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Comment Paying customers and age appropriate roles (Score 1) 249

Society has an age discrimination issue. Most of us, even women, would rather look at a fresh-faced young girl than at a woman with lines on her face.

Whatever issues society has, it doesn't follow that a movie producer has to indulge them because of some unsupported delusion that people won't pay to see a quality actress in an age appropriate role. Or a black actor. Or an asian one. Frankly I think there is a lot of credibility to the argument that a movie with some integrity would be more likely to attract fans than a movie that plunks whatever starlet-of-the-month into the role regardless of what it does to the movie.

Is it even possible to fix the problem of age bias in Hollywood, and if so, would that actually help address the problem of age discrimination in society?

Given that they are the image makers it would be a darn good place to start. Is it possible to fix? Maybe. Won't be easy though. The key would be proving that age discrimination is actually harmful to the economic outcome for a film. Challenging case to make since they don't let a lot of people who aren't white and young (if women) into movies to test the theory.

Comment Hollywood discriminates on age, race, gender... (Score 1) 249

It seems unlikely to me that Hollywood has an age discrimination issue.

Oh they certainly do have an age discrimination issue, particularly for female actresses. They also have race discrimination issues, gender discrimination issues, and lots more besides. This isn't even a debate. The evidence is undeniable.

If an actor doesn't look the age for a part, they're not going to get the role.

That might have some credibility if they didn't also hire actresses who do not look the role at all. See Emma Stone in Aloha. See whitewashing. Same thing happens with them hiring actresses who are FAR too young for the role they are playing.

Comment Scale and power vs weight (Score 4, Insightful) 129

Power to weight versus cost used to be a huge issue here...

Last I checked physics is still a thing so power to weight considerations are still very much an actively huge issue.

It might not be commonly done outside of the hobby industry, but scaling up quadcopters and adding hybrid engines to maintain a charge long term is no longer an impossibility.

Are you seriously arguing that because we've done it with an RC airplane that it is a trivial exercise to scale up to the size where it can plausibly carry humans safely? Yeah it doesn't work like. The energy costs to get aloft do not scale linearly with size. The bigger the vehicle + cargo the more fuel you need to lift PLUS you need more fuel to lift the extra fuel. This places upper limits on what can practically get aloft and how long you can stay there. Plus even if you deal with the technical problems getting it to be economically viable is a MUCH harder problem. Helicopters have been a thing for a long time but they remain hugely expensive and problematic for use by the General Public. Uber isn't going to crack this problem no matter what they claim.

Comment The poor economics of flying cars (Score 4, Insightful) 129

The biggest mistake people make, is thinking, if technology X was tested and it failed. that in 50 years with new technology and materials it will still fail.

The problem with making a flying car isn't really the technology. We've known how to make a VTOL aircraft for a long time now. The showstopper is the economics of it. Let's assume you develop a flying car that somehow works. We'll ignore all the technical obstacles that lots of very smart people haven't solved to date and just assume they magically figure it out tomorrow. It still wouldn't work for economic reasons unless you invoke some truly magical sci-fi technology. Why?

1) Physics. The energy requirements to get something the weight of a human aloft are considerable. The fuel costs alone would make it economically prohibitive. And I'm ignoring the engineering compromises that would be necessary to make it light enough to get aloft.
2) Sticker shock. A VTOL aircraft is necessarily going to be more expensive than a standard automobile because it is more complicated and thus more expensive. Even the simplest imaginable version would be far more expensive than what anyone but the super wealthy could afford.
3) Infrastructure. None of the infrastructure for any plausible flying vehicle has been built excepting for airports. The cost to change this would be astronomical. Can you imagine trying to land in the parking lot of your local Walmart without the prop wash endangering everyone around you? There are very good reasons we don't have helicopters landing just anywhere except in cases of dire emergency. The safety concerns alone make it a terrible idea.

Comment No perfect options. (Score 1) 83

Nights and windless days are very much reality.

So because a technology doesn't solve every problem it is useless? Idiotic response. First off, solar technology is terrific for offsetting air conditioning and refrigeration energy demand which is a huge part of our energy consumption, particularly in southern areas. Second, it is exceptionally rare that the wind is calm everywhere all at once and transporting power is a solved problem. Third, batteries are a thing and there already are batteries big enough to supply enough energy for a house to get through a night and available to consumers at fairly reasonable prices..

It is a fact that wind and solar are not economical, else subsidies wouldn't be necessary to get them built.

Lots of new technologies aren't economical at first. Nuclear power was developed out of government research and subsidies. Fossil fuels for reasons that defy all logic continue to receive subsidies to this day. Wind power is already economically competitive with some of the more expensive fossil fuels and the cost of solar is falling fast as technology improves and scale increases. Fossil fuels are only economic because the infrastructure already exists for them and because they don't have to pay the full cost of the pollution they generate. Include the cost of pollution and renewables are EASILY competitive.

Might be we want to rethink, and make decisions based on facts and reality.

We are. And solar and wind power are presently underutilized in our portfolio of energy generation technologies. We cannot continue to burn fossil fuels at the rate we currently are if we want to avoid severe climate catastrophes. For now that means more solar, wind and probably nuclear fission. There is no option without some sort of down side but continuing on our present course with fossil fuels is the worst available option.

Comment Missing the point (Score 1) 83

I'd take it more seriously if they were to directly power their data centers from renewables 24/7 only instead of some of the funny math of just spending more money to "buy" renewable energy from grid producers at a large enough volume to say they run on 100% renewable

Power is fungible. Whether the electrons generated go into your factory or someone else's at the end of the day has the exact same environmental effect. Worrying about which electrons are being used is idiotic and misses the point. Furthermore the best locations for renewable power are not necessarily the best locations for the end users of that power. It's not practical for Apple to relocated from Cupertino to Texas just because that happens to be a good place for a wind farm.

Because on the back end, they're still dependent in terms of actual consumption on grid baseload generation even if they have a balance sheet that says otherwise.

Who claimed otherwise? They are doing their part to increase the clean energy capacity. They aren't going to solve the whole problem themselves. Eventually (hopefully) enough clean generating capacity will become available that we have to seriously worry about storage and transport on a large scale. We're not there yet.

Further, trying to run full-time off wind+solar would require a substantial investment in energy storage to balance night/still air and storage is where we need the investment.

Power storage will matter for the system once you get beyond a certain generating capacity for solar/wind but for now fossil fuels and nuclear are more than capable of taking up the slack so it's an important but secondary consideration for now. For those who want to use the electricity they generate storage matters but that isn't the goal for companies like Google or Apple.

Comment Subsidies all around (Score 1) 83

Wind producers receive a federal subsidy of about 2.3 cents per kWh.

Oil and gas energy producers receive substantial subsidies as well. Ironically wind and solar would need smaller subsidies if we didn't also subsidize fossil fuels to compete against them.

So it makes sense for them to continue to generate and push the power into an overloaded grid that has no use for it, because they make money doing that.

You could say the exact same thing about the fossil fuel power stations. The only reason they continue to generate and push power into an overloaded grid is because they make money doing that. The only meaningful question is what source of power do we actually want to use. For my money give me the cleaner renewables whenever possible even if there is currently a (rapidly shrinking) price premium. The long term benefits outweigh the short term economic consequences.

Comment Re:Commercial "education" generally fails (Score -1) 314

Hmm, I taught people who I hire to work for me, that is over 30 people that I needed to teach. I also taught some kids. But that's irrelevant, the only relevant part is that today we have more resources to provide extremely cheap education to people because of the technology that we built and yet due to government intervention with all the money flowing into the system the prices are extremely high and will only increase over time *because* of the money.

The more money that is betting for a service the more expensive the service will be and it has nothing to do with how cheaply and universally the service can be provided without all that unnecessary money.

Comment Only if customer is willing to pay for it (Score 1) 67

If you're the customer waiting on parts, safety stock is pretty much mandatory from your point of view.

Only if the customer is willing to pay for it. Safety stock costs money. If the customer is willing to pay the extra cost of maintaining safety stock then and only then is it reasonable to keep safety stock.

If you want new tires and the store says sure, come back in 4 days when they arrive, you're going elsewhere

That depends on the tires and what sort of customer you are dealing with. JIT is only applicable with items with a production+delivery lead time shorter than the time between identification of need and time of delivery. You also have to consider the economic utility of stocking the part. If you have something like tires where there are thousands of different products it would be irrational to attempt to stock them all. So you either buffer them (warehouse etc) or you build to order. If somebody comes in and wants a tire that few others buy they might have to wait a few days because it would be economically silly for your local shop to stock it.

You keep having stuff out of stock, you ae sending your customers elsewhere permanently.

So don't have stuff out of stock when economically sane. Nobody is arguing that it is an easy problem in every case but the goal is to have as little inventory as possible. That results in lower prices for the customer and lower costs for the seller. Designing a supply chain that cannot work without safety stock is an inefficient supply chain.

Comment Extra assets = waste (Score 1) 67

Greyhound used to keep full and complete busses at many of their depots, and spare parts for the major assemblies like transmissions, engines, driveshafts. They were considered unused/new items so they weren't taxed on them.

If they did keep unused buses in cold storage that was idiotic. Beyond any property taxes they would incur all sorts of expenses from storing them including the property and buildings to hold them, people to maintain them (even unused vehicles need maintenance), opportunity cost of cash tied up in an illiquid and non-revenue generating asset, security to protect them, and much more. Buying assets for non-mission critical just-in-case situations is wasteful and usually unnecessary. Taxes on the property are actually among the smaller costs involved.

By the way a bus would not be considered inventory on any balance sheet unless the company was in the business of selling buses. For a company like Greyhound those would be considered fixed assets and would be depreciated according to a depreciation schedule.

Ever since "Just In Time" has been a thing specifically to avoid property taxes on inventory.

The reasons for JIT go FAR beyond any tax consequences. In fact the taxes are usually among the smaller costs involved. To use your example Greyhound would be tying up (hypothetically) $100,000 in a bus that sits in a depot unused. They have to pay for a place to store it. They have to pay for people to protect and maintain it. They lose any interest income of investment income they could have earned on that cash. They have a depreciating asset sitting idle and not earning any revenue. The list goes on. Taxes are one more on the list but they aren't generally the biggest reason why holding extra inventory or assets is a dumb idea.

Comment Technology is more than just engineering (Score 1) 67

The fits and collapse of a business are better discussed in a business journal. This story isn't really about technology at all.

It most certainly is a story about technology. Stuff that affects the companies that make technology is relevant to the technology itself. Slashdot is not and never has been solely about pure engineering stuff. Business, ethics, civil rights, and much more are all discussed here and always have been. Perhaps it doesn't interest you and that's fine but it does interest a lot of us who have been here a long time. It's certainly news for nerds and it's certainly stuff that matters.

Comment Safety stock is wasteful and expensive (Score 5, Informative) 67

I could never understand why would any company risk JIT (just-in-time) on anything mission critical. At the same time everyone does it and disasters keep happening.

Money. Storing extra inventory is wasteful and expensive. If the supply chain is sufficiently robust then the risk of a stock out is minimal or can be absorbed if it happens. Companies like Toyota that have JIT production systems generally work very closely with suppliers to ensure reliability and they have draconian punishments if something goes wrong. If a supplier shuts down an auto assembly line with a stock out the fines are (no exaggeration) something like $10,000 PER MINUTE the line is idle so the suppliers are typically highly motivated to not cause a stock out.

Excess inventory is considered one of the seven deadly wastes. Defects, WIP, overproduction, waiting, motion, transportation, and overprocessing are all unnecessary expenses and companies should strive to minimize them. When you keep safety stock you have overproduced, generated excess WIP, have parts waiting for processing, and moved parts your customer doesn't actually need. All of that costs money. Now granted you have to weigh the cost of that against the cost of a stock out. Sometimes safety stock is unavoidable but it isn't something desirable.

Comment Not so unusual (Score 5, Interesting) 67

I wonder exactly how terrible they are when they have a product with a solid demand, yet no one will invest in them. There has to be embezzlement.

There doesn't have to be embezzlement. Most common when a company runs into a situation like this is that they are short on cash. The cash cycle of a consumer products company is typically something like this. I've simplified the times to make the example easy to understand:

1) Place order for components with 30 day terms. Components received within a few days of placing order
2) Build product between days 5-30.
3) Pay for components on day 30.
4) Sell product into distribution channels with 30 day terms on day 30
5) Receive payment from customers on day 60

So they are paying for components about 30 days before they get paid by customers in this example . That means that if they run low on cash, they don't have enough money to buy new components to build next batch of new product. What usually happens next is a viscous cycle. They push out the length of time before they pay vendors. Eventually vendors get tired of this and put them on credit hold or demand cash on delivery. This means they don't have enough cash on hand to buy new components to build new product so their incoming cash flow declines which makes it even harder for them to pay vendors. Lather rinse repeat and the company prospects decline.

This happens all the time to companies. If there is strong demand for products and/or back orders the company might be able to get a bridge loan or investment. If product demand is weak the company is probably looking at bankruptcy.

Comment Detroit City or Metro? (Score 1) 526

The Detroit economy needs jobs, not hard workers. When the auto industry started shutting down factories, Detroit fell. Importing more labor, won't fix the problem.

Are you talking about the City of Detroit or the Detroit Metropolitan Area? Detroit City (population ~700K) has seen better times. Detroit Metro (population ~4 million) is doing just fine. Like any big city it has it's good areas and bad. Oakland county just to the north has plenty of jobs and is among the wealthiest counties in the USA. The just just aren't assembly line jobs anymore for the most part. Detroit Metro wasn't hit as hard as places like Flint or the City of Detroit by plants closing/moving because the economy is more diverse.

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