Thursday, May 26, 2016

[tt] Atlantic: Alvaro Dominguez: Scientific Advances Will Change How People Get High in the Future

Wonderful news, esp. for those whose jobs are PUSHED ASIDE by robots. Should we
add these new medicince to the Double-Tullock payments?

Alvaro Dominguez: Scientific Advances Will Change How People Get High in the

In 2014, I walked into a dispensary in Boulder and emerged with
something truly surreal: a receipt. For weed. Two years earlier,
Colorado had voted to legalize recreational marijuana--reflecting a
seismic shift in American attitudes toward the drug. In just two
generations, the portion of the population that supports
legalization went from 12 percent to 58 percent. Along the way,
we've seen emerging marijuana markets, new technologies, and the
normalization of experiences that were once taboo.

At the same time, though, Americans are succumbing to the dangers of
other drugs in ever greater numbers. Substance-use disorders now
affect more than 21 million Americans. Drug overdose--especially
from heroin and other opiates--is the leading cause of accidental
death in the U.S. And nearly a third of all vehicle fatalities are

On the one hand, we want to feel good. On the other, we need to do
more to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Scientists and
entrepreneurs are working on new products and technologies that
promise to make drugs and alcohol both safer and more satisfying.
Here's what the future of getting high might look like.

1. Marijuana Farming Will Go High-Tech

Marijuana growers have long used old-fashioned breeding
techniques--cross two plants, pick the best of their offspring--to
make more-potent drugs. But as marijuana farming moves from heavily
fortified basements to open fields, we can expect growers to adopt
genetic technologies to fine-tune their products--more traits
breeders want with fewer undesirable ones tagging along.

Mowgli Holmes, the chief scientific officer of Phylos Bioscience, a
start-up that's studying the cannabis genome, thinks growers will
use high-tech breeding to produce less-potent pot--cutting the THC
content from 30 percent to something more like 4 percent. "Breeding
has been inward-looking, making products for stoners," he says,
comparing currently available varieties to moonshine. "Normal people
want to try it but can't, because they get too high. Legalization
should lead to options more like wine and beer."

But high-tech breeding could also produce a more far-out high. In
the science-fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,
Philip K. Dick wrote about the mood organ, a device that allows
people to choose how they want to feel. The pot of the future could
work similarly, Holmes says. Already, many sellers market their
product by the mood it's said to produce. In analyzing the cannabis
genome, Holmes hopes to find markers in certain strains of weed that
make people feel calm, or creative, or even hungry.

2. Sobriety May Come in a Pill

Scientists have been searching for a very long time for compounds
that can reduce or reverse the effects of alcohol, says Aaron White,
the senior scientific adviser at the National Institute on Alcohol
Abuse and Alcoholism. In the 1990s, when he was in graduate school,
everyone seemed to think Ro15-4513 might be that drug. Images
circulated, he says, of a drunk rat lying on its back with its feet
in the air next to a healthy-looking rat that had taken Ro15-4513.
Unfortunately, it turned out that the drug also caused seizures.

Today, one promising candidate is dihydromyricetin, or DHM, a
compound that can be derived from the extract of a raisin tree
native to Asia. The Chinese have used the extract to treat hangovers
for hundreds of years, and research on rats suggests that it can
mitigate some of alcohol's effects on behavior and may even help
protect a fetus from exposure to alcohol. But we have to be careful,
White says. DHM appears to block the effects of alcohol on one type
of receptor in the brain. That receptor, gaba[A], happens to be
associated with some of the really obvious signs of alcohol
consumption--sleepiness, loss of balance, memory impairment, and
blackouts. But it's not the only receptor involved in the
neuropharmacology of drunkenness. There's a risk, White says, that
DHM could make people feel less drunk without actually making them
sober, with potentially disastrous results if they were to get
behind the wheel or otherwise misjudge their impairment.

3. Skirting the Law Will Be Easier

The Web has been intertwined with drug use since its beginning, says
Mike Power, the author of Drugs 2.0: The Web Revolution That's
Changing How the World Gets High. In fact, the first thing ever sold
online, in 1972, was a bag of weed. Today, the Dark Web--the shadowy
part of the Internet that doesn't show up in search engines and is
known for hosting criminal activity--provides a secret marketplace
for drugs. The Internet also enables people to design, produce, and
distribute analogs--legal drugs whose chemistry differs only
slightly from that of their illegal cousins. As part of his
reporting, Power used the Internet to order a legal, bespoke
stimulant from a Chinese laboratory, based on the chemistry of a
drug called phenmetrazine, which was reportedly beloved by the

If the Internet makes drug transactions harder to trace, new
technology could conceivably do away with transactions entirely. In
May 2015, researchers from UC Berkeley and Canada's Concordia
University announced that they had engineered yeast that mimics part
of the biochemical process through which poppies make opiates. Maia
Szalavitz, a journalist and the author of Unbroken Brain: A
Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction, says that such
yeasts could potentially be used to turn household ingredients into
morphine. Before too long, people may be able to brew their own
opiates at home.

4. Painkillers Will Be Safer

Why would scientists engineer yeast to make opiates? Among other
reasons, researchers hope that with a better understanding of opiate
creation, they'll be able to tinker with the chemistry of
painkillers and make them less addictive.

Andrew Coop, a professor at the University of Maryland School of
Pharmacy, is among those trying to alter the way opiate drugs
interact with opioid receptors in the brain. There are several
different kinds of these receptors, but all clinically approved
opiates target the same kind, called Mu. Inside Mu receptors, the
drugs activate two pathways--one that triggers immediate painkilling
effects and another that prompts the body to adapt to the drug. That
second pathway leads to dependence.

Coop is working on opiates that would target more than one kind of
receptor. This approach, called polypharmacology, is based on the
idea that different kinds of receptors modulate one another's
effects--so you could get the painkilling effects without the
dependence. Another option would be to design drugs that target Mu
receptors without triggering the second pathway. Finally,
researchers are looking at new classes of painkillers that don't
target opioid receptors at all. Unfortunately, many of those efforts
have run into pitfalls. For instance, scientists found a promising
new painkiller in the secretions of poison dart frogs. But then they
discovered that it targets nicotine receptors instead, suggesting it
might also be addictive. "Sure, it wouldn't have the same effects as
opioids," Coop says. "But that's just opening a whole other can of
tt mailing list

[tt] Payne Britton: Heirs Go Crazy: Prince's Estate and Copyright's Termination of Transfer

Knowing the rather simple math of annunities, I estimate that copyright in
sound recordings should last twenty years. Transfers to another medium, ten
years. There should be a pretty stiff fee after five, ten, and fifteen years,
still enough so that copyright holders will not routinely renew everything.
Indeed, before the 1978 copyright amendment (this is books, not sound
recordings), the first and second terms were both 28 years. I recall that fewer
than half of books were worth it to the holder the small fee of $25.

The present value of a perpetual annunity is only slightly greater than a
twenty year annunity, even assuming that there will be zero drop off in sales.

One drawback is that an author whose first books did not sell well but who
became famous latter would not profit from republication of his early books.
This happens only rarely.

The problem, as ever and always, concentrated benefits (including the lawyers!)
and diffuse costs.

Heirs Go Crazy: Prince's Estate and Copyright's Termination of Transfer

The fight over Prince's estate will dig deep into copyright law for
a very long time

When Prince passed away on April 21, 2016, he left no will, and now
his heirs appear ready for a long fight over his estate. Apparently,
their first meeting about the estate ended in shouting. Heirs can
battle over any substantial estate, and there are particular
complications when it involves an artist. Some of what Prince's
heirs are fighting over is the ownership of his works--his
published and unpublished music compositions and recordings.
Copyright law will have a significant impact on who has what rights,
and for how long. Three particular areas affecting their rights are
the termination of transfer (17 U.S.C. � 203), the term of copyright
for published and unpublished works (17 U.S.C. � 302), and the
contracts already in place. The drafting of a will for an artist,
or the administration of a late artist's estate, should include a
consult from an attorney for copyright due diligence.

After 35 Years, Artists and their Estates Get Another Bite at the

There is an inherent feeling of unfairness for an artist when they
sign away the rights to their works, which against all odds go on to
become popular and make a fortune for the rightsholder--and not
the artist. To address this, the Copyright Act built in a
"termination of transfer" provision that gives an author an
opportunity to claw back their works after 35 years, essentially
giving the artist "another bite at the apple." 17 U.S.C. � 203.
There are court cases about termination of transfer for "Santa Claus
is Coming to Town," Winnie the Pooh, Archie Comics, Ray Charles, the
Village People and a few others, but there aren't very many
published opinions offering guidance about interpreting the law.
The battles over the Prince estate may explore these issues for

Most of Prince's Works are Owned by the Estate and Licensed to
Warner Bros.


Prince's first album For You was released in 1978, but still earns
money for its publisher Warner Bros. Records to this day. Had
Prince wanted to, in 2013 he could have rescinded the rights to
distribute his 1978 album from Warner Bros. In 2014, he could have
terminated the transfer of his 1978 or 1979 albums, and reclaimed
control over them. Had he wanted, he could have kept terminating
transfers as his most popular albums hit their 35 year mark:
Controversy (2016), 1999 (2017), Purple Rain (2019), Around the
World in a Day (2020), Parade (2021), Sign o' the Times (2022),
Lovesexy (2023), Batman (2024), Graffiti Bridge (2025), Diamonds and
Pearls (2026) and so on. Instead, in 2014 Prince and Warner Bros.
Records redid their deal, which apparently resulted in Prince's
reclaiming ownership in his back catalogue, and Warner Bros.
retaining certain rights to distribute his music. This effectively
resets the clock on the termination right, which can't be exercised
against Warner Bros. for the works covered by this agreement until
2049. Warner Bros. and other record labels appear to be quite
flexible in redoing deals with their artists with still-popular back
catalogues that are approaching their 35-year termination of
transfer dates. Musicians are finding that the evolution of digital
recording and distribution give them much more of an ability to
exploit their works without the help of a record label, which gives
them even more leverage to get even more favorable deals if they
renegotiate. The termination of transfer right and technological
advances are giving artists just the second bite at the apple
envisioned by the termination of transfer clause's authors--as
long as the artists and their heirs have the legal counsel to help
them take advantage of it. Warner Bros. chose to do what it could
to lock up Prince's most lucrative works in the face of a
termination of transfer.

Prince's Estate can Already Claw Back Some of his Other Works, and
More Every Year

However, there may be other licenses and transfers of rights in
Prince's works that were not affected by the Warner Bros. agreement.
The oldest of these licenses and transfers are eligible for
termination, and more will be in the coming years. The mechanics of
the termination are a bit complicated, but are based on the passage
of 35 years since the initial transfer of copyright. For the
purposes of illustration, imagine that shortly after Prince released
"Purple Rain" in 1984, he licensed the song to Hallmark for
exclusive use in musical greeting cards. Even if the contract said
that Hallmark had the right to make "Purple Rain" greeting cards for
the entire duration of copyright, Section 203 allows Prince to
terminate that license after 35 years. The termination can take
place as early as 2019, or within five years after that in 2024.
It's a five-year window to terminate--after that, Prince would
have lost his chance. To terminate a transfer related to "Purple
Rain" as early as possible in 2019, Prince would need to notify
Hallmark between 2009 and 2017, since the law calls for written
notice no more than 10 and no less than two years before the
termination would take effect. During that time between the notice
and the termination, the original parties can renegotiate their
deal, in this case Prince and Hallmark. If they couldn't come to an
agreement, the termination takes effect, and the greeting card
rights to "Purple Rain" would revert to Prince. Only after the
termination took effect could Prince make a new deal with another
party for "Purple Rain" greeting cards. There are many other
contours to the law, and there is very little caselaw on how it
works, so it is ripe for controversy and error without the guidance
of an attorney who understands the process. And because Prince has
passed, there is the further question of who (if anyone) can
terminate a transfer in the first place.

Who can Pull the Trigger? Not Prince's Siblings

There may end up being an interesting split between who owns the
copyright to Prince's work, and who has the right to terminate a
transfer. Under Minnesota state law, Prince's estate, including his
copyrights, will descend to his sister Tyka Nelson and their five
living half-siblings. (More than 700 people have claimed to be
Prince's half-sibling, but none have yet been recognized by the
court.) But under the termination of transfer law, siblings of the
author do not have the right to terminate. Section 203 says that
widows/widowers, children and grandchildren are the family members
who have termination rights. Prince left no living widow, children,
or grandchildren, so none of that applies to his works. According to
the termination law, siblings are not next in line--"In the event
that the author's widow or widower, children, and grandchildren are
not living, the author's executor, administrator, personal
representative, or trustee shall own the author's entire termination
interest." So who will "inherit" Prince's right to terminate the
transfers in his works? Who will actually get the second bite at the

The Fight to be the Administrator

As of this writing, the termination of transfer right is owned by
the court-appointed "special administrator" the Bremer Trust, which
provided financial services to Prince for many years.
"Administrator" is one of the entities recognized by the termination
of transfer law. The Bremer Trust was appointed special
administrator by request of Prince's sister Tyka Nelson. The Bremer
Trust could exercise Prince's termination rights for older works
now, and may even find it necessary to do so given the strict
deadlines of the termination right. However, the special
administrator should be replaced within six months by a more
permanent representative. Tyka or any of the other siblings could
seek to be named Prince's administrator, and the court could also
name the Bremer Trust or another neutral party. An administrator is
typically thought of as being a functional role, carrying out the
best interests of the estate, distributing property by function of
law and not operating for its own benefit. However, the termination
of transfer creates a strange situation where the administrator him
or herself becomes the owner of the terminated right (or work, if it
was transferred in its entirety). It is not clear whether the
administrator is required to redistribute any terminated rights to
Prince's heirs, all of whom would be well-advised to raise these
issues before the permanent administrator is appointed by the court.
There may be a contractual agreement among the administrator and
the heirs or a court order concerning the exercise of the
termination of transfer right, but the actual termination must be
made by the court-appointed administrator, the only party recognized
by the Copyright Act. Unless addressed by the court, this means that
the heirs who own Prince's works by the mechanics of estate law
could lose their rights to their own administrator slowly over time
through termination of transfer. There will certainly be a struggle
among the parties over the selection of a favorable administrator,
who may not be bound by any restriction with regards to termination
of transfer. There could be a contractual agreement between the
heirs and the administrator, but the statute may make such an
agreement unenforceable. The court's order in establishing the
administrator--and its interpretation of the statute--could be
worth a fortune.

Most of Prince's Works are Protected through 2086

The fight will likely go on for a long time. But it will come to an
end on a date certain for most of Prince's works. It is very unusual
for works to be commercially valuable through their entire term of
copyright. There are millions of works in the Copyright Office
registry that have been all but forgotten. But Prince is the kind of
iconic, transformational artist whose works could very well still be
earning money for generations. Under current law, the term of
copyright protection is the life of the author plus 70 years, which
in Prince's case is 2086. This applies to both Prince's published
and unpublished works.

Who is Alexander Nevermind?

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 10.52.44 AM Prince also wrote under
several pseudonyms, including Jamie Starr, Joey Coco, Alexander
Nevermind and Christopher, and occasionally used those names for the
copyright registration. Copyright for pseudonymous works lasts for
95 years from publication, or 120 years from creation, whichever
expires first. 17 U.S.C. 302(c). Some of these were registered with
the Copyright Office to Prince, even though they were publicly
credited to one of his pseudonyms. However, if a simple supplement
is filed with the Copyright Office, the term of copyright and the
termination of transfer rights remain the same, as if Prince had
been credited as the author in the first place. 17 U.S.C. 302(c), �
408(a), (d). This has already been done for many of these
pseudonymous works, such as "Manic Monday." The heirs could choose
to leave the registration pseudonymous, but that would likely result
in a shorter term of copyright. Prince used pseudonyms primarily in
the early part of his career, and works published pseudonymously
before 1991 and left unclaimed would expire earlier than the 2086
expiration of works credited to Prince.

Some of Prince's Jointly Authored Works will be Protected Even

In the case of a joint work prepared by two or
more authors who did not work for hire, the copyright endures for a
term consisting of the life of the last surviving author and 70
years after such last surviving author's death. 17 USC 302(b).
Prince occasionally wrote with co-authors who have also passed, so
the copyright in those songs will last (under current law) until
2086. Many of Prince's co-authors are still alive, such as Madonna
for "Love Song," so the copyright expiration cannot yet be
determined, but will last beyond 2086.

The Works Made for Hire Battleground

Prince's heirs may challenge any assertion that any of Prince's
works were "works made for hire." When a company hires an artist to
create a certain kind work and follows certain statutory
requirements, the company is considered the author of the work as a
work for hire. For a work for hire, term of copyright is 95 years
from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires
first. Songs like Prince's embody two copyrights: the copyright in
the composition, and the copyright in the recording. Record
contracts typically provide that the recording is a work for hire
created by the record label as author, not the artist. As such, the
termination of transfer is unavailable for works made for hire.
However, that status has been regularly challenged in courts, and it
may turn out that despite the language of a particular record
contract, Prince's recordings were authored by Prince and
transferred to the record label, rather than considered authored by
the record label as works for hire. Although this determination
affects the term of copyright, it is more impactful on the
termination of transfer right, and likely to be a source of
litigation as the termination rights in Prince's works mature over
the next seventy years.

Joint Authorship will Complicate Everything

Most Prince songs are credited in the copyright registration solely
to Prince, like "Purple Rain" and "1999." Other songs have multiple
authors. The Prince and the New Power Generation song "7" has three
authors--Prince and the late blues musicians Lowell Fulsom (d.
1999) and Jimmy McCracklin (d. 2012). Joint authorship affects both
the term of copyright and the termination of transfer. Prince_C_7

The termination of transfer is granted to any majority block of
owners of the right to terminate. If Prince wrote a song with one
other living co-author, then termination can only be affected by the
co-author plus Prince's administrator. Where Prince is co-author
with more than one person, the transfer could be terminated without
Prince's administrator's participation. However, even if Prince's
heirs and administrator object to such a termination, they are
entitled to an equal share of any further exploitation of such

It gets more complicated where Prince's collaborators are also
deceased. Prince co-authored some songs with his jazz musician
father, the late John L. Nelson, such as "Computer Blue" from the
Purple Rain album. In such a case, the termination of transfer will
depend on both Prince's administrator and his father's heirs. John
L. Nelson has several living children (Prince's siblings) and
grandchildren who could claim an equal part of the right to
terminate transfer. Whichever of them (or their descendants) is
alive at the time of the maturation of the right to terminate a
transfer of one of those co-authored songs will need to cobble
together a majority group of Nelson's children and grandchildren
that owns the right to terminate, and also Prince's administrator.
This complexity is multiplied where there are multiple deceased
authors, as with the song "7." It is possible that heirs who were
shut out of a will would nonetheless own or share the late author's
right of termination. These rights can be organized by an attorney
in the present, even if they can't be exercised until some future

Post Mortem Rights of Publicity

Although not a part of copyright law, the right to exercise certain
copyright rights will intersect with Prince's rights of publicity.
Certain states have laws or court decisions that allow people to
protect the use of their personas in commerce. As of this writing,
Minnesota protects rights of publicity through court rulings (Lake
v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 582 N.W.2d 231 (Minn. 1998); Ventura v.
Titan Sports, Inc., 65 F.3d 725 (8th Cir. 1995)), but does not have
a right of publicity statute, and is silent on whether those rights
exist after the celebrity has passed. However, Minnesota's Senate
and House of Representatives recently introduced a new bill that
would establish a broad right of publicity that would cover Prince
--the Personal Rights in Names Can Endure Act. The PRINCE Act
would grant extended publicity control to the artist's estate and
limit commercial use of his name and likeness by others. It would
last for the celebrity's life plus at least 50 years, thereafter for
as long as it is still in use, and would apply retroactively to
celebrities who died within 50 years before the law's passage. In
Prince's case, the right would descend to his siblings, and be
further sellable or descendible by them, until at least 2066. Any
exercise of copyright in Prince's work would likely be accompanied
by a consideration of his post mortem rights of publicity.

Change in Copyright Law will Likely Benefit Prince's Heirs

Because we're talking about such a long time, copyright law itself
may change. Copyright law has gone through major revisions in the
United States that have affected the term of copyright. Each
copyright regime has stayed in place for decades since the first
Copyright Act of 1790. Major changes came in 1831 (which was
essentially preserved in the Confederacy under 1861 and 1863
Confederate acts, and honored after the war) and again in 1909. The
current regime is the Copyright Act of 1976, which federalized
copyright law, removed formalities, and came into effect on January
1, 1978--coincidentally the dawn of Prince's career. Each of these
revisions expanded the rights of authors and more forcefully
protected intellectual property. This gradual increase in copyright
protection is not surprising, as the United States evolved from a
country that largely imported the creative works it consumed, into
the world's largest exporter of intellectual property. One recent
change in copyright law added the administrator as a possible
claimant for termination of transfer--previously, it had only been
children or grandchildren. We can expect another change in the law
between now and the expiration of copyright in Prince's works in
2086. We can further expect that such a change will increase
protection of his works, either in length of term or some unforeseen

Prince as a Model for Future Application of Copyright Law

Because of the administrator's ownership of the right to terminate,
there must be an administrator in power at least through 2086, when
Prince's works finally enter the public domain. The administrator
will have responsibilities beyond 2086, to exercise the termination
rights for works Prince co-authored with collaborators who have not
yet passed as of 2016. During his lifetime, Prince was a tireless
advocate of his rights as an artist, using copyright law to control
and protect his artistic footprint, even when it seemed like it
would cost him more than it would gain. For different reasons, it
appears that more contentious exploration of copyright law will
continue to be part of his legacy. Needless to say, it will be a
long time before Prince's estate is fully settled. Any successful
artist would be wise to consult with an attorney about the effect of
copyright law on their estate, and not leave behind the uncertainty
faced by the Prince heirs.


Big Safe is a bigger racket than I had realized.

James Bovard: The High Price of Security Theater et seq.

The $4 trillion war on terror: Where did the money go?

There was the $30 billion raise for the FBI that didn't see 9/11
coming and $70 billion for the bureaucrats who have consistently
failed to keep our airports safe. Add in more than $200 billion for
a new Cabinet-level department to coordinate all of this activity
and half a trillion for mass surveillance, plus the incredible costs
of a decade and a half of military action abroad, and the total
comes to a whopping $4 trillion. Where did all that money go?

FBI: $30+ Billion
Despite the FBI's failure to predict what was coming on 9/11, that
agency's budget has more than tripled since 2001. Has all the extra
spending at least reaped positive returns in the form of stopping
future violent incidents? Much to the contrary, there is evidence
that the bureau has manufactured more terrorists via its entrapment
operations than any foreign entity could have hoped to recruit
inside the United States.

The FBI, which pockets $5 billion a year for its counterterrorism
programs, has profited mightily from ginning up bogus plots that
generate lurid headlines. For instance, a September 28, 2011, FBI
press release trumpeted the arrest of Rezwan Ferdaus, a U.S.
citizen, on charges that he planned to use "large remote controlled
aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosives" to "destroy the
Pentagon and U.S. Capitol." The culprit, a 26-year-old Bangladeshi
American suffering from seizures and being treated for severe
depression, had been bankrolled and enticed to embrace a scheme he
almost certainly wouldn't have considered on his own.

As a 2014 report by Human Rights Watch and Columbia University Law
School's Human Rights Institute noted, "Multiple studies have found
that nearly 50 percent of the federal counterterrorism convictions
since September 11, 2001, resulted from informant-based cases." That
doesn't sound so bad until you realize the informants' job in many
of these instances was to trick otherwise innocent people into
signing on to illegal plots of the government's own invention. In
one case, a judge concluded that the government "came up with the
crime, provided the means, and removed all relevant obstacles" in
order to make a "terrorist" out of a man "whose buffoonery is
positively Shakespearean in scope."

Trevor Aaronson, author of The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's
Manufactured War on Terrorism, estimates that only about 1 percent
of the 500 people charged with international terrorism offenses in
the decade after 9/11 were bona fide threats. Thirty times as many
were induced by the FBI to behave in ways that prompted their
arrest. A 2011 report by the New York University School of Law
Center for Human Rights and Global Justice examined several
high-profile cases and found that "the government's informants
introduced and aggressively pushed ideas about violent jihad and,
moreover, actually encouraged the defendants to believe it was their
duty to take action against the United States."

Ohio State University professor John Mueller, co-author of Chasing
Ghosts: The Policing of Terrorism, observes that no terrorist entity
within the U.S. was able "to detonate even a simple bomb" in the
decade after 9/11. Aspiring terrorists even "have difficulty putting
together bombs," he says. "At the [2013] Boston marathon, two bombs
went off and killed three people in a crowded area. So they finally
actually got a bomb to go off but it wasn't exactly terribly
lethal." Almost all the bombs involved in terrorist plots in the
U.S. have been FBI-built duds--like most of the prospective
terrorists. Security expert Bruce Schneier captured that genre in
his classic 2007 essay, "Portrait of the Modern Terrorist as an

The last 15 years have seen the U.S. pour more than $30 billion into
the bureau's anti-terrorism efforts even though there's no evidence
of widespread domestic terror threats not created by the FBI. As
reason contributor Sheldon Richman pithily summed up: "Most would-be
terrorists appear to be misfits who couldn't bomb their way out of a
paper bag and wouldn't even try without goading by an FBI

Transportation Security Administration: $70 Billion
President Barack Obama in 2013 offered up the Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) as an example of a federal agency that
posed no threat to Americans' rights. "I don't think anybody says
we're no longer free because we have checkpoints at airports," he

But the most visible symbol of the domestic war on terrorism is the
"whole body scanner" you have to pass through at more than 400
domestic airports. After spending more than $70 billion on the TSA
and its army of 45,000 screeners, airport security continues to be a

The TSA has hardly helped its own case. By boasting about its
"see-all" scanners, the agency riled up those who, shockingly,
objected to having photos of their birthday suits added to their
federal dossiers. The machines were widely denounced as "virtual
strip searches" that reveal in humiliatingly granular detail
everything from whether a male is circumcised to whether a female
wears nipple rings. Many travelers also expressed apprehension about
the health implications of stepping into scanners that rely on
radiation to penetrate people's clothing--perhaps with good cause.
An investigation by ProPublica and PBS NewsHour revealed that the
machines could cause up to 100 cancer cases per year among

When people understandably began requesting to be screened instead
by the magnetometers that the agency had relied on since 2002, the
TSA began inflicting "enhanced patdowns" on anyone who "opted out."
As USA Today explained, "The new searches...require screeners to
touch passengers' breasts and genitals," thus leading some travelers
to quip that TSA actually stands for "Total Sexual Assault."

Adding insult to injury, the agency failed to adequately test the
whole body scanner machines to ensure they were effective before
installing them throughout the country. Last June, a leaked secret
report revealed that TSA agents failed to detect 96 percent of the
weapons and mock bombs smuggled past them by inspector general

Worse still, those scanners can do nothing to protect Americans from
TSA employees themselves. Some 70,000 passengers have filed
complaints against the agency regarding theft or destruction of
their property, and more than 500 TSA agents have been fired for
stealing travelers' property, including one Orlando screener who
confessed to taking 80 laptops. An agent at the Fort Lauderdale,
Florida, airport filched $50,000 from travelers in a six-month span
and was arrested only after he was caught with a passenger's iPad in
his pants.

TSA Behavior Detection Officers: $1 Billion
Besides subjecting passengers to invasive electronic searches, the
TSA relies on a secret list of 94 "behavioral indicators" to suss
out who it believes has treacherous intentions. Among the agency's
catalog of suspicious activities are giveaways like avoiding eye
contact and appearing nervous while traveling. In 2011 CNN revealed
that the TSA sees "very arrogant and expresses contempt against
airport passenger procedures" as one telltale warning sign. It seems
the TSA is the only security agency in the world to believe that
would-be terrorists precede their attacks by taunting guards.

More than $1 billion has gone toward paying to have thousands of TSA
"Behavior Detection Officers," or BDOs, roam America's airport
terminals. They peer into travelers' faces to detect "micro
expressions" signaling trouble, do "chat downs," and select lucky
travelers to receive the "third degree." More than 100,000 people
have been referred for additional interrogation or arrest since
Obama took office, and yet the program has not caught a single

In one of the least surprising developments of recent years,
minority groups have received the brunt of BDO attention. More than
30 TSA agents complained in 2012 that the behavior detection program
at Boston's Logan Airport had become "a magnet for racial
profiling." Among the "terrorist" profiles that the officers used
were "Hispanics traveling to Miami or blacks wearing baseball caps
backward." The Newark Star-Ledger reported in 2011 that Mexican and
Dominican travelers were being scrutinized, searched, patted down,
questioned, and often referred up the chain of command, "with bogus
behaviors invented by the screeners to cover up the real reason the
passengers were singled out"--namely, for being the wrong color.

TSA agents told The New York Times in 2012 that the profiling
occurred "in response to pressure from managers to meet certain
threshold numbers for referrals to the State Police" and other
authorities. "The managers wanted to generate arrests so they could
justify the program....Officers who made arrests were more likely to
be promoted," they said. In June 2013, the DHS inspector general
revealed that the TSA's BDO training program was abysmal: Even
though the program had been running for six years, the agency "had
not developed performance measures," could not "accurately assess"
its effectiveness, could not "show that the program is
cost-effective," and could not provide any justification for
expanding the corps of officers.

TSA Time Wasting: $8 Billion

More than 600 million passengers travel through U.S. airports each
year. Assuming each one shows up just 30 minutes before he would
have in the pre-9/11 era, people are collectively spending 300
million extra hours per year at airports. If we conservatively
assume that a person's time is worth $15 an hour, that amounts to an
extra $4.5 billion in hidden costs from TSA-imposed delays. Reason
Foundation transportation analyst Robert Poole has estimated that
the real number is more than $8 billion a year.

The U.S. Travel Association believes the TSA has also cost the U.S.
economy almost 1 million jobs between 2001 and 2010 by pushing
people to avoid flying. "Reducing hassle without compromising
security will encourage more Americans to fly--as many as two to
three additional trips a year--leading to an additional $85 billion
in spending that would support 900,000 American jobs," said Roger
Dow, the association's president in a press release.

But there's at least one profession that has benefitted from TSA
interference: morticians. A Cornell University study estimated that
the agency's invasive search procedures cost not just time and money
but actual human lives. By swaying people to drive instead of
fly--and make no mistake about it, the latter is a far safer means
of transport--we're boosting traffic fatalities by more than 500 a
year. As a Bloomberg Business analysis noted, "To make flying as
dangerous as using a car, a four-plane disaster on the scale of 9/11
would have to occur every month, according to an analysis published
in the American Scientist....People switching from air to road
transportation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks led to an
increase of 242 driving fatalities per month--which means that a lot
more people died on the roads as an indirect result of 9/11 than
died from being on the planes that terrible day." Yet somehow the
federal government's elaborate analyses never seem to account for
these risks.

Department of Homeland Security: $200+ Billion
One year after the 9/11 attacks, with the American public still
reeling, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS),
bringing together several of the most notoriously inept agencies in
the federal government, including the Secret Service and the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In theory, centralizing them
under the watch of a single Cabinet secretary was supposed to
enhance efficiency and competence. In practice, the DHS has been
blundering ever since.

Homeland Security's budget has swollen over the past 13 years to its
current annual level of $41 billion. Its 240,000 employees
consistently report the lowest morale of any agency, according to
the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey conducted by the federal
Office of Personnel Management, with the disgruntlement stemming in
part from the lack of a "sense of purpose." DHS programs have
shoveled out more than $50 billion to local and state governments in
the name of anti-terrorism, and much of the money has gone toward
purchases that could most charitably be described as tangentially
related to stated goals.

Louisiana grant recipients spent $2,400 for a lapel microphone and
$2,700 for a teleprompter. Fort Worth, Texas, spent $24,000 on a
latrine-on-wheels. A Michigan police department spent $6,200 on 13
sno-cone machines. A subsequent Senate report noted that local
officials "defended the sno-cone purchases saying the machines were
needed to treat heat-related emergencies." DHS asserted that they
were "dual purpose" because they "could be used to fill ice packs in
an emergency."

The Jacksonville Urban Area Security Initiative used a DHS grant to
produce an 8-minute film entitled "Domestic Terrorism: The First
Line of Defense." Its purpose: to urge viewers to report any
suspicious activity and to be especially wary of people who are
"alone or nervous," or people "of average or above average
intelligence" (unlike, apparently, the ones who made the film).

Many DHS grant recipients paid to send their employees to a
conference at the lavish Paradise Point Resort on San Diego's
Mission Bay, where a tactical training firm put on a "zombie
apocalypse" show featuring "40 actors dressed as zombies getting
gunned down by a military tactical unit," a Senate investigation
found. "Conference attendees were invited to watch the shows as part
of their education in emergency response training."

DHS handouts don't just run up spending unnecessarily; they result
in state and local law enforcement agencies that are more intrusive
and punitive than they otherwise would be. One California urban area
spent $6 million on radar devices to detect vehicles with "excessive
traffic violations," though what that has to do with terrorism went
unexplained. Grants have also been used to purchase license plate
readers for police patrol cars, and two years ago, the DHS solicited
proposals for private companies to create a national database of
license plate information that could be used to track exactly when
and where individual citizens drive. The subsequent firestorm caused
the agency to temporarily back off from the idea, but it rolled out
the proposal again last year.

After the heavy-handed local police response to protests over the
law enforcement killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in
August 2014, President Obama publicly fretted about whether
America's police forces had--just maybe--become a bit too
militarized. But many of the worst abuses by over-armed local cops
have been enabled by the DHS, a department the White House oversees.

Grants allow departments to purchase things like drones and
military-style armored personnel carriers. The most popular model is
the BearCat--an acronym for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response
Counter Attack Truck. The Keene, New Hampshire, police justified
using federal funds to purchase one of these beasts because of
rowdiness at a local pumpkin festival. A Washington state police
department has deployed its BearCat to pull over drunk drivers,
while authorities in Clovis, California, displayed theirs at a local
Easter egg hunt. A Senate report noted, "Police departments rave
about the vehicles' 'shock and awe' effect saying the vehicles'
menacing presence can be enough of a deterrent for would-be

Some DHS grants spawn nothing but harassment. The Washington, D.C.,
subway system has recently been plagued by a few high-profile
violent attacks (alongside service that itself occasionally kills
passengers). The feds' solution? Grants of $10 million per year to
bankroll Metro police accosting travelers to search their purses,
briefcases, and backpacks. Officials insist the searches are no big
deal because they don't take long--unless, of course, the cops find
a reason to arrest or detain you for questioning. Search teams are
not deployed in response to any credible threat; instead, they're
sent out merely to establish a police presence. But news that
authorities are conducting warrantless searches of passengers
spreads quickly on social media. If someone wants to avoid the
hassle, they need only go to a different station a mile or two away.

DHS Fusion Centers: $1 Billion

When it comes to mindless excess in the war on terror, it's
difficult to compete with the more than 70 "fusion centers" that the
DHS began setting up shortly after 9/11 to be hubs for
federal-state-local cooperation in tracking threats.

A key element of the fusion center strategy is to populate shared
databases with Suspicious Activity Reports. But what exactly rises
to the level of suspicious activity? The Los Angeles Police
Department encourages citizens to snitch on "individuals who stay at
bus or train stops for extended periods while buses and trains come
and go," "individuals who carry on long conversations on pay or
cellular telephones," and "joggers who stand and stretch for an
inordinate amount of time." The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security
recommends the reporting of "people avoiding eye contact," "people
in places they don't belong," or homes or apartments that have
numerous visitors "arriving and leaving at unusual hours," PBS'
Frontline reported.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Colorado's
fusion center "produced a fear-mongering public service announcement
asking the public to report innocuous behaviors such as photography,
note-taking, drawing and collecting money for charity as 'warning
signs' of terrorism." Various other fusion centers have attached
warning labels to gun-rights activists, anti-immigration zealots,
and individuals and groups "rejecting federal authority in favor of
state or local authority"--a creed, one might point out, shared by
many of the country's Founding Fathers. A 2012 DHS report stated
that being "reverent of individual liberty" is one of the traits of
a potential right-wing extremist. Such absurd standards help explain
why the federal terrorist watch list now contains more than 1
million names.

Not even the feds know how much they're spending for fusion centers;
a 2012 Senate report on "Federal Support for and Involvement in
State and Local Fusion Centers" found that outlay estimates varied
by more than 400 percent, ranging from $289 million to $1.4 billion.
A 2010 DHS internal report found that four of the centers did not
actually exist.

The Washington Post summarized some of the centers' wayward spending
thusly: "More than $2 million was spent on a center for Philadelphia
that never opened. In Ohio, officials used the money to buy rugged
laptop computers and then gave them to a local morgue. San Diego
officials bought 55 flat-screen televisions to help them collect
'open-source intelligence'--better known as cable television news."

How long does it take to become a fusion center intelligence
analyst? According to the DHS, five days' training is sufficient.
But a 2012 Senate investigation found no evidence the centers had
provided any assistance in detecting or disrupting any terrorist
plots, in part because the centers' reports were "oftentimes shoddy,
rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and
Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published
public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism."

Alas, the Senate's expos� of fusion center follies seems to have
done nothing to deter other agencies from casting an even wider net
for terrorist suspects. The National Counterterrorism Center, a
branch of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence,
issued a report in 2014 titled "Countering Violent Extremism: A
Guide for Practitioners and Analysts." As The Intercept summarized,
the report "suggests that police, social workers and educators rate
individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as
'Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility'...and 'Connection to Group
Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity).'" The system is
meant "to alert government officials to individuals at risk of
turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk
of incubating extremist ideologies." It recommends that authorities
judge families by their level of "Parent-Child Bonding" and rate
localities based in part on the "presence of ideologues or

Surveillance: $500 Billion

After the 9/11 attacks, U.S. government spending on surveillance
skyrocketed. How high has it gotten? If we told you, we would have
to kill you.

The budgets of the intelligence agencies are treated as a state
secret, though Edward Snowden leaked information in 2013 showing the
National Security Agency (NSA) received $10.8 billion that year--up
53 percent since 2004. The NSA cashed in after 9/11 even though it,
like the FBI, failed to interpret the many warning signs that
terrorists were plotting to hijack airliners and crash them into
buildings. Snowden also disclosed that the total "black budget" for
intelligence agencies was $52.6 billion that year (though much of
that is not directly devoted to terrorism threats). You might think
the cat was largely out of the bag after those revelations, but the
Obama administration has refused to publish subsequent budgets and
continues to cite security concerns as justification for keeping
taxpayers in the dark.

NSA operations aren't just wasteful. The agency's snooping also
results in massive civil rights violations that undermine the
privacy of hundreds of millions of people while obliterating the
Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable warrantless searches.

The NSA's top-secret "XKeyscore" system (reported on by The
Intercept's Glenn Greenwald) specified the "standards" that NSA
employees can use to vacuum up the emails and other Internet data of
unsuspecting targets. And it isn't just foreigners or those who've
given the government probable cause who are being spied on: The
NSA's definition of "terrorist suspect" in XKeyscore includes such
nebulous markers as "someone searching the web for suspicious
stuff." Aside from watching people online, the agency has also used
Facebook and Google apps to spread malware to those they're
tracking. This nicely complements the FBI's terrifying ability,
revealed by The Washington Post in 2013, to covertly turn on a
computer's camera "without triggering the light that lets users know
it is recording."

The NSA has profoundly undermined Internet security, a 2015 Open
Technology Institute report noted, "through its weakening of key
encryption standards, insertion of surveillance backdoors into
widely-used hardware and software products, stockpiling rather than
responsibly disclosing information about software security
vulnerabilities, and a variety of offensive hacking operations
undermining the overall security of the global Internet." It's
impossible to put a price tag on the destruction of Americans'
privacy. But revelations of the agency's illicit "vacuum
cleaners"--according to Snowden, the NSA filched almost 200 million
records from Web accounts in a single month--have ravaged American
tech companies.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation says American
cloud computing businesses could suffer $35 billion in losses
between 2014 and 2016, writing that the NSA scandal "will likely
have an immediate and lasting impact on the competitiveness of the
U.S. cloud computing industry if foreign customers decide the risks
of storing data with a U.S. company outweigh the benefits." The tech
market research firm Forrester Research estimated that privacy fears
could reduce the size of the cloud computing, web hosting, and
outsourcing markets by up to 25 percent, totaling nearly $200
billion in lost revenues. And that same Open Technology Institute
report noted that "American companies have reported declining sales
overseas and lost business opportunities, especially as foreign
companies turn claims of products that can protect users from NSA
spying into a competitive advantage."

War Spending: $3+ Trillion

The biggest costs in the war on terror come from foreign wars.
Between late 2001 and 2014, the U.S. government spent roughly $2.6
trillion in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq--not just for warfare
but also for reconstruction, foreign aid, and health care for
veterans, according to the Watson Institute for International and
Public Affairs at Brown University.

The Pentagon spent an additional roughly $100 billion to thwart
terrorism overseas in 2015, according to the National Priorities
Project, a nonprofit budget watchdog group. And it will likely spend
a similar amount this year.

What's more, most estimates of ongoing spending sharply understate
the full cost. Why? Because they fail to account for the debts we
owe to service members after their return. Almost half the veterans
of the Iraq and Afghan wars--more than 700,000--have already sought
compensation for injuries incurred, and that percentage will likely
rise in the coming years. The Watson Institute estimates that the
wars will require an additional $1 trillion for medical and
disability payments, and the administrative burdens that come with
them, through 2054.

The Death Toll

There are no budgetary figures to reflect the Americans who have
been killed, maimed, or otherwise wounded. "While we know how many
U.S. soldiers have died in the wars (over 6,800), what is startling
is what we don't know about the levels of injury and illness in
those who have returned from the wars," the Watson Institute
reported. Additionally, "many deaths and injuries among U.S.
contractors have not been reported as required by law." Counting
those civilian contractors, the number of Americans killed may be
more than twice as high as if you look at fallen military alone.

But the biggest invisible cost is the death and displacement of
foreigners. The Watson Institute found that 370,000 people have died
due to direct war violence, including armed forces on all sides,
contractors, journalists, humanitarian workers, and civilians. This
is greater than the number of auto accident fatalities in the U.S.
for the past decade. It's also higher than the fatalities in any
U.S. war except World War II and the Civil War.

The American media also routinely fails to capture anything
approaching the vast human disruption spawned by our overseas
conflicts. "The number of Afghan, Iraqi, and Pakistani war refugees
and internally displaced persons--7.6 million--is equivalent to all
of the people of Massachusetts and Delaware fleeing their homes,"
the Watson Institute reported.

The Price of Fear

Since 2002, people in the United States have been 100 times more
likely to be gunned down by local, state, and federal law
enforcement agents than to be killed by Muslim terrorists.

Ohio State's Mueller has been wielding the weapon of cost-benefit
analyses for more than a decade in his own personal war on the war
on terror. He points out that the feds spend roughly $150 billion
annually on terrorism, compared to just $2 billion on the most
frequent cause of death in the U.S., heart disease, and $300 million
on strokes, the third most common killer. "We spend $500 million for
every death from terrorism and only $2,000 for every death resulting
from strokes," Mueller laments. "That means we spend 250,000 times
more per death on terrorism." Though federal authorities have poured
more than $4 trillion into fighting terrorism since 9/11, "these
extraordinary expenditures have utterly failed to make people feel
safer," he says. The percentage of Americans who expected another
major attack was as high or higher in 2014 as it was in 2002,
immediately following the worst terrorism incident in American

What does the U.S. have to show for its astonishing levels of
anti-terror spending? "I firmly believe that those huge budget
increases have not significantly contributed to our post-9/11
security," says Michael Sheehan, a former New York City deputy
commissioner for counterterrorism. What these activities have been
is an unmitigated victory for America's politicians, who take
advantage of pervasive fear to engorge their own powers.

Americans are being asked to pay for the privilege of having their
rights and liberties shredded by Washington. And with just a few
months until the 2016 presidential election, there's little sign
they've even noticed.


* Libertarian|5.22.16 @ 10:47AM|#
Post-war related costs are, indeed, astronomical. Last time I
checked, there was still an adopted daughter of a CIVIL WAR
VETERAN who was getting a monthly check.

* SilentCal|5.22.16 @ 12:05PM|#
This article is clearly just right wing horseshit. It's
impossible for a government to "waste" money. All government
spending goes into the pockets of those who are going to spend
it, meaning that government spending is always stimulus, whether
the money goes to building a road of blowing up some mud hut in
Afghanistan. Government creates wealth simply by willing it into
existence, as oppposed to those evil corporations who try to
actually make useful things, who if left to their own devices
would simply destroy all the capital in the world and kill
everyone because that is how you make profits.
Also, since libertarians are referred to as right wing, and
George W Bush is also considered right wing, libertarians are
literally the same as George Bush ergo they have no reason to
complain about wars.

* dajjal|5.22.16 @ 1:04PM|#
Corporations are good! They just need more regulations to keep
them on the straight and narrow. This is why we must elect
strong leaders to government - so they can enact the 'common
sense' regulations to make sure corporations do the right thing
with the money government pours into them.

* SilentCal|5.22.16 @ 1:48PM|#
"This is why we must elect strong leaders to government - so
they can enact the 'common sense' regulations to make sure
corporations do the right thing with the money government pours
into them."
So... fascism?

* DblEagle|5.22.16 @ 2:07PM|#
No, progressivism. "Fascism" is soooooo mid-20th century and we
must "progress" into the liebensraum of correct thought that our
enlightened leaders have for us. "Progressives" would never set
up classes of people as the "other" and never use private
companies and individuals to report to the government "incorrect
thought" for civil or criminal prosecution. And perish the
thought that a "progressive" would ever espouse the use of
extra-judicial means to punish the "other" or strip rights from
a class of people. Climate change is settled science and the
responses must have the imprint of our best governmental minds.
Climate Change Deniers are a danger to the volk, oops society,
and the strictest measures are called for.

* Dogs_stole_things|5.22.16 @ 5:58PM|#
You misunderstand what wealth is. You misunderstand what
stimulus is. Gov does not create wealth. Gov spends/wastes money
to keep the debt money scam going. If they stopped borrowing it
would all collapse but by no means is that creating wealth or

* SilentCal|5.22.16 @ 6:52PM|#
Sorry that was meant to be blatant sarcasm, but I guess you
really can't tell these days.

[tt] (Open Manufacturing) Telebase Alpha (concat) (fwd)

----- Forwarded message from Eric Hunting <> -----

Date: Mon, 16 May 2016 17:53:07 -0700 (PDT)
From: Eric Hunting <>
To: Open Manufacturing <>
Subject: [Open Manufacturing] Telebase Alpha

Trying to distract myself from other depressing matters, I've been thinking
a lot lately about the persistently retrofuturist nature of the space
establishment vision, the transhumanist prospect of space development, the
course of amateur robotics development, and the concept of the telebase.
I've also been watching a lot of Youtube videos about the hobby of RC
construction models <>--something
more popular in Europe than the US, where RC racing dominates. I find them
calming, like watching an aquarium. But what's interesting about them is
how sophisticated these models have become in recent years. Now featuring
digital controls, powerful mini-hydraulics systems, digital sound effects
systems, and sometimes first-person video systems, these models have become
real telerobots. And their builders aren't just interested in realism of
appearance. They seek realism in function too. So, all across the year, you
have these meets and shows, sometimes in dedicated venues
<>, where miniature villages are created and
these machines are put through their paces. Excavators and earth movers
move earth around, sometimes building scale landscape features with
retaining walls, pilings, gabion baskets, and concrete blocks. Little earth
screening drums sort soil into various grades. Little forklifts shift
pallets around little shipping depots and load and unload trucks. Container
lifts manage little shipping container terminals. Little farm vehicles till
and sow miniature fields. Snow cats sculpt miniature ski slopes. Fire and
emergency vehicles put out actual fires. Cranes and tow trucks rescue
vehicles if they get stuck in ditches or tip over. And it's all
cooperative. When I look at these things I see more than just a bunch of
models simulating mundane activity. I see hints of a machine civilization.
I see machines homesteading.

One of the often overlooked bits of computer history is that the idea of
'hacking', along with many other principles of modern computing and digital
control, had its roots in the MIT Tech Model Railway Club
<>; a very large communal model
train layout created in a disused campus industrial building that exists to
this day. Models trains were a good petri dish for exploring principles of
automated control theory while offering a fun creative outlet and a good
social venue. I've often wondered what might be a more contemporary form of
this. Amateur robotics today tends to be about 'sports'. Competition and
war. Racing, analogs of team sports, and cockfighting. Today's robot events
seem to rarely feature any sort of cooperative activity. Perhaps this is a
reflection of a common Darwinian or Objectivist philosophy. Everything is a
contest of survival of the fittest. Or maybe it's just that no model of
cooperative robot activity has ever occurred to anyone in this community.
What would they do?

A year ago ESA announced their latest plans for development of a moonbase
showcasing a design developed by Fosters and Partners
<> that, jumping on the 3D
printing bandwagon, was based on the idea of using a pair of modest robots
to 3D print a hard shell for an inflatable habitat made from fused
regolith. It's a fairly plausible concept since, despite Fosters'
suggestion of employing 'advanced construction methods', it's actually a
derivative of a very old, well proven, and simple construction method once
used in WWII by German military engineers to build bunkers and underground
bomb-resistant aircraft hangars and which has quite often been suggested a
the basis of Lunar and Mars base construction. Known as mound-formed shell
construction, it uses sculpted mounds of gravel with reinforcement placed
over them as a form over which a relatively dry concrete is layered. Once
the shell has cured, it is covered in earth and the gravel is excavated
from the hollow shell to be reused in further construction. A very
interesting park in Fukuoka Japan called Grin-Grin Park
<> features
this very type of construction and I often refer to it as a plausible
visual analog of future space settlements. Many variations of this
technique have been proposed for space use since the 1960s. SuperAdobe
inventor Nader Khalili once proposed the use of solar thermal fusion in a
variation of the ancient Persian technique of fired adobe construction.

The interesting thing about this building technique is that it's really so
simple right now a group of hobbyists or students could go buy a bunch of
those RC construction models right off the shelf and demonstrate, full
scale, this moonbase construction using them. Though they wouldn't be quite
as efficient as more purpose-designed robots, they could probably
accomplish this in about the same time as projected for the Fosters
design--roughly half a year. Given that the 1/8th scale construction models
are about the same size as the robots proposed, repurposing the components
from these models for more efficient purpose-built systems would be
straightforward. Ideally, one would want a better teleoperation analog than
having a bunch of people standing around with RC transmitters and so a new
WiFi based first-person video and control platform would be preferred
allowing long distance cooperative control by PC over the internet. This is
all perfectly feasible. It could be started in a week.

Strangely, despite the relative ease and economy of such a demonstration,
for a year now ESA has made no attempt to do this. No one in the space
establishment is proposing anything like this. Could such a project be the
new TMRC? A potentially vastly larger, global access, TMRC? For a long time
I've been proposing the idea of an open source space program based on
telebase development, but few people seem to have been able to comprehend
what I was talking about. I keep referring to it as "the best community
model train layout ever--the kind you might one day move into" but no one
gets it. Here, however, is a project that could very plainly illustrate the
concept. A specific, cooperative, physical building project that a team of
amateur telerobots and their builders could actually build and, through
that, refine their technology. A direct way to personally participate in
real space development activity. And this is just one of a large host of
space analog structures that could be explored using similar facilities
right here on Earth, indoors and out, local and remote. There are orbital
platforms based on space frames, enclosed orbital labs, open and enclosed
surface habitats, excavated habitats, and so on. There are many kinds of
tele-construction and in-situ resource utilization concepts to explore. The
Earth offers even more challenging environments like the open ocean or the
sea floor, forests, caves, hot springs and volcanoes, the poles. There are
all kinds of interesting design and engineering problems on offer here. And
best of all, it could be a hell of a lot of fun. But is anyone else
interested? Is there a way to get to critical mass? Those RC model shows
often have many companies sponsoring them--often the same vehicle
manufacturers represented by the models on display. Why wouldn't those some
construction machine companies be interested in this?

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----- End forwarded message -----
----- Forwarded message from Eric Hunting <> -----

Date: Thu, 19 May 2016 19:04:52 -0700 (PDT)
From: Eric Hunting <>
To: Open Manufacturing <>
Subject: [Open Manufacturing] Re: Telebase Alpha

Thinking more about how to get started with this. Step one would seem to be
to identify some likely control hardware and software. As it turns out,
there's a variety of RC-over-WiFi/IP hardware available off-the-shelf and
cheap now whose development has been driven by people wanting to use their
smartphones and tablets as RC transmitters. These are small and designed as
drop-in replacements for conventional RC receivers and so will suit most
off-the-shelf models.There are also some RC-over-IP tool kits for Arduinos
<> using WiFi shields, and
probably comparable toolkits for the other popular microcontrollers. These
are based on smartphone/tablet apps that simulate a simple conventional RC
transmitter user interface with a couple of virtual joysticks. We need to
support more sophisticated workstations able to combine multiple
controllers (as a single robot may have multiple controllers), video
displays, and telemetry displays and switch them as grouped workstation
sets between different robots and other base hardware. We might also want
to support some of the same kind of control panels used with flight
simulator programs. I suspect this has been done before with Linux
workstations--I would be very surprised if it hasn't, but maybe it hasn't
been done over IP. But if at first we would have to make do with a
'workstation' composed of a set of modest cost tablets that might be OK. It
might just be a hassle to switch them between different robots.

We would also need to figure out if this can be run in a mesh network
environment as an 'in the field' telebase is most-likely to employ mesh
networking using deployable 'trail marker' transponders. Not much of a
concern at the start as an initial setup is most-likely going to be

Power is an important concern if we're doing everything by remote control.
It's the biggest logistical issue for a telebase. On-board solar power is a
possibility but if a prototype is done indoors this may not be too
effective. I expected this to be problematic, but it seems many amateur
robot builders have been experimenting with near field wireless charging
enough that off-the-shelf wireless charging hardware is commonly found in
current robot parts catalogs. A few, smaller, off-the-shelf RC models are
now adopting this as well. There are also a variety of wireless chargers
for cell phones that could be hacked. So a more-or-less standardized
solution for this could be possible. There may still be an issue with
charging the high-power LiPoly batteries now common for larger or more high
performance RC models. Also, direct cabling is not unusual in the full
scale mining and construction field, which has been on a long trend of
transitioning to electric power. It may be quite practical to have robots
operating on tethers where their range of movement is relatively modest.
But reliable quick-connect in a relatively dirty environment would be a

The Fosters moonbase concept is rather over-simplistic, at least in
illustration, and seems to assume that lunar regolith is much more uniform
and homogenous than is likely, thus allowing for a single kind of robot to
assume both material gathering and deposition functions. In practice, it is
likely that considerable site preparation will be necessary and there will
need to be some dedicated facility for the collection and screening of
regolith in large volume akin to that commonly used in terrestrial
landscape work. The use of an inflatable dome as a form potentially reduces
the construction time compared to screening and piling up a gravel mound
form, but in gathering a suitable volume of uniform shell material one
would be simultaneously separating and collecting this gravel sized
material, the ratios of granular sizes varying widely with location. This
inflatable dome must also survive, fully exposed, for the duration of the
construction process, demanding a multilayer Whipple-shield like structure
akin to the semi-rigid TransHab module hull. Thus a much heavier, less
compactable, dome envelope would be needed with this approach than would be
needed for a system where the envelope was deployed within a pre-fabricated
shell. So it's difficult to suggest any particular advantage to an
inflatable form over the much simpler mound form.

A formless approach is also feasible with a radial boom crane based
deposition mechanism and has been proposed for lunar construction in the
past, but would require a very fine and uniform shell material, possibly
using a gas or liquid transport method, deposited in very thin layers that
may not be possible without a significant local refinery process.

The Fosters concept doesn't get into any details on the nature of the
'printing' process used in shell construction. It appears that it is based
on fluid deposition of a binding agent into thin regolith layers--much like
the polyjet 3D printing process. I imagine some exotic epoxy. Mound formed
shell construction usually employs a dry but convention cement based
concrete mix, which could be fine in demonstration but is a little messy to
deal with for small machines. This is usually a material intended for large
volumes applied very quickly rather than built-up in many thin layers. An
analogous oxidizing liquid binder could be explored or perhaps an
off-the-shelf geopolymer which can be mixed in small batches and applied in
very liquid form. This would still be the messiest and least reliable part
of the building process. In the past, methods of regolith construction have
proposed vitrifying regolith in situ, sometimes using solar energy, but the
amount of energy needed to accomplish this is very high. A variety of lunar
regolith simulant materials have been developed, but are not produced in
quantity sufficient to be affordable in the volumes this project would
requires and so we would likely have to go with something that is more of a
physical than chemical simulation. This probably doesn't need to be too
close an analog or terribly strong to adequately demonstrate the
construction process.

The use of ISS-style cupolas in the Fosters dome design doesn't make much
sense. It defeats the purpose of the radiation shielding of the regolith
shell, creates a lot of failure points, and would not be an efficient
lighting system. It is much more likely that such habitats would rely
either on electric lighting alone or the use of fiber optic lighting with
easily positioned and replaceable modular heliostat array collectors and
fiber cables to bring light in through the bulkhead entrances.

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----- Forwarded message from Eric Hunting <> -----

Date: Wed, 25 May 2016 17:09:31 -0700 (PDT)
From: Eric Hunting <>
To: Open Manufacturing <>
Subject: [Open Manufacturing] Re: Telebase Alpha

Thinking some more about this idea and what sort of robot designs might be
used. I've been considering which of the RC construction vehicle
types/parts would offer the most potential 'hackability' for robot
adaptation. Construction/excavation machine designs have tended to be
rather specialized. But one type stands out as, potentially, the most
versatile or multi-functional; the crawler excavator. The crawler seems to
be the one drive platform used in the most variations of construction
equipment, employed where surfaces are unstable and maximum traction and
wide distribution of vehicle loads are desired. The crawler excavator form
of this is interesting in that it's swiveling crawler base is used by some
equipment companies, largely unchanged, in a number of different machines.
The same chassis used for a bucket excavator may also be used for what is
called a 'swivel crawler dumper', often using the very same kind of
operator cabin. This video <>
shows these machines side-by-side. This may also be used for cranes, cargo
handling with a small loading crane, and to host all sorts of other
equipment. The crawler is also used in a kind of landscape sculpting role
on ski slopes where a winch is employed to support the vehicle
<> traversing steep slopes as it
sculpts them. Here we can see the same mechanism being used for earth
sculpting. <> This mechanism has
been reproduced in scale models
<> and could be a useful tool in
the shaping of a gravel mound form. These crawler chassis can also be
ganged to support long or wide platforms or long articulated chains, like LeTourneau
though that would be more efficient with wheeled vehicles.

The form-factor of these crawlers is such that adapting them to
robots--whether as scale models or full-scale machines, would be as simple
as replacing the operator cabin with an electronics enclosure and adding a
'radar arch' to host lights, sensors, and cameras. In the nautical world a
radar or communications arch, also called a boat tower, is a simple space
frame arch
<> suspended
over the deck or pilot cabin/station of a boat used to host radar units,
lights, satellite, and radio equipment. On fishing charter boats these are
also used to hold fishing rods and a high lofted pilot station for 'sight
fishing' (using height to avoid glare and spot fish by sight) while other
boats use them to support towlines for water skiing. For robots one would
want to employ a frame with many equipment mounting options so T-slot or
holed tubular profiles are likely.

The compromise of the crawler is that it's very slow and unsuited to long
distance travel. When doing real scale construction with small robots this
is an important consideration. It also has a large number of parts, and
thus needs more maintenance. It is likely one would need additional wheeled
vehicles or possibly the use of rail systems, like a deployable banana
monorail <>,
to support the longer distance transport of materials. Wheeled excavators
are common and offer similar potential versatility from their chassis,
though this is not commonly exploited in construction equipment design,
perhaps because it's considered redundant to existing conventional wheeled
vehicle designs. The wheeled excavator is much more mobile and faster, but
requires more maneuvering room and a much more stable, level, surface to
traverse. When excavating, they deploy a narrow dozer blade and outrigger
stabilizers, requiring a flat resting area. In the past decade, a new class
of wheeled excavator has emerged called 'walking' or 'spider' excavators
that use independent steered pneumatically powered wheels on the ends of
articulated legs. This allows for traversing extreme terrain, performing
elaborate maneuvers, and level operation on steep slopes and is very useful
in shallow water and swampy locations. It's also based on very minimalist
base chassis like the crawlers and so could suit the same large variety of
applications. There have been some experiments in modeling these with Lego,
but I haven't yet seen off-the-shelf RC models, possibly because this drive
system remains a bit difficult to replicate in miniature. But it's, no
doubt, on the way and this could offer a superior alternative to the
crawler. Certainly, a number of large scale space robot designs already
employ systems like this.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

[tt] WaPo: Why people like Edward Snowden say they will boycott Google's newest messaging app

Why people like Edward Snowden say they will boycott Google's newest
messaging app
By Ellen Nakashima and Hayley Tsukayama

Google this week announced a new messaging app with strong
encryption that even the government, with a warrant, can't wiretap.
But there's a catch: You have to turn on that feature yourself.

The tech titan's plan to launch Allo this summer without end-to-end
encryption by default has drawn withering criticism from some

Google's decision to disable end-to-end encryption by default in
its new #Allo chat app is dangerous, and makes it unsafe. Avoid
it for now.

--Edward Snowden (@Snowden) May 19, 2016

But other privacy advocates are more positive.

"I, too, would prefer that Allo be encrypted by default," said Kevin
Bankston, director of New America's Open Technology Institute. But,
he added, "all in all, this is going to be a net increase in the
amount of encrypted messaging out in the world. And that is
ultimately a good thing."

The chairman emeritus of New America is Eric Schmidt, the executive
chairman of Google parent company Alphabet.

With Allo's debut, Google is taking a step toward joining the
growing number of tech firms embracing "end-to-end" encryption,
which protects the privacy of text messages and voice and video
calls in such a way that even with a warrant, the government can't
access them. But by requiring users to turn on the feature, Google
is lowering the odds that average users will avail themselves of the
option, critics such as Snowden say.

Apple's iMessage launched in 2011 with default end-to-end
encryption. WhatsApp, Facebook's messaging app, last month announced
it had full, end-to-end encryption by default on all platforms--
including Android, iPhone and BlackBerry. Apple also launched its
video call FaceTime feature in 2010 with default strong encryption.
That means that even when served with a warrant, these firms cannot
provide law enforcement access to WhatsApp and iMessage chats.

FBI Director James B. Comey has endorsed the benefits of encryption.
"I love strong encryption," he said in a speech last month. But, he
said, "what's changed in the last few years is that it's now become
the default, covering wide swaths of our lives and covering wide
swaths of law enforcement's responsibilities." He has called for a
balancing of privacy and public safety needs in which firms maintain
a way--usually with a key--to get the government access to the
communications it seeks.

So Google's move on balance is welcome, said one law enforcement
official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they
were not authorized to speak about the issue on the record. "Having
this as an opt-in feature is certainly useful to us."

Google designed Allo without default end-to-end encryption to make
it easier to mesh the chat app with Google Assistant, a new
conversation bot that can hold natural-sounding discussions with
users, a Google spokesman said. It's a competitor to Apple's Siri,
Amazon's Alexa and the many bots created for Facebook's Messenger
app. Assistant is designed to tap into Google's wealth of data about
users to provide tailored recommendations, from the best movies to
see to the quickest route to the theater.

Because Google may need to run queries made of Assistant on its own
servers, the official said, it's not feasible to offer end-to-end
encryption by default. Users who opt to use the encrypted
"Incognito" mode may thus lack some Assistant features, he said.

Some tech experts said it is possible to combine
end-to-end encryption with the artificial intelligence bot feature.
"There's always a way," said Morey Haber, vice president of
technology at the cybersecurity firm BeyondTrust. Smartphones, for
example, could do some of the processing on the device. But, he
said, it would be difficult to fully process queries to Assistant
without the power of Google's remote servers, which would need to
see the unencrypted queries. "I don't think the technology is there
yet," Haber said.

The company said that even the standard chat mode conforms
with standard encryption practices; messages between Google and
users will be encrypted, but the Google Assistant system will have
access to what users are sending.

Still, the company's decision to forgo default end-to-end encryption
has raised questions--even internally.

A Google engineer who worked on Allo's security wrote a personal
blog post Thursday obliquely criticizing the lack of such
strong encryption. "If incognito mode with end-to-end encryption ...
is so useful, why isn't it the default in Allo?" Thai Duong wrote.
He also said he would push for "a setting where users can opt out of
cleartext [unencrypted] messaging." Both lines were quietly removed
later that evening from his post, with Duong adding a note that he
erased a paragraph "because it's not cool to publicly discuss or to
speculate the intent or future plans for the features of my
employer's products."

Google declined to comment on whether it pressured Duong to edit his

Christopher Soghoian, American Civil Liberties Union principal
technologist, said by making the encryption feature an opt-in,
"Google gets the maximum press value out of the encryption tech
while guaranteeing that it is used by as few people as possible."

Google, he said, "has given the FBI exactly what top officials have
been asking for."

Bankston said the opt-in will depend on how easy the firm makes it
to do so. "That," he said, "will turn a lot on the design."

Ellen Nakashima is a national security reporter for The Washington
Post. She focuses on issues relating to intelligence, technology and
civil liberties.
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[tt] NYT: William Henry Gates III: My 10 Favorite Books

Send me your list. This is a difficult question. I can easily think of the
ten books that most influenced my thinking. Harder would be the ten books
I would recommend, to everyone that is, not to specific persons.

William Henry Gates III: My 10 Favorite Books

For his bookshop and website One Grand Books, the editor Aaron
Hicklin asked people to name the 10 books they'd take with them if
they were marooned on a desert island. The next in the series is
Bill Gates, who shares his list exclusively with T. (Through May 22,
One Grand is hosting a pop-up shop at Industry City in Sunset Park,
Brooklyn.) As Gates says: "If you're going to get marooned on a
desert island, I guess you can't exactly choose when it happens to
you. But if I'm shipwrecked this summer, I hope I'll have these five
terrific books I read recently--which I just shared on my blog--
as well as five all-time favorites with me."

"Seveneves," Neal Stephenson

This novel about how the human race responds to the end of life on
Earth rekindled my love for sci-fi. Some readers will lose patience
with all the technical details about orbits and spaceflight, but for
me, it's an engrossing and thought-provoking story.

"How Not to be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking," Jordan

A mathematician explains how math plays into our daily lives without
our even knowing it. The writing is funny, smooth and accessible--
not what you might expect from a book on this subject. Ellenberg's
larger point is that there are ways in which we're all doing math,
all the time.

"Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind," Yuval Noah Harari

This look at the entire history of the human race sparked lots of
great conversations at our family's dinner table. Harari also writes
about our species today and how artificial intelligence, genetic
engineering and other technologies will change us in the future.

"The Power to Compete," Ryoichi Mikitani and Hiroshi Mikitani

Why was Japan, the juggernaut of the 1980s, eclipsed by South Korea
and China? And can its economy come back? A smart look at the future
of a fascinating country.

"The Vital Question," Nick Lane

I wish more people knew about this British biologist's work. He is
trying to get people to fully appreciate the role energy plays in
the evolution of life on Earth (and, maybe, other places). Even if
he turns out to be wrong about certain details, I suspect his ideas
will be seen as an important contribution to our understanding of
where we come from, and where are we going.

"Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall
Street," John Brooks

Warren Buffett gave me this fantastic collection of articles that
Brooks wrote for The New Yorker. Although Brooks was writing in the
1960s, his insights are timeless and a reminder that the rules for
running a great company don't change. I read it more than two
decades ago, and it's still my pick for the best business book ever.

"The Great Gatsby," F. Scott Fitzgerald

The novel that I reread the most. Melinda and I love one line so
much that we had it painted on a wall in our house: "His dream must
have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it."

"Parenting With Love and Logic," Foster Cline and Jim Fay

As the parents of three children, Melinda and I have spent a lot of
time reading and discussing this book. It has been an invaluable
guide for both of us, especially when it comes to de-escalating
those inevitable conflicts between parents and kids.

"Sustainable Energy--Without the Hot Air," David JC MacKay

A fantastic guide to thinking more numerically about clean energy,
and the most accessible explanation of this subject that I've seen.
I still refer to it myself, which is a bittersweet experience now--
David died in April, at the age of 48.

"The Better Angels of Our Nature," Steven Pinker

Proof that the world is becoming more peaceful. It's not just a
question for historians, but a profound statement about human nature
and the possibility for a better future. This book may have shaped
my outlook more than any other.
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