Paradox of the state

The paradox is that we must judge the state not according to what we would do if we controlled it, but in the light of what it could do if our enemies controlled it. It’s existence, like nuclear weapons become a factor in itself. The playwright Robert Bolt understood what the Bolivarians did not: the state can be dangerous unless it can be made predictable. As one of Bolt’s plays puts it: “the law is not a ‘light’ for you or any man to see by; the law is not an instrument of any kind. …The law is a causeway upon which, so long as he keeps to it, a citizen may walk safely.”

Batteries Batteries Batteries 

A good artcle on batteries in Power Electronics, triggered by  the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Debacle, and the not to distant past mess with the ‘hover board’ craze. The article links to a pretty detailed recent study of coming high power density battery technologies.   

The eMagazine http://www.powerelectronicsnews.com/ is a good source on power electronics across the power and technology range. A good way to keep up on a rapidly changing field.

The article talks about a variety of battery chemistries including sodium as shown in the following graphic.

An enormous variety of sodium-ion battery variations are being considered by researchers worldwide as surveyed here regarding their operation voltages versus specific capacities for cathode materials (a) and anode materials (b) in order to find a combination that make them competitive with Li-ion. SOURCE: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

However the main reason I show this graphic is the incredible density of information that the graphic data presenter/artist at Macmillan Publishers was able to insert into a relatively small and simple chart. For me as a technologist this gives me the ability to data dive and compare and contrast very quickly when considering alternatives. My experience in buying reports or data repositiories of one sort or another is that the quality of this sort of chart is key to the value of the document

Burger bots…will their be riots and nuts and bolts in the streets?

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Good article at the Singularity Hub it’s obvious to me that the hamburger flippers’ days are numbered, so how will society adjust? Luddism only goes so far, the general populace will see the bitching, moaning and breaking things as what it is, the last gasps of the un imaginative and paleoProgressives unable to see it ain’t 1959 any longer.

Disaster at Fukushima set off a race to develop disaster response robots

The DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials are taking place this month.
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In this Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 photo, engineer Nick Letwin watches as the CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform robot, known as CHIMP, is put through some paces as it pulls a fire hose from during a preparation run at the National Robotics Engineering Center in Pittsburgh. Carnegie Mellon researchers are testing the new search-and-rescue robot that will compete in the U.S. Defense Department’s upcoming national robotics competition in Florida. Competitors from other schools and companies will be vying for a $2 million U.S. Defense Department prize. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-12-sci-fi-robots-readied-big.html#jCp20131215-222844.jpg

On Tuesday, curiosity and expectations were ratcheted up significantly with the unveiling of NASA’s Johnson Space Center entry, a humanoid robot called Valkyrie (R5). This is a 6-foot-two-inch, battery operated robot weighing 286 pounds with 44 degree of freedom. (The Valkyrie has seven degree of freedom arms, for example, with actuated wrists and six degree of freedom hands. Each hand has three fingers and a thumb.)

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-12-valkyrie-darpa-robotics-contender.html#jCp20131215-223030.jpg

When walking on muddy or bumpy roads, the two arms of DRC-HUBO become extra legs, enabling stable and agile movements.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-kaist-hubo-ready-darpa-robotics.html#jCp20131215-223213.jpg

On Monday, July 8, 2013, the seven teams that progressed from DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC) arrived at the headquarters of Boston Dynamics in Waltham, Mass. to meet and learn about their new teammate, the ATLAS robot. Like coaches starting with a novice player, the teams now have until late December 2013 to teach ATLAS the moves it will need to succeed in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials where each robot will have to perform a series of tasks similar to what might be required in a disaster response scenario.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-darpa-atlas-robot-unveiled-video.html#jCp

An Invisible Sword Cuts in all directions…

Kept in the Dark Secrecy is a two-edged sword
By Bill Sweetman
Read Sweetman’s posts on AW weblog ARES, updated daily: AviationWeek.com/ares sweetman@aviationweek.com
AW&ST is doing the reveal on the air forces reason for trying to can GlobalHawk :20131206-155046.jpg20131206-155104.jpgAmong other things:

Secrecy distorts debate. A House Armed Services Committee hearing
in April bordered on farce. The Air Force has been trying for a couple of years to reduce its fleet of Global Hawk unmanned air systems, because the big UAS is no more survivable than the much less costly General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, while protecting a classified stealth UAS under development by Northrop Grumman. In that hearing, Lt. Gen. Charles Davis, the USAF’s senior acquisition officer, practically had to play charades to convince Rep. John Gara- mendi (D-Calif.), whose constituents fix Global Hawks for a living, that the Air Force did have a reason for disfavoring his pet bird, without exactly saying what it was, because it was secret.

So you and I paid for hundreds of millions dollars worth of obsolete capability. And heck, the workers can’t support PACs to lobby for their livelihood…

The common shipping container, lynch pin of the consumer paradise

The Shipping Container
A Cyber Monday paean to the unsung hero of consumer capitalism: Craig Martin @ The Atlantic
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Busan New Port, South Korea (Reuters).

At the world’s ports, rows of stacks of shipping containers in an array of colors create a rich metallic vibrancy. On construction sites they are used as storage boxes. They can be seen lying prone and rusting in abandoned plots. They perch on the back of trucks speeding down the motorway. On flatbed cars they trundle through railway stations, box upon box upon box.

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Tokyo (Reuters)

McLean (U.S. truck operator Malcom McLean’ the container systems inventor) understood that a transition to container shipping would require the complete redesign of the entire freight transport infrastructure: rail cars, ships, trucks, cranes, dockyards, everything. As a starting point, he commissioned the container engineer Keith Tantlinger to design a new aluminum container, and to reconfigure a decommissioned tanker vessel, the Ideal-X, to accommodate the new containers. Tantinger also developed a further piece of equipment, the container spreader bar, which enabled the container to be lifted without the need for stevedores to attach roping. As the economist and historian Marc Levinson has noted, the design of the spreader bar meant that “once the box had been lifted and moved, another flip of the switch would disengage the hooks, without a worker on the ground touching the container.” Container freight was all about increasing the speed of movement and reducing the cost of labor. Although the Ideal-X sailed for the first time as a container vessel in April 1956, it was not until 1970 that the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) agreed on the standardized sizes and certain fixings for containers (or ISO Containers as they are formally named).

Hoover Institute: When the Obama Magic Died : a good ‘outsiders’ synopsis

When the Obama Magic Died
by Fouad Ajami (Herbert and Jane Dwight Senior Fellow and cochair, Working Group on Islamism and the International Order)
I think this piece has it about right, this is what many saw – felt but could not get through the roar of the adoring crowd. I was not part of the crowd but I was not part of the resistance. Going back to ’08 I could not stand what I saw as a broken republican candidacy any more than I could vote for Obama. In ’12 I wanted Romney even more than in ’08 but ‘the base’ couldn’t warm to him, the democratic machine worked and the wheels were still on the obfuscation machine run by the media who loved Obama’s ‘message + appearance molds reality’ approach.

Now of course we live with what we have…and the problem is that the neither side can compromise due to ‘true believer ittis’ although both need to. I believe it’s the President who should bow to reality the deepest because his approach and to a significant degree his policies have been shown to be deeply flawed. However the other side ( which is not the republican establishment who are ‘middlemen’ in this epoch) needs to take the momentum of change and shift it onto a more libertarian / non governmental track.

Much of the economic malaise even much of the health care ‘problem’ (which has never been as awful as demagogues make out) revolves around bad tax policy, over regulation and too much state control, not too little. Much of this can be fixed in a reasonable fashion if the ‘sides’ could stomach working together.

3 factions vie for the MidEast, Should we care? Yes but it looks like we’re on the sidelines…for now

Seems a clear eyed look at the Middle East, a mess as always, trending rapidly nuclear…what me Worry?

After the Pax Americana: Three factions vie for influence and dominance in the Middle East.
by JONATHAN SPYER PJMEDIA


  • The Iranian block: Assad’s Syria, Hizballah in Lebanon– replace the U.S. as the dominant power Gulf area, build a contiguous alliance from the Iranian border to the Mediterranean and into the Levant. It is committed to acquiring a nuclear capability to underwrite and insure this process

  • The MB block: Turkey, Qatar, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood– the Sunni Islamist alignment that a year ago looked to be on the march across the region. They have lost power in Egypt and in Tunisia, the new emir in Qatar is not aggressive. And in Syria, al-Qaeda and Salafi-oriented units now form the most active pillar in a confused insurgency which shows signs of turning in on itself.

  • The monarchist block: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (excluding Qatar) and in the shadows Israel– they survived the recent wave of popular agitation in the Arab world, which instead took its toll on the “secular,” military regimes. But Saudi Arabia sees the MB as an existential threat and was infuriated by the Qatar-MB nexus. Nuclear Iran’s potential domination of the Gulf and the wider region is also an existential threat. Saudi support for and cultivation of allies in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen and elsewhere should be seen in this light.

  • So the Saudis are engaged in a political war on two fronts, with an acute awareness of the high stakes involved.

    The Iranians and their allies have a clear-eyed view of the obstacles to their ambitions, ..

    The Turks and the Muslim Brotherhood also well understand the nature of the power political game. Their current dismay reflects their recent setbacks in it.

    Well…it seems obvious that Commercial Defense Firm is a 21st century oxymoron

    20131109-163511.jpgBAE Shipbuilding Fiasco Has Lessons
    Source: defense-aerospace.com; published Nov. 7, 2013 By Giovanni de Briganti
    BAE TO SHUTTER LAST UK SHIPYARD
    A vastly different and nuanced take on the ‘closure’ from Sir Humphrey:

    The death of UK shipbuilding has been greatly over exaggerated
    The news in the UK is dominated today by the announcements of mass redundancies in the BAE shipbuilding business, with almost 2000 jobs being lost at three sites in Portsmouth and Scotland. The news is very sad, particularly for those families involved, but offset slightly by the news of a planned order of three new OPVs for the Royal Navy, ostensibly to replace the current River class vessels. The news has been seen as highly damaging to the UK shipbuilding industry, and resulted in headlines claiming the end of 500 years shipbuilding as we know it in Portsmouth (in fact utter nonsense as Portsmouth has gone many decades without building warships other than HMS CLYDE – it had only recently regained construction of blocks for the Type 45 project) and leading to unpleasant suggestions about it being a sop to the Scots ahead of the referendum.

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