One Image That Captures The Inequalities of the Bay Area

Playing around with Google Maps tonight I noticed by searching for two of the world’s most popular brands, Whole Foods and Walmart and comparing it to home prices, it paints a very clear picture of who the brands customers are.

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The darker the colors on the map below the higher the house prices.

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I have a feeling we’d fine this same scenario in many other cities across the US.

Atlantic City’s Next, Best Bet…

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Yesterday morning Trump Plaza closed its doors for the last time.  Trump was already planning to close the Trump Plaza next week, but now the Taj Mahal is at risk of closing in November.  This news in conjunction with the Revel closing earlier this month preceded by the Showboat casino closing leaves 7 casinos left open, if Taj Mahal closes in November.

I wrote a few years ago about the blight of Atlantic City and how surrounding states like Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York have reduce the amount of day trippers going to AC.  Hurricane Sandy in 2012 did the Jersey Shore no favors and so here we are today.  Seven casinos left without much hope, except…

Enter sports gambling!  This is the last best hope for New Jersey gambling revenues and it is the bet (pardon the pun) that Governor Chris Christie is making.  This was put to a vote a couple of years ago, and it passed.  The federal government has blocked New Jersey’s efforts and the NCAA and professional sports leagues have joined in.

Governor Christie has had enough, the casinos are closing and consumer behavior is forcing his hand to ignore the federal government and allow race tracks and casinos to start taking sports bets immediately.  Putting aside the legal issues, let’s assume this starts.  Here is how New Jersey benefits:

  1. Sports gambling brings in huge handles for the casinos 25 weeks of the year.  All 17 NFL regular season games, 4 playoff and Super Bowl weekends, 3 NCAA tournament weekends and Kentucky Derby weekend.
  2. The average annual handle (what the casinos earned) in Vegas for each NFL season since 1969 is $41.7M.  This doesn’t include all the ancillary revenue they bring in from people just being in Vegas.
  3. Over 200MM people worldwide gamble online and of those people living in the US they do so illegally.  Those people are making over $380B in bets each year.

Christie’s bet is a winner not just for the casinos but also for the bettors themselves.  Instead of betting off shore with the fear that their money will be stuck overseas, Americans can now cash their tickets and pocket the money.
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I’ve been going to Vegas for 15 years for the March Madness tournament and would love to give AC a try as soon as the books are open there.

Southwest Airlines Rolling Out New Colors and Maybe First Class

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This week Southwest Airlines rolled out new colors and paint jobs on their airplanes, but after taking a 40 minute survey it appears they are testing the waters on a modified first class as well or deciding what to do with the AirTran business class seats.

Most of the questions involved whether I was interested in having reserved seats with extra leg room or reserved seats with the seat next to me blocked.  The latter reminds me of the type of business class found in Europe.

The survey also asked questions about inclusive pricing versus a la cart.  At least none of the questions were about charging for carry on bags.

Southwest is no longer a low cost carrier.  It is flying to major metropolitan airports, flying internationally, and appealing to business travelers with A-List and Rapid Rewards.

Must Eat Places at SXSW

I have been to Austin for 10 SXSW events and countless other times to visit Dell when I was at AOL.  I consider myself a veteran of SXSW and while I am taking the year off going, I thought I’d share some advise on where to eat in Austin.

Breakfast

  1. The Driskill, home to the Texas Waffle is the most consistent breakfast place within walking distance.
  2. Magnolia Cafe South is also a solid place for breakfast.  Lots of the technorati hang out there.

Lunch

  1. Franklin’s BBQ is a must, but you have to get there around 10A.  Bring friends because you’ll be waiting, but it is worth the wait.
  2. Casino El Camino is my favorite place on 6th for food.  Don’t let the outside or inside scare you, go to the back window, order a burger and then take it to their courtyard in the back.
  3. Juan in a Million is a bit of a trek from the convention center but this place is an institution.  I usually stop on the way from the airport since it is in between the airport and downtown.

Dinner

  1. Going to Salt Lick only counts if you go to the one in Driftwood.  I’ve never been to the Round Rock, but the airport does not count.  Salt Lick takes advantage of being the only open pit fire BBQ joint around.
  2. Serranos is really good Mexican up near the capital.  The setting is cool too in front of an amphitheater.
  3. Uchi for sushi is great especially given the location.  You are guaranteed to always run into someone famous during the SXSW week.  A couple of years ago I was seated next to Matthew McConaughey.

Other

  1. Gourdough’s for crazy, awesome donuts.  Its a food truck usually parked south of the lake.
  2. This one most visitors miss because it is a local place, but the Broken Spoke is straight out of a movie.  Many seasons of Friday Night Lights were filmed there.  Just go there, order a few pitchers of beer and dance to the live music.
  3. Do an early morning walk up to the Capital.  You can walk right in and see both chambers.
  4. Franks, for hot dogs after hours is always a sure way to ease into your inevitable hangover.

Category 5 Hurricane – Scandal Rocks University of Miami

You have to hand it to the Miami Hurricanes and their football program.  A constant source of controversy for 30 years, the most recent allegations are by far the most serious.  Before we touch on the latest mess, lets review the past 3 plus decades of scandals at The U.

Enough is enough.  Writers, fans and others are now asking if University of Miami should get the death penalty.  The NCAA handed one of these out before to SMU, and the football program has not been the same.

What if the NCAA decided to take a different approach and allow the players to get paid and recruited at any time?  At this point what difference would it make?  College football is one of the bigger hypocrisies going.  Players get paid nothing, colleges make millions, the colleges turn a blind eye when players or coaches cheat as long as the money roles in.  At the rate these scandals and violations keep happening, there is a chance that bottom feeder football programs like Syracuse may actually be able to compete with the cheaters. 

Riots Coming to a City Near You?

Let’s be honest, Planet Earth has issues right now, and its citizens are not happy.  Droughts, floods, debt, corruption, its no wonder why the riots we have seen in the UK, Arab Spring across the Middle East, and other protests in Greece, Spain and even in the US in the state of Wisconsin, people are fed up and scared.  Places and people that are seen almost apathetic about their governments have been anything but in 2011.

People are generally concerned, and based on data I have seen, people are wondering when the riots, protests and peaceful activism are coming to their backyard.  Here in the United States just in the past week we have had curfews in Philadelphia and cell phones blocked in San Francisco’s transportation system both designed to protect people from protests.

All of this got me wondering if protests can happen in the UK what stops them from coming to the US?  We are only 9 months away from the 20-year reunion of the Rodney King protests in LA that resulted in numerous businesses being looted and people being hurt or killed.  The tinderbox has always been in place in this country, but hopefully we don’t get the spark to trigger what we are seeing in the rest of the world.