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While I sympathize with the trucker whose job security lies in the balance, there seems to be little stopping the transition to an automated transportation future. Like you clearly outline in the post, what’s not to love? Humans are highly unreliable drivers, susceptible to fatigue, distraction, intoxication, emotional distress, etc. That said, as with any new technology, any early mistakes that lead to accidents can be catastrophic to the speedy adoption of self driving vehicles.

On November 20, 2016, alexmccurdy commented on Are we approaching the end of management consulting? :

My neighbor works at this startup and i am still just as fascinated by it now as when I first learned about it a few months ago. The good news is that clients, Hourly Nerd, and HN consultants benefit at the expense of the management consulting golden goose. Clients are matched with specialized consultants at reasonable prices, and “freelance” consultants benefit with work-life balance and flexibility – what’s not to like?

One caveat however, is that HN likely appeals most to veteran consultants, those who have spent a few years at large firms and can hold their own in the freelance market. Younger consultants may be better served by the structured training programs at large firms.

On November 20, 2016, alexmccurdy commented on Blue Bird flies high as an omnichannel taxi company :

Thanks for a great read, Jolynn. This article provides a rare, contrarian view of Uber’s seemingly unstoppable dominance all across the world. Especially after the TOM Uber case, I was led to believe that Uber has a significant technological advantage, or edge, in terms of its data analytics. Is Blue Bird’s current success sustainable against Uber et al, or is its first mover advantage sufficient to snuff out the competition?

On November 20, 2016, alexmccurdy commented on Bright Cellars: The Pandora of Wine :

Finally a breakthrough that democratizes wine! Like many of the comments above, I agree that such a technology may be a poor substitute for a master somm. But just like Netflix or Pandora, this app allows a novice wine drinker to explore the unknown in the comfort of their own home, beyond the judging glare of the fancy wine store sales reps. If only this app could next grow into an amazon of wine (and beer, whisky, etc), with accompanying recommendations for various price tiers and loads of customer reviews.

On November 20, 2016, alexmccurdy commented on Wild Technology for Wild Wings – a Restaurant with no Servers? :

Great article! I’m feeling conflicted about this new technological advance in B Dubs – do I love it or hate it?

I love the convenience of not having to deal with a waiter, but I wonder how their regulars would respond. And how will you keep those lovely tablets from being smothered in buffalo sauce?

Agree with SBP – the inability to split checks or upsell is a big disadvantage. In addition, B Dubs has a bar-feel to it – it isn’t McDonalds where such a technology would be ideal. People enjoy the human interaction and waiter(ess) banter in sports bars.

On November 5, 2016, alexmccurdy commented on Will Climate Change Skunk the Beer Giant? :

Thanks for the article, “John Smith”

It does appear like ABI does not have many others options available apart from working with barley growers on minimizing water usage, and reducing water usage in its manufacturing process. However, you’ll be pleased to know that American beers like Bud have a significant proportion of corn and rice – just don’t tell the Germans. Also, light beers use high fructose corn syrup (ferments very efficiently to produce alcohol while also not containing many calories or flavor).

In the interest of planet earth’s future, people should consume more beer and less wine! Beer requires 296 gallons of water per gallon of beer over its lifecycle while wine requires 872 gallons!

On November 5, 2016, alexmccurdy commented on TESLA – an ambassador of sustainable future. :

Thanks for the article, Stan! I am certainly cheering Tesla on from the sidelines.

The most critical factor determining the success of Tesla’s climate goals is ensuring that the electricity used to charge these cars comes from renewable sources. This is because the emissions of an EV are theoretically worse than a conventional vehicle (w internal combustion engine) IF the electricity is largely coal-derived. Therefore, simply replacing all cars on the roads with EVs is not enough to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation – the power industry needs to get its act together as well.

Coming from an LNG background, I agree that O&G companies are best poised to adapt to new climate change targets by increasing the mix of gas vs oil. Existing domestic coal power plants in the US produce two and a half times more emissions on a lifecycle basis than that of LNG, so increasing the amount of gas used to generate electricity, the more dirty coal gets displaced – wonderful.

Where I am concerned, however, is what to do with this “bridge fuel”? Yes, natural gas is cleaner than coal and should displace it, but we also know that wind and solar are cleaner than gas. Therefore, while the role of gas will increase over the next decade, its dominance will be short lived as society demands increasingly cleaner sources of energy. Unlike some unproven technologies (like nuclear fusion) that are decades away, wind and solar generation can be deployed today and their economics are continuing to improve. Should O&G companies, and society for that matter, be investing so heavily in this bridge fuel, or should we be focusing on energy technologies of the future?

On November 5, 2016, alexmccurdy commented on Levi Strauss – Taking the Water Out of Jeans :

Thanks for such an interesting read! Had no idea the denim industry consumed so much water.
The Water<Less finish process appears to have been a huge success and it's great to see such bold goals being accomplished.

I like your suggestions to continue BCI and to begin using recycled denim, however, I am less enthusiastic about attempting to change consumer behavior. I personally prefer to never wash my jeans but I can't imagine convincing society to change such an ingrained behavior for such a small amount of water savings. It may have great messaging to improve Levi's brand reputation but I am skeptical of the actual water savings that can be achieved. Levi's should continue to focus on actions that it can take within its sphere of influence.

I like the idea! Just wonder how feasible it is..

While you have calculated a rough operating margin for the wind turbine projects, I wonder how profitable it will be when we consider the ongoing operating costs of maintaining almost half a million wind turbines. What about project NPVs? Wind projects require considerable civil works (infrastructure), not to mention the significant cost associated with transporting the numerous large pieces of equipment across the world.

I have serious doubts about the reaction of the board and shareholders to such a proposal. Becoming a utility, in essence, will reduce the company’s margins. Also, these wind projects will take away from the amount of available CAPEX for other traditional O&G projects. An important KPI for O&G companies is the reserve replacement ratio:

The reserve-replacement ratio measures the amount of proved reserves added to a company’s reserve base during the year relative to the amount of oil and gas produced. A company’s reserve-replacement ratio should be at least 100% for the company to stay in business long-term; otherwise, it will eventually run out of oil. The reserve-replacement ratio is just one method investors should use to get an accurate picture of how well an oil company is performing.

It is also worth considering what is the maximum feasible scale for wind. Firstly, wind turbines cannot be installed simply anywhere and must take into account wind patterns, land use, and local regulations. Secondly, due to the variability of energy generated by wind turbines, there is an upper limit that the local grid will allow although improvements in battery technology and other forms of energy storage may resolve this issue. Finally, can manufacturers produce the amount of windmills demanded by such a buildup? Is current capacity constrained, and will the sudden surge in demand end up increasing the price of raw materials and parts?