Thursday, August 31, 2017

Toward Ubiquitous Robotic Organisms

bbvaopenmind |  Nature has always found ways to exploit and adapt to differences in environmental conditions. Through evolutionary adaptation a myriad of organisms has developed that operate and thrive in diverse and often extreme conditions. For example, the tardigrade (Schokraie et al., 2012) is able to survive pressures greater than those found in the deepest oceans and in space, can withstand temperatures from 1K (-272 °C) to 420K (150 °C), and can go without food for thirty years. Organisms often operate in symbiosis with others. The average human, for example, has about 30 trillion cells, but contains about 40 trillion bacteria (Sender et al., 2016). They cover scales from the smallest free-living bacteria, pelagibacter ubique, at around 0.5µm long to the blue whale at around thirty meters long. That is a length range of 7 orders of magnitude and approximately 15 orders of magnitude in volume! What these astonishing facts show is that if nature can use the same biological building blocks (DNA, amino acids, etc.) for such an amazing range of organisms, we too can use our robotic building blocks to cover a much wider range of environments and applications than we currently do. In this way we may be able to match the ubiquity of natural organisms.

To achieve robotic ubiquity requires us not only to study and replicate the feats of nature but to go beyond them with faster (certainly faster than evolutionary timescales!) development and more general and adaptable technologies. Another way to think of future robots is as artificial organisms. Instead of a conventional robot which can be decomposed into mechanical, electrical, and computational domains, we can think of a robot in terms of its biological counterpart and having three core components: a body, a brain, and a stomach. In biological organisms, energy is converted in the stomach and distributed around the body to feed the muscles and the brain, which in turn controls the organisms. There is thus a functional equivalence between the robot organism and the natural organism: the brain is equivalent to the computer or control system; the body is equivalent to the mechanical structure of the robot; and the stomach is equivalent to the power source of the robot, be it battery, solar cell, or any other power source. The benefit of the artificial organism paradigm is that we are encouraged to exploit, and go beyond, all the characteristics of biological organisms. These embrace qualities largely unaddressed by current robotics research, including operation in varied and harsh conditions, benign environmental integration, reproduction, death, and decomposition. All of these are essential to the development of ubiquitous robotic organisms.

The realization of this goal is only achievable by concerted research in the areas of smart materials, synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, and adaptation. Here we will focus on the development of novel smart materials for robotics, but we will also see how materials development cannot occur in isolation of the other much-needed research areas.

IoT Extended Sensoria

bbvaopenmind |  In George Orwell’s 1984,(39) it was the totalitarian Big Brother government who put the surveillance cameras on every television—but in the reality of 2016, it is consumer electronics companies who build cameras into the common set-top box and every mobile handheld. Indeed, cameras are becoming commodity, and as video feature extraction gets to lower power levels via dedicated hardware, and other micropower sensors determine the necessity of grabbing an image frame, cameras will become even more common as generically embedded sensors. The first commercial, fully integrated CMOS camera chips came from VVL in Edinburgh (now part of ST Microelectronics) back in the early 1990s.(40) At the time, pixel density was low (e.g., the VVL “Peach” with 312 x 287 pixels), and the main commercial application of their devices was the “BarbieCam,” a toy video camera sold by Mattel. I was an early adopter of these digital cameras myself, using them in 1994 for a multi-camera precision alignment system at the Superconducting Supercollider(41) that evolved into the hardware used to continually align the forty-meter muon system at micron-level precision for the ATLAS detector at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. This technology was poised for rapid growth: now, integrated cameras peek at us everywhere, from laptops to cellphones, with typical resolutions of scores of megapixels and bringing computational photography increasingly to the masses. ASICs for basic image processing are commonly embedded with or integrated into cameras, giving increasing video processing capability for ever-decreasing power. The mobile phone market has been driving this effort, but increasingly static situated installations (e.g., video-driven motion/context/gesture sensors in smart homes) and augmented reality will be an important consumer application, and the requisite on-device image processing will drop in power and become more agile. We already see this happening at extreme levels, such as with the recently released Microsoft HoloLens, which features six cameras, most of which are used for rapid environment mapping, position tracking, and image registration in a lightweight, battery-powered, head-mounted, self-contained AR unit. 3D cameras are also becoming ubiquitous, breaking into the mass market via the original structured-light-based Microsoft Kinect a half-decade ago. Time-of-flight 3D cameras (pioneered in CMOS in the early 2000s by researchers at Canesta(42) have evolved to recently displace structured light approaches, and developers worldwide race to bring the power and footprint of these devices down sufficiently to integrate into common mobile devices (a very small version of such a device is already embedded in the HoloLens). As pixel timing measurements become more precise, photon-counting applications in computational photography, as pursued by my Media Lab colleague Ramesh Raskar, promise to usher in revolutionary new applications that can do things like reduce diffusion and see around corners.(43)

My research group began exploring this penetration of ubiquitous cameras over a decade ago, especially applications that ground the video information with simultaneous data from wearable sensors. Our early studies were based around a platform called the “Portals”:(44) using an embedded camera feeding a TI DaVinci DSP/ARM hybrid processor, surrounded by a core of basic sensors (motion, audio, temperature/humidity, IR proximity) and coupled with a Zigbee RF transceiver, we scattered forty-five of these devices all over the Media Lab complex, interconnected through the wired building network. One application that we built atop them was “SPINNER,”(45) which labelled video from each camera with data from any wearable sensors in the vicinity. The SPINNER framework was based on the idea of being able to query the video database with higher-level parameters, lifting sensor data up into a social/affective space,(46) then trying to effectively script a sequential query as a simple narrative involving human subjects adorned with the wearables. Video clips from large databases sporting hundreds of hours of video would then be automatically selected to best fit given timeslots in the query, producing edited videos that observers deemed coherent.(47) Naively pointing to the future of reality television, this work aims further, looking to enable people to engage sensor systems via human-relevant query and interaction.

Rather than try to extract stories from passive ambient activity, a related project from our team devised an interactive camera with a goal of extracting structured stories from people.(48) Taking the form factor of a small mobile robot, “Boxie” featured an HD camera in one of its eyes: it would rove our building and get stuck, then plea for help when people came nearby. It would then ask people successive questions and request that they fulfill various tasks (e.g., bring it to another part of the building, or show it what they do in the area where it was found), making an indexed video that can be easily edited to produce something of a documentary about the people in the robot’s abode.
In the next years, as large video surfaces cost less (potentially being roll-roll printed) and are better integrated with responsive networks, we will see the common deployment of pervasive interactive displays. Information coming to us will manifest in the most appropriate fashion (e.g., in your smart eyeglasses or on a nearby display)—the days of pulling your phone out of your pocket and running an app are severely limited. To explore this, we ran a project in my team called “Gestures Everywhere”(49) that exploited the large monitors placed all over the public areas of our building complex.(50) Already equipped with RFID to identify people wearing tagged badges, we added a sensor suite and a Kinect 3D camera to each display site. As an occupant approached a display and were identified via RFID or video recognition, information most relevant to them would appear on the display. We developed a recognition framework for the Kinect that parsed a small set of generic hand gestures (e.g., signifying “next,” “more detail,” “go-away,” etc.), allowing users to interact with their own data at a basic level without touching the screen or pulling out a mobile device. Indeed, proxemic interactions(51) around ubiquitous smart displays will be common within the next decade.

The plethora of cameras that we sprinkled throughout our building during our SPINNER project produced concerns about privacy (interestingly enough, the Kinects for Gestures Everywhere did not evoke the same response—occupants either did not see them as “cameras” or were becoming used to the idea of ubiquitous vision). Accordingly, we put an obvious power switch on each portal that enabled them to be easily switched off. This is a very artificial solution, however—in the near future, there will just be too many cameras and other invasive sensors in the environment to switch off. These devices must answer verifiable and secure protocols to dynamically and appropriately throttle streaming sensor data to answer user privacy demands. We have designed a small, wireless token that controlled our portals in order to study solutions to such concerns.(52) It broadcast a beacon to the vicinity that dynamically deactivates the transmission of proximate audio, video, and other derived features according to the user’s stated privacy preferences—this device also featured a large “panic” button that can be pushed at any time when immediate privacy is desired, blocking audio and video from emanating from nearby Portals.

Rather than block the video stream entirely, we have explored just removing the privacy-desiring person from the video image. By using information from wearable sensors, we can more easily identify the appropriate person in the image,(53) and blend them into the background. We are also looking at the opposite issue—using wearable sensors to detect environmental parameters that hint at potentially hazardous conditions for construction workers and rendering that data in different ways atop real-time video, highlighting workers in situations of particular concern.(54)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Weaponization of Artificial Intelligence

acq |  Recognizing that no machine—and no person—is truly autonomous in the strict sense of the word, we will sometimes speak of autonomous capabilities rather than autonomous systems.2
The primary intellectual foundation for autonomy stems from artificial intelligence (AI), the capability of computer systems to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence (e.g.,
perception, conversation, decisionmaking). 

Advances in AI are making it possible to cede to machines many tasks long regarded as impossible for machines to perform. Intelligent systems aim to apply AI to a particular problem or domain—the
implication being that the system is programmed or trained to operate within the bounds of a defined knowledge base. Autonomous function is at a system level rather than a component level. The study considered two categories of intelligent systems: those employing autonomy at rest and those employing autonomy in motion. In broad terms, systems incorporating autonomy at rest operate virtually, in software, and include planning and expert advisory systems, whereas systems incorporating autonomy in motion have a presence in the physical world and include robotics and autonomous vehicles. 

As illustrated in Figure 1, many DoD and commercial systems are already operating with varying kinds of autonomous capability. Robotics typically adds additional kinds of sensors, actuators, and mobility to intelligent systems. While early robots were largely automated, recent advances in AI are enabling increases in autonomous functionality.

One of the less well-known ways that autonomy is changing the world is in applications that include data compilation, data analysis, web search, recommendation engines, and forecasting. Given the limitations of human abilities to rapidly process the vast amounts of data available today, autonomous systems are now required to find trends and analyze patterns. There is no need to solve the long-term AI problem of general intelligence in order to build high-value applications that exploit limited-scope autonomous capabilities dedicated to specific purposes. DoD’s nascent Memex program is one of many examples in this category.3

Rapid global market expansion for robotics and other intelligent systems to address consumer and industrial applications is stimulating increasing commercial investment and delivering a diverse array of products. At the same time, autonomy is being embedded in a growing array of software systems to enhance speed and consistency of decision-making, among other benefits. Likewise, governmental entities, motivated by economic development opportunities in addition to security missions and other public sector applications, are investing in related basic and applied research.

Applications include commercial endeavors, such as IBM’s Watson, the use of robotics in ports and
mines worldwide, autonomous vehicles (from autopilot drones to self-driving cars), automated logistics and supply chain management, and many more. Japanese and U.S. companies invested more than $2 billion in autonomous systems in 2014, led by Apple, Facebook, Google, Hitachi, IBM, Intel, LinkedIn, NEC, Yahoo, and Twitter. 4

A vibrant startup ecosystem is spawning advances in response to commercial market opportunities; innovations are occurring globally, as illustrated in Figure 2 (top). Startups are targeting opportunities that drive advances in critical underlying technologies. As illustrated in Figure 2 (bottom), machine learning—both application-specific and general purpose—is of high interest. The market-pull for machine learning stems from a diverse array of applications across an equally diverse spectrum of industries, as illustrated in Figure 3.

The Weaponization of Information

RAND |  State-sponsored propaganda and disinformation have been in existence for as long as there have been states. The major difference in the 21st century is the ease, efficiency, and low cost of such efforts. Because audiences worldwide rely on the Internet and social media as primary sources of news and information, they have emerged as an ideal vector of information attack. 

Most important from the U.S. perspective, Russian IO techniques, tactics and procedures are developing constantly and rapidly, as continually measuring effectiveness and rapidly evolving techniques are very cheap compared to the costs of any kinetic weapon system—and they could potentially be a lot more effective.

At this point, Russian IO operators use relatively unsophisticated techniques systematically and on a large scale. This relative lack of sophistication leaves them open to detection. For example, existing technology can identify paid troll operations, bots, etc. Another key element of Russian IO strategy is to target audiences with multiple, conflicting narratives to sow seeds of distrust of and doubt about the European Union (EU) as well as national governments. These can also be detected. The current apparent lack of technical sophistication of Russian IO techniques could derive from the fact that, so far, Russian IO has met with minimal resistance. However, if and when target forces start to counter these efforts and/or expose them on a large scale, the Russians are likely to accelerate the improvement of their techniques, leading to a cycle of counter-responses. In other words, an information warfare arms race is likely to ensue.

A Strategy to Counter the Russian Threat
Because the culture and history of each country is unique and because the success of any IO defense strategy must be tailored to local institutions and populations, the most effective strategies are likely to be those that are developed and managed on a country-by-country basis. An information defense strategy framework for countering Russian IO offensives should be “whole-of-nation” in character. A whole-of-nation approach is a coordinated effort between national government organizations, military, intelligence community, industry, media, research organizations, academia and citizen organized groups. A discreet US Special Operations Force could provide individual country support as well as cross country coordination.

Just as in the physical world, good maps are critical to any IO strategy. In the case of IO, maps show information flows. Information maps must show connectivity in the information environment and help navigate that environment. They exist as computer software and databases. Information cartography for IO is the art of creating, maintaining, and using such maps. An important feature of information maps is that they are constantly changing to reflect the dynamic nature of the information environment. Because they are artificially intelligent computer programs, they can answer questions; provide situation awareness dynamically; and help to plan, monitor, and appropriately modify operations. Information maps are technically possible today and already exist in forms that can be adapted to support the design and execution IO strategy.

As an example, most of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) states, as well as several non-NATO partners, are already subject to concentrated Russian IO and they illustrate ongoing Russian IO techniques. Using information cartography, it is possible to map key Russian sources as part of Russian IO operations against a target state. These sources might include:

• Russian and target country think tanks
• foundations (e.g., Russkiy Mir)
• authorities (e.g., Rossotrudnichestvo)
• television stations (e.g. RT)
• pseudo-news agencies and multimedia services (e.g., Sputnik)
• cross-border social and religious groups
• social media and Internet trolls to challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather domestic support, and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern neighborhood
• Russian regime–controlled companies and organizations
• Russian regime–funded political parties and other organizations in target country in
particular and within the EU in general intended to undermine political cohesion
• Russian propaganda directly targeting journalists, politicians, and individuals in target
countries in particular and the EU in general.
Similarly, the mapping of target state receivers as part of Russian IO against the target state
might include:

• national government organizations
• military
• intelligence community
• industry
• media
• independent think tanks
• academia
• citizen-organized groups.

An effective information defensive strategy would be based on coordinated countering of information flows revealed by information maps. An effective strategy would include methods for establishing trust between elements of the defense force and the public. The strategy also will include mechanisms to detect the continuously evolving nature of the Russian IO threat and rapidly adapt in a coordinated fashion across all defense elements.

Christopher Paul and Miriam Matthews of the RAND Corporation observe: “Experimental research in psychology suggests that the features of the contemporary Russian propaganda model have the potential to be highly effective.”14 They present a careful and concise analysis of relevant psychological research results that should inform any information defensive strategy. For example, they describe how propaganda can be used to distort perceptions of reality:

• People are poor judges of true versus false information—and they do not necessarily remember that particular information was false.
• Information overload leads people to take shortcuts in determining the trustworthiness of messages.
• Familiar themes or messages can be appealing even if they are false.
• Statements are more likely to be accepted if backed by evidence, even if that evidence is false.
• Peripheral cues—such as an appearance of objectivity—can increase the credibility of propaganda.15
Here is what a typical offensive strategy against a target population might look like. It consists of several steps:

1. Take the population and break it down into communities, based on any number of criteria
(e.g. hobbies, interests, politics, needs, concerns, etc.).
2. Determine who in each community is most susceptible to given types of messages.
3. Determine the social dynamics of communication and flow of ideas within each community.
4. Determine what narratives of different types dominate the conversation in each community.
5. Use all of the above to design and push a narrative likely to succeed in displacing a narrative unfavorable to you with one that is more favorable.
6. Use continual monitoring and interaction to determine the success of your effort and adjust in real time.
Technologies currently exist that make it possible to perform each of these steps continuously and at a large scale. However, while current technologies support manual application of the type of psychological research results presented by Paul and Matthews, they do not fully automate it. That would be the next stage in technology development.

These same technologies can be used for defensive purposes. For example, you could use the techniques for breaking down communities described above to detect adversary efforts to push a narrative and examine that narrative’s content. The technology can help researchers focus while searching through massive amounts of social media data.

Information Warfare, Mass Surveillance, Endless War and Control...,

medium |  INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project, breaks the exclusive story of how the United States intelligence community funded, nurtured and incubated Google as part of a drive to dominate the world through control of information. Seed-funded by the NSA and CIA, Google was merely the first among a plethora of private sector start-ups co-opted by US intelligence to retain ‘information superiority.’

The origins of this ingenious strategy trace back to a secret Pentagon-sponsored group, that for the last two decades has functioned as a bridge between the US government and elites across the business, industry, finance, corporate, and media sectors. The group has allowed some of the most powerful special interests in corporate America to systematically circumvent democratic accountability and the rule of law to influence government policies, as well as public opinion in the US and around the world. The results have been catastrophic: NSA mass surveillance, a permanent state of global war, and a new initiative to transform the US military into Skynet.

The origins of the Pentagon’s new innovation initiative can thus be traced back to ideas that were widely circulated inside the Pentagon decades ago, but which failed to take root fully until now. Between 2006 and 2010, the same period in which such ideas were being developed by Highlands Forum experts like Lochard, Zalman and Rendon, among many others, the Office of Net Assessment provided a direct mechanism to channel these ideas into concrete strategy and policy development through the Quadrennial Defense Reviews, where Marshall’s input was primarily responsible for the expansion of the “black” world: “special operations,” “electronic warfare” and “information operations.” 

Marshall’s pre-9/11 vision of a fully networked and automated military system found its fruition in the Pentagon’s Skynet study released by the National Defense University in September 2014, which was co-authored by Marshall’s colleague at the Highlands Forum, Linton Wells. Many of Wells’ recommendations are now to be executed via the new Defense Innovation Initiative by veterans and affiliates of the ONA and Highlands Forum.

Given that Wells’ white paper highlighted the Pentagon’s keen interest in monopolizing AI research to monopolize autonomous networked robot warfare, it is not entirely surprising that the Forum’s sponsoring partners at SAIC/Leidos display a bizarre sensitivity about public use of the word ‘Skynet.’

On a Wikipedia entry titled ‘Skynet (fictional)’, people using SAIC computers deleted several paragraphs under the ‘Trivia’ section pointing out real-world ‘Skynets’, such as the British military satellite system, and various information technology projects.

Hagel’s departure paved the way for Pentagon officials linked to the Highlands Forum to consolidate government influence. These officials are embedded in a longstanding shadow network of political, industry, media and corporate officials that sit invisibly behind the seat of government, yet literally write its foreign and domestic national security policies whether the administration is Democrat of Republican, by contributing ‘ideas’ and forging government-industry relationships.
It is this sort of closed-door networking that has rendered the American vote pointless. Far from protecting the public interest or helping to combat terrorism, the comprehensive monitoring of electronic communications has been systematically abused to empower vested interests in the energy, defense, and IT industries.

The state of permanent global warfare that has resulted from the Pentagon’s alliances with private contractors and unaccountable harnessing of information expertise, is not making anyone safer, but has spawned a new generation of terrorists in the form of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ — itself a Frankenstein by-product of the putrid combination of Assad’s brutality and longstanding US covert operations in the region. This Frankenstein’s existence is now being cynically exploited by private contractors seeking to profit exponentially from expanding the national security apparatus, at a time when economic volatility has pressured governments to slash defense spending.

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, from 2008 to 2013, the five largest US defense contractors lost 14 percent of their employees, as the winding down of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan led to lack of business and squeezed revenues. The continuation of the ‘Long War’ triggered by ISIS has, for now, reversed their fortunes. Companies profiting from the new war include many connected to the Highlands Forum, such as Leidos, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and Boeing. War is, indeed, a racket.

No more shadows

Yet in the long-run, the information imperialists have already failed. This investigation is based entirely on open source techniques, made viable largely in the context of the same information revolution that enabled Google. The investigation has been funded entirely by members of the public, through crowd-funding. And the investigation has been published and distributed outside the circuits of traditional media, precisely to make the point that in this new digital age, centralized top-down concentrations of power cannot overcome the power of people, their love of truth and justice, and their desire to share.

What are the lessons of this irony? Simple, really: The information revolution is inherently decentralized, and decentralizing. It cannot be controlled and co-opted by Big Brother. Efforts to do so will in the end invariably fail, in a way that is ultimately self-defeating.
The latest mad-cap Pentagon initiative to dominate the world through control of information and information technologies, is not a sign of the all-powerful nature of the shadow network, but rather a symptom of its deluded desperation as it attempts to ward off the acceleration of its hegemonic decline.

But the decline is well on its way. And this story, like so many before it, is one small sign that the opportunities to mobilize the information revolution for the benefit of all, despite the efforts of power to hide in the shadows, are stronger than ever.  READ PART ONE

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Subverting Marijuana Legalization While Facilitating Heroin Exfiltration...,

sputniknews |  The hegemonic narrative rules that Washington bombed Afghanistan in 2001 in "self-defense" after 9/11; installed a "democratic" government; and after 16 years never de facto left because this is a key node in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), against al-Qaeda and the Taliban alike.

Washington spent over $100 billion in Afghan reconstruction. And, allegedly, $8.4 billion in "counternarcotics programs". Operation Enduring Freedom — along with the "liberation" of Iraq — have cost an astonishing several trillion dollars. And still the heroin ratline, out of occupied Afghanistan, thrives. Cui bono?

Have a SIGAR
An exhaustive Afghanistan Opium Survey details the steady rise of Afghan opium production as well as the sprawl in production areas; "In 2016, opium production had increased by approximately 25 times in relation to its 2001 levels, from 185 tons in 2001 to 4800 tons in 2016."

Another exhaustive report issued by the delightful acronym SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) even hints — discreetly — at the crucial connection; Operation Enduring Freedom feeding America's heroin epidemic.

Afghanistan is infested by contractors; numbers vary from 10,000 to tens of thousands. Military and ex-military alike can be reasonably pinpointed as players in the heroin ratline — in many cases for personal profit. But the clincher concerns the financing of US intel black ops that should not by any means come under scrutiny by the US Congress. 

A Gulf-based intel source with vast experience across the Pentagon-designated "arc of instability" tells the story of his interaction with an Australian intel operative who served in Afghanistan; "This was about 2011. He said he gave US Army Intelligence and the CIA reports on the Afghan heroin trade — that US military convoys from the ports of Pakistan were being used to ship the heroin out of Afghanistan — much of it was raw opium — for distribution as their backhaul.

No one answered.

He then cornered the key army intelligence operations and CIA at a meeting and asked why no action was taken. The answer was that the goal of the US was winning the hearts and minds of the population and giving them the poppies to grow won their hearts. He was then warned that if he brought this issue up again he would be returned to Australia in a body bag."

The source is adamant, "CIA external operations are financed from these profits. The charge that the Taliban was using the heroin trade to finance their operations was a fabrication and a form of misdirection."

And that brings us to a key motive behind President Trump's going against his instincts and accepting a new Afghan surge; "In the tradition of the opium wars of perfidious Albion in the 19th century, in which opium paid for tea and silk from India, and the taxes on these silk and tea imports financed the construction of the mighty British Navy which ruled the seas, the CIA has built itself up into a most powerful agent based on the trillion dollar heroin trade. It is impossible for Trump to overcome it as he has no allies to tap. The military are working together with the CIA, and therefore the officers that surround Trump are worthless."

With Intersectional "Allies" Like Ed Buck, Who Needs Nazi's for Enemies?

On our post a month ago about elite ritualistic sex and drug crime magick My Eyes Shut to Your Misdeeds Brother, friend of the blog Rohan dropped a dime on some sordid, degenerate intersectional skullduggery emanating from a prominent homosexual democratic party activist in west Hollywood. We pick up here where he left off...,

SacObserver |  The silence from L.A.’s Democratic community on the recent death of a 26-year-old Black gay male sex worker in the West Hollywood apartment of 63-year-old prominent Democratic political donor Ed Buck has been astounding.

Gemmel Moore’s July 27 death, was immediately classified as an accidental methamphetamine overdose by the coroner, but now the Sheriff’s Department is taking a closer look after his personal journal was published. Numerous young Black gay men have stepped forward making allegations against Buck recounting similar stories about a man who they say has a Tuskegee Experiment like fetish which includes shooting drugs into young Black men that he picks up off the street or via dating hookup websites.

In his journal, Gemmel Moore wrote, “I honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” a December entry reads. “Ed Buck is the one to thank. He gave me my first injection of crystal meth it was very painful, but after all the troubles, I became addicted to the pain and fetish/fantasy.”

His last entry, dated Dec. 3, 2016, reads: “If it didn’t hurt so bad, I’d kill myself, but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now.

Buck has given hundreds of thousands of dollars of Democratic causes and candidates over the years. His Facebook page boasts dozens of photos of him with everyone from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Governor Jerry Brown, Los Angeles County Democratic Party and California Democratic Party chairman Eric Bauman and even Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

In online ads soliciting young Black gay men, Buck has referred to them as being a “6-foot” n-word. On his Facebook page, he joked with friends using the n-word.

Typically in politics, we try to distance ourselves from white people who call Black people the n-word or use the n-word–not protect them with our silence.

Most of Los Angeles’ Democratic and LGBT community–which are often one in same–has had nothing to say publicly about Moore’s death. Politicians who have received thousands of dollars from Buck over the years have been curiously silent. I can count on one hand the number of people from the political party of allies, coalition building and we’re stronger together who have made a public call for a thorough investigation into Gemmel Moore’s death in light of the numerous allegations that have been made.

And while there was no shortage of politicians in Los Angeles falling over themselves to issue statements and be seen in the media condemning the events of Charlottesville and President Trump’s response to them–locally they have seemingly looked the other way and conveniently ignored that one of their top donors might be a serial predator who gets his kicks by drugging vulnerable young Black gay men.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Intersectionalism Suffocating On Its Own Fumes

theintercept |  Shortly after the 2016 election, Columbia University historian Mark Lilla published an op-ed in The New York Times lamenting that “American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender, and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.”

Lilla attacked “identity politics” as atomizing the American public and losing elections, contrasting it with a holistic variation of liberalism that powered the New Deal Coalition — Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, which focused not so much on who individual Americans were, but what rights they all needed. The column went viral, sparking countless hot takes, and he quickly padded out the argument into enough words to call it a book, “The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics.” Let the hot takes resume.

The reaction to Lilla’s original piece from left and liberal writers was harsh. In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Lilla’s Columbia University colleague Katherine Franke compared his ideology to that of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke’s, arguing that “Duke is happy to own the white supremacy of his statements, while Lilla’s op-ed does the more nefarious background work of making white supremacy respectable.”

But while Lilla may be a white male professor in New York City, his concerns are hardly uncommon among those in left-liberal politics. For instance, former Democratic state representative LaDawn Jones — an African-American woman who chaired Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign in Georgia — lamented earlier this year that her party’s Atlanta convention seemed to offer caucuses and councils for every racial and affinity group except white people. In the state of Georgia, less than 25 percent of white voters choose Democrats at the ballot box, meaning that white Democrats are indeed a minority group. Would the logic of identity liberalism then dictate that the party design messaging aimed directly at them? Traditionally, identity liberalism justifies itself by organizing around groups that have been historically oppressed, but when traditional majority in-groups become out-groups in certain organizations and societies, is there a need for special categorization and organizing for their inclusion as well?

These are the sort of questions Lilla tries to wrestle with in the short book released this month. “The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics” is a breezy 165 pages that he uses as a short overview of contemporary American political history and what he believes are the shortcomings of modern American liberalism.

The book is at its best when it is reviewing the strengths of modern conservative thought and liberal shortcomings — when Lilla reviews the towering political rhetoric of Ronald Reagan, who reset American politics, to his laments of over-reaching identity sectarianism on American campuses — but comes up much weaker when suggesting an alternative way forward.

TheNewYorker |   Now into the arena comes a distinctly more conservative brand of liberal and Trump opponent, Mark Lilla, a professor of the humanities at Columbia, who, on November 18th, published an Op-Ed in the Times declaring, “One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end.” His article, written while Clinton voters were still in a kind of disbelieving haze, outraged not a few readers of the paper with its blasts at “the fixation on diversity in our schools” and the “moral panic about racial, gender, and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force.” Lilla is hardly indifferent to injustices against women, the L.G.B.T.Q. community, and people of color, but he claims that too many liberals and leftists, indulging in a politics of “narcissism,” are “indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life.”

Lilla, who has expanded that article into his new, brief book, “The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics,” insists that his is the pragmatic view: that in order to secure progress for overlooked and oppressed peoples—in order to advance a liberal economic, environmental, and social agenda—political power must be won, which means that elections must be won. At the moment, the Democratic Party—from elections for the White House to state legislatures—is failing. The Democrats, he says, were once the party of the working class; now the Democrats are largely a loose coalition of educated coastal élites and minorities. Why is it now possible to drive across the country for thousands of miles without hitting a blue state or county? How did the Democrats lose a decisive number of Obama voters to someone like Donald Trump? Lilla believes that identity politics is a central part of the answer.

When I read Lilla’s book and then talked with him for The New Yorker Radio Hour, I found much to disagree with, not least his cutting dismissals of “social-justice warriors” or movements like Black Lives Matter, which he sees as a “textbook example of how not to build solidarity.” Lilla was once an editor at The Public Interest and a neoconservative on domestic issues, though not on foreign policy; Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan were his elders and allies. He still writes with marked ambivalence and irritation about the contemporary left, particularly as he sees it on university campuses. Beverly Gage, Adam Gopnik, Michelle Goldberg, and others have already delivered serious critiques of Lilla’s argument about identity politics.

Manipulated Minorities

TheSaker |  Question: why does the US foreign policies always support various minorities? Is it out of kindness? Or a sense of fairness? Could it be out of a deep sense of guilt of having committed the only “pan-genocide” in human history (the genocide of all the ethnic groups of an entire continent)? Or maybe a deep sense of guilt over slavery? Are the beautiful words of the Declaration of Independence “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” really inspiring US foreign policies?


I submit that the real truth is totally different. My thesis is very simple: the reason why the US always support foreign minorities to subvert states and use domestic minorities to suppress the majority US population is because minorities are very easy to manipulate and because minorities present no threat to the real rulers of the AngloZionist Empire. That’s all there is to it.

I think that minorities often, but not always, act and perceive things in a way very different from the way majority groups do. Here is what I have observed:

Let’s first look at minorities inside the USA:
  1. They are typically far more aware of their minority identity/status than the majority. That is to say that if the majority is of skin color A and the minority of skin color B, the minority will be much more acutely aware of its skin color.
  2. They are typically much more driven and active then the majority. This is probably due to their more acute perception of being a minority.
  3. They are only concerned with single-issue politics, that single-issue being, of course, their minority status.
  4. Since minorities are often unhappy with their minority-status, they are also often resentful of the majority.
  5. Since minorities are mostly preoccupied by their minority-status linked issue, they rarely pay attention to the ‘bigger picture’ and that, in turn, means that the political agenda of the minorities typically does not threaten the powers that be.
  6. Minorities often have a deep-seated inferiority complex towards the putatively more successful majority.
  7. Minorities often seek to identify other minorities with which they can ally themselves against the majority.
To this list of characteristics, I would add one which is unique to foreign minorities, minorities outside the USA: since they have no/very little prospects of prevailing against the majority, these minorities are very willing to ally themselves with the AngloZionist Empire and that, in turn, often makes them depended on the AngloZionist Empire, often even for their physical survival.

Goy, Bye?

unz |  People close to power in the US know or feel the global hegemony. Its bearers are heavily Jewish liberal groups, who use their PC, their hostility to the Church, their approval of gender flux in order to undermine the mind and mentality of an ordinary American, of a redneck, of a working class Goy (as in the Goy, Bye headline). They ceaselessly tease and annoy this goy, in order to cause his premature acts of rebellion to be easily squashed. In order to spite the worker, they even put on the latest aircraft carrier only toilet bowls and no urinals ‚ to make it more comfortable for supposed transgenders and to enrage the rednecks.
The world globalists received a serious blow when their candidate Hillary Clinton lost the election, but they didn’t waste time and immediately mobilised for a fight. They aren’t going to give up hegemony. Practically all the media, judicial system, Congress, intelligence services are in their hands. Charlottesville provided an occasion to show rednecks in whose hands rests hegemony.

Hegemonists have their own storm troops – Antifa. This extremist movement was born in Germany. There they walk on the streets on the anniversary of Dresden bombings with Israeli flags and chant: “Death to Germany! Long live Bomber Harris” (the British commander of the Air Force, a big fan of the carpet bombing of Germany). They managed to terrorize the Germans: as soon as someone objects they call their opponent a Nazi and beat him up. And if they encounter resistance, the police comes to the rescue. That’s why in Germany resistance to the mass inflow of migrants was almost imperceptible. It is spoken about in the kitchen, but not on the streets.

And now Antifa came to America. They have the same mode of action as in Germany. Whoever is against them is a Nazi, or a “white racist”. They proved their mettle in Charlottesville, the city blessed with the Jewish mayor who chose the city police. Many Jewish activists came to participate, from as far as Boston. After the scuffle, the newspapers raised a hue and cry: Nazis attack Jews!

President Trump condemned both sides participating in the brawl‚ both white nationalists and Antifa. It is exactly what his opponents were waiting for. His attempt to stay above the brawl was doomed to defeat: liberal hegemonists immediately branded him a racist and neo-Nazi. Trump reminded them that not all defenders of the monument were white racists, but this argument didn’t work.

The public response to the dog-whistle “racist” was overwhelming. The Jews responded first. Rabbis said they do not want Trump to telephone them and greet them with the forthcoming Jewish High Holidays. 300 Jews, former Yale classmates of Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, imploring him to resign. (Aren’t there too many Jewish alumni in Yale? What about some diversity?)

A known Jewish writer Michael Chabon called upon Ivanka to kill her father, by magical means of going into full mourning for a still living President. Jews believe this should kill a living man as sure as a bullet. Chabon’s hysterical screed must be read to be believed. “Now you know [Trump is] an anti-Semite — a Nazi sympathizer, a friend of the Jew-hating Klan,” he declared. And more and more Jews came in calling to impeach Trump the racist and anti-Semite.

However, non-Jews meekly followed while Jews played them like a fiddle. Industrialists resigned from the presidential council, generals issued a rebuke to their Commander-in-Chief, thousands of non-Jews participated in marches and demonstrations against “white racists”. In short, Jews played as a team, and they dictated the rules. Very, very few persons offered a learned defence of Trump. They would be ostracised, if they did, and Trump proved he is not going to stand for his friends. If his position on Flynn didn’t make it clear, his dismissal of Bannon supplied the sterling proof.
In the present political climate, you are not allowed to speak against the hegemonist view. If you do, you are a white racist, i.e. your opinion is not simply rejected, but it is declared as an unlawful and inadmissible view. This is what hegemony is: when an opposed view is delegitimised.

One can argue for racism (it is anyway better than greed, a mortal sin; it is a natural defence of a tribal territory), but it is a hard way, and quite futile. Before Trump the Racist, there was Trump the Russian Spy, and he was preceded by Trump the Pussy Grabber. New reasons for impeachment will be found, surely.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Pompeo Seeking License to Murder Assange...,

theintercept |  To legendary First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, who told The Intercept that he’s “quite critical” of WikiLeaks” behavior,” the “factual issue about just what WikiLeaks has done, what contacts it has and has had with adversaries of this country, and the like” should be separate from an official government designation:
The broader issue is whether our government should be designating any entity as a non-state hostile intelligence agency. I’m not sure of the intended consequences of such a designation but I’m pretty sure it could open WikiLeaks to threats and perhaps even violence. It has the sound of some official finding, which it is not, with some legal meaning to it, which it is not. So while I wouldn’t object to high ranking intelligence officials harshly criticizing WikiLeaks, I’d stay away from faux official designations.
Trevor Timm, Executive Director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, told The Intercept that “Ron Wyden is right that the WikiLeaks provision is unprecedented, vague, and potentially very dangerous”:
Regardless of whether you like or hate WikiLeaks, Congress singling out a publisher of information using a undefined and made up term like “non-state hostile intelligence service” to potentially stifle First Amendment rights and opening the door to more surveillance of sources should concern all journalists. It’s a shame more members of Congress do not see this obvious danger.
(Freedom of the Press Foundation receives funds from The Intercept’s parent company.)

In short, even if you think Julian Assange is a sleaze, or a liar, or a Putinist, and even if he were indeed all of those bad things, he’s also a publisher of authentic information he wasn’t supposed to have. A politically motivated publisher is still a publisher, and to deem one of them an enemy of the state would endanger any outlets working with or interested in materials and information they aren’t supposed to have–which in 2017 is almost all of them. From the Department of Justice to the White House to Congress, the anti-leaker sentiment is feverish, and the openly threatening language used against those who would publish true information unprecedented. WikiLeaks makes a tempting target for defenders of state secrecy because the website’s reputation is mostly in the mud once you get outside of Trumpland–but consider the consequences.

“Non-state hostile intelligence service” has no technical meaning–what would stop an outlet like the New York Times (or all of its peers and competitors) from being deemed the same based on its reporting of the same hacked emails?

What exactly is the legal status of a “non-state hostile intelligence service”? Would donating to WikiLeaks be considered providing material aid to an enemy?

What of the many reputable journalists who’ve worked with WikiLeaks in the past, from the New York Times to Der Spiegel? Are they now guilty of having collaborated with a “non-state hostile intelligence service”?

Were WikiLeaks to publish another truly groundbreaking and valuable release along the line of Manning’s, what then? Would journalists be free to glean stories from this enemy spy agency?
There aren’t any answers to these questions, making the language all risk with little upshot of reforming or changing Assange or WikiLeaks in any meaningful way. The much more likely outcome would be Assange treating the designation as a vindication, proof that he’s a victim of U.S. governmental persecution. It would not, however, do much to persuade him that Le Pen boosterism and bogus “spirit cooking” conspiracy theories aren’t in the public interest, but could do much to chill those around the world doing real work. Don’t give Assange, or Pompeo, the satisfaction.

Internet: Subverting Democracy? Nah.., Subverting Status Quo Hegemony? Maybe...,

TheNewYorker |  On the night of November 7, 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes’s wife, Lucy, took to her bed with a headache. The returns from the Presidential election were trickling in, and the Hayeses, who had been spending the evening in their parlor, in Columbus, Ohio, were dismayed. Hayes himself remained up until midnight; then he, too, retired, convinced that his Democratic opponent, Samuel J. Tilden, would become the next President.

Hayes had indeed lost the popular vote, by more than two hundred and fifty thousand ballots. And he might have lost the Electoral College as well had it not been for the machinations of journalists working in the shady corners of what’s been called “the Victorian Internet.”

Chief among the plotters was an Ohioan named William Henry Smith. Smith ran the western arm of the Associated Press, and in this way controlled the bulk of the copy that ran in many small-town newspapers. The Western A.P. operated in tight affiliation—some would say collusion—with Western Union, which exercised a near-monopoly over the nation’s telegraph lines. Early in the campaign, Smith decided that he would employ any means necessary to assure a victory for Hayes, who, at the time, was serving a third term as Ohio’s governor. In the run-up to the Republican National Convention, Smith orchestrated the release of damaging information about the Governor’s rivals. Then he had the Western A.P. blare Hayes’s campaign statements and mute Tilden’s. At one point, an unflattering piece about Hayes appeared in the Chicago Times, a Democratic paper. (The piece claimed that Hayes, who had been a general in the Union Army, had accepted money from a soldier to give to the man’s family, but had failed to pass it on when the soldier died.) The A.P. flooded the wires with articles discrediting the story.

Once the votes had been counted, attention shifted to South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana—states where the results were disputed. Both parties dispatched emissaries to the three states to try to influence the Electoral College outcome. Telegrams sent by Tilden’s representatives were passed on to Smith, courtesy of Western Union. Smith, in turn, shared the contents of these dispatches with the Hayes forces. This proto-hack of the Democrats’ private communications gave the Republicans an obvious edge. Meanwhile, the A.P. sought and distributed legal opinions supporting Hayes. (Outraged Tilden supporters took to calling it the “Hayesociated Press.”) As Democrats watched what they considered to be the theft of the election, they fell into a funk.

“They are full of passion and want to do something desperate but hardly know how to,” one observer noted. Two days before Hayes was inaugurated, on March 5, 1877, the New York Sun appeared with a black border on the front page. “These are days of humiliation, shame and mourning for every patriotic American,” the paper’s editor wrote.

History, Mark Twain is supposed to have said, doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Once again, the President of the United States is a Republican who lost the popular vote. Once again, he was abetted by shadowy agents who manipulated the news. And once again Democrats are in a finger-pointing funk.

Journalists, congressional committees, and a special counsel are probing the details of what happened last fall. But two new books contend that the large lines of the problem are already clear. As in the eighteen-seventies, we are in the midst of a technological revolution that has altered the flow of information. Now, as then, just a few companies have taken control, and this concentration of power—which Americans have acquiesced to without ever really intending to, simply by clicking away—is subverting our democracy.

Thirty years ago, almost no one used the Internet for anything. Today, just about everybody uses it for everything. Even as the Web has grown, however, it has narrowed. Google now controls nearly ninety per cent of search advertising, Facebook almost eighty per cent of mobile social traffic, and Amazon about seventy-five per cent of e-book sales. Such dominance, Jonathan Taplin argues, in “Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy” (Little, Brown), is essentially monopolistic. In his account, the new monopolies are even more powerful than the old ones, which tended to be limited to a single product or service. Carnegie, Taplin suggests, would have been envious of the reach of Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos.

U.S. Patriot Act FUBARs Uruguay's Marijuana Legalization Effort

NYTimes |  Fighting drug trafficking was one of the main reasons the Uruguayan government gave for legalizing recreational marijuana. Officials spent years developing a complex regulatory framework that permits people to grow a limited supply of cannabis themselves or buy it at pharmacies for less than the black market rate. Lawmakers hoped that legal structure would undercut illicit marijuana cultivation and sales.

“There probably isn’t a trade in Uruguay today that is more controlled than cannabis sale,” Mr. Durán said.

As a candidate, President Trump said that American states should be free to chart their own courses on marijuana, and he promised to pare back regulation in the financial sector. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however, has been a sharp critic of legalization and has compared marijuana to heroin.
Now, some members of the cannabis industry wonder whether the United States government will resolve the conflict between its banking laws and the expanding patchwork of measures to legalize recreational and medical marijuana use around the world. The guidance from the Obama administration, issued by the Justice and Treasury Departments in a pair of memos in 2014, addressed the matter domestically but not for international banking.

“Uruguay may be the tip of the iceberg,” said Mr. Robison, the Colorado lawyer who specializes in marijuana regulation.

Pharmacists in Uruguay were incredulous to learn that their bank accounts could be shut down, considering the years of study and planning that preceded the start of retail marijuana sales last month. The country’s marijuana law was passed in 2013.

“We can’t understand how the government didn’t have the foresight to anticipate this,” said Gabriel Bachini, a pharmacy owner in the coastal city of Colonia.

Since sales began, the number of registered buyers in Uruguay has more than doubled. As of Aug. 15, more than 12,500 people had enrolled in a system that verifies customers’ identities with fingerprint scanners and allows them to buy up to 40 grams per month (at a price of about $13 for 10 grams, enough for about 15 joints, advocates say). Under the law, only Uruguayan citizens and legal permanent residents are allowed to buy or grow marijuana.

“Demand has been very strong,” Mr. Bachini said. “People are thrilled that they no longer have to go to private homes or venture out into neighborhoods” to get marijuana.
In emailed statements, the Treasury and Justice Departments said that their earlier guidance was still being applied. But banking and legal experts say the Trump administration has yet to lay down clear markers on this area of policy.

Officials in Uruguay are hopeful that American lawmakers will pass legislation allowing banks to do business with marijuana sellers in states and countries where it is regulated. Representative Ed Perlmutter, Democrat of Colorado, introduced a bill in April that would do that, but marijuana advocates say they do not expect a prompt legislative change.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power

tomdispatch |  Alfred McCoy’s new Dispatch Book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, won’t officially be published until September, but it's already getting extraordinary attention.  That would include Jeremy Scahill’s powerful podcast interview with McCoy at the Intercept, a set of striking prepublication notices (Kirkus Reviews: "Sobering reading for geopolitics mavens and Risk aficionados alike"), and an impressive range of blurbs (Andrew Bacevich: “This is history with profound relevance to events that are unfolding before our eyes”; Ann Jones: “eye-opening... America’s neglected citizens would do well to read this book”; Oliver Stone: “One of our best and most underappreciated historians takes a hard look at the truth of our empire, both its covert activities and the reasons for its impending decline”).  Of him, Scahill has said, “Al McCoy has guts... He helped put me on the path to investigative journalism.”  In today’s post, adapted by McCoy from the introduction to In the Shadows of the American Century, you’ll get a taste of just what Scahill means.  So read it and then pre-order a copy of the latest book from the man who battled the CIA and won.
When historian Alfred McCoy began his long journey to expose some of the darkest secrets of the U.S. national security establishment, America was embroiled in wars in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.  Almost 50 years later, the United States is, in one way or another, involved in so many more conflicts from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen to Libya, Somalia, the Lake Chad region of Africa, and the Philippines.

To understand how the U.S. went from three interventions that actually ended to a proliferating collection of quasi-wars seemingly without end would require a detailed map to guide you through some of the thorniest wilds of American foreign policy.  Luckily, McCoy is still on the case with his buzz-generating blockbuster-to-be: In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.

He first stumbled upon some of the secrets of the national security state when, in the early 1970s, he started down Southeast Asia’s “heroin trail” and into a shadow world of black ops, mercenaries, and drug lords.  It’s a tale fit for a John le Carré novel or, better yet, a seedy bar where the air is hot and still, the customers are rough, and the drinks strong. If TomDispatch regular McCoy told you his story over a whiskey, you’d be obliged to buy the next round.  It’s that kind of tale.  Today, however, you’re in luck and he shares it with you for free. 

Asian Wars and Information Regimes

The Making of the U.S. Internal Security Apparatus

The History of the Southeast Asian Drug Trade

Friday, August 25, 2017

Carbon Based: Carbon Fiber Chassis Electric Vehicle on Goodyear 360's

PopularMechanics |  The tire of the future is a ball. An unbelievably sophisticated, nature-inspired, magnetic-levitation-infused ball. Goodyear just revealed its vision for a concept tire that's intended for the self-driving car of tomorrow. It's called Eagle-360, and it's totally round.

Why put a car on a quartet of glorified mouse trackballs? Goodyear says the 3D-printed tires will have a larger contact patch with the ground, allowing for more control. The design lets the tires hurl water away via centrifugal force. But the big reason is that spherical tires can be essentially omnidirectional.

PopularMechanics |  Stronger than steel and a fraction of the weight, carbon fiber is a brilliant invention. Has been for decades. Junior Johnson was building rule-bending Nascar racers out of the stuff back in the '80s. But even with all that time to come up with new sourcing and production methods, carbon fiber just won't stop being expensive. The cheapest new car with a carbon-fiber tub, the Alfa Romeo 4C, is sized for Stuart Little, yet costs as much as a Mercedes E-Class. And the real chariots of the carbon gods, the McLarens and Koenigseggs and Lamborghini Aventadors of the world, are strictly six-figure propositions. We still haven't managed to mass-produce the stuff at anything approaching the price of aluminum, let alone steel. Why hasn't anyone figured out how to make this stuff cost less?

That question is why I'm here in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy, at Lamborghini's carbon-fiber facility, laboriously squeegeeing air bubbles out of a sheet of carbon weave. I want to ask the guys in (black) lab coats who make this material: Why aren't we rolling around in carbon-monocoque Hyundais?

Carbon Based: Nanotubes and Vantablack

wikipedia |  Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are allotropes of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure. These cylindrical carbon molecules have unusual properties, which are valuable for nanotechnology, electronics, optics and other fields of materials science and technology. Owing to the material's exceptional strength and stiffness, nanotubes have been constructed with length-to-diameter ratio of up to 132,000,000:1,[1] significantly larger than for any other material.

In addition, owing to their extraordinary thermal conductivity, mechanical, and electrical properties, carbon nanotubes find applications as additives to various structural materials. For instance, nanotubes form a tiny portion of the material(s) in some (primarily carbon fiber) baseball bats, golf clubs, car parts or damascus steel.[2][3]

Nanotubes are members of the fullerene structural family. Their name is derived from their long, hollow structure with the walls formed by one-atom-thick sheets of carbon, called graphene. These sheets are rolled at specific and discrete ("chiral") angles, and the combination of the rolling angle and radius decides the nanotube properties; for example, whether the individual nanotube shell is a metal or semiconductor. Nanotubes are categorized as single-walled nanotubes (SWNTs) and multi-walled nanotubes (MWNTs). Individual nanotubes naturally align themselves into "ropes" held together by van der Waals forces, more specifically, pi-stacking.

Applied quantum chemistry, specifically, orbital hybridization best describes chemical bonding in nanotubes. The chemical bonding of nanotubes involves entirely sp2-hybrid carbon atoms. These bonds, which are similar to those of graphite and stronger than those found in alkanes and diamond (which employ sp3-hybrid carbon atoms), provide nanotubes with their unique strength.

wikipedia |   Vantablack is a substance made of vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays[1] and is one of the blackest artificial substances[2] known, absorbing up to 99.965% of radiation in the visible spectrum.[3][4]

Vantablack is composed of a forest of vertical tubes which are "grown" on a substrate using a modified chemical vapor deposition process (CVD). When light strikes Vantablack, instead of bouncing off, it becomes trapped and is continually deflected among the tubes, eventually becoming absorbed and dissipating into heat.[1]

Vantablack was an improvement over similar substances developed at the time. Vantablack absorbs 99.965% of visible light. It can be created at 400 °C (752 °F); NASA had previously developed a similar substance, but that can only be grown at 750 °C (1,380 °F). For this reason, Vantablack can be grown on materials that cannot withstand higher temperatures.[1]

The outgassing and particle fallout levels of Vantablack are low. The high levels in similar substances in the past had prevented their commercial usefulness. Vantablack also has greater resistance to mechanical vibration, and has greater thermal stability.[6]

What It Means To Live In Netanyahu's America

al-jazeera  |   A handful of powerful businessmen pushed New York City Mayor Eric Adams to use police to crack down on pro-Palestinian stu...