K E L O I D II        
Keloid II has been released! Those insane talents at BLR VFX in Spain have done it again, check it out:

KELOID II

Greg Broadmore and I were fortunate enough to collaborate with JJ and his team, and produce some new designs for the short. Here's some of my work:


BLR wanted a large mech unit with a human pilot, and I wanted to design something a little different with such a fun but familiar brief. With other autonomous robots running around it didn't make sense to have the pilot sitting in a traditional cockpit or controlling the mech with their limb movement. So I put the pilot in a low slung tank, where they would be ensconced in inflatable padding, and controlling the unit through a neural interface and display screens. This would allow super fast entry and egress for the pilot, and would look pretty creepy too.

Of course that means the pilot isn't strictly necessary so the pilot tank could be swapped out for a big ass ammo tank for a big ass gun.
BLR were also after a larger version of the original Keloid robot, and a human soldier with exo-skeletal gear and armour.

Here are some renders of the final models, and some screen grabs from the video:





          Special 316: CES 2017        

TWiT Live Specials (Video-HD)

Networking made easy with Synology. Robots programmed not to hurt people made by Bosch. LG's OLED TV's have come down in price and are paper thin. By developing a safer car Ford is pioneering autonomous driving. The Foldimate is a robot that will fold your clothes for you, and ADT integrates Alexa into home security.

Host: Fr. Robert Ballecer, SJ

Download or subscribe to this show at https://twit.tv/shows/twit-live-specials.

Thanks to CacheFly for the bandwidth for this special presentation.


          Blog Post: Rooted In Shallow Soil        

Gamers were dumbfounded when PopCap announced it was transplanting the Plants vs. Zombies series from the backyard to the battlefield. To say the multiplayer-shooter spinoff is a huge departure for the casual game developer is an understatement, but the aesthetics and lighthearted tone are a wonderful change of pace for the violence-obsessed genre. Dig beneath the surface, though, and you find some fundamental flaws that hold back this family-friendly shooter.[Excerpt]

PopCap is known for making highly polished games that virtually anyone can pick up and play. Unfortunately, that equation only rings half true for Garden Warfare. The developer's simplified approach to the genre does away with basic concepts like sprinting, melee attacks, and limited ammo, making it easy for anyone to get into the swing of battle. However, the gameplay is uncharacteristically buggy; players get hung up on other characters and geometry, corpses twitch on the ground, and even the slightest bit of network lag renders some abilities (like the all-star zombie's dash attack) ineffective. A variety of classes and unlockable characters add some nuance to the simple fun, but PopCap's limited mode offerings hamstring replayability.

Garden Warfare only features two main competitive modes: Team Vanquish and Gardens & Graveyards. Team Vanquish is your run-of-the-mill team deathmatch. Gardens & Graveyards tasks zombies with assaulting a series of consecutive capture points in a map, similar to Battlefield's rush mode. A classic variant of each mode disables upgrades and unlockable characters (making them less interesting), and the beginner mode gives you more health the more you die, but you're still playing one of two basic formulas.

Gardens & Graveyards is clearly the main attraction. Maps have unique themes, and capture points are built around interesting locations that facilitate large-scale confrontations. Every map features an interesting final objective, such as sneaking five zombies into Crazy Dave's mansion or destroying the roots of a giant sunflower growing inside of a lighthouse. Gardens & Graveyards provides hours of fun, but eventually you get tired of assaulting or defending the same points on the same handful of maps, and Team Vanquish does little to alleviate the boredom.

Garden Warfare's co-op offerings are equally uninspired. Garden Ops is a four-player horde mode, which tasks players with defending a garden against ten increasingly difficult waves of zombies. Aside from the occasional zombie boss or special wave, you don't have much to draw you in once you've beaten a few matches. 

Garden Warfare's most interesting twist is how it incorporates the series' tower-defense elements into matches. Players can spawn zombies or plants in designated locations on the map, which then attack opponents autonomously. Unfortunately, these characters are treated as consumable items that players must purchase before matches using Garden Warfare's microtransaction-ready economy.

The vast majority of Garden Warfare's content is locked behind its PvZ Coin currency. Support plants and zombies, customization items, weapon upgrades, and even new class characters are bought with the coins you earn from matches. However, can't just buy what you want; instead you must purchase blind card packs of varying prices. Consumable card packs give you a handful of zombies and plants to summon during matches, while more expensive packs provide random upgrades or character stickers – though you have to collect all of the stickers for a character before you can actually play as them. Like any good pusher, EA gives you a couple packs for free, but after that the grinding for coins begins.

This faux free-to-play approach undermines Garden Warfare's promising tower-defense elements. Each plant or zombie you spawn feels like a waste of money; regardless of how helpful they may be on the battlefield, buying consumable packs just holds you back from the larger goal of unlocking more playable characters, which is the only motivator to continue playing after you've learned the maps inside and out.

Those extra playable characters are worth unlocking. Although they have the same class abilities, each character has its own unique twist on gameplay. For instance, the marine-biologist zombie features a higher rate of fire than the regular scientist zombie, and the fire sunflower deals extra elemental damage. Unfortunately, characters take an exorbitant amount of time to unlock, and because card packs are random, you can't just unlock upgrades or characters for the class you're interested in.

[View:3255212410001]

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the economy is that there's no option to purchase coins with real money, but EA says it may institute such an option in the future. Frankly, I can't imagine a world where that change doesn't happen, but it doesn't really matter. The progression system and tower-defense elements are already broken to accommodate the possibility. Garden Warfare is designed like a free-to-play game, despite the $30 price tag.

PopCap's approach to class progression also plays out for the worse. Instead of gaining experience points, you level up classes by completing a series of challenges. Things start out easy – deploy five potato mines, kill three plants with rockets – but more specific challenges distract players from what's best for the match and make leveling up a pain. Killing two scientist zombies with a sun beam or shooting down three garlic drones seems easy enough, but what if the other team isn't using those characters? I went entire matches making zero progress with characters simply because the right elements weren't on the battlefield. Some challenges are downright devious; spawning five conehead zombies first requires you to buy consumable card packs until you randomly receive enough of them to complete the challenge. Luckily, you unlock all of the abilities for a class in the first few levels anyway, so you can abandon the progression scheme after that.

Before the tedium set in, I had fun with Garden Warfare. Spending a few hours with the accessible combat and charming world was entertaining, but the random card packs and achievement-style leveling system killed my desire to keep playing. Garden Warfare's simplified gameplay and limited map selection can only entertain for so long – without rewarding progression, there's no carrot (or brain) at the end of the stick.

The Xbox 360 Difference
While both the Xbox One and Xbox 360 versions have their share of problems, the last-gen incarnation fares considerably worse. While testing the 360 version, I ran into increased gameplay bugs, load times, pop-up, and embarrassingly blurry visuals as the game struggled to stream in the high-resolution textures. These shortcomings don’t ruin the experience, but they are significant enough to earn the Xbox 360 entry a lower score than the Xbox One version. 

          Blog Post: Rooted In Shallow Soil        

Gamers were dumbfounded when PopCap announced it was transplanting the Plants vs. Zombies series from the backyard to the battlefield. To say the multiplayer-shooter spinoff is a huge departure for the casual game developer is an understatement, but the aesthetics and lighthearted tone are a wonderful change of pace for the violence-obsessed genre. Dig beneath the surface, though, and you find some fundamental flaws that hold back this family-friendly shooter.[Excerpt]

PopCap is known for making highly polished games that virtually anyone can pick up and play. Unfortunately, that equation only rings half true for Garden Warfare. The developer's simplified approach to the genre does away with basic concepts like sprinting, melee attacks, and limited ammo, making it easy for anyone to get into the swing of battle. However, the gameplay is uncharacteristically buggy; players get hung up on other characters and geometry, corpses twitch on the ground, and even the slightest bit of network lag renders some abilities (like the all-star zombie's dash attack) ineffective. A variety of classes and unlockable characters add some nuance to the simple fun, but PopCap's limited mode offerings hamstring replayability.

Garden Warfare only features two main competitive modes: Team Vanquish and Gardens & Graveyards. Team Vanquish is your run-of-the-mill team deathmatch. Gardens & Graveyards tasks zombies with assaulting a series of consecutive capture points in a map, similar to Battlefield's rush mode. A classic variant of each mode disables upgrades and unlockable characters (making them less interesting), and the beginner mode gives you more health the more you die, but you're still playing one of two basic formulas.

Gardens & Graveyards is clearly the main attraction. Maps have unique themes, and capture points are built around interesting locations that facilitate large-scale confrontations. Every map features an interesting final objective, such as sneaking five zombies into Crazy Dave's mansion or destroying the roots of a giant sunflower growing inside of a lighthouse. Gardens & Graveyards provides hours of fun, but eventually you get tired of assaulting or defending the same points on the same handful of maps, and Team Vanquish does little to alleviate the boredom.

Garden Warfare's co-op offerings are equally uninspired. Garden Ops is a four-player horde mode, which tasks players with defending a garden against ten increasingly difficult waves of zombies. Aside from the occasional zombie boss or special wave, you don't have much to draw you in once you've beaten a few matches. The Xbox One-exclusive modes are even more disappointing. The splitscreen mode is an endless version of Garden Ops, where the second player doesn't get to save his or her progress and the boss mode relegates you to providing support to your team during competitive matches from a topdown map of the battlefield.  

Garden Warfare's most interesting twist is how it incorporates the series' tower-defense elements into matches. Players can spawn zombies or plants in designated locations on the map, which then attack opponents autonomously. Unfortunately, these characters are treated as consumable items that players must purchase before matches using Garden Warfare's microtransaction-ready economy.

The vast majority of Garden Warfare's content is locked behind its PvZ Coin currency. Support plants and zombies, customization items, weapon upgrades, and even new class characters are bought with the coins you earn from matches. However, can't just buy what you want; instead you must purchase blind card packs of varying prices. Consumable card packs give you a handful of zombies and plants to summon during matches, while more expensive packs provide random upgrades or character stickers – though you have to collect all of the stickers for a character before you can actually play as them. Like any good pusher, EA gives you a couple packs for free, but after that the grinding for coins begins.

This faux free-to-play approach undermines Garden Warfare's promising tower-defense elements. Each plant or zombie you spawn feels like a waste of money; regardless of how helpful they may be on the battlefield, buying consumable packs just holds you back from the larger goal of unlocking more playable characters, which is the only motivator to continue playing after you've learned the maps inside and out.

Those extra playable characters are worth unlocking. Although they have the same class abilities, each character has its own unique twist on gameplay. For instance, the marine-biologist zombie features a higher rate of fire than the regular scientist zombie, and the fire sunflower deals extra elemental damage. Unfortunately, characters take an exorbitant amount of time to unlock, and because card packs are random, you can't just unlock upgrades or characters for the class you're interested in.

[View:3255212410001]

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the economy is that there's no option to purchase coins with real money, but EA says it may institute such an option in the future. Frankly, I can't imagine a world where that change doesn't happen, but it doesn't really matter. The progression system and tower-defense elements are already broken to accommodate the possibility. Garden Warfare is designed like a free-to-play game, despite the $40 price tag.

PopCap's approach to class progression also plays out for the worse. Instead of gaining experience points, you level up classes by completing a series of challenges. Things start out easy – deploy five potato mines, kill three plants with rockets – but more specific challenges distract players from what's best for the match and make leveling up a pain. Killing two scientist zombies with a sun beam or shooting down three garlic drones seems easy enough, but what if the other team isn't using those characters? I went entire matches making zero progress with characters simply because the right elements weren't on the battlefield. Some challenges are downright devious; spawning five conehead zombies first requires you to buy consumable card packs until you randomly receive enough of them to complete the challenge. Luckily, you unlock all of the abilities for a class in the first few levels anyway, so you can abandon the progression scheme after that.

Before the tedium set in, I had fun with Garden Warfare. Spending a few hours with the accessible combat and charming world was entertaining, but the random card packs and achievement-style leveling system killed my desire to keep playing. Garden Warfare's simplified gameplay and limited map selection can only entertain for so long – without rewarding progression, there's no carrot (or brain) at the end of the stick.


          Weight Inward into Lightness: A Reading of Canoe Repair        
by
Flore Chevaillier
2004-08-19

“Canoe Repair” takes place at a transitional time for the main character. Zanes moves from New York City to a New Hampshire town and has to adapt to a new life and a new job, running a Laundromat, as well as to his son’s new hang-gliding activity and his wife’s new TV job. Thus, “Canoe Repair” occurs at a moment when rural and urban worlds are put in “connection and disconnection at the same time” (“Midcourse Corrections” 50). While we learn more about Zanes’ occupations, we also read a portrait of the town’s life. We discover a picture of America and its smell of “coffee richly dripping and poppy-seed-blue corn muffins” (69). We read Zanes’ discussions with “Seemyon Stitching … a spring immigrant from Byelorussia and a trained marathon runner” (62), and find out about the “president’s eight o’clock message to the nation” they listen to when “no one among the machine-users seemed to be waiting for the president’s speech” (72). The story deals with the movements of people from the town who use the Laundromat and the movements of the canoe on the lake, as well as the hang-gliding and the weather.

One might describe the events in these terms. But the story is also a reflection on time and on strange, everyday moments in one’s life. “Canoe Repair” presents a section of a man’s life, also a canoe’s, since its repair is at the center of the story’s multiple directions, its focus on space and movement. The story is a space where different tensions meet. It shows the strain between two worlds, two generations, between different experiences of time and perception, and between two voices telling the story. “Betweenness” is central in McElroy’s writing. In “Canoe Repair,” “ ‘Betweenness’ is… the crumbling edge of the interface of worlds, selves, and situations” (Saltzman 100). Betweenness is also at stake when we consider “Midcourse Corrections,” an unusual autobiographical interview/essay ended by “Canoe Repair.”

“Is a canoe too beautiful to be funny unless somebody falls out of it?” asks Joseph McElroy in “Midcourse Corrections” - “falls out, tipping it over? Put two people in it facing forward. What’s the stern paddler see? What’s the bow paddler feel? - for the stern paddler?”(42).

These questions about canoe uses are put into practice in McElroy’s short story, independent but part of the essay, as he explains. “Some of the material in ‘Midcourse Corrections’ could be said to turn into ‘Canoe Repair’… I wanted to use ‘Canoe Repair’ to fulfill ‘Midcourse Corrections,’ that peculiar interview memoir … that should turn into fiction at the end.” Personal correspondence with the author, June 16, 2001.

“Corrections” is itself an experiment in literary form that in many ways epitomizes the body of McElroy’s writing. “With its inserted interviews, its odd proportions, and its highly colored perspectives of me,” McElroy writes in a letter, “[‘Corrections’] is a hybrid fiction, I suppose. A daydream posing as a document.” (cited in Tabbi 156)

The thematic and structural research of this “hybrid fiction” turns into practical experience in “Canoe Repair.” The author’s reflections upon space, motion, and perception connect to the movement of the boat on water because the “canoe becomes an occasion to think.” Personal correspondence with the author, February 6, 2003. We can approach the story from different angles due to the openness of its particular structure linking it to the essay, of which it is also the unusual closing part. Nevertheless, it would be unfair to consider the story strictly as a conclusion to “Midcourse Corrections;” it has its own structure, dynamics, and meaning. It is a complex and intense story because of the multiple tensions we can feel in its narration.

To understand “Canoe Repair,” we have to focus on the transient aspect of Zanes’ life and its relation to tensions that appear both thematically and structurally. The text is literally at the end of the “Midcourse Corrections” but metaphorically “in between.” It connects to “Midcourse Corrections” but is autonomous. Moreover, it plays strangely with the reader’s expectations. It is organized around a double voice that disturbs the reader’s traditional way of reading. The reading, because of structural devices that put us “in between,” becomes the experience of the transition moment Zanes goes through, his shift from one world to another, his perception of the world.

Zanes’ visions can sometimes be confusing. Hence, some aspects of the story can be destabilizing to the reader. The story starts with a family scene: Zanes and his son are watching the river. A strange canoe used by a black man and a blond woman catches their attention. Zanes’ neighbor calls him afterward to fix the canoe for the blond woman’s son; the canoe captures Zanes’ attention throughout the rest of the story. Parallel to Zanes’ work on the canoe, we learn about his arguments with his son regarding the latter’s hang-gliding practice. We also get to know more about the life that goes on at the Laundromat where Zanes meets with Seemyon Stytchin and a group of young punks that disturb the community. Zanes starts a friendship with Lung, a member of this group. However, this summary contradicts the story’s original presentation of Zanes’ world because it reassembles what is purposefully fragmented in “Canoe Repair.” We only achieve this vision of the story retrospectively because it is not told linearly.

Our expectations as readers are challenged, as David Porush notes when associating the technique of “de-automatization” provoked by the unsettling language of McElroy’s novel Plus. Plus ’ main character Imp Plus is a brain detached from its body and put in orbit to communicate with earth during a scientific experiment. When relearning ways to communicate, Imp Plus uses language unusually. Therefore, the reader is forced to see words in a different way. Imp Plus presents a new use of words that questions the systems we automatically refer to when using language. In “Canoe Repair,” the challenge to our automatisms lies in the distortions that affect the structure of the story. The compact paragraphs of “Canoe Repair” are juxtaposed without transitions. When turning to a dialogue, McElroy does not use rules of quotation to let the reader know that the viewpoint is changing. Tabbi claims that for McElroy “the mental text … does not precede the work at all but exists instead in the work, where the reader might imaginatively participate in the compositional or self-creative effort that went into the life/work’s composition” (158). The activity of the reader is thus part of the structure of the short story. Disjunction calls up the reader’s activity of representation. It asks us to create a coherent image of the narrative, a coherent text. Omitting the relation between two events leaves room for the reader to fill in the blanks. This crafted incompleteness creates the structure of “Canoe Repair.” Facts have more than one logical order; the reader coordinates elements by analyzing fragments.

Thus, the reader organizes the very space of the text. We shift, for example, from “When he took his canoe out, Zanes also thought,” to “The ideas knew how to get away sometimes” in the next paragraph (59). Reading “Zanes also thought,” the reader does not expect the sentence to stop at this point. S/he expects a complement to the verb “thought.” Therefore, reading “Canoe Repair” can be somewhat frustrating; the author even ironically refers to our unsatisfied expectation when we lack a transition between the two sentences. That is why, as Wolfgang Iser notes in The Implied Reader, we have to use imagination to compensate for the gaps. The context created by the sentence: “When he took his canoe out, Zanes also thought,” is destroyed so that the reader steps back and reflects upon the narrative as a work of art. “The artwork itself is represented as an artwork” (McHale 30). The reader finds metafictional allusions that suggest a fiction conscious of its fictionality, which makes the reader understand the story at another level of representation. These metafictional moments create a disjunction in addition to the fragmenting of the plot itself.

Each blank invites interpretation and coordination. Do the gaps become the theme of the narrative? When analyzing Modern texts such as Ulysses, Iser engages the issue of semantic richness and incoherence of gaps, moments of inconsistency, disruption, or omission. He sees reading as a process the reader undergoes to synthesize fragmented elements; the reader creates meaning.

The unconnected allusions and the abrupt alternation of stylistic devices disclose a large number of gaps … [that give] rise to the stimulating quality of the text. On the one hand, the density of allusions and the continual segmentation of style involve an incessant changing of perspectives, which seems to go out of control whenever the reader tries to pin them down; on the other hand, the gaps resulting from the cuts and abbreviations tempt the reader to fill them in. (Iser 213)

The structural breaks in “Canoe Repair” might be less extreme than those in Ulysses but, similarly, the gaps and omissions become part of the story’s theme, possibly denying thematic synthesis itself. Zanes’ fragmented thinking and his way of experiencing life are present in the style the author uses. The medium is often the message. The construction of sentences that might make us insecure reminds us that reading “Canoe Repair” is a special experience that enables us to coordinate elements of the story and thus penetrate Zanes’ mind and his somewhat eccentric thinking. The reader, by grasping multiplicity, references, and rambling elements, maps out what is happening in Zanes’ mind. The way things get originally connected structurally mirrors Zanes’ experience of the world that also reaches for unusual connections.

How do we find our bearings reading “Canoe Repair?” The narration resists linear order. It seems laminated into different sequences of the character’s life. Flashes are exposed with neither explanation nor transition. Joseph McElroy “never hid the gaps” (“Neural Neighborhoods” 204). Chronology is not respected; events follow a pattern of shifts from one subject to another, from one point of view to another, and everything seems important and unimportant at the same time. There is sometimes no link between consecutive sentences: “Was it my time device operating again?” and “A canoe is what makes you do” (77). Here, gaps interfere with our sense of the evolution of the story and the progression in the character’s life, if there is one. These gaps are caused mostly by the double narration of the story, and they are even more challenging to the reader. When we shift from, “Was it my time device operating again?” to “A canoe is what makes you do” (77), we shift from an “I” to an omniscient narrator. Zanes’ own perspective on his life is balanced by the omniscient narrator. To understand Zanes’ life, we need to be inside him and outside him. We need to know the world exterior to Zanes’ subjectivity to understand his reactions, hence the role of the omniscient voice.

The embedded structure of the story told by two narrators juxtaposes two sources of information. This construction enables the insertion of one perspective within another and it leads us to see Zanes’ life as an accumulation of fragments. Different perspectives provide distinct information about and approaches to the same life. Can the story be seen as a dialogue between these two poles? Unlike traditional narrations where the reader faces a set of events exposed in a linear way, “Canoe Repair” makes the reader feel the duality of life.

McElroy constructs a dynamic that can be paralleled with the theme of the double, often present in gothic stories. In these stories, the narrator and the character are the same person, although it is usually not clearly stated in the text. In “Canoe Repair,” there is, to some extent, a renewal of the theme of the double since our character has a double voice. The schizophrenic tensions represented by the strange vision of the double in the gothic stories appear in “Canoe Repair” in a somewhat different way. The strain between two voices can be understood as the representation of power over the development of the story.

First, the omniscient exterior narrator controls the story. Progressively, “I” becomes dominant. At the end, rapid shifts of viewpoint break up the story. The evolution of each viewpoint implicitly lets us gather details about the context of each narrator’s intervention. The constant shift form “I” to “he” changes the reader’s relation to the narrator because it implies a nonlinear way to gather information. Each narrator puts the reader into a frame of mind that influences interpretation. The shifting of frames makes the reader’s activity intense. When we change frames, we have to change our interpretation. How to base our understanding of the story on a specific context when the latter is always denatured?

The two narrators fragment the story, and they produce a repetitive pattern. Each of the narrators gives us details on the same moments of Zanes’ life. The double narration is thus based on the repetition of similar life sequences. The double narration allows repetition to penetrate the narrative. It is thanks to repetition that the reader can make sense of the story’s disconnected elements. The gaps that we apparently cannot coordinate - such as “Is there somebody over there? Zanes said. Probably, his son said” and “All but one of the machines were in use that evening”(72) - are so large that the only way the reader can assemble the fragments of the story is by focusing on the repetitive patterns that connect these partial perspectives. We constantly come across the same moments: the observation of the canoe, meetings between Zanes’ wife and the producer of her cooking show, scenes with Lung, discussions with Seemyon, and so on. The plot offers not so much progress as recurrence, duplication, and reiteration.

In our mind, those terms are usually connected to something monotonous. Yet in “Canoe Repair,” the iteration of words, ideas, and/or themes does not result in a redundant effect on reading. The first reference to “sunset” (56) is echoed by “[o]ne of them materialized at sunset” and “at sunset a window beamed” (57). Through repetition, meaning emerges. Repetition is not used to stop the progression of the plot: the elements of Zanes’ life are never told twice in exactly the same terms. The accumulation of repetitions creates an unusual meaning, a meaning understood through indirect means. Zanes refers to his own time: “my time device” (58), “another time” (61) as opposed to “my wife’s cookbook, my time machine” (69). Zanes’ experience of life does not rely on a chronological structure. When we accept repetition, we understand that time does not need to be seen as a linear progression.

Repetition lets us understand how Zanes organizes his life. The first and last moments of the story present similar scenes. “It was sunset and the boy was angry and wanted to be somewhere else” (56). Zanes and his son are outside watching the canoe for the first time. The first words of the story put the reader in the middle of a situation. The first character we meet is not Zanes but his son referred to as a “boy.” He could be anybody. In that sense, the story can be considered a statement about any family life, its structure, its implicit rules, and its repetitive patterns. The reference to “somewhere else” also puzzles the reader at the beginning of a story; we do not even know where the character is. At the end, we have circled back: “Above me, I felt the presence of my son at his window. If I didn’t take down the screens, it would soon be summer again” (78).

The end is paradoxical since it does not explain the story but at the same time concludes it through indirect means. The story ends on “again,” which alludes to an opening, a repetition of what we have read, maybe an allusion to the beginning if we think of the circularity of the repetitive pattern of the narration. On the other hand, the allusion to the coming summer ends with a period. Spring will soon be finished. We note here again the parallel between the first scene and the last one since the story opens on the ending of something, of a day. We are at a time when Zanes makes a pause in his life. His work on the canoe is what “makes [him] do” (77). His crafting the canoe changes aspects of his life, his relationship with his family and his community. The end of spring makes a kind of conclusion to the story but, at the same time, it opens the story toward a new time period. The conclusion and the opening lead us to different interpretations. We face some conflicting perception of time and closure. Depending on the type of time framework one has in mind, things can be open or closed; that is where the tension originates. The last and first scenes teach us to pay attention to how things are repeated in variation in the story. Both scenes point to a double direction. By examining this process, one understands that repetition is used to let one access Zanes’ subjective knowledge.

In the two scenes, the son and the father are both watching another place, an outsider place. They disagree on the hang-gliding activity. But this tension gets somewhat resolved at the end when they both look again in the same direction. An open conversation about this issue never appears in the story. Tensions are solved indirectly: “Is the leak like worry, no more than worry?” (75). The boat becomes the center of our attention; it is a place where Zanes’ concerns are to be projected and fixed too. The leak of the boat is associated with Zanes’ life: “When you left your job last year you were taking what you had and making it flow into a new system rather than holding onto what had been used. It would have leaked away if you had not made it move into a new system” (63). The canoe becomes a system of reference we share with Zanes to understand his life. The changes he goes through are projected into the repairing of the canoe, and thanks to the details of the crafting we understand the adjustments of his own life.

Connection is hidden where we cannot see it at first sight, where we do not expect it. For instance, a paragraph describing Zanes canoeing ends, “A wind was coming up, and I heard a breathing sound of paddling” (65). The next paragraph begins, “He treaded water and in his mind smelled fish scales. A wind came up. Zanes felt a wash against his dome” (65). The wind coming up appears twice, but the repetition is not identical because it lets us collect different details about Zanes canoeing. The first time, the wind relates to sound, while the second time it is linked to smell and then touch because of the sensation of “wash.” The different senses are connected to the same moment of Zanes’ life, and we gather this general image as well as its fragmented aspect thanks to repetition. Zanes’ sense of the world is not constructed upon a close frontier between things. Wind and breath become one; canoe and lake become one. To Zanes, “the beautiful canoe could loosen in your mind” (73). The different parts of his life (his relationship to Lung, his son, his wife, the canoe, the neighbor) are permeable. They communicate in an unusual way because they get to influence one another without ever being purposely or directly connected. The apparently rambling progression of the content of the story mirrors Zanes’ vision of life. As a result, the nonlinearity guides us.

The relationship between “Canoe Repair” and “Midcourse Corrections” emphasizes the reflections on moments of “repair” or “correction” in one’s life. The two works present pauses at a transitional time. The reading of “Canoe Repair” is the reading of images and themes mapped out in a paradigm linking scattered elements from the story, “Midcourse Corrections,” and the reader’s world. McElroy’s variation on themes common to both “Midcourse Corrections” and “Canoe Repair” is close to Andy Warhol’s technique in a series such as Marilyn. Like the painter, the author chooses a theme and modulates it. This project changes the narrative framework and our reaction to it. We can consider “Midcourse Corrections” and “Canoe Repair” to be doublings on a similar project: both pieces give different perspectives on the same thing, the way “Canoe Repair” also gives partial perspectives on the same plot. When reading “Canoe Repair,” the reader may have “Midcourse Corrections” in mind. Both pieces are meant to add to each other.

In that sense, McElroy “repeat[s] something now to make you remember something then and set[s] you up for something later” (Kawin 34). The reiterations linking the two pieces can be understood as emphases on moments that create echoes in the reader’s network of references. In “Midcourse Corrections,” McElroy writes that his essay is written to “interrupt, interleave, break diverse kinds of documents” (10). “Canoe Repair” can be read as the application of such a project to fiction. The gaps are motivated by a wish to mix disconnected “documents.” Tabbi notes that the interviews “are like a fiction” (160). In that sense, the frontiers between the essay and fiction are blurred because of their connections. Tabbi also claims, “McElroy locates his compositional self in the space between plural subjectivities” (160). The double narration of the story pluralizes Zanes’ subjectivity in a parallel way.

Structurally, the two pieces are surprisingly close. “Midcourse Corrections” is a combination of three interviews interrupted by the author’s reflections, “INSERTS,” and ” workpoints.” The short story and the autobiographical essay display a structure that accepts gaps and emphasizes echoes that connect the two texts. The substance of the canoe’s texture is mirrored by other parts of the essay:

INSERT: hinge turning: remember those trick hinged pieces of wood that were really constructed with curiously attached canvas strips?

An essay like that. An interview. A sentence fly-by that manufactures its own canvas in the space it also generates out of a music its thought spun off. (“Corrections” 20)

The crafting activity of canoe repair is paralleled by the composition of writing. The texts’ themes and images branch into one another. As McElroy expresses it, the “mixed metaphor of [his] work extends a fluid trial. Like a mixed metabolism and through the pulmonary winding also unfolding and exfoliation of the sentence’s plot it holds exchanges even between incompatibles” (“Corrections” 15). A paradigm of images is used to progressively construct the original way Zanes conceives his world. We understand how in the story, incompatibles such as “weight” and “lightness” can correlate. In the canoe, “the noble forcing of the ribs into this oval narrow form turned the weight inward into lightness” (67). In one’s life “corrections” and “repair” bring “weight” and “lightness” in contact. Traditional oppositions are reconciled in “Canoe Repair.”

The Laundromat is a place where clothes are washed, but it also becomes a place to meet, a place where life is concentrated. In addition, when Zanes thinks “rowing looks like work” (58), we see how things can serve different purposes. For Zanes, things do not have a unique meaning. Commonly, a Laundromat is used for washing. The rowing activity is meant to move a boat. However, experience changes the use of things. Zanes gives them a power to influence the world indirectly. His time influences the “real time;” his vision of space dialogues with the “real space.”

The reader adapts, concentrating on the unsettling aspects of Zanes’ representation of the world, and it participates in the creation of a simultaneous immobility and movement as when “the canoe [is] moving but … [is] still” (56). The apparent contradiction of this statement is illustrated by the structure of the story, which is partly why we may wonder if the canoe or the landscape is moving. Referring to a similar moment of immobility and movement in Hind’s Kidnap, Tony Tanner explains that “we are all familiar with such optic illusion pictures which can be read in more than one way, often as focus shifts so that figure and ground seem to change places” (219). This optic effect is rendered by the way the story is told. The process of perception alters the representation of time and space: “[t]he lake was part of the canoe” (58).

When reading the description of the canoe, we have an example of a moment when “the eye following the line of something creates motion.” Personal correspondence with the author, June 16, 2001.

Its grand lines flared to a beam so wide it seemed low and was. Which end was which? Ribs curved with a beautiful singleness up to the gunwales, and, out of the bent tension in which they seemed to grip and bow the ribs, as you ran your eyes over it and felt it the canoe developed a force of tightness and actual lift, as if the noble forcing of the ribs into this oval narrow form turned the weight inward into lightness. (67)

The passage describes the canoe precisely and technically - “ribs,” “gunwales.” We are so close to the ribs of the boat that we get an impression of immensity. The sentences saturated with commas and information prevent us from picturing a full image of the canoe. Each small detail gets enlarged so that each part seems to expand itself infinitely. The movements are underlined: “flared,” “curved,” “bent,” “grip,” “bow,” “lift,” “turned.” The canoe is still but its description creates motion.

This passage can be seen as a micro-structural template for the way the story evolves. The story is the combination of different lines gathered into a unique moment. Indeed, there is a network of words that refer to either abstract images or other words linked to the movement of the boat in the story. The circuitry of words and their relation to other words is as important as what the words refer to. The formal fragmentation and disconnection lets us experience literally what happens in Zanes’ mind. The narrator explains Zanes has a “restless mind” (60) but never explicitly explains what it means. He never gives a full description of the way Zanes orders his thoughts. We access the definition of Zanes’ “restless mind” through the organization of the story. The tensions inviting for “repair” in Zanes’ life are present at any level of the text without ever being clearly expressed. The slow paths of the narration, its fragmentation, and its echoes are images of the canoe which itself reflects the tensions at stake in Zanes’ life.

These descriptions let us experience a different sense of space but also reveal the story’s sensual approach to the world. Zanes’ readjustments orient and transform his vision. Things are examined, and their perception is detailed when Zanes describes his wife swimming, for instance: “He imagined her, and he knew her words had reached some reservoir in his brain, where she was swimming at night, the luminous things like tiny muscular wakes lit up her thighs and the curve of her back” (60). The “luminous things like tiny muscular wakes” are observed with attention, and remind us of a vision of a sculpted body where forms and relief are emphasized. Narration zooms in on details of surfaces, and the intense observation of body parts and of the canoe makes a paradigm of sensual representations. The story pays attention to the concrete surface of things: the canoe looks like a “deer swimming” (56). Things and people are described minutely, and the scale used is so close that the images of the story appear as details of a painting. The details Zanes’ vision focuses on remind us of the indirectness of his actions. Zanes pays attention to things in their details and cannot always see the overall framework of these things. Similarly, he cannot perceive the outcomes of all his actions.

McElroy refers to “’[a]ttention’ [as] a rather cold word [he] use[s] to suggest that the ways in which we embrace the world and embrace other people can be more precise and clear than we think sometimes” (Anything 248). Zanes’ attention to the canoe and to his breath, for instance, as he feels the “air filling the space of [his] chest to be measured by another time” (60), is his way to “embrace the world.” His attention to the world indirectly penetrates his relationships. Zanes’ precise description of the exterior world lets us access his interior world. We understand, when paying attention to the depiction of his environment, why “the lake [is] part of the canoe” (58). People’s lives are permeable, their energies travel into one another. Zanes’ activities involuntarily connect to other areas of his life. The clearer vision of life that appears when Zanes repairs the canoe gets transferred in mysterious ways to the other parts of his life. Different aspects of Zanes’ life influence one another, although it is not clear to him or us how they connect.

The flashes and fragments emphasized in the sequences of the story are used to represent the world: “it is the very abundance of perspectives that conveys abundance of the world under observation” (Iser 226). The canoe is personified by Zanes’ interest in it: “A body was what it was” (73). Zanes’ observations change our perception of the canoe. It is compared to a lover, an animal, and a body: “he almost loved the canoe” (67), “[t]he canoe attracted others to it, they were in its future” (75), and “[a] canoe is what makes you do” (77). Intensity changes the character’s visions of the world.

This intensity also affects the way time is represented in the story. Perception is altered. Likewise, time is distorted. McElroy refers to “the arranging of things in space, the motion of things and persons in space. Time dissolved into spatial relations.” Personal correspondence with the author, June 16, 2001. When Zanes asks, “what if space was time?” (72), his question could be considered as a comment on the devices used by the author. In “Canoe Repair,” time is peculiar since it is fragmented and does not follow a plain progression. McElroy writes in “Midcourse Corrections” that his writing is to be understood as “modifications of language editing the rhetoric of what’s inside and not disclaiming faith that the words really rendered things and motions outside - and outside, somehow, consciousness” (13). The subjective experience of Zanes’ time is spatialized in the story. “Outside” and “consciousness,” connected in “Midcourse Corrections,” become the pivot of “Canoe Repair.”

The story covers approximately seven months (“One bright mid-September afternoon” [65] to “summer soon” [77]), but the vision we have is the vision of an infinite time without bearings or perhaps a very short time so dense that the notion of its temporality is not valid. The sentences are constructed in order to convey the circuits and canals of Zanes’ stream of consciousness and even his perception process sometimes. Time is altered by perception and becomes spatialized in the story. We think about the witty reference to the Times and the “two Timeses for the price of one” (“Corrections” 19) that could ironically summarize the treatment of time in the short story where subjective time is juxtaposed to seasonal time. When reading “Canoe Repair,” we face two experiences of time: one that is subjective and distorted by experience, and the other that is universal and related to the seasons referred to in the story. The original structure of the story, its fragmentation, and connections to “Midcourse Corrections,” is a means for the author to present a subjective system of perception.

When allowing the defamiliarizing elements of the story to change our reading, we penetrate a new experience of the world, of perception, and of time. For example, the image of the canoe passing is a recurrent pattern in the short story: “It came out of a cove as quiet as a deer swimming” (56), “[t]he canoe’s animal flanks and low length absorbed the two paddlers” (57), “[t]he lake was part of the canoe” (58), “[t]reading water, my hand upon the overturned canoe” (65), and so on. These allusions create a network of references to the symbolical meaning of the slow movement characteristic of an infinite moment. The personal experience of Zanes’ time transforms the time of the story: “But he wondered what the long bark canoe felt like. Its length and strong delicacy. Its secret speed. Its time” (64). The canoe has its particular pace, its own time. Reading “Canoe Repair” is experiencing canoe(ing) time.

Works Cited

Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction. Theory and Criticism after Structuralism. London: Routledge, 1983.

Kawin, Bruce. Telling it Again and Again. Repetition in Literature and Film. Ithaca and London: Cornell UP, 1972

Iser, Wolfgang. The Implied Reader. Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. Baltimore and London: John Hopkins UP, 1974.

McHale, Brian. Postmodernist Fiction. London: Routledge, 1996.

McElroy, Joseph. “Canoe Repair.” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 10. 1. (Spring 1990): 56-79.

_____ “Midcourse Corrections.” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 10. 1. (Spring 1990): 9-56.

_____ “Neural Neighborhoods and Other Concrete Abstracts.” Tri Quarterly 34 (Fall 1975): 201-17.

LeClair, Tom and Larry McCaffery. Anything Can Happen: Interviews with Contemporary American Novelists. Urbana: University of Illinois P,1983.

Porush, David. The Soft Machine: Cybernetic Fiction. New York: Methuen, 1985.

Saltzman, Arthur. The Novel in the Balance. Columbia: U of South Carolina, 1993.

Tabbi, Joseph. Postmodern Sublime. Technology and American Writing from Mailer to Cyberpunk. Ithaca and London: Cornell UP, 1995.

Tanner, Tonny. Scenes of Nature, Signs of Men. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge UP, 1987.

Notes


          Volunteering: orcas in Spain!        
The research group CIRCE (http://www.circe.biz) is seeking applications from volunteers to help with fieldwork on killer whale energetic budget in the Strait of Gibraltar. Fieldwork will take place from 5 April to 31 May 2010.

Killer whale project:

The killer whale population of the Strait of Gibraltar has a diet mainly based on Bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus). This population is believed to be in danger due to the rapid decrease of their prey under human fishing. They usually feed on tuna using an "endurance-exhaustion" technique. This behaviour can be easily observed from 2
land based stations on top of the cliffs off La Breña national park, Andalucia, South of Spain. We wish to collect behavioural and positional data (using binos and theodolite) from these land stations as well as blow rates to assess the energetic budget of this foraging technique.

Volunteers should be available at least for one week study (see http://www.circe.biz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=93&Itemid=103 and http://circe-volunteers-2009.blogspot.com for last year project blog) but long period availability is possible. You will be responsible for your transport to and from the main centre, but once there, we will provide accommodation and transport to the land stations. Food will be at your own expenses.

Successful applicants will:

- have a mature attitude towards marine mammal research
- be autonomous and quickly operational
- be able to live and work constructively with others in a team
- speak fluently English and/or Spanish

Preference will be given to those who:

- have previous experience in theodolite handling, including whale tracking
- have previous relevant marine mammal field experience


Applicants should send an email introducing themselves to ruth/circe-asso.org. The email should include an outline of why you would like to work on this project, your qualifications and previous experience. Please also attach a brief CV.

Applications will be accepted until 15 March although early application is recommended as applications will be examined in order of reception.

For more information, see
http://www.circe.biz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=93&Itemid=103
(also available in Spanish and French) or contact ruth/circe-asso.org.


All the best,


Pauline

Killing Joke - Pylon (2015)
Стиль: Industrial Rock / Post-Punk
Треклист:

01. Autonomous Zone
02. Dawn Of The Hive
03. New Cold War
04. Euphoria
05. New Jerusalem
06. War On Freedom
07. Big Buzz
08. Delete
09. I Am The Virus
10. Into The Unknown

          Robot Quadrotor Drones Play the James Bond Theme        

"Flying robot quadrotors perform the James Bond Theme by playing various instruments including the keyboard, drums and maracas, a cymbal, and the debut of an adapted guitar built from a couch frame....

"These flying quadrotors are completely autonomous, meaning humans …


          UK's first self-driving grocery delivery van hits the streets of Greenwich        
Related: The world’s first self-driving grocery store just hit the streets of Shanghai + Oxbotica Via Arstetechnica Oxbotica, Ocado, CargoPod, self-driving grocery delivery, self-driving cars, GATEway program, the Greenwich Automated Transport Environment, green transportation, self driving transportation, autonomous cars, Ocado self driving grocery van, online-only supermarket, autonomous deliveries, driving technology,
          Comment on Unit Testing User Interfaces – Autonomous View by flashmattic        
Paul, This series of articles is great and there's a lot to learn from it. I hope that many would get to it before having their whole application built in a way that will make Unit Testing for it a living hell. Many thanks for the effort you've made here. Cheers!
          Comment on Unit Testing User Interfaces – Autonomous View by Allen Manning        
Hello Paul, First of all, many thanks for a great series of blogs focusing on Flex Views. Making Views clean and testable is very challenging and I have worked with many approaches that over time have become more and more difficult to maintain- getting this right pays big dividends. I'm curious to know why you chose to create a new AlbumBrowswerForTest with overridden factory methods, rather than just declaring the dependencies as internal variables. We can then inject the stubs directly into the AlbumBrowser in the test itself. Once again, thanks for a great series please keep them coming. Best, al
          Comment on Unit Testing User Interfaces – Autonomous View by Theo        
While I agree that you should avoid unit testing autonomous views (if not even avoid them altogether), it can be done quite elegantly with Fluint's sequences: <a href="http://code.google.com/p/fluint/wiki/Sequences" rel="nofollow">http://code.google.com/p/fluint/wiki/Sequences</a> The basic problem when testing Flex views is all the asynchronous things that are going on, setting a property will not be reflected until after commitProperties or measure have run, for example. Sequences takes some of the pain out of writing tests for these situations by letting you more or less declaratively describe the sequence of actions and events, as it were. However, even using Fluint's sequences it's much more painful to test autonomous views than, for example, presentation model. Thanks for a great series of articles, they have been most inspiring.
          Lena Dunham's Boyfriend - Jack Antonoff - IS....Pajama Boy???        
First of all, this is exactly what I would expect Lena Dunham's boyfriend to look like:


Kinda screams out "DOUCHEBAG", no?

But he reminded me of another douchebag, actually....took a moment, then it came to me...

Separated at birth. perhaps?  Jack Antonoff and...Pajama Boy?




Somewhere, all over America, women not named Lena Dunham are shuddering, as the image of 21st century masculinity causes their reproductive organs to autonomously atrophy....
          413: Autonomous Photography        
Lily...the new throw and shoot camera is revealed. Canon updates the Nifty Fifty. And Wolfram launches a new image identification website. Join Rob Knight, sitting in for Frederick Van Johnson, and his guests Darlene Hildebrandt and Don Komarechka.
          Thanksgiving        

On the fourth Thursday of November every year, we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States to give thanks to the Almighty.  This purpose has been affirmed and reaffirmed since colonial days. (1)  On Thanksgiving millions of Americans enjoy a feast with their families, one usually featuring turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and rolls.  Just before the meal, most families bow their heads in grateful prayer to God.

I know that it is impolitic to say so but I have a problem with Thanksgiving.   My problem is not so much that Thanksgiving is a pretext for gluttony from New York to San Francisco. I see no problem with gluttony as long as it is infrequent.  Nor is my problem that Thanksgiving ushers in a frenzy of shopping that increases family debt.  Although all of us would like to be debt-free, debt is a fact of life for the typical family and debt acquired by shopping for self or loved ones is preferable to debt acquired by gambling, drugs, and alcohol.  One problem I do have with Thanksgiving is that it glosses over the problem of evil, namely, “Is the God responsible for our blessings also responsible for our curses - epilepsy, cancer, deformed babies, Alzheimer’s, ALS, and weather disasters?”  If the answer is yes, one wonders why we have Thanksgiving. (2)  But, I digress.  The problem of evil is not my main concern about Thanksgiving.  So what exactly is my gripe?  It is this.  On Thanksgiving we applaud God but we are silent about the many people who have helped us and enriched our lives over the past year.  On a day called Thanksgiving, we should acknowledge all our benefactors, not just one.

Some months ago a man in a late-model car, accompanied by two children, approached me in a parking lot near a local interstate to ask for help.  He said that one of the cars driven by choir members from his church had broken down on I-80 and had to be towed to Akron, but that the group needed $20 more to pay for the tow.  After I handed him $20, he instantly proclaimed “Hallelujah!  Thanks be to God!  Thank your, sir, and remember, when you are in trouble, trust in God, and He will rescue you just as He has rescued us.”  And then he drove away.

I got the distinct impression that this gentleman was far more grateful to God than to me, and that he viewed my role as minor and insignificant.  In his eyes I was only a tool that God had used, not an autonomous, generous person who freely chose to help.

I therefore propose that, on Thanksgiving, we spread out our gratitude.  If we acknowledge God before the meal, perhaps we can acknowledge other benefactors during dessert.  Perhaps each person around the table could identify one or two special benefactors and explain briefly how they helped.  Thanks might go to an infectious disease specialist who saved a family member’s life, or a computer technician who recovered weeks of work from a diskette that had been invaded by a computer virus, or a scientist who discovered a medication that enables us to manage our arthritis, or a songwriter whose lyric gives us inspiration, or an author whose novels entertain us, or a friend whose sense of humor gives us a smile regularly. 

On Thanksgiving I leave for you to decide if there’s a deity in the heavens who deserves your gratitude.  I ask only that you also remember the caring and competent people on earth, near or far, who have made an important difference in your life over the past year. (3)


  1. The explicit purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving to acknowledge the blessings of the Almighty was declared by colonists in Virginia and Massachusetts, and by the Continental Congress in 1777, George Washington in 1789, Abraham Lincoln in 1863, and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939.  During the Depression Roosevelt moved up the celebration of Thanksgiving by one week to “give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas.” See Wikipedia, “Thanksgiving.” 
  2. In practice it seems that God gets all the credit for good things but none of the blame for bad ones.
  3. In an early celebration of the fall harvest, the precursor of Thanksgiving, Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, “were particularly thankful to Squanto, the Native American who taught them how to catch eel and grow corn and who served as an interpreter for them…  Without Squanto’s help the Pilgrims might not have survived in the New World.”  Wikipedia, “Thanksgiving”  In a sense, then, my modest proposal is a plea to return to our roots in America.

          Nuclear-armed drones? They may be closer than you think        

Nuclear-armed drones? They may be closer than you think

http://www.atimes.com/nuclear-armed-drones-not-just-yet-but-the-outlook-is-scary/

By: Richard A. Bitzinger
Date: 2016-10-09

The US military increasingly relies on drones to carry out a multitude of tasks, usually those deemed too “dull, dirty, or dangerous” for manned missions. Most unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) carry out routine reconnaissance. They also act as decoys, serve as communication relays, and even deliver light cargoes. But a growing number of drones are armed, such as the US Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, which are used mostly in tactical situations, such as targeting terrorists or insurgents.

Now military strategists are considering acquiring longer-range drones, especially those capable of carrying out nuclear missions. In 2015 there were reports that Russia was attempting to build nuclear-armed drone submarines.

It is a controversial strategy, given that it takes all the usual qualms there are about the increasing use of autonomous systems for war-fighting – the ethics of devolving too much authority to what are basically robots, susceptibility to hacking, etc. – but with much greater destructive power, given these systems’ range and payload. Nevertheless, it is at least worth considering.

Read more »
          GM is beta testing a ride-hailing app for autonomous EVs        

General Motors acquired Cruise Automation last year to boost its self-driving car efforts. Cruise made kits that turned Audi S4 or A4 vehicles into autonomous vehicles, and the company's know-how helped GM's plans to place more than 300 driverless cars with Lyft, a company GM has invested heavily with. Now GM is testing a beta app that lets employees in San Francisco hail an autonomous Chevy Bolt EV to anywhere in the city. According to TechCrunch, the car company claims that the new service, "Cruise Anywhere," has become the primary way some of its employees get around.

Via: electrek

Source: TechCrunch


          In San Francisco You Can “Cruise Anywhere” In An Autonomous Chevrolet Bolt        
GM’s autonomous driving company – Cruise Automation, is currently testing the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV in an autonomous ride sharing application in San Francisco. The service is available through Cruise Anywhere App, but only for Cruise employees at this point. The modified Bolt EVs are still required to have a...
          Henry Jenkins responds in turn        
by
Henry Jenkins
2004-01-09

Markku Eskelinen argues that any discussion of ludology must deal with Gonzalo Frasca’s 1998 address to the Digital Arts and Culture conference, so let me begin with a quotation from that address:

Literary theory and narratology have been helpful to understand cybertexts and videogames…. The fact is that these computer programs share many elements with stories: characters, chained actions, endings, settings…. In this paper, we propose to explore videogames and cybertexts as games. Our intention is not to replace the narratologic approach, but to complement it. We want to better understand what is the relationship with narrative and videogames; their similarities and differences. [Frasca]

Or, to refer to another of the texts Eskelinen urges us to consider, Espen Aarseth’s Cybertext: “To claim that there is no difference between games and narrative is to ignore essential qualities of both categories. And yet, as this study tries to show, the difference is not clear-cut, and there is significant overlap between the two.” [Aarseth] Both of these “ur-texts” for ludology, then, adapt a position not radically different from the one which I took in my essay - claiming that both narratology and ludology are required if we are going to adequately understand the hybrid quality of contemporary computer and videogames; that games can not be reduced to stories but that we also need to hold onto the tools of narratology if we want to understand the “similarities and differences” or points of “overlap” between games and stories.

Now, by contrast, let’s consider the opening of Eskelinen’s First Person essay:

So if there already is or soon will be a legitimate field for computer game studies, this field is also very open to intrusions and colonizations from the already organized scholarly tribes. Resisting and beating them is the goal of our first survival game in this paper, as what these emerging studies need is independence, or at least relative independence.

One can’t help but note that Eskelinen’s position is significantly more rigid than the one adopted by Frasca and Aarseth. Far from seeing ludology as a “complement” to narratology, Eskelinen wants to barricade the gates against any foreign “intrusions and colonizations” and throw away the key. Eskelinen’s contributions depict him as someone defending his turf against the aggressive assault of narratologists who are “seeking and finding stories, and nothing but stories, everywhere.” What I want to suggest is that Eskelinen is expending a great deal of emotional and intellectual energy combating phantoms of his own imagination.

I feel a bit like Travis Bickle when I ask Eskelinen, “Are you talking to me?” For starters, I don’t consider myself to be a narratologist at all. I certainly draw on narrative theory as one conceptual model among many for understanding computer and video games; I have written other essays which make little or no use of narrative theory, focusing on the fit between game play and more traditional backyard play cultures. See, for example, Henry Jenkins, “Complete Freedom of Movement: Video Games As Gendered Playspaces,” in Justine Cassell and Henry Jenkins (Ed.), From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998). When I first introduced my concept of “spatial stories,” I was arguing against film theorists simply cookie-cutting their models onto games without regard to the centrality of spatial aesthetics to games. [Jenkins 1993] I have written elsewhere about the ways that performance and spectacle in early sound comedy take precedence over narrative and characterization. [Jenkins 1992] Ultimately, my interest is in mapping the aesthetic norms that constitute different forms of popular culture and in almost every case, narrative exists alongside, competes against, struggles with, and is often subordinate to alternative aesthetic logics that are fundamentally anti- or non-narrative in character. Eskelinen is correct to note that games have a long history, so does magic, dance, architecture, ars erotica, and so forth, which exist alongside storytelling as important cultural activities. These various alternative traditions are never completely autonomous from each other, but come together and move apart in different ways, at different times, in different cultures. My goal is not to reduce games to narrative but to explore the unstable relationship between a range of different transmedia logics - narrative, games, spectacle, performance, spatiality, affect, etc.

In that sense, I would see Jon McKenzie’s concept of games as “experience design” to be an equally appropriate framework for thinking about the medium as my conception of “narrative architecture.” Both would need to be understood as provisional terms which clarify certain aspects of the phenomenon while masking others; none are fully adequate for the object of study, but they will do as starting points around which further refinements will need to be made. First Person takes as a central theme the question of games and stories, and so for this essay I have used narrative as a point of entry. There is no question in my mind that current narrative theory would need to be significantly rethought before it can be applied to computer and videogames.

Eskelinen asks for a definition of terms. For the record, I do offer a definition of story: “Russian formalist critics make a useful distinction between plot (or syuzhet) which refers to, in Kristen Thompson’s terms, `the structured set of all causal events as we see and hear them presented in the film itself,’ and story (or fabula), which refers to the viewer’s mental construction of the chronology of those events.” Seeing story as a mental construct, one that may exist in the head of the artist at the beginning of the creative process or the consumer at the end, enables us to imagine situations where stories are evoked and not told and to see at least some games as involved in a narrative economy even if they are not structured as traditional narratives. Story is not “content,” according to this model, but the end point of a process through which readers encounter, work upon, and work through various textual cues. I would thus agree that the narrational process of computer games is significantly different from the process by which we consume books, films, theatrical plays, or comic strips (but then, there are significant differences in the way narration works in each of these other media as well). Yet, I would still argue that many games draw on player’s existing familiarity with stories and encourage them to reshape their experience of play into stories at the end of the process. My essay is talking about computer and videogames as they are constituted within the current marketplace. I am making no claims about dodgeball, tiddlywinks, checkers, Legos, or golf. I am quite prepared to accept that these traditional forms of games and play have little or nothing to do with narrative at all and I would be very surprised if my essay contributed much to our understanding of them. The market category of “games,” in fact, covers an enormous ground, including activities that traditional ludologists would classify as play, sports, simulations, and toys, as well as traditional games. Some, but certainly not all, of these products also make bids on telling stories; storytelling is part of what they are marketing and part of what consumers think they are buying when they invest in this software.

These computer games, then, are a strange, still unstable, and still undertheorized hybrid between games and narratives. They are a border case for any study of narrative, but they are also a border case for any study of games. Computer games are a bit like duck-billed platypuses, a species which, as Harriet Ritvo has documented, confounded early naturalists; some of them denied that such a creature could exist and denounced early reports as fraud, while others sought to erase all ambiguities about its status, trivializing any problems in classifying this species - which has a duck bill, web feet, and lays eggs - as mammals. Jon McKenzie accurately summarizes my position: “games are indeed not narratives, not films, not plays - but they’re also not-not-narratives, not-not-films, not-not-plays.” In the end, the zoological discipline has decided that platypuses are not birds; yet, we will not really get why platypuses are such strange mammals if we don’t know what a bird is.

For that reason, the analogies I draw in the essay are between games and other kinds of works - amusement park rides, musicals, commedia dell’arte, travel narratives, world-making in fantasy and science fiction, hero myths - which have fit uncomfortably within the narratological tradition, suggesting that if we look at how narrative theory has struggled with the ambiguities of these other border cases, it may tell us something about the ways that narrative theory may and may not contribute to an understanding of computer and video games. Drawing on these analogies to narrative border cases, I try to describe some of the ways that games relate to larger story traditions in our culture - suggesting that they may evoke atmospheres or content from stories; that they may contribute something to a larger story system; that they may have narrative information buried within them; that they may create an environment ripe with narrative possibilities; that they may enact micronarratives or borrow certain structures from the larger spatial storytelling tradition; and so forth. At no point in the essay do I ever suggest that games can be reduced to story and nothing but story. All I am rejecting is the desire of certain ludologists to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Near the end of his comments, Eskelinen proposes a range of examples that he takes to be a reductio ad absurdum of my essay’s arguments. It might be helpful to take one of his cases and break it down. Are gardens spatial stories? We can agree that they are not. Most gardens are spaces - with little or no narrative interest at all. Some of those spaces may be designed in such a way as to enable certain life events to unfold - such as hidden nooks where lovers may meet - and thus gardens have been the settings for many stories. There is a tradition of using gardens to recreate spaces from fictional stories; I am thinking about the Bible gardens which dot the roadside of my native south or the fairy gardens that are popular throughout Europe. Here, we would say that those gardens operate in relation to a larger narrative economy. In most cases, however, these gardens are simply recreating spaces or vignettes from stories. They evoke stories, but they are not stories. In the case of some Bible gardens, these vignettes are arranged in a narrative sequence designed to unfold the story of Christ’s martyrdom. As they do so, they start to move towards the borders of our current understanding of narrative. I would argue that such gardens could be an interesting limit case for narrative theory, even if we would not be able to fully account for them without also drawing insights from landscape architecture. Similarly, to draw on another of his examples, there are some books which do not simply recount the playing of games, but use things, like chess moves, to structure their plot progression, and while we would not want to call such works games, we might argue that ludology could contribute something to our understanding of such texts. In both cases, though, Bible gardens and game books are minor strands within their larger tradition and you can discuss gardens and novels without referring to them at all. Yet, in the case of computer games, a high percentage of what is currently in the market are the digital equivalent of those Bible gardens and therefore, we need to have some way of discussing those forms of hybridity.

Eskelinen’s solution involves an act of purification - strip away everything that doesn’t look like a game and discuss these works purely from a ludological framework; he assumes I am following a similar logic, stripping aside everything that doesn’t look like a narrative, but I am not. I am searching for a theory nuanced enough to explain why platypuses are and are not like mammals and why games (and Bible gardens) are and are not stories. Eskelinen is involved in a particular kind of “game” - defining and defending the borders of an emerging academic discipline - and he is doing so according to some traditional rules: define terms, lay down axioms, cite core theorists, and then engage in debate around those various abstractions. We might call this game “my paradigm is bigger than your paradigm,” or “my theorist can beat up your theorist.” In the terms around which he describes it, it is a zero-sum game, where one model will ultimately win the disputed space and he’s rooting for the Ludology Vikings over the Narratology Eagles. Within academia, he may be correct to perceive his side as badly outnumbered: there has been a great deal more academic writing about narrative than about games and there’s an urgent need to develop new tools for thinking about games and play. I simply question whether it makes sense to think of knowledge production as a zero-sum game.

I see myself involved in a rather different exercise, attempting not to construct an academic discipline around games, but to intervene in a public debate among game designers, game critics, and game players - as well as policy makers and other media producers and consumers - about the current state and future development of an emergent and hybrid form of “interactive entertainment.” As we do so, I think we need to start with specific examples, rather than broad abstractions; we need to recognize the impurity and instability of the current forms and respond to them by drawing on the broadest possible range of theoretical tools and historical analogies. None of those theories are going to be ready to wear off the shelf, none of the analogies are fully functional, and each will require a good deal of retrofitting to be adequate to the task of understanding our object of study. In such a situation, there are no clear boundaries, no pure theories and traditions, and no stable formulations. What is needed, as McKenzie suggests, is a more exploratory, less bookish - dare I say, more ludic - spirit. Most game designers know a great deal more about the theory of play and games than they know about narrative. Most of the game design books currently on the market tell little or nothing about character and plot. Yet, these practitioners consistently express a hunger to know more about traditional storytelling; sessions on games and narrative have been among the most highly attended at industry conferences. My essay’s arguments came out of that dialogue with the game design community rather than within a more academic context.

References

Aarseth, Espen. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1997)

Frasca, Gonzala. “Ludology Meets Narratology: Similitude and Differences between (Video) Games and Narrative,” http://www.jacaranda.org/frasca/ludology.htm

Jenkins, Henry. “x Logic: Placing Nintendo in Children’s Lives,” Quarterly Review of Film and Video (August 1993).

—. What Made Pistachio Nuts?: Early Sound Comedy and the Vaudeville Aesthetic (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992).

—. What Made Pistachio Nuts?: Early Sound Comedy and the Vaudeville Aesthetic. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992).

Ritvo, Harriet. The Platypus and the Mermaid, and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998).

back to Game Theories introduction


          Howarth Morris: Management Accountant (Qualified/Later Stage Studier)        
£30000 - £35000 per annum, Benefits Bonus (To 12%), Pension (8%), 25 d: Howarth Morris: Our client is a UK subsidiary of a household name, pioneering super-brand, with revenues of over €10 Bn worldwide. Operating as the No 2 in Finance for this autonomous division - based in impressive offices in Liverpool city centre - this role has been cr Liverpool
          Could There Have Actually Been Finns Among The Vikings?        

Very much unlike the cases of early medieval Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands, documentation regarding the Viking Age in Finland is very scarce. Possibly with the exception of the Åland Islands (an autonomous Swedish-speaking archipelago situated in the Gulf of Bothnia, Baltic Sea), there is little information on how the Viking period...

The post Could There Have Actually Been Finns Among The Vikings? appeared first on The Dockyards.


          Build First, Ask Questions Later        

Autonomous cars will change the way we live. So why is industry getting to call our shot into the future?


          ÎˆÏÎµÏ…να: Οι Πινακίδες του ΚΟΚ Μπορούν να Ξεγελάσουν τα Αυτόνομα Αυτοκίνητα        
Τα αποτελέσματα ερευνών δείχνουν ότι δεν είναι ακόμα λυμένα όλα τα προβλήματα σχετικά με την αυτόνομη οδήγηση.
Ενώ όλοι οι κατασκευαστές εξελίσσουν πυρετωδώς την αυτόνομη οδήγηση, ερευνητές από το Πανεπιστήμιο της Washington ανακάλυψαν ότι τα σημερινά συστήματα μπορούν αρκετά εύκολα να ξεγελαστούν.

Σύμφωνα λοιπόν με τον ερευνητή επάνω σε θέματα ασφαλείας σχετικά με τους υπολογιστές, Yoshi Kohno, οι κάμερες που χρησιμοποιούν τα περισσότερα από τα σημερινά συστήματα μπορούν vα μπερδέψουν -υπό προϋποθέσεις- ένα σήμα STOP με σήμα ορίου ταχύτητας.

Αυτό συμβαίνει επειδή η λειτουργία τους βασίζεται επί το πλείστο σε έναν ανιχνευτή αντικειμένων και έναν ταξινομητή, με το δεύτερο ουσιαστικά να αναγνωρίζει τι είναι αυτό που βλέπει η κάμερα. Έτσι αναγνωρίζονται και τα σήματα του ΚΟΚ, οπότε από εκεί κι έπειτα το «μυαλό» του συστήματος αποφασίζει πως πρέπει να ενεργήσει στη συνέχεια.

Ο Kohno λοιπόν, υποστηρίζει ότι η αναγνώριση του σήματος από τον ταξινομητή μπορεί να είναι λανθασμένη χωρίς να χρειαστεί καν ηλεκτρονική παρεμβολή στο σύστημα. Αρκεί για παράδειγμα μια πινακίδα να μην είναι απόλυτα καθαρή και να έχει κολλημένα αυτοκόλλητα επάνω της. Αυτό, μπορεί να αρκεί ώστε να παρερμηνευθεί.

Σε δοκιμές που έγιναν για παράδειγμα, το σύστημα εξέλαβε μια πινακίδα STOP ως όριο των 45 mph επειδή είχε κολλημένα μερικά μικρά χαρτάκια επάνω της, ενώ όταν γράφτηκε επάνω της το σύνθημα «Αγάπη και Μίσος» το ποσοστό του λάθους στο διάβασμά της έφτασε το 73,3%.

Είναι προφανές ότι η εξέλιξη των συστημάτων αυτόνομης οδήγησης θα πρέπει να λάβει υπόψη της τα αποτελέσματα της παραπάνω έρευνας, ωστόσο φαίνεται πως η αντιμετώπιση του προβλήματος δεν είναι και τόσο δύσκολη.

Οι ειδικοί λένε πως μπορεί να επιτευχθεί με τη χρήση περισσότερων τρόπων αναγνώρισης και «τροφοδοσίας» των σημάτων, όπως για παράδειγμα να διασταυρώνονται με τα δεδομένα των χαρτών του συστήματος πλοήγησης.

Για παράδειγμα, μια πινακίδα STOP σε έναν αυτοκινητόδρομο προφανώς δεν έχει λόγο ύπαρξης, όπως άλλωστε και ένα όριο 110 km/h μέσα στην πόλη. Ας ελπίσουμε ότι οι εταιρείας έχουν -σχεδόν- έτοιμες τις απαραίτητες δικλείδες ασφαλείας για την αποτροπή τέτοιων λαθών.

Φώτο   Ρεπορτάζ    Ρεπόρτερ   Επιστήμονας

          Stability of a fixed point in a system of ODE        
Stability of a fixed point in a system of ODEThis worksheet is designed for students to study how to analyze the stability of a fixed point in a system of ODE. Especially, a system of autonomous ODE with two variables are considered. When ODE are input by students, following calculation is performed: seek fixed points, linearize original ODEs, calculate eigen values of coefficient matrix, determine a kind of fixed point, draw a direction field, animate of solution curves.
          The Contingency of Curation – Part 1: The Autonomous Curator        
At this symposium speakers from a range of disciplines address the contingency of curation and its consequences for culture and society.
          Heisenberg Developers        

TL:DR You can not observe a developer without altering their behavior.

image

First a story.

Several years ago I worked on a largish project as one of a team of developers. We were building an internal system to support an existing business process. Initially things went very well. The user requirements were reasonably well defined and we worked effectively iterating on the backlog. We were mostly left to our own devices. We had a non-technical business owner and a number of potential users who gave us broad objectives, and who tested features as they became available. When we felt that piece needed refactoring, we spent the time to do it. When a pain point appeared in the software we changed the design to remove it. We didn’t have to ask permission to do any of things, so long features appeared at reasonable intervals, everyone was happy.

Then came that requirement. The one where you try to replace an expert user’s years of experience and intuition with software. What started out as a vague and wooly requirement, soon became a monster as we started to dig into it. We tried to push back against it, or at least get it scheduled for a later version of the software to be delivered at some unspecified time in future. But no, the business was insistent, they wanted it in the next version. A very clever colleague thought the problem could be solved with a custom DSL that would allow the users themselves to encode their business rules and he and another guy set to work building it. Several months later, he was still working on it. The business was frustrated by the lack of progress and the vaguely hoped for project delivery dates began to slip. It was all a bit of a mess.

The boss looked at this and decided that we were loose cannons and the ship needed tightening up. He hired a project manager with an excellent CV and a reputation for getting wayward software projects under control. He introduced us to ‘Jira’, a word that strikes fear into the soul of a developer. Now, rather than taking a high level requirement and simply delivering it at some point in the future, we would break the feature into finely grained tasks, estimate each of the tasks, then break the tasks into finer grained tasks if the estimate was more than a day’s work. Every two weeks we would have a day long planning meeting where these tasks were defined. We then spent the next 8 days working on the tasks and updating Jira with how long each one took. Our project manager would be displeased when tasks took longer than the estimate and would immediately assign one of the other team members to work with the original developer to hurry it along. We soon learned to add plenty of contingency to our estimates. We were delivery focused. Any request to refactor the software was met with disapproval, and our time was too finely managed to allow us refactor ‘under the radar’.

Then a strange thing started to happen. Everything slowed.

Of course we had no way to prove it because there was no data from ‘pre-PM’ to compare to ‘post-PM’, but there was a noticeable downward notch in the speed at which features were delivered. With his calculations showing that the project’s delivery date was slipping, our PM did the obvious thing and started hiring more developers, I think they were mostly people he’d worked with before. We, the existing team had very little say in who was hired, and it did seem that there was something of a cultural gap between us and the new guys. Whenever there was any debate about refactoring the code, or backing out of a problematic feature, the new guys would argue against it, saying it was ‘ivory tower’, and not delivering features. The PM would veto the work and side with the new guys.

We became somewhat de-motivated. After loosing an argument about how things should be done more than a few times, you start to have a pretty clear choice: knuckle down, don’t argue and get paid, or leave. Our best developer, the DSL guy, did leave, and the ones of us arguing for good design lost one of our main champions. I learnt to inflate my estimates, do what I was told to do, and to keep my imagination and creativity for my evening and weekend projects. I found it odd that few of my new colleagues seemed to actually enjoy software development, the talk in our office was now more about cars than programming languages. They actually seemed to like the finely grained management. As one explained to me, “you take the next item off the list, do the work, check it in, and you don’t have to worry about it.” It relieved them of the responsibility to make difficult decisions, or take a strategic view.

The project was not a happy one. Features took longer and longer to be delivered. There always seemed to be a mounting number of bugs, few of which seemed to get fixed, even as the team grew. The business spent more and more money for fewer and fewer benefits.

Why did it all go so wrong?

Finely grained management of software developers is compelling to a business. Any organization craves control. We want to know what we are getting in return for those expensive developer salaries. We want to be able to accurately estimate the time taken to deliver a system in order to do an effective cost-benefit analysis and to give the business an accurate forecast of delivery. There’s also the hope that by building an accurate database of estimates verses actual effort, we can fine tune our estimation, and by analysis find efficiencies in the software development process.

The problem with this approach is that it fundamentally misunderstands the nature of software development. That it is a creative and experimental process. Software development is a complex system of multiple poorly understood feedback loops and interactions. It is an organic process of trial and error, false starts, experiments and monumental cock-ups. Numerous studies have shown that effective creative work is best done by motivated autonomous experts. As developers we need to be free to try things out, see how they evolve, back away from bad decisions, maybe try several different things before we find one that works. We don’t have hard numbers for why we want to try this or that, or why we want to stop in the middle of this task and throw away everything we’ve done. We can’t really justify all our decisions, many them are hunches, many of them are wrong.

If you ask me how long a feature is going to take, my honest answer is that I really have no idea. I may have a ball-park idea, but there’s a long-tail of lower-probability possibilities, that mean that I could easily be out by a factor of 10. What about the feature itself? Is it really such a good idea? I’m not just the implementer of this software, I’m a stake holder too. What if there’s a better way to address this business requirement? What if we discover a better way half way through the estimated time? What if I suddenly stumble on a technology or a technique that could make a big difference to the business? What if it’s not on the road map?

As soon as you ask a developer to tell you exactly what he’s going to do over the next 8 days (or worse weeks or months), you kill much of the creativity and serendipity. You may say that he is free to change the estimates or the tasks at any time, but he will still feel that he has to at least justify the changes. The more finely grained the tasks, the more you kill autonomy and creativity. No matter how much you say it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t meet his estimates, he’ll still feel bad about it. His response to being asked for estimates is twofold: first, he will learn to put in large contingencies, just in case one of those rabbit-holes crosses his path; second, he will look for the quick fix, the hack that just gets the job done. Damn technical debt, that’s for the next poor soul to deal with, I must meet my estimate. Good developers are used to doing necessary, but hard to justify work ‘under the radar’, they effectively lie to management about what they are really doing, but finely grained management makes it hard to steal the time in which to do it.

To be clear, I’m not speaking for everyone here. Not all developers dislike micromanagement. Some are more attracted to the paycheck than the art. For them, micromanagement can be very attractive. So long as you know how to work the system you can happily submit inflated estimates, just do what you’re told, and check in the feature. If users are unhappy and the system is buggy and late, you are not to blame, you just did what you were told.

Finely grained management is a recipe for ‘talent evaporation’. The people who live and breathe software will leave – they usually have few problems getting jobs elsewhere. The people who don’t like to take decisions and need an excuse, will stay. You will find yourself with a compliant team that meekly carries out your instructions, doesn’t argue about the utility of features, fills in Jira correctly, meets their estimates, and produces very poor quality software.

So how should one manage developers?

Simple: give them autonomy. It seems like a panacea, but finely grained management is poisonous for software development. It’s far better to give high level goals and allow your developers to meet them as they see fit. Sometimes they will fail; you need to build in contingency for this. But don’t react to failure by putting in more process and control. Work on building a great team that you can trust and that can contribute to success rather than employing rooms full of passive code monkeys.


          Hikari        

We came to this earth without words. And in our thoughts we dreamt of the cosmos; looking towards the sky. It was only until we defined it, that we knew what it was. We thought it was unreachable. But we looked back and could see our own footsteps, tracing the path from long ago; where we came from all along. They both meet together at this single point: the end and the beginning. We are born without knowing who we are and we grow our lives to seek the answer to ‘I am’. This video is an epitaph for Hikari-san who’s life was cut short from that struggle.

In Memory of HIKARI-SAN ひかりさん
Directed by CASEY WARREN & DANIELLE KRIEGER
Voice Talent NATSUKO KURE
SPECIAL THANKS
Kiry Yonetani
Lucinda Cowing
Filmed on location in Kyoto, Japan 京都日本
Poem By SHUNTARO TANIKAWA "Epitaph For a Poet's Tomb"
_______
This film was made in honor and remembrance of Hikari-san. A vlogger who made videos reading and speaking in Japanese ASMR in an effort to help others who shared her struggles with depression and anxiety. She lost her battle with her own internal struggle February 2016.
On her channel she would read in a quiet whisper voice, called ASMR which stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response which creates a calming sensation in listeners. Often used in helping those battle depression or anxiety, this technique creates a unique head sensation.

Her name ひかりさん (Hikari) in kanji 光 in means 'Light'

Featured on:

Booooooom tv.booooooom.com/2017/06/20/hikari-mindcastle/
NOWNESS nowness.com/series/poetic-license/hikari-japan

Cast: MINDCASTLE

Tags: hikari, Geisha, mindcastle, epitaph, poem, Casey warren, Danielle Krieger, MōVI pro, Freefly and Steadicam


          today's leftovers        
  • Linux desktop market share hit an all time high in July, according to one measure [Ed: According to a Microsoft-connected firm]

    In June of 2016, Linux market share on the desktop according to their statistics hit over 2% for the first time. People were sceptical, but it seems it has mostly stayed above that 2% mark. In May of this year it did dip down to 1.99%, but as of July it recorded the highest yet at 2.53%.

  • Razor- the next generation bare-metal provisioning software

    When you have a machine with just BIOS (basic input-output system) on it, one way to load an Operating system is to use a bootable thumb drive, similar to the way you work with a laptop. However, installing OS on remote systems in data centers that are present in remote locations might not be feasible. Installing an operating system over the network directly to the computer’s hardware is known as bare metal provisioning.

    A network boot screen in a network is similar to the one displayed below that shows up only when both the new gods and old gods are content to give us something known as Preboot Execution Environment (PXE).

  • Automotive Grade Linux New UCB 4.0 & New Member Karamba

    There were two announcements about Automotive Grade Linux (AGL). Karamba Security, a provider of cybersecurity solutions for connected and autonomous vehicles, today announced that it has joined the Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) Project and The Linux Foundation to help develop its cybersecurity best practices. AGL released the latest version of the AGL infotainment platform, Unified Code Base (UCB) 4.0, which includes support for SmartDeviceLink integration, Speech Recognition APIs, secure Over-the-Air Updates (SOTA) and improvements to the App Framework and Software Development Kit (SDK).

  • Cylon – Arch Linux Distribution Maintenance Program/Tool

    Cylon is a menu driven small shall script which basically gives you an idea to manage/maintain the Arch Linux and it’s derivatives by offering fourteen categories with variety of applications (hassle free application installation), which helps you to compete your day to day operation very smoothly.

    The script provides updates, maintenance, backups and system checks utilities for an Arch based Linux distribution like Manjaro, Antergos, Chakra, etc.,.

  • Red Hydrogen phone gets a video preview: It’s big—very big

    Many were confused earlier in July when Red, makers of ultra high-end 4K and 8K cameras for Hollywood, announced it was making an Android smartphone.

    Dubbed Red Hydrogen, the phone's substantial $1,595 price tag was accompanied by all manner of lofty promises about shattering "the mould of conventional thinking" and "nanotechnology." The phone supposedly had a "holographic" display, too.


          DTNS 3079 – Like Watching Paint Die        
A DNA app store opens, autonomous cargo shipping about to hit the seas, and Microsoft Paint nears its end. With Veronica Belmont, Roger Chang, and Tom Merritt. MP3 Using a Screen Reader? Click here Multiple versions (ogg, video etc.) from Archive.org. Please SUBSCRIBE HERE. Follow us on Soundcloud. A special thanks to all our supporters–without … Continue reading DTNS 3079 – Like Watching Paint Die
          DTNS 3078 – GreyOrange is the new Black        
Lyft wants to make its own autonomous car parts, Verizon gets caught throttling video, and an Indian company revolutionizing robots in warehouses. With Shannon Morse, Tom Merritt and Len Peralta. MP3 Using a Screen Reader? Click here Multiple versions (ogg, video etc.) from Archive.org. Please SUBSCRIBE HERE. Follow us on Soundcloud. A special thanks to … Continue reading DTNS 3078 – GreyOrange is the new Black
          Daily Tech Headlines – July 21, 2017        
Microsoft strong earnings from cloud, Alexa comes to Android and Lyft gets into autonomous car building. MP3 Please SUBSCRIBE HERE. Follow us on Soundcloud. A special thanks to all our supporters–without you, none of this would be possible. If you are willing to support the show or give as little as 5 cents a day … Continue reading Daily Tech Headlines – July 21, 2017
          Successful 1st flight for UAV demonstrator SAGITTA        
Overberg, South Africa -  Airbus Defence and Space has successfully tested a new type of aircraft that will aid the development of future unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for series production. The unmanned jet-propelled demonstrator with the project name SAGITTA flew completely autonomously for around seven minutes over the test site in Overberg, South Africa, on a pre-programmed course. The innovative flying-wing construction demonstrated excellent flight characteristics during the test. This flight marked the success...
          VSR700 demonstrator performs 1st autonomous flights        
Airbus Helicopters recently started autonomous flight trials of a VSR700 Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) demonstrator, paving the way for a first flight of the actual VSR700 prototype in 2018. A light military rotary-wing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle, the VSR700 is being developed jointly by Airbus Helicopters and Helicopteres Guimbal, the original manufacturer of the civil-certified Cabri G2 helicopter from which the VSR700 is derived. "We are pleased to have achieved this milestone onl...
          Shahar Zaks        
An experiment in creating a whole that is greater than its parts. The piece is comprised of incredibly simple autonomous units that do nothing more than sense and respond to their environment, yet owing to the feedback loop imposed by the system, intricate and unpredictable movement patterns emerge. This will...
          For Sale: BRAND NEW Indutherm MC-20 Casting Machine        

@riguy5000 wrote:

Hello People
My friend is selling a brand new indutherm Mc-20 casting machine. He purchased it to start casting but never got to it.
its a brand new machine, he also has an original box.
The is the best machine to cast gold and platinum....
the machine includes:

3 Indutherm Crucibles for MC-15 (platinum, Gold,steel)

MC20V Thermocouple Type “N” (casting gold,silver...)

MC20V Thermocouple dummy (casting PT, PD)

MC20V Crucible Outer Quartz Shield

Clear “Hot” Window With Gaskets

MC20V Thermocouple Protection Tube

Manual

Selling for: 13500 OBO (the original price with tax was 22K)

Hurry before its gone :slight_smile:

you can PM me or text, call : 612-963-8631 Edward

Item Location: Carlsbad Ca.
Willing to ship

Main benefits

• Very easy and safe to use, short implementation time
• Excellent price-performance ratio
• 3,5 kW induction generator for quickly reaching the melting temperature
• Thorough through-mixing of molten metals using low-frequency induction tuning
• Melting under vacuum or inert gas to prevent oxidation
• Top quality form filling using overpressure of up to 3 bars (casting under vacuum also possible)
• Economical consumables

The MC20V is designed based on the same tilting principle as the MC 15. However it is systematically designed for intricate casting projects in continuous operation in larger foundries.
Latest generation generators

The MC20V is equipped with a latest generation induction generator, developed especially for this housing design and with high operating efficiency. Convenient, high precision control is provided via a new operating system, with an LCD display, full text display and program control.
Award-winning vibration technology – unique in its class

For the first time, our multi-award winning and patent-pending vibration system is now available in a compact casting machine. Using vibration when casting ensures better form filling, creating casts with greater, more consistent densities, higher elasticity and greatly reduced porosity. Vibration technology is a compelling alternative to the frequently used and relatively delicate centrifugal systems, especially when casting platinum or palladium.
Major application

• Platinum casting in lower quantities, for gold, silver, steel as well
• Casting of master models, single items as a satellite system, makes autonomous from big casting department
• Quick shots by use of standard investment material in less than 4 hours, on "speed" investment material in less than 2 hours from wax piece to casting
• Excellent solution fro studios and goldsmith' workshop with limited space
• Casting of rolling blanks for platinum processing in copper mould under vacuum

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          Give Away Yoga        

By Shakta Khalsa

Altruistic service, called seva or karma yoga, is for the most part, unanimously hailed as an important part of Yoga business. In Radiant Child Yoga, we offer training scholarships—usually in the form of work-study, and yoga classes based on donation. We make monthly contributions to several organizations that work with children. I like the feeling I get when we contribute. I also feel glad for all the various ways that other yoga organizations share the wealth of yoga with those who may not have the financial means to participate.

Beyond the idea of service, I have a firm belief that energy is a flow, a give and take. Over the years of working with children and adults, I have found that those who are "underserved" need to be able to give back something in order to honor their own spirit, that spirit that is the same no matter who we are—underserved, over-served, and in between!

My teacher, Yogi Bhajan, always talked about the importance of the energy exchange between people. Those who are being given yoga at no charge need to contribute in some way, whether it is helping with set up, clean up, or bringing a friend. There needs to be something that honors that place where—no matter what our birth circumstances—we are each autonomous, sovereign. This is healthy and creates equality.

I love this quote from Dr. Carla Hannaford, author of Playing in the Unified Field: Raising and Becoming Conscious, Creative Human Beings:

“When we see others in pain, or facing fierce challenges in their lives, empathy and compassion assist us to link with that part of our own humanity. But we can never know the actual function of those challenges or pain for that person. When we label someone less fortunate, we miss seeing his or her mastery and connectedness to the whole. When we tie into this empowered, responsible perspective the prefrontal cortex is more active, allowing us insight.”

Shakta Khalsa is one of the world’s leading experts on children and yoga, having worked with both since the mid-1970s. She is a trained yoga professional at the highest level (ERYT-500), and was named one of the top five Kundalini Yoga teachers in the world by Yoga Journal. She studied under the direct guidance of Yogi Bhajan, Master of Kundalini Yoga. She is the author of five well-known yoga books, including the classic Fly Like A Butterfly: Yoga for Children and Kundalini Yoga. Shakta’s two great loves—children and yoga—are the basis for her life work: Radiant Child® Yoga, an internationally-known training program for teaching children yoga and working with/raising children consciously.


           Spatio-temporal representation for cognitive control in long-term scenarios         
Duckett, Tom and Hanheide, Marc and Krajnik, Tomas and Pulido Fentanes, Jaime and Dondrup, Christian (2013) Spatio-temporal representation for cognitive control in long-term scenarios. In: International IEEE/EPSRC Workshop on Autonomous Cognitive Robotics, 27-28 March 2014, Stirling, UK.
           Editorial         
Duckett, Tom and Lilienthal, Achim (2013) Editorial. Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 61 (10). pp. 1049-1050. ISSN 0921-8890
          Sun and Honey Time        
Looking back at the second trimester and trying to enjoy the last free moments of my break before the inevitable lesson planning, this seems like a good time to type up a new blog post and consequently aid my procrastination.
Good news—though there is still no trace of anything lost in my robbery, a violin has come back into my life!  By crazy coincidence, a nearby volunteer had brought a violin in intending to learn how to play it, but since she’s been busy lately, she kindly lent it to me.  With so many aspects of my life being different here in Mozambique, I can’t even describe how nice it is to practice and feel a continuity with something that’s been a major presence throughout most of my life.  All I can say is, it’s nice.
Our modest science fair was a success.  We had our doubts when we arrived and didn’t see another soul for another hour, but that’s just the way things go in Mozambique; eventually, the participants and other facilitators showed up, and everything ran according to schedule (adding an hour, of course).  Only one student actually conducted an experiment—the others did demonstrations that involved fire, chemicals, and melting plastic bottles—but we were just glad they participated and didn’t start the school on fire.  We’re working on organizing the regional fair, and thankfully have the help of an acquaintance working in the Ministry of Science and Technology.  He is very enthusiastic about the project and has been an invaluable help.  It works out well, because although science fair began as a Peace Corps initiative a few years ago, now that we have involvement of an individual in the government, hopefully in the future we can pass it off and it will remain a sustainable, autonomous program.
My trimester wrapped up a little early because I spent a week in Maputo at a Peace Corps conference to help plan learning objectives and sessions for next year’s trainees.  Afterwards, I was back in Chibuto for a few days to prepare my turma’s grades for conselhos, but [oh, darn!] had to miss the actual conselhos for another Peace Corps conference in Inhambane Province.  Erica and I were pretty thrilled about that timing.  We spent three days in sessions discussing project planning with local counterparts, which hopefully will have productive results; my counterpart and I discussed a model agriculture training for teenage orphans in the community and we may actually implement it.  We’ll see…!
When the conference ended last Sunday, Erica and I were ideally located in beautiful, coastal Inhambane for our week-long break from school, so we trekked over to nearby Barra with a few other friends.  We had intended to stay for a night or two and then move on to Tofo and then meander home, but after landing on the beach and later meeting up with a group of fun, hospitable South Africans, we ended up staying for five nights.  We had a great vacation—swimming, buying colorful capulana clothing on the beach (capulanas are the colorful, multi-purpose lengths of cloth that women use as skirts or to tie babies to their backs, etc.), body-surfing (which I am terrible at), and good eating, thanks to the generosity and cooking prowess of our new acquaintances.  But every vacation has to end sometime, so we finally came home on Friday to be reunited with our pets and start preparing for classes this week.  With memories of sea and sand behind and prospects of lesson planning and grades ahead, it’s tough to get back into the swing of things, but if nothing else, it’s nice to come back to a house of happy animals who are glad you’re home.

           Evaluation of laser range-finder mapping for agricultural spraying vehicles         
Moreno, Francisco-Angel and Cielniak, Grzegorz and Duckett, Tom (2013) Evaluation of laser range-finder mapping for agricultural spraying vehicles. In: Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems, 28 and 29 August 2013, Oxford, UK.
           Redundant neural vision systems: competing for collision recognition roles         
Yue, Shigang and Rind, F. Claire (2013) Redundant neural vision systems: competing for collision recognition roles. IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development, 5 (2). pp. 173-186. ISSN 1943-0604
          BioethicsTV: Pure Genius Proudly Ignores the Rules        

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

“We’re Bunker Hill, since when do we follow the rules” sums up the attitude of this poor-performing medical drama that kicks ethics, law, and regulation to the curb on a weekly basis. Fictional Dr. Zoe Brockett uttered the above statement. In this fall finale episode, she breaks confidentiality, UNOS rules, and autonomous informed consent.

This episode (season 1; episode 8 – 12/15/2016) sees a patient with a rare blood type in need of a kidney transplant or face certain death in weeks.…


          Individualism and Community        
As a principled supporter of individual rights, I am frequently accused of not caring about "society" or "community." As this clip points out, I think that people who put community before the individual are getting it backwards. Without putting the lives and rights of autonomous individuals first, there is no community, just gang warfare.



(HT Ideas Matter)
          Study shows autonomous cars can’t handle vandalized signs        
google car vandalized(TECH NEWS) A recent study showed that vandalized street signs didn't just confuse autonomous vehicles, it completely tricked them.


          Autonomous Vehicles are not Stealing Jobs         

Autonomous technology has the power to shift the future of our transportation economy. An industry currently serviced by truck drivers, chauffeurs, taxi drivers will become obsolete. But this is not a new trend. Machines and technology have been “stealing our jobs” since the invention of the first Oldowan tools. Politicians often rail against lost jobs, ignoring the added benefit of a more efficient society with new industries. They worry that factory workers, convenience clerks and bank tellers will all be unfortunate victims of progress. Politicians fail to consider the economic surplus that results from decreased labor and a reduction in other operational expenses such as medical insurance. Autonomous technology is not stealing our jobs. If anything, it is creating new ones.

Surplus labor creates new industries and more efficient economies. This is a basic economic principle. Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson” responds to the classic paranoia of technology eliminating jobs. “Destroyed a thousand times, it has risen a thousand times out of its own ashes as hardy and vigorous as ever.” In an ironic tone Hazlitt continues, “Not only must we be causing unemployment with every technological improvement we make today, but primitive man must have started causing it with the first efforts he made to save himself from needless toil and sweat.” 

Employed workers contribute to the economy. And they contribute by producing goods and ideas that the marketplace demands. If an individual wants to go from point A to B, their mode of travel has no economic effect on the passenger. The effect is only on the driver’s income. 

Surplus is a positive externality of efficiency. Capital or resources previously used for a truck driver’s salary or a taxi’s fare can now be allocated for goods or services that hold more value than the previous good or service. The surplus that is created as a result of the autonomous vehicle has advantages such as reducing shipping costs or taxi fares. Aside from commercial application, autonomous vehicles can also help to improve the personal efficiency of individuals. Instead of spending the commute focusing on the road, commuters would be free to shift their attention to leisurely activities or a project for work.

The invention of the internal combustion engine made steam engines and the large crews required to operate them obsolete. The same could be said for the whale oil lamp, which required a large industry of whale fishing that was gradually replaced by the kerosene lamp and then the light bulb. Many other technologies including automatic teller machines (ATM’s), self checkout counters and electronic tolling have improved society but also led to temporary job layoffs. Technological advances will kill jobs; but such advances will create other jobs to take their place. 

Entire industries and sectors of the economy grew out of surplus capital. Entertainment, for example, would not be possible if all of the labor that goes into producing creative content were still glued to the factory floor. Our standards of living have increased as a result of the improvement in automation. We are given the freedom to explore new disciplines and innovative concepts leaving menial tasks to machines instead of people. 

It is challenging to shift labor to new industries. However, forcing our economy to stagnate merely to preserve archaic methods of transportation would be foolish. The net positive benefit when reduced shipping rates and overhead are factored in is substantial. We don’t have whale fisherman anymore. Why should we require taxi drivers when technology can supplant them? As we automate our methods of transportation, we should look towards changing trends not as a pandemic of job loss, but rather as an opportunity gain.


          Limit Regulations on Autonomous Vehicles        

Autonomous vehicles are no longer a fantasy that appears only in science fiction movies. In theory, the ongoing investments and research should allow many driverless cars to transition out of development and into widespread commercial use over the next decade. However, the typical precautionary principles that accompany new legislation act as a market barrier that will impede the commercialization of the technology. In August 2014, Google, which designed a prototype that removed the steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedals, was forced to reinstall these manual driver controls. This is one of the first examples of onerous regulations forcing the AV innovators to take a step back. To prevent these types of setbacks, policymakers should focus on clearing the existing roadblocks preventing the development of AVs and address the excessive restraints concerning the hypothetical dangers of their use. Only then, can the copious social benefits of AV technologies be realized. 

Autonomous vehicles are vehicles that can drive themselves. In other words, they are capable of sensing the environment and navigating by themselves. In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationreleased a classification system that partitions vehicle automation into 5 levels, ranging from level 0 (no automation) to level 4 (fully self driving automation). The first semi-autonomous vehicles appeared in 1984 with Carnegie Mellon University’s Navlab and ALV projects. Ever since, autonomous vehicle research has been increasing, with major progress by Google, major auto manufacturers, government organizations and universities. In early 2014, IHS Automotive released a study projecting a global total of “nearly 54 million” self-driving cars by 2035, and predicting that “nearly all of the vehicles on the road would be self-driving cars or self-driving commercial vehicles by 2050. 

In response to these predictions and the pressure to “legalize” the testing of AV technologies, new AV legislation to set policy has been introduced in many states, and enacted in California, Florida, Michigan, Nevada and the District of Colombia, to set policy. One important policy area these laws address is safety. For instance, most states’ rules mandate that a licensed driver be in the driver’s seat at all times during autonomous operation. Another policy area these laws address is liability. Typically, the laws set up a legal framework through which manufacturers can be held accountable for negligence in selling faulty products including strict liability for product defects or misrepresentation of product capabilities. One of the statutes enacted in the D.C., Florida, and Michigan laws contains specific language protecting original manufacturers from liability for defects introduced to the aftermarket by a third party who converts a conventional vehicle into an autonomous vehicle.

In some very specific and narrow respects, these state-level legislative actions regarding AV safety and liability can be beneficial. However, state laws also have the effect of slowing down the entry of new technology into the market. For example, California’s 2012 law on self-driving cars called for the state legislature to draft rules regarding AV operation by the start of 2015, although by mid-March 2015 there was still no draft available. In addition, the safety law that requires all autonomous vehicles have a human driver prevents the testing of fully automated vehicles. Hence, these laws effectively act as another set of onerous regulations preventing further innovation of autonomous vehicles.

While the concerns about safety are legitimate and the desire for comprehensive laws is reasonable, there are numerous reasons why it is poor policy to hinder the deployment of these new automotive technologies. First and foremost, self-driving vehicles are predicted to increase safety and decrease the number of accidents. Currently, more than 33,000 people die each year in the United States from automobile crashes. According to U.S. government estimates, as many as 90 percent of all car accidents are caused by human error. As such, the Eno Center for Transportation recently projected that if only 10 percent of all vehicles in the United States were self-driving, the number of accidents each year would be cut by 211,000, and 1,100 lives would be saved. Autonomous vehicles are the latest in a series of technologies that improve safety. For example, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that electronic stability control (ESC) systems, which use computer controls to brake individual wheels on a vehicle losing directional control or stability, saved 2,202 lives between 2008 and 2010. In addition, the legal precedents of products liability litigation established over the last half century provide AV manufacturers with a very strong set of incentives to make their products as safe as possible. Hence, encumbering the legal system with a new set of overly broad federal or state liability statutes relating to AVs is unnecessary.

Second, studies have suggested that intelligent vehicles can possibly reduce congestion and lower fuel consumption. Self-driving cars could ease congestion because commutes would be quicker, as cars driven by robots could travel at steadier speeds and avoid traffic jams. However, it is also true that the AV technology of Level 3 or higher is likely to substantially reduce the opportunity cost of congestion, hence inducing more people to drive, who would have otherwise not have made the trip. While the two possibilities may be offset and make it difficult to clearly predict the overall effects of AVs on congestion, most experts predict some decrease in congestion. When it comes to fuel consumption, the AV vehicles will allow for fuel efficiency because self-driving cars and trucks will be able to bunch close together at steadier speeds. The Rocky Mountain Institute estimates that the reduction in wind drag alone from vehicles traveling closely together could reduce fuel use by 20 to 30 percent. In addition, AV technology can improve fuel economy by 4–10 % by accelerating and decelerating more smoothly than a human driver. Finally, AVs might reduce pollution by enabling the use of alternative fuels. If the decrease in frequency of crashes allows lighter vehicles, many of the range issues that have limited the use of electric and other alternative vehicles are diminished.

Despite the social benefits policymakers have slowed down the legalization of AV research by imposing the “precautionary principle” on developing technology, potentially costing human lives. Hence, as argued by Adam Thierer and Ryan Hagemann of Mercatus Center, the optimal policymakers should adopt the “permission-less innovation” attitude towards driverless vehicle technologies and not the “precautionary principles” attitude. “Permission-less innovation” argues that experimentation with new technologies and business models should generally be permitted by default. This open and lightly regulated platform that allows entrepreneurs to adopt new business models and offer new services without first seeking approval from regulators. In this scenario, pre-emptively resolving liability issues would not be a precondition to commercial rollout of autonomous vehicles. Any perceived or actual problems with new technologies could be corrected later through better-informed policymaking. 

In conclusion, the laws that that encourage overregulation of AV by trying to pre-emptively tackle hypothetical concerns of safety and liabilities will increase the cost of human lives, health, property damages and convenience. As such, the overall guiding principle for policymakers should be that AV technology ought to be permitted if and when it is superior to average human drivers. Safety regulations and liability rules should be designed with this guiding principle in mind. As the 2013 article in the San Diego Union-Tribune stated bluntly: “The issue of liability, if not solved, could delay or even wipe out the vision of driverless cars gaining widespread consumer use.” With this in mind, the ultimate goal of the policymakers regarding the AV should be to minimize government intervention in order to speed up the introduction of the innovation and consumer availability of automated vehicles.


          Piąty ESO Astronomy Winter Camp dla uczniów szkół średnich        
ESO oraz jego Sieć Popularyzacji Nauki, we współpracy organizatorem imprez edukacyjnych Sterrenlab i z Astronomical Observatory of the Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley (OAVdA) zorganizują piąty ESO Astronomy Camp pod tytułem „Odległości we Wszechświecie”. Obóz odbędzie się od wtorku 26 grudnia 2017 roku do poniedziałku 1 stycznia 2018 roku w Aosta Valley we Włoszech. W ramach obozu będzie przedstawione zagadnienie odległości we Wszechświecie, w trakcie różnych astronomicznych sesji, w tym wykładów, warsztatów i nocnych obserwacji teleskopami i instrumentami obserwatorium. Dodatkowo zaplanowano aktywności społecznościowe, sporty zimowe i wycieczki, tak aby udział w obozie był doświadczeniem długo wspominanym przez uczestników. ESO …
          Moving along: Continuing to expand the Panama transport and logistics network        
 
A geostrategic location and the presence of the Panama Canal make Panama a natural centre for transportation and logistics. In fact, the transportation, logistics and communication sector combined is easily the largest contributor to GDP, a fact recognised by the current administration. In its Strategic Economic Plan 2010-14, the logistics sector, along with finance, agriculture and tourism, was identified as one of the country’s four pillars of economic growth. To secure the future of the sector the administration is investing $9.6bn, equivalent to 70% of public sector investment, from 2010 to 2014 in infrastructure upgrades alone. Public spending on infrastructure extends well beyond the flagship $5.25bn Panama Canal Expansion and includes the construction of a line on the Panama City Metro, a large overhaul of the national road network and several upgrades to maritime and airport infrastructure. With the canal’s ability to attract global trade, the country has been working for nearly a decade to create a business-friendly regulatory framework – replete with special economic areas and incentives for multinational headquarters – which should serve in attracting further investment as it continues developing the transport and logistics hub. While on the one hand the government is moving quickly to ensure its infrastructure networks are capable of providing a platform for the growing logistics and value-added manufacturing industries, on the other it is aggressively revamping airport infrastructure and further pushing to establish itself as a major aviation centre.

Quantifying Progress

Figures published by the National Statistics Agency (Instituto Nacional De Estadí stica y Censo, INEC) aptly portray the sector’s wider role within the rapidly growing economy. According to the latest available figures from INEC at the time of writing, the transportation and communication sector accounted for 24.1% of the nation’s total GDP (at 1996 prices) in 2012. Moreover, the sector has grown at double-digit rates in each of the past five years apart from 2009 when the global financial crisis slowed progress in the sector to 8.2%. The sector’s average annual growth rate from 2008 to 2012 was an impressive 12.7%. It has also been a major attractor of foreign direct investment (FDI) as logistics, construction and infrastructure firms look to take advantage of the country’s expanding role in regional and global transport. FDI stock in the transportation, logistics and communication sector reached $4.52bn in 2011 and represented 19.6% of the national total of $23.1bn, according to data from the National Comptroller.

Global Rankings

Heavy spending on infrastructure development has yielded improved scores in the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitiveness Report 2013-14”. Indeed, Panama’s score in the report’s metric on overall quality of infrastructure has improved drastically under the current administration from 67th in the 2009-10 iteration of the report to 30th in the 2013-14 edition. Other related categories also paint a similar picture. Panama improved from 54th in the 2009-10 index to 35th in 2013-14 in goods market efficiency, from 18th to sixth in quality of port infrastructure, from 32nd to fifth in air transport infrastructure, from 62nd to 30th in railroad infrastructure, and from 62nd to 48th in road infrastructure.

Sector Structure

Despite steadily improving infrastructure across the country, the transportation and logistics sector lacks a titular head in the form of a dedicated Ministry of Transportation and Logistics. In its place is the Ministry of Public Works (Ministerio de Obras Públicas, MOP) which oversees the construction and maintenance of the national public infrastructure network, though in practice the MOP is primarily responsible for the national road network together with the autonomous Terrestrial Transport and Transit Authority. Numerous additional public entities with varying degrees of autonomy oversee the rest of the sector, including the Metro de Panamá Secretariat, a special secretariat created in 2009 to monitor the planning, construction and administration of the Panama City Metro. The Panama Canal Authority (Autoridad del Canal de Panamá, ACP) has been in complete control of the Panama Canal and its finances since the country took over control in 1999. Although it possesses a board consisting of various ministerial heads, another autonomous government agency, the Panama Maritime Authority (Autoridad Marítima de Panamá, AMP) is charged with overseeing all things maritime. Meanwhile, in the aviation sector it is the Civil Aviation Authority (Autoridad Aeronáutica Civil, AAC), which also boasts a diverse board full of governmental leaders, that supervises the country’s aeronautical activity.
In October 2010 the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (Ministerio de Comercio e Industrias, MICI), together with the Georgia Tech Panama Logistics Innovation and Research Centre, launched the National Logistics Council (Consejo Nacional de Logística, CNL). The CNL was created to establish a platform for collaboration among the government, private sector and academic institutions and eventually facilitate the development of the country into “the logistics and trade hub of the Americas”. However, the lack of a governmental ministry or secretariat charged with overseeing the long-term development of all infrastructures and responsible for coordinating inter-agency stratagem and budgets is a common complaint from the private sector given the already large and growing impact of the sector on the wider economy. Indeed, though the creation of the CNL represents a step forward in the logistics segment, it still falls short of the sort of authority granted the Secretary of Science, Technology and Information, for example, in driving the growth of the information and communication sector.

Legislation

The legislative environment in Panama has for the most part been conducive to business and investment in the country. Legal and tax incentives have been established through several laws for companies basing themselves in one of the country’s free or special economic and trade zones.
The Colón Free Zone (CFZ), the second-largest of its kind in the world, is a strong example of the importance of creating such areas, in particular for logistic and reexport companies. New special economic areas including Panama Pacifico and the City of Knowledge have also been created and should lead the way forward in the future (see Economy chapter).
However, in the second quarter of 2012 a new piece of legislation passed through the national legislature and was signed by the president. Known as Act 41, the legislation could cause issues with international investors within the maritime sector. The law stipulates that 75% of shares and personnel within the maritime services and auxiliary fuel distribution sector be sourced domestically. The rule sparked backlash from the EU, which considers it to be in violation of international commitments already made by Panama.

The Hub & Spoke

Panama’s location bodes well not only for its status as a trading hub, but also for its growing stature as a major regional centre of aviation. Indeed, Panama City’s location is within “narrow-body” range, the typical distance that the single-aisle airplanes which dominate the Latin American market can travel, of nearly all major cities within the Americas. Additionally, its improving airport infrastructure, expanding tourism sector and rapid economic growth are all supporting the country’s efforts to become the most important transit hub in the region.

Commercial Aviation

The impressive growth of Panama’s only major airline, Copa Airlines, also points towards a bright future for the sector. Founded in 1947, the Compañía Panameña de Aviación (Copa) is now the flagship airline of the country and one of the most prominent airlines in the expanding, yet still underserved, Latin America region.
Following the 2005 purchase of AeroRepublica in Colombia and the company’s initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, making Copa the third Latin American airline to list on the exchange, growth has been impressive. According to figures from Copa, from 2005 to 2013 capacity has increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17%, while earnings have experienced a CAGR of 21% during the same timeframe. As a result Copa has become one of the most profitable airlines on the planet, recording an operating profit margin of 17.9% for 2012. According to the latest data from the International Air Transport Association’s 2010 airline profitability report, the carrier ranked 10th in 2007 and fourth in 2008, with operating profit margins around 18-20%.
Meanwhile, the airline’s expansion plans include increasing its numbers in terms of fleet, route and frequency over the next five years. Indeed, Copa’s fleet plan includes the addition of 44 (30 firm orders and 14 optional) new aircraft between 2013 and 2018, most of which are single-aisle Boeing 737-800s with a range of 3000 nautical miles.

International Connections

Although Copa is responsible for more than 80% of daily operations at Tocumen International Airport, several international airlines also operate out of Tocumen including KLM, United Airlines, American Airlines, Iberia and Delta Airlines. In total, commercial airlines flying from Panama City service around 70 destinations – up from 29 in 2004.
The AAC has been working together with the Ministry of Foreign Relations and the executive branch to firm up accords with foreign nations over air traffic rights. According to Ivan Vergara, director of air transport at the AAC, “Over the past several years we have signed agreements with Brazil, Ecuador and Peru and expanded our accord with Mexico. In 2013 we also added or expanded agreements with Costa Rica and France as well.” Indeed, with Air France joining KLM and Iberia in operating transatlantic flights to Europe in November of 2013, Panama City could soon establish itself as a transit hub not only for travellers going from South America to North America, but to Europe as well.

Metro

One of the flagship projects of President Ricardo Martinelli’s administration, the construction of the $1.88bn Metro de Panamá should help to alleviate traffic congestion within the capital. The first line is expected to be inaugurated on March 5, 2014. The long-term master plan for the system’s development calls for the construction of four separate lines and one tramway line by 2035, though thus far construction has been started only on the first line (see analysis).

Urban Transport

In fact, the metro is just one part of a complete renovation of Panama City’s transportation system as the MOP has been in the midst of a major overhaul to the capital city’s road network since 2011. Meanwhile, structural changes to the existing public transportation system – mainly the replacement of the city’s diablo rojo (red devil) bus network – should also ease congestion in the medium to long term.
Over the course of the past few years numerous projects to improve road connectivity and traffic flow have seen various parts of Panama City turned into construction zones. In total the MOP reported in June 2013 that a combined eight road projects totalling $1.7bn were under way in the capital city. The largest project is the $782m construction of an underground connection between Avenida Balboa and Avenida Los Poetas, which was awarded to Brazil’s Odebrecht. It not only involves the construction of a new tunnel, but also renovations to Los Poetas, the construction of new sports facilities, bike lanes, gardens and even a sporting arena, the Maracanã Stadium. However, the project has become a source of controversy as it will also include the extension of the Cinta Costera (Coastal Beltway), a highway constructed a few years ago to relieve congestion inside the city and whose extension will wrap around the city’s Casco Viejo (Historic District).
While the project includes green areas and pedestrian walks it has drawn criticism as the beltway is seen as an eye sore and counterproductive to ongoing efforts to renovate the historic district. Fears that it would lead to the removal of Casco Viejo from UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites – due to the destruction of the centuries-old sea wall to make way for the highway – have been allayed as UNESCO announced in June 2013 the project would not impact Casco Viejo’s status.
The preservation of the historic district itself is a $175m project also being completed by Odebrecht and is seen as a key part of the country’s tourism development plan. Apart from renovating the area’s small streets and alleyways, the project also includes the construction of a new road dubbed Vía Cincuentenario. Both projects are expected to be completed in 2014.
Other projects include the $237m improvement and expansion of Avenida Domingo Díaz, which consists of the construction of three vehicular and three pedestrian bridges and the expansion of the road to six lanes.
Via Brasil, another major artery, is also being renovated in a two-phase project to the tune of $217m and $181m for each respective phase. The remainder of the investment, $76.5m, was poured into the construction of three underpasses, which are now fully operational.

On The Road

Outside Panama City, the road network is also under development as connectivity in the interior of the country continually improves. From 2009 to 2013 the MOP reported investing $3.4bn in road and public infrastructure projects, though the majority of that figure ($2.25bn) has been used to overhaul Panama City’s road network. Outside the capital the heaviest investment was found in Chiriquí, which received $262m, most of which was used to upgrade two highways from David to Boquete ($119m) and from Paso Canoas to Port Armuelles ($114m). Meanwhile, Veraguas received $179m; Herrera and Los Santos, each $156m; Coclé, $136m; Bocas del Toro, $72m; Colón, $64m; Comarca, $66m; and Darién, $61m.
In 2012 the introduction of a new stretch of highway from Panama City to Colón – easily the most important intra-city highway in Panama – reduced travel time from the capital to the Colón Free Zone to just 45 minutes. The project began in 2010, and when construction was completed in 2012, investment in the project reached $186m, MOP figures show. The $80.7m renovation of the Bridge of the Americas – which spans the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal – is another major project which was started in 2010, though it will not be completed until the end of 2014.

Maritime Transport

Obviously many of the maritime transport activities revolve around the Panama Canal, which has extensive port facilities at both entrances in the Port of Cristóbal (Atlantic), the Manzanillo International Container Terminal (MIT, Atlantic), the Colón Container Terminal (Atlantic) and the Port of Balboa (Pacific). In total Panama boasts 14 private and 14 state-owned and operated ports. Ensuring the country is able to meet demand increases following the arrival of post-Panamax ships after the completion of the Panama Canal expansion project is crucial to sustaining the long-term growth of the sector.
“Panama needs to have more terminals built in order to continue growing, especially a new post-Panamax port inside the canal,” Ricardo Lince Boyd, the executive president of Agencias Continental, a local ports and shipping logistics firm, told OBG.
Both the Port of Cristobal and the Port of Balboa are receiving an upgrade by the Panama Ports Company, operator of both ports, at a cost of $1bn. All expansion projects at both ports are expected to be completed by 2015 and will improve their combined capacity to 6.5m twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).
Meanwhile, the MIT and the Colón Container Terminal (CCT) serve the CFZ and have also received sizeable investments in recent years. According to information published by Georgia Tech, the CCT recently spent $100m upgrading its terminal to its current capacity of 1.3m TEUs. The MIT is currently investing $270m to upgrade capacity to a total of 4m TEUs per year.

Logistics

Identified as one of the four pillars of future economic growth, the logistics sector is arguably the most integral piece in further developing the Panamanian economy. According to Proinvex, the investment promotion agency, roughly 3% of global maritime trade, including 10% of US international seaborne trade, passed through the canal in 2013. These figures are likely to swell upon the doubling of the canal’s cargo capacity once the expansion project is complete. This fact alone gives the country an edge over competing logistics centres in the Caribbean and along the Atlantic coasts of the US and South America. Still, obstacles do stand in the way, mainly a lack of qualified personnel.

Outlook

All of the ingredients for Panama to become a centre for transportation and logistics are beginning to coalesce. Domestic connectivity is being upgraded via major infrastructure projects such as the Metro de Panamá, the Panama-Colón Highway and an overhaul of the national road system. Meanwhile, international connectivity is also being improved thanks to continued investment in airports and seaports. Nevertheless, if the goal of improving national transportation infrastructure is to capitalise on goods moving through the canal by expanding the logistics and transport sectors, there are still obstacles to overcome such as the short supply of labour and strong regional competition.
 
Full text in http://www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/overview/moving-along-continuing-expand-transport-and-logistics-network
 


          China: Protect 15 Detained North Koreans        

North Korean soldiers in a border guard post are seen from the Chinese side in Tumen, China, January 7, 2016. 

© 2016 Reuters

(Seoul) – China should not deport 15 North Koreans held in Chinese detention back to North Korea, but should either grant them asylum or allow them to safely go to a third country, Human Rights Watch said today. North Koreans who are forcibly returned after fleeing their country face a real risk of torture, sexual violence and abuse, incarceration in forced labor camps, and death.

According to North Koreans who have fled the country since 2013, or who maintain contacts inside the country, people repatriated by China face incarceration in forced labor camps, political prison camps (kwanliso), or even execution. Political prison camps in North Korea are characterized by systematic abuses and often deadly conditions, including meager rations that pose risk of starvation, virtually no medical care, lack of proper housing and clothes, regular mistreatment that includes sexual assault and torture by guards, and summary executions. Death rates in these camps are reported by former North Korean prisoners and guards to be extremely high. Detainees in ordinary prison camps also face forced labor in dangerous working conditions, food and medicine shortages, and regular mistreatment by guards.

“China needs to recognize that sending these 15 North Koreans back to their country means condemning them to suffer horrific rights violations, and immediately halt any effort to send them back into harm’s way,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “China’s leaders should instead call for Pyongyang to cease the human rights violations that are compelling people to flee the country in the first place.”

World Report 2017: North Korea

World Report 2017: North Korea

During his fifth year in power in North Korea, Kim Jong-Un continued to generate fearful obedience by using public executions, arbitrary detention, and forced labor.

Human Rights Watch learned about the situation of the 15 detainees through a father whose son left North Korea and was apprehended by Chinese authorities with four other North Koreans in early July. This father learned that five people were first detained near the Laos border, then grouped with another ten North Koreans, including three children, in detention in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan province.

The father told Human Rights Watch that some family members of the detained North Koreans managed to visit the detention center where they were being held. They found out that on August 1, 2017, the group had been moved to the Tumen immigration detention facility in Jilin province, right across the border from the North Korean city of Namyang in North Hamgyong province. This facility is usually one of the last detention centers where North Koreans who face imminent forced return are held. On August 4, the father heard from a credible source that the 15 detainees, including his son, had arrived in Tumen, and authorities were preparing to send the group back to North Korea.

China regularly labels North Koreans as illegal “economic migrants” and forcibly repatriates them to North Korea under a 1986 bilateral border protocol.

According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch with North Koreans who have previously been apprehended in China and returned to North Korea, the North Korean government harshly punishes all those who leave the country without permission. In 2010, North Korea’s Ministry of People’s Security adopted a decree making defection a crime of “treachery against the nation,” punishable by death. Human Rights Watch considers all North Koreans in China who left without permission to have refugee status (as refugees sur place) because they have a well-founded fear of persecution if forcibly returned.

Forcing North Korean refugees back to their country constitutes refoulement, or the sending of persons back to territory where they face threats to life or freedom, which is forbidden by international treaties to which China is a party as well as by customary international law. Under the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, as well as the 1984 Convention against Torture, China is specifically obligated not to force back North Koreans, who would be placed at risk of persecution or torture.

North Koreans who leave their country are caught in a horrendous cycle of physical and psychological violence. I received information that some take their own lives when they find out that they are scheduled for repatriation.

Tomás Ojea Quintana

Special Rapporteur on North Korea

For North Koreans who are returned and not sent to political prisoner camps, the authorities may sentence them to between 2 to 15 years forced labor in ordinary prison camps (kyohwaso, or re-education correctional facilities) for living or working illegally in China.

A former senior official in the North Korean state security service (bowibu), who previously worked on the border and received North Koreans sent back from China, told Human Rights Watch that officials under his command tortured every returnee to find out where they went in China, who they contacted, and what they had done while outside North Korea.

The 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea found that crimes against humanity, including torture, execution, enslavement, and sexual violence, are committed against prisoners and people forcibly returned to North Korea from China. On July 27, 2017, Tomás Ojea Quintana, the special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, said: “North Koreans who leave their country are caught in a horrendous cycle of physical and psychological violence, and I received information that some take their own lives when they find out that they are scheduled for repatriation.”

Human Rights Watch calls on China to protect those in Chinese custody, to grant North Koreans asylum or safe passage to other countries, and to allow the UN refugee agency to exercise its mandate and protect North Korean asylum seekers.

“China should demonstrate to the UN and governments around the world that it will no longer be complicit with the North Korean government’s rights violations against its own people,” Robertson said. “By protecting these 15 North Koreans, Beijing would send a strong message that China will no longer play along and ignore North Korea’s human rights abuses.”


           Advanced Anti-Submarine Warfare Training System Contract        
Defence and security company Saab has received an order for delivery of the advanced anti-submarine warfare training system, AUV62-AT. Deliveries will take place during 2017 and 2018. The autonomous underwater vehicle system AUV62-AT is an advanced and capable system for cost-efficient training of a navy’s ASW forces. The AUV62-AT is an acoustic target that mimics a submarine in a way that is compatible with any torpedo- and ASW sonar system on the market today. This system will repla...
          Robotic Co-Pilot Autonomously Flies and Lands a Simulated Boeing 737        
Aurora Flight Sciences' work on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)'s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program has further demonstrated its automated flight capabilities with various successful flight scenarios in a Boeing 737 simulator. These accomplishments build on Aurora's successful installation and testing of ALIAS components on a Diamond DA42, Cessna 208 Caravan, UH-1 Iroquois, and DHC-2 Beaver aircraft. Aurora's ALIAS technology de...
          Comment on Autonomous ErgoChair Review by Eric        
I just ordered the second version of this chair. I hope they ironed out the kinks. But the price point is up $100. But there was is a sale for $50 off. So, I'll see what i get. I also just got their business class electric desk and it seems good even with being panned here and there because of their Kickstart beginning. I hope they stay around to honor the 5yr warranty on the desk and chair.
          Daily Roundup: NASA engineer Annie Easley, a new View-Master and more!        

Get caught up on today's news in the latest edition of the Daily Roundup. Learn about Annie Easley, an African-American woman who helped make early spaceflight possible, go hands-on with us as we take Mattel's View-Master for a spin and find out how the UK plans to test autonomous vehicles. All that and more can be found past the break.


          STRIKE OCCUPY WIN        
Hello and welcome to Wildcats! We are a new autonomous social space in the heart of Brighton. We have opened a squatted space for people to converse with each other about the social and political situation we currently find ourselves in.

Pop in any time. We are usually open about 10am till 7pm. We have lots of events and skill shares going on for example today we have a free barbers. If you would like to put on a workshop or get involved in any other way feel free to come round and get on with it- no need to wait for permission.
          Young adults 'damage DNA' with weekend alcohol consumption        
According to studies, it is believed that young adults are damaging their DNA with their weekend alcohol consumption. I believe alcohol can have some effects on the body, but I do not think it can damage DNA. It takes a lot of alcohol to do any damage & sure young adults drink a lot, but I think their bodies can easily adapt and maintain itself.
College students are renowned for partying at the weekends, and this usually involves having a drink or two. But new research has found that this level of alcohol consumption may cause damage to DNA. This is according to a study published in the journal Alcohol.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that around four out of five college students in the US drink alcohol and 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year as a result of unintentional alcohol-related injuries.

According to the study researchers, including co-author Jesús Velázquez of the Autonomous University of Nayarit in Mexico, previous research studying the effects of alcohol consumption has mainly been carried out in individuals who have been drinking for long periods of time.

These individuals usually have illnesses as a result of their alcohol consumption, such as liver damage, cancer ordepression.

But the investigators say their study is "pioneering," as it analyzes the effects of alcohol consumption on young people who are healthy.


Oxidative damage caused by alcohol consumption

The researchers set out to determine the level of oxidative damage caused by alcohol consumption in two groups of people between the ages of 18 and 23. Oxidative stress can cause damage to proteins, membranes and genes.

One group drank an average of 1.5 liters of alcoholic beverages every weekend, while the other group did not consume any alcohol.

All participants underwent blood tests to ensure they were healthy and were free of any diseases or addictions.

The researchers also measured the activity of dehydrogenase - an enzyme responsible for metabolizing alcohol (ethanol) into acetaldehyde - as well as acetoacetate and acetone activity.

Using a thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) test, the researchers were able to assess oxidative damage. The test allowed them to see how ethanol in the blood, and the acetaldehyde produced by dehydrogenase in reaction to ethanol, affects the lipid peroxidation that impacts cell membranes.

Results of the study revealed that the alcohol-consuming group demonstrated twice as much oxidative damage to their cell membranes, compared with the group that did not drink.

Signs of DNA damage through alcohol consumption

An additional experiment, called the comet test, was conducted to see whether the participants' DNA was also affected by alcohol consumption. This involved taking out the nucleus of lymphocytic cells in the blood and putting it through electrophoresis.

The researchers explain that if the cells are faulty and DNA is damaged, it causes a "halo" in the electrophoresis, called "the comet tail."

The experiment revealed that the group who consumed alcohol showed significantly bigger comet tails in the electrophoresis, compared with the group that did not drink alcohol.

In detail, 8% of cells were damaged in the control group, but 44% were damaged in the drinking group. This means the drinking group had 5.3 times more damage to their cells.

However, the investigators say that they were unable to confirm there was extensive damage to the DNA, as the comet tail was less than 20 nanometers. But the investigators say their findings still raise concern.

Overall, they conclude that oxidative damage can be found in young adults with only 4-5 years' alcohol drinking history, and that this is the first study to provide evidence of this damage in individuals at the early stages of alcohol abuse.

Original Article

Check out Bayho.com for your Vitamin & Supplement needs. 


           Tesla is developing an electric self-driving truck         
Emails between Tesla and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles have revealed a prototype autonomous electric truck that will drive itself and move in 'platoons' could soon be tested in the state
          CHP-181-The Early Years of Sino-Russian Relations        

After more than 40 days wandering in the desert Laszlo is back with a topic that languished on the list for more than six years. At last the early years of Russia-China relations can see the light of day (here at Teacup Media, that is). As you can see, this is another one of those hour plus episodes that was not long enough for two episodes and a bit overly long for one. Basically this covers the beginnings back in the late Ming when they first met and mostly in the Qing where all the history happened. This isn't a particularly deep dive on the subject. I first give you a 走马看花 view of the history of Russia's expansion east and how they ended up on the doorstep of Manchuria. Hope you don't mind.

 

TERMS FROM THIS EPISODE:

Míng Dynasty 明朝 Second to last dynasty in Chinese Imperial history 1368-1644

Lóngqìng 隆庆 Ming Dynasty Emperor (1567-1572)

Wànlì 万里 Son of Longqing Emperor, reigned a long time 1572-1620

Qing Dynasty 清朝 Last imperial dynasty in China 1644-1912

Xīnjiāng 新疆   Autonomous Region in the northwest of China, formerly referred to as Chinese Turkestan

Hēilóng Jiāng 黑龙江 The Black Dragon River (The Amur, and name of Heilongjiang Province)

Shùn Zhì 顺治   First emperor of the Qing Dynasty, 1643-1661

Pǔyí 溥仪   The Last Emperor, a.k.a. The Xuantong Emperor, reigned 1908-1912

Northern Sòng  北宋 The first half of the Song Dynasty, lasted from 960-1126

Kāngxī   康熙   Long reigning Qing Emperor, 1661-1722

Jiāyùguān   嘉峪关   The western terminus of the Great Wall of China

Songgotu (Suǒ'étú) 索额图 Manchu diplomat during the reign of Kangxi

Qiánlóng  乾隆  Another long reigning Qing emperor, 1735-1796

Treaty of Nanjing  南京条约 The marquee "Unequal Treaty" signed in 1842

Hóng Xiùquán 洪秀全 Rebel leader responsible for the Taiping Rebellion

Jīntián, Guangxi 广西金田   Place where the Taiping Rebellion was launched

Tàipíng Rebellion  太平天国运动   A bloody Rebellion and Civil War all in one, 1850-1864

Hēihé 黑河    City in northeast Manchuria (Heilongjiang) formerly known as Aigun

Aìhún   瑷珲 Now called Heihe, formerly called Aigun, site of the signing of the Treaty of Aigun.

Yìshān 奕山 Manchu diplomat who was forced into signing the Treaty of Aigun

Qíshàn 琦善   Manchu diplomat also forced to sign unequal treaties

Lín Zéxú 林则徐   Chinese hero who stood up to the foreign traders and torched their opium

Hǔmén  虎门   Located on "The Bogue" in Guangdong, site where Lin Zexu burned the opium

Guǎngdōng 广东  Southern province in China

Convention of Chuenbi   穿鼻草约  (Chuānbí Cǎoyuē) signed 1841, never ratified.

Ili  伊犁   (Yīlí) Town, valley and river name at the northwest border of Xinjiang - Kazakhstan

Zuǒ Zōngtáng   左宗棠  (1812-1885) Military leader and statesman from Hunan

Li-Lobanov Treaty 中俄密约   (known as the Zhōng É Mìyuē ), signed 1896

Lǐ Hóngzhāng 里鸿章   Co-signer of the Li-Lobanov Treaty), Chinese diplomat and statesman

Liaotung Peninsula  辽东半岛 (Liáodōng Bàndǎo) The tip of peninsular Liaoning Province

Lǚ Dà Zūdì Tiáoyuē 旅大租地条约   Convention for the Lease of the Liaotung Peninsula at Dalian (大连)

Port Arthur Also known as Lüshunkou (旅顺口), Port located at the tip of the Liaodong Peninsula

Qīngdǎo 青岛   Scenic city in Shandong, once a German concession

Wēihǎiwèi  威海卫   Another scenic city in Shandong, once a British concession, today known simply as Weihai 威海

If you'd like to brush up on your Russian History, may I recommend an old stalwart of mine:

MARK SCHAUSS, PRESENTER OF THE RUSSIAN RULERS PODCAST

I call it "The CHP of Russian History"

 


          CHP-169-The Mongol Yuan Dynasty Part 1        

In this long overdue episode with a deceiving title we don't actually get around to the Yuan Dynasty.  However a nice handy and confusing overview tracing the rise of the Mongol nation is presented which includes a bio on Genghis Khan.  We'll get to rise of Kublai Khan this time and look at the Yuan Dynasty next episode.  

 

Terms from this Episode

numero ciento sesenta y nueve Number 169

Qin Shihuang 秦始皇 Qin Dynasty founder

Da Yuanchao 大元朝 The Great Mongol Dynasty

Parthians 帕提亚  Iranian nomadic people

Scythians   斯基泰人 Iranian nomadic people

Yuezhi 月氏 Originally from Xinjiang and Gansu, defeated by the Xiongnu

Goths 哥特 West central Asian power, the scourge of the Roman Empire

Magyars   马扎儿人 West central Asian power. Today they are known as Hungarians.

Huns 匈奴 More from the western part of the steppe, often confused with Xiongnu

Xiongnu 匈奴 Often called Huns, they were an early northern tribe who kept invading China

Slavs   斯拉夫人 People from central Europe and the West Asian steppe

Xianbei 鲜卑   So-called "proto-Mongols" who lived around the Qin and Han dynasties and founded the Northern Wei.

Shatuo Turks  沙陀突厥  Power in north China late 9th and 10th century. Founded several short-lived dynasties in the north of China.

Khitans 契丹 The people who founded the Liao Dynasty 907-1125

Tatars 鞑靼人 Mongol tribe defeated by Genghis Khan who later moved westward towards Russia and Europe

Kazakhs   哈萨克人 North-Central Asian people, Turkic, found mostly in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Kyrgyz  吉尔吉斯  Central Asian people, Turkic, found mostly in Kyrgyzstan

Uighurs   维吾尔人   Turkic people who today mostly live in Xinjiang

The Hakkas 客家人 The Hakka People

Fujian 福建   Province on the east coast of China

Huizong   徽宗 Last emperor of the Northern Song

Aguda 阿骨打 Also known as Emperor Taizu of Jin, founder of the Jin Dynasty

Wuqimai 吴乞买 Aguda's brother, second emperor of the Jin

Kaifeng 开封 Capital of the Northern Song Dynasty

Jin Dynasty  金朝 Jürchen Dynasty 1115-1234, founded by Aguda

Zhao Gou   赵构 Escaped Zhao royal family member, launched Southern Song

Gaozong 高宗 First emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty

Lin'an 临安 Southern Song capital, present day Hangzhou

Merkits  蔑儿乞人 One of many tribes of the Mongols

Keraits  怯烈亦 One of many tribes of the Mongols

Ongüts  汪古部 One of many tribes of the Mongols

Ongirats  One of many tribes of the Mongols

Naimans 乃蛮 One of many tribes of the Mongols

Temüjin 铁木真 Genghis Khan's name

Dobun Known as Dobun the Clever, married to Alan the Fair, early ancestors of Temujin

Ah-Lan the Fair married to Dobun, early ancestors of Temujin

Khaidu 海都 c. 1040-1100 Great-grandfather of Khabul Khan

Khabul Khan  合不勒  Early great khan and great -grandfather of Genghis Khan

Yesugei the Brave 孛儿只斤Ÿ也速该 Father of Genghis Khan

Yuanchao Mi Shi 元朝秘史 The Secret History of the Mongols

Börte 孛儿帖 Wife of Temüjin and later Grand Empress of the Mongol Empire

Ulaan Bator 乌兰巴托 Capital of Mongolia

Jochi 术赤 Oldest son of Börte and maybe Genghis Khan

Golden Horde 金帐汗国  Originally the northwest portion of the Mongol Empire. Also known as the Kipchak Khanate. Lasted till 1502.

Xinjiang   新疆 Northwest autonomous region in China

Mongol Yasa (Jasagh)   A Mongol Codified law introduced by Genghis Khan

Khuriltai 忽里勒台   A Mongol congress of all elders and leaders

Kara Khitai 喀喇契丹 Also known as the Western Liao 1124-1218

Xixia  西夏 The Western Xia, an empire established by the Tanguts

Khwarizmian Empire 花剌子模王国 Lasted 1077-1231. Khwarazmia covered All of Iran and parts of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan.

Batu 拔都 Founder of Golden Horde, son of Jochi, grandson of Genghis Khan

Chaghadai 蔡合台 Second son of Genghis Khan, founder of Khanate of Chaghadai

Khanate of Chaghadai 蔡合台汗国 Covered most of Central Asia

Ogedai Khan 窝阔台 or 斡歌歹 Third son of Genghis Khan, second Khan of the Mongol Empire

Tolui 拖雷 Fourth Son of Genghis Khan, father of Kublai Khan

Möngke 蒙哥 Eldest son of Tolui, elder brother to Kublai Khan

Kublai 忽必烈 1215-1294, Great Khan and founder of the Yuan Dynasty. Reigned 1271-1294.

Hulagu 旭烈兀 grandson of Genghis Khan, son of Tolui

Arigh Boke 阿里不哥 Youngest son of Tolui, fought civil war with Kublai

Subotei 速不台 Genghis Khan's number one guy (and Ogedai's too!). Great Mongol general.

Dzungaria 准噶尔 Northern half of Xinjiang with Tianshan Mountains south and the Altai north.

Karakorum 喀喇昆仑 Mongol capital 1235-1260

Guyuk 贵由 Eldest son of Ogedai Khan, reigned only two years as the 3rd Great Khan

Mamluks 马木留克 Originally slave soldiers, they were a powerful "caste" of warriors who operated from the 9th to 19th centuries. Not to be messed with.

Il-khanate 伊儿汗国  The southwestern portion of the Mongol Empire. Ruled by Hülagü's branch of the family - centered around Iran

Dali Kingdom 大理国 Kingdom that lasted 937-1253. Mostly located in Yunnan.

Owen Lattimore 欧文Ÿ拉铁摩尔 American scholar and Central Asian specialist

 

Isaac Meyer:  “History of Japan Podcast”

https://historyofjapan.wordpress.com/

 

Nina Xiang: "China Money Network"

http://www.chinamoneynetwork.com/

 


          CHP-167-Zhou Enlai Part 7        

In this longer than expected seventh episode of the series the Cultural Revolution gets underway, something that Zhou will have to deal with until his dying day.  Aside from this, China's illustrious premier also has his hands full with a thousand other responsibilities, both foreign and domestic. 

 

Terms from this Episode:

Zhou Enlai   周恩来   China's beloved premier and statesman

Huai'an 淮安 City in Jiangsu Province, birthplace of Zhou Enlai

Jiangsu   江苏   Rich coastal province in China

Nankai Middle School 天津南开中学   Famed school where Zhou attended

Tianjin   天津   Municipality just east of Beijing

Whampoa Military Academy   中华民国陆军军官学校   Military academy located in Guangzhou

Jinggangshan   井冈山 Soviet base set up by Mao in the mountains of Jiangxi

Zhu De   朱德   PLA founder and legendary general

Liu Shaoqi   刘少奇   Great Chinese leader, persecuted by Mao during Cultural Revolution

Deng Xiaoping   邓小平 China's supreme leader in the 1980's

Yang Shangkun   杨尚昆   Chinese leader and one of the Eight Immortals

Peng Zhen   彭真 Chinese leader and one of the Eight Immortals

Peng Dehuai   彭德怀   Great military hero of the PRC, former defense minister

Guiyang   贵阳   Capital of Guizhou Province

Guizhou   贵州   Interior province of China

Hebei   河北 Province in northern China

geming lao qu   革命老区 Revolutionary areas loyal to the CCP going back to the 2nd Sino-Japanese War

Boyan   伯延 A town near Wu'an (武安) in southern Hebei

Zhou Enlai de Sige Zhouye   周恩来的四个昼夜 Movie called "The Story of Zhou Enlai"

Wang Tiecheng   王铁成   Chinese actor famous for his portrayals of Zhou Enlai

Liu Bocheng   刘伯承   Great PLA general who worked closely with Deng Xiaoping

cunmin   村民   village people

Gu Mu   谷牧 1914-2009, great revolutionary, politician, vice-premier

Lin Biao   林彪 Great military hero of the PRC, former defense minister, later rabble rouser

Xinjiang 新疆   Autonomous region in China's northwest

lao gege   老哥哥   Old buddy

Deng Jiaxian 邓稼先   The father of China's nuclear program. Great nuclear physicist

Li Siguang   李四光 Great Chinese scientist, father of China's geomechanics program

Qian Sanqiang   钱三强 Great nuclear physicist

Zhongnanhai   中南海   China's top leadership compound adjacent to the Forbidden City

Luóbùpō  罗布破 Lop Nor in Xinjiang province

He Long   贺龙 Great PLA general

Ngo Dinh Diem 吴廷琰 President of South Vietnam 1955-1963

Yunnan   云南   Province in southwest China

Chen Yi   陈毅   Great Chinese leader, general, statesman, football fanatic

Sanxian jianshe   三线建设 The Third Front Movement

Qinghai   青海   Province in western China

Ningxia   宁夏   Autonomous region in the north of China

Sichuan   四川   Province in China also known as Szechwan

Gansu   甘肃    Province in western China

Chen Yun   陈云 Chinese leader and one of the Eight Immortals

Bo Yibo   薄一波   Chinese leader and one of the Eight Immortals

Li Fuchun   李富春 Leader and statesman in China, handled the planning of China's economy.

chi chuan yong   吃穿用 "Eat, Wear, Use"

biyaopin   必要品 Necessities of Life

riyongpin   日用品   Daily use items

Dongfang Hong   东方红   The East is Red

Jiang Qing   江青   Mao's last wife, among many other things, all negative.

Wu Han   吴晗   Ming dynasty expert, Beijing vice-mayor

Yao Wenyuan   姚文元   One of the Gang of Four

Wenhui Bao   文汇报   The Wenhui Bao, a Shanghai newspaper

Wuhan   武汉   City in Hubei on the Yangzi consisting of the cities of Hankou, Wuchang and Hanyang

Hangzhou   杭州   Capital of Zhejiang province

Zhong Fa   中发   A Central Directive, like an executive order

Luo Ruiqing  罗瑞卿   PLA great and later target of the Cultural Revolution

Ye Qun   叶群   PLA colonel and wife of Lin Biao

Xiao Xiangrong   肖向荣 Whampoa Military Academy grad, old revolutionary, Luo Ruiqing ally.

Yangzi   扬子江   The Yangtse River

Pao da siling bu   炮打司令部   Bombard the headquarters (Mao's first Big character poster)

Tan Zhenlin   谭震林 Another PLA great

Xu Xiangqian   徐向前 Another PLA great

Wang Guangmei   王光美   Wife of Liu Shaoqi

Song Qingling   宋庆龄   Wife of Sun Yat-sen, later a stateswoman of the PRC

Sun Weishi   孙维世 Adopted daughter of Zhou Enlai and Deng Yingchao

Sun Bingwen   孙炳文   Early CCP martyr, father of Sun Weishi

Deng Yingchao   邓颖超   Wife of Zhou Enlai, among many other things

You Tube link to The Zhou Enlai Story movie


          Mosul offensive stirs a cauldron of conflicts        
Iraqi Army units and troops of the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), backed by US and allied air power, special forces and "advisors," continue to push toward the Islamic State (ISIS)-held northern city of Mosul and the estimated 1.5 million civilians trapped within its confines. In the past 24 hours, Kurdish forces claimed to have captured villages and towns to the city's north and east, while Iraqi Army units advanced from the south
          Here Are 9 Things Larry Page Couldn’t Remember About Google In His Uber-Waymo Deposition        

He does, however, remember that he is not a lawyer.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

There’s a lot that Google co-founder Larry Page seemingly doesn’t know about Google.

Page, the CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, displayed his apparent lack of knowledge during questioning on July 17 as part of Alphabet’s lawsuit against Uber over self-driving car technology. On Wednesday, Uber’s lawyers asked a judge to compel the executive to be questioned again, claiming that Page wasn’t adequately prepared for the July deposition.

Waymo, a self-driving car startup owned by Alphabet is suing Uber, claiming that the ride-hail behemoth hired a former Alphabet employee who it knew had stolen trade secrets regarding a patented sensor system used in autonomous vehicles.

The two companies have been duking it out in a series of court hearings and filings since February, ahead of a trial currently scheduled for October.

The latest in that battle came today, with Uber demanding it be allowed to depose Page again. Uber says that based on Page’s deposition — which is littered with claims that he isn’t aware of or can’t recall information about the case and his company — it’s clear the Google founder wasn’t properly prepared by his legal team.

Both sides will have to wait and see what US District Judge William Alsup has to say about that.

Uber’s lawyer: Sir, I'd like to start by asking you some questions about the bonus that was paid to Anthony Levandowski. He received a bonus that was in excess of $120 million; is that right?

Page: I'm not familiar with the exact amount, but that sounds correct.

Uber’s lawyer: You recall it was over 100 million?

Page: I recall it was large.


View Entire List ›


          The Grid: How to transform your organisation into an Entrepreneurial NetwoRHk        

Heiko Fischer explains the types of organisations and the steps that the RH-way, recommends to take to enable your company to move towards an autonomous network of leaders.

Cast: Resourceful Humans

Tags: netwoRHk, Network Leadership, staRHs, caRHds, Resourceful Humans and intent based leadership


          Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse - Correct Care Solutions (florida city, florida)        
As a nurse with Correct Care Solutions (CCS), you will have the opportunity to practice patient care the way youA?ve always wanted. Our nurses enjoy competitive pay and benefits in an autonomous though supportive work environment. Numerous growth opportunities are available to our nurses while feeling that they are continually using their nursing skills and abilities.
          Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse - Correct Care Solutions (florida city, florida)        
As a nurse with Correct Care Solutions (CCS), you will have the opportunity to practice patient care the way youA?ve always wanted. Our nurses enjoy competitive pay and benefits in an autonomous though supportive work environment. Numerous growth opportunities are available to our nurses while feeling that they are continually using their nursing skills and abilities.
          Smurf Happens! Spanish Town Left Feeling Blue as Officials End Gnome Tourism        
Juzcar is a town in the province of Malaga, part of the autonomous community of Andalusia in southern Spain, and is famed for being the home of the Smurfs after Sony Pictures painted it blue to celebrate the premier of its Smurfs film.
          Russian Group Builds Self-driving Shuttle Bus        

At last week’s Moscow auto show a self-driving shuttle bus was displayed by NAMI, a Russian government-backed automotive research organization. The bus is a result of a partnership between NAMI, Mercedes-Benz’s parent Daimler, heavy-truck manufacturer Kamaz, and Russia’s Internet search engine giant Yandex. Kamaz will built the self-driving shuttles, Daimler is providing autonomous technology and, […]

The post Russian Group Builds Self-driving Shuttle Bus appeared first on HybridCars.com.


          Oshkosh Demos Autonomous Route Clearance Mission Capability at Eurosatory        
Oshkosh TerraMax™ Unmanned Ground Vehicle technology increases troop safety during counter-IED Missions OSHKOSH, Wis. (June 15, 2014) — Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK), will participate in daily live demonstrations at Eurosatory 2014 to showcase the company’s TerraMax™ Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) technology. Attendees can observe an Oshkosh® MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) equipped with TerraMax UGV and a mine roller autonomous...
          Zdjęcia wyrażają więcej niż tysiąc słów.        
A zatem, będzie mało tekstu a dużo fotek :)

Od ostatniego wpisu trochę wydziergałam, chociaż głównie małe formy:

Z dwóch kolorów The Plucky Knitter Primo Fingering zrobiłam chustę Someday. 



Z jednego motka przecudnej Sundara Yarn Fingering Silky Merino wydziergałam Shades of Pale.




























A poza tym ogarnęła mnie prawdziwa mania dziergania czapek!
























Wzór pierwszej udało mi się wczoraj opublikować na Ravelry pod nazwą All that Jazz.







































































I tak sobie pomyślałam, że fajnie byłoby zorganizować Wspólne Dzierganie Małych Projektów (z 2 motków albo mniej).
Co Wy na to?
Zapraszam serdecznie do mojej grupy na Ravelry. Śmiało piszcie po polsku jeśli Wam tak wygodniej.

A tak na zachętę, oferuję 20% zniżkę na wszystkie wzory biorące udział w KALu:
All that Jazz Angarika Stole Autonomous Cabletta Hat Jollyoly Cowl Jollyoly Hat On the Move Pomponious Hat Serca Mittens Shades of Pale Someday… Symbiotic Wild Leaves Hat
Przy zakupie na Ravelry wystarczy wpisać kod: 2SkeinsOrLess. 
          Jesień idzie, nie ma na to rady!        
Lato w tym roku było (i nadal jest) wspaniałe, a jednak już czuć delikatny oddech jesieni.
W moim ogródku zaczynają kwitnąć astry i rozplenica japońska, a wierzba mandżurska gubi liście.
Za chwilę pewnie trzeba będzie sięgnąć po cieplejsze sweterki...

W moich robótkach już jesiennie, może dlatego, że nie przepadam za dzierganiem letnich bluzeczek. Nigdy ich później nie noszę, bo jest mi w nich zwyczajnie za gorąco, nawet jeśli zrobione są z czystej bawełny czy mieszanek z wiskozą. Zresztą w ogóle nie jestem wielkim fanem bawełny.
Noszę wprawdzie Axiom, który robiłam w ubiegłym roku, ale on jest ze 100% jedwabiu.

Ale miało być o jesieni w robótkach...
Ja jestem już na nią gotowa, no... może prawie gotowa...

Na babie lato zrobiłam sobie zielone fru-fru z połączenia dwóch włóczek.
U mnie jest to Malabrigo Sock i Quince and co, Finch, ale wszystkie motki o grubości fingering świetnie się do tego nadadzą. Co więcej, wydaje mi się że ciekawe byłoby też połączenie włóczki jednokolorowej na ażurowym karczku, z bardziej pomazaną na gładkiej części.

Nieskromnie powiem, że już pokochałam ten sweterek i zapewne często będziemy gdzieś razem wychodzić. Zresztą, już dawno zauważyłam, że bardzo lubię takie otwarte, luźne kardigany i ten też nie jest wyjątkiem. Tym bardziej, że Sock to moja ulubiona (obok Rios) włóczka Malabrigo. Mimo że jest raczej cienka, to jakoś magicznie dosyć szybko przyrasta.
Quince też jest niczego sobie. Zetknęłam się z nią po raz pierwszy i żałuję, że nie jest dostępna w Polsce bo na pewno sięgnęłabym po nią jeszcze nie raz.




Aiolos, bo tak nazwałam moje fru-fru, ma kilka interesujących detali: żeby było przewiewniej, ażurowe wstawki są nie tylko na ramionach ale także na plecach... 
a żeby dziergało się ciekawiej, wydłużyłam przody a na rękawach zrobiłam małe szczypanki.
Wzór jest do nabycia tutaj:


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Na chłodniejsze, ale wciąż jeszcze ciepłe wieczory mam pulowerek z głębokim dekoltem podkreślający to i owo :)
Tutaj swoje walory prezentuje moja śliczna kuzynka:






































































Sweterek zaprojektowałam i wydziergałam we współpracy z The Plucky Knitter jeszcze w kwietniu, ale dopiero teraz mogę go w pełni pokazać.
Wzór przez kilka miesięcy był dostępny wyłącznie poprzez The Plucky Knitter, a teraz można go już kupić tutaj: 

The Plucky Knitter farbują wspaniałe włóczki w bajecznych kolorach. Ja wybrałam na swój pulower Primo Aran w kolorze Fat Fish Blue, ale wybór naprawdę nie był łatwy, bo wszystkie ich moteczki są niesamowite i muszę przyznać że dzierganie z nich to przyjemność od pierwszego do ostatniego oczka. Już wcześniej miałam okazję pracować z Plucky przy okazji robienia zimowych rzeczy, min. Autonomous, Symbiotic czy Pomponious, albo przy Xanti i nigdy nie byłam zawiedziona.
Zresztą sami zobaczcie jaki jest jej skład! 

Cabeladabra, nazwany tak od magicznie poprzeplatanych warkoczy, wykorzystuje podobne rozwiązania do Moyen Age, a mianowicie podobne taliowanie i podobny układ dekoltu, ale rozpisany jest na znacznie grubszą włóczkę, dzięki temu dzierga się go o wiele szybciej. I oczywiście jest znacznie cieplejszy.
Po opublikowaniu Moyen Age kilkanaście osób pytało mnie o jego zimową wersję. Zajęło mi to trochę czasu, ale... co się odwlecze to nie uciesze... jak to mówią.


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Na przyjście jesieni jestem gotowa także z innym sweterkiem, a mianowicie Zippety, który jest owocem mojej współpracy z niezwykle utalentowaną dziewiarką, projektantką i farbiarką -  Eleną Nodel.


Golf można nosić tak...
































albo tak...

w zależności od potrzeb i preferencji.


Wzór jest do nabycia tutaj:


























Tym sweterkiem zapoczątkował moją przygodę z motkami Colour Adventures, i, mam nadzieję, długą współpracę, w której efekcie powstaną jeszcze inne projekty.
Włóczka Eleny jest rewelacyjna i z czystym sumieniem mogę ją polecić każdemu kto szuka czegoś specjalnego do wrzucenia na druty. Nie bez znaczenia jest także to jak niezwykle miłą i sympatyczną osobą jest Elena i z jaką pasją i oddaniem podchodzi do swojej pracy.   
Ja już zamówiłam dla siebie kolejne moteczki i nie mogę się ich doczekać! Powiem szczerze, że wybór kolorów zajął mi chyba ze 2 tygodnie. Gapiłam się w monitor i nie mogłam się zdecydować!


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Kończąc swój przydługi wywód dodam tylko, że wszystkie powyższe wzory, a właściwie wszystkie moje wzory, do 22 sierpnia są dostępne z 20% zniżką.
A to wszystko z okazji zbliżającego się Plucktember
Przy zakupie na Ravelry wystarczy wpisać kod: GoPlucky.


Dodatkowo, wszystkie wzory uczestniczą w Jesiennym Wspólnym Dzierganiu na Ravelry, do którego serdecznie zapraszam!
Będą fajne nagrody, w tym oczywiście włóczki i całe mnóstwo wzorów :)


          Autonomous do kompletu        
Wzór na czapkę jest gotowy i opublikowany.
I do tego do 20 grudnia można go nabyć z 20% zniżką. Nie jest potrzebny żaden kod :)



































Czapka jest też dostępna w zestawie z otulaczem Symbiotic.




 



















A tak w ogóle to mam fazę na pompony i już powstała kolejna pomponiasta czapka  :)
Tym razem dla Młodej ale wzór będzie też rozpisany na dorosłe rozmiary.
          Autonomous czyli czapka do kompletu.        
Jak się powiedziało A to należy też czasem powiedzieć B.
Tak przynajmniej wieść gminna niesie.

No to ja powiedziałam!
I powstała sobie czapka, tym razem w jednym kolorze... nie licząc odrobinki na pomponie.
No właśnie, pompon! Ogromny! Dodający czapce charakteru!
nie ma to jak wielki pompon!
:D














































































Włóczka to bajeczna The Plucky Knitter Trusty. Droga, ale cudna!
Wzór już się testuje i w przyszłym tygodniu powinien być dostępny.
A ja chyba wreszcie polubiłam czapki, tzn robić, nie nosić (żeby była jasność :D)


          Another Golden Age for Corporate Technology         

One area where there is an urgent need for additional corporate investment is in the delivery of 5G networks. That is if the full potential of the internet of things, connected devices, software as a service and especially autonomous vehicles are to be fulfilled. There is a great deal of media commentary about all of these sectors but the cold hard reality is that they cannot run on close to their potential on current networks.


          Tech That Takes the Controls from Terrorists        

With or without increased terrorist attacks Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems seem like an inexpensive partial solution to loss of life due to runaway vehicles.


          Honduras: Drones or Saucers?        


Source: Planeta UFO and Tiempo Digital http://tiempo.hn/platillos-voladores-en-valle/
Date: 05.24.17


Honduras: Drones or Saucers?

In recent hours, residents of Valle in southern Honduras claimed seeing objects similar to flying saucers. Commotion gripped the southerners, as this is the first time they have seen such a large object flying over the area. According to local residents, the alleged saucer flew as though "monitoring" the area. The unusual event occurred between 8:00 and 9:00 in the evening in southern Honduras on Sunday, May 21, 2017.

Information from Aeronáutica Civil de Honduras suggests that El Salvador has a large drone, which was seen by the southerners.

According to an officer in charge of state safety, Salvadorans pilot the drone with the aim of interdiciting drug traffic in their area. That is to say, our Salvadoran brothers use this drone to provide security to their country.

The drone they use is immense, according to photographs taken. What was seen in Valle is indeed the Salvadoran device.

Some time ago, an unidentified flying object was recorded by residents of the village of Las Planchas in Patuca, Olancho. The alleged UFO alarmed locals, who immediately tried to record the event. The photograph shows an oval object flying among the trees. It is up to the reader to decide whether this is a fraud or a UFO.



Drones are UAVs - unmanned aerial vehicles. These are reusable, crewless devices capable of maintaining controlled and sustained flight autonomously. The drone is propelled by an electrical or jet engine. Their design covers a wide range of shapes, sizes, configurations and characteristics. Historically, they emerged as remotely piloted vehicles.

[Translation (c) 2017 S. Corrales, IHU with thanks to Guillermo Giménez, Planeta UFO]


          NVIDIA GPU Cloud: It's Not What You May Think It Is         

Nvidia is on a mission to own the graphics card market. It already has a dominant position but the growth markets for its chips rest not in its traditional gaming sector but in artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles. The creation of a portal to help companies manage the development of related software using its chips helps to lock them into its ecosystem and cement the firm’s dominant position.


          Arizona trial thrusts autonomous Waymo cars into everyday life         

The rapid pace of technological innovation is transforming our world, economy and financial markets faster than is easily comprehendible. I find it to be a useful thought experiment to identify the most promising technologies and then to think about what they are going to displace. For example the evolution of electric vehicles is not great news for automotive parts suppliers since EVs have far fewer parts.


          Energy Stat: Are Electric and Autonomous Vehicles Heading Down the Road to Peak Oil Demand?         

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

I had not previously seen the statistics about peak demand for Europe and Japan so I found this report enlightening and commend it to subscribers. Peak demand is an important theme and explains why Saudi Arabia guards its Asian markets so jealously; offering discounts again as recently as two weeks ago. Asia and Africa represent the two big growth markets for international oil products just as they represent the major growth areas for coal consumption.


          Intel to Acquire Mobileye         

Intel missed a trick when mobile phones took off. It had simply ignored the market for years, preferring instead to concentrate on desktops where it has a strong lead in what is a declining market. When mobile phone demand exploded in popularity companies like ARM Holdings and Qualcomm took the initiative and the bulk of the profits. Since the market for desktop computers is shrinking Intel can’t afford to miss out on the evolution of autonomous vehicles since it is likely to become a major destination for both chips and sensors over the next decades.


          IKEA's New Ad Will Make You Tingle        

IKEA, purveyor of fine Swedish design, has proven itself as digitally driven as it is democratic with the release of a new advertisement. In the 25-minute-long video, disembodied hands tap against a hard plastic shelf and scratch a pink sheet, pulling at taut, interwoven fibers. All the while, a whispery female voice explains the benefits of various IKEA products. You're going to want to put your headphones on for this one, because IKEA's new video is straight up ASMR.

Quick explainer: According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) is the “sensory phenomenon in which individuals experience a tingling, static-like sensation across the scalp, back of the neck, and at times further areas, in response to specific triggering audio and visual stimuli.”

Many may recognize ASMR as the online subculture of people who chew foods, squeeze goop, or scratch surfaces into high quality microphones. The result is a slightly cringe-worthy, yet slightly satisfying, sensation; people use ASMR to relax.

Think it’s weird? We here at Food52 prefer not to yuck others’ yums. Plus, an ASMRtist, as the video makers are called, can amass hundreds of thousands of followers. IKEA was clever enough to tap into this online trend and use it to access their youngest audience: college students. (The furniture in the video is intended for dorms.)

Still not convinced? Fine. Don’t mind me. I’ll be over here pressing replay.


          Cooperation Agreement Signed Between Eurex and SMU        
On 27 September 2012, the international derivatives market place Eurex Exchange signed a cooperation agreement with the Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore’s first public-funded autonomous university. Both partners will cooperate in the area of financial market education and research to increase the understanding and knowledge of the financial markets in Asia and Europe. Eurex and [...]
          Imperial Margarine: critique of books by Niall Ferguson        
by Robin Blackburn [from New Left Review 35, September-October 2005]

http://www.newleftreview.net/NLR26908.shtml



The often disappointing results of decolonization have bred a revisionism that forgets why colonialism was discredited in the first place. The British historian Niall Ferguson became an outstanding popularizer of this current with the publication of Empire: How Britain Created the Modern World and Colossus: the Rise and Fall of the American Empire. Written as if to teach us statesmen and citizens how to be good imperialists, they have become bestsellers, and an obligatory reference point in debates on empire. Their author—who in an important earlier work, The Pity of War, had shone a withering spotlight on the patriotic militarism of the Great War—has gone in quick succession from Oxford to New York University, and thence to Harvard.


Ferguson’s attention to economic history is welcome, since it is a sub-branch of the discipline ignored only at great intellectual cost. He is more cautiously to be commended for calling empire by its name. He believes that Britain invented capitalism and, with it, what he sees as the most valuable ideas and institutions of the modern world—the English language, private property, the rule of law, parliamentary structures, individual freedom and Protestant Christianity. Admirers would see inclusion of Protestantism as an example of impish fun, tweaking the tail of the politically correct, but we can be sure that Ferguson is quite serious. The complacent British self-regard of Empire easily segues into endorsement for American national messianism in Colossus, with the Anglo-American imperial formula—which he dubs ‘Anglobalization’—offering the colonized the best hope of capitalist success. As a historian of the English-speaking peoples Ferguson seeks to rescue Winston Churchill’s account from its contemporary entombment in countless forbidding leather-bound volumes. He offers a pacier narrative, garnished with good quotes from the great man; but the neo-conservative gloss he adds to the Churchillian vision would surely have inspired reservations in someone who, after all, helped to found Britain’s welfare state. By contrast, Ferguson sternly insists in Colossus that if the us is to make a success of empire it will have to cut social programmes to the bone.


Ferguson’s claim about the decisive contribution which empire makes to development is meant to hold for the future as well as the past. But the evidence he relies on is very selective: the only empires he really has time for are those of Britain and the United States. His failure to introduce any proper comparative dimension is in striking contrast to the serious attention he gives to all the major belligerents in The Pity of War. While he exhibited a command of a wide range of German and Austrian sources in that book, the bibliographies of Colossus and Empire do not include a single work not in English. The overall decline in the quality of Ferguson’s work between Pity and these two later books is a performative rebuttal of his faith in the magic of the market, since they were hastily produced in response to demand.


While good yarns make Empire readable, Ferguson misses, or misconstrues, crucial aspects of imperial logistics and political economy. It is quite a feat to write the history of the British empire and omit any real discussion of the Royal Navy during the critical period 1650–1815. This is Henry v without the battle of Agincourt. Only a quite modern state could have built, manned and supplied a permanent force of over a hundred ships of the line. If Ferguson has consulted the work of N. A. M. Rodgers—an author whose outlook he would find very congenial—he could have given readers a glimpse of what life aboard an 18th-century warship was really like and explained why the British outgunned the French. And if he had consulted Robert Brenner’s Merchants and Revolution and John Brewer’s Sinews of Empire—authors he might find less congenial—he could have achieved a better grasp of the economic foundations. Likewise, Ferguson gives a lively sketch of the us empire in the days of ‘manifest destiny’ and the ‘big stick’ in the early chapters of Colossus, but pays little attention to the huge diplomatic and economic effort that subsequently went into the construction of a global chain of military bases (an aspect well covered by Chalmers Johnson in Sorrows of Empire). The suspicion grows, confirmed by his enthusiasm for Bush’s invasion of Iraq, that Ferguson, like other neo-conservatives, is seduced by the romance and rhetoric of empire, but when it comes to its logistics and economic rationale he is in denial.


The rhetoric and romance are dark-hued. Ferguson allows that Anglo-American empire involved much destruction and atrocity—but with ultimately beneficial results. His case is that dragging the world into modernity was—is—bound to be a very difficult and ugly proceeding. Those on the receiving end of Anglo-American imperialism are lucky since at least British and American imperial tutelage proved more benign than that of other modern empires, such as the Germans, the Japanese, the Soviets, or even the French, Portuguese and Spanish—though little is heard of these. If you could find an Algonquin or native Tasmanian descendant they would probably not agree. Ferguson does not shrink from considering the crimes of colonization—one chapter in Empire is called ‘White Plague’—but he constructs a sort of cosmic balance sheet in which, as with the Bank of England in its heyday, the credits comfortably outweigh the liabilities; the empire’s misdeeds are redeemed by its eventual achievements. Someone had to foster the advance of capitalism and representative institutions, and the international order has to be policed by someone. Surely John Bull and Uncle Sam did—and do—a better job than any likely alternatives?


Ferguson more than once reminds us of the culminating moment, justifying all that had gone before, when the British empire stood alone against Nazi barbarism. His apology for the imperial past is projected into an unending future, as if we were forever frozen in the year 1940, facing the grim alternatives that were then present. (There are, of course, still many Britons—some, like Ferguson, not even born in 1940—who will go to their graves stammering about the ‘finest hour’.) While he rightly draws attention to the imperial nature of Britain’s war effort he fails to register the growing disenchantment with empire of many Britons, especially soldiers—as witness the proceedings of the Cairo ‘armed forces parliament’ in 1944.


The empires of the modern period slighted the humanity of subject peoples, and sacrificed the latter to the insatiable demands of a capitalist accumulation process. In these respects they marked a step down from their supposed model, since Rome did not foster racial hierarchy, did not expose peoples’ livelihoods to market forces and eventually extended citizenship to all. Ferguson sees it differently. He admits that Britain’s ‘first empire’ was marred by pillage and rapine, with a swollen slave trade from Africa, looted cities in the Americas and horrendous famine in Bengal. But the settlement of the North American littoral was a great achievement and a more responsible imperialism, born in the 1780s, was able to purge the empire of its early excesses and to discover more graceful ways of letting go than were in evidence in 1776.


This approach misses the systemic features of imperial exploitation of the colonized and enslaved. Consider Ferguson’s treatment of colonial slavery. He readily acknowledges that the slave trade was an abomination and briefly evokes the ‘sweet tooth’ of the British consumer. But he fails to explain why there were so many more British than, say, Spanish or French, consumers, even though the obvious answer is that his beloved capitalism had made far greater inroads in Britain than on the continent. At one point in Empire he bizarrely says, of a country that had blazed the trail of capitalist agriculture, that it was ‘economically unremarkable’ in 1615.


Ferguson’s favoured theme is empire’s economic success and yet he ignores the enormous contribution made by plantation slavery to British economic growth in the 18th and early 19th century. Empire contains no account of the working day of slaves on Caribbean sugar plantations, nor of how such slaves kept body and soul together, nor of the value of slave produce in imperial and European trade—around a third in 1801–2. Attending to these aspects would have confirmed some of his most cherished theses—but at the expense of others. Thus trade with the plantation zone furnished Britain with a large mass of profits, elements of a new world of exotic consumption (sugar, tobacco, dye stuffs) and the crucial raw material for the Industrial Revolution (cotton), as well as an important market for British manufacturing exports. Other parts of the Atlantic system—the fisheries, the New England provision merchants, the slave traders—all contributed to an Atlantic boom based on slave toil as much as on domestic wage labour. If he wished, Ferguson could have gloried in the fact that this Atlantic traffic in slaves and slave produce was propelled by the momentum of free trade, spilling beyond the borders of an increasingly ineffective mercantile system. The very term laissez faire was coined by a colonial trader. But he overlooks this and instead exaggerates the role of the chartered companies.


Ferguson’s focus on the slave trade and neglect of what fuelled it gives a new twist to the dictum of a great imperial historian, whose work he ignores. Eric Williams, the West Indian nationalist leader, author of Capitalism and Slavery (1944) and long-time prime minister of Trinidad, once observed that British historians often wrote as if their country had only undertaken the largest branch of the Atlantic slave trade of any colonial power ‘in order to have the satisfaction of suppressing it’. Ferguson is light on sanctimony—unabashed relish in imperial might is more his style. But he offers consolation too: ‘what is very striking about the history of the Empire is that whenever the British were behaving despotically, there was almost always a liberal critique of that behaviour from within British society.’ His method here is uncannily reminiscent of what Roland Barthes, in Mythologies, called ‘Operation Margarine’:

take the established value which you wish to restore or develop and first lavishly display its pettiness, the injustice which it produces . . . then . . . save it in spite of itself, or rather by the heavy curse of its blemishes . . . the Established Order is no longer anything but a Manichean compound and therefore inevitable, one which wins on both counts, and is therefore beneficial.


Barthes’s term is an hommage to a French fifties tv ad which first concedes that the oily yellow spread is an unappealing substitute, but then insists that those brave enough to try it will be pleasantly surprised. The analogy strikes a chord here both because British consumers bought margarine from Unilever, a quintessentially colonial company, and because colonialism was, at best, an inferior substitute for modernization.


Ferguson’s abstracted account of the slave trade is followed by a salute for evangelical abolitionism, nicely evoked in the life of John Newton, and for the spirit of the Clapham Sect. We never learn how or why the abolitionists eventually prevailed, nor does he describe the contribution of the anti-Establishment brands of Non-Conformity, whose role in the 1830s was more important than that of the Clapham Sect. Ferguson is happier recounting the brutal deeds of pirates and slave traders than he is with taking the measure of an accumulation process that sponsored a gigantic—and in some ways very modern—system of forced labour, with meticulous record-keeping and close invigilation. Ferguson’s own moral book-keeping is suggested by a brief comment on the colonial contract labour of the late 19th century: ‘There is no question that the majority of [indentured labourers] suffered great hardship . . . But once again we cannot pretend that this mobilization of cheap and probably underemployed Asian labour to grow rubber and dig gold had no economic value.’ Or as ‘Operation Margarine’ has it: ‘What does it matter, after all, if Order is a little brutal or a little blind, when it allows us to live cheaply?’


India was the mud-sill of the second British empire just as slavery had been of the first. Modern scholarship endorses nationalist historiography’s bleak verdict on British rule in the sub-continent, which de-industrialized India and fatally weakened its agriculture. The work of Amartya Sen, recently extended and developed by Mike Davis, has now given us some explanation for the recurring famines in British India, with millions dying of hunger in the 1870s, 1890s, 1900s and 1940s. A political order that excluded the huge majority of Indian subjects, and a colonial government blinded by laissez-faire economics and Malthusian beliefs about over-population led to repeated disaster. Ferguson, however, treats the famines of the 19th- and 20th-century Raj as a minor issue, taking place off-stage and quite uncharacteristic of the exalted conduct of the Indian Civil Service. After a sympathetic account of the lordly but lonely status of the imperial official running a province, Ferguson observes in a footnote: ‘It is fashionable to allege that the British authorities did nothing to relieve the drought-induced famines of the period.’ The belittling use of the word ‘fashionable’ apparently excuses him from addressing the argument. Instead he supplies an example of another lone Magistrate of the Second Class, rendering the angst and ‘hearty breakfast’ of the ics man with feeling while leaving unplumbed the reasons for the hopelessly inadequate official response. Ferguson believes that decolonization was hasty and premature nearly everywhere, and likes to point to the often disappointing results of independence as justification for a new imperialism. But in the case of India he fails to confront the fact that independence did end the ravages of mass famine. The empire’s failure simply to keep many millions of its Indian subjects alive is a profound challenge to his central argument.


Without leaving the familiar confines of national historiography, Ferguson would nevertheless like to make large claims for British, and later American, empire. He draws on David Landes’s Wealth and Poverty of Nations to establish the key preconditions of economic advance. Distilling what he has gleaned from Landes, Ferguson identifies a set of crucial institutional ingredients for successful development. The ruling power should secure rights of private property and personal liberty; enforce rights of contract; and provide stable, honest, moderate, efficient and non-greedy government. Colonial rule delivered these conditions and persuaded investors that their money was safe.


If we assemble a list of the most dramatic examples of economic breakthrough and advance it soon becomes clear that the items listed by Ferguson and Landes are optional; indeed, that candidates should be advised, like those taking an old-fashioned exam paper, to attempt only two questions. Britain 1750–1830; the United States 1790–1860; Germany 1870–1923; Japan 1880–1940; Russia 1890–1914 and 1930–50; France 1950–70; Spain 1960–90; the South East Asian ‘tigers’ 1960–90; China 1980–2004. It is regrettable but true that several of these industrializing societies scored highly on corruption and greed, and would have low marks for human rights, democracy and clarity of property rights. But indubitably each of these states was possessed of that real independence which, by definition, colonies do not enjoy. Indeed these transformative episodes bear out Paul Baran’s classic argument in The Political Economy of Growth (1954) that autonomous states would be best able to attain economic progress.


Notwithstanding an empire that covered a quarter of the world’s land surface, the British had little success in spreading the institutional package Ferguson mentions except to colonies of settlement in North America and Australasia. (The survival of parliamentary democracy in India could be counted only in part, since it was, after all, the Indian nationalist movement which pressed for and utilized representative structures in the colonial period.) As Ferguson acknowledges, the economic advance of these regions was based on wholesale dispossession of the natives. Apparently he sees the latter as redeemed in the long run by the economic and political progress that it made possible, rather as fellow travellers believed that Stalin should be condoned because of the Dneprostroi Dam and victories of the Red Army.


The destruction of native peoples by European conquerors provoked the memorable indictments of Las Casas and Montaigne, Voltaire and Chateaubriand. But these are not mentioned by Ferguson—perhaps on the grounds that they were insufficiently Protestant and Anglo-Saxon. Instead he asks rhetorically how the settler–native encounter could have had any other result. And however brutal the history of Anglo-Saxon settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing, he urges that it was not as deliberate and cruel as Nazi and Stalinist imperialism. Formerly, enlightened apologists of empire would lament the disappearance of indigenous peoples. But today’s imperial realists have no time for such mawkishness. Ferguson brusquely insists that the ‘Anglicization of North America and Australasia’ was one of the British empire’s great achievements.


The subtitle of Empire—How Britain Made the Modern World—should have given Ferguson some pause since the sad state of the world does indeed reflect the legacy of Britain’s empire and of other modern imperiums. Many of the most intractable communal divisions were deliberately fostered, if not invented, by the imperial policy of divide and rule; while at a deeper level, the division of the world into rich and poor regions was first established by empire. Any enumeration of the world’s most dangerous and difficult communal conflicts would include the stand-off between Pakistan and India, and the Arab–Israeli clash. The partition of Cyprus and the still unresolved conflict in Northern Ireland, the deep racial tensions in Guyana and Fiji would also figure on such a list. In the post-apartheid era, the racial legacy of empire and colonization is being gradually dismantled in South Africa, but problems remain in many parts of the continent. Ferguson urges that ethnic sentiment and division long preceded colonization. He rightly observes that expatriate colonizers were often the driving force behind injurious racial privileges and distinctions. Yet liberal imperial strategists from Locke to Gladstone went along with colonial racism because that is what empire was based on. Nor does he register the fondness of imperial administrators for cultivating the so-called ‘martial races’ at the expense of other colonial subjects. Whitehall policy-makers did not always like the results their strategies produced and the communal fault lines were not always of their making, but imperial favouritism nevertheless has much to answer for—after all, they were in charge. (Likewise, today’s neo-imperialists bear some responsibility for aggravating communal divisions in the Balkans and Iraq.)


The division of the world into rich and poor regions roughly follows the former boundaries between imperial and colonized areas, even though it has sometimes been partially counteracted or qualified by resistance or by prior institutional or natural endowments. The colonial experience weakened the ability of the colonized to negotiate an advantageous relationship to the emergence of a capitalist world market, and often condemned them to subordination and neglect. In Colossus, Ferguson cites the disappointing performance of most ex-colonies as part of his case for empire, when it would be more logical to conclude that the empires did not, in fact, really equip the colonized with survival skills. The poor record of Britain’s African former colonies leads him to plead that ‘even the best institutions work less well in excessively hot, disease-ridden, or landlocked places’. He concedes that India’s overall annual rate of growth between 1820 and 1950—0.12 per cent—was pitifully low but refuses to hold selfish imperial arrangements responsible because ‘the supposed “drain” of capital from India to Britain turns out to have been comparatively modest: only around 1 per cent of Indian national income between the 1860s and the 1930s, according to one estimate of the export surplus.’ But obviously a country growing at only 0.12 per cent a year would have had many good uses for that 1 per cent lost annually. Ferguson himself points out that Britain’s school-enrolment rate was eight times that of India’s in 1913.


Empires did not invent the uneven development of capitalism but they did much to consolidate it. Having inherited or established a hierarchical structure of advantage, they reinforced it. Plantation slavery, for instance, brought great wealth to some in the Atlantic colonies, but it did not generate sustained and independent growth in the plantation zone, as the post-emancipation experience of the us South, Caribbean and Brazilian North-East testify. The infrastructural improvements made by empires were those needed to facilitate the movement of troops and the export of commodities; other purposes were disregarded, often to catastrophic effect. In a process which Mike Davis has called ‘the origins of the third world’, Western incursions into China from the Opium War onwards weakened the Qing authorities and prevented them from maintaining the country’s vital system of hydraulic defences. With its customs service run by a consortium of foreign powers, China suffered a de-industrialization almost as severe as that of India.


Ferguson’s neoliberal agenda leads him to scant the way that non-Anglo-Saxon empires promoted economic integration and coordination by non-market means. In an off-the-cuff remark in Empire explaining ‘why it was that Britain was able to overhaul her Iberian rivals’, he fails to explain the source of Spanish wealth but says of Britain that ‘she had to settle for colonizing the unpromising wastes of Virginia and New England, rather than the eminently lootable cities of Mexico and Peru’. Both the Spanish and the British certainly looted American silver and gold. But Ferguson does not explain how this rival species of empire worked and seems to regard it as economically less impressive than the record of British settlement. Spanish administrators were, in fact, innovators who mainly relied on wage labour to mine and process the silver ore. In place of simple ‘looting’ they adopted a tribute system, echoing Inca and Aztec arrangements, which required native villages to supply either labour, foodstuffs or textiles to the royal warehouses. The king claimed a fifth of the silver mined. But he garnered much more by offering mining concessions and selling the tribute food and clothing in his warehouses to the wage-earning miners. It was this ingenious system, not looting, which sustained a highly profitable system of exploitation for nearly three centuries. This was just one example of the productive organization promoted by Iberian imperialism and explains why the Mexican and Peruvian elites were so reluctant to break with empire. With Spanish American independence all such coordination ceased, and entry into Britain’s informal ‘empire of free trade’ led to economic stagnation or regression.


Empires could promote a limited and usually self-interested species of colonial development. Often, as today, the imperial impulse stemmed from overweening confidence and missionary zeal as much as from sober calculation of material gain. When empires spread they did so partly because they could, partly because they were operating within a rivalrous multi-state system, and partly because, in metropolitan regions where capitalism was taking hold, consumers wanted colonial products. The Chinese imperial authorities did not bother to colonize Africa, though it would have been perfectly possible for them to do so. Starting with the Portuguese, the European maritime empires entered the lists, firstly because they saw an advantage they did not want to yield to others and secondly because those newly in receipt of rents, fees, profits and wages had a thirst for exotic commodities.


The emphasis which Ferguson puts on the imperial export of a neoliberal institutional package places him squarely in the camp of those who believe that modernization and bourgeois democratic revolution can be introduced from outside. But in Colossus he warns that, as presently configured, the American imperial project suffers from fatal flaws since the us public is not willing to make the sacrifices necessary for it to succeed. On the one hand, very few elite or middle-class Americans are willing to spend many years of their life in far-away places introducing the natives to the secrets of Anglo-Saxon civilization. On the other, and despite mounting deficits, the us voting public is wedded to increasingly expensive entitlement programmes like Social Security and Medicare which simply leave no budgetary room for extensive overseas imperial missions.


Ferguson argues that Ivy League graduates will not flock for duty in distant and inhospitable outposts as graduates of Oxford did in the early 1900s: ‘America’s brightest and best aspire not to govern Mesopotamia but to manage mtv; not to rule the Hejaz but to run a hedge fund.’ Like a number of his sallies this may be amusing, but also misleading. In a new book, Imperial Grunts, his fellow conservative Robert Kaplan shows how the us political economy and commercial culture furnish conditions which offer many openings to Army recruiters. From Kaplan one learns that in the newly occupied lands, the visiting embedded journalist will be greeted with the cry, ‘Welcome to Injun country!’ Kaplan evidently finds the soldier’s life as stimulating as do, he believes, those who signed up because they could not find other work or because it might offer them the chance of a college education later. He writes that those who have not experienced combat have missed something of the ‘American experience’, something ‘exotic, romantic, exciting, bloody and emotionally painful, sometimes all at once’. Indeed Kaplan writes that ‘it was ironic to keep reading stories about unhappy, over-deployed reservists, because those in the Special Operations community whom I had met here and in Eastern Afghanistan were having the time of their lives’. Kaplan is no Kipling, but Ferguson underestimates the culture industry’s ability to maintain a supply of ‘imperial grunts’.


He likewise underestimates the ability of the us education system to act as a magnet for overseas students who, under certain conditions, may well act as servants of American corporations, or ambassadors for liberal institutions or neoliberal economics, when and if they return to their home countries. So the personnel deficit may not, in itself, be decisive. There is the difficulty, however, that overseas graduates and PhDs may be convinced liberals yet fail to see how us imperialism is really promoting the values they have imbibed in its universities and colleges. They could well be swift to detect hollow or cynical uses of the rhetoric of liberation, especially if they remain affected by the national culture of their homeland.


Ferguson believes that the United States today faces a classic ‘guns or butter’ dilemma. If it faces up to its world responsibilities—as he hopes it will—then he believes it must take the axe to its domestic social programmes; ‘guns and margarine’, as it were. If Americans can steel themselves to sacrifice comfort at home they might just be able to live up to their destiny overseas. The ‘entitlement crisis’—the difficulty of honouring the promises embodied in the Social Security and Medicare programmes—is greatly exaggerated by Ferguson and neo-conservative economists like Peter Peterson and Laurence Kotlikoff. On the other hand, liberal and radical analysts often go too far in playing down the likely cost of baby-boomer retirement and medical care in an ageing society. After all, the number of Americans aged over 65 is set to rise from 36 million in 2002 to 70 million in 2031.


Of course, a rich society like the us could absorb all likely ageing costs if it was prepared belatedly to follow the advice tendered by Representative Schuyler Colfax in 1862 and find a way to exact a levy on the presently untaxed mass of large share-holdings. (Colfax advocated a levy on stock-holdings in the same speech as that in which he successfully pleaded for an income tax, the first in us history.) The real problem is not an absence of resources to be mobilized but, as with France’s Ancien Régime in 1788, the ability of wealthy individuals and corporations to protect themselves from effective taxation. As I have suggested elsewhere, the best way of forcing corporations to pay their share to the upkeep of a social infrastructure from which they all benefit would be to adopt the share levy proposed by Rudolf Meidner, the former chief economist of the Swedish trade unions. Requiring corporations to donate shares each year equivalent to a tenth of their profits to collective social funds would be one way to prepare for the financial strains of an ageing society.


Ferguson’s hostility to Social Security chimes in with Bush’s floundering attempt to initiate privatization of the programme, as demanded by so many neo-cons and neoliberals. It is almost as if war and empire are not being undertaken for the stated reasons, but for domestic purposes, because only war fever, and a climate of fear, can render acceptable the sacrifice of working- and middle-class social protection. Thus regime change and aggression abroad sets the scene for social counter-revolution at home. In The Shield of Achilles, Philip Bobbitt, perhaps a more influential writer and thinker than Ferguson, chillingly announces that a defining feature of the new ‘market state’ will be that it will no longer feel bound to protect the welfare of its citizens. There is a further synergy here between domestic and foreign policy. Just as it used to be said that Britain’s empire was ‘a system of out-relief for the aristocracy’—who filled all those governorships—so today the string of overseas bases is workfare for those who cannot find a decent job at home.


Many of the flaws and fantasies of the neo-imperial project stem from the domestic revolution which it seeks to project on the wider world. Thus the government of an advanced country can raise real resources through the privatization of national assets. But in the context of an underdeveloped, even if resource-rich, society, a programme of privatization simply benefits the large foreign companies who have the money to buy state assets. Ferguson exaggerates the gains made by colonized peoples in the imperial epoch. But the colonial states not only built railways and harbours; they also set up marketing boards and stabilization funds for key colonial products. The neo-imperial project wants to make such state initiative impossible.


Ferguson supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the occupation of Iraq because they would help to bring the Middle East under American control—he still argues this as justification for the war in Colossus. In pursuit of this objective the occupation has dismantled much of the Iraqi state, established a lien on its assets, partitioned the country and set the scene for a tangle of bloody conflicts, some nationalist, some anti-imperialist, and some virulently communalist. The occupation has incurred the hostility of huge numbers of Iraqis who loathed Saddam. This became clear on the second anniversary of the overthrow of Saddam on 10 April 2005, when 300,000 Iraqis demonstrated in Baghdad for the withdrawal of the occupying forces. So far as the scourge of terrorism is concerned, the illegitimate us presence has only served to exacerbate the problem. The jihadis led by Al-Zarqawi are neither numerous nor popular but they can only be isolated by a strong, indigenous, broad-based and unimpeachably Iraqi government—not by an uneasy alliance of us lackeys and Iranian stooges. The us invasion has cost 100,000 lives and brought about a rapid deterioration of public services that were already badly damaged by bombing raids and sanctions. Oil output is trickling and vulnerable. Only Kurdistan might offer the us the possibility of secure bases—but then it would have done so without an invasion. A hard-boiled observer such as Ferguson should have to conclude that the game is not worth the candle.
          Hebarmas & Derrida        
BOOK REVIEW:

The Two Gentlemen of EuropePhilosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida,

edited by Giovanna Borradori.

reviewed by Piyush Mathur [from Asia Times]

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/FE15Aa01.html

I would have been grateful if Giovanna Borradori had titled this book more reasonably, and called it, instead, "9/11: Dialogues with Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida". Then, I would not have had to remind us, as I must now, that no two European gentlemen, topmost philosophers as they might be, can (be made to) represent philosophy any more than Osama bin Laden can (be made to) represent all the terrorists in the world, or September 11 to symbolize or even epitomize all the terror since the attacks on the twin towers or through history.

Likewise, much of humanity has not seen a time without terror for a very long time; so, those cognizant of that interminable terror world-wide are apt to chuckle at the inherent claim in the book's title to an onset of terror. Terror has been far too pervasive for far too long for one to come up and declare the contemporary times as a time of terror - and then pretend to offer some new philosophy strictly responsive to it.

The politics of representation are rather important to this book; had they not been, I would have perhaps stopped short of being so brusque for a start as above or nit-picky with the title. As a manufactured intellectual product, Philosophy in a Time of Terror embodies a sweeping normative claim to knowing what constitutes philosophy, terror and philosophy in a time of terror. As a collection of interviews with Habermas and Derrida, the book has us encounter the most authoritative representatives - the mutually dissenting founding fathers - respectively, of the streams of thought called the Second Frankfurt School (in Germany) and Deconstruction (in France). Through her interviews and their explanations, Borradori also frames Habermas and Derrida as spokesmen for philosophy, Europe and European philosophy.

The representative character of the book is strengthened by the fact that Habermas and Derrida have previously taken it on themselves - with sufficient legitimacy, I believe - to represent and address Europe on the level of philosophy and to articulate its composite conceptual or intellectual futures. (Perhaps more often that that, they have been called on by concerned communities to do the same.) Finally, Borradori has brought out the book as a follow-up to a concerted popular-press offensive by leading European philosophers against American foreign policy and in response to the global cultural-political scenario post September 11. (That line of action was spearheaded by Habermas and had received the attention of significant sections of the global literati.)

Of course, these noble, clearly aggrieved individuals - these traumatized members of the European academic noblesse, if you will - had bigger issues in mind as well: the possible political role and cultural identity of Europe, America and the West; the future effects of the American empire; the future of human rights, peace, democracy, citizenship, globalization, capitalism, Islamic politics, and so on. Insofar as most academics - elite, European, or otherwise - do not condescend to the journalistic sphere to share their wisdom with the rest of the literate populace, or are not allowed into that sphere thanks to the "quality-conscious" editors of the popular press, a joint surprise by these philosophers and their pop-editors had then felt nice!

Now, insofar as "an awful lot of" academic work is clerical (per Noam Chomsky's cynical estimate), and the larger part of journalistic analysis world wide is little more than propaganda on behalf of the powerful and the ethically misguided (in my view), it is, yet again, a welcome scenario whereby we could read these influential philosophical figures in this book on issues of immediate public relevance. For all that, Borradori has to be complimented for orchestrating these interviews even though my first advice to the reader would be to ignore all the entries in the book by Borradori herself (excepting the brilliantly phrased questions). Besides being insipid and shallow, Borradori's entries - the preface, introduction, and two lengthy "explanations" -are pointless and, in many ways, misleading.

Habermas' standpointAs for the responses by Habermas: I regret to say that his regular-academic-fans are unlikely to find much new; those who keep up with the popular press shall have a similar experience as far as thinking about the global situation post September 11 is concerned. The banality of Habermas' observations is particularly evident in the sections on the interconnections between "the West" and the rest (especially the Islamic world). In those sections, he reiterates the conventional belief in the internal cultural cohesiveness of the West, characterized as a "materialist" and "secularizing force" (pg 33) - and as a "scapegoat for the Arab world's own, very real experiences of loss, suffered by populations torn out of their cultural traditions during processes of accelerated modernization" (pg 32).

Habermas contrasts that "accelerated modernization" of the Arab world with the modernization of Europe "experienced under more favorable circumstances as a process of productive destruction" (pg 32). Missing are any references to the protracted history of colonialism and slavery - the two factors that fueled the economics of European modernization in the main and were anything but productive as far as world history is concerned.

Coupled with the preclusion of those two factors from Habermas's view of modern, contemporary Europe is his erroneous belief that "We in the West do live in peaceful and well-to-do societies [which] contain a structural violence that ... we have gotten used to [such as] unconscionable social inequality, degrading discrimination, pauperization, and marginalization..." (pg 35). As far as I am concerned, Habermas defaults there by exercising the we/they logic, pre-securing a highly selective, comfortable strata of an industrialized region for the denomination of "the West", and continuing to be convinced about peace and welfare within that region even beyond September 11 - presumably, also, at the exclusion of a variety of prior, rather sustained, experiences in both large-scale and sporadic violence in Eastern Europe, (the former) USSR, Italy, Spain, and, for that matter, Greece and Turkey.

In any case, World War II did not occur that long ago to be erased already from the image of modern Europe/the West/the world. Furthermore, within the so-called homeland of the United States (presumably included in Habermas' West), no accounting of terrorism or peace in the contemporary times could be complete without reference to the deaths and injury from regular gun violence.

We are also at a complete loss as to whether Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Singapore and Hong Kong are included in Habermas' West - and, if not, why not. The mixed cultures and racial histories of the Caribbean islands and Latin America further complicate any preclusive, peaceful picture of the West. For all the above reasons, Habermas' West, entirely in line with the standard populist notions about the same, is at least twice fictitious - once, on the level of geographical, racial, and cultural identities; and, again, on the level of its own civic and political image.

Realizing the fallacious foundations of Habermas' political vision allows us to grasp why he would also seek an ultimately evangelical role for "the West" in the post-September 11 scenario. As such, what "the West could learn" from September 11, according to Habermas, is "how it would need to change its politics if it wants to be perceived as a shaping power with a civilizing impact" (pg 36).

There is a great deal of self-centrism tucked inside the syntactical layers of the above statement - very little of which points to any genuine learning agenda. So here we have a philosopher who sounds like a diplomat or a public relations officer worried about how others perceive his own: somebody needs to remind him that a civilizing power does not itself need to be either civil or civilized, and it matters only that much as to who perceives what and whether. Indeed, many a civilizing power through the history has been something other than civil or civilized: perhaps some compromise with one's own civility is a precondition to one's participation in any civilizing mission.


Derrida's confessions

I call Derrida's responses "confessions" because, while being incisive, they point inwardly and are otherwise calibrated well cognitively, idiomatically and politically. He invites us to question the meaning of "9/11" and to wonder about why it has become such a universal term of reference. He reasons that the significance attached to September 11 has to do with the fact that "the world order that felt itself targeted through this violence is dominated largely by the Anglo-American idiom" - which in turn dominates "the world stage ... international law, diplomatic institutions, the media, and the greatest technoscientific, capitalistic, and military power" (pg 88).

For all that, but also for a number of other reasons - such as the endlessness of the American territory and interest, the prior training of the September 11 attackers within the US, "the formation of Arab Muslim terrorist networks equipped and trained during the Cold War", and the "politico-military circumstances" perpetrated by the United States that favored the "emergence" and "shifts in allegiance" of the ilk of bin Laden - Derrida deems September 11 as suicide rather than homicide (pg 91-95). Since September 11 was a literal suicide attack, Derrida calls it a "double suicide" - but he deems it less than an event insofar as it did not fulfill the criterion of surprise or incomprehensibility (pg 95). "It was not impossible," he correctly argues, "to foresee an attack on American soil by those called 'terrorists' ... against a highly sensitive, spectacular, extremely symbolic building or institution" (pg 91).

In general, then, Derrida persuades us to view September 11, its fall-out, and world affairs on the whole from this resolutely internalized, internalizing perspective - in which, insofar as American interests know no end, the discursive comprehension of the attacks can only be a domestic responsibility for everybody. The present-day global terror thus turns out to be "an autoimmunity terror" - rather than an attack from the outsiders - especially for the Americans and Europeans. "The United States and Europe," Derrida stresses, "are also sanctuaries, places of training or formation and information for all the 'terrorists' of the world. No geography, no 'territorial' determination, is thus pertinent any longer for locating the seat of these new technologies of transmission or aggression" (pg 101).

Because contemporary global terror is an internal matter, its "repression ... whether it be through the police, the military, or the economy - ends up producing, reproducing, and regenerating the very thing it seeks to disarm" (pg 99). In such a scenario, Derrida argues, "the 'bombs' will never be 'smart' enough to prevent the victims (military and/or civilian, another distinction that has become less and reliable) from responding, either in person or by proxy, with what it will then be easy for them to present as legitimate reprisals or as counterterrorism. And so on ad infinitum ..." (pg 100).

The relationship between territory and terrorism remains a central issue to Derrida's formulations. He underlines that the popularization of the word "terrorism" in political history is traceable to "the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution, a terror that was carried out in the name of the state and that in fact presupposed a legal monopoly on violence" (pg 103). He also points to the "terrorism carried out by the Algerian rebellion", which "was long considered a domestic phenomenon insofar as Algeria was supposed to be an integral part of French national territory", whereas "the French terrorism of the time (carried out by the state) was presented as a police operation for internal security" (pg 104). He notes: "It was only in the 1990s, decades later, that the French Parliament retrospectively conferred the status of "war" (and thus the status of an international confrontation) upon this conflict so as to be able to pay the pensions of the 'veterans' who claimed them" (pg 104).

As such, the criteria for defining "international terrorism" remain "obscure, dogmatic, and precritical" (pg 103). Citing the hasty post-September 11 authorization by the United Nations to the United States "to use any means ... to protect itself against this so-called 'international terrorism'", Derrida argues that "the more confused the concept the more it lends itself to an opportunistic appropriation" (pg 103-104).

As if to address that problem, and in response to Borradori's questions, Derrida normatively defines the future philosopher - "philosopher-deconstructor" - as someone who would reflect responsibly on the definitional questions related to terrorism and "demand accountability from those in charge of public discourses [and] the language and institutions of international law" (pg 106). Such a philosopher would also articulate the effective relationship between "our philosophical heritage and the structure of the still dominant [and mutating] juridico-political system"; she/he would also seek "a new criteriology to distinguish between 'comprehending' and 'justifying' [terrorism]" (pg 106).

Of course, and even if by default, Derrida sets himself up as a prototype of precisely such a philosopher. Having called into question the standard perceptions of (international) terrorism, he asserts: "One can thus condemn unconditionally, as I do here, the attack of September 11 without having to ignore the real or alleged conditions that made it possible" (pgs 106-107). Blaming "the technoeconomic power of the media" for reinforcing the "narrow meaning" for terrorism, he points out that terrorism does not always depend on a "conscious subject" - but may gain its own, independent operative momentum (pg 109).

As a corollary, Derrida argues that "maximum media coverage was in the common interest of the perpetrators of 'September 11', the terrorists, and those who, in the name of the victims, wanted to declare 'war on terrorism' "(pg 108). "In both cases," he observes, "certain parties have an interest in presenting their adversaries not only as terrorists ... but only as terrorists, indeed as 'international terrorists' who share the same logic or are part of the same network and who must thus be opposed ... not through counterterrorism but through a 'war', meaning, of course, a 'nice clean' war" (pg 110). Derrida's verdict is that "these distinctions are lacking in rigor, impossible to maintain, and easily manipulated for certain ends" (pg 110).

Regarding a long-term response to the post-September 11 scenario, Derrida urges respect for international law and institutions (pg 114); advocates resisting "American hegemony" rather than the United States (pg 117); accepts the necessity of "a unified [and autonomous] military force" for Europe (pg 119); underlines his personal utopian trust in the perfectibility of the ever-imperfect world (pgs 113, 114, 115); argues in favor of the ethic of "hospitality" rather than mere "tolerance" (pgs 126-129); rallies support for human rights (pg 132); recommends using Europe's Enlightenment experience "in the relationship between the political and ... the religious" on a world scale (pg 117); and puts forward his idea of "democracy to come" - as an advance over state - and polity-centered prior notions such as cosmopolitanism and world citizenship (pg 130).

That said, Derrida does not advocate anarchy nor does he seek to dilute or negate the political. "We must," he insists, "be dutiful beyond duty, we must go beyond law, tolerance, conditional hospitality, economy, and so on. But to go beyond does not mean to discredit that which we exceed" (pg 133).


Concluding remarks

Derrida's reflections are unquestionably worthy for their stress on conceptual reformulation of terrorism, as is Habermas's leadership of fellow European philosophers to their famous journalistic intervention past the September 11 attacks. The drama of this entire intervention, however, actually points up the duo's erstwhile neglect of vital and long-standing issues in global politics as played out within the public, activist, and journalistic spheres. So, at best, these two individuals make an arduously late pop-up on the effective global public stage (contrast them, for example, with Noam Chomsky and Edward Said); at worst, they are academic tigers now determined to get out of their jungle.

For all that, I am not so confident of Derrida's confident responses to Borradori's questions related to the role and place of philosophy in a time of terror. The philosophizing of terror and terrorism - their sophisticated defining and redefining - took place elsewhere and was done by a whole host of other intellectuals, writers, activists and politicians.

Dating back to the 1960s are of course the political and strategic analyses - an elaborate contention against standard notions about terror and terrorism - by Chomsky and Said. In addition are Ashis Nandy's direct and rather insightful reflections on terrorism in the early 1990s - well before bin Laden was picked up by the press - as is his brilliant essay in the wake of the September 11 attacks in "The Romance of the State" (2002). Likewise, James Der Derian provided cogent theoretical formulations on the topic in his book Antidiplomacy: Spies, Terror, Speed, and War (1992). In most ways, Vandana Shiva's ecofeminist exposes, dating back to the 1980s, are de facto philosophical treatises on various kinds of terrorism as are the political tracts brought out more recently by Arundhati Roy - and, far prior to that, by Hannah Arendt.

Then, we have such political stalwarts as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr and Aung Sang Su-Ki, to mention just a few. Almost each one of the above has directly "questioned" terror and terrorism. However, Habermas and Derrida - unlike Chomsky, Said and Nandy (also academics) - do not even acknowledge them as such and the cosmopolitan traditions of thought and action of which many of them are a part.

So long as Habermas and Derrida - and their associates - stick to their intellectual provincialism and academic and textual purism, they shouldn't expect to make much more than the "embarrassing" splash of a latecomer through such occasional public interventions as the present one.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Piyush Mathur, PhD, an alumnus of JNU, New Delhi, and Virginia Tech, USA, is an independent observer of world affairs, the environment, science and technology policy, and literature.

Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, edited by Giovanna Borradori, Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 2003; ISBN: 0-226-0664-9 (cloth); 208 pages; US $25.

(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact content@atimes.com for information on our sales and syndication policies.)
          Sharia a subset of Millet sectarian law. Christians need ghettos they control.        
Millet law in the Ottoman Empire allowed Jewish and the various Christian sects to run their own local courts, for lower than national and international jurisdictional matters. Compares with the Brehon system of Keltic customary law in occupied Ireland, which for instance in cases of manslaughter assessed a fine from each member the killer's clan rather than individual punishment. Christians already headed for the Benedict Option need to envision establishing their own semi autonomous jurisdictions to defend their communitites
          Constitution Making : People's Participation Answer To Racist Outbursts        
The present Constitution making process seems awfully narrow and politically dictated by the leaders of this government. This is not a "public driven" drafting process. What is highlighted by this government as "public consultation" is collection of proposals from interested individuals, groups and some organisations. Done through a Committee appointed for that job. The "Report on Public Representations on Constitutional Reforms – May 2016" gives these numbers as follows ; over 2,500 persons/organisations have appeared before the Committee, another 800 via e-mail, 150 via fax messages, 60 by telephone messages and 700 representations via post and handing over personally. This much only in a society that has 15 million registered voters. Even if there was adequate public "consultation", that cannot be substituted for people's "participation".

There had not even been adequate and serious consultations on those proposals. It is impossible to imagine what would have come out of proposals that were received via e-mail, fax messages, personally delivered and by post. From what the report says, the Committee members have gone through all those proposals received. But for sure, interpreted them the way they personally understood the proposals. Then recommended what they thought was good.

Constitutions in this modern democratic world are made by people to govern themselves. Constitutions are not made by political leaders to govern people. And Constitutions are not made in a haste to say "another election promise" is being honoured.

In South Africa (SA), dismantling of the apartheid State was done through very heavy people's participation. The process began with an agreement with "White" apartheid leaders and the ANC that guaranteed the rights of the disempowered minorities. The Constitution making process in SA is thus termed "people decided and not pre decided".

On 1996 May 08, the historic day the new democratic Constitution of South Africa was promulgated, Cyril Ramaphosa chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly addressing the assembly said "Since we embarked on the formal constitution-making process 24 months ago, South Africans from across the country have embraced the process as their own. It is no exaggeration when we say that a team of 43 million people worked on this constitution."(emphasis added) That's what people's participation is.

In a research paper for the University of Wisconsin Law School, titled "South Africa's Experience in Constitution Building" (http://ssrn.com/abstract=1808168) Heinz Klug says, "At its second meeting in August 1994 the Constitutional Assembly established a 44 member Constitutional Committee to serve as a steering committee and created an administrative structure to manage the process of constitution-making. Not only were they required to handle administrative support for the Assembly itself but the CA‘s administrative team was also responsible for facilitating other important aspects of the process including: a Pubic Participation Programme including both written and electronic submissions; a Constitutional Education Programme; a Constitutional Public Meetings Programme; and a newsletter, Constitutional Talk devoted to explaining the process and responsible for distributing four million copies of the working draft approved by the CA in November 1995". [emphasis added]

These 04 million copies were translated into all languages including tribal, that are in use in SA. A remarkable feature was the extensive use of the radio in their "Constitutional Education Programmes". Reason for extensive radio use was their low literacy rate. Most people had to be talked to, more than given to read. (1994 literacy rate in SA was 67.3%) Also important was the structures created for direct public participation.

The most recent experience in Constitution making is that of Mexico City with a 20 million population, almost equal to Sri Lanka. Out of them 09 million are counted as adults. The Mexican city residents are out to create a new Constitution by January 2017 to provide its main city the status of an autonomous federal State. The heavy use of social media and web tools in harnessing public participation for that exercise is popularly termed, "progressive, inclusive, pluralistic and civic experiment in democracy".

The initial "Discussion Draft" is to be drafted by a Committee of 28 persons appointed by the present Mayor. Most were surprised by its gender participation (50%) and expertise included from varied fields of disciplines. Proposals could be made to this "draft" and deliberated upon by the 09 million adults in the city. "Chilangos" (city locals) could file their proposals at 300 "drafting pubs" spread across the city. The City Council has outsourced Change.orgto run an online public petition platform people can use to collect signatures to their proposals. If 10,000 signatures endorse the proposal, authors of the proposal will have access to another digital tool called the "PubPub", one similar to 'Google docs' and edit the draft constitution to include their proposal. Those who don't go online with their proposal have public seminars, meetings and discussion forums to collect the required 10,000 signatures that makes their proposal a base document in the drafting process.

A few months ago the most campaigned for proposal was for a provision to impose a minimum limit of 99 sq. feet of "green cover" for every city resident. This proposal was immediately endorsed with 30,000 signing it. Some calculations say if the proposal goes through, it would provide Mexico City with a green covering of around 10 per cent of the city area. On another proposal, there was popular debates on the issue of a minimum wage in the city and social security as a "people's right". There was also serious and heated debates around the proposal to legalise abortion the Catholic church vehemently opposing.

A new Constitution for Sri Lanka needs such people's participation for discussions and debates. As with "White" participation in governance that was a contesting issue and on legalising abortion in Mexico City creating heavy opposition, to have provisions for a decent, workable and a sustainable devolution package included in the Constitution, the South especially would need serious debates and discussions. People need to understand what "devolution" is. They have to understand and be convinced "federalism" is a tested and proved State mechanism for "unity" and not "separation". Such issues cannot be smuggled into the Constitution on undisclosed agreements between the government leadership and ITAK. People should have social space to decide what they need guaranteed in a Constitution.

For such dialogue, the President can make public the Final Report of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) that still lies out of public reach. This in fact is the only time serious work was undertaken collectively through 128 long sessions from 2006 June to 2010 July to gain a very wide political consensus for power sharing. This should not be wasted idling on a presidential shelf. The government should take the responsibility to promote a vibrant dialogue around it through different communication tools.

The absence of such open and inclusive social dialogue is what allows for racial ranting in the South.      
Jaffna "Eluzha Thamil" protest and Wigneswaran now being flogged with glee is all about absence of dialogue, discussion and engagement with differing opinions and views. The most popular claim that the Eluzha Thamil demands put forward at the protest he led and his own "federal" demand would provoke Sinhala extremism. That only means this society is racially bias and wholly ignorant of what it wants as democracy. It only proves the Colombo urban middle class is happy maintaining the present status quo and not in advancing and accommodating dialogue for democratic change.

This government that promises a new Constitution therefore has the responsibility of creating social space for serious public dialogue. It has the social and political responsibility of facilitating platforms and forums and leading such dialogue. It has within its authority the State owned media that can be used for a Constitutional Education Programme the South Africans conducted in drafting their democratic Constitution. Unfortunately and sadly, this responsibility is shunned and instead we have negotiations between government and TNA leaders trying to smuggle in provisions they feel and think would be what is required as answers to what they perceive as problems of the Tamil people. No Constitution would have legitimacy in a society that has not been part of drafting its own Constitution.

I would therefore propose the use of the APRC as a base document for the initial draft the parliamentary committees would work out and facilitate a social dialogue on it through a much broader and open participatory process before the parliament sits to discuss the draft. For such social discourse the government should with adequate funds establish,
01.   a Constitutional Committee comprising of Chief Ministers of all provinces
02.   a Committee comprising of public sector trade union representatives and trade union representatives of the National Labour Advisory Committee (NLAC)
03.   provincial Constitutional Committees that would comprise of professionals, social organisations including environment, community development and business chambers.

Without any public participation, this Constitution making has allowed rabid racist outbursts that will not help a "Referendum" needed, even if it turns out a well crafted Constitution.

Kusal Perera
04 October, 2016
Colombo



          Intelligent In-car Assistants are Coming – Before Self-Driving Vehicles        
Digital Assistants ⯀  There’s so much talk about autonomous cars at the moment it’s easy to think that we’re going to start seeing these types of vehicles appearing on our roads in large numbers very...

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          The Future Belongs To Leaders Who Get Artificial Intelligence        
6 steps to become 10 times smarter with Artificial Intelligence. Overnight on October 14, 2015, Tesla introduced an semi-autonomous driving system for owners of the Model S. Within a day, owners began uploading videos of themselves being driven around.   You can see the fear wash over people’s faces when cars slow down in front of
          How would Google Drill?        
Google approached the challenge of autonomous vehicles as a computer science rather than an engineering problem.  What if the oil and gas industry did the same? Google approached the challenge of autonomous vehicles as a computer science rather than an engineering problem.  What if the oil and gas industry did the same? Extracting oil and
          'Little Toy Shop' - 12/27/06        
itunes pic
NEWS IN BRIEF: NEW YORK, USA - A bluebird in the garden, a spirit in a house, a kind man on the side of the road. Americans are big believers in angels, although not necessarily the ones with halos and wings. An overwhelming majority, almost regardless of backgrounds and religious convictions, think angels are real, according to an AP-AOL News poll exploring attitudes about Santa Claus, angels and more. Belief in angels, however people define them, is highest — almost universal — among white evangelical Christians, 97 percent of whom trust in their existence, the poll indicates. But even among people with no religious affiliation, well more than half said angels are for real. Among the findings about angels and Santa: Protestants, women, Southerners, Midwesterners and Republicans were the most likely to believe in angels, although strong majorities in other groups also shared that faith. Belief in angels declined slightly with advanced education, from 87 percent of those with high school education or less to 73 percent of those with college degrees. Overall, 81 percent believed in angels. 86 percent believed in Santa as a child. And despite the multiethnic nature of the country, more than 60 percent of those with children at home consider Santa important in their holiday celebrations now. Nearly half, 47 percent, said Santa detracts from the religious significance of Christmas; over one-third, 36 percent, said he enhances the religious nature of the holiday. 91 percent of whites believed in Santa as a child; 72 percent of minorities did. One quarter of those now living in households with incomes under $25,000 did not believe in Santa. LONDON, ENGLAND – Scientists report of two cases where female Komodo dragons have produced offspring without male contact. Tests revealed their eggs had developed without being fertilized by sperm - a process called parthenogenesis, the team wrote in the journal Nature. One of the reptiles, Flora, a resident of Chester Zoo in the UK, is awaiting her clutch of eight eggs to hatch, with a due-date estimated around Christmas. Kevin Buley, a curator at Chester Zoo and a co-author on the paper, said: "Flora laid her eggs at the end of May and, given the incubation period of between seven and nine months, it is possible they could hatch around Christmas - which for a 'virgin birth' would finish the story off nicely. "We will be on the look-out for shepherds, wise men and an unusually bright star in the sky over Chester Zoo." Flora, who has never been kept with a male Komodo dragon, produced 11 eggs earlier this year. Three died off, providing the material needed for genetic tests. These revealed the offspring were not exact genetic copies (clones) of their mother, but their genetic make-up was derived just from her. The team concluded they were a result of asexual reproduction, and are waiting for the remaining eight eggs to hatch. SEATTLE, USA - Scientists have created a way to control a robot with signals from a human brain. By generating the proper brainwaves—picked up by a cap with electrodes that sense the signals and reflect a person's instructions—scientists can instruct a humanoid robot to move to specific locations and pick up certain objects. The commands are limited to moving forward, picking up one of two objects and bringing it to one of two locations. The researchers have achieved 94 percent accuracy between the thought commands and the robot's movements. "This is really a proof-of-concept demonstration," said Rajesh Rao, a researcher from the University of Washington who leads the project. "It suggests that one day we might be able to use semi-autonomous robots for such jobs as helping disabled people or performing routine tasks in a person's home." The person wearing the electrode cap watches the robot's movement on a computer screen through two cameras installed on and above the robot. "One of the important things about this demonstration is that we're using a 'noisy' brain signal to control the robot," Rao said. "The technique for picking up brain signals is non-invasive, but that means we can only obtain brain signals indirectly from sensors on the surface of the head, and not where they are generated deep in the brain. As a result, the user can only generate high-level commands such as indicating which object to pick up or which location to go to, and the robot needs to be autonomous enough to be able to execute such commands." ________________________________________________________
          The Moral Education of Children        
Many parents are concerned about laying a good foundation for their children that they might grow to become moral, responsible adults. In part, parents often rely on Sunday school or other types of religious education to help convey the message of morality. In raising moral children, there are a few points that bear remembering.

First, child rearing is a developmental endeavor. That implies that children progress through moral stages and understandings at a certain (variable) pace. There is little evidence that children can be hurried along the developmental journey. There is a developmental track for moral development, social development, and cognitive development. All areas of development come into play in our efforts to raise moral children. Jean Piaget, the famous developmentalist, reminds us that young children have not yet arrived at the stage of formal, symbolic thought.

Many parents will attempt to moralize with children in abstract, moral discussions-suitably "watered-down," or so they think, to meet their kids where they are. However, if research on cognitive development is at all correct, it is unlikely that children are being "converted" to a moral or religious stance. They may say "yes" and seem to get the point, but it is unlikely that they do.

A much better approach is to work on actions involving simple reciprocity, things like sharing of toys and friends. Young children are naturally egocentric. By involving them in such simple understandings as "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours," children come to see simple morality as pragmatic, paving the way for the later stages when formal reasoning makes children receptive to more abstract appeals.

In terms of social development, Erik Erikson would no doubt point us to those natural conflicts that occur at each advancing stage of development. In the early stages when a child struggles between trust and mistrust, and shame and guilt vs. autonomy, children need reassurance. If they are subjected to constant moralizing and put-downs, they will likely adopt an outlook of inferiority. In addition, they will become increasing likely to look to an outside locus of control. The best way to raise autonomous, responsible adults is by acceptance as opposed to constant correction. Erikson's theory predicts that someone might "get stuck" at an early stage if that stage is not successfully navigated.

Furthermore, problems may appear during the adolescent identity crisis of even later in adulthood. Lawrence Kohlberg was a theorist of moral development. His theory reminds us that young children do not see the world in such philosophical categories as moral or immoral. Here the focus is on reward and punishment. What is good is what brings a reward. They also develop a sense of parity; one hand washes the other. "If you are nice to me, I'll be nice to you," is one of the earliest orientations. In late childhood, children reach a stage of wanting things to be fair and law-driven. Here they are concerned about following the rules. It is not until adolescence or later that kids begin to see right and wrong in truly moral terms. From this perspective, the best we can do is "play along" with development. We must never expect young children to have a truly moral view of things. This is something they are "nurtured into."

If caregivers follow the rule of gentle persuasion and fairness, children will naturally move into an understanding of morality. What about religious instruction? James Fowler has spoken to this at length. Combining theories of earlier theorists, he has noted that the earliest claim to faith is affiliative. Children make "professions of faith" to please their parents and feel a sense of unity with them. It is very doubtful that children really understand the notion of freely chosen conversion before early adolescence. How do we put all of this together to get some direction?

Follow the developmental curve. Meet children where they are. Do not moralize with them, and do not expect more than they are able to deliver. Keep discipline mild, and aim it towards learning such socialization skills as sharing in a polite and caring way. Do not expect little ones to be too selfless. Remember that childhood is not a race; the stages cannot be bypassed. Accept children where they are developmentally, and provide a warm nurturing environment. If we "teach from behind," letting the child's natural developmental stages take the lead, we will be doing the best we can to raise moral, responsible children who grow into moral, responsible adults.

          Initial Coin Offerings        
The FT's Alphaville blog has started a new series, called ICOmedy looking at the insanity surrounding Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). The blockchain hype has created an even bigger opportunity to separate the fools from their money than the dot-com era did. To motivate you to follow the series, below the fold there are some extracts and related links.

So far the series includes:
  • ICOs and the money markets:
    how can you determine fair relative value or what the no-arbitrage condition for a multitude of crypto currencies should be if they bear no income potential whatsoever? They have no time value of money in the ordinary sense.

    If and when they do bear interest it is derived not from lending to a productive industry but to short sellers — and this is done at heterogeneous rates across varying exchanges and at varying risk. There is no uniform base lending rate. Everything is arbitrary. Worse than that, the lack of income equates the whole thing to a casino-style game of chance, with ongoing profits entirely dependent on ongoing capital inflows from external sources.
  • In the crypto world, you can get something for nothing:
    you have some cash, and I have a “token”. The token is worthless. It has no purpose or function. There’s a big label on the token that says, “this token cannot be used for anything”. And we exchange the two, and so I end up with your cash, and you end up with nothing, and for some reason you’re happy with the transaction. ... This is a pretty accurate description of an “initial coin offering” (ICO) that has raised $200m worth of cryptocurrency. The company behind it is called block.one ... In an earlier post, we likened an initial coin offering to a Kickstarter campaign. Investors hand over their money, and in return get some sort of access to the product when it’s finished. The access is granted by a token that can be used with the software being developed. Block.one’s initial coin offering is different. There’s a token, but it can’t actually be used for anything. This is from the FAQs:
    The EOS Tokens do not have any rights, uses, purpose, attributes, functionalities or features, express or implied, including, without limitation, any uses, purpose, attributes, functionalities or features on the EOS Platform.
    You might want to read that over a couple of times, keeping in mind that investors have spent over $200m buying these “EOS Tokens”.
  • From dot.comedy to ICOmedy…:
    mainstream media coverage of the crypto phenomenon has all focused on the similarities with the dotcom mania of the late 90s, which came to a head in the Spring of 2000. ... Sure, there was a mania, and stocks went to comical valuations, and thousands and thousands of people thought they had become overnight millionaires, only to discover they weren’t. Yes, it was tech-related and people were making fabulous predictions about how the world was going to change. ... But during the dotcom era it was clear that the world was changing, for real. Old skool, analogue businesses like Barnes & Noble were getting Amazon-ed. It was clear that all forms of business were already being revolutionised as the digital aged dawned. The trouble was that greed and a herd-like mentality sent the public markets potty for a time.

    The crypto craze is different. It has grown from fringe libertarian philosophy, preaching that any and all government is a bad thing, and that all our current systems where society is organised centrally will soon be replaced by loose ‘non-trusting’ digital networks and protocols that transcend the nation state. ... State sovereignty is not going to disappear. Democratic government is generally a good way for nations to organise their affairs. Dollars will buy you food and energy for the foreseeable.
  • What does a crypto startup do with $230m?:
    You’ve probably never heard of Tezos before. It’s a “new decentralized blockchain” that’s apparently better than all the other blockchains, and last week, it completed a $230m fundraising. ... If the sum of money raised was a guarantor of success, then Tezos would now be a sure bet. It’s the biggest ICO to-date. The platform is the brainchild of Kathleen and Arthur Breitman, who previously worked at Accenture and Goldman Sachs respectively. They have been developing it through their venture Dynamic Ledger Solutions since 2014 and if they can get the Tezos blockchain running for three months “substantially as described” in their marketing, they and the other investors in DLS like venture capitalist Tim Draper will make $20m.
    What they will do with nearly a quarter of a billion dollars isn't clear. Ideas include "Acquire mainstream print and TV media outlets to promote and defend the use of cryptographic ledger in society"!
Ether price
Leaving aside the daily multi-million dollar heists, of which last Sunday's was $8.4M from Veritaseum, there is the opinion of one of Ethereum's co-founders that the speculative frenzy in Initial Coin Offerings is dangerous:
Initial coin offerings, a means of crowdfunding for blockchain-technology companies, have caught so much attention that even the co-founder of the ethereum network, where many of these digital coins are built, says it’s time for things to cool down in a big way.

“People say ICOs are great for ethereum because, look at the price, but it’s a ticking time-bomb,” Charles Hoskinson, who helped develop ethereum, said in an interview. “There’s an over-tokenization of things as companies are issuing tokens when the same tasks can be achieved with existing blockchains. People are blinded by fast and easy money.”

Firms have raised $1.3 billion this year in digital coin sales, surpassing venture capital funding of blockchain companies and up more than six-fold from the total raised last year, according to Autonomous Research. Ether, the digital currency linked to the ethereum blockchain, surged from around $8 after its ICO at the start of the year to just under $400 last month. It’s since dropped by about 50 percent.
The frenzy around ICOs using Ethereum was so intense that it caused a worldwide shortage of GPUs, but:
Over the past few months, there has been a GPU shortage, forcing the prices of mid-range graphics cards up as cryptocurrency miners from across the world purchased hardware in bulk in search for quick and easy profits.

This has forced the prices of most modern AMD and certain Nvidia GPUs to skyrocket, but now these GPUs are starting to saturate the used market as more and more Ethereum miners sell up and quit mining. Some other miners are starting to look at other emerging Cryptocurrencies, though it is clear that the hype behind Ethereum is dying down.

Earlier this week Ethereum's value dropped below $200, as soon as the currency experienced a new difficulty spike, making the currency 20% harder to mine and significantly less profitable. This combined with its decrease in value has made mining Ethereum unprofitable for many miners, especially in regions with higher than average electricity costs.
As I write, it is back around $225. If you are minded to invest, the FT's Alphaville blog just announced a great opportunity.



          Another Class of Blockchain Vulnerabilities        
For at least three years I've been pointing out a fundamental problem with blockchain systems, and indeed peer-to-peer (P2P) systems in general, which is that maintaining their decentralized nature in the face of economies of scale (network effects, Metcalfe's Law, ...) is pretty close to impossible. I wrote a detailed analysis of this issue in Economies of Scale in Peer-to-Peer Networks. Centralized P2P systems, in which a significant minority (or in the case of Bitcoin an actual majority) can act in coordination perhaps because they are conspiring together, are vulnerable to many attacks. This was a theme of our SOSP "Best Paper" winner in 2003.

Now, Catalin Cimpanu at Bleeping Computer reports on research showing yet another way in which P2P networks can become vulnerable through centralization driven by economies of scale. Below the fold, some details.

Cimpanu writes:
the Bitcoin network, despite counting thousands of nodes, is largely hosted on a small number of ISPs (networks, Autonomous Systems — AS). For example, 13 ISPs host 30% of the entire Bitcoin network, while 39 ISPs host 50% of the whole Bitcoin mining power.

Furthermore, most of the traffic exchanged between Bitcoin nodes passes through a small number of ISPs. In exact numbers, just three ISPs handle 60% of all Bitcoin traffic, right now.
and this fact is being exploited via BGP hijacks:
Based on statistical data, researchers say they’ve found that around 100 Bitcoin nodes are the victims of BGP hijacks each month, with the largest number of BGP hijacks happening in November 2015, when 8% of the entire Bitcoin nodes (447 at the time) were the victims of such incidents.
The research is described in Hijacking Bitcoin: Routing Attacks on Cryptocurrencies by Maria Apostolaki, Aviv Zohar and Laurent Vanbever, who write:
While challenging, we show that two key properties make routing attacks practical: (i) the efficiency of routing manipulation; and (ii) the significant centralization of Bitcoin in terms of mining and routing. Specifically, we find that any network attacker can hijack few (<100) BGP prefixes to isolate ∼50% of the mining power — even when considering that mining pools are heavily multi-homed.
They show two classes of routing-based attacks on the Bitcoin network are feasible:
First, we evaluate the ability of attackers to isolate a set of nodes from the Bitcoin network, effectively partitioning it. Second, we evaluate the impact of delaying block propagation by manipulating a small number of key Bitcoin messages.
BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) is a long-standing vulnerability of the Internet, so it is not surprising that it can and is affecting the Bitcoin network. The more interesting part of their research is that it illuminates second-order effects of economies of scale on P2P networks. Economies of scale drove Bitcoin mining from home computers into large data centers. Economies of scale drove these data centers to be located in a few areas with very cheap power and cooling. Thus these data centers naturally used the few ISPs that served these areas, leading to centralization at the network level, and thus to vulnerabilities caused by centralization at the network level.
          Distill: Is This What Journals Should Look Like?        
A month ago a post on the Y Combinator blog announced that they and Google have launched a new academic journal called Distill. Except this is no ordinary journal consisting of slightly enhanced PDFs, it is a big step towards the way academic communication should work in the Web era:
The web has been around for almost 30 years. But you wouldn’t know it if you looked at most academic journals. They’re stuck in the early 1900s. PDFs are not an exciting form.

Distill is taking the web seriously. A Distill article (at least in its ideal, aspirational form) isn’t just a paper. It’s an interactive medium that lets users – “readers” is no longer sufficient – work directly with machine learning models.
Below the fold, I take a close look at one of the early articles to assess how big a step this is.

How to Use t-SNE Effectively is one of Distill's launch articles. It has a DOI - doi:10.23915/distill.00002. It can be cited like any other paper:
For attribution in academic contexts, please cite this work as

Wattenberg, et al., "How to Use t-SNE Effectively", Distill, 2016. http://doi.org/10.23915/distill.00002

BibTeX citation

{wattenberg2016how,
author = {Wattenberg, Martin and Viégas, Fernanda and Johnson, Ian},
title = {How to Use t-SNE Effectively},
journal = {Distill},
year = {2016},
url = {http://distill.pub/2016/misread-tsne},
doi = {10.23915/distill.00002}
}
But this really isn't a conventional article:

Updates and Corrections

View all changes to this article since it was first published. If you see a mistake or want to suggest a change, please create an issue on GitHub. ... with the source available on GitHub.
The sub-head explains the article's goal:
Although extremely useful for visualizing high-dimensional data, t-SNE plots can sometimes be mysterious or misleading. By exploring how it behaves in simple cases, we can learn to use it more effectively.
Which is where it starts to look very different. It matches the goal set out in the blog post:
Ideally, such articles will integrate explanation, code, data, and interactive visualizations into a single environment. In such an environment, users can explore in ways impossible with traditional static media. They can change models, try out different hypotheses, and immediately see what happens. That will let them rapidly build their understanding in ways impossible in traditional static media.
And the article itself isn't static, its more like a piece of open-source software:

Citations and Reuse

Diagrams and text are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution CC-BY 2.0, unless noted otherwise, with the source available on GitHub. The figures that have been reused from other sources don't fall under this license and can be recognized by a note in their caption: “Figure from …”.
So far, so much better than a PDF, as you can see by visiting the article and playing with the examples, adjusting the sliders to see how the parameters affect the results.

But is this article as preservable as a PDF? You can try an interesting experiment. On your laptop, point your browser at the article, wait for it to load and show that the examples work. Now turn off WiFi, and the examples continue to work!

Using "View Source" you can see that the functionality of the article is implemented by a set of JavaScript files:
<script src="assets/d3.min.js"></script>
<script src="assets/tsne.js"></script>
<script src="assets/demo-configs.js"></script>
<script src="assets/figure-configs.js"></script>
<script src="assets/visualize.js"></script>
<script src="assets/figures.js"></script>

which are installed in your browser during page load and can be captured by a suitably configured crawler. So it is in principle as preservable as a PDF.

The Wayback Machine's first capture of the article is only partly functional, probably because the Internet Archive's crawler wasn't configured to capture everything. Webrecorder.io collects a fully functional version.

Here is a brief look at some of the other articles now up at Distill:
  • Attention and Augmented Recurrent Neural Networks, Olah & Carter and Deconvolution and Checkerboard Artifacts, Odena et al both contain interactive diagrams illustrating the details of the algorithms they discuss. These again work when networking is disabled. Thus they both seem to be preservable.
  • In Four Experiments in Handwriting with a Neural Network, Carter et al write:
    Neural networks are an extremely successful approach to machine learning, but it’s tricky to understand why they behave the way they do. This has sparked a lot of interest and effort around trying to understand and visualize them, which we think is so far just scratching the surface of what is possible.

    In this article we will try to push forward in this direction by taking a generative model of handwriting and visualizing it in a number of ways. The model is quite simple (so as to run well in the browser) so the generated output mostly produces gibberish letters and words (albeit, gibberish that look like real handwriting), but it is still useful for our purposes of exploring visualization techniques.
    Thus, like the Wattenberg et al article, this paper actually contains an implementation of the algorithm it discusses. In this case it is a model derived by machine learning, albeit one simple enough to run in the browser. Again, you can disable networking and show that the article's model and the animations remain fully functional.
  • Why Momentum Really Works, Gabriel Goh is similar, in that its interactive diagrams are powered by an implementation of the optimzation technique it describes, which is again functional in the absence of network connectivity.
Clearly, Distill articles are a powerful way to communicate and explain the behavior of algorithms for machine learning. But there are still issues. Among the non-technical issues are:
  • Since Distill articles are selected via a pre-publication peer review (they are also subject to post-publication review via GitHub), each needs a private GitHub repository during review, which is a cost presumably borne by the authors. But there don't appear to be any author processing charges (APCs).
  • There is a separate Distill Prize for "outstanding work communicating and refining ideas" with an endowment $125K:
    The Distill Prize has a $125,000 USD initial endowment, funded by Chris Olah, Greg Brockman, Jeff Dean, DeepMind, and the Open Philanthropy Project. Logistics for the prize are handled by the Open Philanthropy Project.
  • The prize endowment does not explain how the journal itself is funded. It isn't clear how the costs will be covered. Distill is open access, and does not appear to levy APCs. I can't find any information about how the journal is funded on the site. The journal is presumably sponsored to some extent by the deep pockets of Google and Y Combinator, which could raise issues of editorial independence.
  • The costs of running the journal will be significant. There are the normal costs of the editorial and review processes, and running costs of the Web site. But in addition, the interactive graphics are of extremely high quality,  due presumably not to graphic desing talent among the authors but to Distill's user interface design support:
    Distill provides expert editing to help authors improve their writing and diagrams.
    The editors' job is presumably made easier by the suite of tools provided to authors, but this expertise also costs money.
  • Distill does appear committed to open access to research. Attention and Augmented Recurrent Neural Networks has 21 references. An example is a paper published in the Journal of Machine Learning Research as Proceedings of the 33rd International Conference on Machine Learning. It appears as:
    Ask Me Anything: Dynamic Memory Networks for Natural Language Processing  [PDF]
    Kumar, A., Irsoy, O., Su, J., Bradbury, J., English, R., Pierce, B., Ondruska, P., Gulrajani, I. and Socher, R., 2015. CoRR, Vol abs/1506.07285.
    citing and linking to the Computing Research Repository at arxiv.org rather than the journal. JMLR doesn't appear to have DOIs via which to link. 14/21 of the article's references similarly obscure the actual publication (even if it is open access), and another two are to preprints. Instead they link to the open access version at arxiv.org. Presumably this is an editorial policy.
Among the technical issues are:
  • Distill is a journal about machine learning, which is notoriously expensive in computation. There are limits as to how much computation can feasibly be extracted from your browser, so there will clearly be topics for which an appropriate presentation requires significant support from data-center resources. These will not be preservable.
  • Machine learning also notoriously requires vast amounts of data. This is another reason why some articles will require data-center support, and will not be preservable.
  • GitHub is not a preservation repository, so the conversation around the articles will not automatically be preserved.
  • If articles need data-center support, there will be unpredictable on-going costs that somehow need to be covered, a similar problem to the costs involved in cloud-based emulation services.
  • The title of an article's GitHub repository looks like this:
    How to Use t-SNE Effectively http://distill.pub/2016/misread-tsne/
    but the link should not be direct to the distill.pub website but should go via the DOI https://doi.org/10.23915/distill.00002. This is yet another instance of the problem, discussed in Persistent URIs Must Be Used To Be Persistent, by Herbert van de Sompel et al, of publishers preferring to link directly not to DOIs, and thus partially defeating their purpose.
The interactive diagrams and examples that provide the pedagogic power of Distill are constrained by the limits of what can be implemented in a browser. Communicating about machine learning at even fairly small scale will be out of reach. For example, Distill obviously could not publish anything like End to End Learning for Self-Driving Cars by Bojarksi et al, which describes how NVIDIA used one of their boxes to learn, and another to execute, a model capable of autonomously steering a car in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike. The compute power of these boxes is far greater than is available from a browser. Even if data center support were available. the browser still lacks a camera, steering, brakes, wheels, and an engine. Not to mention a professional self-driving car driver.

Note that Distill's use of GitHub is similar to the way the Journal of Open Source Software operates, but JOSS doesn't support execution of the software in the way Distill does, so does not require data-center support. Nor, since it covers only open source code, does it need private repositories.

In summary, given the limitations of the browser's execution environment, Distill does an excellent job of publishing articles that use interactivity to provide high-quality explanations and the ability to explore the parameter space. It does so without sacrificing preservability, which is important. It isn't clear how sustainable the journal will be, nor how much of the field of machine learning will be excluded by the medium's limitations.
          4 Projections for Electric Vehicles        
Author(s): 
Image: 
Electric car
Article Summary: 

When EVs will begin to compete with gasoline- and diesel-powered cars and trucks

Enhanced Slideshow: 
Electric car

NEW YORK -- Mark your calendar for 2025: That’s when electric vehicles (EVs) will become price competitive with internal-combustion-engine vehicles, unsupported by any subsidies, according to a new report.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF's) Electric Vehicle Outlook 2017 puts a potential marker on the mass-market adoption of EVs and transformation of transportation and fuels. Here are four other projections for the EV market ...

1. Falling battery prices will fuel growth

Full car lot

Thanks to falling battery prices, EVs will become price competitive to all major light-duty vehicle segments before 2030, the report predicts.

“While EV sales to 2025 will remain relatively low, we expect an inflection point in adoption between 2025 and 2030, as EVs become economical on an unsubsidized total cost of ownership basis across mass-market vehicle classes,” it states.

2. Fossil fuel demand will drop

Annual global light duty vehicle sales

By 2040, BNEF expects 54% of global new-car sales and 34% of the car fleet to be electric.

This growing EV fleet—reaching 530 million by 2040—will displace the equivalent of 8 million barrels of transportation fuel per day, the report estimates. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States consumed an average of 9.33 million barrels per day (bpd) of gasoline in 2016.

3. Limited infrastructure will slow growth

Electric vehicle

As falling battery prices help stimulate the growth of the EV market, private and public charging infrastructure will struggle to keep up, BNEF predicts.

“Even when EVs have reached cost parity with internal-combustion-engine vehicles, lack of home charging will be a significant barrier to adoption and will restrict EV sales from reaching 100%,” the report states. “In our models, many countries that grab an early lead in EV adoption (China, the United States, parts of Europe) hit this ‘infrastructure cap’ in the mid-2030s and sales growth slows significantly.”

4. EVs and autonomous vehicles will intersect

Annual global EV sales by vehicle class

Autonomous vehicles—those that can operate without a person behind the wheel—will have only a limited effect on transportation over the next 10 years, BNEF predicts. However, after this point the technology’s influence will grow along with the quick adoption of ride-hailing (Uber, Lyft) and car-sharing services (ZipCar, Car2Go).

“We believe that autonomous vehicles will be primarily shared and will begin to replace existing human-driven shared and hailed cars starting in 2030,” the report states, adding that this will weigh on vehicle sales while increasing the average distance travelled per vehicle.

By 2040, 80% of shared autonomous vehicles will be electric because of the technology’s lower operating costs, the report estimates.

Click here to download BNEF’s 2017 Electric Vehicle Outlook.


          RN / LPN- Home Healthcare / Professional Case Management / Kennewick, WA        
Professional Case Management/Kennewick, WA

RN/LPN - Home Health

Location: Tri-Cities, WA

Work Schedule: variable, Full-Time/Part-Time/PRN available

**Sign-On Bonus**

Duties of a PCM Nurse include:

Medication Administration

Oxygen Titration

Vital Sign Monitoring

Coordination of Care

Patient Advocacy

Timeliness and Accuracy of Documentation

Critical Thinking Skills

Respiratory Intervention (Trach/Neb treatments)

Skilled Transfer

Qualifications:

Current, unrestricted license as a Registered Nurse in the state(s) of practice

Licensed driver with automobile insurance in accordance with state.

Current CPR certification

About the Company

Professional Case Management (PCM) is the nation's premier homecare provider for nuclear weapons workers, uranium miners, millers and haulers. We provide in home care for former workers suffering from chronic illnesses contracted in the course of their employment. Our mission is to deliver quality care to enhance patient outcomes in the privacy and comfort of their own homes.

Why work for PCM?

Build purposeful relationships with our patients and their families by providing 1:1 individualized care.

Empower patients to live in the comfort of their own home.

Autonomous work environment.

Flexible scheduling.

Employment Type: Permanent

Apply To Job
          RN / LPN- Home Health / Professional Case Management / Albany, OR        
Professional Case Management/Albany, OR

RN/LPN - Home Health

Location: Albany, OR

Work Schedule: Sunday-Saturday 7a-7p

Duties of a PCM Nurse include:

Medication Administration

Oxygen Titration

Vital Sign Monitoring

Coordination of Care

Patient Advocacy

Timeliness and Accuracy of Documentation

Critical Thinking Skills

Respiratory Intervention (Trach/Neb treatments)

Skilled Transfer

Qualifications:

Current, unrestricted nursing license in the state(s) of practice

Minimum 1 year experience as a practicing nurse

Licensed driver with automobile insurance in accordance with state.

Current CPR certification

About the Company

Professional Case Management (PCM) is the nation's premier homecare provider for nuclear weapons workers, uranium miners, millers and haulers. We provide in home care for former workers suffering from chronic illnesses contracted in the course of their employment. Our mission is to deliver quality care to enhance patient outcomes in the privacy and comfort of their own homes.

Why work for PCM?

Build purposeful relationships with our patients and their families by providing 1:1 individualized care.

Empower patients to live in the comfort of their own home.

Autonomous work environment.

Flexible scheduling.

Employment Type: Permanent

Apply To Job
          Exploration of Game Consoles as a legitimate computing platform for in-the-field biomedical data acquisition and management        
Biomedical research increasingly requires for testings be conducted outside the lab, in the field such as the participant’s home or work environment. This type of research requires semi-autonomous computer systems that collect such data and send it back to the lab for processing and dissemination. A key aspect of this type of research is the selection of the required software and hardware components. These systems need to be reliable, allow considerable customizability and be readily accessible but also able to be locked down. In this paper we report a set of requirements for the hardware and software for such a system. We then utilise these requirements to evaluate the use of game consoles as a hardware platform in comparison to other hardware choices.
          You can confuse self-driving cars by altering street signs        

While car makers and regulators are mostly worried about the possibility of self-driving car hacks, University of Washington researchers are concerned about a more practical threat: defacing street signs. They've learned that it's relatively easy to throw off an autonomous vehicle's image recognition system by strategically using stickers to alter street signs. If attackers know how a car classifies the objects it sees (such as target photos of signs), they can generate stickers that can trick the car into believing a sign really means something else. For instance, the "love/hate" graphics above made a computer vision algorithm believe a stop sign was really a speed limit notice.

Via: Car and Driver, Wired

Source: ArXiv.org


          Will we be able to control the killer robots of tomorrow?        

From ship-hunting Tomahawk missiles and sub-spying drone ships to semi-autonomous UAV swarms and situationally-aware reconnaissance robots, the Pentagon has long sought to protect its human forces with the use of robotic weapons. But as these systems gain ever-greater degrees of intelligence and independence, their increasing autonomy has some critics worried that humans are ceding too much power to devices whose decision-making processes we don't fully understand (and which we may not be entirely able to control).


          Tech News Today 1826: Resting Unlock Face        

Tech News Today (MP3)

The new Samsung Galaxy S8 Active is flatter than the curvy Galaxy S with bezels that extend out to protect against scratches and drops, a shatterproof screen, polycarbonate backside, and a sizeable 4,000mAh battery. It comes exclusively to AT&T later this week.

Youtube is rolling out a new sharing feature to its Android and iOS app that will allow users to share videos with their contacts in a new chat interface inside the app. Those in the chatroom can then invite others to the chat for a total of 30 people.

Netflix announced its first ever acquisition: Millarworld, an independent comic house responsible for Kick-Ass, Kingsman, and Wanted to name a few. Comic lovers rejoice.

Plus, Amazon has a number of brands of its own though you may never realize it, Amazon Echo gets some new music playback features to match playlists to moods or activities, and Sam Abuelsamid joins Ron Richards and I to talk about Foxconn's possible investment in Michigan as it hopes to bring autonomous vehicle R&D to the states.

Hosts: Jason Howell and Ron Richards

Guest: Sam Abuelsamid

Download or subscribe to this show at https://twit.tv/shows/tech-news-today.

Thanks to CacheFly for the bandwidth for this show.


          Security Now 622: Hack the Vote        

Security Now (MP3)

This week we look at the expected DEF CON fallout including the hacking of US election voting machines, Microsoft's enhanced bug bounty program, the wormification of the Broadcom WiFi firmware flaw, the worries when autonomous AI agents begin speaking in their own language which we cannot understand, Apple's pulling VPN clients from its Chinese app store, a follow-up on iRobot's floor plan mapping intentions, some new on the Chrome browser front, the 18th Vault-7 Wikileaks dump, and some closing-the-loop feedback from our terrific podcast followers.

Read our show notes here.

Hosts: Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte

Download or subscribe to this show at https://twit.tv/shows/security-now.

You can submit a question to Security Now! at the GRC Feedback Page.

For 16kbps versions, transcripts, and notes (including fixes), visit Steve's site: grc.com, also the home of the best disk maintenance and recovery utility ever written Spinrite 6.

Bandwidth for Security Now is provided by CacheFly.


          Uber Now Has a Bigger Problem in Southeast Asia        

This post was originally published in Business Insider.

Grab, a taxi-hailing service operating in South East Asia, announced on Monday that it has raised $2 billion from Japanese tech investor Softbank and its Chinese equivalent, Didi Chuxing.

It expects to raise a further $500 million from other investors before the funding round is closed, bringing the total investment for the round to $2.5 billion. Grab claims the investment would be the largest ever to be made into a technology startup in Southeast Asia.

The Uber rival—which currently offers services in 65 cities across Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar—said it will use the funding to fuel its growth in South East Asia (home to over 600 million people) and invest in GrabPay, its mobile payments platform.

Grab was founded in 2012 by Malaysian Harvard Business School graduates Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling. Today, the company claims that its app has been downloaded onto over 50 million smartphones and used by 1.1 million drivers.

Tan said in a statement:

We are delighted to deepen our strategic partnership with DiDi and SoftBank. We're encouraged that these two visionary companies share our optimism for the future of Southeast Asia and its on-demand transportation and payments markets, and recognize that Grab is ideally positioned to capitalize on the massive market opportunities. With their support, Grab will achieve an unassailable market lead in ridesharing, and build on this to make GrabPay the payment solution of choice for Southeast Asia. We look forward to continuing to work with our valued partners in the future.

SoftBank's investment in Grab comes after a flurry of other large investments in recent months including London simulated worlds startup Improbable ($500 million) in May and Silicon Valley autonomous vehicle technology company Nauto ($159 million). The company is making some of the investments through a huge new $93 billion fund which is the largest in the world of its kind.

Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank, said: "Grab is using technology to address transportation and payments, some of the biggest challenges present in Southeast Asia, and we believe Grab is a tremendously exciting company in a dynamic and promising region. SoftBank is excited to deepen this partnership and we look forward to continuing to support Grab's journey."


          Comment on Ancient Cities in the Forest by C.A. McInerney        
There is There is no reason they could not have built canals. The Indians at Tenochtitlan spoke of an earlier great city in South America that they had anciently known and where they presumably to themselves received their advanced engineering of a similar scale & type urban infrastructure of most refined and sophisticated dimensions by contemporary standards. As well the natives in Massachusetts in earliest colonial times showed connected 3 river systems in the upper Charles River Basin that they said were used in an extensive trade network of highways paths and canals up the entire length of the Americas allowing trade between Central South and North American tribes. The curious element was the still intact empirical sovereign recognition of each local tribal chief along this route of obligation to keep the network repaired and open something that survived well into the European colonial era and that their titular designations were part of a recognized hierarchical order as in Europe with the degrees of nobility maintaining each regions infrastructure. The history written in colonial times has the Indians saying the canals connecting the rivers as well as still existing pre colonial dams and bridges of stone were the work of a very tall prince who joined the local tribe and that he possessed many skills and was long lived as well as being of high yellow coloring! I think its interesting that the great Chinese prince they unearthed at Teotihuacan within recent times received the briefest coverage before being whisked out of site with his burial treasures and the articles ordered removed from public record from some government source in Mexico. The Chinese Imperial records describe 5 sucessive emperors of Chinese origin of their New World or Mid American Empire before the coming of the Europeans. There were still Chinese empirical officials in the region when Columbus arrived as is mentioned in his work. The new world Imperium of China was considered an autonomous empire independant of China, gradually they were absorbed into native populations with the elite gradually withdrawing to the Orient,Africa and other regions where the Chinese trading Treaty Port culture existed.They attempted to bring Buddhism to the native Americans and it was limited in its success and influence. The only sucessful points were great cities of this anciently integrated Indo-Chinese Empire where intermarriage had created some generations of very advanced and evolved culture based on Hindu universalist science and Buddhist philosophy. Inevitably the distictions of genetic distinction probably involving elements of devolvement in the morphology of the governed masses led to the abandonment of the empire by these proto orientals in large part after their 5th and predicted last great Emperor died and was entombed shortly before the coming of the Europeans.
          Zuckerberg and Musk Are Both Wrong About AI        

Back in 2015, a group of business leaders and scientists published an "open letter" about how controlling artificial superintelligence might be the most urgent task of the twenty-first century.


          Marvel's Civil War II tie-ins: There sure are a lot of these things        
Michael Cho
Well, I've read and written probably far too many words on Civil War II, Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, Justin Ponsor and company's big event series pitting Captain Marvel Carol Danvers and Iron Man Tony Stark into deadly conflict over whether or not to use a new character's fortune-telling superpower, should I also read and write about all the tie-ins...? Probably not! But I did anyway. Please note that this is not a complete list of all the tie-ins; there are a lot more than this, but these are the ones I found that I was interested in reading. I may come back for a follow-up if it should turn out that I missed some good ones. In the mean time...


Agents of SHIELD Vol. 2: Under New Management
By Marc Guggenheim, German Peralta, Ario Anindito, Garry Brown and others
112 pages; $15.99
Number of issues tied-to Civil War II:
5 out of 5
Do the events demonstrate that Carol is wrong and Tony is right?: Yes
Side: Neutral-ish

This trade paperback collects the last four issues of the ten-issue Agents of SHIELD comic book series, itself the relaunched version of the 12-issue SHIELD series. The remit seems to have been to chronicle the adventures of the Marvel Universe versions of the characters from the TV show of the same name, but I guess there wasn't enough interest in that particular concept among Marvel comics readers/buyers to keep it going for long. Hell, this trade collects almost the entire second half of the series, and many of those characters play fairly small, supporting roles (One even spends the majority of this collection unconscious in a coma). The main focus is on Agent Coulson and how the events of Civil War II impact him and his career.

While the cover indicates these agents of SHIELD are pretty firmly on Team Carol--which would make sense, given that SHIELD Commander Maria Hill is--it's a bit of a fake-out. In the first issue, Hill does indeed sic them on Iron Man, who, we are told, has just kidnapped Ulysses from New Atillan. Contrary to the events of Civil War II and common sense, in this story Iron Man leaves Ulysses unattended for a while to set up a trap for Coulson and company, so he can make his pitch to Coulson about how this whole future profiling thing is, beyond being morally wrong, just plain dumb, and doesn't really work. Coulson agrees, so Hill fires him.

Having heard Iron Man's pitch, Coulson, who has now gone solo and gone rogue, wants to hear Captain Marvel's, but she's not returning his calls, so he sneaks into her office on a satellite, reads some files about a prediction that indicates Daredevil is going to get killed by The Wrecking Crew and, in the first of many instances of this very thing happening (in the books reviewed in this particular post, if not chronologically), Carol's attempts to prevent a vision from happening actually causes it to happen. The only thing that stopped the vision from coming true here was Coulson being present to save DD from impalement.

In the final two issues, writer Marc Guggenheim steps away from the events of Civil War II somewhat in order to wrap up the various plotlines in his ending series, but the events of those tie-in issues feed into the various resolutions. Having not read the first six issues of the series, I can't tell how well these four actually wrap it all up, or if the demands of the crossover derailed the overall plotting, but it sure seems like Guggenheim managed to incorporate Civil War II pretty well, although, for the most part, the characters who aren't Coulson have relatively little to do.

I was surprised to find this collection included the 30-page one-shot special Civil War II: The Accused #1. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why Marvel saw fit to stick it in here of all places (it's a pretty direct tie-in to Civil War II, and doesn't feature so much as a cameo from any of the characters in Agents of SHIELD). It took me a bit to figure out who the creators were, but that explained it (I guess): Guggenheim also wrote The Accused, so in that respect it kinda sorta belongs in a trade collecting other Guggenheim-written Civil War II tie-ins.

Essentially a Daredevil story, it opens with a splash page of Hawkeye Clint Barton surrendering after killing Bruce Banner in Civil War II #3 and proceeds to tell the story of the trial that followed. Guggenheim answers any and all practical questions one might have about the trial, which Brian Michael Bendis didn't even feint toward caring about, including whether Matt Murdock was an attorney for the prosecution or the defense (the former), why on Earth Murdock was involved at all and how such a high-profile murder trial got to trial pretty much overnight (I'm still not clear on why it was being prosecuted in New York City, but whatever).

As a Daredevil story, and one with more lawyering than Daredevil-ing, it's a fine one, and Guggenheim manages to expand on the events of the Civil War II issue without really repeating anything from them, given the strange way in which Bendis formatted his script for that issue, which included a bunch of jumps back and forth between the confrontation between the superheroes and Banner and Carol, Tony, Clint and Matt's words in court. Adding a wrinkle to the proceedings is a government conspiracy to ensure that Clint is found guilty, so that the feds can reinstate the Superhero Registration Act (the thing that lead to the warring in the original Civil War series), but Murdock manages to put the kibosh on that.

I can't make sense of the credits enough to be sure if The Accused was drawn by Ramon Bachs and Garry Brown, or just Brown, but I really liked the art, regardless. There's a lot of ink on the pages, and most of the mask-less scenes look appropriately dirty, gritty and even somewhat ugly, while when Murdock does put on a mask and becomes Daredevil, everything looks smoother and more streamlined.

All-New, All-Different Avengers Vol. 3: Civil War II
By Mark Waid, Adam Kubert and others
112 pages; $15.99
Number of issues tied-to Civil War II:
3 out of 4
Do the events demonstrate that Carol is wrong and Tony is right?: No
Side: Neutral (although most of the line-up ultimately join Team Tony for the fight scene in the Civil War II, while the others just sit the fight out)

Despite the relatively large role that members of this Avengers team play in the main series--this is Tony Stark's Avengers team, after all, and it includes Spider-Man Miles Morales--the three regular issues of All-New, All-Different Avengers collected herein stick to the fringes of the conflict, amounting to a series of three solo stories that all at least touch on the conflict.

In the first, The Vision plays Go with Ulysses, while asking him about the Baby Hitler dilemma, and he then goes off to kill Baby Kang The Conqueror (Interestingly, at least to me, this issues shows that Captain Marvel had The Black Panther and Spider-Man Peter Parker build a special chamber they stuff Ulysses in for the purposes of getting him to spit out prophecies faster. This seems in contrast with the main series, and this is the first I've seen of Parker playing an active role in the events. After the Celestial Destructor wrap party, he all but disappeared from Civil War II, only appearing at home watching the big fight on TV.)

The second, starring The Wasps and Jarvis, is even more limited in its connectivity. The trio watch vague news coverage of a battle between Captain Marvel and Iron Man, and the trial of Clint Barton for murdering Bruce Banner, and Wasp II freaks out a little at her disillusionment of the very thought of superheroes fighting other superheroes (Honey, this is the Marvel Universe, not the DC Universe; they've been doing this since Day One). She tries to fitfully science a solution to the problem before Wasp I and Jarvis calm her down and assure her this isn't a science problem so much as a human problem.

Finally, in the third, Thor visits Heimdall on the rainbow bridge, since Heimdall can see the future as well. He tells her a story about a time during the earliest days of The Avengers when the Odinson sought him out, and asked him whether or not they should intervene in a war between Doctor Doom's Latveria and a neighboring country, based on his visions of the future. They decided to do so, and it didn't go all that well for them. Mark Waid and Adam Kubert do a kinda neat trick in this story, with the framing sequence told in normal fashion, but the entirety of the flashback being formatted sideways, so that a reader would need to turn the book and read it vertically rather than horizontally.

That accounts for the first 60 pages of the 112-page book. The rest? That would be the All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1, the one devoted to guest-creators illustrating Ms. Marvel's fan-fiction (and I don't know, maybe the table of contents and some pages of variant covers?). That's a fun issue, which I covered elsewhere previously.


All-New Wolverine Vol. 2: Civil War II*
By Tom Taylor, Marcio Takara, Ig Guara and others
144 pages; $19.99
Number of issues tied-to Civil War II:
Three out of six
Do the events demonstrate that Carol is wrong and Tony is right?: Yes
Side: Team Leave Us Out of It (after fighting against the forces of Team Carol)

The first issue herein is a rather unlikely team-up with Squirrel Girl, who shows up on the All-New Wolverine's doorstep in the middle of the night, holding an actual wolverine. His name is Jonathan, and Squirrel Girl thought he would be needed because she mistakenly thought that Wolverine could communicate with wolverines the way she communicates with squirrels. It was an honest mistake, and one that gives Laura and her little clone sister Gabby a pet wolverine.

Why is Squirrel Girl there at all? Well, it seems that Laura has "wronged the squirrel world," and S.G. wants her to make amends, so the two go off on an adventure to rescue a squirrel together. Though there's obviously a lot of silliness to it, writer Tom Taylor uses this issue to resolve the issue of whether Laura and Gabby are going to remain together or not, which ultimately allows him to demonstrate a way in which the all-new Wolverine is superior to the previous model...or at least trying to behave in the way she wished he had when he was still alive.

That's followed by two issues of Laura and Gabby going up against one of the greatest antagonists in the Marvel Universe: Mr. Fin Fang Foom. It seems things go wrong during the sale of a very mysterious, very deadly weapon of mass destruction, which turns out to be what Gabby repeatedly, alliteratively refers to as "Fin Fang Pheromone," a liquid capable of drawing FFF to a target.

Laura is recruited by SHIELD (and Gabby tags along) because the first Wolverine they sent in ended up in the belly of the beast. So Laura goes inside the giant dragon to rescue the older, futuristic, alternate dimensional version of the man she was cloned from, Logan from Old Man Logan.

Artist Marcio Takara has a really great panel set inside Fin Fang Foom, in which Laura, up to her knees in his stomach acid, strikes the same, somewhat iconic pose that the original Wolverine struck in that old issue of Uncanny X-Men, where he emerges from the sewer water and looks up, talking out loud to the not-present Hellfire Club about how they've taken their best shot and now he's gonna take his.

Captain Marvel Carol Danvers and Iron Man Tony Stark, both playing remarkably nice for two pals about to engage in a civil war in a month or so's time after the events of this story arc, arrive to help out, but ultimately the only way to save SHIELD's helicarrier and New York from the Fin Fang Pheromone-crazed Fin Fang Foom involves off-panel nudity and a jetpack. (Speaking of nudity, I notice Fin Fang Foom is going commando throughout this entire adventure. It may be more realistic for a giant, humanoid dragon monster to not wear giant tiny purple shorts, but it still looks off to me.)

Takara draws all three of these issues. That's followed by the Civil War II tie-in arc, drawn by pencil artist Ig Guara and three inkers. Old Man Logan has now joined the cast, having been dragged back to Laura and Gabby's apartment to recover from having his lower half skeletonized by his time being semi-digested in Fin Fang Foom's stomach acid (Miraculously, not only does his flesh grow back, but apparently his healing factor also regrew his jeans, boots and belt!).

The future-predicting Inhuman Ulysses has a vision in his office or cell or dark room at the Triskelion. Here's how he words it:
Wolverine. And an old man. A young girl. Flying through the air. And...I saw an angel? And screaming. And blood. A whole lot of blood.
Yeesh. Those little cryptic snippets are the basis upon which Captain Marvel and the other heroes siding with her take violent action, often against their peers? Seems a like playing the stock market or formulating national foreign policy based on Nostradamus or a few random verses of the Book of Revelation.

It's apparently enough for Maria Hill to mobilize a Captain America Steve Rogers-lead strike force to storm Laura's apartment and ask to detain The Notorious OML, on the belief that he's going to kill Gabby. Complicating matters further is the fact that he does kill Gabby in his own timeline, although as has been repeatedly established in his own book and the the X-books, his future is an alternate one, and things happen/happened/will happen quite differently in that world than they do/have/will in this one.

So the logistics of this story are really kind of a mess, with Captain America and SHIELD and OML all operating on visions and/or memories of the future, and fighting each other. Laura and Gabby are therefore caught in the middle of what has turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy (It turns out that if you expect Logan might commit a violent act upon those around him, sending a SHIELD SWAT team to fill him full of drug-tipped darts and a Captain America to smack him around and speechify might actually provoke him into violence, rather than deescalate the situation. Surely Team Carol will learn their lesson, and they won't make this exact same mistake over and over and over again!).

The arc ends with Laura telling Cap and SHIELD off, by essentially calling the entire premise of Civil War II idiotic, and forcefully saying she and Gabby would prefer to be left out of the rest of the crossover, thank you very much. Based on the logic of SHIELD here, it's hard to disagree; as with the original Civil War, one side is clearly being set-up as the wrong side, and there seems to be even fewer pains taken to articulate an argument for the Captain Marvel-lead side for acting in anyway that could conceivably be seen as "right," no matter how much one squints or tilts one's head (Interestingly, the original Civil War made Iron Man look like an evil and/or ignorant villain just prior to his big screen debut in his first film, while Civil War II is doing the same to Captain Marvel just prior to her big screen debut in her first film).

Which isn't to say there aren't moments in the arc. Burglars breaking into Laura's apartment, only to find Gabby, two Wolverines and an actual wolverine waiting for them was kind of funny, and Gabby calling Old Man Logan "her interdimensional dystopian future grandpa" was kind of cute. Taylor and his artistic collaborators continue to find the perfect balance between silly normal girl and usually hidden killer with Gabby, who is a fun character...except when that darkness slips out for a panel or two.


Captain America: Sam Wilson Vol. 3--Civil War II
By Nick Spencer, Daniel Acuna, Angel Unzueta, Cris Peter and others
112 pages; $15.99
Number of issues tied to Civil War II:
2 out of 5
Do the events demonstrate that Tony is right and Carol is wrong?: No
Side: Team Tony

Nick Spencer is a rather popular comic book writer to complain about these days, as a lot of folks seem to have very, very strong feelings about the current direction of the Captain America franchise, but often lost in those conversations is the fact that Nick Spencer is a very, very good comic book writer, and his Captain America comics, at least the Sam Wilson ones that I have read to date, have all been excellent ones.

The very thing that I've seen some readers complain about online, that Spencer's comics contain politics, is one of the things I like about them (and arguing that a comic book character who was created to argue a particular political position--that is, United States involvement in World War II--shouldn't be political is kind of idiotic). After all, it's not like Spencer is writing diatribes, or twisting the characters to suit transparent ideological positions of his that can't be sustained by the characters themselves. Or, worse, that his comics are boring. They're not. They're highly entertaining, they're incredibly engaging and, yes, they do deal with politics.

Superhero shared universes as old and as well-stocked as the Marvel Universe are, in fact, ideally suited to political comics. I mean, it's awfully helpful that if you're writing a pop culture narrative and you need a character to represent, say, black rage, there is already a pre-existing black character whose actual name is quite literally Rage. Short of political cartooning, wherein the artist might scrawl the word "Rage" across a character's chest in the tableau, you can't really beat that.

Like several other of the series mentioned in this particular post, Civil War II seemed to come up on Captain America: Sam Wilson awfully fast, as the book was still dealing with the fall-out of its previous storyline, a smaller-scale inter-book crossover, in the issue just before the Civil War II tying-in takes place. The first issue collected herein deals with Standoff fallout.

Two issues deal rather directly with Civil War II. The majority of #10 revolves around James Rhodes' funeral, with a kind of neat scene where Sam meets with many of Marvel's most prominent black superheroes: Sam's current girlfriend Misty Knight, Black Panther, Luke Cage, Storm, Doctor Voodoo, Spectrum and Nick Fury (Blade is busy but sends his regards, Nick Fury Jr. isn't sure if he should be there or not, considering how new he is at it). That's followed by Sam's eulogy, which touches on a fairly meta idea about the importance of a black man stepping into Iron Man's legacy (it was a relatively long time ago, in the comics, but Rhodes was Iron Man before he was War Machine), and he even discusses why Rhodes kept it secret at first.

It's a pretty good issue, all around, although because I call Mike Deodato out for it later, I will point out here that artist Angel Unzueta and colorist Cris Peter do a poor job on the crowd scenes at the church, rendering a weird, inorganic-looking mass of beige figures crowding the streets outside of the church and, worse, lining up a crowd of what look like golems or gingerbread mannequins in folding chairs behind the fully colored superheroes in one scene.

The following issue, the one in which Daniel Acuna takes over as artist (and sticks around for the rest of the collection), has both Iron Man and Captain Marvel making their respective pitches to Sam during different team-ups. Spencer has Sam see what Ulysses is doing for himself fairly quickly into the conversations, and he boils it down to a single thing a lot quicker than Bendis manages: It's profiling. He does allow Carol and Tony to both make convincing enough sounding arguments, though, and even allows Carol to say what sounds a bit like a right wing talking point regarding political correctness getting in the way of getting things done these days, but she's also allowed to be self-aware of it while making it: "So if I've gotta be the bad guy here, the one that takes the necessary but scorened action, fine--"

Sam's response?
I admire your spine, Carol. I really do. Even when I think your'e marching in the wrong direction--and I definitely think that's the case here.

But hey, if it's any comfort-- --I do hate being on his side.
And, to Tony, Sam flies away with an "Even when you're right, you're an $@#!"

The rest of the collection involves a private, over-zealous police force that seems to be a little too aggressive in its profiling of minorities, The Americops, and Rage and Sam's doomed attempt to try to find a middle-ground between the aggressive, profiling, militant police tactics and Rage's aggressive, vigilante violence. As is usually the case for poor Sam, it doesn't really work out well for him, and he ends up in a fight, and looking bad in the court of public opinion. His solution to that particular problem, which involves an appearance by Night Nurse, is to institute a sort of bird-powered superhero analogy to body cameras.

Also, USAgent appears to fight Sam and try to take back the shield, and after their fight scenes, which interrupt the other fight scenes, we see that something sinister and Secret Empire-y is apparently going on, but that's something for the next line-wide crossover.


Captain Marvel Vol. 2: Civil War II
By Ruth Fletcher Gage, Christos Gage, Kris Anka, Marco Failla and others
120 pages; $16.99
Number of issues tied to Civil War II:
5 of 5
Do the events demonstrate that Tony is right and Carol is wrong?: No (In fact, it does a lot of work to not make Carol look like a boorish lunatic)
Side: Team Carol (obviously)

If the choice between Captain Marvel Carol Danvers and Iron Man Tony Stark were to be made based solely on the quality of the collection of their series tied to Civil War II, then it's no contest: Team Carol all the way. I was actually pretty surprised by the quality of this book, which benefits from some great art by the like of Kris Anka and others, and by the extent to which it ties into the event series. While the majority of these issues take place in and around Carol's Alpha Flight base and her missions with Alpha Flight, during which she never encounters Tony or the majority of the superhuman community, it spans the story arc of the event series, from her spending time with the soon-to-be-late James Rhodes to her apparent post-Obama meeting in Civil War II #8.

It also manages to tell something of a distinct story of its own, complete with its own conflict and villain that runs parallel to the series in the sub-title, and that is based in the pre-existent elements of the book.

Part of the reason I was so surprised by the quality of this trade was my complete lack of interest in this particular Captain Marvel as a character (which is maybe Brian Michael Bendis' fault? I think he wrote the vast majority of Carol Danvers appearances I have read, mostly during the time she was still going by "Ms. Marvel") and her somewhat awkward current status quo, which seems to have appropriated elements of Canadian X-Men Alpha Flight and SWORD (introduced in Joss Whedon's short Astonishing X-Men run). As this collection is opening, she's repairing Alpha Flight Station, where Alpha Flight's Puck, Sasquatch and Aurora, SWORD's Abigail Brand and a bunch of no-name characters in matching Alpha Flight uniforms work with her as the first line of defense against hostile alien invaders.

She answers to what looks like a the ways and means committee of the Galactic Republic's senate from the Star Wars prequels, with holograms of various leaders from Earth and space appearing with their official-looking podiums in a big, black room to occasionally berate her. These include some dashing, handsome Canadian guy, long-time Marvel Universe bureaucrat Henry Gyrich and The Black Panther, who is also on Carol's superhero team, The Ultimates.

Again, that set-up isn't the least big appealing, but I'll be damned if the two people named Gage who write this book don't make it work, and do a damn fine job of showing Carol's reactions to the big events of Civil War II here in a way that seem organic to her worldview. They even do a pretty great job of showing Black Panther's evolving understanding of Ulysses and his visions, with T'Challa expressing his concerns to her fairly early, and Carol doing a great deal of work to address those concerns going forward, because she shares them (In the main series, of course, T'Challa pretty much just turns on a dime from Team Carol to Team Tony, and Carol is generally portrayed as completely uncaring of any potential downsides to policing the future based on the predictions of a new super-person).
One of Anka's consistently great covers
Despite the Anka's consistently great covers, which often depict Iron Man and other events from Civil War II, these issues stick mainly to their supporting cast. Various characters from Team Carol, particularly among The Ultimates and early allies that would later side with Tony like Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man Miles Morales, appear in very small roles, akin to cameos, basically. She has a long-ish talk with Hawkeye Clint Barton after having arrested him for killing Bruce Banner, and there's a scene where Magneto floats by to posture, but we don't see her ever come to blows with Iron Man here, or try to arrest Miles or any of that jazz.

Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man
By Christos Gage, Travel Foreman, Dan Slott and others
120 pages; $15.99
Number of issues tied to Civil War II:
4 of 6
Do the events demonstrate that Tony is right and Carol is wrong?: Sorta
Side: Team Carol

What side Spider-Man Peter Parker is on is actually kind of important, as he's one of the relatively few moral characters of the Marvel Universe, whose allegiances and alliances telegraph to readers who is right and who is wrong. That's why he played such an important role in the original Civil War; his switching from Iron Man's side to Captain America's being something of a turning point to signal that Tony Stark and company had finally crossed a line.

He was actually largely absent from the main Civil War II series, however. He gets a good zinger at Tony's expense in the first issue, and then seemingly sits the rest of the "war" out, watching the battle unfold on TV rather than participating (Nevertheless, Marvel put him on the cover of both the first issue and, weirdly, on the cover of Civil War II #4). So it's up to Gage to explain whose side Spidey is on and why, and he did so not in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, which apparently sold well enough that it didn't have to tie-in to the event, but in a stand-alone miniseries.

The series is set mainly in the earliest parts of the Civil War II timeline, apparently just after Ulysses moved in with The Inhumans. Spidey asks his best friend Johnny Storm, who lives with The Inhumans while Reed and Sue are enjoying their no doubt temporary retirement, if he can spend some time with Ulysses to get an idea of how his powers work. While showing Ulysses around Parker Industries' Manhattan HQ--Man, I haven't read ASM in so long, I didn't quite realize how hard they were pushing this Spider-Man-as-old school-Iron Man thing, complete with Spidey posing as Peter's employee--Ulysses has a vision, of Spider-Man fighting Clayton Cole, a former sound-based villain named Clash who is now a researcher at the company.

This naturally leads Spider-Man to start looking at Cole for warning signs, which just as naturally pushes him closer to climbing back into his old Clash suit to fight Spider-Man ("Oh, man," Spidey says to himself, "I did not just self-fulfilling-prophecy myself"). Gage does a pretty great job of writing Cole as a sympathetic character, spending the better part of an issue showing how he just can't get past his criminal past, which leads to the dissolution of a promising relationship, plus constant harping from his rather terrible-seeming parents and pressures from old associates from his life of crime. In fact, Gage probably does too good a job of making Cole sympathetic, as there were several scenes where I felt tempted to yell at the trade in my hands, and tell Spidey to back off. (Ultimately, Spider-Man makes the point that only Clash is responsible for Clash's actions...but readers see more than Spidey does and, to be honest, it's Peter Parker's decision to maintain a secret identity and to do it really, really poorly for someone who's had 10-20 years of practice, that pushes Cole away.)

As for the Civil War-ishness, Spidey spends some quality time with Ulysses, who oddly never changes clothes over the course of the days the story is set over (Actually, Ulysses is wearing a white t shirt in almost every single appearance in all of these books; I do hope he's got a closet full of white t shirts, and that he hasn't just refrained from changing clothes for, like, weeks), and gives both his and Peter Parker's diagnosis and allegiance to Captain Marvel. His experience in the preceding story would seem to have argued against doing so, but he seems convinced Ulysses can stop other peoples' Uncle Bens from getting killed, I guess, and thinks it's mostly a matter of Ulysses honing his powers and of Carol Danvers not abusing them.

Oddly, when Carol asks Spider-Man if she can count on him to fight when the fighting starts, he says she can, but when the fighting does start, this Spider-Man is taking a shower and watching Venom fight Miles Morales on the TV news.

In general, I'm not crazy about Travel Foreman's style, but I think it worked pretty well here, at least with the many talking scenes (the first action sequence, in which Spider-Man fights the, um, Vulturions, is kind of messy and hard to follow). And there are an awful lot of talking scenes. This is actually an all-around rather dramatic Spider-Man story. I kinda dig Clash's costume, too, which has a Spider-Mannishness to it, complete with the sort of "logo" that a kid might draw in his notebook at school.

After the conclusion of the mini-series, the book reprints 2014's Amazing Spider-Man #7 and #8 (from the previous volume of Amazing Spider-Man, not the current one; that was a whole reboot/re-numbering ago). A two-part Ms. Marvel crossover from around the time of the "Spider-Verse" event, I couldn't figure out why it was included here aside from the fact that it had Spider-Man in it and was scripted by Gage from a Dan Slott plot, until I got to the very end: That's when Spider-Man sees Clayton "Clash" Cole in action on the side of good, and Peter Parker gives him a job at Parker Industries.

The villain of those issues also shows up as an antagonist in the Captain Marvel collection discussed above, which was co-written by Gage.


Civil War II: X-Men
By Cullen Bunn, Andrea Broccardo, Gerry Conway and Mike Sekowsky
112 pages; $15.99
Number of issues tied to Civil War II:
4 of 5
Do the events demonstrate that Tony is right and Carol is wrong?: No
Side: Mostly Team Carol

In the pages of Civil War II, both sides of the conflict claim one of the two main X-Men teams as allies. Team Carol gets the team from Extraordinary X-Men (minus Old Man Logan and Nightcrawler, both of whom side with Iron Man), while Team Tony gets the team from All-New X-Men. What exactly drove each of these two teams of mutant superheroes to the particular faction they threw in with? Why did Logan abandon his team and take up claws against them? Why did teenage Iceman from the past side with Tony, while grown-up Iceman from the present side with Carol? These are some of the questions I wondered after, and expected to find answered in this four-issue miniseries devoted to the X-Men's role in the so-called civil war.

They aren't.

In fact, the All-New X-Men characters don't appear in this series at all, which instead focuses on the Extraordinary team's differences with the Uncanny X-Men, lead by Magneto (remember, this was an X-Men franchise relaunch ago, so the various team line-ups and titles have been scrambled yet again). At the time, they were the tertiary X-Men team, their relative lack of importance in the Marvel Universe apparent from the fact that none of them even appear in the pages of Civil War II proper.

While the series does indeed feature X-Men in conflict with one another, it is really more about the mutants' ongoing conflict with the Inhumans, which would see resolution in one of Marvel's smaller, franchise-specific events: Inhumans Vs. X-Men.

Writer Cullen Bunn opens with a sort of "Masque of the Red Death" riff, in which rich mutants seal themselves in a fancy air-tight party tower as the wandering Terrigen Mist cloud is about to wash over Dubai. Magneto's X-Men team--Psylocke, Sabertooth and M--force their way in and force them to take in all of the city's mutants, but an attack by a new(-ish?) form of Sentinels exposes them all to danger, until Storm's X-Men show up to save the day (These are Grown-up Iceman, Old Man Logan, Teenage Jean Grey, Magik and Nightcrawler). How did they know to show up when they did? Ulysses.

Magneto isn't happy about the fact that the Inhumans have a powerful weapon like Ulysses in their arsenal, since Marvel has set up this weird existential conflict between the Inhumans and the X-Men centering around the aforementioned cloud that doesn't make a lick of sense if you stop to think about it, which one is forced to do when reading about it, which is, like, all the time in X-Men comics, and certainly here.

Storm is worried Magneto is going to do something stupid, like kidnap or assassinate Ulysses, and thu spark a war with the Inhumans prior to the release of Inhumans Vs. X-Men #1, and there's your conflict: Uncanny X-Men vs. Extraordinary X-Men over whether it's cool that Ulysses is foretelling the future, framed through the perspective of mutant/Inhuman race relations and the profiling of Magneto based on his past as a supervillain (Bunn uses the word "profiling" a lot, and seems to have gotten the memo that it was the subject of Civil War II; it's played with in several ways, not just in profiling the future, but also in profiling characters based on their past actions or, in Nightcrawler's view, the way God and the universe operate).

The miniseries is mainly a series of rapidly escalating skirmishes between the two teams, ending with Magneto facing Ulysess, the two factions of mutants on his heels, only to be shown a vision that if he proceeds, the mutants will end up killing one another. There are a couple of surprises, like Nightcrawler abandoning Storm to side with Magneto (which maybe kinda sorta explains why he's on Team Tony, although Storm takes him back before this story is over), Psylocke abandoning Magneto to side with Storm and Rachel Grey being recruited to fill-in for her since I guess every X-Men team needs a psychic...?

I liked the Fantomex vs. Gambit fight and the pair's later encounters, as I kinda like both of those long-coated, sneaky mutants, and I don't think I've seen them sharing scenes before.

Bunn introduces the characters by labeling them upon first appearance (in each issue), which is no doubt handy, given how many damn characters there are and how the bi-annual relaunches are making it harder than ever to be able to keep up with Marvel's merry mutants. It really drew attention to the fact that they keep calling the Logan from the pages of Old Man Logan "Old Man Logan" instead of just "Logan." I guess he doesn't want to be called "Wolverine" anymore, which is fine, whatever, but why is his, like, official superhero name Old Man Logan? They don't call Steve Rogers "Old Man Steve"...

Broccardo's artwork is fine, but terribly unremarkable. Which is still far better than bad.

Overall, the series is kind of a letdown, but then that's mainly because it doesn't do what a reader of Civil War II might want an X-Men tie-in comic to actually do. Of course, since Bunn was crafting his story somewhat independently of Brian Michael Bendis, and at the same time Bendis was working on the main series, he probably only knew the outlines of Civil War II, and not which mutants would actually show up in it...that, or he wanted to involve Magneto's team while connecting this tie-in to the future of the franchise, and this was the way to do it.

The 80-page story is followed up by a reprint of a "Black Bolt and The Inhumans" feature from 1971's Amazing Adventures #9, by Gerry Conway, Mike Sekowsky and Bill Everett. Its relevance? Well, it has Magneto in it, I guess...? Visually, it's a stark reminder of how damn weird the Inhumans used to be in their original, Jack Kirby designs, and how the flatter, more garishly-colored comics of that era accentuated their somewhat monstrous and, well, inhuman qualities. It also reminded me that Gorgon existed; I haven't seen him in any of the many modern Inhuman appearances. I assume he died at some point, but I don't really care enough to look it up.


Invincible Iron Man Vol. 3: Civil War II
By Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Deodato, Mark Bagley and others
144 pages; $24.99
Number of issues tied-to Civil War II:
3 out of 6
Do the events demonstrate that Carol is wrong and Tony is right?: Yes
Side: Team Tony (obviously)

Well this took some balls. This 144-page, $24.99 hardcover collection includes just three issues of the title comic book, the back half of the book filled with fairly random filler in the form of 2008's Mighty Avengers #9-11, issues that are only connected to the first half of the book by the fact that they are comics scripted by Bendis that also feature Iron Man, Doctor Doom and Carol Danvers. This then is an instance when waiting to buy a trade of an over-priced $3.99 comic is actually more expensive, as it only would have cost you $11.97 to buy the serially-published issues of Invincible Iron Man collected herein.

Of course, those issues--Invincible Iron Man #12-#14--were the only issues left in the series before it was relaunched with the same writer but a new number one, and I suppose it must have made sense in someone's head to collect the last issues of Invincible Iron Man (volume two) and the first issues of Invincible Iron Man (volume three) in different collections, but it sure looks like a terrible idea in retrospect. Marvel really should have collected these issues with the preceding collection, War Machines, or waited until they had two or three issues of the relaunched Invincible Iron Man to fill this out.

Because really, I don't know how a reader could plunk down $25 for this thing and not feel ripped off.

As for the relevant issues, the first opens with Tony Stark sitting on the ruins of Stark Tower, eating a sandwich. Apparently, someone knocked the tower down at some point, but I'll be damned if I can figure out where. Double-checking Civil War II, in the second issue of the miniseries The Inhumans arrive there with the intention of toppling it after Iron Man abducted Ulysses from New Attillan, but Carol, some superheroes and SHIELD show up to stop them from doing so, but in #5, the issue containing the civil battle, Iron Man tells Karnak, "I'm glad to see you...I have the bill for the building you tore down." The rest of that issue and the next then flash back to Tony trying to explain the fact that he faked his own death in War Machines to the relevant people, his learning of James Rhodes' death, a flashback to a time when Rhodes was still alive and then missing the funeral, which Deodato draws in extreme longshot, using some kind of weird computer effect to fill out the crowd.

The final issue has Tony, an alcoholic, deciding he needs a meeting, so he puts on his disguise of a generic, boxy baseball cap, a jacket and sunglasses and goes to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. By coincidence, you know who else shows up? Carol Danvers, also in a generic, boxy baseball cap, a jacket and sunglasses! I...didn't even know that Carol Danvers was an alcoholic, nor that Tony was her sponsor. This leads to an eight-page conversation between the pair outside of the church the meeting was occurring in, where Bendis gives them one last opportunity to talk things out like grown-up human beings before he has Carol pretty much murder him in the climax of Civil War II (Oh, um, spoiler alert? Don't worry; he's not dead, just in some weird coma-like state he apparently planned for so Riri Williams can be Iron Man for a while).

It might be something of a poignant end, were it not for how much of those three issues if focused on wrapping up Bendis' apparently aborted plans for this particular volume of his Iron Man run/s and the fact that someone--he, himself?--decided to launch Civil War II before his Iron Man storyline had really run its course.

Well, that and the fact that it is immediately followed by an nine-year-old story arc with next to no relevance, other than the vague reasons I had previously mentioned (and, perhaps, it came from a status quo following the original Civil War, the one in which Tony was the bad guy. He is, after all, leading the/a Mighty Avengers team against the/a New Avengers team, something Luke Cage flashes back to as an example of how sick of fighting friends he is in the pages of Power Man and Iron Fist, discussed below).


New Avengers Vol. 3: Civil War II
By Al Ewing, Paco Medina, Jan Vlasco, Carlo Barberi and others
160 pages; $19.99
Number of issues tied to Civil War II:
I'll say 6 of 6...but it's a pretty loose connection, with no bearing on the Civil War II sries
Do the events demonstrate that Carol is wrong and Tony is right?: Not really
Side: Neutral-ish

It's kind of odd that this collection is sub-titled "Civil War II," given that the actual story arc filling its pages is given the more accurate (if perhaps less marketable seeming) title of "AIM Vs. SHIELD." And writer Al Ewing does seem far more interested in continuing his own storyline, which followed Roberto "Sunspot" Da Costa from the end of Jonathan Hickman's run on Avengers/New Avengers, wherein Da Costa bought AIM and transformed it into Avengers Idea Mechanics, an mostly autonomous nation state fusing good guy superheroics with bad guy mad science to make the world a better place.

This volume serves as the climax to his 18-issue, three collections-longn run, in which Da Costa's AIM fights against both Ultimate Reed Richards' WHISPER and his New Revengers and SHIELD (particularly a faction lead by an a-hole Agent John Garrett). It is actually kinda difficult to review-review this volume, given that one of the great pleasures of it is how much work Ewing put into the plotting, so there are plenty of surprises and reversals in it, the spoiling of which would actually spoil them.

Luckily, I can just stick to the Civil War II-ish aspects for the purposes of these few paragraphs.

In the first of the issues contained herein, the "public" New Avengers, the ones who didn't turn on SHIELD and the U.S. government in the previous collection (and the Standoff tie-in), are shown participating in the battle against the Celestial Destructor: Hawkeye Clint Barton, Hulkling, Squirrel Girl and, of course, Wiccan, whose role in the battle was also depicted in Civil War II proper.

By the second issue, Clint is in jail over shooting Bruce Banner to death, and there's a Ulysses vision of Songbird speaking at Roberto's funeral factored in. But mostly, it's a big-ass fight between the New Avengers' huge, diverse cast of mostly weird heroes, Evil Richards' new team of similarly weird and even more obscure villains and lots and lots of Dum Dum Dugan Life Model Decoys lead by Garrett.

It reads surprisingly well on its own, discrete from either Civil War II or the previous two trades, and though Ewing does get to put some punctuation on his run, it will continue, albeit into a new title, making following it in the future...difficult, to say the least (U.S.Avengers, which may not be long for this world; it's solicited through at least its ninth issue, but according to the most recent sales estimates I've seen, it dipped below 20K almost immediately upon launch)


Power Man and Iron Fist Vol. 2: Civil War II
By David F. Walker, Flaviano, Sanford Greene, Scott Hepburn and others
Number of issues tied to Civil War II:
4 out of 5
Do the events demonstrate that Carol is wrong and Tony is right?: Yes
Side: Team Leave Us Out of It (although a confusing flashback in Civil War II implies Luke and Danny were working with Carol prior to the trial of Clint Barton, while Luke joins Team Tony by Civil War II #4)

This arc is bad, but it's still fun, and maybe as good as a tie-in to such a dumb event series could be if it really did try to honestly engage with the event instead of simply side-stepping it as fast as possible. Walker writes these characters extremely well, and has a lot of fun with Luke's refusal to swear and in recovering the often very goofy characters from Cage's deep past, and other failed or half-forgotten street-level characters from Marvel's past, and reintroducing them, often portraying their past portrayals as youthful indiscretions, or perhaps trying to be something they weren't...or, in at least one case, trying to hang on to something they never were in the first place.

The artwork by Flavianao and Sanford Green is great, and I could look at those two guys' drawings of the two guys in the title all damn day; I particularly like, as I believe I mentioned when discussing the first volume, how huge this Luke Cage is drawn, in relation to Danny, Jessica, Danielle and the whole world around him. He's a literally bigger-than-life character.

Walker's way of dealing with the Civil War II plot is interesting, and I find myself wondering whether the plot for this arc, which isn't quite concluded in this volume, is one he would have written anyway, and he was just forced to fold Carol Danvers in, or if his non-Civil War II plot was an intentional echo of Civil War II, inspired by its plot.

After Luke Cage, Danny Rand, Jessica Jones see news footage of the battle with Thanos that took place in Free Comic Book Day 2016 and ended with War Machine James Rhodes dead and She-Hulk in a coma, and the two heroes attempt to visit Shulkie at the Triskelion but are turned away. They are warmly greeted by Carol, however, who then asks if they can give her a minute of their time so she can explain what's going on.

Jump to the two of them walking to their car, reiterating that Civil War II is dumb and they hope they can avoid being in it (they can't!).

"What was all that 'predictive justice' stuff Carol was talking about?" Danny yells. "Sounded like a bunch of fiddle-faddle to me," Luke says, and they agree to sit this one out, as they are also sick of hero vs. hero fights. On a two-page spread, between two tiers of them talking about it, there's a nice big spread of the Luke Cage-lead Avengers (from the second volume of the Bendis-written New Avengers, I want to say) fighting the Carol Danvers and Iron Man-lead Avengers (from the pages of the Bendis-written Mighty Avengers). Cage, who sided with Captain America in the pages of the first Civil War, was basically in a kinda cold war with the government-sanctioned Avengers between the end of Civil War and the post-Secret Invasion "Heroic Age," I think.

Walker then returns to matters related to his book, as a bunch of reformed criminals and their family members attempt to hire the Heroes For Hire to find a bunch of ex-cons who have since gone straight but disappeared shortly after encountering a group of mysterious vigilantes. And then those vigilantes attack! Followed by the police!

This ends with Danny Rand in jail for assaulting some officers, where he tries to figure out the disappearances. Many of those who have disappeared are also in jail there, and they ended up there without officially being charged or getting trials. Outside prison, Luke calls in favors from many friends to try to figure out the one clue they have, a mysterious device that mixes facial recognition software with the ability to manipulate and falsify criminal records. This is what the vigilantes were doing to bust their victims.

So you can see how this thematically kinda sorta ties in to Civil War II, as innocent--or at least innocent-until-proven-guilty--people are being attacked, arrested and punished for crimes they didn't actually commit. Civil War II comes back to the fore when Ulysses--the prophesying Inhuman that Carol Danvers is using to predict possible future crimes to prevent before they happen--has a vision of Luke Cage leading a break-in at Ryker's to free the incarcerated Danny.

In fact, a confused and frustrated Cage calls Songbird and Centurius to join him as he looks at Ryker's, in the hopes that they can talk him out of doing something stupid and figure out this whole mess, and then "Sweet Christmas, Easter and Hanukkah," in swoop Danvers, Mockingbird, Puck, Spectrum, Storm, Deathlok and a whole bunch of SHIELD troops. They are there to stop Ulysses' vision from coming to pass by arresting Luke first and, just as in Agents of SHIELD and All-New Wolverine, Carol's intervention is exactly what causes the vision to come to pass (slow learner, I guess).

There's a lot of fighting between all parties. I particularly liked the fight-then-team-up sequences involving Mockingbird, who Walker writes close enough to Chelsea Cain that she sounds like the same character, and Songbird, because they have similar names. And I'm always calling Songbird Mockingbird by accident.

It ends with Cage making a couple of speeches in Carol's direction, and then Danny making another one, and she's eventually shamed into dropping it and they help round up the prisoners and clean up the jail. As for the A-plot, which becomes the B-plot, Luke's team is just about to crack where the doohickey being used to find and incarcerate people came from, when a very powerful person in a hoodie teleports to his safehouse and steals it from the hands of his allies.

The rest of the collection is devoted to Sweet Christmas Annual #1, in which Walker and artist Scott Hepburn creates a Christmas Even story involving Luke, Danny, Danielle, Spider-Woman Jessica Drew and her baby,The Son of Satan, The Krampus and Santa Claus. If you haen't read it yet, chances are it is every bit as awesome as you are imagining it to be right now, based simply on the guest-stars appearing in it.


Rocket Raccoon and Groot Vol. 2: Civil War II
By Nick Kocher, Michael Walsh, Bill Mantlo, Al Milgrom and others
112 pages; $15.99
Number of issues tied-to Civil War II:
3 out of 5
Do the events demonstrate that Carol is wrong and Tony is right?: No
Side: Team Carol

The Civil War II tie-in arc in this collection is book-ended by two comics. The second is a reprint of 1981's Incredible Hulk #271 by Bill Mantlo, Al Milgrom and company, included because it is the first appearance of Rocket Raccoon...and, one suspects, to act as filler. The first is Rocket Raccoon and Groot #7, a done-in-one story by the title's regular creative team of writer Nick Kocher, artist Michael Walsh and co-inker Josh Hixson. That's the issue the cover of the collection came from; that's not James Rhodes' or Bruce Banner's grave they are looking down on there.

I was really quite struck by how stand-alone that first issue was, and how purely comedic it was. Yes, it starred two Marvel characters of a rather high-degree of popularity at the moment, but it was otherwise pretty far removed from the Marvel Universe, lacking in the familiar settings (being in outer space and all) and guest-stars, villains and other Marvel Comics building blocks that generally show up in the publisher's other comedy-focused series, like Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat and the the recently canceled Howard The Duck. The mode was, additionally, comic in a way that is unusual for Marvel. Unlike the above-mentioned series or, say, a Deadpool comic, it wasn't superhero comedy so much as just comedy.

For the three-issue Civil War II tie-in, the book takes on the more standard superhero comedy set in the Marvel Universe shape, opening with Rocket and Groot in a big meeting with the rest of Team Carol, in which Captain Marvel is doling out various assignments for her predictive justice enforcement (the scene is somewhat at odds with the events of Civil War II, where the pair appear with the rest of the Guardians as a sort of ace-in-the-hole during the one scene in which Team Carol and Team Tony actually come to blows, but given the nature of this book, that's more than forgivable).

Rocket volunteers himself and Groot for a minor assignment (a baby powder robbery in Georgia), and while Captain Marvel knows its for a sneaky, self-serving reason, she lets them go, because it's just Rocket Raccoon and Groot, after all. That sneaky, self-serving reason? Rocket is in pursuit of a bounty he missed a few years ago. Unfortunately for him/fortunately for us, Gwenpool is also in pursuit of the same bounty, and thus it's Rocket and Groot vs. Gwenpool.

This was my first exposure to Gwenpool, but as you may already be aware, her whole deal is that she breaks the fourth wall, like, constantly; she's a comic book character who knows she's a comic book character in a comic book. That means she's constantly talking directly to the readers, which of course is interpreted by all the other comics characters as her being even more completely insane than her namesake.

I don't know how this works in her own book or other appearances, but writer Nick Kocher has a lot of fun with her, and she's pretty perfect for a crossover "tie-in," like this, as she knows how those things work. Since she, Rocket and Groot and lower-tier characters, they are in greater danger of being killed off than anyone else, so the further they stay away from the conflict in New York, the better. When their little side quest leads to a plot from an alien villain to kill Carol, she insists Carol is going to be okay, as it's not like they are going to kill her off in this book instead of Civil War II, and, besides, Kocher wouldn't have the authority at Marvel to kill off Captain Marvel anyway, that would take a writer of Brian Michael Bendis' stature.

At which point in her expanation, Gwenpool sees Kitty Pryde walk by and, when she asks what she's doing there, Kitty confesses she actually has no idea. So maybe it is a Bendis book, after all?

Like the done-in-one that precedes it, it's a pretty fun little story, and Kocher gets some good zingers in. Michael Walsh's art is refreshingly un-Marvelous, too. This book very much resembles an "indie" book in its look, which certainly works to its advantage for sequences like the one in which a grenade hits Gwenpool, shredding her clothes, but leaving the "R-rated" parts covered. She uses this as evidence that she is, in fact, in a comic book, and Walsh's particular style makes it about as un-sexy as it can be, allowing for a joke that would normally be accompanied by cheesecake without any sort of exploitation (Whether or not that's a good thing will depend on the reader, of course, but it's an example of the style draining the book of the expected superhero aesthetic).

To call the book a Civil War II tie-in is a big, long, hard stretch, especially given that they used Civil War II as the sub-title, but it's an enjoyable book on its own
          Nouvelle Publication: AfPak et Terrorisme en Europe        
Suite à la publication du rapport annuel d'Europol dont j'ai déjà fait écho dans ce blog, je viens également de publier un article dans Terrorism Monitor (nouveau format et nouveau rythme pour cette publication de référence dans le domaine) qui tente d'ébaucher le lien existant entre la menace terroriste en Europe, et l'AfPak. Plus exactement, je souligne le fossé qui peut exister entre la vision américaine ou britannique des opérations en Afghanistan (être là-bas pour assurer notre sécurité ici) et la vision européenne (présence en Afghanistan minimale par simple solidarité atlantiste).

Europol Report Describes Afghanistan-Pakistan Connection to Trends in European Terrorism
By: Thomas Renard

Terrorist activities within the European Union (EU) declined in 2008 as compared to the previous year, according to the annual report published by Europol, the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency. [1] The report lists 515 failed, foiled or successful attacks reported by EU member states, a decrease from 583 attacks in 2007 but still higher than the 2006 total. The decline in terrorist activities was also observed geographically, with only seven member states reporting attacks, two less than in 2007 and four less than in 2006. There were 1009 individuals arrested last year in relation to terrorism activities, a several percent decline in comparison to 2007. Nevertheless, despite an undisputable decline, the threat of terrorism to the EU “remains high,” according to Europol deputy director Mariano Simancas (AFP, April 17).

The Varieties of Terrorism

The terrorist threat to Europe encompasses many different forms of terrorism, from left-wing to right-wing extremism, jihadi activities, ethno-separatism, and single issue terrorism. Each form of political violence saw a decline in 2008, with the notable exception of left-wing terrorism, which increased by 25 percent. Left-wing and anarchist extremists remained operational in Greece, Spain and Italy. In addition, French intelligence warned of a “resurgence” of left-wing terrorism which was confirmed by 37 arrests in 2008, significantly more than in any other European country over the last three years (Nouvel Observateur, November 25, 2008).

Separatist terrorists remained by far the most active in Europe. They carried out a total of 397 attacks in 2008, of which 98 percent took place in France and Spain, causing the deaths of four people. The number of attacks decreased by 25 percent in comparison to 2007, mainly due to a relative lull in activity by the Fronte di Liberazione Naziunale di a Corsica (FLNC). In Spain, the Basque separatist organization Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) is thought to be encountering difficulties. The group was weakened by the arrests of three successive military leaders in the last six months, the latest being the arrest of Jurdan Martitegi (El País [Madrid], April 18). The Europol report notes that the growing use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by the ETA, a trend that started in 2007, indicates that it is “encountering increasing difficulties in the acquisition of commercial explosives.”

The Islamist Threat to Europe

In most European countries, however, Islamist terrorism continues to be seen as the biggest threat to security because it attempts to cause mass casualties whereas ethno-separatist terrorism generally targets material symbols rather than individuals or groups. EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove recently said; “The [European] intelligence community considers that the al-Qaeda related threat is still severe and that it is still the main threat to Europe and its internal security” (EuroparlTV, February 2).

There was only one attack in Europe attributable to Islamist terrorism in 2008, when 22-year old Muslim convert Nicky Reilly attempted to detonate a homemade bomb in a shopping mall restaurant in Exeter, South-West England, but injured only himself. Reilly is mentally ill and highly vulnerable. He apparently self-radicalized through the internet, although he had also been in contact with radical Muslims. He was jailed for life in January 2009 (Times, January 31).

In 2008, excluding the United Kingdom, 187 individuals were arrested on suspicion of involvement in Islamist terrorism, mainly in France and Spain. [2] This represents a decrease of 7 percent as compared to 2007, and an even greater decrease as compared to 2006. This continuous decrease in the number of arrests seems to indicate a relative diminution of jihadi activities in Europe, although including statistics from the UK would likely lead to a slightly less optimistic conclusion. The number of member states which reported arrests related to Islamist terrorism also decreased from 14 in 2007 to 10 in 2008. The majority of these arrested individuals came from North African countries.

For its part, the UK indicated to Europol that it arrested 256 people in relation to terrorism without providing specific details relative to the distribution of these arrests among the different forms of terrorism. However, given the level of jihadi activism in Great Britain, it can be assumed that a significant share of these arrests was related to Islamist terrorism. The 256 arrests in the UK was an increase in comparison to 2007 (201) and 2006 (156).

Two thirds of arrested individuals could not be linked to organizations known by the authorities and belonged instead to small autonomous cells. This fact seems to confirm the growing threat of self-radicalization and homegrown terrorism that Europe is facing. Part of the explanation for this shift in the radicalization pattern lies in the increasing quantity and quality of Islamist propaganda in Europe. Indeed, there is an increasing number of radical Islamist websites and forums in European languages indicating, according to Europol, an expansion of jihadi propaganda efforts to reach specific audiences. This phenomenon has been observed in Germany, for instance, with messages and videos, including calls for attacks and instructions for the building of bombs, posted directly in German or in Arabic with German subtitles (see Terrorism Focus, February 20, 2008).

Terrorist Recruitment in Europe

In its report, Europol states that “Islamist recruitment activities have largely been driven underground. Radicalization activities are noted to have moved from mosques and other public places into private spaces.” Jihadi forums constitute the archetype of such “underground” and “private spaces”. The internet can also be used as a resource-tool for jihadi training, as in the case of Britain’s Nicky Reilly.

Nevertheless, the internet has not yet replaced real-life interactions regarding radicalization, recruitment and military training, but should rather be seen as a complement or a substitute. A very good illustration of this was provided by the December 11, 2008 arrests in Belgium. [3] While some members of the cell entered into contact with Malika el-Aroud (the wife of the cell’s leader, Moez Garsallaoui), through her French-language jihadi website, “SOS Minbar,” Garsallaoui was recruiting young Muslims in person in the streets and mosques of Brussels. Through the website, a “dialogue” was established with some subscribers which could lead to a meeting with Garsallaoui. Once recruited, members were sent to the tribal areas in Pakistan, where they received religious and military training, followed by a “jihadi exposure,” i.e. following fighters to the warzone without having the authorization to take part in the fight. Eventually, members of the cell were ordered to return to Belgium to establish a sleeper cell.

The Afghanistan-Pakistan Connection

The Belgian cell illustrates another major problem, which is the connection between the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and the terrorist threat in Europe. Indeed, as the report states, “Afghanistan and Pakistan seem to have replaced Iraq as preferred destinations for volunteers wishing to engage in armed conflicts.” These recruits pose a threat to European troops deployed in Afghanistan. Germany, for instance, is particularly worried about the presence of several of its citizens (most notably Eric Breininger) in the region who are allegedly plotting operations against German troops (see Terrorism Focus, January 28).

When fighters return – such as members of the Belgian cell, or members of the Sauerland cell in Germany – they pose a direct threat to European security. As expressed by U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, “the primary threat from Europe-based extremists stems from al-Qaeda and Sunni affiliates who return from training in Pakistan to conduct attacks in Europe or the United States.” [4]

Although most European countries recognize that Afghanistan and Pakistan constitute a threat to their security, they generally tend to see the military operations in Afghanistan more as a part of the problem than as a part of the solution. Mirroring this point of view, the Europol report states that “a number of member states judge that they continue to face a high-level threat from Islamist terrorism for reasons that include [a] military presence in Iraq or Afghanistan,” but nowhere does the report mention the fact that European military and civilian missions in conflict zones could help strengthen EU homeland security.

Last month, however, the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, announced a new three-year, €225 million program aimed at combating terrorism and the trafficking of WMDs (AFP, April 17). This program will focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan, which are described as “bases for radicalization and terrorist training,” as well as the Sahel region where the threat is “growing”. In both regions, the program proposes to support the establishment of anti-terrorism structures, the formation of competent authorities, and the development of regional cooperation. Nevertheless, with only a few details of the plan available, it is not yet possible to assess whether this program inextricably links stability in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region with European security, or whether it is more a program destined to compensate for European lack of commitment to the mission or prepare for a future disengagement from Afghanistan.

Conclusion

The terrorist threat in Europe remains high, although statistics show a certain decline in terrorist activities. One should be careful, however, when interpreting these statistics because the lack of details from the UK data could be misleading and also because the year 2007 saw a dramatic increase in terrorist activities, meaning that last year’s decline could merely be a return to “normality.” Although separatist terrorism is statistically much more significant, Islamist terrorists are still seen as the biggest threat to Europe given that most of their plots involve mass-killings. Today’s threat is tightly related to the situation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Nevertheless, most EU member states believe their presence in Afghanistan is more a cause of terrorism in Europe than a remedy for it.

Notes:

1. “TE-SAT 2009 – EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report”, Europol, April 2009.
2. The statistics given to Europol by the UK contained for the first time numbers from Northern Ireland and are therefore not comparable with previous years. Moreover, the UK sends only one global number for attacks and arrests, but does not provide the specific distribution among the different forms of terrorism, rendering it harder to draw conclusions based on statistics.
3. Paul Cruickshank, “The 2008 Belgium Cell and FATA’s Terrorist Pipeline,” CTC Sentinel, April 2009.
4. Dennis C. Blair, “Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,” U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, February 12, 2009.

Lien vers l'article paru dans Terrorism Monitor le 8 mai 2009.

          Hobby Time Questions To Ask People Over Text: Best 50 Questions For Interesting Chat        
A collection of best hobby time questions to ask people while texting with your interesting people, best people and best natured people. Let everyone know how much hobby time question for text chat is important to your whatsapp, Facebook and social messenger chats. You can also ask these hobby time friendly questions to your boyfriend, girlfriend, him and her. These hobby time question make your chat to very interesting conversation.  Our best supporter in entire world is our best people so question your best people and make the moments wonderful. The following questions to ask a friend you like, can be asked through chat conversations or as text messages. Some question, they can unlock some secrets of people. Ask open questions that strengthen your bond faster while ask over text. These questions include some good things to ask while texting.


1. If you could change 4 things in the world, what would they be?
2. If you could change anything about you or your life, what would you change now?
3. What's the biggest personal change you've ever made?
4. What's your favorite dessert?
5. When do you feel best? In the morning, afternoon, or evening?
6. Where do you visualize yourself in 5 years, 10 years?
7. Do you prefer to spend more time with your SO, family, or friends? Why?
8. Favorite age you've been so far?
9. Favorite Thing To Spend Money On?
10. Has there ever been any situation because of which you’ve had to take anti-depressants or any similar medication?
11. How do you feel about cars becoming fully autonomous and having no steering wheel, breaks, or accelerators?
12. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
13. How much do you change when you know no one is around?
14. How much have you changed in the past year?
15. If there is one thing about your country that you could change, what would it be and why?
16. If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why?
17. If you could change 3 things about your country, what would you change?
18. What is your favorite cheese?
19. What is your favorite ring on your phone?
20. If you could read minds, whose would you want to read?
21. What would you like to change about yourself?
22. If you could change one thing about your physical appearance what would it be and why?
23. If you could change one thing in your past, what would you change?
24. If you could change your name to anything in the world, what would you change it to?
25. What’s your favorite movie to watch over and over again?
26. What’s your favorite scene in a movie?
27. Which store has the best shopping: Wal-Mart, Target or Kmart?
28. Who is the most impressive famous person alive today? Why?
29. Would you rather have a very long (120 years) comfortable but boring life, or live half as long but have an exciting life packed with adventure?
30. Do You Like Kids?
31. Do you like rainy days or snowy winter days more?
32. If you have to choose a movie title for your life story, what would that title be?
33. If you were president, what is the first thing you would do?
34. Name 3 things in nature you find most beautiful?
35. Name a movie or movies you can watch over and over?
36. Name your 5 favorite foods?
37. If you had just 5 minutes left to live, what would you do?
38. If you had thirty minutes a day to do anything you wanted, what would you do? Why?
39. If you had to change one thing about yourself, what would you pick?
40. If you had to choose between money, fame and freedom; what would you choose and why?
41. If you had to live in the arctic what kind of an animal would you be?
42. If you had to choose a new name for yourself, what would it be and why?
43. What Are Your Favorite Beverages?
44. What body part would you change on yourself if you could?
45. If you could relive the last five years of your life, what would you change?
46. If you could slow down time, what would you do with that power?
47. If you found someone's wallet and there was a fifty dollar bill inside, what would you do with it?
48. What song always makes you happy when you hear it?
49. What types of movies do you enjoy?
50. What would you like to change about myself?


Hopefully, hobby time question to ask people can useful to you and questions may satisfy and flexible with your whatsapp and Facebook chat message.



          Fruit harvesters        
Looking for fit, motivated, enthusiastic individuals who enjoy working outdoors to harvest tomatoes.  Must be able to work in a team but can also work autonomously if required.  Able to work long hours if required.. &nbsp; Kindly apply only v
          Class 10th NCERT Solutions – Their Importance!        

Class 10th NCERT Solutions The NCERT is the National Council of Educational Research and Training. It is an autonomous government organization. The prime function of this organization is to assist and advise central and state schools on specific academic matters. No matter how bad your boss, he’s got his own boss too. Much like that, […]

The post Class 10th NCERT Solutions – Their Importance! appeared first on Toppr Bytes.


          IIT Mandi: All you Need to Know!        

Indian Institute of Technology Mandi (IIT Mandi) is an autonomous premier Engineering and Technology University located in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. It is one of the eight new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) established by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India under The Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Act, 2011 which declares these eight […]

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          Denmark stakes claim to oil-rich North Pole        
Denmark submitted a claim to the North Pole to the United Nations on Monday, asserting that the underwater Lomonosov Ridge connects to Greenland, its protected territory and qualifies the European nation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Courtesy NOAA

Denmark submitted a claim to the North Pole to the United Nations on Monday, asserting that the underwater Lomonosov Ridge connects to Greenland, its protected territory. Courtesy NOAA

Denmark has claimed the North Pole. On Monday, the European nation delivered an official claim to a United Nations council in New York, part of a the race to own the Arctic that includes Norway, Canada and Russia.

Five nations including Denmark, the U.S., Canada, Russia and Norway are vying for claim over the North Pole. At present, all five countries’ claims to the Arctic Circle end approximately 200 nautical miles off their shorelines. These countries have been diligently mapping the ocean floor over the past decade to solidify their claims to the North Pole.

Each country must submit a claim to the Arctic within ten years of ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The United Nations considers claims based on the extent of the continental shelf from the nation’s coast.

But early data suggests that Greenland, a Danish autonomous territory, may give Denmark the strongest claim to the North Pole. A study found that Lomonosov Ridge, a 1,118 mile-long underwater mountain range that extends off the coast of Canada to the waters above eastern Siberia, is connected to Greenland. This would make approximately 347,492 square miles of ocean off the coast of Greenland Danish territory.

“The submission of our claim to the continental shelf north of Greenland is a historic and important milestone for the Kingdom of Denmark. The objective of this huge project is to define the outer limits of our continental shelf and thereby – ultimately – of the Kingdom of Denmark. It has been a process characterised by the very good cooperation not only between authorities within the Kingdom of Denmark but also with our Arctic neighbours,” Martin Lidegaard, the Danish minister for foreign affairs, said in a statement.

Denmark has submitted claims over five areas through the Arctic since ratifying the convention in 2004.

The claim would give Denmark control of potential oil and natural gas resources below the Arctic. A U.S. Geological Survey study in 2008 found that potentially 90 billion barrels of oil and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids are hiding under the unclaimed Arctic.

Last December, Canadian foreign affairs minister John Baird announced that Canada would submit a claim to the extended sea shelf off its coast. In 2007, Russia sparked international controversy by staking a flag in the sea floor under the North Pole.

The post Denmark stakes claim to oil-rich North Pole appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


          3D Repo’s VR Simulator helps TRL shape future of Autonomous Vehicle services        
London, 10 August 2017 – 3D Repo is creating 3D Virtual Reality visualisations to help simulate driverless vehicle routes as part of a £100 million government backed research project. Led by TRL, t...
       

          Materialism at the Millennium        
by
Geoffrey Winthrop-Young
1999-01-01

‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of shoes - and ships - and sealing wax -
Of cabbages - and kings -
And why the sea is boiling hot -
And whether pigs have wings.’
Lewis Carroll, Alice Through the Looking-Glass

Total history comes in waves. During the first decades of the twentieth century a number of prominent studies appeared that were written either by amateur historians such as Oswald Spengler or professionals like Arnold Toynbee and that mobilized a wide range of alternative disciplines in order to provide a new comprehensive view of history on a global scale. An ambitious commitment ‘to talk of many things’ - that is, to extend the domain of historiography far beyond its traditional boundaries - was linked to the elaboration of all-inclusive algorithms designed to account for the basic dynamics of history, be it the morphologically programmed blooming and withering of autonomous cultures in Spengler’s Decline of the West or the challenge-response scheme of Toynbee’s Study of History. Several reasons conspired to slow down the production of further such grand narratives following the Second World War, not the least of which was the increased institutionalization of historiography, but it appears that we are now caught up in a second wave of total histories. Once again, they are written by historians and non-historians alike, and once again the extension of the disciplinary boundaries is linked to a liberal import of ideas and methods from hitherto unrelated or ‘irrelevant’ fields. If one of the main achievements of the first wave was to place Western history on the same level as its allegedly inferior non-Western counterparts, the most promising aspect of the second wave is its attempt to remove the boundaries that separate human history from biological and geological evolution. It is not only a matter of paying the same respect lowly everyday life (shoes), trade history (ships), the materialities of communication (sealing wax), and agricultural economics (cabbage) that we used to pay to old-style dynastic history (kings), it is also a matter of exploring in what ways the interactions between cabbages and kings are similar to the processes regulating the ocean’s temperatures and the evolutionary dynamics that keep pigs earthbound.

1997 witnessed the publication of two books that fall into this category, Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies and Manuel De Landa’s A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History. Guns, Germs, and Steel is fun, affable, easy to read, and full of photos, diagrams and the author’s highly infectious enthusiasm for his material. A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History is labourious, complex, meticulous, demanding, and devoid of anything remotely resembling humour, pity, didactic empathy or anything else that would make life easier for the reader. It is not the type of book you would expect to arouse parental feelings, but since the difficult children tend to attract the most concern, one cannot help wondering whether the kid will be alright. The worst fate - even worse than dismissal by the academe or confinement to interminable website discussions on the virtues of complexity - would be New Age appropriation. The best - even better than using it as a stimulant to discover some of its sources - would be to take the book as seriously as it takes itself, starting with the opening line. “Despite its title, this is not a book of history, but a book of philosophy” (11). But what kind of philosophy? What are the basic assumptions? And what are its nonlinear historical ingredients?

animal, vegetable, mineral

We are surrounded by geological formations ranging from pebbles to mountain ranges, myriads of animal and plant species complete with climates and ecosystems, and a no less bewildering variety of social and economic institutions that are all the outcome of specific historical developments. One of the basic premises of A Thousand Years is that the processes which turn stones into mountains, genes into organisms, and social roles into classes and institutions are isomorphic. No matter how diverse the materials employed or the structures generated, detailed empirical investigation mixed with insights gained from the analysis of non-linear dynamics will enable us to elaborate models of structuration processes abstract enough to operate in the disparate worlds of geology, biology, and human society.

The simplest of these “engineering diagrams” or “abstract machines” - a term on loan from Deleuze and Guattari who borrowed it from Artaud - is a so-called hierarchy, a sorting and cementing operation that can account for the genesis of rock layers, species, and social strata, among others. Acting as a hydraulic computer, a river will sort out pebbles of different size and weight and deposit them in homogenous groupings at the bottom of the sea; subsequently, certain substances in the water will by way of penetration, percolation, and crystallization cement the pebbles together into a new entity, such as a sandstone layer, with emergent properties of its own. Genes, in turn, are sorted out by a host of different selection pressures, but only those accumulations that are “cemented” and isolated from the rest of the population by closing the gene pool to further reproductive exchange will survive in the shape of a new species. The combination of selective accumulation and reproductive isolation performed by biological evolution is isomorphic to the sorting and cementing operations of geological evolution; and both are isomorphic to the social processes in the course of which hierarchical societies sort a variety of differentiated roles into ranks and consolidate or reify the homogenous groups, classes or casts by way of discursive codification. Hence, hierarchy building in the human, animal, vegetable, and mineral realm involves two distinct operations: a homogenizing sorting of base elements followed by a consolidating process that transforms these separate elements into a more permanent structure on another scale.

If hierarchies grow out of the cementing of homogenous elements, meshworks comprise a more complex abstract machine that synthesizes heterogenous elements. Very basically, they require a set of at least two reactions that catalyse each other: reaction 1 results in product X which will serve as a catalyst for reaction B; in turn, reaction 2 yields product Y which then serves as a catalyst for reaction 1. The catalysts bind together two substances that would otherwise not react with each other in an autocatalytic loop that will be sustained for as long as the environment provides enough energy and material for the reactions to proceed. We are, in other words, dealing with self-organization in far-from-equilibrium processes. De Landa closely follows Maturana and Varela’s analysis that these closed circuits produce their own stable states of behaviour and evolve by drift. That is, structures are not imposed from the outside but spontaneously generated from within, and the resulting meshwork, though constrained by its environment, will evolve in an unplanned way. If sandstone, species, and social strata exemplify the workings of hierarchies, granite, ecosystems, and markets are presented as instances of meshworks. In each case, the required intercalary elements (the appropriate chemical, biological, or economic catalysts) join together heterogenous elements with functional complementarities (e.g., the different elements in a cooling magma stream, the variety of plant and animal species in an ecology, and the buyers and sellers meeting on the market). The interlocked heterogeneous elements, in turn, generate stable patterns of behaviour: magma cools at different speeds with one element acting as a container for those that crystallize at a later point, ultimately resulting in granite; the various predator-prey, parasite-host, and symbiotic relationships among species involved make up a stable ecosystem sustained by the circulation of energy and matter; and the circulation of money and information serves to interlock the producers and consumers of a non-regulated, evolving market.

De Landa knows his readership well enough not to completely trust it, hence the numerous caveats, reminders, and reservations that are less designed to convince sceptics than to obstruct zealots. Not only are hierarchies and meshworks not the only abstract machines around - De Landa also sketches a “probe head” that provides the blueprint for any type of evolution based on the coupling of variable replicators to sorting devices - but they rarely exist in isolation. Most social institutions, for instance, are a mixture of both types. More importantly, despite the book’s admitted bias against large hierarchies, De Landa goes out of his way to insist that there is nothing that makes meshworks innately superior to or more desirable than hierarchies. His own bias is related to what he sees as an excessive accumulation of hierarchies at the expense of meshworks (not to mention the fact that hierarchies can look back on several hundred years of scrutiny while meshworks have only very recently come under investigation).

But what of the “new philosophy” What does it say, or, more interestingly, what does it no longer say? 1) History is extended into biological and geological evolution; hence there is no longer any distinction between recorded and unrecorded or animate and inanimate history. 2) Forms and shapes are no longer imposed on matter since matter now generates its own stable patterns; hence the distinction between form and matter is obsolete. 3) No matter how stable some of the forms in question (and from a human point of view mountains tend to be pretty stable), they all appear as a local slowing-down of an ongoing flux; hence the traditional distinction between stasis and motion becomes, if not obsolete, then at least more problematic. All reality is a “single matter-energy undergoing phase transitions of various kinds, with each new layer of accumulated ‘stuff’ simply enriching the reservoir of nonlinear dynamics and nonlinear combinatorics available for the generation of novel structures and processes” (21). In the conclusion, De Landa identifies the unformed und unstructured flows of this “nonorganic life” (260) with Deleuze and Guattari’s “Body Without Organs” - which may be as confusing to those who don’t know the term as it is irritating to those who do. In short, call it autopoietic neomaterialism, or A Philosophy of Spinozist-Spencerian Complexity. It is indebted to Spinoza (by way of Deleuze) for its insistence that matter can generate stable patterns on its own without any assistance from outside resources. It is Spenserian in its penchant for depicting evolution - a term Spencer used to replace the more anthropocentric “progress” - as leading from incoherent homogeneity to coherent heterogeneity. And it adheres to the principles of complexity by virtue of its emphasis on the importance of self-organization (autopoiesis) in all kinds of human, animal, vegetable, and mineral far-from-equilibrium systems that cut across all boundaries.

stone, meat, and words

Like Dante, De Landa prefers to tell his tale in sets of three. A Thousand Years is divided into three chapters, each chapter has three sections. The first and third sections deal with the “geological,” “biological,” and “linguistic” histories of the urban landscape from 1000-1700 AD and 1700-2000, respectively. The second section of each chapter is theoretical, explaining basic concepts and relating the arguments to an impressive interdisciplinary background. But why cities? Because cities, especially in periods of rapid growth, are far from equilibrium. By attracting, circulating, and discharging everything ranging from money to microbes, the urban dynamics provide the energy flows necessary to induce and maintain all varieties of self-organization. Subsequently, De Landa presents a kind of complex urban Rashomon. Three times he tells the story of Western cities: first, a “geological” perspective that centres on the growth of urban economics resulting from various types of positive feedback between individuals and institutions; second, a “biological” history that looks at cities as complex superorganisms that live off their surroundings and fuel complex interactions between humans, animals, and microparasites; and third, a “linguistic” chapter that traces the circulation and competition of vernacular dialects that self-organize themselves and “harden” into hegemonic national languages. If authors and publishers were under the same pressure as food and drug manufacturers to provide a precise description of the ingredients of their products, A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History would bear the title Roughly A Thousand Years of Selected Isomorphic Nonlinear Urban, Ecological and Linguistic Dynamics in Predominantly Western European History.

And why 1000? Because - according to William McNeill - the enhancement of civilized capacities at the end of the first millennium resulting from intensified selection pressures following the collapse of the Roman Empire and the so-called Dark Ages laid the groundwork for the European upsurge of wealth and power. 1000 AD marks the beginning of urban growth along the Mediterranean as well as the North and East Sea coasts. Here and elsewhere, De Landa relies heavily on Braudel; indeed, Braudel is such a formidable presence that he may have shaped the basic design of the book. De Landa’s geological, biological, and linguistic layers appear to resemble Braudel’s tripartite division into the environmental histoire immobile at the bottom of history, the sluggish cycles of material culture in the middle, and frothy human events at the top. A more detailed encounter with A Thousand Years will have to examine to what degree De Landa has inherited some of the more problematic aspects of Braudel’s work, such as the overrating of trade for the economic history of late medieval and early modern history, or his biased binary that pits the honest, unregulated “meshwork” of truly capitalist markets (which Braudel tends to depict a bit like a lively French county fair) against the evil, non-capitalist anti-market forces. Another aspect De Landa shares with Braudel and many other sources is a welcome sense of historical contingency: up until the final take-off phase, what happened in Europe could have happened elsewhere, so there is no innate reason why Western Europe came to dominate the world the way it did. The potential problem is that despite this more open and relaxed view of global history Europe retains its privileged position. Once upon a time historians reduced history to an algorithm that regulated a predictable rise from barbarism to high culture with Europe as the supreme example against which all others had to be measured; now history is subjected to contingency, nonlinear dynamics, and open-ended evolutionary sweepstakes, but once again Europe appears both as the model and the prime example of history.

Finally, one of the peculiar aspects of A Thousand Years is that for all its insistence on positive feedback, autocatalytic loops, and systems turning output into new input, it lacks a certain theoretical self-reflexivity. Surely, De Landa must know that the various explanatory models he mobilizes to explain meshworks and hierarchies in the worlds of geology, biology, and human history did not arise independently but are closely related and in some cases directly descended from each other. To name just one obvious example, it has frequently been argued - and brilliantly so in one of the books used by De Landa, Darwinism Evolving by David Depew and Bruce Weber - that Darwin’s theory of modification with descent is partly based on an inscription of Adam Smith’s political economics into nature. To what degree, then, is the claim that the dynamics of human culture society are no different from the self-organizing processes of biological and geological evolution based on the similarity of the explanatory models rather than on real isomorphies? Theories, too, are “accumulations of materials hardened and shaped by historical processes” (55) - not to take this into account while describing these processes in nature and culture is potentially to fall back into a naive realism very much at odds with the complex subject matter.

If the last one and a half paragraphs sound too negative, let me be clear about my overall impression. A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History is one the most intelligent, stimulating, and rewarding books I have read in a long time - it even surpasses De Landa’s previous War in the Age of Intelligent Machines (which says a lot); [Tim Luke on De Landa’s robot historian] and it is fully capable of surviving the advances from free-floating New Agers as well as the equally inevitable rebuffs from academic Old Agers. De Landa’s greatest strength, no doubt, is his ability to synthesize - to create a self-sustaining system of theories that are merged, as it were, into an intellectual meshwork. Here, however, a final irony emerges: in the concluding pages of Tristes Tropiques, Claude Lévi Strauss muses that anthropology - the science that informs one culture about another - should be called entropology because the exchange of information serves to erode the boundaries between the cultures and ultimately homogenizes them. In much the same way, De Landa’s formidable argument that widely differing negentropic phenomena are ultimately isomorphic is, ironically, a significant step toward final entropy.

ps: shortcuts

For those who are interested but lack time: De Landa’s article “Immanence and Transcendence in the Genesis of Form” in the Deleuze special of the South Atlantic Quarterly 96:3 (Summer 1997) offers an excellent introduction to meshworks and hierarchies. William McNeill’s theories are summarized in his lecture, The Human Condition: An Ecological and Historical View, published by Princeton in 1980. Fernand Braudel’s short Afterthoughts on material civilization and capitalism (Johns Hopkins, 1977) is recommended to those who don’t want to read the three volumes of Civilization and Capitalism. Finally, a very short version of Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel may be found in Evolution: Society, Science and the Universe, ed. A. C. Fabian (Cambridge, 1998: 36-63)


          Intel to deploy autonomous cars this year        
cars

Intel has officially joined the autonomous car race, saying it will have test vehicles on the road this year. The chipmaker said these will be fully autonomous vehicles and will ...

The post Intel to deploy autonomous cars this year appeared first on Enterprise IoT Insights.


          Tugas Bahasa Inggris Bisnis 2 #        
the story of the name of cities of Indonesia!

1. Bandung
According to historical records the word "Bandung" is derived from the word "bendung" or "bendungan" because unstoppable Citarum River by lava of Mount Tangkuban Perahu which later formed the lake. However, according to local myth the name of "Bandung" is taken from a water vehicle consisting of two boats tied up alongside the boat called the boat of Bandung used by the Regent of Bandung. Bandung is the biggest metropolitan city in West Java and also the capital of the province. In addition, the city of Bandung is also the third largest city in Indonesia after Jakarta and Surabaya. Another name of Bandung city is the City of Flowers, and also formerly known as Paris van Java. In addition Bandung city it is also known as the city shopping, with malls and factory outlets are widely spread in the city. And in 2007, the British Council made ​​the city of Bandung as a pilot project for the most creative city East Asia. Today, the city of Bandung is one of the main destinations of tourism and education.

2. Surakarta / Solo
The story started when Sunan Pakubuwana II ordered Tumenggung Honggowongso and Tumenggung Mangkuyudo and Dutch commander JAB Van Hohenndorff to find the location of the capital of the new Islamic Mataram kingdom. After taking account of the physical and non-physical finally elected a village on the banks of the Bengawan river named village of Sala (1746 AD or 1671 Java). Since then the village of Sala turned into Surakarta Sultanate and continues to grow rapidly.
Surakarta in the beginning was the empire of Mataram. The city was once the seat of government. Due to Giyanti Agreement (February 13, 1755) led to the Islamic Mataram split because the Dutch colonial propaganda. Then the breaking of the central government into two administrative center in Surakarta and Yogyakarta. Government in Surakarta split again due Treaty of Salatiga (1767) became Kasunanan and Mangkunegaran.
In 1742, Chinese people revolted against the rule Pakubuwana II that reigned in the palace Kartasura so Keraton Kertasura crushed and Pakubuwana II fled to Ponorogo, East Java. With the assistance of the VOC uprising was crushed and Kartasura was retaken. In exchange for the capital of the kingdom which has been destroyed so established the New Palace in Surakarta 20 km to the south east of Kartasura on February 18, 1745. Event is then considered as a starting point Kraton Surakarta establishment.
Giving the name of Surakarta Sultanate following the ancestral instinct, that the Mataram kingdom centered in Karta, then to Pleret, then moved to Wanakarta, which later changed its name to Kartasura. Surakarta Sultanate means hope for the creation of state governance karta tentrem raharja (regular safe orderly and peaceful), and must be accompanied by the determination and courage to face all the obstacles that block (sura) to manifest the life of a beautiful world (Sultanate). Thus, the word "Karta" raised again as a form of solicitation blessing of the ancestors and the establishment of the kingdom of Mataram predecessors.
History of Solo's own name because this area formerly overgrown plants Sala tree (a type of pine tree) as recorded in the Annals fiber sengkala stored in Sana Budaya Yogyakarta. Sala is derived from the original Javanese (Javanese pronunciation: Solo) In the end the people know him by the name Solo.

3.  Semarang
In ancient times in the life of a prince of the kingdom of Demak. His name is Raden Made Pandan. Besides the royal nobility he is also known as a scholar or scholar of Islam who was well respected among the various communities.
He has a son named Raden Pandanarang. Raden Pandanarang known as a good kid, sopansantun, friendly and respectful to his parents.
One day, Raden Made Pandan invite his son and invite some accompaniment away from Demak sultanate. after a few days, they reached a fertile place.
There they set up home.
Made Raden Pandan also established a boarding school and teach Islam in that place.
One day Raden Made to feel when facing God's will, then he will saying to his son.
"My son, if I die, continue our struggle to spread the religion of Islam. you do not ever leave this area. Be firm hold to the teachings of the saints. insyallah later your life becomes a glorious, happy afterlife. "
The message was always ringing in teliga Raden Pandanarang.
After her father died, she continued to struggle to teach the religion of Islam.
One day when working on the rice field Pandanarang Raden and his followers saw an oddity. The fertile land in between green trees appear some tamarind trees grow away from each other or sparse. All the people were surprised that the distance between the tamarind tree with one another. Raden Pandanarang said, "why the tamarind trees grow far apart, whereas fertile ground here. It should tamarind trees that grow close together. "Raden true .....!" Said some of his followers. "This is an unusual thing happened, very strange."
Raden Pandanarang said again. "Then I call this area of Semarang is from a rare sour word."

4. Pekalongan
Pekalongan, a unique name. What about the origin of the name of this city? The name is derived from the name of Pekalongan Topo Ngalongnya Joko Bau (Bau Rekso) son of Kyai Cempaluk known as the hero of Pekalongan. Later he became a hero the kingdom of Mataram, which supposedly came from Kesesi story, Pekalongan. One time, he was told by his uncle Ki Cempaluk to serve the Sultan Agung, the king of Mataram. Joko smell got an assignment to bring Ratansari daughter of Kalisalak rod to the palace, but Jaka Bau falls in love with the daughter.
Pekalongan words, the origin of the word and the whole field. The word means the field over, pack de (si wo), bullets (search, musty) is a word that means halong common in everyday language can mean a lot of fishermen. Then said Pek - As means to catch fish in the sea can result. From Pek Halong then into A - PEK - Halong - AN (Pekalongan). Okeh own words Pekalongan Pekalongan community dikromokan be PENGANGSALAN (angsal = can). Then the symbol of Pekalongan that have been established by the Legislative Council Great Pekalongan dated January 29, 1957 and reinforced by the Autonomous Region Gazette Level 1 Central Java on December 15, 1958 Series B No. 11 and approved by the Minister of Home Affairs with the decision No.: Des ./9/52 / 20 dated December 4, 1958 and approved by the Regional Entrepreneur Tertorium War by Decree No. 4: KPTSPPD / 00351/11/1958 dated 18 November 1958.

5.  Surabaya
According to the hypothesis von Faber , Surabaya was founded in 1275 AD by King Kertanegara as a new settlement for soldiers who managed to quell the rebellion in 1270 AD Kemuruhan Another hypothesis says that the first named End Galuh Surabaya .
Another version says that the name originated from Surabaya story about life and death fights and Sawunggaling Jayengrono Duke . It is said that after defeating the Tartars , Raden Wijaya founded a kingdom in Ujunggaluh , and put Duke Jayengrono to lead the region . Long since mastered the science of Crocodiles , Jayengrono increasingly powerful and independent that threaten the sovereignty of Majapahit . To conquer Jayengrono diutuslah Sawunggaling that the science Sura . Adu magic is done at the edge of the river near Paneleh Kalimas . Magic ramming it lasts for seven days and seven nights, and ended with a tragic , because they died of exhaustion.
The word " Surabaya " is also often interpreted philosophically as a symbol of the struggle between land and water , between land and water . Moreover , from the word myth Surabaya also appears the battle between fish Suro ( Sura ) and Boyo ( Baya or crocodile ) , which suggests that the name came after the battle of Surabaya between Sura and Crocodile fish ( Baya ) .
In order not to cause public maze in the municipality head of the Level II Surabaya , chaired by Mr Soeparno , issued Decree No. . 64/WK/75 on the anniversary of the establishment of the city of Surabaya . The decree set a date of May 31, 1293 as the date of the anniversary of the city of Surabaya . The date specified above agreement formed by a group of historians that the city government of Surabaya name is derived from the word " sura ing bhaya " which means " courage to face danger " are taken from chapter Mongol forces defeated by Raden Wijaya leadership Java forces on May 31, 1293 . Surabaya itself , in the form of fish and crocodiles sura there are many stories . One of the famous battle sura fish and crocodiles told by LCR . Breeman , a leader Nutspaarbank in Surabaya in 1918 .

It is clear now that in the year 1293 , in the Mongolian forces defeated raden Wijaya , as well as the anniversary of the city immortalized Surabya , ... But , not complete it , if we do not know why and on what basis the Mongolian troops came to the island of Java , while Mongolia region alone are far in the north , further away from the plateau region of China . It is of some articles that I can from the internet , which is rarely explained in detail the circumstances and events related . On another page I will describe the events associated with the Mongol invasions in Java

          Not ‘cars vs bikes’ but ‘people for people’: One city leader’s manifesto for better streets        

This thoughtful guest post is from City Councillor Jan Deveroux of Cambridge, Mass. Thanks for getting in touch, councillor!

After 48 hours in Madison, Wisconsin last week for the first-ever PlacesForBikes conference, I would like to share some of what I took away. Organized by PeopleForBikes, the conference brought together almost 300 people united in their determination to change the conversation about future of multi-modal transportation and the role bikes can play in improving our lives.

Cambridge was well represented; attending along with me were my City Council colleagues Nadeem Mazen and Dennis Carlone, Kathy Watkins (city engineer), Susanne Rasmussen (director of environmental and transportation planning), and resident-advocates Nate Filmore, Amy Flax and Elena Saporta.

Van Jones gives the lunchtime keynote at the 2017 PlacesForBikes conference.

My biggest takeaway: “It’s not about the bike.” This conference mantra was attributed to Roger Geller, Portland’s visionary bicycle planner. (Read an interview with Geller to get a sense of why Portland is consistently rated one of the nation’s top cities for cycling.)

So if a bike conference is not about two wheels versus four, then what is it about?

It’s about economic development and, especially for low-income communities that may not have good access to public transit or who live in food deserts, it’s about connectivity to jobs and markets. As one speaker from Indianapolis noted about his community’s experience, bikes created a “yellow brick road” to economic opportunity. The U.S. bike industry itself is large ($88 billion in annual revenue) and is already a major employer (780,000 jobs in the United States), bringing in $12 billion in state and local taxes. Business districts that are connected to a network of bike paths see their sales grow, and bike stores and repair shops are a bright spot in an otherwise cloudy retail market. Bike paths and bike shares boost tourism and help recruit talent to local employers. This is a message that should resonate even in auto-centric America: promoting biking can both earn and save us money.

Clinton Street neighborhood bikeway, Portland, Oregon.

It’s about reducing congestion. Since 1970, vehicle-miles traveled have increased 131 percent and the number of registered vehicles is up 90 percent, but mileage of roads has only increased 6 percent, and for good reason: roads are hugely expensive, especially when they take up space that could be used for other activity. Our road system is at or over capacity in most places, and we cannot afford to build and maintain the roads to support the current level of driving, much less accommodate future growth, without significant shifts away from car use.

It’s about our health. Active transportation can help combat the obesity epidemic and reduce health-care costs, which are growing at unsustainable rates. Improving air quality will also reduce the prevalence of childhood asthma, which disproportionately affects low-income urban youth. PeopleforBikes has helped promote Safe Routes to Schools and the Green Lane Project to encourage more families to bike. Habits formed at a young age stick with us.

It’s about our safety. Streets designed to be safer for biking are safer for walking and driving, too. Cities that are more walkable and bikeable are more livable and more desirable.

Finally, it should go without saying, it’s about our environment. Shifting more trips to non-car transportation is essential to reducing CO2 emissions and putting the brakes on climate change -- before our bikes need to be equipped with pontoons.

In all these respects, bikes are a means to an end: a relatively inexpensive, low-tech mode that can help save us from ourselves.  

And, no doubt about it, we need to change both our attitudes and habits to save ourselves and future generations. Our over-dependence, some might say addiction, to owning and over-using cars has created a classic tragedy of the commons. Even if the entire auto fleet was converted from gas to electric, with the corresponding reduction in CO2 and improvement in air quality, there still would not be enough room on our city streets for everyone to drive and park a personal car, let alone two. Increased use of car-sharing services and the introduction of shared autonomous vehicles will help somewhat, but our current mode share is unsustainable no matter who’s behind the wheel or what’s in the tank. Bike-sharing systems and electric bikes will also make it easier for more people to choose cycling over other modes for both short and long distances. But this isn’t only a technology or infrastructure challenge; it’s a test of our political will and our willingness to act beyond individual self-interest.

Randolph Street and Dearborn Street, Chicago. Photo: John Greenfield, Streetsblog Chicago.

What will get more people onto bikes and out of cars more of the time? Creating a network of protected lanes can produce the “Big Jump” in ridership that PeopleForBikes is championing in 10 diverse cities including Los Angeles, Baltimore, Memphis, New Orleans and Providence. Their research shows that of 60% of people would bike if it felt safer, and that over 80% of this group are waiting for protected lanes or off-street paths to feel safe enough to make the shift. This makes a strong case for “if we build it they will come.”

So, what are we waiting for? Change is hard and there will be hiccups along the way, but we must reframe the narrative from “cars versus bikes” to “people for people.” It’s time to stop blaming each other for a transportation system that is failing us all -- and work together to build a mobility network that reflects our city’s common values, street by street and block by block. 

PlacesForBikes helps U.S. communities build better biking, faster. You can follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook or sign up for our weekly news digest about building all-ages biking networks. Story tip? Write michael@peopleforbikes.org.

  
          Simple Info That Can Save Time & Money        

At Environmental, we've discovered that the more information a customer is able to provide about their a/c and/or heating system, the more prepared our service technicians can be to expedite getting the customer's system back up and running.  While our service technicians have a wealth of knowledge and can solve really any problem with a malfunctioning hvac system, a lot of times it's the customer that can provide the most important observable information that saves everyone both time and money. 

For example, there are instances when a customer will call and say their a/c is no longer cooling.  We then ask if they are receiving any air flow at all or is it a case where the air that is coming out is just warm or room temperature?  By simply knowing this, the customer can quite possibly eliminate one whole part of a system and isolate right away where the malfunctioning part likely lies.  Again, every bit of info a customer can provide us before the initial service appointment can possibly end up saving them a good deal of money on labor costs and return trips.  By no means are we asking people to be experts on the subject, just simple observations noted by the customer can provide time saving clues much like a witness to a crime.  This is especially crucial for those mysterious intermittent problems that need to be directly observed in order to properly diagnose the issue.  There are separate autonomous electrical and mechanical systems at work within any single hvac system.  If one of these independent circuits or refrigerant flow systems were to begin to malfunction, it can cause the whole system to perform inefficiently or very likely not at all.  So when a customer is able to report their direct observance, it often allows the servicing technician to know beforehand what to expect and where to start.

Any information is good information when reporting a problem with your home's hvac system.  Your professional servicing technician and your wallet will thank you!



Environmental Heating & Air of NC
919-535-8422
          Eco-Friendly Home Automation Controller        
The 2012 DesignSpark chipKIT Challenge invited engineers from around the world to submit eco-friendly projects using the Digilent chipKIT Max32 development board. Manuel Iglesias Abbatemarco of Venezuela won honorable mention with his autonomous home-automation controller. His design enables users to … Continue reading
          Weekly Commentary: Data and a Carefree Bond Market        
July non-farm payrolls gained 209,000 versus estimates of 180,000. June payrolls were revised 9,000 higher to 231,000. It’s worth noting that manufacturing added 16,000 jobs (est. 5,000) in July, the strongest gains since March. So far in 2017, manufacturing employment has been expanding at the briskest pace in years, with y-t-d gains of 82,000 dwarfing comparable 2016’s zero and 2015’s 12,000. The unemployment rate dipped a tenth in July to 4.3%. Unemployment bottomed at 4.4% during the previous cycle low back in 2007. In fact, the unemployment rate has not been lower than the July level since February 2001.

The recent narrative holds that the economy has been in an extended “soft patch”. In general, economic data have somewhat missed expectations. “US Car Sales Continue to Skid, Drop 5.7% in July.” The decline in automobile sales was viewed as confirmation of a slowing manufacturing sector. Ongoing travails in retail also support the view of economic stagnation. The labor participation rate remains a dismal 62.9%.

The narrative of a weakening in both economic activity and inflationary pressures serves the markets well. With Fed funds now near the Federal Reserve’s “neutral rate,” rate normalization has apparently about run its course. Even after Friday’s stronger-than-expected job gains, the market places the probability of another 2017 hike at less than 40%. What could be more bullish than so-called rate “normalization” that avoids any tightening of financial conditions whatsoever? The Carefree Bond Market has been cruising along the PCH with the top down in a slick new autonomous sports car.

It’s my view that U.S. and global economic maladjustment has become extreme after years of policy-induced monetary disorder. The U.S. economy is structurally unsound, though this grim reality remains well-masked by the artistry of low rates, liquidity over-abundance, inflated securities markets and record household net worth. More succinctly, deep structural impairment ensures central bankers remain wedded to loose financial conditions.

On a more cyclical basis, however, economic activity is not that weak. Data aggregation definitely smooths an extraordinarily unbalanced economy, with some segments booming and others mired in stagnation. And, importantly, ongoing monetary stimulus will do anything but resolve imbalances and structural maladjustment. At this point in the cycle – after nine years of historic monetary stimulus - the Fed should focus policy attention on cyclical indicators and err on the side of reducing accommodation. There are perilous risks associated with pushing a structurally marred economic system to the limits.

July average earnings were up 0.3% m-o-m, with one-year gains of 2.5%. Tepid wage growth is viewed as a major factor keeping inflation (CPI) stubbornly below the Fed’s 2.0% target. Yet stagnant wages are clearly a structural issue. U.S. manufacturing workers must compete against labor from around the globe. Less appreciated, the massive U.S. service sector – that flourished in the backdrop of deindustrialization, aggressive monetary stimulus and asset inflation – has created tens of millions of low skill jobs. Moreover, it is increasingly difficult for the overbuilt service sector (i.e. retail, restaurant, hotels, etc.) to afford higher compensation expenses. And let’s not forget the enormous cost – and ongoing inflation – in healthcare and insurance.

Over recent months, there has been some focus on the divergence between robust “soft” and lagging “hard” data. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose last month to 49.6, a level just below the previous cycle peak in 2006/07. One must go all the way back to 2001 to beat 2017 readings for the Bloomberg Weekly National Economy Index. July’s 113.4 reading for the University of Michigan Current Economic Conditions Index was the highest since July 2005 - and the second highest going all the way back to November 2000. Last month’s 147.8 reading for the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Present Situation Index was the highest since July 2001. The CEO Confidence Index has declined only slightly from the March level - which was the highest going back to December 2004.

These various confidence indices - in conjunction with a 4.3% unemployment rate and stock prices surging further into uncharted record territory - would have traditionally been viewed as indications of loose monetary conditions. But the Yellen Fed has hung its hat on the consumer price index (and, to a lesser extent, wage growth). And it matters little to the Fed that inflation is clearly a global structural issue – one arguably associated with a prolonged period of monetary mismanagement.

And it’s not as if “hard” data is all that weak. July’s 56.3 reading in the PMI Manufacturing Index compares to 52.3 from one year ago. Looking back to 2007, the high that year was 52.6 – with the 2006 peak (February) at 55.8. June Durable Goods Orders (up 6.5%) surprised on the upside. And Q2 GDP rose to 2.6%, up from Q1’s 1.2%. The Atlanta Fed forecasts 4% Q3 GDP growth.

And despite all the talk of heightened disinflationary pressures, the ISM Manufacturing Price Index jumped seven points in July to 62. The ISM Non-Manufacturing Price index rose 3.6 points in July to 55.7. Crude and most commodities have rallied sharply over the past six weeks, certainly bolstered by dollar weakness.

A lot of attention has been paid recently to weakening auto sales. July sales were reported at a weaker-than-expected (seasonally adjusted and annualized) 16.69 million units. This compares unfavorably to the year ago pace of 17.75 million. But before we get too carried away, sales averaged 16.35 million annualized during the 2006-2007 period. In fact, July sales were just slightly below the monthly average from the eight-years 2000-2007. Sure, sales have moderated from the 2015-2016 boom – a period stoked by booming subprime lending. But, for now, I don’t see the slowing auto sector as part of a general downturn in economic activity.

Housing starts jumped back in June to a stronger-than-expected 1.215 million pace. This was the strongest reading since February and compares to the year earlier 1.190 million. Over recent months, housing starts have been running at the strongest level since 2007. Building permits also popped higher in June. Existing Home Sales are running at the highest level since early 2007. At $263,800, June Median Existing Home Prices were a record and compare to the year ago $247,600. The supply of inventory at 4.3 months of sales, while up from January’s extreme 3.5 reading, remains significantly below the average 6.0 months over the period going back to 1999. The Case-Shiller National Price index increased to a record 190.61 in May (up 5.6% y-o-y).

Friday’s smaller-than-expected Trade Deficit was the result of a 1.2% m-o-m jump in exports (up 5.8% y-o-y), to the strongest level since December 2014. U.S. exports have recovered strongly from the 2015/16 pullback, reflecting a global trade revival. The jump in U.S. exports is consistent with recent data from China, Europe, Japan and elsewhere.

For now, it’s difficult for me to take a negative short-term view on U.S. economic activity so long as the housing and export sectors continue to boom. It’s remains a Bubble Economy and, while vulnerable, the Bubble is still expanding.

At this point, the bond market is content to disregard a lot of data, that is, so long as there are no upside surprises in consumer price indices or wages (the two data sets stuck deepest in the structural muck). This works to keep market yields artificially depressed – and mortgage rates extraordinarily low. With after-tax borrowing costs remaining significantly below the rate of housing appreciation (in many areas), the backdrop is favorable for a strengthening of an already potent housing market inflationary bias. The unusually low levels of housing inventory – and an expanding list of overheated local markets – coupled with the Fed’s fixation on CPI sow the seeds for Housing Bubble 2.0.

August 1 – Bloomberg (Alfred Liu): “China has made progress in slowing leverage in the economy, but still needs to do more with the total amount of financing expected to rise 13% this year, according to Autonomous Research analyst Charlene Chu. Total outstanding credit is expected to grow to 223 trillion yuan ($33 trillion) by December from 196.8 trillion yuan at the end of 2016, analysis by Chu shows. The estimated increase will be lower than last year’s 19% gain as the government’s campaign against leverage starts to bite, she said. Her estimates are far higher than the latest official figure of 167 trillion yuan in June, which she says doesn’t accurately represent the true state of financing as it doesn’t include items like local government bond issuance and some forms of off-balance sheet lending.”

Charlene Chu is one of the preeminent analysts of Chinese Credit. She currently forecasts almost $4.0 TN of Chinese Credit growth this year, with total Credit approaching 300% of GDP. It’s somewhat of a challenge to be negative on short-term global GDP trends with record Chinese Credit expansion, enormous ongoing global QE and booming securities markets. At the same time, there’s a strong case that we’re getting awfully close to peak QE, peak Chinese Credit and peak global securities Bubble. Things would get more interesting if economic data begins to surprise on the upside, forcing the Fed and other central banks to again rethink the meaning of “normalization”. That would awaken bonds. July payrolls could have been a start.


For the Week:

The S&P500 added 0.2% (up 10.6% y-t-d), and the Dow gained 1.2% (up 11.8%). The Utilities rose 1.3% (up 9.8%). The Banks jumped 2.1% (up 5.9%), and the Broker/Dealers added 0.2% (up 14.2%). The Transports increased 0.5% (up 2.6%). The S&P 400 Midcaps declined 0.6% (up 5.5%), and the small cap Russell 2000 fell 1.2% (up 4.1%). The Nasdaq100 slipped 0.2% (up 21.3%), while the Morgan Stanley High Tech index was unchanged (up 25.4%). The Semiconductors declined 1.2% (up 19.1%). The Biotechs fell 1.0% (up 28.4%). With bullion down $11, the HUI gold index dropped 2.3% (up 5.2%).

Three-month Treasury bill rates ended the week at 105 bps. Two-year government yields were unchanged at 1.35% (up 16bps y-t-d). Five-year T-note yields slipped two bps to 1.82% (down 11bps). Ten-year Treasury yields declined three bps to 2.26% (down 18bps). Long bond yields fell five bps to 2.84% (down 22bps).

Greek 10-year yields rose eight bps to 5.41% (down 161bps y-t-d). Ten-year Portuguese yields fell six bps to 2.87% (down 88bps). Italian 10-year yields dropped 10 bps to 2.02% (up 21bps). Spain's 10-year yields declined four bps to 1.48% (up 10bps). German bund yields dropped seven bps to 0.47% (up 26bps). French yields fell six bps to 0.75% (up 7bps). The French to German 10-year bond spread widened one to 28 bps. U.K. 10-year gilt yields declined four bps to 1.18% (down 6bps). U.K.'s FTSE equities index rallied 1.9% (up 5.2%).

Japan's Nikkei 225 equities index was unchanged (up 4.4% y-t-d). Japanese 10-year "JGB" yields slipped a basis point to 0.065% (up 3bps). France's CAC40 gained 1.4% (up 7.0%). The German DAX equities index recovered 1.1% (up 7.1%). Spain's IBEX 35 equities index gained 1.2% (up 14%). Italy's FTSE MIB index surged 2.4% (up 14%). EM equities were mostly higher. Brazil's Bovespa index rose 2.1% (up 11.1%), and Mexico's Bolsa added 0.2% (up 12.5%). South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.2% (up 18.2%). India’s Sensex equities index was unchanged (up 21.4%). China’s Shanghai Exchange increased 0.3% (up 5.1%). Turkey's Borsa Istanbul National 100 index gained 0.8% (up 38.9%). Russia's MICEX equities index rose 0.8% (down 12.5%).

Junk bond mutual funds saw inflows of $195 million (from Lipper).

Freddie Mac 30-year fixed mortgage rates added a basis point to 3.93% (up 50bps y-o-y). Fifteen-year rates slipped two bps to 3.18% (up 44bps). The five-year hybrid ARM rate declined three bps to 3.15% (up 42bps). Bankrate's survey of jumbo mortgage borrowing costs had 30-yr fixed rates down six bps to 4.05% (up 43bps).

Federal Reserve Credit last week declined $9.2bn to $4.426 TN. Over the past year, Fed Credit contracted $8.7bn. Fed Credit inflated $1.615 TN, or 58%, over the past 247 weeks. Elsewhere, Fed holdings for foreign owners of Treasury, Agency Debt rose $8.0bn last week to $3.333 TN. "Custody holdings" were up $113bn y-o-y, or 3.5%.

M2 (narrow) "money" supply last week rose $12.2bn to a record $13.620 TN. "Narrow money" expanded $727bn, or 5.6%, over the past year. For the week, Currency increased $1.4bn. Total Checkable Deposits jumped $55.9bn, while Savings Deposits slumped $44.9bn. Small Time Deposits gained $2.6bn. Retail Money Funds declined $2.9bn.

Total money market fund assets jumped $20.47bn to $2.660 TN. Money Funds fell $78.3bn y-o-y (2.9%).

Total Commercial Paper declined $8.2bn to $969.6bn. CP declined $57bn y-o-y, or 5.5%.

Currency Watch:

August 1 – Financial Times (Jennifer Hughes): “The Hong Kong dollar has fallen to its weakest level since the China-inspired turmoil of January 2016 as abundant liquidity continues to create a widening interest rate gap with the US. The move pushed the Hong Kong currency further into the weaker half of its tightly pegged trading range against the US dollar — in a shift from its position for most of the past decade of trading near the stronger end. Wednesday’s weakness took the currency to HK$7.8171 against the greenback — a level not seen since January 2016 when fears about China’s weakening economy sent shockwaves through global markets.”

The U.S. dollar index recovered 0.3% to 93.542 (down 8.7% y-t-d). For the week on the upside, the euro increased 0.2%. On the downside, the South African rand declined 3.1%, the Canadian dollar 1.7%, the New Zealand dollar 1.4%, the Australian dollar 0.8%, the British pound 0.7%, the Mexican peso 0.6%, the Swiss franc 0.4%, the Norwegian krone 0.4%, the Swedish krona 0.3%, the Singapore dollar 0.3%, and the South Korean won 0.2%. The Chinese renminbi added 0.12% versus the dollar this week (up 3.21% y-t-d).

Commodities Watch:

The Goldman Sachs Commodities Index slipped 0.5% (down 3.5% y-t-d). Spot Gold declined 0.9% to $1,259 (up 19.2%). Silver dropped 2.7% to $16.252 (up 1.7%). Crude slipped 13 cents to $49.58 (down 8%). Gasoline fell 1.8% (down 2%), and Natural Gas sank 5.7% (down 26%). Copper added 0.3% (up 15%). Wheat sank 5.5% (up 12%). Corn lost 1.8% (up 8%).

Trump Administration Watch:

August 3 – Wall Street Journal (Del Quentin Wilber and Byron Tau): “Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, a sign that his inquiry is growing in intensity and entering a new phase, according to people familiar with the matter. The grand jury, which began its work in recent weeks, signals that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry will likely continue for months. Mr. Mueller is investigating Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign or associates colluded with the Kremlin as part of that effort.”

August 1 – New York Times (Keith Bradsher): “The Trump administration is preparing a broad move against China over trade, according to people with knowledge of its plans, amid growing worries in the United States over a Chinese government-led effort to make the country a global leader in microchips, electric cars and other crucial technologies of the future. The move, which could come in the next several days, signals a shift by the administration away from its emphasis on greater cooperation between Washington and Beijing, in part because administration officials have become frustrated by China's reluctance to confront North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The two sides have also struggled in trade negotiations despite claiming modest progress earlier this year, while American companies have complained they face pressure to share trade secrets with Chinese partners. The trade case will focus on alleged Chinese violations of American intellectual property, according to three people with a detailed knowledge of the administration's plans.”

July 31 – Wall Street Journal (Gerald F. Seib): “When folks here in Washington end a summer filled with White House hijinks and an epic but inconclusive health-care debate, they will look up and discover something unsettling: The world has become a more dangerous place while everybody has been distracted. That’s most obviously true in North Korea, where its rogue weapons program has leapt so far forward that the nation now has a missile with the range to reach much of the U.S…. Meanwhile, American relations with China, the country most able to cooperate in slowing down Pyongyang, are deteriorating amid presidential recriminations—delivered via Twitter—about Beijing’s behavior. Relations with Russia are sliding backward as well… Both sides agree that ties now are at their lowest point since the Cold War.”

July 30 – Wall Street Journal (Siobhan Hughes and Thomas M. Burton): “President Donald Trump’s tumultuous past week has widened rifts in his party, between those who vocally support the president’s combative style and others who bridle at it, according to interviews… Mr. Trump has long been a polarizing force among members of his party, but for the first several months of his tenure, the GOP was largely united by a shared desire to make the most of his election and the party’s total control of the government for the first time in a decade. After a week that included the president attacking his attorney general, the collapse of a GOP health bill, a surprise effort to bar transgender people in the military and a White House staff shakeup, divisions that were largely set aside at the start of 2017 have emerged anew.”

August 2 – Reuters (David Lawder and Lesley Wroughton): “Three top Democratic senators, in a rare show of bipartisanship, on Wednesday urged U.S. President Donald Trump to stand up to China as he prepares to launch an inquiry into Beijing's intellectual property and trade practices in coming days. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer pressed the Republican president to skip the investigation and go straight to trade action against China. ‘We should certainly go after them,’ said Schumer in a statement. Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sherrod Brown of Ohio also urged Trump to rein in China.”

July 30 – Wall Street Journal (Kate Davidson): “Republicans are leaving town for an August recess after a failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. When they return in September, they’ll have just 12 working days to avert another big problem. In a letter to lawmakers Friday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the federal borrowing limit, or debt ceiling, needed to be raised by Sept. 29 or the government risked running out of money to pay its bills. The Treasury Department has been employing cash-conservation measures since March, when borrowing hit the formal ceiling of nearly $20 trillion.”

China Bubble Watch:

July 30 – New York Times (Chris Buckley): “China’s president, Xi Jinping, has opened a public campaign to deepen his grip on power in a coming leadership shake-up, using a huge military parade on Sunday, speeches and propaganda, along with a purge in the past week, to warn officials to back him as the nation’s most powerful leader in two decades. Wearing his mottled green uniform as commander in chief of the People’s Liberation Army, Mr. Xi watched as 12,000 troops marched and tanks, long-range missile launchers, jet fighters and other new weapons drove or flew past in impeccable arrays. Mao famously said political power comes from the barrel of a gun, and Mr. Xi signaled that he, too, was counting on the military to stay ramrod loyal while he chooses a new leading lineup to be unveiled at a Communist Party congress in the autumn.”

August 2 – Bloomberg: “President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser commissioned a study earlier this year to see how China could avoid the fate of Japan’s epic bust in the 1990s and decades of stagnation that followed. The report covered a wide range of topics, from the Plaza Accord on currency to a real-estate bubble to demographics that made Japan the oldest population in Asia… While details are scarce, the person revealed one key recommendation that policy makers have since implemented: The need to curtail a global buying spree by some of the nation’s biggest private companies. Communist Party leaders discussed Japan’s experience in a Politburo meeting on April 26… State media came alive afterward, with reports trumpeting Xi’s warning that financial stability is crucial in economic growth.”

August 1 – BloombergBusinessweek (Kevin Hamlin): “For the past couple of years, Chinese companies roamed the world in an unprecedented $343 billion cross-border takeover spree. Among the splashiest deals: Dalian Wanda Group, whose founder, Wang Jianlin, is China’s second-richest executive, bought Hollywood production and finance company Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion in 2016. Anbang Insurance Group bought the Waldorf Astoria. Fosun International Ltd. purchased Club Méditerranée SA and Cirque du Soleil. But as the binge seemed ready to go on, China’s banking regulator in June ordered lenders to scrutinize their exposure to four high-­flying private conglomerates that have announced $75 ­billion-plus in deals at home and abroad since the start of 2016: Dalian Wanda, Anbang, Fosun, and aviation and shipping giant HNA Group Co.”

August 1 – Bloomberg: “China’s crusade against capital outflows and leverage has ensnared some of the nation’s largest property investors, including Anbang Insurance Group Co… The crackdown is rippling across the world, and will likely spur an 84% slump in Chinese overseas property investment this year, and a further 18% drop in 2018, according to… Morgan Stanley. The most vulnerable real-estate markets are those in the U.S., U.K., Hong Kong and Australia, with office properties the most exposed, analysts including economist Robin Xing wrote. Manhattan is a particular worry, with about 30% of transactions in the borough that’s home to Wall Street involving Chinese parties in 2017.”

August 1 – Bloomberg: “China’s foreign-exchange regulator is examining how some of the country’s biggest dealmakers used their domestic assets as collateral to get loans overseas, people familiar with the matter said. The State Administration of Foreign Exchange recently began reviewing loan guarantees for Anbang Insurance Group Co., Dalian Wanda Group Co., Fosun International Ltd., HNA Group Co. and the Chinese owner of the AC Milan soccer team, the people said…”

July 31 – Reuters (Kevin Yao): “China's central bank will continue to force financial institutions to cut debt but ensure the process is smooth and orderly to limit its impact on market liquidity, an assistant central bank governor said… Higher short-term funding costs, driven by a regulatory crackdown on banks' riskier financing, have started to spill over into the real economy, a risk to economic stability ahead of a five-yearly leadership transition later this year. The drive to force financial institutions to deleverage… could affect the stability in market supply and demand of funding, Zhang Xiaohui wrote in the bank's China Finance magazine.”

July 31 – Reuters (Elias Glenn): “Growth in China's manufacturing quickened in July, a private survey showed on Tuesday, as output and new orders rose at the fastest pace since February on strong export sales. But even as firms boosted purchasing in anticipation of more business, employment levels at factories fell at the fastest pace in 10 months and a reading on business outlook was the lowest since last August… The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 51.1 in July… well ahead of the 50.4 in June which was also the median figure forecast…”

July 31 – Financial Times (Yuan Yang): “Multinationals in China are bracing to be cut off from the global internet as Beijing begins to shut down their only way of accessing uncensored foreign content. Companies offering virtual private network services, which bypass the country’s ‘Great Firewall’, have had their operations closed or obstructed in recent weeks — a blow to foreign groups that rely on VPN services to connect their staff to services such as Google-provided email and uncensored news. International companies are now preparing for an extended crackdown, according to Carolyn Bigg, senior lawyer at DLA Piper in Hong Kong. ‘The time for businesses to ignore these restrictions is over. The environment is changing weekly at the moment,’ she said.”

August 2 – Financial Times (Gabriel Wildau): “China’s finance ministry has acknowledged that public-private partnerships for infrastructure investment have become a vehicle for ‘disguised borrowing’ by local governments, as Beijing targets systemic risk from rising regional debt. The central government has sought to rein in runaway debt at local governments, a legacy of China’s post-2008 economic stimulus. But local officials have continued to exploit loopholes in local borrowing rules to keep infrastructure projects cashed up. The clampdown on PPP investment could add to growth headwinds for China’s economy. Infrastructure comprised 21.2% of urban fixed-asset investment in the first half — the highest share since 2010.”

July 30 – Financial Times (Louise Lucas and Sherry Fei Ju): “China’s pending regulatory crackdown on the $120bn peer-to-peer lending industry has claimed its first scalp before it has even begun, with one of the biggest players saying it will wind up its business in an industry full of bad loans and no profits. P2P lending, in which borrowers are matched with investors via online platforms, has mushroomed in the past five years, with China boasting more than 2,100 such platforms, but so too have scandals. Last year was marked by multibillion-dollar scams in China and a governance scandal that rocked New York-listed LendingClub. Beijing this month said it would delay regulations that will bar online lenders from guaranteeing principal or interest on loans they facilitate, cap the size of loans at Rmb1m for individuals and Rmb5m for companies, and force lenders to use custodian banks — a requirement only a fraction of the industry has met so far.”

Europe Watch:

July 29 – Reuters (Joseph Nasr): “The European Central Bank should start thinking about how it wants to return to normal monetary policy and when it wants to wind down it bond purchases, governing council member Sabine Lautenschlaeger said… ‘The expansionary monetary policy has both advantages and side effects. As time passes, the positive effects get weaker and the risks increase,’ she told the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper. ‘So it's important to prepare for the exit in good time. What's crucial in that context is a stable trend in the rate of inflation towards our objective of just under 2%. It's not quite there yet.’”

August 1 – Bloomberg (Catherine Bosley): “The euro-area economy expanded apace in the second quarter, a sign the bloc’s upswing is becoming increasingly robust and self-sustaining. Gross domestic product in the 19-country region rose 0.6% in the three months through June, after increasing 0.5% at the start of the year.”

August 3 – Bloomberg (Nikos Chrysoloras): “Public support for the euro rose to a 12-year high among citizens of the currency bloc, according to the… latest Eurobarometer survey… Almost three-quarters of respondents in the poll support the ‘economic and monetary union with one single currency, the euro,’ the highest reading since the fall of 2004. Adding to signs of increasing optimism, against the backdrop of a strengthening economic recovery, 56% of Europeans are now confident about the future of the EU -- an increase of six percentage points from fall 2016.”

Central Bank Watch:

August 3 – Bloomberg (David Goodman and Jill Ward): “Mark Carney said Brexit is casting the biggest shadow over the U.K.’s economic outlook, as his confidence in an orderly departure from the European Union starts to fade. The Bank of England governor’s comments follow slow progress in the initial round of exit talks after Prime Minister Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority in June. Carney said that there’s only so much monetary policy can do as the central bank cut its forecasts for economic growth and wages.”

Global Bubble Watch:

August 4 – Bloomberg (Theophilos Argitis): “Canada’s labor market continued its stellar performance in July, with the jobless rate falling to the lowest since before the financial crisis. The unemployment rate fell to 6.3%, the lowest since October 2008, as the labor market added another 10,900 jobs during the month, Statistics Canada reported from Ottawa. The total increase over the past year of 387,600 is the biggest 12-month gain since 2007.”

August 2 – Bloomberg (Katia Dmitrieva and Erik Hertzberg): “Home prices in Canada’s largest city posted their biggest monthly drop in at least 17 years in July and sales plunged as government efforts to cool the market and the near-collapse of a mortgage lender made buyers leery. The benchmark Toronto property price, which tracks a typical home over time, dropped 4.6% to C$773,000 ($613,000) from June.”

Fixed Income Bubble Watch:

August 2 – Wall Street Journal (Paul J. Davies): “The last financial crisis cleared out an alphabet soup of complex credit products. One type, however, has returned in droves in recent years, although popularity is now threatening their viability. This product is collateralized loan obligations, or CLOs, which buy portfolios of risky, leveraged loans often used by private-equity firms in buyouts. In the U.S., new CLO volumes have outstripped pre-crisis totals since 2014, while Europe is catching up to its previous levels fast. But returns from the loans they buy are getting squeezed as money from retail and institutional investors rushes in alongside CLOs to snap up loans. That could bring CLOs to a painful halt again.”

Federal Reserve Watch:

July 30 – Financial Times (Lena Komileva): “The US Federal Reserve raised rates for the third time in six months in June, even though inflation had stayed below its 2% target for much of the past decade. Why? The justification lies with the return to ‘economic normalisation’ (a more normal US growth and credit cycle), a reflationary global environment and easy financial conditions all combining to banish the extreme ‘tail risks’ of a deflationary slump that followed the financial crisis. Yet markets have been reluctant to heed the call of a return to more normal monetary conditions. Having lagged behind the Fed’s rate tightening and the discussion on shrinking its balance sheet this year, investors are still uncertain about the chances of another — well telegraphed — rate rise this year. A less than 40% probability is attached to this in the fed fund futures market. “

August 2 – Reuters (Richard Leong and Jonathan Spicer): “St. Louis Federal Reserve James Bullard is opposed to further U.S. interest rate increases by the central bank and warned that more hikes could hinder domestic inflation from achieving the Fed's 2-% goal… ‘Given the inflation outlook, which has deteriorated in 2017, I would not support further moves in the near term,’ Bullard told Market News… ‘It's possible data will turn around, but we'll have to see. I think for now we should remain on pause.’”

August 2 – Bloomberg (Christopher Condon): “Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester is keeping the faith that weak inflation will bounce back, even as she lowers her estimate for where unemployment begins to trigger higher prices. ‘My suspicion is it’s the idiosyncratic factors, it’s transitory and that the factors pushing down inflation are going to dissipate over time,’ Mester told reporters… ‘I still have a forecast for a gradual increase in inflation back to 2% over time.’”

August 2 – Wall Street Journal (Nick Timiraos): “Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, said increasingly tight labor markets should keep the U.S. central bank on its path to gradually raise rates and start slowly shrinking its portfolio of bonds and other assets, despite a surprising pause in inflation pressures this spring. In an interview, Mr. Rosengren said he sees ‘some reasonable risk’ that the unemployment rate drops below 4% in the next two years. ‘In my own view, that would not be sustainable,’ he said.”

U.S. Bubble Watch:

August 1 – CNBC (Diana Olick): “Home price gains are accelerating again, and in some cities those values are overheating. Four of the nation's largest cities are now considered overvalued, according to CoreLogic. Home prices in Denver, Houston, Miami and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area now exceed sustainable levels. To determine if a market is overvalued, CoreLogic compares current prices to their long-run, sustainable levels, which are supported by local economic fundamentals like disposable income… ‘With no end to the escalation in sight, affordability is rapidly deteriorating nationally,’ said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic.”

August 1 – Wall Street Journal (Sarah Krouse): “The fortunes of Wall Street’s cheapest and priciest funds are diverging fast. Exchange-traded funds held $1 trillion more in investor money than hedge funds globally for the first time ever at the end of June… Assets in ETFs, which trade on exchanges like stocks, first surpassed the amount of money in hedge funds two years ago and have continued to swell. Market-mimicking funds like ETFs have been helped by fresh market highs… Those gains have prodded investors already losing faith in star stock and bond pickers to plow even more money into the ultra low-cost funds.”

July 31 – CNBC (Fred Imbert): “Investors may be in for disappointing market returns in the decade to come with valuations at levels this high, if history is any indication. Analysts at Goldman Sachs Asset Management pointed out that annualized returns on the S&P 500 10 years out were in the single digits or negative 99% of the time when starting with valuations at current levels. In a chart, they point out that the S&P's cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (CAPE) is currently around its highest historical levels. CAPE is a widely followed valuation metric developed by Nobel Prize winners John Campbell and Robert Shiller.”

August 1 – CNBC (Tae Kim): “Mutual funds are piling into technology stocks to a record level, according to… Bank of America Merrill Lynch. But the overweighting may not be bullish for the sector going forward. In July ‘large cap active managers have yet again increased their positioning in tech, setting another record overweight of 25% (+5.8 percentage points) relative to the benchmark,’ strategist Savita Subramanian wrote… ‘This record overweight has helped managers beat their benchmarks so far this year, as tech continues to outperform all other sectors.’”

August 1 – Reuters (Joseph White and Paul Lienert): “U.S. carmakers said… they continued to slash low-margin sales to daily rental fleets in July as the overall pace of U.S. car and light truck sales fell for the fifth straight month. The annualized pace of U.S. car and light truck sales in July fell to 16.73 million vehicles, down from 17.8 million vehicles a year earlier…”

July 31 – Wall Street Journal (AnnaMaria Andriotis): “Credit-card losses are mounting, a reversal from a six-year trend that could be a warning sign for markets and the broader economy. The average net charge-off rate for large U.S. card issuers—the percentage of outstanding debt that issuers write off as a loss—increased to 3.29% in the second quarter, its highest level in four years, according to Fitch Ratings. The quarter was also the fifth consecutive period of year-over-year increases in the closely watched rate. All eight large issuers… had increases for the quarter.”

EM Bubble Watch:

August 2 – Wall Street Journal (Julie Wernau and Carolyn Cui): “Investors have been bracing for a Venezuela debt default for more than a year, but fallout from the country’s widely criticized election last weekend could prove to be the tipping point. The government and state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA, also known as PdVSA, together owe $5 billion in principal and interest payments due between now and the end of the year… The country has $725 million due this month alone… The problem: Venezuela only has about $3 billion of its foreign reserves in cash, according to S&P Global Ratings. That means the country is dependent on oil exports to make up the difference.”

July 31 – CNBC (Lucia Kassai, Laura Blewitt, and Nathan Crooks): “The specter of tighter U.S. sanctions is pushing up the perception that Venezuela is getting closer to defaulting on its bonds. Venezuela is awaiting possible further restrictions after the U.S., its largest trading partner, sanctioned President Nicolas Maduro after he held elections Sunday for a new assembly that will rewrite the constitution. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in announcing the measures, including freezing Maduro’s assets in the U.S., that additional sanctions were ‘on the table.’”

July 29 – Reuters (Girish Gupta): “In a portend of steepening inflation in crisis-stricken Venezuela, money supply surged 10% in just one week earlier this month, its largest single-week rise in a quarter of a century. Venezuela is undergoing a major economic crisis, with millions suffering food shortages, monthly wages worth only the tens of U.S. dollars, and soaring inflation…”

August 2 – Bloomberg (Jeanette Rodrigues): “Business conditions in India have deteriorated the most since the global financial crisis as the roll out of a nationwide sales tax disrupted supply and distribution links just months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cash ban roiled markets. The Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index fell to 46 in July from 52.7 in June, the steepest drop since March 2009… Activity in the key services sector plunged to 45.9 from 53.1 -- the lowest since September 2013 -- after data showed manufacturing slumped the most since 2009.”

Leveraged Speculation Watch:

August 3 – Bloomberg (Simone Foxman): “Billionaire Paul Singer is warning of a growing and menacing threat: passive investing. ‘Passive investing is in danger of devouring capitalism,’ Singer wrote... ‘What may have been a clever idea in its infancy has grown into a blob which is destructive to the growth-creating and consensus-building prospects of free market capitalism.’ Almost $500 billion flowed from active to passive funds in the first half of 2017. The founder of Elliott Management Corp. contends that passive strategies, which buy a variety of securities to match the overall performance of an index, aren’t truly ‘investing’ and that index fund providers don’t have incentive to push companies to change for the better and create shareholder value.”

August 3 – Bloomberg (Nishant Kumar, Javier Blas, and Suzy Waite): “If an oil trader so good that he was known as “God” can’t win in today’s markets, it’s hard to imagine who can. Andy Hall is closing down his main hedge fund after big losses in the first half of the year, according to people with knowledge of the matter. His flagship Astenbeck Master Commodities Fund II lost almost 30% through June… The capitulation of one of the best-known figures in the commodities industry comes after muted oil prices wrong-footed traders from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to BP Plc’s in-house trading unit.”

August 1 – Bloomberg (Nishant Kumar and Suzy Waite): “Europe is on a mini-streak with hedge-fund investors as the prospect of faster economic growth and fading political risk help restore confidence in the region. Money pools investing across Europe attracted additional capital for the second straight month in June, following a 12-month stretch in which almost $16 billion was pulled out, according to… eVestment. The continent’s success contrasts with Asia and the U.S., where investors have pulled money from hedge funds.”

August 1 – Bloomberg (Saijel Kishan): “Paul Tudor Jones’ investors are increasingly deserting him. The billionaire macro manager who helped give rise to the hedge fund industry saw clients pull about 15% of their assets from his main fund in the second quarter… That’s left client assets at about $3.6 billion, almost half the value a year ago. The withdrawals are a blow to Jones… and exemplify the asset bleed hurting the biggest names in the business, including Alan Howard and John Paulson… Macro hedge funds have posted their worst first half since 2013, losing 0.7%, and on average returned about 1% annually in the past five years, according to Hedge Fund Research Inc.”

Geopolitical Watch:

July 31 – Reuters (Philip Wen and Ben Blanchard): “China loves peace but will never compromise on defending its sovereignty, President Xi Jinping said… while marking 90 years since the founding of the People's Liberation Army. China has rattled nerves around Asia and globally with its increasingly assertive stance in territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas and an ambitious military modernization plan. Relations with self-ruled Taiwan have also worsened since Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won presidential elections there last year. China considers Taiwan a wayward province, to be brought under Beijing's control by force if necessary.”

August 2 – Financial Times (Emily Feng and Leo Lewis): “Xi Jinping has warned that China will not tolerate any infringement of its sovereignty or territory, in a speech delivered as the country finds itself embroiled in several territorial disputes with neighbours. ‘We will never seek aggression or expansion but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions,’ the Chinese president said in an hour-long speech on the 90th anniversary of the founding of the country’s army. ‘We will never allow any people, organisation or political party to split any part of Chinese territory out of the country.’ His comments came as Japan mounted a formal diplomatic protest to demand that China stop its renewed drilling operations in the East China Sea.”

August 4 – Associated Press: “Beijing is intensifying its warnings to Indian troops to get out of a contested region high in the Himalayas where China, India and Bhutan meet, saying China's ‘restraint has its limits’ and publicizing live-fire drills in Tibet. Indian troops entered the area in the Doklam Plateau in June after New Delhi's ally, Bhutan, complained a Chinese military construction party was building a road inside Bhutan's territory.”

July 31 – Reuters (Ben Blanchard and Elias Glenn): “China hit back on Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted he was ‘very disappointed’ in China following North Korea's latest missile test, saying the problem did not arise in China and that all sides need to work for a solution. China has become increasingly frustrated with American and Japanese criticism that it should do more to rein in Pyongyang. China is North Korea's closest ally, but Beijing, too, is angry with its continued nuclear and missile tests.”

July 29 – Reuters (James Pearson and Michelle Nichols): “The United States flew two supersonic B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula in a show of force on Sunday and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said China, Japan and South Korea needed to do more after Pyongyang's latest missile tests. North Korea said it conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) on Friday that proved its ability to strike America's mainland, drawing a sharp warning from U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump's ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said… that the United States was ‘done talking’ about North Korea, which was ‘not only a U.S. problem.’”

July 29 – Reuters (Babak Dehghanpisheh): “The Iranian Revolutionary Guards said… that U.S. Navy ships came close to their vessels in the Gulf and shot flares. The USS Nimitz and an accompanying warship drew close to a rocket-bearing Iranian vessel on Friday and sent out a helicopter near a number of Guards vessels… ‘The Americans made a provocative and unprofessional move by issuing a warning and shooting flares at vessels ...,’ the statement said. ‘Islam’s warriors, without paying attention to this unconventional and unusual behaviour from the American vessels, continued their mission in the area and the aircraft carrier and accompanying battleship left the area.’”

July 31 – Wall Street Journal (Julian E. Barnes, Laurence Norman and Felicia Schwartz): “The U.S. Pentagon and State Department have devised plans to supply Ukraine with antitank missiles and other weaponry and are seeking White House approval, U.S. officials said, as Kiev battles Russia-backed separatists and ties between Moscow and Washington fray. American military officials and diplomats say the arms, which they characterized as defensive, are meant to deter aggressive actions by Moscow, which the U.S. and others say has provided tanks and other sophisticated armaments as well as military advisers to rebels fighting the Kiev government.”
           A comparison study of biologically inspired propulsion systems for an autonomous underwater vehicle         
Watts, Christopher Mark (2009) A comparison study of biologically inspired propulsion systems for an autonomous underwater vehicle. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
          Drought in East Africa: “If the rains do not come, none of us will survive”        

A large double-decker truck is quickly making its way towards Garadag from Fadigaab, in the south of Somaliland. It is carrying nine families and what is left of their herds: some sheep, goats, and donkeys. It is even carrying their homes – herders can dismantle their huts quickly and rebuild them in different locations.

This is what pastoralists have done for centuries, following the movements of their animals and the changing seasons. However, because of the drought's effects on the Horn of Africa, these nine families have had to move six times in the last six months. They continue to seek drinkable water for themselves and their animals, hoping they will be able to hold out for the soon-to-come rainy season.

Nine pastoralist families’ lives, their wealth (their animals), and even their homes are all being transported towards a new site – where they hope they will be able to hold out for the soon-to-come rainy season.

The region was hit by an 18-month drought caused by El Niño and higher temperatures linked to climate change. Now, in the midst of even more drought, the situation has become catastrophic, causing crops to fail and cattle to die. In addition, the lack of clean water increases the threat of cholera and other diseases.

Across Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and the autonomous region of Somaliland, 10.7 million people are facing severe hunger. There are increasing concerns that the situation will get much worse, as rainfall in March and early April was very low in places. Poor rainfall is forecast for April through June, the end of the rainy season.

Sheep and goats which have died because of the continuous drought situation in Somaliland.

Droughts are not new to this region, but they are intensifying. There is growing scientific analysis suggesting that climate change aggravates their impacts.

For many in East Africa, the current drought is the worst in living memory. We are now in the third year of very low rainfall coupled with high temperatures, which have exhausted people’s ability to cope with drier conditions and scarce and unpredictable rains.

Pastoralists resettling in the Garadag district after a 60km journey on a truck with their animals. Somaliland, Northern Somalia, March 2017.

Pastoralists are most at risk

Nomadic pastoralists are among the hardest hit by this drought, which has left exceptional numbers of people without most or all of their livestock. They live on harsher lands and receive little support from governments. More frequent droughts are making it harder for people to recover between shocks, making them more vulnerable to the next crisis.

In eastern Somaliland, which has been ravaged by this catastrophe, Oxfam has witnessed entire communities on the move, desperately searching for water and pasture, and chasing the rains that have been forecast but are yet to materialize. Many say that this drought is worse than the one in 2011, which left a quarter of a million people dead and vast herds of livestock completely wiped out. This left survivors without the means to feed themselves or make a living.

Mahmoud Geedi Ciroobay (picture above) is from Kalsheikh – 60 km away from where the pastoralists have settled near Garadag.

“This drought is slowly killing everything, says Mahmoud. First it ‘swept away’ the land and the pastures; then it ‘swept away’ the animals, which first became weaker and weaker and eventually died. Soon, it is going to ‘sweep away’ people. People are sick with flu, diarrhoea, and measles. If they don’t get food, clean water, and medicines, they will die like their animals.”

Right up to six months ago, Mahmoud’s family used to have over 1000 animals: 400 sheep, plus goats and camels. Then, they started moving in search of better pastures and more water for their animals. They moved to the area of Erigavo, then outside of El Alfweyn. “In the last six months, we have moved six times in total – and every time we move, we lose more livestock.”

Farhia Mohamad Geedi (pictured above) is 25 years old. She came here with her four-year-old daughter, Zeinab, her mother, and the rest of her family in hopes of finding new pastures for the few animals in their care. They used to own 100 goats and 100 sheep, but none survived.

“Our animals started dying in October-November. The last animals we had died in February. So now we help our relatives looking after theirs. Together, we all decided to move here, as there are some pastures nearby and it could be better for our livestock,” she says.

“We have moved four times in the last four months. We were trying to follow the rain – moving according to where the rains were supposed to come. But they haven’t. If the rains don’t come, none of us will survive”.

Photos: Petterik Wiggers/Oxfam
 

East Africa faces a race against time

Oxfam is launching a humanitarian response to the drought in Somaliland where, together with our long-standing networks and partners, we can have the most impact as quickly as possible.

We will initially reach a minimum of 20,000 people with clean water, sanitation, and cash assistance so that they can buy much-needed food and medicine. We hope to significantly expand our response to reach a further 200,000 people over the next 12 months.

Help us now: please donate

 

English
Parent page: 
Famine and hunger crisis
Ethiopia food crisis
Picture: 
Nimo tient un médicament contre la diarrhée. Elle a perdu la majeure partie de son troupeau et souffre de diarrhée depuis des semaines. « Nous avions 170 bêtes. Mais elles ont commencé à mourir et sont tombées comme des mouches, jour après jour. »
Summary picture: 
Pull quotes: 
“This drought is leaving nothing behind. In previous droughts, we used to lose some animals, but we would always have food and water. But this is different. It is ‘sweeping away’ animals and people.”
Quotee: 
Abdilal Yassen, 70
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Regions and Countries: 
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Oxfam near me
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Famine and hunger crisis

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          Halaga ng Buhay        


Masasabi kong mapalad akong ipinanganak sa mundong ito nang walang ano mang diperensya sa aking pangangatawan. At lalong mapalad ako dahil hindi kailan man sumagi sa isip ng mama ko na ipalaglag ako dahil alam niya kung gaano kahalaga ang isang buhay.

This is roughly a 2-month old foetus which was mercilessly aborted. I, myself, value life and strongly oppose abortion. We humans are pro-creators of God who has given life to every living being in this universe. And no human has the right to take life by any means, except in very few instances wherein there is no choice but to take it without the intention of aborting life, such as therapeutic abortion, which is approved to be practiced by the Roman Catholic Church.

I could still remember the motto in my Human Ethics Subject in my University: NOT ALL LEGAL ARE MORAL -- NOT ALL MORAL ARE LEGAL.

Here we go again... MORAL vs ETHICAL!

Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution says, in part, "Section 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception."

Good thing I was born in a country where abortion is strictly forbidden. Nevertheless, there are some people in this country who discreetly perform abortion which could be very risky for the pregnant ones; mga walang pakundangan baga.
          We Need an Ecological Spiritual Revolution        
The following is a modified version of the final part of the post The Whole World Is Sacred. I am reposting that part because it is a good summary of what I am trying to communicate.

--

The human presence on Earth has become so dysfunctional; our ways of living and working, of growing and catching food, of making things, of gathering the resources to make things, and our ways of disposing of those things are so fundamentally out of harmony with natural, life-giving processes, and so destructive to the basis of life, that we must be utterly changed, inwardly and outwardly, in our sense of identity and in the structures of our societies. New technologies and a few policy changes are insufficient and often merely perpetuate the problem in a new form.

We need an ecological spiritual revolution: a complete change of heart and mind, a reorientation at the deepest levels of psyche and society. The nature of that revolution is what I have tried to articulate in this blog and my other writing and workshops: see that we are deeply out of touch with reality because our beliefs distort reality; see that I am no thing (empty), and therefore everything (whole); see that everything is sacred; listen to the animals; be devoted to the well being of the whole movement of life.

Contrast those with what I think characterize our dominant perspective: my beliefs form the core of my identity - I'll kill to defend them if I have to; I am an individual, autonomous self, and that self reigns supreme; My life and the lives of those related to me or close to me are of great value, but everything else is of value only if it is useful to me and my kin and my nation or wherever I happen to draw the boundary of my "self" (and it is a very flexible boundary, although we fail to recognize that).

A complete reversal of orientation has become a matter of survival. I have tried to describe where I think that reorientation comes from, and to make clear that it is possible, but it remains elusive at best. It is a reorientation in which nothing needs to change for everything to change. It is not something that comes as a result of anything we do; it comes when we stop all of our doing and see things as they are. The truth is right at hand waiting for us to recognize it and be changed by it.
          The Hermit        
Solitude has a critical role to play in societal transformation.

Our sense of self and our sense of the world are profoundly influenced by the social norms that surround us. We tend to believe what our peers believe and see the world the way our peers see the world. Our worldview is heavily influenced by the messages we absorb every day from our friends, from our co-workers, from cable and internet news, Facebook and Twitter. The devilish part is that we do not even realize how much our sense of self is created by those around us. We merge with the group, while claiming that we are autonomous selves and independent thinkers.

Separating our perception from the filters of our culture is extremely difficult. This makes it nearly impossible to solve problems that are at least in part problems of perception and worldview. Such as the ecological crisis. Even for those of us who realize that the root of the problem lies in how we see ourselves and the world, it remains very challenging to see the world in any way other than the way our society frames it. Our society is constantly reminding us of who it thinks we are and what it thinks the world is, and we absorb and adopt that view, or risk isolation from our community.

Along comes someone who has chosen isolation voluntarily: the hermit. She saw the danger of social harmony. She stepped away from those influences in order to see more clearly. She carried those norms with her into her solitude, and wrestled with them as they continued to maintain dominance. She repeated in her own mind, over and over, the messages she had unconsciously absorbed from her earliest childhood. But without reinforcement from society, they began to unravel.

She stepped into a world most of us never see, a world alive with the non-human, the animal, the plant, the wind, the water, the stone, the soil, the sun and star light. She encountered her essential emptiness. Fell into it, quite unexpectedly. She discovered that apart from these others, she has no existence at all. She is these others. Her sense of being a separate self was a mental fabrication, aided by all of those messages from the society about who and what she should be; what matters and what does not matter; who is precious and who is expendable; what lies at the center of concern and what is outside the wall; what is a life, and what is a commodity. Without those messages filling her sense of self, she fell into the embrace of the real.

She discovered what life is.

She may decide never to return to society. Society is thoroughly distorted by the beliefs it promotes. It is delusional at its core. Who would want to return after getting free of it? If she does return, and speaks, will anyone listen? Her message is strange, almost incomprehensible. It challenges the entire edifice of human civilization, confronts it with its lies and distortions and self-aggrandizing rationalizations.

She speaks in contradictions. The real world is alive with beauty and power. The human mind belongs to that world but it is lost in its own illusions.  Everything is sacred, and nothing lasts forever. Imagination and lack of awareness are our greatest dangers. Our senses are our window on the world and a veil that obscures it. Most of our attempts to understand the real world reduce our understanding. We are these limited little organisms that move around and carry private thoughts, and we are the whole universe. We are emptiness and we are everything. The "self" is a fiction. The "other" is a fiction. Everything that supports civilization is essentially hollow: endless growth, personal success, entertainment, power, wealth, perpetual conflict. Civilization serves the self. Without self, civilization collapses. Civilization cannot be made less selfish. It is built on the illusion of the separate self. You can withdraw, or remove your consent, but you cannot reform civilization. Art was once an exuberant expression of being alive; now it is mostly self-referential, serving only its own perpetuation. Civilization has become the adversary of life.

The hermit is advocating the collapse of civilization. She is crazy. We won't listen.

The hermit is not advocating anything. She is just telling it like it is. Civilization is going to collapse whether we want it to or not. The only question is how and when. The hermit is telling us what hermits and other contemplatives have been telling us all along. This thing we cling to, this human civilization which provides a measure of safety and security for some and endless misery for others, is blinding us to reality. By insisting on living by its rules, we are cheating ourselves of the truth. We mouth our allegiance to our respective religions, but we never, ever want to go where they are pointing us. Divine reality, which we pretend to seek, demolishes our sense of self and undermines the foundation of society. We would rather pretend that reality belongs to us, and is captured by what we believe, and will do our bidding. We can manage it and shape it to our liking. No problem.

The hermit's message, like the sacred stories we like to ignore, is that God is a fire. God is a hurricane. God is an earthquake. God unmasks our illusions and unmakes our sense of self. The truth is not cozy and self-affirming. It is a disaster for our sense of self and a radical challenge to human civilization. Reality is terrifying to the illusory self. So we resist it like mad while paying lip service to it. Somewhere in our minds we know we cannot escape reality. But maybe we can distract it, buy it off with words of devotion.

The hermit offers an alternative. Lose yourself to find yourself. Lose your devotion to separation and find wholeness. Which, oddly, means finding oneself in opposition to the communal as well as the individual. The Group always has a circle that defines who is in and who is out. Wholeness includes everyone and everything and therefore stands in sharp contrast to The Group. The Self is like A Group of One. It also draws a circle that defines what is "me" and what is "not me." Reality therefore stands in sharp contrast to The Self. Reality demolishes all that includes and excludes and leaves nothing but itself, the whole of everything. Talking about it is easy. Encountering it is something else entirely. Total undoing. Reality is vast and incomprehensible. Very few dare to look it in the face.

The hermit has been there and come back to tell us about it. The Kingdom of God is right at hand. Ungraspable, it is nevertheless at our fingertips. Only the self stands in the way.

Will we listen, or will we turn away from her, settling back into the unreal world we think we know and think we can manage, a world no larger than the mental frame that encloses it?
          Intel, Mobileye reveal plans to deliver 100 autonomous cars        

Intel and Mobileye are to deliver fleet of autonomous test cars following the completion of Intel's acquisition of Mobileye this week.

The post Intel, Mobileye reveal plans to deliver 100 autonomous cars appeared first on Computer Business Review.


          The Whole World Is Sacred        
The following paragraphs summarize most of what I have tried to communicate in this blog and in my essays. I have arrived at this perspective by living among homeless people, being in a war zone, hanging out with whales and seals and birds and trees and rivers, and living a contemplative, listening life.


The Whole World is Sacred:

The plants and animals, rivers and seas and mountains and forests, the stars and planets, are sacred, of value in and of and for themselves. For humans to use them, manipulate them, harvest them, harm them, abuse them, without any regard for their own value for themselves leads to grievous harm for us all. I seek the sanctification of the whole universe and all of its members. I resist commodification and exploitation in all its forms. Nothing, absolutely nothing, exists only for another’s use.


Beliefs Distort Reality:

No matter what we believe (about the world, or about ourselves), no matter what we think we know, if we prefer our beliefs to reality, our relationship with reality gets distorted. To stay in touch with reality, we must be active listeners, open to the whole range of experience, inward and outward, comfortable and uncomfortable. To be attentive to reality is to be here and now, listening deeply, observing sensitively; acting as necessary, taking into our awareness our limited experience and our vast ignorance.


When I See That I Am No Thing, I See That I Am Everything:

To be attentive to reality is to encounter our limits, to see that we do not really know anything at all. Reality is essentially hidden from us, even though we live it and breathe it and it is right at hand. From this awareness of our ignorance comes the love of everything that is. How is that? Our sense of self is created by the stories we tell about the world and our relationship to it. When we realize that we do not really know who we are, and we do not really know what the world is, our ability to derive an enduring sense of self from these stories evaporates, and what is left is the whole of everything, its dynamic interrelatedness, and this organism as part of that whole movement of life. The stories don’t necessarily stop, but they are no longer definitive. The living “self” is not in the stories I tell, but in the whole movement of life. This is a powerful shift of perspective.

We tend to have this backward. We elevate the stories we tell to the status of Self, and we denigrate the reality in which we move to the status of “other;” not important, inherently evil, of value only if useful to me, an illusion, to be feared, to be hated, to be escaped, to be conquered, to be manipulated, used, abused, destroyed. We create a “me,” and then the “not-me” is either useful to me, or it is a threat to me and treated accordingly. The love of everything is not the love of one separate thing for another separate thing, but the inherent love of the wholeness of life reveling in its wholeness, in which there is no division, no “me,” no “not-me,” no conflict, no distortion, no exploitation.


Everything Must Change:

The human presence on Earth has become so dysfunctional; our ways of living and working, of growing and catching food, of making things, of gathering the resources to make things, and our ways of disposing of those things are so fundamentally out of harmony with natural, life-giving processes, and so destructive to the basis of life, that we must be utterly changed, inwardly and outwardly, in our sense of identity and in the structures of our societies. New technology and a few policy changes are insufficient (though probably necessary).

We need a complete change of heart and mind, a reorientation at the deepest levels of psyche and society. The nature of the change is what I have articulated above: look and see that beliefs distort reality; see that I am no thing, and therefore everything; see that everything is sacred.

Contrast those with what I think characterize our dominant perspective: my beliefs form the core of my identity - I'll kill to defend them if I have to; I am an individual, autonomous self, and that self reigns supreme; My life and the lives of those related to me or close to me are of great value, but everything else is of value only if it is useful to me and my kin or my nation or wherever I happen to draw the boundary of my "self" (and it is a very flexible boundary, although we fail to recognize that).

A complete reversal of orientation has become a matter of survival. I have tried to describe where I think that reorientation comes from, and to make clear that it is possible, but it remains elusive at best.


One final word: Because beliefs distort reality, I do not ask anyone to believe anything that I am saying. This reorientation goes way beyond a change in beliefs. It is available to anyone and everyone who stops and looks and listens and is willing to be utterly changed in the process.
          Dodental Aardbeving China naar 617        
Het dodental van de aardbeving gisteren in de Chinese provincie Qinghai is opgelopen naar 617. De aarde beefde woensdagmorgen 07:49 Chinese tijd met een kracht van 7.1 bij Yushu County in de Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, een semi-autonoom gebied met een Tibetaanse meerderheid. Het Chinese leger heeft ondertussen 4600 soldaten naar het gebied gestuurd en […]
          Bougainville Library Project        


 

Lloyd Jones, whose "Mister Pip" sold 300,000 copies in Britain after it reached the Booker shortlist, is hoping to arouse similar enthusiasm for his venture in support of the real-life inhabitants of the island where his novel was set.

His Bougainville Library Trust has already made links with local people to help them plan, build, stock and fundraise for a community library (click here) – Jones calls it a "temple for story" – in Arawa, the largest settlement on Bougainville, an autonomous island that is within the political fold of Papua New Guinea.

Also planned is a cultural centre to house field notes from visiting scholars and historical materials from institutions around the region.

Click here to go to their facebook page.

 


          My Digital Hermitage        


It's all coming together rather nicely. As you'll know by reading this blog, I'm very much a member of the "leave me alone" pioneer type Libertarian, desperate to get the State and pretty much anyone else off my back, preferring an autonomous, peaceful existence to live my life how I see fit.

I've struggled hard over the years to remove myself from voting lists, taxation, Government systems, surveillance and all of the little nagging demands that an "interconnected modern society" run by Politicians on my behalf has to offer. I reject "permits" and "authorisation" wherever remotely possible (I'm currently trying to become Stateless negating the need for a Passport) and refuse to seek permission from those who would be my masters. My latest project is a down to Earth instruction manual for budding free thinkers and non Statists to learn from the experiences I've been through and find their own way in this complicated world of regulation and intrusion we live in. I intend to show you all how to do it, how to throw off shackles, how to defeat authority and how to reclaim your life and liberty from those who would rather you didn't. Some tricks are simple, some are complicated and all require courage - if you prefer the warm blanket of State security, high taxation and high welfare benefits over "dangerous" freedom, I wish you all the best - on the condition you leave me alone to pursue my happiness unimpeded. 

Firstly, you'll need to decide what your core values are. I didn't find mine until I reached 40 years old, I was too busy making money to care about anything else. The acquisition of "stuff", business "success" and simple egoism drove me. Then it changed - quite simply, what I owned was beginning to own me. So my core values changed because underneath it all, I was actually seeking freedom. Freedom from debt and security for my large family.

My core values are now:

  • Free Speech to say, write and read what I desire
  • Liberty to choose how to live my life, as I see fit
  • Autonomy to do so - free from the meddling theft of Politicians and their endless promises
  • Minimal taxation - to live in a minimal State that respects my need to defend my property
I've fought the system for a decade now, and I'm not winning. I've tested laws to destruction, exposed hypocrisy and fraud, denounced the corrupt and ridiculed pompous authoritarians who decide they know better than you how to run your life. I've become a determined Libertarian and I'm no longer interested in changing anything for others. My only concern is securing my peace and freedom for me as a sovereign  individual.

My only task is now to leave those who are interested a guide book on how to become free - take it or leave it. If you seek what I seek, I'm happy to help. I expect to publish within the next 12 months. 

Me? I'm finally free. I've found what I've been looking for. I can own an AK47 to protect my life, property and liberty. I can build without "permits", grow produce of my own, feed and house myself, pay a minimal 10% tax on my earnings and live without Diversity Coordinators or a license to watch a television. I can speak and publish freely on the fastest internet connection in Europe. My chosen State has no interest in me, my politics or my "wellbeing". I buy what I require from the free market and am free to sell to anyone. I can work remotely, independently and successfully without interference. I am no longer a slave to consumerism, commuting or taxation, I am no longer a number to filed, stamped, regulated and monitored. Now, that's Liberty and I thoroughly recommend it.





          The Rise of the Machines        
Like may Libertarians, my only real aim is to live as I choose, free from the interference of others, particularly the all invasive, ever regulating, ever taxing State. Some of us choose to go off grid entirely, growing our own supplies and becoming self sufficient in true Pioneer spirit (something I am actively pursuing) and some of us choose to expose the hypocrisy of a Government Mafia only designed to redistribute any wealth we may acquire to those who would vote for a Politician.

The MakerBot


I blogged way back in 2009 about the remarkable "reprap" open source 3D printer that was capable of making an exact copy of itself and the threat to standard manufacturing that it presented. A machine that could build you stuff, on your desktop instead of engaging a huge value chain leading back to a factory in China with every middle man taking a cut of the profits and inflating the price. I predicted they would go mainstream and today, you can buy a variety of 3D printers in the High Street, although they are only really embraced by geeks and nerds to build World of Warcraft characters, but interest is still growing.



Then I listened to a childhood hero of mine on Radio 4 last week (audioboo here). James Burke. Remember him? He used to present science in a completely non academic way to the public and revisited a few of his predictions for the future. Well, forty years later, he was right.  We have the Internet, transparent(ish) Govt, individual voices and endless information and data at the click of a mouse. It has overthrown Governments and empowered us all - just last week, twitter stopped the country from going to war by enabling all of us to instantly remind our "representatives" that they work for us, not the Party Whip. You are reading this on a mobile device, and can do so anywhere on the planet, at no charge to either of us - that's pretty amazing.

So, what does James Burke predict for the next forty years?

The End of All Government.

"Pardon?" I hear you exclaim. Well, the next logical step for the 3D printer is to stop printing stuff using plastics and start printing stuff using atoms - The Nanofactory. Add some air, a bit of dirt and a bit of carbon and yes, you can create anything you want. Anything. For free. Atoms make molecules and molecules make stuff.

His premise is that Government only really exists to redistribute stuff from one citizen to another who doesn't have any, either by taxation or simply invading another country and grabbing all their stuff. Well, how is that going to work when we don't need anymore stuff, because we can simply make it in our office. A bar of gold - easy. Diamonds - a doddle. An entire car and the petrol to run it forever - "press print".

Boom. There goes capitalism, socialism, communism, Marxism, corporatism - all redundant, overnight. There goes "work" - getting up at 6 am to work 8 hours to make something for someone else in return for payment - who needs it? Who is going to buy anything when the soil in your garden can be transformed into literally, anything your heart desires? No more consumerism, no more consumers, no more oil wars, hell, no more wars, no more property theft. No wars equals no borders, no more rich, no more poor.

If you want to live an autonomous life on a hilltop, there is nothing to stop you. Why the hell do you want to live in a city when you can live on a Caribbean beach? How soon? Well, Burke predicts the next 40 years. Preposterous? Well, just 20 years ago, 12 people on the planet had a mobile phone, now Amazonian tribesmen check the weather on a battered old Nokia, fed by a solar charger. 

If Burke is only 50% accurate in his predictions, our children will be as free as nature intended them to be. Without all the hassle of hunting or gathering themselves to death to pay for Glorious Leaders they no longer need. 

Now that IS human progress. Bring it on.


          Festival. César Aira y el Bafici: cine y literatura en “tiempos postautónomos”        
Autor: Wolfgang Bongers. Festival. César Aira and the Bafici: film and literature in “postautonomous times”[1] Wolfgang Bongers [1.1] Filiación: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile. Email: wbongers@uc.cl...
           The role of motivational thinking in autonomous learning         
Ushioda, Ema (1997) The role of motivational thinking in autonomous learning. In: Little, D. and Voss, B., (eds.) Language centres: Planning for the new millennium. Plymouth, England: CERCLES, pp. 38-50. ISBN 0-905-227-80-8
          Waves of Innovation        

Researchers are finding new ways to use and combine unmanned aircraft with autonomous surface and underwater marine vehicles to monitor coasts, protect fisheries and improve hurricane forecasts.

The post Waves of Innovation appeared first on Inside Unmanned Systems.


          The Drive to Safety Critical Performance        

New engineering team at NovAtel® ready to deliver the functionally safe positioning technology required to make autonomous vehicles part of our everyday lives.

The post The Drive to Safety Critical Performance appeared first on Inside Unmanned Systems.


          Beware of extra tax charges on Spanish property        
When buying second hand Spanish property investors are being warned that they could be facing extra tax charges without realising it. Existing homes are subject to a levy worth up to ten per cent of the purchase tax that figures into the corresponding deeds to the patrimonial transference tax (ITP). As this percentage can vary according to autonomous community, buyers need to understand their tax obligations.

In Madrid and Andalusia, tax stands at seven per cent, while in Valencia and Catalonia, charges are set at the maximum ten per cent. The Spanish Brick has assured investors that there isn't normally any anomaly, but instances in which the Treasury requires the buyer to pay more than they did initially are on the rise. This is thanks to the fact that even when the actual price paid for the purchase of a home is put on record, the value of administration relating to a property is much higher. When administration costs have not been revised at the same speed as fluctuation is housing market prices, the result is that buyers are faced with higher than expected charges.

According to the Spanish Brick, this is becoming particularly common among buyers that have obtained a flat at a low price or other property bargains. Because autonomous communities have minimum price tables and calculate the minimum ITP due from this, actually tax levels can be higher than advertised. Buyers must also beware that if they overpay, nothing will happen, but if a regional government believes a sale price has been too law, the authorities will then demand an additional payment on top of ITP charges.

To avoid falling into this tax trap, buyers are advised to inform themselves about the administration of taxes from the Comunidad Autonoma before deeding a property. Investors must also be aware of the valuation that the property has with the administration. This will enable individuals to calculate the expenses they face over the payment of tax.
Article by +https://plus.google.com/113107350172679406191?rel=author on behalf of Propertyshowrooms.com
          Peace Revolution episode 073: First Principles of an Autonomous Philosophy        
itunes pic

 

 

Right-Click here to download this episode and , or use the download link at the bottom of the notes for this episode.

Notes, References, and Links for further study:

Tragedy and Hope dot com

Peace Revolution primary site (2009-2012)*

Peace Revolution backup stream (2006-2012)*

Includes the 9/11 Synchronicity Podcast (predecessor to Peace Revolution)

*These 2 podcasts and lectures amount to 400+ hours of commercial-free educational content, which formulate a comprehensive and conscious curriculum.

Reference Map to Episode 073:

(1min-7min) sample of Aristotle and the Foundation of Logic by Will Durant

(7min-12min) Richard’s introductory monologue

(12min-1h50m) History… Connected: Research Discussion on First Principles of Practical Philosophy

(1h50m-4h50m) History… Interview and a Movie with Larken Rose, premiering his documentary “It Can’t Happen Here”

(4h50m-6h30m) Aristotle and Greek Science by Will Durant

(6h30m-8h) Adventures in Legal Land by Marc Stevens

WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE?

CHECK OUT "THE ULTIMATE HISTORY LESSON: A WEEKEND WITH JOHN TAYLOR GATTO"!

Subtitled: A 5-hour journey examining the history, root-causes, and consequences of public schooling

Alternatively, you can also find The Ultimate History Lesson listed on Amazon.com.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT! If you would like to donate so that we can continue producing independent media without commercial advertising, simply click the button below for a one-time donation:

Alternatively, You can become a Member and Support our ability to create media for the public (while You make new friends and enjoy educating yourself along the way) by subscribing to the Tragedy and Hope Community: Monthly @ $14.95 / month

Yearly @ $120.00 / year

*Subscription details on TragedyandHope.com


          Peace Revolution episode 050: How to End Slavery in the 21st Century (and Beyond)        
itunes pic

Notes, References, and Links for further study:

  1. Tragedy and Hope dot com
  2. February’s Invitation to the Tragedy and Hope online community (link expires monthly)
  3. Log in page for the Tragedy and Hope online community
  4. Peace Revolution primary site (2009-2012)
  5. Peace Revolution backup stream (2006-2012)
    1. Includes the 9/11 Synchronicity Podcast (predecessor to Peace Revolution)
    2. These 2 podcasts amount to 250+ hours of commercial-free educational content, which formulate a comprehensive and conscious curriculum.
    3. The Ultimate History Lesson dot com
    4. The Ultimate History Lesson Official Playlist (on YouTube)
    5. The Ultimate History Lesson (Torrents)
      1. (Video) The Ultimate History Lesson (5+ hours / 1080p HD mp4)
      2. (Audio) The Ultimate History Lesson + Commentary (16+ hours / mp3)
        1.                                           i.    If you’re interested in downloading the torrent versions, please send an email to: Editors@TragedyandHope.com with the word “torrent” in the subject line.
        2.                                          ii.    What is a Torrent? (on Wikipedia)
          1. uTorrent (software to create and download torrent files)

10.  The Snake or the Rope? Courtesy of the Teaching Company Lectures on Freedom

11.  Swaraj (on Wikipedia)

  1. Swaraj can mean generally self-governance or "self-rule", and was used synonymously with "home-rule" by Gandhi[1] (Hindi: swa- "self", raj "rule") but the word usually refers to Gandhi's concept for Indian independence from foreign domination.[2] Swaraj lays stress on governance not by a hierarchical government, but self governance through individuals and community building. The focus is on political decentralization.[3] Since this is against the political and social systems followed by Britain, Gandhi's concept of Swaraj laid stress on India discarding British political, economic, bureaucratic, legal, military, and educational institutions.[4]

12.  Self-Governance (on Wikipedia)

  1. Self-governance is an abstract concept that refers to several scales of organization.
  2. It may refer to personal conduct or family units but more commonly refers to larger scale activities, i.e., professions, industry bodies, religions and political units (usually referred to as Local Government), up to and including autonomous regions and aboriginal peoples (or others within nation-states who enjoy some sovereign rights). It falls within the larger context of governance and principles such as consent of the governed, and may involve non-profit organizations and corporate governance.
  3. It can be used to describe a people or group being able to exercise all of the necessary functions of power without intervention from any authority which they cannot themselves alter. Self rule is associated then in contexts where there is the end of colonial rule, absolute government or monarchy, as well as demands for autonomy by religious, ethnic or geographic regions which perceive themselves as being unrepresented or underrepresented in a national government. It is therefore a fundamental tenet of republican government and democracy as well as nationalism. Gandhi's term "swaraj" (see also "satygraha") is a branch of this self rule ideology. Another major proponent of self-rule when a government's actions are immoral is Thoreau.
  4. Generally when self-governance of nation-states is discussed, it is called national sovereignty - a concept important in international law.

13.  Who is Frederick Douglass?

  1. Frederick Douglass (on Wikipedia)
  2. Frederick Douglass (Library of Congress Archives)

14.  George Santayana and the mis-attributed phrase

15.  The Ultimate History Lesson on “The Power Hour” radio show on GCN Network

16.  Jan Irvin’s interviews with Larken Rose on Gnostic Media dot com

  1. Larken Rose interview, pt. 3 – “Government – The Fallacy of Ad Verecundiam, pt. 2” – #137

17.  “The Most Dangerous Superstition” @ www.LarkenRose.com

  1. See also: “The Iron Web” by Larken Rose

18.  Corbett Report Episode 218 – The Philosophy of Liberty: The Magna Carta

Peace Revolution partner podcasts:

Corbett Report dot com

Media Monarchy dot com

Gnostic Media Podcast

School Sucks Project Podcast

Remedy Radio Podcast

Meria dot net

Other productions by members of the T&H network:

The Ultimate History Lesson: A Weekend with John Taylor Gatto (2012) a journey into the dark heart of public schooling, revealing how America became incoherent, one student at a time.

Navigating Netflix (2011) our video series wherein we conduct a critical analysis of films you might have missed; Navigating Netflix is available for free on YouTube.

"Memories of a Political Prisoner", an interview with Professor Chengiah Ragaven, graduate of Oxford, Cambridge, and Sussex; AFTER he was a political prisoner, who was exiled from South Africa, during Apartheid. (2011)

What You've Been Missing! (2011) is our video series focusing in on the history of corruption in our public education system.

Top Documentary Films dot com: Hijacking Humanity by Paul Verge (2006)

Top Documentary Films dot com: Exposing the Noble Lie (2010)

Top Documentary Films dot com: The Pharmacratic Inquisition by Jan Irvin (2007)

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT! If you would like to donate so that we can continue producing independent media without commercial advertising, simply click the button below for a one-time donation:

Alternatively, You can become a Member and Support our ability to create media for the public (while You make new friends and enjoy educating yourself along the way) by subscribing to the Tragedy and Hope Community: Monthly @ $14.95 / month

Yearly @ $120.00 / year

*Subscription details on Subscribe page in the Top Menu.


          Maharana Ranjit Singh        
Maharaja Ranjit Singh (13 November 1780 – 27 June 1839) was the founder of the Sikh Empire, which came to power in the Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century. The empire, based in the Punjab region, existed from 1799 to 1849. It was forged, on the foundations of the Dal Khalsa, under the leadership of Ranjit Singh from a collection of autonomous Sikh Misls Ranjit Singh was succeeded by his son, Kharak Singh.

Ranjit Singh was born to Maha Singh and Raj Kaur on 13 November 1780, in Gujranwala, Punjab. His grandfather Charat Singh was the founder of Sukerchakia Misl. At first he was named Buddh Singh, but Maha Singh received the news of his son's birth on his return from a victorious battle against the Chattha chief, Pir Muhammad, and renamed his son Ranjit (Victor in War). Historians have mixed views as to his family origins; while some assert he was born into a Jat Sikh family,  others claim that he was born into a Sansi Sikh family.

As a child, he suffered from smallpox which resulted in the loss of one eye. At the time, much of Punjab was ruled by the Sikhs under a Confederate Sarbat Khalsa system, who had divided the territory among factions known as misls. Ranjit Singh's father Maha Singh was the Commander of the Sukerchakia Misl and controlled a territory in the west Punjab based around his headquarters at Gujranwala. After his father's death, Ranjit Singh was raised under the protection of his mother Raj Kaur, and his mother-in-law Sada Kaur. He, at a very young age of 17 years failed Zaman Shah Durrani's invasion to India. He defeated Zaman Shah Durrani in the Battle of Amritsar (1797), Battle of Gujarat (1797) and Battle of Amritsar (1798).

In 1799, Ranjit Singh captured Lahore from the Bhangi Misl and later made it his capital. This was the first important step in his rise to power. In the following years he brought the whole of the central Punjab from the Sutlej to the Jhelum under his sway. After several campaigns, he conquered the other misls and created the Sikh Empire.




          Material Robotics (MaRo) Workshop at 2017 Robotics Science and Systems (RSS)        
Contributions to this post were made by Yigit Menguc from Oregon State University. The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) recently sponsored a workshop at the 2017 Robotics Science and Systems Conference called Material Robotics (MaRo). The goal of the workshop was to bring together researchers in robotics and materials science to learn from each other and identify the research challenges and applications of robotic materials. The original vision of a “robot” introduced by playwright Karel Čapek in 1920 was that of an autonomous machine molded in the image of humans. Interestingly, the play begins with a discussion of the materials that make up the robots and introduces the techniques used to […]
          Twist Recruitment: Account Manager - FMCG        
£22000 - £30000 per annum: Twist Recruitment: Urgently seeking Account Manager with the desire to manage projects autonomously.Does an independent creative agency sound"up your street?" City of London, London
          Twist Recruitment: Account Manager         
£20000 - £26000 per annum: Twist Recruitment: Are you an Account Manager with the desire to manage projects autonomously? Does an independent creative agency sound "up your street?" Read on! City of London, London
          Portugal: Madeira, Holyday Hotel Saccharum in Calheta        
360° panorama by Frank Ellmerich.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Madeira (from Portuguese madeira for "wood") is a Portuguese island located 951 km southwest of Lisbon and 737 km west of the Moroccan Coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It belongs with the smaller island of Porto Santo and the uninhabited island group Ilhas Desertas to the island group Madeira, Together with Ilhas Selva's uninhabited Ilhas, forms the Autonomous Region of Madeira. The inhabitants of Madeira are Madeira and Madeira, the adjective of Madeira is Madeiric. 94.5% of the population of Madeira belong to the Catholic Church. Madeira has about 235,000 inhabitants on an area of 801 km². Of these, 741 km² are made on the main island of Madeira and 42.5 km² on the smaller island Porto Santo, 14.2 km² to the Ilhas Desertas and 3.6 km² to the Ilhas Selvagens. As part of Portugal, Madeira belongs to the territory of the European Union. The time zone is as in the mother country Portugal WEZ and corresponds in the winter Of the coordinated world time (UTC + 0, compared to Central Europe - 1 hour). For the period from the end of March to the end of October, as in the rest of Europe, the Day so that the time difference remains unchanged throughout the year.
          Portugal: Madeira, Pico Ruivo        
360° panorama by Frank Ellmerich.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Madeira (from Portuguese madeira for "wood") is a Portuguese island located 951 km southwest of Lisbon and 737 km west of the Moroccan Coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It belongs with the smaller island of Porto Santo and the uninhabited island group Ilhas Desertas to the island group Madeira, Together with Ilhas Selva's uninhabited Ilhas, forms the Autonomous Region of Madeira. The inhabitants of Madeira are Madeira and Madeira, the adjective of Madeira is Madeiric. 94.5% of the population of Madeira belong to the Catholic Church. Madeira has about 235,000 inhabitants on an area of 801 km². Of these, 741 km² are made on the main island of Madeira and 42.5 km² on the smaller island Porto Santo, 14.2 km² to the Ilhas Desertas and 3.6 km² to the Ilhas Selvagens. As part of Portugal, Madeira belongs to the territory of the European Union. The time zone is as in the mother country Portugal WEZ and corresponds in the winter Of the coordinated world time (UTC + 0, compared to Central Europe - 1 hour). For the period from the end of March to the end of October, as in the rest of Europe, the Day so that the time difference remains unchanged throughout the year.
          Portugal: Madeira, Laurel Forest        
360° panorama by Frank Ellmerich.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Madeira (from Portuguese madeira for "wood") is a Portuguese island located 951 km southwest of Lisbon and 737 km west of the Moroccan Coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It belongs with the smaller island of Porto Santo and the uninhabited island group Ilhas Desertas to the island group Madeira, Together with Ilhas Selva's uninhabited Ilhas, forms the Autonomous Region of Madeira. The inhabitants of Madeira are Madeira and Madeira, the adjective of Madeira is Madeiric. 94.5% of the population of Madeira belong to the Catholic Church. Madeira has about 235,000 inhabitants on an area of 801 km². Of these, 741 km² are made on the main island of Madeira and 42.5 km² on the smaller island Porto Santo, 14.2 km² to the Ilhas Desertas and 3.6 km² to the Ilhas Selvagens. As part of Portugal, Madeira belongs to the territory of the European Union. The time zone is as in the mother country Portugal WEZ and corresponds in the winter Of the coordinated world time (UTC + 0, compared to Central Europe - 1 hour). For the period from the end of March to the end of October, as in the rest of Europe, the Day so that the time difference remains unchanged throughout the year.
          Portugal: Madeira, Lava Coast        
360° panorama by Frank Ellmerich.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Madeira (from Portuguese madeira for "wood") is a Portuguese island located 951 km southwest of Lisbon and 737 km west of the Moroccan Coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It belongs with the smaller island of Porto Santo and the uninhabited island group Ilhas Desertas to the island group Madeira, Together with Ilhas Selva's uninhabited Ilhas, forms the Autonomous Region of Madeira. The inhabitants of Madeira are Madeira and Madeira, the adjective of Madeira is Madeiric. 94.5% of the population of Madeira belong to the Catholic Church. Madeira has about 235,000 inhabitants on an area of 801 km². Of these, 741 km² are made on the main island of Madeira and 42.5 km² on the smaller island Porto Santo, 14.2 km² to the Ilhas Desertas and 3.6 km² to the Ilhas Selvagens. As part of Portugal, Madeira belongs to the territory of the European Union. The time zone is as in the mother country Portugal WEZ and corresponds in the winter Of the coordinated world time (UTC + 0, compared to Central Europe - 1 hour). For the period from the end of March to the end of October, as in the rest of Europe, the Day so that the time difference remains unchanged throughout the year.
          Portugal: Madeira, Laurel Forest        
360° panorama by Frank Ellmerich.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Madeira (from Portuguese madeira for "wood") is a Portuguese island located 951 km southwest of Lisbon and 737 km west of the Moroccan Coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It belongs with the smaller island of Porto Santo and the uninhabited island group Ilhas Desertas to the island group Madeira, Together with Ilhas Selva's uninhabited Ilhas, forms the Autonomous Region of Madeira. The inhabitants of Madeira are Madeira and Madeira, the adjective of Madeira is Madeiric. 94.5% of the population of Madeira belong to the Catholic Church. Madeira has about 235,000 inhabitants on an area of 801 km². Of these, 741 km² are made on the main island of Madeira and 42.5 km² on the smaller island Porto Santo, 14.2 km² to the Ilhas Desertas and 3.6 km² to the Ilhas Selvagens. As part of Portugal, Madeira belongs to the territory of the European Union. The time zone is as in the mother country Portugal WEZ and corresponds in the winter Of the coordinated world time (UTC + 0, compared to Central Europe - 1 hour). For the period from the end of March to the end of October, as in the rest of Europe, the Day so that the time difference remains unchanged throughout the year.
          Portugal: Madeira, Levada Ribeira de Janela - Porto Moniz        
360° panorama by Frank Ellmerich.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Madeira (from Portuguese madeira for "wood") is a Portuguese island located 951 km southwest of Lisbon and 737 km west of the Moroccan Coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It belongs with the smaller island of Porto Santo and the uninhabited island group Ilhas Desertas to the island group Madeira, Together with Ilhas Selva's uninhabited Ilhas, forms the Autonomous Region of Madeira. The inhabitants of Madeira are Madeira and Madeira, the adjective of Madeira is Madeiric. 94.5% of the population of Madeira belong to the Catholic Church. Madeira has about 235,000 inhabitants on an area of 801 km². Of these, 741 km² are made on the main island of Madeira and 42.5 km² on the smaller island Porto Santo, 14.2 km² to the Ilhas Desertas and 3.6 km² to the Ilhas Selvagens. As part of Portugal, Madeira belongs to the territory of the European Union. The time zone is as in the mother country Portugal WEZ and corresponds in the winter Of the coordinated world time (UTC + 0, compared to Central Europe - 1 hour). For the period from the end of March to the end of October, as in the rest of Europe, the Day so that the time difference remains unchanged throughout the year.
          Portugal: Madeira, Levada Ribeira de Janela - Porto Moniz        
360° panorama by Frank Ellmerich.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Madeira (from Portuguese madeira for "wood") is a Portuguese island located 951 km southwest of Lisbon and 737 km west of the Moroccan Coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It belongs with the smaller island of Porto Santo and the uninhabited island group Ilhas Desertas to the island group Madeira, Together with Ilhas Selva's uninhabited Ilhas, forms the Autonomous Region of Madeira. The inhabitants of Madeira are Madeira and Madeira, the adjective of Madeira is Madeiric. 94.5% of the population of Madeira belong to the Catholic Church. Madeira has about 235,000 inhabitants on an area of 801 km². Of these, 741 km² are made on the main island of Madeira and 42.5 km² on the smaller island Porto Santo, 14.2 km² to the Ilhas Desertas and 3.6 km² to the Ilhas Selvagens. As part of Portugal, Madeira belongs to the territory of the European Union. The time zone is as in the mother country Portugal WEZ and corresponds in the winter Of the coordinated world time (UTC + 0, compared to Central Europe - 1 hour). For the period from the end of March to the end of October, as in the rest of Europe, the Day so that the time difference remains unchanged throughout the year.
          Portugal: Madeira, Levada Ribeira de Janela - Porto Moniz        
360° panorama by Frank Ellmerich.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Madeira (from Portuguese madeira for "wood") is a Portuguese island located 951 km southwest of Lisbon and 737 km west of the Moroccan Coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It belongs with the smaller island of Porto Santo and the uninhabited island group Ilhas Desertas to the island group Madeira, Together with Ilhas Selva's uninhabited Ilhas, forms the Autonomous Region of Madeira. The inhabitants of Madeira are Madeira and Madeira, the adjective of Madeira is Madeiric. 94.5% of the population of Madeira belong to the Catholic Church. Madeira has about 235,000 inhabitants on an area of 801 km². Of these, 741 km² are made on the main island of Madeira and 42.5 km² on the smaller island Porto Santo, 14.2 km² to the Ilhas Desertas and 3.6 km² to the Ilhas Selvagens. As part of Portugal, Madeira belongs to the territory of the European Union. The time zone is as in the mother country Portugal WEZ and corresponds in the winter Of the coordinated world time (UTC + 0, compared to Central Europe - 1 hour). For the period from the end of March to the end of October, as in the rest of Europe, the Day so that the time difference remains unchanged throughout the year.
          UK's first self-driving grocery delivery van hits the streets of Greenwich        
Related: The world’s first self-driving grocery store just hit the streets of Shanghai + Oxbotica Via Arstetechnica Oxbotica, Ocado, CargoPod, self-driving grocery delivery, self-driving cars, GATEway program, the Greenwich Automated Transport Environment, green transportation, self driving transportation, autonomous cars, Ocado self driving grocery van, online-only supermarket, autonomous deliveries, driving technology,
          Windows Azure from a Developer's Perspective        

Disclaimer: What follows are my personal impressions from using the beta version of Windows Azure. It is not meant to be an official description of the project from Microsoft, you can find that here. 

Earlier this week I scored an invite to try out the beta version of Windows Azure which is a new hosted services (aka cloud computing) platform from Microsoft. Since there's been a ridiculous amount of press about the project I was interested in actually trying it out by developing and deploying some code using this platform and sharing my experiences with others.

What is it?

Before talking about a cloud computing platform, it is useful to agree on definitions of the term cloud computing. Tim O'Reilly has an excellent post entitled Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing where he breaks the technologies typically described as cloud computing into three broad categories

  1. Utility Computing: In this approach, a vendor provides access to virtual server instances where each instance runs a traditional server operating system such as Linux or Windows Server. Computation and storage resources are metered and the customer can "scale infinitely" by simply creating new server instances. The most popular example of this approach is Amazon EC2.
  2. Platform as a Service: In this approach, a vendor abstracts away the notion of accessing traditional LAMP or WISC stacks from their customers and instead provides an environment for running programs written using a particular platform. In addition, data storage is provided via a custom storage layer and API instead of traditional relational database access. The most popular example of this approach is Google App Engine.
  3. Cloud-based end user applications: This typically refers to Web-based applications that have previously been provided as desktop or server based applications. Examples include Google Docs, Salesforce and Hotmail. Technically every Web application falls under this category, however the term often isn't used that inclusively.

With these definitions clearly stated it is easier to talk about what Windows Azure is and is not. Windows Azure is currently #2; a Platform as a Service offering. Although there have been numerous references to Amazon's offerings both by Microsoft and bloggers covering the Azure announcements, Windows Azure is not a utility computing offering [as defined above].

There has definitely been some confusion about this as evidenced by Dave Winer's post Microsoft's cloud strategy? and commentary from other sources.

Getting Started

To try out Azure you need to be running Windows Server 2008 or Windows Vista with a bunch of prerequisites you can get from running the Microsoft Web Platform installer. Once you have the various prerequisites installed (SQL Server, IIS 7, .NET Framework 3.5, etc) you should then grab the Windows Azure SDK. Users of Visual Studio will also benefit from grabbing the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio.

After this process, you should be able to fire up Visual Studio and see the option to create a Cloud Service if you go to File->New->Project.

Building Cloud-based Applications with Azure

The diagram below taken from the Windows Azure SDK shows the key participants in a typical Windows Azure service

The work units that make up a Windows Azure hosted service can have one of two roles. A Web role is an application that listens for and responds to Web requests while a Worker role is a background processing task which acts autonomously but cannot be accessed over the Web. A Windows Azure application can have multiple instances of Web and Worker roles that make up the service. For example, if I was developing a Web-based RSS reader I would need a worker role for polling feeds and Web role for displaying the UI that the user interacts with. Both Web and Worker roles are .NET applications that can be developed locally and then deployed on Microsoft's servers when they are ready to go.

Azure applications have access to a storage layer that provides the following three storage services

  • Blob Storage: This is used for storing binary data. A user account can have one or more containers which in turn can contain one or more blobs of binary data. Containers cannot be nested so one cannot create hierarchical folder structures. However Azure allows applications to work around this by (i) allowing applications to query containers based on substring matching on prefixes and (ii) delimiters such as '\' and other path characters are valid blob names. So I can create blobs with names like 'mypics\wife.jpg' and 'mypics\son.jpg' in the media container and then query for blobs beginning with 'mypics\' thus simulating a folder hierarchy somewhat. 

  • Queue Service: This is a straightforward message queuing service. A user account can have one or more queues from which they can add items to the end of each queue and remove items from the front. Items have a maximum time-to-live of 7 days within the queue. When an item is retrieved from the queue, an associated 'pop receipt' is provided. The item is then hidden from other client applications until some interval (by default 30 seconds) has passed after which the item becomes visible. The item can be deleted from the queue during that interval if the pop receipt from when it was retrieved is provided as part of the DELETE operation.  The queue service is valuable as a way for Web roles to talk to Worker roles and vice versa.

  • Table Storage: This exposes a subset of the capabilities of the ADO.NET Data Services Framework (aka Astoria). In general, this is a schema-less table based model similar to Google's BigTable and Amazon's SimpleDB. The data model consists of tables and entities (aka rows). Each entity has a primary key made of two parts {PartitionKey, RowKey}, a last modified timestamp and an arbitrary number of user-defined properties. Properties can be one of several primitive types including integer, strings, doubles, long integers, GUIDs, booleans and binary. Like Astoria, the Table Storage service supports performing LINQ queries on rows but only supports the FROM, WHERE and TAKE operators. Other differences from Astoria are that it doesn't support batch operations nor is it possible to retrieve individual properties from an entity without retrieving the entire entity.

These storage services are accessible to any HTTP client and not just Azure applications. 

Deploying Cloud-based Applications with Azure

The following diagram taken from the Windows Azure SDK shows the development lifecycle of an Windows Azure application

 

The SDK ships with a development fabric which enables you to deploy an Azure an application locally via IIS 7.0 and development storage which uses SQL Server Express as a storage layer which mimics the Windows Azure storage services.

As the diagram shows above, once the application is tested locally it can be deployed entirely or in part on Microsoft's storage and cloud computation services.

The Azure Services Platform: Windows Azure + Microsoft's Family of REST Web Services

In addition to Windows Azure, Microsoft also announced the Azure Services Platform which is a variety of Web APIs and Web Services that can be used in combination with Windows Azure (or by themselves) to build cloud-based applications. Each of these Web services is worthy of its own post (or whitepaper and O'Reilly animal book) but I'll limit myself to one sentence descriptions for now.

  • Live Services: A set of REST APIs for consumer-centric data types (e.g. calendar, profile, etc) and scenarios (communication, presence, sync, etc). You can see the set of APIs in the Live Framework poster and keep up with the goings on by following the Live Services blogs.

  • Microsoft SQL Services: Relational database in the cloud accessible via REST APIs. You can learn more from the SSDS developer center and keep up with the goings on by following the SQL Server Data Services team blog.

  • Microsoft .NET Services: Three fairly different services for now; hosted access control, hosted workflow engine and a service bus in the cloud. Boring enterprise stuff. :) 

  • Microsoft Sharepoint Services: I couldn't figure out if anything concrete was announced here or whether stuff was pre-announced (i.e. actual announcement to come at a later date).

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services: Ditto.

From the above list, I find the Live Services piece (access to user data in a uniform way) and the SQL Services (hosted storage) most interesting. I will likely revisit them in more depth at a later date.

The Bottom Line

From my perspective, Windows Azure is easiest viewed as a competitor to Google App Engine. As comparisons go, Azure already brings a number of features to the table that aren't even on the Google App Engine road map. The key important feature is the ability to run background tasks instead of just being limited to writing applications that respond to Web requests. This limitation of App Engine means you can't write any application that does any serious background computation like a search engine, email service, or RSS reader on Google App Engine. So Azure can run an entire class of applications that are simply not possible on Google App Engine.

The second key feature is that by supporting the .NET Framework, developers theoretically get a plethora of languages to choose from including Ruby (IronRuby), Python (IronPython), F#, VB.NET and C#. In practice, the Azure SDK only supports creating cloud applications using C# and VB.NET out of the box. However I can't think of any reason why it shouldn't be able to support development with other .NET enabled languages like IronPython. On the flipside, App Engine only supports Python and the timeline for it supporting other languages [and exactly which other languages] is still To Be Determined.

Finally, App Engine has a number of scalability limitations both from a data storage and a query performance perspective. Azure definitely does better than App Engine on a number of these axes. For example, App Engine has a 1MB limit per file while Azure has a 64MB limit on individual blobs and also allows you to split a blob into blocks of 4MB each. Similarly, I've been watching SQL Server Data Services (SSDS) for a while and I haven't seen or heard complaints about query performance.

Azure makes it possible for me to reuse my existing skills as a .NET developer who is savvy with using RESTful APIs to build cloud based applications without having to worry about scalability concerns (e.g. database sharding, replication strategies, server failover, etc). In addition, it puts pressure on competitors to step up to the plate and deliver. However you look at it, this is a massive WIN for Web developers.

The two small things I'd love to see addressed are first class support for IronPython and some clarity on the difference between SSDS and Windows Azure Storage services. Hopefully we can avoid a LINQ to Entities vs. LINQ to SQL-style situation in the future.

Postscript: Food for Thought

It would be interesting to read [or write] further thoughts on the pros and cons of Platform as a Service offerings when compared to Utility Computing offerings. In a previous discussion on my blog there was some consensus that utility computing approaches are more resistant to vendor lock-in than platform as a service approaches since it is easier to find multiple vendors who are providing virtual servers with LAMP/WISC hosting than it will be to find multiple vendors providing the exact same proprietary cloud APIs as Google, Amazon or Microsoft. However it would be informative to look at the topic from more angles, for instance what is the cost/benefit tradeoff of using SimpleDB/BigTable/SSDS for data access instead of MySQL running on multiple virtual hosts? With my paternity leave ending today, I doubt I'll have time to go over these topics in depth but I'd appreciate reading any such analysis.

Note Now Playing: The Game - Money Note


          AHS Site Supervisor - Modular Mining Systems, Inc. - Fort McMurray, AB        
Administer and assist in creation and distribution of News Flash bulletins and other communication forms. Autonomous Haulage System Site Supervisor....
From Modular Mining Systems, Inc. - Sat, 05 Aug 2017 05:47:04 GMT - View all Fort McMurray, AB jobs
          Build an Autonomous R/C Car with Raspberry Pi        

Take a R/C car, Raspberry Pi, and some 3D-printed and laser-cut parts and assemble your vehicle. Then you'll be ready for the race track.

Read more on MAKE

The post Build an Autonomous R/C Car with Raspberry Pi appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.


          ARM's latest CPUs are ready for an AI-powered future        

ARM processor technology already powers many of the devices you use every day, and now the company is showing off its plans for the future with DynamIQ. Aimed squarely at pushing the artificial intelligence and machine learning systems we're expecting to see in cars, phones, gaming consoles and everything else, it's what the company claims is an evolution on the existing "big.Little" technology.

Originally unveiled in 2011, that design allowed for multicore CPU designs with powerful, power-hungry chips to do the heavy lifting tethered to smaller, low-power chips that could handle background processing when a device is idle. It's why your phone can edit HD or even 4K video at one moment before sleeping throughout the night without losing all of the battery's charge. DynamIQ lays out a strategy for processors that combine cores specifically designed for whatever task is needed.

Source: ARM Blog


          Nio EP9 EV supercar demonstrates driverless ability on track        

NextEV claims that its Nio EP9 electric supercar has lapped the Circuit of the Americas in Texas while driving autonomously in 2min 40.33sec, which is just 19sec slower than it managed when a driver was behind the wheel. The Nio brand released a video with footage from the car’s timed lap, although coverage of the […]

The post Nio EP9 EV supercar demonstrates driverless ability on track appeared first on Janspeed.


          The Altimeter Watch        
Altimeter watches are portable and handy, always know your altitude with an Altimeter watch. An altimeter watch is a wrist top instrument that allows the wearer to determine their current elevation.
Altimeter Watches are the compact and lightweight solution for sportsmen and women on the move. Altimeter watches are popular in Search and Rescue and the all-electronic ones read temperature and barometric pressure too. Altimeter watches are the most popular of all: hikers use them to find out how much elevation they've gained; skiers check to see how much they've lost. An altimeter watch is invaluable for outdoor sportsmen and women who engage in activities like mountain climbing,
skiing, snowboarding, cycling, and outdoor adventure racing. A good altimeter watch is an essential part of any serious cross-training program. Recording ascent and descent, an altimeter watch is an important piece of equipment for climbers, walkers, mountaineers and, of course, aviators. From trail hiking to rock climbing, hang gliding or mountain biking, the Altimeter Watch is a must have for all your adventures.

An altimeter is a device designed to estimate altitude above mean sea level (MSL).

Altimeter watches use the atmospheric pressure as the method to modify the altitude up or down. An altimeter is an instrument used to measure the altitude of an object above a fixed level. A radar altimeter measures altitude more directly, using the time taken for a radio signal to reflect from the surface back to the aircraft. However, altitude determined using autonomous GPS is not precise or accurate enough to supersede the pressure altimeter for aviation use without using some method of augmentation.

Altimeter watches use the atmospheric pressure as the method to modify the altitude up or down. Altimeter Mode displays the altitude history graph, altitude in feet or meters, current temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius, and current time. Elevations are in 1 meter (3 ft). Most altimeter watches employ technology that measures air pressure to estimate your current altitude, calculating your elevation by comparing it to the barometric pressure of the location at which it was zeroed, or calibrated.
Mark Boardman BSc dip.hyp is a leading author and expert on href="http://www.agloriousfuture.com">the world's weather. For more information about an altimeter watch, feel free to visit these sites.
          [emerging tech] "Web Engineering: The Evolution of New Technologies" & the Ultimate Killer App        
Friday, July 23, 2004
Dateline: China
 
Reviews of papers from the current (July/August 2004) issue of Computing in Science & Engineering, special issue on "Web Engineering: The Evolution of New Technologies."  To order articles from this issue, first click on http://tinyurl.com/5ktaw .
 
Earlier this week I posted excerpts from the lead article in the current issue of CiSE.  The article was titled, "Managing XML Data: An Abridged Overview," which is a good, accurate title.  The excerpts contain useful links, too. 
 
I am going to take a variety of approaches for handling four other papers in this special issue.  However, I first want to provide a link to the introduction to this special issue, i.e., http://tinyurl.com/6sbjx .  The intro itself provides a few useful references and links.
 
The second article is titled, "Information Retrieval Techniques for Peer-to-Peer Networks."  Fortunately, a full-text PDF copy of this paper can be accessed at either http://dblab.cs.ucr.edu/ or http://tinyurl.com/6v2ru, although the URL for the former looks a little bit too generic and might change at a moment's notice (also, the two papers are slightly different).  I have 19 bookmarks on my smartphone for this paper, but I guess I can summarize by saying that IR for P2P networks is hard and very different from "traditional" searchThe last statement actually says a lot -- read between the lines.  This paper covers all the usual suspects and also includes Skype. This paper is based upon the lead author's Master's thesis which can be accessed from http://tinyurl.com/696ml .  Other papers by the lead author can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/43kkh .  This is an important issue which needs to be resolved, especially as collaborative grid computing (CGC) comes to life.
 
Two figures; 20 references (28 references in the preprint).
 
Less luck with the paper titled, "Web Searching and Information Retrieval," i.e., I couldn't find a free copy on the Web.  The author's site is woefully outdated, too.  The author does speak favorably of a particular approach to decentralized P2P web crawling called "Apoidea."   A copy of a paper describing Apoidea can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/4m2v5 ; accompanying slides can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/4b4sh .  As described in the CiSE paper, "Apoidea is both self-managing and uses the resource's geographical proximity to its peers for a better and faster crawl."
 
Two figures; 21 references.
 
To request a copy of this article click on: http://tinyurl.com/7yyl2 or http://tinyurl.com/6m6ff (I'm not sure which address works; I already have a copy of this article so I don't need to contact the author!).
 
"Web Mining: Research and Practice" is not available, either, but a lot of excellent info on the senior author's projects related to this paper is available.  First, take a look at the eBiquity research areas at http://tinyurl.com/52p9n .  Next, you may want to take a look at the abstracts for papers published as part of the eBiquity Group at http://tinyurl.com/5om58 (current through December 2004 -- it doesn't get more current!!).  Move on to their "Semantic Web" page at http://tinyurl.com/4a8fr .  I then downloaded a PDF copy of their paper titled, "Mining Domain Specific Texts and Glossaries to Evaluate and Enrich Domain Ontologies" (see http://tinyurl.com/3lg2m ).  It looks like a relatively recent paper, newer than the CiSE paper (different authors and different subject matter, though).  The PDF is part of their Semantic Web research, whereas the CiSE paper is more "generic."  Anyway, the "Web Mining" paper is another call for distributed mining techniques, and covers fuzzy clustering as well as content-based recommender systems -- but doesn't forget good 'ol HITS (Hyperlink-Induced Topic Search), the basis for IBM's Clever and Google (to a certain extent).
 
No figures; 31 references.
 
To request a copy of this article click on: http://tinyurl.com/5xv3p .
 
Finally, "Intelligent Agents on the Web: A Review" was very disappointing.  The lead author has impeccable credentials, but his paper is based on yesterday's news:  Old, outdated, buried stuff (like Firefly).  Matter of fact, the only live link I can recall finding was Recursion Software's "Voyager" home page (see http://tinyurl.com/3wpem ), which states that the "Voyager applications development platform provides the software layer which handles communications across the network for distributed JAVA applications."  (Looks interesting.)
 
I did a little more digging and surfed over to two stand-by sites (both referenced directly or indirectly in the "Intelligent Agents" paper), namely the MIT Media Lab Software Agents page and Oren Etzioni's (oops, I mean the University of Washington, Department of Computer Science) page.  At the MIT projects page (see http://tinyurl.com/4ocss ) is a listing of several "commonsense" projects, e.g., "Using Commonsense Reasoning to Enable the Semantic Web" (see http://tinyurl.com/4deq7 ).  A draft White Paper on this is available at http://tinyurl.com/4e4bv , as is a presentation at http://tinyurl.com/4le2n along with a couple of video demos.  I also downloaded a paper on GOOSE (GOal-Oriented Search Engine) at http://tinyurl.com/4fyeu .  At UWash I went to their XML data management page (see http://tinyurl.com/5x98a ) and then grabbed two papers:  One on "Probabilistic Methods For Querying Global Information Systems" dated 14 July 2004 (see http://tinyurl.com/45uz7 ) and another titled, "Learning Text Patterns for Web Information Extraction and Assessment" dated May 2004 (see http://tinyurl.com/6k5fz ).  (To download other unrestricted reports, go to http://tinyurl.com/5z2x7 .)  Frankly, I need a bit of time to digest the two recently published UWash papers.
 
As the chair of the Internet and Web applications session of the First International Conference on Autonomous Agents (1996), I have a soft spot for agent-oriented everything (especially Web apps).  I remember an old saying from IJCAI (International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence) in the mid-70's:  Artificial intelligence is better than none.  (I probably still have a button with this saying somewhere.)  I'm keeping the faith, sans the hype and more toward the realities of software agents.  BTW, this CiSE paper isn't bad if you don't have any background in this space.  It covers the basics, such as ACLs, but with an "updated" perspective.
 
No figures; 27 references.
 
To request a copy of this article click on: http://tinyurl.com/6zzqs .
 
 
The Ultimate Killer App
 
BTW, the "Ultimate Killer App" is attached and in some browsers it will automatically download.  (See the bottom of this message.)  You have to admit, this really is the ultimate killer app!!
 
I've never sent an attachment this way simultaneously to both my e-newsletter and blogs (and blog variants).  Just in case the attachment isn't included, I've uploaded it to the "Photos" section of the e-newsletter (see http://tinyurl.com/2r3pa .)
 
>> Note to AlwaysOn readers: You'll need to go to the e-newsletter ( http://tinyurl.com/2r3pa ) in order to see the "Ultimate Killer App."  You can try the blogs, but no guarantees.
 
 
Tidbits on Enterprise Software
 
.NET wins converts.  For the VARBusiness story see http://tinyurl.com/3omd2 .  Evans Data reports that .NET usage showed a sharp YoY increase in adoption with 52% saying they use .NET and 68% saying they plan to deploy .NET apps by 2005.  In May, Forrester reported that 56% of developers consider .NET their primary development environment contrasted with 44% for J2EE.  (It must have been a binary choice!)  VARBusiness found in a May survey that 53% have already deployed a .NET app and 66% plan to do so within the next 12 months.  In the VARBusiness survey, the most important reasons for going with .NET were ease of use and quicker time to market.  A developer goes on to state that .NET development time is to Java what Java is to C++.  (Wow, what a claim!)
 
Python and Perl beat Java?  (See http://tinyurl.com/44m5t for the PDF file.)  Actually, an indirect "attack" against all "mainstream" programming languages, notably Java, C and C++.  The idea is that the "mainstream" languages are ill-suited for many distributed computing and integration apps.  Gives a "thumbs up" to Python, Perl and PHP, with a peek at PEAK -- the Python Enterprise Application Kit.  (Sorry for the pun.)  PEAK's developers claim future superiority over J2EE.  They also knock Java for not being suited to rapid application development.  PEAK's developers believe a Python-based approach to component-based apps will result in systems that are simpler, faster and easier to install, manage and maintain than variants in J2EE.  PEAK, however, is still immature.
 
Grid computing takes off.  Another survey from Evans Data (see http://tinyurl.com/4l2qb ).  37% of database developers are implementing or planning to implement a grid computing architecture.  In related data, 34% of companies are focusing their database development work on BI (business intelligence) platforms.  See also Oracle's spin on this at http://tinyurl.com/4n2kf .
 
The spoils of ROI.  From IDC's Group VP, Solutions Research, there are several issues which must be addressed in order to maximize IT ROI.  (See http://tinyurl.com/228kv .)  Four of the key issues are:
  • Should the IT agenda include investment in outsourcing technologies or services?
  • Does the future of the business include operations in, or electronic trade with, additional countries - China, for example?
  • Are the services of an outside provider being considered to help in managing proliferating applications or complex "interenterprise" business relationships?
  • What role will utility computing play in the future of IT?
(All items in bold are my emphasis.)  The article goes on to discuss various ways of evaluating ROI, including one of my favorite ways, ROA (real options analysis). 
 
TTFN.  Have a GREAT weekend!
 
Cheers,
 
David Scott Lewis
President & Principal Analyst
IT E-Strategies, Inc.
Menlo Park, CA & Qingdao, China
WARNING:  To avoid spam (well, to avoid getting at least some spam), I'm using a Gmail account with a special address.  However, I have NOT been able to access the messages in my Gmail account for the past FOUR days!!  Not sure how long this will last.  In the interim, also use:
DavidScottLewis.2520656@bloglines.com -- but also Cc: the above address.  Of course, if you already know me, feel free to send messages to my primary and secondary e-mail accounts.  (If you know me, you already know what they are.  The primary account is working fine.)
 
http://www.itestrategies.com (current blog postings optimized for MSIE6.x)
http://tinyurl.com/2r3pa (access to blog content archives in China)
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To automatically subscribe click on http://tinyurl.com/388yf .

          Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us        
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
author: Daniel H. Pink
name: Debs
average rating: 3.94
book published: 2008
rating: 4
read at: 2017/07/16
date added: 2017/07/17
shelves: 2017, shopify, self-growth, nonfiction
review:
I grabbed this book off the library shelf at Shopify HQ in Ottawa. Said shelf has a bunch of books related to business and self-growth that employees are free to grab, and we can keep or return them as we like. I was in BC when I finished it, so I'm passing it on to a Shopify friend who also works out here so that it can continue the rounds.

The idea here is that we're motivated by more than just the rewards/punishments that come as a result of doing a task - that for creative and challenging tasks (aka, the jobs that many of us are lucky enough to have), there is intrinsic motivation at play as well. The argument that we can find inherent satisfaction in tasks as opposed to being motivated solely by what will happen when we complete that task makes a great deal of intuitive sense.

The book goes on to distinguish between Type I folks (intrinsically motivated) and Type X folks (externally motivated), with the caveat that Type I is a natural state of being, however there's a great deal (if-then rewards as school for instance) that pushes us into being Type X. As an example, someone of Type X might be studying with the goal of getting a good grade on an exam, while someone of Type I might be studying so that they can learn the subject.

Our default setting is to be autonomous and self-directed, but there are a lot of structures in place in the workplace that are holding us back from being that way. To encourage Type I behaviour, the idea is to allow folks to have autonomy over task (what they do), time (when they do it) and team (who they do it with). The book touches on mastery and flow as well - the growth mindset (as opposed to the fix mindset) is key, as is deliberate practice.

The typical workplace subscribes to more of an "if-then" reward system that doesn't allow people to do their best work (Type X), and so the second part of this book talks about how a business can shift from this to more of a Type I mindset. Given that I got this book through work, I wasn't entirely surprised to see some of the ideas have already been applied - FedEx days/Hack Days, where employees have two days a quarter off to work on projects of their choosing is a notable example. I found it interesting to see how these principles are applied within my team as well and, though my engagement/intrinsic motivation at work is quite high - I'm thinking on how I can leverage these ideas both to be more effective myself, and with the folks that I train. There were some personal takeaways as well - so though this book may be geared towards helping businesses, I'd really recommend it. :)

          Esperanza Demo (2000): Southern California Hardcore Retrospectives of the late 90's and early 2000's.         


Let’s Dig Deeper

In the last 5 years or so I’ve tried my best to keep my ear to conversations being held in a number of circles deemed as “critical” or “radical”. When you live in a small town, and you want to stay connected to whatever is happening it’s important to maintain some kind of link to these “critical”, “radical”, and “creative” circles, whether it be through social media, art, culture, scholarship, music, or activism, I’ve tried my best to find some kind of commonality between these circles. Some of these commonalities revolve around this basic need for marginalized people to tell their own stories, to document their own histories and realities, and to do so by using a broader lens that incorporates history, society, politics, economics, race, class, gender, age, environment, and location. I’m not sure to what degree we’ve done this in recent conversations on the hardcore/punk subculture, but I’ll do my best to dish out my own version of this.

Through social media, through zine fests, through documentaries, through collectives, and organizations, through art shows, through articles, through a ton of other mediums, I’ve gotten hints of something that happens in sparks: the counter narratives by people of color that seek to contextualize subcultures and social expressions and cultural production within bigger often oppressive social and historical systems.  Alice Bag’s publishing of Violence Girl, Beyond the Screams Documentary, AfroPunk Documentary, Ovarian Pyschos Documentary (not sure where they are with that, I know they had a Kickstarter campaign), Martin Sorrondeguy’s Art Exhibits, and other events around the state of California, the US, and the rest of the world. I perceive these to be sparks, because I wish they happened more often, I wish they had a bigger platform, I wish there was an authentically receptive community that acknowledged the revolutionary aspects of all subcultures. Those examples I listed above relate specifically to hardcore/punk, I know many other subcultures that have embarked on this journey to tell their own story, whether it be in Hip Hop, Jazz, Corridos (narco corridos I guess), Salsa, Graffiti, or any other subculture. Within Hip Hop specifically I’ve noticed that lines have been blurred between subculture and the narratives devised to contextualize and explain the significance of this subculture. This has come largely from some circles in academia, where “hip hop” scholars have emerged. By dissecting the racial and political climate under which hip hop was born, and by using critical theories on race, gender, whiteness, blackness, anti-blackness, African American history, criminal justice system, incarceration, history, capitalism, the Drug War, education, reproductive health, environmental racism, and everything in between, they have managed to create a truly comprehensive framework from which we can analyze, deconstruct, and talk about hip hop. It’s through this realization that I attempt to turn the focus on other subcultures, in this case our hardcore/punk subculture.

If we claim to have an interest in revolutionary subcultures or in revolutionary and radical forms of expression we must push ourselves beyond our own personal subcultures of interest and see the beauty of struggle across our communities and the world. So I challenge you. Even those who are not into hardcore/punk, I challenge you to appreciate a moment in time, I challenge you to respect a moment of cultural and racial resistance. I challenge you to acknowledge an era in Los Angeles and Southern California that saw youth of color create their own responses to the challenges of the “global city” where “flows of capital, labor, goods, raw materials, tourists” oppression, racism, inequality and a host of other phenomena create a social stew that is always at its boiling point. I suggest you check out sociologist Saskia Sassen’s work. She does a great job at dissecting what cities across the world have become. Going back to our main point. I challenge you to learn the history of Southern California's hardcore punk scene of the late 90’s and early 2000’s.  If we are to talk about the importance of community, autonomy, of youth of color using art, expression, and cultural production to read, deconstruct, and challenge the injustices of their world, then we must know this history. Regardless of your opinion of hardcore/punk as a form of musical expression, I challenge you to learn this critical history, one demo, one 7” EP, or one LP at a time. In our first installment, we bring you Esperanza’s self-titled demo recorded in the year 2000. Enjoy!

The Living Room: Santa Barbara Bound

The Esperanza demo was recorded by Santa Barbara legend John Lyons at the Living Room on June 4, 2000. The Living Room was this awesome venue in Isla Vista. Isla Vista is an unincorporated neighborhood in Santa Barbara where UCSB is located. The Living Room was in this neighborhood. And to be more precise, this location where the demo was recorded was The Living Room’s second location, the first being in another part of Santa Barbara, not sure exactly where.

Moving on, I first saw Esperanza sometime later that year, after the demo was recorded. I want to say it was like in December or something. I was already 17 at this point and was itching to start my own hardcore band, which would happen two years later (VYO Oxnard Straight Edge). As a 17 year old hardcore kid, I was also a bit of a loser, I guess being low income didn’t help, but the point is I didn’t have a car. I could drive, but no car. So that week my dad gave me and my homie Mike Doane a ride to SB. My dad had a lot of connects in SB since he lived and worked there in Carpinteria’s (an agricultural community in SB) flower nurseries. It was a school night and he was cool with it too. I got a ride out of it, and he got to kick it with his homie in Santa Barbara—everyone came out winning. This particular show featured a pretty cool line up, the headliner being this band put out by Martin Sorrondeguy’s Lengua Armada Discos, they were called Hog. They came out all the way from Mexico City if I’m not mistaken. That was the key selling point for me. They kind of gave me a power violence vibe. Back then, the internet hadn’t really exhibited its full force on hardcore, so we still found out about most shows through flyers and word of mouth. I recall seeing a bad ass flyer for a show Hog would end up doing at the legendary PCH Club in Wilmington that was kind of a rip on one of Larm’s record/t-shirt designs. The one where Larm are riding the cow, haha! That show seemed kind of far so I figured I’d go to this one in Isla Vista.

We got there pretty early and were hanging out in the parking lot. It was already dark but we managed. They show eventually started and I only really recall three bands playing, one I believed was called Bread & Water from Wisconsin, Esperanza, and Hog. I remember the band Bread & Water (although Ray from Esperanza remembers another band) having a vocalist with dreads. As far as the sound? I’m just gonna go and say a crust type vibe? Haha! I mean, when you have dreads and you play hardcore, unless you’re Bobby Sullivan, you’re probably gonna play crust. Haha!

Now, as I type this I have this doubt in my mind and with the benefit of the internet I have just checked and damn! It seems like Bread & Water is an anarcho punk band from Dallas, Texas. Female fronted too. The band I thought was Bread & Water had a male vocalist with dreads. Unless I find the flyer I will not know who the hell that band was. Damn it. Regardless, the band I saw with the dreaded white vocalist was anarcho punk/crust sounding as well. They were pretty cool and seemed really nice. That night however, the stand out for me was Esperanza. Not sure if they opened or at what point they played, but I just recall being blown away by the DC style hardcore that graced us that night.

Southern California Hardcore: One Big Happy Family and Steve Aoki’s Punk Roots

There weren’t that many people present since the show was during the weekday. That didn’t matter, as it never matters when you have world class hardcore. Esperanza sounded like they were some lost Dischord Records band and it was topped off by vocalist Rich Booher’s distinctive style. I had heard Rich before from another band he once fronted called Dirty Dirt & The Dirts.  I’d heard them on this awesome compilation put out by this kid from Ojai (a rural community where many wealthy folks live in northern Ventura County, CA). Guitarist Graham Clise of Annihilation Time and Lecherous Gaze, who also recently appeared playing guitar with J. Mascis is from Ojai as well, so you know Ventura County was legit back then too! The compilation was called As The Sun Sets: A Southern California Hardcore Compilation.

For me it was a watershed compilation, since it kind of nudged me away from the Profane Existence/crust stuff I was into and led me to finally start embracing the beautiful hardcore scene that we had strewn through Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and Orange County. Esperanza also featured two other members I had heard of/known about, one was Steve Aoki, who also had a band featured on the As The Sun Sets compilation. He also ran a venue in Isla Vista called the Pickle Patch, played in other bands, and was a frequent contributor to HeartAttack Fanzine. I don’t think much needs to be said about where Steve Aoki is now. Dude’s huge. Like HUGE!!! Haha! The other dude I had heard about was Miguel Amezcua, who ran El Grito Records (which at the time was putting out a lot of diverse hardcore stuff) and who was also another contributor to HeartAttack Fanzine. At the time I hadn’t known Scott Deitz (drummer) and Raymon Ruiz (guitars). Raymon Ruiz, would go on to be in two bad ass bands throughout the mid 2000’s, one being Mugre and the other Descarados (along with Mike/Miguel Amezcua).

From the moment Esperanza played the first chord I was hooked. The Dischord riffage was beyond evident and the deal was sealed with Rich’s vocals. After the show I talked to them and they were all the coolest dudes. I’m not gonna lie, at 17 I was still kind of star struck when I would meet older dudes that either ran fanzines (Kent McClard), played in bands, or had some heavier involvement in hardcore than myself. Now whether we like it or not, all subcultures whether consciously or not reproduce hierarchies. Hardcore was and is no exception. Some folks I had met in the past did come off as a little bit more…how should I say? Less approachable. These dudes were the complete opposite.  After the show I remember buying the demo from Miguel (Mike) and going back to Oxnard. I would go on to see Esperanza again one more time. In Downtown LA’s Lafayette Community Center. I believe that show was with E-150 from Spain and What Happens Next? Or it may have been with Life’s Halt and Tragatelo. I’m not sure. But they shredded once again. This time I had learned the lyrics and sang along. Rich passed the mic in that traditional youth crew hardcore fashion. Esperanza’s lyrics were poetic, political, and encapsulated the rage of social, racial, gendered, and political injustice. I mean, the insert had an excerpt from Mexico’s revolutionary indigenous army, the EZLN (Zapatistas) as well as a quote from revolutionary activist and scholar Angela Davis. What else needs to be said?

You Act Like Everything Is Just Fine…Well, Not To Me!!!

During the late 90’s and early 2000’s Southern California, and the US hardcore scene in general was in one of its renaissances. Or at least it seemed to me. Maybe this perception is a result of this being the hardcore era I was involved in during my “youth”, during the formative years of my adolescence. So I guess whichever scene you are a part of during those crucial years in your life will forever leave an indelible mark on your soul. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that every cultural era is different and defined by its own challenges and opportunities. From my perspective there are notable differences between the present state of hardcore/punk and the one existent in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. To be brief, there were more venues back then, at least in my part of California, Santa Barbara/Ventura/Oxnard. There was a notable hardcore presence in Santa Barbara that circulated around HeartAttack Fanzine, which was based there. Ebullition Records, the legendary 90’s hardcore punk label noted for its more political and DC/Revolution Summer inspired hardcore vibe was also based in Santa Barbara and was made up of the same folks who ran HeartAttack. Both Ebulltion and HeartAttack exerted a significant influence on the Santa Barbara scene, one marked heavily by politics. To me, that was awesome.

Because there were more venues it seemed as if there were also more shows, a bigger scene, more fanzines, more networks between the different scenes, and an overall more politicized voice within hardcore. Today most of this seems to be lost, or at least minimized. Santa Barbara was important in the respect that it is a smaller city, non-urban, and was a big hub for subcultural expression and the subsequent cultural production. Oxnard and Ventura County (where I am from) felt this. Sandwiched between the LA scene and the SB scenes at the time, it was only natural for Oxnard to have its own scene flourishing. After all, Oxnard has a strong subcultural pedigree. Oxnard challenged the traditional notions of cultural production we usually hold on to (thank you to Mike Amezcua for helping me articulate it like this), where the urban centers are seen as the sole producers of all things cultural, artistic, and musical. During the 1980’s Oxnard produced such legendary hardcore punk bands as Dr. Know, Stalag 13, Agression, and Ill Repute as well as legendary Xicano artists like Jaime and Gilberto Hernandez who would go on to create Love & Rockets (which helped usher in alternative comics). When you add this dynamic past, with the renaissance going on in LA and Santa Barbara during the late 90’s and early 2000’s it should go without saying that Oxnard established its own presence on the Southern California hardcore map of that era. During the era of the mid 90’s to the late 90’s Oxnard had a bunch of bands, some of the ones I remember more clearly were Burning Dog, The Whereabouts, Voice of Defiance, No Motiv, and at the time, our biggest hardcore exponent: Stand Your Ground (some of the members would go on to form Oxnard giants In Control). That said, like any other Oxnard kid of the time it was almost mandatory to like all the old Nardcore bands and to prove yourself by going to shows to see the contemporary bands. Pretty standard right? Supporting your scene. However, it took me some time to fully embrace this. For a number of reasons.

For one, like many folks who didn’t get into punk during the formative eras, between the late 70’s and I’d dare to say up until the early 90’s, getting into punk became like some weird mish mash. For many of us the punk trajectory was all out of order, many of us getting into it because of the alternative and pop punk explosions of the mid 90’s, thanks to bands like Nirvana, Green Day, Rancid, and Soundgarden, etc. As a result, many of us went from one era to the next, skipping bands and genres all together. I was one of these kids. I got into a lot of the UK 82 stuff, the anarcho punk stuff, then into the crust/Profane Existence stuff as well. During this time a lot of the hardcore scene in Oxnard was very much into the straight edge stuff and the metal hardcore stuff, bands like Ten Yard Fight, Floorpunch, Snapcase, Strife, Earth Crisis, etc. The Victory Records and Revelation stuff. You get the picture. A lot of this stuff wasn’t my cup of tea for the most part, since I perceived it to have a jock/macho vibe. Eventually I’d catch up to speed (with help from the As The Sun Sets Comp) and get into a lot of the bands every kid in Oxnard liked. For a while I was also turned off from the Oxnard bands because they all liked all the stuff that seemed jock/macho. But like I said, I got past it. I ended up liking all the Nardcore stuff too, but despite liking these bands, learning all the In Control lyrics from their demo (which I think came out in 1999) and the first EP, something about the Oxnard bands wasn’t really clicking with me.

By the time I discovered Los Crudos this void became very clear to me: None of the Oxnard bands past or (at the time) present articulated the exact feelings I had. We get into hardcore for a lot of different reasons. For me, one of those reasons was having a voice that articulated things I was feeling and my own reality. While Los Crudos was a landmark/watershed moment for many people of color in hardcore they were not the only ones. Along with Huasipungo in New York, and the scenes that would eventually sprout in places like Los Angeles hardcore after Los Crudos and Huasipungo would experience an explicit rearticulating of its racial politics. While bands like No Motiv, The Whereabouts, Burning Dog, Voice of Defiance, and Stand Your Ground were defining the hardcore scene of the mid to late 90’s in Oxnard, bands like KontraAtaque, Tezacrifico, Subsistencia, Parades End, and Life’s Halt were defining and establishing a politically infused hardcore that sang about issues related to race, immigration, and social injustice. For someone who had seen the ravages of industrial agriculture in my own family, it was a no brainer. The LA hardcore bands singing about these issues would become foundational for me. Hometown pride was overpowered by a deeper political analysis on the realities of capitalism, immigration, race, sexism, etc.

California from the period of the mid 1990’s to the late 2000’s was marked by a series of heavily racialized and xenophobic propositions that were largely targeted at people of color within California. Proposition 187 was a draconian measure aimed at limiting health, education, and social services for undocumented immigrants, this was passed in 1994, California’s Three Strikes sentencing law was also enacted in 1994, this measure required “a defendant convicted of any new felony, having suffered one prior conviction of a serious felony to be sentenced to state prison for twice the term otherwise provided for the crime. If the defendant was convicted of any felony with two or more prior strikes, the law mandated a state prison term of at least 25 years to life”, this law disproportionately affected African American males, see Michelle Alexander’s New Jim Crow for a deeper analysis of measures such as these. 1996 saw the passage of Proposition 209, which eliminated Affirmative Action in California. 1998 would see the passage of Proposition 227, which severely limited (in many cases eliminated) bilingual education from public schools. And lastly, the year 2000 saw the passage of Proposition 21, which increased a variety of criminal penalties for crimes committed by youth and incorporated many youth offenders into the adult criminal justice system. All, if not most of these propositions disproportionately affected low income folk and communities of color. Along with the Drug War at the national level, legislative action at the state and federal levels reflected a shift that sought to peel back the “gains” made during the civil rights era. Many of these were essentially attempts at racialized social control and were pristine examples of American white supremacist governmental policy. With the exception of Proposition 187, which was later ruled unconstitutional, most of these propositions continue to this day. If we take a critical look at the more recent history of this continent and the world we’ll see that these propositions are a reflection of the legislative mechanisms devised by colonial/settler-state societies established after the periods of exploration and colonialism. Settler-state societies which intend to control the land, bodies, and cultures of the conquered subjects. Imposing their own laws, languages, world-views, religions, and everything else. These propositions are firm representations of the state of white supremacy in the US nation-state. The War in Iraq/Syria/Afghanistan, the Keystone XL Pipeline, the Drug War, the Black Lives Matter movement, all of these are examples of the continued struggles and battles we must engage in today. During the late 90’s and early 2000’s, hardcore decried these injustices. I often wonder what is being done today within our subculture?

Esperanza was at the forefront of the struggles that called out white privilege and white supremacy within hardcore. Their stance has been largely ignored and forgotten. This is surprising and simultaneously disappointing since there has been a growing number of alternative media sources that attempt to give voice to stories that have often gone untold. During their brief existence Esperanza challenged white privilege within the high contested racial spaces of the Southern California hardcore scene. They went as far as printing t-shirts that said "Fuck Your Privilege". This went on to cause controversy and disrupt a perceived "harmony" and "unity" that pervaded the entire Southern California Hardcore scene. Message boards (popular at the time, predating Facebook) were ravaged by debate, and to put it lightly, "argument" and defamation, songs were written, the scene was "separated". This is what happens when you take radical ideals and call out things for what they are. I will dedicate a post that goes more in depth on this forgotten conflict of Southern California History, not because I want to open old wounds, but because I want to retell a story, a counter narrative that displays the delicate racial string by which hardcore hangs.  

By the year 2000 it was clear to me that while I was from Oxnard, and appreciated and loved all the hardcore that came from here, what really spoke to me was what was going on in Los Angeles. The bands from LA actually sang about these issues. As the son of Mexican immigrants who broke their bodies to benefit the agricultural industrial complex and the sweatshops of the US, I needed something, I needed someone who could articulate the anger and alienation I felt at the things I had seen and experienced in Oxnard. One look out the window and I could see the state of bondage people in Oxnard were subjected to—as they broke their bodies over the strawberry fields, exposed to back breaking labor and record levels of pesticides. A state of bondage existent since the early 1900’s. Hardcore from Oxnard, while angry, did not sing about my realities.

I had gotten into Los Crudos right as they broke up, missing their show at the legendary PCH Club. By 1999/2000 LA continued to have a handful of critical hardcore bands, one of these being Esperanza. When I got home and read the lyrics I was floored. Lyrics talking shit about Pete Wilson, who was the Republican governor of California from 1993 to 1999, and one of the main architects behind all the propositions I mentioned. This is where I felt a deeper connection to the hardcore coming out of LA. Bands like Esperanza explicitly articulated the anger many people were feeling in California. Through songs like the 21st Reason to Kill Pete Wilson they called out the injustice behind Proposition 21. These were lyrics talking about real things that were affecting communities across California! Their excerpt by one of the Zapatista declarations was another thing that connected deeply with me. Here, a hardcore band from Los Angeles was using the indigenous world view of people that looked like my grandmothers, that worked the land like my father, here they were including the revolutionary world view that challenged white supremacy, not in the traditional way most hardcore punks envision white supremacy, but in the deeper way, White Supremacy that rewards whiteness, through institutions such as education, labor, capital, economics, the legal system, etc. Esperanza were embracing revolutionary voices from the global south, Esperanza stood against “the international of terror representing neoliberalism…” Esperanza means “hope” in Spanish, “Hope, above borders, languages, colors, cultures, sexes, strategies, and thoughts, of all those who prefer humanity alive”. (from the Zapatista Encuentro, Seven Stories Press 1998, printed in Esperanza insert). This band was teaching me. Now at the time, the Zapatista uprising in Mexico was still making waves. And the Zapatista Uprising was still relatively fresh, having taken place in 1994, where even bands like Rage Against The Machine (who also came from the hardcore scene) were singing about it. Some would say that this era had more reasons to be pissed. But I kind of debate that. By 2000, the Zapatista Uprising had already been 6 years passed and folks in critical/radical circles across the board fully embraced it. Many hardcore punks were not the exception. What does seem to be the exception is the receptiveness of hardcore punk kids back then in comparison to now. I mean, we still have a whole lot to be angry about, and events in Mexico, the US, and the rest of the world are still on fire. The Black Lives Matter movement, the 43 slain students in Mexico, the wars raging overseas, etc. I ask, where is the receptiveness within hardcore to these movements?

These are the types of things bands like KontraAtaque, Esperanza, Tragatelo, Life’s Halt, and Former Members of Alfonsin were singing about. These were voices that were prominent in the hardcore scene of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Whether or not you were listening was on you. Emblazoned above the lyrics sheet for Esperanza was an Angela Davis quote that fiercely denounced the racism that was represented by the police state, “We Must Learn to Rejoice When Pigs’ Blood Is Spilled”. Wow. It doesn’t get more radical then that. The demo ends with a song titled “Today’s Lesson Plan”, denouncing the indoctrinating and racist public education system (which has been HEAVILY RESEARCHED and yes people, the public education system of the US has a sordid legacy, like most public education systems in every nation state), the lyrics reading:

 â€œâ€¦a story once told, about the brave and the bold, so many stories left untold, of people taking what isn’t sold, we got genocide, we got unwanted signs, we cover the truth with lies, cause we’ve got so much to hide”.

This demo was a representation of critical pedagogy. Of revolutionary education that counteracts the dominant narratives of the US nation-state. For a 17 year old who was enrolled in a public education institution (with everything that implies) this was part of a different education process, a critical/decolonial education process that was authentically pushing me to question everything, but this time from a more well articulated perspective. Not some abstract lyricism written by kids that were living in a suburb, rather a well-articulated lyricism made up of a multiracial hardcore outfit. Made up of members from different cities of California, from Victorville, Glendora, South Central/Downtown LA, and Santa Barbara. This was a lyricism by people in different locations of California experiencing these social forces, deconstructing them using critical scholarship and literature, analysis, and conversation. All the while, I was having fun listening to fierce power chords paying homage to the Teen Idles, Government Issue, Minor Threat, State of Alert, Void, and other DC greats. It was the best of both worlds. If you want to teach youth, you have to do it in a language, in a form they understand. The Esperanza demo helped me understand and articulate things I was feeling in a way that couldn’t have happened if someone had handed me a book and just told me to read it.

So Many Stories Left Untold

In the end I’m not sure about how many shows Esperanza played. Because the members were littered throughout SoCal I know that for sure it wasn’t always the easiest project to get off its feet. I know they played a pretty bad ass show with Total Fury and The Oath around 2002 (I think it was 2002), they played one of the Chicago Fests (I think it’s safe to say that this was the fest that ushered in the era of the fests within hardcore, around the same time you had the Positive Numbers fest, and shortly thereafter the Chaos en Tejas fests, the Chicago Fests definitely helped set this off), and possibly a tour up to the Bay Area as well as the occasional shows around SoCal. I think by around 2003 Esperanza called it quits.

To this day I look back fondly on this demo as one of those life changing moments, that nudge you in a direction that nurtures the better elements of the human spirit, the better manifestations of humanity, the sense of wanting to help others, the sense that cries for social justice, the sense that pushes you to challenge yourself. At 31, I am still involved in hardcore punk (after a brief period of questioning in my mid 20’s), and I’m currently an educator. I like to think of myself as a social justice educator. I’m heavily involved in my community, currently part of on organization named the Association of Mexican American Educators, which is Ventura County’s only social justice oriented education advocacy organization. The Association of Mexican American Educators (AMAE) is one of the remnants of the myriad social justice organizations that started in the 1960’s, the ones all those propositions sought to dismantle. Unlike LA or the Bay Area we don’t have as many autonomous/radical organizations. We make do with what we have in smaller towns. 

I also publish this fanzine (very close to being done with issue two), Staycool Fanzine. One final reflection that I stay with is the necessity for explicitly politically charged hardcore. At least within the US, it seems that punk (in all of its manifestations and scenes, regardless of race, gender, class, etc.) has gone through a serious depoliticizing. We continue to suffer from the same problems, if anything you could even say we’ve suffered a regression, and yet I don’t see any consistent and well-established response from the various hardcore communities. I know there may be different perspectives on why this may have happened. But man, it can be very discouraging. I certainly hope we can work to remedy this. I, for one, am willing to take part in any project that seeks to use creativity, art, and culture, to challenge the multiple forces of oppression that assault our communities. While hardcore means different things to different people, for me it is one of the many subcultures existent in the world that embraced revolutionary change and critical thinking. Maybe sometimes we romanticize our subcultures too much. But we have to be willing to “dig deeper”, as Esperanza taught us.

“This is part of my life, not an escape from it” (Esperanza, 2000). 

          What’s Good for Exxon Is Bad for the Country        

The nomination of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state is like something out of a Marxist comic book: Who better to be the chief diplomat of a neocolonial power, plundering the world’s oil riches, than the chairman and CEO of the world’s largest oil company!

Tillerson, 64, has spent his entire adult life working at Exxon (then, after the merger, Exxon Mobil), and even discarding reductionist theories about his material motives, it is hard to imagine that someone of his age and his cloistered background can shift mental gears from corporate imperatives to national interests. In fact, it’s not clear that he could detect a difference between the two.

The only remotely comparable high-level Cabinet nomination in modern U.S. history is President Dwight Eisenhower’s choice of Charles Wilson to be his first-term secretary of defense. Wilson had been CEO of General Motors, and when asked about conflicts of interest, Wilson famously replied that he didn’t think there could be a conflict of interest because “what was good for our country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

At least there was something to that equation when Wilson took his oath in 1953, before the age of global supply chains, instantaneous transactions, and porous borders. Exxon Mobil, on the other hand, doesn’t see itself as bound up with the country at all. Rather, as Steve Coll, author of Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power, recently wrote in the New Yorker, Exxon Mobil sees itself as “a parallel quasi-state,” a “power independent of the American government, one devoted firmly to shareholder interests and possessed of its own foreign policy,” the goal of which is “to promote a world that is good for oil and gas production.”

Tillerson’s now-famously tight relationship with Vladimir Putin dates to 2011, when Exxon Mobil signed a multibillion-dollar contract with the Russian oil firm Rosneft. Two years later, Putin awarded Tillerson the Russian Order of Friendship. More recently, Tillerson lobbied heavily against President Obama’s sanctions on Russia following the annexation of Crimea—a policy that has cost Exxon Mobil at least $1 billion.

At times, Exxon Mobil has simply ignored American officialdom. The company, for instance, signed a drilling contract with the self-proclaimed autonomous government of Kurdistan, contrary to U.S. policy, which, seeking to unify the Iraqi state, directed firms to do such business through Baghdad. Tillerson explained afterward that his obligation to Exxon Mobil’s stockholders had to take precedent over obeisance to Washington.

Tillerson’s unbridled internationalism may serve as a counter to the nativist protectionism of Trump’s rhetoric, but it may go too far the other way. Cultivating a feel for national interests would require not only an extraordinarily agile mind but also—as a first step—some notion of what “national interests” are, a concept that has rarely weighed on the mind of Tillerson’s boss-to-be, either.

Tillerson is a dealmaker, and Trump likes dealmakers. But the key questions are: What kind of deals—and made in whose interest? Tillerson has made big deals with dozens of leaders around the world, and Trump has said he’s impressed that Tillerson “knows all the players.” But it’s a fallacy to think that knowing the players gets you the deal, much less the right kind of deal.

Trump also recently said that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, could negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinians because he “knows the players” in the region. I suspect Trump really believes there’s a connection (leaving aside the fact that Kushner is an unknown in the region), but this reveals only how little Trump knows about Middle Eastern politics, where everybody knows everybody, yet no peace is in sight. It’s true that knowing the players—knowing the right person to call and knowing something about that person, having done business with that person—can open doors and get talks going. But familiarity doesn’t breed the deal. No two diplomats on the planet have a closer personal relationship than Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Yet the two of them can’t make a deal on Syria because their two countries, much less the other countries in the region, have conflicting interests. Even in successes, their friendship was only part of the story: It probably did help smooth things in the prolonged talks that led to the Iran nuclear deal, but it did so only because the United States and Russia shared a long-standing interest in nuclear nonproliferation.

Trump now faces a real challenge in getting this nomination through. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which must confirm the appointment by majority vote before it even goes to the floor, is stacked with Russia hawks who are very suspicious of Tillerson’s close ties to Putin and his opposition to sanctions—especially now, in the aftermath of the CIA’s assessment that Russia’s “senior-most officials” coordinated the hacking and leaking of the Democratic National Committee’s email in order to help hand the election to Trump, whose own fond views of Putin are well-known and disturbing.

Still, it’s possible that Trump named Tillerson not in spite of the advance protests but because of them. Nominating someone else would have looked as if he were caving in to pressure—something Trump doesn’t like to do. He also hates to lose, so we can expect a brutal fight if the committee seems resistant. Already, a handful of eminent Republicans stand at the ready to campaign on behalf of Tillerson, including former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, and former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and James Baker. In fact, when Trump started to widen his search for a secretary of state, Gates and Baker were the ones who suggested a look at Tillerson, according to a former official who knows both secretaries.

In a statement of support released Tuesday morning, Gates acknowledged that he, Rice, and Hadley—all co-owners of a consulting firm—have Exxon Mobil as one of their clients, but he also said that he got to know Tillerson many years before through their mutual work with the Boy Scouts of America. Gates is now president of the Boy Scouts; Tillerson, an Eagle Scout, is very active in the organization. The scouts “are like a religion” to both men, the former official said. “Unlike Gates,” he added, “Tillerson is actually religious, too.”

Gates and Tillerson both supported the move to allow gays into the scouts. And, as Coll wrote in the New Yorker, despite Exxon Mobil’s record as “a ruthless and unusually aggressive corporation,” it “is also rule-bound, has built up a relatively strong safety record, and has avoided problems such as prosecutions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, even though it operates in many countries that are rife with corruption.”

So, one good thing that can be said about Tillerson: It could have been worse. Trump could have nominated Rudy Giuliani, one of the nation’s least diplomatic political figures who seems to have been removed from the running long ago for his myriad, seamy financial conflicts and possibly for his overeager self-promotion. Trump might also have nominated Mitt Romney, though it was clear at the time that their multiple meetings, including a dinner of frog legs, were designed to humiliate one of the president-elect’s fiercest intraparty critics. Trump said, during his charade, that he was mulling Romney for the job because he “looks the part,” which is true, but in that case he might as well choose Jason Sudeikis, and it’s a toss-up which of the two knows less about the subject. Trump might have picked David Petraeus, but the retired general carried way too much baggage (he would have had to consult his probation officer whenever he left town) and perhaps he bowed and scraped a bit too much as well. Trump likes people to kiss the ring, but he may not like it if they slobber over it. (It’s worth noting that the actual nominees to date have not spoken effusively to the press after their visits to the man in the high tower.)

One other possibly good thing about Tillerson: It is unlikely that, after running a gigantic global corporation, he will want to be saddled with a deputy who is dense, troublesome, and dogmatically opposed to Tillerson’s brand of internationalism. In other words, the upside to getting Tillerson as secretary of state is that we may avoid the specter of John Bolton as deputy secretary of state.


          Hagshu Shell Jacket        
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          CyberCalifornia Launch        


As we have seen in recent news headlines, security breaches can bring entire organizations, states and countries to their knees. In today's connected world, making security a top priority is no longer a choice - it's a must. As public and private organizations continue to operate within this new era of the Internet, security will become critical to maintaining trust with the public, building company reputation, as well as safeguarding data, IP and critical infrastructure.

California is at the center of the digital revolution that is shaping the world around us. Already a national center of commercial cybersecurity activities, California is home to companies building the cybersecurity products and solutions that are securing commercial businesses, academic institutions and governmental organizations across the globe.

In an effort to help advance the goals and promote the accomplishments of the Governor's Cybersecurity Task Force, CyberTECH, among other state and local leaders, recently launch CyberCalifornia.



CyberCalifornia will organize public-private partnerships in cybersecurity, with the goals of facilitating research and innovation in cybersecurity, educating California businesses about cybersecurity needs and resources, and connecting California's robust workforce development system with the needs of California employers.

Led by its Board of Advisors, CyberCalifornia activities include:
Assisting in the organization of private sector advisory groups by vertical industry such as banking and finance, high technology, agriculture, etc.
Assisting in the development and promotion of cybersecurity career pathways
Partnering with local and regional economic development organizations to inform California's small business community about cybersecurity needs and solutions
Establishing connections between the cybersecurity and Internet of Things sectors through activities such as conferences and media events

To learn more about CyberCalifornia, please contact darin@cyberhivesandiego.org.



Darin Andersen, CEO, CyberUnited, Co-Chair, CyberTECH, Co-Chair, Economic Development Subcommittee, California Cybersecurity Task Force

"CyberCalifornia: Cybersecurity and IoT Gold Rush"

Recently, CyberTECH helped launch CyberCalifornia with other State and local leaders. The initiative is organized in conjunction with the Innovative Hub (iHub) Network, a program administered by the State Office of Economic Development and in partnership with Governor Brown's Cybersecurity Task Force.


Jerry Brown, Governor of California

CyberCalifornia will organize public-private partnerships in cybersecurity to better protect California's critical infrastructure, businesses and citizens from cyber threats, facilitate research and innovation in cybersecurity, educate California businesses about cybersecurity needs and resources, and connect California's robust workforce development system with the needs of California employers.

Center of Cybersecurity and Internet of Things Excellence (CCIoTE)
California is home to the personal computer, the firewall, anti-virus and many other cybersecurity products. Today, California companies are at the forefront of new technologies ushering in the Internet of Things (IoT), the term for the phenomenon where people and things are connected to the Internet, leveraging sensors and real time analytics and cloud technologies.

California's leadership role in advanced technology sectors including autonomous vehicles, biotechnology, precision in medicine and advanced manufacturing, will contribute to the State's continued excellence in cybersecurity and privacy. The powerful combination of cyber and the emergence of these innovative intensive sectors make California the perfect place to build secure next generation technologies.

California has a rapidly growing information technology industry cluster and offers the full spectrum of cybersecurity capabilities. Our Golden State has tremendous assets to keep our Country safe, advance innovation with security and privacy built in and be a beacon for other States in our Nation to follow.


Charles "Chuck" Brooks, Vice President, Government Relations and Marketing, Sutherland Global Services

"Adopting a Cooperative Global Cyber Security Framework to Mitigate Cyber Threats (Before it is too Late)"
The recent OPM cyber breach at the U.S. Government's Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provided a wakeup call to the seriousness and sophistication of the cyber security threat aimed at both the public and private sectors. The fact is that over 43% of companies had breaches last year (including mega companies such as Home Depot, JPMorgan, a