Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Who picked up the bill for our freedom?

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

For our freedom, I offer up a humble thank you to all who have gone before standing endless watch, slogging through the jungle mud, freezing in a foxhole, shooting Nazis with a machine gun at 30,000 feet, doing yet another round of dreary maintenance, brought home a life-long injury, or paying the ultimate price fighting to defeat the Confederacy.

Because of millions who did what had to be done, I can say what I wish without fear of being thrown in jail.

It seems so insufficient, but I’ll say it anyway – – Thanks.

 

“It is the soldier, not the reporter,

who has given us freedom of the press.

 

It is the soldier, not the poet,

who has given us freedom of speech.

 

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,

who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

 

It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag and whose coffin is draped by the flag,

who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

Jeremiah A. Denton Jr.

 

More updates on the purge in Saudi Arabia

Kingdom Tower in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

As pointed out in the last article mentioned below, few articles on Saudi Arabia are going for the idea that the current wave of high-profile arrests is really about fighting corruption. There is a far deeper effort. Here are my comments on a number of articles from the last few days. Sort it out for yourself.

11/6/17 – Karen House at Wall Street Journal – The Strategy Behind the Saudi Strife   – Article provides a more nuanced background on the arrests. One entertaining point, which I mentioned in earlier post, is that with the widespread malfeasance, misfeasance, and flat-out corruption, every Prince and every official is vulnerable to charges of corruption. I’ll guess every person with any government or business power has created massive amounts of electronic evidence.

Article speculates this is a part of the effort to modernize by MBS. Going after a huge number of corrupt senior royals, high-level businessmen, and a wide variety of government officials not only sends a very powerful message that the corrupt old days are gone but puts fear into everyone that hasn’t been arrested yet. It won’t take long for realize that they either play along and keep quite or go to jail. Article says this will have the benefit of increasing his popularity with younger people.

More importantly, consider this in relation to the dramatic efforts for social change over the last year. Granted there needs to be humongous social change to catch up with the 20th century, but there has been a dramatic amount of change in the last year. If those efforts create individual freedom, the current anti-corruption campaign makes corruption a bad thing, and the social guard rails of the religious police go away, then there might be a chance, slim though it may be, that the country could actually modernize and move beyond its deadly addiction to oil.

All these pieces fit together as a crash course in modernization, according to Ms. House’s theory in the article. The main idea is that personal freedom could lead to financial responsibility which could lead to entrepreneurialism and a vibrant, expanding economy.

11/7/17 – The Guardian – “This is a revolution”: Saudi’s absorb Crown Prince’s rush to reform – Article also makes the point that the massive arrests are part of a major effort to transform the country. The super elite, who are untouchable until last weekend, will now be removed or warned to get out-of-the-way.

Article points out the changes so far this year have been radical. The religious police have lost much of their power. More social changes on the way. Another article mentioned below says a lot of clerics and activists got arrested in September.

Read more…

Mid-day update on turmoil in Saudi Arabia

Flag of Saudi Arabia on flagpole. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I had been thinking that there might be enough news out of Saudi Arabia for an update every few days.

Silly me.

This is my second post of the day, my third since news of the crackdown broke on Saturday.

Another Saudi prince died over the weekend. During a gun fight. With government forces. While the government was trying to arrest him.

11/6/17 – Zero Hedge – Second Saudi Prince Confirmed Killed During Crackdown – A prince was killed during a firefight between his security team and the government. The government team (military? Security agency? Police?) was trying to arrest him.

This prince was the youngest son of King Fahad.

King Fahad ruled from 1982 through 2005. He was one of Ibn Saud’s 45 sons and the fourth of the six sons who ruled. Read more…

Goal of weekend arrests in Saudi Arabia is getting clearer

Flag of Saudi Arabia. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The purpose of dozens of arrests on Saturday in Saudi Arabia is becoming clearer. It was not a coup attempt and not a counter-coup. Picture now emerging is of a purge, removing opposition.

For more background, check out post from Saturday night.

11/5/17 – Associated Press – Billionaire prince among dozens arrested in Saudi sweep – Article categorizes the arrests as a power consolidation, removing dissenting voices.

Article says Saudi Arabia was, up until this point, ruled by consensus with the king having final authority on decisions.

Article also says unnamed analysts have explained that the senior level princes were untouchable up until now, meaning they didn’t worry about having to follow the law.

Read more…

Counter coup, or power consolidation, or something else going on in Saudi Arabia

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Looks like a coup. Oh, wait. A coup is when the out-of-power people toss out the in-power people. This is a case of the in-power people deposing a bunch of other in-power people because, um, I don’t know.

Maybe it is power consolidation. Maybe it is a counter-coup. Maybe I don’t have any idea what it is and neither does anyone else with a byline. Another option is purge.

11/4/17 – Wall Street Journal – Saudi Princes, Former Ministers Arrested in Apparent Power Consolidation – At least ten senior princes and over 20 (per article) cabinet members were arrested on corruption charges Saturday night.

One was Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a billionaire, prominent investor in U.S., and often an interviewee on US TV business shows.

Read more…

Ethical failures by NCAA and UNC Chapel Hill. Illustration of the phrase ‘auditing with your eyes closed.’

UNC Chapel Hill – “Midnight Old Well” by is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As mentioned in previous post, articles keep popping up on the systemic academic fraud at UNC Chapel Hill. Trying to hold my posts to under a thousand words each means there need to be multiple updates.

  • Reporter says the UNC scheme was widely  known
  • UNC grad, class of ’92, explains the reason UNC claimed as legitimate classes they previously confessed were fraudulent. Also says this fiasco shows him the UNC leadership chose money over honor.

10/13/17 – Duke Basketball Report at SB Nation – A Pitiful Victory – Article goes over a long list of warning signs of systemic cheating and fraud at UNC. After most of the points, the writer makes some comment along the lines of they knew, or we knew, meaning there was common knowledge of cheating.

Apparently there was a massive scandal at UNC back in the ‘60s and the school made a strong commitment to play clean. Article shows that commitment to integrity only lasted until somewhere around 1990.

Author says the rest of the ACC, and maybe everyone in college sports, should be upset with the lying and cheating. I agree. The NCAA isn’t able to find anything in the rule book to say academic and athletic fraud is actually punishable. (Next article says they removed from their rulebook the rule that said academic fraud is punishable.)

Read more…

Update on Chinese space vehicles

Saturn V rocket, loaded for the moon. China is developing the Long March 9 which will have comparable lift capacity. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few fun articles on the Chinese space program.

10/15/17 – Behind the Black – China’s first test space station, Tiangong-1, is out-of-control – The Chinese space agency said they have lost control over the “Heavenly Palace” space station. Its orbit is decaying and it will likely reenter the atmosphere and burn up in the next several months. Most of the station will burn, but there will likely be chunks as large as 200 pounds hit the ground.

(Hat tip to Behind the Black for the next two articles.)

10/18/17 – GB Times – China’s Tiangong-1 space lab will soon reenter the atmosphere, but there’s no need to panic – Disclosed reason for the “Heavenly Place” space lab not being able to maintain orbit is a battery charger failed, thus meaning the batteries couldn’t be charged.

Current guess is perhaps the last half of January for reentry into atmosphere, where most of the 8.4 ton spaceship will burn up.

10/17/17 – GB Times – China progressing with work on new medium, heavy, and super-heavy Long March launch vehicles – Articles says China is working on several new rocket designs.

New models include the Long March 8 and Long March 9.  Some stats:

Read more…

More on the UNC fiasco and the FBI’s recruiting investigation

bell tower” by zach_mullen is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

I was planning to wait a while before talking some more about the UNC academic/athletic fiasco and the NCAA’s toothlessness, but articles just keep popping up that grab my attention:

  • UNC gave opposite stories to its accrediting agency and the NCAA
  • One of the head coaches implicated in the major FBI investigation was fired

10/20/17 – The News & Observer – How UNC changed its story-and lost its voice in college sports – Apparently UNC had a reputation of ethical behavior in its athletic programs before the current systemic academic & athletic fraud developed.  That reputation is now gone.

The current administration addressed the academic fraud with the accrediting agency and accepted responsibility. An internal investigation concluded the purpose of the fake courses was to keep athletes academically eligible for participation. The University drew a one year academic probation.

Article provides quotes saying that the University accepted responsibility, identified the courses as wrongdoing, admitting the courses were frauds, acknowledging the scheme was running for a long time, and agreed that more than two people were involved.

And then came the NCAA investigation…

Read more…

The last pieces of democracy slip away in Venezuela

The Venezuelan government has made its choice. Will that choice stand? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The elections in Venezuela were stacked.

Oh, by the way, what economic system produced this human suffering? What political system produced this all-but-in-name dictatorship?

  • Hints of the fraud before the election.
  • In spite of polling and expectations, a mere 5 opposition candidates won a governorship.
  • Oh, the few in the opposition who won are denied their position; initial reports said that government hacks were sworn into office instead.
  • Four of the five opposition governors actually sworn in.

10/15/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela’s Latest Election Fraud – More details on how the election results were cooked. Reporter describes more details on manipulation.

Read more…

More details on Venezuela’s upcoming bond payments

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Found an article giving more details on the Venezuelan bond payments at risk. Particular item of note is the breakout of principal and interest.

Oh, the five opposition governors were actually sworn in.

10/25/17 – ZeroHedge – The Time Has Come:  Venezuela May Be In Default In Under 48 Hours – Venezuela skipped two more coupon payments over the weekend, for another $237M, making a cumulative $586M of missed coupons for a week.

Tables in article are detailed enough that it takes a while to understand. If I get it, this is the P&I due in near future, with the breakout between principal and interest on the two big payments:

Read more…

Default watch on Venezuelan bonds

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Venezuela is in danger of defaulting on bond payments in the next few weeks.

10/17/17 – Miami Herald – Maduro faces financial nightmare in Venezuela – just in time for Halloween – The government has bond payments of $1B due on 10/27 and $1.2B due on 11/2.  Total due in next six weeks, which would be the end of November, is a total of $3.53B. Both S&P and Fitch are rating Venezuela as having a high probability to default within 6 months.

Here some more of the detailed numbers:

10/20/17 – CNBC – Venezuela is blowing debt payments ahead of a huge, make-or-break bill – Here is a schedule of upcoming required bond payments:

Read more…

Why is it necessary to have a nuclear defense?

After reading my post on Nuclear launch protocol and timing, you may be wondering why the United States built these,

Minuteman II on static display at March Air Base Museum. Photo by James Ulvog.

and why we built 550, 450, and 50 of these,

Minuteman II, Minuteman III, Peacekeaper ICBMs on display at Warren AFB. “Ywwrn_1b” by gvgoebel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

as well as why we had 1,000 of these spread across the country for several decades:

Read more…

More tidbits from the technology revolution

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Fun articles on technology change that caught my interest over the last few months:

  • Yes, your color printer may very well be marking every printed page as belonging to you
  • Not only are land lines disappearing, growing number of people won’t answer the doorbell unless you text first
  • Dropping oil prices are a worry for central bankers, even as that saves consumers bunches of money
  • Amazon is developing its own delivery system
  • IBM has fewer employees in the US than in India
  • Google drew a multi-billion dollar fine from the EU

6/7/17 – BBC – Why printers add secret tracking dots – A large portion of color laser printers add tiny yellow dots to the page in order to allow tracking of which specific printer was used to print a specific page.

This is handy for criminal or espionage investigations. A particular leaking case is in the news, with the perpetrator having been found using microdots.

Might be handy for tracking down whistle blowers.

The espionage angle isn’t of interest to anyone reading my blog.

If you every want to keep something you print really private, you might want to pay attention.

Read more…

More economic problems for wind and solar

Photo of wind turbines north of Tioga, N.D. by James Ulvog.

Lots of money is pouring in to construction wind and solar plants, but that will continue only if the massive subsidies stay in place.

7/25/17 – AP at Billings Gazette – Montana ruling casts shadow over future of solar farm – Montana state regulators approved a 80 GW solar plant with reported cost of about $100M.

The approval allows the output to be sold at only $20 per megawatt and that contract only runs for 10 years. Presumably after that time the company would have to sell whatever output is actually generated at market prices.

Company wants a 25 year contract at $43.50. Anything less than that makes it uneconomical.

Let me translate that.

The project will only be profitable if all of the following conditions are met:

Read more…

More economic and environmental fails from wind energy

Still about 4 or 5 miles away from the turbines. Many of the towers are visible from highway 2. Photo of wind turbines north of Tioga, N.D. by James Ulvog

The bad news from slicer-and-dicers just keeps rolling in.

  • Article describes lack of CO2 benefit while running up cost of electricity in Minnesota
  • Description of environmental cost of building a wind tower

10/15/17 – Powerline – “Green” Energy Fails Every Test – Minnesota is touted as a model of green energy. With around $15 billion poured into wind power, the state is a good example of the damage from green.

More wind is produced in spring and fall, which does not correlate to when more electricity is needed, which is summer and winter.

So how has that $15,000,000,000 dumped into bird chopping turbines turned out?

CO2 emissions from the state, according to a new study, have only declined slightly. The drop during 2 years was due to an accident that took a coal plant off-line. Other than that, the drop is CO2 has been minor; nothing like what was supposed to happen with all that wind power.

Main reason is wind is very unreliable. When those slice-and-dicers aren’t producing, the energy comes from backup coal plants. So when there is little wind and high demand in the summer and winter, where does the extra electricity come from?

Read more…

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