Tag: manufacturing

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Are we having fun yet? This morning I spent time trying to get a sense of who thinks the new year financial route will turn around or, as some bears are calling for: “S&P could plunge 75% to 550”. The phone calls with clients and industry friends felt like that moment Roy Scheider said “we’re gonna need a […]

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Custom-designed by the Thousands

 

imageAnyone who’s ever had the pleasure of using custom-made goods knows their appeal. No mass-manufactured product can quite match the attention to detail, concern for the user, or feel that a master craftsman can impart into his wares. The catch is that — if you want something made just for you — expect to pay heavily for the requisite time, attention, and skill. That’s why most of the stuff we take for granted was only available to the fantastically wealthy before industrialization.

While no manufactured good can quite match the customization of the best craft-made goods, this Megan McArdle piece touches briefly on just how close we can get. Sure, mass-produced, one-size-fits-all kitchen design leads to some (seemingly) ridiculous and lamentable problems — such as counter tops and cabinets being made too high for the average woman to use efficiently — but it has also been hugely liberating. Not only does the average homemaker have basic amenities that would make her great-grandmother green with envy, those annoyingly standardized-but-relatively-cheap cabinets allow storage and use of (literally) innumerable combinations of appliances and equipment better designed for her family’s tastes and needs.

Since this is a conservative site where we can talk about a homemaker in gender-specific language, we can also talk about the handgun she carries when she runs errands. On that front, she not only has a plethora of options available between models but, increasingly, options within models.

Indigo Labor Day

 

shutterstock_87947731The front-page headline caught my attention: “Tide may be turning for working-class Americans.” Really? We just learned on Friday that a record 94 million Americans are not participating in the labor force. How can this be good news seven years after the Great Recession? Bloomberg columnist Al Hunt explains why we are in fact on the verge of Morning in America, Obama-style:

On the surface, this Labor Day holiday caps another dark year for U.S. unions and many working-class Americans.

Union membership in the private sector is 6.6 percent; it was 16.8 percent 30 years ago. Union members account for 35.7 percent of public sector workers, down slightly from a decade earlier.

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Canada is having a federal election on October 19th, and current predictions show the New Democratic Party (NDP) winning. This would make its leader, Thomas Mulcair, Canada’s next Prime Minister.  In this post, I’d like to take a look at his economic plan, with a specific critique from my own experience.  Preview Open

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I build hard drive parts for a living. Specifically, I work for Hutchinson Technology, and we make suspensions. A suspension connects the read/write head on a platter style hard drive to the rest of the computer. (If you’re looking at the picture, the read/write head gets stuck on the left.) The company started in a […]

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I had the great pleasure yesterday of visiting a customer of mine.  You will probably recognize the logos on their vehicles as they are one of the 3 remaining large school bus manufacturers in the country.  This company puts out 30-50 buses a day, with a crew of around 1800 employees in Fort Valley, Georgia. […]

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Putting in a quick note for those of you missing out on your weekly Saturday Night Science due to the Annual Week of Rest. Several weeks ago as you no doubt recall, anonymous put up his weekly Saturday Night Science discussing Fab Labs. Briefly enough the promise of a fab lab is a place where […]

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Globalization, Competition and My Wet Basement

 

In New England, a dehumidifier is pretty much a required appliance in spring and summer. That goes double in my neighborhood, which was built on swampland in the 1950s.

Last spring, I received a notice that my dehumidifier – U.S.-branded, but manufactured in China – was subject to a safety recall. Apparently there were some instances of similar units catching fire. By shipping back certain parts, I was entitled to a gift card and discount coupon towards a new one. Grumbling, I removed the parts, sent them back, and waited for my coupon. After it came, I shlepped out to the store, shopped for a new dehumidifier, and shlepped the new unit home.