Daily Archives: January 28, 2015

Because it forgot who it was

Food Fail

Food Fail

McDonald’s CEO ousted after sales drop. McDonalds sells hamburgers; beefy hamburgers and french fries. When it began responding to its pc critics, people who were never its customers and never would be, by adding salads, chicken wraps and apple slices, it merely cluttered its menu, slowed service and gave its real customers an excuse to try another chain.

Back to basics and, while they’re at it, they should resume frying those potatoes in lard – turns out lard’s good for you after all, and no vegetable oil, transfatty or not, cooks fries like lard.

Real Food

Real Food

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This sounds like great advice, except for the calling afterwards – don’t do that

Love at first sight

Love at first fright

“Have sex on first date, pay for dinner and call him – how ANY woman can bag the man of her dreams in 60 days”

Advice from a man, naturally, with a book to sell, naturally.

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These guys just make up any shit they want

Obama’s appointee says that illegals “have a right to work in the United States”. Well no, no they don’t, except in the bizarre world of ObamaLand™, where the law is whatever the Chief Executive and his minions say it is.

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Another Cos Cob contract

22 Hilton Heath

22 Hilton Heath

22 Hilton Heath (off Cat Rock) reports a contract, asking price, $1.595 million. Assuming there was some negotiation of that asking price, this seems like a decent deal. The house was built in 1966 and has that era’s trim and finishing (I haven’t seen a formica counter since leaving my own house this morning), but that’s stuff that’s easily updated, while the location is a good one and the house, to my eye, is just fine.

Rip out the kitchen and all that knotty pine, re-do the bathrooms, upgrade the trim, and bingo: almost-new house, for what passes as not a lot of money in this town.

Formica is forever, until the wrecker crew arrives

Formica is forever, until the wrecker crew arrives

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A contract and sale

265 Valley Rd

265 Valley Rd

The reported contract is for 265 Valley Road, $2.995 million, that great house built into the side of a cliff. I thought the house was fabulous, but the lack of parking was a real drawback to many. I’m glad it’s found  buyer.

14 Chieftans Rd

14 Chieftans Rd

And way out west under the flightpath, 14 Chieftains Road has sold for $2.475 million on its asking price of $2.795. I personally wouldn’t touch this development, but at the right price, I suppose it makes sense for Westchesterites who want to skip across the border for lower taxes. This house sold new in 1999 for $2.395 million, $2.525 in 2002, then $3.7 in 2005 and again for $3.7 just six months later. It’s been downhill for Chieftain values since then.

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Live free and buy

Taxis upended

Taxis upended

Portsmouth, New Hampshire votes to deregulate taxis.

PORTSMOUTH – In response to Uber ride-sharing drivers now working in the city, the Taxi Commission on Wednesday recommended the elimination of taxi medallions, regulation of taxi fares, city taxi inspections and the Taxi Commission itself.

“I think the public is probably better served if we also have ride-sharing,” Cataldo said, explaining that ride-share drivers help get intoxicated people home safely.

Cataldo said if drivers are smoking, or offering rides in unkempt vehicles, consumers will decide if they want to hire them. Under the proposal, police would continue to conduct background checks of registered drivers who would also have to provide proof that their passengers are insured for a minimum of $300,000 under a commercial policy.

Several commissioners compared the proposed deregulation of taxi fares to the fact that someone can buy a glass of beer for $4 at a downtown pub and pay $8 for a glass of the same beer at a nearby restaurant.

“I guess it’s going to come down to what consumers want to do,” said Lt. Chris Cummings, the Police Department’s liaison to the Taxi Commission.

Shocking.

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Someone call Roger Goddell

The Tom Brady Model

The Tom Brady Model

When I went out to my truck this morning it was 15 degrees, and the low tire pressure light was on: both rear tires were under inflated.

Just saying.

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Poor old Greece

Ship of Fools

Ship of Fools

The port operations at Piraeus were one of the few bright spots in Greece’s economy, so naturally it was the first target of the new government, which today announced it is canceling its privatization.

NYT, 2012:

The cargo volume here is three times the level it was two years ago, before the captain, Fu Cheng Qiu, was put in charge by his employer, Cosco, a global shipping giant owned by the Chinese government.

In a 2010 deal that put 500 million euros ($647 million) into the coffers of Greece’s cash-starved government, Cosco leased half of the port of Piraeus and quickly converted a business that had languished as a Greek state-run enterprise into a hotbed of productivity.

The other half of the port is still run by Greece. And the fact that its business lags behind Cosco’s is emblematic of the entrenched labor rules and relatively high wages — for those lucky enough to still have jobs — that have stifled the country’s economic growth.

… As the Greek government contemplates shedding state-owned assets to help pay down staggering debts, it might be tempting to consider leasing or even selling the rest of the port to China. But if the Cosco example is representative, the trade-offs — mainly a sharp reduction in labor costs and job protection rules — might be ones many Greeks would be loath to accept.

“Unionized labor will push back to keep the protection it has enjoyed,” said Vassilis Antoniades, the chief executive of Boston Consulting Group in Greece. But the Cosco investment, he said, “shows that under private management, Greek companies can be globally competitive.”

Besides the $647 million that put half of the port of Piraeus into Chinese hands, the Greek government is receiving more income from taxes as a result of the port’s pickup in business.

Other than a handful of Chinese managers, moreover, Cosco’s operation is providing around 1,000 jobs to Greek workers — compared with the 800 or so who work the dock that is still under Greek management.

On Cosco’s portion of the port, cargo traffic has more than doubled over the last year, to 1.05 million containers. And while profit margins are still razor thin — $6.47 million last year on sales of $94.2 million — that is mainly because the Chinese company is putting a lot of its money back into the port.

Cosco is spending more than $388 million to modernize its dock to handle up to 3.7 million containers in the next year, which would make it one of the world’s 10 largest ports. Beyond that, workers are also laying the foundations for a second Cosco pier.

The Greek-run side of the port, which endured a series of debilitating worker strikes in the three years before Cosco came to town, has been forced by the Chinese competition to seek its own path to modernization. Still, only about a third of its business consists of cargo handling; the rest is made up of more lucrative passenger traffic.

For years, the container terminal was a profitable operation. But Harilaos N. Psaraftis, a professor of maritime transport at the School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering in Athens, said it was inefficient “because worker relations were very cumbersome.”

The salaries of some workers reached $181,000 a year with overtime; Cosco is typically paying less than $23,300. On the Greek side of the port, union rules required that nine people work a gantry crane; Cosco uses a crew of four.

“It was just crazy,” recalled Mr. Psaraftis, who was the chief executive of the port from 1996 to 2002. “I told them, ‘If you keep this up, this thing will be privatized.’ But they didn’t listen.”

… As Greece struggles to overhaul its economy, he said, Cosco represents an opportunity for Greek workers — and the country itself. “Cosco is their future,” he said. “We are here to stay.”

Not anymore. This return of the port to the public sector by the new government is what our friend Dollar Bill yesterday called “a creturn to a sane approach to recovery”.

Robert Heinlein had something say to people like Dollar Bill, and the Greeks:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

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Because they aren’t as stupid as we are

India refuses to go along with Obama’s climate deal

India has rejected pleas from the Obama administration to enter into an agreement to put a future limit on its greenhouse gas emissions in order to fight global warming.

President Barack Obama went abroad hoping to strike a climate deal with India — the world’s third-largest greenhouse-gas emitter — in order to build support for an international global warming treaty ahead of a United Nations summit later this year. But India had other ideas.

Obama wanted India to announce it would peak its greenhouse gas emissions by a certain year, mirroring a pledge China made last year to peak its emissions by 2030. But India’s government refused, not wanting to have to make a China-sized promise on climate.

So Obama has received a meaningless, unenforceable “aspirational pledge” from China and nothing from India; the two largest CO2 producers in the world,in return for committing us to savage our economy. Heck of a job, Brownie.

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