As a long time BMW fan who has a M3 on order, it really is kind of sad to see that the company is becoming less and less inspired and more and more focused on short term shareholder happiness.
One one hand, the company is completely ditching its enthusiast root, at least within its main non-M lineups. The current generation 3 series is one of the worst offenders at this. In order to pursue mass market profitability, the 3 series has been watered down, its steering became heavily assisted electric systems, its suspension is tuned for comfort for a more "floaty" feel, its interior looks good in photos but are filled with cheap plastic everywhere to save cost. Its brakes no longer bite as hard because BMW doesn't want to replace too many rotors under their maintenance plane. The old king of sports sedans now drives like an overpriced and under-equipped Accord with worse reliability but faster acceleration.
On the other hand their lineups are exploding like Samsung's cellphone lines 5 years ago. Just in the U.S. market there is the 2, 3, 3GT, 3 ActiveHybrid, 4, 4GC, 5, 5GT, 5 ActiveHybrid, 6, 6GC, 7 series, then there is the X1, X3, X4, X5, X6, Z4, and then there is the M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, M5 GC, and X5 M, X6 M. Then there is the i3 and i8. They are really trying to go for market share, but are losing leadership positions in many market sectors that they used to completely dominate (ATS-V now drives better than a M3, C class now is just as sporty and way more luxurious than a 3 series).
And now they are barely dangling their feet in the EV front, while Tesla is charging ahead full speed (pun intended). M division is still doing good work technically, but even them are lost in the "spec game" and their new cars are all faster but less fun to drive than their predecessors.
My advice to BMW: Kill the i division, don't make EV a freaking hobby, do a serious EV within your main line-up and heavily push it. Don't be afraid to give it a sports tuned suspension with heavy and precise steering, add some of that old BMW magic back. Even if it doesn't become profitable in the short term it will create a halo effect for the whole company. Otherwise it's only a matter of time that the old school enthusiasts completely abandon you and the newer generations go chase after Teslas.
>My advice to BMW: Kill the i division, don't make EV a freaking hobby, do a serious EV within your main line-up and heavily push it.
Make an all-electric version of the 3, 5 series and X series to go toe-to-toe with Tesla directly, instead of watered down hybrids with shit range under a non-mainstream product line.
Additionally, Audi's (under the VW umbrella not BMW group) is "Vorsprung durch Technik", which is used in most of their non-US marketing. It translates as "Progress through innovation", if they were serious about this they would have taken the EV market much more seriously by now.
I don't know how the i3 drives, but I was short of shocked at how ugly (err maybe I should say quirky) the car looked - it looks like a toaster - and the two toned paint jobs it seems to often come with is even more of a head scratcher. It may perform well, and actually be a useful form factor - but IMHO the look of it is basically guaranteed to further limit the appeal of that product to a even smaller sub-group of the people who would consider electric in the first place.
I wonder if the i8 has the opposite problem - it looks lovely to me, but is a fairly radical design and again you might be turning away people who want an electric option, but don't necessarily want to call blaring attention to themselves.
Tesla has a problem where they don't have the cash on hand to build that production line quickly, nor have the equipment on site or people trained to use it for the capacity they will need.
BMW's i3 and i8 are both attempts at not only testing electrification but beyond that they went after materials testing and packaging. As in, the i3 was a moon shot in materials technology and its battery pack is actually quite serviceable.
While I know everyone loves to toot the Tesla horn the real problem that hit the other car makers was GM. GM because showed what having established relationship with suppliers and a wealth of in house knowledge can do in short order. GM is bringing a 200+ mile range EV to the market THIS YEAR, not late 2017, 2018 or whenever.
That car, the Bolt, has basically obsoleted every sub 100 and even sub 120 range EV over night. GM's supposed battery costs are lower than projections from Tesla's gigafactory
I think the problem is the needs for the Fun To Drive market and the Driving Appliance market have separated so much that you can't fit both markets into a single model anymore. Through the E46 era (early 2000s) you could have a single car which you would drive to work and which you could take to a track. The E90 (late 2000s), and rapidly increasing into the F30s (2010s), people want so many comfort, automation, and entertainment features in their Driving Appliances that would cause any Fun To Drive buyer to immediately reject the car out of hand. The Driving Appliance market is vastly larger than the Fun To Drive market, so it's clear where you're going to focus the bulk of your effort.
I think we're shortly going to reach a point where driving enthusiasts have to have two vehicles. One to drive on the roads and one to drive for fun. I've already reached that point, myself. I won't own any vehicle newer than the early 2010s unless it is fully self-driving.
I've owned a single 335 since 2009. It drives/handles beautifully. It's hard to describe being able to feel the surface of the road through the suspension and into steering wheel. I've driven the new ones and feel less in control and that special road feel is gone. My 3's interior is certainly spartan, but well made. After 6 years of ownership on crappy Midwestern roads, my interior is still solid without a single squeak or rattle. The new one's I've driven look like "cheap fancy" to me, and can imagine all that plastic is going to warp into a squeaky rattly mess after a few years. I've already decided my next vehicle will be a Tesla.
That's exactly my experience as well. I transitioned from a 2007 335 to a 2013 335i because I wanted new tech and warranty. But I miss the old car's driving dynamics every single day. I'm getting a M3 next because it's been my highschool dream car and still retains a bit of that BMW magic, but the one after next? Probably a Model S for daily with a Porsche Boxster for weekend fun.
There was an inflection point with the E46 3er when sales passed those of the Ford Mondeo. The formerly boring-brand Ford is now seen as the niche interest for the manager-with-family who likes a little driving excitement and the BMW is a standard rep mobile!
I find peoples' car aesthetics opinions totally incomprehensible. Ask 10 people what they like and you'll basically get 10 mutually incompatible answers.
Personally, I like futuristic looking stuff (I think it goes back to the Lamborgini Countach when I was growing up). Other people hate that, hate the Prius, etc. I'm always shocked how many people think a car has to have a traditional shape or it's ugly. Some people love Ferraris, I think they look like a woman's shoe. It's just a mess.
I think luxury cars look totally silly. I actually think the Toyota Previa is a gorgeous car and I'd have way more fun in that than in a Mercedes, which would make me feel totally ridiculous. I doubt there's another person on the planet who feels the same. I don't know why car aesthetics are so personal. I guess clothing is the same, only no one expects clothes to be one size fits all.
Yeah this is really funny. Somewhere in this thread somebody said that he finds the 3s design superior to the Model S and that he really likes the Porsche Panamera. My taste in cars is completely the opposite.
But I don't care too much about asthetics in cars, I value practical considerations much higher.
The terms of service have a section reserving the right to impose a service fee. Not sure if there will be a fee at launch.
"Service Fee. In exchange for providing the Carpool Platform, Clara Rides may assess a service fee on each Carpool Ride (on either or both of the Carpool Rider or Carpool Driver). The amount of the applicable service fee shall be communicated to you in writing."
Not a SWE is the catch, though my primary job responsibility is coding. Also messed up the job search and had no competing offers. Now trying to figure out if it's worth leaving Google and getting a job hopper stigma over the fact that I'm well paid but not as well paid as others.
Consider doing a ladder transfer to SWE or SETI. If you're performing well, it will be a probably successful but bureaucratic process... But certainly less work and less risky than quitting and finding a new job.
Depending on your team/group, it can also be worth starting a conversation with your manager/HRBP about allowing SWEs in your org (vs TSCs or whatever). Other groups (GTS in GBO, for example) have done this successfully.
I moved to the U.S. at the age of 14, from Shanghai. Since then I've done a pretty solid job integrating into the American culture (not much a choice, not exactly that many international students in my Dallas suburb high school), got an undergrad degree, made many friends. I now see myself as half American half Chinese. I spend more time on Reddit than I do on Weibo, and I use Facebook a lot more than WeChat. I can still write Chinese business emails and my favorite authors are Jinyong and John Irving.
My half-brother, who came to the U.S. at the age of 18, is a totally different story. He's smarter than I am, being a math olympiad competitor and got himself an internship at Google as a Freshman and all that jazz. However I noticed that he's done a much poorer job at integrating with the American culture. He doesn't browse Reddit, or HackerNews, or TechCrunch, even though he's into tech and startups. He loves Anime but watches them subbed in Chinese. He watches Chinese streaming sites instead of Netflix. As a 20 year old he doesn't know most of the popular memes on western social sites. He doesn't use Facebook, at all.
Some of that has to do with personal motivation, as in why would I go out and make friends with Americans when 20% of my high school classmates are now in the same Ivy-League school as I am? Some of that is due to technology advancement. Due to the internet it's very easy to live in a personal bubble of your preferred language, culture, and acquiantences, even if it's 10000 miles away from home. He doesn't know whether he even wants to stay in the U.S. after graduation, and I'm sure he literally feels much more at home when he goes back to China.
The last factor may also be the state of the Chinese economy. Early immigrants came with the impression that "if you wanna make it, you have to participate in the American rat race", but in the case of my brother and his friends, they are interested in tech startup, but they have very little interest in the Silicon Valley tech scene. Due to family connections and other backgrounds they think they can do something much more meaningful if they move back to China and raise money and achieve success. Just 10 years ago that kind of thought is unthinkable.
Personally I don't want to see American colleges, which I think are still on average the best in the world, to just turn into diploma mills. I really wish that these young Chinese students can grasp the opportunity and actually learn about some of the deeper culture of the country they are (temporarily) staying in. The world economy is only going to become more intertwined, we need more people who can bridge the gaps.
Those are just some very limited examples. Being "American" means a lot of things, in fact it's very difficult to define what being American really means, considering the diversity of culture here. For a country with only a couple hundred years of history, the depth of culture and society here is truly astonishing.
Sorry for not being able to provide better examples, but I guess if there is a Turing test for "being American", I think I would have done OK at it.
Cut him some slack. According to his comment he's 16. He's viewing it from a high school lens. Whether or not being an "American" 20-something year old requires you to do what was mentioned above, some of his points are interesting.
Immigrants make choices constantly -- subconsciously or otherwise -- on how much to indulge in the local culture, and how much to stick to your familiar roots. Unfortunately, there can be strong feedback loops that develop quickly; one immigrant group is tightly knit because they find it harder to bridge the gap and the gap gets harder to bridge because Americans find the immigrant groups "too ethnically knit" and closed to bother. Not to mention that there's a natural tendency to be a little apprehensive towards someone new with their own set of customs.
I don't know whether you are just being facetious, but I'm not 16. I was simply comparing my brother to other "engineering nerds" in his age group, and I find him sharing very limited hobbies or interests when compared to kids who grew up here. It's not like he doesn't like social networks, he just doesn't use American ones. It's not like he doesn't watch TV shows, but just not the American ones. It's not like he doesn't eat out, just that he strongly prefers Chinese food.
My examples were very limited, they are only used to illustrate a point, but not to make a broad statement.
I think the bigger point is that high school is a bigger influence on how 'assimilated' people are. College is definitely a time of personal growth, but I think high school is even more so a time of growth.
Maybe at 14, your friends aren't locked into FB/WeChat/etc, and the network effect isn't as strong to attract you to one cultural set or another. The other theory I have is that with how much larger colleges are, and in particular how many more international students there are at the collegiate level, there is less pressure to 'assimilate' and find 'American' friends. I've definitely noticed that international students hang out with other internationals a lot in college. It's really common to hear Portugese or Korean in my library, for example. Having some support base probably makes it easier to hang out only with those who are super similar to you.
I see your point but personally I think what your brother is doing is awesome. Assimilation is a two way street and I think American culture benefits when it assimilates aspects of other cultures. I imagine your brother is exposing others around him to a culture they wouldn't have experienced otherwise. If people are better off when exposed to new and different people and cultures, then I think he's doing them a service!
I don't mean to be snarky here. I am honestly just trying to put these issues in context by pointing out that if you believe today's "uneducated" people being able to vote is "scary", then you should take a gander at the average level of education of voters in 1960. Even fewer college grads, even fewer high school grads, even MORE people that we would today term "dropout". Additionally, the further back that you go timewise, the more poorly educated the populace was.
I'm just saying that if you believe it to be bad today, then you would have certainly believed it to have been much worse in the 50's or 60's before the protocols for avoiding certain types of war had been fully established and implemented.
But we, as mankind, survived. And I think it's fair to say that we, as mankind, thrived.
There is a lot of negative information out there about the world today, and it can be demoralizing. But it's not about how many negative things happen to you, or your nation, or your world. It's more about our reactions to these things.
In this particular instance for example, do you say... "Hey... let's educate more people!" ?
Or do you say "Hey... let's take away the right to vote!" ?
It's not really what happened to you that determines your future... it's your reaction to it that determines your future.
The current estimate is 14% - and it hasn't changed for a decade.
The disparity makes me wonder if the figures are right, but it's nearly impossible to find reliable research on literacy in the US.
You'd think it would be assessed annually, but it isn't. The NAAL data is the most recent definitive survey, and that was done in 2003. I can find one survey since, but the National Institute for Literacy which is quoted in it seems to have closed in 2010.
The fact that there seems to be so little federal interest in rigorously tracking literacy is even more amazing to me than the nominal rate.
Democracy is a really shitty form of government. It prevents tyrants, and it prevents a single party from holding power for too long. Which are great benefits over, e.g. monarchies. But the average voter isn't informed enough to really understand all the issues. So who wins isn't really correlated with who is best or who is right.
In my ideal form of government, the representatives would not be elected, but randomly sampled from the population. There would also be an education and IQ test, and it would only take from the top 5% of the population or so.
“For the last century, almost all top political appointments [on the planet Earth] had been made by random computer selection from the pool of individuals who had the necessary qualifications. It had taken the human race several thousand years to realize that there were some jobs that should never be given to the people who volunteered for them, especially if they showed too much enthusiasm. As one shrewed political commentator had remarked: “We want a President who has to be carried screaming and kicking into the White House — but will then do the best job he possibly can, so that he’ll get time off for good behavior.”
A "representative democracy" is one specifically where the average voter doesn't need to be informed enough to really understand all the issues, and that's supposed to be its advantage. In contrast, direct democracy is best when all the voters (have the time to) understand the issues. But that's not very pragmatic, so we do representative democracy. But of course, that has its own issues, as what to understand moves from "the issues" to "the candidates".
Somehow, this reminded me of this bit by Douglas Adams From "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish" (in part):
"They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much
assume that the government they've voted in more or
less approximates to the government they want."
"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"
"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."
"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again,
"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said
Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?"
I understand the purpose of representative democracy. In theory voters vote for representatives instead of policies, but in reality they do vote for policies. And in practice representatives to pander to voters, and various other interests.
With the infrastructure available today we should be able to do a hybrid direct-representative model and also have multiple representative delegations that we can change on an ad-hoc basis (i.e. not just at elections).
For example, on some issues, I might like to do the research and make my own decision, while for other issues I might trust and delegate to a representative for that set of issues, and for a third set of issues I might trust and delegate to a different representative.
As it stands, the American populace has been expertly prepared to engage in our political process to the fullest extent possible. That is, to spectate the circus act for a while, and then with great certainty and condescension, choose one of two preselected options.
Maybe Trump is the only politician with the knowledge/freedom to act on that realization, leading to landslide victories by appealing to the lowest common denominator in US voters. I guess that's exactly what democracy is.
That's one of the biggest reasons why we do and should have universal public education. And why we should invest the resources to make it a high quality education (for instance, pay teachers salaries that make teaching as attractive a profession to intelligent people with student debt as finance or consulting is -- or at the very least better than a guarantee of near-poverty).