Tuesday Miscellany

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My wife can corroborate this: Sales during last week’s Black Friday, the traditional kickoff of the holiday shopping season, were better than many analysts expected. But the growth likely came at the expense of margins as stores cut prices aggressively. She went shopping on Saturday and the malls were dead. That’s not normally what occurs. They’re not madhouses like malls on Black Friday, but they’re usually full of shoppers.
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The Associated Press Top 25 Basketball poll puts seven Catholic schools in the Top 25: Notre Dame Gonzaga, Marquette, Xavier, Georgetown, Villanova, Miami (FL). Three other Catholic schools received votes. Probably a lot of intercession from St. Antony, the patron saint of basket makers.
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Please use the box to the right when going to Amazon. Each purchase earns me a 6%-ish kickback. Thanks to the person that purchased the expresso coffee maker after accessing Amazon through TDE.
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Scratching my head but giving a fair hearing: A self-professed libertarian wants to bail out the Big Three. I’m not agreeing with him, but he has made me step back and think about it some more. Excerpt:

Secondly we should know that much of what is written about American auto manufacturers is obsolete or simply false. For example, one often hears that workers earn $70 per hour. Workers don’t make that. That cost includes all the legacy benefits to retirees. Detroit is unwinding from years of union domination, and in 2010 companies will be transferring legacy costs to their unions. Billions are already set aside for this purpose which is already half funded. Another is that American quality is not competitive. Forbes describes the quality of new models and how Ford and GM are major, profitable producers in Asia, Europe and South America. Ford has closed 17 plants and was profitable in the first quarter. GM is the largest auto company in China with 14% of the market. It has many enticing new models coming along.Their skilled workers and engineers are at the heart of American heavy manufacturing.

Yet most critics’ talk of the auto unions is about the way they used to be, not the situation now. In fact the UAW union, in 2007, has already given in with major concessions and will no longer have a stranglehold on the companies. New hires will come in at $14 per hour, with only a 401K pension plan, reduced health care benefits and major work rule revisions. Work rule revisions and the two tier wage structure strike at the heart of union monopoly power. Also it is not necessarily true that companies would be back for more money soon after, as many opponents assume, without evidence.

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Don’t steal: A Nigerian woman has been arrested for burning her houseboy’s private parts after he allegedly stole her money. The boy is 18. You gotta wonder how she was able to subdue him in the first place. Maybe he doesn’t deserve to have male body parts.
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Not all Americans are hurting: Michelle Obama is to receive this $30,000 thank you from her husband for her support during the election. The Harmony ring is made of rhodium – the world’s most expensive metal –and encrusted with diamonds. It is being hastily made by Italian designer Giovanni Bosco in time for January’s inauguration ceremony.
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Gondola makers working overtime: Sirens sounded across Venice yesterday as flooding submerged 95 per cent of the city and left tourists in St Mark’s Square thigh-deep in water.

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  1. Meistergoat