American Elephants


How About Some Really Good News That Is NOT Political? by The Elephant's Child

A California robotics company called suitX has presented it’s Phoenix exoskeleton to the public. It makes it possible for paraplegics and those with mobility disorders to regain their ability to walk, which is a priceless blessing. It is not the first exoskeleton, which was developed in Israel, but it is the most affordable so far, at about the price of a new Cadillac.

SuitX is led by Dr. Homayoon Kazerooni, who is director of the Berkley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory and co-founder and chief scientist of Ekso Bionics. Dr. Kazerooni and his team are driven by a dream of developing low-cost consumer bionic products to improve the quality of life for the disabled. To achieve their goal of keeping the robotics as affordable as possible the team worked with biomechanics instead of the bulky robotics used in the other exoskeletons available so far. One of their prime goals is to help children affected by neurological conditions like cerebral palsy and spina bifida, during the brief time in development when they perfect their walking skills.

The current Phoenix totals around 28 pounds. It consists of modules made for a person’s hips, knees and feet — each can be independently removed and adjusted to the individual’s exact size. A back-mounted battery pack provides power for eight hours of intermittent use or  four hours of continuous use.The Phoenix can move a paralyzed person at a speed of 1.1 miles an hour, the company said.

Steven Sanchez was a former BMX dirt bike rider who became mostly paralyzed by a sports injury. He’s now one of the biggest proponents of the Phoenix. “It feels like you’re actually walking,”

The exoskeleton has silent carbon-fiber orthotics capable of being customized to its wearer. Attached to the orthotics are small motors that provide mobility to the hips and legs. Crutches provide upper body support and are integrated into the orthotics, allowing the wearer to control the movement of each leg with the touch of a button. A built-in back-mounted battery pack provides the wearer with 8 hours of intermittent or 4 hours of continual use.

Weighing around 27 pounds, the Phoenix is not the lightest exoskeleton on the market, but it is comparatively lighter than competing suits such as the more cumbersome 50 pound ReWalk.

While still costlier than a motorized wheelchair, the minimal design translates into a lower-cost exoskeleton; the Phoenix costs just $40,000 in a market where prices range from $70,000 to $100,000.

Dr. Kazerooni is more interested in cleverness. He says you can buy a motorcycle with all sorts of technology for $10,000, so he’s hoping to reduce the cost even more within two or three years— something robust and simple that walks, stops. sits and stands — hugely enabling.

Steven Sanchez tests the product monthly and demonstrates the product all over the world. He wore the Phoenix on a trip to the Vatican, and stood in line like anyone else — “wearing an “awesome robotic suit” and “no one cared.” For those who can only dream of walking, that is a very big deal indeed.



It’s Not About Clean Water. Another Big Lie From the EPA. by The Elephant's Child

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The House has joined with the Senate in voting to overturn the EPA’s attempt to extend their control of “navigable waters” to every creek, stream, ditch and trickle to exert control over privately owned land across the United States.

The EPA has been acting with Congressional authority over “navigable waterways” since the 1972 Clean Water Act became law. Earlier this year they extended without any input from Congress their “clean water rule” as authority to control dry creeks, potholes and puddles. The intent was that private individuals or businesses would require government permission to do anything on their own property that was remotely related to water — like digging a drainage ditch, for example —that would give Washington sweeping powers over private land.

A federal judge told the EPA in August that it had gone too far, but the EPA shrugged and said they would continue to impose the rule in the 37 states that were not part of the lawsuit.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the EPA’s attempted rule a “power grab’ last Wednesday —the day the House voted 253-166, with the support of 12 Democrats to overturn the rule. It is the same resolution that was passed by the Senate in November. Now it will go to President Obama’s desk. He will undoubtedly veto the bill.

I’m not sure just when the current crop of Democrats decided that they could be Socialists without actually using the name — by controlling everything with regulation instead of owning the means of production. They are, however, well on their way to extend a web of federal power over everything, including private property.

I don’t know how the Navajos’ lawsuits against the EPA are proceeding over the agency’s toxic spill into the waters that serve the Navajo Nation for drinking water, irrigation and stock feed, but it is simply further proof that the EPA’s efforts are just a power grab, and have nothing to do with clean water — nothing at all.



Is It Time For The Federal Government to Stop Telling You What to Eat? by The Elephant's Child

mixed selection of fruit and vegetables

For 35 years the federal government has been issuing dietary guidelines, and they haven’t changed all that much. A revised bunch of recommendations released this month includes a new cap on added sugar. The guidelines have been a failure in checking the rise of obesity and diabetes. The problem, the Wall Street Journal article suggests, is a reliance on weak science.

I don’t know who relies on the federal government’s dietary guidelines, nor who even sees them. When I was in high school, admittedly quite a while ago, we still had home economics, which consisted of the basics, you could say, of ‘housewifery.’ Basic cooking and nutrition, a little sewing, maybe a bit of budgeting depending on the school , but I don’t think they’ve done that for years. The boys got ‘shop’ which was mostly coping with ‘man around the house’ stuff, making something with wood, and using tools. Forgive me if I’m not up to date, it was some time ago. I don’t think the boys ever saw the dietary guidelines either.

Congress, however is concerned about the continued toll taken by nutrition-related diseases. (The rising cost of ObamaCare is scaring everyone) They have mandated the first ever outside review by the National Academy of Medicine of the evidence underlying the dietary guidelines and the process that produces them.

I knew I’d written about the dietary guidelines before, but entering “dietary guidelines” in the search box over Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar produced 8 cranky posts. This particular one concerned the Committee’s concern with “sustainability” and the environmental food activist the USDA had hired. If you know of anyone who has posted the federal guidelines poster in their kitchen, or who has shown interest, please let me know. I just don’t think anyone except possibly the heads of school lunch programs has any interest — and that has been taken over by Michelle who came up with a program universally hated by all school children, and that schools are abandoning as rapidly as possible.

Many of the wrongheaded recommendations reach home kitchens, like butter is bad, margarine good. Eggs bad, eat lots of pasta. In short, they are usually universally wrong. Of course there are all sorts of quacks telling you what to eat online, and our grocery stores are filled with organic food, natural food, GMO free, reduced fat, sugar free, gluten free, and acres of special drinks: Texas superfoods, liquid beets, anything any producer can think of as a possible selling point. Grocery stores cater to all the enthusiasms, because that’s what people want, which means multiple fads.

I am certainly no expert, but when the agriculture department starts hiring environmental food activists, they have crossed some sort of line. Putting the nation’s corn crop into our gas tanks makes no sense either, even if Iowa farmers like it.  We have too many unaccountable bureaucracies that should simply be abolished, but thinning out the swarm of agencies in the federal government and the repetitive and often useless things they do seems to be a needed but impossible task. The agencies exist because Congress palms off the execution of tasks onto the agencies which grow and fester.

Congress said, back in the day, that we want clean air and clean water, a straightforward, simple request, which gave us the EPA — possibly the most crooked agency in the government, intent only on their own power and growth. There are a lot of agencies competing for the title though — the VA, the IRS, HHS, and HUD are all prime candidates.  It will take a lot of public pressure to get any real action, and it may be impossible. There are supposedly 47 different federal job training programs, though there may be more. Is it hopeless?



“Earth 2015” The View From Obama’s First Campaign. by The Elephant's Child

This video appeared on “Good Morning America” back in 2008 — warning of the coming climate catastrophe — from which Barack Obama promised to save us.  And here we are and how did those prognostications turn out? Yes. we warned you that they were a bunch of loonies, and so they were.  Fun to look back and see just how wrong they were.

There is a cult of — future annihilation, the world ending badly, coming catastrophe that has increasingly become more prominent. I suspect it has much to do with the movies: zombie apocalypse, alien invasion, earthquake, fatal disease. If you forbade the movie industry from doing movies about future collapse, what would they make movies about? Possibly they’d have to tell real entertaining stories instead.



He Has a Phone and a Pen, And Congress Should Just Not Interfere! by The Elephant's Child

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Dennis McD0nough, President Obama’s Chief of Staff, confirmed the intent of the Administration to pursue “audacious” executive actions. He stated that the Obama administration’s desire was that its actions “not be subject to undoing through [Congress] or otherwise.” Many presidents have used “executive orders” to move an issue forward when Congress was stalling, but McDonough’s comment was something quite different. The end goal here is policy decisions that cannot be undone by Congress “or otherwise” which would seem to be the courts. Obama wants what he wants and he doesn’t want any  ignorant interference.

This is the man who regularly claims to have been a ‘Professor of Constitutional Law,’ when he apparently was only a lecturer in civil rights law at the University of Chicago, so his casual treatment of the law is not surprising.

The Founders created a governing system with three branches that was meant to act slowly, with deliberation. The Federalist explained the idea of what James Madison called “checks and balances” in The Federalist No. 51:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

The Progressives in our country have somehow come to believe that whatever it is, is better done by government. Philanthropy should not be granted by rich men, but done by government. What to eat? The government will tell you what you should eat. Health care? The government will decide what medical care you may have and from what physicians or hospitals, and what they will pay for. You taxes will support useless wind turbines and solar arrays, and put the nation’s corn crop in your gas tank. You cannot buy raw milk from a dairy, and you must buy organic food. You are required to use less water when you take a shower, and the government will tell you what kind of light bulbs to use in your house. I could go on and on, but you will find the exercise more informative if you do it yourself.

Over the centuries since the founding, the shallow inclinations of politicians have been limited by respect for the restraint on their authority as a part of the guarantee of American freedom, so essential to who we are and what we believe. Many have commented on the anger of the American people in this campaign season. That is the root of the fury—an administration that ignores the rules and customs and traditions of our history—because this President, like a spoiled child, wants his own way.

He does not like Congress, because they disagree. He does not want to deal with them, and he ‘s not going to argue or try to convince them. He has a pen and a phone, and just try to stop him. And believe it or not, Hillary wants to appoint him to the Supreme Court, when his term is finally over.

Donald Trump said he would use a lot of executive actions as well, but he’d do good ones. And who decides that?



The New Defense for Criminal Activity: We Did It To Save the Planet! by The Elephant's Child

Five people were arrested back in September 2014 for blocking railroad tracks at a Burlington Northern/ Santa Fe Railway Yard after tying themselves to a tripod of poles erected over the railroad tracks to protest train shipments of oil and coal and proposed export terminals in the Northwest.

Three trains were delayed and others were diverted  around the2024445698-300x0 blocked tracks. No railroad property was damaged.

Two women and three men refused to leave the over eight hour protest were taken to the Snohomish County Jail, just up the road a ways, and were expected to be charged with trespassing.

Railroad police arrived after the protest started about 6 a.m. and asked the protester to leave. Eight left peacefully at noon. The five locked with cables to the tripod refused. A woman was perched on top about 20′ up  and others were locked to the 3 legs.

The Rising Tide protesters say fossil-fuel shipments are dangerous and environmental concerns aren’t being given enough weight.

“All the people in the blockade have brought concerns in many other avenues,” spokeswoman Delaney Piper said. “We feel we have used political venues, advocacy — all of those tools — and this is the tool most necessary right now, because the situation is so dire that direct action is necessary.”

Last Friday, Left Coast Jurors found the so-called Delta 5 not guilty of obstruction for blockading a regional oil facility in 2014. For the first time in the United States, a jury heard testimony that defendants’ criminal actions were justified by “climate necessity.” Oh please! The phony  possibility of “saving the planet” trumps criminal activity? Only on the Left Coast!

The Snohomish County District Court Judge barred the jury from actually considering the “necessity” defense.  But the jurors acquitted on the obstruction charge and convicted on trespassing. The Green loonies will appeal that conviction as well as the judge’s denial of their defense.

Big Oil is hated by the Greens because of CO2, a benign gas that is necessary for life, and a natural fertilizer for plants that has been greening the planet. It is not a pollutant, but as high school biology should have taught the Delta 5, is necessary for photosynthesis, where plants take in carbon dioxide, use the carbon and exhale oxygen, which we all breathe.



Science Moves On, and Our Old Bulbs May Yet Return! by The Elephant's Child

The incandescent light bulb. Gone, but not forgotten

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— February 28, 2014  Popular Mechanics

Incandescent era, RIP. Like it or not, it’s time to move on. Traditional incandescent lightbulbs are gone—not banned, precisely, but phased out because the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), passed in 2007, requires them to be about 25 percent more efficient. That’s impossible to achieve without decreasing their luminous flux (brightness), so, instead, manufacturers have shifted to more energy-efficient technologies, such as compact fluorescents (CFLs), halogens, and LEDs.

Wikipedia has a page entitled “Phase-out of incandescent light bulbs” the first sentence says: “Governments Have Passed Measures”

Governments around the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs for general lighting in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives.

This one was really a case of crony capitalism or a couple of very large corporations who used the power of government to force Americans to buy a new product that cost up to 10 times more than the old reliable bulbs. The profit margin on the new bulbs is significantly higher. Any environmental benefits were largely hooey, but the manufacturers got to pretend they were “saving the planet.”

The problem was that nobody liked the replacements, and the environmentalists insisted that the bulbs had to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. I don’t know about you, but the recycling enthusiasts are going way too far, and I can see a reckoning coming. People just wanted their friendly, cheap, satisfactory bulbs back.

The people may win. Scientists at MIT believe they may have come up with a solution which could see incandescent bulbs return to the marketplace — better and cheaper and more efficient.

MIT researchers have shown that by surrounding the filament with a special crystal structure in the glass, they can bounce back the energy which is usually lost in heat — while still allowing the light to come through. They call the technique “recycling light” because the energy that would usually escape into the air is redirected back to the filament where it can create new light. “It recycles the energy that would otherwise be wasted.”

Traditional incandescent bulbs are only about five percent efficient with 95 percent of the energy lost to the atmosphere. LED or florescent bulbs manage around 14 percent efficiency. Scientists believe that the new bulb could reach efficiency levels of 40 percent, achieving near-ideal rendering of colors.

If the new bulbs live up to expectations they would cost far less than the hated LEDs and CFL bulbs. Researchers have warned that the blue light emitted by modern bulbs could be stopping people from getting to sleep at night and there have been concerns about the dangerous chemicals they contain.

Luboš Motl explains the physics at the reference frame, for those who want more details, and there’s a picture of the prototype — which isn’t the bulb pictured above.




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