How to summarize Cold War Surveillence

While I was working with Anson Bilger over several years on pre-fab housing and the Bilger Monorail, one day he told me a pretty good story.

I had written a two page synopsis of an industrial manufacturing proposal. He read it. He said he liked it. And then he said, “Reminds of a labor of love I began in the 1940s…”

Anson tells a story about shrinking the complex into the simple.

“I was asked to Washington D.C. to deliver my DEW line radar concept to a General of the Chiefs of Staff. Humbled, I knew I would need time to write a good report. I left home a day early after I gathered up my little Remington typewriter and searched for some sheets of paper. Paper was rationed during the war and in short supply so I found only two legal size sheets.

When I arrived in Washington, I rented a small hotel room, with a small bed, a chair and, I’ll never forget, one coat hook on the door. I put the typwriter on the bed, pulled up the chair and started drafting my ideas on one sheet. I was proud to get the story on one side of the other piece of paper and down about half the back side. I carefully folded the sheet and placed it in my coat pocket.

The next morning an olive green Army Chevy arrived to pick me up. We drove up a long driveway to a large house with white columns and wide front steps, and blackout curtains. There were many military folks getting out of Chevy’s, jeeps and limos. I sheepishly followed the Colonel accompanying me.

The Colonel greeted a couple officers and then parked me along a wall inside and asked if I could give him my report to show to the General.

After a few minutes he came up to me and asked, “The General is pretty busy. Could you rewrite this onto half a page?!” And that’s how I learned to write a business plan.

What was the DEW line?

map of DEW lineA continuous radar line above the arctic circle, from far western Alaska to eastern Canada and Greenland.

There are many people today that have never heard of the DEW line and a few more that have heard of it but still don’t know what it is, or was.

The DEW line — Distant Early Warning line — was a series of radar stations built above the Arctic Circle during the early years of the Cold War.

The DEW line was a deterrent.
After WW II was over the United States, and what in those days was the USSR, were becoming belligerent with each other. Over succeeding years, this became the Cold War. The Cold War, in essence, was both sides intimating “You use the atom bomb on us, we’ll use the atom bomb on you,” keeping everyone continually on their toes. Either or both sides could have done just that, calling it a peace policy of ‘mutual assured destruction’.

Artic DEW line radarBlind from the North
In that era the blind side of the United States was from the North. If an enemy came at us from that direction we might not be able to detect them soon enough to defend ourselves. The polar north in those days was very desolate with no lookout stations covering this vast territory.

An early warning plan swung into action February 15, 1954, when President Eisenhower signed the bill approving the construction of the radar domes, a low altitude radar mast and huge radio cones to send warning alerts toward the mainland.

The Distant Early Warning (DEW) line was born

  • 25,000 people had a direct hand in building the DEW Line.
  • Everything in and out of the Ice Cap was flown in the C130.
  • Reportedly, it was the most expensive single military project up to that time.


Oh groan, gee whiz, changes ahead

Ethanol attracts water and other chemicals,
so it can’t be sent through the long-established pipelines.

It must be shipped in tanks. Truck or rail. Ethanol is straining railroads already taxed by shipments of coal, containers and grain. [subscriber story at the Wall Street Journal]

Ethanol demand brings big profit but,

  • all freight costs will increase
  • railroads are spending billions
  • 425000 rail carloads of ethanol per year
  • add over 100 million tons of rail capacity
  • double the railhead capacity that exists today
  • cost to move by rail averages 4 to 5 cents per gallon
  • may outstrip capacity to build rail cars, barges and storage
  • costs twice as much per gallon of ethanol to ship corn by rail
  • Horrendously congested, one-third of the country’s rail cargo passes through Chicago, the hub for the corn states. Freight may be delayed two days or more.

Who’s singing the “intermodal multinodal yodel” !?!

More capacity struggles to come:

water for corn, 1,200,000 gpd,
water capacity, 300,000 gpd,
water peak demand, unknown

My thought:

We will not convert our nation to ethanol. The task is too great. But blending ethanol reduces the demand for crude oil and increases gasoline supply for a given refining capacity. We will likely divert crude oil demand, and do the best we can.

We live in odd times

Exxon just announced the biggest profit in American corporate history.

At any price on the tanker, Exxon delivers $25 of net profit per barrel, while Shell generates $20.

Gasoline and fossil fuels are a serious wound to our air, earth’s species, our stability, and our pocket.

Yet Exxon’s $39.5 billion is a small pinch of the cost of war. The War in Iraq has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $400 billion since the March 2003 invasion, and the president’s new budget seeks another quarter of a trillion dollars over the next two years.

Neither bears nor bulls can offer clues about what we must decide will be our better future.

We will divide resources across new tasks and direct our duty into new horizons.

We will have a different world soon. We all sense it’s needed.

We will shake another yolk of silly dominance and engage each other in better ways.

It’s in the hand we offer and the resolve we give each other.

Uric Acid Accelerates Brain Aging

Rising uric acid probably makes our minds slow down as we age.

Johns Hopkins and Yale university medical schools have found that a simple blood test to measure uric acid, a measure of kidney function, might reveal a risk factor for cognitive problems in old age. The findings appear in the January issue of Neuropsychology, which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

This Kidney Watch Alert found at FuturePundit