Listening to advice from friends, I am going to start other blogs to carry topics unrelated to writing, instead of clogging the space here. Since my favorite off-topic interest is off-the-wall stories in our modern or pop culture, the first new blog is called “I’m Off My Meds Again” and can be found at http://www.offmymedsagain.wordpress.com. It’s MY platform for MY craziness. If you love the world of abnormal, bizarre, whacko things, then you’ll love this space. If crazy talk isn’t your cup of tea, stay away!
Want 2013 to be a good year? Then prepare for it! Make it so!
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
“It’s not the will to win that matters. Everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”
–Paul “Bear” Bryant
“Nobody’s a natural. You work hard to get good, and then work to get better.”
“Life is like a combination lock; your job is to find the right numbers, in the right order, so you can have anything you want.”
“Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
This information is from Electronic Frontier Foundation. Any emphasis is theirs:
These records, received as a result of EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), come from state and local law enforcement agencies, universities and—for the first time—three branches of the U.S. military: the Air Force, Marine Corps, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
The records show that the Air Force has been testing out a bunch of different drone types, from the smaller, hand-launched Raven, Puma and Wasp drones designed by Aerovironment in Southern California, to the much larger Predator and Reaper drones responsible for civilian and foreign military deaths abroad. The Marine Corps is also testing drones, though it chose to redact so much of the text from its records that we still don’t know much about its programs.
Perhaps the scariest is the technology carried by a Reaper drone the Air Force is flying near Lincoln, Nevada and in areas of California and Utah. This drone uses “Gorgon Stare” technology, which Wikipedia defines as “a spherical array of nine cameras attached to an aerial drone . . . capable of capturing motion imagery of an entire city.” This imagery “can then be analyzed by humans or an artificial intelligence, such as the Mind’s Eye project” being developed by DARPA. If true, this technology takes surveillance to a whole new level.
While LIDAR can be used to create high-resolution images of the earth’s surface, it is also used in high tech police speed guns—begging the question of whether drones will soon be used for minor traffic violations.
It’s not a far-fetched idea to use drones to replace the traffic cop. Drone manufacturer AeroVironment offers a few suggestions of their own for drone usage:
The Future is Unmanned
AeroVironment is a world leader in the design and manufacture of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Since the introduction of Pointer in 1986, considered by many to be the first true small UAS for military use, AeroVironment’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems have supported U.S. and allied Armed Forces with reconnaissance data, helped monitor forest fires, and penetrated and analyzed volcanic plumes.
UAS have more than proven their value in the military world. Today, UAS are utilized for applications closer to home. Whether monitoring our country’s borders, protecting its citizens, monitoring pipeline and utility assets or finding those who are lost and in distress, small UAS can be launched quickly, day or night, to provide precise situational awareness whenever and wherever they are needed.
Qube is a device already in use by police departments. AeroVironment offers suggestions for its use:
Qube® is a rugged and reliable small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) specifically targeting the needs of first responders. The packaged system fits easily in the trunk of a car, and can be assembled and ready for flight in less than five minutes to provide a rapidly deployable eye in the sky, transmitting live video directly to the operator at a fraction of the cost of manned aircraft.
Small UAS like the Qube system can provide valuable capabilities to a broad range of industries and applications:
Public Safety – transported in the trunk of a police vehicle, the back of a fire truck or carried in a backpack, small UAS can provide immediate situational awareness to first responders, giving them a birds-eye view of the situation, day or night, to save lives and protect property.
Wildlife and Environmental Monitoring – already used to monitor sensitive wildlife areas and populations, small UAS are increasingly providing a means of collecting important information in inaccessible areas to facilitate more effective resource management.
Infrastructure Management – dams, pipelines, offshore oil platforms, microwave transmission towers, power plants and ports are some examples of large, sometimes remote infrastructure that can be accessed easily and safely by small UAS to provide color and thermal video for rapid visual inspection.
Scientific Research – peering into a volcano is made easier and safer with small UAS, and is just one example of the new ways this technology is helping scientists gain a better understanding of the way the earth and its biosphere operate.
You can see what Qube looks like by clicking the link: http://www.avinc.com/uas/small_uas/qube/
On November 13, I cut the segment below from a lengthier post on ZeroHedge.Com, a financial web site that monitors all things Wall Street. Since this topic is atypical for the organization, it caught my eye. Quotes within the article from Retired Major General Jerry Curry riveted my attention, particularly the last line of the portion pasted below.
Today, writing about the Apocalypse is popular. The form the end of time takes in a book plot is as varied as the authors writing on the topic. One of my readers has an indie book out in this genre, with a second book in the works. Book two is due to be released by the end of the year.
Given the high level of interest in doomsday matters, I had to share the following text. It is FACTUAL fodder for fictional stories. At this point, I normally sign off with something like “Enjoy, and happy writing,” but given the words you are about to read, I think I’ll pass on the cheery salutation.
Retired Major General Jerry Curry wrote Friday, November 9, 2012:
The Social Security Administration (SSA) confirms that it is purchasing 174 thousand rounds of hollow point bullets to be delivered to 41 locations in major cities across the U.S.
Those against whom the hollow point bullets are to be used — those causing the civil unrest — must be American citizens; since the SSA has never been used overseas to help foreign countries maintain control of their citizens.
What would be the target of these 174, 000 rounds of hollow point bullets? It can’t simply be to control demonstrators or rioters. Hollow point bullets are so lethal that the Geneva Convention does not allow their use on the battle field in time of war. Hollow point bullets don’t just stop or hurt people, they penetrate the body, spread out, fragment and cause maximum damage to the body’s organs. Death often follows.
Potentially each hollow nose bullet represents a dead American. If so, why would the U.S. government want the SSA to kill 174,000 of our citizens, even during a time of civil unrest?
If this were only a one time order of ammunition, it could easily be dismissed. But there is a pattern here. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has ordered 46,000 rounds of hollow point ammunition. Notice that all of these purchases are for the lethal hollow nose bullets. These bullets are not being purchased and stored for squirrel or coyote hunting. This is serious ammunition manufactured to be used for serious purposes.
In the war in Iraq, our military forces expended approximately 70 million rounds per year. In March DHS ordered 750 million rounds of hollow point ammunition. It then turned around and ordered an additional 750 million rounds of miscellaneous bullets including some that are capable of penetrating walls. This is enough ammunition to empty five rounds into the body of every living American citizen. Is this something we and the Congress should be concerned about? What’s the plan that requires so many dead Americans, even during times of civil unrest? Has Congress and the Administration vetted the plan in public.
All of these rounds of ammunition can only be used to kill American citizens, though there is enough ammunition being ordered to kill, in addition to every American citizen, also every Iranian, Syrian or Mexican. There is simply too much of it. And this much ammunition can’t be just for training, there aren’t that many weapons and “shooters” in the U.S. to fire it.
We have enough military forces to maintain law and order in the U.S. even during times of civil unrest.
This is a deadly serious business. I hope I’m wrong, but something smells rotten. And If the Congress isn’t going to do its duty and investigate this matter fully, the military will have to protect the Constitution, the nation, and our citizens.
The article on ZeroHedge.com ends with a 1987 quote from a United States Senator. That quote, which follows, when combined with the words of Major General Curry is enough to make the hairs on my neck stand on end. The words of these powerful, knowledgeable men stimulate my imagination. How about yours?
Senator Daniel Inouye said in 1987:There exists a shadowy Government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself.
Before Hurricane Sandy hit U. S. shores, I heard a few emergency preparedness public service announcements that urged people to collect food, water, and other supplies needed for three days in the event Sandy cut off access to services.
What Sandy–and Katrina for that matter–taught me is this:
- The loss of electricity means more than the absence of lights. Use of gasoline pumps, ATM machines, heaters, cold food storage and other necessities can be lost. Pharmacies close so that those who are ill can’t get prescription medications. Refrigerated or frozen food at home or in grocery stores and restaurants spoil. Banks close so no one has access to their money.
- The loss of access to necessities can last much longer than anyone anticipates. Older or disabled persons living on top stories of buildings without electrical power to run elevators or health-related equipment may be cut off from things they need to stay alive. In the aftermath of Sandy, some communities were told the citizens would have to make do without power for six weeks or more. At the onset of winter, life can get brutal quickly if one has no way to keep warm.
- The destruction of infrastructure impedes the flow of commerce. In the aftermath of Sandy, it was difficult to get food and water to stores or distribution centers because debris clogged roads. Further, disruptions in energy distribution meant folks had a hard time buying gasoline to fill tanks so they could drive outside the destruction zone for supplies. Or vehicles were destroyed by flood waters, leaving owners stranded. One cruise ship that departed before Sandy hit, and was scheduled to sail for seven days, returned to New York to find the port closed and access denied. On the 15th day, the ship was still at sea, uncertain when it could return to its home port. Those on board didn’t know if their cars were still where they left them or washed away.
- To complicate matters more, society breaks down. Tempers flare and fights start over situations where one person attempts to take advantage of another. People cut into line instead of waiting their turn. Vandals use the cover of chaos to steal or damage property. Price gouging is rampant. The vulnerable are fearful. Children are sent to the safety of homes of distant relatives, while parents stay behind to clean and defend the homestead, which may have become a hazardous dump site.
- Few individuals had a plan for how to survive a disaster of Sandy’s magnitude.
When writing about a disaster setting, be accurate about the depth of the devastation. In the days following Sandy, several persons who were directly impacted by the storm said to us, “It’s nothing like you see on TV. It’s much worse.”
The televisions are blaring in both the bedroom and kitchen with non-stop weather reports as Hurricane Sandy closes the gap between riding north on the Gulf Stream and slamming ashore at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. Outside the kitchen window, wind is howling and rain is pelting the house. Dark clouds obscure nature’s light.
The missus surveys the collection of flashlights, candles, oil lamps, hand-cranked L.E.D. lanterns, matches and other emergency notions lined up neatly on the linen-cloaked dining room table. She is drying her hands after scouring the bathtub, then filling it with water. The water can be used to drink, to flush toilets, to water dogs or wash dishes if the power goes out, taking the well pump with it. In the kitchen, a pot of boiling water cooks spaghetti noodles. Garlic Texas toast browns in the oven. A freshly made pan of homemade sauce steams beside the spaghetti pot. The kitchen timer buzzes, calling the missus to attention.
She spears a noodle with a fork, runs it under cold water to cool, and pops it in her mouth. Perfect al dente. She turns off the oven and pulls the cookie sheet holding the savory bread from the rack, setting it on the countertop to cool. The noodles are draining in the colander when she calls her husband. It’s meal time.
He stands from a reclining position in his easy chair. She sets plates beside the stove and fetches grated parmesan cheese from the refrigerator.
Pop. Blink. Flicker. Whoosh. Out go the lights. It’s not the candlelight dinner she imagined.