Archive for April 2017
Random Thoughts Podcast 2: John Robb on Artificial Intelligence, Business, Education and the Restructuring of American Society
That’s kind of a long winded title, but it’s just a taste of the territory John Robb and I cover in a rambling 40 minute conversation. If you don’t know John, you should. Go here for his history, which is significant:
John is the nearest thing to a prophet the military, government and high-tech has right now. He predicted (and defined) open source warfare and terrorism, invented the RSS software that drives blogs, consults on policy for every agency in the US that’s involved in military or foreign police, writes books and blogs, predicted autonomous warfare (and was a special consultant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the future of robotics warfare and artificial intelligence) and he’s a damn fine conversationalist.
John and I are notorious to our significant others for our long and tangential conversations (I mostly just shut up and listen, as one should when you’re lucky enough to listen to one of the world’s authorities) and we’d discussed, several times, just turning on a recorder and capturing some of our random thoughts.
John’s a huge influence on me, my company and much of my writing. His thoughts on the evolution of artificial intelligence and how it will reshape (or tear down) all elements of American society are insightful and may be useful to those considering the challenges that emerge for us each day.
This is an informal phone conversation between two friends, not a formal interview, and an experiment with various software platforms that allow us to move a phone call into a podcast with a minimum of work. Listen for the content instead of the occasional glitches if you want to make the best of it.
I’m experimenting with the podcast format. This first podcast is in response to an excellent article by Greg Ellifritz on his blog www.activeresponsetraining.net where he references some good work by a LEO researcher named John Hearnes as well as the Tactical Professor Claude Werner.
Greg’s Friday aggregate of the best of the best in guns, gear, training, etc. is about the only “tacti-cool” blog I read other than Claude Werner, Ralph Mroz and Massad Ayoob. But then, I’m old and just don’t care anymore.
Greg’s link to the article mentioned:
I suggest reading the article first, and then check out the podcast. Lemme know what you think.
Nuclear Bomb Blast
As a warm up, click here and enter your city and then pick your nuclear weapon (from a suitcase terror bomb) to the 500 MT Russian warhead, the biggest yield publicly known.
I’m taking auditions for my Guitar Guy, too….
Between October 16-28 1962 there was a nation wide event referred to as “The Cuban Missile Crisis.” It was a nose to nose showdown between the two nuclear superpowers (at the time), the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and their respective leaders John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev. I won’t go into it much, since it seems most people today are bored with history and understanding it, and then completely miss the point of the recurring theme in BATTLESTAR GALACTICA 😉 “This has all happened before…and this will happen again.”
The main thing to understand is it was the first time there was widespread public knowledge of a credible threat of nuclear attack on US soil.
I was a mere youngling at the time, early elementary, but you know, almost sixty years later, I remember that time. We were living in San Francisco, right across from Golden Gate Park and two doors down from where The Jefferson Airplane (Wikipedia is your friend, if interested) lived and jammed and got seriously high while entertaining us young kidlets.
I was in school, in our classroom, reading if I recall correctly. There was a loud and unfamiliar siren from the gigantic speaker mounted on the top of the school.
Sounded something like this: http://www.freesound.org/people/guitarguy1985/sounds/54084/
Being a youngling, I looked at my teacher to tell us what that was. What I can see today, just as clearly as I see the screen I’m working on, is the look of sheer terror on my young and beloved teacher’s face. Her voice shook as she fought for control, and she had us do as we had been practicing faithfully everyday: duck under our little wooden desks, crouch down and cover our heads.
So we did, and being younglings, thought it great fun, except for those of us who saw or heard the fear in our teacher’s face. Kids, especially young kids, are like emotional tuning forks and the fear spread through us, reducing many of us to tears or spotted pants or dresses.
It was, that day, not a planned drill. It was an accidental activation of the city-wide nuclear attack siren.
What I remember that day besides the terror in the face of a very young woman charged with the protection of very young children was the sense of complete hopelessness. She did as she’d been trained, but at that moment, with the sirens in her ears, deep down she knew that if a Soviet missile was inbound at the facilities in San Francisco Bay, that we were all just moments away from a either an instantaneous death or a horrifying and prolonged death in the rubble waiting for rescue that would never come.
Um, I didn’t like that very much. Still don’t.
I’ve been on a news blackout off and on since the pre-election because, as a former perception management professional, I get tired of the endless emotional manipulation in the media. Fortunately I still retain the skill set to move quickly through a series of web portals, blogs, and news aggregators to get a snapshot of the world situation pretty quickly.
These days I just focus on my local community.
As an Official Old Guy, white of hair, long of tooth, bent of back, short of breath and recapitulating ontogeny every time I get out of bed in the morning, I find myself more and more being asked by younger people, mostly Millennials, to teach them things that I would have thought their parents or grandparents would have taught them. This is what comes of being old; you have expectations based on your own experience which most of the time has no relation to the younger people we interact with.
Things like: basic cooking, making a fire from scratch, sharpening a knife, changing oil in a car, changing a tire, purifying water, improvising shelter, staying warm when you don’t have warm clothes, taking a crap in the woods, making a comfortable camp, etc. etc.
Mind you this is not “survivalism” or “prepping” or whatever the hell its called these days. These are basic life skills for a human. And have been for many many thousands of years.
One subject that came up recently was: “What could we do if there actually was a nuclear war between the US, China, Russia, North Korea, whoever?”
So I thought I’d take the time and repost the information below. These are my recommendations from essentially a lifetime being involved in various forms of public safety as a volunteer and as a professional. Work the checklists, and you’ll be better off than 85-90% of the US population for ANY emergency be it bad weather, power outage, or the unfortunate confluence of events that may lead the tall man with the hat of smoke to nod over a city within our borders.
Here’s a link to a free PDF download of Cresson Kearney’s NUCLEAR WAR SURVIVAL SKILLS:
Just a word about Kearney – his goal was, in the face of official indifference to protecting the civilian population during a nuclear event, to create a rigorously scientifically vetted and TESTED IN THE FIELD manual that compiles everything from building shelter to making a nuclear attack level radiation meter out of a tin can, string, tin foil, and crushed Sheetrock. I’m very skeptical of EVERYTHING until I test it myself. I will affirm that if you follow the exact instructions and copy the measurement template from this book, and then follow the static electricity charging instructions, you will have a radiation meter that will measure the high levels of radiation from a nuclear event. I tested my first run courtesy of a radiologist friend who promptly went and made several of them with his kids as a home project.
EDIT: I was reminded of this excellent book from the 80s LIFE AFTER DOOMSDAY which was written by a scientist who, like me, became disgusted by fear mongering and set out to write a book that educates and informs. Great solid information. Also available here as a free PDF download:
Let’s stay safe out there. A little bit of DOING goes a long way to mitigating the fear and helplessness I saw in my teacher’s face, so long ago.
Preparedness Thinking Checklists:
If the power went out today, would you have the means to keep you and your family seeing in the dark and warm in the cold?
If you couldn’t get to the grocery store, how long would you be able to provide meals for you and your family?
If no one came when you called 911, do you have the knowledge to protect you and yours from crime, fire, and medical emergencies?
If you woke up and your credit/debit cards no longer worked, and the banks were all closed for an indefinite time, would you be able to pay or barter for the goods and services your family needs?
Perhaps the recent bad weather or the unending stream of bad news on the television, internet and newspaper has you thinking about being prepared for an emergency.
Do you know how to assess your own level of preparedness? Would you know what to do in the case of a serious emergency?
Take the enclosed self survey and decide for yourself how prepared you are…
FUNDAMENTAL EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS SURVEY
(These yes or no questions will clarify your state of readiness for emergencies)
1. Has your family rehearsed fire escape routes from your home?
2. Does your family know what to to do before, during, and after an emergency situation?
3. Do you have a functioning flashlight in every occupied bedroom?
4. Do you keep shoes near your bed to protect your feet in a night emergency?
5. Do you know how to shut off the water line to your house? Do you need a tool to do so?
6. Do you know how to shut off the gas to your house? Do you need a tool to do so?
7. Do you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in the proper places in your home?
8. Do you have and know how to use a fire extinguisher?
9. Do you have duplicate keys and copies of important insurance and other papers stored outside your home?
10. If your family had to evacuate your home, do you have an identified meeting place?
72 HOUR EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS SURVEY
(These yes or no questions will clarify your readiness to take care of yourself for the minimum 72 hours recommended by the American Red Cross)
1. Do you have sufficient food on hand to feed everyone in your household without resupply for 72 hours?
2. Do you have the means to cook food without house gas and electricity?
3. Do you have sufficient water for drinking, cooking, and sanitary needs?
4. Do you have an 72 hour evacuation kit in case you were ordered from your home?
5. Would you be able to carry these kits if you had to evacuate on foot or government mandated transportation (buses, trucks, etc.)?
6. Do you have an established out of state contact?
7. Do you have a first aid kit in your home and in each car?
8. Do you have work gloves and tools for minor rescue and clean up?
9. Without electricity and gas do you have a way to heat at least part of your house?
10. Do you have a plan for toilet facilities if there is an extended water shortage?
If you’ve answered NO to any of the above questions, then that’s an area you need to address.
A Minimal Emergency Preparedness Checklist:
1. Water: one gallon per person, per day
2. Food: select foods that require no refrigeration, no preparation or cooking, and little or no water.
3. Flashlight and batteries
4. First aid kit
5. Medications: especially any prescription or non-prescription medications you or your family require regularly.
6. Battery operated radio and batteries
7. Tools: wrench, manual can opener, screwdriver, hammer, pliers, knife, duct tape, plastic sheeting, garbage bags and ties.
8. Clothing: seasonal appropriate change of clothes for everyone and sturdy shoes.
9. Personal items: eyeglasses, copies of important documents, insurance polices, toys and books for children.
10. Sanitary supplies: toilet paper, moist wipes, feminine supplies, personal hygiene items, bleach, hand sanitizer.
11. Money: have cash. In an emergency, many banks/ATMS may not be open.
12. Contact information: print out current list of family phone numbers, lawyers, doctors, insurance agents. Include the number of someone out of state you can call to take messages for scattered family members.
13. Pet supplies as appropriate.
14. Maps of the local area and surrounding areas.
1. Two weeks worth of food for your family. When you go to the grocery store, buy one extra of everything you buy. Goal: You won’t have to leave your house for 14 days to get food to eat.
2. Two weeks worth of drinking water for your family. One gallon a day x 14 = 14 gallons of water per family member. This is for DRINKING ONLY, not washing or even food preparation. Consider doubling it to provide for personal hygiene or if exertion is required in hot weather. Goal: if potable water stopped flowing, you wouldn’t have to leave your house for two weeks.
3. Two weeks of cash for ALL household expenditures. Add up every expenditure on all your debit/credit/out of pocket expenses for a two week period. Then take half of your monthly expenses (mortgage/rent, utilities, car payment, insurance, whatever) and add that to all your documented daily expenses. Keep that much in cash in your house or somewhere you can get it. Not in the bank or anywhere you can be locked out of. Get a safe or stash it in your house. Cash preferably in denominations no greater than $50, with the bulk of it in $20s and $10s. GOAL: If the financial system locked down under executive order, you would have sufficient cash on hand to meet your required expenses even if your electronic banking no longer worked and checks were no longer processed.
4. Fire protection: per your survey, fire extinguishers and training to use, consider how you’d put out a fire if there was no water pressure.
5. Medical: Minimum of 90 days supply of any prescription meds you or your family need. If those meds need to be refrigerated, get a 12V RV freezer you can hook up in your car or to an auto battery. Comprehensive first aid kit/supplies. If you don’t have training for first aid, identify someone who does or doctors or vets or dentists who would help you.
6. Heating: Have enough blankets/sleeping bags/warm clothes and an additional way of heating your home or a portion of your home if there were no power and the gas was cut off.
7. Autos: Keep all your cars fully gassed at all times. Half a tank is the new empty. Keep in gas cans a minimum of one full tank of gas for each vehicle at your residence, plus an additional can for lawnmowers, etc.
8. Protection: If you don’t own a gun, get at least one and sufficient ammo for it. Get training and consider getting a concealed carry permit. Be willing to use it.
9. Communications: Keep a land line in your home. Keep your cell phones fully charged and purchase a Mophie back up battery for your phone. Consider back up communications like CB radios or handheld FRS/MRS handy-talkies or even HAM radios. In your family plan, make sure every family member has addressed how they will let you know where they are and how they’re getting to you.
10. Once you’ve comprehensively covered two weeks, go to 30 days.
There’s more, but that’s a good starting point.