Campbell didn’t vanish from the Internet…yet. Just the new Xfinity flavor of Comcrap. Not about to say anything especially bad about them, today. At the user end of things, it’s too hard to know who’s really to blame when you lose contact with the rest of the interwebitube culture.

Thought about this on my walks, today. Recalling my short-term adventures in Louisiana beaucoup decades ago. Talked my way into a pretty snazzy fit with a giant firm. Only a tad in over my head. Didn’t plan on working long for them…and didn’t. But, I left behind a smallish error that was caught by the younger dude who’d been my #2 on the job. On parole from some slammer in California. But, he was good at thinking on his feet. Helped me out with a clean farewell.

So, why badmouth Comcrap for today’s situation which obviously multiplied on them at least twice…judging by their revisions in projected time back online. Could’ve been something that’s happened to me, too. Some time or other in the gray and red past.

This modern world…

Two small items passed through my living space, this lunchtime. This was the first. We had quiche for lunch, today. From France. Baked in the oven straight from frozen. There was a time, my comment would have been “who’da thunk it?”

Today? “Delicious as ever!”

Then, I took my seat before the iMac in my study. Picked up the bill for electricity which arrived in the mail, this morning. And…in very few seconds…paid it.

Easy as pie. Or quiche.

I imagine there are a number of folks who wonder why I even find this worth commenting about?

Simple enough. I’m an old geezer and for most of my years, neither of these happenings would have been possible or practical. The change is appreciated.

Baseless Claims About Cause of Cargo Ship Backups

Container ships anchored by ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles waiting to offload. Mario Tama/Getty

U.S. ports slowed by pandemic-induced labor and equipment shortages cannot keep up with Americans’ demand for imported goods, resulting in cargo ship backups on both coasts. But social media posts, without citing evidence, falsely claim the Biden administration is purposely “orchestrating” product shortages.

First, this is a global phenomenon. The reasons are the same, worldwide. Delays at a number of choke points, globally, have a consistent result. One that will take weeks and months to resolve.

Cargo ships are backed up in record numbers at U.S. ports, as Americans’ demand for imported goods runs up against the ability of shippers and transporters to unload those goods and transport them to warehouses and consumers.

But some social media posts claim, without citing evidence, that the Biden administration is keeping the ships backed up on purpose. They misleadingly imply the cargo backup is part of a plan to create shortages and later inflate fourth-quarter data to take credit for a strengthening economy…

In fact, cargo traffic has been rising since the pandemic took hold, as homebound Americans began ordering goods online, with a record number of ships waiting to enter ports at Los Angeles and Long Beach. Marine terminals and trucking companies have been unable to keep up with the volume, resulting in bottlenecks at ports and rail yards from California to New York.

RightWing nutballs are consistent in their communications practices. Once they decide on a new lie appropriate to whichever economic question they hope to exacerbate to their political advantage, they set to work with narrow focus and no verifiable facts or analysis. Rather like Trump’s campaign promises. If you are a True Believer of this kind of crap, you never worry about facts, anyway.

Not only are these logistics problems spreading globally, reaching epic numbers at gateway ports. the answers are the same around the world. Time, increasing competent personal (which usually requires increasing wages)…repeated over and again throughout the supply chains from point of manufacture to retail distribution.

It’s what I did for many years…when I wasn’t involved in sales. Though I’ve been retired for a couple decades, I’m getting job offers every day. A compliment, yes. But, retirement is good enough, thank you.

Should UPS worry about Amazon buying 25,000 vans?

Last week brought the news that had ordered 20,000 delivery vans from Mercedes-Benz. CNN reports that this deal is a big leap from the Seattle-based e-commerce company’s first order of 5,000 vans. Amazon will lease these to third-party partners, who will operate them for last-mile delivery — basically, getting packages from a shipping hub to your house.

This is yet another step in Amazon’s plans to build its own delivery service, and it’s worth watching to see how it will affect United Parcel Service Inc. Amazon also is allowing allow people to use their personal vehicles for delivery in some cities…

…20,000 shipping vans is modest, as Market Realist points out. It notes that UPS has 119,000 vehicles and FedEx has 160,000 vehicles that do last-mile delivery.

And the United States Postal Service has 190,000 vehicles in their total delivery fleet. The sum of those three = 469,000 vehicles. While, Amazon may get some play for its portion of the gig economy popular in current culture, the sum of those two purchases = a little more than five percent of the rolling stock of established carriers.

Amazon’s Job Fairs Roll Out — Hiring Thousands

Romeoville, IllinoisLyndon French/NYTimes

❝ Brandon Williams arrived at an Amazon fulfillment center here, about an hour outside of Chicago, around 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, one of thousands across the country who turned up for the company’s first Jobs Day. While he appeared to wilt slightly during the five hours he waited before an M.C. summoned him for a tour, his enthusiasm did not wane.

“What’s not great about a company that keeps building?” he said, seated in a huge tent the company erected in the parking lot as a kind of makeshift waiting room.

❝ The event was a vivid illustration of the ascendance of Amazon, the online retail company that, to a far greater extent than others in the tech industry, has a seemingly insatiable need for human labor to fuel its explosive growth.

Like other tech giants, Amazon is recruiting thousands of people with engineering and business degrees for high-paying jobs. But the vast majority of Amazon’s hiring is for what the company calls its “fulfillment network” — the armies of people who pick and pack orders in warehouses and unload and drive delivery trucks, and who take home considerably smaller incomes.

❝ The event on Wednesday, held at a dozen locations including Romeoville, Ill., was intended to help fill 50,000 of those lower-paying positions, 40,000 of them full-time jobs.

Those high-low distinctions did not seem to bother the attendees of the jobs fair, many of them united in the conviction that Amazon represented untapped opportunity — that a foot in the door could lead to a career of better-compensated, more satisfying work, whether in fulfillment, I.T., marketing or even fashion.

RTFA for extended analysis and detail. I admit I find this interesting for two reasons: the first is history – now that I’m a retired geezer even though my brain still thinks I’m 26. Over the years, I could always find a job in logistics. Let me pick up and move anywhere in the country – or abroad – and get a job that had at least decent pay and opportunity to move up.

The second is still operative. Though retired and enjoying the superlative benefits of SSA and Medicare as governed by thoughtful and caring politicians in Washington, DC – there’s always the risk of catastrophic illness screwing up the plan. In the US, that means finding some sort of part-time gig to supplement what I’ve already paid for in dollar$ and sweat equity from a life of mostly full employment.

Remember, I’m white and reasonably well-educated.

Given that disaster I hope to avoid, I’d probably seek work as a CSR, customer service representative, utilizing our home-based computing capacity to plug into a system like Amazon or any one of a number of other endeavors that utilize service employees to implement problem-solving. If need be.

I’d rather be outdoors, walking, enjoying everything that is lifestyle in northern New Mexico.

Oh yeah – anyone expect the Hypocrite-in-Chief to claim credit for Amazon’s growth? Don’t know why Trump hates Jeff Bezos; but, I imagine he’d rather not acknowledge Amazon’s continued success.

Ready to enlist in the Amazon Air Corps? is stepping up plans to build its own air delivery network, saying it will lease 20 Boeing Co. 767 freighters from Air Transport Services Group…

The agreement shows Amazon’s commitment to expanding its own logistics network to make deliveries faster and more efficient. The Seattle-based company wants to lessen its dependence on United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp., which have sometimes run into delays during the busy holiday season.

“This is the first formal confirmation from Amazon that they are in fact pursing an air transportation network and more logistics services,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W Baird & Co….“We can dispense with all the speculation and actually look at something that’s real and happening…”

Amazon has been quietly building out its strategy for years. A 2013 report to Amazon’s senior management team proposed an aggressive global expansion of the company’s Fulfillment By Amazon service, which provides storage, packing and shipping for independent merchants selling products on the company’s website. The project, called Dragon Boat, envisioned a global delivery network that controls the flow of goods from factories in China and India to customer doorsteps in Atlanta, New York and London…

❝ “In 20 years, Amazon will have its own delivery fleet,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities…“This is a baby step toward that goal.”

Trump voters who are heavily invested in UPS and FedEx needn’t worry, though. The Republican horn-blower has promised to squash Amazon if he’s elected president. I’m not certain what Jeff Bezos did to piss him off; but, anything that angers our own 21st Century Goebbels can’t be all bad.

Cartainly, one more delivery choice in the mix – increasing competition – won’t harm consumers.

Europe’s biggest construction project is underneath London

Click to enlargeCrossrail/PA

Creating a new 118-km rail route with 10 new stations and 42 km of new tunnels is no mean feat. The logistics of doing so in one of the world’s major cities, however, are staggering. That is the task for the UK’s Crossrail line. Major tunneling ends in May, so Gizmag went to take a look…

Work on Crossrail began in 2009 and the route is expected to start operating in 2018. Once completed, it will link Reading and Heathrow to the west of London with Shenfield and Abbey Wood to the east. The route goes directly through Central London, meaning that not only is it a huge undertaking, but one that is incredibly complex.

The facts and figures about Crossrail are mind-boggling. Over 10,000 people are employed across 40 construction sites. It is expected to increase rail capacity in London by 10 percent in a stroke, and will bring 1.5 million more people to within 45 minutes of the city’s major employment areas. Over 6 million tonnes (6.6 million tons) of excavated material will be removed to create tunnels at depths of up to 40 meters.

The list goes on, but perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the project is the tunneling itself. Not only must miles of new tunnels be created underneath London, but they must be created without disturbing the ground and buildings above, and avoid the subterranean tangle of existing tunnels, cables, sewers and so on…

The Crossrail tunneling has been being carried out using a total of eight tunnel-boring machines…Each machine is 150 m long and weighs 1,000 tonnes…They burrow an average of 100 m per week, with one machine setting the record of 259 m in a week. The clay and rubble excavated by the machines is transported out of the tunnel on a conveyor belt fed out behind them.

As they bore through the ground, the TBMs lay preformed concrete segments around the inside of the newly-dug tunnels. These form “running tunnels” that the future trains will run through. To create the much larger platform tunnels from where passengers will board trains the concrete segments are then removed so that the tunnels can be widened. The sides are then sprayed with a concrete mixture called “shotcrete” that contains steel fibres…A “shutter machine” then moves along the tunnel adding a final concrete lining…

Once Crossrail’s tunneling work comes to an end, much of the focus will move on to installing and setting up the required railway systems, as well as building and fitting out stations.

Something like this has to dazzle Americans. Excepting a few cities and states with the buck$ and determination to move beyond the constraints of American politics, there isn’t any consideration of taking on projects like this. Our politicians haven’t the backbone or economic good sense to repair and maintain the infrastructure we have – much less step towards the future.