Wednesday, March 07, 2007

From Harold Maass's The Best of Today's Business:

Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Relaxing by working
The United Way and are unveiling a Web site to help tourists find places where they can do volunteer work on vacation. A British company offering similar services said it saw a 300-percent surge in North American bookings from 2002 to 2005, as an increasing number of Americans decided to spend their holidays building houses for the poor, or protecting Pandas in China, or saving sea turtles in Costa Rica... (Los Angeles Times, free registration required)

I can understand this - it's essentially a more-relevant "dude ranch" or "Outward Bound" type vacation.

3.8 percent of the 9 million workers and job applicants given urinalyses by Quest Diagnostics tested positive for drugs last year. In 2005, 4.1 percent of the tests came back positive -- down from a peak of 13.6 percent in 1988, the first year the company began compiling data. (USA Today)

Which almost certainly means that, along with reduced drug use among workers, job applicants have gotten a lot smarter about foiling drug tests since '88.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007
US Airways plans to start selling advertising space on tray tables in first class this spring, after a trial program in coach demonstrated that passengers weren't annoyed by tray-table ads. (The New York Times, free registration required)

This seems way overdue to me. They should also be selling the space at the top of the seatback, and the space revealed when the tray is pulled down.

As much as 5 percent of the rare-vintage wine sold privately or at auction may be fake, according to Wine Spectator. (The Wall Street Journal, no link)

Big surprise. An estimated quarter of rare stamps and half of the sports memorabilia sold is counterfeit. Fake "antiques" abound, as do fashion knock-offs.
Whatever is highly valuable due to intangibles, but which is also easily reproduced, will be. Like currency itself, and even money orders and trading stamps.

Monday, March 5, 2007
Finding oil in the most obvious places
Technology advances are helping energy companies extract more oil from old fields, dramatically boosting forecasts of the world's oil reserves. Until recently, drilling operations only extracted one of every three barrels of oil they found. [Emphasis added] The rest they left behind because it would have been too expensive to pump out. High oil prices have helped change that. Now, drillers can use new processes, such as injecting high-pressure steam into wells, to extract more oil from fields where production had been declining. "It's not over until you abandon the last well," said Chevron geophysicist Steve Garrett, "and even then it's not over." (The New York Times, free registration required)

Which is one reason, among many, why I don't sweat Hubbert's peak, which theory claims that we're on the verge of running out of oil.

Thursday, March 1, 2007
McDonald's plans to introduce iced coffee -- as well as smoothies and other "destination beverages" -- to bring people who aren't even hungry into its restaurants. The giant hamburger chain introduced premium coffee last year, and its coffee volume jumped by 15 percent. (AP in the Los Angeles Times, free registration required)

This, Chipotle (more), the 24hr drive-through hours...
McD's management is on the ball.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007
DaimlerChrysler approved a plan to become the first company to sell Chinese-made cars in the U.S. Chrysler would sell small cars built by China's Chery Motor in the U.S. and Europe. The Chinese government is expected to approve the deal next month. If it does, the vehicles -- which would be smaller than Chryslers tiniest current model, the Dodge Caliber -- could be available in a few years. (USA Today) "The Chinese have shown they can build quality if they have a blueprint," said analyst George Peterson of AutoPacific Inc., "and that's what they'd get from Chrysler." (Los Angeles Times, free registration required)

Monday, February 26, 2007
A web site called will provide hired "friends" to users of MySpace and other networking sites for 99 cents a month each. The business' founder, Brand Walker, said he came up with the idea of selling phony comments and pictures of models as a way to "turn cyberlosers into social-networking magnets." (The New York Times, free registration required)

LOL. I wish that I'd thought of that.


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