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Opening Bell: 8.28.08

Sears Holdings Reports Second Quarter Results
It's always fun to check in on our favorite hedge fund/retailer that posts weak earnings every three months... Not surprisingly, earnings were down pretty sharp, over 50 percent, due to the economy and just general stuff. The good news: Sears is making progress on getting its inventory down, and it expects higher EBITDA in the second half of the year. It's actually getting boring talking about these guys. And yes, we realize it's not a hedge fund.
China and Iraq Reach $3 Billion Oil Service Deal (NYT)
Huh. A big state-owned Chinese oil company has reached a $3 billion deal to service an oil field. It's the Ahdab oil field for those of you keeping track at home. That's great and all, but you have to wonder whether it was worth liberating Iraq from the clutches of an evil dictator only to see these oil deals to go other countries. You know?
Gold: The alternative retail investment (FT Alphaville)
Awesome: Apparently in vogue they're flogging some kind of gold-tipped fur, kind of as an investment or something. Or maybe a hedge. You know, it's one of those classic 'signs of a top' that will make for a perfect anecdote in a book, if gold is near it's top. If not, it's just an amusing story.
The monetary density of things (Evil Mad Scientist)
Speaking of gold and valuable stuff, we totally haven't been able to get enough of this blog post we came across, which looks at the value of 1 Lb. of various items, from zinc, to peacock feathers, to Marijuana, to saffron, to anti-matter (1 Lb=$26 Quadrillion). Seriously we could just stare at it all day. One interesting note: A pound of dimes is=a pound of quarter=$20. Others we've shown this to are amused by the fact that a gram of cocaine is worth $50, and that a $50 bill weighs a gram.

Officials may evacuate New Orleans as Gustav nears (AP)
Time to start paying a little more attention to Gustave on these pages perhaps, if only so we have something to point back to if this becomes a much bigger story. We'll see. Apparently there's talk of evacuating New Orleans. But it's just talk. There has to be talk. They're obviously too scarred to risk not taking it seriously.
Biden Stresses Scranton Roots (WSJ)
We haven't really watched any of last night's speeches yet. However we're not at all surprised that Joe Biden noted he's from Scranton. In the several days since the pick was announced, it's pretty much the only thing we've learned about him. Certainly the campaigns haven't done much to tout is political accomplishments. You have to go to his website to read that Biden was basically the guy who invented the notion of a "drug czar". Awesome.
Update: NBC okays Boone Pickens "Iran" ad (MediaFile)
An odd mini scandal from yesterday. NBC apparently refused to run the latest T. Boone Pickens ad dubbed "Iran". We haven't seen the ad. But we can put clues together. Pickens hates foreign oil and the ad is called Iran and NBC initially refused to run it. You do the math. Anyway, apparently they changed their mind. For what it's worth, we caught pickens on MSNBC yesterday, so it seems that the holy wall separating church and state or business and editorial is alive and well at the network.