Musk Wants Into Your Home!

Tesla Motors, that electric car company that produces superb electric cars, wants into your home!

Right on the heels of producing a “D” model car that goes to 60 MPH in 3.2 seconds, and a successful Space X launch to the Space Station, Elon Musk wants to put a battery in your home.

Just six weeks ago I had Solar electric installed, not because of any environmental concerns but because it finally made economic sense. I don’t know what having Tesla battery backup in my garage will help me, but I will certainly look into it when my bills settle down and I know how my household is doing on Solar during the day, and the electric company at night. Do I bank” enough watts during the day to offset my evening hours? I don’t know.

I have a really big Koi Pond pump that has to pump 24 hours a day against a 20 foot head to power the waterfall into the Koi pond. It is going to take a year to find out what I still owe the utility company, considering my usage, the solar panels production at different times of the year, and what different LED lighting might do for me.

Living in San Diego makes solar electric a no-brainer — we have lots of sun, and very high utility rates for electric — add to that my community has zero natural gas.

Musk’s proposed battery will have about a one-week endurance assuming full need…day and night. Obviously Musk’s idea is to let some homes drop off the electric grid altogether, recharged by solar and still have full electric service, but that would work well where there are power failures.

We don’t have that here. What we have is real sun, and high electric rates. But Musk is a lot smarter than I am, so I’ll hear him out. Anyone who can invent an electric car with Porsche performance, send cargo to dock with the Space Station — all, developed with private money, deserves to be taken seriously.

Very seriously.

 

 

 

 

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Why I Support the Concept of Common Core

Let me tell you why I support at least the concept of Common Core. I want national standards, because I lived the problem on no standards.

Now I admit that the implementation of those standards has left a lot to be desire.

I graduated from a tiny school in Texas, and I was fairy smart. I went to Trinity University as a Math Major. I went to the Naval Academy in Annapolis and found out that I was among men (and they were all men at that time) whose slide rule (if you are old enough to remember those) I was not qualified to carry!

The only way that the academies get geographical representation, is to let Congress Critters appoint four nominations in each academy at any one time — or else every Cadet or Midshipman would come from Massachusetts. No one from MISSISSIPPI, Louisiana, California or Hawaii could ever enter an Academy!

There are certain common pieces of knowledge that all educated people need to know. As a Professor of Computer Science, I was dismayed by the lack of knowledge of my students, so I devised my own “Common Knowledge” test 88 questions) on which my wife and Editor each scored 77 correct.

The test was administered only to those who wished to take it, and one would think that would be those who thought they could do well. The AVERAGE was SEVEN! The HIGHEST, was TWELVE!

I support, not cookie cutters, but everyone knowing the basics. How we get there can be under local control, but Common Core was devised by STATES, not the federal government as some would infer. Yes, the Feds have tried to co-opt those standards, but they did not write them!

The Fear of AI

The advances since I wrote one of the Navy’s first Artificial Intelligence programs — probably the very first such program — have been exponential.

Today, my program would only qualify as “weighted values” program, because it had no Feedback Loop or an AI Engine (Inference Engine). It was designed to take all of the usual data — training, armament, fuel load, overhaul schedule, etc. and tell a Destroyer Squadron Commander which ship to deploy on short notice if one of his ships had a problem in Vietnam. (As if he didn’t already know, intuitively!)

By the time I was a Core Adjunct Professor of Computer Science teaching Artificial Intelligence, the craft had vaulted into something special, like a program at La Guardian Airport the told Controllers which runways to close or open as storms rolled across that huge airport, I real time.

Modern AI is so much better still, and people like Bill Gates, Stephen Hawkins, and Elon Musk are expressing concern about the future of AI. They have a much better view of the situation, and they would say problem, and I have no opinion on their opinion but I just think it is inevitable.

If it is inevitable — and it is like nuclear proliferation and cloning, in fact all technology. Once identified and developed it will proliferate. My concern is much less technology, which is the concern of the above mention scions of technology, than the social impact which is much more immediate — the rapid loss of jobs and the potential for social unrest the could result.

A hotel in Japan has announced that upon opening, 90 % of employees will be Robots. Said Robots will check in the guests, take bags to the room, clean the rooms, deliver the Room Service meals…the hotel hopes to exceed the reported 90%. Here at home, hospitals are using food and medicine by Robots.

As this replacement of workers increases in an effort to get labor costs under control, a modern approximation of the Luddites will appear, in the form of Labor Unions trying to protect wages and benefits. At some point in each industry, the increasing manual labor cost curve crosses the decreasing Robot cost curve.

Workers usually equate their wages with their labor cost, but, depending on the business, total labor costs can be 140% of the wages. Medical benefits, retirement, replacements for sick leave and vacations, Workman’s Comp….the list of costs in addition to the wages just keep adding up.

Before we get to the fear about AI taking over the world, we may have awful social unrest as governments wrestle with fewer workers supporting growing unemployed.as I have remarked before, the Greeks had their own Robots — called “slaves” and few people actually worked, so they gathered at the Forum to discuss whatever Greeks discussed. (They then repaired to some neighbors home, where they lay on couches and drank wine mixed with water and were entertained by women of suspect repute. Actually they were more like Geisha. Who were more conversationalists than prostitutes…though some may have been both.)

Sounds like a winner to me!

Quick Hits

The Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is over, and among the sparkling new TVs, Home Automation, and Gee-Gaws that will never go into production, the most important innovation occurred before the show– an Audi A7 with a Journalist at the wheel(sic), and it was a driver less car.

Now, to be certain, the Journalist had to take control after the Audi hit an off-ramp because it was really only designed for freeway work, but Google has the city driving down pat, and Mercedes has prototype driver less cars and trucks.

It’s close. Very close.

I have told the story before of being dragged out of 5-Way heart by-pass recovery at home by my friendly neighborhood MD/Ph. D (Engineering) who carted me off to Victorville, California, to witness a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (one of the few government agencies that actually work) challenge for “Autonomous Automobiles. This was four years ago. No apparatus filled autonomous cars finished the 50 mile city model, but Stanford University did well enough to win the million dollar prize. (Stanford had won the previous “Freeway” Challenge in the desert years before — and another million dollar prize.)

The driver less cars in California will require a special license and a carbon life-form behind the wheel, as did the Audi driven to the Las Vegas convention.

Still 565 freeway miles without a scare is not to be sneezed at.

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We have an entirely analogous situation developing between the good Muslims of the world, Blacks in Detroit and the overwhelming number of good teachers in California.

And there is a lesson to be learned here.

The president and his administration appear to be counting on the Muslim nations and communities to grab hold of their, by any count, small number of atrocity-bound Muslims.

Ain’t gonna’ happen.

By any measure the vast majority of teachers are good or even great teachers, and California has waited for decades for the good teachers to rein in their union and get control of the awful teachers who give them all a bad name…it has not, will not happen.

Similarly, the vast majority of Blacks, even in crime-ridden communities like Detroit and Chicago, are law abiding citizens. They know who the drug dealers, pimps and gang-bangers are — but they draw their blinds and double-lock their doors without calling the police.

Waiting for a modern population to rise up just isn’t going to happen. In the early days of America, certainly — can you imagine the western Settlers sitting in their traffic-jammed cars without heating tar and plucking feathers while marching on the halls of the San Diego Association of Governments who fund freeways too little and mass transit too much?

Neither can I.

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The Islamic Empire had a Caliph called “The Bloodthirsty” who invited opponents to dinner, clubbed them to death, threw a rug over them and dined on the rug as their opponents bled to death.

But being the reason he was called the Bloodthirsty.

But Islam was not the only group where the norm in being bloodthirsty. In the early Middle Ages, Basil II of the Byzantine Empire was rumored to have defeated an army of Bulgarians and put out the eyes of 14,000 soldiers, leaving one out of 100 with one eye to lead the defeated troops back home. That is possibly apocryphal, but that it was even believed at the time served its purpose.

The ISIS group can be accurately termed “Fundamentalists” in that they adhere to Middle Ages norms.

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In my Little Known And Completely Useless Information File: Perhaps you remember the “Ice Man” an ancient Stone Age man discovered a few years ago, who had been frozen as he fell some 5,200 years ago in the Alps. As you may know, newly discovered methods of obtaining DNA even from ancient bone, (Ice Man was not even much of a challenge) but the interesting thing to me is that 16 descendants of Ice Man have been discovered in Austria…..

In a related ice age data, Archeologists now have a new specialty — studying items being released by melting glaciers. It seems that there was a warming spell about 7,000 years ago and a treasure trove of lost items is being released by the current warming spell in Norway. They have recovered mittens, snowshoes and many farming items. (Bet you didn’t know that autos caused CO2 warming 7,000 years ago! We learn every day.)

The study of DNA is very useful in determining the flow of humans, and when they arrived in certain places…

One more note: Not all ancient Egyptians who were mummified were kings — commoners were also mummified. Millions of them!

In fact, in the early 1900s, there were so many Mummies, that Indian trains burned them for fuel.

Well, the Death Masks for Kings and Queens may have been made of gold, but commoners often had death masks made from used Papyrus and glue. Recently, technology has been able to melt the glue and recover the used  Papyrus, and we can read it…and a portion of an unknown Book of the Bible has been recovered. The actual announcement was leaked in 2012, and has just been officially acknowledged, but the contents have not been released.

 

 

 

Off Vacation: Quick Hits For a Few Days

There are still questions about who really “hacked” Sony.

Programming is a “Black Art” (I am a former programmer, Systems Analyst and computer science professor), and in the Ether anyone can be anyone else.

Tracking back, deconstructing and analyzing a hack is a long and time consuming process. False leads cover other false leads. This is a job for a new Bletchley Park, but it is just possible that NSA alerted the FBI that it had intercepts, and the FBI was covering for NSA  rather than doing the hard work of deconstructing the code.

The question is if it was a disgruntled “inside job” — but no one really knows…yet! I suspect the FBI and NSA are right, but like the shooter on the grassy knoll…

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The Brits are scrambling to contain a flood of Bulgarians and Romanians who come for the huge benefits available — paid by Britain even to those family members who remain in Bulgaria and Romania!

Too late, regrettably — the Brits wanted to demonstrate “Diversity,” and they certainly have done so. Britain has slashed its wrists, and it is only a matter of time…there are camps in Calais, France, just waiting for transportation to Britain!

Britain committed national suicide, and they will willingly die, rather than be thought of as “racist.”

RIP, Britain.

 

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The Left, in this case Bernie Sanders, continue to single out the Koch brothers as the bogie-man of political spending, but he is very selective.

According to POLITICO, Liberal Steyer was the largest donor, and liberal Bloomberg was #2. The Koch brothers have donated more obey to charity than Bernie will ever see in his, and his family’s lifetimes!

 

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Everything you need to know about Christmas and technology is that more than half the devices activated by new users during Christmas Week was an Apple product! That is domination.

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At 1400 hours on December 31, I received my authorization to get my home underway on SOLAR power — right in the midst of snow flurries. The panels have been up, and connected for several days in bright sunlight, but I was not permitted to throw the switch and parallel the electric power of San Diego Gas and Electric.

It is now operable. My interest was not clean power, but that I could cut my enormous electric bill in half

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I support Israel, but their claim that they are an “independent” nation is belied by the fact that we have sent them money for so long they just include it in advance in their budget!

I love Israel, and I love my children, but I cut my kids off when they were 21 years old. I wish we could do that with Israel!

 

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First, almost all men marry above them — it is in the nature of things because men are rotten. Some are more rotten than others.

My wife and I have been married for 57 years, and an unkind word has never passed between us.

The secret is simple: never say “no” to your spouse!

 

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I am astounded that a Court has ordered the chemotherapy of a 17 year old girl, overriding the wishes of both the family and the girl.

Outrageous! Yes, she is technically a minor but Courts start listening to “children” as to which parent in a divorce the “child” wishes to live at 13.

At 17 a “child” is old enough to be listened to about her medical issues? I believe her decision is stupid, but stupid is a permissible offense in America!

 

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The US is planning to close some European bases.

Good! In actuality, GREAT! The Europeans have relied on our charity for decades…the EU nations have between 25% and 50% annual military budgets that we do. They rely on us, while they have about the same GDP as the U.S.!

They have been welfare recipients for long enough!

The Lord helps those who help themselves! The Europeans have NEVER helped themselves, and the U.S. has had to pull their irons out of the fire since WW1.

As a result, we have worn out our ships, tanks and men on a war footing for decades. My submarines were six months at home and six deployed for my entire career, and the six at home were getting repaired. Ships and submarines are not designed for that — and neither are the men.

I had one Skipper who had 21 deployments in 18 years. (obviously, he was divorced.)

Those who favor such activity are seldom those who must perform them.

 

Swings and Misses All Around

The president was non-committal today as to how he will handle the North Korean Attack on Sony, but he missed a great opportunity to deter the problem had he simply underwritten the risk concerned with releasing the film on its due date.

Had he removed the risk concerned, which he could do by assuring Sony that they had no insurance risk, and the public that they had no physical danger because he would bring up appropriate National Guard in each state to protect each theater.

He could have, but he didn’t.

That leaves the president with retaliation against a fairly impervious target. North Korea has no economy to speak of, no trade to speak of, and they are the Hermit Kingdom in more than name. I suppose that we could take down the electrical system in Pyongyang for a day and let the Dictator shiver in the Korean winter.

Sony lost about $100 million — and a lot of future relationships with a ton of important actors, directors, distributors…and nothing being considered can make them whole.

The president’s job is to react in such a manner as to dissuade further attacks by not just the North Koreans but other potential enemies and competitors — without triggering a stupid, crazy reaction by stupid and crazy people.

Swings and misses all around.

Quick Hits

The best thing about falling oil prices per barrel (today it is $54 a barrel), is not the price of gasoline — it is the devastation caused to the economies of Russia and Venezuela! Both are dependent upon $70 a barrel to prop up their economies, and both blame the United States for everything, including the price of oil. It is certainly correct that the world is now awash in oil since the US started fracking, and a Republican administration of the future is likely to open public lands to exploration, adding to the oil glut.

The Russian ruble fell again today. The Russian economy is in shambles as a result of tightening EU and US sanctions, combined with oil prices. The question is “How do we punish the Russians, without them reacting militarily” much like Japan did in striking Pearl Harbor…which they did partially because of US sanctions against Japan for their push into Southeast Asia?

The problems caused to Venezuela are just a bonus!

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Jeb Bush has virtually declared, and eventually the Republicans will have more than eight candidates — all fine candidates — while the Democrats have few. Dr. Ben Carson will be an attractive candidate for the Republicans, but he has too little executive experience  for my taste. (We have elected one bright attractive person with no experience, and look how THAT worked out!)

The massive federal election results of the past month were not the most important results, that would be the results in the states. There are now only seven states under complete Democratic control, while there are now 30 states under complete Republican control of the political apparatus, according to Rush this morning.

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Jaguar has announced a new style of navigation system for its future cars. The new system projects a “ghost” car onto your windshield so that you simply follow the “ghost car” visually. This will negate the necessity to look at your nav system and its arrows.

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The Army/Navy game is REALLY important to me, because that was my first REAL date with my wife of 57 years. Our relationship in marriage has been legendary — an unkind word has never passed between us.

And it is every important to the Army Corps of Cadets and the Navy Brigade of Midshipmen, all of whom are steeped in the 105 year old contest, and the Cadets and Midshipmen (who actually exchange places a few of a time for a week) bet their very distinctive bathrobes on the outcome. Bill Shankly is quoted as saying, “Football is not life or death, it is much more important than that. It certainly is at the Academies!

Navy won this year, narrowly, for the 13th consecutive time, something that must grate terribly on West Point.

A “W” is a W, but that was uninspiring to say the least!

The Point was in the game until the whistle blew.

From the time at the beginning of the season when I read that Navy could win 10 games, it was obviously downhill.

Now they face a decent, but certainly larger and stronger San Diego State — and I think that Navy has gained some respect for West Coast teams, but SD Sate has now faced six Academy teams, and never lost.

Reynolds, the outstanding Navy Quarterback is going to have to bring his “A” game, and open up the passing game. Reynolds obviously can pass, six for seven today, but he is going to have to use the short pass to keep the pass rush off his nose — Army gave him little time today, and State is stronger.

Reynolds is good…great in fact…but either the game plan was not, Reynolds still has nagging injuries, or Army is just getting a hell of a lot better.

Maybe all of the above.

Still, I’ll take 13 straight!