Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dazzle U

Spurred by the widespread use of digital footage in public areas and facial recognition software, a camouflage idea a hundred years old is seeing a renewal of interest.  "CV Dazzle" is the what this movement has been named.  Here's a link to a video showing it in action against Facebook's facial recognition program.
Image from
In 1914, John Graham Kerr had suggested a scheme using natural principles to make ships harder to spot.  The early 20th Century found the British and the Germans in a naval arms race, but the British stayed ahead.

SMS Kaiser from
Due to the might of the British navy, the German fleet returned to unrestricted submarine warfare around the British Isles in 1917.  (WW1 U-boat history can be found at Sharkhunters has detailed information about WWII U-boats, but unfortunately not WWI models).  Between February and April of that year, over 500 merchant vessels were sunken.   In 1917, Norman Wilkinson, a marine painter and British sailor, suggested using patterns painted on ships in a way that would confuse range-finding and targeting from U-boats.

After the war, Wilkinson went to court to claim the development of dazzle paint.  He was able to win the case and earn compensation based on his contention that Kerr's patterns were an attempt to hide the ships, while his dazzle paint was meant only to confuse U-boats stalking the ships.

A very interesting article about the development of dazzle paint can be found here.  Ohio State University has an entire section devoted to influential camouflage artists and theorists as part of The Camouflage Project

A gallery of dazzle camouflaged ships can be found here

USS West Mahomet (1918) from Wikimedia

Though dazzle paint was primarily used in WWI, and to a much lesser extend in WWII, here's a picture of a US prototype littoral warfare vessel with a modified dazzle paint scheme from 2006.

That's the story behind dazzle paint.  Created to make ships harder to hit by the enemy, it has now been adopted as a way to confuse our machine overlords and their human puppets.   If you want to use it on yourself, you can, or you can do what I do: I switch back and forth between a Guy Fawkes mask and an old-school Zorro black silk classic.  With a cape.  Recognize that, SkyNet

Thursday, February 28, 2013

CamelBak Better Bottle: Hydration on the Move

So-called survivalists may have gotten a bad rap.  The word conveys up images of burned-out 'Nam vets stockpiling vast quantities of MREs, crates of ammunition, Playboys, and hexamine tabs in the basement.  While some people may indeed just store up for the zombie apocalypse- seeing as how the nuclear holocaust  has been postponed, and all- I take a a different tack.

I think the practical way to prepare for bad times is to keep yourself in good shape all of the time. ( I know, call me crazy.  It's been said.)  With this in mind, I like keeping food, clothing, defensive items, and especially water available as much of the time as possible.  A couple of months before I left on my last deployment, I bought a Camelback Better Bottle from the Clothing and Sales store on Fort Mead.  I think it was about $13.

There is a lot to be said for keeping a small bottle of water with you at all times.  A 16 ounce bottle of liquid makes a terrific improvised defensive tool if you're jumped while on the way to the library.  Unfortunately, buying bottled water is expensive.  I keep a large Pur pitcher filled so I'll have tasty, lead-free water available.  Refilling a disposable bottle unfortunately has some health risks, so a dedicated water bottle is the way to go.

CamelBak Better Bottle

The Better Bottle version I have carries .75 liter (25 oz) of water.  The Better Bottle is a sturdy plastic bottle with a built-in plastic hook that a carabiner can be snapped onto.  The bottom part of the hook protects a rubber nozzle when it's in the closed position.  With the lid on, the Better Bottle has proven spill-proof.  The Better Bottle has been unbreakable under practical conditions, fits into most car cup holders, and is easy to clean.

I took the Better Bottle to Afghanistan.  I used it at CRC and on the trip out, but rarely used it in theater due to the bottled water that's everywhere for US troops.  It suffered no damage being shuffled around the country with me during the better part of a year.  I keep the Better Bottle with me virtually everywhere.  Having it close by reminds me to drink water, even when I'm not thirsty.  Staying hydrated is just one of the ways to be ready for that next big emergency we don't really want to happen- and be more comfortable, in the meantime.