How To Sign Your Photos With Microsoft Paint

So you’re tired of people downloading your photos from social media and turning them into hilarious memes – without giving you any credit whatsoever. You tried un-checking the box that says, “Allow viewers to download my photos and videos” and, much like the pedestrian “Cross Now” button at a traffic light, found that it does nothing (these things are installed because the squirrel-like population is less likely to dart into traffic when a button is present, even if it’s not hooked up to anything).

The best solution, apart from avoiding social media altogether, is to embed your name and/or website directly into your photos. This can easily be accomplished with a free program called Microsoft Paint, which is included with Windows.

First, locate and open Paint. In Windows XP it can be found in ‘Accessories’. In later versions of Windows it was hidden, along with all the other great features we liked in XP. Thank you, Microsoft. Click ‘Start’ (or tap the Windows logo button), and in the search box type mspaint. When it pops up, right-click on it and send it to the Desktop to create a shortcut.

BlankpaintopenDouble-click on your new shortcut and click the Paint Menu button, then click ‘Open’. Locate and import your photo.

scrollIf the bottom of the photo is out-of-frame, drag the vertical scrollbar downward.

scroll2Now click on the large capital “A”, bring your mouse pointer down to the vicinity of where you want your text. While holding down the left mouse button, drag it downward and to the right in order to create a textbox. Don’t worry about positioning at this point, just make sure it is large enough to hold your text.

scroll3Type your message, then hold down the left mouse button and drag the cursor to the beginning of the line in order to highlight your text. Now go back to the top left of the screen, click “Transparent” for the background, choose a font and a text size in the “Font” box, and click on “Bold” for more visibility. Choose a color by clicking “Color 1”, and select the color of choice from the ones offered, or click on “Edit Colors” for more. Pick something that is clearly visible, yet unobtrusive. Clicking somewhere inside the textbox will un-highlight the text so you can see the result (Clicking outside the box will make your changes permanent. If this happens, click the left pointing curly arrow at the top left of the screen and start over!). Re-highlight and recolor until you like it.

Now it is time to move your text to its final destination. Position your pointer over one of the little square boxes attached to the textbox, and while holding down the left mouse button, you can drag the text left, right, up, or down, until it is positioned just where you want it.

Click on the Paint Menu button, and hover your mouse over “Save As”. A window will pop up, pick JPEG (or PNG for higher quality), and give the picture a new name. This preserves the original. Just in case.


Attach This!

89809784_36e720f217_z“They’re very attached to each other.”
“At the wrists and ankles.”

The sleep program I have developed is rooted in Attachment Theory and the importance of Limbic Attunement. And no, that doesn’t mean that the child and mother are shackled together with actual metal cuffs. Although they might as well be.

Not all that much has been written about the mother-child bond, mostly because it is something that everybody knows about and takes for granted, kind of like air. You only notice it when it suddenly goes missing. Now along comes Dr. Allan N. Schore, from the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine, with a scholarly article entitled “Effects of a Secure Attachment Relationship On Right Brain Development, Affect Regulation, and Infant Mental Health”.

This is heavy, baby.

The Mind Wobbles

Academics don’t write for people, they write for each other. This is why we need to deconstruct this publication in order to figure out exactly what he is trying to say. Simply put, the article describes how a mother and child move through stages of equilibrium (happy) to disturbance (distressed), and then back again. This has also been referred to as “Optimal Anxiety”, which sounds like a contradiction in terms, kind of like ‘military intelligence’, or ‘cherry tart’.

8376702890_c214b0534c_zWhen distress happens (and it always does – “I am wet/hungry/lonely.” or, “Gas attack! Hey…I’m lactose intolerant!”), it is the job of the mother to step in and alleviate the problem. But what if the mother IS the problem:

“To act as a regulator of the infant’s arousal, she (the mother, caregiver) must be able to regulate her own arousal state (stress level.) In early development an adult provides much of the necessary modulation of infant states, especially after a state of disruption and across a transition between states, and this allows for the development of self-regulation.”

What this means is if the parent tends to unravel and lose control, this will cause the infant, being closely attuned to her emotional state, to experience even more anxiety – that on top of whatever stress was already there!

State Of Repair

“In this essential regulatory pattern of “disruption and repair”, the “good-enough” caregiver who induces a stress response in her infant through a misattunement, reinvokes in a timely fashion her psychobiologically attuned regulation of the infant’s negative affect state that she has triggered.”

In other words, the mother will then attempt to repair the damage that she herself has caused.

1848880493_6e91a9deed_z“…the key to this is the caregiver’s capacity to monitor and regulate her own affect, especially negative affect. The regulation of her own affective state, as well as the child’s, may be an emotionally demanding task.”

Can the parent, utilizing self control, nip this rollercoaster ride in the bud, so to speak? A few can. Most can’t. Others won’t. After enough of this, the child might get the idea that the ideal way to deal with frustration is to become hysterical and shriek.

“The re-attuning, comforting mother and infant thus dyadically negotiate a stressful state transition of affect, cognition, and behavior. This recovery mechanism underlies the phenomenon of “interactive repair”…in which participation of the caregiver is responsible for the reparation of stressful dyadic misattunements. If attachment is interactive synchrony, stress is defined as an asynchrony in an interactional sequence, but a period of synchrony following this allows for stress recovery.”

Deconstruction Theory

Dyadically, huh? All that means is that they do it together. The key to this paragraph is “interactive synchrony”. Not synchronicity, where something crawls to the surface. From the bottom of a dark. Scottish lake. It simply means simultaneous action that occurs between the two individuals, a series of ups and downs. In ‘Peanuts’, the Lucy character at one point asks, “Why does life have to be a series of ups and downs? Why can’t we go from an ‘up’ to an ‘upper up’? Her question remains unanswered.

“It is now thought that the process of re-experiencing positive affect following negative experience may teach a child that negativity can be endured and conquered. Infant resilience emerges from an interactive context in which the child and parent transition from positive to negative and back to positive affect and resilience in the face of stress is an ultimate indicator of attachment capacity and therefore adaptive mental health. These arousal-regulating transactions, which continue throughout the first year, underlie the formation of an attachment bond between the infant and primary caregiver. An essential attachment function is “to promote the synchrony or regulation of biological and behavioral systems on an organismic level”. “

Fall In, Troop!

Think of year one as a sort of ‘boot camp’, where the child is learning to deal with all manner of unpleasantness. With a healthy bond and attachment between parent and child, the child is able to bounce back from the lows in a resilient manner. When this bond is absent, for example, in cases of abandonment or sociopathy, ‘adaptive mental health’ goes out the window. In cases where a healthy attachment bond is present, and if the child could talk, the conversation would go something like this:

Unconcerned Third Party: “Kid, how you doin’?”
Kid: “I can take it still!”

454542612_26cd864de2_zMother nature has seemingly short-changed the human animal, in that very few behaviors are instinctual. Almost everything has to be programmed in. Think of a tape machine with the button set to ‘Record’. Around the age of five, the mechanism switches to ‘Playback’. I’ll bet when you started, you never realized you had signed on to a coding job that would last 5 years! One major exception, however, is crying. No other species even comes close! Therefor, I have developed my Cry Reduction Program that is unlike any sleep consultant!


One Year At the Opera

“One term scientists use for neural attunement is limbic resonance, a symphony of mutual exchange and internal adaptation whereby two people harmonize their emotional state.”

What it all boils down to is that the infant/toddler is capable of dealing with the amount of stress or struggle that learning a new way of sleep will present. The ability of the infant to cope with the regulatory pattern, described above, of “disruption and repair” is greater as the Cingulate Cortex (part of the limbic system) develops. The brain is designed to deal with this incremental amount of stress and the ability to do so is coming online at 3-9 months of age. This is when the infant becomes responsive to social cues, shared pleasure states, and when the first signs of separation anxiety are expressed. As you implement your sleep program, by responding when necessary, reassuring when needed, allowing your child to struggle when able and all the while managing your own emotional states…you can be reassured that at the very least your baby can handle the struggles of his/her own development.

Crying and regulating emotional state photo of mother in kitchen going crazy

Back OFF! … I can handle this!


Photo credits: Creative Commons License, Maessive -The meaning of life, Rob Lawton – Going… Going… Gone!, JJ & Special K – Suds and a smile, rabble – Crying, Dennis Yang – how is babby formed?


Wireless Door Camera and Keyless Entry Systems

mancaveYou finally have things just the way you like it. You are firmly ensconced in your man-cave with chips and dips, wings and things, even cheesy poofs. Your wireless network is going full blast, the Roku 3 is roku-ing, and the flux capacitor is…fluxing. Its now time to follow the advice of Steve Jobs, and watch “Movies, movies, movies!”

Damn! There it goes again. The doorbell. You could ignore it, but what if it’s the Fed-Ex guy with that VIP (Very Important Package)? But odds are, its just the usual cast of characters. If different people would show up, at least that would be something.

“Hey, Oscar! Your crabgrass is killing my lawn!”

“Stop building that addition without a permit!”

” Sweetieface sent me over to ask…”
“Sweetieface. That’s my big ‘ol wife.”

“Pizza delivery!”
“I didn’t order a…”
“Here you go, pal. One summons, with everything on it!”

If only there was a way to see who is at the door, and can be safely ignored! Not to worry. No need to revisit the future. The solution exists right here, right now, in Christmas Present.

The Wireless Door Camera

wireless-home-monitorsMounted on your front porch, the wireless entry cam is the perfect solution. View wanted (or unwanted) guests on your TV, smartphone, PC, or Mac. There are a wide variety of styles to choose from, including box, dome, bullet, and fisheye. Swann offers a camera that looks exactly like a motion detector, for more discreet surveillance. Samsung has a vandal-resistant dome for your more irate callers (“I know you’re in there! I’ll fix your wagon!”). With downloadable apps and one button connectivity. Lorex Technology provides an installation CD or a no-PC-required option. You can record footage to a WswannmicroSD card, PC, tablet, Mac, or smartphone. If you don’t mind paying for storage, Dropcam will record directly to the cloud (Actually, it’s just stored on a server somewhere. But ‘cloud’ sounds more exotic. Ethereal.), and save your footage from seven to thirty days, keeping your local storage available for the really important stuff (‘Dreamgirls’. ‘Death Race 2000’. ‘The Mouse Who Ate Cleveland’.). Many models are available in a 2-Pack, so you can monitor the back door as well (“They’re onto me!”). But why stop there? Smart Home Audio and Video can install a full featured, multiple camera home security system that will link to an external alarm company for Emergency Response.

Keyless Entry

WsmartKey_electronic_913You’ve got your cameras set up, and can now identify known pests. But what about wanted guests? You certainly don’t want to get up twenty times in a row to let people in for Football Sunday. Keyless entry is the perfect solution. In addition to allowing access with your very own personal code, and a backup key (in case of power failure), the Kevo electronic door lock by Kwikset allows you to assign a temporary code to whoever needs one, and can be deleted after the game is over. Some systems also have the ability to unlock the door via a smart phone.

“Your passcode is ‘1 – 2 – 3 – 4”.
“What a coincidence! That’s the same combination I have on my luggage!”

For iPhone users, there is even a Bluetooth enabled deadbolt, configurable right from your phone. Send a temporary entry code to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Android users, already in a frenzy to access this new technology, will just have to wait a little longer. Don’t panic. I’ll tell you when it’s time to panic.

The Downside

Okay, panic.

WborgBy providing you with wireless everything we have made it totally unnecessary for you to ever get up from your Barcalounger. You will soon resemble Jabba the Hutt. All the major muscle groups in your body are starting to atrophiate, leaving you a quivering, formless, pile of goo. The solution is obvious. Simply begin replacing your now-useless body parts with bionic devices, and become a cybernetic organism. Or, you could just get up every now and then and move around a little.

And change the combination on your luggage.


The Five Coolest Gadgets from CES 2015

Oculus Rift Crescent Bay Headset

Oculus Rift Crescent Bay prototype side-320-80Virtual reality has never been more real. Oculus demoed the prototype ‘Crescent Bay’ headset to swarms of eager gamers, hungry for a more immersive experience. They will have to chill for a while longer however, as the commercial release of the product isn’t scheduled for a few more months. Tracked by a wall mounted camera, users could walk around the room in a virtual cityscape, and peer over the edge of buildings at the traffic below. The hissing wind, and honking of horns were made all the more realistic by the headset’s stereo surround sound. To eliminate the trailing cables, Oculus is partnering with Samsung to create a wireless version of the product, release date unknown.



beltEat, much? ‘Belty’ is a self-adjusting, wireless ‘smart’ belt, designed to contact a smartphone and sound an alert when the user has consumed mass quantities. It will also send a message if you haven’t moved for a while, and are beginning to atrophiate. It loosens when you sit down and tightens when you stand up, sensing these movements with a web of embedded sensors. Emiota, the French company behind the smartbelt, has not yet shared a release date or any pricing information.


Zano Drone Camera

zano-palmThe Zano flying camera, pitched by its creators as a ‘selfie’ drone, is powered by four little turboprop fans and controlled by your smartphone. The video, naturally, shows people taking (you guessed it!), selfies. But for those who have managed to get over themselves, this nifty little gadget offers some intriguing possibilities. The mind literally wobbles.

zano-blackIs your wife fooling around with that annoying guy with the crabgrass infested lawn? Send up Zano for a look-see. Holding out a smartphone to document a controversial event is just asking for a punch in the jaw. With Zano hovering about unnoticed, a surreptitious video can be safely recorded. Even if the drone is made, there is nothing they can do except whirl around madly. The Zano Black is a good color choice for this sort of activity. Is your ex being particularly obnoxious? Dive-bomb him with Zano, then chase him around the block. Then post the video on Facebook! Hunting? Send up Zano to see where the game is, then stalk it. A zano-targetfully charged battery provides 10 – 15 minutes of flight time, and is removable, so you can easily pop in a spare. Terrain mapping is another possibility. Find out what’s ahead – avoid quicksand, rockfalls, and trigger happy survivalists. This guy actually caught a fish with a drone! Fortunately it was a small one, a 30 pound muskellunge will take your bait, your float, and $200 worth of drone and drag it deep down under. And leave us not mention phone hacking or amateur espionage. It doesn’t matter that Zano will never be noticed hovering outside a window, or sticking a listening bug against the glass twenty stories up. Just. Don’t. Do it.


ring_big“One ring to rule them all, and in the darkness, bind them!” We don’t know how much evil you can get up to with ‘Ring’, a Bluetooth enabled gesture recognition controller by Logbar inc., but you will feel like a wizard when you use it. Designed to be worn on your index finger, by pushing a small button with your thumb, Ring connects to your smartphone and allows you to text, play music, pay bills, even turn the lights on and off – all by making gestures in the air. The battery is not replaceable, however, so when Ring finally dies (after about 1000 charges), the whole thing needs to be replaced. Tossing the old one in an active volcano is optional.

The Smart Spider Dress

Arachnia, Queen of the Spider People

Arachnia, Queen of the Spider People

Getting a woman has always been difficult. Were it not for alcohol, the entire human race would be long extinct. Now here comes Intel and Anouk Wipprecht, to make things even worse. “Spider Dress acts as the interface between the body and the external world,” said Wipprecht. “It uses technology and the garment as a medium of interaction.” What this means, is that the arachnid-like limbs on the wearer’s shoulder lash out at anyone who comes near. Using wireless biometrics and proximity sensors, the dress monitors the stress level of the wearer, and reacts accordingly. If you are attractive, and approach slowly, the limbs will wave, and beckon you in. Upon detecting a cretinous lout, however, the arms will fully extend and keep it away. “Often you see electronic fashion that only bleeps and blinks. I like to think of creating intelligent agents that live with us, on the notion of extremes, in the hope we can find new ways of interfacing with the world around us.” So, watch it. Those things could put an eye out.


maxbigtimeAccording to this article, cable TV channels are using time compression in order to cram in a few more commercials per hour. Newsflash: This is nothing new. Back in the 1990’s, a similar flap developed over the exact same practice. But back then it was easy to spot. The soundtrack sounded like The Chipmunks. However, the crude analog technology of 20 years ago is no match for the digital signal processing of today. Not only do they utilize frame-dropping to make the sped up video less obvious, the audio track is extracted, accelerated, then pitch-shifted downward. The result: A 10% faster program, which frees up an extra 2 – 3 minutes per hour for more commercials. The short lived TV series ‘Max Headroom’ took this idea, and maxremoteturned it completely around. Instead of speeding up the program, why not speed up the commercials? To a network executive, the most terrifying weapon in the viewer’s arsenal is the remote control. Without eyeballs on the screen, there goes that summer house in the Hamptons! But what if you could compress the time it takes a commercial to run, say, turn a 30 second spot into 3 seconds, this would put an end to channel switching.



maxmaxMatt Frewer, in heavy makeup and rubber prosthetics, played a computer generated talk show host on BBC TV a full 2 years before the series was created. Cinemax produced a US version of ‘The Max Headroom Show’, and Coca-Cola made him a pitchman for the ill-fated ‘New Coke’. Not even Max could save that one. The computer generated graphics, crude by today’s standards, were fascinating to watch at the time. Max was showing up everywhere, appearing on Letterman and MTV, interrupting music videos, and cracking wise. Today, we would say he had gone viral. Garry Trudeau, creator of the comic strip ‘Doonesbury’, did a political parody of the character by combining the concept with then-president Ronald Reagan, to produce Ron Headrest, the world’s first electronically simulated politician. When Reagan expressed reservations about the idea, his handlers told him, “It’s television, sir. Nobody will know the difference.” It was decided that the ubiquitous Max needed a full-fledged series, so the Brits produced a pilot. Picked up by ABC, it was set in a futuristic dystopia ruled by an oligarchy of television networks. At the beginning of each show they flashed a subtitle: “20 Minutes Into the Future”.


‘Live and Direct’ video reporter Edison Carter (Frewer, without the makeup) stumbles upon a serious side effect caused by ‘Blipverts’, thirty second commercials compressed down to three seconds:

Unfortunately, they caused certain viewers to explode. Literally.

Bryce Lynch, boy genius and Network 23 tech expert, explains why this is happening:

Along the way to uncovering the truth, Carter becomes injured, and fearing he is about to expire, his brain is downloaded into a computer. The software is a bit glitchy, however, as the only thing that had ever been downloaded before was a parrot (“It squawks!”). The program creates Max Headroom, an maxandcontrolirreverent virtual telepresence that shares Edison’s desire for justice and truth. After the Network abruptly yanks him off the air (he was getting too close), Carter rails, “Since when is news considered entertainment?” Murray, his controller, bemusedly responds, “Since it was invented?” The show proved to be too much for viewers, who stayed away in droves. After only 14 episodes, they pulled the plug.


The plot is exposed, the truth is revealed, and Max Headroom, Edison Carter’s unhinged avatar, takes it upon himself to populate the Network 23 airwaves with biting sarcasm. In the final scene, he turns to the audience and asks, “How can you tell when a network executive is lying?…His lips move.”

Livin’ Large: The Money Curve

Every now and then you hear about some celebrity, bigwig, or tycoon filing for bankruptcy. You always ask yourself, “How could that happen? He had more money than God!” Then you go on to answer your own question: “Livin’ Large!

For those of us who have no scratch to speak of, it seems absurd. We tend to say, “That would never happen to me! I would be smart. Not like that guy! No entourage packed limos headed out for a night of clubbing and $500 champagne (for everyone). No 200 million dollar house staffed by monkey butlers. I would invest!”

But what if it all creeps up on you?


This is the Money Curve, otherwise known as “Diminishing Marginal Utility“. It illustrates how the more money we have, the less important it becomes.

At the bottom of the curve we are broke, and spare change off the street is very crucial. The percentage gains at this stage are staggering. If someone with a penny is given a dollar, his net worth has just increased by 10000% (statistics are often re-framed in just such a manner in order to deceive). It sounds impressive until you find out we’re talking pennies, here.

At this point there is no net worth, all money is spent on survival. But as income increases and we travel up the curve, excess cash can be accumulated and spent on capital improvements.


And at a certain point, the phenomenon known as “Disposable Income” begins to appear. This is where the curve begins its first gradual shift from hyperbolic rise to gently climbing slope. You can now buy a pizza. Rent a movie. Afford a girlfriend!

moneycurve3_girlBe careful! A bad decision in this area can send you right back to the bottom!


As more and more wealth is accumulated, money becomes less and less important. One tends to think of it like air – which you never notice until it’s gone. The curve continues to rise, however gently, due to “Lifestyle Inflation“. This is where more money is spent on fancy basics (expensive house, exotic car), simply because it can. The most successful avoid this trap. You would never guess that your average suburban next-door neighbor is worth upwards of 7 figures, at least, not by his lifestyle. Although this can be carried to extremes. One millionaire nightclub owner I once knew would wear bummy clothes, and a rope for a belt. When opening a new club, he would direct traffic in the parking lot himself, rather than hire someone. Thinking he was indigent, patrons would give him dollar bills, which he would gleefully stuff in his pocket! This particular breed of wealthy individual never leaves the near-vertical section of the money curve – no matter how much wealth he accumulates.


J. Paul Getty, billionaire and world class miser, was the quintessential example. He installed a payphone in his mansion for the use of workers, staff, and guests, and when asked, “How much money is enough?”, he replied, “Just a few million more!”

The Great Silver Hunt

Economics 101

Econ101In the absence of intervention, economics is just supply and demand. That’s it. Everything else is just the study of interference. The only business that the government has in a free economy is to provide a level playing field, otherwise the well heeled players will attempt to “corner the market” via monopolies. This was most famously (or infamously) done in the 1890’s, when nearly every segment of the economy was under the control of consortiums known as “Trusts”. Mines, railroads, sugar, beef – you name it. All were price fixing monopolies, until Republican president Teddy Roosevelt got a sympathetic Supreme Court. He went on to break up or “bust” a total of 44 different industries.


The Hunt Brothers Corner the Market

Silver2A more recent example is the attempt by Nelson and Herbert Hunt to corner the silver market in 1980. In the midst of a deep recession, stocks, the dollar, and real estate were all plummeting. The Hunts, worth nearly 5 billion, decided that silver was a safe haven. They formed an investment group (that included wealthy Saudi OPEC oil ministers) and began buying futures contracts and taking delivery of the metal, which they warehoused in Switzerland. They eventually controlled a full third of the world’s silver, causing a eightfold increase in price. At this point, the government decided to step in. Still smarting from the OPEC oil embargo and a public perception of incompetence and weakness (Jimmy Carter was president), regulators and the Federal Reserve (the Fed is not part of the government, no matter how much they may want you to believe) put the squeeze on the Hunts.

The Squeeze Is On

Silver mineWould the government have gotten involved in the absence of Saudi investors? Probably. Never mentioned publicly was the fact that in order to buy futures on silver, somebody else has to sell them. Unlike the stock market, where a company only has X number of shares outstanding, the act of selling a futures contract actually creates it out of thin air, much like a bank that loans out more money than it has in its vault. As long as the bank has a certain percentage of the money (reserves) available, it is all perfectly legal. As long as a commodities trader puts up a small percentage of the total value of the contract (margin), he is good to go. Unlike most traders, who settle in cash by closing their positions, the Hunts made it clear that they intended to take delivery on the amount of silver specified in the contract. Industry insiders were frantically trying to cover up the fact that they had fraudulently sold contracts for far more silver than existed; they were massively short and couldn’t deliver. So they turned to the commodity exchanges and their federal regulators, who obligingly suspended trading in silver, and to the Fed, who cut off all credit to the Hunt brothers and their investment group. Blocked from selling their silver futures, and unable to borrow due to the Fed, the Hunts missed a margin call of $100 million. The collapse was spectacular. From a high of $50.00, silver eventually settled at $10.00 per ounce. Markets collapsed worldwide, in what became known as “Silver Thursday”. Forced into bankruptcy, the Hunts’ losses eventually totaled nearly 4 billion dollars!


FutureTech – Part 1

The Next 200 Years

18165523_mUnless our civilization suffers a major setback, SmartTech will continue to advance in accordance with Moore’s Law. Named after Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of Intel, he simply stated that the power of technology tends to double every 18 to 24 months. At least it will, up until about 10 years from now, when integrated circuits simply cannot be made any smaller. Hopefully by then, we will be using the spin state of beryllium atoms to store information. Of course, due to quantum entanglement (Einstein called it ‘Spooky action at a distance.’), someone (or something) on the other side of the galaxy could be reading our computer traffic. And you thought the NSA was nosy (it stands for ‘No Such Agency’). What could derail the march of scientific progress? Three things come immediately to mind:

GEC9389934_mGlobal Economic Collapse: Ever since the 1st World has embraced socialism (as a way for the people in power to stay in power), they have been piling up debt faster than you can say ‘Bob’s Your Uncle’. Every major currency in the world is in a race to the bottom. This is on account of socialism only works until you run out of OPM (Other People’s Money). Here in the U.S., interest on the debt will equal the entire national budget in 7 to 10 years. Will the new technology bail us out? Hold on to your hat, it’s going to be a wild and bumpy ride!

EMP – ElectroMagnetic Pulse: This doesn’t have to be caused by a rouge nuke detonated above the atmosphere.

We are at risk from none other than our very own sun! Were a coronal mass ejection to hit the Earth dead on, every unprotected electronic circuit in its path will be fried to a crisp by magnetically induced voltage. During the ‘Carrington Event’ of 1859, a solar ejection hit the Earth’s magnetosphere and induced one of the largest geomagnetic storms on record. The associated “white light flare” in the solar photosphere was recorded by British astronomer Richard C. Carrington, hence the name. Electronic devices didn’t exist at the time, however, telegraph wires sputtered, sparked, and destroyed equipment. Railroad ties burst into flame due to the current induced into the rails.

If it happened today, your cell phone would quite literally burst. Power lines and their transformers, computers, cars and trucks, all gone. Except for your 1955 Chevrolet. Replace the battery (if you can find one that didn’t explode), and it will continue to run just fine. Back to an agrarian economy for us all!

ELE – Extinction Level Event: A rare and unlikely occurrence that will wipe out all life on the planet. An asteroid strike, only slightly larger than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, would do the trick:

Or if an extremely large and distant star went supernova 1000 years ago, the deadly gamma radiation would only just now be reaching us.

A Type 0 civilization has no defense against any of this. Even a Type 1 would be hard pressed to survive an ELE.

Welcome to Type 1

15000407_mAs a type 0 civilization, we are at risk. We use precious hydrocarbons and dead plants for fuel. We split atoms to boil water (in order to spin turbines) with nuclear fission! Our citizenry, descendants of peasants for the most part, don’t understand the world around them, and believe nonsense. The good news is that in about 200 years, we will make the move to Type 1. A Type 1 civilization is global, utilizes free energy for power, and uses computers, robots, and automation to do most of the dirty work. Genetics will solve the people problem, as long as Kahn Noonian Singh and his ilk do not start the Eugenics Wars – we’re not big on ilk. Smart technology is paving the way towards this transition.

One Step Beyond

The other types of civilizations are beyond the scope of this article, but we will touch on them briefly, just to let you know what we’re in for. If a Type 1 civilization controls a planet, a Type 2 controls an entire solar system. Nanotech will be used to create a Ringworld, or a Dyson Sphere. The population will be small, in terms of scale, and virtually immortal (“But what use is livin’ when no gal will give in to no guy whats’ nine hundred years?”). This will take a number of centuries to achieve, but once Type 1 is accomplished, the singularity is a virtual certainty. And then Type 3, in short order. A Type 3 civilization will control an entire galaxy, has overcome the problem of light speed (they now travel at ludicrous speed), and can use the magnetic fields of rotating black holes for power.

Could this be why NGC 4622 is spinning backwards?


Looking at this picture, you would assume a counterclockwise spin. Guess again. This thing is winding clockwise! Maybe the inhabitants got bored, or something. Kind of like a Nascar driver who, just once, wants to race around the track in the opposite direction.

If a Type 3 can control a galaxy, a Type 4 civilization would control an entire universe. We would consider creatures like these to be godlike. Fortunately, however, our universe is far too young for this sort of being to have developed. Lucky for us. It is unlikely they would be malevolent, but consider this – did you ever step on an anthill without realizing it? And a Type 5 individual? It would be composed of pure energy – and control the entire multiverse, including the ten dimensional space that lies between. The less said about this sort of beast, the better. There’s really not much to do in 10-Space. There’s no beer or TV. What sort of mischief would it get up to if it got bored? Create sub-creatures?

Back to the Future

8944097_mBack in the here and now, science marches on. We already have a Type 1 communications network, the World Wide Web. Landlines are fast becoming a thing of the past, and we can control our immediate environment wirelessly. But we still have to use hand held remotes, smartphones with apps, or primitive voice recognition technology. How many times has your cell phone hit the floor? Lots, I’ll wager. What would be more efficient?

Next: Part 2 – Implants!

In Part 2 we will examine various forms of implanted biometric technology, some of which already exist today.


FutureTech – Implants

The Hairy Eyeball

eye-intelligent-artificial-intelligenceIn about ten years, integrated circuits will be so small, they will be wearable. Implantable. Edible! The recent Las Vegas CES (Consumer Electronics Show) featured plenty of wearable tech, all of it huge and bulky (compared to what’s coming). That contact lens? It will soon be as smart as your iPhone, with a heads-up display like The Terminator. Move your eyeball and blink to change apps. We already have crude retinal implants that allow the blind to see, well…something. It won’t be long before this technology is perfected, and people can be fitted with a brand new bionic eye with the power of a supercomputer. The question is, when this sort of thing is available, how many people will elect to pluck out a perfectly good eyeball in order to have one? The answer is – lots.

Ear Now

If you’re blind, or crippled, people feel for you. The deaf, however, are considered an irritant. Don’t argue, it’s true! To communicate with the hearing impaired you have to shout, write things down, or use elaborate sign language. But for people with inner ear damage, yet still have a functioning auditory nerve, there is a surgical solution.

Nearly half a million people worldwide have had cochlear implants installed in their inner ear, small electronic devices that allow the deaf to hear things. The sound quality is not good, but improving. As micro-miniaturization progresses, the bionic ear will soon surpass natural hearing. You will be able to hear a pin drop in a haystack three miles away. Imagine being able to control the volume by blinking your bionic eye. There’s an app for that. And how many otherwise normal, healthy people will have these things installed in order to have superhearing? The answer is – you guessed it, troops – lots.

Direct Brain Interface

But why stop there? Why not have a chip implanted directly into one’s brain, giving each individual the power of a supercomputer? They already have crude devices of this type, used to solve medical problems:

There will no longer be any need for smartphones, laptops, or wearable devices. To link it, you think it. Soon, everyone will be hearing things, in their own mind. Imagine the firewall needed to keep from getting brain-hacked!

“Doctor, I’m hearing voices.”
“What are they saying?”
“They’re telling me to burn things!”
“There’s an app for that.”

When told that their ancestors used to tap on keyboards and view screens, the response will be, “How quaint!” When computer memory storage becomes molecular, the devices could be set to record…everything. An entire population with total recall, and actual credibility on the witness stand. But wait. There’s more. The chips could be manufactured with a built-in ‘backdoor’, so that everything you see, hear, do, or think could be uplinked. At this point, we will be only one small step away from…

The Borg

borgSounds Swedish. But it’s short for ‘Cyborg’, half man, half machine. During season 2 of the TV show ‘Star Trek – The Next Generation’, the writers and producers wanted a new villain. They came up with ‘The Borg’, a race of cybernetic beings assimilated and linked together (via twenty-fourth century sub-space routers) into a ‘Hive Mind’, or Collective. Having no individuality to speak of, they gained knowledge and achieved biological and technological advancement through conquest. “We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.” Monstrous in appearance, they came equipped with various artificial prostheses that whirred, clicked, and shot off sparks. Definitely not Swedish. They were well on their way to becoming a Type 3 galactic civilization when they ran into human beings, a race of superkillers unprecedented in the history of the cosmos, whom they foolishly tried to assimilate. Not only did they get blowed up good, they got hacked, which sent them scurrying back to the Delta Quadrant with their cybernetic tails between their legs.

The Collective

29734461_mHuman vanity being what it is, hideous prosthetics are unlikely. The ones we choose to adopt will no doubt be elegant and unobtrusive. But what of the hive mind? There are two great forces at work in the universe. The drive toward individuality, and the drive toward collectivism. We are the former, while you are the latter. Some of you, anyway. There will be pockets of resistance, those who believe that humans work best with their individuality intact. They will refuse all implants and augmentation on the grounds of it being unnatural. Will they be swept away by the tide of history? Only time will tell.

Next: Part 3 – Nanotechnology!


FutureTech – Nanotechnology

Self Replication

9086406_mBack in the 1940’s, mathematician John von Neumann first conceived the idea of self-replicating machines. Focused on large scale mining operations, he postulated that devices could be constructed to extract ore and raw materials, build copies of themselves, then go and extract more ore. In 1980, physicist Robert Freitas applied this idea to spacecraft. Until we crack the light-speed barrier, exploring the universe will be a tedious proposition. It takes forever to get anywhere. You could go into cryo-sleep for the length of the journey, and if nothing goes wrong with your equipment, wake up hundreds, possibly thousands of years later at your destination. Or, Generation Ships could be built whereby your remote descendants would complete the mission (assuming they didn’t go feral). Freitas said, why go anywhere? Let the machines do it! A von Neumann probe could be sent to a distant star system, mine a likely asteroid or moon, then build and send out copies of itself to other systems. Even at sub-light speed, such devices could populate an entire galaxy in 8698872_monly 500,000 years, due to exponential growth (take a penny…double it every day…in a month you’re a millionaire). The original probe could then go into ‘standby’ mode and wait to see what happens. If life were to eventually develop, a signal could be sent, something along the lines of “Eureka!” or “This guy, right here! Swarm! Swarm!” The monolith from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ was just such a device, but not one that was content to sit around and wait. It took an active role in moving things along – interfering in our development, as it were. Apparently, the race that dispatched these particular probes never heard of the Prime Directive. Do. Not. Interfere.

There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom

3483295_m In 1986, scientist K. Eric Drexler applied these ideas to the atomic realm. In his book ‘Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology’, he proposed the idea of a nanoscale “assembler” which would be able to build copies of itself molecule by molecule, using atoms as raw material. The resulting swarm could then go on to construct anything you could possibly imagine, limited only by your ability to program the things. Food, clothing, shelter – all could be manufactured from the existing environment. Inject a hypospray of nanoprobes into the bloodstream to repair damage and stop aging. None of these devices have been built – yet. But researchers at IBM have already learned how to move individual cobalt atoms on a copper surface (they spelled out the letters ‘IBM’). The rest is simply an engineering problem. What could possibly go wrong?

Gray Goo

Before they can start building, nanoprobes must first deconstruct something – anything – for raw material. If something went awry with this process, if the ‘build’ aspect dropped out of the equation, the entire planet could be transformed into a very large ball of…goo. This could happen by accident (the inadvertent creation of a runaway replicator), or it could be deliberate. One thing is certain, once these machines are created, we will immediately turn them into a weapon. There is an actual mod in the game of ‘Minecraft’ that allows this:

In the case of weaponized nanites, they could fail to stop deconstructing on cue. Or, there could be the case of an individual who has gone barking mad:

Fortunately (or un- as the case may be), working, programmable nanites are still a long way off. If you’ve ever seen old, herky-jerky, black and white movies and compared them to today’s cinema, that’s about where we are now in terms of nanotech development. Hopefully, by the time this technology is perfected, we will have made the transition to a Type 1 Civilization. So things won’t get too out of hand…