Jun 30 2009

They’ll need SOMEONE to take care of them

Category: society,technologyharmonicminer @ 9:05 am

Japan is dying by inches. It is simply not reproducing itself into the next generation. And, because it is one of the most closed societies on Earth to immigration, it is going to have a very hard time getting anyone to take care of its aging population.  For that reason, robotics research of all kinds is hugely funded — they hope that robots will be cooking, cleaning, even providing basic medical care — as well as research into ways to increase the mobility of the elderly.

Toyota Motor Corp. says it has developed a way of steering a wheelchair by just detecting brain waves, without the person having to move a muscle or shout a command.

Toyota’s system, developed in a collaboration with researchers in Japan, is among the fastest in the world in analyzing brain waves, it said in a release Monday.

Past systems required several seconds to read brain waves, but the new technology requires only 125 milliseconds _ or 125 thousandths of a second.

The person in the wheelchair wears a cap that can read brain signals, which are relayed to a brain scan electroencephalograph, or EEG, on the electrically powered wheelchair, and then analyzed in a computer program.

Research into mobility is part of Toyota’s larger strategy to go beyond automobiles in helping people get around in new ways.

We all stand to benefit from Japan’s probably hopeless attempt to plan for its, uh, permanent retirement.  Rather than taking the European approach of allowing high levels of immigration to provide the workforce that isn’t being born natively, Japan is going to bequeath some amazing new technologies, which are likely to have applications far beyond replacing the missing younger generation in eldercare.

If Europe was spending its money this way, we might have seen a “robotics and remote control” race between Europe and Japan.  Sadly, Europe is so mired in its ways that it is dying another way, and, in the dying, is bequeathing nothing but huge problems to the world.

Does anyone think a US car company has been doing basic research of this nature?  Nah…  too busy trying to figure out how to meet ridiculous CAFE standards for fuel economy, while paying cushy retirement packages to retirees with probable life spans of 30+ years after retirement.  The only robots in the US auto industry (outside the factories that used to be busy making cars) are the ones marching to the tune of the federal bureaucrats who have taken over.

Jun 29 2009

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 9:03 am

Obama’s EPA Quashes Climate Change Science

Read it all.

Jun 29 2009

Sometimes the Crystal Ball works

Category: Bush,Iran,Iraqharmonicminer @ 8:51 am

Read the following, and understand that it was written SEVEN YEARS AGO by Reuel Marc Gerecht. This was before the Iraq insurgency, before Iraqi elections, before the the surge, before any of it.

Much interesting analysis at the link above, all worth reading:

If the United States stays in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein and his Baathist regime, and ushers in some type of a federal, democratic system, the repercussions throughout the region could be transformative. Popular discontent in Iran tends to heat up when U.S. soldiers get close to the Islamic Republic. An American invasion could possibly provoke riots in Iran–simultaneous uprisings in major cities that would simply be beyond the scope of regime-loyal specialized riot-control units. The army or the Revolutionary Guard Corps would have to be pulled into service in large numbers, and that’s when things could get interesting. The clerical regime fears big street confrontations, afraid that it cannot rely on the loyalty of either the army or the Guard Corps.

And if an American invasion doesn’t provoke urban unrest, the creation of a democratic Iraq probably will. Iraq’s majority Shiite population, who will inevitably lead their country in a democratic state, will start to talk to their Shiite brethren over the Iran-Iraq border. The collective Iranian conversation about American-aided democracy in Iraq will be brutal for the mullahs (which is why the Bush administration should prepare itself for Iranian mischief in Iraq’s politics once Tehran determines that the Bush administration is indeed serious about ensuring a democratic triumph in Baghdad). The Bush administration should, of course, quickly and loudly support any demonstrators who hit the streets in Iran. America’s approval will not be the kiss of death for the brave dissidents who challenge the regime’s armed defenders. On the contrary, such psychological support could prove critical to those trying to show to the people that the die is now decisively cast against the regime.

Jun 29 2009

Sotomayor reversed by Supreme Court… again

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 8:44 am

Justices Rule for White Firefighters in Bias Case

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge.

Jun 27 2009

The Waxman-Markey Cap & Trade Energy Bill: part TWO

Category: economy,energy,environmentharmonicminer @ 9:59 am

This disastrous drag on the US economy has passed the House, narrowly.

The last chance to block it is in the Senate.  Don’t just assume that your senator can’t be moved.  Write them, evey day, to express your disapproval of a bill that even its proponents admit will make no significant difference to the climate, but which will weigh down an already struggling US economy.   This is purely a “feel good” bill for the eco-pagan elites, yet it is a bill which will hurt the poor more than anyone, because they are always the first hurt by a struggling economy.  The notion that only “the polluters” will pay more is risible.  Prices will be higher, and costs and fees will simply be passed on to the consumers, doing the most harm to those on the tightest budgets.  More subtle effects, but even more damaging to the poor, will be the jobs that will continue to move offshore, as the US becomes less competitive against other large economies that will never make such restrictions on their own producers.

Imagine a public pool that isn’t quite as perfectly clean as you’d like it to be.  Now imagine about 100 people in it, splashing around, many barely staying above water, but all required to be in the water, because there is simply nowhere else to be.  And now imagine throwing a 25 pound cleaning filter around the neck of one swimmer who is already struggling, a swimmer whose history is one of rescuing other swimmers, giving other swimmers short breathers while they hang on for a minute, even though you know that only an insignificant difference will be made by the 25 pound filter.

Now imagine being proud of your commitment to clean water, because you hung the filter around the neck of one swimmer.  Now imagine having friends in the press who are willing to repeat your line that “it won’t really hurt the swimmer who is carrying the extra weight” as if it’s true.  And imagine pretending that you’ve done a great service for the world, and being allowed to get away with it.

That’s about where we are today.

Call your senators.  Then write to them, or send email at least.  Then call them again.  You owe it to yourself, and anyone you care about.

Flotation devices are going to be in very short supply, and very expensive.

Jun 26 2009

The Waxman-Markey Cap & Trade Energy Bill

Category: Uncategorizedamuzikman @ 1:32 pm

This massive tax increase under the guise of “global warming” has far-reaching implications for our future.  If you are reading this on Friday, June 26 please call and urge your congressperson to vote NO.   The House is planning to vote in just a few hours so call right away if you can. There is, at least, a fair chance this bill can be defeated – I for one believe it should be.

Jun 26 2009

Quick, what’s scarier? Missing nukes, or missing bugs?

Category: funny but sad,government,military,national securityharmonicminer @ 9:00 am

Thousands of uncatalogued pathogens found at US lab

With three days left in spring cleaning season, a US army lab that works on the world’s deadliest pathogens has turned up uncatalogued vials of Ebola, anthrax, plague and other pathogens – 9220 of them to be precise.

The laboratory is the same one where anthrax researcher Bruce Ivins worked before he committed suicide last year. The US government suspects Ivins was behind the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people, and studies showed that the anthrax used in the attack was “directly related” to the batch stored at the lab.

The discovery of the uncatalogued vials raises questions about whether anyone would notice if some of the lab’s pathogens went missing.

“A small number would be a concern; 9200 … at an institution that has been the focus of intense scrutiny on this issue, that’s deeply worrisome. Unacceptable,” Richard Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University, told the Washington Post.

If you see some guys in white lab coats selling vials of “special fragrance” at the swap meet, I suggest you find someplace else to shop.  I’m not sure if this is scarier than missing Russian suitcase nukes, but it’s at least competitive on the scare-o-meter.  Does anybody think that the anthrax-spreading misanthrope is the only geek with a big brain and a tiny moral center? 

There are days when I wonder if the human race is just too stupid to live.  Then I’ll buck up a bit, and start feeling less pessimistic.  But not long after that, I’ll hear a bunch of people, who should know better, waxing rhapsodic about the wonderfulness of government mananged healthcare for the future.  It reminds me, as if I needed reminding, that the innumerate and the illiterate have no defenses against technocrats, their natural predators.

If the missing Russian nukes, the Iranian nukes, the North Korean nukes, or the pathogenic terrorists don’t get us, then it’ll be the nanotech that does it, when the first self-replicating machine (originally designed to “eat waste at toxic waste-dumps”) turns the entire Earth into a gigantic orbiting pile of staples — covered, incidentally, with Ebola spores.

I’m sure they’ll be very useful to someone (the staples, that is).  I expect that the Intragalactic Council on Emerging Technology (ICE-T) will have a LOT of reports to fill out.

Jun 25 2009

Russians accusing the USA of collectivism… surreal

Category: economy,Obama,Russia,socialismharmonicminer @ 9:08 am

America walks the road of collectivism

Dear reader, let us first and foremost establish a known fact as our guiding principle: the Principle of American Extremes.

Simply put, in the American culture and government, any law passed and program enacted will be taken to the absolute extreme. Note, I do not say logical extremes but absolute extreme, beyond any measure of logic or hint of common sense or wisdom.

So begins an article in Pravda observing the collectivist tendencies of the American Left, and actually instructing the USA on the dangers of collectivism.

What’s next? A USA newspaper running an editorial accusing the Chinese of “wild west capitalism” a la 19th-century America?  Maybe warning the Chinese about “robber barons” (who pretty much never existed as commonly described)?

The world has become very strange.

The Democrats want to take over US healthcare, and intend to nationalize essentially all of it, all the while protesting they don’t plan to do that, even though that is the logical result of the policies they now pursue.  They want to institute a huge carbon tax (again claiming it will only affect “polluters”) which will affect the prices paid by everyone for everything, and cost the poor the most, because they live on smaller margins.  (The Left is for the “little guy” alright.  That’s why they want him to STAY little.)  The Democrats want union organizers to be able to pressure individuals to sign up for the union (card check legislation pending), and want to put an end to the secret ballot formerly required for unionization.  Would you turn down two huge guys name Guido and Alfonzo standing at your front door, with a few of their friends in the pickup truck on the curb, “just asking for your signature”?  Just about every new policy contemplated by Obama and Democrats is one of decreasing freedom for Americans, and more power for the government.

It is not a given that the USA will be the focal point of freedom in the world forever.  If we continue to abdicate that role by inches, and then by feet, that honor may fall to liberalizing societies to which we now feel superior, but which may be instructing our descendants on the finer points of freedom….  or even the major ones.

Jun 24 2009

Breaking Point

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 10:51 am

Watch this ad, and call your congressional representatives and senators.

Jun 24 2009

The annointed one speaks — at last

Category: Iran,Obamaharmonicminer @ 9:33 am

Obama condemns violence against Iran protesters

Dramatically hardening the U.S. reaction to Iran’s disputed elections and bloody aftermath, President Barack Obama condemned the violence against protesters Tuesday and lent his strongest support yet to their accusations the hardline victory was a fraud.


Obama, who has been accused by some Republicans of being too timid in his response to events in Iran, declared himself “appalled and outraged” by the deaths and intimidation in Tehran’s streets, and scoffed at suggestions he was toughening his rhetoric in response to the criticism.

I’m sure it was just his spontaneous response to the murders of a week ago.  He was just busy watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island.

He suggested Iran’s leaders will face consequences if they continue “the threats, the beatings and imprisonments” against protesters. But he repeatedly declined to say what actions the U.S. might take, retaining, for now, the option of pursuing diplomatic engagement with Iran’s leaders over its suspected nuclear weapons program.


“We don’t know yet how this thing is going to play out,” the president said. “It is not too late for the Iranian government to recognize that there is a peaceful path that will lead to stability and legitimacy and prosperity for the Iranian people. We hope they take it.”

Sure. And we hope that the national health care system that the Democrats are pushing won’t result in everyone having their health care rationed like in the UK or Canada.

Same chance of both.

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