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Alaska repaired damaged highways within days of the recent earthquake in Anchorage.

I find stories about resilient infrastructure projects like Alaska’s highway recovery, the underground cathedral protecting Tokyo from floods and Switzerland’s Porcupine Principle to be inspirational (though I’ve heard Switzerland has moved away from this strategy in recent years, choosing to rely instead on hopes and dreams). These sorts of projects are what government defense budgets should be spent on.

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In an interview with the Economist, Adam Curtis describes what he sees as our static, machine haunted world.

You know Adam Curtis from The Power of Nightmares, HyperNormalisation, etc. He tells the Economist:

This is the genius of what happened with computer networks. Using feedback loops, pattern matching and pattern recognition, those systems can understand us quite simply. That we are far more similar to each other than we might think, that my desire for an iPhone as a way of expressing my identity is mirrored by millions of other people who feel exactly the same. We’re not actually that individualistic. We’re very similar to each other and computers know that dirty secret. But because we feel like we’re in control when we hold the magic screen, it allows us to feel like we’re still individuals. And that’s a wonderful way of managing the world.

Its downside is that it’s a static world. It doesn’t have any vision of the future because the way it works is by constantly monitoring what you did yesterday and the day before, and the day before that. And monitoring what I did yesterday and the day before and the day before that and doing the same to billions of other people. And then looking at patterns and then saying: “If you liked that, you’ll like this”.

They’re constantly playing back to you the ghosts of your own behaviour. We live in a modern ghost story. We are haunted by our past behaviour played back to us through the machines in its comparison to millions of other people’s behaviour. We are guided and nudged and shaped by that. It’s benign in a way and it’s an alternative to the old kind of politics. But it locks us into a static world because it’s always looking to the past. It can never imagine something new. It can’t imagine a future that hasn’t already existed. And it’s led to a sense of atrophy and repetition. It’s “Groundhog Day”. And because it doesn’t allow mass politics to challenge power, it has allowed corruption to carry on without it really being challenged properly.

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James Stejskal's article from American Rifleman provides an overview of the arms used by T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt.

The article is an extract from the author’s military history of Lawrence and his legacy, which I’ve added to my reading list. I was unaware that they made use of technicals, predating Bagnold and his self-described “piracy on the high desert”.

Lawrence had a talent for employing the Great War’s new technologies: semi-automatic pistols, airplanes, electric detonators, machine guns and motorcars. The equipment used by T.E. Lawrence and his colleagues against the Turks was innovative, as was his untraditional approach to the employment of intelligence, aerial reconnaissance and mobile gun platforms. His methodologies were game-changers and would heavily influence what would later be known as special operations in the British military, not to mention guerrilla leaders such as Mao Zedong and Võ Nguyên Giáp.

via Active Response Training

Part of my motivation for undergoing PRK surgery was a hope for the future of augmented reality and an expectation that it will be easier to integrate into daily life if one does not also need to worry about prescription lenses.

This past weekend I visited Onedome’s Unreal Garden, which uses the Microsoft Hololens to attempt to provide an immersive art experience. The technology is glitchy and clearly immature, but it is at a level where the locative art of Spook Country is certainly achievable. We seem to be a ways off from daily integration and wetware implants, but I think the future of AR is promising.

Onedome Selfie

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The size and durability of MicroSD cards make them an attractive option for carrying important data.

In my experience they are unlikely to be damaged by incidental moisture, whether that be from rain, sweat or the occasional shower. But a single card is small enough that I always worry it will be lost, and it is susceptible to being snapped if carried inappropriately. The Digital Dogtag from N-O-D-E is one of the better solutions I’ve found for carrying a single MicroSD card. It uses a simple spring loaded socket to hold the card securely, and provides enough rigidity that I’m not worried about damaging the card. I added the dogtag to my current APEK iteration this past September and have been happy with the result.

Digital Dogtag / APEK

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I started making SOLAS ranger eyes last year.

Purchase a roll of 3M Scotchlite 3150A SOLAS Grade Reflective Tape and pack of Velcro 7/8” Squares. Stick a loop square on the tape and trim. The sticky-on-sticky action is unnecessary – sometimes I’ll just place the SOLAS tape on normal, sew-on loop Velcro – but those 7/8” squares are the right size for a ranger eye, and the sticky hook component is useful for putting on whatever object you want to mount the ranger eye too. This can be used to increase side visibility on a helmet, but still give you the option to easily remove the reflective material when you want to decrease visibility.

SOLAS Ranger Eyes

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Counterpart is a cold war espionage thriller set in an alternate Berlin where the conflict is between parallel worlds instead of two states.

The story is in the tradition of John le Carré, if John le Carré wrote science fiction, and is well executed on all levels. It includes enjoyable moments of tradecraft, done in a way to communicate something about the characters rather than for the spectacle. I eagerly await the second season.

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I track disasters via RSOE EDIS.

Operated by the Hungarian National Association of Radio Distress-Signalling and Infocommunications (RSOE), the Emergency and Disaster Information Service (EDIS) collects disaster information from around the globe, and disseminates it using the Common Alerting Protocol. They offer the data via web map, email, RSS, and Android application (an API is also available, though keys are apparently restricted to government organizations). There is a wide range of “disasters” included, but the normalized protocol supports filtering the events based on criteria such as scope, severity, and urgency. I use the Android application, configured to only show emergency-level alerts.

For earthquakes, I supplement RSOE EDIS with the USGS Earthquake Notification Service, which provides regional-based subscriptions. I subscribe to email alerts for earthquakes greater than 6.0 for all of the US, and greater than 4.0 for my local area.