Play outside, even if the weather’s not right for it

No ski slopes near your house? Not enough snow? No excuse.

Think about what you can do, not what you can’t.

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Does this drone smell like bacon to you?

160063841 923a1622ea o Does this drone smell like bacon to you?

No, not that kind... the kind that flies and has guns. (img by cm_e)

I love remote controlled killing and/or surveillance machines, mostly because they make killing baddies in real life very much like killing baddies in Civilian Drone Assault VII. Which is great, because now Florida is catching up in the drone arms race:

The Miami-Dade Police Department recently got the first permit ever issued by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly its $50,000 robotic plane, a drone similar to those that have revolutionized warfare from Jalalabad to Mosul. The craft might just change policing forever too — as soon as MDPD actually gets a chance to use the damn thing.

I wonder how hard it would be to shoot one of these things down. Are they delicate? Do they move too quickly to hit? Are they tasty when you fry them in butter? I guess we’ll find out when Miami or Texas use one to go after someone heavily armed and well informed…

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Genetically-Engineered Supervirus: H1N000000!

4637463948 a07ff2aaee z 450x337 Genetically Engineered Supervirus: H1N000000!

This plush eyeball nugget dangling from a chain of monkeys makes more sense than synthesizing a killer flu. (img by scanlime)

A group of scientists is pushing to publish research about how they created a man-made flu virus that could potentially wipe out civilisation.

The deadly virus is a genetically tweaked version of the H5N1 bird flu strain, but is far more infectious and could pass easily between millions of people at a time.

The research has caused a storm of controversy and divided scientists, with some saying it should never have been carried out.

The research does bring up a load of moral questions, and really makes me wonder how many people haven’t read King’s The Stand. I’d certainly think twice about creating a superflu if I had to go to Boulder, CO after somehow lucking into being one of a few thousand people worldwide to survive. That town makes me stabby. (more…)

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All you need is an axe (and a forge)

magua All you need is an axe (and a forge)

A rare photo of the author in his younger days.

Axes and hatchets are visceral tools. I can’t help but think of Magua in Last of the Mohicans every time I hold a hatchet. Which is maybe why I use heavy rocks to chop firewood… I get a lot more done when I’m not pretending to ambush colonials. Axes, to me, are for chopping down trees, splitting cordwood, and attacking colonial militias. But I’ve been missing out on the huge versatility of axes for shaping and building stuff. Watch the stripey shirted guy at 3:40 in the following video: (more…)

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How to chop campfire wood with rocks

171982663 d264087005 450x303 How to chop campfire wood with rocks

These are axes in disguise. (img by HeyRocker)

Admission: when I go camping, I bring a hatchet and a bow saw. And I end up using neither. Why? Because I discovered the value of heavy rocks, which are way faster for breaking up fuel-size (up to maybe 6″ in diameter) softwood logs that you always find lying around in the woods.

You need: a log, something to prop one end of it on (log, rock, whatever – you only need a couple inches of clearance), and a rock that’s light enough to lift over your head and drop repeatedly (30-40 lbs works for me). Bonus if your rock has a sharpish edge.

Here’s how to do it: Prop up one end of your fuel log, raise your rock overhead, and chuck it at the log. Be ready to dodge! If the log is springy, it may bounce the rock back at you. More often, though, the broken bit of log will spring up in the air or go flying.

It’s quick, easy, and gets you cooking way faster than bashing away at stuff with a hatchet. You can still bring the hatchet… they’re handy for splitting your firewood and for practicing your throwing skills.

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The increasing risk of less-than-lethal weapons

us davis pepper spray 450x300 The increasing risk of less than lethal weapons

In 2009, the Department of Justice published a study on the lethality of less-than-lethal weapons, mostly the combined use of pepper spray and Tasers. It isn’t very condemning. About the only thing they call for is a wider adoption of standards, training, and conditioning before issuing or using less-than-lethal weapons.

Guidelines, for now, are on an agency-by-agency basis, with no or few laws to indicate to law enforcement how and when to use less-than-lethal weapons.*

Their investigation of about 1300 cases yielded three deaths. Taser use makes up the majority of cases, and all the cases come from the Bureau of Prisons, the ATF, and the US Marshals Service–not police. Anyway, the DOJ claim is that less-than-lethal weapons are highly effective, with 99.75% survival rate, and the three deaths were ruled to be secondary (fall down go boom) as opposed to the Taser stopping the person’s heart. (more…)

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