JaY-Z Helps Launch New Cognac called “D’USSE”…


Jay-Z continues to expand his business resume. After famously calling for a ban of Cristal in the mid-2000s and helping Ace Of Spades take off, the hip-hop mogul is now going into the cognac market.

According to The Life Files, Hov was on-hand for an ultra private event in New York on Thursday night (May 9), helping introduce D’usse (pronounced “dew-say”), A Bacardi-produced cognac expected to compete with Hennessy.

Details about Jay’s actual business involvement in brand’s launch were unknown at press time.

D’usse is slated to drop next month. The VSOP cognac will retail at around $44.99 per 750-ml bottle.

Jay previously name-dropped Armand de Brignac champagne (aka Ace of Spades) in the past. However, details about the business relationship have not been confirmed.

In a 2011 book, titled Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner To Corner Office, Forbes staff writer Zack O’Malley Greenburg uncovered the business behind the endorsement, writing that Jay earns millions each year for his stamp of approval.

“All of them confirmed that Jay-Z receives millions of dollars per year for his association with Armand de Brignac. The connection wasn’t through the Cattier family, but through Sovereign Brands. The production cost per bottle of Armand de Brignac is about $13; the wholesale price is $225. The maximum output is 60,000 bottles per year. If Jay-Z splits the $212-per-bottle profit evenly with Cattier and Sovereign, a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests his annual take would be a little over $4 million. One of my sources confirmed that number, and added that Jay-Z may have received equity in Sov­ereign Brands worth about $50 million,” writes Greenberg.  (Via…)



WTFlyingEFF? Facebook Asserts Trademark on Word ‘Book’ in New User Agreement

I do not like what these social networks are trying to do nowadays. First, it is your privacy, wait sorry; you already share your private life for millions to see. Now they want to trademark ‘book’ with their new user agreement…WOWSKI, these guys are DWICKBOOKS

Facebook is trying to expand its trademark rights over the word “book” by adding the claim to a newly revised version of its “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” the agreement all users implicitly consent to by using or accessing Facebook.

You may recall that Facebook has launched multiple lawsuits against websites incorporating the word “book” into their names. Facebook, as far as we can tell, doesn’t have a registered trademark on “book.” But trademark rights can be asserted based on use of a term, even if the trademark isn’t registered, and adding the claim to Facebook’s user agreement could boost the company’s standing in future lawsuits filed against sites that use the word.

“Unregistered marks are quite common in the US,” University of Minnesota Law Professor William McGeveran told Ars. “Rights arise from use, not registration (though registration does give you some other advantages). That’s how Facebook can try to claim ‘book.’” If you see a ™ next to a name, that indicates an unregistered, claimed trademark, whereas an R in a circle signifies a registered one, McGeveran notes.

So, what exactly is Facebook changing? If you view the current Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, you’ll find this sentence:

“You will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Wall and 32665), or any confusingly similar marks, without our written permission.”

If you’re wondering, 32665 is the number allowing Facebook users to update their pages through text message. The newly revised user agreement reads as follows (emphasis ours):

“You will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Book and Wall), or any confusingly similar marks, except as expressly permitted by our Brand Usage Guidelines or with our prior written permission.”

Not accepting the terms isn’t really an option for anyone with a Facebook account. “By using or accessing Facebook, you agree to this Statement,” the document says.


New Fraud Futures Market: “Insurance or betting against Hollywood Movie Flops”

Get ready i-bankers, traders, greedy aholes and big dreamers, a new futures market is coming. I predict there will be insurance and selling futures against Hollywood movie flop in the next two years. I smell lobbying for this one, more than likely its being brought to DC already.

HERE’S one for “The Hunger Games” crowd: What if, in that blood-tingling climactic scene near the Cornucopia, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) had skewered poor Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) with a wayward silver arrow?

In the real world of Hollywood, questions just like that nag Paul Holehouse.

Mr. Holehouse, 63, isn’t some oddball “Games” fanatic. But he does play an unusual, and unusually high-stakes role in modern moviedom. His job is to ensure that, as they might say in “The Hunger Games,” the odds are ever in his company’s favor.

He is a longtime risk consultant for the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, the go-to insurer for the American entertainment industry. This 149-year-old company is best known for workaday automobile and homeowner’s insurance. But it has also carved a lucrative niche for itself in Hollywood and beyond.

The Fireman’s Fund, part of the German insurance giant Allianz, won’t insure against box-office losses — the Hollywood equivalent of a six-alarm fire. Not that “The Hunger Games,” which opened on Friday, is expected to fall flat. On the contrary: the movie, which cost about $80 million to make, could have opening-weekend sales of more than $100 million, far more than the first “Twilight.”

Mr. Holehouse’s job is to assess the risks associated with actually making movies like this — risks as varied as the health and habits of the actors to the dangers posed by the stunts, sets and locations. Even in the best of circumstances — a sweet romantic comedy, say — figuring out what might go wrong is daunting. But with “The Hunger Games,” a dystopian drama involving a futuristic fight to the death? Come on.

Lions Gate Entertainment hopes that “The Hunger Games” will vault it into the Hollywood big leagues. But even before the director, Gary Ross, began shooting the film, Mr. Holehouse had to do some serious risk analysis. (Neither Lions Gate nor the Fireman’s Fund would discuss the cost of the insurance, which for action movies accounts for as much as 4 percent of a movie’s total production costs, say studio heads and insurers.)

Mr. Holehouse traveled to North Carolina to check out the location, deep within DuPont State Forest. He took into account bugs, poison ivy, falling trees — anything that might pose a threat to the actors or the production schedule. He considered a chase scene across fast-running water, as well as the dangers posed by abandoned warehouses that were used as part of the set — and, of course, all swords, arrows and other weaponry.

Then there were the bears. When the movie’s location manager spotted a bear heading toward the set one day, the cast and crew were told not to bring food to the set.

“Over time, bears do find food and people,” Mr. Holehouse says. “We all had to drive off out of the property to have our lunch and dinner.” A park ranger helped keep the bears away.

OF course, insurance has been part of the motion picture business since the early days. Ben Turpin, a cross-eyed comedian remembered for his work in silent film, is said to have bought an insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London, payable if his eyes ever uncrossed. Betty Grable insured her legs for $1 million. Jimmy Durante took out a $50,000 policy on his nose.





In a recent article in Fortune, Warren Buffett reiterated his well-known view on money. Far less celebrated, however, is the discerning view of his father, Howard Buffett, expounded in a brilliant speech in 1948 while serving as a 4-term congressman from Omaha. In contrast to his son WB, HB insightfully considers the importance of money in society beyond its role as a means of economic calculation and payment. I’ll return to this point, but first, the Fortune article requires our attention.

WB is extremely helpful to investors by explaining his investment principles, which are invaluable, as one would expect given his exceptional track record. But he wanders into tricky territory with regard to money by building his viewpoint upon the following premise: “Governments determine the ultimate value of money…”

It is understandable why he puts forth this notion. Apparently following prevailing conventional wisdom, WB sees money for what it has become in this peculiar time. We now live in an epoch that defies common practice customarily followed throughout centuries of monetary history. Most people today have not used precious-metal money in their lifetime, but they have experienced first-hand “money” issued by sovereign states. This straightforward observation may help explain why so many in the last few decades have come to accept the modernist view of money.

This modernist view of money ignores that market forces, which a government can influence but in the end cannot control, inevitably determine the value of any asset. With repeated interventions in the market process, governments disregard this basic principle, causing disruptions to the market process that impede economic activity and even worse, can distort money itself.

Conventional wisdom purports that money today supposedly cannot be a tangible asset or a product of the market process, in which individuals act by free choice to determine what is or what is not money. Supposedly money now is merely a fiat of government and exists only as an incorporeal bookkeeping unit, the value of which fluctuates as a result of actions taken by politicians and central bankers, which is the predominant feature of today’s fiat currencies.

It is important to understand that no fiat currency is a tangible asset. Fiat currency is valueless in itself. It is a liability of a bank, whether paper-currency issued by a central bank or deposit- currency that is created by a commercial bank and exists only as a record in its ledgers.

Because fiat currency is a liability of banks, its value can be manipulated by controlling supply and plying demand. A central bank determines the quantity of money by its policies. Demand for fiat currency is buoyed by hyping its benefits as well as promulgating regulations to force its circulation. Money no longer is an even-handed mechanism in commerce derived from the market process itself.

Thus, WB and conventional wisdom have it that gold has been demonetised by government edict, notwithstanding its 5,000 years of history as money. This modernist view conveniently ignores the fact that gold still preserves purchasing power — one of the essential requirements of any money — better over long periods of time than any fiat currency.

The modernist view overlooks the reality that fiat currency today is accepted in payment simply because of trust in the government imprint on a paper banknote and the accuracy of bank recordkeeping. It also requires the heedless acceptance of the currency issuer’s financial standing by blithefully assuming that the assets backing its liabilities have sufficient value to make its currency accepted in commerce. Taken together, these judgements — whether sound or not — assume that the currency used today will also be accepted as currency tomorrow. This belief requires a huge leap of faith, for as WB points out, the collapse of many currencies in recent decades have “destroyed the purchasing power of investors in many countries.” His father calls this result “the ultimate consequences of paper money inflation.” But before turning to HB’s view on money, further observations need to be made of WB’s Fortune article.

WB writes: “investments will remain superior to nonproductive” assets that “will never produce anything.” He then goes on to state that they “are purchased in the buyer’s hope that someone else — who also knows that the assets will be forever unproductive — will pay more for them in the future.”

Then why did you buy myspace and drove it to extinction, sir? JT may bring it back like sexy.

To disparage so-called non-productive assets, he then references Holland’s notorious 17th century tulip-bulb mania, but rather than reinforcing his case, this example illustrates a flaw in his argument. WB overlooks the essential nature of this asset, namely, that a bulb when properly planted and nurtured will produce a tulip, which has usefulness to some people. A tulip bulb is a productive asset to people who value tulips. Thus, value is subjective, which is the key point to evaluate any asset.

Further, and perhaps even more surprising, given that he is one of the world’s foremost value- oriented investors, it is surprising that WB glosses over the reality that all assets can become overvalued or undervalued. Tulips bulbs became overvalued during the Dutch mania, but sanity returned with the collapse of their price. The key to successful investing of course is to accumulate undervalued and useful assets and get rid of those that are overvalued or no longer useful. Even though WB is rightfully concerned about inflation and relates in his article that T-bills “have yielded nothing in the way of real income” for decades, he notes that his company nevertheless always holds at least $10 billion of T-bills. The reason of course is that they are useful; they provide his company with dollar liquidity.

WB considers gold to be a non-productive asset, but neglects to even consider why gold has been valued for 5,000 years. The Mona Lisa is also a non-productive asset that “will never produce anything”, but the Mona Lisa has value — usefulness — as art. Gold has value too, but not of course as art. Rather, gold’s usefulness arises from its reliability in economic calculation to determine the price of goods and services. In other words, gold is money, and therefore is no less useful than other so-called non-productive assets like the paper banknotes and bank ledger entries that we call dollars, euros, yen and pounds. Like gold, they produce nothing unless they are loaned.

Right now gold is undervalued, based on my historical measures. Gold is also particularly useful during the present period of global financial uncertainty and worries about sovereign debt defaults because it does not have counterparty risk. More importantly, given that it is a tangible asset and not a bank liability like fiat currency, gold’s value — like that of the Mona Lisa — does not come from government. Gold’s value comes from the market. It always has, and it always will, even though its price is often distorted by government intervention.

Turning one more time to the Fortune article, WB neglects to mention the role of saving money. He defines investing to be “forgoing consumption now in order to have the ability to consume more at a later date.” The same definition can be applied to savings, but with one difference. One uses money to make an investment, whereas saving is the process of accumulating money itself.

Prior to the fiat currency era in which we live, saving money was deemed to be safer than investing. Saving money was the principle means for the middle class to prudently accumulate wealth for retirement or a “rainy day”. Several decades of fiat currency changed that time- honoured practice of preparing for an uncertain future.



I’m waiting for the adult version of Stewardess Stacy and Devious Deano in Screams from the rear LOO.

Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education, and media company, announced today that it will publish two new books in the worldwide bestselling Captain Underpants series by award-winning author Dav Pilkey on August 28, 2012, and in January 2013. In addition, Scholastic will release the first Dav Pilkey e-books—two titles in the bestselling Super Diaper Baby series—on January 31, 2012.

Scholastic will release Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers (Captain Underpants #9 ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0, $9.99 hardcover, Ages 7 and up) on August 28, 2012, to be followed by the publication of Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers (Captain Underpants #10 ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4, $9.99 hardcover, Ages 7 and up) in January 2013—each with a world English language first printing of one million copies.

On January 31, 2012, Scholastic will release e-book versions of Pilkey’s bestselling graphic novels, The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby (E-Book ISBN: 978-0-545-41483-8, $9.99, Ages 7 and up) and Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers (E-Book ISBN: 978-0-545-41484-5, $9.99, Ages 7 and up), which will each include bonus material about the making of the books, samples of sketches by Dav Pilkey, deleted scenes, and more.

In his ninth epic Captain Underpants novel, Dav Pilkey takes readers back in time to the carefree days of kindergarten, when the worst thing heroes George and Harold had to face was NOT an evil mad scientist or an alien cafeteria lady but a sixth-grade bully named Kipper Krupp, the nephew of their clueless school principal. And because George and Harold don’t actually invent Captain Underpants until fourth grade, the two clever kindergartners are on their own—using their brains to beat the bully.

“All of us at Scholastic are so excited to be publishing new Captain Underpants books!” said Ellie Berger, President of Scholastic Trade. “Dav Pilkey is simply unmatched when it comes to combining innovation, creativity, and humor in a way that appeals to all kids including the most reluctant readers. We also look forward to expanding Dav’s brilliant kid-friendly books into digital formats.”

“I’m delighted to be back with George, Harold, and the gang,” said Dav Pilkey. “I’ve had so much fun writing and drawing their latest adventure, and I hope kids enjoy it too.”
Via: PRNewswire



These are the same guys that had a macrotantrum over blocking of the T-Mobile deal. This should be the foremost reason for blocking the takeover scuzzballs. We don’t need you to eff up another company, please.

For the second year in a row, AT&T was ranked last in Consumer Reports’ annual customer satisfaction survey. The company was hit especially hard by complaints over poor voice service and phone-based customer care. Even worse for AT&T, the company’s 2011 rating is slightly lower than last year’s.

Consumer Reports’ survey examines voice, data, and text-messaging service, as well as customer care. The specific ratings are available to subscribers.

So, who fared best? Believe it or not, it wasn’t a big carrier. Consumer Reports found that Consumer Cellular–an MVNO that uses AT&T’s network and focuses on senior citizens–topped the list this year. It was followed closely by regional carrier U.S. Cellular. Even Credo–an MVNO that uses Sprint’s network and donates to progressive nonprofits–beat out the big four.

“Our survey indicates that subscribers to prepaid and smaller standard-service providers are happiest overall with their cell-phone service,” Paul Reynolds, electronics editor for Consumer Reports, said in a statement. “However, these carriers aren’t for everyone. Some are only regional, and prepaid carriers tend to offer few or no smartphones.”

For major carriers, Verizon Wireless took the top spot in Consumer Reports’ study, earning high marks for texting and data service. Sprint and T-Mobile followed with slightly lower scores. Last year, Verizon also ended atop the Consumer Reports survey with Sprint and T-Mobile following closely behind. However, all three companies saw their scores drop this year, compared with last year’s figures.

AT&T’s customer service troubles aren’t solely a Consumer Reports finding. In July, the carrier earned the lowest score of 751 in a J.D. Power and Associates customer care study. Verizon Wireless took the top spot with a score of 770.

However, AT&T continues to add new customers to its service, despite its apparent service problems. In the third quarter alone, AT&T added 2.1 million new subscribers bringing its total customer base to over 100 million.

Consumer Reports surveyed 66,000 online subscribers for this year’s study. The organization’s full findings will be available in the Consumer Reports magazine’s January 2012 issue.


“Is LINKEDIN losing its LUSTER??!!”

Pity poor Linkedin. From an operational point of view it’s doing everything right: The company’s revenues rose 126 percent to $140 million in Q3 2011 and it would have been profitable if not for taxes. Its stock remains at a buoyant $71 or so despite heavy dilution from insider sales and new share issues.

It should be the most exciting tech company on the block. Instead, it remains a media wallflower.  The notion that Linkedin is boring has become something of a media meme.

TechCrunch once called it “the boring social network that won’t find you a date but may land you a job.” My colleagues openly admit that they ignore Linkedin. In fact, most Linkedin members rarely look at the site.