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Minyan Mail Bag and Idle Thumping


"What kind of culture allows a sports franchise to be named 'The Spurs'?!"


Minyan George Hill Writes:

I thought Oscar De La Hoya, when he wasn't trying to make it as a singer (he was nominated for a Grammy, not that means anything anymore), won titles in six weight classes. What's the big deal with four?

Minyan George,

You are absolutely correct. The Grammys have been destroyed by the same Summer Camp-ish, everyone-gets-a-prize dilution that has wrecked the Oscars. I mean, what on earth is the difference between "Song of the Year" and "Record of the Year"? That's simply asinine.

Regarding boxing, I understand the confusion on what "champion" means, at this point. For reasons which are less "Summer Camp" and more "Organized Crime", boxing championships have multiplied into meaninglessness. For that reason, boxing fans (a small and somewhat embarrassed group of which I'm part) ignore the various sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBA etc ad nauseum) and define champions by the more old school "Man who beat the man who beat the man... " etc. definition.

So Floyd Maywhether Jr. really isn't fighting for anything historic this weekend. It's simply a note-worthy fight (again, to my weird little band) against an exciting fighter (Gatti) who really isn't a champion at all. But it made a decent hook for the trivia and an excuse for me to tick everyone off with another boxing question. For what it's worth, Floyd was, in fact, The Man at 130 and then 135lbs.

The important message here is this: Oscar De La Hoya is a very good business man who would have been bludgeoned into a fine mist, had he ever fought "Hammerin'" Henry Armstrong.

Minyan James "Cracks" Karn writes:

First off, Fed Ex (FDX) is passing costs along to their customer, they probably just haven't passed them along fast enough. If you don't think their price increases are sticking, your not shipping packages with FedEx.

The way I see it, FedEx and UPS are an oligopoly, along with DHL and USPS to a lesser extent. They try to raise rates once a year, usually in January and they have the fuel surcharge on top of that. They always raise nearly the exact same amount. Perhaps they underestimated costs this year and will raise more next year to catch up, or maybe they will have a second increase this year, but I bet whatever they do, they will all do it together. And if I as a shipper don't like the increase, what am I going to do? In the single package under 70lb range, I really don't have a wide range of choices. So I don't buy the no pricing power theory for FedEx. Costs rising faster than expected, yes, but not rejected price increases.

Minyan James,

I agree with shippers-as-oligopoly thinking. Think: Airlines (except the passengers don't talk and you take them all the way to their house).

I'm a sympathetic guy, by nature (it hurts that you didn't so) but I regard the oil excuse as being akin to retailers complaining about the weather. In short: "Stop whining and talk to me about things you have a remote chance of controlling."

Unless FedEx is going to do something about the weather (perhaps with a ground-breaking weather machine with which they will extort billions from nations across the globe... in which case FDX is cheap) they should shut up and about it and focus on controlling expenses or gaining pricing power. Fuel cost just "is" and it's the same for everyone.

Pot Shots, because it's Friday:

  • Todd-O has asked me to clarify that he is not, in fact, 40. He is approaching 40.

  • Speaking of the Mafia, SF Pot Clubs have been accused of being used as a money laundering operation. Seems a little unfair to jump to conclusions... mobsters get glaucoma, too.

  • "Let's go out to the movies" is going to sound as silly and outdated to my daughter (now 2.5) as "Let's spin some records!" would sound to a teenager of today.

Cell phones, 30 minutes of commercials / previews, $10 tickets and spine-warping seats... it's like they want us to hate them.

  • Here's the big problem with our attempted strong arming of China: we don't have the national wontons to deal with the impact such a battle would have on consumers.

We really like having prices for things like t-shirts dropping every year. I'm on the board of a discount retailer and I can tell ya'll this: if we push the Chinese into a trade war it's going to crush our costs of goods sold. The choice will be "Go out of business" or "raise prices".

Since every retailer faces the same problem, Pricing Power or not, the consumer is going to bear the brunt. Might not matter to those who have married particularly well but those of us who weren't so lucky figure to be peevish.

  • The other, more obvious, problem is simply that China hasn't allowed themselves to be strong armed by anyone, at least for the last 1,000-odd years.
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