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Michael Smith
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Michael Smith

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Ultimate Chick Flick

A modest debut (my pun) of $27 million, the audience was 96% female.  Where else might you find an audience with so many women?  http://www.thunderfromdownunder.com/
Channing Tatum doesn't yet need The Rock to keep this franchise hard.  The sequel is way down from the original, but it's double its budget in just five days, so no need to panic yet. Magic Mike XXL surely peaked on its opening day, but you can get away with that [...]
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Michael Smith

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Insurance Payment

If anyone doubted the value of health insurance companies, then this bit of news might enlighten them.  In short, Aetna is willing to bet $1B that their $34B offer for Humana will be worth fighting anti-trust concerns.  One billion dollars in healthcare premiums collected from customers will not go to paying medical bills if this acquisition fails due to anti-trust concerns - a big bet.

Of course, this is just part of a wave of acquisitions -- Centene acquiring HealthNet,  United Healthcare may buy Cigna or Centene, etc.  This has been going on for a long time (e.g., look back at Wellpoint, a.k.a. Anthem).  This is not unlike the airline mergers of the past ten years.  The bigger the insurance company, the more leverage they have over the providers, who are in the midst of consolidating, too.

It is easy to see where this leads.  In a decade, there will be a few national health insurance companies and a commensurate number of nationwide healthcare providers.  The states will regulate some of it, but they will not be able to control them.  These systems will be free to operate with relative autonomy,

The bottom line is very lucrative for shareholders of these companies.  States will be unable to regulate their profits, as they will be able to move their profits offshore just as Google and Apple have been able to do.  For national healthcare providers, this could be done by offshoring diagnostic, record keeping, and all other back office operations then back-charging for these services at premium (U.S.) rates.  Technologies now allow for office visits and even surgeries to be done remotely.  Given the shortage of new doctors coming out of American medical schools (over one third of all U.S. physicians were trained overseas), this is the only logical course.

I expect to see massive healthcare clinics opening along the borders of Mexico and Canada, and WalMart offering more managed care with remote caregivers in India treating patients in WalMarts via Skype.  There is no limit to demand for these services.  These companies are destine to be some of the most profitable businesses in the country.

If you invest in them now, you may make enough money to pay for your health insurance.
Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini says antitrust risk ‘very manageable’
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A Late Act

Though I suspect that many more Republican hopefuls will join the primary road show, this may be my last introduction.  As I recently said, the sheer volume of candidates has overwhelmed me.  However, this one is too much to ignore, and Governor Christie does not like to be ignored.

With a beautifully alliterated name* and a dynamic personality not unlike James Gandolfini's wonderfully enacted character, Tony Soprano, Governor Christie opens his act by promising to fight and take the country back by force.  His verve is not unlike The Donald, but his tone was more carefully honed because, after all, he is a politician.  

His popularity has waned considerably since grabbing the limelight with President Obama back in the Hurricane Sandy days.  However, like The Donald, Governor Christie knows that any publicity is good as long as they get your name right.  So, his first act may be a UFC match with Mr. Trump, assuming a network will buy the broadcast rights (definitely not Comcast/NBC).

Is Chris a bit player on the Republican stage, vying to be another power broker?  Or is he setting up to be a V.P. candidate for Jeb Bush?  Probably both.  Either way, with his famous swagger and boisterous bravado, the Chris Christie Show is too big to ignore.  I expect exciting election entertainment.



* Imagine if the Governor had married the famous Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.  They would have been "Chris & Christie Christie."
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Musk's Law of Battery Power

If you could use these in a Tesla Model S, you could get up to 500 miles on a charge.  At 70mph, that would be a typical day's drive.  For a commuter, it would be more than a week of typical driving.

If battery efficiency doubles every decade, then electric cars may have a range of 2,000 miles per charge by 2035.
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Don't Rock the Boat, Baby

The Governor from Louisiana has made the Republican presidential primary a baker's dozen.  However, his promise to 'rock the boat' seems hollow after The Donald announced that he will sink every other candidate's ship.

Governor Jindal says, "I am tanned, rested and ready for this fight."  I hope he can put on a good show.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal joined the 2016 U.S. presidential race on Wednesday, starting dead last among a very crowded field of hopeful Republican candidates in at least one poll."I am
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Michael Smith

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Open Carry for Nerds

For those of you who do not believe in carrying a gun but would like to get shot by police anyway, we have the ultimate iPhone case.  Be sure to set your ringtone to "Glock G43 Discharge" when you go to the airport.
You wouldn’t expect an iPhone 6 case to be dangerous, but it turns out that someone came up with an idea so awful that it can actually put lives at risk. The protective device might spare the hands...
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Hacking the Internet with a Backhoe

Cyber-crime gets physical, and this just may be the beginning.
The FBI is investigating at least 11 physical attacks on high-capacity Internet cables in California's San Francisco Bay Area dating back a year, including one early Tuesday morning.
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I am Bushed

I have tried to keep up with the Republican Road Show, but it is like trying to attend every baby shower in Texas.  I simply cannot keep up.  However, there is an alternative.  This site keeps up with the declared, the exploratory, and the likely.  The current count is 36, and there could be twice that many by the first Republican primary.

Why so many?

What if you wanted to ensure that you controlled the choice of a candidate in a democratic election, but you clearly did not have enough votes to ensure that any one person would get the majority?  Well, you could field a legend of local favorites, who split the vote many ways.  Then you could take this legend of locals into a smoke-filled room in the Republican National Convention and negotiate for the one best positioned to defeat Hillary Clinton.  Once everyone emerged from that room in agreement to back the chosen one, each of the legend could return to their constituency and rally them to campaign against Clinton.  Such a focused effort might appear 'grass roots'.  That is called a 'momentum swing'.

Why would the others capitulate to the chosen one?

Self interest, this process makes each a power broker with ties to their national party and, potentially, the president.  These people become the elite class of politicians.  It raises their profile and potential for other positions.  Some would be nominated to power positions such as ambassador, cabinet level appointee, or judge.  Some would be elected such as Congressman or Senator.  A few might get closer to being the next president.  They will choose this track because it offers a better ride in exchange for not derailing the train.

The alternative is to beat each other up, divide the Party, and set Ms. Clinton up for an easy campaign, leaving all of them empty handed.  These people may have large egos, but they are not stupid.
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3D Printing

This is not your father's Inkjet printer.
Video: Stanton company's 3D-printed supercar a new entry in 'green' auto manufacturing race | stanton, czinger, car, cars, manufacturing, new, super, blade, divergent, microfactories, system
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Next?  Yahoo!

The company that started it all*, America On-Line, is now a part of the phone company.  With Comcast owning NBC and AT&T owning DirectTV, the trend of carriers' expansion continues.  Once Yahoo unloads its Alibaba stock, it will be next in line for acquisition.


* spamming
Verizon has successfully completed its acquisition of AOL. It's been a little over one month since Verizon announced its $4.4 billion purchase of the company, but the deal has apparently sailed...
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A Glimpse of a Future

I have not been to Japan in over a decade.  However, the times I spent there were fascinating.  In the 1990's, I saw DoCoMo cell phones with video call and streaming media.  In 2001, I saw a robot that could walk.  Of course, in the USA they brought us a robot dog and countless manufacturing robots, including those that can pick and place tiny electronic components on a printed circuit board at blinding speed, flawlessly paint an automobile, or build other robots..

I was also impressed by their culture -- composed and reserved yet ambitious and productive.  I found it easy to understand how they went from a bombed out nation to the world's second largest economy in forty short years. 

But they are shrinking.  Their population has been the same since the turn of the Millennium and by some estimates, it will drop by one-fourth by 2050.  Today, over a fourth of their population is over 65, which is twice as many as under 14.

To deal with this geriatric boom, they have turned to automation.  Today, there are countless products for seniors to be self-sufficient - from automated toilets that can medically assess human waste to beds that convert into wheelchairs and robotic assistants that can do household chores.

These inventions have also spurred development of robots that can better interact with everyone.  You can imagine where this might go, and it highlights a crisis of another sort in Japan -- セックスしない症候群 .  In English this means celibacy syndrome.  Young women, who are faced with the choice of a career or a life as a wife/mother are choosing the former.  Not only are they foregoing marriage, they have also given up on sex.  This is also true for many young men, though only about half as many as women.  

It is amazing to me that a culture that does not preach abstinence or celibacy as most of the Judaeo/Christian/Muslim world can be so much more effective at reducing sexual activity.  They do have their morals, of course, and revere family, fidelity, and honor (perhaps more than most).  However, they seem more pragmatic about it.  The results speak for themselves.

Combine this trend of abstinence with their push toward devices such as Pepper, and you can see a future where people develop closer and more lasting relationships with machines than with each other.  These machines will be "made for you," a term that once referred to the perfect mate.  

While you might believe this to be endemic to Japan, what are you doing at this moment?  In the USA, people spend more waking hours with machines - cars, TVs, and computers/tablets/smartphones than interacting face to face.  How far are we from finding the perfect companion at Best Buy or Amazon? 
SoftBank Corp. said Saturday it sold out its first stock of Pepper robots within a minute of the humanoid going on sale online at 10 a.m. The orders, for a
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