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About gweilgi

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  • Location
    Sydney, NSW
  • Interests
    cigars, wine, good food, pocket watches, music

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  1. I hate to compare Cubans and Non-Cubans because there is a time, place and occasion for everything. Just as I wouldn't want to smoke a Genuine Pre-Embargo Counterfeit Cuban at a friend's wedding (the stag night is a different matter ), I would not wish to fire up a Cohiba Esplendido when doing the gardening or at 9,000 feet on the slopes. That said, the closest I have ever come to the Cuban experience is with the Padron 1926 series and 50th Anniversary. They are complex and interesting. They evolve. They demand attention and respect. In short, they give me what a good Cuban gives me.
  2. Moral hazard is an issue, definitely. But it does not solve anything to reduce it all to individual decisions and responsibility when the problem becomes so big that it develops into a genuine headache for all of us, on many levels. When too many people make bad choices, it turns into a problem for all of us. And it is a costly one at that. Youth unemployment, long-term unemployment, crime, failure to create personal wealth, reduction of national productivity, loss of national competitiveness, erosion of the tax base, pressure on social service systems -- we all foot the bill for those individual yet endemic choices, and so we cannot just sit back and say "hey, it's their choice, let them deal with it". I might take a punt on it. What matters here is not so much the degree itself than the ability to be flexible, a willingness to enter other and possibly unrelated fields, and above all a good technical skill of acquiring, integrating, analysing and using knowledge. Careers open to an art history graduate (other than the obvious gallery or museum route): marketing, advertising, PR, event management, education, design (including graphic) and media (including broadcasting and online), publishing, interior design ... and that's just off the top of my head. Besides, art is big business -- the global art market was worth USD45 billion last year. Correctly identify a Da Vinci or Pollack, or discover the next Basquiat or Koons, and you stand to recoup enough to pay for several hundred art history degrees with enough profit to spare to finance the country's largest collection of cigars.

    Smoking at sports venues ... for anyone who likes soccer, here's a recommendation: the Davidoff Lounge at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. The one place I know where one can watch a match in full comfort while smoking a cigar and clutching something well aged and amber. The downside is, you have to watch soccer -- the sport for over-acting little girls' blouses.
  4. Traditional apprenticeships in continental Europe were largely unpaid, true. But apprentices did commonly receive free room, board and clothing -- usually in the master's house. I may be wrong about this, but I cannot recall ever hearing of a company doing this for their apprentices or interns these days. I have two nephews who are currently in the apprenticeship system in Germany; one is training to be a chef, the other a station manager with the railways. Their "wages" amount to pocket money -- less than USD500 a month -- and they have to pay tuition and exam fees. It is also a full-time occupation, six days a week and unusual hours. For them and virtually all other apprentices, it would be quite impossible to pursue such training while still holding down a job. They manage to get this training only through the support of their families, or, in some cases, with serious support from social services. The minimum wage would not change their needs and situation, of course... Is it productivity or demand which drives wages and the poaching of workers? If I am the best damned cashier at MacDonald's and manage to supersize every order, would Burger King or Hungry Jack's really care enough about that to come over and offer me $2 more an hour? Or will they offer me $2 more when the new spam-canning factory has hoovered up all the unskilled labour? There is a severe shortage of sheep-shearers right now. A good shearer can expect to earn $90 an hour. So where are those youths chomping at the bit to work hard?
  5. If and when enough people make those choices, those misplaced priorities do not remain personal problems -- they become economic problems. IMHO, you put your finger on the real problem: not minimum wage but associated cost to the employer. In Europe, for instance, the average ancillary wage costs (payroll taxes) to an employer amount to 31 Euros for every 100 Euros in gross wages. Then add restrictive hiring and firing laws, costly workplace regulations and other such impositions. Relax or reduce those, and minimum wage would become eminently affordable.
  6. What happened to supply and demand in that argument? There are plenty of young people out there looking for work. There are also plenty of older unemployed people who may be desperate enough to compete for unskilled jobs. There are plenty of people heading backing the job market and taking whatever they can get (think women after maternity leave, or divorcees). There is competition from kids who are still in school and who are looking for part-time work. In smaller and family firms/shops that might overlook a lack of formal qualifications, there is also often competition from the owner's family -- Junior helping out behind the counter is always cheaper than paying a stranger. And last but by no means least, in Europe and the US, there are plenty of migrants willing to undercut the local kids on wages. What they all have in common is a willingness to take orders and put their backs into it -- which is just about the most common ability I can think of and hence of very limited marketability. IOW, the supply vastly exceeds the demand ... and that puts pressure on wages. To my mind, the biggest argument against minimum wages is that it may encourage kids to leave school and forego further education: a living wage today reduces the pressure to keep sitting in a classroom for a few more years. The median wage for a waiter in Australia is $33,000, for a supermarket cashier it is $36,000 and for a cleaner it is $43,000. That is tempting for a kid who has been thinking in terms of pocket money -- especially in parts of the country where house prices may only be five or six times annual salary and a car may be had for a few months' work. This loses the country a LOT in talent, in knowledge workers, in growth.
  7. Interesting. So how does that explain the concentration of smokers in the lower socio-economic strata? Whether in the UK, Canada, the UK or Australia: smoking is inversely correlated with class, meaning that those parts of society least able to afford the swingeing prices are also those most likely to keep smoking.
  8. Let\'s talk about watches:

    That may be true, but it also effectively means that some watches will get a lot more wrist time than others. Winding and setting a time-only watch takes a few seconds -- doing the same with a moon-phase or calendar can be a right pain in the posterior.
  9. So using a foreign language is now evidence of criminal activity? I know that Britain (and the US) can be a bit myopic when it comes to recognising and appreciating that most of the world does not speak English -- shock, horror, say it ain't so!! -- but that is plainly ridiculous!
  10. From the UK government website: "The estimates are produced using a ‘top-down’ methodology: the total consumption is estimated, the legitimate consumption is subtracted, and the remainder is the illicit market. Total consumption is estimated using data from the ONS Opinions and Lifestyle survey. Legitimate consumption is based on the returns HMRC receives from the volumes of tobacco on which duties have been paid and an estimate of cross-border shopping and duty-free sales. In addition to the uplift that accounts for under-reporting, there is an uplift that accounts for people who falsely deny smoking, which comes from the Health Survey for England." I have also read of researchers who produced their own estimates by going through garbage to find empty packets and fag ends and using the proportion of foreign and clearly untaxed cigarettes as a substitute measure.
  11. The latest official figures indicate 10% of cigarettes, and 39% of rolling tobacco. There was no data on cigars. Of course, what they are really whining about is the loss of revenue. For cigarettes alone, the loss is around £2 billion a year, or 20% of the total take. What none of them seem to understand is the concept of a tipping point. Whether it is alcohol, tobacco or anything else, there is a point beyond which even normally law-abiding citizens say "enough is enough" and turn to alternative sources. This is exemplified by the astonishing fact that only 14% of those who know of illegal tobacco being sold bother to report it to the authorities -- meaning that 85% of people actually support criminal enterprise.
  12. As a curler, I can only applaud your enthusiasm, but I do have to ask ... does that progression in any way correlate to the consumption of single malt?
  13. Let\'s talk about watches:

    Not sure where you are based, so availability may be an issue. On the whole, it seems to me you might want to look at US railroad watches. They were built to a high standard of accuracy (if they weren't, trains would crash), have a highly legible dial and often come in silver. Brands to look for: Waltham, Howard, Hamilton, Ball, Elgin. They were produced in large quantities so are still comparatively affordable and spare parts for repair are widely available.
  14. Cigsor

    It's rubbish. Where are the vital measurements of the local magnetic field? How about sunspot activity alerts? Where is the tie-in to my single malt app? What do I do with the feed form my humidor cam? Why is there no micro-vibration sensor feed to alert me to beetle activity?
  15. Excellent recommendation; you will not regret it.

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