Saturday, February 19, 2011

Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dogs

Decided to go downtown (Denver) for lunch the other day and got off the bus at 16th and Arapaho. There are lots of restaurants with in a short walk of the bus stop and many have outdoor seating. The weather was one of those great days where it’s cool in the shade but still comfortable to just sit in the sun.

Facing the bus stop was a street cart selling hot dogs. I am always on the lookout for a good dog, ever since I was a kid and my dad took me to a place called Yocco’s in Allentown, Pa.

Since Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dogs was voted Best Dog in Denver by Westword Magazine, I thought I’d try it. Weird dogs on the menu! Elk Cheddar Jalapeño, Alaskan Reindeer, Wild Boar, and more, way down at the bottom was a plain old Kosher dog.

I tried the Elk dog and it turned out to be a really great dog! I like my dogs with just mustard and fresh chopped onion so that’s how I fixed it. Turn out to be about the best dog I’ve ever had. Just the right mix of Jalapeño and Cheddar with a bun that was not too doughy or dried out.

A group of 5 at the next table had gotten several different types of dogs, had then cut, and sampled each. Shamelessly eavesdropping I listened to them compare the Elk and Reindeer dogs with their favorite being the Elk.

Here’s the website so you can check them out the next time your in Downtown Denver. Believe me, if you like dogs, you’ll like Jim’s.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Free markets

The theory holds that within an ideal free market, property rights are voluntarily exchanged at a price arranged solely by the mutual consent of sellers and buyers. They engage in trade simply because they both consent and believe that what they are getting is worth as much or more than what they give up. Market price is the result of buying and selling decisions en masse as described by the theory of supply and demand.

So the prices the unions in the United States were able to negotiate with companies were either “free market” agreements or were the result of the union’s coercing the companies into unsupportable wage agreements.

If, and it’s a big if, the unions created unrealistic wage scales, how come the companies were able to make huge profits during the heydays of unionism in the 60s, 70, and 80s? According to Fortune Magazine, GM made 873 million dollars in profits for 1960. The same source reports GM profits for 1970 at $14,820 million, and for 1980 as $32,215 million. In 1990 $173,297, and in 2000 $273,921,000.

Why is this important? If the unions were really behind the demise of GM in 2009, we should have seen a downward trend in GM profits over the preceding 40 years and in fact the reverse is true as profits went up not down.

Don’t even try to make the case that the “legacy” cost of pension and retiree health care is the problem since those benefits are really deferred compensation. Earned during the workers productive years and banked for their retirement. Seen the article Where Does Your Pension Come From for full details of how pensions really cost GM nothing.

The next time someone who hasn’t bothered to do their home work tries to tell you that the unions are the problem, ask them why the companies that managed to make a lot of money from those union employees now want to blame them for management's failure to manage their deferred costs?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Flying saucers

In the TV show X-Files Molder used the phrase “Absence of proof is not proof of absence”. The idea being that just because you don’t have proof that something exists you still can’t be sure that the thing in question isn’t real.

So, can we now say that flying saucers really don’t exist since almost everyone has a camera on their cell phone and has that with them all the time?

Admittedly cell phones don’t capture lots of detail like film cameras or even low end digital point and shoot cameras do. But, even a lot of second rate, grainy thumbnail photos from the average cell phone should have begun to turn up.

Given the shear number of cell phones with built in cameras out there, we should have huge number of photos of UFOs and we don’t’. Can we reasonably infer that we don’t have that huge number of photos because there is nothing to take pictures of?

The other phrase from X-Files was “I want to believe!” and as a reader of science fiction starting in the early 1950s I do want to believe. Even someone like me has to see proof sometime and those missing photos really go a long way to convince me that unexplained flying objects (UFO) are really unlikely to be “flying saucers”.