Battleship Island

Deserted, decaying and crumbling into the sea. Visitors to this abandoned settlement could be forgiven for thinking they had entered a long-forgotten war zone.

However, this is Gunkanjima – Japan’s rotting metropolis. And it has been described as the most desolate place on Earth.

Gunkanjima is a deserted island of concrete that is slowly crumbling away on Japan’s west coast.

Meaning ‘Battleship Island’ in English, Gunkanjima’s real name is Hashima and it is one of 505 uninhabited islands in the Nagasaki Prefecture (territory), about 15 kilometers (9.5 miles) from Nagasaki itself. It earned its nickname due to its resemblance to the military warship.

Despite being off-limits to travellers, the island has become an irresistible magnet for urban explorers who go to extraordinary lengths to investigate and photograph the island’s abandoned buildings.

Gunkanjima was once just a small reef but, following the discovery of coal in 1810, was turned into mining facility during the industrialisation of Japan. It gave rise to its own population of workers and inhabitants who were all densely-packed into a self-contained metropolis.

The 15-acre island was populated between 1887 and 1974, reaching its peak in 1959 with 5,259 inhabitants. However, as petroleum replaced coal during the 1960s, Japan’s mines were hit by closures which eventually reached Gunkanjima.

Within a matter of days of the mines closing in 1974, the workers and their families deserted the island, leaving their possessions, which still lay where they were left.

After 35 years of closure, the landing ban was lifted on Gunkanjima in 2009, meaning it was no longer illegal for boats to dock at the island. However, it still remains illegal to venture inside the city’s walls, meaning urban explorers must go to great lengths to covertly trespass the island.

Attribution: Japan Guide, Daily Mail

Joke of the Day

You may be a Radical Islamist if:
1. You refine heroin for a living, but you have a moral objection to liquor.

2. You own a $3,000 machine gun and $5,000 rocket launcher, but you can’t afford shoes.

3. You have more wives than teeth.

4. You wipe your butt with your bare hand, but consider bacon unclean.

5. You think vests come in two styles: bulletproof and suicide.

6. You can’t think of anyone you haven’t declared Jihad against.

7. You consider television dangerous, but routinely carry explosives in your clothing.

8. You were amazed to discover that cell phones have uses other than setting off roadside bombs.

9. You have nothing against women and think every man should own at least four.

Robo Surgeon

Doctors in the future might tell patients, ‘I’m afraid this is going to require surgery’ – then hand a pill that will do the surgery from inside the body.

A breakthrough at Stanford has created a Fantastic Voyage-style vehicle that can ‘swim’ through a patient’s veins, powered wirelessly by electromagnetic waves from doctors from outside.

Previous prototypes have been hampered by large batteries – but the new machine is around the size of a grain of rice.

The device could deliver drugs, perform surgery, or just take on ‘reconnaissance missions’ which would otherwise require invasive endoscope treatments.

The current prototype chip is only three millimeters wide and four millimeters long.

This week, at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference, Professor Ada Poon demonstrated a tiny, wirelessly powered, self-propelled medical device capable of controlled motion through blood.

‘Such devices could revolutionize medical technology,’ said Poon. ‘Applications include everything from diagnostics to minimally invasive surgeries.’

Poon’s most recent creation, could travel through the bloodstream to deliver drugs, perform analyses, and perhaps even zap blood clots or remove plaque from sclerotic arteries.

The idea of implantable medical devices is not new, but most of today’s implements are challenged by the size of their batteries, which are large and heavy and must be replaced periodically. Fully half the volume of most of these devices is consumed by battery.

‘While we have gotten very good at shrinking electronic and mechanical components of implants, energy storage has lagged in the move to miniaturize,’ said co-author Teresa Meng, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science. ‘This hinders us in where we can place implants within the body and also creates the risk of corrosion or broken wires, not to mention replacing aging batteries.’

Poon’s devices are different. They consist of a radio transmitter outside the body sending signals inside the body to an independent device that picks up the signal with an antenna of coiled wire.

The transmitter and the antennae are magnetically coupled such that any change in current flow in the transmitter produces a voltage in the other wire – or, more accurately, it induces a voltage.

The power is transferred wirelessly. It can be used to run electronics on the device and propel it through the bloodstream.

Attribution: By Rob Waugh

History Repeats?

This article is from a while ago but is still applicable.

Something of historic proportions is happening. I can sense it because I know how it feels, smells, what it looks like, and how people react to it. Yes, a perfect storm may be brewing, but there is something happening within our country that has been evolving for decades. The pace has dramatically quickened in the past two (now three).

We demand and then codify into law the requirement that our banks make massive loans to people we know can never pay back? Why?

We learn that the Federal Reserve, which has little or no real oversight by anyone, has “loaned” trillions of dollars over the past few years, but will not tell us to whom or why or disclose the terms. That is our money. Who has this money? Why do they have it? Why are the terms unavailable to us? Who asked for it? Who authorized it? I thought this was a government of “we the people” who loaned our powers to elected leaders who took an oath to uphold the Constitution.

We have spent two or more decades intentionally de-industrializing our economy. We have intentionally dumbed-down our schools, ignored our history, no longer teach our founding documents, why we are exceptional, and why our nation is worth preserving. Students by and large cannot write, think critically, read, or articulate what they believe without excessive use of the word “like.” Parents are not revolting, teachers are not picketing, and school Boards continue to back mediocrity.

We have now established the precedent of protesting every close election (violently in California over a proposition that is so controversial that it simply wants marriage to remain defined as between one man and one woman. Did you ever think such a thing possible just a decade ago?) We have corrupted our sacred political process by allowing unelected judges to write laws that radically change our way of life, and then mainstream Marxist groups like ACORN and others to turn our voting system into a banana republic.

The mortgage industry has collapsed, housing prices are in free fall, major industries are failing, our banking system is on the verge of collapse, Social Security is nearly bankrupt, as is Medicare and our entire government. Our education system is worse than a joke — the list is staggering in its length, breadth, and depth. It is potentially 1929 x ten.

We are at war with an enemy we cannot name for fear of offending people of the same religion, who, in turn, cannot wait to slit the throats of your children if they have the opportunity to do so.

And finally, we have elected a man of who we know very little, the media won’t investigate, and who has not run so much as a Dairy Queen, let alone a town as big as Wasilla, Alaska. His associations and alliances are with real radicals and everything we are learning about him — drip by unsettling drip — is disturbing if not downright scary.

I have never been so afraid for my country and for my children as I am now.

This man campaigned on bringing people together, something he has never done in his professional life. In my assessment, Obama will divide us along philosophical lines, push us apart, and then try to realign the pieces into a new and different power structure. Change is indeed coming. And when it comes, you will never see the same nation again.

And that is only the beginning.

As a serious student of history, I thought I would never come to experience what the ordinary, moral German must have felt in the mid-1930s. In those times, the “savior” was a former smooth-talking rabble-rouser from the streets, about whom the average German knew next to nothing. What they should

Look ma, No Teleprompter

have known was that he was associated with groups that shouted, shoved, and pushed around people with whom they disagreed. He edged his way onto the political stage

 through great oratory.

And there were the promises. Economic times were tough, people were losing jobs, and he was a great speaker. And he smiled and frowned and waved a lot. And people, even newspapers, were afraid to speak out for fear that his “brown shirts” would bully and beat them into submission. Which they did — regularly. And then, he was duly elected to office, while a full-throttled economic crisis bloomed at hand — the Depression. Slowly, but surely he seized the controls of government power, person by person, department by department, bureaucracy by bureaucracy. The children of German citizens were at first, encouraged to join a Youth Movement in his name where they were taught exactly what to think. Later, they were required to do so. No Jews of course.

How did he get people on his side? He did it by promising jobs to the jobless, money to the money-less, and rewards for the military-industrial complex. He did it by indoctrinating the children, advocating gun control, health care for all, better wages, better jobs, and promising to re-instill pride once again in the country, across Europe, and across the world. He did it with a compliant media — did you know that? And he did this all in the name of justice and change. And the people surely got what they voted for.

Many people of conscience, objected in 1933 and were shouted down, called names, laughed at, and ridiculed. When Winston Churchill pointed out the obvious in the late 1930s while seated in the House of Lords in England (he was not yet Prime Minister), he was booed into his seat and called a crazy troublemaker. He was right, though. And the world came to regret that he was not listened to.

Do not forget that Germany was one of the most educated and cultured countries in Europe. It was full of music, art, museums, hospitals, laboratories, and universities. And yet, in less than six years (a shorter time span than just two terms of the U. S. presidency) it was rounding up its own citizens, killing others, abrogating its laws, turning children against parents, and neighbors against neighbors.

As a practical thinker, one not overly prone to emotional decisions, I have a choice: I can believe what the objective pieces of evidence tell me (even if they make me cringe with disgust) or I can believe what history is shouting to me from across the chasm of seven decades. Of course, I can hope I am wrong by closing my eyes, having another latte, and ignoring what is transpiring around me.

I choose to believe the evidence. No doubt some people will scoff and others laugh or think I am foolish, naive, or both. To some degree, perhaps I am. But I have never been afraid to look people in the eye and tell them exactly what I believe and why I believe it.

I pray I am wrong. I do not think I am. Perhaps the only hope is our vote in the next election.

Attribution: anonymous

Constitution 101 (8)

Lesson 8: “Abraham Lincoln and the Constitution”

Study Guide

Overview:

Abraham Lincoln’s fidelity to the Declaration of Independence is equally a fidelity to the Constitution. The Constitution takes its moral life from the principles of liberty and equality, and was created to serve those principles. We are divided as a nation today, as in Lincoln’s time, because we have severed the connection between these two documents.

Lincoln’s “Fragment on the Constitution and the Union” contains the central theme of Lincoln’s life and work. Drawing upon biblical language, Lincoln describes the Declaration of Independence as an “apple of gold,” and the Constitution as the “frame of silver” around it. We cannot consider the Constitution independently of the purpose which it was designed to serve.

The Constitution acts to guard the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. As the embodiment of the Declaration’s principles, the Constitution created a frame of government with a clear objective. The Constitution is not a collection of compromises, or an empty vessel whose meaning can be redefined to meet the needs of the time; it is the embodiment of an eternal, immutable truth.

Abraham Lincoln defended the Union and sought to defeat the Confederate insurrection because he held that the principles of the Declaration and Constitution were inviolable. In his speeches and in his statecraft, Lincoln wished to demonstrate that self-government is not doomed to either be so strong that it overwhelms the rights of the people or so weak that it is incapable of surviving.

Joke of the Day

Chicken Gun

Scientists at Rolls Royce built a gun specifically to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airliners and military jets all travelling at maximum velocity. The idea was to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields.

American engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high speed trains. Arrangements were made, and a gun was sent to the American engineers.

When the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken hurled out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer’s back-rest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin like an arrow shot from a bow..

The horrified engineers sent Rolls Royce the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield and begged the British scientists for suggestions.

Rolls Royce responded with a one-line memo:

Defrost the chicken..

By the Way…The Civil War Started Today

A few moments in history from American Minute:

Less than two months after Lincoln was inaugurated President, the Civil War began APRIL 12, 1861, with Confederate troops in Charleston, South Carolina, firing upon Fort Sumter.

The Confederate Army was unstoppable, twice winning battles at Bull Run, Virginia, just twenty miles from Washington, D.C., forcing the Union troops to retreat to the fortifications of the Capitol.

It was not until the Battle of Gettysburg, over two years into the war, that the tide began to turn. President Lincoln confided to Noah Brooks:

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”

In his General Order, November 15, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln wrote:

“The President, Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in the military and naval service.

The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due regard for the Divine Will demand that Sunday labor in the Army and Navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity.”

I guess Abe wasn’t aware of the ‘Separation of Church & State”.