Trump presidency

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Mutex
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Mutex » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:02 pm UTC

In related news, not that this is the "internet giants forcing small/local/high street businesses out of business thread", Maplin (electronics chain) and Toy's R Us both went under administration today. Certainly Maplin had the same issue as the book stores, not enough range in a small shop and not being able to compete on price.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby speising » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:21 pm UTC

I really like to shop online, or to inform myself online instead of browsing a brick store. But just recently i happened to experience an advantage a store with good staff can bring: i wanted to buy a gift for someone starting to study medicine, and browsed the whole medicine section for something suitable without really finding anything.
Then i asked an assistant and she pulled out, without hesitation, the perfect book for me. (from the "humour" section)
sadly, qualified staff is getting rarer and rarer.

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ucim
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby ucim » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:50 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
ucim wrote:
emceng wrote:On the one hand yeah, you get a more efficient market. Big companies have procedures, shared risks and overhead, etc. But it fucking kills the middle class.
... and this is one of the pitfalls of the relentless pursuit of "efficiency" as a societal goal. (I originally mistyped "societal gaol", but I think that pretty much hits it).
Why is it a pitfall? When a local business is less convenient and more expensive for the customer, I fail to see why supporting them is something we should be trying to promote.
It is a pitfall because scale is a killer of humanity. When everything is huge and huge equates to efficient, there is no room for anybody else or anything else. When everything is smooth, there are no niches, and niches are where life lives.

Life is not about being a consumer, it is about being a producer - being somebody who has something to contribute and somebody whose contributions are valuable and valued. It's nice to listen to music, but it's far better to play music, and it's the bees knees to play music to an appreciative audience. But it's certainly more efficient for computers to compose, arrange, and perform music for us, so we can just sit back and "enjoy". Yeah, they can't quite do that yet, at least not to the level of a good composer. But they are getting there, and when they do get there, there will be no reason to listen to anything else. People who want to write music will have a hard time finding others to play it, and next to nobody to care to listen to it. This is a Bad Thing(TM). We will have become passivized just a little bit more - another step on the domestication of humans to Da Machine.

In a similar (though not identical) vein, when retail becomes so massive and efficient in the vein of Amazon and Home Depot and Costco, somebody who would like to open up a small shop will find no market and a huge barrier to entry. It can be argued that "there's no market because no matter what you do, it will be inferior", but life is not about getting the best price. It's about the richness of human interaction, and that requires humans to interact with. If I can't open a bookstore (that will compete with Amazon), and I can't play music (that will compete with AutoSong), and I can't {fill in list of other things that are made "too efficient"), then what am I do to?

A basic income is not the answer, because the question is not about money. It's about purpose. It's about humanity. It's about interaction.

There is a lot of intangible that happens in a local hardware store that is not duplicated by a combination of Lowes.com, chat rooms, web searches, and drone delivery. The loss of the local hardware store (and even the partial-loss, where they become part of a chain like ACE and have to follow chain rules to stay alive) is a real loss in human terms, even if it increases the machine efficiency of a life no longer worth living.

And this is all an example of a much larger thing - the idea of a goal that while worth aspiring to, is not one that is worth reaching. This is reflected in sayings like "life is about the journey, not the destination" and stories like The Nine Billion Names of God.

We should not treat commerce, society and (thus) ourselves like machines - that way lies darkness.

===

As to unions - it's (also) an issue of scale. Big business takes advantage of (powerless) employees. Employees band together into a big union, and the union deals with Big Business on an equal footing. But now the union itself is big business, and takes advantage of (powerless) members and must-be-members. The same pattern happens with government. It's essentially the story of the Golem.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Leovan » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:50 pm UTC

My local bookshop offers ordering from Amazon for you. So whether they have it or not, you'll find it when visiting them and either take it home or receive it in the mail. They handle the buying so you don't need an account, and you can pay with cash or whatever they usually offer. You can also return it in the store if there's something wrong with it, or it was a gift and the person didn't like it etc.
I feel like it's probably the best way to handle the situation for bookstores. They still get you in the store and you might impulse buy something else, they offer you their service, but they then have the same availability as Amazon.

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CorruptUser
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:00 pm UTC

So, book stores will have to go the way of movie theatres, with the books actually being a loss leader to get you to buy from the coffee shop?

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby elasto » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:17 pm UTC

@ucim et. al.

Spoiler:
ucim wrote:It is a pitfall because scale is a killer of humanity. When everything is huge and huge equates to efficient, there is no room for anybody else or anything else. When everything is smooth, there are no niches, and niches are where life lives.

You're kidding, right?

Whilest online behemoths like Amazon are squeezing brick-and-mortar middle-men out of existence, it has never been easier in human history to be a producer - whether you want to self-publish a book, a game, a song or anything else. It has also never been easier to produce or resell physical goods - whether through Amazon, ebay or on your own website.

You're also kidding yourself if you think the majority of middle-men ever added a whole amount to humanity. Yes they usually had expertise but there was often an information-asymmetry which meant they'd use that expertise in their favour not yours - from the slick used-car dealer to the salesman trying to upsell you a $400 home appliance when the $250 one right next door would do the job just fine too.

Meanwhile, it's never been easier to interact online and offline with people who share your interests, no matter how niche. Heck, this is a group of people with a shared interest in a web-comic who regularly organise meetups.

While the web has amplified the efficiencies of scale possible, squeezing those not capable of adjusting to it, it has also democratised information and given everyone a voice - which has had the effect of multiplying niches not extinguishing them.

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CorruptUser
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:20 pm UTC

So you are saying the web has replaced the merchant classes, but in doing so has expanded the craftsman and creative classes? Yeah, I'd buy that for a dollar!

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby ucim » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:28 pm UTC

elasto wrote:You're kidding, right?
No. But I did not claim that the web was an unqualified evil. I agree with (most of) what you wrote, but they are orthogonal to what I am saying. While selling (on the internet) has gotten easier than selling on the street used to be, selling on the street has become harder. And I am saying that the loss of selling on the street is a loss.

Now maybe I'm just bemoaning the decline of buggy-whip shops, but I think there's something bigger here to consider.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Chen » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:38 pm UTC

ucim wrote:Now maybe I'm just bemoaning the decline of buggy-whip shops, but I think there's something bigger here to consider.


What's that bigger thing? The whole interaction bit you talked about seems like a Red Herring. I can probably count the "enjoyable" interactions with shop keepers/employees I've had on two hands over the thousands of interactions I've had in stores. Frankly the time I've lost in inefficient stores or with incompetent sales people is time I could have been interacting with people I enjoy interacting with (friends and family for example).

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:40 pm UTC

Being the devils advocate, the loss of interacting with people you consider to be assholes actually is a loss, in that you don't have as much tolerance for other assholes, and wind up in echo chambers.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Mutex » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:42 pm UTC

So the advantage of brick and mortar stores is you get practice interacting with assholes.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:00 pm UTC

You'd be surprised at how important that skill is. It's like homework in elementary school. Homework is so boooooring, but you have to learn to do it even if you know how to do it because 90% of even the fun jobs involve boring paperwork.

Dealing with assholes is pretty much the reason for public school. You would learn more from homeschooling, but you wouldn't learn how to socialize with people you'd rather not be around, or how to interact in a way so that others are willing to put up with you, which is pretty much in every job you will ever have.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby elasto » Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:40 pm UTC

@ucim

Spoiler:
ucim wrote:Now maybe I'm just bemoaning the decline of buggy-whip shops, but I think there's something bigger here to consider.

The bigger thing that I agree with you on is: what the hell is humanity going to do when automation isn't just better at the boring, crappy jobs that are, frankly, a good thing to have handed off, but also the fun, creative ones too.

Best case scenario we use smart AI to directly augment our abilities and our conscious experience of the world - humanity exiting the caterpillar phase of its existence and becoming a butterfly - but there's a real chance we'll go the way of the dinosaurs. But, meh, it's the fate of every parent to bring forth the next generation - who we hope will be superior to us - and then quietly fade away. It'll just be a more radically different generation than usual :)

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:55 pm UTC

Joseph Haldeman answered that question in The Accidental Time Machine. Not quite as good a book as The Forever War (to be a movie soon starring Channing Tatum's rocking abs), but an entertaining read nonetheless. Spoilers, obviously. Basically, Massachussets is run by an insane Catholic robot, complete with killsats. But in the Midwest, society is run by a robot whose boredom has driven her suicidal, but other than that it's a utopia where everyone is granted millions of dollars to do whatever the hell they want, which mostly amounts to using the internet to buy and sell old world artifacts or becoming "food scientists" and the like.

A lot of questions don't get answered in the book, mostly because Haldeman never seems to plot out his books in advance; he began writing in order to keep himself sane while recovering in a military hospital, and apparently hates editors more than war. But, look past that bit, and you'll be fine.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:28 pm UTC

Mutex wrote:Certainly Maplin had the same issue as the book stores, not enough range in a small shop and not being able to compete on price.

I actually went into a Maplin just on Monday. I didn't buy anything.
I'm sorry, Mr Maplin, it's all my fault! I caused you to fail and all your Yellowcoats to be made redundant!

More seriously, though, I was not intending to buy anything, but the place is difficult to resist a look. (Yesterday, I did the same in a Waterstones.) And I very rarely use a physical browse to then inform an on-line purchase, elsewhere. As a Clicks'n'Mortar establishment, I have gone to their online ordering/delivery. They also have loads more variety of stock than they can put in each store (including things in no store, tagged as Web-ordering only).

The trouble, I think, is too much width of range, or too much depth in some of those ranges, but overlapping various other outlets. Competing with the PCWorld/Currys-universe on computer equipment (not always competative on price, but I'd buy my USB sticks at Maplin rather than PCW/C if they weren't more than, say, 25% more expensive per GB than the best price/GB at the other place) and their Mobo/CPU/Mem bundles are undercut by a cursory online browse; competing with Toys'Я'Us (for what it's worth, given how they are having problems with lower-yet-undercutting) with things like RC toys.

But I've frequented five different Maplins stores (multiple times for most) over the last calendar year, and have been an occasional customer of them since school (electronics class projects used their tome of a catalogue, possibly alongside RS's) and bought in person from them at their actual master-warehouse Trade Counter a few times, whilst passing, before I actually had any actual stores near me.

The Internet has done it for them, mostly. They made quite a mess of their first few catalogues-on-CD (designed on an Apple, I suspect, the way it worked badly on a PC) and it took a while to look techno-proficient, by which time the people still going to the obscure Arkwright/Four Candles-style shop up a side-street that sold every variety and value of capcitor and resistor alongside general electric and electrical repairs were likely still going to Arkwrights if they were in favour of the brown-coated small-businessman approach, or they'd gone and found some online store that shipped any and all obscure microFaraded components worldwide in a jiffy-bag,

I really like their online store, though. There are a lot worse. The trouble being that most of the time I want to handle the goods myself. Ok, so the GPS Shield for the Arduino isn't needing physical inspection, but I'd rather have it on my hand now, or I might decide that I don't really need it at the point that I'm about to click to confirm the order, rather than when I get home and put the bag with that, the pack of 200 assorted LEDs, the small coil of CAT6 wire (no ends, or shoes, that'd be anogher trip), a 250mm case fan, two small electric motors (they only ever put two out at a time!), yet another USB stick (of reasonable cost-effectiveness to its capacity, and maybe this one has a mechanically-extending plug to it, to save losing the cap) and a 3m length of LED lghting strip (that I have some sort of idea of putting around a door-frame, having not measured the door-frame to see if 3m is enough, and it probably isn't given that a door is more than 1.5m high, to start with) by the living-room cupboard within which I've stored several of my previous prospective project materials, until it ended up stuffed to the gills.


Which reminds me, I still have 16 servomotors sitting idle. Need to wire up the prototyping board to two types of power source (co-grounded), link it to the PIC board, link that to the USB-to-serial dongle and work out which languagr I'm using on the PC. (Who am I kidding! It'll be Perl. It's usually Perl.)

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Yablo » Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:08 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Being the devils advocate, the loss of interacting with people you consider to be assholes actually is a loss, in that you don't have as much tolerance for other assholes, and wind up in echo chambers.

Mutex wrote:So the advantage of brick and mortar stores is you get practice interacting with assholes.

If we never interact with assholes, we might not fully appreciate the value of decent people.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Zohar » Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:14 pm UTC

Yablo wrote:If we never interact with assholes, we might not fully appreciate the value of decent people.

Citation please. The whole "without the bad times we wouldn't appreciate the good times" is a common enough trope, but I have a feeling an harmonious utopia where everyone is pleasant to each other wouldn't be so bad.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Mutex » Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:16 pm UTC

It'd be fine until Wesley Snipes shows up.

Anyway at least we're back on topic now we're talking about assholes.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:05 pm UTC

Its not "the bad times make appreciate the good times", but rather

1) most people you will ever meet are assholes (and think the same about you), so you need to learn how to tolerate minor assholish behavior if you want to keep a job or significant other
2) being socialized with assholes makes YOU less of an asshole, and also makes others less assholish as well

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Thesh » Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:17 pm UTC

People will generally behave in the manner expected of them; the problem is that the people with power expect the people below them to be assholes to everyone below them, because that's what gives the people at the top more power. If you don't want people to be assholes, you need to make it so that the only way to get ahead is by being professional, skilled, and having ethics that mean that you are expected to act in the best interest of the customers.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby jewish_scientist » Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:47 pm UTC

No where near anyone's topic:
Spoiler:
What I find really funny is how Gamestop is a slowly dying mega-store and local game shops that are run out of a basement they rent are doing incredibly well. The reason is for this is pretty basic; the local stores have a better profit model. The only way Gamestop interacts with customers is by selling them video games. However, local stores sells table-top/ trading card games AND assists in their use. People come to the stores to play with friends, meet new people, and compete in tournaments. Not only does this give them a very high returning customer rate, but they can also sell food and drinks for an additional source of profit.

Now, you may say that Gamestop could start hosting games, but the local stores would still have them beat. A single game of D&D cost between $100 and $250 1, lasts between 2-3 hours, and is played by 3-8 people. It is pretty likely that players new to the game would play and get interested, resulting in sales. Do not forget about the refreshments the store also has. Every store, no matter how small, can host a game like this multiple times a week.

Compare that a video game that costs $450 - $500 2 for a 3 minute round between 2 - 4 people. Plus, people playing the game are very likely to have their own equipment, so sales to these people would be almost non-existent. The only hope Gamestop would have of turning a profit is if they ran a massive tournament, which would lower their costs per game, and charged people to enter. It takes months for a corporation to organize an event an like this.

Long story short, Gamestop sells a product; local game stores sell a product and service required by the product.

1: $60 for a starter kit, $10 for a set of dice, $30 per any additional books, $10 for a table (I am assuming that the store donated all of this to the players because that is the worst case scenario)
2: $40 for a disk, $250 for the counsel, $30 for a decent controllers, $100 for a TV, $0 for electricity (this is much more realistic)
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:30 am UTC

Apparently having someone completely unqualified and inexperienced, in some financial difficulty and with conflicts of interests all over the world in a position of importance within the government has not gone unnoticed by other countries. And no, I'm not referring to Trump in this instance.

Washington Post wrote:Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.

Among those nations discussing ways to influence Kushner to their advantage were the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico, the current and former officials said.

[...]

H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby dg61 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:31 am UTC

Weirdly enough I feel like small brick and mortar stores can be doing better sometimes. Will elaborate as needed.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:29 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Trade is awesome, when it's not unilateral and there's relatively little manipulation of currencies, evasion of tax or labor laws or pollution controls, and little other shennanigans. If the big box store moves in to town and replaces the mom and pops, AND the town produces enough extra so there isn't a longterm trade imbalance, the result is the people get the goods and services for cheaper and then spend their extra money on other things, such as wedding parties or art supplies or whathaveyou, and total wealth increases and most people are better off. This is how free trade is supposed to work. In reality, well, the shennanigans...


I never see anyone make that same argument about, say, the Post Office. Despite the fact that if it were privately owned, it'd be the second biggest business in the US in terms of employees, and it too is governed by far off people by arcane rules and all that. Why is that? They're probably not sourcing their mailing products locally either.

In practice, towns do not go bust because they have a post office. Nor because they have a walmart. The amount of money leaving the area is relatively small either way, and having additional services in the area is actually quite helpful for producing and selling basically anything. The more an area gets built up, and the more trade comes in, the easier it is to competitively trade to the outside. Look, find evidence of your nameless "shenanigans" and their effects. Stack that up against the fact that a Walmart moving nearby normally increases property values. http://www.nber.org/papers/w18111

Walmart may not be the pinnacle of development, but it does represent an efficiency boost, and that brings real economic value.

Opus_723 wrote:It seems that the game theory pretty obviously favors the employers here, as they can essentially create a free rider problem.


Businesses can pretty much always reap long term gains by taking care of employees more than necessary in the short term, yes. This is not specific to unions. Consider the west coast tech industry. Not a great deal of unions. Pretty decently compensated, with the tech giants often competing to offer sweet offers to recruits. Why? Pretty straightforward. The employees are valuable, and it's worth it to the company to take the short term hit to build up a good workforce. Unions traditionally form in places where employees are not being treated well. Don't do that, no union, more efficiency for all. Unions form an important disincentive to avoid, but that doesn't mean it's good to be in a place with a union. It's ideal to be in a place where no union is necessary.

CorruptUser wrote:So, book stores will have to go the way of movie theatres, with the books actually being a loss leader to get you to buy from the coffee shop?


There is a lot of talk about things like this, third place theory, etc. Places to go for the experience, not for the fundamentals of shopping. Unfortunately, I think the number of stores that can make that transition are limited. The amount of places one wishes to go simply to hang out and enjoy the experience on a regular basis is probably fewer than the number of places one shops at. I certainly do not go to, say, Walmart for the experience, or to socialize. So, if say, Walmart decides to compete by offering higher prices, lower selection, and touting experience, it will do...freaking awful.

And even if five stores become very good coffee shops, each with some form of retail worked in...I only drink so much coffee. And if the profitable part is the coffee, why not just sell the coffee? A coffee shop alone can be a perfectly fine place to hang out and purchase coffee. Way less rent than the square footage needed for a bookstore.

I transitioned my business from a regular shop to a blend of commissioned sales through people still pursuing the shop model, online, and conventions. Ultimately, I suspect that most people competing against Amazon, etc are going to lose, and of the winners, I don't suspect many will win a great deal relative to the work invested. So....yeah, I don't think book stores will survive in the long term thanks to coffee.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby elasto » Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:54 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:There is a lot of talk about things like this, third place theory, etc. Places to go for the experience, not for the fundamentals of shopping. Unfortunately, I think the number of stores that can make that transition are limited. The amount of places one wishes to go simply to hang out and enjoy the experience on a regular basis is probably fewer than the number of places one shops at. I certainly do not go to, say, Walmart for the experience, or to socialize. So, if say, Walmart decides to compete by offering higher prices, lower selection, and touting experience, it will do...freaking awful.

In the UK two chains have gone under in the last day or so and the reasons are common sense in hindsight. Basically they couldn't compete on price and were a horrible experience so, well, why shouldn't they fail?

Re. Toys R Us:
"For a magical place, it's not very magical," says Ms Hardcastle. "If you can't compete on price, you can at least compete on theatre. If I walk into the Lego store in Meadowhall in Sheffield, the first thing I look for is not the products piled up, but the huge benches of Lego to play with. And the team members are there waiting to build with me. That's very exciting for a child."

"The general feel isn't one of fun, it's one of tiredness," says Mr Dresser. "I stumbled on one in York - it was quite sad. The first sign you see is that they reserve the right to check your bags as you leave. That's a horrendous message in a toy shop. As a customer, you don't really feel valued. That shouldn't be what a toy shop is. It should be a place of joy."


And, going to my earlier point about good-riddance to self-serving middle-men. Re. Maplin:
My one experience with Maplin - I wanted a simple wi-fi dongle which cost a tenner. The guy there took one look at me, assumed I was some middle-aged technodolt and spent about 20 minutes patronisingly telling me I'd made the wrong choice and that I really really needed one that cost about £40. I bought the dongle from Argos instead and never went back to Maplin.


-------------------------------------------

Anyhow, Trump's making some interesting waves lately. Wonder if it's just more controversy for the sake of it or if he'll get anything done:

US President Donald Trump has stunned lawmakers from both parties by telling them in a live broadcast not to be so "petrified" of the powerful gun lobby the National Rifle Association (NRA).

In a break from his party's stance on gun control, Mr Trump urged lawmakers to come up with a "strong" reform bill. He suggested expanding background checks for gun buyers and raising the legal age to buy rifles to 21 from 18.

He said the NRA has "great power over you people", but that the lobby has "less power over me".

"Take the guns first, go through due process second," Mr Trump said, suggesting police officers be given the power to seize guns from anyone who could pose a threat, including the mentally ill, without a court order.

"We can't wait and play games and nothing gets done," he added.

He also warned lawmakers against proposing a bill that included concealed carry across the US, a provision that Republicans and the NRA have aimed to include in any gun legislation.

Many Republican lawmakers distanced themselves from Mr Trump's comments.

"We're not ditching any constitutional protections simply because the last person the president talked to today doesn't like them," said Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who was not at the meeting.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio said the proposed reforms might not have prevented the school attack in his state in which 17 people were killed, which was not "conducted by someone who bought a gun at a gun show or parking lot".

John Cornyn, the top Senate Republican who sat next to the president at the meeting, said he thought it was "fascinating television" but that it was "surreal to actually be there".

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre occurred, told the president that previous efforts to pass bills requiring strong background checks have been met with opposition because of the NRA.

"The reason that nothing's gotten done here is because the gun lobby has had a veto power over any legislation that comes before Congress," Mr Murphy said.

Mr Trump deflected the warning and said he had previously told NRA officials: "It's time. We've got to stop this nonsense. It's time."


link

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Sableagle » Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:37 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
"... simply because the last person the president talked to today ..." said Republican Senator Ben Sasse.


So that's official now, is it?

Ugh.

Donald Trump has confirmed he's running for re-election in 2020 and this is why he'll probably win

“TRUMP SET FOR SHOCK ANNOUNCEMENT,” he tweeted from his own personal account, his keyboard’s capital letter button held firmly down. Shortly afterwards, he followed up from the Drudge Report’s handle: “WORLD EXCLUSIVE - Just one year into his Presidency, Trump will stun the political world by announcing he is running for re-election in 2020. Digital guru Brad Parscale will be named campaign manager, DRUDGE REPORT has learned.”

The office brings huge advantage in terms of media coverage, name recognition and the ability to raise money.

But it is not just among his hardcore supporters that Trump has sold support. Following a first term in which Trump rowed back on regulations Barack Obama had introduced at the Environmental Protection Agency, cracked down on immigration, enacted a version of his travel ban, got Neil Gorsuch confirmed on the Supreme Court and, crucially, oversaw a tax reform package the Republicans had not seen for 30 years, Trump can present himself to the GOP as a man who has delivered on his promises.

Right now, unemployment stands at 4.1 per cent, a 10-year low. While much of the credit for that belongs to Barack Obama, Trump has already seized it as his victory. Wages in the United States increased 4.4 per cent in November of 2017 over the same month in the previous year, and they seem set to continue – a figure that could equal anything during Obama’s term.

Nothing underscored the [Democratic] party’s haplessness more than the recent suggestion that Oprah Winfrey may do battle against Trump.

All of this is does not represent an endorsement of Donald Trump. From the perspective of anyone who values progressive ideas, who believes in science and empiricism rather than Chinese “hoaxes”, who supports the Paris Accord, who believes America is a nation of immigrants of all colours and all faiths and is a better place for it, who believes women should be respected and valued rather than insulted, and who thinks tax cuts should help the poor and not just the wealthy, then Donald Trump’s first term has so far been an abomination.

But that does not mean he is not going to win a second.


Also ugh. By then I may be too tired from working 16-hour shifts in a Chinese-owned factory with razor wire around its roof to stop me leaping off to a merciful death to actually post here and say "Ugh" again, but still, also ugh.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:57 pm UTC

elasto wrote:And, going to my earlier point about good-riddance to self-serving middle-men. Re. Maplin:
My one experience with Maplin - I wanted a simple wi-fi dongle which cost a tenner. The guy there took one look at me, assumed I was some middle-aged technodolt and spent about 20 minutes patronisingly telling me I'd made the wrong choice and that I really really needed one that cost about £40. I bought the dongle from Argos instead and never went back to Maplin.
Ouch.

Not a PR person for Maplin, but that's very much not my experience. One misaimed overhelpfulness, I'd say, perhaps outside the employee's field so he didn't recognise what was actually asked for.

There is(/was?) a slightly less than comfortable corporate policy to always try to have a staff-member at the door to intercept walk-ins like me and ask if I need help, and (with slightly more freedom to choose their moments to not interrupt browsing-in-contemplation at critical moments) additional assistance offered during encounters all round the copious stock shelves. It's easy enough to thank them, but no thanks.

There was that time that a bit of small-talk after a "No thanks, I came in for this… <brandishes box> …and now I'm just browsing," from me led up to me being told a handy mnemonic to remember the difference between mini- and micro-USB, which was nice.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby pogrmman » Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:35 pm UTC

On an unrelated note, I’m kind of shocked that nobody has posted about this yet. Trump has proposed a 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminium. I’m not all that surprised given his anti-free trade stance, but seriously, that seems excessive. When I heard he wanted to do tariffs on metal imports, I wouldn’t have guessed that they’d be anywhere that high...

Also, it turns out that Canada is our biggest partner in terms of steel imports, so it’d mess with them too. Supposedly, world leaders say that this could spark a trade war...

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby freezeblade » Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:58 pm UTC

As someone who works in the Aluminum/Steel fabrication trade...I know that we are likely adjusting all of our prices as a result.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby SDK » Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:00 pm UTC

freezeblade wrote:As someone who works in the Aluminum/Steel fabrication trade...I know that we are likely adjusting all of our prices as a result.

Presumably you're based in the US, so you'll be raising your prices to take advantage of this?
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:05 pm UTC

Its idiotic. Steel is a commodity. A refined commodity, sure, but you turn steel into other products. Its a high pollution industry to boot, so you WANT it from overseas, and cheaper, fair or not. The industries that rely on steel and aluminum employ more than the steel industry ever could...

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby freezeblade » Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:06 pm UTC

I am indeed based in the US. I am not in charge of prices at the company I work, however I know we will be raising them to offset the change in price of raw aluminum/steel sheeting this decision will result in.

Note: we do not deal in raw aluminum/steel, we fabricate and paint/finish products from the raw sheets/extrusions that are typically exported from other countries (We are on the pacific coast, near a major port).
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Sableagle » Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:17 pm UTC

Same tariff on German and Chinese steels? I've forgotten the numbers, but someone in construction told me once that if they use Chinese steel they pay 5% less per tonne and use 10% more metal to get the same strength, or whatever the numbers were.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RepARd6db7c
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby SDK » Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:19 pm UTC

freezeblade wrote:I am indeed based in the US. I am not in charge of prices at the company I work, however I know we will be raising them to offset the change in price of raw aluminum/steel sheeting this decision will result in.

Note: we do not deal in raw aluminum/steel, we fabricate and paint/finish products from the raw sheets/extrusions that are typically exported from other countries (We are on the pacific coast, near a major port).

Oh, of course! Misunderstood what you were saying since I wasn't thinking to the logical conclusion (fabrication, not production).

This should piss off my former company as well. Their steel making operation is based out of Canada, but they do a lot of the forming and fabrication stuff in the US. Anything steel they can't supply themselves from their Canadian mills gets purchased from Mexico. Maybe not anymore!
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Yablo » Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:55 pm UTC

I'm an accountant, not an economist, but it seems to me we don't need even low tariffs, but such high tariffs should only serve to make things worse. What Trump hopes to accomplish with them was supposedly (as I understand it) already handled with the huge cut to corporate taxes.

I'm a fan of the corporate tax cuts, and I support reasonable methods to encourage the use of domestic materials, but this could easily get out of hand.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Sableagle » Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:21 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Its idiotic. Steel is a commodity. Its a high pollution industry to boot, so you WANT it from overseas, ...
Some of the pollution from making it in China still gets to affect the air quality in LA, and the climate impact of everyone's industry recently had quite an effect on the air quality in and around LA.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:32 am UTC

Oh, I know that pollution is basically like trying to decide which part of the swimming pool to piss in, but the fact is that you can indeed be in warmer and colder spots...

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby pogrmman » Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:32 pm UTC

Sableagle wrote:Same tariff on German and Chinese steels? I've forgotten the numbers, but someone in construction told me once that if they use Chinese steel they pay 5% less per tonne and use 10% more metal to get the same strength, or whatever the numbers were.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RepARd6db7c


Yep. It’s across the board. In the articles I posted it says that the EU would probably place retaliatory tariffs on some goods of these tariffs get passed.

It just seems like such a bad idea to me. How many different industries use steel and aluminum? This is probably going to increase prices across all of those to some degree.

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Re: Trump presidency

Postby eran_rathan » Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:41 pm UTC

NPR did a whole segment about it yesterday. Seems the ratio of workers in fields using the materials vs. manufacturers is 80:1. Not a great deal, as Herr Drumpf might put it.
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Re: Trump presidency

Postby Liri » Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:12 pm UTC

It's the same deal as with the solar panel tariff - way more jobs involved with installing and maintaining them than in making them from scratch. At least the industry had started to show it could stand on its own two feet, so I don't think it'll be a death knell by any means, but it's not a great setback.
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