Sunday, August 03, 2008


If only that Gatwick flight was still around. The UK's Independent does the travel writeup on us today in Pittsburgh: the ideas factory. Given how painful exchange rates are these days it's not inconceivable a few Brits would have popped over the pond for Christmas in July. I guess local retailers will have to settle for enticing a few Canadian shoppers looking for tax-free Pennsylvania clothing.

The raison d'etre is what would have been the 80th birthday for disavowed Burgher Andy Warhol. Some funny cultural nuances in the article... the author describes the grave as being located in a bland Pittsburgh suburb (otherwise known as Bethel Park). Them is fighting words. The Warhol grave overlooks a tram? (that would be the T, who knew we were so Euro) and he confuses CMU and Pitt when he describes the former Carnegie Tech as being dominated by a scary, Orwellian skyscraper, 535ft high and built in the Gothic revival style. (that I take has to be Pitt's Cathedral of Learning... which I do have to say reminds me a bit of Mosow State University for those who have seen it.) and finally he describes local Byzantine Catholics as a sect that uses icons in their worship. Sect? Icons? Are there no Orthodox Christians in the UK?

Finally, where are the obligatory local stories on the mysterious annual visitor to the Warhol grave site. Oh wait, that's the anniversary of his death, not his birthday.


Blogger Denovich said...

I certainly take advantage of it... Every time we fly home from the UK, we fly with 4 empty suitcases. We fly back with all at their 50lb maxes.

It's not just the exchange rate either... The VAT has a lot to do with it. +17% or thereabouts on top.

I also don't think anyone appreciates how competitive/efficient the US market is.

At the DC they are pretty good, but their workers are comparatively more expensive. And getting stuff to/from the warehouse relies on diesel at $10/gal.

On the high street retail space is brutally expensive (as all real estate is here.) Again labor is expensive and technology/process is noticeably lagging. Many stores still use price tags (the price-gun, sticker type, how quaint it seems.)

Also, our Chinese crap is much cheaper (and from my experience of better average quality) than their Chinese crap (if available.) I want to cry when I see the prices at the B&Q (the UK's Home Depot.) I think this is hardest on the working class. They don't make any more than we do in the US, but all the day-to-day items are nearly double. Walmart and the pressure they put on everyone else has made our working class comparatively wealthy.

Sunday, August 03, 2008 8:22:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I gotta think about the "their Chinese crap is worse than ours" statement. I believe you, but I've just never heard the issue put that way before.

There are a few things that would offset some cost/income differnetials. Property taxes in a lot of European countries are not like ours, whether one likes or dislikes the service provided nationalized health care is a big cost differential for individuals and companies and if you have kids and are saving for college or post-secondary education, the idea of 'tuition' as we know it is mostly a foreign or very new concept over there.

That isn't to disagree with most of what you say. In fact, I would probably only quibble with the idea that people do not appreciate US efficiency.. Whatever libertarians think about how it should be here, most would consider the US market the most unfettered in the world in a general sense...

Sunday, August 03, 2008 7:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, Bethel Park is quite bland

but with its recent cleaning... I find the Cathedral of Learning to be much more whimsical than scary these days.

Monday, August 04, 2008 11:53:00 AM  

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