Archive for November, 2006

Starbucks Coffee in China?

This morning.  A normal morning.  Leaving late.  Driving fast.  Minutes before train.  Long line at Starbucks.  So, there I am — with a pounding headache — in need of an espresso buzz.  Not just any espresso — this espresso comes with warm milk (like mom used to make) and an assortment of flavoring choices (from vanilla to white chocolate).  (And an added bonus — the coffee cups are decked out for the holidays.)  So like a fool, I make my most important — and regretted — decision of the day, I pass on the java, make my train and save four dollars…

Could this lifestyle exist in China?  I would never have thought so until this same morning.  While reading a Wall Street Journal — during my brief awake moment on my commuter train — I noticed an article on the cover regarding Starbucks’ initiatives in China.  Wait?  (Are they not Communist?)  I mean, don’t they drink tea?




Tea and coffee are so dissimilar (besides the fact that they are normally hot, sometimes cold, and receive milk and sugar well — okay, they have similarities).  But for me, tea makes me think of being sick and snobbish people — whereas coffee reminds me of the joy of addiction and fifteen-minute coffee breaks.

How can Starbucks pull this one off?  Then again, they have convinced so many that a Venti White Chocolate Mocha Latte is worth $4.50 and 630 calories.  Obviously, they are doing something right.  Why not make one billion Chinese the next focus — since they are already the largest coffee shop in the rest of the world!

As for some history (and I thank the Starbucks website for much of this info), the first “Starbucks” was founded in Seattle, Washington back in 1971 by two teachers and a writer (I do not think he had a blog) — selling mostly coffee beans.  Then along came Mr. Howard Schultz — with his olive oil voice and espresso drinks — who was initially rejected by the trio, but, started his own coffee chain in 1985, Il Giornale.  Finally, in 1987, the original three sold to Schultz, and the current Starbucks was born.  Immediately, this new Starbucks expanded outside of Seattle.  It opened in Los Angeles in 1991 (breaking 100 total stores that year).  In 1992, the inevitable initial public offering [NASDAQ:SBUX].  In 1994, it finally opened in New York.  And then in 1996 (a year it broke 1,000 locations), it opened in Tokyo — its first step towards world coffee shop domination.  (I like to think of that scene in the film Outbreak, with the map of the United States and all the little red dots, starting from Cedar Creek or in this case, Seattle.)

Allegedly, there are currently more than 12,000 Starbucks locations around the world (if you count stores not owned directly by Starbucks — e.g, Barnes & Nobles).  Although, that number may sound a little high — I have to believe it since, if I tried, I could easily pass about 20 Starbucks locations during a 20 minute stroll through midtown Manhattan.

But can it spread through China the way it appears to have spread everywhere else?   Actually, to be fair, it should be noted that it has not worked in Italy.  Has Starbucks avoided the great boot?  With the love for coffee in Italia, I would have thought I would see the Starbucks label on the 2006 World Cup trophy.  But, I would be wrong.  I guess the Italians “really” love “their” caffe.  (And my biggest shock – Milan, Italy’s “city,” not a Starbucks to be found.)  Okay, back to China.  (Forza Azzurri.)

Could Starbucks really bring tea drinkers over to the dark side?  That is left to be seen.  But, after witnessing its success in the United States and abroad (especially in London), it is hard to deny Starbucks’ appeal.  (Not to mention a member of the current board of directors has his number 24 hanging from the Madison Square Garden rafters — that has to account for something.)

I’ll be sure to stop in for a “Grande Skim White Mocha” on my next trip to Shanghai.

1 comment November 29th, 2006

1992 Election: Clinton/Bush v. Morneau

Fourteen years after George H. W. Bush was denied reelection to the oval office, the New York Yankees’ shortstop, Derek Jeter, was denied a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.  Interestingly, if the United States of America used the Major League Baseball MVP award voting system, we could have had a completely different resulting in the 1992 presidential election.  Shall we take a look at the numbers…


In this year’s MVP vote, Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins – in case you did not know he is the 2006 Major League Baseball MVP — received 15 first place votes, 8 second place votes, 3 third place votes and 2 fourth place votes (for a total of 320 points).  Derek Jeter, of the New York Yankees, received 12 first place votes, 14 second place votes, 1 fourth place vote and 1 sixth place vote (for a total of 306 points).  The MVP winner is determined based on the total number of points, not first place votes.  Regardless, since there was only 28 voters for this year’s award, the Twin’s Morneau would have won based on a simple majority of first place votes.  (He received 15 to Jeter’s 12.)  Total points for MVP purposes is determined using the following formula.  Each voter ranks 10 players (from first to tenth).  The player ranked first on each ballot receives 14 points, the player ranked second receives 9 points, third receives 8 points, and so on (leaving the player ranked tenth with one point).  For example, let’s look at David Ortiz, who finished in third place for this year’s MVP award.  Big Papi received no first place votes (0 points), 1 second place vote (9 points), 11 third place votes (88 points), 5 fourth place votes (35 points), 7 fifth place votes (42 points), 3 sixth place votes (15 points) and 1 seventh place vote (4 points) — totalling 193 points, a distant third place behind Messrs. Morneau and Jeter.

I have always found this voting methodology both intriguing and fair.  But, how would this play out in a presidential election?  Most of our recent presidential elections do not have more than two “serious” candidates — but 1992 did.  In the 1992 election, William Jefferson Clinton defeated George Herbert Walker Bush by collected 43.0% of the popular vote versus Bush’s 37.4%.  (Please note that Clinton did not receive a majority of the popular vote, but still won with the plurality by collecting 370 Electoral College votes – needing only 270.)

Two assumptions must be made to use the MVP award’s tabulation system — (i) there were only five candidates on the ballot in the 1992 presidential election (in reality, there were more, but the top five candiates collected 104,154,416 of the 104,423,923 total votes cast in the 1992 election) and (ii) points will be allocated as follows:  seven for a first place vote, five for second place vote, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth.  (I varied the assumptions in calculating the final result and all such results were substantially similar.)

On election day, November 3, 1992, Clinton (along with Albert Arnold “the Internet” Gore, Jr.), collected 44,909,806 votes and Bush, the Republican incumbent (along with James Danforth “what were you thinking” Quayle) collected 39,104,550.  Moreover, as far too many forget, that same day, Henry Ross Perot (along with James Bond “007” Stockdale) collected 19,743,821 votes.  (The other notables included Andre V. Marrou, the Libertarian candidate, collecting 290,087 votes, and James “Bo” Gritz, the Populist candidate, collecting 106,152 votes.)

Before I go through the numbers, it will also be assumed, based on the utter hatred between democrats and republicans that still exists in this country, that all Clinton voters would vote Bush fifth and all Bush Voters would vote Clinton fifth (can you blame me?), and all other voters would have voted their candidate first and then the remaining votes in the order of the actual tally — Clinton, Bush, Perot, Marrou and then Gritz — except that Perot’s voters would likely vote Bush second and Clinton third.  (What was Perot’s party again?)  Therefore, after crunching the numbers, the 1992 election could have ended with Clinton receiving 414,685,850 “points” and Bush receiving 418,549,478 “points.”

Could Bush have won in a squeaker?

Nope – not in this election — because Perot would have ended with 559,071,005 points.  There you have it, Perot in a landslide!

Final vote tabulation as follows (total voters 104,154,416, using 7,5,3,2,1 MVP system):

Clinton:  44,909,806 (first); 396,239 (second); 19,743,821 (third); 39,104,550 (fifth);
414,685,850 (total)
Bush:  39,104,550 (first); 19,743,821 (second); 396,239 (third); 44,909,806 (fifth);
418,549,478 (total)
Perot:  19,743,821 (first); 84,014,356 (second); 396,239 (fourth);
559,071,005 (total).
Marrou:  290,087 (first); 84,014,356 (third); 19,743,821 (fourth); 106,152 (fifth);
293,667,471 (total)
Gritz:  106,152 (first); 84,014,356 (fourth); 20,033,908 (fifth);
188,805,684 (total)

So if you voted for Ross Perot, or just want to see a third party candidate have a chance, write you Congressman and explain the MVP award’s methodology.  All we need is revision to the current electoral college – amendments to force each states’ electoral college representative to vote based on the MVP awards’ methodology.  And yes, electoral fractions would be necessary.

1 comment November 25th, 2006

Goodbye OJ, Go Irish!


 ndlogo.gif        v.          oj.jpg

One such reason (and I apologize to Carson Palmer and his friends) is that the University of Southern California (or USC) is the alma mater of Orenthal James Simpson (or OJ, the Juice).  Now, I normally would not use this analysis to dictate how to feel on a Saturday night, but this Saturday – I have no shame.

After a few drama filled weeks, we finally found out that our Sony televisions and Barnes & Nobles will not be full of the Juice’s face and a detailed account of a would-be murder, somewhat similar to the “alleged” murder committed by the maid (Minute Maid?).  I cannot complain about the last minute rejection, but I must ask – how did it get that far?  We were pretty close to hearing and reading about that June 1994 “incident” from the number one suspect (futher publicizing his image) – all while Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown are gone and said suspect still owes their families on a (far less publicized) $33.5 million judgment for wrongful death and battery.  (Clearly no “Trial of the Century.”)  At least in the eyes of that jury — based on a preponderance of the evidence — he did it.  That, along with this recent drama, is enough for me to wear green.

I know well (as many of us do) how happy just another football game can make us.  Mr. Simpson does not deserve that happiness.  Not this weekend.  Not if there is justice.  Not after “If I did it,” not even before it.  And surely not from his home in Miami — a home that should be a Goldmans.  (Professor, please explain the homestead to me again?)  Go Mr. Weis.  Go-odbye Mr. Simpson. 

1 comment November 20th, 2006

Welcome to…The Random Politic…

Welcome to (sometimes referred to as The Random Politic, TRP, RandomPoLiTiC, what is a Cesium?).  Well, since the first sounds cool, the second is short and the third is ELiTE, I will clear up the last one.  Cesium.  One of the Alkali metals.  Often spelt Caesium.  Atomic Number 55.  Atomic Weight 132.905452.  Atomic Symbol ‘Cs.’ 


So, go check your Periodic Table and come back soon.

-Cesium (Cs)

1 comment November 20th, 2006



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