May 30, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 7:22 PM


We have recently received a couple opportunities for promotional giveaways and Memorial Day Weekend seems like a good time.

First, we gave away two copies of Harry Turtledove's new novel in the NCAA Final Four contest, but I figured I'd give mine away too.  Our review is posted here.

Meanwhile, a couple years ago we received and reviewed an interesting graphic novel about sleep, of all things, R.E.M.  The creative team behind that effort are now working on a Samurai/Spaghetti Western that looks promising and they're raising money to complete the project on Kickstarter:

Orient City: Ronin & The Princess is a samurai spaghetti western that features gorgeous hand-drawn animation mixed with white-knuckle action. It combines the characteristics of the American Wild West with the architecture of Feudal Asia, inspired by the styles of steampunk and anime. Traditional western haunts such as bars, brothels and barbershops feature characteristics such as Chinese rooftops, dragon gargoyles, Chinese lampions and bamboo construction stands.

Towering up through the clouds, Orient City was built vertically on top of four rocks connected by the channels of water at their base. A city whose poor dwell at the bottom, quite literally. They live in favela-like neighborhoods, carved into the rock walls but featuring a distinct oriental-style. As the city rises up, connected by stairways and cable cars, so do the classes and high society lives an opulent, wasteful lifestyle above the clouds.

At the center of it all is Boshi, a fallen samurai who has sworn to protect a young girl whose family has been assassinated. Together they head to Orient City for one thing... revenge.

What sets apart Orient City is not only the quality of the story but also the experience and talents of the filmmaking team. The combination of hand-drawn animation with modern day filmmaking technology enables us to make something breathtaking with a relatively low cost. Our process will allow us to make a high quality picture with a shorter production schedule and less capital.

We have been building the world of Orient City for the last few years... and now we have the first story we would like to tell in this world. 10 minutes of hand-drawn animation is a lot of drawing (roughly 6,000 frames)... but we drink a lot of espresso.

There is a lot of work that has been done already. The script is written, the storyboards are done, the animatic is complete and edited and the scenery is built to the last tumbleweed. But there is a lot of work still to do... and we now need help doing it.

The short will have roughly 6,000 frames.

Zsombor can do roughly 20 keyframes per day. For him to do this on his own, it would take at least 15 months working full-time on the short. It just is not feasible.

That said, Zsombor will draw the 1000 key frames needed, as well as set the colors for each sequence.

For the other 5000 frames we need to bring on Colorists and In-Between Character Animators.

We are scheduled to be completed 24 weeks after a successful campaign. That means we will be able to deliver rewards before the holidays. The animation process will include:

Background Rendering
Background Painting
Voice Recording
Key Frame Animation
In-Between Animation
Ambience building and Visual Effects
Sound Design & Score

We have tested our pipeline on the opening shot and now... we are ready to make this dream a reality!

Financing for independent filmmakers is extremely hard to come by. Financing for first-time animation directors on a hand-drawn film is even harder. Financing for those filmmakers in that medium for a short film is essentially non-existent.

Our graphic novel R.E.M. received an overwhelming amount of support through Kickstarter and we have decided to return to this amazing community as we leap from the printed page to the screen.

In exchange for helping to spread the word, Mr Colucci is offering a an Art Print still from the film to one of our readers.

If you'd like to be entered in the drawing for book and/or print please just email me directly or leave a comment.


May 26, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 6:51 PM


Who will pick the carrots if Brexit stops migration? (DAVID MILLIKEN, 5/26/16, Reuters)

As farmer Guy Poskitt looks across a field of pumpkin seedlings, he worries how he will get them planted and picked in future if Britain votes next month to leave the European Union and closes the door on migrant workers.

Health and safety notices in Polish and Russian as well as English are posted around his farm and a vegetable packing plant full of clattering conveyor belts of carrots. The vast bulk of Poskitt's workers are from Poland or the Baltic states.

"I cannot run my business without migrant workers," Poskitt said after a team at his Yorkshire farm had finished planting thousands of seedlings which will grow and ripen in time for Halloween.

Poskitt's farm - a supplier of vegetables to British supermarkets and caterers - is typical of many businesses in agriculture, hospitality and construction who rely heavily on low-skilled, low-paid workers from poorer parts of the EU to staff long shifts, often at anti-social hours.

The demographics vary. On a recent workday, older women in plastic hair nets sorted through thousands of carrots, while younger ones walked behind tractors checking that pumpkin seedlings had been planted correctly.

Such workers are a major factor in Britain's June 23 referendum on staying in the EU, where laws mandate freedom of movement.

Official figures released on Thursday showed a record 184,000 people moved to Britain from the EU last year. Over a million have settled over the past decade.

Posted by orrinj at 6:47 PM


Texas' Math Standards Look Suspiciously Familiar (Sarah Garland, 5/26/16, Slate)

The Texas standards aren't the same as the Common Core State Standards Initiative, adopted by more than 40 states. It's actually illegal to teach Common Core in Texas.

But even in a state that said an emphatic "No!" to Common Core, the new math standards here are pretty similar to the standards the state rejected, experts say. Across the Lone Star State, as in the rest of the nation, number lines are replacing pizzas in lessons about fractions and lectures are losing out to rambunctious lessons in which kids seem to run the show.

And more teachers here are overhauling math class so that it's not just about getting answers right or wrong; it's about the joy and challenge of hunting for a solution, whether or not students find it on the first try.

"Really that's what I was going for. Not that they would get it. That if this is too heavy, I need to find something lighter," Demore said later about the lesson. "The idea of looking, of inquiring, of trying. The idea of the journey. It may or may not lead to a right answer, but it will certainly lead to better thinking and reasoning. And that's one of the things they need to get to."

That idea reflects a consensus across the U.S. and is the reason math classes everywhere are starting to look more alike, even in schools untouched by the Common Core.

"There is a much greater research base about how children learn ... mathematical functions than existed 20, 30 years ago," said Mark Ellis, a professor of math education at California State University-Fullerton. "The overall picture of what mathematics looks like is converging on this idea that it's not the teacher standing there for 30 minutes, then giving you 20 problems to replicate the algorithm."

They can call it whatever they want as long as they impose it universally.

Posted by orrinj at 6:39 PM


Donald Trump's Top Adviser: 'This Is Not A Hard Race' (Howard Fineman, 5/26/16, The Huffington Post

The vice presidential pick will also be part of the process of proving he's ready for the White House, Manafort said.

"He needs an experienced person to do the part of the job he doesn't want to do. He seems himself more as the chairman of the board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO."

"There is a long list of who that person could be," Manafort added, "and every one of them has major problems."

The campaign probably won't choose a woman or a member of a minority group, he said. "In fact, that would be viewed as pandering, I think."

Just in case anyone doesn't think he's racist and sexist he'll only consider white men.  Just in case anyone thinks he's a serious person, he doesn't want the job he's asking you to elect him to.
Posted by orrinj at 6:25 PM


Evolutionary engineer Frances Arnold wins €1m tech prize (Jonathan Webb, 24 May 2016, BBC)

US engineer Frances Arnold has won the Millennium Technology Prize for pioneering "directed evolution".

By driving a sped-up version of natural selection in the lab, the method has created new enzymes for industrial catalysts, household detergents, and even to make rocket fuel from sugar. [...]

"Evolution, to me, is the best designer of all time. And I figured out that this should be the algorithm for forward design, for making new biological code that is useful to humans," Prof Arnold said.


Posted by orrinj at 6:14 PM


The False Promise of Negative Interest Rates (Robert Skidelsky, 5/26/16, Project Syndicate)

"Negative interest rate" is a phrase seemingly designed to confuse all but the experts. Instead of paying interest on commercial banks' "excess" reserves held by the central bank, the central bank taxes these deposits. The idea is to impel the banks to reduce their unspent balances and increase their lending or investments. In the case of the European Central Bank, there is a technical reason: to increase the supply of high-class bonds for President Mario Draghi's ongoing program of quantitative easing.

The policy is supposed to work by aligning the market rate of interest with the expected rate of profit, an idea derived from the Swedish economist Knut Wicksell. The problem is that whereas until now it had been believed that nominal interest rates cannot fall below zero, an investor's expected rate of return on a new investment may easily fall to zero or lower when aggregate demand is depressed.

When the dollar I give you tomorrow is worth more than the dollar you gave me yesterday, why should I also pay you interest?

Posted by orrinj at 6:08 PM


Swedes don't want to join the euro - now or ever (The Local, 24 May 2016)

A large majority of Swedes don't want to join the eurozone and most predict the country will never adopt the EU's common currency‚ according to a new survey.

Sixty-eight percent of Swedes are opposed to replacing the krona with the euro, a new Eurobarometer poll shows. 

The survey was carried out in the seven countries that are not yet part of the single currency but have pledged to join at some point. These are: Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland, Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Sweden. 

The two other countries outside the eurozone, Denmark and the UK, have each secured exemptions and are not obliged to join, as Europaportalen reports. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:57 PM


If robots are the future of work, where do humans fit in? (Zoe Williams, 24 May 2016, The Guardian)

[A]ll the predictions lead to the same place: the obsolescence of human labour. Even if a robot takeover is some way away, this idea has already become pressing in specific sectors. Driverless cars are forecast to make up 75% of all traffic by 2040, raising the spectre not just of leagues of unemployed drivers, but also of the transformation of all the infrastructure around the job, from training to petrol stations.

There is always a voice in the debate saying, we don't have to surrender to our own innovation: we don't have to automate everything just because we can. Yet history teaches us that we will, and teaches us, furthermore, that resisting invention is its own kind of failure. Fundamentally, if the big idea of a progressive future is to cling on to work for the avoidance of worklessness, we could dream up jobs that were bolder and much more fulfilling than driving.

Marrying, raising kids, community work, etc.  The final triumph of capitalism is how easy it's going to make building social capital.

Posted by orrinj at 5:47 PM


Austerity is far more than just cuts. It's about privatising everything we own (Aditya Chakrabortty, 24 May 2016, The Guardian)

Privatisation is the multibillion-pound centrepiece of Osborne's austerity - yet it rarely gets a mention from either politicians or press. The Queen mentioned it in her speech last week, but the headline writers ignored it. And if you don't know that this Thursday is the closing date for consultation on the sale of the Land Registry, our public record of who owns what property, that's hardly your fault - I haven't spotted it in the papers, either.

But without getting rid of prize assets, Osborne's austerity programme falls apart. At a time when tax revenues are more weak stream than healthy flood, those sales bring much-needed cash into the Treasury and make his sums add up. The independent Office for Budget Responsibility has ruled that the only reason the chancellor met his debts target last year was because he flogged off our public assets. And what a fire sale that was, with everything from our last remaining stake in the Royal Mail to shares in Eurostar shoved out the door in the biggest wave of privatisations of any year in British history.

And more, much more, is to come. The all new and mostly grotesque housing bill will force local authorities to sell "high-value" council houses once a family moves out - which will basically hand over whatever remains of social housing in central London to investors. Osborne also wants local authorities "to dispose of potentially surplus assets", of which he calculates they have £60bn "in property not used for schools or housing". That would be property such as our public libraries and swimming pools - but to a government hellbent on asset-stripping such communal necessities are merely unsold inventory.

At Whitehall, ministers plan to sell a big chunk of Channel 4, and the public stake in the national air traffic control. And that's just the start, because here's something else you probably won't have read about: Osborne has bundled up all of our public holdings - in every company from the collapsed banks to the Royal Mint - and put them under the control of a government organisation called UK Government Investments. Its CEO (what else?) is a former doyen of the City called Mark Russell. In a rare interview in 2013, Russell declared: "We don't believe government makes for a particularly good shareholder. Our belief is that unless there is a good policy reason for government to have a shareholding then really we should be seeking to divest those shareholdings." Everything must go is no longer the cry of distressed shopkeepers - it is now public policy.

Posted by orrinj at 5:42 PM


India-Iran Ties: PM Modi, President Rouhani Sign 12 Agreements In Tehran (HIMANSHU GOENKA, 05/24/16, IB Times)

On the second day of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Iran, the two countries signed a dozen agreements, one of them a tripartite transit and transport deal involving Afghanistan. The deals, signed Monday, include infrastructure projects, energy partnerships, bilateral trade, cultural exchange and intelligence sharing, with a focus on terrorism.

The most talked about contract was for the development of the Chabahar port in the Gulf of Oman on Iran's southeastern coast. India will invest $500 million in the first phase of the project, which include two terminals and five multi-cargo berths, to be developed by India Ports Global Private Ltd. in partnership with Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization.

While development of the port will be of obvious benefit to Iran, it also has both economic and strategic importance for India. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:34 PM


What Aryans See in Donald Trump : He is the Aryan Warrior, come to save whiteness itself. (Robert L. Tsai, 5/26/16, Slate)

In recent years, white supremacists have tended to avoid taking part in national politics in the belief that both parties have been conquered by nonwhites who pursue their own racial interests over others. This year represents a sea change. Rarely have so many open racists flocked to a presidential candidate's banner as they have done for Donald Trump. They have shown up at rallies to do gleeful battle with "Black Lives Matter" protesters and jumped at the opportunity to serve as Trump delegates to the Republican National Convention.

The reasons for white nationalists' renewed hope in mainstream politics are more complicated than the caricature of jackbooted youths saluting one of their own. Trump has disavowed the endorsement of overt racists such as David Duke, but somehow white nationalists have "never been more optimistic." Despite Trump's profession, "I don't have a racist bone in my body," his brand of race-fueled populism promises to reforge broken psychological ties among large swaths of demoralized white voters, whether or not they self-identify as white nationalists or belong to extremist organizations. Trump seeks to recreate a coalition that includes dislocated rural workers and dissatisfied denizens of urban democracy, the relatively prosperous and the hardly working, weary defenders of the Old South and armed isolationists in the Pacific Northwest. Through a mix of policy and symbolism, Trump unites them all with a sneering form of nationalism that, more than ever, helps rekindle the racial consciousness of mainstream white voters.

Posted by orrinj at 3:58 PM


We Know What's Solving Poverty Around the World (Tori Whiting, May 24, 2016, Daily Signal)

Data collected annually in the Index of Economic Freedom demonstrate that the principles of economic freedom have a strong positive impact on the global economy and poverty.

As economic freedom has increased over the last two decades, so has real world gross domestic product (GDP). During this same time period, the global poverty rate has been cut in half.


Posted by orrinj at 3:58 PM


Less Than Half of American Millennials Sympathize With Israel Over Palestinians: Pew Study (Sam Kestenbaum, May 25, 2016, Tablet)

Today, Millennials -- people born between 1980 and 1995 -- are the only age cohort in which less than half (43%) sympathize more with Israel. More than a quarter of Millennials (27%) sympathize more with Palestinians.

This is the highest share of any generation, Pew reported .

"American Jews' relationship with Israel is changing profoundly, but not in the way that many people believe," writes Dov Waxman, a Northeastern University professor and co-director of the university's Middle East Center, in "Trouble in the Tribe."

As American Jews in general, but particularly younger ones, have gotten to know Israel better, they have become more critical, he says, and express their attachment to the Jewish state "by opposing, and even lobbying against, the policies of the Israeli government."

For their whole lives Israel has been the victimizer, not the victim.

Posted by orrinj at 3:49 PM


Less Than Half of American Millennials Sympathize With Israel Over Palestinians: Pew Study (Sam Kestenbaum, May 25, 2016, Tablet)

Today, Millennials -- people born between 1980 and 1995 -- are the only age cohort in which less than half (43%) sympathize more with Israel. More than a quarter of Millennials (27%) sympathize more with Palestinians.

This is the highest share of any generation, Pew reported .

"American Jews' relationship with Israel is changing profoundly, but not in the way that many people believe," writes Dov Waxman, a Northeastern University professor and co-director of the university's Middle East Center, in "Trouble in the Tribe."

As American Jews in general, but particularly younger ones, have gotten to know Israel better, they have become more critical, he says, and express their attachment to the Jewish state "by opposing, and even lobbying against, the policies of the Israeli government."

For their whole lives Israel has been the victimizer, not the victim.

May 25, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 8:27 PM


As Baghdad Government Stumbles, Iraqi Kurdistan Officials Call For Partition (ERIN BANCO,  05/25/16, IB Times)

In a desperate bid to turn things around, [Kirkuk Gov. Najmaldin Karim] has proposed a radical fix: breaking away from the central government in Baghdad. 

"Kirkuk needs to get away from Baghdad," he recently told reporters, adding that the chaos in central government -- embroiled in a dispute over the appointment of a new cabinet -- is responsible for impoverishing the oil-rich province. 

Oil is the main source of Iraqi Kurdistan's revenues and the suspension of exports over the last several months has further limited the already cash-strapped region. If Karim's call for separation is realized the region could take control of its oil exports and ensure that money flows back into the local economy.

Posted by orrinj at 8:23 PM


911 tapes: Aborted fetus was breathing (WKYC, 5/23/16)

In the 911 calls, a clinic worker told the dispatcher a fetus that was removed had vital signs.

"There was a termination that was performed," the worker said. "There is a fetus that is breathing right now, so we need someone to do services."

The 911 operator asks if the fetus has been harmed in any way.

The worker answered no, and said the fetus needed further help other than what the clinic could provide.

"The fetus is breathing so we need care for it now," said the caller. "We can't provide that care except for oxygen and we're trying to keep the fetus stable until someone arrives."

Federal law states that a clinic has to provide medical care to a baby who survives an abortion.

That was the case in this incident.

"Nobody did anything wrong," said Kat Sabine, Executive Director of the Arizona chapter of NARAL Pro-Choice America in April when she spoke with 12 News.

Posted by orrinj at 8:12 PM



In a paper published this week in Nature Energy researchers describe building a working solar thermophotovoltaic device, or STPV. The STPV solar cell has a layer that absorbs heat and light from sunlight and reflects it back out as light, which is then captured by a nearby solar cell and turned into power. The light emitted by the device is calibrated to be the perfect wavelength for the solar cell, making it function at peak efficiency. Normally, a solar cell or photovoltaic device just convert light into electricity without going through the intermediate step with heat.

Heat is energy that is constantly wasted, just dispersing out into the world. Researchers around the world have been looking into developing new materials and methods that can harness the wasted energy and put it to work. Theoretically, this new method could double the amount of power produced by a given area of solar panels...

Posted by orrinj at 8:07 PM


How Running for 'Obama's 3rd Term' Became a Political Asset for Hillary Clinton (Ed Kilgore, 5/25/16, NY Mag)

Barack Obama's steadily improving job-approval ratings as he approaches the end of his presidency are suddenly looking less like an albatross for Clinton and more like the wind beneath her wings. It's been a gradual rise; last year, his average job-approval number in weekly tracking from Gallup was 46 percent. This last week, it was up to 51 percent -- precisely where it was the week he was reelected in 2012.  

Moreover, Obama's particular areas of political strength are well synchronized with constituencies Clinton should and must be able to attract and energize in a general-election contest with Donald Trump. According to NBC, Obama's job-approval ratings among Sanders's primary voters is 82 percent; it's 64 percent among those ages 18-34, and 73 percent among Latinos, a group that has, on occasion, felt tepid toward him. Add in his 90 percent approval rating from African-Americans, and it's obvious the so-called Obama Coalition is alive and well. So now, instead of pivoting away from Obama after she's won the nomination, Clinton can continue her close association with the incumbent as an asset in the general elections, as well as the primaries.  

Posted by orrinj at 8:02 PM


Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel-Palestine (Thomas L. Friedman MAY 25, 2016, NY Times)

Soon, this newspaper will have to call Netanyahu what he's made himself into: "Prime Minister of the State of Israel-Palestine."

I raise this now because Israel under Netanyahu has gone from bad to worse. He just forced out Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. Yaalon, a former army chief of staff, is a very decent man -- a soldier's soldier, determined to preserve the Israeli Army as a people's army that aspires to the highest standards of integrity in the middle of a very dangerous neighborhood.

Netanyahu plans to replace Yaalon with the far-right Avigdor Lieberman, who boasts he could not care less what American Jews think about how Israel is behaving and a man whom, Haaretz reported, was only recently dismissed by Bibi's team as "a petty prattler," unfit to be even a military analyst, and whose closest brush with a real battle was dodging a "tennis ball."

Lieberman, when he has not been under investigation for corruption, has mused about blowing up Egypt's Aswan Dam, denounced Israelis who want Israel to get out of the West Bank as traitors and praised an Israeli soldier, Sgt. Elor Azaria, who fatally shot a wounded Palestinian assailant in the head as he was lying on the ground awaiting medical attention.

Describing Netanyahu's dumping of Yaalon for Lieberman, Yediot Aharonot columnist Nahum Barnea wrote, "Instead of presenting to the world a more moderate government ahead of the diplomatic battles to come in the fall, Netanyahu is presenting the most radical government to ever exist in Israeli history."

Yaalon himself warned, "Extremist and dangerous forces have taken over Israel and the Likud movement and are destabilizing our home and threatening to harm its inhabitants." Former Labor Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, "What has happened is a hostile takeover of the Israeli government by dangerous elements." Former Likud Defense Minister Moshe Arens wrote in Haaretz that Bibi and his far-right cronies "insulted not only Yaalon, they insulted the I.D.F. [Israeli Army]. It's a people's army."

It's fine to keep them as long as you give them the franchise and other civil rights.

Posted by orrinj at 7:54 PM


In New Mexico, Donald Trump attacks GOP governor, anti-Trump protesters attack police (Peter Weber, 5/25/16, The Week)
In Albuquerque on Tuesday, Donald Trump held his first campaign rally in almost two weeks, and he used his speech to criticize Hillary Clinton, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Gov. Susana Martinez (R-N.M.), the first Latina governor and current head of the Republican Governors Association. [...]

This was Trump's first visit to New Mexico. It was not the first violent protest outside a Trump rally.

...attacking a Republican Latina.
Posted by orrinj at 7:50 PM


Mitt Romney, Run for President (DAVID FRENCH May 24, 2016, National Review)

 I understand why Mitt wouldn't want to run. He's lost twice, running for president is grueling at best, and the vitriol of 2016 makes 2012 look like a gentlemen's debating club. He would be savaged and vilified by the progressive left and by Trump's ragged coalition of working-class white voters and Vichy Republicans. He'd be blamed for hurting Trump if Clinton won. For Mitt Romney, there is little upside. 

For the nation, however, there is little downside. If either Trump or Clinton win, America loses. A third-party Romney bid would introduce the chance of a different outcome, giving millions of Americans the important option to choose a man of integrity as their president. It's not just politically important that voters have at least one honest choice, and that parents can tell their children that they stood against the debasement of American politics and the bankruptcy of our national character; it's culturally critical.

...a third party run would guarantee Trump couldn't win.

Posted by orrinj at 7:41 PM


Obamacare is helping millions get needed healthcare, new survey finds (Noam N. Levey, 5/25/16, LA Times)
More than 60% of working-age Americans who signed up for Medicaid or a private health plan through the Affordable Care Act are getting healthcare they couldn't previously get, a new nationwide survey indicates.

And consumers are broadly satisfied with the new coverage, despite some cost challenges and an ongoing Republican campaign to discredit the law.

Overall, 82% of American adults enrolled in private or government coverage through the health law said they were "somewhat" or "very" satisfied,  according to the report from the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund.

Posted by orrinj at 6:49 PM


Are Ultra-Fast Charging Stations Apple's Big Electric Vehicle Play? (Liane Yvkoff, 5/25/16, Forbes))

Could Apple AAPL +1.77% be trying to reinvent electric car charging? Reports suggest the company that dissed standard Micro-USB cables for its expensive Lightning cable may be developing a charging system for its hush-hush autonomous electric car.

Reuters reports that Apple is talking with several electric car charging station companies about their underlying technology. However, no company would talk in detail about the discussions, and it's not clear if the Cupertino-based company is working on a proprietary vehicle charging technology similar to Tesla's Supercharger network or something that will play nice with all chargers. A lack of charging station infrastructure is just one of the obstacles to electric car adoption. Another is long charging times. Could Apple be working on a car battery charging solution to solve both problems?

Posted by orrinj at 6:39 PM


Clinton to make new pledge to push infrastructure bill in first 100 days (Abby Phillip May 25, 2016, Washington Post)

"All told, this proposal would represent the most significant increase in infrastructure investment since President Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System," the aide said.

Clinton has also promised to address comprehensive immigration reform in her first 100 days.

Posted by orrinj at 6:34 PM



No one expects college kids to beat NASA to the punch. On Saturday, students at University of California San Diego launched a rocket with a completely 3D-printed engine.

Posted by orrinj at 3:36 PM


Adidas (ADS) To Restart Manufacturing In Germany -- Using Robots (HIMANSHU GOENKA, 05/25/16, IB Times)

German sportswear manufacturer Adidas announced Tuesday that it would resume production of shoes in Germany more than 20 years after it stopped making them in its home country. Completely overhauling the way it produces shoes, the world's second-largest sportswear maker said its new "Speedfactory" will use robots, as opposed to the manual process the company employs in its manufacturing hubs in Asia.

Posted by orrinj at 3:31 PM


Have U.S. wages stagnated? Probably not. (Robert J. Samuelson  May 25, 2016, Washington Post)

Typically, the median wage -- the wage exactly in the middle of all wages -- is cited as evidence of stagnation. Indeed, the Fed study confirms this. Median wage increases have fluctuated around 2 percent, unadjusted for inflation. But the median wage is misleading, the report argues, because it's heavily driven by demographic changes: an influx of young and part-time workers whose relatively low wages drag down the median; and the retirement of baby-boom workers whose relatively higher pay no longer lifts up the median.

"Exiting workers with higher wage levels are [being] replaced by entrants to full-time employment who earn less than the median wage," says the study, which was done by economists Mary Daly and Benjamin Pyle of the San Francisco Fed and Bart Hobijn of Arizona State University. The result is that all workers, as judged by the median wage, seem to be treading water when many workers are actually receiving modest increases.

Posted by orrinj at 3:22 PM


Why 'Hillary Is Even Worse' Doesn't Cut It (Charles Murray, 5/25/16, National Review)

In my view, Donald Trump is unfit to be president in ways that apply to no other candidate of the two major political parties throughout American history. [...]

Trump's indifference to facts is an example of why he is unfit for the presidency -- not dispositive in itself, but part of a pattern. That pattern is why "Hillary is even worse" misses the point. P. J. O'Rourke recently announced that he is voting for Clinton. "She's wrong about absolutely everything," O'Rourke said. "But she's wrong within normal parameters!" Similarly, I am saying that Clinton may be unfit to be president, but she's unfit within normal parameters. Donald Trump is unfit outside normal parameters. [....]

For conveying the essence of why I think Trump is unfit outside normal parameters, I cannot write anything nearly as concise and expressive as David Brooks wrote a few months ago. 

Donald Trump is epically unprepared to be president. He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn't know what he doesn't know and he's uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa. . . . He is a childish man running for a job that requires maturity. He is an insecure boasting little boy whose desires were somehow arrested at age 12. 

Since Brooks wrote those words, Trump has become the presumptive Republican nominee, and he now does have advisors. He has had ten additional weeks to demonstrate his capacity to learn; to show that he is taking national policy more seriously than buying a sofa; to persuade us that underneath the showman exterior is presidential seriousness. My view is that he has not and cannot. What you see is what you get.

Posted by orrinj at 3:17 PM


London's black cabs go plug-in hybrid with generous new funding initiative (Stephen Edelstein, MAY 25, 2016, CS Monitor)

The project to build plug-in hybrid versions of the iconic London black cab is about to receive a significant new dose of funding.

The company that makes the cabs, London Taxi Company (LTC), is now owned by the Chinese carmaker Geely.

That company--which also owns Volvo--has already provided cash and design input.

Now, it's planning a bond issue to raise £276 million (about $400 million) to develop the plug-in hybrid taxis.

Posted by orrinj at 12:17 PM


Obama Reasserts Hope for TPP Passage This Year (CAROL E. LEE, May 25, 2016, WSJ)

President Barack Obama told a crowd of young Vietnamese entrepreneurs that he hopes to see a new 12-nation trade pact ratified this year.

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