Monthly Archives: March 2007

Needed technological advances

In keeping with Instapundit’s list of needed technological advances, here are four of mine

  • Cheaper Carbon Fiber materials – Much lighter and much stronger than metal, but at the moment, much more expensive. If this cost could be brought down many other technologies become economical, electric cars, prefabbed buildings, small scale wind generation, etc.
  • Smart traffic lights – while these do exist at the moment, they are not in wide use. I live in a traffic-light heavy part of the city. I also do most of my car travel at non-peak hours. I still stop at most of the lights for no reason whatsoever. Smart lights (these exist already) would sense if there is a car that needs to get by and turn green (assuming there was no competing traffic) and then snap back to it’s existing cycle.
  • Decentralized electric power – To my knowledge, the main power grid has not been modernized, ever.
  • Cheap wholesale medical testing – imagine just having a machine in your home that could analyze your blood or urine every day or week and test it for the top 50 detectable problems. If all of these problems are caught at the first opportunity, how many lives could be saved?

Your tax dollars at work

After being hyped for years, the label “The Imperial Presidency” seems to be coming true.

A Justice Department official will refuse to answer questions during a Senate committee hearing on the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, citing her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself, her lawyer said Monday.

All of this hubbub for something that the president has the explicit power to do (fire US attorneys), he just can’t look statesmanlike in doing so. Proving once again that the genius of the American political system lies in impeding the politicians, not empowering them.

Random theories I haven’t thought through yet

Of fact-checked for that matter. Nonetheless, here are two bigthink ideas that have occurred to me recently:

  • With the notable exception of Imperial Japan, America hasn’t gone to war with any country that likes itself in the past 100 years. While I don’t usually go for theories involving Constructivism, all of the countries we’ve had conflict with, Nazi Germany, North Vietnam and North Korea, et al, are all fighting to some degree for national pride. This is why I’m not particularly worried about Iran, because the Iranians seem to like being Iranian.
  • The rise of dominant militaries can be summarized as discipline vs identity. By this I mean that the troops can be effective via skillful execution of a central plan, or simply by being themselves. The Romans were a good example of a disciplined group. They were able to carry out the will of their commanders due to training and tight organization. On the other hand, the Mongols required little central direction and usually just had to be their fearsome selves to successfully win wars. Most of the major conflicts through history can be characterized as a clash between these two tactics.