Monday, September 25, 2006

What Part Of Monopoly...

...don't they understand?

Starbucks is being sued by the owner of a coffee shop with the claim that Starbucks forced the company out of business using anti-competitive business practices.

From the article: "According to court papers, Starbucks violated federal antitrust laws by leasing prime commercial real estate at above-market prices in return for the exclusive right to sell espresso drinks or specialty coffee in those locations."

The claim in the lawsuit is that Starbucks posses monopoly power because it hold a 73% market share of the U.S. Coffee shop industry. defines monopoly as such: 1.exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices.

Per the complaint, Starbucks is bereft of 27% of the coffee shop market. That is hardly "exclusive control" is it? Do they have enough control to manipulate prices? If they did, wouldn't they undercut their competition by making prices LOWER?

Are they guilty of lousy business practices? If the article is correct they are. Standing in front of a competitor's shop and handing out flyers for your own seems a tad unethical or at the very least, petty. Should it be illegal? No. There are plenty of things that the other coffee shop could have done to prevent Starbucks employees from handing out their flyers. They could have tipped off the media and/or popular blogger to get the story out. Public pressure works wonders.

If the accusation of paying higher than market rents in exchange for exclusive control of selling coffee on a given property is true, Starbucks should be congratulated for understanding the economics of supply and demand. Dry cleaners rent space in a strip mall with the understanding that another dry cleaner won't be allowed in. Should that be illegal? Is it anti-competitive? Isn't it the goal of every business to limit the effectiveness of their competition? Paying more rent for a space you want to be in is hardly unethical. The building owners are in competition with other owners to provide space to desired customers. That the other coffee shop owner decided he couldn't compete with Starbucks offer to the building owner is of no consequence whatsoever. The market dictates prices. If Starbucks is willing to up the ante then that is what the market will bear.

I really wish people would stop complaining to the government because they can't succeed in business on their own.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Disgusting Beauty

I found this praying mantis on my door late last night. You have to look at the full sized version of the pics to really appreciate them.

I'm just glad things like this are only about 3 inches long instead of 3 feet. Not something I'd want hunting me in the woods.

It would be tough for a graphic designer to come up with a creepier looking predator than this thing. It would certainly be difficult for a digital version to have the level of detail in the real thing.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dog Dumb Government

Because our law enforcement officials really just don't have enough to do now, they've occupied themselves with arresting United States citizens because they're wanted in Mexico.

Duane "Dog" Chapman, star of the reality show "Dog The Bounty Hunter" has been arrested by Federal Marshals in connection with his capture of Chapman's capture of fugitive Andrew Luster, a serial rapist and the heir to Max Factor fortune. Luster fled to Mexico during his rape trial.

Chapman and his team refused to turn Luster over to Mexican authorities after the June 2003 capture and were arrested and posted bail. Apparently they never went back to Mexico for trial and authorities there issued an arrest warrant for Chapman, his son and another associate.

Mexican authorities apparently convinced a United States judge to sign the arrest warrant so Chapman could be extradited to Mexico and tried for his crimes there.

The United States government should refuse to turn Chapman and his colleagues over to Mexican authorities until every last suspected murderer who has fled to Mexico be turned over to our Justice Department. Mexican citizens (i.e. illegal aliens) can murder a person here in the United States, flee to Mexico and not be bothered by Mexican authorities because they won't extradite anyone that faces the death penalty or even a life term in prison.

Why is this an issue? If there was ever an appropriate use of the bully pulpit in international relations, this is it. Mexico needs us WAY more than we need them. Any fugitive we agree to turn over to Mexico should be traded for a fugitive from American justice.

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales needs to pull his head out of his butt along with the entire Bush administration and stop taking orders from Mexico and start making demands.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Vikings vs Redskins - Live Blogging

This is just about my impressions of the game - you can go find the stats yourself.

1st Quarter :

Redskins injury on the kick off; not a good way to start the game.

Brad Johnson comes out looking poised and ready. His confidence does not appear to be false. Touchdown on the first drive. Unfortunately they messed up the extra point and were held to 6.

Redskins return drive got them to the Red Zone but they couldn't get it done and settled for 3.

Penalties are held to a minimum. Defense looks pretty good too so far.

Viking are looking great. I predict a 27 - 17 win for Minnesota.

2nd Quarter:

Well, they're not looking so good right now. Williamson has missed to key passes. Brad Johnson certainly isn't the problem here. The defense looks ok even though they allowed a touch down.

The Vikings aren't rattled yet but we'll see. My confidence remains high though. Minnesota needs to settle down a little and get in the groove. I think Williamsson should pulled.

The Vikings have been drawing way too many penalties. Settle down guys! Hopefully half time will be good for them.

Quarter ends with Redskins leading 13-9. Defense is doing well. GO OFFENSE!

3rd Quarter:

Redskins get stopped cold on the first drive in the 2nd half and Moore does an excellent job of returning the kick. The Vikings need to make a few big plays and shake up the Redskins a little.

And I just got my wish. Early touchdown in the 2nd half. Keep them guessing Brad!

Redskins were 3rd & 5 just outside the Red Zone and the Vikings got hit with a penalty for roughing the passer. It put the Redskins at 1st & Goal but they coulnd't bring it in and were forced to kick for 3. Tie game at 16.

4th Quarter:

Even game going in to the final quarter. The Vikings still look like they have plenty of energy and Johnson hasn't made a bad play yet. Both defenses are doing a great job which is revising my initial prediction downward quite a bit. With 9:34 left in the fourth, I'm still predicting a Vikings win but it's going to be tight.

With 6:29 left in the game, it just occured to me that there hasn't been one turnover so far. That surprises me because both teams really are playing hard.

Tough play by the Vikings combined with a 15 yard face mask penalty gives the Vikings excellent field position at the 2 minute warning with 3 time outs left. Redskins have 2 timeouts.

1:00 left in the game. The Vikings scored a field goal for to put the score at 19 to 16. Were it not for that missed extra point it would be a much tougher situation for the Redskins. Overtime anyone?

With 17 seconds to go, the Redskins attempted a field goal for a tie. Minnesota put up good pressure and the kick went wide to end the game. Minnesota took a knee and that's all she wrote.

Way To Go Minnesota!

P.S. Williamson needs to get benched.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

La Raza Losers

A whopping 350 people showed up for a rally intended to "show them racist Americans" that there was massive support for granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.

That's just .00003% of the estimated 11 million illegal aliens in the United States. The article says that most of those that showed up were the organizers and the press.

A union leader by the name of Maria Elena Durazo, who is the Secretary Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO seems to think that the number of people that show up doesn't really matter, it's what the people want. Take look at this spin.
"This community has shown it wants a solution, so we shouldn't have to show it with half a million people each time we do it."
Amazing isn't it? Um, Ms. Durazo, if the community wanted amnesty for illegal aliens, they would have showed up and supported your dumb idea.

Apparently this is all part of the National Latino Congreso, supposedly the largest gathering of Latino leaders in decades. When groups representing white people get together, there are virulent cries of racism hither and yon. Why don't you ever see Asians gathering in groups to promote Asian rights in this country? If we white people are so danged racist why do Asians thrive while blacks especially and Hispanics continue to flounder in education, wages, etc? Is there some special power that Asians have that make us color blind to their nefarious plot? I know there are Asian student unions on some campuses etc., but you never hear of an Asian activist group getting much attention. If I did hear of such a thing I'd just chuckle because it would be totally out of character for that culture.

Don't mistake my little rant here to mean that every Mexican or every black person in America is a whiner and a 'victim'. I'm not even implying that. The problem is this so-called minority leadership that leads the more gullible members of their races around by the nose and convinces them that they have something coming to them that could otherwise be accomplished through hard work and accepting responsibility for themselves and their families.

So ends another rant.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Romney Grows A Pair

Governor Mitt Romney, of Massachusetts prohibited the use of any state resources in connection with the visit of former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, who is scheduled to speak at Harvard on the eve of the 5th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Romney said:
``There are people in this state who have suffered from terrorism, and taking even a dollar of their money to support a terrorist is unacceptable."

Romney is considered a GOP contender for President in 2008. Whether it is purely a political move on his part or an actual matter of conscience doesn't really matter to me in this case. He did the right thing. Unfortunately, he has no direct control over the resources of the city of Boston who promised police resources to protect the ex-leader of a terrorist sponsoring country.

Romney gets a measure of respect for me on this one. Keep up the good work Guv!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Crikey! Steve Irwin Is Dead

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Steve Irwin, known as The Crocodile Hunter was killed by a stingray while filming off of Queensland.

To think, after all of the crocodiles and snakes he's handled that he gets whacked by a stingray.

I always thought the guy was a bit irritating and I've heard Aussies complain that he was a ridiculous caricature of the typical Aussie, his shows were fascinating in the way that you really saw these animals close up, you learned a lot about them and he didn't drone on like the old Wild Kingdom TV show did.

He lived a dangerous life and it got him killed. Probably not in the way he thought it would happen but at least he died doing what he loved doing. It's just too bad that he had to leave a family behind.

Friday, September 01, 2006

eBay Gets Stupid

... but it's still their company and they can do what they want with it.

Homeschoolers are upset with a new eBay policy that prohibits the sale of any teacher's edition textbook on its site.

I'm sure eBay was an important source of materials for them and they're within their rights to voice their concern. eBay is under no obligation to heed their protests though.

From what I can glean from the article, it sounds as if the Home School Legal Defense Association might try to force eBay to reverse the policy through threat of a lawsuit or some other such nonsense. It would be a shame for the homeschooling groups to tarnish themselves with such tactics. Adapt and get on with it.