I have several disagreements with Amory Lovins, but there is an interesting comment in this Grist interview (thanks for the link Jim)
If you build an efficient, diverse, dispersed, renewable electricity system, major failures -- whether by accident or malice -- become impossible by design rather than inevitable by design, an attractive nuisance for terrorists and insurgents. There's a pretty good correlation between neighborhoods with better electrical supply and those that are inhospitable to insurgents. This is well known in military circles. There's still probably just time to do this in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, about a third of our army's wartime fuel use is for generator sets, and nearly all of that electricity is used to air-condition tents in the desert, known as "space cooling by cooling outer space." We recently had a two-star Marine general commanding in western Iraq begging for efficiency and renewables to untether him from fuel convoys, so he could carry out his more important missions. This is a very teachable moment for the military. The costs, risks, and distractions of fuel convoys and power supplies in theater have focused a great deal of senior military attention on the need for not dragging around this fat fuel-logistics tail -- therefore for making military equipment and operations several-fold more energy efficient.
I've been suggesting that approach for many years. Besides its direct benefits for the military mission, it will drive technological refinements that then help transform the civilian car, truck, and plane industries. That has huge leverage, because the civilian economy uses 60-odd times more oil than the Pentagon does, even though the Pentagon is the world's biggest single buyer of oil (and of renewable energy). Military energy efficiency is technologically a key to leading the country off oil, so nobody needs to fight over oil and we can have "negamissions" in the Gulf. Mission unnecessary. The military leadership really likes that idea.
The new BBC iPlayer, which only works with Windows XP (forget Linux, OS X, Vista,...), not only highlights why DRM causes consumer problems, but early reviews suggest the player itself is pretty bad... (via red ferret)
Sorry but this is not a great product. It’s restricted, slow, cumbersome and based on some very nasty technology. In fact if it wasn’t the BBC, it wouldn’t get the time of day anywhere else. It shares the same technology as the Sky Anytime player which is also a staggeringly unimpressive service and to be honest if this is the best that conventional television can do to compete with the new Internet television services, then they’re doomed, because good content will very soon start to migrate to the fast growing global services. And that’ll be game over for this type of stilted parochial technology.
The Atlantic published As We May Think by Vannevar Bush... one of the more remarkable pieces to be penned in a popular magazine (or anywhere for that matter)
from the editor's forward
As Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, Dr. Vannevar Bush has coordinated the activities of some six thousand leading American scientists in the application of science to warfare. In this significant article he holds up an incentive for scientists when the fighting has ceased. He urges that men of science should then turn to the massive task of making more accessible our bewildering store of knowledge. For years inventions have extended man's physical powers rather than the powers of his mind. Trip hammers that multiply the fists, microscopes that sharpen the eye, and engines of destruction and detection are new results, but not the end results, of modern science. Now, says Dr. Bush, instruments are at hand which, if properly developed, will give man access to and command over the inherited knowledge of the ages. The perfection of these pacific instruments should be the first objective of our scientists as they emerge from their war work. Like Emerson's famous address of 1837 on "The American Scholar," this paper by Dr. Bush calls for a new relationship between thinking man and the sum of our knowledge
But I'm more in awe of J.C.R. Licklider who, among his many accomplishments, managed to divert ARPA funding to universities and start some important Ph.D. computer science programs. Some of his more interesting papers are