Tag Archives: Super regions

Politics, Pessimism and Populism

By Sheri Berman – Social democracy was the most idealistic, optimistic ideology of the modern era.

In contrast to liberals who believed “rule by the masses” would lead to the end of private property, tyranny of the majority and other horrors and thus favored limiting the reach of democratic politics, and communists who argued a better world could only emerge with the destruction of capitalism and “bourgeois” democracy, social democrats insisted on democracy’s immense transformative and progressive power: it could maximize capitalism’s upsides, minimize its downsides and create more prosperous and just societies.

Such appeals emerged clearly during the inter-war years, when democracy was threatened by populism’s more dangerous predecessor—fascism.

In the United States, for example, FDR recognized that he needed to deal not merely with the concrete economic fallout of the Great Depression, but also with the fear that democracy was headed for the “dust heap of history” and fascist and communist dictatorships were the wave of the future. This required practical solutions to contemporary problems as well as an ability to convince citizens that democracy remained the best system for creating a better future. As Roosevelt proclaimed in his first inaugural address:

‘Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for…. [Our problems are not insolvable, they exist] because rulers have failed…through their own stubbornness and… incompetence….This Nation asks for action, and action now….I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems….The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’. more>

The Collapse Of European Social Democracy, Part 2

By Paul Sweeney – The privatisation of state assets in Europe has added little value and was a costly distraction from the proper management of public services and development of a strong public sector ethos, delivering excellent services. Despite the privatisation of hundreds of billions of asssets, the outsourcing of public services, and fresh privatised ways of funding public services, spending in the modern state has not shrunk, though the value of state assets has been reduced.

The public sphere, open spaces, public ideas and the scientific commons which are open to all are coming under threat of being fenced off, privatised by extensions and enforcement of Intellectual Property, trademarks, copyright laws etc.. This needs to be curbed. The state has been remiss in protecting its own assets from privatisation over the past four decades and, simultaneously, it has given away substantial parts of this public sphere to private interests. It has done this by being over-zealous in protecting the “rights” of major corporations, drug companies, tech and data companies and rich individuals through extended patent rights, and the like.

Patents serve the useful purpose of protection for inventors whose ideas should be rewarded in order to encourage further innovation. But the balance has shifted from protecting innovation to blocking it. It is the state which provides this protection through internationally agreed laws and through enforcement. The growth in patents, trademarks, copyrights and industrial designs has been very high. The state is now agreeing to renewing patents and granting extensions to the likes of branded drugs, thanks to lobbying. Many patents are acquired to build a monopoly and to act as a deterrent against rival innovations.

Some MNCs now troll and hoover-up patents and others exist to build major patent portfolios with the purpose of blocking others’ innovations, moving upstream to protect broad future possible inventions. more>

In the future, you’ll never have to leave your neighborhood

By Layla McCay – In the city’s center, people stroll in landscaped gardens, enjoying the positive impact of nature, exercise, and socialization on their mental health and well-being. But for those living on the outskirts, that epicenter can feel distant, separated by slashes of motorways.

Public transportation often points inward in a spoke-and-wheel configuration, emphasizing that there is just one truly desirable destination. People of the peripheries must commute back and forth, below ground and along highways, on trains and buses, losing time for friends and family, relaxation, leisure, culture, and sports. The fable of city life is out of reach, lost in the sprawl.

Instead of focusing on city centers, we should reconfigure the infrastructure of the outskirts. The result could see the end of such epicenters: a future where we identify as much with our hyper-local neighborhoods as we do with the greater metropolis.

We can see this in the growing trend of placemaking. This is a planning and design approach that works with communities to understand, imagine, and deliver solutions that meet their local needs, rather than relying on the whims of a grand city plan. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Using NX and Learning Advantage to enable students to develop the professional skills required by industry
Siemens – With 1,700 employees and 15,000 students, Luleå University of Technology in northern Sweden is a thriving center of teaching and research that collaborates with businesses, educational institutions and public bodies across the world.

The Department of Engineering Sciences and Mathematics is home to a range of engineering courses that encompass materials, mechanics, power and sustainable energy. For engineering students within this department, the study of computer-aided design (CAD) is a basic requirement. However, students from other departments can select CAD as an optional subject. These include electrical engineers and space engineers, plus those studying subjects such as business administration and computer science. According to Peter Jeppsson, senior lecturer at Luleå University, CAD is a very popular choice.

The department has well-equipped workshops with a range of tooling machinery. Jeppsson describes the ethos of the department: “At the university we teach CAD software and engineering theory at the same time, not as separate subjects. We give students the opportunity to solve real-world problems and make better products by considering overall function, performance, production and lifecycle. We use computer-aided design and simulation for every aspect of a product.” more>

Anthropic arrogance

By David P Barash – Welcome to the ‘anthropic principle’, a kind of Goldilocks phenomenon or ‘intelligent design’ for the whole Universe. According to its proponents, the Universe is fine-tuned for human life.

The message is clearly an artificial one and not the result of random noise. Or maybe the Universe itself is alive, and the various physical and mathematical constants are part of its metabolism. Such speculation is great fun, but it’s science fiction, not science.

It should be clear at this point that the anthropic argument readily devolves – or dissolves – into speculative philosophy and even theology. Indeed, it is reminiscent of the ‘God of the gaps’ perspective, in which God is posited whenever science hasn’t (yet) provided an answer.

Calling upon God whenever there is a gap in our scientific understanding may be tempting, but it is not even popular among theologians, because as science grows, the gaps – and thus, God – shrinks. It remains to be seen whether the anthropic principle, in whatever form, succeeds in expanding our sense of ourselves beyond that illuminated by science. I wouldn’t bet on it. more>

Could China’s Raw Materials Strategy Leave US Automakers Behind?

By Charles Murray – China’s business relationships are so aggressive, said Jose Lazuen, an electric vehicle and supply chain analyst for Roskill, that it’s almost “too late” for automakers in other regions of the world to catch up now.

“The North American and European companies are not at the same level as the Chinese OEMs,” Lazuen stated. “They’ll face problems if raw material costs increase at some point.”

Chinese suppliers at the show said they view relationships with miners as a necessity, given the volatile and unpredictable nature of the market. “The only way you’re going to (get control) is to have a mindset to get ahead of the game by buying rights to those minerals to keep the prices down,” noted Robert Galyen, chief technology officer of CATL, a China-based company that is now the biggest battery manufacturer in the world.

The question of future metal costs is a growing concern, experts said this week, because lithium, cobalt, and nickel will continue to play key roles in future electric car batteries. One speaker at the show noted that the price of cobalt rose 130% last year, while lithium climbed by 50% and nickel was up 28%.

If those increases continue, raw material costs could negate any economies of scale that might otherwise be gained through increases in production volume. more>

Updates from Siemens

Digital Enterprise Industry Solutions for Automotive OEMs
Siemens – Automotive OEMs are remaking themselves in an era of digital disruptions across the industry. Product complexity, technological change, and increasing competition places pressure on OEMs to innovate faster. Leading automakers are increasingly using systems engineering processes that span the domains of mechanical, electrical and software functions to realize the innovation needed for next-gen cars.

Siemens PLM Software solutions are built on open standards to allow for seamless integration across disciplines. This gives automakers the flexibility to digitalize product development, enabling everyone to access a car’s digital twin. more>

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Updates from datacenter.com

How Cloud Demand Positively Impacts further growth of Amsterdam
datacenter.com – As one of the top data center markets in the world, the Amsterdam area is poised for more growth over the coming years as cloud demand increases. The amount of data going through the cloud will reach 14.1 ZB by 2020.

After Microsoft opened their €2 billion campus, Google opened their data center in North of the Netherlands (Eemshaven) and the recently the announcement came that Google will expand with a second campus in The Netherlands (Amsterdam region). Other large cloud companies are expanding their supply in and around Amsterdam.

Datacenter.com opened Datacenter.com AMS1 in Amsterdam South-East this year, the best connected data center Campus, which will soon will upgrade to the second phase due to the fast growth and the high interest. more>

Updates from Siemens

Swiss furniture maker produces innovative seating and tables following Industry 4.0 concepts
Girsberger – Since Girsberger AG’s development of an infinite height adjustment mechanism for stools patented in 1910, the company has been turning out novel and often groundbreaking seating solutions. Since it was established as a wood turning shop in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1889, the furniture manufacturer has been producing innovative seating and tables with outstanding ergonomics, resilience and durability for offices as well as dining rooms.

To remain internationally competitive with this portfolio in a country such as Switzerland with its high infrastructure and labor costs as well as an adverse exchange rate is in itself quite a challenge.

“Combining sophisticated, original design and functionality with maximum practical benefits, we create tomorrow’s classics,” says Michael Girsberger. He is heading the Switzerland-based group with subsidiaries in the European Union and Turkey in the family’s fourth generation. “This requires an uncompromisingly honest use of materials as well as precision in manufacturing with high craftsmanship.” more>

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Updates from Siemens

Product Realization for Aerospace and Defense
Siemens – Aerospace companies need to win business in an environment that is increasingly competitive, both locally and globally. This requires proving your ability to meet target dates and costs in production while delivering products that meet customer requirements. Increasing demand in some sectors, such as commercial aircraft, drives a requirement for higher levels of productivity. You have to take advantage of new materials and processes to build the most competitive products.

The Product Realization solution from Siemens PLM Software provides aerospace OEMs and suppliers a process-driven aerospace manufacturing solution to enable manufacturing decision-making earlier in the lifecycle and integrate manufacturing considerations throughout each phase of the lifecycle.

This closed-loop solution supports early manufacturing planning during the program pursuit and bid process to identify and mitigate risks that could impact overall program affordability. You can verify manufacturing processes, tooling and work instructions virtually, prior to committing hardware. more>

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