Saturday, January 24, 2009

And The Downside Is...?

One of the local free newspapers, BKLYNHEIGHTS Courier, had an article on binge drinking. Seems our little neighborhood has a high incidence of it, with 20% of the adults living here admitting to engaging in this behavior. The average for all of Brooklyn is only 12%.

Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks on one occasion. Kind of like your average night out at the pub, if you ask me.

The article warned that "There could be serious consequences for people who consume several alcoholic drinks in one night." And what "serious consequence" did they specifically hone in on?

"Binge drinkers are three times more likely than non-drinkers to report having multiple sex partners."

Well gee, I guess that is going to make a lot of people, particularly all of the college and law-school students around here, think twice before dumping down another beer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Airline Pricing Strategy

Of course everyone knows how crazy airline pricing is. I sometimes wonder if any two people on the same flight paid the same price. Just imagine any other business, an appliance store, for example, who followed the same model. Jeez, that refrigerator was only $350 dollars yesterday and it is $500 today. Should I buy now or wait to see if the price drops tomorrow.

I am flying to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at the end of the month. I purchased my ticket on November 13, 2008 at which time the price was $681. On December 25, 2008 the price had dropped to $612,.53 where it stayed until January 6, 2009 when it jumped to $664.22. On January 9, 2009 it dropped to $630.64 where it stayed for one day before soaring to $809.64 where it also stayed for just one day.

On January 11, 2009 it dropped to $689.64 and stabilized for, hold your breath, three whole days before jumping to $809.64 for one day and then dropping back to $689.64 for four days.

On January 19, 2009 the prices jumped to $899.64 and stayed there for three days. On January 22, 2009 it dropped back down to &689.64 and now, today, January 23, 2009 it has fallen to $654.64.

Kind of makes your head spin, doesn't it. And the price differential would have to be at least $150.00 from what you paid for your ticket to make it worth your while to switch to a lower fare, because that is what they will charge you to do it. So, if you had paid the $899.64 for your ticket a few days ago you could pay the $150.00 to trade it in for the $654.64 ticket being sold today and save yourself over a hundred bucks.

Now, and correct me if I am wrong, wouldn't you think the airlines would want you to purchase your tickets early? They have the cash in hand and can would be better able to determine capacity requirements. But with their pricing strategy, what is the motiviation for doing so. It is like playing roulette, trying to figure out if you got the best fare or if it will drop again or if you will get screwed if you wait because it will go up.

Just another reason people love to fly.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Scratch One Off My List

Well, here is one bar I will never visit, The Pencil Factory on Franklin Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Sad, too, because this was a classic old bar before Greenpoint became gentrified. Now, and how low can you go, they actually have a happy hour for mothers.

There was an article, A Toast To Mothering, in today's New York Daily News, and if this won't put you off your beer, nothing will:

"If other patrons - mostly young men perched on bar stools - are fazed by the breastfeeding and diaper-changing, they don't let on."

Oh yeah, nothing like the smell of beer and baby-poop to make you want to linger for another cold one. I would think that changing a baby in a bar would have to violate some health code. I mean, don't they have a changing-table in the restroom for that sort of thing.

And talk about convoluted logic; one young mother actually said "Its best to breastfeed while you're drinking because it takes an hour for the alcohol to hit your bloodstream." Wow, run into the bar, order a beer, and quickly breastfeed your baby while you drink it down.

As a side-note, I thought Michelle Obama looked lovely at the swearing-in ceremony, but if that dress she wore to the inaugural balls had been yellow she would have looked like Big Bird from Sesame Street.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama and President Lincoln

For some reason the media seems to like linking President Obama with President Lincoln. Why this is so, I do not know.

First of all, President Lincoln was a Republican.

Secondly, President Lincoln was the ultimate flip-flopper and a politician above all else. The great emancipator? Only when it was politically expedient. If you don't believe me, read his first inaugural address, the one they don't teach you about in school, particularly this part:

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that —

'I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.'

Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them; and more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:

Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.

Hmm, "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists." How many of you ever knew that President Lincoln ever said such a thing, and in many speeches including his first inaugural speech?

Oh, and the vaunted Emancipation Proclamation. Ahem, it only declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." In other words, it only applied to states that had seceded from the Union and expressly exempted states that were loyal to the Union and also exempted those parts of the Confederacy that had come under Northern control. And this was only in January, 1863, nearly three years after the Civil War had started. It was strictly a political move to further undermine the Confederacy.

President Lincoln was not exactly the epitome of someone with a strong moral compass, at least when it came to slavery.

So on this day when history is, indeed, being made, it might do us all well to remember history that has already been made. And not distort it because it is convenient to spin this link between President Lincoln and President Obama. In fact, those pictures and news clips that juxtapose President Obama with the statue of President Lincoln could be considered the height of irony.

Now, to give President Lincoln his due, he did push for the passage of the 13th Amendment which did, indeed, outlaw slavery in all of the United States. However, at the time of its passage, only Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky still allowed slavery. Interestingly, these were all Union States.