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    The “I am too Lazy/Busy to post” Open Thread & Linkspasm

    I have been both too busy at work to post or read much and also too tired/lazy in the evenings to post, so here are a bunch of issues that might interesting. I will make updates in the comments.

    I will engage in comments here and elsewhere, but I most likely won’t post much if anything the rest of the week.

    Anyways, here we go:

    National Security / Global Security

    Positive side-effect from the US involvement in Iraq: “A top Iraqi official is calling for the formation of a regional economic security union to share water, energy and other resources, and mediate disputes among its members.”

    Newspeak example: Ayers and the Weathermen were not doing terrorism, they were doing “extreme vandalism”.

    The Greek Youth Riots: Leftists, not Muslims.

    Military Theory vs. Philosophy: “My point is that real benefit comes from focusing on real and testable change, not extravagant theories on the nature of warfare. An example of a testable hypothesis would be that direct and accurate portable HE projection could replace MG in the primary infantry support role. Best platform would be the XM-109 payload rifle with air-fuzed and HEAP rounds. This could be tested through computer simulation, modeling, field testing and historical review etc etc. While all those methods have there weaknesses and biases, they provide more feedback then is achievable is from the “nature of warfare” theories, so why are focusing on these non-productive concepts of 4GW and EBO etc. to define how we fight COIN?”

    Michael Yon on Afghanistan: “But Afghanistan is a different story. I write these words from Kandahar, in the south. This war here is just getting started. Likely we will see severe fighting kicking off by about April of 2009. Iraq is on the mend, but victory in Afghanistan is very much in question.”. His blog should be in your RSS feed.

    Cyberwar? “The report calls for the creation of a Center for Cybersecurity Operations that would act as a new regulator of computer security in both the public and private sector. Active policing of government and corporate networks would include new rules and a “red team” to test computers for vulnerabilities now being exploited with increasing sophistication and frequency by identity and credit card thieves, bank fraudsters, crime rings, and electronic spies. “We’re playing a giant game of chess now and we’re losing badly,” says commission member Tom Kellermann, a former World Bank security official who now is vice-president of Security Awareness at Core Security.”. This should be a big money hole. I think the threat is overblown (and I am a IT Security guy). The real problem is that the approaches to information security at the Macro level seem pretty immature and need to be rethought. That is where the money should be spent.

    – …and yet: “They propose that botnets should be designated as ‘eWMDs’ — electronic weapons of mass destruction.”

    – Podcast to Listen to: Covert Radio


    Economics & “On The Bailout”

    – [Forbes] Makes the case to cut taxes across the board instead of increasing Government  spending. Here was my “stimulus” idea. So does Human Events.

    – The interference into Bank business by politicians has begun.

    Heh: “Practically speaking, however, public works involve long start-up lags. Large-scale construction projects of any type require years of planning and preparation. Even those that are “on the shelf” generally cannot be undertaken quickly enough to provide timely stimulus to the economy” and “Some of the candidates for public works, such as grant-funded initiatives to develop alternative energy sources, are totally impractical for countercyclical policy, regardless of whatever other merits they may have. In general, many if not most of these projects could end up making the economic situation worse because they would stimulate the economy at the time that expansion was already well under way.” Check out who said that.

    Oops: “These finding are not consistent with standard Keynesian theory”

    Amity Shales: “The idea is to revive the economy and create jobs for America’s unemployed. But huge public works projects often fail to revive national economies. Consider the example of Japan in the 1990s.”

    – BTW, Real Clear Markets is a nice roundup web page.

    Dissing (rightfully) Macroeconomics

    – “One new reality is the imperative that our government modernize America’s aging energy, water and transportation infrastructure.

    Also: “It’s important that the elected officials view public works investment not as a short-term stimulus for stimulus’ stake, or a vehicle for politically driven job creation. The goal should be to create the best and broadest necessary and permanent infrastructure for the most responsible minimal price needed to build it. Being careful here is necessary because this is borrowed, finite money; it could become prohibitively expensive for the feds to borrow as debt levels skyrocket. Spending is not investing.” and “Similarly, funding regular maintenance work that states and cities should pay for isn’t a wise investment. Federal money should pay for replacing obsolete assets and making well-thought-out improvements.”

    Blamestorming the Crisis: “Free markets did not bring the world’s financial system to the edge of collapse. Rather, the epicenter of the crisis was a massive dose of state capitalism. By state capitalism, I mean that the state, in this case the federal government, used its vast powers to intervene in, and distort capital markets in a manner that led directly to the creation of trillions of dollars in bad loans. Moreover, in the pursuit of a social policy to increase affordable housing and home ownership, the federal government engaged in policies that disrupted the financial market’s ability to be self-regulating; that is to attenuate if not avoid the crisis we are in.”

    – “Buffet U

    – I am not surprised: “Recent data suggests that many borrowers who received help with mortgage modifications earlier this year tended to re-default on their payments, a top U.S. banking regulator said Monday.” […] Dugan said recent data showed that after three months, nearly 36% of borrowers who received restructured mortgages in the first quarter re-defaulted.

    – Podcast to listen to: Econtalk and Planet Money

    Detroit and the Auto Industry

    Truth to power:  “GM, Chrysler, and Ford are failing in part because of their foolish attempts to manipulate the government into protecting them from the market”

     – The (first) Detroit handout bailout will be $15billion. Morning Joe (a pretty good morning news show) was saying that the House Speaker didn’t want anybody with business experience to be the Car Czar. Also, no chapter 11 for GM.

    – FYI…that $70/hr figure for UAW workers is just current workers. Retirees cost are above that.

    Chrysler should open its books: “Chrysler LLC says it’s almost broke and needs federal aid to survive. Perhaps that’s true. Yet taxpayers should be asking: How do we know? Sure, we can surmise from all the awful vehicles Chrysler makes that it’s losing mountains of dough. Really, though, we have no idea. We don’t even know who sits on the company’s board of directors. That’s because Chrysler and its owner, Cerberus Capital Management LP, won’t disclose the information”. I suggested this sometime back.

    Milwaukee and “Fixing Milwaukee”

    – The City can’t even do the basics right: “Up to $780 million more needed to fix worst residential roads“:

    The audit from Comptroller W. Martin “Wally” Morics’ office found that 214 miles of residential streets, or nearly 21% of the total, were in the worst shape, as measured by a city Department of Public Works scale.

    Auditors also found that the department is taking an average of 106 years to repave or replace local streets as of this year. That’s down from the 2005 peak of 163 years, but it’s still more than twice the streets’ expected lifespan.

    To deal with the problem, auditors recommended shifting from a policy of working on the worst streets first to a strategy of keeping the best streets in good shape while catching up on the backlog of poor streets.

    Retro Milwaukee

    – The County Board chair wants to forgive the debt a do-gooder organization and let them be a county contractor again.

    Entrepaunership Stuff

    – “Bathroom for Rent

    – Podcast to checkout: Struggling Entrepreneur

    Science, Technology and Gadgets

    Bad news for future Potential Space Elevator: “n a report on NewScientist.com, researchers working on development of a space elevator (an idea we have discussed numerous times) have determined that the concept is not stable.”

    – “The 10 big energy Myths

    “Ten ways the world could end”

    Tech Dirt has Doug Engelbart’s 1968 demo. “That demo was the first time the world saw an awful lot of things that are common today: from the mouse (and, yes, he talks about naming the mouse), to a graphical user interface, to hyperlinks, among many other things (including a few computer bugs).”

    – Podcast to check out: Talk of the Nation’s Science Friday.

    Pop Culture

    – Podcast to check out: All Songs Considered

    Other / General

    The Chicago Way! How disgusting.

    Hmmm: “Joe Wurzelbacher says he felt “dirty” after “seeing some of the things that take place” on the campaign trail.” It is not fun to see how sausgage is made.

    More evidence the Football Playing skill and Gun Safety are negatively correlated (sample size=2): “Mississippi Football Star Shoots Self During Traffic Stop”

    Please add your thoughts and links in the comments.

    Robot News: “Ethical Killing Machines”

    From Slash Dot:

    “The New York Times reports on research to develop autonomous battlefield robots that would ‘behave more ethically in the battlefield than humans.’ The researchers claim that these real-life terminators ‘can be designed without an instinct for self-preservation and, as a result, no tendency to lash out in fear.

    BTW: I think American Killbots would be a 4GW disaster:

    Unless killbots give the US such an advantage that victory at the
    tactical and physical levels occurs rapidly or allows the US to partake
    in conflict at a dramatically reduced cost (resources and/or manpower),
    the enemy will be able to make many gains on the moral. Undecided fence
    sitters will drift away from the US. Supporters will support us less.
    The enemy will gather strength and rally itself as the scappy underdog
    standing up to the souless/satanic killbots.

    Which is more important for victory, the moral or the
    tactical/physical? WWBS (aka What Would Boyd Say – and yes I just made
    that up – bumper stickers and cofee mugs will be available for sale
    soon on http://makemoneyeasyandfast.purpleslog.wordpress.com )? I think we know the answer to that.

    The US can already win the tactical and physical levels. Killbots weaken us on the moral level though.

    Now I am picturing Daleks with US flags on them. How about – Uncle
    Sambots? USAbots? I can just visualize the anti-US propaganda videos

    Enough with the KillBots, already. We don’t need them. Unless they are AntiHippyBots.


    Is he thinking:
    “Where are the hippies? I have an ethical obligation to terminate them.”

    More Robot News: “Bug-Sized Spies: U.S. Develops Tiny Flying Robots”

    At FoxNews:

    “The way we envision it is, there would be a bunch of these sent out in a swarm,” said Greg Parker, who helps lead the research project at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. “If we know there’s a possibility of bad guys in a certain building, how do we find out? We think this would fill that void.”

    In essence, the research seeks to miniaturize the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle drones used in Iraq and Afghanistan for surveillance and reconnaissance.

    The next generation of drones, called Micro Aerial Vehicles, or MAVs, could be as tiny as bumblebees and capable of flying undetected into buildings, where they could photograph, record, and even attack insurgents and terrorists.

    By identifying and assaulting adversaries more precisely, the robots would also help reduce or avoid civilian casualties, the military says.

    Parker and his colleagues plan to start by developing a bird-sized robot as soon as 2015, followed by the insect-sized models by 2030.

    The vehicles could be useful on battlefields where the biggest challenge is collecting reliable intelligence about enemies.

    “If we could get inside the buildings and inside the rooms where their activities are unfolding, we would be able to get the kind of intelligence we need to shut them down,” said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va.

    Robot News: Frank J.’s “Do No Robo-Harm” List

    It is pretty darn funny!

    * Make sure they all have prominent big red buttons on them that deactivates them.

    * Never give them AI by merging the minds of different serial killers.

    * Make them out of Nerf™.

    * Have a limit of five weapons per robot.

    * Never give them access to time machines.

    * Don’t have their programming give them a hundred points per person they kill.

    * Never make a robot monkey.

    * No matter what excuses they give, don’t ever take off their restraining bolts.

    * Install Vista on them so no killing spree can last longer than a few minutes without them needing to reboot.

    * Make sure killbots have a preset killing limit.

    * Put a big label on each robot saying, “Please Don’t Tease the Robot”.

    He also has a LOL replacement version of Asimov’s Three Law of Robotics:

    1. Only kill foreigners.

    2. Give children hugs unless it conflicts with the first law.

    3. Do the robot dance to entertain people unless it conflicts with the first and second law.

    4. Do everything Frank J. says. Ignore all other laws.

    Whoops; that last law was supposed to be hidden.

    It is good to start out the weekend with a hearty laugh.


    “Find Gort more hippies!”

    Wow! Google Earth Ancient Rome!!!

    I found a reference to “Google Earth Ancient Romevia Rachel Lucas.

    Wow that looks fun!

    Here’s a YouTube promotion:

    Energy Entrepreneurship: Plasma Gasification of Trash

    I found this (with photos) via Slashdot:

    Recently St. Lucie County in Florida announced that it has teamed up with Geoplasma to develop the United States’ first plasma gasification plant. The plant will use super-hot 10,000 degree fahrenheit plasma to effectively vaporize 1,500 tons of trash each day, which in turn spins turbines to generate 60MW of electricity – enough to power 50,000 homes! Cutting down on landfill waste while generating energy is a pretty win-win proposition, and the plant will also be able to melt down inorganic materials to be reused for other applications, such as in roadbed and heavy construction.
    […]
    Plasma Gasification plants generate much less emissions than standard waste incineration plants, and also cuts down on landfills, which are the US’s largest human caused producer of methane gas. No word yet on the cost-effectiveness of maintaining such plants (all that plasma gas and filtration must be expensive), but if Geoplasma is able to make the process more efficient they could simultaneously solve our landfill problems while generating a significant amount of energy.

    I like this: less landfills and non-petro based energy!

    Prev: A Tech-based Energy Idea That I Like – Municipal Plasma Furnaces

    “Kinetic Fireball Incendiaries”

    This from the Danger Room is interesting:

    The Pentagon has a new secret weapon to neutralize sites containing chemical or biological weapons: rocket balls. These are hollow spheres, made of rubberized rocket fuel; when ignited, they propel themselves around at random at high speed, bouncing off the walls and breaking through doors, turning the entire building into an inferno. The makers call them “kinetic fireball incendiaries.”
    […]
    One solution is replacing the standard explosive or incendiary with a load of kinetic fireballs, described in this proposal. Each fireball is a hollow spherical shell with a hole in it; when the inside is ignited, the hole acts as a rocket nozzle. The kinetic fireballs eject an extremely high-temperature exhaust which will heat up the surrounding volume to over 1,000 F within seconds. Their random ricocheting around ensures that they will fill any space they occupy, and they are capable of diffusing throughout a multiroom structure.
    […]
    The kinetic fireballs might be an effective way of dealing with chemical and biological WMDs safely. They might also be effective against nuclear facilities, as again they can effectively spread destruction throughout a complex without breaking it open and spreading radioactivity.

    Smaller fireball payloads have been suggested for shoulder-fired rockets and grenades for tactical use. The DTRA is known to be interested in a payload for the 84mm SMAW rocket launcher for agent defeat; at present, ground forces have no tactical options for dealing with a suspected chemical/biological lab operated by terrorists or others.

    This sounds good to me. USGOV is going to need better anti-WMD options (and  I fear soon). Perhaps President XXXXXXX will need to make use of them after 2012.

    “Meet Afghanistan’s Motorcycle Police, the U.S. Military’s Newest Weapon Against Taliban Insurgents”

    From US News:

    GHAZNI, Afghanistan—The newest weapon in the U.S. military’s fight against the Taliban here is the country’s first unit of motorcycle-riding Afghan police, trained and mentored by an Army captain with the help of a biker bar owner and Harley devotee from Washington state.

    Be still my Milwaukee-born Harley-Davidson heart!

    The article is a pretty good read.

    Robot News: “Roll over, Rover: Robot service dogs are on the way”

    Via the Dallas News:

    Inside Kemp’s Healthcare Robotics Lab at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, he and co-workers are developing a robot dog they say could someday perform the same functions as the service dogs that are vital to many physically disabled people.

    At a skinny 5 feet 7 inches tall, with wheels instead of paws, their robodog, named El-E (pronounced “Ellie”), doesn’t look anything like a real dog.

    But El-E can open doors and cabinets, fetch dropped objects and do other service dog functions – all without ever needing to eat or relieve itself.

    Ultimately, Kemp and his co-researchers plan to train El-E to do things not even highly skilled service dogs can do, such as dial a cell phone for help or relay information about its companion’s condition to a doctor.

    “A lot of people have looked at robot dogs for entertainment and companionship,” Kemp said. “But we said, ‘Hey, what about looking at this in terms of physical assistance?’

    There are lots of possible uses.

    I got to think this might still be preferred:

    Robot News: “Canadians Plan Robot Sub Missions To Aid Claim For Arctic”

    Via Slash Dot:

    Canadian government has commissioned a pair of unmanned subs to explore the geology of two underwater Arctic mountain ranges; the subs’ mission will be to provide evidence supporting Canada’s claim to huge swaths of potentially petroleum-rich seabed areas

    Robot News: “Honda Unveils Robot That Helps You Walk”

    From Fox News:

    TOKYO  —  Imagine a bicycle seat connected by mechanical frames to a pair of shoes for an idea of how the new wearable assisted-walking gadget from Honda works.

    The experimental device, unveiled Friday, is designed to support bodyweight, reduce stress on the knees and help people get up steps and stay in crouching positions.

    Honda envisions the device being used by workers at auto or other factories. It showed a video of Honda employees wearing the device and bending to peer underneath vehicles on an assembly line.

    Engineer Jun Ashihara also said the machine is useful for people standing in long lines and for people who run around to make deliveries.
    […]

    When I saw the headline, I figured it would be for older people, but they have a larger market in mind.

    Robot News: “Recon Scout Robot to Assist Guards in California Prisons”

    From Popular Mechanics:

    The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) signed a deal this summer with Minneapolis-based ReconRobotics to help field-test the company’s throwable robot, the Recon Scout.

    The dumbbell-size device is already used by law enforcement agencies across the country and military personnel in Iraq—ReconRobotics won’t specify how many it has sold outright, though CEO Alan Bignall told PM that “250 of them are in use around the world.” The agreement with the CDCR marks the robot’s first deployment behind bars—the bots arrived there at the end of September.
    […]
    The robot’s mission won’t be to patrol cell blocks or spy on prisoners. (Although it’s built to be stealthy, with a pair of electric motors that Bignall says produce less noise than a human whisper.) The Recon Scout is deployed more like a remote-controlled grenade: You pull a pin to turn the robot on—the lack of an on/off switch makes it easier to activate while wearing bulky gloves and respirators, and prevents it from being turned off by the impact of hitting the ground. The most likely use for the drone will be for confrontations, and particularly during standoffs.
    […]
    The Recon Scout is inexpensive when it comes to robots—it costs $6000, or $9000 with an IR camera—and is built to survive a 30 ft drop onto concrete. ReconRobotics has also tested other options, like dropping the robot from a low-flying unmanned aerial vehicle, and launching it from the same kind of compressed-air guns used to fire tear-gas canisters. Dramatic as unmanned airdrops and robo-grenade launchers might sound, the Recon Scout serves the same relatively low-key role outside of prisons as it will in them.
    […]

    It would be useful for patrolling large areas prone to vandalism, or wide open spaces I would think. I think some managed security services could be built around it to.

    Entrepaunerial News: Using YouTube to get the word out…

    …was covered in last Sunday’s New York Times:

    The video showed how, in a few easy steps, the Nintendo Wii remote controller — or “Wiimote” — could transform a normal video screen into a virtual reality display, with graphics that seemed to pop through the screen and into the living room. So far, the video has been seen more than six million times.

    That video, together with others that Mr. Lee, now 28, posted on YouTube, have drawn people to the innovator as well as his innovations. Video game companies have contacted him and, in September, M.I.T.’s Technology Review named him as one of its top innovators under 35.

    There is a related SlashDot discussion.

    The is a great idea. It is another venue for entrepreneurs/inventors/innovators to connect with each other, potential customers, and potential inventors.

    Here are to of the video:

    Robot News (and Entrepreneurial Opportunities): “Packs of Robots Will Hunt Down Uncooperative Humans “

    You might think this is something about a fictional robot uprising, but no it is from Slash Dot:

    They are looking for contractors to ‘develop a software/hardware suite that would enable a multi-robot team, together with a human operator, to search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject. The main research task will involve determining the movements of the robot team through the environment to maximize the opportunity to find the subject … Typical robots for this type of activity are expected to weigh less than 100 Kg and the team would have three to five robots.

    There will be commercial uses as well:

    They note that the robots would “have potential commercialization within search and rescue, fire fighting, reconnaissance, and  automated biological, chemical and radiation sensing with mobile platforms”.

    I am thinking there are uses in crowd control (permanent and special events), school security, mall security, truant control, critical infrastructure security. How about trash removal, street maintenance (crack filling, pothle filling). How about electrical wiring and cabling management inside walls of buildings?

    There are business opportunities here. Not just in making the robots, but in created business to provide managed services – call them Robot Service Providers (RSP).

    Entrepreneurs will (and are) noting this. Robot Service Providers will be a common business in the future. I would like to be part of it.

    Robot News: “Robotic Surgery On a Beating Heart “

    The exciting news is at SlashDot!

    Interesting idea for an affordable 4GW oriented Air Force…

    here.

    I would alter the approach off-hand it only a couple of ways:

    1) Build  more new updated A-10 Warthogs
    2) The Air Force should begin staffing up a  Warrant Officer UAV pilot corps


    A-10 Warthog

    “Hyperion Nuclear Power Generator”

    I got the scoop from a post at NextBigFuture.com. This looks very cool:

    Hyperion Power Generation, Inc., (HPG) with the assistance of Los Alamos National Laboratory, is developing and commercializing a small, factory-sealed, mass-produced, transportable nuclear power module that is uniquely safe and proliferation-resistant. The technology utilizes and builds upon similar features of the 60+ TRIGA training reactors that have been safely operated for years in universities and laboratories around the globe.
    […]
    Three factories, spread across the globe are planned by the company to produce and ship the approximately 4,000 units of the first design.
    […]
    Each unit produces 70 megawatts of thermal energy, or 27 megawatts of electricity when connected to a steam turbine. That amount is enough to provide electricity for 20,000 average-size American-style homes or the industrial equivalent.

    I would like to see safe distributed nuclear power around the globe to power the grids.

    Attention Entrepreneurs: More of this, and faster please!

    Future Closer: Space Solar Power

    Solar Power generated from orbital satelites and then beamed down to earth is one of the 2 great future energy sources (the other being fusion) – and the most likely.

    It is one step closer:

    A former NASA scientist has used radio waves to transmit solar power a distance of 92 miles (148 km) between two Hawaiian islands, an achievement that he says proves the technology exists to beam solar power from satellites back to Earth. [Link]

    The test was a proof-of-concept, but all great things have to start somewhere.

    (The future to be: Space Elevators and Orbital Solar Power)

    This Looks interesting also: imtranslator.com

    The blurb is:

    Online Translator performs real-time translation for Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish and Swedish languages and their combinations.
    […]

    Link: http://imtranslator.com/

    Nifty Weather Tracking Site: www.stormpulse.com

    I like it – http://www.stormpulse.com/

    It has google-maps like functionality, and Ican track how bad weather is going to hit my remote sites.

    “YouTube bans terrorism training videos”

    Found via SlashDot:

    The Google-owned portal will ban footage that advertises terrorism or extremist causes and supporters of the change hope it will blunt al-Qaeda’s strong media online campaign.
    […]
    n addition to the ban on terror training videos, the new YouTube guidelines includes bans on videos that incite others to commit violent acts, videos on how to make bombs, and footage of sniper attacks.

    The internet has become a powerful tool for terrorism recruitment. What was once conducted at secret training camps in Afghanistan is now available to anyone, anywhere because of the web.

    Chatrooms are potent recruitment tools, but counterterrorism officials have found terrorist-sponsored videos are also key parts of al-Qaeda’s propaganda machine.

    “It’s good news if there are less of these on the web,” FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said. “But many of these jihadist videos appear on different websites around the world, and any time there is investigative or intelligence value we actively pursue it.” [Source Link: World News Australia]

    Well its about time given that whole “do no evil thing.

    Side note, this appears to be partially as a result of the work of Sen. Lieberman:

    The move comes after pressure on the internet search engine from Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman.

    I think this would an example of a Strategic Citizen practicing his own National Security Strategy. I mean that in a good way.

    Tactical Deployment of a Network Sniffer

    SlashDot – “LordApathy” – commenter says:

    I’ve got 3 fucking servers in my system room that nobody knows what they hell they are for. The are all running 2.4 kenels so they are as old as the fucking hills. Nobody knows what the passwds are to get into them so I can’t log in and find out what they do. And naturally the previous systems administrator that installed them didn’t document shit.

    The only thing that is known about them is they used to do something important just nobody remembers what it was. Management is to afraid that they might still be doing something important and won’t let me yank them out to find out what they do. So while management sits there with their collective heads up their collective asses these three servers sit there taking up space in my racks on my network.

    Son, that’s what network sniffers are for. Some are even free.

    Here is a lesson for all of you Computer Systems Administrators (or Network Engineers, or Security Engineers or whatevers) that is right out an instructional film. When faced with unusual technical questions don’t fold up: improvise, adapt, and overcome using the tools you do have – including your brain – in interesting and unusual ways.

    The Coming Robots

    Robots are coming, we just won’t pay them much attention. Slashdot reports on two robot stories:

    The first (I’ll set aside my skepticism on the Global Warming nonsense)….

    “According to UK and U.S. researchers, it should be possible to fight the global warming effects associated with an increase of dioxide levels by using autonomous cloud-seeding ships to spray salt water into the air. This project would require the deployment of a worldwide fleet of 1,500 unmanned ships to cool the Earth even if the level of carbon dioxide doubled. These 300-tonne ships ‘would be powered by the wind, but would not use conventional sails[…]

    …and this

    […] the open-source centric Willow Garage project (last mentioned on Slashdot early last year), which is making progress in creating helpful humanoid robots for household use.

    Personally, I want an affordable set (to swarm) of robots to clean my floors, rugs, windows, and walls non stop. I would like them to fetch things for me when I am sick, tired, or just lazy. I wouldn’t mind an aesthetic robot either (as long as it has a remote control with a mute button). Roomba is getting there. I want more, though, and I want to pay less. It would be nice if Milwaukee was trying to get in on this….entrepreneurship-wise.

    These robots won’t look like Gort either. That would be creepy.

    In the Future: “Would you like a cold beverage, Mr. Purpleslog?”
    “Why yes Gort, I would. Now, please stop staring at me.”

    Update: Here is a better picture of Gort.

    US News: “Generation We’s Apollo Project”, Me: “What a dumb idea”

    I saw this in the online version of US News:

    …he’s urging both presidential campaigns to focus on one mega-idea the kids endorsed: an Apollo-style approach to the energy crisis. His plan is to create a department of new energy and give it $30 billion to $40 billion a year to invent the next best energy source. And put a 15-year cap on the department’s life. “They need votes, and 70 percent of gen we-ers want this,” says Greenberg, an Obama backer eager for either campaign to adopt his plan.

    To which I responded (first!):

    What a dumb idea. Governments are no good at “inventing” anything. The Apollo project and the Manhattan project are the exceptions (and they had clearly defined goals).

    The same thing could be accomplished by:

    1) Increase basic science research grants through the Dept of Energy and NSF.

    2) Sponsor prizes to be awarded when certain energy producing threshold are met.

    3) Get government regulations out of the way of the entrepreneurs who will make this happen.

    This is simple. It does not require dozens of “deputy assistant under secretaries” and the like.

    Also, little public money (e.g. current taxes or debt obligations) is spent without success being incurred.

    Entrepreneurship Opportunity? “Farming in the Sky”

    From Popular Science:

    The choice is clear—rethink how we grow food, or starve. Environmental scientist Dickson Despommier of Columbia University and other scientists propose a radical solution: Transplant farms into city skyscrapers. These towers would use soil-free hydroponic farming to slash demand for energy (they’ll be powered by a process that converts sewage into electricity) while producing more food. Farming skyward would also free up farmland for trees, which would help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Even better, vertical farms would grow food near where it would be eaten, thus cutting not only the cost but the emissions of transportation. If you include emissions from the oil burned to cultivate and ship crops and livestock in addition to, yes, methane from farm-animal flatulence, agriculture churns out nearly 14 percent of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions.

    The US Policy should be…nothing.

    Get out of the way, let Entrepreneurs go at it and discover if this can be done and how to make it happen. If they can profit from it, great…because the rest of “profit” from advance and innovation too. Onward to the future! Hey…it would be fun setting up the network system for a vertical farm…call me…I’m available.

    More here at: http://www.verticalfarm.com/

    Concept photos: here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.