Tag Archives: Tech

Why I Love Finland


I always romanticized Finland when I was a teenager, and Helsinki was the first foreign city I ever visited by myself, and is one of only two that I’ve bothered to go to twice. In Finland, there are no gendered pronouns. And during midsummer, the sun doesn’t really go down so much and you can walk from bar to bar and sit in the sunshine (moving as the shadows move, you understand), while a middle-aged, wealthy, kinda depressed guy buys you and your even-more-depressed and not-wealthy friends beer. Then you can black out and pass out in a gutter and wake up with 40 American bucks in your pocket that you didn’t start out with, acquired by means of telling strange tourists a sob-story when they ask you why you were passed out in the above-mentioned gutter. As the night progresses towards 5am, you can declare your love and desire for marriage to someone you haven’t seen in 6 years, and then you can leave town like 2 days later heartbroken and happy, perhaps ne’er to return.

But I digress.

The reason that, today, I remember why I love Finland is for two of their marvelous inventions: the sauna and the molotov cocktail.

More Big Dog – Defense Contractors Invent The Pack Mule

I’ve been scared of Big Dog for awhile. But finally, here’s a video of it interacting with the military. And what’s funny… they go on and on about how legs are better for traversing than tread or wheels. That this thing will carry a soldiers gear. And then I realized, it’s a pack mule. They reinvented the pack mule. They’re morons.

Although there are some creepy hints about it aiding in combat maneuvers, of course. And if you watch to the end, the tv personality smiles at the thought of bipedial robot soliders. What a world. Oh, also, if you read Danger Room, where I stumbled across this, you’d know that we’re gonna be in Afghanistan until around 2025. On that note, good night.

Big Dog Is Going Down


Watch Robo Dog in Game Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Earlier on Birds Before The Storm, I posted about Big Dog, a military-friendly quadruped robot that is kind of frightening. But fortunately, our attention has been brought to Lrry-1, the video of which appears above, by the boulevardier: (from our comments)

we have our own robodog too! and it is bigger and scarier than theirs and made entirely of scrap metal… i wasn’t savy to mutoid waste until kanye west (of all people) introduced me to this video and they are fucking rad! They were organizing illegal parties in the 80’s, fleeing from police raids in the 90’s and now are building giant monsters, i sort of have a crush going!

So yeah, this is where it’s at. Scrap-metal DIY monsters that spit fire, ridden by mohawked mad scientists, and in real life. Yes.

Lrry-1 is the product of Lyle of the Mutoid Waste Company. A bit more information about them is available on their wikipedia entry and through a documentary on youtube. Other videos of Lrry (including LRRY2 or possibly 4!) are available on youtube as well: 1, 2.

Future Warfare – Crazy Tank Armor, Guided Bullets, Hovering Beer Keg Drones

Today I learned a new word: misoneism. It means hating change. Sometimes I hate the future. Today I can’t decide if the future is neat or horrendous, or most likely, both. Anyhow, there’s been some interesting stuff over at Danger Room:

Tank armor, and how to get past it. In the old days, tanks just had a crapload of heavy metal as armor. Then someone developed shaped charge warheads, which blow right through armor. So, in the 1980s, they developed reactive armor. Reactive armor means covering the tank with little explosive tiles (a little bit counter-intuitive, I know). These will blow up when they are struck, thus removing the threat of the shaped charge. So, anti-tank people (you know who you are) developed the tandem charge. The tandem charge (in this case, an RPG) shoots a single warhead with two charges: the first triggers the reactive armor, the second is the shaped charge. So the ante went up, and tank designers made sensors that detected incoming RPGs and shot out charges to meet them. It’s called an active defense system (or watch a video). Not to be outdone, Russia managed to make an RPG they call the abrams killer. (The M1 Abrams is the USA’s main tank). This little devil sends a tiny missile a split second ahead of the main missile. The defense systems blow up the tiny missile, but have a .2 second cooldown before they can defend again, so blammo, dead Americans. (Or Russians, or Israelis, or anyone else defending a tank with active defense).

Next up we have guided bullets, which don’t exist yet. They are intended to be the future of sniping. Oh, joy. Here’s something from those bastards at DARPA:

The use of an actively controlled bullet will make it possible to counter environmental effects such as crosswinds and air density, and prosecute both stationary and moving targets while enhancing shooter covertness. This capability would have the further benefit of providing increased accuracy and range while reducing training requirements.

Nice use of the word “prosecution.” Kind of a Judge Dredd sort of law it brings to mind. Anyhow, the pentagon passed out millions to Lockheed Martin and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging, LLC to develop this nastiness. In fact, here’s a pdf of the project’s goals. Note that this includes phone numbers and names and all of that of people who are behind this project (at least on the DARPA end). Glad we have freedom of information in this country, I gotta admit.

And finally, something I gotta admit is pretty cool, even if it is cool in the “robots will kill us all” kind of way. A flying remote control drone thingy that looks like a miniature beer keg. It hovers. It provides survelliance. Did I mention that it hovers?

All of this begs the question… why don’t we apply our grand scientific opposable-thumbs minds towards something useful? Every time you develop a better tank armor, someone is going to develop a better anti-tank weapon. This can only escalate, how have we not noticed? What about, oh, I don’t know, developing systems to feed, educate, and provide liberty for humanity? (And not in the “tanks provide liberty, team America fuck yeah” kind of way, but in the “let people have freedom and autonomy” kind of way).

Well, there’s a lot more money in bombs than in, oh, destroying the concept of money. A lot more power in the accumulation of power than the decentralization of power. Ramble, ramble, rant, rant.

Edit: at least we have jetpacks now.

VIVACE – less destructive hydro energy?

You know me, I’m really skeptical of energy generation. In general, if you ask me, the “solution” to global electrical generation is to cut it back substantially and radically decentralize what remains. But I’m willing to look at developing technologies, because, well, I like the internet and I don’t want everyone heating their homes with firewood. (Passive solar, and insulation, on the other hand…)

Anyhow, VIVACE is a machine that makes use of slow-moving water to generate electricity. What’s exciting about it is that it doesn’t need to block a river and it might be rather kinder to marine life than dams or tidal power generators. Hell, the company that currently markets the device, Vortex Hydro Energy, even rambles on about how dams are being resisted and actually ought be taken down. There’s an interesting introductory video over on the University of Michigan website (where the machine was developed).

We’ll see. I’d love to see the dams gone, but when it comes to electrical generation, TANSTAAFL. I expect that this thing is less bad than dams, of course, but I’m waiting for 30 years from now when people say “oh, woops, our windfarms have radically upset weather patterns, and our VIVACE have completely changed global currents.” But well, if there’s a world with people in it around 30 years from now anyhow, it means we ditched coal at least.

I Can Give You Nightmares, Part 2

Now, just who would be enforcing this martial law? Clearly, it’s going to be big dog. Clearly, humans aren’t going to be in charge much longer. You’ve got to watch this video. The beginning is creepy, but it gets worse. I wonder, when they edited this thing, if they realized just how ungodly scary the noises this thing makes?

Last night, before everyone crashed, Paul Mercer [warning: MySpace] of The Ghosts Project [MySpace] showed us this thing. It is, of course, DARPA funded, and they brag about the payload this thing can carry. I don’t think anybody slept easily.