January 28, 2008
Asda, Britain's second-biggest food retailer and owned by U.S. giant Wal-Mart, says it will no longer charge women more for bigger bras in its George fashion range.This is completely up to Asda if that's how they'd like to do things, but there's a certain amount of foolishness going on across the pond.First and foremost, it does cost more to make bigger bras, if only in the cost of raw materials, but I suspect that there are additional costs in manufacturing larger cups and all of that. Just because Asda has chosen to charge their customers the same amount for all their bras does not change the cost of those bras to Asda from its manufacturers. Unless Asda has opted to make less money on bras (doubtful) you can expect a slow rise in prices of -- you guessed it -- all bras they sell because in order to give busty-er ladies the impression that their bigger bustiers are cheaper, they'll have to lower the price on big bras and raise the price of smaller bras a little to meet them.
"We're putting an end once and for all to one of the last prejudices -- that of the bigger-busted woman," said brand director Fiona Lambert in a statement.
"From now on, all bras at George will be exactly the same price from A cup through to F cup."
And, if they're clever business people, they'll tack on an extra few cents per bra so that their profits actually rise with this shift in pricing.
The second thing that strikes me about this foolishness is the misappropriation of the term "discrimination." Discrimination in itself has no moral value and economically speaking discrimination is the life blood of business.
Discrimination in business just means that you make a distinction between your customers and charge some of them more than others.
In a sense, all prices are discrimination against people without any or enough money, but few sane or honest people are proposing that we do away with prices, but there are innumerable examples of price discrimination in markets the world over.
Consider the interest rate you are offered on a mortgage: people with bad credit pay more in interest because they are a higher risk investment for the bank that issues the loan. (Federal regulation the forced lenders to issue loans at stupidly low interest rates to high risk borrowers is a major source of the economic problems we see in America today.) Think about airline tickets: if you buy your tickets in advance, you pay less than if you bought them just before the flight leaves. Have you ever noticed differences in the dollar menu of fast food restaurants from region to region in the US? All of that is price discrimination or, if you prefer, revenue management.
Price discrimination is not immoral. It's not motivated by any moral evaluation of a particular customer and the higher price of large bras should stand out as a prime example, after all, if this discrimination were motivated by some sort of breast-size prejudice, wouldn't you expect larger bras cost less if only to encourage lesser endowed women to get implants? (I'd actually expect the lowest price of bras to be somewhere around a D cup with the highest prices being for training bras and the obscenely large in an inverted bell curve relating to breast size preference.)
But to hear these lunatics jibber on, you'd think there were some global conspiracy against large breasts going on out there. As if the religions of the world agree on little else but a mandate to give the stink eye to mammariferous ladies. I wonder if the plastic surgery industry knows it's going straight to hell for its support of apostasy.
I asked this heterosexual man who sits next to me if he was aware of this conspiracy and he indicated with several bug-eyed expressions that he was not, in fact, aware of this prejudice. Magazine stands the Five Boroughs over stand in testament of the fact that most of NYC is unaware of it as well. Perhaps this bigotry is a cultural thing specific to the UK, but somehow I doubt it.
Methinks these ladies are making mountains out of molehills.
Reuters: Spanish driver sues dead crash cyclist for damage
MADRID (Reuters) - A Spanish driver who collided with a cyclist is suing the dead youth's family $29,300 for the damage the impact of his body did to his luxury car, a Spanish newspaper reported on Friday.This is absolutely disgraceful.Update: Apropos to the above, check out this post over at Noodlefood on Europe's Philosophy of Failure.
Businessman Tomas Delgado says 17-year-old Enaitz Iriondo caused $20,500 of damage to his Audi A8 in the fatal 2004 crash in La Rioja region, the El Pais newspaper reported.
Delgado, who has faced no criminal charges for the incident, wants a further 6,000 euros to cover the cost of hiring another vehicle while his car was being repaired, El Pais said.
The youth had been cycling alone at night without reflective clothing or a helmet, according to a police report cited by El Pais.
His family won 33,000 euros compensation from Delgado's insurance company after the firm acknowledged he had been driving at excessive speed and this could have contributed to the incident, El Pais reported.
"I'm also a victim in all of this, you can't fix the lad's problems, but you can fix mine," Delgado told the newspaper, ahead of a January 30 legal decision on his suit.
The family said they had previously pitied Delgado for the guilt he must feel at killing their son but were now disgusted that his greatest concern appeared to be money.
"This was the final straw, a kick in the teeth," the youth's mother Rosa Trinidad told El Pais.
January 22, 2008
Justice does exist in the world, whether people choose to practice it or not. The men of ability are being avenged. The avenger is reality. Its weapon is slow, silent, invisible, and men perceive it only by its consequences—by the gutted ruins and the moans of agony it leaves in its wake. The name of the weapon is: inflation. - Ayn Rand, Egalitarianism and InflationRead the rest of his discussion, though. It's good stuff and he's absolutely right.
And then the headline comes in about the Fed making an emergency interest rate cut of .75%. That's a big deal, folks. They usually change rates slowly by small increments of .25%. This is a big jump.
CNN Money: Fed slashes key rate to 3.5%
This reactionary fiddling with the dollar will only deepen our economic ills over time.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Federal Reserve slashed two key interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point Tuesday following an unscheduled meeting, citing continued concerns about a weakening economy and turmoil in the financial markets.
The Fed lowered its federal funds rate, which impacts how much consumers pay on credit card debt, home equity lines of credit and auto loans, to 3.5 percent from 4.25 percent.
The rate cut came more than a week before the Fed's next regularly scheduled meeting, a two day session that concludes on Jan. 30. Some market observers think the Fed will cut rates again at this meeting.
The Fed also lowered its discount rate, which is what it costs banks to borrow directly from the central bank, by three-quarters of a point, to 4 percent.
This was the biggest rate cut by the Fed since October 1984. And it was the first cut between regularly scheduled meetings since a half-point cut on the day the market reopened following the September 2001 terrorist attacks
"Broader financial market conditions have continued to deteriorate and credit has tightened further for some businesses and households. Moreover, incoming information indicates a deepening of the housing contraction as well as some softening in labor markets," the Fed said in a statement.
The idea between manipulating interest rates is to give the Fed the ability to control economic growth. Economies abandon systems like the gold standard because growth under those systems tends -- in the eyes of some -- to be slow and stagnant as there is insufficient gold (or other exchange value) to cover the generation of wealth.
When the rate falls, more people borrow money. A rate drop is intended to stimulate economic growth. By alleviating the "pressure" that an objective exchange standard creates, people invest more readily because they have less to lose, because dollars are worth less than would otherwise be.Unfortunately, as the currency loses value in these growth periods -- more dollars cover less actual wealth -- prices rise to cover the actual wealth that is in existence and pulls on people to generate more wealth to cover their debts. People can't typically keep up with an artificial manipulation like that, though, and so people tend to default on loans and other debts as the market corrects itself.
The idea is to attempt to keep growth fairly steady by making only very minor corrections in the market and allowing people to keep pace with the devaluation of their assets over time.
I could go on and on about what this means for the valuation of stocks, debt, concrete assets like houses and factories and the like but I want to get to the point that Kendall makes in his post:
Temporary stimulus packages such as the President is proposing will not do any good. There is only one solution and that is to slowly mop up the excess liquidity in the market and fix the currency. This is not a quick fix, but it is the only one.So true.
Fiddling with the rates is a bad, bad thing to do.
Right now, our economy has swelled to a point where outstanding debt is far in excess of actual wealth to back it up. Dollars just aren't worth very much and everyone around the world knows it. The slow rise in interest rates that we've been seeing since 2003 is a reflection of the Fed's awareness of the need to slow growth, but things got ahead of them in the preceding two years when people used those incredibly low interest rates to take on extreme and unsupportable amounts of debt in the form of 3, 5, and 7 year adjustable rate mortgages.
It's 5 years later and the chickens are coming home to roost. People can't pay the debt they took on.
So, now as the dollar threatens to collapse (and it will to an extent) the Fed has dropped the rate in hopes of stimulating enough growth to prop up the dollar while those unwise consumers get their feet under themselves.The news gets worse. This rate cut is like putting a finger in the dam to keep it from collapsing.
To recover from this problem, the solution is to generate more wealth. (When I say "wealth," in case you weren't sure, I mean actual values for which money is exchanged.) It will take time, but our economy has to be given the chance to actually work and produce something more tangible than a promise to back up all the dollars created by these rate changes.
A drop in the rate like this is just going to encourage some people to take on still more debt. It will produce more of these fiat dollars and further devalue the dollar against actual wealth here and abroad.
This rate cut is an attempt to evade responsibility and that just isn't possible. Many people are suffering their unwise decisions and many more will suffer before this is over.
I'm of the mind that it is best to just get the suffering over. The Fed and the government should stop trying to prop up corpses and just let them fall. Leave the interest rates alone.
Update: Cruising around various money blogs, I stumbled across this quote:
Over the past few years, cheap credit and imprudent lending policies by some bad actors generated excessive consumption and investment in the real estate sector. This boosted economic activity beyond the level that would have prevailed with policies that we now wish, with hindsight, had been in place. ... If we acknowledge that bad loans fueled the activity, why is it now a widely shared policy objective to maintain that level of activity?It reminds me of points I've been making about socialized medicine.
Really, Uncle Sam, no more helping. PLEASE.
January 20, 2008
It's a super-interesting article documenting the existence of MRSA and the USA300 strain being out among the general population for about the last 10 years. It's not new at all! And it was first documented as spreading among athletes, not gays.
Commenting on the outright false statements by that Dr. Diep upon which people like Barber based their idiotic comments about God's wrath against gays:
LaBarbera, Barber and Farrah all share one thing in common. Everything they said about the emergence of MRSA in the gay community is flat out wrong, and more than 750 articles in the professional literature on community-acquired MRSA (78 on USA300) stands as overwhelming evidence of that. They also have something else in common. None of the actual facts will ever sway them from politicizing MRSA and using it as a weapon against the LGBT community. Don’t expect any retractions from these demonizers anytime soon.
But Farras is right about one thing. It is shades of the 1980’s all over again. Anti-gay demagogues were eager to politicize AIDS when they found that it was a useful weapon against the LGBT community. Today we see a new generation of demagogues politicizing MRSA in much the same way. And all it took was for one irresponsible, publicity-seeking researcher in San Francisco to hype an outbreak in the Castro, and suddenly we find a simultaneous outbreak of anti-gay hysterics everywhere else.
January 18, 2008
The press release is largely a sensible, scientific interpretation of the findings about the occurrence of MRSA in certain gay communities. It goes on to discuss means of avoiding staph infections and preventing further spread of existing infections.As I told my trainer last night: people need to wash their damn hands.
MRSA is a common cause of skin infections throughout the United States. These infections occur in men, women, adults, children, and persons of all races and sexual orientations, and are known to be transmitted by close skin-to-skin contact. In this issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, Diep et al looked at isolates of MRSA - USA300 strains containing a particular plasmid associated with additional drug resistance. The paper shows that multidrug-resistant USA300 has emerged as an important source of disease among men with have sex with men in 2 geographically distinct communities.
The strains of MRSA described in the recent Annals of Internal Medicine have mostly been identified in certain groups of men who have sex with men (MSM), but have also been found in some persons who are not MSM. It is important to note that the groups of MSM in which these isolates have been described are not representative of all MSM, so conclusions can not be drawn about the prevalence of these strains among all MSM. The groups studied in this report may share other characteristics or behaviors that facilitate spread of MRSA, such as frequent skin-to-skin contact.
Hat tip: Joe.My.God
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