Monthly Archives: March 2012

Slightly Exaggerated

This, from Crooks & Liars is an arresting graphic,

It is based on the info in the Timeline of United States military operations at Wikipedia.

That suggests to me that the graphic is in fact significantly over-inclusive for ordinary definitions of “war”. For example, the timeline includes this entry:

1873–96 – Mexico. United States troops crossed the Mexican border repeatedly in pursuit of cattle and other thieves and other brigands.

Was the US at war with Mexico for almost 25 years? Not as I understand it.

On the other hand, the graphic is also under-inclusive as the timeline excludes CIA-only and other ‘secret’ wars.

So a better title might have been, “Years in which the US engaged in acknowledged foreign military operations”. It would still be an arresting graphic.

Posted in National Security | Comments Off on Slightly Exaggerated

Wind Map

This Wind Map of the US is almost perfect. It just needs a dot for Miami.

(via Slashdot, Wind Map of US Will Blow You Away)

Posted in Science/Medicine | 1 Comment

xkcd Hits It Out of the Park Again

xkcd: Reviews:

Posted in Shopping | Comments Off on xkcd Hits It Out of the Park Again

Japan Worrying About Energy Death Spiral?

Steve Clemons has an interesting blog post about Japanese energy fears: Japan Heading for Energy Death Spiral?.

I mention this not to endorse the somewhat pro-nuclear drift of the item, because I’m not at all sold on that, not one little bit. But I think it’s an interesting look at what at least one segment of the Japanese political class is worrying about: that “a total rejection of nuclear energy will send Japan over a cliff as deindustrialization is triggered by energy shocks.”

And you get the idea they are really worried. It begins:

Nobuo Tanaka’s hair is on fire. The immediate past executive director of the International Energy Agency is on a mission attempting to alert officials in the United States, Japan, Europe, China and elsewhere that post-Fukushima Japan may be approaching an energy death spiral.

And it’s not just the Japanese worrying:

Tanaka told me that one high-ranking Chinese official recently approached him asking if and when Japan would turn its nuclear reactors back on — as Japan’s massive energy needs now were disrupting supply patterns and costs and could affect China’s energy investment picture if Japan’s needs were to become structurally permanent.

[Updated to add a link to “not one little bit”.]

Posted in Econ & Money | Comments Off on Japan Worrying About Energy Death Spiral?

Schneier on Security: Harms of Post-9/11 Airline Security

Bruce Scheier on Harms of Post-9/11 Airline Security:

[TSA Administrator] Kip Hawley doesn’t argue with the specifics of my criticisms, but instead provides anecdotes and asks us to trust that airport security—and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in particular—knows what it’s doing.

He wants us to trust that a 400-ml bottle of liquid is dangerous, but transferring it to four 100-ml bottles magically makes it safe. He wants us to trust that the butter knives given to first-class passengers are nevertheless too dangerous to be taken through a security checkpoint. He wants us to trust the no-fly list: 21,000 people so dangerous they’re not allowed to fly, yet so innocent they can’t be arrested. He wants us to trust that the deployment of expensive full-body scanners has nothing to do with the fact that the former secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, lobbies for one of the companies that makes them. He wants us to trust that there’s a reason to confiscate a cupcake (Las Vegas), a 3-inch plastic toy gun (London Gatwick), a purse with an embroidered gun on it (Norfolk, VA), a T-shirt with a picture of a gun on it (London Heathrow) and a plastic lightsaber that’s really a flashlight with a long cone on top (Dallas/Fort Worth).

Plus stuff like this,

In 2004, the average extra waiting time due to TSA procedures was 19.5 minutes per person. That’s a total economic loss—in –America—of $10 billion per year, more than the TSA’s entire budget. The increased automobile deaths due to people deciding to drive instead of fly is 500 per year. Both of these numbers are for America only, and by themselves demonstrate that post-9/11 airport security has done more harm than good.

The current TSA measures create an even greater harm: loss of liberty. Airports are effectively rights-free zones.

Yes, read the whole thing.

Sadly, it seems hard to imagine that any President or Congress will have the guts to cut the TSA’s program of anti-security theater, for fear that an airplane will blow up and they’ll get the blame. The dysfunctions of the political system strike again.

Posted in Law: Right to Travel | Comments Off on Schneier on Security: Harms of Post-9/11 Airline Security

We Robot News 3/28/12

We have landed a major We Robot sponsor and are in talks with others. If you haven any interest in being a sponsor, or know of a potential sponsor, please get in touch.

Latest robopromo: François Xavier Albouy & Olivier Lecomte on “We Robot: Setting up the Legal and Social Framework for the ‘Robocalisation’”.

Only 17 places left as of this morning….

Posted in Robots | Comments Off on We Robot News 3/28/12