December 30, 2003

That Evil Walter Market

Xrlq pointed to this article which points out how the vast majority of Californians would benefit if Wal-Mart opens its planned 40 new superstores.

I am fascinated by the popular hostility toward Wal-Mart. When it was announced that they planned to open a new store on the south side of Milwaukee, activists claimed that the community didn't want it, what was wanted was small independent specialty stores. Funny thing is that the land Wal-Mart planned to build on was available because a mall which used to host such shops had turned into a ghost town because nobody shopped there and thus the small businesses had either failed or moved elsewhere.

One common criticism is that Wal-Mart squeezes their suppliers on pricing. Well, duh! Anyone who buys things for resale does that. Wal-Mart's purchasing volume and logistics sophistication means that it costs less to sell to them; they, and their customers ought to get the benefit. Sears, once this country's largest retailer, was notorious within manufacturing circles for how they treated the manufacturing companies which produced Kenmore and Craftsman merchandise, encouraging them to add capacity to meet promised volume and then threatening to withdraw the order without further concessions.

The most amusing criticism I ever heard was from a young woman who hated Wal-Mart because they treated their employees so well that they were willing to work without being unionized. I asked her if she would like them better if they treated their employees worse, but somehow we never made sense of each others positions.

Posted by triticale at 12:26 AM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2003


Antidisestablishmentarianism is more than just a big word which we had fun knowing. It has been an important political issue in England, and it has relevance to an important issue in the United States.

Just as any discussion of the Second Amendment must begin with the understanding that the battles at Lexington and Concord were fought against the gun-grabbers, so too any discussion of the non-establishment clause must begin with the understanding of the role of the established church in the government of the time. To this day, the Church of England is a part of the government of Great Britain. Altho its grip has loosened, it has never been disestablished. Being Roman Catholic, or being married to a Roman Catholic, is still disqualification for being crowned King or Queen.

At the time of the War of Independence, and for some time thereafter, being an adherent to any faith other than that of the Established Church was a bar from many other forms of advancement. Marriages performed by Nonconformist clergy had no legal standing, and the oath of office for Parliament included an affirmation that one held that the adoration of Mary and the Saints, as practiced by the Church of Rome, constituted idolatry. This is what the Framers wanted to block. They may have intended to separate Church and State, altho that phrase never appeared in the Constitution, but there is no basis for claiming that they intended to separate religion and State. Using the establishment clause to block firefighters from decorating the firehouse as they see fit, or to defend the government school monopoly goes against the Framers intent. Laws banning prayer in the schools would in fact be unconstitutional, since they would be prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

Posted by triticale at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2003


First, my name is...not important. It's not a secret, but I'm not going to put it out here for reasons that are my own. Slartibartfast explained it perfectly. I'm not trying to conceal my True Name; I'm trying to establish a unique identity. My name is not my identity. As my father, who changed his own name during the Depression, when being too obviously Jewish made it harder to find work, liked to say, I don't care what you call me, as long as you don't call me "Late For Dinner".

Among other issues, one of the people who shares my name is a second tier celebrity. This resulted in a lot of teasing during his fifteen minutes. Even the judge who tried me for the worst crime I was ever charged with, driving on a license I didn't know had been suspended for a technicality resulting from someone's data entry error, had to get in a dig. This way all I get is Star Trek references. I never got into the show, never saw the episode in question, and in any case, "quatrotriticale" is redundant, since the plant, a mule cross of wheat and rye, is already polyploid.

If I were representing myself as Elihu Kenwood or as Felix Krull I would be pseudonymous. If I were using a nickname, temporary or permanent, and then hiding behind a dead email address, as some trolls do, I would be effectively anonymous. Because my identity is clearly a nickname, but is solidly an identity, I prefer to describe myself as nicknonymous.

Posted by triticale at 06:28 AM | Comments (2)