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Comment Re:Good riddance ... (Score 1) 160

Car dealers aren't going away anytime soon, they are exceedingly influential in local politics limiting auto manufacturers ability to side step them and earn fat commissions. Were it possible, no doubt around 1,000 apple store like super stores would replace most dealers for test drives/car fitting, warranty work, and help anyone who desires it with ordering.

Comment The problem with history... (Score 1) 754

is that when you're looking for precedent there are always those two little words: "it depends". You can't count on history to repeat itself.

I don't think there's a fundamental economic principle that says, "productivity increases actually increases employment." Yes, it *tends* to do so. If the next dollar of labor produces fifty cents of income, a firm won't lay out that next dollar; but if it produces *two* dollars of income it will.

However that scenario assumes that demand for the product is "elastic"; that if you drop the price a little you'll sell more, and make more profit. Suppose demand for a product is *inelastic*, that dropping the price won't get you much more in units sold. If the market won't buy more widgets at a lower price, then it makes sense for a firm to lay off workers as productivity goes up.

In the past the fear that greater productivity would result in job loss tended not to come true. At the outset of the industrial revolution nearly everybody would be considered materially poor by modern standards. Even in my granfather's generation it was common to by new clothing just once a year, and nearly everybody mended their own clothing. When computers were introduced to do things like payroll, yes the people who manually processed paychecks lost their jobs, but businesses responded by demanding far more complex and timely financial information products.

Now we live in a different world now. Almost nobody darns socks or turns collars; they throw worn or even stained garments away. Clothes shopping has become a pastime, not an annual ritual; many people shop every week. Financial products turn on split-millisecond timing, and are so complex you need an advanced degree in math to understand them. It makes me wonder whether we might be approaching a kind of productivity/demand singularity.

The biggest problem with predicting the future isn't *what*, it's *when*. People were attempting computer tablets decades before the iPad, but until the processor, battery, software and user interface technology were all available it was an exercise in futility. Much of Steve Jobs' genius was a matter of timing, of sensing when there was an opportunity to be created. I think there may be a productivity singularity in our future, a point where our established wisdom based on past experience fails. But I can't say when that will occur. I'm certain the market has surprises in store for us, but in the short term at least they'll probably tend to confirm established wisdom.

disclaimer: I am not an economist. But I *do* write science fiction.

Comment Increasing costs = decreasing (Score 4, Informative) 754

Why can't companies pay better wages?

You need to differentiate between those who cannot pay more and those who will not pay more due to the greed of the owners. Many companies such as mine are in price sensitive industries and paying significantly higher wages results in the company's products becoming uncompetitive. My company manufactures wire harness products and our competition is often in places like China or Mexico with much lower wages or are much larger companies who are able to automate to save money. We simply cannot pay more than we do and remain in business.

Wal-Mart increasing their wages to $12/hr. would increase their average item price by 1.1%

Let's presume for a moment that your numbers are accurate. What you are forgetting is the the loss of sales from that 1.1% increase in item price. Walmart has built their entire business on being the low price leader but their lead is not very big. Walmart's net profit margin is about 3.5% so there isn't a huge amount of room to increase costs. They only keep their price leadership by a ruthless focus on keeping costs low. An increase in prices of 1.1% would result in a significant loss of sales. How big? A little hard to say without some pretty serious analysis but it could *easily* be more than 1.1%.

I don't actually have a disagreement that Walmart should pay their employees better if they are able to do so but it is not nearly as simple as you make it sound. There are more stakeholders in the company than just the employees and there are serious consequences to across the board pay increases.

Comment Chicken Little (Score 4, Insightful) 754

Gartner says new technologies are decreasing jobs.

If this were actually true we would have seen a steady increase in the number of unemployed people over time during the past 20 years. Instead we had near record low unemployment until around 2008 when we had a banking (not technology) related financial crisis. Since then unemployment has been slowly but steadily falling back towards what passes for steady state norms. While it is true that people are not employed at the same companies they used to be, technology takes away some jobs and adds others. It also makes people more effective at the jobs they do.

But the "digital industrial revolution" is not following the same path. "What we're seeing is a decline in the overall number of people required to do a job,"

That's the entire point. It means you can get more done with the same number of people. It's called increasing productivity. Rather than having a room full of accountants entering journal entries by hand on a paper ledger we have one accountant keeping the books in some software and everyone else does something more productive. Instead of using switchboard operators we use computers to route calls. There is ZERO evidence that digital technology is eliminating jobs without replacing them with others. The number of jobs hasn't fallen due to technology but the skillsets required to fill them has changed.

Plummer points to a company like Kodak, which once employed 130,000, versus Instagram's 13.

I'm not sure they could come up with a more ridiculous example. Instagram is an add on feature to already existing social networks for sharing pictures. Kodak actually made critical parts of picture taking equipment. If you want to compare Kodak to something modern, compare them with CCD sensor manufacturers and camera makers which I assure you employ far more than 13 people.

Comment Re:Shoot first (Score 1) 871

Well Duane is essentially giving legal, not moral advice; what is the best legal recourse for you, not what helps you sleep at night. And if the cops have decided you are a suspect, you are placed in a defensive position and don't also have to help solve their case for them, and you are not legally responsible for further crimes just because you invoked your right not to speak.

The leniency idea just doesn't really make sense to me, because once the cops hand over things to the prosecutors then they don't really get a say in how the case is conducted. They certainly don't usually get a say at sentencing. If that's going to be an issue, better to give information through your defense attorney, especially if you are guilty, because your lawyer will be in the best position to negotiate a deal. It's always better to negotiate any kind of deal with the prosecutor, not the cops. First, because cops are trained to lie to you, and second because the prosecutor is bound by the rules governing lawyers which requires him or her to maintain a certain level of honesty.

I think a lot of people just get convinced that they're smart enough to talk the cops into thinking they're innocent, and as I think Duane is trying to say, that's just a loser's game. Remember, while the prosecutor can use anything you say to the police against you, he or she is going to pick and choose what makes you sound the worst, and you don't get to bring up what you said in court because that's inadmissible hearsay.

Comment Re:Almost every house can refuel a CNG car (Score 1) 416

LOTs of passenger cars here use CNG. Typically taxis.

Nowhere in north america do CNG powered vehicles account for more than a tiny fraction of 1% of the vehicles on the road. Over 90% of the few that are in use are fleet vehicles of various sorts (trucks, busses, cars for the gas company, a few taxis, etc).

Where a domestic supply is laid on, all you need is a suitable compressor.

Great. What do I do when I'm traveling away from home? At least with an electric vehicle I can plug into any outlet even if it takes a long time. CNG compressors aren't exactly a commonplace item. I don't personally know anyone who owns one.

Comment Reflection is one of the most useful concepts. (Score 1) 598

Reflection, as found in .NET allows you to write extremely generic yet powerful code easily. For example, I have used it to write a method that can write any class (or list thereof) to a CSV file of any format by passing in a field-to-value map object along with the object data you want to store. The beauty of this is that you can store the format of the file externally and make changes to it without having to rewrite the code. The only time you would need code changes was if you needed additional properties added to the class you want to write out.

Comment Re:bbc? (Score 1) 429

I live in Australia, and our news service here is just about as awful, biased and pointless as yours. Each TV station has it's own 'news' show which purports to report on events, but coverage is almost entirely national or local. Most are then followed up for a 'current affairs' shows - which is TV speak for some crap filmed potentially months ago and targeted at pensioners.

During both the 'news' and the 'current affairs' all the channels will run segments on actors and tv shows owned either by their channel or the channel holding companies. There is also heavy coverage for anything relating to a main channel advertiser e.g. Harvey Norman.

A typical 30 minute broadcast breaks down like this:

Advertising Breaks - 8 mins
Weather - 3 mins (seriously guys, there's an app for this!)
Sport - 9 minutes
Headlines - 2 minutes (all but 80% of this has been seen dozens of times already in the ad breaks)
Celebrity - 1-2 minutes
World news - under 1 minute
Various national and local news - 6 mins

So, in a 30 minute show that is supposed to be providing you with news you get perhaps 7 minutes worth of low grade local or national stories.

I generally watch Al Jezeera, BBC, SBS and other world news programs if I want to see what's really happening in the world.

Comment Re:Shoot first (Score 1) 871

I think Bruch and Duane are saying different things when they talk about "help." Bruch is saying talking to the police, if you're innocent, might help get you released from police custody. Duane is taking a long view, at the overall criminal justice process, and saying that talking to the police will only create evidence that can be used against you. Under Duane's logic, it's better to just spend the night in jail and save your words for your lawyer than try talking your way out of it to the cops in order to get home that night to watch the Daily Show.

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