Beyond the Cusp

September 22, 2016

Israel Iron Dome Can be Their Asian Diplomat

 

China is spreading their wings blanketing much of Asia in the shadow staring up the claws and talons of the Chinese dragons armed with missiles covering every corner of her neighbors. South Korea, Japan and the Philippines face the combined threat of an expansive reach, possibly overreach from China and the growing ballistic and nuclear potential from North Korea and all from shorter ranged ballistic missiles, just the ones the Iron Dome is so proficient at intercepting. Israel has good relations with much of the Asian nations such as India and also China and could always use a few more friends. The recent test by North Korea of a nuclear device which had the highest yield of any device thus far tested by the secluded and often surly in their relations with the neighboring nations, especially South Korea and Japan , has led to a troubled area with furrowed brows. Israel has the perfect solution for addressing potential threats from North Korea and their rockets, missiles, mortars and even artillery rounds with a highly successful interception rate in the neighborhood of ninety percent. The Iron Dome systems have proven their effectiveness against actual war time footing in the last Gaza conflict. Israel could offer the Iron Dome to these nations in a very affordable and mutually beneficial exchange where for every so many units purchased the nations also finance the production of an additional Iron Dome system for Israeli use. Such an arrangement would be of obvious benefit to all the nations involved in such an arrangement. The United States who had been assisting with the production of the Iron Dome in exchange for access to some of the research and operational data of the system and the production of some of the system’s units by the American company Raytheon has already taken their pound of flesh. Such an arrangement would benefit all involved and would provide Raytheon business in the production of their section of the systems thus also benefitting the United States.

 

Why would Israel seek to offer their most proficient indirect weapons fire interception system to foreign Asian nations when there are presumably agreements with the United States for further production of additional units? The recently signed defense agreement signed between Israel and the United States set into motion a steady reduction in monies reserved for Israeli defense industries. This may reflect on further financing the Iron Dome systems in Israel independent of influences in Washington D.C. Whether Israel will continue to have a friend in Washington D.C. will be heavily dependent upon the results of the coming elections for President as well as for Congress. Israel needs to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. These last eight years have placed relation between the White House and Jerusalem in the most parched regions of the driest and hottest desert known to man and depending on the election the next four years could just as easily be more of the same. Neither candidate for the Presidency has made foreign policy the main theme of their campaigns which is understandable with the American public more focused on the economy and jobs caring little about the rest of the world beyond reducing legal and ending illegal immigration until the economy warrants the need for foreign workers. Both candidates will necessarily concentrate on the economy first and foremost and foreign relations will be a back burner issue unless events cause the American public to sit up and take notice and keep their attentions. The American public has a remarkable ability to look up and see beyond their borders only if the noise is loud enough but even when they do look up, they return to their daily concerns with unfathomable speed continuing as if their attention had never been diverted. The resilience of their ability to focus on everyday life and only passing attention beyond their drive to and from work, their job or finding one, and their family, disregarding the remainder of the world as if it was a bothersome mosquito whose droning wings are but an aggravation is their best coping method and the world’s bane.

 

 

This may be to the detriment of Israel as well as other nations who may depend on the United States government and particularly the White House actually looking beyond their borders when the most pressing problems echoed by the media is jobs, jobs, jobs and the economy and in an extreme situation, immigration. Terrorism, well, only if there are a series of devastating attacks within the United States itself with potential for momentary interruption if there is striking news from abroad, but such news passes from the news and the attention span of the busy Americans is brief for anything not immediately on their view screens. The news networks in the United States spend more time on the weather and even more on sports with little room for international news which they run through as quickly as possible avoiding it altogether when possible as their advertisers know the public and the public cares more about the cat rescued for the little girl from a tree or some viral video than they want hard news. It is no wonder why the United States Congress and the White House are hard pressed to tune into the international front when they are rewarded almost uniquely for taking care of the home front leaving the world to do as it will. The American citizens believe that the two great oceans protect the United States just as much if not more effectively than the military. One would think that the terrorist strikes they have suffered would have disabused them of this notion, but like any normal person, the average American prefers to believe that they are safe and comfortable within their little cocoons with the remainder of the world locked out. Granted the United States is the size of a continent and reach from ocean to ocean and are bordered largely by Canada and by Mexico for a far shorter southern border which most Americans simply would love to see it closed but unless pressed mostly do not place that concern at the top of their to worry list.

 

What does this have to do with Israel? Well, their future has been tied to the United States in the defense area since they terminated the Lavi fighter project and went with American aircraft and have remained dependent on the United States for their aircraft ever since. The future of this relationship has been harshly affected for the worse under President Obama and the fear is should Hillary Clinton be elected in November that relations will not improve under her leadership. As far as Donald Trump is concerned, many claim relations would be improved under a Trump Presidency but still there are many unanswered question as Donald Trump is still largely an unknown. The current aircraft Israel is expected to receive from the United States is the F-35 JSF which has been experiencing serious delays and problems. There has been serious concern that the F-35 JSF will not be truly combat ready until sometime in the early to mid-2020’s with 2025 not an unreliable prediction. Israel’s main enemies are able to purchase superior Russian aircraft which are combat ready today such as the SU-35 or any of the newest Chinese aircraft which are also combat ready. This could be a detrimental situation which Israel can ill afford as she is extremely dependent on air superiority. Iran is currently sitting with the ability to purchase entire fleets of these aircraft with the monies they received from the United States from the Iran Deal and the loosening of sanctions, the payments for the release of hostages or repayment for nondelivered arms after the Shah was overthrown in 1979. There have been rumored further cash payments to Iran for undetermined reasons by the Obama administration. How much additional payment Iran has or may receive is unknown and probably the full amounts granted to Iran may never be fully understood. This has created further concerns for Israel as has the recent delivery by Russia of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile and tracking systems to Iran which have seriously upgraded the Iranian air defenses around their nuclear sites.

 

Sukhoi Su-35

Sukhoi Su-35

 

Israel could seriously upgrade their defenses against rockets fired from their neighboring threats such as Gaza and Hamas and Lebanon and Hezballah who between them have easily over one-hundred-fifty-thousand rockets and missiles. Such numbers are the very serious reason why Israel would be very pressed to increase the numbers of Iron Dome systems and further develop their other systems and deploy them in order to be capable of defending against any missiles fired from Iran or potentially other enemies. This means the manufacture of David’s Sling and the Arrow II systems and further developing of these systems to improve them seeking the impossible, perfection of interception of all range of missiles and other armaments fired at her people, that is what Israel could gain from such deals. Further, Israel could strengthen her relations and perhaps develop closer relations with new nations. Israel recently made inroads sharing a visit with Japan and has good relations with the Philippines after assisting them with their recovery after the horrific typhoon which struck that nation. Israel could also seek to have improved relations with South Korea and with the troubling developments and concerns over North Korean sabre rattling and their close relations with Iran with the two nations sharing scientific and military research developments Israel has more in common with these nations than many might see at first glance. Israel could develop these relations using military trade as an inroad and develop further trade relations as time and relations develop. One can never have too many or too varied friends and with systems such as the Iron Dome Israel has a very enticing calling card.

 

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

 

February 26, 2014

Who Are the True Beneficiaries of a Minimum Wage Increase?

The United States Congress and Administration are once again discussing the disparity of incomes and as a byproduct the need to raise the minimum wage. The lamenting over the rise in the disparity of wages will center on incomes, people will see most of the mainstream media and the Obama Administration referring to the large increase since the year 2000. Their tactical reason for choosing this date is that by including the entirety of President Bush’s terms in the White House they can infer that much if not all of the growth in the disparity occurred during his term and not during their times with control over the Congress and White House. This is pure obscuration of the true realities which the numbers actually prove, that the disparity of incomes between those at the top and the middle class and poor has widened at its fastest rate under President Obama, and worse yet, the fastest was during the first two years when the Democrats also held an unopposable majority in both houses of Congress. This disparity was part of the reasoning given by President Obama when he unilaterally raised the minimum wage for Federal Government contract employees and employees under government contracts to $10.10/hour. Along with this announcement was the call for Congress to pass legislation and send it to him to sign raising the national minimum wage to the same level and he claimed that it was their obligation to do so. The claim was that those families who depend on a minimum wage worker for their income deserved to at least make close to the poverty level in wages and not the paltry amount they currently make with such a low minimum wage. But was this the truth or was this a bald faced lie meant to conceal other motives?

 

The truth is that very few families depend on minimum wages for their income and that most minimum wage employees are either teen part time workers still attending school or people starting on their first employment. Either group finds themselves making minimum wage for an average of less than one year before they receive a raise placing them above minimum wage. Another unreported truth is that in the majority of major metropolitan areas the minimum offered wage is well above the minimum wage as the competition for responsible and sufficiently trainable and motivated employees demands salaries well above minimum wages. Another group left out in the discussion are those who have worked diligently and received one or maybe more raises who will now once again be making minimum wage as the minimum wage rate has been increased to the level they had worked hard to attain. Also left from the discourse is the fact that a significant group of those earning minimum wage are in reality earning above minimum wage as their actual salary is calculated under some formula of a base minimum wage salary either plus a percentage of sales in commission or a straight commission of their sales with a guarantee of minimum wage if their sales during a pay period fail to earn sufficient commission to receive greater than the minimum wage for their hours worked. Most people working on a commission against minimum wage will not keep their position for any length of time should they receive too many periods at minimum wage as that means they are not making sufficient sales to be profitable to their employer. Add the one massive drawback of raising the minimum wage which always results in some minimum wage employees being let go as the employer often cannot increase the total amount of dollars budgeted for salaries so they need to make do with less hours or fewer employees in order to keep their budget within their expense and outlay plans. Then there are those employees who are exempted from any minimum wage laws such as wait personnel as they receive tips and that is taken into consideration when they were exempted in most jurisdictions from minimum wage requirements. This begs the question as to what may have been a hidden purpose for increasing the minimum wage, a reason that has been omitted from the normal discourse.

 

One reason that many may be unfamiliar with the hidden reason which has always been behind the Democrat push to increase the minimum wage rate on an almost regular basis is due to not having ever belonged to a union or have any familiarity of how union wages are calculated. Many of the unionized position, especially many large union manufacturing positions, are based on a rate as a multiplier against the minimum wage. So, when the minimum wage is increased, many, many union wage positions receive an increase often considerably larger than the increase in the actual minimum wage as they are calculated by some formula which is often some form of multiplier. Thus, by pushing through increases in the minimum wage the Democrats are serving their union member base as they will also receive an increase along with those making a minimum wage, at least the minimum wage earners who are not among those who were let go due to budgetary restraints on their employer when having to pay an increased wage. But the benefits realized by those union workers who received an increase resulting from an increase in the minimum wage is insignificant than the ones who are the real beneficiaries in this chain reaction being revealed here. The ones who make the largest increase in their incomes are the union officers, also often called union bosses. The high officers within the union structures make salaries commensurate to CEOs of the companies who employ their union members and possibly even more. These are the real power brokers who have significant influence over the members of their respective unions and can often really influence the votes cast by union members, though that influence has come under some challenges of late. These union elitists are also the ones who decide where and to whom the largess of union monies will be allocated at campaign time. That cash flow into the Democrat coffers at election time is the true and honest target that raising the minimum wage is aiming to influence. The Democrats can plead to be helping the little guy who is raising a family on minimum wages, a group whose numbers are so negligible as to be statistically insignificant or even completely nonexistent at the given point in time, and as a result of playing the assist the most desperate among us facilitate increased salaries for thousands upon thousands of union employees and granting significantly greater largess upon the elite union officers who in turn deposit equally great amounts of largess into the Democrat coffers come election time. Putting it in the simplest language, the Democrats are raising their campaign slush funds that can be used generally, as these contributions go to the party to be distributed as seen necessary in order to get around campaign finance limitations on candidates, while pretending to care about those who are basically powerless when it comes to political clout. As it is with virtually everything done by every candidate, political party and anyone else in a position of power or influence, the Democrats raising the minimum wage is simply a back door way to deposit even more cash into their coffers allowing for electioneering in the foreseeable future.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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