The US Fish and Wildlife Service has a plan to save endangered black footed ferrets from sylvatic plague by dropping vaccine-laced M&Ms from drones to prairie dogs in Montana. (Guardian) [more inside]
"I am on the US kill list. I know this because I have been told, and I know because I have been targeted for death over and over again."
Rest in peace Tony Conrad, who passed early this morning at the age of 76 due to prostate cancer. He was a pioneering avant-garde musician, particularly known for his massive, minimalist drones. He collaborated with the likes of La Monte Young and Faust, and was a major inspiration for the Velvet Underground (he was briefly in a pre-VU band called the Primitives with John Cale and Lou Reed.) He was also an innovative video artist. More links within. [more inside]
How Rogue Techies Armed The Predator, Almost Stopped 9/11, And Invented Remote Warfare [more inside]
Long-running experimentalists Ulver break free from the studio to release ATGCLVLSSCAP. From PopMatters:
The basis of this new double LP, ATGCLVLSSCAP, comes from a dozen shows the band performed in early 2014, not long after the unit had issued its postmodern requiem mass Messe I.X-VI.X. The material here is the result of the group improvising in the live setting, blending the dark electronic elements that it has become known for with traces of the psychedelic, dashes of minimalism and rhythms that sway somewhere between Scandinavian primacy and ornate Latin temples to movement and time. Now placed side-by-side the pieces form two possible interpretations: the first of which is an album that evolves with a tension and release strategy in its sequence or a composition with 12 chambers that take the listener through all the same movements and emotions of a well-wrought symphony.[more inside]
Drone Art: Arctic Wildlife & Landscapes is a two and a half minute drone video from the far north of Canada starring beluga whales, polar bears and some of the most amazing scenery.
On Sunday, Space X launched the JASON-3 satellite and also tried to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on a droneship barge. The satellite reached orbit successfully and the first stage landed perfectly. That's when a problem latched on to the mission (video in link). [more inside]
The FAA announced today that all drone units weighing between 0.55 and 50 lbs must be registered with the government by Feb. 19, 2016. The new rules on drones come before the holidays, when an estimated 700,000 new drones are expected to be bought. [more inside]
"I went over to Germany, and I saw one millionth of a performance of a piece of music." John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats, Wolf In White Van) travels to Halberstadt to report on a John Cage concert that will last 639 years.
Monster flash flood, August 30, 2015, Southern Utah: A massive thunderstorm stalled up this basin and dumped billions of gallons of water in around and hour and a half.
Nora Young on CBC's Spark interviews Scot Yount, who was hit by a drone during a parade, and Joe O'Neil, whose quadrocopter crashed onto a police van in London, ON (podcast). With drone-related accidents on the rise, the US DOT has formed a task force to create a registration process. Registration could begin as soon as the holiday season, DOT officials said Monday.
The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the use of a paper airplane drone. Forbes has an interview with the UAV advocate who filed the petition to get an exemption for the paper airplane drone.
Globalization is a brutal phenomenon. It brings us mass displacement, wars, terrorism, unchecked financial capitalism, inequality, xenophobia, climate change. But if globalization is capable of holding out any fundamental promise to us, any temptation to go along with its havoc, then surely that promise ought to be this: we will be more free to invent ourselves. In that country, this city, in Lahore, in New York, in London, that factory, this office, in those clothes, that occupation, in wherever it is we long for, we will be liberated to be what we choose to be.- Discontent and Its Civilizations (excerpt), by Mohsin Hamid (previously); reviewed [more inside]
It's 2015, so first-person-view quadcopter racing is a sport now. [more inside]
Danny Cooke’s Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl summons a lost history of familiar and alien dreams. The drone-mounted camera glides deliberately through the spaces within and above the empty city. The soundtrack is haunting, or “haunting.” We think of drones moving relentlessly forward: into the hidden terrain of surveillance, into the kill zone, into the future. Yet many of the shots point the lens in reverse, effectively pulling back to show first a figure and only then its surroundings. A diving platform with paint peeled away, then the empty pool. A circular emblem, large and sculptural, then the great apartment block on whose roof it sits, visible for miles. Not all shots follow this rule, and not all are taken by drone, but this is the general approach of Danny Cooke’s Postcards From Pripyat, Chernobyl, a three-minute video from last year. It’s quite beautiful. [more inside]
The Marines Are Building Robotic War Balls
A research team from Stamford, Conn. has developed an amphibious drone that they are currently testing with the Marines. The GuardBot is a robot ball that swims over water at about 4 miles per hour and then rolls along the beach, at as much as a 30-degree incline and 20 miles per hour.
This article, about a software rollback, explains that drone maker DJI can use software updates to limit the places where drones can take off.
As armed UAVs (don't call them drones!) proliferate, the Pentagon is working on how to shoot down UAVs in an exercise called Black Dart (YouTube)
Will Killer Robots Destroy Humanity? What The Future Of Robots Reveals About The Human Condition. Peter Thiel says 'Robots Are Our Saviours, Not the Enemy,' via. Brad DeLong reponds with The Rise of the Robots. Don't forget your 'Terrifying Robot Update,' especially when robots grow our food. Or maybe we'll get the Robots of Resistance, with human values. New World Order: Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy. AI, Robotics and the Future of Jobs. [more inside]
Inside Google's Secret Drone Delivery Programme The Australian test flight and 30 others like it conducted in mid-August are the culmination of the first phase of Project Wing, a secret drone program that’s been running for two years at Google X, the company’s whoa-inducing, long-range research lab.
How the US Stumbled into the Drone Era [WSJ] As ubiquitous as Predators, Reapers, Global Hawks and their ilk may now seem, the U.S. actually stumbled into the drone era. Washington got into the business of using drones for counterterrorism well before 9/11—not out of any steely strategic design or master plan but out of bureaucratic frustration, bickering and a series of only half-intentional decisions.
Depending on one's point of view, Orgasm (later reissued as Cave Rock) is either a ridiculously self-indulgent artifact of the '60s counterculture or an underground gem that was way ahead of its time -- and it's probably a little bit of both. The basic idea behind Cromagnon, an obscure East Coast group led by vocalists Austin Grasmere and Brian Elliot, was psychedelic rock combined with the sticks and stones of prehistoric cavemen, as well as with traces of folk-rock; it's a bizarre concept, certainly, but at times, it works. You can hear the whole crazy album on YouTube, or stick with the most song-like track (featuring bagpipes, tribal beats and some sort of scream-singing), Caledonia, seen here with an unofficial video. [more inside]
In May, David Barron was confirmed as a judge in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, after a half-hour filibsuter by Rand Paul, and opposition stemming from a confidential memo (previously) he wrote, justifying the use of targeted drone strikes against terrorists, e.g. Anwar al-Awlaki (previously). After a court ruling in the FOIA lawsuit filed by the ACLU and New York Times, Court Releases Large Parts of Memo Approving Killing of American in Yemen. [more inside]
Pitchfork: "A few weeks ago, 4AD confirmed that musician Scott Walker and drone metal outfit Sunn O))) would release a collaborative album. Today, the two parties have announced that album. It's called Soused, and it's due out September 22 in Europe and 23 in North America." [more inside]
The Skunk is designed to control crowds without endangering the lives of security staff. Bright strobe lights and on-board speakers enable operators to communicate with and warn the crowed. If things get out of control the Skunk can use its four paintball guns to disperse or mark people in the crowd. Four ammunition hoppers can load different types of ammunition such as dye marker balls, pepper spray balls or solid plastic balls.The early customers are South African mine owners, who hope to use them to control striking workers.
Gofor is a Drones-as-a-service concept. "Drones are summoned much like taxis in other popular service apps. Your desired task is either noted at the outset using presets, or customized using voice commands." [more inside]
Previously on the blue. Raphael Pirker, a.k.a. "Trappy" was the first person ever to to fined by the FAA for the commercial operation of a drone. However, instead of paying up, Pirker decided to contest the ruling with a little pro bono legal help. Last Thursday evening, the judge issued his ruling. The judge dismissed the FAA's case, agreeing with the defense that since the FAA never created any legally binding rules for small drones to begin with, they cannot now apply rules that would be used for a pilot flying a full size manned aircraft to drone operators. For now, the ruling means that commercial operation of SUAS in the United States is, basically, legal. Within 24 hours of the ruling, the FAA appealed the case to entire board of the NTSB. SUAS experimenters who have been waiting in the wings are pleased with the ruling.
Astroblast and Overstepping Artifacts are music videos by the project Musicians with Guns, which take the viewer through detailed tours of some beauty. Relax and enjoy.
"The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people." - Scahill and Greenwald @ The Intercept [more inside]
What Jobs Will The Robots Take? Eight Ways Robots Stole Our Jobs In 2013. Who is next? Soldiers? Rescue teams? Managers? Astronauts? [more inside]
North Shore of Oahu+Drone+GoPro+Waves= a pretty neat surfing video by Eric Sterman.
Dexter Tortoriello makes various forms of sad music. The most prolific persona is Houses, which is a duo with his girlfriend Megan Messina, which Tortoriello thinks of in terms of "old Elephant 6 recordings," though it's been classified with the chillwave craze of the recent years, escapist songs are understated in mood and minimalist in structure. Then there's his solo project, Dawn Golden and Rosy Cross, named for the centuries-old secret occult sect Golden Dawn and the symbol of Rosicrucianism, built with intensely sculpted collection of skittering electronics and delicate acoustic textures, ... marked by heavy beats and synthesizer pads. You can hear tracks from both projects on Soundcloud (Houses; Dawn Golden) and YouTube (Houses official channel, and a playlist for A Quiet Darkness, the newest Houses album).
The Sound of Terror: Phenomenology of a Drone Strike
Opponents of drone strikes say they violate international law and have caused unacknowledged civilian deaths. Proponents insist they actually save the lives of both U.S. soldiers, who would otherwise be deployed in dangerous ground operations, and of civilians, because of the drone’s capacity to survey and strike more precisely than combat. If the alternative is a prolonged and messy ground operation, the advantage of drone strikes in terms of casualties is indisputable, and it is not my intention to dispute it here. But the terms of this debate give a one-sided view of both the larger financial and political costs of drones, as well as the less than lethal but nonetheless chronic and intense harm continuous strikes wage on communities.[more inside]
Raphael Pirker, a.k.a. Trappy, is a FPV pilot who came to be well known after the video from his New York flight went viral. While most of the media coverage of Trappy's NYC exploits was positive, the incident prompted a heated debate in the hobbyist community, and the authorities took a dim view of it. Shortly afterwards, Trappy was hired by a PR firm to do an aerial video shoot over the University of Virginia. The FAA, having banned commercial use of UAVs in 2007, took the unusual step of issuing a $10,000 fine for the unauthorized flight. Earlier this month Trappy's attorneys filed a response(pdf) to the FAA's action which questions whether the FAA holds jurisdiction over "model aircraft" in the first place. According to Wired Magazine, he court's decision could determine the future of model aviation and miniature UAVs in the US. Once again, the response from the hobbyist/entrepreneur community has been spirited. [more inside]
This article covers the US drone program. It looks at the pilots of drones, the decisions to use a drone, their highly effective short terms goals vs long term potential blowback and whether drone strikes are legal.
The Drone That Killed My Grandson — Dr. Nasser al-Awlaki, Fulbright scholar, founder of Ibb University and former president of Sana University, served as Yemen’s minister of agriculture and fisheries from 1988 to 1990. His 16-year-old grandson Abdulrahman (an American citizen born in Denver, Colorado) was killed by an American drone strike in Yemen on Oct. 14, 2011, two weeks after his father Anwar was killed by a previous drone strike.