Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Print your house

Apis Cor, a San Francisco startup, is perfecting the printed, insulated concrete house. The video released in February 2017 shows big improvements over video from last year.  Structural voids formed with polymer concrete can be foam insulated, the exterior finish is smooth enough to apply paint with a roller.  The shapes are wonderfully flexible, accurate, and can be put together in a day. That includes a flat roof and extra man hours to set windows into place and completed for 70% less money.  I'm in the business of fabricating roof trusses and before seeing this video, had been spouting off earlier today about looking ahead to some decades of a similar market before the roof truss business joins cooperage at the roadside of life.  NOT.

Caution:  There's a blitz of cutesy promotion near the front end of the video but lots of detail follows. For example, they put up a tent and build the show home in 24 hours in -35C weather.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Precision death bombing takes out Al Qaeda leader

The story is the picture, not who died.  From above came perfectly targeted death, penetrating a moving vehicle.  No explosion.  No kaboom.
No nearby building collapsed.  A smart, massive bullet steered itself to within inches of its target.  Feeling safe at home in your favourite chair? 
The story about the late Mr. Masri is in the NYT and the photo at a twitter feed linked therein.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Orbits of Mars and Earth have an occasional resonance that drives the macro climate.

For years people wondered why earth's paleo-climate has warm spikes every hundred thousand years or so and other long range fluctuations, Mars may be part of the answer.  Earth and Mars orbits have some slight entanglement which every so often resonates, transferring some angular momentum from one planet to the other, making a small disturbance of the axis and orbit vis a vis the sun.    This is a bit preliminary but there's a signature in alternating layers of limestone and shale laid down some 87 million years ago in what's now Colorado and that's where it points.  Beautiful!!
Excerpted from HotAir.com where I first read about it.

More perspective from an article at iflscience.com:
"We know that orbital patterns known as Milankovitch cycles have been responsible for swings between glacial and interglacial conditions over the last few million years. These are a result of three things: Shifts between a more rounded and more elongated (or eccentric) orbit, the tilt of the Earth's axis, and the season in which Earth is closest to the Sun.  Meyers claims that during the Cretaceous, Martian gravity helped determine the first of these."

Friday, 24 February 2017

Human distinctives

Found in male and female forms, humans live in colonies, have concealed ovulation and almost no pheromones  (Think about that), long gestation times, and high survival rates.  They hide their stools.  They walk on hind legs and have a capacity to learn language.  They specialize food jobs by sex (hunting and gathering),  deceive group members about status, practice monogamy but are opportunistic for adultery and polygamy,  prefer meat but eat anything, trade food  (and other stuff) across the species with individuals that have different DNA, have a male form a little larger than the female form, show evidence of neoteny, have females modified to feed their DNA offspring with milk. Males mate frequently with females but females reproduce rarely, bearing one or at most two young in a year, and  generally have both parents invested in the young's survival.    Colonies are hierarchical with status defined for both females and males.  Competition is chiefly with other members of the same species for status, males with males, females with females, as well as males with females competing with each other for mating.  The head organ has grown dramatically in the last five million years, unlike other members of the ape and monkey families, but rather like the bottle-nosed dolphin which outpaced other dolphins and whales.   This may be to win mating competitions with complex displays of fitness.  Recent technical developments are making some of this irrelevant, perhaps making ourselves irrelevant too.

Thanks for much of this to Matt Ridley who wrote  The Red Queen - Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature.  

Monday, 13 February 2017

Justin meets Donald. Two observations and a picture of small hands.

First the small hands.  The photo shows our prime minister's hand buried in the larger hand of the U.S. president.

I was puzzled last night that President Trump tweeted he'd be meeting with our PM and some business women today.
That seems to be exactly what happened except the business women didn't get a high profile news conference.  What is our man doing as part of this joint US/Canada group, standing behind the ladies with his smile? Did Donald Trump think the roundtable discussion was a bigger deal than a meet-and-greet with the Prime Minister of Canada?  Perhaps it was.

  Both Trudeau and Trump called on lesser-known press reps (including The Daily Caller Blog) and got substantial economic questions from them, as Breitbart reports. Mainstream media whined, as The Washington Times reports.  They wanted gotcha questions to embarrass Trump over Flynn, not analysis.
“By handpicking reporters, Trump manages to get through a news conference without being asked about Flynn,” New York Times reporter Peter Baker lamented on Twitter." (See several other quotes at the Washington Times story link.)
Update 8:20pm PST: Breaking news, Flynn has resigned with the finger pointing to credible evidence that he could be blackmailed and with evidence that he lied to presidential staff about talking to Russia about sanctions.  Added:  His letter of resignation posted on line.
Update: CBC has an informative report on the meeting (which I should have read first). It's noteworthy for being reportage, not persifilage.

I've seen the future: You get a real butler, not Siri, Alexa or Google.

Today we're toying with corporatist assistants from Google, Apple and more.  They can influence our vote to support a Trudeau and shun a Trump.   They shape the news we see, guess the ads and maps we will ask for and stand ready to answer whims day or night. Google tells me it's time to leave for the airport because it read the ticket in my inbox, offers a map of YVR while I'm there and comes up with a review page of the restaurant I'm sitting in.   Our characters are so varied that ultimately only a custom product will serve.  This means default "OK Google" and "Siri" software will be displaced by hundreds of competing and customizable apps that will be like a friend and like a servant.

Authors Ezrachi and Stucke write:
 "As the digital butler seamlessly provides more of what interests us and less of what doesn’t, we will grow to like and trust it. Communicating in our preferred language, our assistant will develop the ability to anticipate and fulfill our needs and requests. They can do so, based on our connections, data profile, behavior, and so forth.     The digital assistants have the potential to usurp the current super-platforms, namely Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Not surprisingly, each of these companies is now seeking to become our digital personal assistant. The winner will become our primary interface."
I disagree with the last sentence.  The big players will have an influence, just as Windows can be found in many computers without controlling what you do on them.  Competition demanded by the millions of nearly unique users means big players will be swamped by startups.  Compare how a few network broadcasters and newspapers owned the news twenty years ago and now dozens of medium sized sources and thousands of smaller ones are being watched and read every day.

I look forward to my first fully customizable butler, available online and off-line, a butler with a sense of humour that amuses me, a butler who can take a hint, that will go look for stuff I need or am curious about, a butler who asks unobtrusively if I want to send a thank you note to Aunt Tottie for the slippers.

Neil Stephenson wrote about a future where you buy a suitcase and say"Follow me" to it.  The rest is looked after.   We'll be shopping for personal assistants too and saying, "Follow me!".

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Iraqis who'd kill you on the street if you walked alone are angry that Trump's EO will vet them.

A security contractor in Iraq asked his co-workers what would happen if he went out on the town by himself.  They said local people would torture and kill him within the hour. The ex-marine asks, then why would we want you in our country?   Three and a half minutes, 44 million views already on YouTube, h/t Fox News.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Art illustrating politics: A semblance of truth and a passel of lies can co-exist.

The portrait of a young girl, highlighted at Ace of Spaces illustrates this well. The artist, Sully, wrote: From long experience I know that resemblance in a portrait is essential; but no fault will be found with the artist, at least by the sitter, if he improve the appearance."   The face is a good likeness and the legs are stretched beyond belief.  We now call this "photoshopping" in images and "spin" in politics.
lady with harp.jpg

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Winning: Support for Islamic terrorism in Pakistan suddenly muted in late January

The threat of adding Pakistan to the list of temporary travel bans is making our world a safer place and doing it cheaply.  "What made this threat so convincing is that the newly (since January 20th) installed U.S. government started keeping campaign promises".  (Strategy Page).   No bullets were fired or marines deployed.
"Surprisingly the vocal popular support for Islamic terrorism in Pakistan was suddenly muted in late January as the military made some unexpected concessions regarding its support for terrorism and the government was able to go after a major Islamic charity that was long known (by literally everyone) as a front for Islamic terrorist fund raising. What caused this sudden change was the unexpected American threat to declare Pakistan a supporter of Islamic terrorism and restrict the movement of Pakistanis to and from the United States.What made this threat so convincing is that the newly (since January 20th) installed U.S. government started keeping campaign promises and banned seven nations (Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen) that have long been the source of most Islamic terrorism. Many in South Asia believe Pakistan should be on the list. Afghanistan and India have long called for such action against Pakistan but Pakistanis thought the Americans would never do it. The leaders of Pakistan’s Islamic parties, who normally call for violent demonstrations against any effort to shut down Islamic terrorists who only attack outside Pakistan were quiet. That was because many of their key supporters may be enthusiastic about Islamic terrorism, they are more concerned about family in the West, especially the United States, or seeking to go there. ... The fear may not last, but it’s a refreshing change of attitude for people in the region, including most Pakistanis."

And this: "January 29, 2017: In Pakistan, three days after pro-Islamic terrorist host Amir Liaqat was banned from appearing on TV, four of five online critics of the military who had mysteriously disappeared three weeks earlier reappeared and two of them promptly left the country."

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Voter fraud? The exception proves the rule

You've heard the line about progressive politicians: "If they didn't have double standards, they'd have no standards at all".  (Maybe this applies to all successful politicians.)

Dissent was the highest form of patriotism, and then it wasn't and now it is again.  A supermajority was needed to pass important bills until Obamacare when a majority of 1 was enough. Now a supermajority is back for Democrats.       Filibuster was good until the Democrats got the upper hand, when it became bad.  Now it's good again.   The electoral college was good until it didn't favour Democrats and then it was bad.  Fearing Russia's power was foolish '80s policy but the danger of Russia is now obvious to every Democrat in Christendom.   Texas secession was for crazed rednecks but now it's favoured by one third of enlightened Californians.

The one standard that never changes when Democrats are in power or out of power is the claim there's no problem with vote integrity.  That tells me that leaving an unexamined and undisciplined voter policy in place is a bedrock value.   Voter integrity doesn't affect their sojourn in Washington but it must play a big role at the margins for getting Democrats there in the first place.

Some painful background on the voting swamp: Read the excerpt from Fitton of Justice Watch's book.
You get a pdf download of a chapter that is worth reading.

Dressing up as assholes: Vagina costumes

Enough said.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The First Hundred Hours

No need to debate "The First Hundred Days" of President Trump.  The first hundred hours is enough Winning.   Never in my life have I seen more consequential leadership. Even press conferences are entertaining and move the needle. A sip of this cordial will be nice in Ottawa too.