What is the Long Game?

When WalMart announced it was closing 269 stores, local news included the fact that it was closing one store in Vegas. The closure of this store was no surprise to me. In fact, I was surprised it was still open at all. It was the Walmart where this happened. When there’s a shootout with cops in your store, you really ought to reconsider that location.

Now, it has since been pointed out that there’s not another full grocery store for 5 miles. Think about that for a minute: an urban area, near an Air Force Base, that can’t support one single grocery store. That’s mind boggling.

Even more mind boggling is that WalMart — traditionally, a retailer that would go into rural towns where KMart didn’t want to be — can’t seem to make up its mind concerning small town grocery stores. First, it opened up a bunch of grocery stores in small towns. The local grocers that had been serving those areas could not compete and went out of business. Now that WalMart has an effective monopoly, they are closing those stores!

So does WalMart have some sinister long game? Or is management simply incompetent?

In Closing: return of the Cat Film Festival; a recipe that looks great, but who am I kidding I’ll never make it.

Pride and Prejudice and Shorties

fear

My tabs are getting out of hand. Apologies for the sparse postings. Studying is seriously impeding my ability to goof off!

On the GOP: Be Afraid! And a few words on poverty.

On why making the No Fly List also a No Gun List is really a bad idea:  It’s absurdly easy to be put on the list, even if you aren’t even in preschool yet. There’s no due process to get off it. And exactly how many mass shootings have been committed by people who were already on the list? Judging from media coverage, I’d say that number must be very close to zero.

Dumbing Down: Even Sesame Street is dumbing down America and making us feel less safe.

What you should really be afraid of: Unexpected expenses: 63% of us are in deep financial doodoo if the transmission dies, the water heater springs a leak, or some other $500 expense pops up.

Another unfortunately rational fear: Death by law enforcement.

Close with something cheerful: Vegas and Sledge Hammer!

The Shorties Girls

I really thought about doing something on intellectual dishonesty today. But you know it boils down to one thing: Cheating cheats you in the long run. So here’s the shorties.

Google Easter Egg: check out what happens when you search for “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

The Cats of Belgium: Belgians have a pretty good sense of humor, it turns out.

The NSA: I guess nobody noticed they had their fingers crossed behind their backs. I wonder what, if anything, can stop them from thumbing their nose at the 4th and 5th Amendments.

Stop! Thief!: Civil forfeitures now exceed losses from burglaries.

Opt Out: Massachusetts has decided they don’t want Common Core. Not because they can’t live up to it, but because they believe what they already implemented was better.

The Whole Country: “Russian sailor drank half a litre of rum before crashing 7,000-ton ship full speed into Scotland.” Some headlines are better than others.

The History [Americans] Don’t Know: We will never figure out how to bring peace to the region without learning how “The West” helped cause the problems in the first place.

And Finally: A few words on Downtown Las Vegas. By the way, “Downtown” and “The Strip” are completely different places. Strictly speaking the Strip isn’t even in Las Vegas!

A Tale of Two Cities

Yesterday, I went on a mini pilgrimage to the site of the old MGM Grand fire — Bally’s.

All traces of the fire itself were erased 34 years and multiple renovations ago. Nevertheless, I could imagine a fireball traversing the long casino floor in seconds, faster than anyone could possibly have run. And yet, if you know what you are looking at, there are vestiges: exit doors prominently marked “EMERGENCY EXIT PUSH TO OPEN”; signage reminding guests where they can and cannot smoke.

In 1980 as today, tourism and hospitality is the largest industry in Las Vegas. Disaster forced changes for the better on businesses that might not otherwise have agreed. Dead tourists and news coverage of dead tourists is bad for business.

However, Vegas is not the worlds most popular tourist destination. France has twice as many annual visitors as Vegas. Paris alone has more annual visitors than Vegas. And remember that dead tourists are bad for business? Yes, Paris has a little problem. Experts swear it’s just a short term problem.

Maybe.

Heck, Paris has survived bigger problems than this.

Unhappy Anniversary: Vegas’s Towering Inferno

November 21, 1980, the MGM Grand Hotel (now Bally’s) had a deadly fire:

The official report on the fire is available in PDF form via the Fire Department. The event caused 85 deaths, a huge change of attitude, a massive renovation of Nevada’s building codes related to fire safety, and changes to Clark County Fire Department.

The lessons learned in Las Vegas may even have made your town’s tall buildings safer.

Sex Ed in Clark County, Nevada

There is quite the local controversy surrounding exactly what students should be taught about their own bodies and sexuality in the 5th largest school district in the nation, Clark County School District. CCSD, to its credit, wants to teach more and make sure students get more accurate information. Students want that too. Parents, on the other hand, want to sharply limit what their kids learn, and they want to keep an “opt-in” mechanism so that parents actually have to sign a piece of paper saying it’s ok to teach kids about sex education.

Now here’s the thing. Well over 99.9% of school kids do in fact have either a vagina or a penis. Sure, I’ll allow for a small chance somebody doesn’t have one or the other. Those same parents who want to “control” how exactly how much their kids know about sex are not teaching them enough, and they aren’t starting early enough. These are the kind of parents who don’t bother to mention to a girl that she will get a period someday, waiting until the inevitable menarche panic. These are exactly the parents whose kids most desperately need sex ed.

Kids who don’t get enough information resort to asking friends who know little more than they do, as in that classic scene from your old Judy Blume book. They make mistakes because they don’t know any better. By contrast, kids who get sex ed wait longer to have sex, and they use contraception when they do — an unmistakable win-win reducing the chances of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

When I was young, most people had never heard of the internet. Now, thank [deity], there are places online where young people can get straight talk about their bodies and their sexuality.

Interested in more of my musings on this and related topics? Here’s Shelby Knox, contraceptives prevent abortions, and twisting the facts. Oh, and what do you call people who use the rhythm method of birth control? Parents!

In Closing: the return of the MERS controversy; Joe Biden’s TPP problem; wasn’t supposed to say that in public (but hey, in the summer of 2007 Hillary seemed inevitable too); internet hacks for students; gosh, that headline means something completely different until you get to the last two words; your elected representatives don’t care what your opinion is.