Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Google buys 5 percent stake in AOL - Will it buy more of the Internet portal?

From Businessweek.com

DEC. 20 7:38 P.M. ET America Online on Tuesday sealed a $1 billion transaction to sell a 5 percent stake to Google Inc. in a deal that deepens the ties binding two of the Web's most popular Web sites while thwarting Microsoft Corp.'s efforts to grab a larger piece of the booming Internet advertising market.

Approving the expanded alliance had been considered a mere formality last Friday when AOL's corporate parent, Time Warner Inc., abruptly ended several months of negotiations with Microsoft, which had hoped to supplant Google as AOL's main advertising partner.

Many of the details, including a plan that may display more graphical ads on some of Google's traditionally sparse Web pages, had been leaked to the media in the last few days.

New SBS NFL Football Business Blog

Click on the title of this post to see our new NFL Football blog on busineess news related to the game. The blog will also feature opinion on the NFL issues of the day.

Colts QB Peyton Manning receives record 1.18 million Pro Bowl votes.

From NFL Media.com


Indianapolis Colts quarterback PEYTON MANNING received a record 1,184,142 votes to lead
NFL All-Stars in balloting for the 2006 Pro Bowl, the NFL announced today. Presented by
Sprint, Pro Bowl voting on NFL.com, in stadiums and via the Sprint wireless service ended
Friday, Dec. 16.

There were a record 70.5 million votes cast on NFL.com and via the Sprint wireless service -- a 16 percent increase over the 61 million cast last year.

In the tally was a record 1.9 million mobile votes via Sprint wireless -- nearly 200 times the 10,000 mobile votes cast last year.

Seattle Seahawks running back SHAUN ALEXANDER (1,110,575 votes) ranked second overall while San Diego Chargers running back LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (1,044,360), Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver CHAD JOHNSON (987,650) and Chargers tight end ANTONIO GATES (941,846) rounded out the top five.


From NFL Media.com - private access website; no direct link available to the public.
The Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings game on Sunday, January 1 will be played at 4:15 PM ET rather than 1:00 PM ET, the NFL announced today.

The change is to accommodate FOX television patterns.

Intelligent Design sacked in court - judge rules lessons unconstitutional

A US court has ruled that school children cannot be taught the theory known as "intelligent design" as an alternative to evolution.

Ihave mixed emotions about this, but it's important that kids are given non-religious tools with which to analyze biological change. But that said, is science a religion itself?

Study: Racial prejudice makes you stupider

My friend and attorney Bill Taylor brought this to my attention today, so I looked it up on the San Francisco Chronicle website. Here's a large excerpt; for the rest of the story, click on the title link.

To the litany of arguments against prejudice, scientists are now adding a new one: Racism can make you stupid.

That is the message of an unusual and striking new series of experiments conducted at Dartmouth College, with the help of brain-imaging equipment and a crew of undergraduate volunteers.

According to the findings, the more biased people are, the more their brain power is taxed by contact with someone of another race, as they struggle not to say or do anything offensive. The effect is so strong, the team found, that even a five-minute conversation with a black person left some of the white subjects unable to perform well on a test of cognitive ability.

"Just having a prejudice makes you stupider," said John Gabrieli, a professor of psychology at Stanford University who was not involved in the research. "It is really interesting."...

...The work also paints a dispiriting portrait of the state of the nation's race relations, the lead researcher said, even among the well-educated, well- meaning Dartmouth undergraduates whom the scientists studied.

"I think people are getting caught in this trap where they are trying not to do the wrong thing, rather than trying to act natural," said Jennifer Richeson, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth College. "Somehow, we have to get past this awkward phase."

Richeson and her colleagues began by recruiting a group of white Dartmouth undergraduates and asked them to perform an "Implicit Association Test," a test that is widely used to measure unconscious racial bias. The subject is given a screen and two buttons. First, the subject is asked to push the button on the left if the word that appears on the screen is a positive word, like beauty, or a common first name for a white person, such as Nancy. Otherwise, they are instructed to push the button on the right.

After a session, the test is changed slightly, and the names given are those more common for a black person, such as Tyrone. The greater the difference between the reaction times in the two sessions, the more the person has trouble associating black names with positive concepts.

Next, the team had each of the students speak briefly with a black experimenter and then perform a test of cognitive ability called the Stroop test. They showed that the higher a bias score the student had in the IAT test, the worse they did on the Stroop test after speaking with the black experimenter.

...It is part of a nascent movement to study the neurological basis of social phenomena, in particular racism. One study, by Elizabeth Phelps at New York University, found that biased people were more likely to have greater activity in their amygdala, a portion of the brain associated with negative emotions like fear, when shown the picture of a black person they don't know.

Another, conducted by Stanford's Gabrieli and other scientists, showed that the brains of white people process white and black faces differently from the moment they see them.

NY Transit Strike Reason: $1 Billion surplus -- not even a portion -- not used to pay workers

According to the World Scocialist Web Site, the main issue that caused this strike which has cast millions of New Yorkers into the street during a cold winter, is the New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board's decision to allocate MTA's $1 billion surplus to various programs, but not the workers' payroll.

The WSWS reports: "Finally, in its last announced wage offer, the MTA has proposed a mere 3 percent and a 2 percent increase over 27 months -- an amount that would fail to keep up with inflation. The transit bosses have even made this miserable amount contingent on workers reducing their use of sick leave."

And according to the NY Times, a judge has issued an injunction against the striking workers, slapping them with a fine of two days pay for every one day they're on strike.

NY Transit Strike Map

The New York Times has produced a helpful transit alternative map to assist New Yorkers in navigating the city during the strike. You can see it with a click on the title of this post.

Oakland Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente's big mistake

Read about it at Oakland Focus

Rolling Stones 2006 Concert Opening Acts Confirmed

According to IORR, the list of opening acts for the Stones shows in USA & Canada 2006 have been confirmed by the Stones, including acts such as Brooks and Dunn, Merle Haggard, Anik Jean, Sloan, Metric, Antigone Rising, Soulive, Queens of the Stone Age & The Meters.

You can get tickets at Stones Tickets Exchange for shows.

The President, Iraq, and wire tapping - Don't forget 9/11

I'm not a conservative and I don't play one on TV, but I really don't have much of a problem with wire tapping of phone conversations by the US Government, but I do think the American people should be warned about the policy.

I disagree with the President's notion that notifying people of that is "helping the enemy" -- it's a deterent. Yes, "the ememy" may be less likely to use a cell phone, but I really don't think so. Think about it; what's the alternative technology? We seem to assume that "the enemy" is super rich and all powerful. No. There is no "enemy" but there is a set of very upset people with backgrounds different from our own. The US seems to want to not improve relations with some of them.

There are also others -- Americans -- who are to be feared. White supremacist and Neo-nazi groups are two examples of this.
In short, as long as wire taps are appropriately used, there should be no problem with them. But if the President went out and did this without proper authorization, then he should be repremanded, if only with bad PR.