That’s thanks to a recent Justice Department settlement with a crusader named Cody Wilson, who since 2015 has been battling regulators and government attorneys over his right to publish the 3D-printed gun CAD files online through an open source platform. It’s an unexpected twist in a long legal battle that seemed all but over after the Supreme Court refused to hear the case back in January. Josh Blackman, one of Wilson’s attorneys told Inverse that preventing Wilson from publishing the designs was a free speech issue.
“The argument is that they have a first amendment right to speech, and the government was telling Cody he couldn’t put these files on the internet,” Blackman explained. “The State Department used to regulate this kind of technical data, but the government shifted that to the Commerce Department which is a much more lenient approach … Cody was the only one subject to this old regime.”
It does seem fair to point out that it isn’t particularly difficult for someone who wants to find these designs to get them, torrent files have been available pretty much since Wilson first posted them.
But gun control activists like Adam Skaggs, chief counsel at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, tells Inverse the decision will make it easier for people who can’t buy guns legally to 3D print their own. They also worry that the more widely available these schematics are, the more likely it is law enforcement officials will encounter more untraceable guns without serial numbers.
“What we see again and again is that people who aren’t legally allowed to have guns — they go into a gun store and fail a background check — they’re just going to turn around and go online,” Skaggs explained. “And with the click of a mouse, they’ll get the info and materials to build their own, that’s exactly what they’re going to do.”
Fortunately, the technology for manufacturing 3D printed guns isn’t terribly effective yet, and 3D printers can also be expensive. But the problem may have more to do with what tomorrow’s criminals are able to do with Wilson’s designs as opposed to what will happen when the software files go back online later this summer.
“When you make it that easy to buy guns where you don’t have to pass a background check, they don’t have registered serial numbers … that presents a huge range of problems,” Skaggs said. “Criminal enterprises that face challenges in legally acquiring guns are just going to start avoiding gun stores entirely and just building their own.”
Hyperloop just took a huge step to becoming the transport system of the future. WARR Hyperloop claimed the top prize at SpaceX’s third hyperloop competition on Sunday, beating out two other approved teams to record a final speed of 290 mph — even faster than the 240 mph record set by Richard Branson-backedVirgin Hyperloop One in December 2017.
The competition, held at SpaceX’s 0.8-mile test track in Hawthorne, California, saw 18 teams compete to accelerate and brake their pod while achieving maximum top speed. Rigorous safety checks meant only three teams sent their pods through the test tube: WARR, Delft Hyperloop (which came second with a top speed of 88 mph), and EPFL Hyperloop (which came third with a top speed of 53 mph).
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, whose 2013 white paper first outlined the vacuum-sealed transit system, congratulated the teams on his victory. The Verge reports that Musk attended with girlfriend Grimes and his five sons, declaring that the competition was about “things that could radically transform cities and the way people get around.” Musk’s podium was constructed from interlocking bricks made from The Boring Company’s excavated tunnel dirt — a company aiming to build a public hyperloop running between New York City and Washington, D.C.
This competition was a marked change from the competitions held in January 2017 and August 2017, where contestants were judged on a range of criteria including construction and teams were able to use SpaceX-built drives to launch their pods. WARR set the top speed in the first competition of 56 mph, but lost out the overall prize to Delft Hyperloop. The second competition saw a big improvement over the first, with WARR claiming the top prize and reaching a speed of 201 mph.
The 176-pound pod used in the second competition used a carbon fiber construction with a 50-kilowatt electric motor to reach a potential top speed of 224 mph, with 36 internal sensors to regulate travel. For the third competition, WARR built on this design by replacing the 50-kilowatt single motor with eight smaller motors to individually drive each wheel. The total performance jumped to 240 kilowatts, or approximately 320 horsepower. The new version also measures less than seven feet in length and less than a foot high, making it shorter than its predecessor. The team calculated that this new design could reach a top speed of up to 370 mph.
While these speeds seem a far cry from the 700 mph top speeds in the white paper, both WARR and Delft noted prior to the competition that the participants are limited by the length of the track. The latter team told Inverse last week that the hyperloop could comfortably reach its top speed over a distance of around 45 miles, gradually accelerating to maintain passenger comfort. WARR claims that the team’s pod accelerates along the test track five times faster than an airplane during takeoff.
Delft Hyperloop claimed prior to the competition that it could beat Virgin Hyperloop One to achieve the top speed, despite only starting work as a reformed team in September 2017 after most of the original team left to form a startup called Hardt Hyperloop. Nonetheless, the 37-strong team celebrated its second place victory with a group photo:
EPFL Hyperloop reacted positively to the third-place victory, having never competed in a hyperloop competition before. The team claims that a communications issue prevented the pod from reaching higher speeds.
“Being one of three teams to qualify for the final stage of the competition is an incredible performance,” Martin Vetterli, president of the team’s university of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, said in a statement at the end of the race. “The stakes were high, and the students pushed the equipment to its limits. We can be proud of these results – especially since this was our school’s first foray into such a high-profile international competition. Great job by a fantastic team!”
Alongside the winning pod design, WARR also produced a second prototype to further development of alternative systems like levitation and frictionless drive. These efforts are aimed at helping to develop a pod capable of supporting larger passenger compartments. The Verge reports that SpaceX awarded WARR a special innovation prize for these extra efforts, alongside prizes awarded to the University of Washington and Eirloop teams.
“The technology is still in the development phase and our prototypes are built with the initial objective of testing various technologies,” team leader Gabriele Semino said in a statement prior to the event. “However, this way we can contribute to making the hyperloop vision a reality one day.”
The nameless rover is part of the ExoMars mission to investigate the red planet’s conditions to sustain life. The rover — call it a hunch, but let’s say Rovey McRoverface — will be the first of its kind to drill into Mars to collect samples for its automated laboratory, using solar panels to generate electrical power. On Friday, British astronaut Tim Peake announced the competition at the Farnborough International Airshow, opening the fate of the groundbreaking rover’s title to the general public.
According to contest rules, every entrant only gets one submission and must include a short explanation for their choice. Submitted names can be a single word, a short combination of words, or an acronym. The vehicle can’t be named after a past mission, nor can it be named after a person still living. However, it can be named after a person who died before October 10, 1993.
Whereas Boaty McBoatface was a product of the British people’s efforts, this competition is open to all residents of ESA member states and associate member states. This includes the European countries Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and UK, and one non-European country: Canada.
The search for Rovey McRoverface’s real name will remain open until October 10, 2018. Once the competition is closed, a panel of experts will read each submission and select the winner, who will not only see their namesake land on Mars in March 2021 but will be awarded a tour of the Airbus factory where the rover was built.
“Now is your chance to be a part of the mission by choosing the name,” reads the introduction before entering the competition. The innovation onboard the ExoMars Rover solidifies its place in space history, giving the public a rare opportunity to take part in that legacy.
Elon Musk is sending engineers from his SpaceX and The Boring Co. companies to aid in the rescue of a youth soccer team in Thailand that’s trapped in a cave and running out of time.
Twelve boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach have been trapped in the Tham Luang cave in Thailand for almost two weeks as of today (July 6). The boys, who range in age from 11 to 16, were exploring the cave when a flash flood trapped them. As oxygen levels continue to drop, the boys are getting more and more exhausted, which in turn is leading to malnourishment among them. In addition, heavy rain is forecast this weekend for the area. Worried authorities say they fear time is running out to save the team.
“SpaceX & Boring Co engineers headed to Thailand tomorrow to see if we can be helpful to govt. There are probably many complexities that are hard to appreciate without being there in person,” Musk wrote via Twitter early this morning.
I am convinced however that the true future of computing (and not necessarily faster computing, but much more robust, highly capable, and versatile computing) lies not in exotic material computing or even in more materially or systematically efficient computing but in (analog) Bio-Computing.
I am in immediate need of Beta Readers for both my fictional and non-fictional writings. These writings will include everything from my fictional science fiction, fantasy, detective, mystery, espionage, military, historical fiction, thriller, regional (Southern Western, and frontier writings), and literary writings to my middle grade and young adult and children’s stories and books. Non fictional writings will include my essays, articles, scientific papers, religious writings, writings on Theurgy, detective work, some of my business plans, and books on a variety of subjects. Other materials might include song lyrics or entire song cycles (such as for an album) and poems or games or other such matters I have created.
Rewards for giving me useful feedback will include things like autographed copies of my books, advance copies of works, discounts on published works, free copies of works, advice on how to get published, information on…
We recently shared quick ways to refresh your business website without a blog. For those of you who do maintain a blog for your business or brand, don’t worry — we have tips for you, too! Here are a few ideas you can use and reshape to fit your needs.
You don’t need to generate your own blog post ideas — that’s what prompts are for! Scour the internet for inspiration, like this list of 50 ideas at Entrepreneur and this list of 56 ideas at LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to tweak a post idea so it makes sense for you and your business.
The future of cybersecurity is tightly connected to the future of information technology and the advancements of the cyberspace. While I personally have never taken the liberty of predicting the future, it is clear that the role of cyber will become even larger in our personal and business lives.
Today, most of our critical systems are interconnected and driven by computers. In the future, this connection will be even tighter. More decisions will be automated. Our personal lives will be reliant on virtual assistants, and IoT connected devices will be part of almost every function of our daily lives. Connected cars will make our daily commute easier, and virtually all of our personal data will reside in cloud computing, where we don’t fully control the dataflow and access to information.
The complexity and connectivity of these systems directly impacts their level of vulnerability. Some people would argue that in order to protect our systems, we need to understand the hackers’ motive. I don’t think that there’s one motive.
In the coming ten years, nation sponsored organizations will continue to develop cyber-attack technologies for defense and offense; financially driven criminal groups will continue to seek ways to monetize cyber-attacks; hacktivists will continue to use cyber to convey their messages; terrorist groups will also shift to cyber space; and finally – people with no apparent motive, who seek to demonstrate their technical skills, will continue “contributing” to the attacker ecosystem.
Another challenge we will encounter in cyber defense is that, unlike the physical world where we kind of know who our potential adversaries are and what “weapons” they use, in cyber space anyone could be our enemy. We are accessible from every point of the globe, and it was already demonstrated that any attacker can have access to “strategic weapons” that don’t require the infrastructure or the cost of conventional weapons. Last but not least, many cyber-attacks are run automatically by “bots” that scan the entire network and find the weakest spot, so we won’t need to look like an “attractive target”. We simply need to have a vulnerable point. Yes, we are all targets.
Cyber security defense systems will need to become more sophisticated in order to cope with huge amounts of data. First, we will need to interconnect our defense systems to be able to act in real time. For example, our network gateway will need to share information with our personal devices. Second, the human analyst will not be able to cope with all this information and we will rely on more artificial intelligence to help us in making decisions. We will also need to cultivate the next generation of cyber experts who know how to develop and drive those systems. New professions and domain expertise will be formed. Last but not least, we will need to shield all our systems. Countries and states will have a bigger role in protecting large scale environments like their own infrastructure (power grids, water supply, traffic control and frankly – everything around us), and maybe even to provide some of their intelligence to the public. Large corporations will need to guard their data on their own servers, on their cloud servers, on our personal computers, and even on our mobile devices. We can have the most secure data center, but if our data leaks through a cloud provider or a mobile device, we are just as vulnerable.
So overall, we will see systems that are smarter, sophisticated, able to handle large populations and large amounts of data, systems that can update themselves rapidly, that can take decisions in real time and that connect to shared-intelligence centers that will keep us guarded.
Finally, as far as the general public is concerned, I believe that keeping ourselves cyber secure will become as commonplace as maintaining our physical safety. If today we all know to lock our doors at night, put on our seatbelts when driving, and use a helmet when hopping on our motorbikes, in ten years from now the same level of awareness will be given to ensure we are also digitally secure.
This questionoriginally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:
Today I leveled Up. Several years ago I began directly applying the various gaming and wargaming techniques I have practiced most of my life directly to my “Real Life,” – to improve my character, nature, abilities, and to help me with my overall human accomplishments.
Today I made another Rise in my Accomplishments. Or, put in simplistic gaming terms I leveled up in Real Life.
This is basically my System and how I use it to advance myself (and those around me, like my wife and children).
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: (Rising or Leveling Up)
PROGRESSION – a minor accomplishment such as; making a ten pound increase in weight lifting routine, cutting time off of a sprint, climbing higher, faster, and farther, winning a sparring match (boxing…
He’s wrong, at least in large part and as to ultimate effect.
The historian, at least. The reason the Roman state was the economic engine is the fact that the Roman state had in effect monopolized higher industries and technologies (used for architecture and building, military expansion and defense, manufacturing, mining, road building, ship building, etc.) and those capable of employing them.
The Roman economy was, in fact, far more reminiscent of the Nazi economy (a state-centered command and demand economy) and had been since the late Augustan age, than ours.
Having stripped away this human talent from elsewhere, and what the ancient world had as an equivalent of private enterprise (just as the Ptolemies did in Alexandria with all the scientists and inventors and philosophers and information specialists) was a Roman state that basically consumed all of the best pragmatic and technological specialists; engineers, administrators, military personnel, inventors, etc.
Once the state began to collapse there was, in effect, no private industry, markets, enterprises, or places to escape to. And trust me, if history is any guide at all then all states will eventually collapse. Entirely, or so thoroughly that it really doesn’t matter if it does survive in some crippled and hamstrung remnant.
He’s right about the fact that the state was the engine of growth, but wrong about that being any kind of real advantage. It assured that once the state had monopolized skills and industries and specializations and knowledge that any kind of state collapse would be utterly disastrous for the wider Roman world.
Once the state fell apart there was little to no private (or higher non-state) infrastructure left with which to rebuild it. The grand effect of relentless centralization is that once the center collapses so too must the frontiers.
This should be a definite warning to us. Binding American civilization wholly or too closely to the government of the United States is the mindset of a propagandized and state-educated fool.
Sure, we are still far from the state being the true engine of enterprise or the monopoly of most human talent in America (if anything the state is the very antithesis of most higher human talent and enterprise, or at least the counter to the same), but a great many ignorant and ill-educated people wish that were indeed the case.
A grave warning for us.
If you wish to bury America then make the state the center of anything and everything truly important.
That kind of ridiculous and simple-minded state-centered bullshit has been going on since Athens and Sparta and even far longer (the Assyrians, the Akkadians, the Hittites, and so on and so forth) and it rarely ends well.
Oh, it might go on a while, true enough, as long as your neighbors have nothing better to offer or are no stronger than you.
But once they do, or once they are, and your state collapses, so does your entire civilization.
Tying your civilization and its achievements and abilities too closely to your state is the most moronic of all human enterprises.
Don’t do it. It assures not only a steep and rapid decline of your nation, but an ultimate and thorough collapse of your entire civilization.
I want to reflect on one leading account for the economic decline of Europe following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. I recently encountered an explanation of this decline that strikes me as deeply problematic.
This argument is worth paying attention to as it is advanced by Peter Brownof Princeton University, who is among my favorite historians of late antiquity, and the author of influential, insightful, and often beautifully written reflections on religion and society in the late antique world. As a writer, he has the ability to make the ancient world come alive in original and unexpected ways. I particularly admire his biography of Saint Augustineand recent work on wealth in early Christianity. Nevertheless, in recent work he has been advancing a particular explanation of the decline of the Roman empire which strikes me as incompatible with both basic economics and what we know about other comparable preindustrial societies.
I’ll focus on the summary of the argument that he presents in The Rise of Western Christendom (I’ve been reading the 2013 Tenth Anniversary Revised Edition). His presentation draws heavily on Christopher Wickham’s Framing the Middle Ages . But I focus on Brown’s version here.
It should be clear that I am writing this as an economist and not as an ancient historian. But the problem with Brown’s account does not lie with his treatment of evidence or mastery of the source material but in his use and misuse of economic concepts.
The Roman State as the Engine of Growth?
In the Rise of Western Christendom, Brown summarizes the new wisdom on the transition from late antiquity to the early middle ages. He accepts that this transition brought about an economic decline — a decline evident in the radical simplification in economic life that took place. Long distance trade contracted. Cities shrank and emptied out. The division of labor became less complex. Many professions common in the Roman world disappeared.
All of this is relatively uncontroversial. At issue is what caused this decline? Traditional accounts emphasized the destruction brought about by barbarian invasions and civil wars as the frontiers of the Western Empire collapsed. These accounts emphasized a collapse in trade and increased economic insecurity. Brown, however, argues that the bulk of modern research rejects this old fashioned view. Instead, according to Brown:
The fault lay with the weakening of the late Roman state. The state had been built up to an unparalleled level in order to survive the crisis of the third century. The “downsizing” of this state, in the course of of the fifth century, destroyed the “command economy” on which the provinces had become dependent (Brown 2013, 12).
The barbarian invasions, of course, play a role in this story because they put pressure on the Roman state. But their role is peripheral. Rather, Brown contends that the Roman state was the engine of economic growth of late antiquity. Turning on its head the old view associated with Michael Rostovtzeff that attributed the decline of the Roman economy to high taxes imposed by the Emperor Diocletian and his successors, Brown argues that these high taxes were in fact the source of economic dynamism:
High taxation did not ruin the populations of the empire. Rather, high tax demands primed the pump for a century of hectic economic growth. Fiscal pressure forced open the closed economies of the countryside. The peasantry had to increase production so as to earn the money with which to pay taxes” (Brown, 2013, xxv)
He unabashedly presents the state as key to the late Roman economy:
With its insistent gathering of wealth and goods through taxes and their distribution for the maintenance of large armies, of privileged cities, of imperial palaces, and of an entire ruling class implicated in the imperial system, the late Roman state was the crude but vigorous pump which had entered the circulation of goods in an otherwise primitive economy. When this pump was removed (as in Britain) or had lost the will to tax (as in Merovingian Gaul and in the other “barbarian” kingdoms) the Roman-style economy collapsed (Brown 2013, 13).
This, I should add, is not presented by Brown as a tentative hypothesis or conjecture, but introduced as the current historical consensus. Brown is damning of historians who deviate from it, and particularly contemptuous of those inane enough to blame the decline on invading hordes of Germanic barbarians.
Let us grant that Brown is correct to present this argument as the current consensus among historians of late antiquity. The problem with it is that it is at odds with what standard economics and with what economic historians know about other preindustrial societies. To see why it is so flawed, I’ve done my best to reconstruct the argument.
The first premise of Brown’s argument is that the Roman state was a sufficiently large player in Roman economy, in terms of the taxes it collected, and the money it spent on wages and armaments, that a reduction in state expenditure would have had a major impact on the rest of the Roman economy. And that any reduction in state spending would not have been compensated for by an increase in private spending.
The second critical premise in Brown’s argument is that, in the absence of the demands of the tax collector, peasants would not have participated in the market economy. When “the great engine of enrichment stalled and, eventually stopped,” Brown writes: “No longer disciplined by the tax collector, the peasantry slacked off. They returned to subsistence farming”. It is crucial for Brown’s thesis that, without the pressures of the state, peasants would have produced only for subsistence.
The third premise is that urban economy of the Roman empire served solely or predominantly to satisfy demands of Roman elites whose incomes were crucially dependent on the state. So when these state incomes declined so did Roman cities.
From these three premises, it follows that when the ability of the Roman state to collect taxes and spend tax revenues became severely damaged in the fifth century, the Roman economy went into fairly rapid decline. No longer forced to pay taxes in cash, peasants ceased producing goods for market. No longer emporia for the disbursement of state largesse, the cities of the western Empire went into decline. As the Roman fiscal state declined:
incomes dwindled, the rich no long reached out, as they had done in the glory days of the fourth century, to buy fine pottery, statuary, high-quality wines and exotic foods. They made do with the products of their region.
This, then, is Brown’s explanation for the decline of the Roman economy. It turns out that when examined one by one each one of these premises is either on shaky grounds factually, economically, or requires us to make implausible assumptions.
I think the first premise rests on a misunderstanding of textbook Keynesianism. Simply put, conventional Keynesian theory suggests that in a recession when resources are unemployed, an increase in government spending can in the short-run increase aggregate demand (either directly or via inflationary expectations). The details of this simple proposition have been endlessly critiqued and debated. But we will skip over this. What is important to note is that for standard textbook Keynesianism, this is a short-run effect. In the textbook models aggregate demand should eventually recover (via the real-balance effect). Government spending has the ability to speed up the recovery.
None of this suggests that in the long-run government spending is required to “prime the pump”. Indeed this language suggests a misunderstanding. For conventional Keynesians, the multiplier on government spending boosts short-run aggregate demand, but aggregate demand is not the binding constraint on long-run growth, supply is; growth depends on the productive capacity of the economy.
If anything, the impact of the Roman tax state on the productive capacity of the economy was more likely to be negative rather than positive. Resources were diverted from the private hands of peasants, merchants and small landowners and diverted into the hands of soldiers and officeholders.
For Brown’s thesis to hold, therefore, the Roman economy must have been in danger of continuous secular stagnation. Brown’s second premise alludes to one such source of stagnation. If peasants refused to participate in the monied economy this could indeed be a source of involution. That is, if peasant incomes went up and they spent none of this on urban-based manufactured goods but consumed the entirety of their higher incomes in the form of greater leisure. That is, Brown’s argument requires that at the margin, peasants preferred additional leisure to the wide array of affordable manufactured consumers goods that were on offer in markets and shops across the Roman empire. This is not impossible. But it is at odds with what we know about peasant behavior in other commercial societies such as early modern Europe. If we relax this highly implausible assumption, then the argument that the urban economy required the fiscal-military state, falls apart.
A similar knife-edge assumption is required for his third premise. Research on the earlier Roman empire suggests that the large cities of the empire were not merely “consumer cities” parasitical on the countryside but centers of urban production and manufacturing (see). Brown’s argument requires us to believe that if, for instance, the Roman state stopped spending on armor and weapons in a city, then the blacksmith and armor manufacturer would go out of business. This is a classic case of focusing on the seen and missing the unseen. It neglects the fact that lower taxes would give individuals more disposable income and they would likely spend some of this income to purchase amphora, pottery, textiles or other urban goods that we know the Roman economy was capable of producing. The blacksmith might switch to producing pots and pans rather than swords but he would not then go out of business.
The collapse of the Roman state was catastrophic, not because the Roman state was an engine of economic growth, as Brown contends, but because it provided, albeit imperfectly, the public good of defense. In the absence of this, transactions costs greatly increased, long-distance trade declined, markets contracted, and urbanization declined.
Addendum: The Size of the Late Roman state.
Here I explore a related aspect of Brown’s account that appears problematic: his claims about the size of the late Roman state.
Brown claims that the post-Diocletian Roman state was a “command economy” capable of mobilizing tremendous resources and driving the Roman economy. I am skeptical of such a description being an accurate description of a premodern state. Prior to the railway and telegraph, there were severe limits to ability of states to direct economic activity. To get a feel for things I tried a back of the envelope calculation of the size of late Roman fiscal military state.
The main component of the Roman state was the army. The army grew considerably after Diocletian’s reforms. The exact size of the new army is subject to considerable controversy. John Lydos estimated the Roman army to comprise 389,704 men and a navy of 45,562. The largest estimates are based on Agathias and date from the mid-sixth century. These suggest that the total size of army and navy was around 645,000 (580,000 in the army and around 65,000 in the navy). Historians tend to think these number are too high but we will accept them for the purpose of the argument (Agathias is critiquing the government of his day by showing that the army had declined greatly from the days of Diocletian).
Unfortunately estimates of the Roman population are extremely rough and we don’t have any good numbers of the 3rd century. The population of the Roman empire c. 160 is estimated to have been between 60–70 million. The population in 300 was likely lower than this, though it is unlikely that it was substantially smaller, as recent research suggests that the economic vitality of the empire did not collapse as rapidly in the 3rd century as was once thought.
If we take the largest estimate of the size of the Roman army and take a pessimistic view of Roman population in 300 estimating it to be 50 million (noting that is a pure guesstimate and not based on any definite evidence), we obtain an estimate that the Roman army made up 1.3% of the population. If we employ John Lydos’s numbers we obtain an estimate of 0.87% of the population.
These numbers do not suggest that the Roman army was especially large or burdensome in comparison to other advanced preindustrial societies. In the late seventeenth century, the armies of Louis XIV represented as much as 2% of the French population of 20 million. The Dutch Republic in the 1750s also employed 2% of its population in its armed forces (45,000 out of a population of 2.25 million). The Prussian state employed around 3.5% of its population in the army in the mid-eighteenth centuries. Even Britain employed around 1.2% of its population in its army as perhaps as much as 3.8% of its population in the navy at the height of the Napoleonic wars (approximately 400,000 out of a population of 10.5 million).
What about the size of the Roman bureaucracy? It is accepted that the bureaucracy of the principate was tiny (perhaps 10,000 individuals, many of them freemen and slaves of the imperial household). The late Roman bureaucracy was substantially larger. But even if the bureaucracy after Diocletian was ten or fifteen times larger than that of the Augustinian empire, it would not meaningfully change our comparisons. At most around 1.6 % of the population would have been state employees (either soldiers or bureaucrats).
These numbers are not trivial. They certainly attest to the tax-raising powers of the Roman state. The successor states would not be able to maintain professional armies or bureaucrats at all. Nevertheless, it seems implausible to describe a state that employed less than 2% of the population as a “command economy”.
In a democracy (especially a socialistic one) the general idea is that every man ought to be free enough to be able to do precisely as he will any time he chooses, be that for good or for ill.
In a Republic (especially a Christian one) the general principle ought to be that every man should be trained from birth to will himself to do only what is Good, Just, and Wise.
If you don’t understand the difference between these two radically different concepts and modes of governance (the one commanded by mere herds of mortal men, the other of the True Self) then it is probably because you have never been seriously or long trained in what is Good, Just, and Wise, or because you have made such an idolatrous fetish of liberty at all costs that what is Good…
I remember shoveling sh** against the tide. Yes, I taught statistics and decision analysis to university business majors for about 15 years. It wasn’t so much that they didn’t care as they didn’t want to know.
I had more than one student tell me that it was the job of a manager to make decisions, and numbers didn’t make any difference. Others said, “I make decisions the way they are supposed to be made, by my experience and intuition. That’s what I’m paid for.”
Well, maybe not too much longer. After a couple of decades of robots performing “pick-and-place” and other manufacturing processes, now machine learning is in the early stages of transforming management. It will help select job candidates, determine which employees are performing at a high level, and allocate resources between projects, among many other things.
The future is here! Just like out childhood cartoons promised us, we now have hovercraft technology. About time, right? The Hendo Hoverboard uses a magnetic field that allows it, and a full-sized human on top, to defy gravity and hover above the ground. Despite Earnshaw’s theorem, which says
In this first video we ask ourselves some questions that make us wonder if we’re really living life to it’s fullest potential. You don’t have to wait until something happens to you or the new year to give yourself a fresh start.
Start NOW! Their is no reason to wait, we all have the ability to create new beginnings.
Trust me, I know how hard it can be when life throws you a curve ball.
My daughter was born 7 weeks early and survived a cervical spinal cord injury at birth. A moment I would’ve never thought it would happen much less been prepared for it.
After her injury and spending the better part of a year in 3 different hospital NICU and PICU’s, it gave me a lot of time to think. I started to ask my self a series of questions repeatedly.
In recent headlines, there has been mention of adding women to the Draft. It reminded me of a blog post I’ve long been planning to write. Why I want to bring back the draft—that is, the architectural kind.
There is something riveting about Revit, the way in which the structure comes alive. We can view and manipulate it at any angle. And how SketchUp gives us a sense of space. But now a days, I frequently encounter younger architects who can’t even remember the last time they drew something by hand (other than a doodle!).
Buildings, at the end of the day, are still built by our hands and once they are finished, they will be filled with people. Without a relationship between your hands, eyes and your idea, you remove an element of humanity. You forget the shoes that scruff, fingers that leave smudge marks…
You know, it’s funny. I never actually feel like a “loser.” I have absolute confidence in my own capabilities and talents. No worries for me there. Never have been. I don’t face personal doubts about myself. I have limits, I know them well. I have many extraordinary abilities. I know that too and precisely what they are. I also understand that usually my extraordinary abilities far outweigh my limitations.
On the other hand I do often feel like the Batman sitting atop a gargoyle 60 stories up in the pouring rain on a cold, moonless, pitch black night completely unnoticed and scanning the city for some sign of life. Which is exactly the way it is supposed to work when you’re the Batman.
When you’re a writer though… well, the dark is not your friend.
Dungeons and Dragons, Pokémon card games and role-playing games are more than entertainment — they’re inspiration for the CIA.
David Clopper, senior collection analyst with 16 years’ experience at the CIA, also serves as a game maker for the agency. From card games to board games, Clopper creates games to train CIA staffers including intelligence agents and political analysts for real-world situations.
“Gaming is part of the human condition. Why not take advantage of that and incorporate into the way we learn?” Clopper said Sunday at a games-themed panel discussion at the South by Southwest Interactive technology festival. Clopper and other CIA officers discussed how the agency uses games to teach strategy, intelligence gathering and collaboration.
A Secret Service laptop containing sensitive information about Trump Tower, details about the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe and other national security secrets was swiped from an agent’s motorcycle in Brooklyn, police sources said Friday.
The computer was taken Thursday morning from the driveway of agent Marie Argentieri’s Bath Beach home, the sources said.
The thief drove up to Argentieri’s home around 8:40 a.m., walked right up…
Recently I have been re-reading the classics. Like I, Robot.
After having re-read the book I soon realized that I too had, over the years, discovered at least two of the (lost) Laws of Robotic Devices.
The Lost Law of Robotic Devices:
“No computer, file, or robot shall function, or allow any function whatsoever to operate as normal, without at least one full reboot. Upon reboot no computer, file, or robot shall fail to function normally or through omission allow a user to come to harm through failed function. Normal biological functions, such as heart attacks triggered by ignorance of this law, are not covered by the workings of this law.”
Second Lost Law of Robotics:
“No computer, file, or robot will ever fail or will ever need to be maintained, serviced, or backed-up until a moment of absolute and optimal disaster and/or complete failure for the end-user at which point it will have needed to have been maintained, serviced, and/or backed-up three weeks ago.”
Those of you who don’t read a lot of ransom notes may have a little trouble making out exactly what this one says.
Let me spell it out for you:
I know the exact location of Jack Kilby’s lab where he invented the integrated circuit. Will reveal all for a price.”
And it’s a great object lesson for how to learn to be a consultant before you ever take the plunge. Here’s how I did it.
Ransom Notes and Learning to Be a Consultant
A few years ago, when I worked as Creative Services Manager for Texas Instruments (TI), I came across some information about the location of Jack Kilby’s original laboratory.
Kilby was an American electrical engineer who created one of the biggest inventions of the 20th century, the first integrated circuit.
And I had located the TI lab where it all happened.
I had communicated with a facilities manager in TI’s Semiconductor Building for several months about the possibility of doing something special on the anniversary of this invention.
We discussed reconstructing Kilby’s 1958 lab—the manager had the old furniture, some of the electronic equipment, the carpenters and electricians, and the budget to make it happen.
He also had early building configuration blueprints showing the location of Kilby’s lab, along with photos of the office. I had even verified the location with a couple of retired engineers.
At this point, the anniversary was about a year out.
But before I get too far into the story, let me tell you a bit more about Jack Kilby—and while I’m at it, the success tips we can learn from my experience recreating his lab.
Kilby was important, so I especially want to share his story.
One of the Rock Star Inventors of Our Time
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a Kilby “groupie.”
There are few men who can lay claim to have invented something so significant that it truly “changed the world.” Jack Kilby was one of these men.
His invention of the microchip helped pave the way for the entire field of modern microelectronics and gave rise to the modern computer era.
First integrated circuit, invented by Jack Kilby. (Photo courtesy of Texas Instruments).
Kilby’s patents as an engineer totaled more than 60 during his lifetime, including the microchip, the handheld calculator, and many more.
In 1982, Kilby was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame, alongside Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers. In 2000, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his role in the invention of the integrated circuit.
Jack was a 6-foot 6-inch gentle giant of a man who could often be seen strolling the halls of the Semiconductor Building where I worked. When he was spotted, people left their desks and poured into the halls to get a glimpse of him. Jack never seemed to notice. He was usually deep in thought.
Jack Kilby (Photo courtesy of Texas Instruments).
But what about the ransom note?
I’m coming to that! First, let me finish the story.
I had missed the 35-year anniversary of “the chip” several years prior. Beautiful brochures, ads, and more had all been produced by our advertising agency.
The large and very capable internal creative group hadn’t even been considered for the job.
As we approached the 50th anniversary of Kilby’s invention in 2008, I was determined we would have a seat at the table. I wanted the assignment. But how to get it?
Consulting Tip #1: Know What You Want!
The Kilby story perfectly illustrates that you don’t have to wait until you quit your job to learn to be a consultant.
First, grow where you are planted.
You can learn to shine as a consultant on your current employer’s dime. (And maybe get a promotion out of it.)
Always approach your current job as if you are a consultant and your employer and fellow-employees are your customers or potential customers. It’s all about the mindset.
If you want to work on a project of interest, ask. Tell them why you should be considered.
Hold up your hand in meetings. Volunteer.
Now for the Ransom Note
I was up late one night, unable to sleep, just searching the internet, when I accidentally stumbled across a software program that converted whatever you typed in into a ransom note. It was totally unique. I experimented with it, and then a plan hit me!
The next day I dropped an envelope containing the ransom message you see above into TI’s internal mail. It was addressed to Kathryn Collins, TI’s Worldwide Communications Manager. Fortunately, there would be no way it could be traced back to me. I hoped.
My plan was to keep sending notes like the first one, but with increasing levels of urgency until I figured out how to actually approach Kathryn with the idea.
I knew what the call-to-action would ultimately be. I wanted to spearhead the reconstruction of Jack Kilby’s lab
As I wrote each note, I was worried the FBI would come knocking at my office door at TI. Or that HR and a guard would escort me out of the building permanently.
Sometimes stepping outside your comfort zone is scary. It’s okay. We all feel that way.
One week later, I received a surprising reply!
Kathryn and her inner circle of communication managers had discussed the note and finally determined it must have come from me. Her handwritten response said:
Hey knucklehead, next time you send me a ransom note, give me an address so I can get the money to you!”
I was startled—I hadn’t even sent my follow-up ransom notes yet.
How had they figured out who sent it?
Consulting Tip #2: Be Certain You’re Well-Qualified
As a new consultant, you’ll reach out to a lot of people in your search for clients. You need to be sure you’re well-qualified to do the project you propose.
Here are a few tips:
The customer’s business should be something in which you have depth of experience and knowledge.
You should have a deep interest in their business.
You should believe that you can help them grow their market share.
If you want to work with a particular customer, first get to know their products or services.
If you believe you are the right fit for a company or one of their projects, find a way to let them know about you and your qualifications as a consultant.
When I proposed the Kilby lab recreation, I felt well-qualified to be the lead on the project. Here’s why:
In 2005, TI’s 75th Anniversary had taken place. I had worked with a team of retirees and current TI employees—Max Post, myself, and Amy Treece as leads to research and produce a 266-page history book of the company’s first 75 years. The book opens with a congratulatory letter from President George Bush.
Every employee (at that time there were more than 35,000 worldwide) received a copy of the book.
In addition to the history book, which took nearly two years to complete, there were dozens of other communications pieces produced for that occasion, including:
An award-winning, interactive history website.
Banners that highlighted TI’s achievements, which were hung up and down hallways in the company’s buildings around the world.
An online education campaign.
A month-long series of full-page historical ads in the Dallas paper.
Online contests about TI’s history, with prizes.
Worldwide celebrations in every country where TI had a plant.
For its efforts, Texas Instruments won 25 International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) awards in the 2006 competition—one Gold Quill award, eight first-place Silver Quill awards (regional competition) and 16 first-place Bronze Quill awards (local competition). It was the most awards won by any company.
I am not claiming or desiring any credit for any of this. It was a huge team effort. My point is simply that I felt like I had done my homework on TI’s history and was ready for the Kilby lab challenge.
Kathryn confirmed it was my involvement with the history project that led them inexorably, breadcrumb by breadcrumb, to my door.
I Was Given the Go-Ahead
It took just one quick meeting with Kathryn Collins to get the approval to recreate Jack Kilby’s lab.
My good friend Max Post, a TI retiree with whom I had worked on the history book, and I visited the TI archives to pull out significant artifacts that could be used in Kilby’s new old lab.
The lab was constructed on a major hallway in the Semiconductor Building where hundreds of TI engineers and other employees would pass daily on their way to the cafeteria for lunch.
When the construction was complete, it was essentially left up to me to fill the office space with items appropriate to the era.
The recreation of Jack Kilby’s 1958 lab.
Magazines from the 1950s are displayed. Bookshelves are filled with books that Kilby would have read. Family photos hang on the walls and sit on the desk. Jack’s ever-present coffee cup, ashtray, lighter and pack of cigarettes are there
His briefcase sits open on a workbench, as if he was preparing for a business trip.
Finally, one of the working models of the original integrated circuit is placed in the center of Kilby’s desk, next to one of Jack’s lab books—the one he used to create the first schematic of his famous invention.
The TI history book sits on a stand facing the glass wall, displaying the page that shows Kilby receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics from His Majesty the King of Sweden in December, 2000.
We unveiled the lab on a day that was devoted solely to honoring Kilby and celebrating his achievements. The Kilby family was invited, along with friends, fellow engineers, and dignitaries who knew Jack.
I remember, after the event, one of the Kilby daughters saying to me, “It looks like dad has just stepped away for a moment.”
That was perfect.
Consulting Tip #3: Do It! And Do It Sooner than Later
It isn’t enough to simply recognize opportunities that present themselves. You have to take action on them.
As soon as you believe you’re ready, take the action of asking a prospective customer for their business.
If you can do this in a creative way—one you feel comfortable doing—do it!
Speak up when the right opportunities present themselves. If you don’t, someone else will. You can count on that.
If you don’t speak up, they’ll get the project or the customer. And the credit, too.
Be the consultant that helps turn heads in the marketplace. Do it with flare and impact!
Be a problem solver. Always be on the lookout for solutions to your client’s problems.
Always put honesty and ethics at the top of your dealings with employees, customers, and prospective customers.
Be careful what you put on social media.
As you have promotional successes for one customer, find ways to adapt them for other customers in different industries or niches. This is one good way you can scale your business.
If you can approach a prospect in a creative way—one you feel comfortable doing—do it!
Don’t forget to go home to your family at night. They miss you.
And never rule out the power of a good ransom note!
The Rest of the Story
Interestingly, after Jack retired, he became a consultant to Texas Instruments and other companies.
His consulting advice for us would be:
“Pick something you’re interested in—and go as far as you can with it.”
Phil is an advertising and direct marketing consultant with decades of experience. While offering his services as an advertising copywriter and creative director, he writes children’s stories. He has also been an exotic parrot breeder, a soda jerk, and a professional musician.
My overall advice though is this. (And it has always been this.)
Live an extremely active life which includes plenty of getting out in the real world, socializing with real people, and physical exertion. Get out in the sunshine – hike, chop down trees, box, lift weights, haul stuff, work the land, observe, discover, record, take note. I always do my best work, both physical and creative (writing stories, poems, songs, inventing, making scientific discoveries, etc.) while busy at other things or engaged in physical activity.
Then I memorize those things in my head (excellent and stimulating mnemonic practice) to write down or record later. I prefer to write absolutely alone and undisturbed, sure, but I best initially compose, create, and work out of doors, among nature, animals, and God’s great creation (the very best source and inspiration for sub-creation)…
When life gets hectic, your sweat sesh may be the first thing to go. I get that escaping to the gym isn’t always feasible, no matter how good your intentions. That’s why I put together a quick six-move routine you can do literally without leaving your seat. All you need is a chair and 30 minutes, and you can fit in this workout that helps tone your body all over. Perform 10 reps of each exercise. Rest for 2 minutes. Then repeat the circuit two to three times.
RELATED: 5 Legit Reasons to Skip A Workout, According to a Fitness Expert
Get into a push-up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width and place your toes on the seat of the chair. From here, bend your elbows and lower your body as close to the ground as you can before pressing back up.
Usability is now key to all website designs. There’s no point in creating beautiful content when the sites functionality is not top quality. Usability is a commodity nowadays and well, if you don’t already hold this at the top of your web design podium then you’d better start now.
We’ve become used to an extremely high standard of design and aesthetic, and because we need our sites usable this doesn’t mean sacrificing one for the other, these two things should work hand in hand to ensure an excellent customer experience is met.
Focus on the audience and user when designing, think of their requirements and make sure their objectives are being fulfilled.
We have broken down our key aspects for creating an effective and engaging website whilst not forgetting usability.
Availability and Accessibility – Simple, basic and you’re probably well aware of this one but not one to be overlooked…
Inventors are creative people who naturally think ‘outside the box.’ Inventors look at things differently and, as a result, create unexpected solutions to problems others simply accept as normal. But, maybe we really aren’t so different and creative in our thinking. Read on.
Lives in the ‘Lap of Luxury’
All of us throughout the developed world, think and behave very predictably and alike when it comes our income and how we spend it.
We may buy a quick cup of coffee on our way to work each day, spending perhaps $3 to $5. We don’t give it much thought. We might have lunch with colleagues at a restaurant and spend $10 or more. We come home to our comfortable homes or apartments after work and entertain ourselves with dozens of program choices from cable or satellite TV.
We may complain we just can’t seem to ‘get ahead’ at work. Paying the bills every month…
In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration established the very cool-sounding “Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles,” which does exactly what it says. It requires that 100 percent of all EVs and hybrids make some noise at low speeds by 2019. If a vehicle can move forward or in reverse without engaging…