Sunday, May 28, 2006

My Utopia

I recently wrote a column for my paper outlining the changes I would make if I could somehow become dictator and impose all of the laws I want.

My favorite part was this: "Due space will be provided in public libraries and college literature courses for our greatest living literary geniuses -- Neal Stephenson, Susanna Clarke, Robert Anton Wilson, Iain Banks, Elinor Lipman and Tom Perotta." My dad didn't recognize the names but looked them up on the Internet and discovered I was referring to real authors.

The rule that got the most comment though, was requiring all women to wear red clothes at least once a week. (I just like the way women look in red.) A few days after the column was published, I covered a meeting of the county commissioners in Erie County, Ohio, and all of the women on the third floor (of the County Services Center, where the commissioners meet) were dressed in red, including a county commissioner and the county clerk. They looked great, of course.

Column is here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Joe Cimperman tax

I've been reading a fascinating book called THE WAL-MART EFFECT by Charles Fishman, a business journalist, which lays out the good and bad consequences of the rapid expansion of Wal-Mart.

One undeniable effect, according to Fishman, is that Wal-Mart lowers the inflation rate in the U.S. and saves people who choose to shop there a large amount of money. Citing an academic study, Fishman asserts on Page 151 that grocery prices at Wal-Mart supercenters were found to be "on average 27 percent lower than at traditional groceries, an astonishing discount. It's like getting one week of groceries free every month, just for moving your shopping to Wal-Mart."

The pattern of Wal-Mart distribution in Cuyahoga County, where I live, is rather interesting. Democratic city officials such as Joe Cimperman have succeeded so far in blocking Wal-Mart from opening any stores in the City of Cleveland. The older suburbs have Wal-Marts. And as you get farther away from Cleveland, you are more likely to live near a supercenter, where you can save on food as well as the items that all discount stores carry. You'll also notice that Cleveland has the worst-looking neighborhoods and that the further you get away from the city, the nicer the houses look. In other words, the people who are generally better off are more likely to have access to cheaper prices for the basic goods they need to get by.

Perhaps the higher prices paid by Cleveland residents ought to be known as the "Joe Cimperman Tax," in honor of politicians who do the bidding of labor unions rather than following the best interests of their own constituents.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dazed by the old radios

Radio Daze is a company that makes most of its money selling parts over the Internet and through catalogs for repairing old radios, receivers from the 1920s and 1930s and 1940s. You can't buy radios from its catalog, just parts and radio kits.

But when you visit the company's headquarters near Rochester, you can see a showroom of dozens of old radios, all for sale, which the customer can carry out the door himself or have shipped anywhere in the world. My wife bought me a 1941 table radio with both AM and shortwave bands. When we set it up in our living room and tried it, we pulled in a shortwave station from Croatia.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

George Alec Effinger site

I've launched the George Alec Effinger pages . I've included a FAQ, links, and a blog. A bibliography will be posted soon.