Sunday, May 31, 2009

Is Bigger Better?

I just returned from several days in Las Vegas. It was my first visit in a few years. I came away with a new appreciation of just how large "large" can be.
First of all, the new hotels are just gigantic. I stayed at the Wynn, which has 50 floors and 2,716 rooms. This is one of the smaller hotels on The Strip. On the off chance that you care about this, 15 of the 20 largest hotels in the world are located within a two mile radius in Las Vegas.(Click here if you'd like to read the entire list).
The second most impressive thing for me in Las Vegas was the size of the buffets. If you have the stamina, you can stuff yourself silly. This is not new. What seemed new to me was the sheer variety of the dishes in a single buffet. Just taking a sample of each item will fill your calorie budget for the next decade. I felt like a failure after only being able to make about four or five visits to the trough.
The next item that attracted my attention was the height of the heels that some of the women were sporting. Rather than walk, the women seemed to be shuffling forward. I don't think they flexed their knees at all. It was if they were emulating stilt walkers. I wish I had the marketing ability of the purveyors of these instruments of torture. How they convince women to voluntarily wear these shoes is beyond my understanding. From a purely marketing perspective, it seems a close second to the world's best marketers: the religious leaders who convince their followers to happily blow themselves up.
However, the thing that I found most entertaining was the prominent display of boob-jobs on a number of the ladies. Having an education in science and engineering, I made a series of very careful observations. I don't know much about how they price augmentation surgery. However, I can only conclude that it must be comparatively inexpensive to super-size the implants. There is no way anyone would mistake this particular variety of anatomy for the natural form. So this must not be important to the newly endowed. It must be that it is a relative bargain to get the largest size a woman can bear without completely losing her ability to stand upright.
All in all it was a fun trip. Mega-buildings, lots of food, interesting shoes and enormous boobs. What more could a guy ask for?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Psst...Wanna Buy Some Stock?

If I wanted to buy some stock in an auto company, I could have easily done it. However, my government has decided that they should do it on my behalf.
Where in the Constitution does it say that this is the role of government?
The US auto industry is composed of domestic and foreign controlled companies. All of the auto companies, whether foreign or domestic controlled, have public stockholders located all over the world. So what difference does it really make to the average citizen (who is not a member of the United Auto Workers union) whether Chrysler or GM survives in its pre-2009 form? As long as it is profitable, cars will be designed and manufactured in the US, employing US workers. Whether the paycheck comes from Toyota, GM or some new startup really is of little consequence.
This seems to be OK for other industries, but not the auto industry. I just don't get it.
I wrote some time ago (November, 2008 and December, 2008) that the solution for the ailing US car companies was a pre-packaged bankruptcy. This is exactly what is happening with Chrysler. The ironic upshot of the present plan is that the company is actually being kept alive by the government's infusion of billions of our dollars so that it can be taken over by Fiat. Didn't someone notice that the headquarters of Fiat was located in Italy?
By the way, it really irked me when I heard President Obama rail about the private entities that did not go along with the government's plan in which the private entities get pennies on the dollar for their secured Chrysler debt. It seems to me that they have every right under our system to plead their case in court if they think this will result in a better outcome.
The bottom line is that the government is not interested in the bottom line. It is a political institution that responds to political pressures. It should exit itself from this mess as quickly as it can.