An assorted mix of posts, some original, some favourites previously published in other Al Fin blogs.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
I'm Going to Miss Those Hallucinations
Years ago, ketamine was found to have an "instant antidepressant" effect -- even in depressed people who had failed to improve when taking conventional antidepressants. Ketamine caused improved moods within hours -- instead of several weeks with typical antidepressants. And the effect of just one dosage of ketamine lasted up to several weeks. The main problem with ketamine, for most people, is the hallucinations.
Recent US clinical Phase IIA trials of the drug GLYX-13 -- a drug with similar neurological effects as ketamine -- show encouraging results for treating depression. Similar to ketamine in effect, but without the hallucinations.
The Phase IIa results show that a single administration of GLYX-13 produced statistically significant reductions in depression scores in subjects who had failed treatment with one or more antidepressant agents. The reductions were evident within 24 hours and persisted for an average of seven days. Importantly, the effect size, a measure of the magnitude of the drug's antidepressant efficacy, observed at 24 hours and at seven days after a single administration of GLYX-13, was nearly double the effect size seen with most other antidepressant drugs after 4-6 weeks of repeated dosing.
In the Phase IIa trial, GLYX-13 was well tolerated. Reported side effects were mild to moderate and were consistent with those observed in subjects receiving placebo. Consistent with previous studies, GLYX-13 did not produce any of the schizophrenia-like psychotomimetic effects associated with other drugs that modulate the NMDA receptor. _News Medical Net
Ever since Al Fin discovered the rapid antidepressant effects of ketamine, he has insisted that all Al Fin blog writers whose postings start to trend too dark, must come in to the office for an injection of ketamine from the blog physician's assistant.
At first, I was troubled by the visions and hallucinations. But then I learned to control my dream destinations, and the persons and creatures I met.
Sure, they had to strap me down to the table for an hour or two. But it was worth it. What was the alternative? Write for Huffington Post? They are crap to write for, and Ariana is the cheapest of cheapskates -- not to mention totally loony.
After each injection, I could go weeks and weeks without turning to the dark side of writing. In many ways, I think I am a better writer for it, too. Ketamine is a much better alternative than electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), from everything I have read.
The hallucinations? My favorite one became a recurring vision with each injection. It involved a princess who would meet me outside her castle, and . . . Well it's my hallucination and you can't have it.
Neither will I be able to, either, once GLYX-13 is approved and on the market. Mr. Fin knows about the drug, so I am not revealing any secrets. He has already sent a memo to those of us who receive the treatments, advising us of his plans to change over to the new treatment, once it is legally available. All I can do is enjoy the hallucinations while they last.[satire off]
Surviving in the land of the living dead can ride on a hair-trigger. In the middle of a massed zombie attack, you need to have memorised a number of instant cues for distinguishing between zombies and real people. Beer-drinking is one of the most important such distinctions.
Fortunately, the trend in US beermaking is toward the "nano-brewery," just barely larger in production than an enthusiastic homebrewer. With enough craft nano-brewers surviving, we can be sure that the art of fine beer-crafting is likely to survive.
Anyway, if you see someone drinking beer, you can be fairly certain they are no zombie. Best to hold off on shooting him until you can better ascertain his true intentions.
The Aeros rigid body airship zombie escape vehicle uses a novel buoyancy management system to provide the ability to carry up to 66 tons of freight or passengers, with a range of 3,000 nautical miles, and the ability to land and take off vertically from any flat surface. Cruising speed is 110 knots, with better fuel economy than other aircraft with heavy lift capability.
The company has built a half-size prototype, and is working with the US FAA on legal-technical-regulatory aspects of the craft before building a full-sized version.
If the vehicle operates to specifications, it would be an ideal method of building an "instant community" in the middle of nowhere. Such a capacity would be invaluable to militaries, as well as to survivalists, colonists, "new nation activists," and others who wished to be able to quickly install a sophisticated infrastructure in a remote location using pre-fabricated and pre-packaged materials and equipment. Example: Intershelter Popup Dome Shelters are lightweight and assume compact form for shipping.
The airship should also allow for fairly quick and massive relief and re-supply in disaster situations.
The commercial models will have a cruising speed of 110 knots over a range of 3000 nautical miles.
“It is the speed that the market and customers need,’’ he [Aeros CEO Igor Pasternak] says.
One of the keys to the new platform is its buoyancy management system. This allows the weight of the vehicle to be adjusted to suit conditions and operational needs. It is completely different from a "blimp" or something like the Hindenburg which needed a hitching post. With the Aeroscraft, there is a gas envelope above a freight chamber which reduces the buoyancy until the craft is 50 feet above the ground. Then you land it as you would a helicopter.
“The concept of the operation is absolutely new. When it comes in for a landing, say 100 feet or 50 feet and it touches the ground, at this moment you become heavier than air,’’ he says.
“From the structure stand point, all of us are familiar with the Hindenburg and Zeppelin designs, continues Pasternak. “This is different. We built a space frame that sits inside of the vehicle and around the frame we built a rigid cell. The function of the rigid cell is to have it work with the aerodynamic laws. It’s a very simple approach. _Gizmag
The video below provides a graphic animation of the Aeros buoyancy management system, which allows the craft to land and take off vertically, and to pick up and deliver up to 66 tons of cargo or passengers from most locations -- regardless of how far it is to the nearest airport.
The military applications are apt to catch on, if the craft can operate at high enough altitudes out of range of most ground fire. Remote piloting capability would also be an ideal feature for military use.
This is an airship buoyancy concept that has been thrown around at the Al Fin Aerospace Institute for a number of years, but the Institute is not likely to submit any prior claims to the idea. ;-)
Besides, when it comes to community scale zombie escape and evasion, we need to stick together for the sake of group survival.
States suspected of being in the process of developing nuclear weapons and/or nuclear programs
States which at one point had nuclear weapons and/or nuclear weapons research programs
States that possess nuclear weapons, but have not widely adopted them
Nuclear weapons are being acquired and built by more and more nations around the world. And it is the nature of modern nuclear proliferation that almost guarantees that nuclear weapons will be used in the future.
India vs. Pakistan. North Korea vs. South Korea or Japan. Iran vs. Israel. Saudi Arabia vs. Iran. And so on, as the wheel of proliferation rolls on and on -- with the cheerful assistance of Russia (and China), and the complaisant indifference of Obama's US.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s -- and with the ongoing collapse of Russia -- there is the promise of a huge nuclear arsenal with global reach coming onto world arms markets. Massive corruption infests every part of Russia's government and military -- everything is up for grabs, if the price is right. Suddenly nations do not have to develop and build their own nuclear weapons -- they can buy them or trade gold, diamonds, or other goodies.
China and Russia have shown no indication of wanting to step in to promote stability -- as opposed to their traditional role of fomenting instability. And as the ability and the will of the USA to block nuclear proliferation becomes blunted by America's own growing internal corruption, international incompetence, and domestic dysfunction, the nuclear aspirants of the emerging and third worlds will come out to play.
Once the US made the decision to allow itself to grow weaker internationally -- from 2009 onward and now at a more rapid pace -- any future threats of US intervention to prevent nuclear proliferation will likely be ignored. And if the US becomes too insistent on enforcing non-proliferation treaties, the ability to unleash an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to disable the US (causing up to 90% US population casualties over one year) is coming within the easy reach of more and more of the US' enemies.
America was stunned after 9/11, with the loss of thousands of lives. New Orleans was knocked into pathetic helplessness by a tropical hurricane, and much of New York City was thrown into the dark, with rampant looting and lawlessness -- by a relatively small and transient tidal surge.
If the US power grid is knocked down by a large scale EMP attack, it would require several months at the least to restore full power. During that time, millions would die, and the US as a whole (and much of Canada) would be essentially paralysed.
And what would be happening outside North America all this time? Nothing good. With the removal of the moderating influence of the US, simmering hatreds and antagonisms would flare wildly. Europe itself would likely be the recipient of either EMP attacks or worse.
Within the dark zones, ethnic - religious - and cultural violence would ignite and spread. In the lieu of prompt intervention by well armed and organised forces, a flood of violent anarchy would flow like a bloody river.
Modern civilised people have no internal gauge or sense by which they can measure the true impact of such swiftly spreading chaotic events. And so they instinctively dismiss the possibility as absurd and impossible.
But a US growing rapidly weak and wobbly, combined with an increasingly bold and belligerent China -- and a Russia growing more desperate as it sees its future unfolding before it -- this particular evolution of the great nuclear powers along with a nuclear proliferation in the Muslim world, the third world, and the emerging world, could quickly convert the "inconceivable" into the present reality.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.
And keep in mind that even the best armed and prepped personal, family, or community survival compound would be quickly overrun and destroyed by just a moderate-sized unit of the Los Zetas drug cartel para-military organisation, or the equivalent. Best think very deeply when you think "preparation," and keep your assets concealed.
Zombies tend to cluster in and around cities -- where most of their prey can be easily found. By putting distance between yourselves and the horde, you can prolong your survival.
Islands do not provide perfect protection from zombies, since the undead cannot drown. But zombies are poor swimmers, have difficulty operating boats, and are often swept away by strong ocean and tidal currents.
The featured dwelling is covered by steel sheeting, and includes a series of steel shutters that can be rolled shut to provide extra protection in case of an inadvertent zombie breech of normal defences.
The house is situated on an tiny sleeve of rock tucked close to the water. The sturdy steel cladding was chosen for a good reason — the northern squall can be relentless. The cabin  has a series of rolling [zombie proof] panels that close it against the elements. When the zombies clear and the sun shines, a small solar-electric panel mounted to the southern facing roof feeds 12v DC to the batteries, which in turn power lights, a super efficient Sunfrost Refrigerator , and a small water pump. A large rainwater catchment tank provides more than enough water for the home, and a small on-demand water heater supplies an outdoor shower and the sink. _Inhabitat
Self sufficiency is a must in the age of zombies. Normal transportation re-supply is rapidly broken down along with police protection and civil services -- as more and more of the human infrastructure is eaten or converted to an undead state.
Don't let the zombies have the last laugh. Be prepared.
And now China appears to be developing its own space plane, which is a miniature version of the USAF X-37B, which is itself a miniature version of the retired US Space Shuttle.
“Shenlong is China’s effort to develop a re-entering aerodynamic spacecraft, similar to the space shuttle or the X-37B but much smaller than either,” said Mark Gubrud of Princeton University. “However, the economic rationale for the shuttle was never realized, and it is not clear what advantages the X-37B offers the U.S. military over conventional upper stages, satellite buses and re-entry capsules.” _China Mystery Space Plane
In China, everything has a secondary military purpose, even the putative "civil" space program. But the mini-spaceplane is likely to be a pure military program. At this point it is certain to be in full catch-up mode, in an attempt not to let western space efforts get too far out in front.
Cheng said numerous scientific conferences held in China during 1988-92 saw debate about what the manned space program vehicle should look like.
"Given regular People’s Liberation Army writings about the importance of space-to-ground military operations in the future, something like an X-43 [an unmanned experimental hypersonic aircraft] or X-37B would also have appeal, as a likely pathway for military purposes," Cheng said. _Space Plane China Military
Space is the military high ground, from which rocks can be thrown down the gravity well at anyone and anything. It is not surprising that China would see a military benefit in designing a VTHL spacecraft for its own strategic military reasons.
'Nature has solved the problem of how to design miniature flying machines.
'By learning those lessons, our findings will make it possible to aerodynamically engineer a new breed of surveillance vehicles that, because they are as small as insects and also fly like them, completely blend into their surroundings.'
The insect manoeuvrability which allows flies the ability to land precisely and fly off again at speed may one day prove a crucial tactical advantage in wars and could even save lives in disasters.
The military would like to develop tiny robots that can fly inside caves and barricaded rooms to send back real-time intelligence about the people and weapons inside.
It starts innocently enough. Cameras mounted on flying insects, powered by energy from the insects' wing motion.
Minute cameras and microphones mounted on the backs of beetles will help emergency services find victims trapped or buried underneath rubble.
Researchers aim to power a tiny “backpack” of sensors by “scavenging” energy from the insect’s own wing movements to help create a lasting power source.
The bugs can then be released into collapsed buildings or other areas seen as too dangerous for human rescue teams.
Professor Khalil Najafi, who is developing the new technology, said the insect’s own kinetic energy would act as a battery for a variety of communication equipment. _Telegraph_via_Dvice
But slowly, the darker side of insect cyborgs shows itself. Suddenly, instead of mounting cameras on insects, we see small lasers -- even miniature rocket launchers. What was once a humanitarian effort meant to save lives, slowly morphs into a stealth assassin's secret fantasy.
...it's well known that scientists are experimenting with insect-electronics hybrids, resulting in some rather interesting scenarios, including remote-controlled insect drones. _Dvice
Beyond the insect drone, will come observation drones and micro-assassins too small and fast to register by the human eye. And after those deadly and diminutive dynamos more sinister nano-devices will be on their way.
"What could be more sinister than tiny stealth assassins that kill in secret silence?" We are not at liberty to discuss that issue at present. But if you are thinking clearly, you should have at least an idea. More later.
Hey, you never know when you're gonna find yourself locked out of an important drawer, room, or box of magical secrets. While I certainly don't endorse breaking and entering, there are plenty of times when lock-picking could have legitimate personal value.
So what's the trick? Ultimately, it depends on what kind of lock you're eyeing. For typical home and office locks, all you need is a little practice and a lot of patience (and also a few special tools). Check out this in-depth guide at WikiHow to check the skill off your list. If you need to see to believe (or understand), this video can help:
But what if you forgot the combination to your gym locker? Fear not; you can get back to your stinky socks and rancid tank top in no time. Practice these steps in advance, and you'll be able to crack the Master Lock combo like a pro -- even while wearing nothing but a carefully placed towel.
Finally, for cars locks, things are a bit different; you'll need to learn a skill known as bumping to break into your vehicle without breaking the glass. Save this link to your to-do list -- and stay the hell away from my ride.
Be a human compass
Sure, you've got your smartphone and its fancy-schmancy GPS sorcery, but a true geek doesn't need Google to tell which way's which.
If you wear an analog watch, getting oriented during the day is a piece of cake: To figure out which way is south, just point your watch's hour hand at the sun. The halfway point between the hand and the 12 is the direction ye seek.
But what if you're watchless or in the dark? Good news, MacGyver: It turns out Mother Nature provides plenty of clues to help you find your way. Watch this video and watch your geek quotient go up.
The key to outsmarting a polygraph, according to the outstanding citizens who specialize in such matters, is understanding what the machine is actually measuring: your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. If you can keep those factors constant from the control questions (the easy ones used to establish your normal baseline reaction) to the potentially incriminating queries, you'll be in the clear -- and that's no fabrication.
You might think that the trick lies in learning to decrease your response to the stressful questions, but no: Polygraph professionals say the more important skill is being able to increase your response to the easy ones. When you hear a control question, you want to make your body freak out a bit -- by biting your tongue, for example, or, erm, flexing certain interior posterior muscles -- in order to skew the baseline measurements and throw everything out of whack.
Install a new hard drive
Old drive dying? Just need more space? Almost every computer user has run into some sort of hard drive crisis at some point. But with the right know-how, you don't need to run to the local Geek Squad (or Nerd Herd, even) every time a drive-related issue arises.
Installing a new hard drive is actually quite simple. And once you know how to do it, you'll wonder why you didn't learn sooner. Take a few minutes now and familiarize yourself with the basics, as shown in this video. Rest assured: The day will come when you'll be glad you did.
Laptops are slightly trickier to deal with than desktops, but they're still perfectly doable. Try Googling your specific laptop manufacturer and model to figure out where its drive is located and how to best access it, then move forward from there.
Securely wipe your data
Speaking of storage, when you want to get rid of certain data for good -- really get rid of it, so it can never be recovered by anyone -- a regular ol' system delete isn't enough.
What you need to do is securely wipe your drive, and the proper method is something every geek worth her salt should know. If that knowledge isn't already in your noggin, now's your chance to learn it; see these simple guides for PCs and Macs and prepare to celebrate your newfound skill set.
I'm not gonna ask why you're stuck in handcuffs in the first place -- hey, what you do in your personal time is your own private business -- but if/when the occasion comes that you need a key-free escape, a little extreme geek-knowledge will go a long way.
So go ahead: Learn the basics and research it even further if you want. Think of it as a liberating academic exercise; I promise I won't tell.
Get around Web content restrictions
Web content filters don't have to be full-stops in your Internet browsing adventures. With an arsenal of geek knowledge at your fingertips, a blocked website -- at a public computer in a library, school, or workplace, for instance -- will be little more than a minor speed bump in your path.
There are several ways to get around content restrictions. The simplest is to use a proxy server to bypass the filter altogether; you can find a user-friendly list of free and available proxies at the aptly named Proxy.org.
If you really want to get serious, you can look into virtual private networks (VPNs) or DNS redirectors. Just remember: If content is being blocked, that probably means the owner of your network doesn't want you looking at it and -- go figure -- may become quite cross if he discovers that you're breaking the rules.
In other words, proceed at your own risk, homie -- and for the love of children, make sure your computer's volume is turned down.
Root an Android phone
As a platform, Android is like a candy store for geeks: It's chock-full of options for customization and just begging to be tweaked and modified.
There's plenty you can do with the platform as it ships, but if you really want to get down and dirty, rooting is the path to explore. Rooting an Android phone gives you access to administrator-level permissions, which in turn allows you to do all sorts of fun stuff to your device. Most notably, you can install a custom ROM -- a whole new version of the operating system created by third-party enthusiasts and typically jam-packed with advanced capabilities and extra features.
Rooting isn't for the faint of heart (and it might void your manufacturer's warranty -- be sure to read the fine print before making the leap). For a geek, though, it's an experience worth having at least once.
You can find ample resources for rooting most popular phones; if it's something you're ready to pursue, start by Googling "root" along with your phone's name, and it shouldn't take you long to get going.
Get around your computer using nothing but a keyboard
Hotkeys are tremendous time-savers (and great ways to blow the minds of nongeeks, too). Learn the hotkeys built into your OS of choice, then take things a step further and learn app-specific hotkeys for the programs you use the most.
If you really want to get geeky, grab Autohotkey, a free program for Windows users. It lets you set up custom hotkeys for practically any function imaginable.
This video provides some background for a simple home entertainment setup:
But in practice, you'll probably be connecting various disparate systems together. If you can start from scratch, figure out what cables you need, and get everything running in under an hour with minimal cursing, congratulations: You are officially geek-certified.
You are also officially going to be getting tech support calls from the rest of your family for the rest of your life -- and that, my friends, is the surest sign of solid geekdom.
Like many other California cities, the cost of pensions, pay, and benefit packages is bankrupting Stockton, California. The city cannot afford to hire new police officers, because all the money is going to pay for the pensions and benefits of old police officers and other municipal employees -- current and retired.
In Stockton, California, which declared bankruptcy earlier this year, your chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime such as murder, rape, robbery or assault are 1 in 70, which is nearly four times higher than the national average.
Your chances of being the victim of a property crime are even more likely, with 1 in every 17 residents of the city facing the prospect of having their house broken into or car stolen this year.
This is what happens when a city, county, state or federal government can no longer pay its bills and is forced to lay off workers. In the case of Stockton, the city has cut tens of millions of dollars from their budget, mostly targeting law enforcement and other essential services. _Stockton's Woe
In fact, in cities across the "blue zone" of the US, municipal workers' unions have enough power to bankrupt cities, and force the same type of hardship on their citizens.
Detroit, Michigan, is the true forerunner of municipal decay. And as you might guess, the municipal workers' unions of Detroit stand front and centre to blame for the downfall of motown, motor city.
What we are seeing is the doom of cities -- from Obama's Chicago to Detroit to inner city Philadelphia. Murders, flash mobs, out of control gang violence, and fat cat wealthy unions able to control elections and determine who gets elected to oversee their contracts.
Government officials on all levels are stuck. They are overloaded with debt and have no more money to spend. The only option is to start cutting services like law enforcement, emergency medical response, public food and homelessness support, and other social services like rental assistance.
The effect of this collapse of government services is rising crime across the entire spectrum of criminal activity including murder, theft and organized attacks like flash mobs.
This is more than likely coming to a town near you in short order, no matter where in the United States you live. _shtfplan
The comments following the article linked above are also interesting.
Private citizens are being forced to come together to form citizen's vigilance groups, militias, and armed neighborhood watch posses. This is what comes from the US electing a president who is viscerally antagonistic to the private economic sector and the non-governmental economy.
If Obama is re-elected, expect the situation to grow even worse. Much worse.
The staircase retracts -- much like a drawbridge -- whenever zombies approach across the sand or ice. In addition, if zombies somehow make their way inside, the individual segments can rotate. This allows you to trap and isolate zombies inside particular segments. The rotating segments can also confuse zombies into thinking they are going the wrong way, causing them to reverse directions until exhauste, finally falling through special trap doors to the icy sands below.
Although not well portrayed in the image, the leg supports are capable of moving independently -- like the legs of a millipede -- propelling you and your shelter across the arid sands from oasis to oasis. The shelter is easily able to outpace a shambling zombie horde, as long as its energy packs are kept charged.
Finally, the shelter is able to safely submerge itself, hidden under sand, ice, earth, or water -- in the event of a mega-zombie outbreak.
They said that Switzerland would be the last nation on Earth to fall to the zombie apocalypse. They said that because of the natural geographic boundaries that separate the Swiss from everyone else. But little by little, zombies have been seen infiltrating the mountain redoubt, causing Swiss survivalist to devise a fallback plan: Hobbit Hole housing.
The Earth Houses are so called because they're designed to reside within their environment, blending into the natural contours of the land rather than merely set down on top of it. They're also covered with clumps of earth, which makes a lot of sense in terms of insulation, though such a design will clearly not fit in with everybody's aesthetic sensibilities.
Because of the way the houses are built into the land, no one would spot the estate who wasn't actively looking for it.
The plot of land the Earth Houses are built on covers 4,000 square meters (43,055 sq ft), with each individual house covering between 60 meters squared (646 sq ft) and 200 meters squared (2,153 sq ft). There are three houses consisting of three rooms, one house of four rooms, one of five rooms, three of six rooms, and one of seven rooms.
The zombie-escape houses are surrounded by conventional houses, which are likely to attract zombies by their very conventionality. While their neighbors are being eaten by the horde, the survivors can hide out in relative comfort, waiting for the zombie masses to move on to more obvious targets.
Should any zombies stumble across the survivalist hidey holes by mistake, they are likely to stumble straightaway into the central pond -- where their loud thrashing about in the water will attract the attention of survivors. A quick double tap to the head should eliminate the immediate problem, and prevent the zombie's loud struggles from attracting others of its kind.
Finally, the dispatched zombie will be dried and ground into powder, to be used as zombie repellant. The repellant is liberally poured around the perimeter of the surival estate -- well away from the residences. This ring of protection is replenished after every heavy rain or snowfall.
A few additional projects -- such as a deep moat filled with zombie-eating sharks, and a 20 foot tall solid wall topped by a high voltage electrified fence -- should provide additional protection.
The differences between the minds of monkeys and the minds of men are differences of a graded evolutionary nature. Natural selection follows a forked and winding pathway, diverging and converging unpredictably. The range of primate emotions is remarkably similar from monkeys to humans. All primates -- from monkeys to higher species -- are excitable to a greater or lesser degree.
Monkeys Attacking Automobile
Monkeys are excitable, like all primates. Monkeys experience rage reactions -- like apes and humans -- but they do not typically organise in up close and personal group attacks like common chimps and people are wont to do. When they flock together, it is more likely in search of food or out of curiosity.
Evolving Apes on Rampage
In an evolutionary sense, apes are much closer to humans, and ape behaviour has many more parallels with human behaviour. Apes have been known to carry out sustained genocidal wars against competing groups of apes. The superior size and organisation of the ape brain makes it capable of organising and sustaining rage for longer periods of time on a larger scale.
The human brain is larger yet, and formed in such a way to allow for even more complex levels of societal organisation than is found in ape societies. Human groups have been aroused to violence and warfare for as long as there is recorded history.
Human excitability -- particularly in groups -- can be a serious problem for human societies, and for the ability of humans to get along in non-violent ways. Religious excitability and violence has been a problem ever since disparate human tribes began to assert the superiority and dominance of their particular tribal gods over the gods of rival tribes.
Some forms of relgion - instigated rage appear indistinguishable from caricatures of rage as portrayed in feature films such as "28 Days Later." In that film, a "rage virus" escaped from the lab to infest human populations, leading to cataclysmic violence.
Human rage will often build in normal circumstances -- as in "road rage," "computer rage," and other common situations where other humans may act to frustrate or oppose the wishes of a protagonist (that would be you).
Opinions vary widely, as to what should be done to manage human excitability and rage, to prevent out-of-control violence. Would it be better -- for example -- to release one's anger in a real life "fight club?" Or is it better to salve one's anger in meditation, yoga, or even a "laughter club?"
One interesting suggestion is the creation of "rage clubs," as a means to purge the inevitable anger and rage that tend to build over time.
This is how they would work. People first gather together in a large open space (a barn or warehouse type area – incidentally, no alcohol would be allowed), then several passionate speakers incite the crowd with stories of injustice and exploitation inter-cut with biased news reports (there could even be a standard canon of examples; Bhopal, Gaza, The Crusades, Big tobacco. For ‘light hearted rage’ the subjects could be narrowed down to, poor user interface or badly designed electronic equipment or non existent customer service). The speakers would then lead the crowd into demonstrating their wrath and frustration with screams, tears and rending of shirts (bought specifically for the event from charity shops). A percussion ensemble or rock band will create a throbbing soundtrack of primitive trance like rhythms building in volume. The crowd will simultaneously produce various implements of noise making capability and commence to create a cacophony of sound so powerful it would even make Lemmy from Motorhead stop his ears.
Areas will be set aside where crockery seconds can be hurled furiously at a brick wall. Effigies of slippery political criminals will be stuck on poles and aggrieved victims given fifteen minutes with a baseball bat to put their point across to them (this is contentious I know, but it is meant to be purely symbolic. The signal sent out will be that such behaviour will only be tolerated at the Rage Club but at the same time it will also be a reminder to the authorities and multinationals: “we people know of our power, so don’t screw with us and ignore us at your peril.”)
Ultimately, an energy of pure rage will be created and each individual will experience a catharsis which will lead to exhaustion, reflection and a reasoned course of action to methodically change those things which enrage them. _Rage Club
Would this work? Consider that some of the most spectacular rage displays put on by groups of Muslims often occur immediately after Friday noon prayer at the mosque. Religious clerics often learn to work a crowd into a righteous frenzy. If the group is then released directly onto the streets in the form of a mob, the results can sometimes be quite photogenic.
But what if these excitable primates were steered into a rage club instead? Allowed to vent their rage in a controlled and relatively private manner, such frenzied zealots might gradually ease into a more controlled mental state. Their internal rages may even be satisfied -- at least until next week's Friday noon prayer at the mosque.
When the zombie apocalypse hits, you may not have a lot of time to pack your things before making your escape. The idea of making a clean escape in a pre-packed home -- containing all your important belongings -- should appeal to every well informed zombie survivour.
Lighter than air craft allow you to put a much larger distance between yourselves and the emerging zombie horde. And you can travel that distance in unprecedented comfort and style, in the flying home designed by Swiss designer Timon Sager.
The elegantly styled home features multiple decks with several amenities any modern homeowner would want — from a sleek entertainment room to a lavish bedroom. The house also features immense windows that would make every beautiful angle visible. If you have a paralyzing fear of heights, this may not be the home for you, but then again, who could pass up the greatest benefit of traveling in the comfortable confines of one's home? Wolke 7 would also eliminate the arduous task of packing light and researching for a hotel at your destination. Instead of hectic worrying, flying-homeowners can relax and sail the skies to their favorite vacationing spot. _Source
Once you arrive at your zombie survival fortress and redoubt, you can continue to utilise your flying home as an advanced warning lookout platform.
Remember: zombies do not live with regret. If you plan far enough and well enough ahead, you will not have to live with regret or with zombies.
The high cost of college education is hobbling the economic present and future of millions of young people in the US. With over $1 trillion in student loan debt, American youth are forced to postpone marriage, family, home ownership, and many other important aspects of life in the US. Meanwhile, university officials continue to grow an expensive administrative and staff bloat throughout the US university system.
The Saylor Foundation -- in collaboration with Excelsior College and Straighter Line, is developing a way to bypass this corrupt and destructive system, while acquiring the important and varied career-advancing knowledge that youth and adults need.
Excelsior is a private, nonprofit college that offers relatively inexpensive, online degree programs. The regionally-accredited college is also one of the first to have competency-based programs, where students can take Excelsior-developed examinations in a fairly broad range of subjects – earning credits without having to take classes. The exams are worth three to six credits, and typically cost $95.
The college discovered Saylor when it was tracking down open-education material online to suggest for students to use as study guides for exams. John Ebersole, Excelsior’s president, said faculty members at the college were impressed with Saylor’s courses.
“We found ourselves at Saylor’s door,” Ebersole said, adding that the foundation “doesn’t get the cachet, but they have the quality.”
StraighterLine has a similar partnership in place with Saylor, and, as of this week, with Excelsior. As a result, the group has created what is perhaps the lowest-cost set of credit-bearing courses on the Internet.
Like Excelsior, StraighterLine offers inexpensive courses online. Students pay $99 per month to enroll, shelling out $39 per course. The material is self-paced, and students can take final exams whenever they’re ready. Tutors are available to help them along the way.
...The new credit pathway between the three institutions is obviously a tad complex, and not as simple as just enrolling in an online college. But the price might be attractive to savvy adult students – already the typical Excelsior and StraighterLine student. And Saylor hopes to be an option for students, including those in developing countries, who lack affordable or quality education options.
“Online courses should be really inexpensive,” says Burck Smith, StraighterLine’s CEO. “There’s no overhead. There is no reason for costs to be what they are.”
...The foundation is the brainchild of Michael J. Saylor, an Internet entrepreneur who has had several brushes with techie fame. The founder of MicroStrategy, a Beltway-based business intelligence software company, Saylor once lost $6 billion in personal wealth amid a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry. At the time, he promised to donate $100 million to create a free online university.
That idea grew into the Saylor Foundation, which has a long-term goal of putting a lot of quality academic content on the web – as much as possible, really.
This fall will be Saylor’s launch, for all practical purposes. Although the foundation has gotten some notice among higher-education reformers, the fleshed-out majors make the concept tangible. _Highered
Saylor thinks that education should be free. And that is the direction that online educational technology is taking us.
This is good news for newer generations of learners, and very bad news for the corrupt system of indoctrination that calls itself "US higher education."
Multi-use tools allow for the saving of space and weight, when you are packing everything in yourself. And if you like to keep a small survival kit in your car at all times, high quality multi-use tools can remain unobtrusively out of the way, while providing excellent service.
The device is a wood saw with a 15-inch (38.1-cm) steel blade. Zippo says that it makes easy work of sticks and logs up to four inches (10.1 cm) thick. It's positioned at campers that need to cut up firewood, and the saw's handle has a little secret that will help: it's a sheath for a hatchet underneath. Take off the sheath to reveal the five-inch (12.7-cm) blade; store the saw blade in the hatchet handle, and sawing lends way to chopping and splitting.
...On the flip side of the hatchet blade is a mallet designed to hammer tent stakes into the ground. When it comes time to pack up and pull the stakes out, a stake puller on the end of the hatchet handle provides some assistance. The puller is a closed loop, so it appears that it will only work with stakes that have some type of a grab point – Zippo shows it pictured pulling out a hooked plastic stake.
The 4-in-1 Woodsman will hit the market in time for the northern spring of 2013. It will retail for US$79.95. Replacement saw blades will run $12.95. _Gizmag
I can think of a few other handy tools to include in the medley, but Zippo's Woodsman appears to be one convenient compromise out of the many possible multi-tools for such use.
The Austrian D-Dalus design is meant to be the "hummingbird" of this class of unconventional rotor designs. Think of how maneuverable a hummingbird can fly, while still achieving a very high top speed.
The D-Dalus has the potential to be the "special ops" platform of choice for rapid insertions, extractions, and quick stealthy near ground-level attacks.
A flying machine with no airfoil, rotor or jet propulsion can travel where most cannot: in very tight spaces and through terrible weather.
The craft’s four rotors spin at 2,200 rpm, and six blades attached to carbon-fiber disks create directional thrust. The blades act as mini airfoils, their angle of attack constantly shifting in relation to rotation. For vertical lift, a blade’s leading edge rises away from the center of the disk at the top of its rotation and toward the center of the disk at the bottom [pictured], creating a pressure differential.
Existing bearings were unable to withstand 1,000 Gs of force between the carbon-fiber disks and their blades and still deliver some degree of maneuverability. Engineers at IAT21 developed their own bearings, shaped like metal barrels, that hold up to the force better than spheres (think: arches) but can still roll enough for the blades to move. _Popsci
The Fanwing, seen below, is more of a slow semi-hovering craft, meant to linger overhead for extended periods of observational time. Fanwing is more of a recon aircraft.
The Voith Schneider propeller (VSP), also known as a cycloidal drive (CD) is a specialized marine propulsion system (MPS). It is highly maneuverable, being able to change the direction of its thrust almost instantaneously. It is widely used on tugs and ferries.
From a circular plate, rotating around a vertical axis, a circular array of vertical blades (in the shape of hydrofoils) protrude out of the bottom of the ship. Each blade can rotate itself around a vertical axis. The internal gear changes the angle of attack of the blades in sync with the rotation of the plate, so that each blade can provide thrust in any direction, very similar to the collective and cyclic of helicopter flight controls. _ngcraft
The US Defense Department's DARPA is resuming efforts to develop a hypersonic "X-plane (HX). DARPA's plans are ambitious, and will require very rapid innovation and development in order to meet its schedule -- achieving a rocket launched hypersonic craft by the year 2016.
The hypersonic X-plane (HX) will launch using a disposable rocket stack, unlike previous models which have used space launch rockets, then begin its hypersonic glide. The plan is for the "highly manoeuvrable" vehicle to be recoverable, meaning it will either return to Earth with the help of a parachute, or possibly land on a runway.
Darpa is reigniting the hypersonic flight research with the intention of launching future missions ranging from "space access to survivable, time-critical transport [troop deployment] to conventional prompt global strike." _Wired
Development of the Skylon spaceplane has passed a critical milestone following tests on the key component for its Sabre engine.
The engine, being developed by Reaction Engines Ltd, looks set to revolutionise not only space travel but also air transport around the world.
It promises to allow a new generation of aircraft to fly from one side of the Earth to the other, e.g. the UK to Australia, in just four hours instead of the 22 or so needed nowadays.
But it will also provide sufficient boost to send the Skylon spaceplane into orbit where it could deliver satellites or link up with the International Space Station.
What makes Sabre different from other aircraft engines is a revolutionary ability to switch from an air-breathing mode to that of a rocket engine.
This hybrid function will allow it to power aircraft at up to five times the speed of sound within the atmosphere or directly into Earth orbit at 25 times the speed of sound. _Wired
Hybrid engines of this type may provide a crucial weight savings in the early stages of the development of workable hypersonic craft. Engineers need to be cautious in avoiding excessive complexity in this new type of engine. KISS (Keep it simple, stupid!) is the key, as far as it is possible.
The type of craft pictured above has been discussed by Brian Wang in multiple articles. It is powered in multiple ways: by chemical rocket, air-breathing propulsion, by MHD, and by dense plasma focus fusion -- all of which should combine to allow it to travel at very high velocities. It will require significant development of several components, including the focus fusion module, before it becomes practical.
The Stratolaunch air launch system pictured above allows for a very versatile approach to orbital insertions. The huge carrier craft serves as the "first stage" of the launch system, carrying the launch craft to altitude and providing a wider range of opportunistic launch attitudes than is conveniently possible for fixed launch sites.
Ideally, all components of the system would be reusable, to save on costs. There are several tradeoffs to be made in terms of launch platforms, launch attitudes, propulsion strategies: pure vs. hybrid vs multiple etc., numbers of propulsion stages, orbital vs sub-orbital flight, method of terrestrial return, and so on.
Hypersonic flight inside the Earth's atmosphere is very punishing, physically. Better types of outer covering materials are needed to provide greater durability for multiple flights. Alternatively, inexpensive spray-on outer skins may be applied prior to each flight, which will naturally ablate in the course of the flight.
Scientists at Argonne National Labs are developing ways of utilising 95% of the energy in Uranium fuel rods -- rather than the mere 4% or so currently being extracted. They are developing new techniques of chemical separation of waste from fuel, and more efficient ways of burning the recycled fuel after being separated from the waste.
When used fuel comes out of a light-water reactor, it’s in a hard ceramic form, and almost all of it is still just uranium – about 95 percent, along with one percent other long-lived radioactive elements, called actinides. Both of these can be recycled as fuel. The remaining four percent are fission products, which are truly unusable.
Pyroprocessing begins by chopping the ceramic fuel into little pieces and converting it into metal. Then it’s submerged in a vat of molten salts, and an electric current separates out uranium and other reusable elements, which can be shaped back into fuel rods.
The truly useless fission products stay behind to be removed from the electrorefiner and cast into stable glass discs. These leftovers do have to be put into permanent storage, but they revert back to the radioactivity of naturally occurring uranium in a few hundred years – far less than the thousands of years that untreated used fuel needs to be stored. _PO
One of the reasons why so little uranium is used is that almost every commercial reactor today is a type called a light-water reactor, or LWR. While LWRs are good at many things, they aren’t designed to wring every last watt of energy out of fuel.
But LWRs aren’t the only type of reactor. Another class, called fast reactors, boasts the ability to “recycle” used fuel to get much more energy out of it.
The main difference between the types of reactors is what cools the core. LWRs use ordinary water. Fast reactors use a different coolant, such as sodium or lead. This coolant doesn’t slow the neutrons as much, and consequently, the reactor can fission a host of different isotopes. This means that fast reactors can get electricity out of many kinds of fuel, including all of that leftover used fuel from LWRs. (LWRs can burn recycled fuel too, with some modification, but they aren’t as good at it.) _PO
Extracting 30 times more energy from the same amount of nuclear fuel will help to make the same amount of fuel go much further. While we are being more efficient at using the nuclear fuel (and nuclear wastes) that we already have, we can learn many more ways to generate energy from mass.
The video describes the Shenu Hydrolemic System, which works to limit water losses through perspiration, urination, and feces through multiple body implants and prostheses.
We were given a vision of cathartic future. A world in which humanity experiences a cataclysmic sequence of events that will bring us to the brink of annihilation. Afflicted by manmade causes, the rising sea level, radioactive emissions and release of hazardous materials into the environment, art and culture cease to exist. This provides an opportunity, not lament, to re-evaluate what constitutes art, design, culture and the quality of life itself when all prejudices and preconceptions vanish.
With this premise, takram was tasked to design a water bottle.After a period of thorough research and analysis, takram reached an uncanny solution. Our conclusion was that it would make more sense, in fact, to regulate how much water the human body can retain and recycle in this dire environment. This revelation resulted in the Hydrolemic system, a set of artificial organs. _Takram
Watch the short video, and follow the link above for more information.
The human body is in for some radical re-design, as humans attempt to expand their activities into more and more extreme environments. From the polar regions to the deep seas, to high altitude atmospheric regions, to the many environments available off-planet -- humans are looking to extend their reach and expand their practical vision.
We were not evolved for most of those environments, however. We can compensate for some of these evolutionary deficiencies by creating artificial environments around us. Submarines allow us to live and work at depth undersea. Spaceships can protect us from vacuum and temperature extremes in space, with partial protection from radiation hazard. Pressurised capsules could allow us to live at high altitudes either on mountaintops or in large high altitude lighter than air habitats.
But we are the naked ape, and we would rather be able to face these exotic environments with a minimum of artifact between us and the environment -- if we could do so safely.
That is why reducing the daily water requirement is just the beginning for the grand project of re-designing humans for the challenges ahead of us.
The vertical ship "Sea Orbiter" is supposedly designed as a research vessel to study ocean currents and climate effects.
But we all understand that unmanned submerged and floating platforms can do just as well to gather whatever research data is necessary. Clearly the Sea Orbiter is meant as a deep ocean escape platform -- but what is it escaping?
Zombies, of course. While zombies can survive almost indefinitely underwater without needing to breathe, they do have trouble with flotation in deep water. They can walk along the seabed, but cannot easily swim along the surface. Once your ship or seastead achieves ocean depths of over 100 metres, you are relatively safe from zombies.
The Sea Orbiter was designed to be self-sufficient in terms of energy production, and could house a number of families, as designed. By scaling up the size of the vertical ship, and altering a few features, it could be turned into a self-sufficient vertical floating city for tens of thousands of people.
A vertical ship that is highly mobile, wave resistant, and stable with 2/3 of its length submerged, offers a new paradigm for naval design of self-sufficient floating arcologies meant to stay afloat for long periods of time.
Any added anti-zombie protective measures should add only minimally to the total costs.
Silent Zombie Kill Seaplane: Fly Nano Stealth Electric
This nifty one-person seaplane has made its first test flight with a battery powered electric motor. It is so quiet that you can dive-bomb a zombie nest in broad daylight, and they'll never hear you coming. Base price is $34,000.
Green doomer eco-fascist cultists all follow similar guidelines: Slash the human population of the planet, although they themselves are unwilling to go first.. Blame free markets and western civilisation for most of the world's problems. Eschew all viable forms of large-scale energy in favour of those which are exorbitantly expensive and innately unreliable. Hate advanced technology, and want to push the world toward primitive lifestyles and global poverty. They are essentially anti-individual and pro-collective.
Members of any doomer cult will recognise the litany, whether from the climate change catastrophe cult, the peak oil doomer cult, the overpopulation doom cult, the global pollution doom cult, the biodiversity doom cult, etc.
Here is more from one of the horses' mouths:
This is Finnish writer Pentti Linkola — a man who demands that the human population reduce its size to around 500 million and abandon modern technology and the pursuit of economic growth — in his own words.
He likens Earth today to an overflowing lifeboat:
What to do, when a ship carrying a hundred passengers suddenly capsizes and there is only one lifeboat? When the lifeboat is full, those who hate life will try to load it with more people and sink the lot. Those who love and respect life will take the ship’s axe and sever the extra hands that cling to the sides.
He sees America as the root of the problem:
The United States symbolises the worst ideologies in the world: growth and freedom.
He unapologetically advocates bloodthirsty dictatorship:
Any dictatorship would be better than modern democracy. There cannot be so incompetent a dictator that he would show more stupidity than a majority of the people. The best dictatorship would be one where lots of heads would roll and where government would prevent any economical growth .
We will have to learn from the history of revolutionary movements — the national socialists, the Finnish Stalinists, from the many stages of the Russian revolution, from the methods of the Red Brigades — and forget our narcissistic selves.
A fundamental, devastating error is to set up a political system based on desire. Society and life have been organized on the basis of what an individual wants, not on what is good for him or her.
As is often the way with extremist central planners Linkola believes he knows what is best for each and every individual, as well as society as a whole:
Just as only one out of 100,000 has the talent to be an engineer or an acrobat, only a few are those truly capable of managing the matters of a nation or mankind as a whole. In this time and this part of the World we are headlessly hanging on democracy and the parliamentary system, even though these are the most mindless and desperate experiments of mankind. In democratic coutries the destruction of nature and sum of ecological disasters has accumulated most. Our only hope lies in strong central government and uncompromising control of the individual citizen.
This fellow is not actually so extreme, for a green. He may be a bit more honest and open about his convictions than most, but that is changing. Even the WWF -- which has written many of the supporting "studies" for the IPCC climate change reports -- has come out in support of policies which would ultimately result in a large scale human dieoff.
Is this also the face of the peak oil doomer cult? Certainly you find a lot of peak oil cult wankers fixated on doom porn, compulsively getting their doom fix whenever possible. It would be easy to assume that they actually want to see suburbia burning, that they would like to see the end of civilisation as we know it.
Floating islands could be located anywhere from the tropics to the polar regions -- as long as the possibility of encountering ice is accounted for. One could even put a floating island on an alpine lake, as a vacation home away from home.
Always be aware that zombies can travel through the water, and cannot be drowned. If you are looking for shelter from zombies, the tower approach may well be superior to the floating island.
Different women may travel somewhat different paths to achieving their ultimate sexual pleasure. The path begins with basic health and self esteem, and will be more ore less accessible depending upon the state of receptivity. That will vary by time of the month, basic physical comfort and satiety levels, a sense of physical safety, and more. Receptivity is influenced by degree of physical and emotional attraction, by chemical intoxicants, or by other influences on the brain -- particularly the pre-frontal lobes (judgment and decision-making) and the pleasure centres of the brain.
But once a couple proceeds past the preliminaries, and are committed to the act, a knowledge of the basic anatomy of erogenous areas can prove immensely facilitating.
There are a number of erogenous areas which elevate the levels of female sexual excitement when properly stimulated at the right time. Kissing the lips and fondling the breasts stimulates two very powerful erogenous areas, and helps to direct blood flow to the pelvic erogenous areas, pictured below.
The clitoris is the best known female pelvic erotic trigger, and the easiest to find right away. The "U-spot" around the urethral opening is much less well known, but in certain women it can open the gate to orgasms not accessible otherwise. The same is true for the "G-spot," located along the mid-anterior wall of the vagina, at about the level of the bladder sphincter. The "A-spot" is further back on the anterior vagina, toward the cervix. The cervix itself -- and attached structures -- can also be considered an erogenous area for many women. Stimulation of both the A-spot and the cervix requires deeper penetration as opposed to stimulation of the more superficial erogenous centres.
The trick to being a great lover of women, is understanding each phase of female sexual attraction and arousal, and stimulating the appropriate erogenous zones of the woman's mind and body for the particular stage of seduction. The approach to pleasing a woman will necessarily be different for each woman. If you have found this not to be the case, than it is likely that you are being deceived by both the women involved and by your own narcissistic nature.
Once you reach the stage of genital contact and penetration, it is important to visualise what is taking place on the inside, in places where the sun and other sources of illumination are unlikely to shine.
By studying the anatomy of intercourse, as well as the anatomy of the female erogenous areas, one should be capable of modifying one's approach in response to how the woman is responding to the situation as a whole.
A woman may achieve intense orgasm by using a vibrator or other sexual utensil. But a vibrator does not satisfy the multiple levels of sexual needs and desires which a woman is likely to have. Of course, neither do most men. But that is a situation which we hope to remedy, at least for the most insightful readers of the Al Fin blogs.
General Fusion Gets New Funding to Pursue Unconventional Fusion Power Approach
For all its promise, the quest for net gain fusion has been a time consuming and costly endeavor. The ITER reactor is projected to take 10 years and 13 billion euros to construct. That doesn’t count the 25 years and counting since the project began and the millions poured in by contributors so far. Even when built, ITER’s super conducting magnets and other components would require 50 MW worth of input power to start and maintain the reaction. Similarly, costs for Laurence Livermore’s National Ignition Facility are estimated at upwards of $850 million and its reactor requires 500 trillion watts of laser light to kick-start fusion reactions.
Where General Fusion’s magnetized target method stands apart is in its relatively low-tech, low-cost mechanical means of compressing the plasma. “As an energy storage medium, compressed gas is orders of magnitude less expensive than capacitors,” Delage explains, “but it’s hard to release this energy quickly.”
...“Our sphere is in fact full of holes, like a Wiffle ball,” he explains. “Each hole is plugged with an ‘anvil’ and compressed gas is used to accelerate a 100 kg ‘hammer’ piston. This acceleration takes about 80 milliseconds. When the hammer piston impacts on the anvil piston, it moves a small amount and transfers the energy into the liquid metal in about 80 microseconds. That’s a timescale shorter than the lifetime of the magnetized target and an increase in power of 1000 times.” _Canadian Manufacturing _via_NBF