Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gone to the dogs

Too busy to pet your own pooch? There was a time---simpler, freer days in Arizona--when you could hire someone to do it for you.
Grace Granatelli, an animal masseuse in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, said she would play new-age music or "spa sounds," which help relax dogs.
In her sessions, Granatelli would have the dog lie down on the floor or its bed and start by massaging its neck. She would then move to other areas, including legs and hips. But it's not crucial that the dog lie down or sit still.
"There are times where the dog is either very distracted or anxious or isn't quite receptive," Granatelli said. "So I just do the best I can doing the strokes while they're standing — whatever I can do to get the strokes in and get some relaxation in their muscles."
 Everyone was happy, including the massaged mutts. Enter the rent seekers, stage left;
That was until Granatelli became one of three animal massage practitioners who received cease-and-desist letters from the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board earlier this year. The trio has sued the board, arguing that the statute is overly broad in defining veterinary medicine. They are not practicing while the lawsuit moves through the courts.
Three people are deprived of their livelihoods, because;
The board says "I was doing more than just pampering dogs and that was breaking laws," Granatelli said.
A great threat to civilization, no doubt.
The American Veterinary Medical Association classifies animal massage as a form of veterinary care that should require a license. It is up to each state's veterinary licensing board whether to categorize it that way.
Why?
"We do consider them veterinary procedures, and we feel the same standards should be used because a lot of harm can come from them," association assistant director Adrian Hochstadt said.
Oh, your feelings are hurt. Screw the pooches!
Carol Forrest, a former client of Granatelli's, said her Dachshunds, Maxie and Lucy, got regular massages for five years. The two, who have since passed away, were able to relax after a massage despite dealing with issues such as arthritis.
Forrest said she truly believes massage benefits dogs as much as people.
"It's like if you go to one regularly that you like, they get to know you and you get a better treatment out of it," she said. "The same goes for the dogs ... versus going to the vet — my dogs aren't relaxed at the vet."
In Arizona, so what. They can't let some dog, somewhere, somehow be happy. So enjoy your Thanksgiving, turkeys.

Alors? Ce était en anglais

What should we do with this dusty old tome, Jacques?
A rare and valuable Shakespeare First Folio, regarded as the most important book in English literature, has been discovered in a small French town.
The book had lain undisturbed in a library in Saint-Omer, near Calais in northern France, for 200 years.
Without anyone noticing what was in it.

Swiss off their nose, to placate their left?

Switzerland's voters will have a chance to show their business-like attitude this Sunday;
Switzerland's system of charging foreign residents with no gainful activity in the country a lump sum based on their living expenses, instead of taxing assets or income, has helped make it a popular home for the super rich.
Which just grates on some;
Five Swiss cantons including Zurich have abolished the lump-sum tax, but the left-wing Social Democratic Party gathered the necessary 100,000 signatures to force a vote on doing away with it at the national level.
Even though in 2012 it brought in almost 700 million Swiss francs (about $725m USD) from wealthy people who otherwise would choose to live elsewhere. Polling suggests the lefties will lose their gamble.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tweets and trees grow in Brooklyn

Thanks to StartupsMansion, young amigos can work and live together for mutual benefit;
Startups Mansion is the brainchild of Spaniards Pascual Aparicio, Ignacio Hojas and Carlos de Ory, who say they grew tired of the problems they faced trying to get their tech startups going in Spain, and so moved to San Francisco. To fund their projects they decided to set up a business incubator with other like-minded Spaniards. They put the idea out on the social networks, and soon found 750 people in Spain prepared to make the move. After selecting 31, they then decided on Brooklyn, where they found a large house with a garage owned by a Chinese family.
The three-month stay in StartupsMansion costs around €2,000, including flight, lodging, a work-station, and the contacts needed to make a start. The program has three phases: an initial contact where participants meet and get to know each other; the development stage, which sees an idea either take shape or be abandoned; and the close, when the results are evaluated. “Our philosophy is: make a lot of mistakes, make them early, and do so as cheaply as possible. The idea is to see if we can do something with the resources at our disposal. We’re satisfied. We want the program to last,” says Aparicio.
So far;
Eduardo Jorgensen, aged 22, is a medical student trying to apply technology through his startup MedicSen. He came to StartupsMansion to find backers for a sticking plaster that helps diabetics manage their blood sugar levels. He has since joined forces with Merche Sánchez to set up Mistery Tour, a travel platform that provides last-minute cheap airline tickets.
Xavier Barata is the 32-year-old founder of King of App, a cellphone applications platform. He’s looking for investors, and has so far managed to secure a stand at the upcoming MobileWorld Congress in Barcelona.
as well as;
Abdón Rodríguez, 22, says he has made major improvements to his videogame War of Sides after testing it out on his roommates. Manuel Zafra has used his time to launch a subscription app, as well as to develop a cellphone application that, once you provide it with your measurements, tells you which clothing brand best suits you. His floor-mates Miriam Alcaide and Elena Yepes, aged 31 and 32 respectively, are working on Tweettohelp, which links business, NGOs, and social network users to work on corporate social responsibility. “For each tweet, a company plants a tree. The idea has been well received by NGOs over here,” says Miriam.
The socialist Spanish Earth wasn't so fertile, after all.


Where's the militarized police force when you need it?

Not in Ferguson, Missouri last night. Or not enough of it;
On Tuesday morning, police were called to a residential area near Canfield Green Apartments, close to some of the most volatile unrest Monday night and just hours after building fires raged and gunshots were reported in the area. Officers found a dead man inside a parked vehicle and were investigating it as a “suspicious death,” according to St. Louis County Police.
Shot by a racist police officer?
The Ferguson Fire Department said it fought 25 structure fires overnight, in an interview with a local television station, and that efforts to extinguish those fires were hampered by firefighters having to cease work because of gunfire in the area. 
Anybody think of calling 911?

It's the elasticity of demand, stupid!

A blogger alert to errors in elementary economics may work from sun to sun, but journalists will see that the work is never done. Such as this from Thomson Reuters Foundation's Kieran Guilbert;
Thousands of foreign workers on United States government overseas contracts have paid large recruitment fees to secure their jobs, according to a watchdog, raising fears of human trafficking in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gulf states.
....Thomas Melito, director of International Affairs and Trade Issues at GAO, said there was a concern that not clearly defining what constitutes a recruitment fee allowed "too much room for interpretation".
The report found that fees paid by workers included the cost of plane tickets, lodging, passport and visa fees and medical screening, among other expenses.
"If a worker needs a passport to go overseas to work, all companies charge a fee for that. Is it considered a recruitment fee or not, that's unclear. The worker will also need a visa, and who pays for that?" Melito told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Washington.
"The danger of not being clear on fees and transactions is that it creates potential loopholes, which can be exploited," Melito added.
Let's take a little trip to the NBER, and learn about tax (in this case, fee) incidence from Larries Kotlikoff  and Summers;
Prices of goods and rewards to factors [like labor] are altered by taxes [and fees]. In assessing the incidence...it is necessary to take account of these effects. Changes in prices can lead to the shifting of taxes [and fees]. Thus, for example, a tax on the hiring of labor by business may be shifted backwards to laborers in the form of lower wages or forward to consumers in the form of higher prices. ...it is an analytical characterization of economic equilibria.... [bold by HSIB]
In short, just because there's a law stating that X must pay a fee, supply and demand will ultimately shift the burden to whomever is best positioned to actually pay it.

Trial Lawyers' Mayor of the Year Award to be announced

Or so we'd surmise, if there was such an award;
New York incurred a record $732 million in legal costs in the last fiscal year, mostly from claims of police abuse, negligence and hiring discrimination, expenses that accelerated under Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The amount accrued in settlements and judgments in the 12 months ended June 30 increased by 40 percent, according to the comptroller’s annual report released last month. The total represents almost 1 percent of the city budget, more than New York spends on parks, recreation and libraries combined. In the previous three years, legal costs averaged $590 million.
According the the article in Insurance Journal by Harry Goldman, the majority of that increase came after new mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn in in January of this year.
Carol Kellermann, president of the Citizens Budget Commission, a business-backed watchdog, said the new administration may not be conservative enough when it comes to using taxpayer money for legal settlements.
“It’s a dramatic increase that’s worrisome because it indicates the new administration may be evaluating cases differently,” Kellermann said. “You walk a fine line between cleaning up backlog and giving New Yorkers the message that you can sue and get a windfall.”
 Bold, in the above, by HSIB.