November 16, 2006

We’re Now in the “Or So” Portion of “24 Hours or So”

Filed under: General — Tom @ 3:46 pm

Hang in there, everyone. It’s coming (Grrrr.).

‘Christmas Creep’ Creeps into Thanksgiving

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 2:14 pm

CompUSA thinks opening from 9PM to midnght on Thanksgiving will generate boffo business:

CompUSA to Reopen on Thanksgiving Night
Thursday November 16, 12:09 AM EST

DALLAS (AP) — The heck with that pumpkin pie, electronics retailer CompUSA is opening its doors on Thanksgiving night to give holiday shoppers a head-start on Black Friday madness.

Most of the chain’s stores plans to open from 9 p.m. until midnight, then send shoppers home for a quick nap before the doors reopen at 5 a.m. on Friday.

“Some customers aren’t interested in waking up at the crack of dawn to go shopping at 5 a.m.,” said Brian Woods, CompUSA Inc.’s executive vice president of merchandising. “We’re giving them more options.”

Woods said he’s not worried about overlapping with Thanksgiving celebrations. He figures that by 9 p.m., most people are done eating turkey and would welcome a shopping trip as their entertainment for the evening.

Last year, CompUSA opened its doors at midnight, and Woods said the crowds outside averaged 600 to 700, and sales were strong. But after the initial rush, he said, traffic thinned out until about 5 a.m., which seems to when consumers expect stores to open on Black Friday. It’s also when rival Best Buy plans to open its stores, a spokesman said.

The chain is of course free to do what it wishes to generate business, but here’s hoping the experiment is a one-time spectacular failure.

I vaguely recall that the old Zayre chain occasionally opened its stores on Thanksgiving evening many years ago. Not that there’s any direct causality, but I’m sure CompUSA would rather not share the fate of that chain, which was bought out by another (Arlen’s was the name, I think) that went out of business.

RIP, Milton Friedman

In my opinion, he was the greatest and most influential economist of the 20th century, an uncompromising individualist and free-market advocate when being those things was definitely not cool (not that they are considered totally cool today, but they are at least equal players in the arena of ideas). Millons of free people the world over owe him a debt that can’t be repaid.

Well done, sir. Rest in peace (7PMThe Financial Times has the best obit I’ve seen by far, a definite hard-drive saver.)
_________________________

UPDATE: Earlier visitors to this post may notice that I changed the “Rest in peace” link. That’s because when the original CNN story was expanded with more biographical info, it was laughably inaccurate and biased in its description and characterization of supply-side economics. In fact, though Friedman agreed with much of supply-side econ, he was not even one of its main proponents! Zheesh — The replacement link better reflects reality — for now.

UPDATE 2: Other voices –
- Michelle Malkin — “One of America’s greatest intellectual heroes of freedom.” Lots of great links.
- Instapundit — “It’s hard to say that someone has been plucked untimely at the age of 94, but it feels that way.” Darn right it does, because he never let up. When you see him in recent interviews, you’d swear he was no older than 70 or so.
- Allah at Hot Air has posted a link to a great video. I especially love how Friedman turns the interviewer around on the definitions of “conservative” and “liberal.”
- There are tons of links at the 5:10 p.m. version of Memeorandum.

UPDATE 3: OMG, this is soooo funny and what they sing about is so true — “The Milton Friedman Choir.” Boring Made Dull, call your office. The link also notes that Friedman was involved in instituting withholding taxes to raise revenues during WWII, something he claims, probably correctly, was a necessary evil at the time. But it’s also something that should have been eliminated on V-J Day, and wasn’t.

UPDATE 4: John Hawkins at Right Wing News interviewed Friedman on September 16, 2003 (how did he swing THAT?), and also has a quotes page that includes about a half-dozen from Friedman.
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Previous Posts:
- Oct. 6 — Milton Friedman on Hong Kong
- Aug. 22 — Friedman’s Timeless Essay on “Corporate Social Responsibility”
- July 14 — Friedman on “Self-Interest”

Other Resources:
- Friedman’s 1976 Nobel Prize page, with links to the press release, banquet speech, and more
- “Capitalism and Freedom” at Amazon.com
- An index of Friedman videos at Google Video (direct to vid).

‘I Blame Bush’ Econ Entry of the Day

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:25 am

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Real average weekly earnings rose by 1.3 percent from September to October after seasonal adjustment, according to preliminary data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. This increase stemmed from a 0.3 percent increase in average weekly hours combined with a 0.4 percent increase in average hourly earnings and a 0.7 percent decrease in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

….. Average weekly earnings rose by 4.2 percent, seasonally adjusted, from October 2005 to October 2006. After deflation by the CPI-W, average weekly earnings increased by 3.2 percent.

The above is after a 1.0% increase (PDF) from August to September. That’s 2.3% in two months. For those saying that it’s all due to gas price decreases, the tremendous improvement in the past full year refutes that idea.

Yes there are many people having a hard time in this economy, as there are in any economy, but spare me the babble claiming that “the average person is not better off.”

Understatement of the Week: Peak Oil, Schmeak Oil

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:09 am

From Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA; HT NewsBusters):

In contrast to a widely discussed theory that world oil production will soon reach a peak and go into sharp decline, a new analysis of the subject by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) finds that the remaining global oil resource base is actually 3.74 trillion barrels — three times as large as the 1.2 trillion barrels estimated by the theory’s proponents — and that the “peak oil” argument is based on faulty analysis which could, if accepted, distort critical policy and investment decisions and cloud the debate over the energy future.

….. The new report describes CERA’s liquids supply outlook as “not a view of endless abundance.” However, based on a range of potential scenarios and field-by-field analysis, CERA finds that not only will world oil production not peak before 2030, but that the idea of a peak is itself “a dramatic but highly questionable image.”

The understatement is that “Peak Oil” nonsense is already clouding the heads of policymakers in Washington and throughout the world, and serving as a convenient excuse for attempts to impose additional gasoline and other energy taxes.

The overt message: Don’t worry about “peak oil” nonsense. Be happy, but at the same time don’t let friends, neighbors, and especially politicians get away with peddling the “running out of oil soon” nonsense without challenge.

Quote of the Morning

Filed under: Biz Weak,Economy,Environment — Tom @ 8:04 am

From a Biz Weak letter writer, in the magazine’s November 20 issue (free for now; last item at link; bold is mine):

Yes, America Uses More Resources—To Produce More

“America’s supersized footprint” (Outside Shot, Oct. 30) bemoans the fact that the U.S., with 5% of global population, uses 25% of global resources. Victoria Markham should know, however, that a country’s use of resources is closely related to its gross domestic product and therefore to its standard of living. The U.S. produces around 25% of the world’s products and services. So on that basis, its use of resources is not out of line. In a number of countries, including Australia and Canada, the resource-to-GDP ratio is high. Is the author really arguing that the U.S. should use only 5% of the world’s resources? Would she prefer that the U.S. have the standard of living of Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, or Haiti?

Danek Bienkowski
Almont, Colo.

Stem Cell News You Can Use (111606)

Filed under: Life-Based News — Tom @ 7:59 am

That’s means it’s from stem cells of the “adult” variety, of course:

Stem cell cure hope for diabetes
Published: 2006/11/12 00:20:17 GMT

Scientists have used stem cells from human bone marrow to repair defective insulin-producing pancreatic cells responsible for diabetes in mice.

The treatment also halted damage to the kidneys caused by the condition.

Researchers from New Orleans’ Tulane University are hopeful it can be adapted to treat diabetes in humans.
Stem cells are immature cells which have the capacity to turn into any kind of tissue in the body.

The US team treated diabetic mice who had high blood sugar and damaged kidneys.

One group of mice were injected with stem cells. After three weeks they were shown to be producing higher levels of mouse insulin than untreated mice and had lower blood sugar levels.

The injections also appeared to halt damaging changes taking place in the glomeruli, the bulb-like structures in the kidneys that filter the blood.

Researcher Dr Darwin Prockop said: “We are not certain whether the kidneys improved because the blood sugar was lower or because the human cells were helping to repair the kidneys.

“But we suspect the human cells were repairing the kidneys in much the same way they were repairing the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.”

Growing problem

Dr Prockop said his team were planning to carry out trials in patients with diabetes.

“The physicians will be selecting patients with diabetes whose kidneys are beginning to fail.

More ‘Phishiness’ Is Going On

Filed under: Privacy/ID Theft — Tom @ 7:54 am

This is from BBC, about a study of US “phishing” expeditions, indicating that people trying to steal your information are getting better at going where the money is:

Phishing involves using e-mails with links to fake websites to trick people into revealing bank account numbers. (or any other personal information that might lead to the phisher being able to access a person’s bank accounts or credit lines — Ed.).

The study, by analysts Gartner, found that people who earn more than $100,000 received nearly 50% more phishing e-mails than lower earners.

It also found that those on higher incomes lost on average four times more money than other victims.

Overall, the number of US adults who have received a phishing e-mail has doubled from 57 million in 2004 to 109 million in 2006. Overall losses from the attacks have risen to $2.8 billion (£1.5 billion), Gartner estimates.

“The good news is that, this year, fewer people think they lost money to phishers, but when they did lose, they lost more,” said Avivah Litan, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“The average loss per victim nearly quintupled between 2005 and 2006, and the thieves seem to be targeting higher-income earners who are also more likely to transact on the internet.”

Unfortunately, some of the people with the money the phishers are after are elderly. Many of them are not aware of the lengths to which phishers will go to pretend to be their bank or financal institution. Please warn senior citizens you know who are active on the Internet to be aware of the dangers.

Positivity: 9/11 Survivor and Wife Turn Miracle into Ministry

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 6:02 am

Their website, facethefire.org, tells the inspiring story of recovery and renewal:

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Brian Birdwell is a survivor of the terrorists’ attacks on September 11, 2001. After hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 collided into the Pentagon, Birdwell was thrown to the ground and engulfed in flames. Of the burns that consumed 60 percent of his body, nearly half were third degree, resulting in the need for 30+ operations. Brian’s recovery has been truly remarkable and spiritually he is stronger than ever before. Together, he and his wife, Mel, share that spiritual strength and encouragement with other burn survivors and their families through the message of Christ’s love and sovereignty.

Brian and his wife, Mel, communicate a compelling message of enduring hope, unwavering faith, undying patriotism and unconditional love. They welcome the opportunity to address you and your group and are willing to tailor their message for your specific needs. With honesty and insight, the Birdwells will encourage, inspire and motivate change in the hearts of those you desire to reach.

Mission Statement

Face the Fire exists for the purpose of glorifying Jesus Christ. We hope to do this by helping burn survivors, wounded servicemen and women, their families and the medical facilities that specialize in their care. Because we experienced the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges facing survivors of these tragedies, the organization seeks to minister by providing encouragement, hope and financial assistance when needed.

The end of the history page has more:

The ministry has provided support for many burn survivors, including a Washington, D.C. firefighter severely burned on the job; two children, ages four and five, burned in an explosion; and a 12-year-old boy, burned on more than 80 percent of his body, who was dragged from the basement of his home by his 9-year-old brother to the fire-extinguishing snow outside. The ministry has also assisted several wounded at Brooke Army Medical Center.

Face the Fire Ministries already has helped to make life easier for many burn survivors, wounded servicemen and women and their families. Brian and Mel Birdwell continue to provide comfort and support, both mental and financial, “as Christ has comforted us.”

The Birdsalls have a book, “Refined by Fire: A Family’s Triumph of Love and Faith.”

News about Birdsall’s latest free talk is here.