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Archive for April, 2010

Explosion does not signal end of off-shore drilling

April 29th, 2010 Comments off

There have been those in the last week or so that have found reason to link the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico to halting offshore oil production anywhere in the United States.
That’s way too much of a leap for me.
First, those oil rigs in the Gulf have been through a lot — hurricanes, high seas and more — and rarely show signs of wear and tear.
The offshore oil rigs off of America’s coasts have served the country well and will continue to serve their country for some time in the future.
What I did find interesting is that on the same week we are worried about an oil spill in the Gulf — which (as of this writing) is threatening to come ashore in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida — the Obama administration approved the 130-turbine Cape Wind  project in the Nantucket Sound of Massachusetts, and developers say they want to generate power by 2012.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision “allows our nation to harness an abundant and inexhaustible clean energy source for greater energy independence, a healthier environment and green jobs,” Cape Wind president Jim Gordon said.
What I do think is that we need to continue to be smarter about the energy we use and produce.
We all know that at some point we are going to run out of oil.
While they are needed now, offshore oil rigs aren’t there forever. Over the course of time, we will use less and less oil. That is just a fact. Why else would Exxon, Chevron, BP and others be investing billions and billions of dollars into finding more and better alternative energy solutions?
Wind and other alternative fuel sources can be used for as long as Mother Earth is a part of the universe.
But, to suggest we abandon offshore oil production because of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig is short-sighted and not practical.
The explosion was an accident that likely should have been prevented, but we have to move forward, protect our coastlines and be better at monitoring the safety of those rigs for environmental and humanitarian reasons.
This is a transitional stage in the energy world, and we will have get through it together.
There’s no place for knee-jerk reactions.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.

Hey Steve Jobs, it’s like the iPad was my idea!

April 7th, 2010 Comments off

My wife owns the laptop in our family, which is the modern day version of the saying she wears the pants in the family.
I have to ask permission to get minutes on the portable computer or be relegated to working on our big-screened dinosaur in our closet of an office.
So, in order to continue to be a member of the family during evening hours I have become pretty capable at surfing the web on my iPhone.
Yes, my iPhone. I can’t live without it. I read the news of the day in the morning by using my apps from the New York Times, Associated Press, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, CNN and USA Today.
For my Boston Red Sox fix, I read scores and more from the Boston Globe.
Yes, the screen is pretty small, but it gets the job done.
Ah, then Apple CEO Steve Jobs heard me from afar. It’s like the iPad was my idea (sorry for the poor reference to the inferior competition’s product lines).
Make a giant iPhone that isn’t a phone at all.
Poof.
The iPad.
Apple latest creation is just that, an iPhone without the phone and much bigger, but not as big as a laptop, easier to carry around.
So, last Monday after the much-ballyhooed release that weekend, I spent part of lunch lusting after the gadget at the local Apple Store.
Held it in my hand, typed in www.msbusiness .com, read the latest news on our site just like it was a laptop, but better.
The price tag, compared to a laptop, is better, too.
My lunchtime visit was like walking through the auto dealership and eyeing the new car you want.
It’s pretty to look at and you can afford it it if you really want it, but how much do you want it?
Not sure just yet.
I may make a few more trips to the Apple Store for a test drive just to see what kind of gitty-up it has, maybe kick the tires and look under the hood.
You know you can never be too careful about these things.
But then again, if my wife is reading, my birthday is just a few weeks away (ahem!).

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.

Good news appears to be outweighing the bad

April 2nd, 2010 Comments off

It’s always dangerous to write about a certain trend in stocks, but as of this writing, stocks are on the verge of going above 11,000 for the first time in more than 18 months.
A lot of that recently is on the backs of tech stocks as Apple and Verizon jumped after The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was making phones that could be used on Verizon’s network.
Having said that, Mississippi’s unemployment has risen again to 11.4 percent with the largest increase in the nation during the last month.
So, it is hard to really jump for joy when so many, particularly here in our state, are still hurting badly.
But there is room for good news, like:
• Mississippi is on track to exceed its projected monthly tax collections for the first time in more than a year and a half.
State Tax Commission spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury said last week that collections were about one-quarter of 1 percent — or $1.2 million — ahead of where experts predicted they would be in March.
• Viking Range is reporting an uptick in sales for the first time in more than a year.
• In our business, advertising sales seem to heading back in a positive direction.
• A steady climb in stocks over the past two months could give investors reasons to collect some profits. The Dow had risen 22 of the past 25 days and is now at its highest level since Sept. 2008.
And, the index had its best first-quarter performance since 1999.
Stocks have now had a nearly unbroken advance since early March of last year. The Dow made an even larger leap of 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter.
• An incentives war touched off by Toyota boosted sales at most major automakers last month.
GM reported a 21 percent jump in new vehicles sales last week, while Ford’s climbed nearly 40 percent over last March, when economic uncertainty and rising unemployment kept buyers from showrooms. Sales at Hyundai and Subaru also rose, but Chrysler continued to struggle with sales down 8 percent.
• A government report showing initial claims for unemployment benefits fell last week added to the market’s enthusiasm following upbeat manufacturing reports overseas. In the U.S., a trade group’s report signaled that manufacturing is growing faster than expected.
So, while we aren’t out of the woods just yet, there are plenty of indicators, just in the last week, to suggest that the worst of times is certainly behind us.

MBJ editor Ross Reily can be reached at (601) 364-1018 or ross.reily@msbusiness.com