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High-end CNC machines can’t be moved without manufacturers’ permission

Posted on January 6th, 2014 at 22:11 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


On Practical Machinst, there’s a fascinating thread about the manufacturer’s lockdown on a high-priced, high-end Mori Seiki NV5000 A/40 CNC mill. The person who started the thread owns the machine outright, but has discovered that if he moves it at all, a GPS and gyro sensor package in the machine automatically shuts it down and will not allow it to restart until they receive a manufacturer’s unlock code.

Effectively, this means that machinists’ shops can’t rearrange their very expensive, very large tools to improve their workflow from job to job without getting permission from the manufacturer (which can take a month!), even if their own the gear.

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The FBI drops ‘law enforcement’ from its mission statement

Posted on January 6th, 2014 at 18:47 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Federal Bureau of Investigation may have bigger things to worry about than law enforcement. Foreign Policy is reporting a change in the bureau’s latest fact sheet, in which the agency’s primary mission has changed from “law enforcement” to “national security.” It’s in keeping with the bureau’s post-9/11 duties as the nation’s primary domestic counterterrorism agency, but the timing has many FBI-watchers scratching their heads. What’s changed in the last year to make the bureau shift away from law enforcement?

It’s likely easier to get a budget.

“National Security” is a much more vague and malleable statement. Law enforcement implies that you’re enforcing a set of given and known laws which you follow yourself as well. National Security allows you to justify any action that makes the “nation” more “secure.”

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  1. Oh, law enforcement is just so last century. As are mission statements, incidentally.

Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa?

Posted on January 6th, 2014 at 18:23 by John Sinteur in category: News


Sales took off. Quinoa was, in marketing speak, the “miracle grain of the Andes”, a healthy, right-on, ethical addition to the meat avoider’s larder (no dead animals, just a crop that doesn’t feel pain). Consequently, the price shot up – it has tripled since 2006 – with more rarified black, red and “royal” types commanding particularly handsome premiums.

But there is an unpalatable truth to face for those of us with a bag of quinoa in the larder. The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper. In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken. Outside the cities, and fuelled by overseas demand, the pressure is on to turn land that once produced a portfolio of diverse crops into quinoa monoculture.

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  1. The world’s a tricky place. You buy a product from small-scale farmers in poor countries, which normally rates as putting money in poor people’s pockets, and suddenly a newspaper tells you that you may need to check your conscience. But only if you’re a vegan and actually have a conscience.

    The article is from a year ago, by the way. There were a number of follow-up articles, some saying that the rising price of quinoa is very good news to the many small-scale Andean farmers. Is it truly better to stop eating it and have the farmers’ income collapse? As long as the quinoa-production isn’t gobbled up by big agro conglomerates, I’ll keep eating it, now and then. Certainly compared to factory-farmed meat, it doesn’t get on the radar as an ethical problem.

    The wikipedia article for quinoa links to a number of the follow-on articles:

    Dan Collyns (14 January 2013). “Quinoa brings riches to the Andes”. The Guardian. Retrieved 5 September 2013.

    Allison Aubrey (2013-06-07). “Your Love Of Quinoa Is Good News For Andean Farmers”. NPR. Retrieved 2013-08-01.

    Tom Philpott. “Quinoa: Good, Evil, or Just Really Complicated?”. Mother Jones. Retrieved 2013-11-24.

  2. Let them eat cake?