Friday, July 31, 2009

Halfway Business Is Not Business At All Or Saving Money Might Actually Cost You Money

My aunt works in a small town Post Office. I live and frequent another small town Post Office. To deal with the recession and budget shortfalls, both of these offices have closed their customer service centers on Saturday. My aunt admits that Saturday is (was) by far their busiest day. The post office I frequent always seemed to be busiest on Saturday. Both were only opened for three to four hours on Saturday anyway. They usually had to stay open twenty minutes later than their closing time because of the line that "last minute" customers formed.

But that is not the whole story. The Offices will still have to be open on Saturday for people to put up and deliver mail. They way my aunt explained it to me, each office is only saving at most 5-6 man hours, probably less.

Virginia is also closing rest areas along its interstates. Some states have privatized-franchised rest areas. I know that those vending machines could make money. I know some people would spend a small fee to park and use a toilet. My travels have taught me that stopping at convenience stores and fast food places when you don't need gas is costly and bad for your health.

I have said this a million times, but economists have failed to teach anything. Maybe I am wrong and these closings will save money, and I appreciate that the people who made these decisions know their situations better than me. But you can't throw fixed and variable costs and revenue out the window when you're making decisions just because you're in the quasi-public realm.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Please Say It Ain't Rickey (But It Has To Be Right?)

Canseco has been proven right more times than he has been proven wrong when it comes to steroids.

I really think the whole thing is a non-issue, and I still will think Rickey is a hall of famer. Maybe it will open the door for McGwire and Bonds. Really I think the whole thing is just a funny story.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Theory Of Life

Life is about dealing with bullshit. It is about dealing with the bad, the good, and the ugly.

To deal with the shit, people pick ex ante strategies like religion, philosophy, drugs, etc. During a life time, an individual will go through many different strategies as ex post outcomes will lead them to reevaluate their priors.

The thing is to not get too caught up in others' ex ante strategies. Every one has find their own way, and the bullshit will always be there. But if we stay focused, we can get through.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Three Books I Want To Read And The Dilemma Of Special Offers

1. Tyler Cowen's book came out Tuesday. The link offered a special offer that I did not take advantage of. I will be doing a significant amount of flying over the next few weeks. But I am too cheap to buy the hard cover edition. I got his Discover Your Inner Economist for $5, and it yielded significant consumer surplus. I am just not sure about paying full price, especially now that the special offer has passed.

2. Joe Posnanski is coming out with a book in September. I thought his Soul of Baseball was the most life-affirming book I have ever read. He is going to have some special offer from his blog too, but he hasn't decided exactly what to do yet.

3. Bill Simmons also has a new book coming out too. I don't think he will have any special offers, but I would like to read (skim) the book. Simmons has a passion for the NBA like Posnanski's passion for baseball.

My dilemma is as much as I enjoy reading good books, I don't enjoy buying new expensive books. I get a big kick out of going through the bargain bins and picking out books that might be good or classics that I should read one day. I probably read 1 out of 4 books I buy. I have many books in my library that have not been read.

I guess the point is I need to get a job and/or get busier, so I don't spend so much time thinking about what books to buy.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"Let's Go Racin' In The Streets"

I grew up with the guys at the grocery store. These guys were a collection of fuck-ups. With apologies to my dad (and he was from a different generation), you don't work at the grocery store past your twenty-fifth birthday unless you have a little fuck-up in you.

There was the guy who left but came back after his third DUI forced him to live with his parents. There was the guy who married a girl for six months leaving just enough time for her to ruin his credit and steal every dime he had. There was the guy who married a mail-order Russian bride getting a teenage son as part of the deal. There was the owner's son who could never be a functional addict like his father. There was the guy who was an heir to a 1000 acres who died way too young.

They were all good guys. But just like me, they were fuck-ups.

The thing about being a fuck-up is like any other addiction. You never get past it. No matter how many times you don't fuck-up, you know a fuck-up is coming. That knowing can eat you alive. It gnaws and chews at your stomach. It sucks at your soul. You never escape it. Most men learn how to put up a confident facade, but that knowing will always be there.

Maybe it is original sin, maybe it is the curse of knowledge, maybe it is me. But:

"Tonight, tonight the highway's bright
Out of our way, mister, you best keep
'Cause summer's here and the time is right
For racin' in the street."

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Power Of YouTube

I watched this video. I was impressed. This led me to watching/listening to everything else she had on YouTube.

But I haven't spent a dime on her. This worries the economist in me. Advertising dollars are only effective if people eventually buy what you're advertising. I am sure someone smarter than me will make this work, but I probably should enjoy it while I can.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Additional Thoughts From Last Post's Number 2

This Jeremy Mayfield thing is interesting from a legal-sports perspective.

I question a league's ability to take an individual player's livelihood away without due process. I would rather Mayfield's sponsors or team owners (if he tries to drive for another team) take it away. I have always felt this is the most effective form of punishment.

I also would rather see a criminal judge or jury determine if Mayfield is a meth (ab)user. If he has it in it his system, then he is probably still doing it or has done it repeatedly. I am sure a good detective could find the criminal evidence needed to convict. A criminal sentence is much harsher than any league suspension.

I also think the media mis-reported what the judge's ruling was. All he said was NASCAR could not suspend Mayfield while he was "appealing." He said nothing explicitly about Mayfield's guilt or innocence. The Stallworth case is another example of reporters not explaining law and rulings properly. From what I read, the reason he only got 30 days was because the prosecution didn't have much of a case showing Stallworth was negligent. If Stallworth wasn't drunk and stoned, he would have probably had no charges filed against him. (Admittedly, I might be wrong on my interpretation of the events.)

MLB implicitly suspended Barry Bonds last year. Jose Canseco said MLB did it to him too. I have a feeling Vick and Pac-Man are going to go through the same thing. These implicit suspensions because no one is willing-to-pay (put up with your shit) are much more effective and hold more deterring power.