Chicago Education Summit to Defend Public Education

Despite flooded roads which made travel difficult, teachers students and parents filled the auditorium of Ariel Community Academy on the south side of Chicago July 24 for a summit called by CORE (the Caucus Of Rank-and-file Educators of the teachers union, recent overwhelming victors in the hotly contested union election).  Judging by today’s meeting, CORE is not going to rest on its election laurels.  Karen Lewis, co-chair of the caucus and the new CTU president, spoke vigorously about the threats that come with concessions to the Board of Education and CEO Ron Huberman.  While demanding budget transparency, Lewis pointed out that concessions to the powers that run the schools has led to firing teachers in spite of agreements.  Tom Tresser, a Green Party candidate for Cook County Board President and a long time arts and community activist, revealed figures that show how the city is hiding a massive cash surplus created fom Tax Increment Financing districts (TIFs)  that rightfully belongs to the schools and could close the funding gap that threatens schools, according to the city.  Lewis was even more insistent as she closed her speech out, calling on her audience to call their state representatives, who have withheld state moneys from public education for years (long before the “budget crisis” started).  She urged attendees to tell their representatives that, “when you don’t pay your house payment, you lose your house;  when you don’t pay your visa card, they won’t let you use it any more.”  Where, then, is the accountability for the state not paying its contractual bills?

Union leaders may have been thinking of the article in Friday’s New York Times that detailed how Washington D.C. school superintendent Michele Rhee just fired 5% of public school teachers under an agreement reached with AFT president Randi Weingarten.  Earlier this year Weingarten accepted tying teacher evaluations to test scores.  The result: Rhee fired 241 teachers (302 employees all told).  The excuse?  Most were given very low ratings based on test scores.  Lewis and others object that this ratings system is flawed, without institutional efforts to give teachers resources to improve their own scores.  They also point out that teachers are handicapped by under-resourced schools and community issues beyond their control.  Most important, this system puts in the hands of administrators the same kinds of power to hire and fire that famously exists throughout private industry (and existed in teaching for many years) where hiring and firing is subject to the whim of the employer, all under the guise of objectivity — the same objectivity that we use to judge the success and failure of our students.

Underlying this process is the increasing automation of  teaching.  While the high stakes testing is largely detested by teachers who find that it undercuts any effort to stimulate critical thinking processes, at the same time it makes it convenient for grading larger classes with fewer and less experienced staff.  It fuels a multibillion dollar private industry that feeds on new textbook publishing and testing.  It is the leading edge of the educational corporate advance (comparable to that is seen in every service industry, from McDonald’s to Walmart to Barnes and Noble).  Unleashing new technologies into teaching is not in itself inimical.  But in the hands of private, commodity producing corporations it necessarily aims at making redundant a skilled work force.

CORE holds its next membership meeting at Operation Push Monday, July 26.  Non CPS teachers are welcome to join as associate members.

July 28 the Board of Education meets again.  Once again the charade of a public meeting will take place.  Once again CORE is calling on teachers and community to attend an 8 AM rally in front of the Board building at 125 S. Clark St. and to stand with CORE in confronting the Board.  Make no mistake, Lewis and the new CTU leadership are making efforts to meet and negotiate with the Board.  At the same time, they recognize that meetings with the Board do not substitute for organizing and educating the CTU membership.

Frida Kahlo

Roxanne Amico reminded me that Frida Kahlo’s birthday was in early July.  Her birth certificate lists her actual birth date as July 6, 1907;  she herself told people she was born July 7, 1910, coinciding with the birth of modern Mexico in the revolution.

Here are some links that give a visual and audio appreciation of the life and work of Frida Kahlo:

http://www.fkahlo.com/# The Kahlo official incorporated site.

http://www.sfmoma.org/multimedia/interactive_features/frida_kahlo?autoplay=true The SF Museum of Modern Art exhibit.

http://www.pbs.org/weta/fridakahlo/life/index.html A PBS article on the life of Frida Kahlo.

http://channel.walkerart.org/play/frida-kahlo-opening-day-talk-with-hayden-herrera/ Biographer Hayden Herrera discusses Kahlo at the Walker Art Museum exhibit of her work.

Albert Einstein — Why Socialism?

[When Einstein wrote this for the first issue of Monthly Review magazine, the doctrine being discussed -- socialism or communism -- was mostly an ideological construct without an objective movement that could accomplish it.  This is not to cast aspersions upon those who fought for and in many cases gave their lives to see some form of cooperative society emerge.  Many were audacious and seized the time as it arose and presented itself to them.  Their choice was to climb the mountain -- or to see their comrades perish because they did not try.  The situation we face today is profoundly different.  We're caught in a different conundrum.

Today we see ever decreasing cost of production of increasing amounts of commodities, the result of which is cheapening of the value of all commodities including the ability to work.  That fundamental revolutionary process throws people out of work and leaves those left in jobs to decreasing wages.  This creates a group of people who are no longer within the framework called capitalist-worker. They can no longer advance by seeking a bigger piece of an increasing pie. They cannot regain acceptance into the capitalist-worker dynamic.  Therefore, for them the only recourse in society is the radical reconstruction of the society -- the objective need for a cooperative society joins the ideological demand for one.

At times like these, one of the features that make humans unique can come to the fore: the creative imagination can envision the kind of future possible, so that all can more effectively embrace the battle for the future.  This, it seems to me, is one of the things especially useful about this article by Einstein.  In particular, he raises some fundamental questions about education.

" Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career."

In the new society, posits Einstein, education would aim toward social goals.

"The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society."

This article does not provide formulae or "answers": It opens a dialogue that all must join. -- Lew Rosenbaum]

Why Socialism?

By Albert Einstein

This essay was originally published in the first issue of Monthly Review (May 1949).

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has—as is well known—been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called “the predatory phase” of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supra-national organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: “Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?”

I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept “society” means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society—in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence—that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is “society” which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word “society.”

It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished—just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human being which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly-centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time—which, looking back, seems so idyllic—is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free labor contract” for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from “pure” capitalism.

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers’ goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances, free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful taboo, I consider the foundation of this magazine to be an important public service.

Journal of Ordinary Thought at the Printers Ball

NWA presents our writers and their work at more than 25 events and readings each year. Join us at a reading or performance to hear the writers tell their stories in person. And check out photos from past events at our Flickr page.


The Printers’ Ball
Friday, July 30th
The Ludington Building, Columbia College Chicago
1104 S. Wabash Ave.
6–11:00pm.

The Journal of Ordinary Thought will be represented at this annual celebration of literary culture founded by Poetry magazine and other independent Chicago literary organizations. Free and open to all ages.

Be the first to know about everything NWA and JOT by signing up for our newsletter and following us on Facebook!!!

http://www.jot.org/events.php

The current newsletter also offers a preview of the summer issue of JOT.

July 18 Automation & Robotics News — Tony Zaragoza

Click the archives link to access all articles

Automation and Robotics News–July 18, 2010

Highlights: New organization by topic including terror, military & policing, industry, job displacement, government,

STUDENTS: MEET YOUR NEW TEACHER! Andrea Thomaz, right, and Nick DePalma in 2009 with Simon, a robot being developed at Georgia Tech.

industry, agriculture, business of robotics and automation, research and new developments…

Archives:http://academic.evergreen.edu/z/zaragozt/arnews.htm

TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING
Korean machine-gun robots start DMZ duty

Tim Hornyak  ·  Wed Jul 14 2010 – CNET

Samsung’s SGR-1 robot has already starred in an action film. Now the machine gun-toting badass is taking on intruders along Korea’s DMZ.

Countries Look To Robot Armies For Border Defense

Huffington Post (blog) – Jul 14, 2010

He says we could have underground robots that will pop up and give border-crossers heart attacks. They could be forty feet tall, breathe fire and look like …
South Korea’s DMZ Sentry Robot Is Licensed to Kill

There are few borders more heavily guarded than the one dividing North and <http://gizmodo.com/tag/southkorea/>South Korea. That became even more true last month, when Seoul stationed a a heat-, voice-, and motion-detecting surveillance robot in the Demilitarized Zone. With guns.

Lockheed Using Gravity to Spot ‘Subterranean Threats’

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/drummk/>Katie Drummond, July 15, 2010  |

The military could soon be hunting for terror threats using detailed maps of the planet’s subterranean territory — thanks to aerial vehicles that tap into the “anomalous gravity signature[s]” of structures built beneath the earth’s surface. Lockheed Martin has received a $4.8 million, 12-month contract to create a prototype sensor that spots, categorizes and maps man-made facilities concealed underground. And does it all from the safety of the sky, embedded in a drone and linked to cameras that’d stream the data in real-time.

In a First, Full-Sized Robo-Copter Flies With No Human Help

Olivia Koski July 14, 2010

In mid-June, a single-turbine helicopter took off from a test field in Mesa, Arizona, avoided obstacles during flight, scoped out a landing site and landed safely. It’s the kind of flight choppers have made tens of thousands of times before. Except this time, the helicopter did it entirely on its own — with no humans involved. It was the first fully autonomous flight of a full-sized chopper, ever.

Hydrogen-Powered Drone Could Be The iPad of Spy Planes

Spencer Ackerman, July 13, 2010

It can stay aloft in the stratosphere for up to four days, powered by hydrogen. It can carry up to 450 lbs. worth of spy gear And it sounds like a Bond villain. Meet the Phantom Eye. Its manufacturer thinks it could be the iPad of unmanned aerial vehicles. At a time when much of drone tech is shrinking, the Phantom Eye is a big mother. It’s got a 150-foot wingspan. The thing itself — unveiled by Boeing today — relies on two 2.3 liter, four cylinder engines that create 150 horsepower each, according to a company press release, allowing it to cruise at 150 knots. But the company didn’t specify much about its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, aside from issuing a vague quote assuring that the Phantom Eye “could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications.” So why is it an iPad-esque potential game-changer?

Darpa Plots Death >From Above, On-Demand

Noah Shachtman, July 12, 2010

Before a bomb gets dropped in Afghanistan, dozens of people weigh in: Air controllers bark coordinates over a radio; officers double-check the target’s location against digital maps; pilots survey the scene with cameras from on high; far-flung intelligence analysts scour the plane’s footage and discuss it in a secure chat room; military lawyers make sure the strike complies with the rules of war; commanders weigh the potential combat benefits of a bomb against the risks of civilian deaths. Darpa would like to cut out all those middle men. . . .

INDUSTRY

Ford Motor India Hires Robots

07/09/10, India Real Time, WSJ

At Ford Motor India’s Chennai plant, a team of robots has been drafted in to cope with surging demand. Ninety-two of the high-tech robots are installed across the plant and take on up to 30% of the total workload. This includes mostly repetitive tasks, such as applying successive coats of paint, . . .

AGRICULTURE

Cultibotics: literally green robotics

John Payne on 04 Jul 2010

The application of robotics to ecologically robust crop production has been a long-term interest of mine (see http://cultibotics.blogspot.com ), long enough that I’ve had plenty of opportunity for despair at the slow pace of progress. That situation now seems to be turning around. I am aware of a few examples of relevant projects, but would greatly appreciate assistance in accumulating others.

JOB DISPLACEMENT

ParkPlus automation will cause 33 city job losses

Calgary Herald – Jul 9, 2010

The Calgary Parking Authority’s shift to ParkPlus in its downtown parkades will mean layoffs for 33 full-time and part-time parking attendants. Starting in August with the convention centre parkade, the city-owned agency will phase out the facility’s attendants and security entry-exit arms, replacing them with the same computerized system used for surface lots and street parking. “Many of our competitors already have automation in their facilities, and, indeed, we are following that trend,” he said. The affected workers have been …

GOVERNMENT

Report on poll fraud: plug gaps, or nix automation

Business Mirror – Fernan Marasigan – Jun 27, 2010

SPORADIC cheating in the country’s first automated general elections last month appears to be confined to local races, the chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms has concluded. But these, taken with the “fitful credibility” with which technical provider Smartmatic-TIM explained crucial date-and-time stamp issues in the vote-counting machine,. . .

BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS

Seattle to be Last Stop on Siemens Answers for Industry Tour

Learn How Energy Efficiency, Automation and Services are Transforming Business

ATLANTA, Jul 15, 2010 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) — After nearly 3,000 attendees in five cities, Siemens Industry, Inc. today announced that the sixth and final stop for its Answers for Industry (AFI) conference will be Seattle. The two-day conference, which focuses on enhancing competitiveness through efficient manufacturing, green buildings and renewable energy, will take place Aug. 24-25, 2010, at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Wash.

Robots as the next big industry?

Computerworld -Patrick Thibodeau – Jul 14, 2010

ATLANTA — The hardest thing about artificial intelligence (AI) is keeping your imagination in check. A visit to some robotic displays at an AI conference here opens the mind to incredible possibilities.  Imagine, for instance, CNBC’s Jim Cramer, who just about jumps up and down when he talks about the “mobile Internet tsunami,” doing something similar for the “robotics tsunami” as the next big industry. It is that kind of thinking that AI can trigger. However, for the wonder of watching a robot with expressive eye movements, there is a competing reality that progress is slow. For a sense of the timeline, the Conference on Artificial Intelligence marks its silver anniversary next year.

Students, Meet Your New Teacher, Mr. Robot

By BENEDICT CAREY and JOHN MARKOFF, July 10, 2010

LOS ANGELES — The boy, a dark-haired 6-year-old, is playing with a new companion.  The two hit it off quickly — unusual for the 6-year-old, who has autism — and the boy is imitating his playmate’s every move, now nodding his head, now raising his arms.  “Like Simon Says,” says the autistic boy’s mother, seated next to him on the floor. Yet soon he begins to withdraw; in a video of the session, he covers his ears and slumps against the wall.  But the companion, a three-foot-tall robot being tested at the University of Southern California, maintains eye contact and performs another move, raising one arm up high.  Up goes the boy’s arm — . . .

RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS

The Robotic Butterfly That Flies Like The Real Thing

GIZMODO

The ChouChou Robotic Butterfly is just like a real butterfly, except it can live forever. Or at least until its battery runs out. You won’t even know the difference, just watch it fly.

Oceanscience Group wins grant to develop swarming river robots

July 12, 2010 ROBOTIC WORLD NEWS

The Oceanscience Group, an Oceanside technology company, has been awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I contract by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Oceanscience’s institutional collaborator on the project is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Center for Ocean Engineering.  Oceanscience will work with MIT Professor Henrik Schmidt to develop a fleet of self-organizing drifting floats that will survey rivers autonomously. These small “smart” floats will travel in intercommunicating groups . . .

Centipede Robot
16 Jul 2010 ROBOTS PODCAST NEWS FORUM

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a microrobot with 512 feet. The robot is about the size of a fingernail and weighs about half a gram. Each of the 512 robot feet consists of an electrical wire sandwiched between two materials that expand differently under heat. By passing a current through the electrical wire, one material expands more than the other, making the feet curl. The small size of the feet results in a very large surface area . . .

QinetiQ’s Zephyr Unmanned Aircraft Soars to New World Records
ROBOTICS TRENDS

07.16.2010 — Solar solar powered high-altitude long-endurance unmanned air system doubles the unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight and is expected to continue flying. QinetiQ announced that Zephyr, a solar powered high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) Unmanned Air System (UAS) smashed a number of long-standing world records while flying for a week.  Flying high above the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, Zephyr has passed the seven day / 168 hour mark and the clock is still running. This DOUBLES the unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight of 82 hours, 37 minutes set in 2008 and already held by Zephyr, and is well in excess of the current official world record of 30 hours 24 minutes set by Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4A Global Hawk on 22 March 2001.  As a bold statement of intent QinetiQ invited . . .

Robot Submarine Patrols Lake Michigan for Climate-Change Study
Autonomous underwater robots studies fish populations.

07.06.2010 — Purdue University researchers are using an autonomous underwater vehicle in Lake Michigan to study how the changing physical properties of water affect the larva of fish yellow perch and alewives. Researchers at Purdue University are using a robotic submarine and other specialized tools in Lake Michigan to gather biological and environmental data showing how young fish vital to the ecosystem may cope with future climate change. The researchers are correlating larval fish growth with various factors, including water temperatures near the lakeshore, where wind patterns might be altered by climate change and threaten fish populations, said Tomas Höök, an assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.

Human Trials Next for Darpa’s Mind-Controlled Artificial Arm

Katie Drummond, July 15, 2010  |  WIRED Dangerroom

Pentagon-backed scientists are getting ready to test thought-controlled prosthetic arms on human subjects, by rewiring their brains to fully integrate the artificial limbs.

Another Edition of: Just Exactly Why Do We Need the Music Business?

Just Exactly Why Do We Need the Music Business?

“…by the midnineties, we could see that digital music would soon be forcing change on the recording industry….Spyder [husband and collaborator] was fascinated by the impact on the actual music and the limitless creative possibilities that the digital age ushered into the studio…. What I was after was simple: the end of the record industry as we knew it. I wanted to see the collapse of the major labels’ stronghold on music…. If the labels didn’t get on board with the digital age, they would implode. And since we despised the way they did business, we figured we’d be only too happy to stand by and watch it happen.”

– from Between a Heart and a Rock Place, the autobiography of Pat Benatar with Patsi Bale Cox

http://www.rockrap.com/

Day 91 — Roxanne Amico

Day 91: Bev’s take + Our stake in the story by Roxanne Amico

Posted on July 20, 2010 by dandelionsalad

by Roxanne Amico
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
Spirit Morph Studio
July 20, 2010

Today is DAY NINETY-ONE in the BP crimes against our planet and people.  The corporatacracy of US-BP wants you to believe that because (they SAY) the “leak” is capped, the story is happily ended. NOT. First, the leak is NOT stopped.  Second, the story of their lies and murderous ways continues below.  Below first is a quote apropos to this post, and then

Pointe Aux Chenes, LA -- July 19: A crane flies past an oiled marsh. Officials are concerned about leakage near the reportedly capped well. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty images)

my commentary, and then another installment of (33) excerpts and links about what’s going on a mile below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, while the ticker tape tells us more tricks… [NOTE: I’ve been aiming for shorter more frequent posts with fewer links, but since my last post, my car has given me serious headaches and taken up a lot of energy and time.  I don’t like when my job and personal life derail my work, but sometimes I just have to ride that wave…Thankfully, writing is one of my rafts on that river…] Read more by clicking here.

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