Category Archives: Experiment

GIVING UP, GAINING, AND BEING REBORN (as a REAL HUMAN BEING) AGAIN

GIVING UP, GAINING, AND BEING REBORN (as a REAL HUMAN BEING) AGAIN

 

Over the past few years and up until recently (within the past few weeks) I have given up a number of things. As a result I have gained immensely in numerous other ways and, to be honest, I feel as if I have been reborn as a kid (teenager to my early twenties). Psychologically that is. And in my worldview and in my mental and behavioral outlook upon Life (and Death) and upon many other things as well – such as Work and Achievement and Enterprise and Industry.

Physically I am approaching 55 years old but the vast majority of the time I feel (in my body and how I can use it) like I’m about 30 years old.

Here are some of the things I have given up and what I have gained as a result:

Video games (gave them up years and years ago), haven’t missed them at all, they were a huge time-suck. Gain: Productive use of my time and an absolute revulsion for escapist entertainment. Feeling of being a kid again. To replace that kind of passive, escapist entertainment I took up real recreations again, including, but not limited to playing wargames and RPGs and board games with real people.

Cell Phone: as my family and friends will tell you I only use it for emergency and business communications. Or to take pics if I am vadding. I am untrackable otherwise and never turn it on. My wife and kids and even friends spent years trying to convince me to get one. But I’ve never liked the God-damned thing. (It is one of those pieces of modern technology that I can honestly hear God saying, “ah, that’s a real piece of infiltrating demonic shit son, and will only lessen your ability to truly Live, not enhance it. Burn the damned thing.” I can easily hear Christ saying that too, as an off-hand remark.) It has always revolted me. The idea of being traceable is also disgusting and unmanly to me. Nevertheless I keep it to please my wife and kids and for security reasons. Gain: Not using it or activating it means I always enjoy the Real World far more. I observe closely and easily all that goes on around mem as is my natural inclination. I haven’t had an auto-accident in over thirty years. Though I have avoided many. Time means nothing to me. I go where I wanna go and do what I wanna do. I talk constantly to strangers when travelling, often engage in and initiate conversations, or am engaged in or others initiate conversations with me. Nobody will bother talking to ya, nor do you bother meeting new people if you have a fucking phone stuck to your face all of the time or you’re so damned rude you think it more important than the actual people you’re in the company of. I don’t care for those shitheads and most others don’t either. Who would?

Eating: I gave up eating (doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my food, just don’t need much of it) any more than I really need to in order to sustain myself and to grow myself or repair damage during training. Gain: less weight, leaner, more muscle, better health, more energy, easy to fast.

Sugar: aside from chocolate (usually semi-sweet form) I take in none. Gain: Better energy, rarely tired (I can go to bed at midnight or one, arise at five or six AM and be good all day. Better health, hormone, and metabolic regulation. Rarely sick, injuries don’t bother me nearly as much as they used too. Rare pain unless I over-exert myself clearing land or training or boxing. Quicker recovery.

Soda: Gain: same as above for sugar. No advantages of any kind for sodas or processed sugar.

Bread: Gain: same as above. Occasionally I’ll eat flatbread or unleavened bread or antique breads.

Coffee: I drink this still, but very rarely now. Gain: better energy and metabolic self-regulation.

Junk Food: gave that shit up a long time ago. Gain: rarely sick, not fat, good diet and nutrition, take no meds of any kind (you’d be surprised how this shocks modern doctors and nurses and surgeons), good energy, train easily, little to no exhaustion, no desire to eat it. Taking in eating as a whole (diet, sugar, soda, bread, less consumption) my body is far better off, my mind is clear and alert, my concentration is superb, I dream and recall my dreams better, and my attitude is positive, optimistic, and happy.

Politics: gave this up about a six months or so ago. Aside from the necessary evils of my political duties (to thwart this world becoming a modern liberal, socialistic, Islamic, communistic, impoverished, tyrannical hellhole) I could give a shit less about politics and take no notice of it. Gain: nothing but positive, especially on my outlook and optimism. Also I got out of that modern, effeminate, unmanly, pussified habit of just talking about problems and politics ad infinitum (instead of acting on them) as if “consciousness raising” or “internet awareness” were some kind or form of valid problem solving. What a self-deluding, unmanly pussy pursuit. It is the political and social equivalent of modern Christians who say, “I’ll pray,” but never left their hands or can’t be bothered to actually do anything.  So I’m glad to be shed of that shit.

TV: gave up watching TV. Sent back DirectTV receiver and don’t watch local channels (haven’t done that for decades) and eliminated Netflix, etc. Gain: Don’t miss it. At all. Time I would have spent on that shit now goes to far more important things (like traveling, spending time with family, clearing land, my Work and Career, new start-ups, making submissions, networking, exploring, vadding, hanging out with friends, etc.) I also now spend a lot of time with my kids, cuddling and showing affection to my wife, more sex with her, etc. My self-education program flourishes. I stargaze more. My language acquisition programs have improved and advanced. Very much like being a kid again when I never watched TV. I was always far too busy doing things, learning things, having fun, and enjoying myself instead.

News: I gave up watching all TV news some time back. Gain: Happy, optimistic, not bothered by modern bullshit, not obsessed by disaster, doom, or politics (next to criminal and terrorist activity and entertainment and crack-whoring the lowest of all forms of human enterprise). Far less distraction.

Introversion: gave up any idea at all that I am a natural introvert. Yes, when it comes to Work I prefer to work alone, and always have, and likely to some degree always will. But with the kids now in college and having a free hand to maneuver my extroverted side has reasserted itself vigorously. So I have gone back to being what is my natural and true inclination, an Ambivert.  When working I am still basically an introvert, but when out in public or otherwise I am very much an extrovert, as my wife and kids can tell you. Gain: Immense.

Worrying About Money, or giving a shit about it: gave this up maybe two or three years ago. Something like that. Gain: better marriage, better family, increases in income, more time on Work and Career, easier money and time management, more saving and investments, more entrepreneurialism. Instead of giving a shit about money I now just say to myself: “what are my real momentary and monetary priorities, and knowing those I’ll get the money and constantly (over time) increase my income and Wealth.” If it is not really a priority then I don’t care one way or another. I am neither enslaved by lack of money, nor impressed by having it. And I feel more and more, even absolutely confident, that I will become incredibly wealthy over time. But I don’t give a shit for money other than what I can use it to do. (Build things, advance my career, take care of others, start businesses, invest, do charity and philanthropy, engage in science – do important things in the world.) Aside from what it allows me to do I am completely Stoic and entirely unconcerned about money. And I Sleep like a baby.

Professional Sports: I gave up watching professional sports decades ago, (almost three decades now) and college sports not long after that (reminds me far too much of pro sports).  To me they are merely vastly overpaid, spoiled, self-absorbed entertainers, and also they tend to be primarily urbanized Europeans in their mindsets (probably the result of nearly all pro-sport teams being located in big and degenerate cities, big city people never really understand just how naturally corrupting their urbanized environments and mindsets make them, but the corruption is deep even if rarely realized). I do not admire or respect most professional athletes and as far as their thin and anemic contributions to society I rank those right up there with other professional entertainers. Which means I don’t rank them very high at all. Not as a profession anyway, individuals vary, of course. I do not consider most to be manly in their natures at all. When a damned professional football game or team takes ten minutes to run a single play because of time outs and clock delays and men have to reset in huddle for an interminable time period lest they break a real sweat (or anything else) then to me that is the very height of pussydom and unmanliness, not sport. And there is nothing “professional” about that. That is the very opposite of professional when it comes to sport – which should be a test not only of skill, strength and of power, but of endurance, speed, toughness, reflexes, drive, determination, and exhaustion, and the effort to overcome weakness.  It isn’t any of those things anymore, it is an effeminate attempt to appear impressive yet preserve and coddle and overcompensate “assets” for purposes of entertainment. Also I won’t even bother to mention the effeminate nature of the politics that now also infect all professional and collegiate sports top to bottom. But I will say this, the modern politics of professional sports is the result of the decades long slide into effeminacy, over-concern with money and profit, and the obsession with appearance, not performance – or in other words, the effeminacy and unprofessionalism is not the result of the politics. That’s just a late stage symptom (and hopefully a terminal one). First came the decline in the full range of athleticism, then came the resulting political corruption, not the other way around. So instead I indulge myself in personal and amateur athletics – climbing, hiking in pack, weight-lifting, running (a little, not so much after I broke my wrist), boxing, exploring, outdoor activities, clearing land, using my axes and hatchets, etc. I will however watch little league baseball, or kids play soccer, rugby, football, baseball, etc. Because they are enjoying it just as sport, and as fun, and because they aren’t clogged and cluttered with endless rules and endorsements. Gain: great advantages to my own health, no time, money, or effort wasted on these meaningless distractions, and far better uses of my recreational activities.

Social Media and most of the Internet: aside from business purposes or aside from the fact of someone mentioning me on social media (don’t wanna be rude) or something truly important happening I don’t comment on it, respond to it, give a shit about it or use it. Social media might take two minutes out of my day, usually just to scan and make sure distant family and friends are okay. Many days, sometimes weeks go by, and I don’t bother to look at it. Also I am now far more naturally skeptical or anything and everything I see on the internet nowadays and many things tend to amuse rather than bother me. Gain: how do I list them, or how many can I possibly name? All that pointless, wasted time is now free for me to do as I wish, want, desire, or need. To spend on far more important things. And most everything in life is far, far more important. (Looking back upon it objectively now one of the worst sins of the baby-boomers was laying the groundwork for whole generations growing up on this bullshit and thinking it normal. Pathetic. Even bathetic. I hope one day when you kids grow past this pointless shit, and give it up too, you will forgive us… we really did a number on you. Not to mention ourselves.)

Other Things I have Gained as a Complimentary Result of my Revolt against all this Modern Bullshit: I spend more time with God, more time improving myself, I have more time to practice Christian Theurgy, more time for charity and philanthropic work, I spend more time praying and in meditation, more time at philosophy, and languages, more time writing (poetry, novels, articles, short stories, songs), more time learning music and playing guitar and piano, have more time for physical training, more time for inventing, I have gone back to the practice of Raja Yoga, more time playing wargames and gaming with people (RPGs etc.), more time with family, more time travelling, more time making new friends (in person, not on internet), more time outdoors and in nature, more time to pursue my more obscure interests and experiments, and I could probably go on and on in this vein.

In short, I haven’t lost a thing. Instead by giving up all of that otherwise unimportant, petty, modern shit and by fully enjoying the naturally resulting Gains thereof I am living like my ancestors, ancient ancestors, and a like Real Human Being again.
About bloody time…

THE PHILOSOPHICAL SPHERE AND THE COHERENCE OF THE UNIVERSE

THE PHILOSOPHICAL SPHERE AND THE COHERENCE OF THE UNIVERSE

 

I have been rather intensely studying the book Advanced Wizardry by Loricus ben Abechai since I first got it about a year or so ago. The book deals with actual “magic” and “wizardry” though, like me, he has a radically different idea of what both are compared to popular notions of the same. (He is, for instance, I strongly suspect, a Christian Khabbalist as he speaks often and loftily of “The Logos” and many other such mystical Christian terms, and Jewish terms, and relates them all to magic.)

Anyway in the sections I am now reading he has been speaking about the creation of the Wizard’s personal “Philosophical Sphere.” A notion I have never before encountered in any book of magic (certainly not as he means it) even a Medieval or ancient or neo-Platonic one. Though the idea is certainly based upon Jacob Bohme’s idea of the Philosophical Sphere. Now a blog is hardly the place to discuss such ideas or terms because they are quite complex and well beyond what is usually discussed here. And I had to read and re-read what he was saying over and again before it really sank in, the full implications, that is to say. For the man’s original language seems to be Spanish and even though the book is in English the translations are sometimes spotty at best.

But essentially I’ll summarize the idea as best I can:

The Philosophical Sphere is what results when the Wizard transforms or transmutes the Tree of Life into a Sphere whose circumference of immediate effect and power (dunamis) obviously extends about ten feet in diameter in all directions from the Wizard but whose real diameter is infinite and which encompasses everything and so it’s circumference is also eternal. In other words, and this is not exaggeration, the Wizard attempts to create a pocket universe in the form of a Sphere over which he exercises control similar to the way God exercises control over all of existence. This Sphere is not, however, anti-scientific at all, as ben Abechai stresses, because the Sphere cannot create matter or energy out of nothing. Rather it accelerates and interconnects the rate at which things move from Ideal Form or Thought-Form to actual matter and physical substance. What is Real and what Occurs is not altered in the sense of “creation” (only God can truly create) but rather the rate at which things “materialize” into useful (read Practical) and acceptable (read Good, or Beneficial, as opposed to bad or malignant) forms is altered and greatly sped up (or malignant processes can be slowed or possibly even stopped).

In others words things do not moves from Idea or Concept or Conception through the normal and complicated process of materialization to finally appear as either perceptible energy or useful matter, but rather move straight from Concept or Idea or “Logos” to “thing” (object, material). It is the process and speed that is altered by the Philosophical Sphere.

This is indeed a highly brilliant magical concept as it mimics, on the part of the Wizard, the method by which God creates, except of course that God can create literally from nothing whereas the Wizard cannot, but what the Wizard can do is alter the rate from Spiritual Concept to Physical Reality. As the very term implies there is a corresponding necessary set of actions and training required to study and employ the ways in which God behaves (to the Christian this would be “Imitating Christ”) for Philosophy itself means “Love of Wisdom.”

At first though I did not fully grasp what he was saying until he used the term “coherent” for how the Sphere works in conjunction with God, the Wizard, and the surrounding or “outer universe.” Then I realized that he literally meant “Co-Herent,” not as the term is typically used to mean integrity and orderly (though those meanings are also necessarily implied) but both “Inherent and Exherent – or explicit” and that the Sphere exists both within the Universe and within God and the Wizard simultaneously causing all three (points or positions) to fuse together as an inseparable element or Loci. (It just occured to me that the sphere is also a Loci for the Logos!)

Therefore the Sphere is “Coherent” just as it is “Coeval” in the way it can manipulate matter and energy and ben Abechai goes on even further to say that the sphere is in fact, in this sense, the only True or Real Universe (to the Wizard) even though it is a “pocket universe.”

(I am using a sci-fi term because modern men can easily get this idea whereas a “Coherent World or Universe separate from but essential to and within the outer world and in which God and the Wizard operate in tandem” is a term that would be more Medieval and Ancient in concept, and more accurate, as much as words can actually describe such concepts, but would not be easily understand by many modern men. Though I do not think ben Abechai means pocket universe as modern men understand the term, but as a truly independent universe or world within the mind and soul of the Wizard that is capable or transmuting and transforming, or rewriting the world in which all other things exist. The best parallel I can think of is The Kingdom of God idea expressed by Christ and I suspect ben Abechai may mean this precisely. Or something very closely parallel. An invisible but nonetheless very real “pocket universe” seeking to impinge it’s self upon the world around us. Though in actuality, as ben Abechai says, this would in fact be the “True Universe” seeking to supplant or replace the unreal or untrue one.)

The real trick is, of course, the Creation of a properly functioning and constructed Philosophical Sphere, no mean trick as it is literally a curved in upon itself or Spherically transformed Tree of Life.

But if it could be done then it could be an incredible, and incredibly useful feat. Ben Abechai calls this (the Sphere) the “Chief or Primary Tool or Instrument of the Wizard” upon which all the failure or success of his other operations and works as a Wizard entirely depend. So, once all of the necessary preparations and studies are made on my part I shall attempt the creation of my own Philosophical Sphere. (Though i very much suspect that I have been doing this for most of my life now, just maybe mostly sub-consciously in many ways, rather than fully consciously.)

As an example of what I mean another odd or coincidental thing (if you believe in coincidence) in my studies of this book is the fact that my personal motto is “Deus Ordere, et facere ego verite.” Meaning, God Orders and I make Real. (Well, that is the easiest and most common translation I use anyway).

I have had this motto for most of my life, though i only put it in this final form about two decades ago.

In any case I was looking through the suggested method ben Abechai recommends for the creation of my own Philosophical Sphere and ran across this declaration/statement, “In Nomine Tuo Ordo Deum Factum Lumine Est.”

Interesting, eh?

Well, I have other Work to do. I highly recommend ben Abechai’s book, Advanced Wizardry. It was expensive, and it had to be individually printed, but it is without doubt the very best single book on “magic” I have read to date.

Have a good day folks.

ANIMATED MOCK-UP

TRAPPISM

 

FURCKAED UP – THE ROMAN WAY

FURCKAED UP

I am seriously considering inventing an improved and a modern version of this gear system for my adaptation of the Roman Way. Also I very much like the fact that if you have to go into combat you can immediately shed the weight as compared to a ruck or backpack. I will still use the weight vest to simulate armor but adapt this system for carrying additional weight and gear.

 

 

CULTURE SHOCK

My wife, who is black, has started rolling her hair into tight little “twists.” Now for a long time she has kept her hair in a very short “natural” afro.

(I’m not a big fan of short hair on a  woman myself,  but I understand that long hair was a lotta trouble for her to maintain, plus she had to put these chemicals in her hair, which neither of us liked, so I suggested she just get it all cut off and keep it short. When she goes out in public, and wants long hair, she just wears a wig.)

Anywho she came walking out of the bathroom the other day and I looked at these “twists” and said to her, “What in God’s name are you doing to your hair?”

So she says to me, “Ha! Culture shocked ya didn’t I! It’s well known that a black woman’s hair grows a lot faster when you twist it up like this.”

(Apparently she wants to start growing her hair long again.)

So I said, “Really, my dear? Is that so? Have you actually tested this idea logically and empirically. Because I’m willing to bet that the rate of growth generated by your hair follicles might not be affected or effected at all just by twisting your hair. Unless you have actual evidence to substantiate your claim it’s probably just an old wive’s tale and you’re probably just making yourself uncomfortable for no real gain.”

To which she replied,  “Oh, shut up…”

(Now, why do people always tell me to “shut up” when I ask them if they have empirically tested their theories?)

Well yesterday I cut the grass and hauled some wood, for probably the last time this calendar year (because of the change in seasons), and when I got in from that I took a shower. When I came out of the bathroom instead of combing my hair I just ran a towel through it and headed to the bed.

As I was walking towards the bed my wife began laughing and so I said, “What are you laughing at?”

So she said,  “Your hair is sticking straight up off your head. You look so goofy and silly!”

“Oh yeah? ” I said. Then I ran my hand through my hair to make it stick up even more, walked to her side of the bed and almost touched the end of her nose.

A small arc of static blue electricity jumped to her nose and shocked her and she hit me in the gut and said, “Ow! What was that for?”

(She’s a wimp when it comes to pain.)

I laughed, got in bed, snuggled up to her and replied, “That, my dear, was an actual and completely verifiable case of Culture Shock.”

Lol!

WORKING WITHOUT A NET

OPEN CARRY

I’m of two different positions on the open carry situation at the GOP convention. I’ve been on both sides of this and I’ve worked both side of this.

On the one hand this could be a superb experiment and provide some measure of proof regarding how well and how responsibly law abiding citizens conduct themselves with firearms, even in large numbers and in public venues.

Of course I’m already aware of that fact but many are not and many others would never admit it regardless of the actual facts.

On the other hand I’m not really worried about law abiding or well trained/well practiced citizens. I know actual human and criminal behavior and criminals and those who wish to do murder will not abide by the law nor care how they handle their firearms, legally obtained or not. They won’t be out to prove they are responsible,  or to practice self or societal defense, they’ll be out to do murder. Which is an entirely different objective with a wholly different set of methodologies.

And the cops simply won’t have enough personnel to check everyone who is packing at such an event or in town, and at the moment even they are open targets of criminals and terrorists.

Then again if the police or anyone else is attacked and armed citizens respond they could very well neutralize (or even just the threat of armed citizens could neutralize) any wanna be/would be murderer or potential mass murderer.

But, just to be honest, mass murderers and terrorists aren’t really afraid, per se, of death, they are only really afraid of being killed before they do a sufficient amount of murder to satisfy their own agenda. So that’s a kind of tricky tightrope – can you dissuade terrorists and mass murderers with the threat of failure since you can’t dissuade them properly with the threat of being killed in their attempts to do mass murder?

And on the other side of that even if citizens do kill the threat then police will find that very hard to sort out well, especially in the heat of the moment and in the chaos of the crowd. They will have to proceed cautiously enough to properly observe and understand the actual situation, should one develop, and that slowing of reaction times may put them and others in jeopardy.

Yes, this will be either a wonderful experiment regarding citizen proactivity and self-protection, or a security and policing nightmare, or, most likely and to some degree, both.

I guess I (like everyone else) will just have to  see how this all develops over time.

I wish and and hope and pray for the best.

I suspect and expect the worst…

AS I SUSPECTED…

Yeah, I had him pegged early on as either ex-military or former SWAT. So I was right on that part too. Guy knew exactly what he was doing. The attack was too well executed and planned and staged and possibly even coordinated. His defensive positioning and site preparation must have been impressive to employ the robot with an explosive. It probably wasn’t just to kill him but to trigger potential IEDS, prepared bombs, booby traps, and excess ammo as well.  Plus until the actually got into his nest they could not have known/verified he was actually alone.
Then the robot could also do a post explosion assessment/sweep for traps and additional suspects prior to human penetration.
Yeah, that makes a lot more sense now. The robot and the explosives. Bad all the way around, but I get the logic. Especially if they had prior Intel from the negotiations or profile/personnel/background research.

We’ll have to see about any other suspects.

There is one other possibility too, which might sound crazy but I’ve seen crazier.

 

Dallas shooting kills five police officers; suspected attacker was Army veteran

 

See link for maps and videos

By Tim Madigan, William Wan and Mark Berman July 8 at 2:53 PM
Here’s what we know so far about the Dallas shooting Play Video1:57
DALLAS — Five Dallas police officers were killed and seven others wounded Thursday night when sniper fire turned a peaceful protest over recent police shootings into a scene of chaos and terror.

The gunfire was followed by a standoff that lasted for hours with a suspect who told authorities “he was upset about the recent police shootings” and “said he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,” according to Dallas Police Chief David Brown. The gunman was killed when police detonated a bomb-equipped robot.

After the bloodshed — the deadliest single day for law enforcement officers since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks — authorities said one attacker was dead, three potential suspects were in custody and police were still investigating who may have been involved in the attack.

Dallas shooting updates
News and analysis on the deadliest day for police since 9/11.
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“We are heartbroken,” Brown said during a news conference Friday. “There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city.”

The eruption of violence at around 9 p.m. occurred during a calm protest over recent police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana, with similar demonstrations occurring in cities across the country. As a barrage of gunfire ripped through the air, demonstrators and police officers alike scrambled. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told CBS News that in addition to the police officers, two other people were wounded by gunfire, though their conditions were not immediately known.

[What we know about the attack on police in Dallas]

‘Somebody’s armed to the teeth’: Social videos show shooting in Dallas Play Video2:37
Police have not officially released the identity of the attacker who said he was upset by police shootings, but a senior U.S. law enforcement official familiar with the probe identified him as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, who is believed to be from the Dallas area. Johnson did not appear to have any ties to international terrorism, the official said.

Johnson deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army from November 2013 through July 2014 and was in the Army Reserve from 2009 until last year. Army records show that Johnson, whose home was listed as Mesquite, Tex., had served with an engineering brigade before he was sent to Afghanistan. He did not have a combat job and was listed as a carpentry and masonry specialist.

There are no immediate indications that the attack was related to terrorism, international or domestic, according to a second federal law enforcement official, who asked not to be identified discussing an ongoing probe.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said Friday that federal officials including the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were working with local law enforcement to help investigate the attack.

“This has been a week of profound grief and heartbreak and loss,” Lynch said. Noting that the attack in Dallas happened during a protest sparked by police shootings, she added: “After the events of this week, Americans across our country are feeling a sense of helplessness, uncertainty and fear … but the answer must not be violence.”

[Man falsely connected to the shooting by Dallas police is now getting ‘thousands’ of death threats]

The slain police included four Dallas police officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officer. While police said they were killed by “snipers” perched atop “elevated positions” and initially said there were two snipers, it was unclear Friday how many attackers were involved.

For hours after the assault, police were locked in a standoff with Johnson after he was cornered on the second floor of a building downtown. Police exchanged gunfire with him and negotiated with him, but those discussions broke down, Brown said.

In those conversations, Brown said the suspect told police that “he was upset about Black Lives Matter” and angered by the police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota that dominated national news this week after officers in both places fatally shot black men. He also said he was not involved with any groups and acted alone, the police chief said.

Authorities currently believe that he was the lone shooter, although have not completely ruled out the involvement of others, said Philip Kingston, a Dallas City Councilman who represents the downtown district. “The shooter’s own statement apparently was that he had acted alone,” Kingston said around midday on Friday.

During the standoff, Johnson also told authorities that “the end is coming” and spoke about bombs being placed downtown, though no explosives had been found by Friday.

[Dallas police Chief David Brown lost his son, former partner and brother to violence]

Ultimately, Brown said police had no other option but to place an explosive device on their bomb robot and send it to the suspect, who was killed when the bomb detonated.

During remarks at a prayer vigil on Friday afternoon, Brown said that “this was a well-planned, well-thought-out evil tragedy by these suspects,” adding: “And we won’t rest until we bring everyone involved to justice.”

Names of the slain officers began to emerge Friday, beginning with Brent Thompson, a 43-year-old transit police officer and Patrick Zamarripa, a 32-year-old police officer who served three tours in Iraq with the U.S. military.

The Dallas transit agency identified three of its officers who were injured but are expected to survive.

“As you can imagine, our hearts are broken,” the agency said in a statement. “We are grateful to report the three other DART police officers shot during the protest are expected to recover from their injuries.”

These three officers were named as Omar Cannon, 44; Misty McBride, 32; and Jesus Retana, 39. Tela Strickland, McBride’s 14-year-old cousin, reacted with “shock” to news that her relative was shot in the stomach and shoulder.

“I am so tired of seeing shootings in the news,” she told The Post. “When you see your own family in the news, it’s heartbreaking.”

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DART grieving the loss of Ofc Brent Thompson, 43, killed during Thurs protest. First DART officer killed in line of duty. Joined DART 2009.
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Even as people were still trying to hide or shelter in place after the gunfire, videos began to circulate on social media showing some of the bloodshed.

One video showed a person with an assault-style rifle shoot a police officer in the back at point-blank range. In the footage, a gunman is seen running up behind an officer moving behind a pillar and firing at his back. The officer is seen falling to the ground. It is unclear if the officer survived.

Eyewitness video: Dallas gunman shoots police officer Play Video1:47
Brown had said during one briefing that he was not sure if there were more suspects at large. On Friday, Brown said he would not go into any detail on other suspects until authorities get further into their investigation.

“We’re not expanding on who and how many,” he said. “We’re going to keep these suspects guessing.”

[Killings and racial tensions commingle with divided and divisive politics]

At one point, Brown had said he believed four suspects were “working together with rifles triangulated at elevated positions at different points in the downtown area” where the march was taking place.

“Suspects like this just have to be right once … to snipe at officers from elevated position and ambush them from secret positions,” Brown said Friday. He added that despite the danger, officers “with no chance to protect themselves … put themselves in harm’s way to make sure citizens can get to a safe place.”

Two possible suspects were seen climbing into a black Mercedes with a camouflage bag before speeding off, police said. They were apprehended in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas. A third possible suspect, a woman, was taken into custody near a garage where the attacker who exchanged gunfire with police wound up.

Brown said it was unclear if any of the suspects were somehow connected to the protest. He added that detectives were investigating that possibility.

“All I know is this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens,” he said.

[Police nationwide order officers to ride in pairs after Dallas police ambush]

On Friday, Rawlings, the mayor, said that he believed the country had to honestly confront racial discrimination.

“We will not shy away from the very real fact that we as city, as a state, as a nation are struggling with racial issues,” he said during a prayer vigil.

After the shooting in Dallas, police officers and agencies across the country offered their condolences and took steps to protect their officers.

Police chiefs in Washington, Los Angeles County, Boston, Nassau County and St. Louis also had instructed their patrol officers to pair up, as did officials in Las Vegas, where two officers were gunned down in an ambush while eating lunch in 2014, and New York, where two officers were killed in another ambush that same year.

Terry Cunningham, the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the chief of police in Wellesley, Mass., said Friday, that officers nationwide “really are going to have to have vigilance. Any traffic stop, at any time, can be deadly. I don’t know what this means. I don’t know if this means more violence perpetrated toward law enforcement as a result of this.”

Officials in Tennessee said Friday that they believed a man who opened fire on a parkway there before exchanging gunshots with police may have been prompted by concerns over encounters involving police and black Americans.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said that Lakeem Keon Scott, 37, the suspected shooter in that case, had killed one woman driving in her car, wounded two other people and shot a Bristol, Tenn., police officer in the leg before officers shot and wounded him.

“Preliminarily, the investigation reveals Scott may have targeted individuals and officers after being troubled by recent incidents involving African-Americans and law enforcement officers in other parts of the country,” the agency said in a statement. They added that there was no current safety threat to the area and that the investigation suggested that Scott had worked alone.

[Minn. governor says race played role in fatal police shooting during traffic stop]

The mass shooting in Dallas comes amid intense scrutiny of police officers and how they use deadly force, an issue that returned to prominence in the news this week after videos circulated of a fatal shooting in Baton Rouge, La., and the aftermath of another in Minnesota. On Tuesday morning, Alton Sterling was fatally shot by police in Baton Rouge; less than 48 hours later, Philando Castile was fatally shot by an officer in Minnesota.

President Obama, who after arriving in Warsaw discussed how troubling the events in Minnesota and Louisiana were, spoke about the Dallas attack and said there was “no possible justification” for the shooting in the city.

“I believe that I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events,” Obama said.

He called on Americans to “profess our profound gratitude to the men and women in blue” and to remember the victims in particular.

“Today, our focus is on the victims and their families,” Obama said. “They are heartbroken, and the entire city of Dallas is grieving. Police across America, which is a tight-knit family, feels this loss to their core.”

Officials across the country expressed their grief for those killed in Dallas.

“I mourn for the officers shot while doing their sacred duty to protect peaceful protesters, for their families [and] all who serve with them,” Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, wrote in a message on Twitter. Her likely Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, called the shooting “a coordinated, premeditated assault on the men and women who keep us safe.”

Amidst protests, police heroics

Stories of heroism emerged along with tales of horror. Several people said officers helped save them, including one man who said an officer pushed him out of the way as shooting began. Bystanders captured footage of cops dragging fallen comrades out of the line of fire. Cameras also captured police officers choking back tears for their fallen colleagues. One officer appeared to brace himself against his SUV as grief overcame him.

“So many stories of great courage,” Brown said.

Dallas Police respond after shots were fired at a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Dallas protestors rallied in the aftermath of the killing of Alton Sterling by police officers in Baton Rouge, La. and Philando Castile, who was killed by police less than 48 hours later in Minnesota. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)
Rawlings said it was “a heartbreaking morning” and called for unity.

“We as a city, we as a country, must come together and lock arms and heal the wounds we all feel,” he said.

As in other cities across the country, protesters gathered in downtown Dallas just before 7 p.m. for a march from Belo Garden Park to the Old Red Courthouse.

For nearly two hours, hundreds of demonstrators had marched through Dallas, at one point passing near a memorial plaza marking the site of President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination in the city.

[Dallas witness: ‘Everybody seemed happy. And then, all of a sudden — the shots rang out.’]

Stanley Brown, 19, was near El Centro, a community college in downtown, when the shooting began.

“You could hear the bullets whizzing by our car and hitting the buildings. A bullet missed our car by six feet,” he said. “We pulled into a garage and got out of our car, and the bullets started hitting the walls of the garage.”

Brown ran around the corner of a building to take cover, only to see a gunman running up the street.

“He was ducking and dodging, and when police approached, he ducked into El Centro,” he said.

He saw a SWAT team rush the college building, enabling five people to escape.

“An officer looked back at us and yelled that it was a terrorist attack,” he said.

Lynn Mays said he was standing on Lamar Street when the shooting began.

“All of a sudden we started hearing gunshots out of nowhere,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “At first we couldn’t identify it because we weren’t expecting it, then we started hearing more, rapid fire. One police officer who was standing there pushed me out the way because it was coming our direction…. Next thing you know we heard ‘officer down.’”

Undercover and uniformed police officers started running around the corner and “froze,” Mays said. “Police officers started shooting in one direction, and whoever was shooting started shooting back.

“And that’s where the war began.”

Wan and Berman reported from Washington. Greg Jaffe in Warsaw and Michael E. Miller, Travis M. Andrews, Adam Goldman, Katie Mettler, Ben Guarino, Mary Hui, Tom Jackman, Peter Hermann and Thomas Gibbons-Neff in Washington contributed to this report.

Dallas
Read more:

Two years after Ferguson, fatal shootings by police are up

The Post’s database of fatal police shootings

The Dallas sniper attack was the deadliest event for police since 9/11

MIGHT I MAKE A SUGGESTION?

MIGHT I MAKE A SUGGESTION?

First thing I noticed this morning upon waking… asked the wife if she understood what this meant? Not sure she did. Not sure many do. Or will. Not at first anyway.

The irony is that I’ve been following events surrounding the Dallas PD for a few weeks now including the supposed mass resignations. A couple of articles said over money, but a few hinted at other things, like failure to issue equipment because of an emphasis on community policing. (Which I’m not against, it’s just some beats are far more dangerous than others and trying to patrol all beats in the same way is ridiculous.)

Now assuming the reports I’ve read are true and some of the resignations are because of an insistence up top that all beats be equipped and patrolled as if they are all waterfront garden districts and certain equipment and tactics were discouraged, then you use a robot to explode a perp (which again I’m not against as a last ditch resort to save lives), then the precedent here could at least conceivably lead down some very dark corridors.

You discourage vest and body armor and possibly trigger mass resignations but then employ robots not to just shoot and overwhelm a suspect but to explode them?

If you can’t see the irony…

But I’d like to make a suggestion in this arena iffin I may. If you’re gonna go down this road then at least properly prepare. Develop police combat robots which can gas, stun, immobilize, track, overwhelm, immobilize, incapacitate, and apprehend suspects rather than just merely shoot and blow them up. Sure, I’m not a great fan of robots replacing people in such situations but at least be ready with real Policing Bots and not just shoot and kill bots.

Because in cases where ya got a guy dead to rights, and he’s already shooting or blowing up the joint, that’s one thing. But in cases involving other suspects who you don’t really know their real disposition just blowing em up will lead to very bad things.

Or worse lead to a third world, Robocop, mere liberal Utopian big-government, big-brother democracy of the best equipped rather than to a thriving Republic of Free Men.

Assuming we have a Republic anymore, which ain’t likely…

 

POLICE USED BOMB DISPOSAL ROBOT TO KILL A DALLAS SHOOTING SUSPECT
POTENTIALLY THE FIRST USE OF A ROBOT TO KILL IN AMERICAN POLICING

By Dave Gershgorn Posted 3 hours ago

Bomb Squad Robot Drives Up Ramp
J.p. Lawrence, via DVIDS
Bomb Squad Robot Drives Up Ramp

A bomb disposal robot drives up a ramp piloted  by New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Adam Russ of the New York Army National Guard's 501st Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Battalion, during training at the New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany New York, May 18.  New York Army National Guardsmen trained for a week alongside domestic and international EOD military and law enforcement personnel during an exercise called Raven's Challenge , May 16-20, sponsored by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Sgt. J.p. Lawrence/Released).
A bomb disposal robot drives up a ramp piloted by New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Adam Russ of the New York Army National Guard’s 501st Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Battalion, during training at the New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany New York, May 18. New York Army National Guardsmen trained for a week alongside domestic and international EOD military and law enforcement personnel during an exercise called Raven’s Challenge , May 16-20, sponsored by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Sgt. J.p. Lawrence/Released).

From New York National Guard: “A bomb disposal robot drives up a ramp piloted by New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Adam Russ of the New York Army National Guard’s 501st Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Battalion, during training at the New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany New York, May 18”
In the wake of post-protest shootings that left five police officers dead and seven others wounded, along with two civilians, police traded gunfire last night with a suspect inside a downtown Dallas parking garage. Eventually, law enforcement sent a “bomb robot” (most likely shorthand for a remotely controlled bomb disposal robot) armed with an explosive, to the suspect’s location, then detonated the explosive, killing the suspect.

“We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was…other options would have exposed our officers to great danger,” said Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown. “The suspect is deceased as a result of detonating the bomb.”

Repurposing a robot that was created to prevent death by explosion clearly contrasts with the way these machines are normally used. Bomb disposal robots are routinely used to minimize the potential of harm to officers and civilians when disarming or clearing potential explosives from an area. They are often equipped with their own explosive charges and other tools, not to kill, but detonate other potential bombs in the area.

Dallas police used a bomb disposal robot in another major news story last year, when the Dallas Police headquarters were attacked by a gunman who planted explosives. That assailant was shot by police, not killed by the bomb robot.

Records show that the Dallas County Sheriff Department and neighboring Duncanville Police Department each own a MARCbot, another commonly-used bomb disposal robot.

However, in previous images seen of the Dallas Police department using bomb disposal robots, they appear to actually use a Northrop Grumman Remotec Andros F6A or F6B, a standard model for police and military use. It’s highly customizable, and can look very different depending on which configuration of arm and sensors are configured. The closest known Andros resides in Comal County, Texas, 250 miles away.

The police’s use of this machine to kill raises questions about how robots will be used in the future. This may be the first example of a robot being used by American police to kill a suspect, notes University of California Davis law professor Elizabeth Joh:

Popular Science contributing editor Peter W. Singer tweets that similar tactics have been used before, although in a military situation, when a surveillance robot was used to kill an insurgent with a Claymore explosive.

It’s unclear how police controlled the robot, but wireless protocols can be easily intercepted or altered by skilled hackers. Security researcher Matt Blaze points out that the security of a machine like this becomes more important once it’s shown the capacity to be used as a weapon.

In other images found of Dallas a bomb disposal robot in action, the robot appears to be controlled wirelessly. The Andros robot can be operated wirelessly or with a wired tether, according to the Northrop Grumman website, but it’s unclear which mode Dallas Police used in this incident.
Updated: This post has been updated to reflect new information concerning the potential bomb disposal robot used.

iSIGHT – INTELLIGENT AIMS

Intelligence Start-Up Goes Behind Enemy Lines to Get Ahead of Hackers

By NICOLE PERLROTHSEPT. 13, 2015

One of scores of intelligence analysts working at his computer at the headquarters of the security firm iSight in Chantilly, Va. Credit Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

CHANTILLY, Va. — On a recent Wednesday morning, 100 intelligence analysts crammed into a nondescript conference room here and dialed into a group call with 100 counterparts in Argentina, Brazil, Cyprus, India, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Taiwan and Ukraine.

As they worked their way around the room, the analysts briefed one another on the latest developments in the “dark web.”

A security firm in Pakistan was doing a little moonlighting, selling its espionage tools for as little as $500. Several American utility companies were under attack. A group of criminals were up to old tricks, infecting victims with a new form of “ransomware,” which encrypts PCs until victims pay a ransom.

The analysts, employees of iSight Partners, a company that provides intelligence about threats to computer security in much the same way military scouts provide intelligence about enemy troops, were careful not to name names or clients, in case someone, somewhere, was listening on the open line.
John Watters, iSight’s chief, evokes military jargon to talk about his company’s focus. Credit Brandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times

For the last eight years, iSight has been quietly assembling what may be the largest private team of experts in a nascent business called threat intelligence. Of the company’s 311 employees, 243 are so-called cyberintelligence professionals, a statistic that executives there say would rank iSight, if it were a government-run cyberintelligence agency, among the 10 largest in the world, though that statistic is impossible to verify given the secretive nature of these operations.

ISight analysts spend their days digging around the underground web, piecing together hackers’ intentions, targets and techniques to provide their clients with information like warnings of imminent attacks and the latest tools and techniques being used to break into computer networks.

The company’s focus is what John P. Watters, iSight’s chief executive, calls “left of boom,” which is military jargon for the moment before an explosive device detonates. Mr. Watters, a tall, 51-year-old Texan whose standard uniform consists of Hawaiian shirts and custom cowboy boots, frequently invokes war analogies when talking about online threats.

“When we went into Iraq, the biggest loss of life wasn’t from snipers,” he said. It was from concealed explosive devices. “We didn’t get ahead of the threat until we started asking ourselves, ‘Who’s making the bombs? How are they getting their materials? How are they detonating them? And how do we get into that cycle before the bombs are ever placed there?’”

“Our business,” Mr. Watters continued, “is tracking the arms merchants and bomb makers so we can be left of boom and avoid the impact altogether.”

ISight’s investors, who have put $60 million into the company so far, believe that its services fill a critical gap in the battle to get ahead of threats. Most security companies, like FireEye, Symantec, Palo Alto Networks and Intel’s security unit, focus on blocking or detecting intrusions as they occur or responding to attacks after the fact.

ISight goes straight to the enemy. Its analysts — many of them fluent in Russian, Mandarin, Portuguese or 21 other languages — infiltrate the underground, where they watch criminals putting their schemes together and selling their tools.

The analysts’ reports help clients — including 280 government agencies, as well as banks and credit-card, health care, retail and oil and gas companies — prioritize the most imminent and possibly destructive threats.

Security experts say the need for such intelligence has never been greater. For the last three years, businesses have been investing in “big data” analytic tools that sound alarms anytime someone does something unusual, like gain access to a server in China, set up a private connection or siphon unusually large amounts of data from a corporate network.

The result is near constant and confusing noise. “Except for the most mature organizations, most businesses are drowning in alerts,” said Jason Clark, the chief security officer at Optiv, a security firm.

The average organization receives 16,937 alerts a week. Only 19 percent of them are deemed “reliable,” and only 4 percent are investigated, according to a study released in January by the Ponemon Institute, which tracks data breaches. By the time criminals make enough noise to merit a full investigation, it can take financial services companies more than three months, on average, to discover them, and retailers more than six months.

“Just generating more alerts is wasting billions of dollars of venture capital,” said David Cowan, an iSight investor and a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. The last thing an executive in charge of network security needs is more alerts, he said: “They don’t have time. They need human, actionable threat intelligence.”

Mr. Cowan and others point to what happened to Target in 2013, when the retailer ignored an alert that ultimately could have stopped criminals from stealing 40 million customers’ payment details from its network.

A year earlier, iSight warned its clients that criminals were compiling and selling malware that was specifically designed to scrape payment data off cash registers. Had Target received that warning, the blip on its network might not have gone unnoticed.

“Target faced the same problem every retailer does every day,” Mr. Watters said. “They are awash in a sea of critical alerts every day. Without threat intelligence, they had roulette odds of picking the right one.”

Gartner, the research firm, estimates that the market for threat intelligence like iSight’s could grow to $1 billion in two years from $255 million in 2013. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 60 percent of businesses will incorporate threat intelligence into their defensive security strategy.

ISight, which plans to file for an initial public offering of stock next year, hopes to capitalize, as do the dozens of other cyberthreat intelligence outfits now flooding the market, each with a slightly different approach.

That proliferation of start-ups has led to a new complaint from computer security chiefs: overlapping information — sometimes as much as 40 percent — in the reports they receive, none of which is cheap. ISight charges customers based on size, and while it does not disclose pricing, some customers say they pay $500,000 or more annually for the company’s services, as much as five times what low-end services charge.

ISight makes 90 percent of its revenue from subscriptions to its six intelligence streams, each focused on a particular threat, including cyberespionage and cybercrime.

The company’s most recent competition comes from its oldest clients, particularly banks, which have been hiring former intelligence analysts to start internal operations. One former client, which declined to be named because of concerns that doing so could violate a nondisclosure agreement, said it had been able to build its own intelligence program at half the cost of its canceled iSight subscriptions.

But most businesses do not have the same resources as, say, a company like Bank of America, whose chief executive recently said there was no cap on the bank’s cybersecurity budget.

Many of those businesses remain paralyzed by the drumbeat of alarms that expensive security technologies are sounding on their networks.

At iSight’s threat center, the company’s approach is perhaps best summed up by a logo emblazoned on a T-shirt worn by one of its top analysts: “Someone should do something.”

THE CODE WITHIN – BODY OF EVDIENCE

I’ve long suspected something like this… and I don’t see at all how it could be a surprise, after all it is readily available raw material, just not always actualized or properly arranged material.

It is a lot easier than seeking out and incorporating alien or foreign genetic material.

 

A Surprise Source of Life’s Code

Emerging data suggests the seemingly impossible — that mysterious new genes arise from “junk” DNA.

[No Caption]

Genes, like people, have families — lineages that stretch back through time, all the way to a founding member. That ancestor multiplied and spread, morphing a bit with each new iteration.

For most of the last 40 years, scientists thought that this was the primary way new genes were born — they simply arose from copies of existing genes. The old version went on doing its job, and the new copy became free to evolve novel functions.

Certain genes, however, seem to defy that origin story. They have no known relatives, and they bear no resemblance to any other gene. They’re the molecular equivalent of a mysterious beast discovered in the depths of a remote rainforest, a biological enigma seemingly unrelated to anything else on earth.

The mystery of where these orphan genes came from has puzzled scientists for decades. But in the past few years, a once-heretical explanation has quickly gained momentum — that many of these orphans arose out of so-called junk DNA, or non-coding DNA, the mysterious stretches of DNA between genes. “Genetic function somehow springs into existence,” said David Begun, a biologist at the University of California, Davis.

New genes appear to burst into existence at various points along the evolutionary history of the mouse lineage (red line). The surge around 800 million years ago corresponds to the time when earth emerged from its “snowball” phase, when the planet was almost completely frozen. The very recent peak represents newly born genes, many of which will subsequently be lost. If all genes arose via duplication, they all would have been generated soon after the origins of life, roughly 3.8 billion years ago (green line).

This metamorphosis was once considered to be impossible, but a growing number of examples in organisms ranging from yeast and flies to mice and humans has convinced most of the field that these de novo genes exist. Some scientists say they may even be common. Just last month, research presented at the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution in Vienna identified 600 potentially new human genes. “The existence of de novo genes was supposed to be a rare thing,” said Mar Albà, an evolutionary biologist at the Hospital del Mar Research Institute in Barcelona, who presented the research. “But people have started seeing it more and more.”

Researchers are beginning to understand that de novo genes seem to make up a significant part of the genome, yet scientists have little idea of how many there are or what they do. What’s more, mutations in these genes can trigger catastrophic failures. “It seems like these novel genes are often the most important ones,” said Erich Bornberg-Bauer, a bioinformatician at the University of Münster in Germany.

The Orphan Chase

The standard gene duplication model explains many of the thousands of known gene families, but it has limitations. It implies that most gene innovation would have occurred very early in life’s history. According to this model, the earliest biological molecules 3.5 billion years ago would have created a set of genetic building blocks. Each new iteration of life would then be limited to tweaking those building blocks.

Yet if life’s toolkit is so limited, how could evolution generate the vast menagerie we see on Earth today? “If new parts only come from old parts, we would not be able to explain fundamental changes in development,” Bornberg-Bauer said.

The first evidence that a strict duplication model might not suffice came in the 1990s, when DNA sequencing technologies took hold. Researchers analyzing the yeast genome found that a third of the organism’s genes had no similarity to known genes in other organisms. At the time, many scientists assumed that these orphans belonged to families that just hadn’t been discovered yet. But that assumption hasn’t proven true. Over the last decade, scientists sequenced DNA from thousands of diverse organisms, yet many orphan genes still defy classification. Their origins remain a mystery.

In 2006, Begun found some of the first evidence that genes could indeed pop into existence from noncoding DNA. He compared gene sequences from the standard laboratory fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, with other closely related fruit fly species. The different flies share the vast majority of their genomes. But Begun and collaborators found several genes that were present in only one or two species and not others, suggesting that these genes weren’t the progeny of existing ancestors. Begun proposed instead that random sequences of junk DNA in the fruit fly genome could mutate into functioning genes.

Diethard Tautz, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, once doubted whether de novo genes could exist. He now thinks they may actually be quite common.

Yet creating a gene from a random DNA sequence appears as likely as dumping a jar of Scrabble tiles onto the floor and expecting the letters to spell out a coherent sentence. The junk DNA must accumulate mutations that allow it to be read by the cell or converted into RNA, as well as regulatory components that signify when and where the gene should be active. And like a sentence, the gene must have a beginning and an end — short codes that signal its start and end.

In addition, the RNA or protein produced by the gene must be useful. Newly born genes could prove toxic, producing harmful proteins like those that clump together in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. “Proteins have a strong tendency to misfold and cause havoc,” said Joanna Masel, a biologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “It’s hard to see how to get a new protein out of random sequence when you expect random sequences to cause so much trouble.” Masel is studying ways that evolution might work around this problem.

Another challenge for Begun’s hypothesis was that it’s very difficult to distinguish a true de novo gene from one that has changed drastically from its ancestors. (The difficulty of identifying true de novo genes remains a source of contention in the field.)

Ten years ago, Diethard Tautz, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, was one of many researchers who were skeptical of Begun’s idea. Tautz had found alternative explanations for orphan genes. Some mystery genes had evolved very quickly, rendering their ancestry unrecognizable. Other genes were created by reshuffling fragments of existing genes.

Then his team came across the Pldi gene, which they named after the German soccer player Lukas Podolski. The sequence is present in mice, rats and humans. In the latter two species, it remains silent, which means it’s not converted into RNA or protein. The DNA is active or transcribed into RNA only in mice, where it appears to be important — mice without it have slower sperm and smaller testicles.

The researchers were able to trace the series of mutations that converted the silent piece of noncoding DNA into an active gene. That work showed that the new gene is truly de novo and ruled out the alternative — that it belonged to an existing gene family and simply evolved beyond recognition. “That’s when I thought, OK, it must be possible,” Tautz said.

A Wave of New Genes

Scientists have now catalogued a number of clear examples of de novo genes: A gene in yeast that determines whether it will reproduce sexually or asexually, a gene in flies and other two-winged insects that became essential for flight, and some genes found only in humans whose function remains tantalizingly unclear.

The Odds of Becoming a Gene

Scientists are testing computational approaches to determine how often random DNA sequences can be mutated into functional genes. Victor Luria, a researcher at Harvard, created a model using common estimates of the rates of mutation, recombination (another way of mixing up DNA) and natural selection. After subjecting a stretch of DNA as long as the human genome to mutation and recombination for 100 million generations, some random stretches of DNA evolved into active genes. If he were to add in natural selection, a genome of that size could generate hundreds or even thousands of new genes.

At the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution conference last month, Albà and collaborators identified hundreds of putative de novo genes in humans and chimps — ten-fold more than previous studies — using powerful new techniques for analyzing RNA. Of the 600 human-specific genes that Albà’s team found, 80 percent are entirely new, having never been identified before.

Unfortunately, deciphering the function of de novo genes is far more difficult than identifying them. But at least some of them aren’t doing the genetic equivalent of twiddling their thumbs. Evidence suggests that a portion of de novo genes quickly become essential. About 20 percent of new genes in fruit flies appear to be required for survival. And many others show signs of natural selection, evidence that they are doing something useful for the organism.

In humans, at least one de novo gene is active in the brain, leading some scientists to speculate such genes may have helped drive the brain’s evolution. Others are linked to cancer when mutated, suggesting they have an important function in the cell. “The fact that being misregulated can have such devastating consequences implies that the normal function is important or powerful,” said Aoife McLysaght, a geneticist at Trinity College in Dublin who identified the first human de novo genes.

Promiscuous Proteins

De novo genes are also part of a larger shift, a change in our conception of what proteins look like and how they work. De novo genes are often short, and they produce small proteins. Rather than folding into a precise structure — the conventional notion of how a protein behaves — de novo proteins have a more disordered architecture. That makes them a bit floppy, allowing the protein to bind to a broader array of molecules. In biochemistry parlance, these young proteins are promiscuous.

Scientists don’t yet know a lot about how these shorter proteins behave, largely because standard screening technologies tend to ignore them. Most methods for detecting genes and their corresponding proteins pick out long sequences with some similarity to existing genes. “It’s easy to miss these,” Begun said.

That’s starting to change. As scientists recognize the importance of shorter proteins, they are implementing new gene discovery technologies. As a result, the number of de novo genes might explode. “We don’t know what things shorter genes do,” Masel said. “We have a lot to learn about their role in biology.”

Scientists also want to understand how de novo genes get incorporated into the complex network of reactions that drive the cell, a particularly puzzling problem. It’s as if a bicycle spontaneously grew a new part and rapidly incorporated it into its machinery, even though the bike was working fine without it. “The question is fascinating but completely unknown,” Begun said. 

A human-specific gene called ESRG illustrates this mystery particularly well. Some of the sequence is found in monkeys and other primates. But it is only active in humans, where it is essential for maintaining the earliest embryonic stem cells. And yet monkeys and chimps are perfectly good at making embryonic stem cells without it. “It’s a human-specific gene performing a function that must predate the gene, because other organisms have these stem cells as well,” McLysaght said.

“How does novel gene become functional? How does it get incorporated into actual cellular processes?” McLysaght said. “To me, that’s the most important question at the moment.”

YES!

Yes I would do this…

SUCCESS!

Superb! And incredible!

 

VIDEO: SUCCESSFUL TEST FOR SPACEX CREW CAPSULE EMERGENCY ABORT

THE PERFECT ESCAPE FROM AN IMPERFECT LAUNCH

This morning, SpaceX did a test run of its Crew Dragon capsule’s abort system. It’s a significant protocol the company would use if the module were ever in trouble on the launch pad.

In 2017, the Crew Dragon will be tasked with ferrying NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and it’s important these men and women are as safe as possible during their missions. That means SpaceX and NASA will need to be prepared for all sorts of catastrophes that could befall the crew, even if these events are incredibly rare.

One such event could include a botched launch, in which the area around the launch pad becomes dangerous during liftoff (perhaps due to an unintended explosion or errant rocket booster). In this scenario, the Dragon and its astronauts will need to get out of there. Fast. So SpaceX has embedded the walls of its crew module with eight SuperDraco engines, which can rapidly carry the vehicle up and away from the launch pad to safety.

According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who conducted a media teleconference after the test, the capsule went from 0 to 100 miles per hour in 1.2 seconds, reaching a top speed of 345 mph. He noted that if any astronauts had been on board, they would have fared just fine. Now, the next few tests for the Crew Dragon include an in-flight abort test and an unmanned launch to the ISS, with the module ready for its intended astronaut riders in two years.

Check out the company’s first critical test of this exit strategy below, with a dummy astronaut along for the ride.

GHOST DOLLS – BODY OF EVIDENCE

Photo

A government laboratory found a way to listen to recordings on fragile wax cylinders inside dolls made by Thomas Edison in 1890. CreditCollection of Robin and Joan Rolfs

Though Robin and Joan Rolfs owned two rare talking dolls manufactured by Thomas Edison’s phonograph company in 1890, they did not dare play the wax cylinder records tucked inside each one.

The Rolfses, longtime collectors of Edison phonographs, knew that if they turned the cranks on the dolls’ backs, the steel phonograph needle might damage or destroy the grooves of the hollow, ring-shaped cylinder. And so for years, the dolls sat side by side inside a display cabinet, bearers of a message from the dawn of sound recording that nobody could hear.

In 1890, Edison’s dolls were a flop; production lasted only six weeks. Children found them difficult to operate and more scary than cuddly. The recordings inside, which featured snippets of nursery rhymes, wore out quickly.

Yet sound historians say the cylinders were the first entertainment records ever made, and the young girls hired to recite the rhymes were the world’s first recording artists.

Year after year, the Rolfses asked experts if there might be a safe way to play the recordings. Then a government laboratory developed a method to play fragile records without touching them.

Audio

A recording heard from Edison’s Talking Doll. (Audio quality is low.)

The technique relies on a microscope to create images of the grooves in exquisite detail. A computer approximates — with great accuracy — the sounds that would have been created by a needle moving through those grooves.

In 2014, the technology was made available for the first time outside the laboratory.

“The fear all along is that we don’t want to damage these records. We don’t want to put a stylus on them,” said Jerry Fabris, the curator of the Thomas Edison Historical Park in West Orange, N.J. “Now we have the technology to play them safely.”

Last month, the Historical Park posted online three never-before-heard Edison doll recordings, including the two from the Rolfses’ collection. “There are probably more out there, and we’re hoping people will now get them digitized,” Mr. Fabris said.

The technology, which is known as Irene (Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc.), was developed by the particle physicist Carl Haber and the engineer Earl Cornell at Lawrence Berkeley. Irene extracts sound from cylinder and disk records. It can also reconstruct audio from recordings so badly damaged they were deemed unplayable.

“We are now hearing sounds from history that I did not expect to hear in my lifetime,” Mr. Fabris said.

The Rolfses said they were not sure what to expect in August when they carefully packed their two Edison doll cylinders, still attached to their motors, and drove from their home in Hortonville, Wis., to the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Mass. The center had recently acquired Irene technology.

Audio

A recording from Edison’s Talking Doll. (Audio quality is low.)

Cylinders carry sound in a spiral groove cut by a phonograph recording needle that vibrates up and down, creating a surface made of tiny hills and valleys. In the Irene set-up, a microscope perched above the shaft takes thousands of high-resolution images of small sections of the grooves.

Stitched together, the images provide a topographic map of the cylinder’s surface, charting changes in depth as small as one five-hundredth the thickness of a human hair. Pitch, volume and timbre are all encoded in the hills and valleys and the speed at which the record is played.

At the conservation center, the preservation specialist Mason Vander Lugt attached one of the cylinders to the end of a rotating shaft. Huddled around a computer screen, the Rolfses first saw the wiggly waveform generated by Irene. Then came the digital audio. The words were at first indistinct, but as Mr. Lugt filtered out more of the noise, the rhyme became clearer.

“That was the Eureka moment,” Mr. Rolfs said.

In 1890, a girl in Edison’s laboratory had recited:

There was a little girl,

And she had a little curl

Audio

The first recording heard from Edison’s Talking Doll. (Audio quality is low.)

Right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good,

She was very, very good.

But when she was bad, she was horrid.

Recently, the conservation center turned up another surprise.

In 2010, the Woody Guthrie Foundation received 18 oversize phonograph disks from an anonymous donor. No one knew if any of the dirt-stained recordings featured Guthrie, but Tiffany Colannino, then the foundation’s archivist, had stored them unplayed until she heard about Irene.

Last fall, the center extracted audio from one of the records, labeled “Jam Session 9” and emailed the digital file to Ms. Colannino.

“I was just sitting in my dining room, and the next thing I know, I’m hearing Woody,” she said. In between solo performances of “Ladies Auxiliary,” “Jesus Christ,” and “Dead or Alive,” Guthrie tells jokes, offers some back story, and makes the audience laugh. “It is quintessential Guthrie,” Ms. Colannino said.

The Rolfses’ dolls are back in the display cabinet in Wisconsin. But with audio stored on several computers, they now have a permanent voice.

Correction: May 5, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated part of the name of a center in Andover, Mass. that recently acquired the Irene technology. It is the Northeast Document Conservation Center (not National center).

RETURN OF THE NARRATOR

I have been away from blogging in order to reorganized my blogs, to collect all of my writings into a single category, and to work on my novel. But I have returned to blogging as of today.

 

 

SPACE NET BASE JUMP

I’m behind because I was out yesterday. So I give you:

DOING IT RIGHT

Although over time I have eradicated most of my bad habits, except sleeping very little, I am quite interested in this advice for the possible advantages claimed with New Habit Formation.

So I’m going to experiment with his advice and these techniques.

 

Can’t Kick a Bad Habit? You’re Doing It Wrong

What to do when you just can’t quit–no matter how many times you’ve tried.

A LOATHSOME SLIME

Our Ancient and Medieval ancestors were much, much more ingenious that most modern people give them credit for. Someone should create/produce an app/algorithm to scour ancient and medieval medicinal texts (and other kinds of texts) to see what other advantages could be gleaned.

Rather than doing this kind of work (and this is hardly the first example I’ve seen of such historical re-creation) by piecemeal examination and experimentation.

By the way I not long ago finished another set of brilliant lectures by Mike Drought of Wheaton College.

http://s.moatads.com/swf/MessageSenderV2.swf

Take cropleek and garlic, of both equal quantities, pound them well together… take wine and bullocks gall, mix with the leek… let it stand nine days in the brass vessel…

So goes a thousand-year-old Anglo Saxon recipe to vanquish a stye, an infected eyelash follicle.

The medieval medics might have been on to something. A modern-day recreation of this remedy seems to alleviate infections caused by the bacteria that are usually responsible for styes. The work might ultimately help create drugs for hard-to-treat skin infections.

The project was born when a microbiologist at the University of Nottingham, UK, got talking to an Anglo Saxon scholar. They decided to test a recipe from an Old English medical compendium called Bald’s Leechbook, housed in the British Library.

Some of the ingredients, such as copper from the brass vessel, kill bacteria grown in a dish – but it was unknown if they would work on a real infection or how they would combine.

Careful collection

Sourcing authentic ingredients was a major challenge, says Freya Harrison, the microbiologist. They had to hope for the best with the leeks and garlic because modern crop varieties are likely to be quite different to ancient ones – even those branded as heritage. For the wine they used an organic vintage from a historic English vineyard.

As “brass vessels” would be hard to sterilise – and expensive – they used glass bottles with squares of brass sheet immersed in the mixture. Bullocks gall was easy, though, as cow’s bile salts are sold as a supplement for people who have had their gall bladders removed.

After nine days of stewing, the potion had killed all the soil bacteria introduced by the leek and garlic. “It was self-sterilising,” says Harrison. “That was the first inkling that this crazy idea just might have some use.”

A side effect was that it made the lab smell of garlic. “It was not unpleasant,” says Harrison. “It’s all edible stuff. Everyone thought we were making lunch.”

The potion was tested on scraps of skin taken from mice infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This is an antibiotic-resistant version of the bacteria that causes styes, more commonly known as the hospital superbug MRSA. The potion killed 90 per cent of the bacteria. Vancomycin, the antibiotic generally used for MRSA, killed about the same proportion when it was added to the skin scraps.

A loathsome slime

Unexpectedly, the ingredients had little effect unless they were all brought together. “The big challenge is trying to find out why that combination works,” says Steve Diggle, another of the researchers. Do the components work in synergy or do they trigger the formation of new potent compounds?

Using exactly the right method also seems to be crucial, says Harrison, as another group tried to recreate the remedy in 2005 and found that their potion failed to kill bacteria grown in a dish. “With the nine-day waiting period, the preparation turned into a kind of loathsome, odorous slime,” says Michael Drout of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.

If the 9th Century recipe does lead to new drugs, they might be useful against MRSA skin infections such as those that cause foot ulcers in people with diabetes. “These are usually antibiotic-resistant,” says Diggle. However, he doesn’t recommend people try this at home.

It wouldn’t be the first modern drug to be derived from ancient manuscripts – the widely used antimalarial drug artemisinin was discovered by scouring historical Chinese medical texts.

Harrison is due to present the research at the Society for General Microbiology conference in Birmingham, UK, this week.

KICKING THE DOG

Odd that they designed the legs to move opposite those of a real dog (animal). Maybe that is the only way they could make the early designs function/move properly.

Boston Dynamics shows off new robot dog, dooms us all by kicking it

Google-owned Boston Dynamics has been making incredible robots long before it was purchased by Google.

Today it showed off its latest amazing robot, Spot – a smaller, more agile version of its WildCat robot.

Then, a BD team member decided to kick it, therefore dooming us all when robots become sentient.

Seriously, doesn’t this guy know that robots will be able to search YouTube in the future? Maybe the robots will just go after this guy and leave the rest of us robot-loving humans alone.

While I’m concerned about a robot uprising, Spot is incredibly impressive and maybe a little bit terrifying. The 160-pound, electrically-powered and hydraulically-actuated robot can walk and trot, so don’t bother try running away. It can also climb up stairs and walk up and down hills.

A sensor on the robot’s head helps it navigate over rough terrain.

While the thought of an army of these approaching you on the street might keep you awake at night, robots like Spot could be used to enter areas too dangerous for humans to occupy, or bring important supplies to destinations too treacherous for regular robots and too wooded for drones.

Plus, robots are cool. Just don’t go around kicking them.

➤ Introducing Spot [Boston Dynamics]

 

THE FIVE PRINCIPLES

Over the past four to five days I have discovered (both through experimentation and by healing animal patients) some very important medical principles which make the successful treatment of certain kinds of injuries and diseases much easier and much more effective. Also these principles make it far less likely that any form of treatment will in any way promote infection, interfere with the healing process, produce malignant counter or side effects, cause relapse, slow recovery, or prevent full recovery. Methods of the application of these principles vary according to the specific conditions surrounding the patient (age, general state of health, weight, etc.) and the individual nature of the case itself but the principles are valid in and of themselves.

I say discover, actually I have rediscovered (for I knew most of these principles already but either did not practice them fully or in the necessary manner or did not until recently realize their true import) or refined the principles I’m going to name, and I’m also sure the ancients and many medieval doctors knew them as well.

Additionally I should add the caveat that some of these principals are really for medical applications devoid of access to modern medical facilities and sometimes due to the fact of the lack of proper medicines – either because the patient and doctor/medic are isolated and cannot reach such facilities, because such facilities are not available in a given area, or because the patient lies on the borderline between being able to treat themselves or at home and needing to be hospitalized, but the injury or illness has not quite yet progressed to the point of an emergency hospitalization.

All of these Principles are going into my Book of Medicine as currently defined below, however as I improve upon my techniques and make further discoveries I will refine these definitions as necessary. Also I have a couple of ideas regarding inventions to best apply some of these principles but I’ll discuss those inventions at a later date after I’ve had a chance to work upon them.
1 THE PRINCIPLE OF HIBERNATION – The patient should be encouraged to or force himself to go into a state of self-induced hibernation or a coma-like state (even if this state must persist for many hours or even days or weeks) until the patent has reached the state that a sufficient point of verifiable recovery has been achieved or there are definite signs of self-sustaining improvement. The only treatment that should be administered or self-administered during this hibernation state should be small amounts of water with nutrients and electrolytes (liquid metaergogenics).

2 THE PRINCIPLE OF REVERSE APPLICATION – If the patient is unable or unwilling to eat then all necessary and beneficial nutrients and electrolytes should be introduced through liquids and via liquid consumption. If the patient is unwilling to drink then all necessary and beneficial nutrients and electrolytes should be introduced through whatever food is consumed and the food should be soaked in beneficial liquids and water and moisturized or reduced to a semi-liquid paste. These two principles are especially good and useful in cases where it is not possible to administer an IV .

3 THE PRINCIPLE OF APPLIED STASIS OR NON-INTERFERENCE – There are times when a patient has received a severe, traumatic, or at least serious injury or illness, and aside from keeping the patient warm and clean no attempt should be made to treat the patient at all other than the periodic administering of small amounts of food and/or drink (see principle of Reverse Application and the principle of Fasting) and instead they should encouraged to rest and to sleep (see principle of Hibernation). Only after a patient shows signs of the recovery of strength and of a tendency to recover should the patient be treated in a more normal manner to speed recovery.

4 THE PRINCIPLE OF FASTING – In certain situations the patient should not be fed at all but should undergo a period of fasting to best facilitate healing. Break the fast when signs of recovery become obvious or if the patient shows signs of weakness or harmful weight loss. Liquid intake should be maintained as normal or increased as necessary.

5. THE PRINCIPLE OF WOUND HOMEOSTASIS – Sometimes a wound (or even a state of illness) is too moist and must be drained, dried, and caused to remain dry (in a general sense, all biological health depends to some degree upon moisture) so as the suppress or prevent serious forms of infection (gangrene, etc.). Sometimes a wound (or even a state of illness) is too dry and requires the introduction of sterile yet beneficial forms of moisture and nutrients introduced through the medium of that moisture. Each particular case will vary according to the circumstances but if there are indications that the injury, wound, or disease state is too moist, then drying methods must be employed, and if there are indications that the injury, wound, or disease state is too dry then moisture must be applied. Then intent is to reach a state of patient homeostasis in which the patient can achieve and remain in an ongoing condition of optimal healing and recovery.

6. THE PRINCIPLE OF SHADOW (OR UNFELT OR UNKNOWN) TREATMENT APPLICATION – I will discuss this principle later after I have had more time to experiment. Initial indications show it to be very effective but the initial methods of application could be much improved I think. This is a new principle to me.

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