Novel Approach to Fusion Power

If I understood the news correctly, this potential new development depends on using semi-conductors with super-conductivity. Fusion has a long history of being Brazil: 30 years away, always has been always will. If this development pans out, which we may know in as soon as 3 years, we would be 15-30 years away from viable fusion energy.

  • Visualization of the proposed SPARC tokamak experiment. Using high-field magnets built with newly available high-temperature superconductors, this experiment would be the first controlled fusion plasma to produce net energy output.

Please note that nuclear fusion is not a fantasy. Fusion reactions have been sustained on Earth for decades. What we haven’t been able to do yet is to extract more energy than needed to contain the reactions. This may change. Big MAYBE, but something worth watching.

How Bitcoin Ends

This year will be the final year that Bitcoin and Blockchain maintain their stranglehold on thinking rationally about the global banking system. Imperfect though it is, Bitcoin does not, cannot, and will never offer a viable alternative.

Bitcoin was meant to cut out those unnecessary intermediaries, and replace them with computer cycles. The high processing cost of mining bitcoin–as well as an arbitrary limit on the total number of coin that can ever be mined–keeps the money supply scarce. But this means that instead of re-creating those high-velocity market monies of the Middle Ages, the abundant ones that worked like poker chips, bitcoin re-creates the market mechanisms of gold, a currency that invites hoarding and speculation while discouraging transactions. Oops.

This explains why bitcoin has become less a means of exchange than a speculative pyramid, as well as why the coin’s developers and early investors have ended up billionaires. The wealth disparity in bitcoin is worse than that of central currency, with 4% of users owning 96% of bitcoin. So much for breaking the banking monopoly; this is just hackers seizing the banking industry for themselves.
— Read on

There’s also a wide disparity between perceptions and reality of regulation. A vast majority of Americans support a background check. In fact, the idea is so obvious that most Americans believe such checks are already mandated.

“No doubt, the NRA is influential. Not so much because of the campaign contributions it makes to candidates, but because it can count on an energized grass-roots base of gun-rights supporters to turn out at the polls and badger elected officials with calls and emails. But that influence has limits, and there are plenty of reasons to believe that it is on the wane.

For one thing, the proportion of Americans with guns has been steadily declining, to its lowest level in decades, though there are recent signs that the decline has leveled off. (The reason why the number of guns continues to rise despite this demographic trend is that the remaining gun owners are buying more and more weapons.) Meanwhile, gun ownership is growing more heavily clustered in certain states. That limits the voting power of the gun lobby.”

What Syria Reveals About the Future of War

Syria demonstrates something that has been evident for decades: The United Nations is unsuited to play a major role in complex, modern wars, particularly when permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, each with a veto over its actions, are involved. But there is also no chance that any other multinational organization with the possible exception of NATO might serve as a platform for collective action to stop a war. And after Libya, even NATO is unlikely to do that outside Europe.

So this is what the Syrian war suggests about future conflicts: They will be intricately complex; they will involve conflict-specific configurations of participants; there will be no humanitarian intervention to stop them; and the United Nations will be a nonfactor. But that isn’t all. It gets even worse.
— Read on

Syria has strengthened or reaffirmed some relationships (US/Israel), but has challenged others (US/Turkey and Russia/Iran, the latter of which was never strong). The clear victors appear to be Russia and Iran, but even these victories appear to be under threat. The complex realities of Turkish, American, and now Israeli involvement in Syria is demonstrating how little real power Russia brought to Turkey, and increasing risks that will prove unpopular at home. Iran’s gains are already undermined by domestic turmoil.

Syria is clearly Obama’s greatest foreign policy blunder, but it isn’t clear yet how much can be extrapolated from a sample size of one.