North American Battery Supply Chain Emerging

Despite having all of the critical ingredients for lithium-ion batteries — nickel, cobalt, lithium, graphite — Canada doesn’t have any EV cell or component manufacturing; and it has only about 10% of the battery demand of the U.S. Combined with a lack of government support for the battery supply chain, it had seemed that Canada was destined to lose the value-add of its raw materials as they are exported to countries that had invested in battery production…

Despite the promising foundations for Canada to be a cornerstone of the North American battery supply chain, until recently it had appeared that there was a lack of support at the government/policy level to attract the industry. This is no longer the case, in just the last two weeks two cell manufacturers have been enticed to set up shop in Canada, with plans to build gigawatt-hour scale cell manufacturing facilities in the country.

Once a country has cell manufacturing capacity, the rest of the component manufacturing industry tends to follow as suppliers move close to their customers. So, Canada is now on course to create a strong domestic battery supply chain…

As EV growth continues in North America, a new supply chain super-hub is growing to challenge the dominance of China, and it is quickly catching up with the growing industry in Europe.

Since the GOUSA is the earliest, potentially-growing EV market, we may wake up some morning and learn the folks smart enough to bankroll electric cars and trucks have decided it’s worthwhile playing in every portion of this 21st Century marketplace.

German elections: Center/Left=363 seats, Center/Right=279 seats in the Bundestag

The center-left candidate fighting to succeed Angela Merkel as Germany’s chancellor declared that his Social Democratic Party (SPD) intends to forge a “social-ecological-liberal coalition” after coming in first in Sunday’s election. With 25.7%, the SPD beat the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), currently in power, which garnered 24.1%, its worst showing in the 70-year history of the party…

In the new Bundestag, the breakdown for the parties will be 206 for the SPD, 196 for the CDU/CSU, 118 for the Greens, 83 for the ultra-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), and 39 for Die Linke (the Left Party).

“The voters have made themselves very clear,” Olaf Scholz, the SPD leader, said at a press conference Monday morning. He declared that his center-left party, the Greens, and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) had all picked up significant numbers of new votes, while the conservative CDU suffered a loss in support of almost nine percentage points.

Americans who never peer across the pond have little understanding of the coalitions that rule many nations around the world. Perish the thought we should get the idea to fight for more principled electoral politics here, eh?

Self-driving vehicles are ahead of flying cars


Clifton Li

On the “we-were-told-there-would-be-jetpacks” spectrum of protracted transportation breakthroughs, self-driving vehicles are slowly creeping up on flying cars…

But while Waymo, a unit of Alphabet Inc., was dealing with a departing CEO and training its algorithms to recognize traffic cones, a rival that you’ve probably never heard of quietly took the drivers out of its “driverless” rigs. Gatik, which hauls cargo for Walmart, Loblaws and a handful of other massive retailers, told me it made the switch recently on a few of its routes in Arkansas, putting it on a very, very short list of human-free transportation…

It’s important to note that Gatik’s autonomous goals are far more modest than Waymo’s. Like Nuro, it forgoes the passenger entirely, choosing instead to focus on schlepping around goods. And it further narrows its lane to middle-mile transportation, essentially shuttling its trucks to and from two fixed points, say, a distributing center and a big-box store…

Granted, Gatik still has human chaperones, one dedicated per vehicle, but they’re patching into the vehicle from a remote location. If the truck runs into any kind of trouble, it executes a “graceful recovery,” essentially pulling over and pinging its overseer, like a lost teenager dialing dad. The truck will suggest a workaround that the chaperone can approve or revise. Uber drivers may eventually be out of luck, but these chaperones, housed in the ride-hailing version of a call center, will soon be one of the hottest occupations going.

For a retail empire, the economics spool up quickly. Their supply chains will go driverless long before the airport taxi queue and the savings will be both immediate and easy to model. As the autonomous driving field narrows, Gatik’s sneaky move to the front will no doubt be noticed by investors, possibly some of the same crew that has poured $5.7 billion into Waymo since last summer.

I’m waiting for the first report in print of a traffic cop pulling over a driverless truck and getting into an argument with a chaperone over the radio.

NASA joins the hunt for aliens

In the last decade, we have devised amazing instruments to glare unflinchingly at the stars and discovered that other planets are common around them. These exoplanet discoveries have thrown gasoline on the fire of the astrobiology field, where scientists seek to explore whether life might exist beyond Earth. But they have also fueled SETI, or the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. If life does evolve on other worlds, then we may very well find more than just biosignatures like oxygen.

We might find technosignatures, too. These are things like radio signals, or even megastructures; that is, artificial objects on a gigantic scale such as hypothesized star-sized supercomputers. Now, Supercluster reported in an article this week, NASA has quietly begun to fund the search for such alien megastructures for the first time in the agency’s history…

The best news [to me] is that we’re moving well beyond the typical American cultural response to a new critical investigation of unusual phenomena. Breaking out of the historic mold of latching onto singular means of investigation – in expectation of an equally singular answer to the question, “What’s out there?”

RTFA for early days projections, the first rounds of investigative style.

5 (of 120) Women Photograpers


Consuelo Kanaga, by Annie Mae Merriweather, 1935

A new show opened July 2nd at the Metropolitan Museum of Art continuing recent efforts to reinsert women into the history of photography. Organized by Andrea Nelson and Mia Fineman with Virginia McBride, “The New Woman Behind the Camera” features 120 women photographers working during the 20th century. Its focus is not only Western artists who are already well-known, such as Dorothea Lange and Claude Cahun, but also under-recognized artists from other parts of the world whose work has been influential.

Look at five under-recognized artists included in the Met show, which is slated to travel to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. after its run in New York.

One of those rare moments when I regret leaving the metropolitan Northeast. Quite rare. But, I don’t travel well, anymore. Too much of that as part of earning a living much of my life. Perhaps someone will produce something in video or print recording the experience of wandering through this show.

Afghanistan can’t wait for the U.S. to get out of the way — to let in China and Pakistan

As the U.S. exits Afghanistan, Beijing is preparing to swoop into the war-torn country and fill the vacuum left by the departed U.S. and NATO troops.

China is poised to make an exclusive entry into post-U.S. Afghanistan with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source close to government officials in Afghanistan told The Daily Beast that Kabul authorities are growing more intensively engaged with China on an extension of the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — the flagship project of BRI, which involves the construction of highways, railways and energy pipelines between Pakistan and China — to Afghanistan…

In other words: The Afghan government, behind the scenes, is welcoming China immediately after saying goodbye to America.

Yup. All part of an obviously subversive plot. Here’s Uncle Sugar finishing decades of superb foreign policy – stationing tens of thousands of American troops in yet one more small nation to show off the benefits of American democracy [and military hardware]. We’re going out the door. Meanwhile, the “subversive” Chinese and their Pakistani allies in the Belt-and-Road Initiative are actually going to build highways, railways and energy pipelines – making the country a key link in East/West infrastructure. And profits.

How sly.

Transgender woman wins place to compete for Miss USA

A transgender woman who won the Miss Nevada USA pageant will soon become the first openly transgender Miss USA contestant…

Donning a rainbow sequined gown she designed herself, Kataluna Enriquez accepted the crown toward the end of Pride Month, and will compete in the Miss USA pageant in November.

The Filipina-American is a fashion designer and healthcare administrator. A biography on the Miss Silver State USA’s Instagram mentions Enriquez is a survivor of physical and sexual abuse who “aims to break barriers and represent those who aren’t always represented and continues to support numerous non-profit organizations and LGBTQ+ youth.”…

Enriquez began competing in transgender pageants in 2016, and began competing in cisgender pageants in 2020. In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal after her win, Enriquez said she wasn’t allowed to use either boys’ or girls’ restrooms, and faced bullying by her classmates over her gender identity.

“Growing up, I was often told that I was not allowed to be myself, or to be in spaces that I was not welcome,” she said. “Today I am a proud transgender woman of color. Personally, I’ve learned that my differences do not make me less than, it makes me more than.”

Bravo! A victory for a strong-willed human being. A victory for organizations ready to join the 21st Century.

Giant arc forcing astronomers to review/revise assumptions

A newly discovered crescent of galaxies spanning 3.3 billion light-years is among the largest known structures in the universe and challenges some of astronomers’ most basic assumptions about the cosmos.

The epic arrangement, called the Giant Arc, consists of galaxies, galactic clusters, and lots of gas and dust. It is located 9.2 billion light-years away and stretches across roughly a 15th of the observable universe.

Its discovery was “serendipitous,” Alexia Lopez, a doctoral candidate in cosmology at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in the U.K., told Live Science. Lopez was assembling maps of objects in the night sky using the light from about 120,000 quasars — distant bright cores of galaxies where supermassive black holes are consuming material and spewing out energy.

As this light passes through matter between us and the quasars, it is absorbed by different elements, leaving telltale traces that can give researchers important information. In particular, Lopez used marks left by magnesium to determine the distance to the intervening gas and dust, as well as the material’s position in the night sky.

In the midst of the cosmic maps, a structure began to emerge. “It was sort of a hint of a big arc,” Lopez said. “I remember going to Roger [Clowes] and saying ‘Oh, look at this.'”

Clowes, her doctoral adviser at UCLan, suggested further analysis to ensure it wasn’t some chance alignment or a trick of the data. After doing two different statistical tests, the researchers determined that there was less than a 0.0003% probability the Giant Arc wasn’t real. They presented their results on June 7 at the 238th virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Please read the whole article. At least that portion describing what has been learned. “Discovered” seems silly to me when describing intergalactic assemblies with astronomical timelines.

In this instance, assumptions made to allow mathematical conventions to analyze what we see are now challenged. The essential description of materialist philosophy is not. The universe is an infinite regression of material reality. There is no beginning, there are no boundaries. It simply “is” and has always “been”. Anything else is a mystical human construct which only satisfies superstition – something coming from nothing – whether intended or not.