Chaos Manor View Tuesday, April 07, 2015
It is 1600 and on schedule Time Warner is extremely slow and often halted. This happens regularly. Fortunately it will fix itself in an hour or so, or at least it has done so daily so far. I have posted a large and diversified mailbag today; you will find it below.
Obama and the ‘Inevitable Critics’
We are dealing with a case of Mutually Assured Obfuscation.
A satellite image of Iran’s Fordo uranium-enrichment facility in 2013. Photo: DigitalGlobe/Institute for Science and International Security
April 6, 2015 7:06 p.m. ET
‘So when you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question: Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East?”
That was Barack Obama on Thursday, defending his Iran diplomacy while treating its opponents to the kind of glib contempt that is the mark of the progressive mind. Since I’m one of those inevitable critics, let me answer his question.
Yes, it’s worse. Much worse.
Yes, because what the president calls “this verifiable deal” fails the first test of verification—mutual agreement and clarity as to what, exactly, is in it.
Brett Stephens concludes that the deal proposed by Obama will lead to an Iran with usable weapons in quantity; and therefore preventative war is preferable. He continues:
But let’s accept the president’s premise. Should the current deal hold, Iran will be able to develop all the nuclear infrastructure it wants by the time my youngest child is in college. And it will do so not over Washington’s objections, but with our blessing.
Maybe by then the Iranian regime will have changed for the better. More likely not. Their economy will have revived thanks to the end of sanctions. Their geopolitical position will be stronger thanks to the internal convulsions of some of their neighbors. And they will have a nuclear infrastructure capable of producing many bombs on short notice—too short for the U.S. to do anything about it. The same will likely be true of Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
So let me rephrase the president’s question: Is targeted military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities—with all the unforeseen consequences that might entail—a better option than a grimly foreseeable future of a nuclear Iran, threatening its neighbors, and a proliferated Middle East, threatening the world?
I know my answer. What’s yours?
It is a grim question, and we may be sure that no one likely to become President of the United States will begin a new war in the Middle East. The answer of the United States has been given: Iran will have the bomb, and, as Stephens says, with our assistance in shoring up the Iranian economy. Iran has repeatedly stated that these are end times, and the mission of their nation is the extirpation of Israel.
The Israelis are well aware of all this.
There is also this:
Tech investments show an Iran eager to end isolation (WP)
By Craig Timberg April 6 at 12:31 PM
As world powers have been working to curb Iran’s nuclear program, the Islamic Republic has been bolstering its ambitions in cyberspace, positioning itself as a potential technological leader in a turbulent and strategically crucial region.
Iran in recent years has inaugurated a new, high-capacity data link to Europe, introduced 3G and 4G cellular service to millions of customers and become a major buyer in a bustling new marketplace for IP addresses — the fundamental building blocks of the online world.
Western experts watching these development see little evidence that these steps are intended to bolster Iran’s already formidable cyberwar capabilities. Instead they see a nation making investments in civilian technology that could help Iran build a more modern, open economy, especially if a tentative nuclear deal struck last week yields a permanent accord and an easing of international sanctions.
Despite deep-seated wariness of Iran, some observers see these technological developments as a sign — along with the nuclear talks themselves — that President Hassan Rouhani is eager to normalize Iran’s relations with the outside world after years of combative isolation.
Iranian companies over the past 15 months have bought more than 1 million IP addresses, said Dyn, a New Hampshire-based Internet performance analysis company. At roughly $10 per address, this represents a substantial investment in making it easier for Iranians to get online.
I have long said that the best weapons against Iran are smart phones and tablet computers: the West’s panzer divisions among the weapons of cultural mass destruction. I am not really being whimsical when I say we ought to drop cell phones from airplanes in Iran while simultaneously using technology to let them be used.
Patent case could shift power balance in tech industry ft
Richard Waters in San Francisco
A US appeals court is set to hear a landmark patent case on Wednesday that could change the way royalty rates are set for commonly used intellectual property in the tech industry.
The case, pitting Microsoft against Google, has already involved a lower court in setting patent rates for the first time, in a move that critics warn will upend the balance of power between leading tech companies.
Microsoft brought the case in 2010 against Motorola Mobility, the handset maker later acquired by Google. The search company sold Motorola’s operating business to Lenovo last year but kept its patents and has now taken the case to the court of appeals.
The dispute centres on so-called standard-essential patents, which cover technology that is included in industry-wide technology standards. Since others have to use the technology if they want their own products to meet an industry standard, the companies that submit their patents for approval by standards bodies are required to license them out on “reasonable and non-discriminatory”, or RAND, terms.
Microsoft sued Motorola after the handset maker asked for 2.25 per cent of the final product price for use of several of its patents that are included in standards for WiFi and video compression technology. Microsoft said the demand would have cost it $4bn a year. Judge James Robart, in a federal court in Seattle, laid out a different method for calculating the royalties that would instead cost Microsoft less than $2m a year.
If upheld, Judge Robart’s approach could tilt the balance of power in negotiations away from companies that own large portfolios of commonly used patents and instead favour those — like Microsoft or Apple — whose businesses are based more on implementing technology standards in their products.
“It’s going to be very significant indeed. Nobody quite understands what the term [RAND] means,” said Alexander Poterack, chief executive of General Patent Corp, a US intellectual property firm.
In its appeal brought in Motorola’s name, Google has argued that the judge was wrong to take up Microsoft’s complaint in the first place, since the Motorola royalty demand was only the opening shot in a negotiation that should have been left to run its course. The court could have ruled on Microsoft’s breach of contract complaint without getting involved in the thorny issue of rate-setting, it claims.
“The litigation set bad policy by encouraging parties to run to court rather than negotiate”
– David Balto, a former FTC chief of competition policy
“The litigation set bad policy by encouraging parties to run to court rather than negotiate,” said David Balto, a former chief of competition policy at the Federal Trade Commission.
Some in the tech industry also argue that, if the ruling stands, companies will not be as willing to allow their technology to be included in industry standards, since it would rob them of much of their negotiating leverage.
The calculation method that Judge Robarts came up with “would conceivably apply to lower the reasonable royalty available to every single [standard-essential patent]”, the American Intellectual Property Law Association wrote in an amicus brief to the court.
Companies who have joined the opposition to the ruling include Qualcomm, many of whose patents cover mobile communications technologies that have been adopted in industry standards. The calculation method is a “one-sided directive that advances only implementers’ interests in obtaining licences at the lowest possible cost,” it said in a court filing supporting Motorola’s position.
Ultra-fast charging aluminum battery offers safe alternative to conventional batteries
Stanford scientists have invented a flexible, high-performance aluminum battery that charges in about 1 minute. Credit: Mark Shwartz, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University
Stanford University scientists have invented the first high-performance aluminum battery that’s fast-charging, long-lasting and inexpensive. Researchers say the new technology offers a safe alternative to many commercial batteries in wide use today.
“We have developed a rechargeable aluminum battery that may replace existing storage devices, such as alkaline batteries, which are bad for the environment, and lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames,” said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford. “Our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it.”
Dai and his colleagues describe their novel aluminum-ion battery in “An ultrafast rechargeable aluminum-ion battery,” in the April 6 advance online edition of the journal Nature.
Cheap and safe energy storage makes irregular power sources like solar panels and windmills much more usable; and of course electric cars and trucks much more economic.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.