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tkdguy

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Unfortunately, Toys "R" Us has felt like it was on borrowed time since about the time that Bain Capital* got involved. It didn't help that for some items (like most Lego sets), they would set their prices to be about 10% over suggested retail. They cut staff so badly, that you'd be lucky to see one person on the floor, one in the electronics section, and one at the returns desk (who would also be ringing out customers). The stores were frequently dirty (as in actual dirt on the floor and dust on the fixtures), probably because there wasn't anyone to clean up. Supply issues also seemed to be common, and it was especially bad in the electronics/video game section, where they'd sometimes use empty keeper boxes to make the shelves look like there was something on them.

 

 

 

 

*See Old Man's post above.

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A teacher (and reserve cop)  accidentally shot a gun in class, and a student accidentally took a fragment to the neck.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/teacher-reserve-cop-accidentally-fires-gun-in-class-police-say/ar-BBKbUcc

 

Although, when I took a rifle class in Boy Scouts, I was told there are no accidental discharges, only negligent discharges.  One or more rules of gun safety was not followed, and the gun went off.

 

EDIT: Evidently this happened TWICE. The above link was in California. Another happened with a resource officer in Virginia.

https://www.vox.com/2018/3/14/17120046/school-shooting-accidental-california-virginia-gun-control

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Oh here is some local news. A teacher in Preston (where "Napoleon Dynamite" was filmed) fed a puppy to a snapping turtle.

www.foxnews.com/us/2018/03/13/science-teacher-fed-live-puppy-to-snapping-turtle-in-front-students-witnesses-say.html

 

It's a place where I can see both sides.  The puppy was born broken. It wouldn't have lived a happy life. And the turtle is a carnivore, it was going to eat meat regardless. And rats make perfectly lovely pets, but we feed those to reptiles regularly. The attitude of "these animals are special" is the reason we have too many horses; they can't be made into dog food and we have to keep breeding them to make some drugs. My mother-in-law live-traps squirrels (they eat her apples) and takes them to the raptor center, where the eagles prefer live food.

 

But I can understand that seeing a puppy get eaten could be traumatic.

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6 hours ago, Sociotard said:

Bain only got involved because Toys R Us wasn't doing well to begin with, though.

 

If TRU was doing well it would cost too much to acquire.  I don't know what Mitt's sick obsession with toy companies is:

 

Quote

 


In 2000, Bain paid $302 million to acquire KB from Con solidated Stores, which had taken over from Melville in 1996. But Bain put up only $18 million of its own money. The rest was financed by major banks.

In 2002, Bain made KB borrow heavily and redeem $187 million in stock to stay afloat and pay dividends to Bain's owners and investors.

Although Romney no longer was directly involved in running Bain, as an owner and investor he and others pocketed $85 million -- a 370 percent return on Bain's original investment.

KB was staggering under what became a $300 million debt load as well as withdrawal of $120 million in its remaining cash assets to help pay huge bonuses to its executives at the time, including $18.4 million to CEO Michael Glazer. The company was on the ropes from underpricing competition by Wal-Mart, Toys "R" Us and Target.

KB, the nation's No. 3 toy seller until 2004, spiraled downward into two rounds of bankruptcy, first in 2004 and finally in December 2008, with a recession-plagued, dismal holiday shopping season delivering the final death blow.

 

 

I wonder if the TRU story differs from this at all.

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On 3/12/2018 at 6:28 PM, Lord Liaden said:

Ironically, China's current system sounds a lot like fascism. Consider this definition of fascism from Merriam Webster: "a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition ."

I always felt there was a lot of similarity between the governments that claimed to be communist what they actually were not and the fascists at least in tactics and such

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Source (probably behind subscriber wall)

 

There've been a lot of thoughts about turning machine learning & AI loose on medical data in order to get a smart-enough AI system that ideally could get you earlier and more reliable detections/diagnoses of some illnesses (like tumors).  To develop those systems you need millions of real cases of real images and associated patient data.  An obstacle has been keeping the patient data adequately secured; obviously that patient data and medical images are things that have the strongest privacy protections on them.  That means, more or less, that very little data are available for training and testing the AI systems; getting patient releases is an issue, but more importantly, making sure the data stay only within the particular lab/development site is a show-stopping issue.  There hasn't been a way to lock those down tightly enough to comply with the privacy laws.

 

(AI systems for detecting new events in astronomical data have been going for quite some time, because there's no need to protect the privacy of stars, galaxies, asteroids, etc., so you can train those systems on all the data there ever was.)

 

The idea is to meld the BlockChain software (the guts that lets BitCoin work) with medical images, so the image data have strong and site-restricted accessibility.  In principle that should satisfy the patient privacy needs strongly enough that a very large number of medical images could be made available to the AI development efforts, without letting the data loose into the world.  And that should boost the effectiveness of diagnostic imaging, etc., for everything.

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So . . . South Africa. That place is starting to get interesting.

 

1) Drive to get take back land from white farmers and redistribute it, and the discussion is . . . heated.

S.Africa rages at Australia visa plan for 'persecuted' whites

South Africa’s much needed land debate is being turned into an international racist rant

The Men Preparing for Civil War in South Africa !!!

 

2) The drought is still bad (could shut off running water in August and start rationing)

South Africa's Cape Town faces severe economic troubles over drought: Moody's

 

So Famine and War, and then Pestilence can't be far behind . . .

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On 3/14/2018 at 12:56 PM, Old Man said:

 

If TRU was doing well it would cost too much to acquire.  I don't know what Mitt's sick obsession with toy companies is:

 

 

I wonder if the TRU story differs from this at all.

 

Apparently, only in the numbers. Taking TRU private generated $5.3 Billion in debt in 2005, which resulted in them having to pay $400 million a year just to service the debt. That's money that couldn't be used for keeping stores updated, or hiring more employees, or even keeping the better ones with raises.

 

Leveraged buyouts assume that the company will make enough money to pull themselves out of the debt hole that's created, but that never really happened with TRU. Cash flow has been negative at least since 2012, and the last Christmas season was devastating, with a revenue miss of about $250 million. The original plan was to try to ride it out through Christmas 2018, but they were burning through about $100 million a month, and would never have the resources to reach it. Their current plan is to spin off the Canadian stores (and maybe the European and Asian stores), and hope that possibly whoever takes them over will want to pick up some stores still left in the US. That plan sounds very much like the last days of Circuit City*, where the only profitable part was InterTan (which was the former Radio Shack of Canada, then The Source).

 

http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/14/news/companies/toys-r-us-closing-stores/index.html?iid=EL

http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/15/news/companies/toys-r-us-closing-blame/index.html

 

 

*Though I didn't realize it at the time, the best thing that happened to me was that I was laid off by Circuit City in 2007, about 18 months before the company closed down. 

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You know, I realize that this won't come as a surprise, given my avatar, but I'm really not feeling very fond of capitalism right now.

 

<wanders off looking for a Pony Music Video of The Internationale>

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12 hours ago, Cancer said:

Source (probably behind subscriber wall)

 

There've been a lot of thoughts about turning machine learning & AI loose on medical data in order to get a smart-enough AI system that ideally could get you earlier and more reliable detections/diagnoses of some illnesses (like tumors).  To develop those systems you need millions of real cases of real images and associated patient data.  An obstacle has been keeping the patient data adequately secured; obviously that patient data and medical images are things that have the strongest privacy protections on them.  That means, more or less, that very little data are available for training and testing the AI systems; getting patient releases is an issue, but more importantly, making sure the data stay only within the particular lab/development site is a show-stopping issue.  There hasn't been a way to lock those down tightly enough to comply with the privacy laws.

 

(AI systems for detecting new events in astronomical data have been going for quite some time, because there's no need to protect the privacy of stars, galaxies, asteroids, etc., so you can train those systems on all the data there ever was.)

 

The idea is to meld the BlockChain software (the guts that lets BitCoin work) with medical images, so the image data have strong and site-restricted accessibility.  In principle that should satisfy the patient privacy needs strongly enough that a very large number of medical images could be made available to the AI development efforts, without letting the data loose into the world.  And that should boost the effectiveness of diagnostic imaging, etc., for everything.

 

I guess I'm just destined to be killed by AI/electronics one way or another.

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6 hours ago, Old Man said:

@Bazza:  Will the cyclone finally put all the fires out?  Or, this being Australia, will it somehow catch fire and spew flaming crocodiles all over the place?

 

Will tell you tomorrow. 50/50 chance. 

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