Beyond the Cusp

February 29, 2016

Northrop Grumman Long-Range B-21 Bomber Plans Unveiled

 

We could file this one under the it’s about time file, but perhaps we should wait and see what develops. We have heard of a new aircraft to replace the aging B-52 fleet which has been around almost as long as Donald Trump. John McCain announced Thursday he would block the Air Forces using the often used method of cost plus type of contract on the proposed plan as it would leave the government responsible for cost overruns with no incentive for Northrop Grumman to work to avoid such costs. The engineering and development phase of the program is valued at $21.4 billion according to the Air Force and is conditioned on a cost plus contract with incentive fees for coming in on budget. Such cost plus with incentive presumably works that if an incentive is juicy enough the contractor will produce the bid for project on budget in order to receive the incentive which would presumably be pure profit as no additional work is required within the scheduled time-frame. This, of course, begs a simple question as to whether the company is really doing any additional work to bring any project in under budget and gain the incentive is really more profitable for the company than having cost overruns and extensions on the delivery dates or whether running a project over budget and time is not more profitable as it also keeps employees on a project until the next project perhaps with the Navy or Army can be procured. The game of defense budgets and projects always appears as a nightmare in tricks, gadgets and more costs per-project as time goes by. Sure the aircraft today are far more intricate and sophisticated but so are design and production techniques. When the B-52s, now what one might call a venerable aircraft as it has served well past its intended time in service, were initially built the separate assemblies were built at the same location as the rest of the aircraft and the entire assembly had tolerances which today would be unacceptable but today half the fabrication of parts is performed by robotic units which produce part after part with what would be humanly intolerable accuracy. Robotic welding is common and do not even get started on the exotic materials used in these modern stealthy aircraft. So, without dragging this out, here is the artist’s rendering of the new B-21 bomber.

 

 

Northrop Grumman Corp designated the B-21 long-range bomber

Northrop Grumman Corp designated the B-21 long-range bomber

 

I can hear the reactions now; half of us are all but drooling on our keyboards while the other half are scratching their heads asking themselves, isn’t this just a slightly tweaked Northrop Grumman Corp B-2 Stealth Bomber? Well, of course not. This is an entirely different aircraft and can in no way be thought of as an aircraft utilizing the same airframe as the B-2 as the picture below demonstrates.

 

 

Northrop Grumman Corp B-2 Stealth Bomber

Northrop Grumman Corp B-2 Stealth Bomber

 

You can see the obvious differences, the air intake and more of a ‘W’ shaped body and there must be an unbelievably difference inside and in capabilities. Let us go to the source with comments by United States Air Force Secretary Deborah James who stated, “The B-21 will allow the Air Force to operate in tomorrow’s high end threat environment. Our fifth-generation global precision attack platform will give our country a networked sensor-shoot capability that will allow us to hold targets at risk in a way the world – and our adversaries – have never, ever seen.” Then Secretary Deborah James went on and clarified our confusion explaining, “The B-21 looks very similar to the B-2 and will employ existing technology.” Aha, it is made by the same company as who produced the B-2, it looks a lot like a B-2 and the B-21 will use the same technology as we currently have with the B-2 and we really need this new aircraft, a fifth generation aircraft which has so little to do with that old fourth generation B-2 aircraft. All right, I got it now, I think. Well, let us for argument’s sake compare them side by side and as all our searches for specifications produced this, ‘Very few specifics are known about the new stealth bomber,’ we are left to our own devices on this one for now. So, about the side by side and we are not going to label them.

 

 

B-2 vs B-21, What’s the Difference?

B-2 vs B-21, What’s the Difference?

 

We really should reserve final judgement on the B-21 until the specifications are made final. As I recall, there were munitions which could not be carried in the weapons bays (bomb bays) of the B-2 and it had to be one of the slowest bombers on the planet which made it completely unsuitable for daytime bombing for which there were fighter/bombers with stealth which could carry out such missions. Of course having a long-range bomber which is unsuitable for daylight raids apparently was not a concern to the Air Force when they contracted for the B-2 which once the B-21 hits production will be obsolete leaving the B-52, sorry, venerable B-52 as the long-range bomber of choice, unless it is a nighttime raid.

 

Perhaps it is just me but I thought the advantage of a long-range bomber was that it could reach almost any target from any airbase even if it literally had to fly half way around the globe, which, unless the physics have changed, means part of that mission going or returning is going to be flown in daylight conditions. Where this is all well and fine, when the missions one flies are in Iraq and the Iraqis have no aircraft which can be stationed in Europe, North Africa, Asia or on aircraft carriers, thus they were incapable of engaging a B-2 moving at the speed of well short of the sound barrier, makes it a lumbering fat and impossible to miss target. Even training targets would pose a greater challenge. Granted, the B-2 had speed all over a blimp but in daylight conditions it may as well have been a blimp. Hopefully they will have some really impressive thrust to weight ratios which will allow for some respectable speed with the B-21 and also have introduced new avionics and control circuitry and respective airfoils and wings making the B-21 at least marginally maneuverable. Perhaps the main reason for the B-21 is as a replacement initially for the B-2, it ended up being more of an experiment than an actual replacement for the B-52 fleet. This time they had better have gotten the mojo necessary to replace the high flying and initially invulnerable B-52 which still serves proudly well past what I like to call its air show and museum date. So, we will have to wait for more leaks which will tell us far more about the B-21 which, in all honesty, does appear to be a slightly tweaked B-2 stealth bomber. Without improved performance capabilities, they may as well as have put a new more stealthy advanced skin on a B-2 and saved development costs, but I am hoping for the American taxpayers that this bird can fly loops around both of its predecessors, the B-2 and the loud-n-proud old warrior which is older than its pilots, some of whose fathers also flew the B-52, a rarity in aviation. Even civilian aircraft do not have the lifespan of the average B-52 flown today. That will become one of the most respected and honored aircraft and will be a staple for museums, and if any get into private hands, impressive in a low and slow flyover at airshows; she will be missed.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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September 29, 2015

Social Fabric is Being Torn Apart

 

The social fabric since the urbanization caused by the industrial revolution has taken the majority of mankind out of a rural setting and thrust us into a more urban environment. The question which should be occupying a large part of those pondering the future is how will our society adjust the social fabric when approaching one third initially and within this century well over three-quarters of what we consider now as the workforce not only not having gainful employment but no opportunity for employment as more and more occupations are performed by robotic systems. In a recent study Oxford University researchers have forecast that machines might be able to perform half of all jobs in the United States over the next two decades, and by implication the same will be true for the rest of the Western and Industrial nations and beyond. Once robotic workers are capable of executing an occupation, that occupation will be on a fast track to making the human employee a luxury, no employer will be capable of wasting further investments and instead will automate or perish before the competitors who have automated their workforce. Our societies throughout the world will need to adjust to a permanent unemployable class which will far outstrip the active workforce projecting sufficient tax revenues no matter what the taxation rate to support the remainder of society. But do not fret as the price of production and delivery of most goods will be delivered at a great savings which will continually become more efficient and less expensive to produce.

 

One example I recently read of compared the human workers to a former workhorse which powered much of our production either by providing the raw power or was at least required to bring the products to the public. This power and transportation utilized animals such as plowing with an oxen or mule, horse drawn wagons transporting goods from production to the consumers and any other animals mankind once relied upon. In our modern age the sole use for animals is recreation or as a raw material such as sheep for wool and food, cattle for food, dogs and cats as pets and so on with the animals no longer being used as a source of power within modern and industrialized societies. Where the horse drawn wagons and carriages were commonplace on the city streets of New York, Washington D.C, London, Paris and across the world; now a horse within the city limits for transportation is relegated today as some form of recreational use normally reserved for tourists such as carriage rides offered around Central Park in New Your City or central tourist areas in London and Paris and so on. This has caused a drastic drop in the horse population where they have become something that relatively wealthy people keep for their own use and the noble steed has passed its use-by date. The most telling replacement was made painfully obvious when at the start of World War II some of the finest cavalry troops saw their last in the Polish Army until January 27, 1947, when the 1st Warsaw Cavalry Division was disbanded. The initial breakout of World War II saw the attempt to use horse cavalry, as pictured below, in the field against German tanks; one can guess the end result was not too good for the cavalry.

 

Polish Uhlan cavalry armed with the wzor 35

 

The use of machinery initially to aid and augment human workforce was the driving technology of the industrial revolution. Power was initially provided by draft animals or water powered systems some of which have been found dating back well before the Industrial revolution to the Roman Empire. Eventually animals were replaced with steam engines followed soon thereafter by more efficient engines such as the internal combustion engine and also the use of electricity to power the factories using electric motors. Whatever the use in the modern factories of the industrial revolution it could be traced back to either hydropower or petroleum and natural gas powered electrical generators or direct use of fossil fuels as in trains, planes and automobiles. The terminology often used to describe the current stage is the information age though one could make an argument for the full utilization of programmable mechanisms. Such systems can trace their history back to the card operated weaving machines which often were water powered used in the making of cloth fabrics. With the development of the microchip we have seen an explosion in the variety of automated machines and had their size drastically reduced and made more agile and adaptable. These robotic units can be programmed or taken through a routine by a skilled operator and then allowed to simply repeat the process it was ‘trained’ to perform. Electronic automating has taken leaps forward to a point where virtually any manual task can be performed by an automated system even to the point of self-driving automobiles, buses, trains, trolleys, trams and other conveyances. Modern airports have installed moving floors to remove the necessity of having to actually walk to your terminal to board or disembark your flight. The exacting standards can and will be facilitated, and will only become more versatile in material and intricacy, as 3-D printing continues to be developed and integrated into the modern, fully-automated factory with robotic employees and a minimal human presence to basically monitor operations and hit the ‘stop’ button in case of, what will be made less common, an emergency or breakdown. What is frightening is there are robots being developed which would facilitate the repair of such a breakdown.

 

One thing I can attest to from my own work experience is that the printed circuit integrated boards have reached a level of sophistication and the manufacture of the integrated circuits made so affordable that the vast majority of these boards, or even modules, are less expensive to replace the entire part of the unit and send the malfunctioning board to be recycled or even destroyed (in an environmentally sensitive manner, of course). One industry which has turned to automation in a big way has been the automotive industry, both in their products and the assembly of the product (pictured below). The muscle of a robot is one of its major benefits as it never tires of doing its assigned tasks, never takes a break, is rarely ill or out of commission, does not complain and is very efficient. The latest addition to the productivity and versatility of the robotic assembler is that the software is almost to the point where a robot will be fully capable of replacing the majority of service jobs as well. In the future there may well be some upscale stores which will offer their patrons a level of service advertised as the most personal service one could expect, and such a boutique would actually have real flesh and blood people. What will be amazing is those people may even approach the efficiency, attentiveness, level of service and any other category except for speed and acute knowledge of the entirety of products available but otherwise just as good service as one can get from an automated shop. The basic for such a machine requires a special set of electronics which will have a microprocessor board which will contain any number of required CPUs (central processing unit), Memory ICs (both read/write and worm, write once-read many), support data ICs holding the AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the various switching, logic gates, and drivers (all of which look a lot alike to the chip displayed below). The current form of Artificial Intelligence in a robot can take many various forms each with their own special abilities and limitations. Some you might choose to have around the home to do the cleaning and be a walking-talking data base to provide information or even take your selfies and post them on Instagram, Facebook or whatever is the latest and greatest once we all have our personal assistant. (see below)

 

Modern Automotive Robotic Assemple Line

 

CPU Central Processing Unit Integrated Curcuit

 

 

Robotic Personal Assistant and Augmentation Suit

 

The predictions are that humans as a part of the workforce will be limited to personal touch niche and specialty markets but manufacturing will be fully automated within the next fifty years. Some of the effects of just sending many manufacturing plants overseas have had a huge debilitating effect of employment and pay scale of average incomes. Additionally, the United States has faced this drain in particular and it is not simply the income of the workforce which has driven many manufacturers overseas but rather the additional restraints and extra costs of making many products which drove them from American soil. The cost of pollution controls are quite stringent by comparison to the near nonexistence of such laws and restrictions in China and other markets. Taxes are another driving force pushing these jobs overseas. One has to realize what the extra costs with compliance with all the labor laws, inspections, building codes, noise limitations and the additional costs of employees with the new addition of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) which in and of itself has produced an expected quirk as far as new hires in the United States. Where part-time work for people employed from twenty to twenty-nine hours per week has increased measurably, some estimates place it as high as twenty-five percent with the average assessments placing it at approximately twenty percent but on the other end. Full-time employment figures have not only not increased as well but in most assessments has dropped approaching five percent. College graduates can expect lower starting wages with many even working in their field starting at below fifty-thousand dollars a year. This is after at the minimum of four years at an average cost of over one-hundred-thousand a year for room, board, books and other supplies and fees. There are also a record number of college graduates who have been forced to accept employment in other fields and at positions which do not require a college degree, and we are not talking about those who majored in Renaissance French Sonnets of the Sixteenth Century.

 

The coming explosion in robotics will be from two perspectives. The first will be the rapid advancement of AI (Artificial Intelligence) to levels where one would have some degree of difficulty determining if they are speaking with an actual person or a computed employee, basically a telephone operator robotic unit. There is work being done now that has computer programs that write the codes for use in robotic systems. There are cad/cam software programs which enable the computer to design the systems to meet specifications using modular designs which are becoming as complex and intricate as anything produced previously by human beings. The truly frightening thing is that we may soon have robots designing and programming their own improved models and able to implement the manufacture and production of their improved design. This also implies that robotic systems in the not too distant future will also be capable of rewriting their own software and improving themselves for their own purposes. Once the machines begin producing more powerful and more capable machines and are capable of writing the programs allowing these improved robots the ability to supercede the level of competence of the initial robot we will have, as the human race, made ourselves superfluous placing us beyond the cusp and onto the endangered species list as we will have just as much relevance to robots speaking their own invented language and, who knows, inventing their own programming language which will completely shut human kind out of the formula. Let us hope the robots of the future find us to be cute little humans and get a good laugh at the humans posting their exploits on the internet. The robots are coming, the robots are coming and many of them are here already and they are assisting the government in watching you.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

May 7, 2015

Hillary Clinton on Freedom {of} From Religion

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Democrat front-runner candidate for President Hillary Clinton made some frightening comments in a speech she gave addressing the Women in the World Summit in New York City where she stated the following:
“Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth, and laws don’t count for much if they’re not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will and deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed. As I have said and as I believe, the advancement of the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of their societies is the great unfinished business of the 21st century and not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far-away countries but right here in the United States.”
The entire twenty-three-plus minute speech is embedded below at the end of the paragraph. What Hillary Clinton expressed here is almost exactly the same as what President Obama meant when he railed against those people stating, “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

 

 

 

 

He as well believed that those who held traditional American beliefs were the main impediment to Western societies being capable of moving forward. He and Hillary both believed that religion, Judeo-Christian religious beliefs were the central force against permitting the necessary changes they both see as required in order for the twenty-first-century progress to move ahead. Of course their definitions of what must be eradicated from the society are the support given to the fetus and its physical well-being and right to life over the mother’s mental wellbeing and right to an uninterrupted social life. In all of their references they paint the religious as standing in the way and impeding moving forward most often by the religious oppositions to abortion as the biggest hurdle which society must overcome in order to continue onto the path to a future filled with promise even if it is devoid of children. Simply look to Europe and witness the reality they desire for the rest of the Western world, a slow, inexorable marching into oblivion. They have cast the religious amongst us as societal Luddites impeding the progressive political agenda and its advancement. Of course advancement only as it has been defined by the Progressives and echoed as so precisely by a complicit media as it is the apparent marriage of convenience between the Progressives on the extreme left and their sycophants in the media which are responsible for the marriage of convenience between leftist culture and leftist government.

 

Meanwhile, we have watched the decline of Western societal structure as a sizable number from each generation have been literally cut from the society even before they were born. Further, those who were the underpinning of the society find themselves in decline which has led to an extreme increase in seeking of immigrants, both legal and undocumented, as solutions to initial errors in judgement or errant lifestyle that has led to an half of each generation left missing from society since the onset of abortion as nothing more than a simple procedure with no moral or otherwise negative influence. Still the Progressive extremists and their views of life have been cast and accepted as middle of the road, thus making extreme Progressives to be defined as the moderates while centrist individualists being made into right-wing-crazies and Constitutionalists are painted as so far to the right that their views must be guarded against just in case they might win a simple argument and start the snowball down the hillside.

 

To witness how such radical views became defined as the centrist view, one need only witness a panel discussion where there are three or four from the progressive side while as well as more often than not the moderator while only one and on rare occasions two chosen and permitted to express the conservative argument; this is called balanced. There is little to any debate about what Hillary expressed at that particular venue, she simply laid claim that religious doctrines will require changes in order to make them compatible with her and the other Progressives’ agenda. It is this low grade war being fought between the religious and secular interests that will eventually be decided in the courts. It is only fair that this finalizing in the abortion debate end from whence it came with the initial Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, and the Americans have continued debating that decision ever since. This was one of the final deliberations where the court took it upon itself to forego waiting for the people and their elected governments to make legal and to protect abortive rights bringing the argument to the fore enacting the sentence such that they would fit it within the protections within the Constitution. Thus the Supreme Court took it upon itself to make it illegal to refuse a woman her right to have an abortion and challenged those who disagreed with their going rogue presuming to make law rather than interpret law from the bench. This will become the point where the Democrat Party made the Obama Administration’s core beliefs the central plank in their 2016 Platform placing it dead center. Soon after the Roe vs. Wade decision the makeup of the court changed and has contained an odd balance with usually two or three justices, who can best described as truly moderate, determining the balance of the Supreme Court on any given day.

 

These floated trial balloons being loosed by the Democrats and Hillary along with the rapid-fire discovery or addressing of controversies and questionable acts have a simple explanation, best to get them behind them and decide what positions to retain and which to discard. By the time next year rolls around and actual primary election season is upon the Americans these will all be discarded as old news, been there covered that and simply proven irrelevant already so let’s forget it and not waste precious time and talk about now. Should this plank against Judeo-Christian religious based society raise sufficient clamor, then it will never be brought to the fore again but it will still remain as a central pillar, a silent, central pillar. For those who doubt this, perhaps a little revisit to the 2012 Democrat National Convention move to restore to the platform a reference to “G0d” and recognition of “Jerusalem as the Israeli Capital City” is in order. The response by the Democrat Delegates on the floor and the response of the chair are their epic insanity and can be viewed at the Globe and Mail here; you can always count on the British to retain things well past their use-by-date and for Beyond the Cusp to recall and use such trivialities. It appears that the Democrats and Team Hillary have learned that it is paramount to get through all of the ugly and difficult to handle items which might reveal the difficulties and other unintended consequences up front and early on so that the Democrat National Convention can be choreographed to run smooth as a Patrick Swayze fight or dance scene. The one question which remains is whether the American public reaches a point where they have a really severe case of Hillary fatigue from which her campaign is incapable of surviving. With the remaining time and the earlier than usual kickoff, we may be about to watch a Hillary burnout where she does not get past and escape all the questions from her past and instead she simply gathers more questions and doubts and eventually is forced from the campaign simply as too much ends up being revealed. The question remains if not Hillary Clinton, then who? There are those calling for Elizabeth Warren and others now claiming that Bernie Sanders would make a formidable campaigner. There are other candidates out there such as Martin O’Malley, Maryland Governor and former Mayor of Baltimore; Joe Biden, current Vice President and perpetual comic relief; Andrew Cuomo was former New York Attorney General and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Clinton administration is the eldest son of the legendary ex-Governor of New York and Democratic Party heavyweight, Mario Cuomo; Howard Dean as long as he remains calm and not scream eerily; Rahm Emanuel was part of the power behind President Obama’s first term; and Al Franken who is a humorous joke which would make a mockery of the office and a few others. There are a few who are above the fold candidates who have the backing of some of the Democrat elite and thus will be the ones who will be the top contenders. Hillary Clinton is the most obvious with Elizabeth Warren the favorite of the leadership of the not Hillary establishment and lastly there is Michelle Obama who would have a formidable cash producing machine of her husband behind her. The odds between these candidates and the others make for an interesting mix with Hillary probably being nudged out due to her baggage being simply overwhelming and her inability to avoid making incredulous miscues and just plain saying the dumbest thing at the worst possible moment. This plus the fact that her voice is simply grating on the nerves which also makes her miscues even more horrific and damning. Michelle Obama has improved her presence and has learned from her mistakes made during her husband’s campaigning. Still, Michelle Obama also has grated on the nerves of too many people including many in the liberal media which will work against her. Add to that the statements she had made about the electing of her husband as the moment which made her feel proud about her country and other haunting statements which will be used against her. The worst thing thus far which can be used against Elizabeth Warren would be her reference to having been partly Native American which she can easily dismiss and give a heartfelt, or at least appearing to be heartfelt apology and she would probably be permitted to march on unscathed as that would become old news almost immediately and she has no other thus far obvious mea culpas to trip her candidacy over. This latest Hillary statement may simply become something which could balloon and become literally overwhelming as it will play very poorly in Iowa, South Carolina, parts of Florida and possibly New Hampshire. If Hillary Clinton is going to implode it will become evident very quickly and then it will blow the door wide open and let the torrential flood of candidates begin.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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