Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fishers, Restaurant Graveyard

In the five years I've lived in Fishers, I've seen a surprisingly large number of decent restaurants come and go, but none has surprised me as much as the disappearance of Fionn MacCool's Irish Pub. From a Star report:

The popular Fionn MacCool's Irish Pub in Fishers has closed its doors.

The economy is to blame for the closure, the restaurant said in a letter to staff and customers on its Facebook page.

"2009 has been a challenging year for most of us and it is with deep regret that we are not able to withstand the economic crisis and must close our business," the message says.

It appears the restaurant closed Wednesday.

The restaurant, which has been open for about four years, won the Fishers Chamber of Commerce's Pillar Award for Business of the Year this fall. The chamber confirmed the restaurant is out of business.

The first one I noticed to come and go was a Chinese restaurant at Commercial, north of 116th. As soon as it opened, I got take out, and Ame really loved their tofu dishes. They were closed within three months. Who gives a start-up three months?

That space then became a Mexican-Guatamalan restaurant and bakery. It was a weird combination. Guatamalan food is pretty bland, and when I think 'fresh baked bread', I neither think "Mexico" nor "Guatamala". They were open about two years. Now the space is going to be BBQ.

The same strip had Stefano's, which closed earlier this year. Awesome garlic knots, possibly the worst marinara I've ever had. It tasted like it was overboiled for days. It was so bad I went back twice to see if it was an overboil, or if it was just that bad. It was just that bad. You really don't have a prayer with an Italian joint if you make lousy marinara.

There was a Dick's Bodacious BBQ on 116th at I-69. That's a Qdoba now.

There was a decent Indian restaurant on Allisonville south of 116th, run by very sweet people. It is now a chain Mexican place.

There was an Iranian restaurant on 116th across from the Town Center. It is now a Sushi joint. Ame & I went there Thursday. Good food, if pricey.

A former Boston Market is now a McDonald's. A Burger King is now a bank! Two Quizno's locations have vanished. A La Hacienda Mexican location that had a great daily lunch crowd disappeared. That space has been vacant for about two years.

There are still a lot of restaurants, and interesting ones at that. I love India Sizzling. I buy more groceries than anything at Al-Basha. Excellent fresh pita there! Friend Bill Smythe operates Claude & Annie's, which was one of my old poker haunts. I tease my friend Andrew about Ram, since he moved away and misses their beers. Among others.

I don't know why Fishers is a revolving door for restaurants. Many of those that vanished were pretty good. Is it the rent? The economy? Poor management? When your Town's 'Business of the Year' fails in the year it wins the award, you have to wonder what's going on.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nader Says What?

Again? From the Daily Beast:

“This is what I meant a year ago when I said the next year will determine whether Barack Obama will be an Uncle Tom groveling before the demands of the corporations.”
Whoa. A white guy calling President Obama an 'Uncle Tom'? That's... That's something. I'm speechless.

I have a general schadenfreude buzz as the various elements of the left experience cognitive dissonance, as Obama isn't left enough. It does remind me greatly of the Bush years, where the right experienced the same not-far-enough frustration. But, I also take it as a genuinely good sign.

Nader cited a number of cases in which he was encouraged to see people he considered loyal Democrats stand up to their lawmakers on principle.

“Markos, he finally turns around—this guy is an indentured servant of the Democratic Party, and he’s finally breaking.. [Arianna Huffington] is chirping up,” he said. “And they go a long way—they’ve given Obama the biggest elastic band in Democratic Party history and it’s reaching the point of snapping.”

While I don't hope they get their way in bringing the President and the Congress around to a fully socialized health care system, I do hope they get to them on civil liberties issues- Patriot Act, the fairly pointless wars, warrentless wiretapping, and the war on drugs.

I don't believe Obama will listen to his critics on the right, so opportunity lies with his critics on the left. Fan the flames!

Update: I really hate posting from my MacBook. The posts always look like crap when I do, and I never have the energy to figure it out. I want point-and-click uniformity and simplicity!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Let Me Be Clear: His Lips Are Moving!

Reason's Jacob Sullum really hits one out of the park on Obama's rhetorical BS. I especially am sick of the phrase, "Let me be clear". I really like how Sullum addresses it:
From now on, when you hear Obama speak, try replacing “let me be clear” with “let me lie to you,” and see if it makes more sense.

That makes perfect sense to me. Whenever I listen to Obama's speeches, I find that he's trying to disarm opposition as the first order of business. I understand the need to win the argument in order to carry the day, but I never feel he has it quite right. Maybe that's by design.
Obama’s depiction of his critics is a bit further removed from reality. In the health care debate, he says, “there are those who simply don't believe Washington can bring about this change”; “there are those who will say that we do not go far enough”; “there are those who would have us try what has already failed, who would defend the status quo”; “there are those who will oppose reform no matter what”; and “there are those who want to seek political advantage.”

What about those who do not like the status quo but have a different vision of reform, not because they want to go farther than Obama does but because they want to go in a different direction, toward more choice, more competition, and less government involvement? In Obama’s world, they do not exist; instead we have his bold yet achievable plan, pitted against socialist utopianism and blind partisan intransigence. Let me be clear: This is a false choice.

The formula is exposed. A truly brilliant analytical article. Required reading. Send the linkage far and wide.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Copper Rush?

I was reading an online article in the UK's Telegraph that had me a bit baffled. The lede had to do with Al Gore as getting rich on environmental policy- then had nothing to back up the assertion.

But, I soldiered on, and came to something of genuine interest- the likely huge increases in the use- and mining of- copper, in these hybrid and electric cars.

According to research by the European Copper Institute, hybrid cars need a staggering 33kg of copper in their construction – about the weight of an average 12-year-old child. This compares with 20kg – 25kg of copper in a conventional car.

About 3kg extra is needed for the electric compressor, the converter/rectifier needs 2kg, the lithium-ion battery needs 8kg and high voltage wiring requires a further 8kg.

"2010 could be the year of the electric car," says Harvey Perkins, associate partner at KPMG. "By exempting electric company cars from company car tax and giving them 100pc first year capital allowances, it will encourage fleets to invest and encourage production.

Although the incentive is not huge because of the expense of electric vehicles, Mr Perkins thinks it will "seed the market".

On Tuesday last week, Ford said that it would invest up to $500m (£307m) to assemble hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars, as well as the construction lithium-ion batteries in Michigan, if it received tax credits from the state. Currently only the development of batteries for plug-in vehicles garners these credits in the US.

Lithium is another commodity that should do very well out of the rush to sustainability. The US Department of Energy is supporting the development of lithium batteries, with President Obama President Barack Obama unveiling $2.4bn of funding in March to develop generation plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Lithium battery development is key to this strategy, although the more immediate beneficiary is likely to be copper.

Fears are growing that a serious shortage of mine capacity across the world will lead to the copper market moving into a serious deficit from 2013 and beyond.

Maybe gold isn't the only metal to add to one's portfolio. Shortages are great opportunities.

Ok, it was said that the increased use of copper will decrease the production of carbon. Great. But, how much carbon will the increased mining of copper create, and will the offset be a net gain? And, what environmental damage will be caused by the copper mining? And, if we run out of copper, then what?

Worth noting that although we never seem to run out of any natural resource, animals do become extinct despite their ability to reproduce. How is it that man can find ever more ways of prizing out of the ground more and more of a finite substance, including those (like oil or coal) that were predicted in the 1970s to be exhausted by now?

Green Line Eats Green

The Indy Star is touting IndyGo's Green Line from the airport as some kind of winner. If it's a winner, the bar must be set below the low hurdle of mediocrity. From the report:
So far, the Green Line isn't profitable. All of the express lines need a federal subsidy.

"It is unlikely to make money given the hours" that public transportation has to be available, Terry said. The Green Line runs from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Green Line driver Dennis Harrell said the bus is often full and, sometimes, his passengers are celebrities, such as the players and managers attending this month's winter meetings of Major League Baseball in Indianapolis.

"We do see the Green Line starting to pick up, and it is one of the areas we will focus on next year. It has been getting better as we continue to tweak the routes," Terry said.

The Green Line was carrying about 300 to 400 passengers a month when it started in 2007, but the numbers had grown to 3,868 in October. There were nearly 23,000 through the first 10 months of this year, an increase of 94 percent from the same period last year, said IndyGo spokeswoman Jenny Brown.

Why is it unlikely to make money during those hours? Given the quote, one might expect the buses running from Midnight to 4am.

23,000 passengers? That many cars pass over I-465 in half a day. Etc.

I tire of the waste. If there is to be public transportation, the riders should pay for it. Raise the fares, and make it so. And, don't hand me the similarly tiring line, 'Well the roads are also subsidized'. No shit. You don't say. So, because we do one thing wrong, we should do another wrong, eh? We can as easily make user fees pay for the roads entirely as we can the buses. So, the reality is that our system is designed really as a transfer of wealth, to those who enjoy transportation, public or private, from those who very frequently do not.

There's your waste. Cut, cut cut.