The rockets came like locusts, swarming and settling in blooms of rosy smoke.
--Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles
From National Geographic News -- "Locusts Inspire Technology That May Prevent Car Crashes" by John Roach:
Locusts are commonly associated with plagues, food shortages, and death. But for a team of European scientists, the grasshopper-like insects are inspiring a technology that may save lives by preventing hundreds of thousands of car crashes."Locusts are good at avoiding collisions," said team member Claire Rind, a biologist at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England. "We should learn from a species that is good at the task."
The insects migrate in swarms as dense as 80 million adults per square kilometer (0.4 square mile) yet avoid crashing into each other and the mouths of predatory birds.[...]Locusts, which can consume their own weight in food each day, have a large neuron called the locust giant movement detector (LGMD) located behind their eyes. The LGMD releases bursts of energy whenever a locust is on a collision course with another locust or a predatory bird.A few years ago Rind and her colleagues studied the activity of the LGMD as locusts watched action scenes from the movie Star Wars. The team found that the LGMD releases more energy when something is coming directly at the locust.
To date, the team has built a locust-inspired, collision-avoiding robot and is currently developing crash-avoidance circuitry for a model car. In a few years Volvo may have a prototype. By the end of the decade cars equipped with the locust-inspired technology could be on the showroom floor.The system is envisioned as something that would detect approaching danger before a human notices it. The system would sound an alarm so that the driver could take evasive action. "If the situation gets worse, it would apply the brakes, initiate defensive features, such as tensioning of the seatbelts, and arming inside airbags," Rind said.
From CounterPunch -- "Empire of the Locusts" by Jeffrey St. Clair:
The American Empire is in the grip of the idiot prince. But Bush the Younger doesn't have the heart of Claudius. He is a smirking and vindictive man, running on very bitter juices indeed. A sour little man of limited intellect and unbound ambition, primed with the pious rage of a dry drunk. Pretzel Boy.Bush was whisked into power in an electoral coup, the way cleared by his more capable brother, a cadre of media handlers and pitbull lawyers, and a corrupted Supreme Court. Bush merely watched things break his way like a dazed automaton.The American people, by and large, mulled around like somnambulants, as the remnants of their Republic dissolved without so much as a murmur. They were mired in a pathology of submission. Even the baleful Gore didn't stand up for himself, as if to say that if he had to win the election by fighting for thousands of disenfranchised black voters in Florida it wasn't worth winning.This is a dangerous mix in a putative democracy. The nation is ruled by corporate gangsters and the people who might do something about it are too dulled, overworked and panic-stricken to make a move to defend their rights. It's evidence that an extreme political degeneracy has set in, eating away at the great promise of this wrecked republic. The glory days are gone. Now the nation finds itself enshrouded in a kind of terminal entropy.[...]Even Nero proved a more forgiving despot than Bush. Here's Suetonius on the deranged emperor: "According to my informants, Nero was convinced that nobody could remain chaste or pure in any part of his body, but that most people concealed their secret vices; hence, if anyone confessed to obscene practices, Nero forgave him all his other crimes."In contrast, Bush, a former drug dilettante and alcoholic, pursues private and consensual conduct with the rabid spite of an uptight bully. He has attacked the right to die with dignity and zealously pursued the prosecution of those who want to alleviate their suffering by smoking a little pot, even when such federal prosecutions trample state laws, which he once deemed as sacrosanct. His Attorney General, John Ashcroft, a psalm-spouting, prosecutorial puritan. He views the Bill of Rights with the same acidic disdain that J. Edgar Hoover once reserved for the Communist Manifesto. John Ashcroft is our Torquemada, has turned America against itself, seeding the country with snitches, snoops and informants. Diversity was once the calling card of this nation, now it can land you a subpoena or a one-way ticket to an internment camp: address unknown.These things happen every day in the empire of the locusts.
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Wouldn't it be nice if locust technology could help prevent a head-on crash into the apocalypse? But with Tiberius Bush driving the car, believing it's better to "stay the course" and drive full speed into oncoming trucks, we're headed straight for plague* times.
*Extreme plagues may vary.
One person who understands well the hopeless situation in Iraq and the rigidity of Republicans is Digby over at Hullabaloo. Go now and read his recent post on the futility of hoping BushCo will wise up or ever give a Roman inch. It's been thumbs down from the get go, and liberal intellectuals are fools for thinking Bush will ever come nosing around the light of reason. Digby notes:
On what planet did liberals think that the modern Republican party gave a flying fuck about what they thought about anything? It certainly wasn't planet earth circa 2003. Bush had just recaptured the Senate and was striding around the country, codpiece bursting, proclaiming to the entire world that he didn't care what they thought. Did liberal intellectuals actually believe some fantasy that Bush could blow off Europe and ultimately the entire security council but listen to them? My God.Why are people so unwilling to admit what they are seeing before their eyes, even today? The Republican party is corrupt, incompetent and drunk with power. And no matter what their intentions, they are incapable of setting things right. We have seen this over and over again.
What planet, indeed. These give-Bush-the-benefit-of-the-doubt Democrats are like the guy in the snow globe above. Smiling sheepishly, reaching for cap in hand, trusting Bush Tiberius will lift a thumb in their direction, they instead are tossed facedown into the arena. The globe wobbles. The insects attack. The bones are stripped bare. The skeletons apologize. Repeat. Slaughter is inevitable when gladiators equivocate instead of fight. Will liberals and the Democratic leaders ever learn and fine-tune their sensors to avoid another crash?
Meanwhile, in its last throes, the Empire slouches off to the vomitorium and awaits the regurgitation of democracy. Bush, with his imperial smirk intact and bored with vacations from his vacation, once more shakes up the world for daily bread and circuses. And, like radioactive ash, the locusts swarm and bury liberals wearing rose-colored blinders -- again and again and again.