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Comment Re:WTF that wasn't supposed to happen!? (Score 1) 1239

Yup, partisanship is what could break the world now, as people look at their savings and wonder if they are safe. At some point they might cave in,and go and take their money out, and then someone will publish some news about how they are all taking money out of the banks, and pretty soon lots of banks will have to go bankrupt. When this happened in argentina, only 250 dollars a week were allowed per family. I wonder how much there is now.

There is no secret fuel over the horizon like with petrol after WWII, and there is no magical alternative fuel that's going to move all our food and pharmaceuticals around the world if the US goes bust and takes europe with it. The US is not going to grow again in 6 months, or in 12 months, because measuring a country's wellbeing via GDP growth was a mistake in the first place, and it's now become very harmful to continue seeing the world that way.

So what happens as countries go bust is that a disposessed middle class goes out into the street, camps out, riots, but generally protests peacefully for stuff to get better. This is happening in egypt and north africa, but also in across southern europe, in chile, in marocco, belarus, iceland, turkey, the UK, israel, south america and pretty much anywhere you might have thought of as a stable or safe place even just a couple of years ago. And so the government becomes opposed to it's people, and the old alliances of media, police and bipartisan states start falling apart. We are at this point in Spain, where the Police now speak throught the police union, and beat up journalists and protesters alike, issuing public messages that are harshly critical of government and protesters. Meanwhile people lose jobs, houses, hospitals etc and everything is more and more extreme each day.

But I think there is a way through, which is through dialogue, through agreements by all parties - citizens, government, business, media and police or army forces, to collaborate because we have a huge crisis on our hands. Here is some timely viewing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8EYN1iBPdc

We all have to voluntarily take over as government and business fails, and keep basic services functioning. We have to relocalise, and figure out how to drastically reduce the need for transport, and most importantly, produce clean supplies of water, basic medicine and food. This can only happen with an active volunteer force, able to be creative and effective, and it just so happens that the pro democracy protests are basically formed from spontaneous voluntary acts from people across all (or most) aspects of society, and now at least in europe, by assemblies, allowing for high levels of organisation and very participative democratic decision making, and now - with social networking software like Lorea (based on ELGG), soon to be complemented by an information system allowing faster decisions and ability to organise complicated activities across a wide geographical area. Lorea can be found at http://lorea.cc/ or https://n-1.cc/ to see it in action.

I don't know if you see how hard that is going to be to reach this level of unity, with all the fighting going on at the moment. We need a huge amount of unity, and for a feeling to surface across the financially sick "western world" with some of what in the UK is known as the blitz spirit - an idea of shared catastrophe, that gets everyone out helping each other. I think a lot of the protests so far have embodied these feelings, of the drastic need to revolutionise our culture, politics, financial system and pretty much everything else, because of how harmful the damaged older system is(if we let things go on we will starve), and I really hope that October 15 - where wall street itself will be subject of a protest camp, can help bring more people to awaken to the idea that they have to take responsibility for this situation, and actively make things better, even if it means adapting very quickly to a new environment. http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/adbusters-blog/occupywallstreet.html

Comment Missing option (Score 1) 359

So the US army sends their helicopter out, kills a journalist, lots of random passers by, all while soldiers comment coldly, from their IT rooms like the one where Manning worked. A passing van, with children in it, stops and a man gets out to help the injured journalist. But the van is blown up too. When they get the news that children were killed, they just comment "you shouldn't take your children to a war zone".

Manning divulged that the US are comiitting this kind of atrocity on a daily basis. Wikileaks went to find the people involved and interviewed their family to produce a piece of very powerful anti war media: www.collateralmurder.com/

So what about a poll option with punishments for the US army and government, for committing these crimes, and manning given some kind of recognition for everything he's suffered as a consequence?

Comment Re:Are you armed? (Score 1) 562

Yeah but you can get lots of urban vegetation though - dandelion is a good emergency foodstuff, you can eat the leaves, make the flowers into tea, and the roots can be fried with soya sauce... :)

Cities frequently have fruit trees growing all over the place, even on abandoned places by the side of the road because someone threw an apple core in the 70s and it grew...

In Bristol, UK there is a map of all edible fruit and nut trees and guides you can buy with all the different species of local plants and how to prepare them or use them medically.

Comment Re:Ah. Survival. - the longer term view (Score 1) 562

I think the problem is long term survival - finding ways to meet your needs with something other than supplies or guns. If just you are lumbered with lots of stuff, or lots of weapons there is going to be someone stronger than you or someone who will work day and night to get what you have, but if you have skills and knowledge, you are better as a friend to these people. So here is your list but with some inventions and ecological solutions I've seen used a few times in open hardware/green circles, where a lot of the idea behind it takes from open source directly - the idea that you have to share knowledge openly:

Blankets/sleeping bags: learn to sow, knit, weave old clothes to make new ones, or get inventive with plastic bags or tyres to make woven baskets and footwear. You can make plastic bags into a waterproof coat if you iron the bits together wrapping them first in baking paper. Tyre is really durable and can get you really far making stuff with it. All you need to make shoes is a relatively varied amount of them, inner tubes are nice and soft, a sharp knife and some nails. If it is really wet and you need impermeable footwear, bags to the rescue again: just wrap your socks in plastic bags and they will stay dry, avoiding infection, trenchfoot etc in a wet/flooded situation.

Drinking water:make a freshwater filter - all you need is sand, stones and somewhere for the water to pass through, in hot places using solar ovens to boil your water (and to cook food without needing to cut down a forest a year just to heat food), also I hear there are simple ways of preparing water for drinking by just leaving it closed in a plastic container in the sun for a couple of hours.

Food: organic and permaculture based farming. Permaculture is more of a way of designing a way of living - with limited resources, and it's what was famously used in Cuba after the USSR collapsed and no more food or fuel was available from there. They all lost weight but by embracing this and doing without fertilizers they still managed to avoid mass starvation and everyone was relatively comfortable, and a lot better off once the organic harvests kicked in.

Ovens: the simplest indigenous ovens are just a hole in the ground with a fire on the bottom, that you puyt the food in and cover up with leaves and earth(kind of a slow pressure cooker), but you can also, with some practice, make a kiln - a bread making oven made out of mud, which will last about a week, and produce some tasty stuff for quite a large group of people...

Refrigerating food so it'll last longer: a couple of clay pots and water will produce a nice effect where the sand absorbs the heat from any food you put in the smaller pot: put the small pot inside the big one, fill the rest of the big one with sand, and pour some water in with it. The water will evaporate and the sand will get a lot cooler. So you have a little refrigerator. Keeping your stuff in a cool dark place can achieve the same effect, but the pots idea is much more lightweight and mobile.

Lights: solar lights(the garden ones for example are usually to be found quite cheap), windup lights, small LED circuits that you can make yourself from sites like instructables or make magazine, a few carefully placed mirrors can bring lots of light to a room so that you don't need to rely on electricity working all the time or on having enough money to pay the bill. A couple of medium sized solar panels and a 12v battery from a car can give you lots of much needed electric power for night time lighting, recharging devices and all kinds of other uses.

Cooking: again solar ovens are brilliant and aren't only good for producing drinking water, but also for slow cooking some brilliant meals. Instructables this week is showing off a permanent design for one that rotates to follow the sun all day. Wood gas heaters are easily made from tin cans and some old newspaper or some sticks. It doesn't use up loads of fuel (which is fossil based anyway so creating more catastrophes the more you burn it, and likely to go up in price a lot in the near future). If you have a bunch of people you can figure out some bacteria based systems for turning leftover food and compost into gas, which you can then use to cook with the way you would in a traditional gas kitchen.

Improvised housing: the hexayurt is an open hardware design for a refuge that 4 or 5 people can put together in a couple of hours, and which can last years once assembled. You can make it from mostly recycled materials you can find lying around. There's also the factor-e farm people who have made a compressed earth brick maker, also open source, and I think you could slowly make a more permanent house using only mud and heat. Superadobe is basically bags of dirt covered with something more durable. All stuff you can use to avoid having to live in a shabby tent throughout a winter!

Entertainment/boredom: cook together, eat together, work and party together, learn to play and make instruments, teach each other stuff... Get some 12v batteries together and run a PA for a meeting or some entertainment. Nothing like a blitz to get people sharing what they know and helping each other out.

Radio, WAN/Wifi mesh networks - easy to do wifi to link up a small area - a block of streets for example so you can share emergency info like on looters, people in need or flooded areas etc. Smartphones can be SMS gateways for feature phones to piggyback on and share info. Ushahidi and systems like this are downloadable and easily installable and you can use them to deal with local emergencies, but I think also to plan longer term actions and community rules or information dissemination.

All this is being documented and used in places like appropedia, akvopedia, in the millions of DIY tutorials across the internet, and you can make much more than what is needed to survive just a short emergency, but to endure a much longer lasting situation of need. There's even a site right now in Japan that is slowly filling with DIY techniques for meeting basic needs in disaster stricken areas there.

Comment Re:Did the author completely overlook,,, (Score 1) 289

Maybe a simple way forward is to turn the n900 series into what the G1 was a couple of years ago. With that phone, it became suddenly very simple to download a mobile sdk, plug the phone in, set some options and put a "hello world" application into a phone or even distribute it on that same day. I know further steps might get more complex along the line with android programming, but it's easier than symbian app programming is now. What puts me off android on the other hand is that it's not entirely open source and has that black box thing in there, and it doesn't work on older simpler phones, thereby excluding a huge amount of people in the world from it's use.

What if nokia managed to produce a symbian distro that "just worked" on phones like the n900, or even - magically, on some random cheap older simpler "featurephone", seamlessly recieving newly coded apps from developers and running them, and allowed developers to get programming a symbian app within a day? Perhaps by working on getting symbian stable enough and streamlined enough, and then adding some scripting language over it (there's already python for s60 so maybe something like that) or even a fancy drag and drop ui layout editor etc etc - basically if app creation was easier with symbian than with android or iphone, and there was an easy way to get it on more phones, it would really give symbian it's strength. Or it will do that anyway, slowly via open source, but in 10 years, and we'll still get the benefits eventually. It would be a shame if by that time nokia was irrelevant, so that this job would be up to the small 3rd world kiosks that repair and mod phones illegally, to take two sims at a time, unblock them, upgrade their firmware etc.


Websites That Don't Need to Be Made Anymore 161

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but there is a finite number of social networking or selling websites that the world needs. Here is a collection of the eight kinds of websites that absolutely don't need to be made anymore. I'd add dating sites and anybody who uses pop-up ads myself, but I think that would eliminate half the Web.

Comment Ok can someone explain? (Score 1) 29

What do I need to read and where do I need to go to get android running on one of those old oneTs? Or whatever - it's a testing ground, sold to a very generic audience. I would love to be able to run an ubuntu distro on there, although android sounds worth trying on a netbook.

One thing about netbooks though is they are half way between a phone and a computer, so they shouldn't need to be so complicated - both in interface design and in expectations. Another is this reliance on google docs or youtube and other commercial free-as-in-beer (I never thought I'd say that) services that just don't seem to have a proper funding model in a very unstable economy.

We really need to develop distributed software models that we can use to keep this kind of thing going. Projects like opengoo, or various mesh network wifi projects and organisations seem really useful, and ones that could easily adapt towards it, but I think the netbook will eventually be their playground...

I would love to find out for sure if at 30-50 watts we're finally at something I can attach an exercise bike or a couple of solar panels to and actually get enough power to run it. In environmental terms it would be a huge breakthrough. And I wouldn't spend so much time reading email.

Comment Re:From a Hot Zone (Score 1) 557

Regardless of who (or WHO) is right - and as with many of these big threats, you should "do what you should have been doing anyway" - an ecologist mantra that you can read more about here: http://www.energybulletin.net/node/25115.

And in this case this means resting, avoiding stress, getting lots of vitamins and above all avoiding pre processed foods and factory farmed animal meat: eat organic, locally grown food that hasn't travelled the world and been imbibed with chemicals or antibiotics that lower your own natural resistance to infection.

The reason we have pandemics like this one, Sars, Aids or bird flu is because of 30+ years of lowering resistance to disease due to the way we eat and the practices we have.

So if you do well with this, by August - by which time the virus may be much more dangerous - you'll have a nice resistant immune system. And if the virus disappears, you'll still have that nice resistant immune system!


Comment Re:What the hell is green anyway? (Score 1) 165


Wrong generation really, I'm not a baby boomer, but I'll bite - yes as you say "green" is a really vague buzzword that everyone wants to jump on, sometimes with rubbish products that break straight away or that are only green in a small way, without addressing real issues or causing people to think they can buy their way out of our problems.

I'm a post baby boomer, born in the 70s, consumed during the 80s and 90s as if the world was infinite, as did all of "western" society and as you probably did yourself if you were around then, it was pretty hard not to, and I didn't question this really until the september 11 incidents. So I share that responsibility: as anyone alive and part of society now and in those years has, and probably much farther back in time and in different non-western societies as well, I helped fuck things up for our kids and other species.

But where I disagree with you is how to deal with this situation: one way, as you seem to do, is to just give up and only see the bad side of the so called green movement. I see it as a great opportunity for our teenage society to finally come of age and embrace it's limits, but I don't need anyone to agree with me on that. In anything there are positives, and one thing about being a "modern" environmentalist is that you can be more holistic - it's not about single issues any more, you don't need a beard, and it's certainly not such a side issue that people will not believe you. Most people nowadays have heard of peak oil, climate change, the food and credit crisis and the huge Ponzi schemes the financial system was built on. If you dig deeper you find even more crises that can seem really unsolvable. So what do you do? Just give up, dig for the last drops of oil, fight for the last scraps of food and secure the future maybe half or one generation down the road for your own family or country?

In everything we do there is good and bad. I really have trouble when companies go on about not being "evil" - it's very hard to be purely good, and we have to live with the fact that being alive means eating other living things, consuming resources and sometimes being destructive, but also it includes being creative, wise, strong etc. So nothing we do will be completely safe or positive, and no so called green products will be either, but we can go for the best we know, and try to do the best we can, improving our choices as we go.

What I think though is that everyone can have a positive vision for where they want things to go. These don't have to be the same vision, and sometimes they might even conflict, which is ok as long as we accept that people have differences. So in your example of carbon monoxide or electric car batteries, I think it's a bit of a waste of time to try and measure between how good one or another thing is - sure within reason, but it's a waste of time to aim for total green purity, and I think I prefer seeing this as a road with many corners and stops along the way, rather than just as green vs not green. Changing to low energy lightbulbs, recycling more or convincing people about a coming financial crash feels a bit 2007 now, so we have to keep going farther. People still have issues they see as more or less important than others, but if you give up, how are you going to keep going forward? Same with IT. Don't listen to the idiots or marketing departments, just make your own future and don't give up.


ps:Disclaimer: I'm a webmaster for Transition Bristol in the UK. You can read more about the transition movement here: http://www.transitiontowns.org/


Submission + - Myanmar Junta Cuts Internet (cnn.com)

lunartik writes: "In Myanmar, formerly Burma, the government has now reportedly cut internet connections. Citizens have been using the internet to bring news to the world of the recent government crack-down on pro-democracy protesters. The latest civil unrest started when Buddhist monks marched by the home of the home of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for years."
Wireless Networking

Submission + - BBC Panorama Questions Long-Term Health of Wi-Fi

vtechpilot writes: "From the article:

Britain is in the grip of a Wi-Fi revolution with offices, homes and classrooms going wireless — but there is concern the technology could carry health risks. The Government insists Wi-Fi is safe, but a Panorama investigation shows that radio frequency radiation levels in some schools are up to three times the level found in the main beam of intensity from mobile phone masts.

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