Tuesday, December 23, 2003
I’m currently reading, right now, the book listed in the sidebar left. It’s only the second collection of Mencken’s writings I’ve ever read. Here’s a quote.
“And the issue of Americanism is being murdered by idiots. Day by day its exponents pile up proofs that to be an American, as they conceive it, is to be a poltroon and an ass.”
Back to the book.
Observed while Christmas Shopping
This morning, Melissa and I, against my protestations, went to one of the local mega malls to, according to her, finish up some last minute gift purchases. I went along as more of a bag carrier and receipt pocketer than a shopper, though I did purchase something for my Mum and my Dad. Our first stop was the Old Navy store, and since it was fairly early, 9 A.M. or so, there were actually more employees, seasonal and otherwise, in the store than consumers.
Melis found what she was looking for in rather quick time, so off to the cashier we went. As we stood at the checkout counter, no waiting in line either, and Melissa answered the twenty questions they typically throw at you; will that be an Old Navy charge, zip code please, would you like gift receipts, etcetera, etcetera, I noted two young men approaching the mall entrance/exit of the store. When the gentlemen I observed made it to the front of the store, they both stopped, seemingly waiting, for what I did not know. I did not need to wait long to find out.
As the young men stood there, a supervisor, at least that’s what the dangling name tag/store pass said, approached the young men. As said supervisor approached, the young men stripped off their outer clothes. In each case, a bulky, hooded sweatshirt. At that point I was able to determine that the young men actually were employees of Old Navy. Seasonal or fulltime I cannot say. What got me, was the fact that the supervisor then patted both of the young men down, including their sweatshirts. Right in front of me. I almost couldn’t believe it.
I realize that shoplifting and employee theft are a problem in retailing, as this article plainly states, but subjecting employees to these cautions, directly in front of paying customers, seemed to lack good judgement, and, made me wonder if the supervisor was going to consider asking me to remove my heavy leather jacket for a pat down when it came time for me to leave the store.
The linked article states that over $4.7 billion was lost to employee theft and shoplifting in just 25 retail establishmets in 2002. A number, considering the small amount of retailers, that is rather staggering. I do not know the methodology followed for determining this number, but, if it is accurate, it would appear that there are more dishonest folks than honest folks. A supposition that I have a hard time believing.
A Distinctly Important Question
Billy Beck, upon reading this post of Kim du Toit’s, wherein Kim expresses his dissatisfaction with Bush’s latest health initiative, expresses, clearly, the root problem and asks a distinctly important question. From the end of Billy’s post.
The essential problem is not that Bush—or anyone else—wants to control your life. The problem is that he can, because of the prevailing conviction that your life doesn’t belong to you. At root, the prevailing conviction is that you belong to “society”.
Well: do you?”
Taking it in the Arm
Tyler Cowen has a post up at Marginal Revolution titled Liability and flu vaccine which looks at liability law and the possible effect on availability of flu vaccines by linking to a story in the Financial Times on just this subject. Cowen quotes a portion of the article in his post which, in a single sentence, I think provides the real cause for so called flu vaccine shortages.
But gradually profit margins thinned on vaccines, as the government became a big buyer of them.
Would you manufacture vaccines if there was no money in it or would you do it for the “public good.”
Higher Education Musing
Aaron Haspel, at God of the Machine, muses on attending college, the follies associated with loyalty to your alma mater, and if the money is well spent. The post is entitled Contra College. The first sentence of Aaron’s post,
To understand the absurd seriousness with which Americans treat higher education, look at their cars.
The World of Submarines
When I was in the service, serving on the USS LOS ANGELES (SSN668), we were the biggest boat on the block. Well we were until the USS OHIO (SSBN726) went active. It is a behemoth of a submarine. Five hundred and sixty feet long versus three hundred and sixty feet long for a 688 class sub. The first time the OHIO pulled into Pearl, I was flabbergasted at its size. And amenities, it made the LA, my boat, look like a Motel 6 versus a Sheraton. Anyway, Anna, at Belligerent Bunny Blog, has posted the fact that they are converting the OHIO to carry all Tomahawk cruise missiles. 154 of them to be exact. Now that’s a silent, deadly, weapons platform.