Valin

Hinge of History Thread Part 3

47 posts in this topic

Online Degree Programs Poised for More Growth
Dec. 14 2015

Scoffers and standpatters in the academic world have been proclaiming the demise of online degree programs for some time. But such rumors were always exaggerated. The latest evidence: Georgia Tech’s online master’s degree in computer science just graduated its first 20 students—each of whom paid less than 20 percent of the tuition that their peers who attended the traditional, in-person program paid. The Wall Street Journal reports:

 

(Snip)

 

1. Online programs aren’t a slam dunk solution to higher education’s problems. The Journal describes a number of setbacks Georgia Tech experienced with its program, including high attrition and a slower-than-expected course completion rate. These programs are new—Georgia Tech’s started in 2013—and it will take time for institutions to figure out how to use them most effectively.

 

2. Students can get sophisticated degrees this way—earning a graduate degree in computer science from a top 10 department is no small task—and they can earn these degrees at a fraction of the cost of traditional programs, which are overpriced thanks to federal subsidies and growing bureaucracies. Online learning will not merely be a way to “enhance” in-person higher education; for some students in some programs, at least, it is likely to be a sustainable alternative.

 

3. The rewards, both for students who can access high quality education while saving on tuition and for the innovative institutions that use online education to tap into a global market, are big enough to justify the effort to make these kinds of programs work.

 

(Snip)

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The power of Luther’s printing press
Colin Woodard’s new book, “American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good,” will be published in March.
Colin Woodard
December 18 2015

In the conventional survey course, Martin Luther leaps onto the historical stage out of nowhere: an unknown monk in an obscure German provincial town who, by performing the rather routine academic exercise of nailing a thesis to the doors of the local church, triggers the Protestant Reformation. The selling of indulgences was so hated, one gathers, that Luther was able to ride a wave of popular sentiment to reshape the course of Western civilization.

No surprise that it’s more complicated than that, but a new book by British historian Andrew Pettegree reveals a central and heretofore little-appreciated aspect: Luther’s master role in the imagination and execution of what had to have been the world’s first mass-media-driven revolution. Luther didn’t just reimagine the Christian faith, he figured out how to share his vision through the innovative use and manipulation of a nascent communications technology: the printing press.

“Printing was essential to the creation of Martin Luther, but Luther was also a determining, shaping force in the German printing industry,” Pettegree writes. “After Luther, print and public communication would never be the same again.”

When Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door in the Saxon backwater town of Wittenberg, moveable type was something like the computer in the 1960s, a useful and expensive tool used by academics and elite institutions. “Most customers were churchmen, scholars, or students, with a smattering of rich collectors from the nobility,” Pettegree explains. “Consequently the first printers aligned their production to the established best sellers in these customers’ favored fields,” typically works that were “long, expensive, and in Latin” and written by long-dead authors. Wittenberg’s only print shop produced ugly, sloppy copies of the theses of local university students, another mainstay of the 70-year-old industry.

 

(Snip)

 

“Brand Luther” suffers from some omissions that make it harder for those not already steeped in Reformation history to fully appreciate the tale. For example, in this history of the transformation of the print industry, Pettegree never lays out how early-16th-century printing was actually done, from the making of paper and typefaces to the painstaking setting and press work that put our modern struggles with toner cartridges and bad URLs in perspective. Similarly, readers hear about the implications of Luther’s callous stance on the 1525 Peasants’ Rebellion but are never clearly told what happened because they are presumed to already know.

 

Nonetheless, it’s a remarkable story, thoroughly researched and clearly told, and one sure to change the way we think about the early Reformation.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe--and Started the Protestant Reformation

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After the Gold Rush
Posted by Grurray on January 4th, 2016

3D printing industry leader 3D Systems announced last week that it plans to stop making consumer 3D printers. They’re going to concentrate on supplying the industrial markets. It’s the culmination of a significant reversal from just a few years ago when the media hype was fueling a bubble among these additive manufacturing makers like 3D Systems and Stratasys. The trend now is moving away from supplying the much publicized hobbyists and enthusiasts and towards the more reliable demand of professional customers

 

The company has indicated that the discontinued product line will account for < 2% of revenue, roughly $13M in sales, which is much less that the ~$45M in “Consumer” sales we had projected in our model. The primary difference is likely to be materials (which the company has indicated will still be supported), desktop printers, scanners and Gentle Giant studios.

 

The revenue numbers are big disappointment because the printers were supposed to follow the time tested and much beloved razor blade model with most of the sales coming from resin filament. The markup on the filament in most cases is a holy grail level 1000% – 2000%. The fact that 3D systems, the pioneer of additive manufacturing, couldn’t make this work is bad news for the industry as a whole.

 

Stratasys, the other big competitor in the sector, isn’t doing much better. Last year after acquiring Makerbot, perhaps the current top brand in consumer 3D printers, they let go about 1/3 of the workforce (just after making the founders wealthy, of course). Now after seven years and several different updates and revisions, they’re still trying to make a product that works. The class action wolves are now circling, so it may be only a matter of time for their consumer business also.

 

Meanwhile, dead tree printing stalwarts such as HP and Toshiba are poised to enter the 3D fray, but they will be making industrial 3D printers. The plan is to leverage their already considerable strengths in sales and distribution to medium and small businesses. Mostly they’re drawing on their experience in the consumer sector where they long ago learned that consumer hardware is a commodity business with little prospects for the big growth expected of startups.

 

(Snip)

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I think that God may use 3D printing to help a lot of believers in the coming chaos.

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That fount of all knowledge Wikipedia served me well this morning for some distilled French Revolution facts so all quotes are from the compilation there:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Revolution

 

And yes, I understand that the articles/sources on wiki can have a certain tweak or bent according to the source and the poster.

 

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France that lasted from 1789 until 1799, and was partially carried forward by Napoleon during the later expansion of the French Empire. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, experienced violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon that rapidly brought many of its principles to Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies.[1] Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.[2][3][4]

 

The causes of the French Revolution are complex and are still debated among historians. Following the Seven Years' War and the American Revolutionary War,[5] the French government was deeply in debt and attempted to restore its financial status through unpopular taxation schemes. Years of bad harvests leading up to the Revolution also inflamed popular resentment of the privileges enjoyed by the clergy and the aristocracy. Demands for change were formulated in terms of Enlightenment ideals and contributed to the convocation of the Estates-General in May 1789. The first year of the Revolution saw members of the Third Estate taking control, the assault on the Bastille in July, the passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August, and a women's march on Versailles that forced the royal court back to Paris in October. A central event of the first stage, in August 1789, was the abolition of feudalism and the old rules and privileges left over from the Ancien Régime. The next few years featured political struggles between various liberal assemblies and right-wing supporters of the monarchy intent on thwarting major reforms. France rapidly transformed into a democratic and secular society with freedom of religion, legalization of divorce, decriminalization of same-sex relationships, and civil rights for Jews and black people. The Republic was proclaimed in September 1792 after the French victory at Valmy. In a momentous event that led to international condemnation, Louis XVI was executed in January 1793.

 

Globally, the Revolution accelerated the rise of republics and democracies. It became the focal point for the development of all modern political ideologies, leading to the spread of liberalism, radicalism, nationalism, socialism, feminism, and secularism, among many others. The Revolution also witnessed the birth of total war by organizing the resources of France and the lives of its citizens towards the objective of military conquest.[11] Some of its central documents, like the Declaration of the Rights of Man, expanded the arena of human rights to include women and slaves, leading to movements for abolitionism and universal suffrage in the next century.

 

Many other factors involved resentments and aspirations given focus by the rise of Enlightenment ideals. These included resentment of royal absolutism; resentment by peasants, labourers and the bourgeoisie toward the traditional seigneurial privileges possessed by the nobility; resentment of the Catholic Church's influence over public policy and institutions; aspirations for freedom of religion; resentment of aristocratic bishops by the poorer rural clergy; aspirations for social, political and economic equality, and (especially as the Revolution progressed) republicanism; hatred of Queen Marie-Antoinette, who was falsely accused of being a spendthrift and an Austrian spy; and anger toward the King for dismissing ministers, including finance minister Jacques Necker, who were popularly seen as representatives of the people.[36]

Freemasonry played an important role in the revolution. Originally largely apolitical, Freemasonry was radicalised in the late 18th century through the introduction of higher grades which emphasised themes of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Virtually every major player in the Revolution was a Freemason and these themes became the widely recognised slogan of the revolution.[37] Historian Margaret C. Jacob argues:

We can relate freemasonry to the French Revolution because in the lodges of the 1770s and 1780s some of its eventual promoters and opponents can be heard discussing how society and government should be, before each would be simultaneously changed forever.[38]

 

The Revolution caused a massive shift of power from the Roman Catholic Church to the state.[74] Under the Ancien Régime, the Church had been the largest single landowner in the country, owning about 10% of the land in the kingdom.[75] The Church was exempt from paying taxes to the government, while it levied a tithe—a 10% tax on income, often collected in the form of crops—on the general population, only a fraction of which it then redistributed to the poor.[75] The power and wealth of the Church was highly resented by some groups. A small minority of Protestants living in France, such as the Huguenots, wanted an anti-Catholic regime and revenge against the clergy who discriminated against them. Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire helped fuel this resentment by denigrating the Catholic Church and destabilising the French monarchy.[76] As historian John McManners argues, "In eighteenth-century France throne and altar were commonly spoken of as in close alliance; their simultaneous collapse ... would one day provide the final proof of their interdependence."[77]

This resentment toward the Church weakened its power during the opening of the Estates General in May 1789. The Church composed the First Estate with 130,000 members of the clergy. When the National Assembly was later created in June 1789 by the Third Estate, the clergy voted to join them, which perpetuated the destruction of the Estates General as a governing body.[78] The National Assembly began to enact social and economic reform. Legislation sanctioned on 4 August 1789 abolished the Church's authority to impose the tithe. In an attempt to address the financial crisis, the Assembly declared, on 2 November 1789, that the property of the Church was "at the disposal of the nation."[79] They used this property to back a new currency, the assignats. Thus, the nation had now also taken on the responsibility of the Church, which included paying the clergy and caring for the poor, the sick and the orphaned.[80] In December, the Assembly began to sell the lands to the highest bidder to raise revenue, effectively decreasing the value of the assignats by 25% in two years.[81] In autumn 1789, legislation abolished monastic vows and on 13 February 1790 all religious orders were dissolved.[82] Monks and nuns were encouraged to return to private life and a small percentage did eventually marry.[83]

 

 

As most of the Assembly still favoured a constitutional monarchy rather than a republic, the various groups reached a compromise which left Louis XVI as little more than a figurehead: he was forced to swear an oath to the constitution, and a decree declared that retracting the oath, heading an army for the purpose of making war upon the nation, or permitting anyone to do so in his name would amount to abdication.

However, Jacques Pierre Brissot drafted a petition, insisting that in the eyes of the nation Louis XVI was deposed since his flight. An immense crowd gathered in the Champ de Mars to sign the petition. Georges Danton and Camille Desmoulins gave fiery speeches. The Assembly called for the municipal authorities to "preserve public order". The National Guard under La Fayette's command confronted the crowd. The soldiers responded to a barrage of stones by firing into the crowd, killing between 13 and 50 people.[93] The incident cost La Fayette and his National Guard much public support.

In the wake of the massacre the authorities closed many of the patriotic clubs, as well as radical newspapers such as Jean-Paul Marat's L'Ami du Peuple. Danton fled to England; Desmoulins and Marat went into hiding.[94]

 

In the Brunswick Manifesto, the Imperial and Prussian armies threatened retaliation on the French population if it were to resist their advance or the reinstatement of the monarchy. This among other things made Louis appear to be conspiring with the enemies of France. On 17 January 1793 Louis was condemned to death for "conspiracy against the public liberty and the general safety" by a close majority in Convention: 361 voted to execute the king, 288 voted against, and another 72 voted to execute him subject to a variety of delaying conditions. The former Louis XVI, now simply named Citoyen Louis Capet (Citizen Louis Capet) was executed by guillotine on 21 January 1793 on the Place de la Révolution, former Place Louis XV, now called the Place de la Concorde.[107] Conservatives across Europe were horrified and monarchies called for war against revolutionary France.[108][109]

 

Economy
When war went badly, prices rose and the sans-culottes – poor labourers and radical Jacobins – rioted; counter-revolutionary activities began in some regions. This encouraged the Jacobins to seize power through a parliamentary coup, backed up by force effected by mobilising public support against the Girondist faction, and by utilising the mob power of the Parisian sans-culottes. An alliance of Jacobin and sans-culottes elements thus became the effective centre of the new government. Policy became considerably more radical, as "The Law of the Maximum" set food prices and led to executions of offenders.[110]

This policy of price control was coeval with the Committee of Public Safety's rise to power and the Reign of Terror. The Committee first attempted to set the price for only a limited number of grain products but, by September 1793, it expanded the "maximum" to cover all foodstuffs and a long list of other goods.[111] Widespread shortages and famine ensued. The Committee reacted by sending dragoons into the countryside to arrest farmers and seize crops. This temporarily solved the problem in Paris, but the rest of the country suffered. By the spring of 1794, forced collection of food was not sufficient to feed even Paris and the days of the Committee were numbered. When Robespierre went to the guillotine in July of that year the crowd jeered, "There goes the dirty maximum!"[112]

 

Main article: Reign of Terror

Queen Marie Antoinette on the way to the guillotine on 16 October 1793 (drawing by Jacques-Louis David).
The Committee of Public Safety came under the control of Maximilien Robespierre, a lawyer, and the Jacobins unleashed the Reign of Terror (1793–1794). According to archival records, at least 16,594 people died under the guillotine or otherwise after accusations of counter-revolutionary activities.[113] As many as 40,000 accused prisoners may have been summarily executed without trial or died awaiting trial.[113][114]

 

A major aspect of the French Revolution was the dechristianisation movement, a movement strongly rejected by many devout people. Especially for women living in rural areas of France, the closing of the churches meant a loss of normalcy.[179]

When these revolutionary changes to the Church were implemented, it sparked a counter-revolutionary movement among women. Although some of these women embraced the political and social amendments of the Revolution, they opposed the dissolution of the Catholic Church and the formation of revolutionary cults like the Cult of the Supreme Being.[180] As Olwen Hufton argues, these women began to see themselves as the "defenders of faith".[181] They took it upon themselves to protect the Church from what they saw as a heretical change to their faith, enforced by revolutionaries.

Counter-revolutionary women resisted what they saw as the intrusion of the state into their lives.[182] Economically, many peasant women refused to sell their goods for assignats because this form of currency was unstable and was backed by the sale of confiscated Church property. By far the most important issue to counter-revolutionary women was the passage and the enforcement of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy in 1790. In response to this measure, women in many areas began circulating anti-oath pamphlets and refused to attend masses held by priests who had sworn oaths of loyalty to the Republic. These women continued to adhere to traditional practices such as Christian burials and naming their children after saints in spite of revolutionary decrees to the contrary.[183]

 

Economics

Two thirds of France was employed in agriculture, which was transformed by the Revolution. With the breakup of large estates controlled by the Church and the nobility and worked by hired hands, rural France became more a land of small independent farms. Harvest taxes were ended, such as the tithe and seigneurial dues, much to the relief of the peasants. Primogeniture was ended both for nobles and peasants, thereby weakening the family patriarch. Because all the children had a share in the family's property, there was a declining birth rate.[207][208] Cobban says the revolution bequeathed to the nation "a ruling class of landowners."[209]

In the cities entrepreneurship on a small scale flourished, as restrictive monopolies, privileges, barriers, rules, taxes and guilds gave way. However the British blockade virtually ended overseas and colonial trade, hurting the port cities and their supply chains. Overall the Revolution did not greatly change the French business system, and probably helped freeze in place the horizons of the small business owner. The typical businessman owned a small store, mill or shop, with family help and a few paid employees; large scale industry was less common than in other industrializing nations.[210]

 

Constitutionalism
The Revolution meant an end to arbitrary royal rule, and held out the promise of rule by law under a constitutional order, but it did not rule out a monarch. Napoleon as emperor set up a constitutional system (although he remained in full control), and the restored Bourbons were forced to go along with one. After the abdication of Napoleon III in 1871, the monarchists probably had a voting majority, but they were so factionalized they could not agree on who should be king, and instead the French Third Republic was launched with a deep commitment to upholding the ideals of the Revolution.[211][212] The conservative Catholic enemies of the Revolution came to power in Vichy France (1940–44), and tried with little success to undo its heritage, but they kept it a republic. Vichy denied the principle of equality and tried to replace the Revolutionary watchwords "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" with "Work, Family, and Fatherland." However, there were no efforts by the Bourbons, Vichy or anyone else to restore the privileges that had been stripped away from the nobility in 1789. France permanently became a society of equals under the law.[213]

 

Communism
The Jacobin cause was picked up by Marxists in the mid-19th century and became an element of communist thought around the world. In the Soviet Union, "Gracchus" Babeuf was regarded as a hero.[214]

 

United States

The Revolution deeply polarized American politics, and this polarization led to the creation of the First Party System. In 1793, as war broke out in Europe, the Republican Party led by Thomas Jefferson favored France and pointed to the 1778 treaty that was still in effect. Washington and his unanimous cabinet, including Jefferson, decided that the treaty did not bind the United States to enter the war. Washington proclaimed neutrality instead.[225] Under President Adams, a Federalist, an undeclared naval war took place with France from 1798 until 1799, often called the "Quasi War". Jefferson became president in 1801, but was hostile to Napoleon as a dictator and emperor. However, the two entered negotiations over the Louisiana Territory and agreed to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, an acquisition that substantially increased the size of the United States.

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Glenn Reynolds: We aren't ready for the lights to go out
Glenn Eynolds
Mar. 7 2016

Could it be lights out for America? That’s something that people are starting to worry about, and these worries aren’t coming solely from the usual crowd of survivalists and preppers. Shut down the computers that run the power plants and distribution systems and you shut down America. That’s looking more possible, lately.

One of those worrying is former ABC News anchor Ted Koppel, whose new book, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, looks at the danger of losing electrical power due to a cyberattack. The picture Koppel paints isn’t a pretty one: Cities, unpowered for weeks and months, could become largely uninhabitable.

But, says Koppel, nobody is thinking about this very clearly: “It would be comforting to report that those agencies charged with responding to disaster are adequately prepared to deal with the consequences of a cyberattack on the grid. They are not.”

In fact, he writes, they can’t even agree on what’s involved: “The deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) believes that a major urban center would have to be evacuated. His boss, the administrator, does not. The administrator believes that a successful cyberattack on a power grid is possible, even likely. His deputy does not. The current secretary of homeland security is sure that a plan to deal with the aftermath of a cyberattack on the grid exists, but he doesn’t know any details of the plan. As of this writing, there is no specific plan.”

 

(Snip)

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

Have A Nice Day. smile.png

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@righteousmomma

 

Point Being?

a

 

Oh, I don't know - "times are a- changing" NOT. History repeats itself - different actors, different times?

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Mobile GPS Circa 1978

 

army-gps-03-2016.jpg

 

Two Soldiers test early models of GPS manpack receivers in 1978. (U.S. Air Force photo)

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Ricochet:
Ben Sasse on “The Crisis of Political Vision”

Ricochet Editor's Desk / June 9, 2016 / 12 COMMENTS

 

Though it takes him a while to complete the wind-up — the real substance begins at 7:45, but what precedes it is charming and substantive — Senator Ben Sasse recently spoke on how both parties’ domestic agendas are woefully out of date (the Democrats by a century, the Republicans by mere scores of years). Give it a listen and give us your thoughts.

 

One particular passage regarded how the labor market has changed and how our politics have failed to keep pace:

 

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"Univac I" was unveiled. It was a computer designed for the U.S. Census Bureau and billed as the world's first commercial computer. 1951

UNIVersal Automatic Computer USA 1951

General

The first UNIVAC I was delivered on June 14, 1951. From 1951 to 1958 a total of 46 UNIVAC I computers were delivered, all of which have since been phased out.

In 1947, John Mauchly chose the name "UNIVAC" (Universal Automatic Computer) for his company's product.

univac_1.jpg


UNIVAC was designed by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly (designers of the ENIAC). Their company, the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company, was purchased by Sperry-Rand.

The UNIVAC handled both numbers and alphabetic characters equally well. The UNIVAC I was unique in that it separated the complex problems of input and output from the actual computation facility. Mercury delay lines were used to store the computer's program. The program circulated within the lines in the form of acoustical pulses that could be read from the line and written into it.

The first UNIVAC came on line for the U.S. Government's Census Bureau. The first commercial customer to purchase a UNIVAC was the Prudential Insurance Company.

(Snip)

Specifications

The machine was 25 feet by 50 feet in length, contained 5,600 tubes, 18,000 crystal diodes, and 300 relays. It utilized serial circuitry, 2.25 MHz bit rate, and had an internal storage capacity 1,000 words or 12,000 characters.

univac_1_inside_med.gif
inside Univac 1

(Snip)

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

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Online Degree Programs Poised for More Growth

Dec. 14 2015

 

Scoffers and standpatters in the academic world have been proclaiming the demise of online degree programs for some time. But such rumors were always exaggerated. The latest evidence: Georgia Tech’s online master’s degree in computer science just graduated its first 20 students—each of whom paid less than 20 percent of the tuition that their peers who attended the traditional, in-person program paid. The Wall Street Journal reports:

 

(Snip)

 

1. Online programs aren’t a slam dunk solution to higher education’s problems. The Journal describes a number of setbacks Georgia Tech experienced with its program, including high attrition and a slower-than-expected course completion rate. These programs are new—Georgia Tech’s started in 2013—and it will take time for institutions to figure out how to use them most effectively.

 

2. Students can get sophisticated degrees this way—earning a graduate degree in computer science from a top 10 department is no small task—and they can earn these degrees at a fraction of the cost of traditional programs, which are overpriced thanks to federal subsidies and growing bureaucracies. Online learning will not merely be a way to “enhance” in-person higher education; for some students in some programs, at least, it is likely to be a sustainable alternative.

 

3. The rewards, both for students who can access high quality education while saving on tuition and for the innovative institutions that use online education to tap into a global market, are big enough to justify the effort to make these kinds of programs work.

 

(Snip)

 

Interesting, and just makes sense.

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The Prime of Amazon's Life

Irwin M. Stelzer

Jul 23, 2016

 

July 12 just might have been the day on which the retail sector as we have known it here in America came to its end. If not its end, surely the beginning of its end. Amazon has an estimated 54 million Prime customers in the U.S. who pay $99 per year, and millions more around the world who pay about the same "free delivery." Ignore pedants who ask how something for which you pay can be "free". Customers love it. They have items shipped to them in one day, and in one hour in cities from New York to London. On July 12, Amazon's second annual "Prime Day", these customers could order kitchen, dining and bar items at 86 percent off usual prices; treat themselves to a 55-inch television set for $650, a $350 discount; buy watches at discounts of up to 60 percent, and snap up new deals that were offered every ten minutes. The result was a flood of orders, with Prime Day sales topping those on last year's first Prime Day by 50 percent in the US and 60 percent worldwide. And beating Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, for many years the biggest shopping day of the year.

 

(Snip)

 

None of this will come as a surprise to students of capitalism, especially those who remember that the late, Joseph Schumpeter wrote that capitalism continually innovates in a process he called a "perennial gale of creative destruction". In less elevated jargon, competition produces winners and losers. In the case of the changes in the retail sector, consumers are the clear winners, employees and investors in incumbent firms are the losers.

 

Unless they adapt. Some, like Nordstrom, are setting up cut-price chains to attract price-conscious customers and acquiring firms such as DS Co., a cloud-based firm that enables Nordstrom to ship on-line orders directly from manufacturers to customers, bypassing its bricks-and-mortar stores. Others, like Walmart, are using stores to compete with Amazon's delivery system—90 percent of Americans live within fifteen minutes of a Walmart store. And Amazon isn't standing still. More good news for consumers who, thanks to Google's search engine, tips on social media, and the rapid responses of innovative retailers, now have more choice than ever.

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Welcome To The Dark Side....

The Blurring Line Between Cyber and Physical Threats
Luke Penn-Hall
August 21, 2016

Every day, the line between cyber-threats and physical threats grows thinner – blurring the crucial distinction between attacks on networks and attacks on materials objects. 225,000 Ukrainians learned this in January of 2016 when they lost power following a cyber-attack on a Ukrainian power grid. The rise of the Internet of Things (loT) has expanded this threat from nation-state interactions out into the realm of cyber-enabled crime against companies and individuals. For example, cybersecurity researchers have shown how anything from sniper rifles to your car’s brakes can be hacked.

 

Greater connectivity—whether between public utilities or between your phone and car’s sound system – makes life easier and more efficient. But that ease often comes at the cost of security, and the problem is only growing worse. Arguably, the two most distressing manifestations of cyberspace intruding on the physical world are the rise of ransomware and the proliferation of threats to the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems that underlie much of our critical infrastructure.

 

Ransomware is malware that encrypts files on a system and holds them hostage until a ransom is paid. It has been changing the world of cybercrime substantially by incentivizing a mass targeting approach, which requires so little effort or investment that it becomes very easy for the cyber-criminal to make a profit. Ransomware has emerged as a major threat, since its development is coinciding with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT).

 

(Snip)

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Sep 11, 2016

The American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray discusses our current political moment.
Chapter 1 (00:15 - 33:22): Working Class Decline
Chapter 2 (33:22 - 44:36): A Universal Basic Income?
Chapter 3 (44:36 - 1:00:45): From Tea Party to Trump
Chapter 4 (1:00:45 - 1:10:55): The Bell Curve Revisited
In his second conversation with Bill Kristol, American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray discusses the state of American civic life and how this can help us understand the current political moment. Murray explains how the decline of communities, the effects of immigration, and the growth of anti-trade sentiment have fueled populist impulses in 2016. Kristol and Murray also revisit Murray's prescient The Bell Curve (1994) and discuss how cognitive ability might affect American life in the future.

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Very Cool! cool.png

Could Dark Matter Be Powering The EMdrive?
Ethan Siegel
Nov. 30 2016

For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. This formulation of Newton's third law has two very important modern consequences: one, that there's a physical quantity that's always conserved in the Universe (momentum), and two, that the laws of physics are the same irrespective of your position in space. This has a huge slew of implications, including that if you want to power a device to change its motion, you need to push against something. This could be exhaust from a rocket, tires pushing against a road, train wheels on a rail-line or even photons reflected off a sail. The one thing that's forbidden is a reactionless drive: an action without a reaction. That's exactly what the EMdrive -- the "impossible" space engine just verified by a NASA test -- claims to be. If it truly works as advertised, it violates the laws of physics. But there's a possible loophole: perhaps there is a reaction, and we just don't detect it. Perhaps the reaction occurs, but it's occurring due to dark matter.

According to the standard model of cosmology, the majority of the matter in the Universe isn't in the form of atoms, or of any known particle. Rather, the overwhelming majority of mass -- by a 5-to-1 margin -- is in the form of dark matter. Dark matter doesn't collide, annihilate or otherwise interact with either itself or other, normal matter under any known circumstances, but rather interacts only gravitationally. After 13.8 billion years like this, it forms a vast, diffuse cosmic network of gravitational structure, and forms huge spherical haloes more than a million light years in diameter that contain galaxies like our own. This means, all told, that dark matter permeates every square centimeter of our galaxy, including existing -- albeit in small densities -- inside every object on Earth, including our own bodies.

 

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Printed human body parts could soon be available for transplant
How to build organs from scratch

Jan 28th 2017

 

EVERY year about 120,000 organs, mostly kidneys, are transplanted from one human being to another. Sometimes the donor is a living volunteer. Usually, though, he or she is the victim of an accident, stroke, heart attack or similar sudden event that has terminated the life of an otherwise healthy individual. But a lack of suitable donors, particularly as cars get safer and first-aid becomes more effective, means the supply of such organs is limited. Many people therefore die waiting for a transplant. That has led researchers to study the question of how to build organs from scratch.

 

One promising approach is to print them. Lots of things are made these days by three-dimensional printing, and there seems no reason why body parts should not be among them. As yet, such “bioprinting” remains largely experimental. But bioprinted tissue is already being sold for drug testing, and the first transplantable tissues are expected to be ready for use in a few years’ time.

 

Just press “print”

 

Bioprinting originated in the early 2000s, when it was discovered that living cells could be sprayed through the nozzles of inkjet printers without damaging them. Today, using multiple print heads to squirt out different cell types, along with polymers that help keep the structure in shape, it is possible to deposit layer upon layer of cells that will bind together and grow into living, functional tissue. Researchers in various places are tinkering with kidney and liver tissue, skin, bones and cartilage, as well as the networks of blood vessels needed to keep body parts alive. They have implanted printed ears, bones and muscles into animals, and watched these integrate properly with their hosts. Last year a group at Northwestern University, in Chicago, even printed working prosthetic ovaries for mice. The recipients were able to conceive and give birth with the aid of these artificial organs.

 

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