Random Musings that Amaze Me

Sometimes I am amazed at how much cool stuff I learn one day’s newspaper. Below are random musings from a night flipping my eyes between Simon Cowell and Idol and the Wall St. Journal.

In NYC’s Cooper Union college a new nine-story building is being built–with elevators that only stop at the fifth and the eighth floors. That’s because they want to make the students walk. It seems a bit draconian, and the freight elevators will stop at each one, but that is the stated reason from developer Jonathan Rose.

The other story I kept thinking about was on ‘civil recovery.’ This is a complex legal strategum being employed by Wal-Mart, Home Depot and other large retailers who face billions of dollars in losses to ‘shrinkage,’ or theft. The solution is to send out letters demanding large penalties under threat of a lawsuit. Even if somebody is not charged with shoplifting, they can still be dunned for a huge fine, of thousands of dollars. The little secret is that the companies rarely follow through with the threat of suing, but they reap millions from the sinister letters, and a law firm in Florida called Palmer Reifler & Associates gets to keep 13-30% of what comes in.

Lastly, I keep thinking about this merger between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. If you think the Yahoo/Microsoft deal is big, get a load of these numbers. The mining company, BHP, based in Australia, is raising prices on iron ore, and is worth about $140 billion. If they are successful in taking over Brazil’s largest ore producer, the combined company would be worth $350 billion. Wow! Now that’s a conglomerate!