Monday, 13 January 2014

By on January 13th, 2014 in science kits

07:56 – Despite all the problems with Barbara’s mom over the weekend, we managed to get another batch of forensic science kits built. Barring a bulk order, we should have enough of those in stock to last for a month or more.

I got email yesterday from one of our favorite authors, Alan Bradley. The latest in his delightful Flavia de Luce mystery series, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, releases Tuesday. He’s sending me a signed copy as a thank you for the small technical assistance I’ve provided from time to time. Flavia is an 11-year-old amateur chemist in the early 1950’s. I was an 11-year-old amateur chemist in the early 1960’s, so I can identify with Flavia. If you enjoy cozies, read this series. You’ll love it.

36 Comments and discussion on "Monday, 13 January 2014"

  1. Lynn McGuire says:

    Is it worth switching to T-Mobile?

    It is beginning to appear that the old analog phones are going, going, gone. I am paying a fortune to Verizon for my business smartphone but the smartphones are continuously talking to their makers, unlike the old analog phones. My Dad is trying out the new AT&T $45/month all you can eat (up to 2 GB) plan for his smartphone so I will see how that goes down the road.

  2. Chuck W says:

    Based on my knowledge and experience, I do not think it matters who you go with, as long as there are towers near your house. Tiny Town once suffered from the “can you hear me now?” syndrome, because the towers for some companies were so far away. Where my cousin lives in Tiny Town, only Verizon gave them reliable service (they tried them all over the years), however, I am confident that is no longer the case, as new towers have been built. If you talk to the right person, they CAN tell you how close the nearest towers/antennas are.

    My friend in the cell phone industry, says all companies are installing the exact same brand of equipment, use the exact same antennas, and they have gotten over their aversion to sharing towers, and are now doing that, elmininating the need for half the towers they once had, much to the chagrin of the companies who own tens of thousands of those towers. The company who owns the tower the radio project has its antenna on, owns about 35,000 towers around the country. And there are a half-dozen such companies, some with more towers than our owner.

    The towers in Tiny Town that I use are still not upgraded to 4G/LTE, and when I am at home, all my calls are CDMA. That will not change, I am told, until they actually turn off and pull the CDMA equipment out of service. However, when I am away from Tiny Town and on the road or in Indy, I am always connected to 4G/LTE. I also have no problems listening to streaming audio on the Smartphone, and almost never have an interruption, even when I take the farm roads home from Indy.

    When my daughter switched to an iPhone, she told me it changed her life, and urged me to get one. As circumstances played out, I got the deal which put me on an Android, instead. It did not exactly change my life, but the capabilities are so far ahead of the old, dumb cellphones, that I recommend a Smartphone to everyone. On that small little device that fits into my shirt pocket (Samsung Galaxy S3), I can surf the Web, read and reply to email, put streaming audio into the car’s audio system, make phone calls, use Bluetooth for a variety of functions, keep my contact list synchornized with the computer’s, send and receive SMS text messages, selectively block callers, use it as a GPS system to get me where I am going, and a whole lot of other stuff I have not even learned yet. The AT&T guy who came out to fix the Internet, said copper landline phones are something the phone companies want to get rid of. And they are working toward that end. Already, Indiana approved regulations that do not require any phone company to provide copper landlines to rural housing developments. And AT&T has refused to wire several such projects around the state, he said. He projected 5 years as the time when there would be an incredible push to get people off landlines. Everything will then be wireless, including Internet to your house.

    I think his time projections are a little optimistic, but moving from copper landlines to cell phones or Internet VOIP, seems like a wise step at this point. BTW, not all Internet service is capable of VOIP. It almost always requires a commercial grade of service to get the parts of the Internet service needed for VOIP to be activated and reliable. So do not think that just ordering it means it will work flawlessly. Furthermore, most of the sales people at the phone companies have no idea what the technicalities of various levels of service are—or even if their company can deliver them to you at your location. We have found this out in spades at every location that the radio project needs Internet service (5 different locations right now with one of them moving to a new location, soon). Only the tech guys who come out to your location know what is really going on. The sales people will tell you anything to get you to bite.

  3. dkreck says:

    I don’t think POTS or something like it is going away too soon. AT&T only recently upgraded my neighborhood with Uverse as they have much of the town. I think any place they have the density and the infrastructure they are going to do that. I doesn’t cost that much to pull some fibre through existing ducts then add DSL distribution points that use the old wire to the premise. Of course they try to sell people upgraded packages or telephone, internet and phone. I’m thinking they’ll try to keep that investment for ten or twenty years.
    As to VOIP on any internet I have two separate services on my Brighthouse cable line. Vonage for the house phone and Phone Power for the business line. My internet come from Brighthouse but the ISP is actually Earthlink. Both work just fine. My biggest objection is the cost of the cable TV itself just keeps rising.

  4. Lynn McGuire says:

    All the new neighborhoods in the Houston area are getting fiber to the house. No copper.

  5. rick says:

    As is typical of AT&T, I could not find the $45/month plan anywhere on their web site. I just switched from AT&T to AIO Wireless (, which is an MVNO owned by AT&T and which uses the AT&T network. It is a prepaid plan with unlimited voice, text and data with throttling after 2 gb for $55/month. Since they use the AT&T network, their SIM card works in any AT&T compatible GSM phone, locked or unlocked. I have to have AT&T’s network, because it is the only network that works reliably where I work. When I switched from AT&T to AIO, I ported my number to Google Voice and forwarded from Google Voice to my new number. That way I can easily switch again if I am unhappy without any porting concerns.

    My wife has a Moto X phone with Republic Wireless ( and is paying $10/month for unlimited voice and text with no cellular data. Republic Wireless has an interesting business model. Their phones are hybrid phones which use Wi-Fi for voice and text if Wi-Fi is available, otherwise they use the Sprint network. They have plans with cellular data for $25/month for 3G and $40/month for LTE. Since my wife barely uses any of the phone’s features which require data service, the $10/month plan works well for her. If she needs data service, she can get it at home on our Wi-Fi. You have to buy your phone for $300, but that is a reasonable price for the Moto X. We have been using Republic for over a year and their service works for us. We are in an area with good Sprint coverage. Their coverage is not as good as the larger carriers.

    Our local landline company, Centurylink (formerly Qwest, formerly US West, formerly Pacific Northwest Bell) has gone to a fiber to the neighborhood model. We recently upgraded our DSL to their 40 meg down 20 meg up service. It took several service calls to get the service working at advertised speeds. They had to try several copper pairs before they could get one clean enough. We now have service that says is about 37 megs down and 18 megs up. I have a VPN server running on my network which my son in China uses to get around the Chinese firewall.

    Rick in Portland

  6. Lynn McGuire says:

    I have a VPN server running on my network which my son in China uses to get around the Chinese firewall.

    If caught, can he get shot for this?

  7. rick says:

    I was not familiar with the Flavia De Luce series, but it looks interesting. Our local library has all six books in the series available as downloadable eBooks and the first four as downloadable audio books. I reserved the audio books and the two eBooks not available as audio books. I put audio books on my smartphone which can play audio files through my car audio system over Bluetooth. I’ll read the eBooks on my Nexus 7 or my phone.

    Some of the library’s audio books and all of their eBooks have DRM which time limits them. While I won’t buy a book with DRM, I don’t find DRM on a “borrowed” book as objectionable.

    Rick in Portland

  8. rick says:

    If caught, can he get shot for this?

    I don’t think they’d shoot him. A few years in a labor camp, maybe. He says they actually don’t block most of what he wants. Facebook is one they do. We are visiting him next month. They don’t block Skype. We’ll be using Skype with an inbound Skype number to keep in touch while we’re there. I’ll use the VPN if necessary. I wonder if they block this site. I’ll report my findings.

    Rick in Portland

  9. SteveF says:

    Re Chinese firewall: I’ve previously run a proxy server from home and given the IP address to in-laws in the PRC, who would then share it with friends. It would see increasing use for a month or two and then go to nothing, when Teh Authoritahs blocked it. Repeat some time later, when my IP address changed.

  10. rick says:

    So far he hasn’t had trouble. It’s set up with a Dynamic DNS IP address, which may be why.

  11. Chuck W says:

    Re: the copper phone lines. I’m not sure exactly how POTS is defined, but getting rid of copper is a higher priority than one might imagine. All that copper is worth a fortune. My info comes from several sources, one of them a guy whose job is to go around the country, pulling copper out of sewers, so the telephone companies can sell it. He just finished a massive job in San Francisco (with dozens of other workers), which city has run fiber instead, and sold their copper for upwards of $30 million. The phone company owns that copper between the phone pole and your house, and there is nothing more they would like at this point, than to pull it all out and sell it at the outrageous prices copper is currently going for. As they are one of the biggest users of copper, this is a Catch22, because the less they use it, the more the market price falls, so getting it sold as quickly as possible is to their definite advantage. My point is not that they will pull landline telephone service altogether, but that it will not come into the house on copper. Maybe I did not make that clear.

    I am not an expert on VOIP, but I do know from those who are, that there are protocols essential to solid uninterrupted VOIP service, which are above and beyond what one normally gets for Internet to their home computer. For instance, our radio project requires full VOIP support to get audio around the city and to the transmitter. Currently, we are going round and round with Comcast, who is supposed to be providing us with full VOIP support, but is not. Full VOIP is being paid for, but the jitter is unacceptable, and there is a protocol we must have which keeps getting interrupted, in part because of the high jitter. It may just drop a call on a home system, or cause bad or crackly sound, or intermittent dropouts, but for our installation, we cannot send uninterrupted audio between studios without all those VOIP things being solid. The main reason we are relocating one studio is because we cannot get continuous, fulltime VOIP support from Comcast in the current location. Companies and office buildings that use VOIP instead of copper landlines, also need this higher level of service.

    As far as a telephone company ‘pulling some fiber through existing ducts’, that is not how it is done these days—at least around here. The phone companies do not own the cables running through the neighborhoods; they rent it from somebody else who has run that fiber. Same with the cable companies. A particular cable company may have initially run the cable through your neighborhood a few decades ago, but they long ago gave over that ownership. It is like British Rail selling all their tracks to an independent consortium that BR—and all the different rail companies that have destroyed good rail service in the UK—now rent. Same with all those cables running through your neighborhood. Not owned by the phone or cable companies anymore.

    When AT&T advertised that Uverse TV was coming to Tiny Town, everyone got excited. Then the reality set in: only a few neighborhoods in the newer housing developments got Uverse. But…but…all those trucks re-wiring the entire city—what was that about? That was an independent company wiring the city, not AT&T. And AT&T chose not to rent fiber from that company, which is why neither I nor my neighbors can get Uverse TV, nor can we get anything but DSL-2 with super-crummy down and up speeds that are no faster for me than the original DSL service I was getting.

    So there is a lot at work which may make the transition go much faster than we think. And with guys like Mitt Romney in charge of big conglomerate business these days, they are going to sell off the valuable assets just as soon as the state regulators, which they are busy heavily lobbying, let them. Once the states remove obstacles to removing copper, I think it will happen so fast it will make our heads spin. The AT&T guy who was out here a few weeks back, maintains copper as his sole job. He and his buddies in the same office think their jobs are good for 5 years. If I had to guess, I would say 7 or 8, but less than 10.

  12. Jim B says:

    POTS sure isn’t going away where I am, mostly because our incumbent telco (Verizon) wants to sell to another, but no takers for some years now. Also no investment and bare minimum maintenance. I am in a small remote area that no one seems to care about.

    I have 3 Mb/s DSL. It is my best choice, and will likely remain for quite a while. Cable TV does not serve my site, and likely never will, due to “density” restrictions. That leaves cellular data and point to point wireless. The cell data is stuck at less than 1 Mb, but there is some LTE in the area. That suffers from data caps, however. The PTP provider is a great guy (kudos due,) but only claims a top speed of 0.5 Mb. He actually delivers more, but don’t spread the word.

    Interestingly, I am paying for 1.5 Mb/s DSL, but good ol’ Verizon has been serving me with 3 Mb for some time now. 3 Mb is actually cheaper than 1.5 Mb. Wait, it gets better.

    Our valley is the home of the Navy’s largest R&D lab, but it is also starved for bandwidth in and out of our area. Go figure. It is so bad that a tiny skiing community 185 miles away instigated what became a fiber trunk that runs from Barstow to Reno. Called Digital 395, it was mostly funded by federal stimulus money, and is the biggest project since the original California Aqueduct which was built over a hundred years ago. That community is just getting its connection to he trunk going. The trunk runs right through our area, but so far, only serves the Navy base, schools, and the hospital. Verizon has not applied to connect.

    Verizon would have to upgrade its “last mile” to better serve its customers, including me.

    The independent PTP guy is trying to connect, but is burdened with permit and environmental issues. Also, it will cost him a lot. Then, he will have to upgrade all of his last mile equipment. The final cost per month, if it ever gets going, might be breathtaking. I would still be one of the first to sign up if the service is significantly faster than what I currently have.

    So, the next time you hear someone complain about slow, expensive Internet, think about me. I will in turn think about all those folks, who, unlike me, can only get dial-up over POTS. Some of them don’t even have cell phone service, let alone cellular data service.

    For further reading:

  13. brad says:

    VoIP does seem to involve some black magic. One aspect is certainly setting your QoS parameters (Quality of Service: the VoIP has to have priority over downloads, games, etc.). But even then – I do some consulting for a call center that uses VoIP. It works great from the company premises, but they have all sorts of trouble supporting call agents working from home. The problems almost seem random – it’s really weird…

  14. Miles_Teg says:

    Here in Oz 93% of the population was to be connected to broadband by Fibre to the Premises (i.e. the business or individual home). The new right wing government is downgrading that as a cost saving measure to Fibre to the Node, with the last mile or so to be using whatever’s available, be it fibre, copper or whatever. I’m not impressed.

  15. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    That’s not so bad, assuming nodes aren’t too far from the homes. You can get a high data rate on copper pairs over such short distances.

    I’m still waiting to hear about AT&T U-verse to our neighborhood. Several months ago, Barbara spotted an AT&T crew burying fiber near one of the entrances to our neighborhood. A couple of months later, an AT&T ad brochure arrived in the mail. I got all excited about shifting to fiber, but all they were offering was a one-year discount on plain old low data-rate xDSL.

  16. Lynn McGuire says:

    I got all excited about shifting to fiber, but all they were offering was a one-year discount on plain old low data-rate xDSL.

    AT&T is pulling fiber to our neighborhood entrances and then using the old copper lines for UVerse DSL from there. They install a huge DSLAM terminal next to the old copper aggregator terminal that they own. No fiber to the houses. I have a Uverse DSL (18 down/1.5 up) to that DSLAM. I cannot imagine the cost of pulling the copper wire and replacing it with fiber everywhere, it would probably be breathtaking. And our neighborhood is only 11 years old.

  17. Chuck W says:

    That’s pretty much exactly what happened in Tiny Town, although it was not AT&T trucks stringing the fiber, it was contractors from out-of-town, staying for months at the only motel in town worth money (the other 2 should be paying customers to stay there).

    Also, it is not true that copper is cheap to maintain. My friend in cell phones works for a company that has no copper whatever, and they thank their lucky stars they have none. The reason we cannot get U-verse cable here in Tiny Town, is that AT&T will not pay to get onto the fiber that was strung the summer I got back in 2010. The overhead of their copper is too much for them to add fiber rental onto that. Now if they got rid of the copper—obviously, they would have fiber to our houses in no time flat. Yeah, there are surely weird exceptions, like Jim B’s, but generally, copper is now a financial burden with wires on the poles worth vast sums to the phone companies at current commodity prices.

    This is why I have long maintained that infrastructure needs to be government run, just like highways and roads. Indiana has an experiment with a toll road that was sold to an Aussie consortium, and it has been a disaster for the state, and hopefully a lesson. There is no reason that there should not be fiber running directly to everyone’s home by now (that should have happened a decade ago). This ain’t gonna be done by the so-called “free markets”. Free markets do not do planning. Free markets as they have shaped up in the US, mainly destroy perfectly profitable companies when guys like Mitt Romney can line his pockets with their assets. Which is all he does for a living as far as I can tell. Even people working at Staples tell me the situation there is really senseless and cruel. Some who have spoken out have paid for that with their jobs.

  18. Lynn McGuire says:

    Hi Chuck, all retail sucks today. There are too many people chasing too few jobs and Amazon is killing those few jobs available today. If you want to try to outlaw automation (like Europe has), go for it. Those jobs will be outsourced outside the USA instead. Guys like Romney was (he is currently unemployed) are just providing the capital needed to automate the jobs so they can stay here. Otherwise, the capital is outside the USA (China, South Korea, etc) and the jobs are being created there.

    There are just too many people living in the USA. I have no idea how to fix this problem and it is going to get worse as automation gets rid of the few bulk manufacturing jobs (GE in New York state, etc) left. Even worse, the average age of the population in the USA is rapidly getting older and all these people are filing for SS disability as fast as they can.

  19. brad says:

    I dunno – I think on the whole there is too little capitalism rather than too much. People like Romney getting rich – that’s not due to capitalism, that’s due to political connections. Get the politics out of the economy – throw a few corrupt politicians in prison for 40 years – and things would likely change for the better.

    Much as I like Switzerland, politicans are the same everywhere. Too many of them sit on corporate boards, collecting a fat salary while being the very definition of “conflict of interest”. Two politicians recently – independently – announced that, out of principle they would no longer do this. The news services interviewed several other politicians, none of whom could understand why anyone might see an ethical problem with what they do…

  20. Chuck W says:

    I absolutely, positively do NOT believe that fiction that the rich somehow provide or create jobs for this country. Trickle-down is the biggest lie the rich have ever used to perpetrate the theft of middle-class wealth for the lining of their own pockets. In fact, watch Robert Reich’s movie “Inequality for All”, where there are clear statistics that the richer the rich get, the poorer the middle-class becomes. My son, who has a degree in economics, says it has only been in the last decade that serious studies have been conducted regarding how the very rich interface and affect the rest of us (the new studies are 7 minutes into the “Inequality” film). Money in the hands of the rich is not financing business; it is doing NOTHING but enriching banks, investment houses, and equity firms which Romney and his 1% buddies own. It is the guy over in Sulphur Springs, who owns 3 KFC’s in this state, and the other fellow over in Richmond,—who is one of us in the middle-class, not part of the 1%,—and who owns several McDonald’s in my area, that are the ones creating jobs. They both go to work in their own stores! and they do not have a stash of unproductive zillions, loaned out to huge corporate conglomerates, which loans are causing layoffs in order to pay back those super rich,—they are NOT creating jobs by any stretch of the imagination.

    Did you even watch that video before the election about Ampad in Marion, Indiana? Perfectly profitable company where one of my relatives worked, just as was the Lechmere chain out East when I lived there. Romney bought Ampad, loaded it with unsustainable debt, and in 3 years, it was closed permanently with nearly a thousand jobs lost overall. Montgomery Wards just plain closed down Lechmere and refused to sell to a group of managers that wanted to buy it. Again, a perfectly profitable chain, but not hauling in the killing their Circuit City was feeding them at the time, so Wards closed Lechmere. They got theirs, though, when Circuit City died a terrible and unexpected death some years later. It is wicked business when you are not satisfied with making a living, but HAVE to make a killing.

    There are lots of calls here for a reduction in government debt, but you all cheer when Mitt and his 1% cronies use huge, huge debt to transfer wealth from well-run corporations to their own pockets, leaving far fewer jobs in their wake, and putting nearly every large company in the US on shaky ground. I just recently pointed out that Clear Channel,—owned by Bain,—the super-huge radio station owner, has never even been able to meet the interest on their borrowings from operating revenue, let alone start paying them off, beginning the day Romney’s Bain bought them in 2008—SIX YEARS AGO, now. What are they doing now? Why, offering to pay even more in what is CLEARLY and ALREADY unaffordable interest, so they can borrow more to make today’s payments. This is not okay for government where you can only guess that a day of reckoning will come? but perfectly okay for huge conglomerates, where it is already damned clear they cannot afford to pay?

    Meanwhile, Clear Channel has canned thousands upon thousands of people in my industry since 2008—the industry leader in layoffs, actually, and just last week gave more pink slips to people I know, right here in Indy.

    It is a great scam Romney and his buddies have going, and you all back him! If you want the US to continue going down the tubes, keep backing Romney and his ilk. They are the ones eliminating jobs, NOT creating them. Carl Icahn showed them how, but now they have perfected it to a system where they make boatloads of money on every step in the whole ugly process!

    Looks like Bain is going to have trouble selling Clear Channel for more than they bought it, though. More troubles are coming, and already they are shutting down and trying to GIVE AWAY stations to wriggle out of this mess—give them away AFTER they remove all the equipment and tear down the towers and sell those for scrap. They are having tough going in Dearborn.

    Mitt may be unemployed, but he CERTAINLY is not without income! I, for one, do not feel one bit sorry for him. He is tearing apart and disassembling the US I grew up in and that my parents and grandparents built for us with jobs for everyone. And he is doing that MORE surely than you all claim Nobama is.

  21. Lynn McGuire says:

    I trust the capitalists a lot more than the socialist utopians. Both are gonna screw you but at least the capitalists are doing it for money. The idealistic people scare me, that is how you get gulags.

    I’ve been in a situation where I was headed out on the next train the USA gulag if we had them. I never want to be in that situation again where a government employee is severely pissed at you. I’ve also managed to piss off the CIA without breaking any laws (I think). At least that time they were cordial to me.

    Isn’t Rush Limbaugh a Clear Channel employee? They gave him a new G550 a couple of years ago as a signing bonus for a new contract.

  22. Dave B. says:

    I trust the capitalists a lot more than the socialist utopians. Both are gonna screw you but at least the capitalists are doing it for money. The idealistic people scare me, that is how you get gulags.

    I don’t know that trust is the right word to use. However, I completely agree with C.S.Lewis:

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

  23. Lynn McGuire says:

    omnipotent moral busybodies

    Wow, you nailed Obummer to a T.

    I really, really, really need to read C. S. Lewis’s books other than the Narnia series (I have already read those).

    And yes, a better word than trust might be tolerate?

  24. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I trust the free market without reservation. The so-called abuses committed by the free market are in fact abuses that could not have happened without the corporate-government complex.

    These so-called “robber barons” were in fact men we should admire. They built the railroads, factories and other infrastructure that allowed the US to transition from a largely rural economy to an economic and industrial superpower. They did it to make money for themselves. So what? The byproduct was that the standard of living in this country grew by leaps and bounds.

    There’s no need to control “unfettered capitalism”. The free market does that itself by an unavoidable feedback loop. If a capitalist becomes abusive, other capitalists undercut him.

    The real issue is and always has been the existence of corporations. This fiction of a corporate “person” ultimately underlies all of the problems. Eliminate corporations (yes, I own a corporation, but only in self-defense) and go back to sole proprietorships and partnerships. There’s nothing wrong with large businesses, but large corporations are an abomination.

  25. Lynn McGuire says:

    There’s no need to control “unfettered capitalism”. The free market does that itself by an unavoidable feedback loop. If a capitalist becomes abusive, other capitalists undercut him.

    There does need to be some regulation. “Too big to fail” is definitely occurring in the USA banking industry. I would like to see Citibank and a couple of the others split up. I like Wells Fargo but I bank there nowadays.

  26. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Lynn, again you’re confusing true capitalism (the free market) with the crony corporate “capitalism” that government enables.

  27. Lynn McGuire says:

    True. We, the USA, have had crony capitalism for so long that we no longer know the pure form.

  28. Miles_Teg says:

    So Chuck, what exactly happened to Circuit City? I remember seeing them mentioned at this site, I don’t remember if favourable or unfavourable. (All I know is what I’ve read on their Wikipedia page.

    We had an airline like that down here called Ansett. It went belly up a few days after 9/11. Eventually it couldn’t even be sold for $1 – it’s debts were so high. I don’t think anyone saw the collapse coming, certainly not me.

  29. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Circuit City was killed by web retailers in general and in particular.

    What I’m really waiting for is one or more of these crippled brick-and-mortar retailers to go into serious competition with Close all of their retail storefronts, convert their existing distribution operations to support web retailing and fast local deliveries, and go head-to-head with

    Or not so crippled. I could see, for example, keeping its local stores (and adding a web distribution/shipping element) but turning its website into a real competitor to WalMart/Sam’s is another possibility, but so far none of them have gotten serious about competing with on-line.

  30. bgrigg says:

    Gee, I thought Circuit City was killed by selling crap?

    I would normally be one of those people defending the B&M stores, but in reality, most suck dead bunnies. Where I live I can’t even get half the products I see online, let alone at the prices online. The locals won’t and/or can’t order it in, and if they are willing, want me to pay a huge premium over what I can easily buy with a point and click online, and not just from Amazon. If I have to order something in, I can do it cheaper, and in many cases, faster all by myself.

    One example: I wanted a wedge shaped table so I could put a couch and a chair at a shallow angle. I know they exist. I could find them online at US retailers, but no-one in Canada even knows what I’m talking about. I ended up buying one from, who beat Amazon on both price and delivery costs. I had it in three days. They can compete if they try hard enough.

    In Canada, they aren’t trying very hard. Recent news announced that Sears Canada is about to shed 1600 call center jobs, following closely to an 1800 job loss from closing many of their “under performing” stores just six months ago. Gee, if you sell nothing people want, you’ll end up by not selling anything!

  31. Miles_Teg says:

    Brick-and-mortar stores in Australia are trying to survive by having GST applied to goods purchased overseas. If you buy over (I think) $1000 of stuff in one transaction you have to pay the GST, but not for below that figure. The government isn’t keen, as the administrative overhead would cost more than the revenue gained.

  32. Lynn McGuire says:

    I would like to see a import tariff of 10% here in the USA on everything and anything. And especially from the so-called NAFTA countries. They are charging tariffs on us every time we try to ship something to them. I have had several customers complain about special “duties” and “fees” when we ship them a CD and/or manuals.

    And yes, I am aware of the Smoot-Hawley of 1930 and the supposed effects that had on the world economy. I just want to level the playing field here.

  33. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’d like to see NAFTA be bi-lateral only, between the US and Canada, and with absolutely no tariffs or barriers to trade. Stuff shipped there from here or vice versa shouldn’t even have to go through customs. And they need to get rid of the border checkpoints as well. I remember when we could simply drive into Canada without even slowing down as we passed the border, and vice versa. That’s the way it needs to be again.

  34. Lynn McGuire says:

    I could go with that. Heck, I’ll do you one better, let’s just annex Canada. Give Obummer his 57 states.

    OFD just posted a new map of North America at

    Hopefully you can see it.

    The country of Texas will include Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. I like it!

  35. bgrigg says:

    While I agree with Bob, I vehemently disagree with Lynn. At least, not until you get your own houses in order.

    Cascadia is simply too logical to happen, though I agree with the concept.

  36. Lynn McGuire says:

    At least, not until you get your own houses in order.

    Unfortunately, that map will happen after the extremely violent civil war in the USA between the east plus west coasts and the flyover country. Not gonna happen soon but within the next 20 years. The Great Dollar default will precede the civil war by a month or so.

    The question is, will Canada join in the nightmare?

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