August 31, 2006

Quote For The Day

"It's sometimes called 'population thinking,' Kennesaw. A pity you never learned to apply those methods. Instead, you made the classic mistake of categorizing people into abstract types instead of recognizing their concrete variations."
Anton Zilwicki, speaking to the genetic superman he is about to crush, in Eric Flint's Honorverse story From The Highlands. It also applies to people who base claims of immiseration on the near-stagnation of the median income, ignoring the fact that any individual's situation changes over time, more often than not for the better. Optimistic fanboy that I am, I take the fact that the median, a statistical artifact, is holding steady while the rich get richer, means that large numbers of people are finding employment, at the low-paying entry level where they start, and have every confidence that those who apply themselves will move up as I have.


Here's some simple math supportive of my assertion that the "stagnant" median is not bad news.

Posted by triticale at 04:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

It's Not Just Wal-Mart

Don Boudreaux posted an excerpt from a report on a study which found that the arrival of a Wal-Mart can benefit the overall economy of a community. Among the supportive evidence offered by commenters is a description of how the Safeway which had been the only grocery in his town improved their quality and service when faced with competition. Part of the store's focus has been at the high end, where it is easy to compete with the big box.

When Jewel, part of the national Albertson grocery chain, entered the Milwaukee market, the usual suspects raised the same sort of objections Wal-Mart generates, but in fact Jewel's arrival produced the same positive results. The little mom & pop groceries which serve a walk-in trade appear uneffected. The groceries driven out were the Kohls (a different corporation than the department stores; now strictly wholesale). Their most profitable stores had reportedly been the ones in the black community, like the one near my house where we shopped only in an emergency, having found, despite the dim lighting, mouldy bread, squishy fruit, and past-date dairy products. The black-owned Lena's grocery chain has acquired a couple of former Kohls locations. By focusing on a narrow selection they are able to be quite price-competitive on what they sell (we buy most of our meat there; once you note that it is never brine cut it is a much better deal). They have also acquired a fleet of mini-vans and provide free rides home with a $40 purchase, thus making them more of a threat to the corner stores than the big boys are. Hopefully they are doing well enough to expand into that Kohlspace down the street from us now that the discount mall that opened there has folded. I haven't tracked El Rey's success as closely, but their stores serving the south side's Hispanic community has clearly survived big bad Jewel's entry into the market.

Posted by triticale at 11:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 30, 2006

No It Isn't!

Charlie had a caller this morning who insisted that because an airline refused to allow a man to board a plane while displaying a provocative message on his tee-shirt the Constitution is being trampled and we are all losing our freedom of speech. This isn't a freedom of speech issue. It is a freedom not to have speech imposed upon us issue. The Constitution states very specifically that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. The only laws Congress made which have any bearing on this matter are laws defining the rights and responsibilities of the airline regarding what happens on and around their aircraft.

OTOH, the caller shortly thereafter who insisted that because the message on the tee-shirt terrorized the other passengers, he was a terrorist and should be treated as such. Maybe this would be valid if he had revealed the message after the plane was airborne, but as it happened he was only a raise concernist. The caller was trying to build a slippery slope going uphill, and that doesn't work.


Here's a real clear take on the act of speech in question.

Posted by triticale at 10:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 27, 2006

Arms And Armor

The history of warfare can be discussed in terms of the relative development of arms and armor, and the effect each has on tactics (what the amateurs talk about) and on logistics (what the pros talk about). For a quick ballpark number, a horse needs five times as much food as a man. A knight in plate armor needs the full-time support of a non-combatant, his squire. It thus makes sense that something on the order of seven archers can be fielded for the logistic cost of one knight. The result was demonstrated at Crécy.

The modern U.S. military as addressed the issue of logistics to the point that fighters and vehicles can be fielded at any level of armor and armament (subject to availability). The debate now is the appropriate level of armor, with some suggesting one which would interfere with mission effectiveness. One has to wonder what effect this armor has on mobility, and what level of armament it protects against.

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August 26, 2006


To the victor belongs the spoils...

Posted by triticale at 08:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Quote For The Day

"I'm of the opinion that how to handle Wal-Mart is among the two or three most important issues facing the country."
Glenn doesn't think so, but I do. Not for the same reason as the person whose article the quote comes from, tho. It sums up the great divide in this