Donald Trump’s brand is his outrageousness, but mixed in with his narcissism and insults are some occasionally thought provoking statements. After the Paris attacks he said that if people had been armed, the loss of life would have been minimized in Paris.
I actually think he is right about that, though it may not be a winning argument for everybody on the street packing a firearm. Military, paramilitary or martial arts training is a plus for civilians who will not be passive victims. The three Americans who disarmed the terrorist recently on the Brussels to Paris train are a case in point. Two of them were ex-military. The widespread military service in Israel with many soldiers off duty but armed is a deterrent to terrorists. In Europe, many police officers are not armed. In America most officers carry a weapon, as do guards in public venues. The idea of weapons being available to personnel at schools is not appealing, but what used to be “unthinkable” is “thinkable” today.
The horror of the past week recalls the classic 1942 film, Casablanca, dripping with irony today. The terrorist mastermind was from a Moroccan family living in Belgium. Today’s refugees are fleeing war in Muslim countries to find freedom in Europe. But I’ll never forget Rick a refugee in Morocco saying to Ilsa, “We’ll always have Paris.”
“We’ll always have Paris”
I have found two provocative studies on medical issues, both hopeful. One is based on a huge empirical study of 200,000 nurses and doctors over a 30-year time period. The study watched them age and die. One remarkable finding was that the death rate for the non-smokers who drank 3-5 cups of coffee a day was 15% lower than that of the non-coffee drinkers. For those who drank more than 5 cups, longevity was 12% higher. Caffeininated versus decafinated had no significance. For smokers, the longevity increase was zero. Bring on the joe.
The other study is much smaller but quite remarkable, as reported by Leslie Stahl on the CBS Sunday Morning news show. She visited Indianapolis where a group of Parkinson’s patients are seemingly arresting the progression of the debilitating illness by pursuing boxing. Their vigorous monitored workouts, which include footwork, light bag, heavy bag and actual ring fighting, seem to significantly improve their outcome with the disease. On the face of it, this seems counter-intuitive, as professional boxers such as Muhammad Ali sometimes suffer from the ailment later in life, but more and more data is coming out on the value of such exercise, including punching.
I have seen a variation with my wife Risa. She is an “over 50” World Champion in Taekwondo. She also has been diagnosed with osteoporosis. At 64 she is working on her 4th degree black belt with no symptoms of osteoporosis, though the tests of her bones indicate its progression.
Exercise, particularly the kind associated with boxing and martial arts, seems to have a significant positive impact.
It is unfortunately looking less and less likely that the beloved Section 179 depreciation allowance for capital equipment buyers will appear in December as it did last year. Many small and mid-size businesses have kept money in reserve the last few years to buy new and used machinery in December when section 179 popped up like a very early crocus.
The Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) will get a chance to testify before Congress on December 3 for it, but with the Christmas holidays and gridlock in Washington it still seems unlikely to me that there will be enough momentum to whisk in 179 before the clock runs out for 2015. A real shame.
Funny coincidence for a big basketball fan. LeBron James and Steph Curry, both winners of the Most Valuable Player Award in the NBA, were born in the same hospital in Akron, Ohio, 39 months apart. Who do you think is the more dominant player in the game, today?
Earlier this week Starwood Hotels was acquired by Marriott for approximately $12 billion. One huge hotel chain acquiring another huge chain. This is in an interesting corporate combination of complimentary lodging companies getting married, but it doesn’t signal a bunch of new hotels or resorts being built.
What is more stunning to me is the investment of $1.5 billion in June by a private equity firm in a very young company called Airbnb, a clever website which connects a visitor from Philly with a vacant apartment in Norfolk and takes a piece of the action for arranging the match. Without building a room or cleaning a swimming pool, Airbnb has brought hundreds of thousands of vacant homes and apartments into play.
This presents a new and probably unexpected, competitor into the lodging world without putting a spade in the ground.
Personally, I have yet to use Airbnb or its competitors, but my son Ari used it extensively on a vacation to Sardinia last year. I am very intrigued by the prospect of staying in a unique space in a fun place that I would have never had access to before.
Will Airbnb justify the recent pricing in the private investment world? Who knows? But I do think the gobble gobble merger strategy of the big chains is partially a reaction to the very real threat that a business like Airbnb presents to old school firms like Starwood and Marriott.
Question: Should we allow thousands of fleeing refugees into the United States?