This past week I read the news reports about SAIC selecting a new name — Leidos — for what will be the larger of the two companies when SAIC completes its planned split later this year. While I personally do not agree with splitting up the company, I can live with this new name. It’s not bad. I am glad, however, that the name SAIC will be retained for the smaller, technical services business.
I guess it should be no surprise to anyone that North Korea has tested another nuclear device that according to the reports I have read is both smaller and more powerful than previous devices. This coupled with improvements that North Korea is making to its KN-08 ICBM, which are expected to give the missile a range of more than 6,000 miles, should be of great concern.
The North Koreans are definitely bad guys — this can’t be changed. I believe we must do everything we can do diplomatically to make it difficult for the North Koreans to move their weapons program forward.
In addition, I believe that we should strengthen our defenses against the possibility of a North Korean attack. While the country still has a long way to go before they can mount a serious attack against the U.S. mainland, we must begin preparations for this possibility now.
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I have been interested to see that the U.S. Senate is holding up confirmation of John Brennan for director of the CIA, apparently until certain senators get clarification about the Obama Administration’s policy on using drones to kill Americans within the boundaries of the United States. My understanding is that our Constitution prohibits this, so I am surprised that this is even a question.
However, the use of drones by the military, police, and government within our country is coming under increased scrutiny, with some lawmakers outlawing or curtailing their use for a variety of purposes. For example, in Charlottesville, Virginia, the police are prohibited from using evidence gathered by drones in criminal cases, and the mayor of Seattle recently banned the use of drones by the city’s police department.
I personally believe that police agencies should be able to use drones to collect evidence just as they use aircraft and other assets to do the same task now. I don’t really see any difference.
I would like to congratulate my wife Betty for her selection along with four other San Diego women as Legendary Women of the Heart by the local chapter of the American Heart Association. I unfortunately was unable to attend the Go Red for Women luncheon on Friday where the awards were presented, but from what I understand it was quite an event with many presentations and a fashion show put on by Zandra Rhodes.
The other four women honored were Marye Anne Fox, Joan Jacobs, Jeanne Jones, and Darlene Shiley. The idea behind the Go Red for Women campaign is to publicize the fact that heart disease is the #1 killer of women and that more research is desperately needed.
I have included some photos from the event, including the five honorees, Betty and the rest of my family, and Zandra Rhodes.
I was very interested to read an article in this week’s Washington Post about Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s belief that China will one day take action to break off its part of the Internet from the rest of the world. Schmidt believes that if China takes this step, then other countries and regions will be encouraged to follow suit. The result will be a fragmented Internet that is no longer a unified global system.
I found Schmidt’s assertions particularly interesting because they echo an interview that I conducted in 2008 with Internet pioneer Vint Cerf while we were doing research for our upcoming book Names, Numbers, and Network Solutions. At the time, Vint was concerned that the Internet could fragment as governments struggled to assert control over the Internet within their borders. It appears that Vint’s prediction may very well come true, and this development concerns me.
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I also read an article about the recent FCC proposal to create nationwide super WiFi networks. The networks would be very powerful and they would be provided to the public free of charge.
While the proposal has gained much support from companies that would directly benefit from increased Internet use, including Google and Microsoft, I am not surprised that the wireless industry, which makes billions of dollars each year in Internet access fees, is up in arms and is trying to kill the proposal. Although I am no fan of increased government spending, I do believe that this proposal has merit.
Ron Zollars sent me an interesting article about the recent award of a DARPA contract worth at least $58 million to SAIC to build and test a unique kind of drone: an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). The author of the article was complimentary about the work that we did at SAIC more than a decade ago, although I’m not sure I accomplished half the things he says I did.
You may know from reading this blog that I have been interested in drones for some time; however, this is the first that I have heard of underwater drones. According to the article, the drones are expected to be very effective against the threat of the old-style diesel-electric submarines which are favored by China, North Korea, and Iran. I look forward to hearing more about this technology as it evolves.
As I look back over the year 2012, there was both good news and bad.
First the bad news. The candidate I wanted to win the Presidential election did not, which deeply disappointed me. I do think the Republican team was better than the current cast of characters that we will now have to live with for four more years.
The economy does not seem better to me, so I don’t know what Obama has been doing during his first term in office. With the current administration and Congress unable to reach a reasonable and long-term compromise on taxes and spending, I am afraid our nation is going to suffer economic uncertainty far into the future.
Finally, the news that SAIC would split into two separate companies was not the best news I heard in 2012. I hope the company and its employees do well in this coming transition, although I am concerned that this will not be the case.
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Fortunately there was also much good news in 2012. The FED continues to make good progress on the employee ownership front, most recently by way of the film We the Owners.
Mike Daniels and I finished writing our book on Network Solutions, and the second edition of The SAIC Solution is almost complete. It is my understanding that both books will be published in the first half of 2013.
I had a good trip to the University of Michigan, where I stopped by the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, met the new Beyster Fellow Chih-Chun Chia, and attended the football game against Michigan State.
I managed to keep busy with weekly meetings, field trips, and outings on my boat. Best of all, Betty and my family are well, for which I am grateful.
Looking ahead to 2013, I hope I can improve my health, which will allow me to take on some more-challenging adventures. I would like to take a long train trip through the Canadian Rockies with visits to Lake Louise and Banff this upcoming year. I also hope to be able to attend the America’s Cup in San Francisco Bay.
I would like to thank each of you for keeping in touch this past year via my blog. I enjoy hearing from my old friends and sharing stories and occasional visits. All best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2013.