “I was sleeping when all the contractions began, and there was no reason for me to go into labor. I guess he wanted to come out and see the world.”

He was in the hospital for three months, and doctors warned her it was 50-50 that he would survive. His first surgery was to reconnect his intestines, which caused more fears for his survival. They also told her a mental disability was possible.

“After his first year, we thought we were in the clear,” she said.

Fujikawa took up judo, then started whacking golf balls on the practice range at age 8. He got serious four years later when he took his first lesson from a PGA teaching pro, but lately he has been on his own, his mother at his side.

“He goes to school in the morning, then the golf course until dark,” she said. “Then homework and dinner. He loves it.”

About the only player who could have seen this coming was Steve Stricker, who played in a pro-am round with him. Stricker was asked if he could have predicted two rounds of 66 by the teenager.

“Yes, because he shot 65 with me,” Stricker said. “I was keeping his score and said, ‘This little guy is beating me.’ He played great _ all 5-foot-1 of him. I was really impressed with how he handled himself.”

It was hard to suppress a smile when Nick Faldo, the analyst for the Golf Channel, told Fujikawa his game was good enough for the PGA Tour. That’s been the goal, and this week has been a delicious taste of it.

“Let’s hear it for Hawaii’s own … Tadd Fujikawa,” the announcer said behind the 18th green as the kid strolled up the fairway. He hit a wedge 10 feet below the cup for another roar, and the groan was almost as loud when he missed.

Despite his size, Fujikawa generates great club speed and hits his driver about 285 yards. And he showed plenty of savvy for only his second professional event (he qualified for the U.S. Open last summer at Winged Foot). …..