The Null Device


A list of nonlethal weapon ideas, from a USAF report; ranging from the relatively mundane to the bizarre and Strangelovian:

Curdler Unit: A device that is plugged into a sound system to produce a shrill, shrieking, blatting noise. It is used to irritate and disperse rioters and has a decibel range just below that of the danger level to the human ear. It is used in night operations to produce a "voodoo" effect and breaks up chanting, singing, and clapping.
Smoke, Colored: Colored-smoke concentrations produce greater initial psychological and panic effect than white smoke. Caucasians are said to have a greater repugnance to brilliant green smoke, whereas Negroids and Latins are declared to be most adversely affected by brilliant red. Rioters confronted with a strong concentration of colored smoke feel, instinctively, that they are being marked, or stained, and therefore lose anonymity.
Genetic Alteration: The act of changing genetic code to create a desired less-than-lethal but long-term disablement effect, perhaps for generations, thereby creating a societal burden.
Prophet: The projection of the image of an ancient god over an enemy capital whose public communications have been seized and used against it in a massive psychological operation.

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This is a fairly nifty idea: 802.15.4, a.k.a. ZigBee, a two-way, low-bandwidth wireless communications standard for home automation and miscellaneous gadgets; i.e., somewhere between those old X10 gadgets and WiFi/Bluetooth:

Because ZigBee has a range of only about 30 feet, and sends data in infrequent bursts, batteries could last for a couple of years without having to replace them.
A recent analyst report issued by West Technology Research Solutions estimates that by 2008 "annual shipments for ZigBee chipsets into the home automation segment alone will exceed 339 million units," and will show up in "light switches, fire and smoke detectors, thermostats, appliances in the kitchen, video and audio remote controls, landscaping, and security systems."

I think that the minimalism of the system, and the fact that, consequently, gadgets can run on a battery for years, is probably its most elegant feature; and I thought such minimalism was out of fashion when the standard practice was imagining that energy, CPU cycles and bandwidth were free and limitless, or would become so, and that in a House of the Future, the thermostats and smoke alarms would have gigabytes of RAM, Pentium-class CPUs, run on Embedded Windows XP and constantly spew out RF in carcinogenic quantities whilst trading cybergossip with the Internet Fridge and Secure Media Entertainment Center.

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Life imitates Lucky Wander Boy: some outfit named Crystal Sky have bought the film rights to Pac-Man, with a view to making a "live-action fantasy adventure". Urk. (via wtf_inc)

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Formerly local electropop outfit Cartwheel, now based in Manchester (arguably Ground Zero of the entire phenomenon of rock/drugmusic fusion) have released two MP3s, which sound suspiciously like the last bit of their brilliant, never-to-be-repeated performance at their going-away party last year. Anyway, here they are: Fall Apart To Stay Together, and Man, In Love With Machine. And did I mention how good they are?

Update: the files appear to have exceeded their AtroCities bandwidth limit, so they've been mirrored here.

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