Thank You For Your Service — a Review by Lew Rosenbaum

[I became FaceBook friends with Robert Sommer after an exchange with Oklahoma poet laureate Jeanetta Calhoun Mish. Bob was kind enough to send me an advance copy of his book then.  Although I had difficulty extracting myself from the book once I started reading it, the content was difficult for me to process.  Difficult as any important story told with lyrical and thoughtful earnestness. Difficult to figure out the entry point into such a complex story.  Thanks to Jeannetta for the indirect introduction, and to Bob for writing.The FB page for Losing Francis is here. You can order Losing Francis (Fomite Press, 2018, $15) through your local bookstore or other used and new sources. ]

Thank You For Your Service

A Review of Robert Sommer’s Losing Francis

by Lew Rosenbaum

 

“Sometimes people told me . . . thank him for his service. They were sincere. They meant well. But now, after years of war, and with so little sacrifice by so many and so much by so few, phrases like that resonate in the hollow white noise of bumper-sticker platitudes that have become the background chorus of our lives.”  Thank him for his service?  What could they know?

That refrain repeats itself, sometimes in Francis’ own words, throughout the Robert Sommer’s powerful collection of connected essays that form a coherent memoir.  Losing Francis gives us a strong and complex rendering of the complicated story of Francis Sommer, the son of anti-war activist parents, a young man who joined the army to fight in Afghanistan. Francis, with an IQ of 140, did poorly in school and barely graduated from high school. Without prospects for college, he resorted to alcohol abuse and found his way to the army as a kind of salvation.  The army deployed him in Iraq and then Afghanistan, and 4 years later, in 2007, discharged him.  He was treated by the VA for PTSD with a variety of medications, went to Johnson City Community College (Kansas City) where he nearly completed his education in culinary arts, and then, drunk, drove his car into a ditch and killed himself in 2011.

I have waited for months to write this.  I’ve actually sat down at the computer three or four times and too much inundated my head.  I couldn’t get straight all the strands, all the interwoven threads.  But somehow the poignancy of “Thank you for your service” seems to strike at the heart of it.  What service?  Francis certainly came to question the rationale for sending him overseas.  When you are “in-country,”  you are obligated to defend your comrades’ backs, because (if for no other reason) you depend on them.  But what about the tasks you are performing on the ground?  And also, imagine the misgivings of parents, like Bob Sommer and his wife Heather, who picket against the war while their son is on the front lines.  Francis comes to understand and support this, but isn’t there at least a little kernel of guilt that can never be assuaged by the slogan: “Support the troops. Bring them home”?

And then, of course, fundamentally, the pragmatism of American life removes us from the fields of conflict, the battlegrounds, such that fewer and fewer people have any personal ties to the wars.  Without a draft, with more and more deployment of drones and high technology warfare, the number of Americans isolated from any action of armed forces in war areas is minimal and shrinking.  Just exactly who are our troops serving?  How does a soldier come to terms with  his or her “service,” perhaps what they have come to regard as crimes committed?

Robert Sommer

Robert Sommer feels bitter about the environment of “so little sacrifice by so many and so much by so few,” where “bumper sticker platitudes” fill the air.  This is how he describes what it was like leading up to his son’s deployment (p. 68):

This is an American project, an American invasion and war, and it is without doubt coming soon, any day, following a long, intense build-up of arms and troops, and fear-mongering by the Administration and its apologists. By now, thanks to additional support for the war (and fear-mongering) in much of the corporate media, Americans have been mostly won over to the cause and along the way have become expert on a handful of factoids about the Middle East, which they recite to one another in coffee shops and kitchens and break rooms and garages and offices and warehouses and bars across the country.

Whoever tells the best story wins the hearts and minds of the people.  And clearly the best story was being told, through the corporate media, and repeated in every venue, over an over again. What makes this observation relevant and resonant are the factoids and platitudes and outright lies swirling in the media environment today.  It’s not clear who has the best story, but it is clear that the best story does not have to be grounded in reality.  And when Francis Sommer returned from deployment, that very unreality clashed with the reality he knew and had experienced.

Francis Sommer – Christmas morning 2007 (from the Fomite Press web site)

Francis Sommer was diagnosed on discharge with PTSD. He showed signs while still on active duty. His father observes that PTSD is not simply isolated to the combatants.  It is contagious, it vitiates families and communities. Much of the narrative that describes Francis after his deactivation portrays his inner and external conflict. That conflict started years earlier.  Robert Sommer tells the story of a call from Iraq in 2004. There were occasions when Francis asked his father to take the call where his mother could not hear.  This was one of those calls.  Francis had killed — by mistake — one of the translators on his team.  He was trying to come to grips with what he had done (the army hand cleared him of any blame) and wanting to hear his father’s voice.  So they exchanged words and assurances.  And, Robert says, “everything wrong with that war was compressed into what had just happened and now what we said . . . turned anger and pity into jingoism and nationalism.”  How can there not be post traumatic stress and its contagion?

The outcome of Losing Francis is betrayed by its title. It’s not entirely clear when Robert and Heather lost Francis — the author questions this as well.  But there is one definitive moment, the moment that the police came to the door to inform the parents about the car crash and the death of their son.  It didn’t matter that they had avoided the scenario they had rehearsed years before, expecting the visit from military personnel.  It didn’t matter that the Francis that returned from war was not the same person as before; or that even the pre-war Francis was, in a sense lost.  This was finality.  It’s over.

Or is it?  Losing Francis brings memory to lyrical life, and “Memory is not altered by truth, only strengthened. . . Like seeing rust on the hillsides, and dying glaciers, and wars.”

One of the most suggestive details in John Singer Sargent’s ‘Gassed’ (1919) is the soccer match in the background, symbolically evoking the contrast between the worlds of war and no-war — a major theme also in ‘Losing Francis: Essays on the Wars at Home.’ (From the FB page for Losing Francis.)

 

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John Brown: Lessons for Today on the Anniversary of the Attack on Harper’s Ferry

 

The anniversary of the attack on Harper’s Ferry: October 16

What can today’s fighters learn from John Brown? 

BY CHRIS MAHIN

“I think that for once the Sharpe’s rifles and the revolvers were employed in a righteous cause. The tools were in the hands of one who could use them.”

Those defiant words were spoken by the writer Henry David Thoreau in 1859, just days after John Brown and a small band of abolitionists attacked the town of Harper’s Ferry.

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John Brown

Because October marks the anniversary of that milestone in the struggle against slavery, it is important that we remember what took place there and examine what lessons it contains for today.

On the night of October 16, 1859, 22 armed men attempted to take control of the town of Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. (It was in a region that would become the U.S. state of West Virginia in 1863.) Seventeen were white; five were free African Americans. All were deeply committed opponents of slavery. Their plan was to seize the federal arsenal in the town — which contained more than 100,000 firearms — and use the weapons to spark a slave rebellion. Due to a number of tactical mistakes made by the raiders, their plan failed. The group was quickly surrounded by Virginia militia forces and a contingent of U.S. Marines. Four townspeople and a marine died in the fighting. Ten of the raiders (including two of Brown’s sons) were also killed. After 36 hours, John Brown and several of his comrades were captured.

The raid on Harper’s Ferry was the culmination of decades of struggle against slavery. For almost 30 years, decent people in the North had denounced slavery and appealed to the South to end the practice. Their appeals fell on deaf ears. Opponents of slavery were physically assaulted and even murdered. As the defenders of slavery became more and more arrogant and violent, the movement against slavery began to polarize. Out of the bitter, armed conflict between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers in Kansas in the 1850s emerged John Brown, a leader who advocated physical resistance to slavery. Brown ultimately came to believe that abolitionists should “take the war to Africa” — that is, arm the slaves.

Brown’s view was a minority position. When news of the violence committed by his band at Harper’s Ferry first reached the North, the raid was condemned even by opponents of slavery. But when the state of Virginia put Brown on trial just one week after the raid — before his wounds had healed or his volunteer attorneys had arrived from Boston — public opinion in the North began to change. As his trial proceeded, even Brown’s enemies had to acknowledge the great dignity, courage, and sincere religious conviction that the anti-slavery fighter displayed in court.

On October 30, 1859, a Virginia jury found Brown guilty of murder, treason, and inciting slave insurrection. On November 2, Brown defended his conduct, saying that his actions had been in defense of God’s “despised poor,” and were “not wrong, but right.” Then he defiantly told the court: “Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country … I submit; so let it be done!” Then Judge Richard Parker sentenced him to be hanged.

Public meetings were called all over the North to denounce the sentence. In Boston, the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson told a cheering crowd that Brown was “this new saint” whose hanging “would make the gallows as glorious as the cross.”

On December 2, 1859, Brown rode to his execution ground in a wagon, seated on his own

John Brown - Charles White (1949)

John Brown, drawing by Charles White

coffin, commenting on the beauty of the countryside. Fifteen hundred soldiers were present to guard the field where Virginia executed this old man, a farmer who faced death with courage and serenity. Church bells rang out throughout the North.

While the attack on Harper’s Ferry was a defeat in the military sense, it achieved its political goal of helping to end slavery. The North’s sympathy for John Brown outraged the defenders of slavery and helped push the South to secede, making the Civil War inevitable.

Today, there is much we can learn from the boldness of those who raided Harper’s Ferry. Those 22 men lived at a time when society was in crisis; so do we. They had a vision: Mobilize the “despised poor.” Obtain weapons and place them in the hands of the victims of a terribly unjust economic system. Have faith in the militancy of the poorest section of society, for when it moves, the very best elements of all of progressive humanity will then be free to move too. Thoreau captured the spirit of the Harper’s Ferry raid with his comment that finally the weapons were to be in the hands of those who could use them.

Today, we live in a world where weapons need to be placed in the hands of the “despised poor” once again. But here we should remember another of Thoreau’s comments about John Brown. Thoreau observed that the Virginia authorities did not gain much when they took Brown’s rifle away from him when they captured him at Harper’s Ferry. After all, Thoreau pointed out, Brown still retained “his faculty of speech, a Sharpe’s rifle of infinitely surer and longer range.” Today, there is an arsenal which needs to be seized by revolutionaries — the arsenal of political science. There is a weapon inside that arsenal that revolutionaries need to grab and distribute to anyone willing to receive it — the weapon of political clarity.

Today, we honor John Brown and his comrades-in-arms best when we use our “Sharpe’s rifle of infinitely surer and longer range” — our “faculty of speech” — to speak and write and agitate against a system where a tiny handful of millionaires rules society and, every day, creates more of the poor that John Brown strove to defend. If we do that, history will truly be able to say that while John Brown’s body is buried in his family plot in North Elba, New York, his soul really does go marching on.

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This article originated in the People’s Tribune,Vol. 26 No. 10 /October, 1999; P.O. Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, http://www.peoplestribune.org.

 

 

 

Remember Antietam! A Civil War battle contains lessons for today

Remember Antietam!

A Civil War battle contains lessons for today

BY CHRIS MAHIN

It was the bloodiest single day of fighting ever to take place in North America. On that day, more than 2,000 men gave their lives to halt a slaveholders’ army. Within days of their sacrifice, the first step was taken to abolish slavery in the United States. The Civil

Gardner_Confederate_Dead_Antietam

Confederate soldiers lie dead on the battlefield.  “The whole landscape turned slightly red.”  Over 2,000 Union solders were killed

War’s Battle of Antietam deserves to be commemorated by all those fighting to transform society today.

In a sense, the process of abolishing unjust property relations in this country began on September 17, 1862 on a battlefield near Antietam Creek in western Maryland. Twelve hours of hard fighting by brave soldiers that day gave the Union Army a victory of sorts. That gave Abraham Lincoln the political protection he needed to begin steps that would transform the Civil War from a defensive war to save the Union into a revolutionary war to abolish slavery.

Five days after Antietam, Lincoln convened his Cabinet and announced that, if the Confederate states were still in rebellion on January 1, 1863, he would free all their slaves. Lincoln was true to his word and, on New Year’s Day in 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This executive order freed only the slaves in those states or parts of states that were in rebellion. It did not abolish slavery throughout the United States. However, it transformed the nature of the war, and unleashed a process that led inexorably to the

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Abraham Lincoln recognized that Antietam gave him the rationale for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. This portrait of Lincoln was drawn by Charles White.

Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which did abolish slavery throughout the United States.

By the time of the Civil War, slavery in the United States was dominated by wealthy capitalists, most of whom owned thousands of slaves. This tiny elite represented about one percent of the population of the United States. They sold their cotton and other commodities on the world market and were an important part of the world capitalist system. Since the average price of a slave was $1,000 and there were 4 million slaves in the United States, emancipation removed $4 billion in value from the hands of capitalists.

At its time, the abolition of slavery in the United States was the greatest blow to a form of capitalist private property which had ever taken place in history. (That remained true until the Soviet Revolution of 1917.)

So, in a sense, the process of abolishing unjust property relations in this country began on the Antietam battlefield. The stage for the battle was set in early September 1862. Emboldened by several recent victories, General Robert E. Lee moved the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland, a slave state that had remained in the Union. A major Confederate victory inside Union territory would strengthen pro-Confederate sentiment in the North right before the fall 1862 Congressional elections. It might also convince some European powers to intervene in the war on the side of the Confederacy.

Lee believed that the commander of the Union’s Army of the Potomac – General George B. McClellan – was cautious to the point of cowardice. Lee also thought that McClellan’s army would be demoralized from recent defeats. As historian Stephen W. Sears has pointed out, these assessments were “only half right.”

McClellan was a supporter of slavery who constantly made excuses for why he would not

McClellan

General George McClellan: his conduct fully justified Lee’s contempt for him.

fight the Confederate Army. At the Battle of Antietam, McClellan’s conduct fully justified Lee’s contempt for him. McClellan had learned Lee’s plans and had more troops at his disposal than Lee did. Still, he refused to move decisively against Lee, and allowed Lee’s army to escape after the battle.

But if McClellan violated all the principles of warfare at Antietam, the same cannot be said for his soldiers. Forced to attack in “driblets” (as one Union general put it), the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac fought bravely.

The courage of the Union troops was vividly demonstrated in the struggle to take “The Sunken Road” – a small depression at the edge of a farm. After several attacks against this strategic position failed, the task of capturing it fell to one of the Union Army’s most celebrated units – the Irish Brigade. This unit was known for marching into combat behind emerald green battle flags bearing gold shamrocks and harps. Shouting its battle cry (“Clear the way!”) in Irish, the Irish Brigade advanced across an open field. Intense enemy cannon and rifle fire “cut lanes” into its ranks. Within minutes, hundreds of its soldiers were killed or wounded. Ever since, the Sunken Road has been known as the “Bloody Lane.”

In all, 2,108 Union soldiers were killed at Antietam; 9,549 were wounded; and 753 ended up missing. The carnage that day was so terrible that – as one Union soldier put it – “the whole landscape for an instant turned slightly red.” This sacrifice saved the day for the Union; Lee was forced to retreat back into Virginia.

There are moments in history when the future of humanity rests on what a relatively

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The battlefield at Antietam

few people are willing to endure. September 17, 1862 was such a moment. The bravery of the Union soldiers that day did not end the Civil War. Lee’s army would invade Union territory again, and the war would drag on for two more long years.

The Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment, the fruit of Antietam, did not guarantee equality for African Americans or a just society. Eventually, the post-Civil War Reconstruction governments would be overthrown and the South plunged into a reign of terror which rivaled slavery. But acknowledging those grim facts should not blind us to the reality that, in a sense, the fight for a new America began at Antietam. The Union victory there transformed the Civil War into a revolutionary war to abolish one specific form of capitalist private property: chattel slavery.

The finest tribute we can pay to those who died at Antietam is to finish their work. At Antietam, every soldier knew he risked his life if he drew enemy fire upon himself by picking up a flag dropped by a slain flag bearer. But battle flags in motion were absolutely necessary to signal the motion of troops, and so, time after time, a Union soldier picked up the fallen standard and raised it high again. In the Irish Brigade’s attempt to take the “Bloody Lane,” 16 of its flag bearers were shot dead, one after another. Today, “picking up the flag” means fighting to end the rule of all capitalists, just as those who served in the Union Army helped end the rule of one kind of capitalist, the slave-owning capitalist. When we fight that good fight, we pay our best homage to those who bled for freedom’s cause years ago beside a winding creek, on a day when the very landscape itself seemed to turn red.

                              

This article originally appeared in the September 1999 edition of the People’s Tribune. For more information about the People’s Tribune, go to: www.peoplestribune.org

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Chris Mahin writes: On Thoreau’s 200th Birthday: His Plea For Captain John Brown

On Thoreau’s 200th Birthday: His Plea For Captain John Brown

by Chris Mahin

July 12, 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of the writer Henry David Thoreau. Much of the commentary about this occasion has focused on Thoreau’s love of nature. This is understandable, given the current attacks on the environment.496e6f6286424697b36fa4e159c73599-640x433

But while “Walden” is justly celebrated, nothing Thoreau ever wrote did more good than the heartfelt essay he crafted on short notice to defend the opponents of slavery who attacked the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry in the autumn of 1859.

Just two weeks after John Brown and his compatriots staged their daring raid, Thoreau stood up in a church in Concord, Massachusetts to defend them. On Sunday evening, October 30, 1859, he read aloud his essay, “A Plea for Captain John Brown.”

Describing Brown’s character, Thoreau said:

John_Brown_portrait,_1859“He was like the best of those who stood at Concord Bridge once, on Lexington Common, and on Bunker Hill, only he was firmer and higher principled than any I have chanced to hear of as there. … They could bravely face their country’s foes, but he had the courage to face his country herself, when she was in the wrong. …

“No man in America has ever stood up so persistently and effectively for the dignity of human nature, knowing himself for a man, and the equal of any and all governments. In that sense he was the most American of us all.”

In the days and weeks after the Harpers Ferry raid, Americans were stunned. Many were willing to let Brown and his men hang. Thoreau’s early, brave stance helped pave the way for other Northern intellectuals to speak out in defense of Brown and his compatriots.

I have been to Walden Pond. I have been to the church in Concord where Thoreau uttered his plea.

Both are shrines.

 

  • Chris Mahin

For more information about the Harpers Ferry raid and Thoreau’s role afterward, see the article “Harpers Ferry: Courage and clarity changed history once – and will do it again” in Rally, Comrades!, Vol. 19, Number 5, September-October 2009.

To read the complete text of Thoreau’s “Prayer for Captain John Brown,” click  this link.

A commemorative U.S. postage stamp in honor of Henry David Thoreau has just been issued, which you can read about here.

Pablo Neruda: Let the Railsplitter Awake

2015 is the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, and, of course, therefore the 150th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  As this is poetry month, I think there is no better way to look at Lincoln, to understand his legacy, than through the lens of the great Pablo Neruda

Neruda 2This is from Canto IX of Pablo Neruda’s Canto General, entitled “Let the Railsplitter Awake.”  Written at the start of the Cold War (1948), Neruda describes, celebrates the varying faces of the working class (“We love your man with his red hands/ of Oregon clay, your black child/ who brought you music born/ in the ivory lands:. . .”), shows how much he would hope for a unity of the peoples of the world against the aggression you can already see in the U.S.  And then he warns about what might happen if the U.S. fulfills its warlike ambitions, concluding with a section that begins “Let none of this come to pass.”

The section up to and including “Let none of this come to pass”  is from the Jack Schmitt translation of Canto General. The remainder is from the translation by Mexican dancer and poet Waldeen, a close friend of Neruda, which seems to me much more lyrical than the Schmitt translation.  To learn more about her click this link, which also discusses the relationship between her and the poet.

But if you arm your hordes, North America,

translators include Jack Hirschman, Stephen Kessler, Robert Haas

translators include Jack Hirschman, Stephen Kessler, Robert Haas

to destroy that pure frontier
and bring the butcher from Chicago
to govern the music and the order
that we love,
we’ll rise from the stones and the air
to bite you:
we’ll rise from the last window
to pour fire on you:
we’ll rise from the deepest waves
to sting you with spines:
we’ll rise from the furrow so that the seed
will pound you like a Colombian fist,

we’ll rise to deny you bread and water,
we’ll rise to burn you in hell.

**************************

Let none of this come to pass.

Let the Rail Splitter awake.

Let Abe come, let his aged yeast raise

Waldeen Dancing

Waldeen Dancing

the green and gold earth of Illinois,
let him lift up his axe in his own town
against the new slaveholders
against the slave-lash
against the poisoned printing-press
against the bloodied merchandise
they want to sell.
Let them march singing and smiling,
the young white, the young Negro,
against the walls of gold
against the manufacturer of their blood,
let them sing, laugh and conquer.

Let the Rail Splitter awake.

Peace for the twilights to come,
peace for the bridge, peace for the wine,
peace for the stanzas which pursue me
and in my blood uprise entangling
my earlier songs with earth and loves,
peace for the city in the morning
when bread wakes up, peace for the Mississippi,
source of rivers,
peace for my brother’s shirt,
peace for books like a seal of air,
peace for the great kolkhoz of Kiev,
peace for the ashes of those dead
and of these other dead, peace for the grimy
iron of Brooklyn, peace for the letter-carrier
who from house to house goes like the day,
peace for the choreographer who shouts
through a funnel to the honeysuckle vine,
peace for my own right hand
that wants to write only Rosario,
peace for the Bolivian, secretive
as a lump of tin, peace
so that you may marry, peace for all
the saw-mills of Bio-Bio,
peace for the torn heart of guerilla Spain,
peace for the little museum in Wyoming
where the most lovely thing
is a pillow embroidered with a heart,
peace for the baker and his loaves,
and peace for the flour, peace
for all the wheat to be born,
for all the love which will seek its tasselled shelter,
peace for all those alive: peace
for all lands and all waters.

Here I say farewell, I return
to my house, in my dreams
I return to Patagonia where
the wind rattles the barns
and the ocean spatters ice.
I am nothing more than a poet: I love all of you,
I wander about the world I love;
in my country they gaol miners
and soldiers give orders to judges.
But I love even the roots
in my small cold country,
if I had to die a thousand times over
it is there I would die,
if I had to be born a thousand times over
it is there I would be born
near the tall wild pines
the tempestuous south wind
the newly purchased bells.
Let none think of me.
Let us think of the entire earth
and pound the table with love.
I don’t want blood again
to saturate bread, beans, music: Neruda 3
I wish they would come with me:
the miner, the little girl,
the lawyer, the seaman,
the doll-maker,
to go into a movie and come out
to drink the reddest wine.
I did not come to solve anything.
I came here to sing
and for you to sing with me.

From somewhere in the Americas, May 1948

Eduardo Galeano: Because of You, We Will Remember

galeanodouble-webEduardo Galeano sat at my dining room table in my Chicago apartment on Lill Street one block away from Guild Books, pen poised and a stack of books to be signed at his side. Breakfast consumed, he had reluctantly agreed to sign some books in advance of his appearance at the bookstore later that Saturday, 1988.   He was anxious, it seemed, and we had been warned that his health was mending after some heart issues. We didn’t press him to sign books, but were delighted when he agreed with our suggestion that some folks might just want to purchase a signed copy without talking with him. After a walk in the neighborhood he arrived at the bookstore. He began to read.

The crowd hung on his words, as he read in English but also in Spanish, and then answered questions, altogether about an hour and a half, and then began signing books, as the line snaked throughout the store. He talked with each person as much as the person wanted; he took pictures with the customers and their children. I stood at his side doing the task that all booksellers do in this situation: open the books to the pages preferred for the signature. And about 45 minutes into the signing ritual Eduardo turned to me with a broad but incredulous smile: “They like me. They really like me!”

Before he left, Eduardo toured the 3,000 square feet of the book store and spent some time looking at the political and labor posters we had for sale, on display in a rack. He fingered the display, took some notes, and left. The next morning friends of ours recorded an interview with him on video and took him in search of Haymarket Square, a search that proved unsuccessful.

Some years later he returned for a reading of the Book of Embraces. In a section entitled “Forgetting,” about Haymarket and about Guild, he wrote:

Bk of EmbracesAfter my fruitless exploration of the Haymarket, my friends take me to the largest bookstore in the city. And there, poking around, just by accident, I discover an old poster that seems to be waiting for me, stuck among many movie and rock posters. The poster displays an African proverb: Until lions have their own historians, histories of the hunt will glorify the hunter.

 

In 1995 Guild Books had been closed for two years, but the Guild Complex hosted Eduardo for his newest book, Walking Words. Diana and I drove him to the reading location, a settlement house in the Wicker Park area, and on the way crossed the Chicago River. Walking Words is a book of myths, some modern, some older, many of water spirits and animals, in a collaborative with Jose Francisco Borges, whose woodcuts illustrate the stories. Diana told Eduardo stories about the Chicago River, whose history included years of being set on fire from the materials polluting the waters, years of being unsafe to drink for the animals that populated the river, years of being attacked by the manufacturers who degraded the water supply and the people who lived on its banks. Eduardo listened, intent, with evident pain in his face. “But wait,” Diana said, “the river had its revenge. Last year the river refused to be contained by the man made barricades, burst through into the tunnel through which the subways run and up into the streets of the city, causing millions and millions of dollars of damage.”

“The earth has memory,” Eduardo said. “That is important. Memory is important. I want to know more about memory.”

A decade had passed between the time I first tried to get Eduardo Galeano to come to my bookstore and the publication party for Walking Words. By the time Book of Embraces was published, Susan Bergholz (Eduardo’s agent) had negotiated a contract with a different publisher, W.W. Norton, whose list more adequately represented the independent ideas expressed by Galeano. How could Eduardo possibly remain with Random House, the publisher who had fired Pantheon’s manager, Andres Schiffrin? Which had been taken over by European conglomerate Bertelsmann? Whose corporate leadership reveled in the literary (meaning sales) qualities of Danielle Steele?

Not knowing at all. Forgetting. And recovering memory.

We know now where the Haymarket was, where the rally was for which the Haymarket martyrs were arrested and imprisoned and executed. In 2006 Henry Holt published Eduardo’s Voices of Time, continuing the epigrammatic form he has worked with, this time “stories that I lived or heard.”   At the Guild Complex we convinced Susan Bergholz to take Eduardo’s strenuous tour through Chicago once more. He read for us at the Museum of Contemporary Art to a packed audience. For many, this was the culmination of what Guild Books had been about. For us, it was an opportunity of bringing memory, forgetting, and not knowing at all together, these themes that strike at the heart of Galeano’s work and of the revolutionary process.

May Day, 2006, just weeks earlier, I walked among almost a million Chicagoans along a route from Union Park to Randolph into the Loop and Grant Park. The steel, concrete and glass canyons resounded with the chants of marchers, many of them recent immigrants from Mexico and Latin America. “El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido” reverberated from the walls of those buildings, the marchers swelling into the streets in a mass farther than anyone could see.

But before coming to the loop, just a few blocks out of Union Park, we came to Randolph and Des Plaines. I stepped to the sidewalk, stood in the shadow of the corner building and looked north as the throng walked by me. The contingent from one union, also looking north, paused briefly and saluted the sculpture across the way – a recreation of the platform from which the speakers addressed their audience that May, 1886.

To bring this reality of American consciousness to the reading that Eduardo was going to do, we made sure that some of those union leaders representing the marchers introduce Eduardo. And so they did, and we had the chance to talk about the sculpture, the march, and that although many marchers did not know where Haymarket square was, and we noted the fact that their march reclaimed not only the memory of the martyrs but the reality of the struggle which continues.

My life after Guild Books led me to become an assistant manager in Barnes & Noble. This essay closes with a morning meeting, the kind of meeting that corporations think is necessary to get everyone on board for the day’s sales. This day was May Day. So I took the opportunity to dig out The Book Of Embraces to read to the opening staff the words about this historic day. Most listened in respectful silence, Open Veinsone or two said they knew about this, I noticed a sneer and some uncomfortable whispering. But when the meeting was over, one of the receivers (the department responsible for unpacking books and getting them ready for shelving) came over to me. He was a Scottish immigrant going to school while working. His expression was intent, excited. “You mean the workers holiday,” he said, “international workers day started here, in Chicago? I did na’ know that. That’s amazing!”

I want to be clear about this: while this piece is about Eduardo Galeano; and while it is about what kind of bookstore Guild Books was; and of course about my relationship to both; fundamentally it is about literature and revolution. It is about history and lions and how, by recovering memory, of making known what is unknown, the lions begin to write their own history.

On this day, April 13, 2015 we learned that Don Eduardo Galeano has died. Eduardo, we will remember. Because of you, we will remember.

 

 

Automation and Robotics News – April-Sept. 2014 published by Tony Zaragoza

Automation and Robotics News – April-Sept. 2014
Check the website http://blogs.evergreen.edu/arnews/ for the archive of ARNEWS
June 1, 2014

China becomes largest buyer of industrial robots

…Fanuc and Germany’s Kuka, have been pouring resources into the Chinese market to capitalise on the country’s rapid

Farm labor still being done by workers . . .

Farm labor still being done by workers . . .

automation. In 2011, Foxconn, the Shenzhen-based assembler for Apple, vowed to build a “million robot army” over three years…By Tanya Powley in London

June 1, 2014

South Korean robots lead the world

How many will be replaced by the Deere driverless tractor?

How many will be replaced by the Deere driverless tractor?

…says Hur Yeon-ho, head of factory automation for LG Display. “There’s no way that…and 273 respectively. The increasing automation of South Korean factories – as well…strong labour unions, the level of automation in the South Korean plants appears much…By Simon Mundy in Paju, South Kor

Robotics Company Prepares to Take Responsibility For Displaced Workers

Momentum Machines aims to eliminate the burger boy—and retrain him to be an engineer

Five Myths and Facts About Robotics Technology Today

An investor discusses five pressing issues about the future of robots
08/21/14 — You’re probably getting tired of hearing that robots will take your jobs (and, ugh, ours) in the future over and over again. But, here’s the deal: perhaps it’s necessary keep repeating it so it sinks in, because there’s a huge chance that it’ll actually happen. The video below explains how…
POSTED: 07/28/2014
Fueled by strong demand from manufacturing companies in all sectors, the North American robotics industry is off to its fastest
04/10/14 — The Boeing Co. plans to deploy robotic assembly technology on the 777X that will dramatically change the way the plane’s metal hull is built, documents submitted to the city of Everett indicate. The automation technology, replacing a crane and a giant cylindrical fixture now used to turn the half-built fuselage…
08/28/14 — Robots will soon be teaching basic math and other subjects at a private school in Abu Dhabi. Merryland International School in Mussafah has launched what it claims is the first robotic lab in a UAE school, with more than 30 cutting edge robots including humanoids with built-in intelligence. Humanoid AISOY…
08/06/14 — The robots are coming, even for the boss’s job. Up until now, robots and other smart machines have been used to replace blue-collar workers. But a new study by The Pew Research Center and Elon University, released Wednesday, says that while artificial intelligence will continue to replace jobs in factories…

WeChat dives into wearables to start ‘connecting everything’

 By Francis BeaJuly 18, 2014
Several health-and-fitness trackers have gone on sale in China, revealing that messaging-app maker’s efforts to become a software platform for wearables and eventually “everything.”
09/25/14 — Cutting Dynamics, one of the leading manufacturers of sub-assemblies and components for the aerospace industry, has installed Rethink Robotics’ Baxter robot as a critical part of its thermal deburring line in its Avon, Ohio plant.The company, widely recognized for its innovation in laser-cutting hydro-forming and thermoplastics fabrication has now joined…
09/04/14 — Advances in artificial intelligence and robotics mean that machines will soon be able to do many of the tasks of today’s workers. And not just blue collar jobs in areas such as manufacturing, but even in such white collar occupations as lawyers, doctors and – gulp – journalists.A new viral…
09/11/14 — America’s top business leaders admit that they would rather hire robots then employ humans.A recent survey of Harvard Business School alumni found that 46 percent would rather have robots perform their company’s labor then hire people to do the same work. Another 49 percent said their business would rather outsource…

Robohub Digest September 2014: Robo-vacuums, regulation, IROS and more

 

Robohub Digest August 2014: Drone deliveries, record robot sales, job fears, butlers and more

 

Robohub Digest July 2014: Social robots, autonomous cars, STEM education and more

 

Robohub Digest June 2014: Robots at the World Cup, machine ethics and more

 

Robohub Digest May 2014

 

Robohub Digest April 2014

 
 

TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING, SURVEILLANCE

America’s dominance in military robotics is starting to crumble

Posted on 05/17/14 by Frank Tobe
Foreign Policy Magazine’s recent examination of “The Looming Robotics Gap” by University of Pennsylvania International Relations Associate Professor Michael C Horowitz, and recent Pentagon insider on national security issues, is an up-to-date review of the world-wide state of military robotics.

Underwater robot for port security

MIT News-Sep 25, 2014
Last week, at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, MIT researchers unveiled an oval-shaped submersible robot, a little smaller than a …

A Military-Grade Drone That Can Be Printed Anywhere

By Jordan Golson Tuesday, September 16
We have 3-D printed keys, guns and shoes—now a research team at the University of Virginia has created a 3D printed UAV drone for the Department of Defense. In the works for three years, the aircraft, no bigger than a remote-controlled plane, can carry a 1.5-pound payload. If it crashes or needs a design tweak […]
09/11/14 — The latest in robotic design is leading to ‘new creatures’ that can move without constraint, withstand harsh temperature changes, ambulate over a variety of surfaces and even ‘limbo’. The newest model has recently been let off the leash.The latest ‘soft’ robot from Professor George M. Whitesides Research Group at Harvard…
04/03/14 — The ability to link human brains to machines, create new life forms and build Star Trek-style disease detectors will be the focus of a new Defense Department office soon. The new office, named the Biological Technology Office, or BTO, will serve as a clearinghouse for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or…
04/04/14 — A military unmanned aerial vehicle crashed outside a Lebanon County school and a hotel this afternoon. Fort Indiantown Gap spokesman Maj. Ed Shank said the UAV was involved in training operations when it experienced an uncontrolled hard landing on Fischer Avenue in Union Township. The drone came down between Lickdale…
06/05/14 — Bloomberg BusinesWeek is reporting that a robot inside Unit 1 of the Fukushima nuclear power plant has discovered the source of water leaks delaying decommissioning work. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) says a robot designed by Hitachi-GE Nuclear energy “for the first time took clear pictures showing water drips from…
06/25/14 — Israel-based Duke Airborne Systems’ Robotic Weapon Station (RWS) – billed as the “first-of-its-kind” concealed weapon system for helicopters – See more at: http://www.popularmechanics.co.za/blogs/hidden-firepower-helicopters/#sthash.aVBB1byF.dpuf Israel-based Duke Airborne Systems has developed a concealed Robotic Weapon System (RWS) for helicopters that allows utility helicopters to fly into hostile territory without an armed escort.…
07/03/14 — G4S, the world’s largest provider of security officers, has a new autonomous robot called Bob that is now patrolling its offices in England. Bob is there to monitor the environment, make suren doors are properly closed and gather other information. Bob is completely autonomous, stands 5 feet 10 inches tall…
07/31/14 — The Israeli Defense Forces have introduced new robot technology to help aid in excavating Hamas’ vast tunnel network and a mobile radar system designed to warn against short-range mortar shelling. Defense News featured the Micro Tactical Ground Robot, developed by Roboteam, a Tel Aviv-based start-up that beat more established U.S.…
08/14/14 — Waterloo-based robotic vehicle manufacturer Clearpath Robotics is the first robotics company to sign on with the Campaign To Stop Killer Robots, “an international coalition of non-governmental organisations working to ban fully autonomous weapons.”The aptly-named Campaign To Stop Killer Robots seeks legislation and regulation that would block people from having access…
08/28/14 — Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), which came up under the public private partner model, has ushered in a new initiative for maintaining airport safety by employing robotics technology.   CIAL is all set to implement a high-end robotic security system with Canadian-built robotic equipment at an estimated Rs 12 crore.…
09/11/14 — Finding and neutralizing landmines is a tedious but very dangerous job, so the Army is planning to turn it over to robots. The service’s Contracting Command at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., has awarded a nearly $23 million contract to Carnegie Robotics for an Autonomous Mine Detection System (AMDS) being developed to…
09/18/14 — Soldiers are used to being weighed down by what they wear, especially when it can add up to 100 pounds or so. But researchers are working on wearable gear that could actually do the opposite, reducing fatigue and the risk of injury when carrying heavy loads. The Defense Advanced Research…
 
 

INDUSTRY AND MANUFACTURING

07/14/14 — Folks eagerly awaiting the availability of the iPhone 6 in Sept. 2014 might not spend much time thinking about who made it and how. But for those of us interested in more than snapping selfies, robots will be making the iPhone 6 a reality. The Fiscal Times reports that “Foxconn parent…

Video: Foxconn, Pegatron Install More Robotic Arms in China Factories

Apple’s suppliers are depending more on robots to assemble gadgets. The Wall Street Journal’s Eva Dou tours a factory and tells Yun-Hee Kim why this is happening.
 
06/12/14 — Researchers at University West in Trollhättan have developed a new robotic welding technique that can reduce the weight of cars, reports Phys.org. And it has to do with incorporating the battery into the vehicle chassis. Here’s how it works, writes Phys.org: Researchers at University West in Trollhättan have now invented…
POSTED: 09/03/2014
KUKA Aerospace is locating its first US facility outside of Michigan in Everett, WA.
POSTED: 09/09/2014
Innovative human-friendly dual arm robot with breakthrough functionality unlocks vast global additional automation potential in industry.

Robots Work Their Way Into Small Factories

New, relatively inexpensive collaborative robots—designed to work alongside people in close settings—are changing how some smaller U.S. manufacturers do their jobs.

French group Renault to increase automation of its Romanian Dacia

Romania-Insider.com-Sep 28, 2014
“If we will continue to increase salaries every year like we have done so far then we will also increase the automation of the plant, which is currently at 10% and …

U.S. Manufacturing: Will It See a Revival?

The Experts weigh in on how new energy realities and technological developments seem to be reshaping this sector.

U.S. Manufacturing Is Rolling on Aged Wheels

Even as economic indicators rise, domestic capital spending has remained anemic by historical standards and the nation’s capital equipment base is getting long in the tooth.
05/01/14 — Most industrial robots are far less friendly than the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, which is safe enough to be a surprisingly popular means of feline transportation. Industrial robots often sit behind metal fences, their mechanical arms a blur of terrific speed and precision; to prevent serious injury to humans (or…

India’s Drug Makers Move Toward Automation

India’s drug makers have blossomed into multibillion-dollar companies and have come under increased scrutiny in the U.S. for manufacturing and testing. As a result, some companies are spending millions to automate.
 
 
AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PRODOUCTION
 
04/23/14 — Lenders are expecting a rise in demand for robotic milking systems, but urge farmers to look on them as part of a long-term business plan and future herd expansion rather than just replacing a parlour. Dawn Ferris, senior agricultural manager with financiers Lombard, said the company was looking “very positively”…
 
08/14/14 — FANUC Robotics has assisted a snacks manufacturer in increasing its output of packed crisp boxes with the installation of six M-410 robotic palletising systems. Palletising over 5,000 boxes of crisps per hour the robots have been integrated into all of the six packing lines within the company’s factory enabling them…
 

Automation Of Global Agriculture Will Yield Significant Growth

Seeking Alpha (registration)-Sep 26, 2014
Technology and automation have powered efficiencies in the agricultural … in the agricultural sector is enormous with increased automation, and not just in …
 

What you need to know about the robots that feed humanity

Engadget-Sep 22, 2014
But more and more farmers in the country are also turning to agricultural robots, as laborers start dwindling in number and demands for crops and produce …
 

Will agricultural robots arrive in time to keep fruit and vegetable costs down?

77% of all agricultural workers in the U.S. are foreign born and about half of those are undocumented (1). These low-wage workers have helped keep American food prices reasonable – especially for growing, harvesting and processing fruits and vegetables.
 

Data-Driven Food Processing Extends to the Farm

Automation World-Sep 19, 2014
But I bet you didn’t know that automation also is infiltrating food growing counterparts around the world—commercial farms, orchards, hatcheries, and the like.
 
 

SERVICE SECTOR

Coming Soon to the Library: Humanoid Robots

They can recognize faces, speak in 19 languages, even do tai chi. One Connecticut library will be using these toddler-sized robots to teach patrons coding and programming skills.
08/14/14 — I saw the future of work in a San Francisco garage two years ago. Or rather, I was in proximity to the future of work, but happened to be looking the other direction. At the time, I was visiting a space startup building satellites behind a carport. But just behind…
08/21/14 — It’s more teatime than Terminator — a restaurant in China is electrifying customers by using more than a dozen robots to cook and deliver food. Mechanical staff greet customers, deliver dishes to tables and even stir-fry meat and vegetables at the eatery in Kunshan, which opened last week. “My daughter…

Nao Humanoid Robot Learns to Drive Mini BMW Z4

09/11/14 — Aldebaran Robotics’ RobotsLAB, maker and seller of the small humanoid robot, Nao, has built a miniature version of the BMW Z4 for the Nao robot to drive around – and it’s for sale to consumers already.The Nao robot has made a splash in the educational community – it comes with…

Panasonic Robot Bed/Wheelchair Earns Global Safety Certification

04/16/14 — There’s a lot of talk about Japan’s rapidly aging society, and how it is expected to literally place a heavy burden on the island nation’s caregivers. Among the many projected problems is a smaller pool of health care workers amidst a growing tide of elderly who require around-the-clock care. With…

Startup Avidbots Targets Robotic Cleaning of Commercial Areas

05/01/14 — Vacuuming is one of the few markets where robots have proven that they can be consistently commercially successful. There’s a good reason for this: vacuuming is a repetitive, time-intensive task that has to be performed over and over again in environments that are relatively constrained. Despite the success of several…

Robot Valet Parking Cars at German Airport

06/24/14 — Running late for a flight and don’t have time to park your car? If you’re flying out of Dusseldorf airport in Germany, you’re in luck. A robot valet named Ray has started parking cars at the airport and can be booked with a smartphone. The best part? Ray doesn’t even…

Musk Promises 90% Autopilot for Teslas in 2015, Doesn’t Say How

A Tesla may be technically capable of autonomous driving by 2015, but will it be ready for consumers?

New UK Hospital Enlists AGVs to Deliver Meals to Patients

09/04/14 — Southmead Hospital, a new £430million hospital in England, has deployed a fleet of 12 automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) to deliver meals to its 950 patients. The droids, which start work at 10.15 every morning, are capable of opening doors, operating lifts and picking up food without any human assistance. They…

08/14/14 — When Sunnyvale, Calif.-based robotics startup Savioke announced a $2 million seed round of funding in April 2014, the company said it would use the money to develop and build its first autonomous robot for the services industry. However, no further details about the robot were shared. Until now, as The…
09/11/14 — There’s a new bartender set to sail on Royal Caribbean’s next-generation cruise ship – a robotic bartender, to be precise. The Makr Shakr, created by designers at MIT Senseable City Lab, may not indulge stories of your latest break-up or offer philosophical advice as it slides your Moscow Mule across…
10/09/14 — Like a real life “Dalek,” Dr. Who’s robotic nemesis in the British science fiction show, a Texas company’s robot is ready to “exterminate.” Only this robot, “Little Moe,” is trying to exterminate viruses, including perhaps the Ebola virus. “Little Moe” is manufactured by a Texas company called Xenex. The company told CBS News that its disinfection robots are in use in 250 American hospitals, including Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan is being treated and is in critical condition. The company would not confirm whether their robot was being used in that part of the hospital.…
06/26/14 — Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro has been creating humanoid robots for years, and his latest creations might be the most humanlike. The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Japan has added humanoid robots to its staff to show visitors around the science museum in Tokyo. Otonaroid is working…

VertiKUL UAV Explores Practicalities of Delivery Drones

Autonomous landings, cargo management, and range: this drone is trying to do it all

SaviOne: Savioke Unveils Its Delivery Robot

This robot will deliver whatever you need to your hotel room while emitting adorable R2-D2 beeps

“Service Robots – Flexible Helpers in Professional Use”, A Film by EUnited Robotics, June 2014
“Service Robots – Flexible Helpers in Professional Use” is an exhilarating film by EUnited Robotics, that is technologically inspired and a must…

Secret Service urgently seeks sarcasm-detecting software

 By Chris MatyszczykJune 3, 2014
In a work order posted online, the service is looking for software that synthesizes social-media data and weeds out false positives and sarcasm. Oh, and it has to be IE8 compatible.

  City eyes robot mower for dangerous work

Mansfield News Journal-Sep 19, 2014
Theaker and several city employees took turns operating a robot lawnmower that city officials are considering for purchase from Century Equipment, a company …

Google+ Stories thinks it can top your vacation slideshow

 By Seth RosenblattMay 20, 2014
Google+ expands automation with the new Stories and Movies features, which create digital travelogues of your vacation.

Google’s Nest Thermostat talks to your car, washing machine

 By Bridget CareyJune 24, 2014
Nest Labs opens its platform so the smart thermostat and smoke detector can communicate with other appliances and apps. And Intel shows off a walking, talking 3D-printed robot anyone can build and program.

Sense’s Mother hub wants to control your day-to-day

 By Megan WollertonSeptember 29, 2014
Creepy marketing aside, the $299 Mother home automation kit by Sense is a really solid smart home option.

In 2025, our lovers will be robots

Chris MatyszczykAugust 15, 2014
A new Pew Report examines the world in the near future. It’ll be one in which robots aren’t confined to machine-like tasks.

Japanese comedian robot is the other kind of funny

 By Michelle Starr June 16, 2014
Can humour be broken down into a series of programmable commands? The Kobian robot helps researchers find out.
05/01/14 — Robots can capture a child’s imagination like no other tool by creating a fun, physical learning process. With robots, kids learn programming via interactive play by moving a robot in various sequences and using intuitive, visual programming on a computer screen. The children also learn STEM (science, technology, engineering and…

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

09/25/14 — Eugene Izhikevich thinks you shouldn’t have to write code in order to teach robots new tricks. “It should be more like training a dog,” he says.  “Instead of programming, you show it consistent examples of desired behavior.”Izhikevich’s startup, Brain Corporation, based in San Diego, has developed an operating system for…
POSTED: 09/17/2014
Technology is the result of a collaborative effort by the airplane maker and the KUKA Systems Aerospace Group.
 

PACKING, SHIPPING AND TRANSPORTATION

Global Supply Chain News: Automation Emerging as Key Issue in

Supply Chain Digest-Sep 25, 2014
With the International Longshore and Warehouse Union now is working without a contract at West Coast ports for coming up on three months, new insight into …

  Port labor talks turn on effects of automation

The Columbian-Sep 20, 2014
The two sides are discussing how to retrain and preserve jobs for dockworkers as automation reduces the number of positions at one Los Angeles terminal by …
August 6, 2014

Rail industry reviews prospects for automated trains

…It would be the first time that such automation was used on the railways, where trains…the London Underground, where partial automation is in use on the Central, Jubilee and Victoria…Thameslink franchise next month as Govia. Automation would allow more trains to run, and…By Jane Wild

DHL UAS Parcel Delivery Gets First Test

DHL launches first authorized autonomous delivery flights by “parcelcopter” to and from the North Sea island of Juist, 7.5 miles off the coast of Northern Germany.

Self-Driving Cars Face Serious Roadblocks, Experts Say

The technical and safety challenges are tremendous, says panel of researchers

Smart Cars Would Save 420 Million Barrels of Oil Over 10 Years

Giving vehicles in the United States the ability to communicate would save more than lives

Google Wants Option to Test Autonomous Motorcycles and Trucks in California

Google isn’t testing self-driving motorcycles, but is there a reason that it shouldn’t be able to?

Mercedes Shows Off Self-Driving “Future Truck 2025”

Even 11 years from now, though, the company expects human drivers to still be “in the loop”
 
07/24/14 — The use of material-handling robots has increasingly become a solution to raise productivity and manufacturing versatility, while enhancing worker safety as they historically have. Material handling is a natural extension of robotics and an area where the technology has already been predominant for many years, but robots are finding new…
 

A Radical But Possible Plan to Connect African Nations With Cargo Drones

By J.M. Ledgard | Monday September 22, 2014
Let me detail here what I mean by cargo drones and why I think hoisting time-dependent goods into the sky and moving them about with a flying robot is, like the mobile phone before it, a good idea in Africa—and beyond.
 

Military Grade Drone That Can Be Printed Anywhere

By Jordan Golson | Tuesday September 16, 2014
We have 3-D printed keys, guns and shoes—now a research team at the University of Virginia has created a 3D printed UAV drone for the Department of Defense. In the works for three years, the aircraft, no bigger than a remote-controlled plane, can carry a 1.5-pound payload. If it crashes or needs a design tweak […]
 
 

JOB DISPLACEMENT DEBATE

7/03/14 — If you’re worried robots are going to steal your job in the near future and take over the world, you’re not going to like what a few professors recently said at the Financial Times Camp Alphaville event. Professors from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Oxford University and Sussex University agree…
 
08/28/14 — In a recent study from MIT labor economist David Autor, he pointed out that most of us are safe from having our jobs stolen away by robots, due to the fundamental way humans are ‘creative’ and have ‘common sense’. With a job that depends heavily on computer models already, it might…

Finally somebody debunks the Pew Research Center’s “AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs” report

Kudos to Erik Sofge, Boston-based reporter for Popular Science Magazine. His recent story, “Sex Bots, Robo-Maids, and other Sci-Fi Myths of the Coming Robot Economy,” cleverly pokes holes where they’re most needed.
  June 3, 2014

Robot makers warned over fears that automation will ‘steal jobs’

…vice-president of the European Commission, that they must do more to reassure the public over concerns that a new wave of automation could take away their jobs. Launching a €700m round of EU funding for robotics research, which will be supplemented by…By Chris Bryant in Frankfurt
Aug 16, 2014 Engineer no.1 Aug 18th 2014 4:50 GMT. How can you not include automation as one of the primary causes of structural unemployment?
Mar 8th 2011, 5:46 from Democracy in America
Union power will not suffice to maintain broadly shared prosperity in the face of increasing automation

The rise of the robots

AzerNews-Sep 30, 2014
For decades, people have been predicting how the rise of advanced computing and robotic technologies will affect our lives. On one side, there are warnings …
September 25, 2014

Robots are our saviours, not the enemy

…though most PayPal customers would never even hear about it, thinking of us simply as a software company. Fas cinated by automation, most people still overlook the role that humans play in running software that would be worthless on its own. Spiralling…By Peter Thiel

Automation has made certain professions an endangered species

Financial Director-Sep 24, 2014
The list of skilled jobs and professions that have been automated, drastically reduced, or redistributed out of existence is endless and appears to be growing fast.

Automation likely to impact jobs in future’

The Hindu-Sep 15, 2014
In the coming years, there would be a lot of automation in the industry worldwide and this could cast an impact on the jobs. India is not immune to this situation …
 
  June 23, 2014

Robots will not eat the jobs but will unleash our creativity

…increase in living standards. One consequence of a growing robot workforce is that products become less expensive. Indeed…intelligence can replace What is often forgotten in all this robot fear-mongering is that the technology revolution has put the…By Marc Andreessen
 
 

GOVERNMENT, POLITICS, POLICY AND LAW

04/16/14 — Mention Daleks and a ruthless race of extraterrestrial robots intent on universal domination spring to mind.But ‘The Dalek’ is also the nickname of a £200,000 machine that is exterminating potholes 30 times as fast as the conventional method of repair.The machine is capable of filling in the craters in just…

Governmental Funding of Strategic Robotic Projects

Many governments have determined that robotics will play a significant role in contributing to their economy and have set up projects to fund bottlenecks to speed up the process.

BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS

4 reports predict steady growth for robotics

Four recent research reports covering service robots, vision guided robotics, material handling robots, and robot component speed reducers, all predict steady growth, particularly in China.

Robot Wars: Why China Is Outmanned in Electronics Automation

Chinese electronics makers face pressure to automate as labor costs rise but are challenged by the low margins, precise work and short product life of the phones and other gadgets that the country produces.

  Robots Cannot Solve Japan’s Big Problem

Forbes-Sep 21, 2014
Robots like SoftBank’s latest humanoid Pepper, showcased over the weekend in Tokyo, can perform many tasks. They can dance, sketch portraits, and control …

Japan holds first “robotics revolution” council meeting

Colin Lewis  –   October 16, 2014
This fall the Japanese government held its first meeting of a new panel focused on its goal of a “robotics revolution,” a key item in the government’s economic growth strategy adopted in June. The panel is tasked with promoting measures to increase the use of robots and related technologies in various fields, extending out of the manufacturing sector and into hotel, distribution, medical and elderly nursing-care services. According to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who instigated the robot panel, determining the appropriate use of robots will be a key to solving these problems.
  June 15, 2014

Japan’s robot makers under threat

…national robotics industry. But Japan’s robot makers are facing new and difficult challenges…countries catch up and hardware – the robot “bodies” that Japanese groups have proven…group, Aldebaran, to supply a humanoid robot that is designed to recognise and respond…By Jonathan Soble in Tokyo

Microsoft gets into the home automation game with Insteon partnership

 By Ry CristMay 15, 2014
With exclusive features coming to Windows devices this June, the tech giant is officially getting into the home automation game.
 

CES 2014: Wearables, connected appliances, automated cars, and curved TVs

 By CNET staffJanuary 10, 2014
This year’s International CES in Las Vegas once again showcased the latest and greatest in tech. Here’s what it all means.
 
 

RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS

08/06/14 — Sleek yellow gliders will soon cruise the waters off Nova Scotia in a high-tech bid to track down one of the world’s most endangered marine mammals and possibly provide clues to an ecological mystery. Canadian and American scientists are getting ready to deploy autonomous underwater vehicles around the Scotian shelf…
09/18/14 — Researchers at MIT have built a robotic “cheetah” which may not be quite as fast as its feline counterpart but does have the ability to run and jump across a grass field without a tether. The four-legged robot, which can sprint at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour…

Robots: How Will They Be Employed in the Future?

Automation and digitization are transforming the workplace. The Experts predict future avenues for the employment of machines with artificial intelligence.
September 29, 2014

The future of the City of London

…European and Asian markets.” This will play into the development and further automation of processes, says Rolet: “The next 30 years will be about the automation of financial information disclosure as well as the primary capital-raising process…By Harriet Agnew
  June 5, 2014

Dawn of a robot revolution as army of machines escape the factory

…coming to your workplace soon. At the Automatica robot and automation fair in Munich this week the organisers devoted a whole section…the Fraunhofer Institute for manufacturing, engineering and automation demonstrated a Care-O-Bot that sweeps office floors and…By Chris Bryant in Frankfurt
  June 29, 2014

US economy: The productivity puzzle

…days, and think, is that person going to be replaced by a robot in the next 20 years? Prof Gordon is also dismissive of the…days, and think, is that person going to be replaced by a robot in the next 20 years?” One curious aspect of both professors…By Robin Harding