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Death Star petition reaches 25,000 votes

David Kravets: "A petition demanding the President Barack Obama administration build a Death Star like the one in Star Wars reached 25,000-plus signatures Thursday, a threshold requiring the government to respond whether it will build the fictional weapon capable of annihilating planets with its super laser." [Wired] Rob

3D printed gun fires 6 shots - then falls apart

Defense Distributed, a group that is developing free designs for weapons made on 3D printers, tested out a firearm that has a plastic lower receiver made on a 3D printer. It successfully fired six rounds before splitting.

HaveBlue claimed in July to have fired his printed gun hundreds of times, which doesn't seem impossible given the quality of the printing. The part printed by the group is called the lower receiver, which is where a round is received from the magazine. Pictures show it to be very well made, and it appears to fit exactly to the other parts in the gun kit they used.

But the pressure of the recoil appears to have been too much for the "buffer ring," which separates the stock from the upper receiver. After firing just six shots, the gun split in two. It's a serious setback, especially considering they were firing a lower-caliber cartridge than the gun would normally shoot.

3D printed gun fires 6 shots - then falls apart (Thanks, Lew!)

Previously: Defense Distributed

US goes after bloggers for writing about imaginary laser weapon that could set insurgents’ clothes on fire

A number of journalists I know believe the Obama administration is the most secretive administration yet.

When I read news like this, I am inclined to believe them: the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is going after our pals at Danger Room, over a 5-year-old leak about a weapon that was never built.

"Federal agents are also chasing a leaker who gave Danger Room a document asking for a futuristic laser weapon that could set insurgents’ clothes on fire from nine miles away."

Total bullshit.

Russia's nuclear sledgehammers


Russia's nuclear missile bunkers reportedly come standard-issue with a sledgehammer whose designated purpose is smashing open the safe containing the launch-codes, should the combination not work:

The sledgehammer's existence first came to light in 1980, when a group of inspecting officers from the General Staff visiting Strategic Missile Forces headquarters asked General Georgy Novikov what he would do if he received a missile launch order but the safe containing the launch codes failed to open.

Novikov said he would “knock off the safe’s lock with the sledgehammer” he kept nearby, the spokesman said.

Russian Missile Forces Have ‘Safe Busting’ Sledgehammer (via Super Punch)

Tactical stabbing pen adds handcuff key and other stuff


The Uzi Tactical Defender Pen goes beyond the usual "if it's stabby and matte black, it's tactical" realm, adding in a DNA-Catcher (a snaggy bit), a hidden handcuff key, a glass-breaker, and a writes-upside-down-and-underwater cartridge. It's not even black.

Are you expecting the unexpected? Does expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected? Either way, the Uzi Tactical Pen turns a mere pen into a life saving tool. The DNA Catcher on the crown of the pen is very sharp and can be used to deliver a very nasty jab to an attacker, causing extreme pain and giving you a sample of their DNA to use when you go to the police. Not expecting to get attacked? The crown also doubles as a glass breaker if you ever get trapped in your vehicle... If things get really bad, you can always rely on the hidden handcuff key inside the top of this pen. This badass writing utensil is made of high-grade aircraft aluminum and writes upside down or under water. If you can find a situation where you use all of this pen's features and live to tell the tale, we probably owe you some sort of prize.

Uzi Tactical Defender Pen (via Red Ferret)

Instructions on a smoke grenade: Don't be a dick


An unnamed brand of smoke grenade includes "Don't be a dick with our products" in its instructions. Apparently this is Canadian (judging from the bilingual instructions).

Smoke grenade instructions.. (imgur.com) (via Lowering the Bar)

Yes Tool: copper demolition axe


Homeland Security Equipment is one of those blandly-named and blandly-designed sites that contains unexpected delights, such as the wicked Yes Tool, a demolition axe made entirely of copper. It even has the de riguer bottle opener, so you can drink the flat, sun-skunked beer of the apocalypse. [Thanks, Tim!] Previously: The Annihilator

Czechoslovakian tank helmets

From the Joseba Revuelta collection, photos and commentary (in Spanish) on vintage Czechoslovakian tank-helmets, which were apparently accessorized to the nines.

CASCOS CARRISTAS CHECOOSLOVACOS (via Making Light)

Officer Vader suit for your riot-control needs


If you're feeling alone and vulnerable in a big, troubled world, Amazon has this "Damascus FX1 FlexForce Modular Hard Shell Full Body Crowd Control System," which will provide you with the physical protection and the emotional distance necessary to beat, gas, and detain your fellow human beings. All for a mere $545.95!

The FX-1 FlexForce Modular Hard Shell Crowd Control System is the ultimate high-threat level riot control, domestic disturbance, and cell extraction suit. The FlexForce design provides substantial protection from blunt force trauma without sacrificing the fit or comfort. The suit is lightweight and ranks highest in easy to put on or take off in a moments notice. The front and back hard shell panels have a modular flex design allowing for all shapes and sizes to fit comfortably with out sacrificing much needed mobility. The forearm guard offers a much more comfortable elbow portion of the pad, which allows more flexibility. The knee/shin guard has a non-slip surface, which keeps you planted in position. The FX-1 is a considerably improved fitting system compared to competitor models and is worn by forces worldwide.Upper Body and Shoulder Protection.Hard shell front and back panels feature a unique Damascus 3-panel flex design for optimum movement, fit and comfort.

I love that it's a "system" and not a "Hallowe'en costume for terrified control-freaks and mall-ninjas."

Damascus FX1 FlexForce Modular Hard Shell Full Body Crowd Control System, Medium (via Red Ferret)

British anti-theft briefcase, 1961

From a 1961 British Pathe newsreel called "Beat The Bandit", a remarkable anti-theft system for a briefcase:

As the man runs off with the case three telescopic poles spring out of it making the case impossible to manage, as well as crushing the man's hand pressing it into the handle of the case. It then has to be unlocked and deactivated with a key!

Amazing Anti-Thief Security Case! (via Schneier)

Old toy for teaching children to accurately drop atom bombs


Before the "Nintendo wars" of the early 21st century, there were these toys, which invited young children to practice accurately releasing atom bombs. I'm not sure that the skills you learned with this gadget would translate into real A-bombing practice, though, which probably disappointed some youngsters.

Atom Bomber

Wyoming state reps propose bill to investigate buying an aircraft carrier in case the USA collapses


Wyoming state representative Lorraine Quarberg (R-Thermopolis) has proposed Wyoming House Bill 85, which will prepare Wyoming for the day that the USA collapses. It includes an amendment proffered by Rep. Kermit Brown, which establishes a task force to investigate "conditions under which the state of Wyoming should implement a draft, raise a standing army, marine corps, navy and air force and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier."

The state does not have a whole hell of a lot of water, to be honest. It appears that its largest lake is Yellowstone Lake, which on average is about 140 feet deep. (Yes, it's in a national park now, but that wouldn't matter, would it?) The draft of a Midway-class carrier, which you can probably find on eBay for cheap, was only 33 feet; even the biggest carrier available (Nimitz-class) only needs about 40 feet of water to float. So yes, assuming they could find one and figure out a way to get it in there, the people of Wyoming could potentially have their own aircraft carrier. It might not have much room to putt around in, but still.

I wouldn't get too cocky, though, even then. Dry as they are, most if not all the neighboring states seem to have at least one lake that could float a carrier, and since Wyoming has the fewest people of any U.S. state, it'd be heavily outnumbered, too.

Wyoming to Consider Buying an Aircraft Carrier

(Image: Modellbaumesse-Köln_2008-11-08 14-56-20, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from schwenke's photostream)

UK tests "non-blinding" police lasers

The makers of a "non-blinding" laser claims an unnamed UK police force is set to trial the weapon as a means of "controlling riots." According to the manufacturer -- who developed the weapon for use against pirates in Somalia -- the laser can "temporarily" blind its victims at 500m. It is meant to provide "an intimidating visual deterrent" because "If you can't look at something you can't attack it."

My friend Sulka, who brought this to my attention, has some informed speculation about what "non-blinding" might mean. He notes that the UK is a signatory on the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons (I didn't know this existed, and I'm both glad and sad that it does), whose definition of blindness "is where your eyesight goes worse than 20/200, meaning you can't see the *largest* letter in a Snellen chart when looking at it with *both* eyes."

So that means that this weapon wouldn't run afoul of international law if it (merely) reduced your vision to the point where you were impaired but not legally blind, permanently.

Meanwhile, Twitter wags are already predicting a resurgence of mirrorshades among protesters, which means that everything the cyberpunks predicted in the mid-80s is finally coming true. I always thought that Anon was basically an analog to the Panther Moderns.

Police test for riot laser that can temporarily blind

(Image: Redfest reject, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from gwdexter's photostream)

(Image: London riot police, November 2010, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from hozinja's photostream)

Pepper-spray inventor: "It's fashionable to use chemical agents on people who have an opinion"

Amy Goodman interviews Kamran Loghman, inventor of modern pepper spray and developer of police procedures for its use. Loghman regrets his work today, and says it's "fashionable" to use chemical agents on "people who have an opinion":

It is becoming more and more fashionable right now, this day and age, to use chemical on people who have an opinion. And that to me is a complete lack of leadership both in the police department and other people who cannot really deal with the root of the problem and they want to spray people to quiet them down. And it’s really not supposed to be that. It’s not a thing that solves any problem nor is it something that quiets people down.”

Pepper Spray Developer: It Has Become Fashionable to Use Chemicals on People with Opinions (via Naked Capitalism)

The Gun Snuggler: from parody video to actual holiday gift

The Gun Snuggler. "Because happiness is a warm gun." Comes in sizes to fit everything from handguns to assault rifles! This began as a funny internet joke, but so many people took it seriously that it is now being offered as an actual thing that you can really buy for real. (Thanks, Marque Cornblatt!)