Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:DO NOT invest in gold. (Score 1) 327

Cigarettes are not good. They require a controlled environment, and will still deteriorate due to their organic components. What you'd be counting on is a legal crackdown on tobacco use, but then you're dealing in narcotics. In an actual collapse of civilization, tobacco would still exist; still be cultivatable, and luxury items would be produced after basic survival requirements were met.

Distilled alcohol is a good idea, not stuff like beer. But learning beer making skills would give you a marketable skill in the TEOTWAWKI.

But the smartest item to stockpile would be ammunition. Besides the need for self-defense, killing people for stuff you need to survive, it would also be a barter item that would not degrade over a century. Stock up on the 9mm parabellum, 5.56x45 NATO, and other rounds you may prefer.

Comment HSBC is not a research firm (Score 1) 327

HSBC is HongKong Shanghai Bank of Commerce. Headquartered in London, it is probably the sixth largest bank in the world by assets. This article is not originating from a policy think tank concerned about millennial wage earners saving enough for their retirement. This is a business that makes money by encouraging customers to leave cash not being spent on necessities with them. Its a lame, stupid marketing piece.

Millennials should not be overly concerned about copying traditional habits used to build a retirement nest egg. They should be worried about whether they can have a lucrative career in a field they choose, since computerization is going to be wiping out all sorts of occupations, from trucking and taxis, warehouse stocking, to medical doctors, lawyers, and financial/insurance analysts. You can't be considering taking on a 30 year mortgage, if your profession could be wiped out after 20 years, and its stupid to be worrying about developing a 401K portfolio if you're still buried in (stupid) student loan debt for the next decade (ha ha).

If millennials really want to plan for their long term future, thirty to forty years from now, they should consider whether they want to develop survivalist skills, or a firearm and ammo collection if they want to go out in a blaze of "glory". It doesn't seem productive to plan for a future based on assumptions that won't be true thirty years out.

Comment Re:Storage? (Score 1) 365

Advanced forms of compressed-air storage with thermal recouperation are the next-generation technology. There's a lot of talk about batteries from battery suppliers and uneducated pundits who don't know shit about city-scale power storage and can only conclude that large storage facilities are made of big, expensive parts while battery banks are made of small, cheap parts.

Think about it this way: A battery is cheap. We can just slap a battery onto a power pylon. We can space them around the city, close to point of use, so there's less loss from battery to house consuming the power. We can expand this with the grid, laying batteries out everywhere. That's obviously a cheap, cost-effective solution with many benefits.

Snipe the obvious technical problem first: Power generation has to flow from the source to the point of use, with a battery in the middle for intermediate storage. Having it close to the source means more loss to the destination; having it close to the destination means more loss from the source. Location of the generator matters; location of the storage facility doesn't, so long as it's "in between". Either way, it matters much less with high-voltage DC transmission, so "in between but a little of to the side by 20 miles" is functionally-equivalent to "right on the pole connected to my house".

A battery is cheap, blahblahblah, okay. What costs more to build, maintain, and operate: a 1,000MWh storage facility built out of $178-per-cell lithium batteries, or a 1,000MWh storage facility built out of giant tanks and piping for a recouperating compressed-air storage system that cost millions of dollars for the tanks, the pipes, pumps, turbines, and so forth?

That's the thing: batteries are cheap. They're versitile. You can throw one up on a pole--and you can drive all over the god damn place for hours to get to the widely-spread batteries, climb the pole, bring the battery down, repair it (replace bad cells), and so forth. You can put the batteries all in one place to avoid that.

Problem is a facility to store a ton of power generation for one hour of run time. I've seen $145-per-kWh cells, and a city of 80,000 homes requires 45MW. That's 45MWh to run for one hour. For each hour of stored energy, that's $6.525 million. If you built a regional storage facility for 1 million homes for 1 hour (562.5MWh), the battery cells alone (never mind any BMS circuitry, housings, or the facilities around them) would cost $81.5 million.

Texas built a 300MW-output, 30,000MWh (yes, 30GWh) CAES plant for $200 million. Not the equipment. The entire, operational facility. Again: just the lithium battery cells for a battery plant storing 45MWh cost $81.5 million. The fractional cost of that capacity in the Apex CAES is $0.3 million.

It's funny because people keep talking about batteries, largely because Tesla is talking about making a lot of money selling batteries. Lithium battery grid storage is a giant scam. Tesla makes excellent cars, end of story; grid-scale storage is not a Tesla battery problem.

Comment yet more peanut panic and profiteering (Score 2) 143

Sigh... It's sad to watch the "peanut panic" crowd -- the people who claim all sorts of wild stats about allergy deaths unsupported by evidence -- and the companies that make money by giving them a soapbox. This US/UK-centered phenomenon is a cultural and economic situation, not a medical one. According to the Centers for Disease Control/CDC researchers and American Medical Association/AMA's actual reputable scientists (not med mfr salespeople), the verified death rate from the relevant allergens has been consistent for 50+ years, as long as they've been keeping statistics. No significant rise.

What *has* happened is the massive thousand-fold rise in the number of people *diagnosed* with *some* anaphalactic reaction to peanuts and a zillion other irritants. When more people get *informed* there is a risk, the risk gets wildly exaggerated because of medical liability to any medical provider that does not address the completely-consistent-not-rising remote possibility of fatal reaction. And that translates into sales of expensive epi-pens from the company that conveniently funded the first and oft-cited major study into peanut allergy. And keeps funding other shoddy whitepapers on the topic. And keeps raising prices.

These guys are thieves. Those people are fools. Nothing new under the sun.

Comment Re:If coal is dead, killing its bueaucracy won't h (Score 1) 365

Nobody migrates from job X to job Y, in a positional sense. Those jobs will continue to exist as long as required. Causing 10,000,000 people to go unemployed over 5 years instead of 5 weeks prevents an economic recession by unemployment spike, but those people--whoever is sitting in that seat when it comes time to downsize--will be lain off.

They'll then go into the churn with people who already don't have jobs, and compete. Either they get the next job, or some other guy gets the next job; somebody in this pool stays unemployed.

There are no people. The romantic ideal of migrating a worker from an excessed job to another one by some economic oversight is complete and utter bullshit, and outright evil. It means taking people who are already transitional--in and out of jobs, currently out of a job--and condemning them to forever-unemployment.

Comment Re:This is retarded conservatism to help 'coal' (Score 1) 365

The problem is the people of that region got poorer; literally every other American got richer.

That means the middle- and lower-class money purchasing coal power moved to purchasing oil and natural gas power (this is why the oil companies are so damned rich; everything goes back to energy, and their huge profits are actually... pretty small, really, just that being a pretty small portion of fucking everything).

That means a bunch of other jobs are supported by the money that used to support the coal miners.

So who is entitled to their livelihood? The people on the wrong side of progress (because they were in the right place at the right time), or literally every other person, with special emphasis on people whose current employment is based in being further along in the path of progress?

Remember when people died of low-grade diseases, running water was too expensive to implement, and an iron railroad cost more than a decade of the entire world's GDP? Remember when everyone had one set of clothing because a shirt required 479 labor-hours (thus priced at 479 hours of wage) in total to make rather than 1.91? (1.91 hours at $3.20/hr Chinese labor, including wage and social insurance taxes, all the way up to coming out of the factory--excluding the 6 cents of shipping to the US, the several dollars of shipping domestically through distribution centers to the retail center, and the 0.83 cents per item for a cashier at 980 item scans per hour.)

Technical progress--the reduction of labor-hours invested in producing a thing--means some people get displaced out of their jobs along the way. It also means everyone who has an income can now buy those things with less of their income. That's how we got clean, running water and sewage management instead of cholera and plagues. That increase in wealth is what raises the poor up generation after generation--they're still poor, and yet they're a lot better off than middle-class a hundred years ago.

I keep saying this: this is why we have welfare. It's also how we have welfare. It's too expensive to take care of displaced workers with nice things like unemployment insurance when everyone needs 95% of their income to survive, because you can't take another 6% without a bunch of people starving to death. On the other hand, "an entire industry collapsed" is a nice sob story that manages to ignore "a lot of cities are dirt-poor ghettos where people struggle to get by": you get to claim that, somehow, these poor people were wronged, and are more-important than those poor people. You also get to ignore that other people who were poor are now rich--or at least that some blown-out shithole in Washington became a technical empire with $170k salaries while Detroit became a crippled ghost town with rusted-out factories.

That's the way the world works. It's a constant net-gain, but it has voltage potential. Why do you think I've been after a Universal Social Security since it became technically-possible in 2013?

Comment Re:This needs to stay (Score 1, Informative) 229

It's one of the few things the EPA does that's useful and efficient. Setting a national standard is well within the things that government should do. Compared to all the really wasteful things they do this should certainly be kept.

Except it's the manufacturers that self-report their own idea of efficiency, essentially self-awarding themselves this meaningless label. You'll recall the famous experiment where someone sent in an Energy Star application featuring their design for a gasoline powered alarm clock. Which was of course granted Energy Star status, not only sight-unseen, but obviously without even a moment's critical thinking on the part of whatever bureaucratic clerk is holding the exact job that Trump very reasonably considers a waste of your taxes. If consumers want a real standard, they should embrace something the Underwriters Laboratories standard for safety. Privately run, and rigorous.

Comment Re:This is retarded conservatism to help 'coal' (Score 1) 365

Manufacturing is rapidly automating

Fortunately, we import shitloads of things from China. It's cheaper than making it in America, and we have the Americans make other shit that's more-expensive to make elsewhere. That's trade advantage.

Suddenly: mass-automation, cheaper to make in America.

Well. That's a nice economy you've got there, China. Too bad somebody decided to come along and fuck it up by moving all the stuff you've been exporting to local factories staffing like 10 people to your 500, shipping via self-driving electric lorries, and leaving you with a sudden 27% upsurge in unemployment.

Seems we were exporting knowledge. IT services, business logistics. Also a whole hell of a lot of food, because you can automate a farm, but it costs a hell of a lot more to simulate climate than to just live there. That doesn't just magic away overnight. Sucks to be you!

Comment Re:prediction... more good comments... not (Score 4, Insightful) 365

The problem is Slashdot, Reddit, and the rest of the world are all full of assholes; and people like to claim reasoned, weighted analysis of facts are "opinions" rather than something like "conclusions". That lets people claim their so-called opinion is as valid as yours and, specifically, not capable of being wrong.

Take a minimum wage argument. Minimum wage has some complexities if you have a firm enough grasp of economics and money in economics.

Minimum wage increases because the amount of money increases faster than the amount of people, which requires more spending on the same products, which can only happen if prices increase. That means a fixed minimum wage starts to fall as a wage; with a given positive rate of inflation, that means these people's buying power and standard-of-living falls. To avoid minimum-wage workers becoming poorer and poorer, you have to raise the minimum wage along the way.

At the same time, wages are paid from revenue. That means spending. Spending comes out of income, which means it's a periodic cycle. Higher wages for everybody (proportionally) means inflation; higher wages for a subset means fewer things bought, which means fewer jobs. As minimum wage falls in purchasing power with inflation, additional jobs are created in this lowest-class; and when we true it up, those additional jobs are lost.

So a minimum wage increase 1) is necessary to meet the specific goals of minimum wage; and 2) has consequence of reducing the number of jobs, largely due to artificial increase in jobs available by lowering wages and thus allowing price lowering. Those are real, verifiable impacts largely agreed upon by economists across decades of publications, with a few dissenters who published papers with murky conclusions, weak assertions, and flawed methodology. That's a similar pattern to anti-vaxxer and climate-change debates, to which we tend to default toward consensus.

This draws all kinds of asinine responses everywhere. Most of it is people arguing economics from their own ideals instead of reasoned thought or a survey of consensus. To be fair, people argue a lot from often-repeated but factually-inaccurate ideals not supported by science, like that minimum wage increases are paid for almost 100% by the rich, or that a $1 increase in a minimum-wage income becomes $6 of spending and jogs the economy 6 times as hard. Most of the things we talk about are things we haven't personally been able to verify.

One of the enormous red flags, though, is the reasoning of "opinion". Someone, recognizing they've lost the reasoned argument because the facts stacked in front of them are too obviously-correct to attack, will claim that their "opinion" that raising minimum wage increases the number of jobs available (via minimum-wage spenders being able to spend more--never mind that they're only getting money that now isn't spent elsewhere, and will have to spend a larger chunk of that money on things produced by minimum-wage workers) is just as valid as your "opinion" that raising minimum wage decreases the number of jobs available.

You might notice these things can't be opinions. They're causal outcomes. Action X gives result Y.

Opinions are great. We can discuss opinions all day. Where will technology take us? Is Uber or Lyft better? Is Bullet for my Valentine as good as Iron Maiden? Is Final Fantasy 7 or Ocarina of Time more overhyped? Opinions are not facts, and conjectures occur in the absence of sufficient underlying reasoning and historical trends--and even conjectures have some factual basis, largely suggesting the form of what's missing. At a point, we're discussing what some of us understand better than others--and much of the world is filled with children who have less knowledge than the people who they're arguing with, and insist they must be right even though the other guy once thought the same thing, and was wrong then.

Welcome to a world full of assholes who care less about facts than about furthering their social position by either being right or being allied to a group of peers with the same imaginative fantasy about how the world works.

Comment Re: prediction... more good comments... not (Score 1) 365

Assuming that Keystone-piped oil is at a price point lower than other oil, the Keystone pipeline will reduce the amount of money Americans spend on current products (oil and oil derivaties, like transportation run by diesel trucks) in a number of ways, all of which reduce the labor invested in getting oil and thus the cost of oil (hence the price).

One of those ways is a reduction of environmental spilling (loss of oil for which wages were paid to mine, load, and pipeline) and, correspondingly, a reduction of environmental clean-up (paid for by oil price increases or tax hikes to disconnect the price of spills from the price of oil). Current pipelines run over design pressure and spill a lot; the Keystone XL pipeline runs at a higher design pressure and will spill less.

The other ways are all just "it's cheaper to get oil here, but it's harder to move it where we need it, so we fixed that".

So the question is: will we still use a lot of jet fuel, diesel, non-plant-derived plastic, non-synthetic lubricant, and other crude-derived products for long enough to make ROI on Keystone XL? If so, then the price of products with these things in their supply chain falls in terms of income percentage (i.e. we keep creating more money than people, so prices go up; but by the time incomes double, products cost 1.8x as much, so the products have gotten cheaper). If not, then it's a waste of labor on things we could build otherwise and thus makes us less-rich than comparable alternatives.

Mind you, it's not quite that simple, either. I've frequently taken financial actions on which I'm never hitting ROI simply to increase stability. Sending 70% of your money every month to pay loans and utility bills is a bad position; sending 17% of your money that way after expending $35,000 over 2 years is better, even if you're not going to break even on that unless nothing changes in the next 25 years (meaning probably going to end up tens of thousands behind in the long run), because you're now highly-flexible and can recover huge piles of emergency fund money in little time.

Keystone XL simplifies American oil production and distribution, reduces costs, and decreases the scale of environmental damage caused by continuing operation. Will it give an ultimate ROI? If not, is the intermediate stability provided by these impacts worth the up-front capital expenditure? Complex question.

"Yes" and "No" aren't honest answers to that question in this case. Sometimes it's damned clear. For example: solar installations are cheaper than coal, oil, and natural gas installations now, in many cases; the span of costs has overlapped for a while now, such that some proposed new power installations would be cheaper as solar projects than coal, oil, or gas in near-term total running cost. In such cases, the answer to "is installing solar capacity good for all Americans?" is a solid "YES!" because it lowers costs, reduces environmental impact, and provides capacity which is cheaper in the long run to operate than any fuel-consuming capacity (meaning you can turn down the gas and oil because solar is effectively "free" at max capacity, in that it's not cheaper to generate half as much on purpose whereas you'd use less coal if you turned down the output on a coal plant). This is not so clear-cut in the case of Keystone XL, with numerous concerns about ROI period and the intermediate position it affords otherwise.

Comment Re:Like what? (Score 1) 287

Really? How exactly did that happen? If a car plant automates completely, you think the price of a brand new 5 series BMW is going to be $2000? Or T-shirts will now cost 35 cents? Or a 60" LCD TV is going to be $29.99 ?

That's exactly what's happened throughout history.

In the case of cars, prices keep with income growth, and newer and more-complex systems go in (e.g. transistor radios, direct EFI, anti-lock brakes, airbags, automatic transmissions, traction control systems, power windows), resulting in people still generally purchasing a new car for a price equivalent to 56% of their yearly gross income spread across a 5-year loan but getting much better features at the price point.

In the case of TVs, well, the initial rapid changes in technology are obvious. LCDs cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, and came down in actual retail price over the years--not just increasing in price more-slowly than incomes, but actually coming down on the price tag. They're now cheap. I paid $400 for a 21 inch LCD monitor with 1280x1024 native resolution, and I paid $300 for a 39 inch LCD TV which I use as a monitor with native 1900x1080 resolution--and it has multiple inputs, component and composite, and digital and analog television decoders, instead of just VGA and DVI. The difference a decade of technical progress makes.

Cell phones have followed the same trends, first falling from $4,000 in 1983 ($9,000 in 2015 dollars) to several hundred in the early 2000s for flip phones; then we got into $300 for miniature multi-core computers with HDTV and several radios (cell, 3G/LTE data, wifi, bluetooth). Hard drives and computer processors continue to float around the same price point for whatever's "a hard drive" today, with capacity growing as the price-per-gigabyte falls.

Food represented 40% of the median American household spending in 1900, 33% in 1950, 15% in 1980, and under 12% in 2015. In that time, the proportion of food eaten out of home has continued to increase--we don't just pay for "food", but for servants to prepare and deliver our food. Food itself--that is, food "in home", as in groceries and home-cooked meals--has actually become ridiculously cheap. A single individual can survive on $25/month of food just about anywhere in America, but I wouldn't attempt it (I actually have); $100/month is relatively-easy, and the published standard is $184/month or $2,210/year for a male aged 18-50 (13.3% of minimum wage, 3.9% of the median income, 9.75% of the average 2.5 person household--although that's an overstatement, since the food requirements for women and children are slightly-lower).

So history sides with me. There are also logistics, mathematical, and market-economics reasons why this happens, but that takes a lot more dissertation.

Comment Re:No good if people don't have the cash or jobs. (Score 1) 287

FTFY for reality. Oh, and it is the situation I would prefer.

Actually, you can't prepare a job sector to take on the load of the displaced without a USSR-style pre-planned economy under central command. What happens in reality is the companies try (and fail) to take profit (because the barrier to entry lowers, the ability to take volume by price competition increases, and prices are dragged downward as labor requirements fall), and there's a small but substantial delay (weeks to months) between technology implementation (and subsequent layoffs) and consumers moving to buy other things (and jobs being created) with the money they're now not spending.

The sector that takes the load is the one from which the consumers start buying things they previously couldn't afford.

And quality goes to shit from the product to the employees making it.

How does replacing delivery drivers with autonomous cars cause pizza makers to perform less-well and produce a lower-quality product? Where is the delivery driver involved in making pizza?

Again, quality goes off the deep end, resulting in lower-quality jobs that aren't worth anything, especially for the displaced.

What are you even babbling about with quality now? It certainly isn't product quality; and you've given no explanation of "lower-quality jobs". Some of those jobs are going to be mechanics and engineers; others are going to be retailers and services.

Reality interrupts your low-friction fantasy, yet again

Nope, history sides with me. Displacing 40% of your workforce in a few weeks gives you 40% unemployment. Displacing 1% of your workforce with a new technology over months that then ramps up into displacing 40% over the next few years results in a shift in services and a fluid change that keeps up more-readily with the technological replacement, and so new jobs appear faster--keeping up with the rate of change.

A fast displacement example is the Industrial Revolution (decades of 60% unemployment). Another example, in part, is the Great Depression (partly caused by bad banking behavior, and partly caused by mass transition onto new tractor and irrigation technology on farms--and the unemployment of large parts of the farm workforce in roughly a single year).

A slow displacement example is the onset of the computer age. Computers were slow-starters, and advancement in computing accelerated--and brought about great wealth even as jobs were rapidly displaced. This actually continues now--we see rounds of repeated IT sector lay-offs constantly, amounting to tens of thousands per year, even with growth of 150k-250k per year of American tech jobs in that time. The IT sector is an Ouroboros, constantly eating its own tail; it's spinning quite fast now, hurling enormous piles of workers out while employing even more new workers.

Apparently you don't know what really happens

I mean, I'm working from actual history and repeating patterns; you're working from schizotypal conspiracy theories that indicate mental illness more than idealistic pessimism. You should be in Shepherd Pratt.

Or you could make it a royal PITA not to hire these displaced individuals. By doing so, these individuals have more income to help support other jobs

You know, money isn't wealth, nor is it economy. Money is representative of the labor trade, which is equal to production. All the money represents all the stuff produced and sold by all the work applied--that is physically impossible to violate, because you put in labor time and make products. It takes a certain number of people some amount of time to build a house. You have to employ programmers to spend time writing code to make programs. Shipping things requires not only drivers, but logistics, fuel, maintenance, and the engineering to design the shipping vehicles.

You can't just employ people digging holes and filling them in again. You have to employ people to produce, move, and retail the products and services people are buying, or else you're not getting the money to pay them. You have to move the money that way because you're otherwise producing things people aren't buying and, consequentially, not producing things people are buying--or, well, they're not buying them, because they don't exist, because we've only made food for 320 million people but we have 344 million, oops?

This is, again, why central-planning economies don't work. Sorry, Lenin.

Slashdot Top Deals

Pohl's law: Nothing is so good that somebody, somewhere, will not hate it.