February 12th, 2006


[MeFi] The Cult of Dubya.

People who self-identify as "conservatives" and have always been considered conservatives become liberal heathens the moment they dissent, even on the most non-ideological grounds, from a Bush decree. That’s because "conservatism" is now a term used to describe personal loyalty to the leader (just as "liberal" is used to describe disloyalty to that leader), and no longer refers to a set of beliefs about government.

That "conservatism" has come to mean "loyalty to George Bush" is particularly ironic given how truly un-conservative the Administration is. It is not only the obvious (though significant) explosion of deficit spending under this Administration – and that explosion has occurred far beyond military or 9/11-related spending and extends into almost all arenas of domestic programs as well. Far beyond that is the fact that the core, defining attributes of political conservatism could not be any more foreign to the world view of the Bush follower.


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The "Big Dog" four legged robot by Boston Dynamics.

I jumped a couple of links from a Slashdot story and found this:

BigDog is the alpha male of the Boston Dynamics family of robots. It is a quadruped robot that walks, runs, and climbs on rough terrain and carries heavy loads. BigDog is powered by a gasoline engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system. BigDog's legs are articulated like an animal’s, and have compliant elements that absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. BigDog is the size of a large dog or small mule, measuring 1 meter long, 0.7 meters tall and 75 kg weight.

Check out the latest video (12.4 MB) (Their FTP s(w)erver is either massively overloaded, or throttled down to nothing, so you may have trouble logging in.) You can put your foot on the thing and give it a big push, and it won't fall over. This is dynamic stability implemented better than I've ever seen before.

The waspy model airplane engine is very obnoxious, but this is just a test platform. A real one might be able to use a silent direct methanol fuel cell to generate power. Of course that increases the IR signature, but if it's using a combustion engine already maybe not by much.

The part about the legs having "compliant elements that absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next" sounds verrryy much like Yobotics' Series Elastic Actuators. If so, a very, VERY smart and cutting edge move on the part of Boston Dynamics.

Looks like they're working on exoskeletons, too. (18.7 MB) Damn you guys, using series-elastic actuators in an exoskeleton was my idea! ;]
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