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Air cargo is suddenly affordable relative to ocean shipping (freightwaves.com)
344 points by cwwc 69 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 247 comments

Did anyone else read this article and feel like it is a lot of words to say very little? I feel like the core of the article can be summarized into this:

Air transport is still more expensive than shipping. But the magnitude is less than it used to be. This is because shipping is seeing bottlenecks and surcharges to handle the bottlenecks. Therefore it makes the more expensive air transport ok to use especially with time sensitive holiday purchases coming up.

If that sounds right, almost all that comes from the last few sentences in the article.

This is true for most press articles.

But if authors would do that, people will spend far less time reading the articles and result in far less money for the news outlet.

I've started reading long articles on diagonal unless the article is very interesting or technical. I visually scan fast and try to extract the bits of information.

Maybe it would useful to submit articles to something like GPT-3 and get a meaningful summary in return.

In the time of print articles it was reverse: you would put all the info at top of the article and then the less important stuff at the end.

That way, the editor can cut the length bottom-up to fit the article on the page.

Now they have an attention-grabbing or contentious headline and first paragraphs, then right at the bottom of the article include the crucial information that means it's actually not a big deal or particularly unusual.

Inverted pyramid, I think I remember it being called when I was in school. I even remember some newspaper articles that clearly followed the principle. They are very rare now.

Our daily college paper had an Associated Press machine for stories we couldn’t send reporters to. You could cut those stories after the first paragraph or two and it would make sense. We called it “AP style guide” articles..

I think Axios kinda sorta follows similar spirit. Headline, critical paragraph, then expandable So What and Background sections.

A.k.a. BLUF – bottom line up front.

Print articles is optimized for reading not ads or SEO. Sadly the incentives makes the reader experience worse.

Print is totally optimized for ads, and has been since way before computers were invented.

The ads just work in a different way (and arguably interfere with the reading less.)

There already are quite a few news article summarizers out there, usually quite good at extracting the gist of an article. It can have the occasional error, but then so can the source material so it's all good.

It's also an unnatural situation since if externalities of transportation were priced in (see left part of figure 8.6 on page 610 in https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/ipcc_wg3_ar5...), there's no way in hell that air freight could be cheaper than maritime freight.

Taking a long trip on a plane is cheaper than the same trip on a ship...

If by "trip" you mean passengers, then that's not what I'm talking about. Of course taking care of a passenger for many days as opposed to a few hours would be expensive (large-ish cabin with a bed, food, service crew, recreational facilities etc.). The same passenger survives the flight just in a seat. On the other hand, it's all same to cargo.

All true. And I probably deserve the downvote above. But it’s worth considering factors in favor of airfreight (beyond the increased value of getting your cargo sooner).

Cargo ships and aircraft both require crew, so my above comment applies to that portion of the cost. (Mitigated by the fact that crew per tonne of cargo is typically much smaller on a cargo ship than an aircraft.) Crew also have to be paid.

For a given container, the number of times it can be reused per 10 year lifetime is proportional to the speed of the mode of transport. Airplanes are 20 times faster than cargo ships, so the container can be reused 20 times as many times in a given time period. That means it can be optimized to be lighter, etc. A similar argument applies to the rest of the vehicle. And airplane can make a lot more round trips in its lifetime than a cargo ship. (This is of course mitigated by the fact a ship is usually a LOT cheaper to build per unit dry mass.)

Air travel also can be much closer to destination than cargo ship can. This is mitigated by how efficient intermodal transport is, but some countries don’t even have international container ports and most states don’t. Every city has an airport and usually many of them. This makes it harder for local labor issues to cause massive logistical headaches.

It’s also not that uncommon to lose cargo containers overboard during actual transit in sea, which effectively never happens for air freight (as they use extremely safe airliners with cargo inside the contained fuselage).

Anyway, if we could somehow improve the efficiency of air travel by an order of magnitude and reduce the cost of airframe manufacture, it’s not unreasonable to imagine there may be a way for airfreight to become pretty competitive with sea freight even for cargo that isn’t particularly time sensitive.

The article also points out that a single ocean container to the west coast can cost $20k now, which is NUTS

That and the graph on ratio of air transport prices to shipping prices were probably the key facts of the article that brought it all together. Dealing with 10x normal pricing is something I can't fathom in such large logistics businesses.

I assume air cargo may also be cheaper at the moment given the human transportation business likely hasn't fully recovered.

A lot of air cargo travels in the hold on passenger flights. Fewer passenger flights (as we've had for the last ~20 months) actually means less cargo capacity.

Maybe not but it is coming back pretty strong. Expecting higher than pre pandemic peak flight travel for Thanksgiving weekend in the US.

But isn't that just the pendulum swinging the other way so that it eventually settles back in the middle? Are these numbers expected to be the new norm?

It makes intuitive sense to me that the new norm is going to be people flying less, but when they do, it's gonna be everyone at the same time.

Yes. Thanks for the summary. Also the title pretty much says it all already if you are up to date with the supply chain crises. :)

I wish there was a news site that didn’t pretend that most news need more than a single paragraph.

I wonder if this means there is a niche for no-nonsense, no-bullshit news outlet.

Journalists are paid by the word. Imagine if programmers were paid like that!

Ha! Yet 'Lines Of Code' are still mentioned as a metric...

>Air cargo is suddenly affordable relative to ocean shipping

I would say ocean shipping is now as exorbitant as air cargo, or more so.

That's exactly the case, and a much better summary. The relative prices have little bearing in the affordability as relatively few things have enough margin left in them to spend more on their shipping.

I ordered an M1 Max the day after it was announced. It's supposed to arrive today. The route it took to get to Portland, Oregon, was Shanghai to Zhenzhou (where it spent a week), on to South Korea, then Anchorage, then a weekend in Louisville, Kentucky. How this makes any sense in terms of efficiency is totally beyond me.

As a side note, I'm mildly paranoid about new Apple devices spending a week held up in Chinese customs. Is the CCP throttling exports, or installing backdoors?

Anchorage is because they found out that they can fill their planes with more inventory and less gas if they stop in Anchorage instead of doing the full pacific route.

Good article here: https://www.zdnet.com/article/why-your-ipad-comes-via-anchor...

Wendover Productions details FedEx's Anchorage hub here:


Anchorage is also not all that far off the Great Circle route anyway.

I recently discovered Nullschool's new (or updated) NO2 channel. This is even more effective than the SO2 channel for identifying global shipping routes. See for example (time-stamped for earlier today):


Note that trans-pacific routes from both Seattle/Vancouver and Los Angeles/San Diego meet near Kodiak Island along the Aleutians.

I'm fairly confident those represent sea traffic rather than air, given similar traces through the Indian Ocean / Red Sea. I'm presuming relatively little air traffic traverses Suez. Similarly Panama, and traffic from Europe to South Africa.

Anchorage is located slightly north of that trace and has its own NO2 track.

I'm having a hard time understanding this snippet:

The intermediary stop in Anchorage, as opposed to flying from Shanghai to Oakland, CA, actually increases total flight distance by around 144 miles but allows the aircraft to carry an additional 45,000kg of cargo (instead of extra fuel) increasing revenue for the trip by around $90,000.

Why would traveling an extra 144 miles allow the aircraft to carry 45,000kg of cargo instead of fuel? I feel like I'm misreading it.

Shanghai to Oakland is about 10,000 km: https://www.greatcirclemap.com/?routes=PVG-OAK

Adding a stop in Anchorage adds about 200 km: https://www.greatcirclemap.com/?routes=PVG-ANC-OAK

The plane is probably limited by takeoff weight: body plus fuel plus cargo. By adding a stop in the middle, the plane can take off with less fuel from Shanghai. Since it has 45000 kg less fuel, it can instead carry 45000 kg more cargo. Total fuel consumption for the trip ends up slightly higher, but fuel per kg of useful cargo is much less.

Quick, let's build an international air cargo hub on Atka Island!


[edit]: The town of Atka apparently has a population of 53, spread over 32 households. There's an airport, but some expansion would probably be needed to handle Shanghai<->Oakland shipping traffic...




I'd guess that getting fuel to an island would be much more expensive negating the benefits. (I understand that this was not a serious suggestion anyways).

I am not so sure, it could come by ship...

I think that's a brilliant idea. It's only 200km shorter but it takes the longest leg from 7000km -> 5500km https://www.greatcirclemap.com/?routes=PVG-ADK-OAK

I wonder why it has not been done? Maybe because of this -

"In 1996, the U.S. Department of Transportation exempted Alaska's Anchorage International Airport and Fairbanks International Airport from the Jones Act, which prohibits foreign airlines from transporting cargo between U.S. cities. Now, foreign carriers are allowed to refuel their planes in Alaska before continuing on to an American airport or returning home. Because of this, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport now handles approximately 80% of all air cargo traffic between Asia and North America."

Maybe you need to find a non American location. A floating refuel location?

It'd be interesting to run the numbers.

That is really neat and counterintuitive, because Shanghai and Oakland are 30-something degrees north latitude, and Anchorage is ~60 degrees north, but the stop adds a remakably small distance.

A direct great circle route still goes over the Aleutians, it seems.

You probably noticed, but in case others didn't, if you click on the "Globe" icon in the upper right for the links I gave it gives a good sense of the Great Circle, and helps make it clear why it's actually an efficient route.

> The plane is probably limited by takeoff weight

It is.

The last mile of flight time is the most expensive because the jet fuel has to be carried all the way from the starting point. By breaking a trip into intermediate hops, you get to trade “expensive” last miles for cheaper ones.

For it to make economic sense it just needs to exceed the extra cost of time spent at the intermediate port. And even that can offset by adding cargo for that intermediate destination to replace the weight savings of not carrying that “last mile” jet fuel.

This is probably best illustrated by a picture: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Relative-fuel-consumptio...

Because they can fill their tanks halfway and not fall into the ocean.


A full tank of gas is a heavier load. The first half of the trip, you’re flying a full tank of gas just so that half of it can be used for the second half of the trip. If you stop over in the middle, you can fly two half-trips with a half tank of gas each time.

I've thought for a while that people don't seem to be nearly excited enough about the prospect of refueling spacecraft in orbit as SpaceX hopes to.

People "get it" when it's the rocket equation for space, but from prior discussions, they don't want to accept the implications as far as electric aircraft.

Electric aircraft you are always "flying with a full load of fuel" which means every joule of energy is "the most expensive energy" as someone here put it, analogous to the last mile of range for a liquid-fueled aircraft. You never have that ability to "take off with a half tank" and trade fuel for extra payload, or operate more efficiently by tailoring fuel to actual needed range, or benefit from higher efficiency at the tail end of a long flight.

Unless electric power becomes significantly more energy-dense, it's always going to be a problem that dogs electric-powered aircraft. And it's hard to see that happening since it's very much the opposite - liquid fuel is significantly more energy-dense than batteries anyway, plus the implications of the rocket equation.

Pluggable battery packs might be a thing for electric planes. It might be even easier than for cars - for example, there is finite, and relatively small number of start and destination points.

No, the (aeromotive) problem with electric packs in planes is that the battery weighs as much when you land as it does when you take off, while with a fuel plane you've burned all your fuel and your plane is tens of thousands of pounds lighter. It's like dragging every single stage along with you to space - every drop of fuel is "the most expensive" because you're moving the maximum amount of weight all the time, and you're repeatedly incurring the most energy-intensive phase of flight (takeoff).

To beat (or at least, not completely be ruined by) the rocket equation what you need is droppable battery packs - completely use them up in sequence, then drop them in midair as you fly to lighten the load. (Well, you need much higher energy density than batteries can currently deliver, too, but let's just talk rocket equation.)

Using "droppable" packs also has the implication that each individual pack (or at least a "core" pack) has to be able to support enough current for at least cruising power (and you probably do not want to design an aircraft with the known implication that full takeoff power will be unavailable after a certain duration of the mission - or that taking off with a "partial fuel load" means you do not have full takeoff power available - the FAA is not going to look kindly on either of those approaches, because if you miss a landing, going around is now very difficult, and that is one of the most likely places for crashes to happen already).

As far as pluggable battery packs - major airports already are critically short on available landing/takeoff slots. Airlines bid fiercely to get them already, and would love to add more slots for real aircraft and not gimmick 200-mile-range electric aircraft. And a large aircraft needs a large runway, so you can't just trivially "add more airports", nor do you want too many planes interacting in the same vicinity - two or maybe three active runways is about the practical limit. So that's not a very good idea at all, there's already a critical resource constraint that building an aircraft around high-takeoff-landing-cycle flight models would make much worse. The "meta" of airport landing slot economics already runs heavily to running bigger aircraft so you can fit more fares/cargo per landing slot - the A380 and 787 and other super-jumbo aircraft are basically designed for this situation where you simply cannot land any more aircraft so you have to land bigger ones.

Leaving aside runway slots, takeoffs and landings are also the most dangerous part of flight, more flight cycles means much more danger for the aircraft and its surroundings (and passenger airports tend to be near people, although perhaps this is not a constraint for cargo airports as much). It's also the hardest on the airplane - pressurization/depressurization cycles and wing loadings are what busts up an aircraft to a much greater extent than mere flight hours, there are only so many cycles you can make an aircraft take regardless of flight hours. So if you land and take off a lot more, you have to spend the energy (and financial) cost of aircraft manufacture much more frequently, which likely neutralizes a lot of the environmental benefits. It's also the most energy intensive phase of flight - if you are taking off 5x as much to make the same trip, are you even more efficient within a single flight, let alone when we amortize that the airplane (and it's "build-time emissions") now lasts 1/5th as long due to increased flight cycles?

It's a bad idea for a lot of reasons. Just make more railways, and high-speed railways, we'd benefit hugely from moving as much traffic as possible (obviously not overseas!) to trains and (for cargo) ships. Significantly more environmentally friendly than air travel will ever be.

It's fun from a tech development perspective though. Obviously pushing tech at the edge of capabilities benefits everything - motor technology, manufacturing, battery technology. And those do go into some useful things.

I'll be more excited about that when the fuel is created in space so that you're not just launching fuel for another launch to take advantage.

Well, depends on what you mean by "space".

The orbit around the Earth is the closest and travel there is the cheapest, but manufacturing fuel out of nothing (vacuum) is pretty much impossible. Technically, what you have on lower Earth orbits isn't vacuum, but a very, very thin gas. It is still probably too thin to be used as a source of stuff for industrial processes.

The closest solid body we have as of now is the Moon. A nice source of minerals, where fuel will be almost certainly produced in situ in the future, but then you still need to fly from Earth to Moon orbit and get the produced fuel to the Moon orbit to tank the ship. (Possibly using a space elevator.) Still quite a lot of delta v.

The best solution could be to intercept a comet full of volatile materials and drag it somehow to the Earth orbit, say, 1000 km above the planet. Of course, if you mess up and hit the Earth instead, you will cause a nice extinction event down there...

I love HN just for the fact that this conversation started with shipping a laptop and ended up with the dangers of space refueling.

By "space", I meant not from Earth. Extra-terrestrial might have been a better choice. Clearly, I wasn't propsing hoovering up parts of the atmo or from the vacuum of space itself (do the Brits call it the hoover of space???).

>Of course, if you mess up and hit the Earth instead, you will cause a nice extinction event down there...

Why does it need to be in Earth's orbit. If we have the ability to capture a comet and place it in a more friendly orbit, we'd surely have the ability to park it in the moon's orbit negating a SimCity-esque ELE.

> but then you still need to fly from Earth to Moon orbit and get the produced fuel to the Moon orbit to tank the ship. (Possibly using a space elevator.

You mean a space elevator from the Moon (since on Earth it seems to be infeasible)? It's probably doable but I suspect that an electromagnetic accelerator would be far more affordable and technologically less demanding.

From the Moon, yes. The cost and technological demand would certainly be significant, but unlike elmg accelerator, a space elevator would be suitable for transport of people as well.

There's no reason why you couldn't use an accelerator for transporting people. The velocities are fairly low so acceleration can be moderate as well. Also there's no air to complicate things with aerodynamics, so all you have to do is to design a high-speed maglev with auxiliary thrusters and RCS that could lift from the tracks at orbital speed and then land back on them again (which is much easier in the complete absence of atmosphere which turns it into an orbital mechanics problem).

So I put the numbers into a calculator. Let us say that 3G for a minute would be tolerable for most humans, at least those that venture onto the Moon.

You need approximately 60 seconds of 3G acceleration to reach orbit around the Moon. That would mean some 54 km of an accelerator. That is more feasible than I instinctively expected. The main question is how much metal would be needed for 1 m of such accelerator track.

The real question is how much material you'd need for a ~80000-km-sized vertical structure that the lunar elevator is expected to be. The ~1:1000 factor in the largest dimension required can't be good for a practical elevator.

As for the track, I suspect it might be (order-of-magnitude-wise) similar to existing maglevs on Earth. On one hand, you need to reach higher velocities, higher precisions, etc. On the other hand, any supporting structure can be substantially more lightweight (much smaller gravity, no corrosion resistance required, etc.).

Would a properly counter-weighted space elevator not have much lower power requirements than an electromagnetic accelerator?

If you can't realistically build an elevator, the question is meaningless. As for if you could build one, I don't know. Maybe, but chances are that an electromagnetic accelerator working in reverse could recover a lot of the energy. Also, it wouldn't be constrained by having to keep the upmass and downmass ratio bounded. And third, energy is really easy to come by on the surface of the Moon, so it's not like it would be a severe limitation.

The “total flight distance” refers to the entire trip, eg. from Shenzhen to Albuquerque, but that involves multiple flights aboard multiple planes. Using Anchorage as a hub allows them to reduce the length of the longest flight.

Every extra kilo of fuel means one kilo less of cargo. I would guess that the shorter hops require 45K kilos less fuel so you can load more cargo instead, thereby increasing efficiency.

educated guess, they get to stop on the ground to refuel. So while they need to travel further, they need to carry less fuel per each hop.

There's probably a little bit of effect like the rocket equation going on - the further you are going, the more fuel you need to get there, and the more fuel you need to carry the additional fuel. Stated a different way, fuel requirements vs distance is worse than linear, since fuel itself has weight.

Because these are 2 segments so plane is fuelled twice. It means it takes max cargo with almost min fuel (to make up MTOW), then again min fuel in Anchorage.

To carry fuel you need more fuel.

You stop to refuel in the middle of the trip, rather than making it nonstop.

It may be jet stream positioning

I understand why it went through Anchorage. I have no idea why it would then go across the country to Louisville before coming back to Portland.

That's where the major shipping hub is, I assume the plane headed there is bulk loaded to the gills with pallets of Apple products, and then it gets broken up into smaller shipments for specific cities like Portland. We probably don't have enough products destined here on a routine basis to justify an entire plane of Apple products.

Ah. I didn't consider that all the Apple products might be traveling together beyond Anchorage. That makes more sense.

P.S. BOOOOOO on UPS, who just claimed they tried and failed to deliver it while I was standing on my porch with the Ring camera on. So much for spending the night migrating. Hello, Monday night happy hour.

> P.S. BOOOOOO on UPS, who just claimed they tried and failed to deliver it while I was standing on my porch with the Ring camera on. So much for spending the night migrating. Hello, Monday night happy hour.

Oh man, I'd be on fire right now. Drinking is probably the best alternative.

Hah! Thanks for commiserating. Yeah, I was all revved up. Even loaded up on Frank's Noodle House takeout - my all-night nerd-out favorite. Spent the last couple hours doing backups so I could jump into work tomorrow. Just got screwed by the last guy in the supply chain =\

that exact thing happened to me yesterday with my m1 max! Vancouver Canada - UPS is the worst for of all the carriers for fake attempts - I wish I knew why apple used them.

It was delivered to a pickup point around 6pm thou so I was still able to get it that day at least.

Did you at least see them pass by or did they not even bother with that?

Didn't even come down the street!

if you ping a server next to you from your laptop, the packet might still go via a different city. same principle.

I wonder how long it'll be until we have a manmade refueling depot island that is at a convenient spot in the ocean and funded entirely by this sort of arbitrage.

That’s what PanAm did in the Clipper days.

> How this makes any sense in terms of efficiency is totally beyond me.

1. Hub and Spoke. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoke%E2%80%93hub_distribution...)

2. Optimized traveling salesman looks very suboptimal locally.


For more details: try playing OpenTTD with cargodist (OpenTTD 1.4.0 and above, roughly June 2013 or later). This is where mail / passengers / cargo will automatically route themselves and plan where to go rather than the default pathing algorithm.

You'll find that the most efficient route is to fill up your trains such that they're full. __Not__ necessarily for individual packages to take the shortest path. In fact, many routes are locally suboptimal (ie: moving away from the destination) so that you can reach a hub.

Sending a train with 100% of cargo down your rail-lines is far more efficient than sending two trains with 50% cargo. Similar issues happen to airplanes, busses, trains, and ships in real life.

I'm a huge fan of Open TTD! I never play with the computer, since it made horrible choices. But that was pre 2010.

Your post convinced me to try playing with cargodist.

Pre-pandemic it may have gone Zhengzhou-Anchorage and skipped the Korea stop, but pretty much all US airlines are now doing stops in Korea or Japan for their China flights to change the crew. The crew flies Korea-China-Korea and never leaves the plane in China so they don't have to deal with China's covid quarantine rules.

> The crew flies Korea-China-Korea and never leaves the plane in China so they don't have to deal with China's covid quarantine rules.

Business finds a way.

Even on the yacht transporters (ships carrying smaller ships) across the Atlantic the crew don't get off the ship in the US[1] due to Covid.

[1] https://youtu.be/GcsbsCK7ogc?t=543

Until the plane breaks down while in China...

If the CCP wanted to install backdoors they would do it at the factory rather than at customs.

Also Apple's logistics game has always had these weird efficiencies. I remember ordering an iPod like 15 years ago, and I got a FedEx tracking number where I could see its progress flying overnight out of China. It was pretty wild at the time.

I think if the CCP wanted to install backdoors, they would simply ask Apple to do it, as they did for iCloud.

Apple would, of course, comply, as they did for iCloud.

In the default configuration of a mac, Apple retains full remote code execution ability on the machine.

Apples compliance in China applies to Chinese customers only. They would most likely be less willing to comply if it meant compromising foreign customers. As lucrative as the Chinese market is, losing the US market would be sudden death for Apple.

> Apples compliance in China applies to Chinese customers only.

Effectively everything Apple sells is made in China. Apple is nothing without China. They are, unfortunately, required to do literally anything the CCP demands of them, push comes to shove, to continue existing as we know them.

Losing the Chinese market would be sudden-er death for Apple. China is Apple's largest market, and will be the vast majority of their revenue growth for the next 15-30 quarters.

More importantly, losing the Chinese market means losing ~100% of all of their manufacturing. (Anyone know how many iPhones are being made in India these days?)

They didn’t install a back door for CCP.


Back door exists for all gov, in that keys to encryption are stored in country.

So back door always existed. But apparently that’s only bad when China have access to it.

I guess because of the US long record of cyber trustworthiness.

The South Korea and Anchorage stops are pretty close to the Great Circle route for Shanghai to Portland: http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=sha-pdx

Kentucky is the UPS International Air Hub, nearly all UPS cargo flights go there. FedEx is Memphis, both because they are well positioned relative to the densest parts of the US population with the earliest delivery requirements.

I visited China in 2018, I live just outside of Anchorage.

First we flew to Seattle, and then after a layover, flew directly over Anchorage to Beijing via the great circle route. About 10 hrs and maybe 3800 miles into the journey, I was looking down at my home town.

There are seals in the package that you can visually inspect if you believe that your package has been modified. If you still suspect that someone repackaged the device I would say to put it in DFU mode (if you have another Mac or have a friends Mac) and reinstall the device firmware and then reinstall Macos in recovery mode. Or just go to an Apple Store and let them do it for you if you can't get access to another Mac.

The seals won't be very helpful if tampering is being done at a state sponsored level: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/05/photos-of-an-nsa...

Then image what 12 years of well funded R&D to improve the process does.

And 12 years of even better funded R&D by an aggressive team of spies acing outside of the law (legally) to over come that progress.

Would a state-run operation just not be able to replicate the seals, considering that the seals are just as likely to have been manufactured there?

They might even just have exact replica boxes and such. Boxes are easier to produce than computers.

You just pay or threaten a guy to leave packing materials in the garbage.

Then you might want to reconsider your threat model and buy a computer from someone else where each part is from America.

Such as?

Also, how hard can it be to bribe a delivery in US guy working for minimum wage?

https://www.nitrokey.com/ and then install Qubes.

What is your threat model? Do you have reason to suspect for package interdiction ?

Lots of jewelry places use USPS to ship gems.

Why would that be weird? It's probably the most efficient money-wise (and emissions wise as a result). Taking a route on vessels that have spare capacity. Probably a form of algorithmic 'hitchhiking'. Did you pay for a premium posting service, or just regular?

It can also happen because there is significant extra cost to packing and unpacking boxes.

If your parcel is in a box of other parcels with other destinations, it makes sense to send the whole lot to one place to split it up and reorg packages, even if the end result is more airmiles, because there are fewer unpack-sort-pack events.

I want to make a joke about the spyware not installing itself, but it was hitting too close to home, and besides that's probably too obvious, so instead, I will leave you this anecdote about how packages make it from east to west:

A package from abroad often changes hands through various regional carriers, and is sometimes bumped or combined or divided by many criteria depending on where it is and what it is. I found this out by ordering electronics that also had single items that required special shipping that arrived far far later (the trigger for me, is batteries, which always take more time)

Li-ion batteries are dangerous goods, so kind of makes sense that those can take longer.

Well, hub and spoke can be more efficient than point to point. Louisville KY is a major cargo hub https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisville_International_Airpo... for UPS and it's cheaper to maintain one major hub than multiple (say, a west-coast based one).

That explains the last two steps.

For the rest of them, no idea; but I can speculate: it looks like zhenzhou is a major shipping hub and occasionally there are long delays: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/stuck-in-zhenzhou-for-5... (note that sometimes my packages say they are in china but are actually landed in the US already).

South Korea and Anchorage: maybe it's cheaper to take more short-hop flights? Haha, I had to look it up (TLDR: yes) Well: https://www.zdnet.com/article/why-your-ipad-comes-via-anchor... (note in that case it went to memphis before the final US destination, memphis is the Fedex hub).

Some things look inefficient from a distance, especially if you look at just a few random samples, but then turn out to be efficient when you compute overall measures like "package throughput divided by shipping costs". Never underestimate both the efficiency and ineffiency of modern transport systems.

Variations of that are pretty common for APAC -> CONUS cargo. Anchorage and Louisville are both major cargo hubs. If it doesn't _require_ the speed, you're probably better off (from a cost perspective) carrying more packages, than the fuel to do longer directs.


That's the typical new-release Apple products route. I remember my iPhone 12 last year made the same stops.

> Is the CCP throttling exports, or installing backdoors?

The 2nd half seems absurd on too many levels, conspiracy level thinking.

Changing software? Super easy to detect. Changing hardware? insanely expensive to do it en masse, esp outside of the factory.

There's no target, but mass surveillance? This checks so few logic boxes.

Why would there be no target? His name is literally printed on the outside of the box in machine readable form.

Going to take it a few steps further. Now we're targeting a specific person.

1. CCP needs to hack shipping label system to track a specific person (DHL/CCP shipper/Fedex) which method? We need to interject against them all.

2. CCP was waiting for this person to buy a Macbook Pro?!

3. CCP was lucky enough that the exact model was back ordered via China shipping routes. We were lucky because normally they could just walk into any Apple Store and buy it and walk out. No ability to target a specific person.

4. What if the target "returns the laptop?!" Our years of hacking setup didn't work.

There are insane amounts of difficulty for this target vector which make it effectively impossible to go after a specific person via supply chain, specific order.

So we're back at mass surveillance. That doesn't work because given enough people, someone pen/security check the laptops coming out. Apple will recall.

Actually it’s much easier than that, and what the TAO group [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tailored_Access_Operations] here does on a smaller scale. There is undoubtably easier and better scale in China since so much tech is manufactured there. They can get the firmware source (or require things be included), and chip masks pretty easily, even easier than the CIA or NSA getting them here. And I doubt any TLA has much problems with that here if they care.

The way you do this, is you have ‘partnerships’ with the major shippers where they match against known person of interest on your list. When someone has an interesting shipment to one of your targets, it gets flagged and set aside in a known location.

Since all new style equipment needs a basic plan to add targeted hardware/firmware attacks anyway, since if you need the capability to compromise any given target at will (which they do) you need the capability to compromise pretty much all common equipment readily available, at a minimum. All available equipment being a realistic requirement too.

Some bored tech will then take the already developed playbook for that specific piece of equipment, write the firmware or glue on the specific special chip to the board, pack it up, and hand it back to the shipper.

A physical version of room 641a [https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A] essentially.

The Snowden leaks showed it happened regularly, what, a decade ago?

If you think China doesn’t have something like that too, I have a bridge to sell you.

So then the question is - are you interesting enough to make the list? That I don’t know.

Definitely agreed on the TAO and surveillance, upvoted in fact for that.

But, again, I'll "buy that bridge" when it comes to an Apple product-supply-chain being hacked by a state actor to target an individual.

CCP can't bank on a specific Apple product being purchased by a specific person routed through their side/controlled supply chain.

As before, most apple products are not routed directly from China to a consumer. This is a pretty rare circumstance given the supply chain bottlenecks.

I agree both sides have the ability to "hold product" in the shipping lane to do all sorts of nefarious things, but that only works if you can predict that movement (i.e. destination being on "your side" of control). The specific circumstances matter here and they don't make it an attack vector against a specific person.

FYI - Every Apple product I've bought in the last year or two was routed directly from China to me. From multiple iPads, an iphone, and a macbook pro. With the pandemic shutting down a lot of Apple store traffic, it's probably become more pronounced if anything.

Definitely not the case for everyone, especially an enterprise, but I bought it via the apple store app and the tracking showed it from China -> Chinese Customs -> To me, and through fedex.

So they had all the information they would need in one place to do what I am describing in at least this scenario.

Someone somewhere puts the persons name and address into a To address for a shipping company. If the origination is in China and it's sold direct, that final address and name will be on that label, and in the tracking database.

It doesn't have to be perfect to catch a decent number of targets. If even 25% of the purchased products get intercepted this way for a target it will likely be effective.

>then a weekend in Louisville, Kentucky. How this makes any sense

With that destination, I'm assuming UPS delivery. I spent 24 hours at the sort facility there shooting a documentary about the delivery service. There's a reason UPS picked Louisville and FedEx picked Memphis. Knowing that reason it does make sense.

Fun fact, Lousiville's airport is an international airport only because of UPS. No international passenger flights use that airport.

My M1 Max Pro from announcement day arrived last week. A month early from initial estimates.

Shenzhen to Kentucky to west coast. No problem from my perspective.

I'm really surprised Apple let Shenzhen, China show on the tracking.

For a premium product, I would expect them to be focussing on the "Designed by Americans in America" bit of the message rather than the "Made in China".

That's such a....weird? approach. Nationalistic almost.

Chinese companies can make absolutely top quality stuff and my view on this has changed many years ago. I now own a Volvo built in Chengdou, China, and it's literally the most well build vehicle I ever owned, definitely better than any German car I've had(my previous Merc built in Germany creaked like a horse cart, this doesn't even make a peep from anywhere).

A lot of folks say the Chinese made Model 3s don’t have a the perennial panel gap and random quality issues the American made ones do.

China are the boss of manufacturing these days.

It’s odd — but I’ve noticed that among premium menswear brands (at least premium to me) like Taylor Stitch, Relwen, etc, made in China is now a mark of quality — because the factories in Vietnam and Bangladesh can whip stuff out, but they can’t do more complex quality finishes (think gussets, fully bound interior zipper taping, welting, quilt through stitching, etc).

Random. But curious to see if this will become more common (or remain relegated to specialized, small brands)

https://relwen.com/pages/hallmarks For reference.

Its not their choice they use UPS for shipping which would tell you where the package is.

Also, on the back of my iPad Pro 12.9 2021 it says "Designed by Apple in California Manufactured in China". Apple doesn't hide this point at all.

The Mac Pro though is Manufactured in Texas domestically and outside of the US it is manufactured in China.

You can't find that on the website in the product specs. It's only when you actually buy the product and physically inspect the labels. I know few people who thought they make it in California and were shocked it's actually made in China.

Would people be surprised? I think foxconn factory conditions which manufacturer apple products have been on the public conscious for several years.

They do say that about design because that isn't the same word as "made/manufactured" :)

The whole game is to play every country's people and their political instrument. From my perspective, it is easier the more nationalist they are, and both China and the US have very nationalist people. So stamp "made in china" on anything printed on paper, as required there, and stamp "designed in california" on things engraved in metal and then overcharge for it because Americans already suspect something domestic would be more expensive.

"I'm really surprised Apple let Shenzhen, China show on the tracking."

You are surprised they don't engage in (possibly fraudulent) deception of their customer? Should they?

Well I would expect it to just say:. "Current location:. Manufacturing site"

I’m confused - are you suggesting Apple somehow hide the fact that their products are made in China? Where else would the tracking indicate stops?


It does not anywhere say it is made in China. Yes Apple is hiding this.

The only thing said about he manufacture is "it's green". It does at least not misrepresent the location of manufacturing.

These days, I would expect most consumers to assume "tech is made in China/Taiwan/Korea/Japan" unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Neither does the Microsoft store for a surface? https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/d/surface-pro-7/8n17j0m5zzqs... (Unless I’m missing it on mobile)

Companies look what Apple can get away with and copy.

there is no requirement to put it on websites. there is a chinese requirement to put it on paper printed in china for export.

are you ironically elevating Chinese rule of law over others while thinking its helping your American nationalist sentiment? wow, we have to go deeper

I'm really surprised Apple let Shenzhen, China show on the tracking.

Why? The reality is that Apple is reselling a Foxconn product made in Shenzhen.

“Reselling a Foxconn product” is about as stupid as saying Foxconn is reselling a Rio Tinto product.

(Amusingly, the standard Apple comment pattern appears. About 30 minutes after criticism, the comment is voted down. Over the next day or so, it will probably go up a bit. This is consistent enough to be worth examining.)

> Is the CCP throttling exports, or installing backdoors?

They can order workers to do that in the factory. Apple won't be able to do anything about it apart from removing anything that shouldn't be there when it lands in the US. Chinese workers can't say no to CPC orders and Apple has to agree if they want to continue to exploit cheap workforce and lax environment regulations.

Apple can move operations elsewhere. China is better at electronics than essentially everyone else BUT they’re no longer the cheapest workforce and Apple has lots of resources that would be worth nothing if it’s found out (ie by US intelligence, etc) that Apple’s hardware is full of backdoors from CCP.

That’s literally the path that almost every electronic device I’ve purchased directly from China to the US has took for at least 10 years.

That’s a fair assumption in my opinion we already know the US government was rerouting packages to install spyware why would we not assume China does the same. But what I do doubt is that they would do it to every phone and not just target individual actors.

I live in China, I m paranoid like you but about Google trying to map out my activity so I degoogled everything...

It's likely we both are not the main concerns of our respective surveillance apparatus :D

There’s no need to install a backdoor on your computer, which is super risky and requires high specialization. All they have to do is install one on your wifi lamp, or your vacuum cleaner.

That's been the standard route for Apple products for many years now. Probably more than a decade.

Mine went Shanghai → Japan → Memphis → destination.

Which was strange. Usually all of my Apple kit goes through Alaska. Not this time.

A friend of mine who flies big jets to Asia told me that the past year has been his busiest ever.

Spent $300 to fly a rug from Shanghai to Seattle, by way of HK and Japan.

The bottleneck is, and will always be, large organizations have communication breakdowns.

[insert joke about flying carpet here]

Hah, if only! Though its quite large, like 7ft by 9ft. It would have to have extra magic than normal.

Would airline stocks be finally profitable? Asking as a bag holder.

your best hope is that this story picks up steam and a bunch of unsophisticated investors think it’s a hidden nugget of gains, and then you have to avoid falling for the hype yourself. sell the moment you’re in profit.

The story of 2021, brought to you by Gamestop

Oh, we're going to squeeze those short sellers so hard. I don't care if they've already closed out all their positions, at this point it's the principle of the thing. Next stop omega squeeze!

>your best hope is that this story picks up steam and a bunch of unsophisticated investors think it’s a hidden nugget of gains, and then you have to avoid falling for the hype yourself. sell the moment you’re in profit.

So... Definitely yes?

Ah yes, the greater fool

Airlines are making a lot of money in freight right now, yes.

> The worst sort of business is one that grows rapidly, requires significant capital to engender the growth, and then earns little or no money. Think airlines. Here a durable competitive advantage has proven elusive ever since the days of the Wright Brothers. Indeed, if a farsighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favor by shooting Orville down.

— Warren Buffett, in the 2007 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter

(Though this is relevant more to a value investor than to a speculator)

US Airlines did well in the last decade compared to prior times due to finally having consolidated into sufficiently few airlines. Until the pandemic of course.

Airlines, or every single Softbank venture.

once oil goes back to somewhat sane prices, maybe.

currently airlines face cost pressure from fuel prices inflating and wages inflating - and covid is far from done, though hopefully we're in the second half now.

It is astounding to see that shipping is now about 1/3 the price of air freight! Which means, because air freight charges have doubled, it is almost as much as air freight was in 2019! Truly unbelievable.

God, I was hoping this was going to be an article about zeppelins

It's not affordable if you take into account hidden costs of greenhouse gases on the planet.

I wonder how many people care. How many wind farms we need to offset this environmental disaster? Lately I’ve reduced my meat consumption and many other things to be more eco friendly but this kind of news makes me think this is all for nothing.

Individual changes at the scale of this problem aren’t literally nothing, but they’re pretty close to nothing.

A big changes a sum of little change. You can't travel anywhere if you aren't willing to move an inch.

it's not nothing, it also makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside (and allow to look down on others, less ecological-conscious, people).

But even if it's nearly nothing, it's a step in the right direction and it's better done than not.

> it also makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside (and allow to look down on others, less ecological-conscious, people)

What cause are you trying to advance with this rhetoric?

I could not care less about feeling superior to others in this matter, and it's certainly not enough to make me feel "warm and fuzzy". I literally just don't want the world to spin out of control.

I know acting a bit more conscious as an individual is next to nothing, but maybe doing so anyway and mentioning it in a non-condescending way helps a little bit to foster a culture where people are more conscious of environmental effects. Rhetoric like the above seems to aim a bit at the opposite.

In northern Canada pretty much everything needs to be flown in. Prices are very high. The highest cost are for the heaviest items which is anything liquid they will cost more than dry items.

Already seeing it this month.

I order my dog's meds offshore, plain post mail from Australia flew by DHL and got here (Texas) in under a week.

Can we add a "more" into the title? As is, it's easily read incorrectly.

Nothing about energy crisis.

Summary: Ocean shipping reached bottleneck.

Cars are also apprecating in value.

What other economic oddities are happening at the moment?

Employers are dropping quality standards for employees so fast that entire businesses have to shut down, because their employees leave and no one will work at a wage that makes the business profitable

I much prefer this way if saying it to "we can't find any staff", which so many businesses are saying.

No... You can't find any staff willing to do this work for the pay you're offering. Offer more pay and you won't have an issue.

This is too simplistic. The business model might not work at all at the higher labor rates. That can result in a change in the model (e.g., restaurants that no longer have table service, just take out) or it might result in the business closing entirely because it no longer is financially viable.

And those businesses have a right to exist because... ?

Note that I do draw a distinction between activities which produce high positive externalities (and hence whose revenues strongly underrepresent net social gain), and those which produce high negative externalities, often contributing net harm.

The first type of enterprise should be supported (tax breaks, subsidies, wage credits). The latter should be penalised (inverse). The pragmatics of money, power, and influence frequently invert that relationship, a tendency noted as far back as Adam Smith and before.

That said, it's not clear to me what types of activity are having the greatest hiring challenges, though in some cases (e.g., healthcare), I'd class them among the former.

And those businesses have a right to exist because... ?

Those businesses were working well enough in 2019 but were disproportionately affected by lock-downs that favored large retailers and chains. Amazon and WalMart had a great year but they don't treat their bottom tier workers any better than mom and pop stores do, in fact we subsidize Wal Mart's workers all the same. I'm tired of seeing small businesses blamed when they're the victims. Every time I have to wear a mask from the door of the restaurant to the table, or see an improvised "indoor-outdoor" shed structure built on the sidewalk I'm astounded at the sheer lunacy of it all. They've had to spend a much bigger chunk of their cash flow than some large corporation that can pick up the phone and get a few more billion in loans on a whim, and they have to compete for would-be workers getting "free" inflated money every week.

I hope it's clear that my "what right..." quip is alluding to similar attitutes addressed toward labour or residents. The point is that markets are an evolutionary system, that what was viable yesterday may not be viable tomorrow, and that the process of creative destruction moves forward.

Another view is that sometimes the forces of destruction are overly effective, and that some degree of intervention might be required.

What's curious is that the nature of the firms impacted by rising labour costs hasn't been clearly defined, and certainly wasn't at the top of this thread. I've commented in another thread about looking for solid data on this, and have found little. (See this here, specifically the 3rd comment down by myself: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29235409) You're asserting that it's mom'n'pops rather than "large retailers and chains". I've seen a mix of reports suggesting both, though overall startlingly little clarity in news coverage.

I don't share your views on the apparent "lunacy" of masks at all.

To the extent that this may represent a new order and changing regime of public health and risk, an alternate narrative is that the previous structure had been built on a false presumption of risks and consequences, ignoring real ones, which, once those materialised, have changed the calculus and shown that what appeared to be a defensible, viable business and operational strategy was in fact not. It's not the world that's changed but our understanding of it. The risk was always present. It's just that now we're very much aware of it.

To the extent that this invalidates an ideologically-founded view of how "free markets" do or should operate and/or be regulated ... well, that's something which could also deserve more consideration.

> And those businesses have a right to exist because... ?

Because if USA doesn't start to get its exports up soon again after corona the entire economy will crash. And to do that USA needs to start to produce goods again at prices competitive with the rest of the world. And to do that businesses needs to produce those goods using workers at certain price points.

So ... the downside risk of crashing an entire national economy is a concern?

How was this priced-in or otherwise reflected in the earlier regime of valuation, management, or policy towards these firms? Does that downside risk represent an uncapitalised value of these ventures? Should that downside risk have been priced into goodwill, and hence, the access to financial or political capital of these businesses?

Because what you're stating, while having merits on the basis of rational argument and evidence, is not a business or market-based rationale. It has its foundations in some melange of national economic policy, security, and social obligation. Not economic bases.

(See also my other responses in this thread, particularly https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29249685)

> And those businesses have a right to exist because... ?

Strange line of reasoning. Generally it is a good thing for businesses to exist because they create value: employment and wages, tax revenue, goods and services that wouldn't otherwise exist, and so on. Not sure why you would want to be antagonistic towards businesses "existing".

This is an argument from consequence and independent of the business logic of the enterprise itself. That is: the "employment and wages, tax revenue, goods and services that wouldn't otherwise exist" are good of and by themselves regardless of the economic viability of the activity which supports them.

Is that in fact what you're saying?

(See also my other responses in this thread, particularly https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29249685)

This is kind of ignoring that we don’t have high unemployment and our labor participation rate is nearly recovered as well.

So anyone who wants a job, basically has one. A company raising wages isn’t going to create new labor by hiring an unemployed person, they are going to move labor by hiring one of their competitors employees. This doesn’t reduce the markets labor shortage.

>our labor participation rate is nearly recovered as well.

I don't think this is true. Labor participation dropped a couple percent, made up about half the loss, then has been about the same since June 2020

Jan 2020 83%

June 2020 81.5%

OCT 2021 81.7%


Unemployment is about where it was in 2017, which continued to drop all the way until 2020. So not as low as it was pre-pandemic, but objectively quite low, yes. Doesn't take away from your point.


U-3 unemployment is a garbage metric for most applications because it ignores anyone who has given up or underemployed.

U-6 is a much better metric that doesn't sweep these factors under the rug.

Or, in other words, businesses are losing their viability resulting in lost jobs as they shut down.

>> You can't find any staff willing to do this work for the pay you're offering.

> ...resulting in lost jobs as they shut down

Is a lost job lost if no one wanted it in the first place?

Sounds like one of those "if a tree falls in the forest" things.

well, maybe if the restaurant can't find any waiters, they'll close down and fire the cook. I think that's what the above comment meant with lost jobs.

This. If the business can't sustain itself because of labor costs it's not just those unfilled positions that suffer. If this happens too much you end up with demand for those ancillary jobs that folks are willing to do for market rate but can't find openings for.

And when each filled job goes, that person's wages get taken out of the local economy affecting further businesses.

Now they don't buy lunch or drive and fill up with gas.

If an unfilled job ceases to be advertised, is it really a lost job? When nobody has lost their job?

Maybe it's not a lost job, but it's a lost job opening. It's in the same ballpark.

I'd say it's the opposite. Surely the fact all our working men and women have job offers better than minimum wage, allowing them to better support their families, is something to be celebrated?

> Maybe it's not a lost job, but it's a lost job opening. It's in the same ballpark.

How so?

maybe in the same sense as "opportunity cost"

You mean eliminated jobs. If it's not worth paying for, it's not worth doing.

Not always. Markets are not in fact efficient.


Not perfectly efficient, but generally pretty efficient, at least when there aren't major externalities unaccounted for.

Yeah, there might be some jobs like carbon capturer where the market is not set up in a way for you to get payed for your service despite its vast value to society.

However in the case of flipping burgers, if people aren't willing to spend enough on a burger to pay the salary of a burger flipper, then clearly the job of burger flipping is not worth doing.

We could argue hypotheticals. I prefer some concreteness.

I'm not finding much by way of specific sectors affected, though healthcare, education, transportation, and hospitality (foodservice, lodgings) are often mentioned.

US Department of Labour has a breakdown by state, showing proportionately more quits in less-populated states:


Other sector-based listings seem more classification artefacts than useful information, e.g., https://news.sky.com/story/labour-shortages-which-jobs-are-s...

(What we want isn't a list of openings per classification, but deviation from normal levels of openings, adjusted for total classification size. Stats are ... complicated.)

This listing looks somewhat more substantive, listing Agriculture, Education and Public Safety as leaders in openings: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2021/11/08/if-you-tho...

One job category that could desperately use greater competene is business and economy journalism. The number of useless articles rehashing opinion and generalities on this topic is too damn high!

All of them. My wife had a problem getting studded leather belts for her goth/punk clothing store. T-shirts for old cult horror films are in short supply because the blank shirts aren't available as easily. Packages that do show up at the store are rain-soaked or dumped outside for anyone to find because the FedEx/DHL/etc delivery guy is overworked. You name it, if it involves the economy, it's weird now.

A lot of that, and over here in Germany there's even a weird bag shortage. Super markets running out of plastic and paper bags, in some places even McDonalds has started to use unbranded white paper bags.

Same supermarkets are now also mentioning "inflation" as part of their weekly discount brochures, which is not something I think I've ever seen them do before.

Right around the start of the epidemic, my state (US, not California) banned plastic bags. In the early part of it, the ban was relaxed, probably because it was felt that plastic bags might be more sanitary. But then they disappeared again.

So I've gotten used to reusing the paper bags, which now cost a few cents.

It's funny that you're still using plastic bags.

It's not banned, but I rarely see people using them in Germany. I think it speak volumes about a countries culture when a ban is not even necessary for people to mostly stop using plastic bags. Almost everyone carries their tote bags.

Way back in 2001 when I was in Dresden for 6 months, they did not have free bags of any sort at the grocery store, it just wasn't the normal way there. We didn't know that the first time we went grocery shopping, and they had to scrounge up some old cardboard boxes for us to use to carry our groceries out. Everyone else knew to bring their own tote bags.

> they had to scrounge up some old cardboard boxes for us to use to carry our groceries out

Really not that out of the ordinary; Back then plenty of supermarkets still had "cardboard corners".

People who bought stuff in bulk could dispose of the boxes there, while people who forgot to bring a bag could take some boxes from the corner to carry their groceries.

They can still be found in discounters in the more lower income areas but have become noticeably rarer.

Aha, I didn't know that! We were newbies there, and assumed we had just made a newbie mistake. But we made sure to bring tote bags thereafter.

>tote bags

I think they're a scam. They cost orders of magnitude more than paper bags. There is hardly anything people like better than rationalizations for spending more rather than less to save the environment. Pull out the magic word "externalities", it can do anything!

Over in America, pet food has been subject to a fair amount of variability lately. It's gotten to the point that I just drive down the highway I live by every couple weeks and hit up every Target along the way to find the wet food my mom's cats like (they're picky eaters). So far, I've been able to get enough every time with just three Targets, but there are plenty of others I could hit up if needed. The town she lives in has one Target, two Walmarts, one Petsmart, and they've all been out of stock for over a month.

Never thought I'd be supplying my mom with cat food, but here we are.

I am glad that we have pets and that we take such good care of them. That said, it is very amazing to me that even our animals have food preferences.

Part of it is that my mom basically fed them their favorite wet foods, and cats can eventually "develop finicky eating habits and become very selective about what foods they’ll accept" [0].

[0]: https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institut...

Oh. I noticed that none of the supermarkets around me have had any bags for weeks. I somehow didn't connect the dots that there was a bag shortage. Odd. Why would there be a bag shortage?

> Odd. Why would there be a bag shortage?

Apparently a combination of phasing out plastic bags while there's a pandemic related supply shortage of paper. At least that's what German news are saying, no more details as I can't find anything without a paywall.

The talk about supply chain problems makes me think of:


Explain why the "coin shortage" seems situational and intermittent.

Nevertheless, it seems like I can't find mini pretzels, except for one brand I hate.

Thicker pretzels, yes. But not thin ones. And it seemed like they disappeared abruptly in the last few weeks.

I've checked enough stores to wonder if it's regional or national.

Not sure how you get to supply chain issues being imaginary? A supply chain problem doesn't necessarily mean "totally unavailable everywhere".

>Not sure how you get to supply chain issues being imaginary?

Not sure how you concluded that I think every reported instance is imaginary; that's definitely incompatible with my previous comment. The window pits weren't imaginary!

>A supply chain problem doesn't necessarily mean "totally unavailable everywhere".

I agree, but how do you tell the difference between something that happens all the time and nobody noticed a couple years ago outside of maybe a trade magazine about logistics, vs. something that is new and different?

Even if it is "imaginary", there's a positive feedback loop between the belief that supply chain issues exist and changes in buying patterns.

> Cars are also apprecating in value.

Depends on who's inflation estimates you're using.

I'm pretty sure you don't need to look at inflation estimates to see that car prices are actually pretty bonkers right now. But here is a graph for the sake of it: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CUSR0000SETA02

Yeah prices are crazy right now but my point is everyone seems to ignore inflation when looking at car values over time.

Yeah I mean car depreciation is usually so much that the standard 1-2% inflation that we are used to doesn’t seem to be that much. It’s similar to getting a 3% raise until you realize that it’s really only 1%(with 2% inflation).

I was in a car accident a few weeks ago, my car was totaled. Between the insurance payout being super high and low financing rate, I was able to get a new (to me) car that has traditionally been worth twice as much as my old one while keeping my autopayments at the same rate and with the same amount of debt. I could have bought a car that was the same model year as my old one but with about half as many miles and still made about $3000 in profit. Maybe without inflation the number's smaller, but it's still way higher than zero.

Good old anecdata: I've now had three friends sell cars less than two years old for more than they paid for them.

Indeed whether they turned a profit when considering inflation is up in the air but pure $-wise they did make money.

Net win or loss on carbon emissions? Planes are awful fuel-wise but ships use bunker fuel...

In terms of carbon emmissions way way worse. Like not even close. A cargo ship consumes about 91 times as much fuel as a plane per trip, while transporting about 6000 times as much cargo, meaning the plane burns about 66 times as much fuel per unit of cargo.

Jet fuel and marine bunker fuel both produce between 3.1 and 3.2 kg of CO2 per kg of fuel; jet fuel is slightly less dense at .74 kg/L vs .86 kg/L for marine bunker, but still planes are producing about 56 times as much CO2 per unit of cargo.

Marine bunker has way higher sulpher content, which is a whole other issue, but as of earlier this year not by as much. Until this year, sulphur for marine fuel was capped at 3.5% by weight, now it's down to 0.5%. Jet fuel, for comparison, is required to be under 0.3% by weight.

It should be noted though that planes release their emissions at higher altitudes, where both CO2 and sulphur do more damage, and ships can carry scrubbers to be cleaner (though many still don't) because they are not nearly as sensitive to weight as a plane. While in absolute terms there are larger sources of pollution, per unit of utility flying is one of the most polluting things humans do.

As I've posted elsewhere in this thread, you can follow marine shipping routes quite readily by their SO2 and NO2 emissions:

SO2: https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/chem/surface/level/ove...

NO2 (even clearer): https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/chem/surface/level/ove...

> It should be noted though that planes release their emissions at higher altitudes, where both CO2 and sulphur do more damage [...]

Stratospheric sulfur aerosols are largely considered one geoengineering solutions for global warming. How does this jive with your statement?


Considered and widely rejected due to issues like acid rain, ozone depletion, and decreased photosynthesis. Maybe if carefully distributed at optimal locations and altitudes you could maximize the cooling effects while minimizing damage, but random emission from flights in no way optimized for that purpose? No, it's just pollution.

Seconding what jjk said, also airliners cruise in the troposphere, not the stratosphere.

> From the planetary surface of the Earth, the average height of the troposphere is 18 km (11 mi; 59,000 ft) in the tropics; 17 km (11 mi; 56,000 ft) in the middle latitudes; and 6 km (3.7 mi; 20,000 ft) in the high latitudes of the polar regions in winter; thus the average height of the troposphere is 13 km (8.1 mi; 43,000 ft).

Airliners cruise around flight level 310-380 (31-38,000', about 5.9 to 7.2 miles).

Why are Zeppelins not a more prevalent solution?

Zeppelins have all the slow speed of ships and all the inefficiency of flight. Remember, planes spend very little energy on keeping themselves in the air (hence why unpowered gliders can stay aloft for hours), their engines are for overcoming drag, pushing large volumes of air out of the way. Airships move at much lower speeds, but they have immensely larger cross sectional areas. They don't need to push it as fast, but to travel the same distance they must push substantially more air out of the way. Airships are great if you need long endurance, for example for aerial photography, but they're a terrible option for transportation.

That gives me an idea - why not build huge unmanned drones sort of the shape of the U-2 or a glider, to carry cargo?

I wonder if it would be possible to save a great deal of fuel by going much slower.

Bunker fuel is relatively low in terms of CO2 emissions, requires far less energy and emissions to refine, and its use is disallowed anywhere near land.

Given this, aside from pollution being something we don't like to do in general, there's no particular reason why bunker fuel is worse than something else. Emitting NOx thousands of kilometers from people, plants, or animals isn't really harmful.

What about the ocean?

SO2 and NO2 are fairly concentrated along shipping routes, and degrade fairly rapidly in the atmosphere. Concentrations over most regions are fairly limited, though concentrations in coastal regions (which tend to be where marine life congregates) is higher than the average.

Their principle risk to humans is as lung irritants when concentrated in air near large populations. As is clear here, the concentrations even along shipping routes are far lower than in urban regions.

SO2 (fuel contaminant, notably in bunker fuel and coal): https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/chem/surface/level/ove...

NO2 (a result of any combustion using atmospheric air which is 70% nitrogen, not merely a fuel contaminant): https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/chem/surface/level/ove...

I appreciate the thorough response! I was genuinely interested in the effects :)

NB: not my specialty, so I've likely missed other effects. Searching scholarly literature for "SO2 impacts on marine life" and "NO2 impacts on marine life" could be illuminating.

Sulfur dioxide in particular produces sulfuric acid. Small changes to pH and specific acid/base concentrations of seawater, even if limited to a narrow vertical column, could have large impacts. Say, non floating plankton, especially primary producers.

There's also the potential for positive "seeding" effects by introducing limiting nutrients to water, though my understanding is that iron and carbon are more likely to play these roles.

What about it? Since the major sink of methane in the atmosphere is by reaction with OH radicals, the NOx emissions from ship travel leads to a net global cooling, according to Wikipedia.

The main threat of NOx is to the respiratory tract of mammals, very few of whom find themselves in the middle of Pacific.

It all evens out. As the glaciers melt and sea levels rise, that will dilute the acidification from bunker fuel. (sarcasm)

I was under the impression that animals live in the ocean.

As it happens, fish seldom travel to the upper atmosphere to take a breath.

My guess is that bunker fuel is (way) worse for other pollutants - sulphur compounds etc, but overall much higher efficiency when used to drive a giant container ship, so much lower CO2 per unit of freight overall.

I'm not sure bunker fuel is worse for other pollutants. There's going to be much more jet fuel. If jet fuel emits 1% as much sulphur but there's 100x as much burned, then it's a wash.

No matter how you look at it and what you compare it against, flying is always going to emit more carbon because... flying is hard compared to moving on the ground.

Afaik ships can realistically run on LNG or hydrogen, there is no reason they have to use bunker fuel except it being the cheapest.

I think there was some recent studies that LNG might not be that great sort term solution due to losses in handling it. That is higher methane emissions and with methane having higher green house effect. After all handling a gas is harder than handling liquid. So some of it tends to leak in many parts of use negating some of the gains.

This is an environmental disaster.

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