31 August 2011

Blow Up Dolls Taking Over the Movies, Real Life?

For some movie producers, the cheapest way of filming a large stadium crowd is to populate the seats with blow-up dolls. More realistic than cardboard cut-outs -- but cheaper than human extras or computer generated crowds -- the blow-up dolls fill an important role in movies that call for a human crowd.
The Inflatable Crowd is a Santa Monica company that supplies seas of lifelike blow-up dolls to films like Iron Man 2, The Fighter, and Contagion. Outsourcing the role of “background actors” to inanimate objects isn’t new, of course; producers have used cardboard cutouts in the past. But those two-dimensional performers severely limit usable camera angles. And adding a CG crowd can cost $50,000 per scene. Inflatables look real and are affordable, with a day rate starting at just $10 per head, roughly a tenth the typical rate for a human extra. (Plus, they guarantee a shorter lunch line at craft services.) Joe Biggins, founder of the Inflatable Crowd, has been pimping his dolls to movies since 2003. Sometimes the job is small—he used a mere 1,500 dummies in the opening scene of The King’s Speech. But to make a stadium come to life in Flags of Our Fathers, Biggins filled the seats with 5,000 inflatables, then interspersed about 750 real people to provide a little natural motion. He keeps a Gardena warehouse stocked with some 30,000 dolls, 27,000 masks, and thousands of wigs and costumes to suit any time period. Packing for a big shoot can take a week (he has to brush all the hair and iron all the clothes), and it takes a six-person crew 10 hours to get 1,000 of the airheads into their seats. _Wired
Economically, it makes sense, and I would expect to see more of this sort of thing. Making a blow-up doll that is capable of simple movements such as hand-waving, clapping, standing and sitting, etc. is a matter of cheap and simple pneumatics. There are a number of other simple and inexpensive modifications that would turn simple blow-ups into sophisticated people surrogates.

Blow-up dolls could be made to look much more like real people, with realistic hair, skin tone and texture, and subtle sound and motion effects. As personal substitutes, blow-up dolls could become a valuable part of any person's everyday toolkit. Teenagers, for example, could use surrogate blow-ups (that snore) to reassure parents that they are sound asleep in bed, when they are actually out partying. A husband could pose his blow-up in his workshop or under the hood of his car, while he himself is off watching the game and drinking beer with his buddies. Workers could perch their blow-ups inside work cubicles, uttering occasional expletives, while they themselves are attending to personal business or drinking in the corner bar. You get the idea -- the trend being toward something like what was portrayed in the Bruce Willis movie Surrogates.

Generally, blow-up dolls are thought of as sex toys. There is nothing wrong with sex toys, as such. But in societies which are uncomfortable with human sexuality, sometimes criminal prosecutors take sex toys far too seriously and make fools out of themselves.

Russians, on the other hand, appear to treat blow-up dolls in the appropriate light hearted manner, using them as flotation devices for the annual Bubble Baba Challenge river race.

The advantage of blow-ups is their low price. The more sophisticated and life-like surrogates become, the more expensive and less like blow-ups they will grow.

The ultimate surrogate might be one that could stand in for President Obama at press conferences, so that he could get in a few more holes of golf. In that case, you might say that American voters were getting 2 presidents for the price of 1. And when you come to think of it, it doesn't really require much intelligence to read from a teleprompter in front of a crowd of sycophantic press drones. They could even replace the reporters with blow-ups. Truly cut-rate models would suffice, in the case of the White House press corps.

It is easy to imagine university lecture halls with blow-up professors lecturing to amphitheatres full of blow-up students, and university bureaucracies teeming with administrative blow-up overbloat, in keeping with the rapidly inflating costs of higher education.

There is no telling where this trend may end. Entrepreneurs should stand ready to meet nascent demand.


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30 August 2011

The Rise of the Zombie Empire: Resistance is Futile

They walk freely among us, unheeded. Infected by brain parasites, behaviours subtly altered. Two billion infected, and counting.
Zombies are popular fictional examples of brain alteration that is usually caused by a biological agent. But inside every fiction is the kernel of truth. Zombies are so popular in part because they are uncomfortably familiar.

At least two billion people worldwide are infected by the protozoan, many from eating infected meat. Initial symptoms are mild flu, after which the parasite forms cysts that lodge in the brain. There they remain for decades... _NYT
Two recent studies reveal how microbes can alter normal brain functioning. Researchers from California and Singapore detailed how the protozoan Toxoplasma Gondii is capable of blunting normal fear responses to threat in animals. Canadian and Irish researchers have discovered a mind-altering effect from probiotic bacteria -- specifically, a species of lactobacillus. The lactobacillus was found to lower stress, anxiety, and depression related behaviours in mice.

Microbes can change our brains, and make us somehow different. In extreme cases -- as in brain-eating amoeba or fatal encephalitis and meningitis -- they can kill our brains outright. But sometimes they kill or disable only a portion of our brains, and leave us alive, but altered. And sometimes they live inside of us, changing us chemically by their metabolic excreta.

These are not the "borg" of fiction. There are no brain implants or electrodes controlling us. But biology is much stranger than we understand. We can go to Robert Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters," for a vivid fictional account of extraterrestrial invaders able to attach to humans, growing tentacles into human brains and spinal cords. That would be an extreme example of biological control of humans by "the other."

Far more subtle, and easier to bring about, would be genetically controlled microbes able to insert themselves into particular parts of the brain, to bring about neurochemical alterations -- either temporary or permanent. By targeting the brain region of choice, behaviours could be manipulated according to an overall plan or scheme.

Even easier, would be normal body flora genetically altered to secrete brain-altering chemicals, such as benzodiazepine or amphetamine. Something a little extra in your yogurt or your moisturizing cream. Schools, prisons, and armies should take special note.

We are far beyond the skills needed for such simple manipulations. And given the apparent state control of modern popular media and scientific publishing, who would know -- or be able to say anything about it?

Here is how to make your own yogurt. Just in case. Some of us may not be infected yet. There may be safe retreats left, far from the teeming mobs. It may not be too late......Heh.

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27 August 2011

Google Tech Talk: Steve Hsu -- Genetic Basis for Intelligence

This fascinating Google Tech Talk was given by Steve Hsu last week, and just put up at Google Tech Videos. Steve is a physics professor at the University of Oregon, with a special interest in human intelligence.

Slides for Steve Hsu's talk (PDF)

Hsu is involved in a study which seeks to find links between genes and high IQ. The study is looking for individuals with IQs that test higher than 3 standard deviations above the mean, in a clear effort to cut to the chase.

Hsu's talk is well worth watching for anyone interested in the genetics of cognitive ability. As high tech infrastructures grow more sophisticated and crucial to advanced societies' successes, their high IQ smart fractions take on an ever greater importance.

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26 August 2011

Can You Intensify Experience by "Overclocking" Your Brain?

Different parts of the brain communicate with each other via frequency modulation, involving high frequency gamma waves modulated by low frequency theta waves. Presumably, the higher the frequency of the gamma carrier wave, the greater the possible communication bandwidth and the faster a high fidelity signal could be passed accurately. Far more easily said than done, of course.
Neurons recruited for local computations exhibit rhythmic activity at gamma frequencies. The amplitude and frequency of these oscillations are continuously modulated depending on stimulus and behavioral state. This modulation is believed to crucially control information flow across cortical areas....by rapidly balancing excitation with inhibition, the hippocampal network is able to swiftly modulate gamma oscillations over a wide band of frequencies. _ScienceDirect

Besides finding ways to prolong one's life, it would be worthwhile to find ways to live one's life more intensely. In earlier postings on Al Fin Longevity, we have discussed ways in which we might reduce the amount of time spent in sleep, without suffering from diminished mental or physical health. There are also everyday ways in which a person can intensify his experience of his waking time. Some examples are listed at the end of this piece.

From the neurocognitive standpoint, the concept of the controlled "overclocking" of the brain -- speeding up the functioning of brain processes so that more can be experienced and accomplished in less time -- is just coming into the realm of possiblity. The concept, once developed, will rest upon a sound understanding of brain processing and inter-brain communications.
Brain activity changes between different brain states, whether awake, asleep, drugged, etc. Besides the activation of different centers in the brain according to brain state, the actual speed (frequency) of brain activity varies with different brain states.

It is thought that synchronous oscillations involving gamma carrier waves (30 to 100 Hz) modulated by theta frequencies (4 to 8 Hz) allow multiple brain processes to occur, including the transfer of working memory to long-term memory, and the binding of different sensory or other inputs into a coherent mental image of an object or idea. In other words, the way the oscillations of the brain are organised on a moment to moment basis, is what allows us to "think" and remember. (see Working Memory: The Importance of Theta and Gamma Oscillations, Lisman, Current Biology Vol 20 No 11)
Gamma oscillations are thought to transiently link distributed cell assemblies that are processing related information1, 2, a function that is probably important for network processes such as perception1, 2, 3, attentional selection4 and memory5, 6. This 'binding' mechanism requires that spatially distributed cells fire together with millisecond range precision7, 8; _Nature
A microcomputer has a synchronous clock that controls the speed of the processes being run. A brain has no such central clock controller, but higher brain function does involve transient locked synchrony between different parts of the brain. How could we speed up this synchrony as it spontaneously occurs and disappears across the cortex?

We know that the top end of the gamma "carrier wave" frequency can vary between types of animals. Some kinds of insects, for example, exhibit brain synchrony at frequencies up to 200 Hz in certain circuits. (Kirschfeld PNAS USA Vol. 89, pp. 4764-4768, May 1992 Neurobiology)

Different frequencies of gamma oscillation serve to connect different brain centers, in practise. This allows for simultaneous parallel activity between multiple circuits. Therefore, when "overclocking," one must be sure not to "step on" the frequencies used by different brain circuits.

There are a number of other cautions, assuming that one had a good idea how to begin to go about ramping up gamma oscillation carrier wave frequencies in the first place. The intricacy of neuronal signaling of brain circuits should discourage any attempts to permanently alter neuronal oscillatory activity. For example, gamma frequencies are closely controlled and modulated by inhibitory interneurons. You cannot change the timing of just one type of cell and expect to maintain a system of smooth communication between brain nuclei. Rather, multiple keys that control the timing of networks across the brain will have to be discovered and mastered.

Al Fin neuroscientists believe that the key to fruitful research along these lines will be found in the field of optogenomics. But Al Fin neuropharmacologists are convinced that they can develop a drug medley which could accomplish the same thing. The biological limits of cognitive functioning will not be easily transcended by just one breakthrough from one particular field of research.

Why should we bother to attempt something which will require so much work? It is possible, after all, to intensify the experience of everyday life without resorting to the extremes of genetic modification of the brain. Below are some of the everyday means by which some persons provide themselves with temporary experiences of high intensity consciousness:

Pharmacological brain stimulants have been used for this purpose for centuries, but in general they extract a steep price from the user who does not exercise prudence. Veterans of combat can attest to the consciousness-intensifying effect of the life-or-death experience. But we are looking for something more sustainable and less risky. Sky-diving, hang gliding, scuba diving, whitewater kayaking, etc. are less risky than combat, but provide a temporary aura of intensity which lingers after the experience. In occupational settings, life or death emergencies attended to by firefighters, police officers, EMS personnel, medical personnel in hospitals, etc. provide temporary "fixes" of intensity. And under the category of "not to be recommended," the commission of a crime and the attendant risk of being caught supplies the outlaw with a feeling of intensity which can become addictive to some. Similarly, committing acts which may be legal but which are socially or occupationally frowned upon, can sometimes provide a touch of that "outlaw intensity," that accompanies risk.

Perhaps the most dangerous method of intensifying experience is to fall in love. The fallout from such a turn is apt to be fatal to any number of persons involved, or in the immediate vicinity. ;-)

Still, the challenges of the modern day world require a significantly higher level of insight and invention than is typically found within populations at large -- even within high IQ populations made up of largely European or East Asian peoples. The inertia of the monkey mind is difficult to overcome. And still we keep trying.

Adapted from an earlier article at Al Fin Longevity


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25 August 2011

Planet Earth at the Mercy of Mysterious Cosmic Forces


New research from the international physics research center in Geneva, CERN, reveals that the atmosphere of planet Earth is susceptible to the cloud-forming effects of galactic cosmic rays. Cloud formation has long been considered by the IPCC to be the greatest uncertainty in the modeling of climate, and now it seems that climate modelers will need to go back to the drawing boards.
Although they never said so, the High Priests of the Inconvenient Truth – in such temples as NASA-GISS, Penn State and the University of East Anglia – always knew that Svensmark’s cosmic ray hypothesis was the principal threat to their sketchy and poorly modelled notions of self-amplifying action of greenhouse gases.

In telling how the obviously large influences of the Sun in previous centuries and millennia could be explained, and in applying the same mechanism to the 20th warming, Svensmark put the alarmist predictions at risk – and with them the billions of dollars flowing from anxious governments into the global warming enterprise.

For the dam that was meant to ward off a growing stream of discoveries coming from the spring in Copenhagen, the foundation was laid on the day after the Danes first announced the link between cosmic rays and clouds at a space conference in Birmingham, England, in 1996. “Scientifically extremely naïve and irresponsible,”Bert Bolin declared, as Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

As several journalists misbehaved by reporting the story from Birmingham, the top priority was to tame the media. The first courses of masonry ensured that anything that Svensmark and his colleagues might say would be ignored or, failing that, be promptly rubbished by a warmist scientist. Posh papers like The Times of London and the New York Times, and posh TV channels like the BBC’s, readily fell into line. Enthusiastically warmist magazines like New Scientist and Scientific Americanneeded no coaching.

Similarly the journals Nature and Science, which in my youth prided themselves on reports that challenged prevailing paradigms, gladly provided cement for higher masonry, to hold the wicked hypothesis in check at the scientific level. Starve Svensmark of funding. Reject his scientific papers but give free rein to anyone who criticizes him. Trivialize the findings in the Holy Writ of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. None of this is paranoia on my part, but a matter of close personal observation since 1996. _WUWT_taken from GWPF
Below is a scattering of international response to CERN's CLOUD cosmic ray experiment, taken verbatim from Anthony Watts' fine blog, Watts Up With That:

CERN Finds “Significant” Cosmic Ray Cloud Effect

Best known for its studies of the fundamental constituents of matter, the CERN particle-physics laboratory in Geneva is now also being used to study the climate. Researchers in the CLOUD collaboration have released the first results from their experiment designed to mimic conditions in the Earth’s atmosphere. By firing beams of particles from the lab’s Proton Synchrotron accelerator into a gas-filled chamber, they have discovered that cosmic rays could have a role to play in climate by enhancing the production of potentially cloud-seeding aerosols. –Physics World, 24 August 2011

If Henrik Svensmark is right, then we are going down the wrong path of taking all these expensive measures to cut carbon emissions; if he is right, we could carry on with carbon emissions as normal.–Terry Sloan, BBC News 3 April 2008

Henrik Svensmark welcomes the new results, claiming that they confirm research carried out by his own group, including a study published earlier this year showing how an electron beam enhanced production of clusters inside a cloud chamber. He acknowledges that the link between cosmic rays and cloud formation will not be proved until aerosols that are large enough to act as condensation surfaces are studied in the lab, but believes that his group has already found strong evidence for the link in the form of significant negative correlations between cloud cover and solar storms. Physics World, 24 August 2011

CERN’s CLOUD experiment is designed to study the formation of clouds and the idea that Cosmic Rays may have an influence. The take-home message from this research is that we just don’t understand clouds in anything other than hand-waving terms. We also understand the effects of aerosols even less. The other things to come out of it are that trace constituencies in the atmosphere seem to have a big effect on cloud formation, and that Cosmic rays also have an effect, a “significant” one according to CERN. –David Whitehouse, The Observatory, 25 August 2011

I have asked the CERN colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them. That would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters. –Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of CERN, Welt Online 15 July 2011

Although they never said so, the High Priests of the Inconvenient Truth – in such temples as NASA-GISS, Penn State and the University of East Anglia – always knew that Svensmark’s cosmic ray hypothesis was the principal threat to their sketchy and poorly modelled notions of self-amplifying action of greenhouse gases. In telling how the obviously large influences of the Sun in previous centuries and millennia could be explained, and in applying the same mechanism to the 20th warming, Svensmark put the alarmist predictions at risk – and with them the billions of dollars flowing from anxious governments into the global warming enterprise. –-Nigel Calder, 24 August 2011

Jasper Kirkby is a superb scientist, but he has been a lousy politician. In 1998, anticipating he’d be leading a path-breaking experiment into the sun’s role in global warming, he made the mistake of stating that the sun and cosmic rays “will probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth’s temperature that we have seen in the last century.” Global warming, he theorized, may be part of a natural cycle in the Earth’s temperature. Dr. Kirkby was immediately condemned by climate scientists for minimizing the role of human beings in global warming. Stories in the media disparaged Dr. Kirkby by citing scientists who feared oil-industry lobbyists would use his statements to discredit the greenhouse effect. And the funding approval for Dr. Kirkby’s path-breaking experiment — seemingly a sure thing when he first announced his proposal– was put on ice. –Lawrence Solomon, National Post, 23 Feb 2007


Al Fin physicists, atmospheric scientists, and astroscientists applaud the fine work done at CERN. It is unfortunate that the multi-billion dollar orthodoxy of climate hysteria has made it so difficult to conduct meaningful basic research on the forces which impact the planet's climate.

We have long known that several types of variations in Earth's orbit could have significant effects on glaciation cycles. We have also long noted the correlation between solar sunspots and mini-ice ages, or extended cool spells in climate. Svensmark's cosmic ray theory -- relating solar cycles and cosmic ray climate effects -- appears to be supported by the recent CERN study.

The multi-billion dollar climate orthodoxy has relied on poorly conceived computer models of climate, GIGO trash compactors. The orthodoxy has compounded its mistakes by pressuring science journals, and climate scientists, not to publish research which could be seen as contradicting the orthodox carbon hysteric point of view. Eventually, the facts behind the unsavoury and unscientific behind-the-scenes maneuvers of powerful insiders such as Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Kevin Trenberth, etc., will come to light -- despite the large scale politically correct attempts to cover up.

In the mean time, we can only hope that genuine scientific work will continue, against the groupthink currents of political groups such as the IPCC etc.

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24 August 2011

How to Liberate 3X Saudi Arabia's Oil Reserves Without Using Water

...the Uinta Basin is the site of the massive Eocene Green River Shale formation – potentially the largest reservoir of unconventional petroleum in the world. With total reserves estimated at up to 1.3 trillion barrels, and ultimately recoverable reserves of 800 billion barrels or more , this formation holds three times or more the amount of Saudi Arabia’s proven reserves. Unlocking this formation would change the energy outlook of the nation – and of the world – for a century or more.

Today, TomCo has announced that it has awarded contacts toward the development of this resource. _Source
World Oil

Reserves of oil shale kerogens in the western US states is massive -- far larger than the huge proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Now a technology exists which can liberate these vast trapped energy reserves without using water or contaminating groundwater. Using this waterless in situ approach, the scenic appearance of these majestic western drylands will be unaffected, and the environmental quality of the region will be preserved.
Eco-Shale Technology
The EcoShale™ In-Capsule Technology involves heating mined shale in a closed surface impoundment, or capsule. The process relies on conventional mining and construction methods and produces a bottomless oil product that requires no coking. The process produces a shale oil with a much higher concentration of middle distillate than West Texas intermediate crude. Two synthetic shale oil products are produced: (1) prompt oil of approximately 29 API gravity; (2) condensate oil of approximately 39 API gravity. The oil and condensate produced with this process have no fines and have very low acid numbers.

The technology requires no process water, protects groundwater and vegetation, uses low temperatures for heating and allows for rapid site reclamation.

The resultant product is a high quality feedstock with an average 34 API and no fines. The process also results in synthetic natural gas production allowing for energy self-sufficiency. _EcoShale
It is almost impossible for most persons to envision the economic impact of the introduction of these vast energy resources into world energy markets. Far more resources are devoted by the Obama administration to shutting down the liberation of North America's vast energy stores, than to making the production of energy cleaner and more economical.

Mr. Obama's approach has always been one of energy starvation, rather than energy facilitation. That is just one of the several nearly insurmountable obstacles to prosperity which the US economy currently faces, and for which Mr. Obama can take direct credit -- if only he would.

Cross-posted in slightly modified form under a different title to Al Fin Energy blog

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23 August 2011

Prospecting the Vulcan Hills for Treasure


Until relatively recently, most used rubber vehicular tyres were buried in landfills and left to slowly rot. But now there are dozens of productive uses to which these rings of vulcanised rubber can be put. A better way of making steel is only one of them:
To conventionally make steel, coke, which is charcoal from coal, and limestone are shoved into a furnace heated to more than 1500º Celsius. The calcium in the limestone scavenges impure elements in the coke, such as silicon and aluminium, creating foamy slag and the product we're after - liquid iron. Just like cappuccino foam, the slag sits atop the liquid iron and insulates it, speeding up the processes of converting coke to iron.

Sahajwalla found that replacing some of the coke with recycled rubber created a more effective slag blanket. The extra heat produced from it reduced energy consumption, and produced more steel. It was the ultimate win-win. Following successful commercial trials in 2007, the technology is now being used in steel mills across Australia and has diverted well over 70,000 tyres from landfill. "It's so satisfying and so exciting," she said. _NS
Another intriguing use for old rubber tyres is to produce carborundum -- silicon carbide -- for tough bits, blades, and tools.
Silicon carbide, known commercially as carborundum, is formed of carbon and silicon atoms arranged in a diamond-like pattern, which results in diamond-like properties. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, which has diamond as ten, carborundum scores nine or better. It thus has a wide range of uses, from abrasives and cutting tools to bullet-proof vests and ceramic brakes in sports cars. It is also used as a semiconductor in high-voltage applications.

Normally, silicon carbide is produced by heating sand (which is made of quartz, or silicon dioxide) in an electric furnace with carbon made from oil or coal. The trick used at Tubitak is to get both the carbon and the energy from tyres.

First, the tyres are gasified, a process which is similar to burning but involves less oxygen. This releases a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, known as syngas, and leaves a residue of amorphous elemental carbon called carbon black. Tyres also contain sulphur, which is added as part of the process of vulcanisation that makes rubber into a suitably resilient material. Gasification liberates this in its elemental form, making it easy to recover. Burning a tyre, by contrast, produces sulphur dioxide, a noxious pollutant.

The carbon black is then mixed with sand and the mixture is heated to between 1,400ºC and 2,100ºC in a syngas-fired oven. The result is high-grade silicon carbide. _Economist
Tyres can also be used to produce valuable oils, carbon black for making more tyres (as reinforcement), and to generate electricity, via pyrolysis.
[Besides re-treading,] Other common uses for scrap tyres include sports and recreational surfaces, landfill engineering, carpet underlay/floor coverings, and road building. Roads manufactured using crumb rubber last longer, have better traction and reduce noise. _Source
Tyres can also be used as structural members when baled, or formed into special block structures.

One can build entire houses and other structures out of used tyres, using the "Earthship" method, the tire bale method, or other creative methods of recycling.

And of course there are always the tyre swing, tyre planters, concrete-filled tyres used as bases for upright poles, rubber sandals made from tyres, and many other commonplace home and hobby uses for worn-out tyres.

The basic point being made is that new and important uses are being found for what was once viewed as trash and environmental hazards. That is where the attention of environmentalists, Greens, activists, and concerned citizens should be focused. Toward innovations which turn the trash into treasure.

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22 August 2011

Making Your Own Gunpowder for Fun and Fireworks

...all the ingredients for gunpowder are readily available side by side, no questions asked, in any garden center or home-improvement store. Charcoal is sold for grilling, and sulfur comes in bags that say “sulfur” in big letters (nice old ladies use it for dusting roses). But the key secret I never figured out back then is that most brands of stump remover are little more than pure saltpeter.

... I always ground the ingredients separately with a mortar and pestle and then mixed them gently without further grinding. This results in a powder that burns energetically but slowly: perfect, it turns out, for making sparkler cones. _PopSci

Making your own fireworks might be fun. Displaying your pyrotechnic skills would certainly impress family members, friends, and co-workers. If you decide to give it a try, be careful.

There may be other reasons for some people to learn to make gunpowder. Sales of guns and ammunition have been on the upswing in the US ever since it became apparent that Senator Obama was likely to become US President. That trend continues, and many gun aficiandos have complained about high prices and limited availability for many types of firearm and ammunition. Mr. Obama favours a stricter control of firearms, and holds the "bitter clingers to their guns" in high disdain.

The day may come in the US when a person will need to know how to fabricate his own weapons, and cook up his own gunpowder. Well, probably not. But if it ever happens, knowing how to build weapons and cook gunpowder and primer material might be a valuable commercial skill.
WARNING! Creating and igniting pyrotechnic mixtures of any kind, including gunpowder, is inherently dangerous and is illegal in some places. Harmless experimentation, especially by kids, can be taken very seriously by the authorities, so an adult must always be present and take full responsibility.

How to make smokeless gunpowder

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21 August 2011

A Gallery of Small Fusion Startups

General Fusion
General Fusion is a small startup headquartered near Vancouver, BC. The compression of plasma to achieve fusion is accomplished by a coordinated spherical plasma compression, using pneumatics and advanced switching.
Update on General Fusion from NextBigFuture

Helion Energy is located in Redmond, Washington. It is based on a principle of "colliding plasmas," and like all the rest of the small fusion approaches, it is a long shot.

Bussard IEC Fusion
Bussard inertial electrostatic confinement fusion (EMC2 Fusion) involves an electrostatic plasma confinement to achieve fusion. The history and development of the concept is explained in a video reached via the link above. The Bussard IEC (Polywell) has been financed almost entirely by the US Navy. EMC2 is based near Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Dense Plasma Focus Fusion
Lawrenceville Plasma Physics is based in New Jersey. The dense plasma focus approach uses a special pulsing "spark plug" to ionise a gas, and to form a plasmoid "pinch," with the emission of high energy photons, ions, and fusion neutrons.

Hyper V Technologies utilises a spherical array of mini railguns to accelerate plasma beams into a central target of deuterium or deuterium-tritium, to achieve fusion (hopefully).

TriAlpha is an Irvine, California venture, which has been fairly successful in the venture capital game. TriAlpha is a bit secretive with non-investors, but you can read their patent for yourselves. The concept seems to involve the highly sophisticated evolution of an earlier colliding beam fusion approach.

More on TriAlpha from Brian Wang

Fusion reactors can be prolific neutron generators, and could be utilised for the transmutation of nuclear wastes into harmless compounds. They could also generate a number of different highly energetic particles and high energy photons, and used for a number of purposes -- including as space propulsion. Another potential product of fusion reactions is valuable high temperatur process heat. But what is most desired from fusion reactors at this time is abundant, cheap, clean electrical power.

The energy yield from fusion is higher per unit fuel mass than the energy from fission, so that less fuel mass is required to generate equivalent energies. Fusion is generally safer, with less radioactive waste remaining to be disposed of.

Many billions of dollars have been spent by governments in a vain attempt to master the power of the stars on a more human scale. If one of the small startups manages to achieve with $millions what huge government budgets of $billions could not achieve, a revolution would have been ignited which would likely not stop with just cheap, clean, abundant energy.

Originally published at Al Fin Potpourri, and subsequently published at Al Fin Energy


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20 August 2011

Obama's (Gang)Green Jobs: Getting Back to the Garden?

Besides healing the planet and returning the rising seas to their natural beds, then-Senator Obama promised that his administration would create beautiful green jobs: well paid, stable, abundant jobs, unionized, with full benefits and making the earth healthier and the American people richer. As President, he stayed on message: even after the truther-enabling “green jobs czar” Van Jones left the administration, green jobs have been one of the President’s signature policies for putting the American people back to work. _GWPF_WalterRussellMead

Cranach: Garden of Eden (Wikipedia)

Something unexpected happened on the way to the Garden of Eden. Despite massive spending and stimulus, the green jobs revolution fizzled. Wind energy failed to meet expectations, as did solar. Electric vehicles were not ready for prime time, because electrical storage batteries are still 3 breakthroughs away from being up to the task. And the "smart power grid" is proving to be one more way that government and malicious hackers can monitor private activity, and shut it down.
Federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show. Two years after it was awarded $186 million in federal stimulus money to weatherize drafty homes, California has spent only a little over half that sum and has so far created the equivalent of just 538 full-time jobs in the last quarter…

The Economic Development Department in California reports that $59 million in state, federal and private money dedicated to green jobs training and apprenticeship has led to only 719 job placements — the equivalent of an $82,000 subsidy for each one. _NYT_via_WalterRussellMead
Many of Obama's expensive green stimulus programs cost $1 million to $2 million per job -- mainly "hands-off" make-work administrative jobs, rather than the entry-level practical jobs as promised. Read the entire article at the link above.

The ongoing Obama recession has not helped the green revolution take off, of course. But if you look at the green revolution as just one more way for Obama to divert government spending from the private sector, into the pockets of friends and supporters, the entire effort makes a lot more sense.
...green trends suffer when a listless economy sends old-energy prices into a rollercoaster spiral.

This possibility is reflected in the less-than-impressive growth in the “green jobs” sector, which was supposed to lift America out of the recent recession. The New York Times’ Bay Citizen project surveyed the field and found some rather disappointing numbers in job growth, job training programs and even something as simple as weatherization projects. _PopSci
Perhaps the green revolution was always just about appearances, and not about results, like so many other aspects of the current US administration. Just enough hoopla! to satisfy the rubes, without the need to accomplish anything productive.

In the eyes of such political machinations, it is enough just to get re-elected. If the news on the street is not as good as the public wishes, a great communicator can always make enough excuses, cast enough blame in other directions, and toss out enough goodies, to keep the plantation operating.


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Peak Oil: Meet the Heat that Spells Your Doom

With plentiful process heat provided at temperatures between 700 C and 950 C, a person could kill peak oil and have plenty of energy left to power industry and a broad spectrum of industrial processes.   Specifically, one could:
  1. Unlock the trillions of barrels oil equivalent in oil sands (PDF)
  2. Unlock the trillions of barrels oil equivalent in coal to liquids and gas to liquids (PDF)
  3. Unlock the trillions of barrels oil equivalent in oil shale kerogens 
  4. Provide abundant industrial process heat for production of fertilisers, refining fuels, making plastics, etc 
  5. Split CO2 into CO to use as a hydrogen carrier 
  6. Overturn conventional fears of EROEI and Peak Oil 
Those things, and many more, will be accomplished by next generation gas-cooled high temperature nuclear reactors. Helium gas coolant will run gas turbine generators at high temperatures, which provides electrical power at higher efficiencies than older steam cycle generation systems. And as mentioned above, the higher temperature process heat will find a wide range of practical uses in industrial processes and energy production.

Conventional fears about EROEI and peak oil will be overturned since the energy used to produce hydrocarbon fuels, fertilisers, plastics, and other products of industry and energy, will come from the high temperature heat effluent of nuclear reactions -- of which there is no conceivable near term shortage.

The "green dream" of modern faux environmentalism is a dysfunctional fantasy that will lead to the energy starvation of industry and commerce, and an ongoing widescale economic hardship. Greens have pushed governments away from most forms of reliable energy -- out of deeply felt carbon hysteria and nuclear phobia. The green rainbow fantasy love affair with wind and solar is eating away at European economies, and any other economic entity that comes to rely on those inherently unreliable sources of power.

Don't let your government lead your society down that ruinous primrose path.

Adapted from an article originally published at Al Fin, The Next Level, and cross-posted to Al Fin Energy

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19 August 2011

Efficient Learning via Brain Priming

Externally modulating the brain's activity can boost its performance. The easiest way to manipulate the brain is through transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), which involves applying electrodes directly to the head to influence neuron activity with an electric current.

Roi Cohen Kadosh's team at the University of Oxford showed last year that targeting tDCS at the brain's right parietal lobe can boost a person's arithmetic ability - the effects were still apparent six months after the tDCS session (newscientist.com/article/dn19679).

More recently, Richard Chi and Allan Snyder at the University of Sydney, Australia, demonstrated that tDCS can improve a person's insight. The pair applied tDCS to volunteers' anterior frontal lobes - regions known to play a role in how we perceive the world - and found the participants were three times as likely as normal to complete a problem-solving task (newscientist.com/article/dn20080).

Brain stimulation can also boost a person's learning abilities, according to Agnes Flöel's team at the University of Münster in Germany. Twenty minutes of tDCS to a part of the brain called the left perisylvian area was enough to speed up and improve language learning in a group of 19 volunteers (Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1162/jocn.2008.20098).

Using the same technique to stimulate the brain's motor cortex, meanwhile, can enhance a person's ability to learn a movement-based skill (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0805413106). _NS
In traditional learning psychology, the term "priming" often refers to the concept of "implicit learning (PDF)," where unconscious associations between mental objects often aids recall and memory. But in a larger sense, priming can refer to a wide array of methods to prime the brain for more efficient learning. As mentioned above, different types of direct electromagnetic brain stimulation can serve as "priming" stimuli.

A person can learn to prime the brain for efficient learning to the point where he can eventually dispense with the hardware, once he develops the knack -- using feedback.
Gabrieli and his colleagues used functional MRI scanning to monitor the naturally fluctuating brain activity of 20 volunteers and investigate whether the brain enters such a learning state. While in the scanner, each person was presented with 250 images, one at a time, and asked to memorise them. The volunteers were shown the images again 2 hours later - mixed in with 250 new ones - and asked to remember which they had seen before.

Looking through the results, the team was surprised to find that in the moments before individuals were shown images that they later remembered, they had low levels of activity in the parahippocampal place area - a region of the brain that is known to be highly active during learning. "Maybe the fact that this region was less active meant that the deck was cleared - that it was more open for a stimulus to provoke a response," suggests Gabrieli.

To investigate further, the team attempted to boost subsequent participants' memory test scores by presenting them with images only when they showed this pattern of brain activity. "There was around a 30 per cent improvement in the memory task," Gabrieli says (NeuroImage, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.07.063).

The MIT team is now working on a way to monitor this "preparedness to learn" using electroencephalography (EEG) - a more portable and much cheaper brain-monitoring technique. Gabrieli's idea is to make learning more efficient by selectively teaching the prepared brain. "You could imagine a computer-based learning system which would stop when the brain is not prepared to learn and restart when it is," he says. _NS
The MIT researchers are able to detect when the brain is ready to learn, by using MRI and EEG. But individuals can teach themselves to detect this "learning readiness state" using neurofeedback.

Using neurofeedback, subjects not only can learn to detect their learning readiness states, but they can learn to actively shift their brain into more efficient learning modes on command. Eventually they can master the skill well enough to do it without the expensive equipment.

This is a type of individual empowerment which is potentially revolutionary and disruptive to society at large. It is particularly threatenting to a power structure which has worked so hard to dominate most levels of academia, media, political agencies, and conventional culture and thought.

Imagine, individuals who are more creative, learn better, can master physical skills more quickly -- and are likely to grow more independent from the herd. It will be interesting to watch these developments.

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18 August 2011

The Great $1 Trillion University Funding Confidence Game

As this semester begins, college loans are nearing the $1 trillion mark, more than what all households owe on their credit cards. Fully two-thirds of our undergraduates have gone into debt, many from middle class families, who in the past paid for much of college from savings. The College Board likes to say that the average debt is "only" $27,650. What the Board doesn't say is that when personal circumstances go wrong, as can happen in a recession, interest, late payment penalties, and other charges can bring the tab up to $100,000. Those going on to graduate school, as upwards of half will, can end up facing twice that. _Atlantic
University presidents can collect salaries in the millions of dollars, university professors on sabbatical can be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars every few years for not teaching. Luxurious facilities are being built on expanding university campuses in the middle of an ongoing recession. And universities are bursting with "administrative bloat," a serious problem pushing higher education costs upward far above inflation rates.
A fact of academic life is that the tuition-debt nexus keeps most colleges going. At Loyola University in Chicago, 77 percent enroll with loans, as do 85 percent in New Hampshire's Franklin Pierce. At historically black colleges, where endowments are low and students are often poor, it's usually 90 percent. Nor is soaring private tuition the only reason. At public Kentucky State University, with only $6,210 in charges, 76 percent sign up for loans; so do 85 percent at the University of North Dakota, where state residents pay $6,934. What these figures suggest that borrowing is as much to finance living away from home as for bursars' bills. Books, travel, and socializing quickly add up. Room and board charges have doubled in actual dollars since 1982 to enhance campus life. Bowdoin's menu features vegetable polenta and butternut soup, while Penn State provides legal downloads of music numbering two million songs a week. But let's be clear. It's not the colleges which are paying for these and similar amenities. It's the students, mainly by borrowing, which the colleges actively encourage. _Atlantic

Where else do we see this type of irreversible bloat and skyrocketing costs? Oh, yes. In the public sector union arena. And would it surprise you to learn that university staff and faculty across the US are pushing for union representation and collective bargaining rights? Can you imagine the scam running up to $10 trillion a year, with a little union help?

Only in government, academia, and the media does one see such a total disconnect from the brutal realities of economic life in a recession. Such huge multi-trillion dollar debts could only be run up when these giant special interest groups cover for each other. It is a perfect storm of obfuscation and lead-up to massive ruination of ordinary lives.

The sacrifice and long term burdens and economic scars would perhaps be worth it to many young people and families -- if only the youth were receiving valuable training and preparation for life. Instead, as a rule, they are receiving an indoctrination into a dysfunctional ideology, rather than a worthwhile education. That is what makes the entire confidence game so completely destructive.

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17 August 2011

Climate Dissent: The Climate Debate Continues

J. Scott Armstrong, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and a leading expert in the field of professional forecasting, believes that prediction attempts are virtually doomed when scientists don’t understand or follow basic forecasting rules. He and colleague Kesten Green of Monash University conducted a “forecasting audit” of the 2007 IPCC report and “found no references…to the primary sources of information on forecasting methods” and that “the forecasting procedures that were described [in sufficient detail to be evaluated] violated 72 principles. Many of the violations were, by themselves, critical”. _Forbes
CLOUDs Over Climate Science (via AT)

A new peer reviewed paper from Lindzen and Choi keeps the focus on the critical "climate sensitivity parameter." If the climate models have exaggerated climate sensitivity, their projections will be worse than useless.
...the climate sensitivity for a doubling of CO2 is estimated to be 0.7 K (with the confidence interval 0.5K – 1.3 K at 99% levels). This observational result shows that model sensitivities indicated by the IPCC AR4 are likely greater than than the possibilities estimated from the observations.

...This modest warming is much less than current climate models suggest for a doubling of CO2. Models predict warming of from 1.5°C to 5°C and even more for a doubling of CO2 _
The paper discusses the relevance of a lower climate sensitivity than models are currently using. (Full study here)

The upcoming Lindzen-Choi paper follows closely on a recent paper from Spencer and Braswell, which -- using satellite observations -- calls into question other assumptions used by climate modelers. Another recent paper suggested that the most popular computer climate model exaggerates warming by 67%.

A PDF report on today's Global Warming Policy Foundation website traces the history of increasing alarmism and obfuscation of the limitations of climate models by the IPCC and IPCC - affiliated climate researchers. As politics, ambition, and greed became more closely tied to the "cause" of global warming catastrophe, self-interested collective bias came to replace objective scientific judgment more frequently (PDF). (More on the downward evolution of IPCC standards here)

Massive redistribution-of-wealth schemes have somehow become tied to the global warming agenda at the highest levels of government and inter-government. Literally $trillions are on the table in this high stakes game of faux environmental poker. And yet the basis of all of this hoopla! -- alarmist climate models -- are seemingly not ready for prime time. What is worse, the very ground-level data which is fed into climate models is unreliable.

The advanced world is in a twin quagmire of debt and demography. To any objective observer, this would be the worst possible time to commit struggling economies to an grand absurdist gesture based upon little more than "garbage in -- garbage out" computer models.

This would be a good time to take a look at your political leaders, and how they are likely to play this high stakes poker game as it approaches the end-stage. Choose well.

Remember -- Even the IPCC once admitted that it was impossible to accurately predict future climate states:
“In climate research and modeling, we should realize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.” _IPCC 2001 PDF_via_Forbes

More: The US National Institue of Standards and Technology says that we need to get a lot better at measuring greenhouse gases -- and their sources and sinks. (NIST workshop report available here) Without better observations and measurements over the full range of climate related parameters, climate models are no better than an academic circle jerk.


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16 August 2011

Global Control of Economic Super-Network

Brian Wang links to a 36 page PDF report which attempts to tease apart the tangles of the global financial super-network of control. Who is pulling the strings of global economies and governments?
36 page PDF at ArXiv
In 2007, a mere 147 companies controlled nearly 40 percent of the monetary value of all transnational corporations, researchers report in a paper published online July 28 at arXiv.org.

...The structure of the control network of transnational corporations affects global market competition and financial stability. So far, only small national samples were studied and there was no appropriate methodology to assess control globally. We present the first investigation of the architecture of the international ownership network, along with the computation of the control held by each global player. We find that transnational corporations form a giant bow-tie structure and that a large portion of control flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions. This core can be seen as an economic "super-entity" that raises new important issues both for researchers and policy makers. _NBF

The superentities listed above exist in order to acquire more control so as to climb ever higher on the ladder and especially to avoid dropping to a lower rung. In order to achieve this goal, superentities must maintain close connections with national governments around the world, and with supranational and multinational entities of all kinds.

At this level of action, all is fair as long as one is not caught or punished too severely.

Libertarians typically focus their efforts against government regulations, taxes, and controls of all kinds -- because government entities are a more immediate problem and conern. But multinational and supranational entities can cause severe limitations of freedom just as surely as local, regional, and national governments. But the superentities must act through the authority of local, regional, and national governments -- which is a key point.

These superentities could not exist without the complicity and cooperation of national governments. Powerful individuals frequently occupy positions of authority in either governments, multinational entities, international agencies, or superentities -- at any given time. The movement of persons of influence at these high levels of power, between these various power structures, is quite fluid.

Popular media tends to ignore the actual wielding of power, in favour of circus side shows to keep the public's attention occupied. The public, of course, is complicit in the entire charade, and would apparently prefer to be kept in the dark so as to avoid responsibility on a personal level.

Men of peace have long dreamed of a supranational entity which could limit the power of governments to make war on each other, or on their own people. High hopes were placed in the League of Nations after WWI, and in the United Nations after WWII. But what has evolved instead of a world government is a shadow network of superentities which exert significant -- although not total -- control of most of the world's governments.

As noted, competition within this network can be fierce and brutal. While the supernetwork would generally prefer to handle differences via established channels, there is always the possibility that a superentity will consider the risk of limited war to be acceptible.

Larger wars would upset the balance of power unduly, and are generally discouraged by the supernetwork. This attitude is important, given the large influence which superentities exert upon national governments.

But if something unexpected were to come along to potentially upset the balance of power, it is possible that a portion of the supernetwork would be willing to go to war on a large scale pre-emptively, to maintain its clout. Issues of war and peace are often considered, like other bargaining pieces on the table, albeit behind the scenes and secretly.

If these ideas make you uncomfortable, your best means of protecting yourself is probably via your representative government. But since governments are so deeply interconnected with supranational entities, your task will be very difficult if you actually want to change anything about the influence of the supernetwork on your life.

Best to start with your own situation, then work outward from there. Take care of things -- and make suitable preparations -- on a local level first. Then proceed as you can. Take your time. If you are old, try to inform persons of the younger generation, so that they can work to expand personal freedoms in the future.

Superentities exist in many forms -- not just as financial, commercial, and industrial powerhouses. The environmental-political complex has become a global superentity with enormous influence and power -- a significant threat to personal freedoms. It must be considered along with the rest. And so on.

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. In general, group action is more effective than individual action. Focus on what you can do, not on what you can't.

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15 August 2011

Prepare A Year's Worth of Bisin Sandwiches in One Weekend!


Yes, it's true! This weekend, you can shop for next year's bisin sandwich ingredients on Saturday, then prepare all of next year's sandwiches on Sunday. And no, bisin is not misspelled. Bisin is a natural chemical preservative that can keep food preserved for years, without refrigeration! Here's more:
No time to make a packed lunch before work? Soon you could make it a year in advance.

Scientists have discovered a natural preservative which could spell the end of rotting food.
They have pinpointed the substance which destroys the bacteria that make meat, fish, eggs and dairy products decompose.

...The preservative, called bisin, could extend the food’s life for several years – and even work for opened bottles of wine and salad dressing.

The discovery is set to revolutionise the way we shop and reduce the 20million tonnes of food waste thrown out in the UK every year.

Bisin occurs naturally in some types of harmless bacteria. It prevents the growth of lethal bacteria including E-coli, salmonella and listeria.

...The substance could extend the life of a variety of everyday foods which have strict use-by dates including seafood, cheese and canned goods.

In some cases these foods could last for years and may not even need to be kept in the fridge, the researchers at the University of Minnesota claim.

The scientists, who have patented the substance, are already in talks with food manufacturers. The first products containing bisin are expected to be on the market within three years. _DailyMail
Even if your child is too young for school, you could make an entire year's lunch sandwiches for her years in advance. Imagine the time you can save through economies of scale!

Bisin may be bad news for refrigerator manufacturers and dumpster divers, but it is great news for moms everywhere. Preppers should also take note.

H/T Impact Lab


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In a Climate Where Science is Being Raped by Political Correctness, Can the Scientific Method Be Restored?

The video above, "Restoring the Scientific Method," is taken from the recent 6th International Conference on Climate Change. Follow this link to all the videos from that conference. (via Anthony Watts) The ICCC was instituted to provide a forum where an open exchange of information regarding issues of climate could be exchanged, without regard to political correctness.

But climate is just one small -- albeit multidisciplinary -- area where science is engaged. Political bias distorts outcomes from a wide array of topics where political correctness has taken an interest in science. Of course, none of the other politically hot topics in science have declared their intention to take over the advanced world's economies and industries, as climate science politics has done. So climate clearly warrants citizen oversight on a large scale.

But if science can be distorted and prostituded in the area of climate, it can be hired out to powerful interests in other areas as well. Scientific misconduct and outright fraud appears to be more common than previously thought, in the age of a growing dependency on government for research funding.

In Hitler's Germany, science was bent to do the will of the Fuhrer, to prove the superiority of "the master race." In Stalin's USSR, science was perverted to prove the superiority of the socialist system. Dissenting (honest) scientists were sent to the Gulag or worse.

In the modern world of government-financed science, groupthink in both funding agencies and in laboratories plays a powerful part. If the scientist does not play to the prevailing expectations of the financing agency and the power-clique controlling scientific publishing, he may lose his grant, his lab, his ability to publish, and his livelihood. Scientists generally understand the rules that must be obeyed to get along.

That is why it is so fascinating when scientists are willing to go against the prevailing winds -- because that is when scientific revolutions and paradigm changes tend to happen.

Most scientists willing to publicly go against the climate orthodoxy of doom, are retired from active grant-seeking and publication in journals. With nothing to lose, they are free to speak out. But a few active and outspoken climate researchers are beginning to speak out against the closed and closed-minded nature of the orthodoxy. As the influence of these brave persons grows, the ability to restore the scientific method to climate studies at large also grows.

Can you think of some other areas where political correctness prevents or obstructs the open examination and discussion of scientific issues? These are the things that one rarely sees in the media. They are things that most persons have been conditioned not to mention or discuss. They are those things and ideas which must not be named.

But ideas do tend to get around in the era of tweets, social media, and new technologies.

Always focus on falsifiability, when looking at a scientific theory or idea. How could you prove it wrong? What near-term predictions can you make based upon the theory? If your predictions are set to fall on the year 2100, how can that "science" be called falsifiable in the year 2011?

Fake science avoids the risk of being tested. Fake science tries to shut down debate, using underhanded tactics and means. Fake science hides in a faux consensus, ignoring the fact that true science is not about taking votes to reach a final conclusion, or reaching a final, beyond-debate agreement in committee.

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14 August 2011

Widespread Mental Atrophy and the Coming Idiocracy

It has been widely observed that the birthrate of countries tends to fall as they become more wealthy. Most countries in Western Europe now have birthrates below the replacement rate; in the absence of immigration, their populations can be expected to fall in the future.

... one might expect that since low IQ countries tend to be less wealthy, they should also be expected to have higher birthrates than countries with high IQ. If population IQ and wealth remain constant, the average IQ of the world should then fall over time, since a larger portion of population growth will occur in low IQ countries. _Fourmilab
We are fairly safe in projecting a steady decrease in the world average population IQ over the next 40 years, given current trends in birthrates. The "Flynn Effect" may slow the rate of decline of mean global population IQ somewhat, but the trend seen in the two graphs presented here is the most likely general scenario, for this statistic.
GNXPFollow the Dark Blue Line Down L to R

This dysgenic trend is caused by differential birthrates between women of high intelligence and women of low intelligence. It portends an ominous future for large areas of the world which may lose or destroy their "smart fractions," their lifelines to high technology amenities of the developed world such as electricity, modern transportation, and modern medicine.

But a far more pressing concern for modern societies in the year 2011 is the process of "dumbing down" which has been applied to citizens from pre-school through graduate school, and beyond. It is this underutilisation of cognitive potential which is greasing the wheels for the bullet train bound for Idiocracy.

Consider the public and academic debate over why Japan surrendered at the end of World War II. In the Boston Globe article linked above, the author presents what he and others claim is a new and radical theory which they say is likely to overturn decades of conventional wisdom. Instead, what is presented is a false dichotomy -- an elementary logical fallacy which should have been spotted by anyone graduating from grammar school. Yet, you have academics grappling for supremacy based upon the inability to integrate multiple causes for events.

Or take this article about the famous "wild boy" Peter of 18th century Germany. The author of the article, an historian, apparently settles upon an explanation for the wild boy Peter's existence, which any 8 year old would instantly recognise as impossible. See if you can spot the author's oversight.

We are faced with a future of magnificent technologies, where each human can potentially own thousands of "technology slaves" to do large numbers of things for him on a routine daily basis. In such a pampered world, there is a clear danger of humans allowing many of their faculties to atrophy and wither, becoming vestigial. It is yet another form of "dumbing down," to add to the multitude of other forms emanating from schools, the media, mainstream culture, and the labyrinth of political rules, regulations, and norms which are endless, contradictory, inexplicable, and ultimately destructive to independent thought and action.

The Idiocracy will have many simultaneous causes. The process described in the video clip above is just one of the many dynamic foundations of the coming Idiocracy -- which will be far less benign and peaceful than the movie portrays. More like The Coming Anarchy described by Robert D. Kaplan.

The multicultural celebrations in London last week offer a foretaste of the coming state of any western cities which have allowed neo-tribalism and multiculturalism to proceed beyond a prudent point. Some cities will be lucky to escape total destruction of city centres and the immediate surrounding areas.
Global IQ Test Results by Nation

Many wonderful technological and scientific discoveries and developments are on their way. It is important to position oneself so as to be able to take advantage of these technological advancements. At the same time, it is important to place yourself and your family in a place of relative safety and security, and to always push yourself and those close to you to develop and expand their given abilities.

It is important to keep in mind the critical core needs of an advanced civilisation, and to develop better ways of providing them on an impromptu, decentralised basis. Brian Wang takes an interesting, preliminary look at this idea.

If your government and mainstream culture is killing the future of your civilisation, you need to think of alternatives.

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12 August 2011

Could You Restrict Outside Vehicular Access to Your Neighborhood?

During the recent multicultural events in London, a number of persons adopting a defensive posture against celebrants were overrun and killed by vehicles being driven by multicultural celebrants, who refused to be deterred. In such situations where there are too many multicultural partiers for ordinary law enforcement to contain, property owners and other non-celebrants must be able to somehow restrict vehicular access to outsiders. Otherwise they are apt to be overrun or burned out -- and thus become a statistic of the multicultural events in question.

The issue of how to restrict outsider access has been studied from a number of viewpoints. But for today we will just look at blocking access by conventional road vehicles.
This is a basic German vehicle barrier from WWII, simple and portable. It can be easily placed, but could also be moved out of the way if not fixed in the ground by some means. Such barriers could be placed in the evening according to a pre-arranged curfew, and removed at a designated time in early morning for outgoing commuters.
Welding Vehicle Barriers Together at US - Mexico Border

If separate simple vehicle barriers are welded together after placement, they are more effective against larger vehicles, and more difficult to move out of the way by intruders. These more permanent barriers would be appropriate to block rapid cross-country access along a property's flank, by nimble vehicles such as SUVs and motorcycles.
These are more sophisticated barriers which can be raised and lowered by electrical switch. They are also more expensive, and are likely to be totally ruined by one significant impact. Most useful over time as a deterrent.

The "tire killer" barrier will destroy the rubber tires of an intruding vehicle, but may not actually stop the vehicle outside your perimeter if no other barriers are present. Be prepared to deal with anger issues on the part of the vehicle's driver.
Assortment of Vehicle Barrier Types
Passive vs. Active

Passive barriers can be used at entry points if traffic flow is restricted or rarely used. Passive barriers are normally used for perimeter protection.


What is involved if the barrier needs to be moved/repositioned? Some barriers are massive and heavy, requiring the use of heavy equipment for placement. Once placed, these barriers can only be moved by bringing in heavy lifting equipment, and cannot be quickly changed to allow access status for authorized vehicles. If portable, how easy is the barrier to carry, transport, stack, store, and put together/interlock? What is the time needed to deploy?

Width / Load Capacity

Are the appropriate widths available to fully protect while allowing passage of almost every type of vehicle?



Barriers can be operated manually, electrically, pneumatically, or hydraulically. Can the system operate individually and in groups? Is there a manual override? Can the system work in manual operation in the event of power failure? Barrier direction should be instantly reversible at any point in its cycle from the control station(s). _Vehicle Barrier Design

There are number of different designs for both permanent and temporary vehicle barriers, depending upon anticipated needs. We will not discuss defenses for tracked vehicles or very large vehicles such as "tank traps," and save such topics for another time. Likewise we will not discuss caltrops or other lightweight and portable improvised barriers, for obvious reasons. For me to discuss improvised items such as defensive lines of braced wooden sticks with points on their ends placed at grill level -- like pikes -- would perhaps be going over the line, so I will also omit discussion of such things.

Regardless, the idea is to discourage outside celebrants from bringing an unwelcome party into your neighborhood, by vehicle.

The police will not necessarily approve of citizens taking their own protection into their own hands -- certainly the UK police were unhappy with such efforts by Londoners. But it is best to remind the police that in the event of multicultural celebrations of the type experienced by London, that their duty lies in preventing violence against law-abiding citizens, not in preventing law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves. Somehow UK police seem to have forgotten that obvious point.


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