31 March 2006


This is probably one of the most inciteful artcles you can read about Iraq. The situation is not simple and there is no simple solution. The current problems have deep historical roots and without a sound understanding of this then you cannot really believe the newbites that you'll begin to hear as we get closer to election time. I suggest reading the entire article via the link above.

Summary: Over 70 years ago, the United Kingdom's occupation of Iraq proved so unpopular at home that London had to declare success and head for the exit. The British pulled out early, and chaos followed in their wake. If Washington hopes for better, it should study this example to learn how -- and how not -- to end an occupation.

Joel Rayburn is a Major in the U.S. Army based at Central Command. From 2002 to 2005, he taught history at the U.S. Military Academy. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of CENTCOM or the Defense Department.

The United States was not the first country in the last hundred years to occupy Iraq. That distinction belongs to the United Kingdom, which seized the provinces of Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul from the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I and formally took control of the new country in 1920, under a mandate from the League of Nations.

A number of pundits have recently noted the parallels between the United Kingdom's experience eight decades ago and the United States' today. The comparisons, however, have generally centered on the early and middle phases of both occupations. Too few have focused on the ignominious end of the United Kingdom's reign in Mesopotamia and the lessons those events hold for the United States today. In fact, Washington's current position bears a strong resemblance to London's in the late 1920s, when the British were responsible for the tutelage of a fledgling Iraqi state suffering from immature institutions, active insurgencies, and the interference of hostile neighbors. Eventually, this tutelage was undermined by pressure from the British Parliament and the press to withdraw -- forces quite similar to those in the United States now calling for a withdrawal from Iraq. Building a better understanding of the United Kingdom's mistakes -- and of the consequences of that country's ultimate withdrawal from Iraq -- could thus help illuminate the present occupation and provide answers to when and how to end it. If the British record teaches anything, it is this: costly and frustrating as the fostering of Iraqi democracy may be, the costs of leaving the job undone would likely be far higher, for both the occupiers and the Iraqis. This is a lesson the British learned more than seven decades ago, when their premature pullout in 1932 led to more violence in Iraq, the rise of a dictatorship, and a catastrophic unraveling of everything the British had tried to build there.

The British occupation of Iraq drew heavy criticism at home almost from its inception. In 1920, a large-scale Shiite insurgency cost the British more than 2,000 casualties, and domestic pressure to withdraw from Iraq began to build. In the revolt's aftermath, the war hero T. E. Lawrence led a chorus of critics in the press and Parliament denouncing London's decision to continue the costly occupation. "The people of England," Lawrence wrote, have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. ... Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are to-day not far from a disaster....

"We say we are in Mesopotamia to develop it for the benefit of the world. ... How long will we permit millions of pounds, thousands of Imperial troops, and tens ...

If you cannot get the link there then perhaps check out the following:

Flu exercise raises questions

Flu exercise raises questions
Del. emergency officials probe problems arising from worst-case scenario
The News Journal
Imagine that a ship carrying exotic animals from the Philippines gets infected with a mutated, highly contagious version of deadly avian flu during its voyage to Brazil. In a matter of weeks the disease spreads quickly to South and Central America, eventually making its way to the United States, infecting more than 1 million U.S. citizens.

Is the country, or the state of Delaware, prepared to handle such an avian flu pandemic?

Fifty-four National Guard units around the country, including Delaware's, as well as the state's emergency management agency and public health officials held a table-top exercise on pandemic influenza Friday to answer that question. But what officials were able to come up with was more questions than answers.
"We find more problems than we have solutions today," said H. Stevens Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, who hosted the exercise from Washington via teleconference.

As of now, the lethal version of avian flu, known as H5N1, that is spreading around the world is primarily a disease of birds. Although it kills more than 50 percent of the humans it infects, it has not mutated into a form that can be passed easily from person to person. So far, there have been 186 cases of people infected with H5N1 and 105 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Jordan Confirms 1st Cases of Avian Flu
The Associated Press
Friday, March 24, 2006; 10:51 PM

AMMAN, Jordan -- Jordan confirmed its first cases of bird flu on Friday in domesticated turkeys north of the capital, finding that up to four of the birds had died of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus.

Turkey, Iraq and Egypt are the only countries in the region where people have died of the H5N1 strain, which has killed a total of 105 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. But the discovery of sick birds in several Middle Eastern countries has led to extensive slaughters....

....Virtually all the people infected with bird flu are believed to have caught it from poultry. But scientists have long warned that the virus, which is prone to mutation, could transform itself into a version that spreads easily from person to person, touching off a pandemic.

Most people killed by bird flu have been in Asia, and on Saturday China confirmed its 11th death from the disease. The migrant worker died Tuesday at a hospital in Shanghai_ the first death in China's biggest city.

29 March 2006

HS: Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council

Homeland Security Advisory Council Critical Infrastructure Task Force Report
Mar 16 2006

"The Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) Critical Infrastructure Task Force (CITF) recently released a report including six high level recommendations focused on advancing national policies and strategies that will foster the development of more resilient critical infrastructures. The recommendations leverage the foundation built by prior and ongoing Critical Infrastructure Protection programs, but assert that a future focus on resilience would establish a more appropriate basis for risk-based decisionmaking." http://www.tisp.org/news/newsdetails.cfm?&newsID=804

The title above should link you to the report.

The Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council has caught some heat recently:
Homeland security group to meet away from public eye
By Anne Broache
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: March 24, 2006, 12:21 PM PST
Last modified: March 24, 2006, 1:42 PM PST
pdate A new advisory committee in the Homeland Security Department is free to disregard a law designed to keep meetings open and proceedings public, according to a departmental notice.

The newly created Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council is charged with sharing information aimed at protecting the nation's infrastructure, cybercomponents included. Michael Chertoff, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, cited security reasons when he signed off on exempting the council from the Federal Advisory Committee Act, or FACA.

The decision, which many private-sector players had strongly recommended, was released in a departmental notice published Friday.

The council, which plans to meet at least quarterly, will bring together various federal agency employees and private-sector representatives to discuss the Department of Homeland Security's infrastructure protection plan, which remains in draft form. The fields represented range from agriculture and energy to information technology and telecommunications. Participants include the U.S. Telecom Association, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and Internet infrastructure services provider VeriSign.

If those participants are required to comply with FACA, it could leave them seriously hindered in sharing "sensitive homeland security information," the department said.

The 1972 law generally requires such groups to meet in open sessions, make written meeting materials publicly available, and deliver a 15-day notice of any decision to close a meeting to the public. The last is a particular point of concern for Homeland Security officials, who anticipate that private emergency meetings may need to be scheduled on short notice.

The private sector, fearing that sensitive data will get to the wrong hands, has continued to resist sharing important information with the feds, the Department of Homeland Security said, citing government auditors' findings from late 2003.

Making the meetings public would amount to "giving our nation's enemies information they could use to most effectively attack a particular infrastructure and cause cascading consequences across multiple infrastructures," another departmental advisory council warned in August.

One privacy advocate said he didn't buy the excuses. "The public has an extremely strong interest in knowing whether DHS and the relevant industries are doing enough to protect facilities, and whether there might be company negligence that contributes to any possible security vulnerabilities," David Sobel, a general counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, wrote in an e-mail interview...."

here's the link to the entire article: http://news.com.com/Homeland+security+group+to+meet+away+from+public+eye/2100-7348_3-6053795.html?tag=nefd.top

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof was to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." (Douglas Adams --Mostly Harmless)

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." (William Pitt the Younger)

"The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently…" (Nietzsche)

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." (Adam Smith -- The Wealth of Nations)

Choir Teacher: Well, that about does it. If you have any questions, I'll leave information packets up front.
Cartman: Oh that's good, we need some more toilet paper.

Scramjet Mach 7

Revolutionary jet engine tested
A new jet engine designed to fly at seven times the speed of sound appears to have been successfully tested. The scramjet engine, the Hyshot III, was launched at Woomera, 500km north of Adelaide in Australia, on the back of a two stage Terrier-Orion rocket. Once 314km up, the Hyshot III fell back to Earth, reaching speeds analysts hope will have topped Mach 7.6 (9,000km/h). It is hoped the British-designed Hyshot III will pave the way for ultra fast, intercontinental air travel.

An international team of researchers is presently analysing data from the experiment, to see if it met its objectives. The scientists and engineers had just six seconds to monitor its performance before the £1m engine crashed into the ground. Rachel Owen, a researcher from UK defence firm Qinetiq, which designed the scramjet, said it looked like everything had gone according to plan.

The vehicle had followed a "nominal trajectory" and landed 400km down the range, Ms Owen said.

A scramjet - or supersonic combustion ramjet - is mechanically very simple. It has no moving parts and takes all of the oxygen it needs to burn hydrogen fuel from the air. This makes it more efficient than a conventional rocket engine as it does not need to carry its own oxygen supply, meaning that a vehicle using one could potentially carry a larger payload. As the engine continues its downward path the fuel in the scramjet ignites automatically. This experiment was expected to start working at a height of 35km.

However scramjets do not begin to work until they reach five times the speed of sound. At this speed the air passing through the engine is compressed and hot enough for ignition to occur. Rapid expansion of the exhaust gases creates the forward thrust. Making sure the flight happens correctly is incredibly difficult, according to Dr Allan Paull, project leader of the Hyshot programme at the University of Queensland.

"You are dealing with extremes of conditions. You're working out on the edge and with a lot of the stuff no-one has ever tried before," he told the BBC News website. "You've got to expect things to go wrong".

Now, you start to combine this technology withe the happenings with small jet manufacturer's like the Eclipse mentioned in a previous posting adn you got the makings for some pretty cool technology for our kids.

Click the title for the entire article.

I told YOU about this! Brain Cells Fused with Computer Chip

So if you recall my posting about Numenta a while back then this should come as no surprise:

Brain Cells Fused with Computer Chip
By Ker Than
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 27 March 2006
11:36 am ET
The line between living organisms and machines has just become a whole lot blurrier. European researchers have developed "neuro-chips" in which living brain cells and silicon circuits are coupled together.

The achievement could one day enable the creation of sophisticated neural prostheses to treat neurological disorders or the development of organic computers that crunch numbers using living neurons.

To create the neuro-chip, researchers squeezed more than 16,000 electronic transistors and hundreds of capacitors onto a silicon chip just 1 millimeter square in size.

They used special proteins found in the brain to glue brain cells, called neurons, onto the chip. However, the proteins acted as more than just a simple adhesive.

"They also provided the link between ionic channels of the neurons and semiconductor material in a way that neural electrical signals could be passed to the silicon chip," said study team member Stefano Vassanelli from the University of Padua in Italy.

The proteins allowed the neuro-chip's electronic components and its living cells to communicate with each other. Electrical signals from neurons were recorded using the chip's transistors, while the chip's capacitors were used to stimulate the neurons.

It could still be decades before the technology is advanced enough to treat neurological disorders or create living computers, the researchers say, but in the nearer term, the chips could provide an advanced method of screening drugs for the pharmaceutical industry.

"Pharmaceutical companies could use the chip to test the effect of drugs on neurons, to quickly discover promising avenues of research," Vassanelli said.

The researchers are now working on ways to avoid damaging the neurons during stimulation. The team is also exploring the possibility of using a neuron's genetic instructions to control the neuro-chip.

Britain and France Build Robocarrier/ Politics of Make-Believe

Britain and France Build Robocarrier
by James Dunnigan
March 25, 2006
Britain and France finally signed the deal to build three new aircraft carriers. This followed several years of negotiations. What's surprising about all this is not the large size of the carriers (about 58,000 tons, the largest ships ever for both navies), or the unique cooperation (two of the carriers are British, one is French, and both nations will cooperate on design and construction, with the Brits taking the lead.) No, what is amazing about all this is the aggressive plans for automation. These "Queen Elizabeth" class carriers are planning on having a ships crew of 800 (or less) and an air wing complement of 600 personnel. Currently, you need a ship crew of about 2,000 for a carrier that size. The reduction in size of the air wing personnel is even more aggressive.

These carriers are going to cost about $4 billion each, and are to be in use for half a century (including several refits and refurbs). But the biggest cost will be personnel. Currently, it costs the U.S. Navy a bit over $100,000 per sailor per year. Do the math ($7 billion in crew costs over the life of each carrier.) So the smaller the crew, the greater the savings, and the more you can spend on upgrading the ship, buying new aircraft and the like.

The carriers will haul 34-45 aircraft and helicopters and be able to handle about 110 flight operations every 24 hours. That's with current aircraft. The F-35B will be the primary warplane on the British carriers. But it's also likely that many, or all, of the next generation of aircraft on these ships will be robotic. But first, the ship has to be equipped with an unprecedented degree of automation. While 250,000 ton oil tankers can operate with a crew of under 40, all those large vessels do is move their cargo from place to place. An aircraft carrier must fight, and find the enemy, and do a lot of other stuff. The new class of 100,000 ton American CVN-21 carriers are trying to get their ship crew down from 4,000 to 2,500.

WOW. That sounds IN TEResting! You can link to the above article above via the title but Now check this article out:

The Politics of Make-Believe
The student protesters in France think that if they march long enough or burn enough cars, they can make the future go away. No such luck.
By Robert J. Samuelson
April 3, 2006 issue - To anyone who cares about Europe's future, the French demonstrations and street riots protesting the government's new labor law must be profoundly disturbing. It's the French against France—a familiar ritual that mirrors Europe's larger predicament. Hardly anyone wants to surrender the benefits and protections of today's generous welfare state, but the fierce attachment to these costly and self-defeating programs prevents Europe from preparing for a future that, though it may be deplored, is inevitable. Actually, it's not the future; it's the present.

The dilemma of advanced democracies, including the United States, is that they've made more promises than they can realistically keep. Their political commitments outstrip the economy's capacity to deliver. Sometimes the commitments were made dishonestly. Sometimes they were made sincerely based on foolish assumptions. Sometimes they've been overtaken by new circumstances. No matter. The dilemma is the same. To disavow past promises incites public furor; not to disavow them worsens the country's future problems.

Look at France. Its needs are plain: to assimilate a large and restless Muslim population of immigrants and their children, to pay for the rising health and pension costs of an aging society and to compete in the world economy. But its economy is lackluster. From 2001 to 2005, annual growth averaged only 1.6 percent. By accident and design, the French have discouraged work. In a recent study, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris reported the following:

From 1994 to 2003, unemployment among prime-age adults, from 25 to 54, averaged 9.9 percent; for those 15 to 25, the average was 24 percent.
In 2003, French workers spent an average of 1,431 hours on the job, the third lowest among 26 advanced countries. Italy (1,591 hours) was 11 percent higher, the United States (1,822 hours) 27 percent and South Korea (2,390 hours, the highest) 67 percent.
Among those 60 to 64, only about one in six have jobs. In the United States, the comparable figure is about one in two; for all OECD countries it's about four in 10.
This cannot continue indefinitely. In 2005, France's labor force was 2.7 times as large as its 65-and-over population; by 2020, it's projected to be only twice as large. France's policy is to have a shrinking share of its population, working short hours, pay for rising pension and health costs. In 2004, the average retirement age was 59. Average taxes are already about 50 percent of national income; effective marginal rates (the rates on additional income) can hit 60 percent. How much higher could these go without crushing work incentives? Sooner or later, France will have to adopt policies that lower unemployment, lengthen work hours, raise retirement ages and cut promised benefits.

Probably later. Efforts to face these issues provoke protests. The present flash point is a new law that allows employers to fire young workers (those hired under age 26) for the first two years. Of course, U.S. firms can fire workers of all ages within the bounds of union contracts and the anti-discrimination laws. But in France, the Labor Code gives most full-time workers an employment contract that makes layoffs costly. Legal standards must be met. Workers can appeal to labor courts. By one study, companies lost 74 percent of those cases. All these protections perversely—but predict-ably—stifle job creation. Companies don't hire because it's hard to fire. They don't want to be saddled with unwanted workers. That's one cause of high unemployment.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's new law tries to disarm that logic. The two-year probationary period gives employers flexibility. They don't have to keep workers they don't want. It also gives young employees a motive to work hard. The change stemmed from last fall's rioting among young Muslims and complaints about their high jobless rate. Whether the law might work as intended—or inspires temporary two-year jobs—is unclear. Protesters said it would make them "the Kleenex generation," to be discarded at will. Either way, the change is minor. The outsized political reaction is telling and has happened before. In the 1990s, prime ministers Edouard Balladur and Alain JuppĂ© withdrew controversial proposals in the face of mass protests and strikes.

All this bodes ill for Europe, because other countries share France's situation. Governments seem incapable of reconciling political commitments and economic realities. The street protesters are given to much make-believe—the illusion that if they march long enough and burn enough cars, they can outlaw unwanted change. The concessions that governments make to the future are usually small and slow. France is raising full eligibility for retirement benefits from 40 to 42 years of contributions; the change occurs between now and 2020. This suggests a messy process of grudging accommodations that neither placate public opinion nor improve economic vitality. Europe, which is insecure and unconfident now, will probably become more so."

.... and you thought that WE had problemsin our manufacturing sector! It's a good thing they're in with the Brits creating some jobs to build that robocarrier.

27 March 2006

Why Take a Rocket Ship?

March 14, 2006
Why Take a Rocket Ship?
By David R. Butcher

A working space elevator could reduce the cost of launching anything into space by roughly 98 percent and would increase the amount of cargo capacity for orbital trips. The theory is solid, the materials exist, and inventors and entrepreneurs continue tinkering.

Imagine the title transport device of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (the follow-up to the more popular children’s book), becoming a reality. That is the lofty goal of NASA and a number of private companies.

Last October saw the first NASA-sponsored Space Elevator Games, which offered a $200,000 prize to the first team that could make a machine climb up a 164-foot tether, powered only by a mirror and a beam of light from a 10,000-watt bulb. Actually, none of the home-brewed contraptions on display could reach higher than 40 feet.

But dammit, government and private-sector spending is soaring. And indeed, the hottest idea in space enterprise is a tether to take us all the way from Earth to orbit.

Worldwide government spending on space is reaching $50 billion a year, a one-quarter-percent jump over 2000. NASA represents only $16 billion of that total, but during the next 20 years, the U.S. space agency is likely to sign contracts totaling as much as $400 billion to launch a human mission to Mars. Further, in 1998, private-sector spending on space applications began to exceed government spending, and that gap is widening. A critical mass of entrepreneurs have been backing space-related companies for years.

So why such importance on an elevator, something so seemingly banal we may actually ride one when shopping for clothes at the department store?

A working space elevator would reduce the cost of launching anything into space by roughly 98 percent. The $500 million it takes to launch the average satellite (insurance not included) would be history. In addition to cutting costs, the space elevator would increase the amount of cargo capacity for orbital trips; more than 90 percent of a space shuttle's weight is fuel, with cargo making up less than 5 percent. But no fuel is necessary on the elevator, because the car would be electric, with power cells energized by a ground-based laser beam. (Of course, like all things, there is a downside.)

The theory behind the elevator is quite manageable, as a recent Business 2.0 article points out. First proposed 111 years ago by a Russian scientist, the idea was popularized by Arthur C. Clarke in his 1978 novel, The Fountains of Paradise. It goes like this:

26 March 2006

After the Eclipse a new dawn?

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Benjamin: Yes, I will.
Mr. McGuire: Shh! Enough said. That's a deal.
-The Graduate, 1967.

In the early 1950's it was envisioned that rotor powered aircraft would be the wave of the future in civil aviation much like plastics where the "great future" in the 60's. Each family could have your own aircraft and air commute to work from a far flung developing suburbia. Needless to say this didn't happen. The hub and spoke system of our current major airlines evolved. Perhaps now, and I say perhaps, the time ahs finally arrived for this idea. September 11 changed many things. One of the big results was the exposure of fragile economic edge on which our major airlines skate. With that came initiative which we may just be seeing the begining wisps of change about to happen.

But first, some current history:

In December of 2002 The Transportation Research Board released "Future Flight: A Review of the Small Aircraft Transportation System Concept"
"The Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) is envisioned as relying on increasingly sophisticated and affordable small aircraft flying between small airports in lightly used airspace. The system was proposed to provide a growing share of the nation’s intercity personal and business travel. The development of such a system was considered to be justified by the potential to ease congestion in the existing aviation system and on highways serving densely traveled intercity markets. Without attempting to prejudge how advances in general aviation technology might evolve and affect travel markets, the committee that examined the SATS concept concluded that the concept is problematic in several ways as a vision to guide NASA’s technology development. Although the cost of small jet engines developed in partnership with NASA could drop dramatically, small jets would still be well beyond the means of all but the wealthiest members of society. The aircraft might be adopted by firms offering air taxi service, but the cost of such service would likely remain steep; therefore, sufficient market penetration to relieve congestion at hub airports would be unlikely. Moreover, the origins and destinations of most business travelers are major population centers, making travel to and from remote general aviation airports unappealing" The report goes on to day that NASA has no interest in supporting the effort for a myriad of reasons.

By mid 2004 NASA had changed its tune:
"Imagine being able to hail a plane at your neighborhood airfield much like you do a taxi in a city. It may not be quite as simple as stepping off the curb and waving your hand, but technology being developed by NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., could help make air taxi service available and convenient to more people. The Small Aircraft Transportation System or SATS project is a public-private partnership working to create technology and operating capabilities that could help planes safely fly into underused rural and suburban airports, in almost all kinds of weather. That includes many airfields that don’t have radar or air traffic control towers. Nearly all of the people in the U.S. live within a 30-minute drive of at least one of these 5,400 airports."

By October 2004 the following article appeared:
"The Small Aircraft Revolution"
Fasten your seatbelts, folks, the commercial aviation system built around big planes and big airports is in for a bumpy ride. In the aviation of the future, small is beautiful.
Bacon's Rebellion
James A. Bacon
"....The SATS benefits include improved standards of living and quality of life for the nation in the new global economy. SATS technology innovations will provide the nation with: Economic development for communities of all sizes enabled by localized air accessibility
Choices to bypass highway and hub-and-spoke transportation systems delays
An efficient means for intermodal connectivity between small airports and the global aviation system
An exportable transportation revolution with affordable "instant infrastructure" for developing nations around the world

The United States stands on the verge of a revolution in small aircraft transportation -- a revolution that will transform the logic of where people choose to live and where companies do business. Siddiqi, in charge of outreach for the National Consortium for Aviation Mobility, is doing his utmost to hurry it along. With aircraft manufacturers developing new generations of smaller, more economical jet aircraft, and entrepreneurs devising alternatives to big-jet, commercial aviation, Siddiqi is undertaking the missionary work for NASA technologies that will make it safer and more cost effective to fly in and out of hundreds of small-town and suburban airports.

The small aircraft revolution is disrupting the air transportation system that has prevailed since deregulation of the airline industry in 1978. That system provides excellent air service to 30 or so of the largest cities in the U.S., but has left smaller 'burgs and 'villes off the beaten flight path. Now, declares Siddiqi, a slightly built, white-haired man who radiates passion for his subject, new technology is transforming the economics that once favored the big cities so lopsidedly.

The travails of the commercial airlines are well known. US Air, the dominant carrier in Virginia, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time; other major carriers are expected to follow suit. Conventional analysis attributes the woes of the large carriers to competition from nimble regional airlines, like Dulles-based Independence Air, flying smaller jets and operating free from burdensome union contracts. For all the disruptive impact of companies like Independence Air, however, the small aircraft revolution has barely begun.

Americans take approximately 600 million airplane trips per year, says Siddiqi. The average flight is 700 to 800 miles; of the 10 most heavily traveled airline routes, only two could be considered remotely long distance. The short and intermediate distance flights are vulnerable to competition from smaller planes that can fly point to point, often landing in underutilized general aviation airports. While smaller aircraft may have higher costs per passenger-mile, they save their passengers time and convenience. No check-in hassles. No switching flights. No missed connections. No waiting for baggage.

Siddiqi says that very light jets are scheduled to hit the marketplace by 2006, bringing down the cost per passenger mile to about twice that of the commercial airlines. Meanwhile, a slew of entrepreneurs are developing new business models to take advantage of these craft. The future isn't more regularly scheduled passenger flights, it's more flexible access to airplanes that allow passengers fly where they want, when they want. Expect to see more chartered aircraft, more shared ownership -- even air taxis."

So where are we at today? The giants of the industry continue to battle it our for orders. It cost roughy $12-15 BILLION to develop the new A380 from Airbus. The Boeing 787 (which actually is anticipating the demise of our current hub and spoke system) is in teh same ballpark. The major airlines continue to lose money and hang on by the skin of their teeth. Maybe we're on the verge of seeing some new technologies. Maybe we'll start to see the evolution of a new system of air transport as it was originally envisioned by the founders of the short travel air industry (and I mean the people who created the original products to meet this market: Hiller, Sikorsky, Piasecki, and Bell)

Eclipse Aviation begins manufacturing jet plane for first customer
By HEATHER CLARK | Associated Press
March 2, 2006

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - With its first customer on hand to start an automated welder that quietly hummed as it built a cockpit side panel, Eclipse Aviation began producing its first customer jet plane this week. The company announced Wednesday that it has started to fill the first of 2,400 orders for its Eclipse 500 airplane, more than five years after the fledgling company's 20 employees moved their operations to New Mexico.

"It's the beginning of a whole new era in aviation," Vern Raburn, Eclipse president and chief executive officer, said Wednesday in a telephone interview. Raburn said he envisions small businesses using the $1.5 million twin-engine, six-seat aircraft to fly when they used to drive and to access smaller airports away from the hubs commercial airlines frequent.

Business owner and pilot David Crowe, who placed his order in May 2000, will receive his Eclipse 500 this summer. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to certify the aircraft in late June. "We have already been doing FAA testing, so we're pretty confident that any changes will be minor," Eclipse spokesman Andrew Broom said, adding that the test fleet has completed 1,300 flight hours. And as it ramps up production to 130 jet airplanes this year, Eclipse will nearly double its work force to 1,000 employees by the end of the year, Raburn said.

The FAA has estimated 100 "very small jets" _ also called VSJs, ultra light jets or microjets _ will be produced by the end of the year and in a decade there will be nearly 5,000 such airplanes in the skies, an estimate the FAA says is "relatively conservative." Broom agreed. By 2008, the company plans to be producing 1,000 aircraft annually, he said. "It depends on what the market bears. We feel very comfortable that we can sustain that," he said.

Aviation consultant Michael Boyd of Evergreen, Colo.-based Boyd Group predicted a bright future for Eclipse, if its jet plane is produced as advertised. Eclipse right now is the front-runner in the new "very small jet" industry, which Boyd predicts could grow to 15,000 aircraft globally over the next two decades. "There's going to be a stampede to buy these things," he said. "Eclipse will probably have a wonderful time of trying to meet demand." But, he added, future U.S. skies will not be filled with air taxis, as some have predicted. Future users likely will be businesses replacing older and more expensive aircraft and small businesses that have been unable to purchase jet planes until now. With the cheaper price tag, these small businesspeople will be able to buy a share of flying hours _ called fractional ownership _ in such jet planes, he said.

But judging from Eclipse's customers, air taxis and fractional ownership will become more popular. Half of Eclipse's customers come from companies that will provide such services, while a third of the customers are individual owners and the rest are from training organizations or freight operators, Raburn said. In addition to Eclipse, Englewood, Colo.-based Adam Aircraft and Cessna hope to have similar jet planes FAA-certified by the end of the year. Cessna has 200 to 300 orders for its Citation Mustang jet plane, which is sold out through mid-2009, spokesman Doug Oliver said.

And Adam Aircraft has 300 orders for its A700 AdamJet, which it expects to have certified by the end of the year. Spokeswoman Shelly Simi said the company hopes to eventually command 25 percent of the market share in the "very small jet" industry.

Rate of Climb – 2 engines 2,990 ft / min 911 m / min
Rate of Climb – 1 engine 888 ft / min 271 m / min
Time to Climb – 35,000 ft (10,688 m) 19 min
Takeoff at 5,000 ft 3,350 ft 1,021 m


That'll throw ya back in the seat!

Now, why is this important? "Let's say you decided to shop for an aircraft. The initial purchase, training, and continued operation of a plane are most affordable in the form or single- and dual-prop planes. Take a new Piper Malibu Mirage, a single prop, six-seater that cruises at 220 mph (190 knots). Initial cost of the plane is about $1 million with a per-hour operation cost of about $160. It's not a bad deal, but consider further that you would have just one engine (and one engine failure) between you and the ground and your 1100-mile flight from New York to Miami would take four and a half hours." ...and still only a prop plane. "The Eclipse 500 has a maximum cruise speed of 375 knots (432 mph), it can carry up to six occupants, and has a generous range of 1,280 nautical miles (1470 miles). A 41,000-foot ceiling avoids most severe weather, and this extraordinary jet gives you access to more than 10,000 airports in the U.S." (www.windingroad.com/)

This could present some very unique problems for our Homeland Security office while at the same time creating a rash of new business for manufacturing and revitalization and creation of small town America. The ramifications of small taxi service airlines could change how we view many many problems confronting us as a nation and present even more opportunities. It bears watching

21 March 2006

The Bible says it

Today I saw a sign on a the bilboard outside of a church:


That gave me some pause for reflection:

Leviticus 11
11:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, 11:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. 11:3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. 11:4 Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 11:5 And the coney, because he cheweth the cud , but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 11:6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud , but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.11:7 And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you11:8 Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.11:9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.11:10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:(11:10-12) Clams, oysters, crabs, lobsters, and shrimp are abominations. 11:11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination. 11:12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.11:13 And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls ; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, (11:13, 19) Bats are birds to the biblical God 11:14 And the vulture, and the kite after his kind;11:15 Every raven after his kind; 11:16 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,11:17 And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, 11:18 And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,11:19 And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.11:20 All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.11:21 Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;11:22 Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.11:23 But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you. 11:24 And for these ye shall be unclean: whosoever toucheth the carcase of them shall be unclean until the even. 11:25 And whosoever beareth ought of the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.11:26 The carcases of every beast which divideth the hoof, and is not clovenfooted, nor cheweth the cud, are unclean unto you: every one that toucheth them shall be unclean.11:27 And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even.11:28 And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean unto you.11:29 These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind, 11:30 And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole. 11:31 These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even. Don't touch any dead creeping things. 11:32 And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed. 11:33 And every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it.11:34 Of all meat which may be eaten, that on which such water cometh shall be unclean: and all drink that may be drunk in every such vessel shall be unclean. 11:35 And every thing whereupon any part of their carcase falleth shall be unclean; whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down: for they are unclean and shall be unclean unto you. 11:36 Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean.11:37 And if any part of their carcase fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean. 11:38 But if any water be put upon the seed, and any part of their carcase fall thereon, it shall be unclean unto you. 11:39 And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even. 11:40 And he that eateth of the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: he also that beareth the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even. 11:41 And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten."Every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination." 11:42 Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination. "Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet ... are an abomination." 11:43 Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby. (11:43-44) "Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth." 11:44 For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.(11:44-45) "Ye shall be holy; for I am holy." Is only God holy? 11:45 For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. 11:46 This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth: 11:47 To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.

To Summarize:
Do not eat fat of ox, sheep or goats (Lev. 7.23)
Do not eat rabbit (Lev. 11:6)
Do not eat blood of fish, fowl or beast (Lev. 7:26)
Do not eat ham, bacon, pork chops or ribs (Lev. 11:7)
Do not eat lobster, crab, scallops or shrimp (Lev. 11:10 and Deut. 14:19)

Anything a woman touches during menstruation and for seven days thereafter is unclean (Lev. 12:6)

"Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee."
-Hybridization of animals and crops is condemned (Lev. 19:19)
-Do not wear clothing of two kinds of material (Lev. 19:19 and Deut. 22:11)

21:18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: 21:19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; 21:20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. 21:21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.(Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

"...but, judge, dud, the bibe told me to stone my son."

"If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;" (Deuteronomy 13: 6)

"Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people." (Deuteronomy 13:8-9)

....Kill KILL KILL!

"Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword." (Deuteronomy 13:15)

"Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished." (Isaiah 13:15-16)
...speaking of Babylon (modern day Iraq)

"And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain." (Deuteronomy 2:34)


"The ultimate beatitude of man consists in the use of his highest function, which is the operation of his intellect...
Hence...the blessed see the essence of God." (Summa Theologica) - St. Thomas Aquinas

"And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Hesbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city. But all the cattle, and the spoil of the cities we took for a prey to ourselves." (Deuteronomy 3:6-7)

"Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." (I Samuel 15:2-3)

"And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son...." (II Kings 6:28-29)

ok, so no ham or rabbit or lobster but after I kill my son it's ok to eat him? hmmmm....

"He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD. A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD." (Deuteronomy 23:1-2)

...I know that MY ancestors raped and pilaged from Oldham Germany all the way to France, Ireland, Scotland and England... I'm really sorry that all you poor bastards who they raped can't come to church with me.

I suppose this is all summarized more aptly with the t-shirt I've seen:

well, at least that's pretty simple. Thanks for the easy summary General Boykin!

We came a long way over 200 years ago. We've learned alot. We can't create Gold in Lab. The World is not flat. Lobster is really good.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

20 March 2006

Hot Patent Suit

Hot Patent Suits
Jessica Holzer, 03.20.06, 6:00 AM ET
Washington, D.C. Innovation has led to tremendous technological advances in the last half-century. Yet not much has changed in American patent law since the invention of the hula hoop back in the '50s.

Now, it looks set to get a dramatic update: The U.S. Supreme Court will rule on a slew of patent cases in the coming months, including two that threaten to tip the balance of power away from patent owners to users of their inventions. It's the most intense spate of patent cases to reach the high court in 40 years.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear the arguments in Laboratory Corp. v. Metabolite Laboratories, which could narrow the range of inventions eligible for patents. Next week, the high court will hear the arguments in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, a case that many in high-tech hope will curb the power of "patent trolls," a type of company that makes money by suing for infringement of patents it owns but doesn't use.

One such company, MercExchange, won millions in damages when it successfully sued eBay for violating two of its patents in operating the fixed-price auction part of eBay's Web site. But a U.S. District Court stopped short of forcing eBay to shut down the service entirely, on the basis that MercExchange wouldn't be harmed if eBay continued to offer the service while it tried to design around the patents. After all, MercExchange didn’t use the patents itself and could be compensated with extra money damages, the court wrote.

But on appeal, the U. S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, reversed the decision, saying that injunctions should always be imposed when infringement is found. Now the Supreme Court must decide whether this should really be so.

Since 1989, the Federal Circuit, which is based in Washington and has a monopoly on all appeals of patent cases, has, as a matter of course, handed down injunctions in cases of infringement. The court views patents more or less as real estate, as opposed to contracts, and thus grants patent holders a property owner's "right to exclude." Just as the owner of a field that is lying fallow isn't forced to rent it out to farmers, a patent holder should not be forced to license his patent, the court's thinking goes.

But this view poses many practical problems in today's high-tech world, argue a host of high tech companies that have filed friend-of-the-court briefs on eBay's (nyse: EBAY - news - people ) behalf.

For starters, more and more U.S. companies are churning out high-tech gizmos instead of razor blades. Often, only a small part of a complex product is the object of an infringement suit, and therefore companies may not even be aware they are infringing. But with a standard of automatic injunction, a whole product is taken off the market, however small the infringing portion and regardless of the substantial investments made by the defendant or the harm done to the public interest. Recall the horror of BlackBerry users when a patent suit from Canada's NTP threatened to deprive them of their addictive gadgets.

"An injunction is a pretty heavy hammer," says Joshua Rosenkranz, an appellate lawyer at Heller Ehrman in New York.

Another sticking point is that automatic injunctions give enormous leverage to patent holders over the users of their inventions. With the threat of being shut down hanging over them like a sword of Damocles, defendants in patent suits have a strong incentive to settle with patent holders and pay far in excess of the value of the patented technology.

But the Supreme Court is probably concerned less about patent trolls getting rich off tech giants like Yahoo! (nasdaq: YHOO - news - people ) and Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) and more about whether the standard of automatic injunction holds up under the law. And here, the Federal Circuit appears to have ridden roughshod over the will of the people: The law states plainly that the courts "may," not "shall," impose injunction "in accordance with the principles of equity"--factors that include harm done to the patent owner or the public interest.

The Supreme Court's motives for accepting the other major patent case, Laboratory Corp. v. Metabolife, are murkier. The justices raised eyebrows in legal circles when they asked the solicitor general whether they should hear the case--a rather mundane dispute over a lab test--and then ignored the government's advice to deny the appeal. The court may decide whether a correlation of two phenomena--in this case, an elevated amino acid level and a vitamin deficiency--is really eligible for patent protection, because one cannot patent "laws of nature, natural phenomena and abstract ideas." Many fear that the court could end up disqualifying an entire class of patents, throwing the patent system into turmoil.

"There's an enormous sector of the biotech industry that's built upon exactly these types of correlations," says Rosenkranz.

14 March 2006

Energy prospects after the petroleum age

This past weekend my younger brother stopped by my house to help me plan out my summer projects (please note this is one of MY projects and not one of my boss's, er, my lovely wife's, projects) He started a discussion with me about world energy consumption and I needed to cut him a bit short as there where but 12 laps left in the F1 race in Bahrain and this the opening race of the season! What a great start! So many people said so many bad things about Max Mosley but DAMN, I love the new qualification system! Did you see Kimi coming up through the ranks?!?! How bout Nico? Is he a chip off the block or what? Damn.

oh, oops. Oh yea, I was talking about Energy with my brother and never finished the conversation. (obviously he's a NASCAR fan... not that there's anything wrong with that... and cares nothing about open wheel, chicanes, aero etc etc)

Thought you might want to check out the following to answer more all of those questions. Here you go Patrick:

This is also off of Norbert Walter's site at Deutsche Bank site

"The growing scarcity of fossil energies must be addressed with intelligent, future-proof strategies. In the longer run, securing energy supplies will be possible only with a broad range of measures. The needs of the moment call for the use of all available levers - the diversification of energy carriers and technologies and the mobilisation of all conservation, reactivation and efficiency-boosting strategies

In the 1990's, low energy prices seemed to suggest that energy supplies were secure. The present surges in the price of oil as well as the power outages in North America and Europe tell a different story: the urgent need for energy policy to target secure supply. At the latest when discoveries of new reserves fall short of demand, energy prices will climb significantly. The supply situation is being made more acute by the growing hunger for energy in China and India. In the longer term, securing energy supplies will only be possible through a broad range of measures."

You really must click through to this. It is very very informative and I can't even begin to try to highlight all of the great information in this paper...

Again, this is from Norbert Walter's site. yes yes I'm stealing all this info but it's the Best Form of Flattery y'know?!?

Not to shift gears back to F1, but it's a sad day now that Spa is off for 2006. What happens when GP racing doesn't use petrol?

13 March 2006

For a new energy strategy

I had the unique pleasure of meeting Norbert Walter almost a year ago at a Rand Conference. I found his initial comments at the meeting refreshingly blunt: to parphrase: "Unlike my colleages I have not aspirations to win a Nobel Prize. I have achieved everything I have wanted. Threfore, I shall present my honest opinions to you" ...or something to that effect. I immediately LIKED this guy. Blunt, to-the-point, and quite ready to not take any political hype crap from anyone. His website is extremely informative and his views are very insightful. I would strongly encourage you to click through on the link above.

"Prof. Dr. Norbert Walter is chief economist of Deutsche Bank Group and head of Deutsche Bank Research, and he holds a doctorate in economics from the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main. At the conference in 2003, he spoke stated that Europeans still think of themselves “like a group of tribes”, rather than as a European Union. He emphasised the importance of unity to the EU becoming a world economic force." (http://support.sas.com/events/sasforuminternational2006/speakers_keynote_previous.html)

For a new energy strategy
January 31, 2006
It's a hot issue. It' s causing more and more worries. The effects are to be seen everywhere. But there's no sign of a strategy to deal with it. The talk goes on almost incessantly - same as ever.

When energy is the issue, you have to consider economic, ecological and security aspects. And anyone who loses sight of technological advances won't come up on top, because energy projects require long planning and exploitation times. The fact of the matter is: energy is very scarce - not least because of energy-intensive production in dynamically growing emerging markets. The fall-out is the rapid and continuing increases in the price of oil and gas, particularly since the level of investment in expanding facilities for fossil-fuel production is low, the building of nuclear power plants has de facto ended (in Germany at least), and the expansion of capacities for renewable energies is selective. Besides, there are still some countries that do not even let world-market prices for energy feed through to the user level. And only in certain parts of the world are the environmental costs of energy use charged to the consumer (emission certificates, fuel taxes).

This is a tight situation, one in which we are far from having digested all the consequences of higher crude oil prices, and further risks loom ahead. The dispute with Iran over its nuclear activities threatens to seriously jeopardise the safety of oil and gas supplies. One reason is potential disruptions to Iranian oil deliveries, but another is the possibility of Iranian attempts to disrupt oil shipments along the Strait of Hormuz. And this uncertainty factor is only one of many. At the beginning of the year the degree of European dependence on Russian gas and politically endangered pipelines became painfully clear.

It would be in almost everyone's interests if we did everything in our power to address the issue. In many areas, Germany can hold its own respectably well. In others, it's time to leave the cul-de-sac. The world ought to achieve greater energy savings and increased cost efficiency with a combination of eco-tax and emission rights trading. We should not switch off comparatively safe nuclear power plants before the end of their economic lifetime. We should not only push ahead with renewable energies in our own country but also market this successful business model internationally (wind parks in Patagonia and the Gobi Desert). We should decentralise energy supply via the use of biomass. We should foster interdisciplinary use of innovations for hydrogen as an energy carrier across different sectors of the economy (e.g. energy, automobiles and plant construction). And in the context of strategy we Germans should elevate energy policy at least to the European if not the global level.

Rheinischer Merkur, January 26, 2006

Other interesting things:

Some really wonderful papers about Energy:

especially this one:
Silicon as an intermediary between renewable energy and hydrogen
Non-renewable energy sources are becoming depleted. Air and water (our environment) are precious and will be under increased jeopardy without effective energy and environmental policies. A hydrogen technology based upon solar energy represents a viable solution to these problems. Silicon successfully functions as a tailor-made intermediate linking decentrally operating renewable energy-generation technology with equally decentrally organised hydrogen-based infrastructure at any location of choice. The transport and storage of silicon are free from potential hazards and/or high energy losses and require a simple infrastructure similar to that needed for coal

Chinese Fake out

At this year's Detroit auto show, for the first time ever, there was a display and a press conference by a Chinese automaker, Geely. A second, Chery, has been in the news with its plans to set up dealers in the States, and Brilliance, another ambitious Chinese maker, is listed on the NYSE.

At a time when virtually everything Americans buy is stamped Made in China and the U.S. auto industry is suffering another shuddering contraction, it's easy to imagine America's automotive landscape overrun with Chinese-made autos, many of them probably purchased at Wal-Mart.

If the Japanese and the Koreans have wounded the U.S. auto industry, surely the Chinese will crush it the way they have textiles and toymaking.

Not so fast. Yes, the West increasingly will use China as a cheap source of labor to make parts for Chevrolets, Nissans, Volkswagens, and others. Eventually, those cars may even be assembled in China. But despite all the red flags in the press, in reality, China's automakers won't become significant exporters to the United States for decades, if ever. Here's why:

Quality. China's quality is not good enough for America (or Europe or Japan) despite joint ventures with firms such as GM, VW, PSA Peugeot Citro‰n, Hyundai, and Toyota. Chinese cars currently are sold at knock-off prices only in soft markets such as Syria, Algeria, and Egypt.

Disorganization. China's auto industry today resembles America's at the start of the twentieth century. There are dozens of small, local enterprises with more ambition than ability. Most lack the skills, technology, and financing to survive and will disappear as surely as forgotten U.S. firms such as Franklin, Maxwell, and Reo. Only ten of China's 100 or so firms make more than 100,000 vehicles per year. Seventy of them produce fewer than 10,000. Exports will account for less than one percent of the nearly three million cars China will build in 2006. International success will require major consolidation.

Home-market demand. China has one of the lowest motorization rates in the world. With a growing economy, buyers there will snap up everything its factories make for years to come.

Brands. With the dubious exception of Nanjing's MG, none of China's carmakers owns a marque that is recognizable outside the country. This absence of brand and image is the most serious flaw in China's great automotive scheme. Note the words of Michael Ganal, head of sales and marketing at BMW, the group that wrote the book on automotive branding: "Strong brands are the most desirable asset for any company."

Sure, China's automakers will address the challenges. They can buy expertise and technology from the West, consolidate, make more and better vehicles, and build their own nameplates. But the process will take a long, long time-and by then, Wal-Mart may have gone the way of Woolworth's.

Help! Help! I'm being repressed!....oh, this is just silly!

"I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries." ...and that would get you 15 years!

Reporters Exempt From Eavesdropping Bill
The Associated Press
Friday, March 10, 2006; 6:01 PM

WASHINGTON -- Reporters who write about government surveillance could be prosecuted under proposed legislation that would solidify the administration's eavesdropping authority, according to some legal analysts who are concerned about dramatic changes in U.S. law.

But an aide to the bill's chief author, Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, said that is not the intention of the legislation

"It in no way applies to reporters _ in any way, shape or form," said Mike Dawson, a senior policy adviser to DeWine, responding to an inquiry Friday afternoon. "If a technical fix is necessary, it will be made."

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft of the legislation, which could be introduced as soon as next week.

The draft would add to the criminal penalties for anyone who "intentionally discloses information identifying or describing" the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program or any other eavesdropping program conducted under a 1978 surveillance law.

Under the boosted penalties, those found guilty could face fines of up to $1 million, 15 years in jail or both.

Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said the measure is broader than any existing laws. She said, for example, the language does not specify that the information has to be harmful to national security or classified.

"The bill would make it a crime to tell the American people that the president is breaking the law, and the bill could make it a crime for the newspapers to publish that fact," said Martin, a civil liberties advocate.

Oh, You gotta read this!... check the link above.

Dennis: What I object to is you automatically treat me like an inferior.
King Arthur: Well I am king.
Dennis: Oh, king eh? Very nice. And how'd you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers. By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society.
King Arthur: I am your king.
Woman: Well I didn't vote for you.
King Arthur: You don't vote for kings.

Woman: Well how'd you become king then?
[Angelic music plays... ]
King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
Dennis: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
Dennis: Oh, but you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.
Dennis: Oh but if I went 'round sayin' I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away.
Dennis: Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I'm being repressed!
King Arthur: Bloody peasant!
Dennis: Oh, what a giveaway! Did you hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That's what I'm on about! Did you see him repressing me? You saw him, Didn't you?

"You don't frighten us, English pig dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called "Arthur King," you and all your silly English K-nig-hts".... cachink! that's another 15 for ya lad!

12 March 2006

AIM Report: Media Reports Connect Saddam to 9/11 Plot - March A

The 9/11 Commission report tells us in detail that the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11 were set in motion in December 1998. They report that interrogations of the plot's mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, demonstrate that the plot was set in motion in "late 98 early 99" at a meeting in Khandahar, Afghanistan. This also happens to be the time period that Iraq came under bombardment by the United States. The timing is no accident.

The commission reported that the only time Osama bin Laden was in Khandahar during the time period of "late 98 early 99" was between December 18 and December 24, 1998, after he gave an interview to ABC News in which he declared that "To seek to possess the weapons that could counter those of the infidels is a religious duty. If I have indeed acquired these weapons, then this is an obligation I carried out and I thank God for enabling us to do that. And if I seek to acquire these weapons I am carrying out a duty. It would be a sin for Muslims not to try to possess the weapons that would prevent the infidels from inflicting harm on Muslims."

Read the entire article at the link above...

07 March 2006

Oil: Caveat empty

“From the standpoint of the oil industry obviously - and I'll talk a little later on about gas - for over a hundred years we as an industry have had to deal with the pesky problem that once you find oil and pump it out of the ground you've got to turn around and find more or go out of business. Producing oil is obviously a self-depleting activity. Every year you've got to find and develop reserves equal to your output just to stand still, just to stay even. This is as true for companies as well in the broader economic sense it is for the world. A new merged company like Exxon-Mobil will have to secure over a billion and a half barrels of new oil equivalent reserves every year just to replace existing production. It's like making one hundred per cent interest; discovering another major field of some five hundred million barrels equivalent every four months or
finding two Hibernias a year. For the world as a whole, oil companies are expected to keep finding and developing enough oil to offset our seventy one million plus barrel a day of oil depletion, but also to meet new demand. By some estimates there will be an average of two per cent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead along with conservatively a three per cent natural decline in production from existing reserves. That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day. So where is the oil going to come from? Governments and the national oil companies are obviously in control of about ninety per cent of the assets. Oil remains fundamentally a government business. While many regions of the world offer greet oil opportunities, the Middle East with two thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies, even though companies are anxious for greeter access there, progress continues to be slow. ”

-Dick Cheney,Chairman Halliburton
speech at the London Institute of Petroleum Autumn lunch in 1999

"The speech by Dick Cheney is also very interesting from other aspects. First we can read his own opinion about himself: “I'm often asked why I left politics and went to Halliburton and I explain that I reached the point where I was mean-spirited, short- tempered and intolerant of those who disagreed with me and they said' Hell, you'd make
a great CEO'.”

Oil: Caveat empty
By Alfred J. Cavallo
May/June 2005 pp. 16-18 (vol. 61, no. 03) © 2005 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist
ithout any press conferences, grand announcements, or hyperbolic advertising campaigns, the Exxon Mobil Corporation, one of the world's largest publicly owned petroleum companies, has quietly joined the ranks of those who are predicting an impending plateau in non-OPEC oil production. Their report, The Outlook for Energy: A 2030 View, forecasts a peak in just five years.

In the past, many who expressed such concerns were dismissed as eager catastrophists, peddling the latest Malthusian prophecy of the impending collapse of fossil-fueled civilization. Their reliance on private oil-reserve data that is unverifiable by other analysts, and their use of models that ignore political and economic factors, have led to frequent erroneous pronouncements. They were countered by the extreme optimists, who believed that we would never need to think about such problems and that the markets would take care of everything. Up to now, those who worried about limited petroleum supplies have been at best ignored, and at worst openly ridiculed.

Meanwhile, average consumers have taken their cue from the market, where rising prices have always been followed by falling prices, leading to the assumption that this pattern will continue forever. In truth, the market price of crude oil is completely decoupled from and independent of production costs, which average about $6 per barrel for non-OPEC producers and $1.50 per barrel for OPEC producers. This situation has nothing to do with a free market, and everything to do with what OPEC believes will be accepted or tolerated by the United States. The completely affordable market price--what consumers pay at the gasoline pump--provides magisterial profits to the owners of the resource and gives no warning of impending shortages.

All the more reason that the public should heed the silent alarm sounded by the ExxonMobil report, which is more credible than other predictions for several reasons. First and foremost is that the source is ExxonMobil. No oil company, much less one with so much managerial, scientific, and engineering talent, has ever discussed peak oil production before. Given the profound implications of this forecast, it must have been published only after a thorough review.

Second, the majority of non-OPEC producers such as the United States, Britain, Norway, and Mexico, who satisfy 60 percent of world oil demand, are already in a production plateau or decline. (All of ExxonMobil's crude oil production comes from non-OPEC fields.) Third, the production peak cited by the report is quite close at hand. If it were twenty-five years instead of five years in the future, one might be more skeptical, since new technologies or new discoveries could change the outlook during that longer period. But five years is too short a time frame for any new developments to have an impact on this result.

Also noteworthy is the manner in which the Outlook addresses so-called frontier resources, such as extra-heavy oil, "oil sands," and "oil shale." The report cites the existence of more than 4 trillion barrels of extra heavy oil and "oil sands"--producing potentially 800 billion barrels of oil, assuming a 20-25 percent extraction efficiency. The Outlook also cites an estimate of 3 trillion barrels of "oil shale." These numbers have figured prominently in advertisements that ExxonMobil and other petroleum companies have placed in newspapers and magazines, clearly in an attempt to reassure consumers (and perhaps stockholders) that there is no need to worry about resource constraints for many decades....
click the link above for the article...

Here are some other interesting sites:




Numenta: 'puters implants in your head dude!

When I started this blog site I placed a couple of cool links to other worthwhile sites. In case you ahve not visited the Numenta site you really should check it out. These are soem of the folks who wrote the Palm OS then owned Handspring and have now set up a "think tank" in the most literal sense.

Numenta Formed by Jeff Hawkins to Apply Neuroscience Research to Computing Problems

New Company Based on Hawkins' Research on Brain Theory

MENLO PARK, CA - March 24, 2005 - Computer industry veterans Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky (founders of Palm Computing and Handspring) today announced they are forming a new company named Numenta. Numenta (which stems from "mentis," the Latin word for "mind") will develop technology derived from Hawkins' research in neuroscience and brain theory. Numenta's technology is a new type of memory architecture modeled after the mammalian cortex that can solve problems in pattern recognition and machine learning.

Hawkins recently published a book on the subject of biological and machine intelligence titled On Intelligence. The book, co-written with science journalist Sandra Blakeslee, has attracted interest in the scientific and computing communities. Numenta is being formed to turn the biological theory described in the book into a useful technology.

"My goal at Numenta is to put my brain theory into practice," said Hawkins. "We have the opportunity to build intelligent memory systems to solve difficult problems in computer science and artificial intelligence for which no other known solutions exist, such as general machine vision, language understanding, and robotics."

Dubinsky, who was formerly co-founder and CEO of Handspring, as well as CEO of Palm Computing, will be Numenta's CEO. "I'm delighted to be working with Jeff again to formulate a business out of his theories," said Dubinsky. "The Numenta vision is large in scope and long term. Although it may take several years before we have commercial products, the possibilities for this technology are exciting and broad."

In addition to Dubinsky, Hawkins is joined by a third founder in Numenta, Dileep George. A PhD candidate at Stanford University, George has worked with Hawkins since 2003 on creating a mathematical extension and software implementation of Hawkins' theory. George now serves as the principal engineer at Numenta.

Hawkins' active role as CTO for palmOne is unchanged. "I remain committed to the ongoing success of palmOne and appreciate palmOne's flexibility in allowing me to simultaneously pursue my other passion."

For more information about Numenta and to sign up for email notification of Numenta news, go to www.numenta.com. For more information on the book, On Intelligence, go to www.onintelligenc

The Last Exit From Iraq

Summary: Over 70 years ago, the United Kingdom's occupation of Iraq proved so unpopular at home that London had to declare success and head for the exit. The British pulled out early, and chaos followed in their wake. If Washington hopes for better, it should study this example to learn how -- and how not -- to end an occupation.

Joel Rayburn is a Major in the U.S. Army based at Central Command. From 2002 to 2005, he taught history at the U.S. Military Academy. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of CENTCOM or the Defense Department

The United States was not the first country in the last hundred years to occupy Iraq. That distinction belongs to the United Kingdom, which seized the provinces of Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul from the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I and formally took control of the new country in 1920, under a mandate from the League of Nations

A number of pundits have recently noted the parallels between the United Kingdom's experience eight decades ago and the United States' today. The comparisons, however, have generally centered on the early and middle phases of both occupations. Too few have focused on the ignominious end of the United Kingdom's reign in Mesopotamia and the lessons those events hold for the United States today. In fact, Washington's current position bears a strong resemblance to London's in the late 1920s, when the British were responsible for the tutelage of a fledgling Iraqi state suffering from immature institutions, active insurgencies, and the interference of hostile neighbors. Eventually, this tutelage was undermined by pressure from the British Parliament and the press to withdraw -- forces quite similar to those in the United States now calling for a withdrawal from Iraq. Building a better understanding of the United Kingdom's mistakes -- and of the consequences of that country's ultimate withdrawal from Iraq -- could thus help illuminate the present occupation and provide answers to when and how to end it. If the British record teaches anything, it is this: costly and frustrating as the fostering of Iraqi democracy may be, the costs of leaving the job undone would likely be far higher, for both the occupiers and the Iraqis. This is a lesson the British learned more than seven decades ago, when their premature pullout in 1932 led to more violence in Iraq, the rise of a dictatorship, and a catastrophic unraveling of everything the British had tried to build there.

Russia, Germany and Energy Politics

Russia, Germany and Energy Politics
By Ron Fraser
Monday, January 16, 2006

Russia and Germany are caught up in a high-stakes game of energy politics. The fallout will shape the order of European international relations for the foreseeable future.

Halfway through her first 100 days in office, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has been thrust into stormy waters that are proving both a test and a serious challenge to her government’s tenuous hold on foreign policy. At stake is a trade-off between territory and energy in Europe.

During the previous chancellorship of Gerhard Schröder, Germany appeared to enjoy warm and close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was a convenient politico-economic relationship: Russia got German investment to kickstart its ailing economy, and in return Germany received preferred access to Russia’s massive energy resources.

However, the Russian president’s clever and deliberate ploy to use energy colossus Gazprom as a lead arrow in his pouch of foreign-policy quirks has the German public suddenly realizing that they appear to have placed too many eggs in the Russian energy basket.

Germany presently relies on Russia to supply a whole third of its oil and gas supplies....

read the rest at the link above.

02 March 2006

Stealth Sharks

"Stealth sharks to patrol the high seas"
01 March 2006 From New Scientist Print Edition, Susan Brown
If the Chinese only knew they wouldn't want to increase the size of their navy!
"IMAGINE getting inside the mind of a shark: swimming silently through the ocean, sensing faint electrical fields, homing in on the trace of a scent, and navigating through the featureless depths for hour after hour.

We may soon be able to do just that via electrical probes in the shark's brain. Engineers funded by the US military have created a neural implant designed to enable a shark's brain signals to be manipulated remotely, controlling the animal's movements, and perhaps even decoding what it is feeling.

That team is among a number of groups around the world that have gained ethical approval to develop implants that can monitor and influence the behaviour of animals, from sharks and tuna to rats and monkeys. These researchers hope such implants will improve our understanding of how the animals interact with their environment, as well as boosting research into tackling human paralysis."

As always, click the link for the full article.

Did you goto the Superbowl?

Well, then good, your face is now on file!

BigBrother is now watching, and he's going to watch more and more. Is that a bad thing?

"Human identification from facial features has been studied primarily using imagery from visible video cameras. Thermal imaging sensors are one of the most innovative emerging techonologies in the market. Fueled by ever lowering costs and improved sensitivity and resolution, our sensors provide exciting new oportunities for biometric identification. As part of our involvement in this effort, Equinox is collecting an extensive database of face imagery in the following modalities: coregistered broadband-visible/LWIR (8-12 microns), MWIR (3-5 microns), SWIR (0.9-1.7 microns). This data collection is made available on this Web Site for experimentation and statistical performance evaluations. During Phase I, initial performance evaluations will be made to assess the utility of thermal infrared images for face recognition, detection and tracking...." more on the link above.

Also check out:
http://www.equinoxsensors.com/products/HID.html (which is where the above info came from)


Just in case you failed to read "the Wheel" posting here is some more information:

Antarctica losing ice to oceans
By Richard Black,Environment Correspondent, BBC News website

A new space-based study of Antarctica shows its ice sheet is shrinking. Researchers used satellites to plot changes in the Earth's gravity in the Antarctic during the period 2002-2005. Writing in the journal Science, they conclude that the continent is losing 152 cubic km of ice each year, with most loss in the west.

In recent years scientists have found other evidence that West Antarctic ice is melting, which could contribute to sea level rise.
In his contribution to a recent report on climate change, the director of the British Antarctic Survey, Chris Rapley, described the West Antarctic ice sheet as "a giant awakened". But gathering comprehensive data on both the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets has not been straightforward, and studies have produced apparently contradictory results, with some indicating a loss of ice and others that sheets are thickening.

more info via the link above...

Atomic Energy in India

01 March 2006

US plans massive data sweep

Little-known data-collection system could troll news, blogs, even e-mails. Will it go too far?
By Mark Clayton | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
The US government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity.
The system - parts of which are operational, parts of which are still under development - is already credited with helping to foil some plots. It is the federal government's latest attempt to use broad data-collection and powerful analysis in the fight against terrorism. But by delving deeply into the digital minutiae of American life, the program is also raising concerns that the government is intruding too deeply into citizens' privacy.

"We don't realize that, as we live our lives and make little choices, like buying groceries, buying on Amazon, Googling, we're leaving traces everywhere," says Lee Tien, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "We have an attitude that no one will connect all those dots. But these programs are about connecting those dots - analyzing and aggregating them - in a way that we haven't thought about. It's one of the underlying fundamental issues we have yet to come to grips with."

The core of this effort is a little-known system called Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic Enhancement (ADVISE). Only a few public documents mention it. ADVISE is a research and development program within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), part of its three-year-old "Threat and Vulnerability, Testing and Assessment" portfolio. The TVTA received nearly $50 million in federal funding this year.

DHS officials are circumspect when talking about ADVISE. "I've heard of it," says Peter Sand, director of privacy technology. "I don't know the actual status right now. But if it's a system that's been discussed, then it's something we're involved in at some level."

click the above link for the entire article