Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech, Tesco, and the Jaguar XK8

If you've picked up a paper, turned on the television or listened to the radio then you'll have heard about the shooting at Virginia Tech. 32 dead plus the gunman. Of course what has been constantly popping up is Virginia's soft gun laws, and that old stand-by the "right to bear arms". As usual it's a common reaction to such terrible incidents - "Why did this happen" with it's attendant "Could it have been stopped?" and the nasty "Who's to blame?". Talk has been made about why the police didn't lock-down the campus after the first incident - they thought it was a one-off; people were already heading to classes; and, perhaps most importantly and something no-one seems to have pointed out, we're talking about a campus of 26,000 students. That's a larger number then live in my town, want to try and lock-down Stourport?

So as I say the Second Amendment gets quoted a lot at these times, except it doesn't. All you hear is a short snippet from the full text so here it is in its entirety:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
Read the first sentence again "well regulated militia" is what you should be picking up on; how are soft gun control laws aiding towards a well regulated militia? If needed can the federal government send out a missive to these militias calling them to action? No, half the time they've no idea who they are.

Arguments against point to other countries who have more gun owners and yet have less gun-crime citing the old "It's not guns that kill people, it's people" except of course handguns have only one true design in mind.

It appears to be a two-fold thing the simplistic "Shoot first and ask questions later" attitude that manifests itself quite clearly in the current White House administration, combined with the ease of obtaining weaponry to carry out these urges.

Can I offer a simple answer that'll make it all go away? No, and beware anybody who says they can regardless of the side they're on.

So Tesco have announced profits of £2.65bn bringing down more accusations of monopolisation. Taking to a guy from Tescopoly on the BBC Declan made the intelligent point that people are choosing to shop at Tesco, they're the ones leaving the local shops to flock there. The response was the easy "Well they're not in possession of the full picture" in reply to which Declan went down in my estimation by saying "So the people are being duped and are stupid?" No, big difference between duped and stupid.

How do Tesco achieve these low-prices, by paying less to the producers and forcing them to aggregate into larger groups cutting down on individuality. Someone else pointed out that it's possible to compete by being innovative, citing a store that had become a large delicatessen and offering services that Tesco don't. Sorry that's not competition except in the greater sense of 'where money is spent', in which case every store is in 'competition' with um well everyone. They found that the only way to succeed was to offer something that Tesco didn't.

The Monopoly Commission is waking up to the fact that just because a store only has a 31% take of the market doesn't mean it's not a monopoly. Let's take a look using the figures from the BBC.

Food/Grocery - 31%
Clothes - 10% (second largest)
Chart CDs/DVDs - 25%

and I don't have the percentages for electrical goods and financial services, but let's deal with this. Because Tesco sell CDs and DVDs they're in competition with the likes of HMV and Virgin, but most importantly neither of those sell groceries or clothes. So looking at it that way we can say Tesco are 31/10/25 whereas HMV might be 0/0/33 and Virgin 0/0/33 (plucking figures from the air).

So altogether looking at all three sectors as one Tesco have 66/300 or 22% whereas HMV and Virgin might only have 11% each.

Next thing to look at is the variety of stores. Oh their Metro's don't sell clothes and electrical goods, doesn't matter they're not small stores they're extensions of the larger one. I may seem to be pointing out the obvious, but occasionally it needs to be done. The Metro stores aren't buying in goods just for that store to stock; the goods are being bought for every Express, Metro, and Extra store and we all know about the advantages of bulk buying. A single local grocer despite being the same size or even larger then the local Metro can only buy in for that one shop. A level playing field is not possible in those circumstances.

Finally is the way these stores are dotted around. GMTV pointed to a colossal Tesco Extra on the outskirts of a town, then mentioned they wanted to put a Metro in the town centre. So as per above the smaller shop can undercut all the prices of it's local same sized competitors without risk all costs being absorbed by the bulk of the chain.

Welcome to Tescoville.

An odd one this, someone was looking at the Jaguar XK8 and navigated through the official site to a Flash page that allowed you to change the colour, wheels etc. Default was a Coupe, he changed it to Convertible and clicked the next step button to pick a colour. Clicked on a colour and "0% loading" stuck. "It's Opera!" he said. <sigh> "Try it in IE" exactly the same. I switched to another computer (less high-powered as it turns out) and tried the same. Stuck - with disc-churning.

I pulled up the computer diagnostics, gasped, and rapidly shut down Opera. Normal allocated memory/swapfile size/swapfile in use is about 200Mb/160Mb/0MB with the later rising to about 60Mb when doing something strenuous. The figures I saw - 500Mb/300Mb/120Mb and rising rapidly. So that's two different computers with two different browsers each getting stuck at the same point.

Giving up with that and perhaps unwisely he headed for the XKR site. Exactly the same layout, except a) it worked and b) all the headings were in a slightly different order. Consistency people?

Is anyone at Jaguar actually bothering to look at these things?