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Revisiting DIY HERF Guns

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the scrambled-not-fried dept.

Hardware Hacking 425

An anonymous reader writes "HERF guns have previously been regarded as nothing more than an interesting project with uses ranging from at-home experiments to malicious pranks. But the deployment of 'morally gray' forms of high-tech crowd control, such as the recent use of a sound cannon against domestic protesters, along with the likely future unleashing of the pain gun on more than just 'foreign terrorists,' creates a new purpose for these relatively easily assembled devices. Could HERF guns become a new method to counter the silencing of protesters via these sophisticated attacks, or is there any other way to prevent such efficient, convenient crowd dispersal?"

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425 comments

From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (4, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559703)

a HERF gun is "(a device like EMP but directional) ... capable of stalling cars at a distance and crashing computers as well."

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (4, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559745)

a HERF gun is "(a device like EMP but directional) ... capable of stalling cars at a distance and crashing computers as well."

I have no intention of actually doing this since it sounds like a great way to get in trouble. So, this is entirely hypothetical. I have thought of what it would be like to have a device like this in your trunk, and arranged so that it can transmit through the trunk lid (maybe this would entail replacing a part of the metal lid with something more transmissive) and pointed backwards. Then, some aggressive idiot wants to tailgate you, you tap your brake lights to ask him to back off. If he doesn't, you flip a switch under your dashboard and kill his engine by letting the EMP disrupt the electronics that control the ignition system. Then watch him disappear in your rear-view as he is forced to pull over with what momentum he has left. That would be most satisfying. Of course, you'd probably have to shield your own electronics, but it could be done.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559767)

What could possibly go wrong?

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (2, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559899)

What could possibly go wrong?

Again, this is entirely hypothetical. I addressed such concerns for the person with the device by noting you'd probably have to shield your own electronics. For the person tailgating, well, that person is attempting to bully you into driving the way he wants you to drive by threatening you with an increased chance of a car accident. This is particularly true when they have an easy way to pass you and/or when you are already speeding.

I have little concern for what becomes of people who decide to be aggressive assholes without provocation, to be honest with you. They invite any misfortune they receive. I think it's a shame that they would be this way, and I wish they would not, but there is such a thing as sleeping in the bed that you have made and I'll not deprive them of it. I would greatly prefer that they choose not to be belligerent out of the kindness of their heart, and not because they fear an immediate and certain retaliation, but those are the two reasonable choices.

Now in reality, I try not to end up in situations where I have to deal with such people. You can usually see it coming, for these are not sophisticated people and such things as subtlety and discretion are all but unknown to them. For the few I do not foresee ahead of time, I am not too proud to pull over and force a tailgater to pass me, for example, rather than engage in a pointless pissing contest or put up with a needless risk of an accident. I don't particularly care if they think that is weakness, for it is actually the self-determination to not to play such stupid no-win games merely because some random jackass wants me to do so. However, I simply cannot deny that if there were a truly effective way to immediately shut down this behavior, there would be much less of it, nor can I deny that this would be a benefit to everyone else.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (4, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560137)

I have little concern for what becomes of people who decide to be aggressive assholes without provocation, to be honest with you. They invite any misfortune they receive.

Um, no.

First off, not all tailgating is the same. Not to entirely justify it, but sometimes a person will pull into the left lane and either maintain the same speed as the right lane (two-lane scenario, for simplification), or so minimally faster that it will take several miles before they pass the car on their right. All the while there is a good 1/8th mile of empty road before the two cars *and* they're both under the speed limit.

In those cases, it's the fucker in the left lane that's creating an unsafe circumstance.

However, in neither case does the two parties involved deserve to be deliberately put into danger. The slow-poke in the left lane doesn't deserve to be tailgated, but neither does the person behind him deserve to have his car disabled while driving in excess of 50mph.

Best way to avoid such situations is to stay the fuck out of the left lane if you have more than about 75-100 ft of empty road ahead of you, you aren't moving appreciably faster than the lane to your right, and you have someone riding your tail. Problem averted, you haven't inconvenienced yourself, and you have diffused a dangerous situation that you are partly responsible for, all without escalating the situation.

Or, you could just do as you are envisioning, and out-asshole the asshole behind you by deliberately disabling, maybe even damaging his car, and putting those behind him and beside him in mortal danger.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (0, Offtopic)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560233)

random guess- you like to drive fast and after even a minute or 2 of being forced to drive behind something traveling slower than you'd like to go you start to grind your teeth, grip the steering wheel tighter and start acting like an aggressive asshole.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560267)

What happens when the tailgating a**hole gets a taste of that medicine and soon turns into an a***hole with a HERF gun who activates it at random times, to have fun (when he's not getting tailgated)... or points it at people trying to pass them and activates it.
Yeah, no way this technique could backfire...

In those cases, it's the fucker in the left lane that's creating an unsafe circumstance.

Yep, and in most cases breaking the law too.

Many states have a law specifically banning use of the left lane, except when making a left turn, overtaking another vehicle, or when the right lane is congested.

And to in all cases travel at a speed faster than rigth-lane traffic.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (1)

blueskies (525815) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560201)

I just increase my following distance even more.

I think if everyone slowed down for tailgaters, eventually no one would tailgate.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560343)

Either that or they might mount a HERF gun to their hood and shoot you, so you have to pull over, or they can pass through some means or another...

Forget HERF, they might pull out a real gun and follow you... making a**holes angrier is a generally bad idea, and may create an even bigger danger on the road.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560205)

I have little concern for what becomes of people who decide to be aggressive assholes without provocation

And I am not particularly fond of people, who decide to be aggressive assholes (with or without provocation), creating further danger on the road. You seem to have the mindset, if not the balls for that.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560223)

However, I simply cannot deny that if there were a truly effective way to immediately shut down this behavior, there would be much less of it, nor can I deny that this would be a benefit to everyone else.

If you are in the left lane and someone can't get past you, you are impeding traffic. Keep to the right, you have no idea why someone else might be in a hurry and it is the height of arrogance to take it upon yourself to decide.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (2, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560417)

However, I simply cannot deny that if there were a truly effective way to immediately shut down this behavior, there would be much less of it, nor can I deny that this would be a benefit to everyone else.

If you are in the left lane and someone can't get past you, you are impeding traffic. Keep to the right, you have no idea why someone else might be in a hurry and it is the height of arrogance to take it upon yourself to decide.

I won't dramatize by calling it the "height" of anything, but there certainly is a little arrogance in assuming that you know details of the situation which have not been revealed to you. Since you clearly do not have all the facts and are sorely in need of them lest you continue to portray yourself this way, I'll explain a bit about why I feel this way about aggressive drivers.

I am not a slow driver, though not a speed demon either. Typically I am speeding just a little, though of course not during bad conditions. I stay out of the passing lane unless I am actually passing someone. When I am passing someone, I don't hang out beside them, I get moving and I (reasonably) quickly pass them so I can get back in the rightmost lane. I do not tailgate other drivers, nor do I needlessly limit their maneuverability (like the folks who hang out beside you and refuse to either pass you or drop back). I signal. When I see another driver having a hard time getting onto a road, I let him in if doing so is within my power and doesn't post an obstacle for others. In other words, I recognize that driving is an inherently dangerous thing to do even when you follow all of the rules and take great care, and so I try to give it the respect that it rightfully deserves. Also, I try to share the public roads, knowing that I do not own them any more than the other drivers.

In short, I do everything I can do to avoid being part of the problem. Yet, after all of that, if I am still afflicted by a would-be aggressor, you're god damned right that it is unjust and that I am within my rights to refuse to play these silly games. Like I said earlier, most of the time this means getting out of the way because the useless pissing contest is not worth it, though that is not always possible. When that is not possible, I can tell you I will never speed up and might slow down for such a person because I refuse to reward that behavior by giving them what they want. The bottom line is that I am not the aggressor in that situation, and any inconvenience the aggressor should incur is soundly earned. I understand neither the automatic assumption of wrongdoing on my part, nor the assumption of goodwill on the part of the aggressor that some of you seem determined to make.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (4, Insightful)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559781)

>>Then, some aggressive idiot wants to tailgate you, you tap your brake lights to ask him to back off. If he doesn't, you flip a switch under your dashboard and kill his engine

And possibly killing him as well. Having a car die in the middle of a crowded freeway is not a zero-risk event.

I think it's kind of a disproportionate response, don't you?

Personally I'd just like to get one of those scrolling LED text displays mounted to the back of my car. "HEY DUDE, BACK THE FUCK OFF. I'M NOT INTO THAT."

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (2, Funny)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559905)

And possibly killing him as well. Having a car die in the middle of a crowded freeway is not a zero-risk event.

That is a risk I'd be willing to take*.

Personally I'd just like to get one of those scrolling LED text displays mounted to the back of my car. "HEY DUDE, BACK THE FUCK OFF. I'M NOT INTO THAT."

That sounds like fun too.

*okay, not really, but wouldn't you want to?

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (0)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560179)

That is a risk I'd be willing to take*.

Manslaughter?

*okay, not really, but wouldn't you want to?

Ah, I see. Passive-aggresive imaginary manslaughter.

Ever consider maybe you're in the wrong lane?

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560231)

Come on, it wasn't a great joke, but surely you couldn't have missed it completely, could you? Could you?

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (2, Insightful)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559917)

Tailgating is not a zero risk event. Which is riskier?

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560095)

Being in a stopped position. Any more questions?

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (1)

blueskies (525815) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560187)

Being stopped but coasting off the side of the highway is less risky then tailgating at a 0.01 second following distance.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560143)

Neither is driving half the speed limit. The rest of the population should not have to suffer because one incompetent driver refuses to get out of the way. Sometimes tailgating is the only way to convince someone to pull over so the 30 people stuck behind them have a chance of getting where they are going on time.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (1, Insightful)

xmundt (415364) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560299)

Neither is driving half the speed limit. The rest of the population should not have to suffer because one incompetent driver refuses to get out of the way. Sometimes tailgating is the only way to convince someone to pull over so the 30 people stuck behind them have a chance of getting where they are going on time.

Greetings and Salutations...
          Sophistic argument here. There is NO valid reason for tailgating. This is ALWAYS overly-aggresive driving, and, has more to do with the ego of the person following than the supposed lacks of the person in front. There are a few situations where the couple of minutes delay caused by safe and sane driving makes a difference. For example, if you happen to be at the wheel of an ambulance, fire truck or police cruiser, and, are on the way to a life-and-death situation. But then...in THAT case you would also have a honking loud horn and lots of flashing lights to let the slower driver know that you need to get past. YOu might have a female companion in the front seat, in the midst of a difficult delivery. But then...you should have called one of the services mentioned in the FIRST example, to provide the best, safest way of dealing the the situation. You might have a dying relative in the car...again...see example 1. However, in almost every other case, the few minutes of delay that MIGHT occur because of being caught behind a slower driver you cannot pass will not have any negative impact on your life, and, will certainly be better than the far more lengthy delay and impact that being involved in a collision because your unwillingness to give adequate space has caused a bad situation to escalate.
          Finally...I have been driving for many decades, and, I can count the number of times that I have seen tailgaters attempting to push a vehicle driving at "half the speed limit" on one hand and STILL have fingers left over. Those were cases where the vehicle in question was having mechanical problems, and was trying to find a safe place to get off the road. The REST OF THE TIME the situation was that the car in front was driving at the speed limit, and, the cars behind were trying to get them pushed up to five or ten MPH OVER the posted speed limit. Not only is this illegal, but, it is massively stupid.
            And yes...I AM one of those guys that people like you curse at because I am driving at the speed limit.
            Now...just as a suggestion. If you are continually frustrated by drivers that are in front of you and going too slow, I have some alternatives to tailgating. 1) Turn at the next intersection and take a different road. 2) Take a deep breath, and let off the gas pedal until you are a few car lengths behind the slower vehicle, then, enjoy the ride. 3) Take some anger management courses. 4) Take up Tai Chi (or Yoga), as that will help deal with the unbridled flow of negative energies that are pushing you to this foolish and dangerous state.
            Regards
            Dave Mundt
   

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560151)

Tailgating is not a zero risk event. Which is riskier?

The chain reaction collision in heavy traffic. There is no way the drivers behind the driver behind you can anticipate the EMP burst.

There is also the interesting question of whether you have effectively contained and controlled the blast-
a question that won't be answered until after you have pressed the big red button.
 

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (4, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560109)

Having a car die in the middle of a crowded freeway is not a zero-risk event.

I agree, which is the main reason why this is a hypothetical idea that I have no intention of ever implementing. Not ever, for any reason. Nor would I advocate that anyone else do so. It's alright to imagine fictional ideas like this because I plan to keep them fictional. If anything, this discussion for me is about human nature and the observation that there are so many who bully and take advantage because there are so few who decide that they will not tolerate it.

I think it's kind of a disproportionate response, don't you?

Not really, not when you consider that the other person is using the threat of a car accident to try to intimidate you into doing what he wants you to do. People who are concerned about their own safety don't do things like this. That it happens all the time doesn't change the nature of it. You could also add up every accident that has ever happened in this country during which one vehicle rear-ended another, add up the total dollar amount of the property damage, add up the total number of people who were injured or killed because someone was following too closely, and then tell me if you still think an effective deterrent is disproportionate. Every last accident of this type was entirely preventable, which only makes them more unjust, for that means that the inconvenience of paying attention was more important to the at-fault party than the safety of others. There are car accidents where you can say "damn, ANYONE in that position wouldn't have been able to see that coming" but this just isn't it.

Besides, let's assume for the sake of argument that this is in fact a disproportionate response. There is plenty of precedent in law for increasing the penalty of a crime in the hopes that it has a deterrent effect on would-be criminals. This is particularly true for crimes where the individual criminal's chance of getting caught is low. Of course with the law you also generally have due process, which is absent here. This then would be more like those states which have enabled conceal-carry gun permits for law-abiding citizens, and as a result have seen violent crime drop significantly.

Gun control advocates have a real hard time admitting this, but the way this works is simplicity itself: criminals want helpless victims, and they think twice when their would-be victim is likely to be able to defend himself. To me, bullies on the road are no different in principle. They are cowards, and as such they put themselves in positions where they can hassle others with little fear of harm to themselves. An EMP device like what I imagine would give them something to think twice about. The result would not be a high number of people whose engines get stopped via EMP. No, the result would be far fewer tailgaters. What reasonable, law-abiding, non-aggressive driver would find that undesirable?

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (1)

corrie (111769) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560263)

And what would you say to the person who dies because he/she rammed into the tailgater's car that just suddenly stopped right in front of them?

Tough luck, the tailgater had it coming?

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560355)

Sorry, but if you are so close to someone you cannot stop when they simply take their foot off the gas (effectively the same), then YOU ARE TOO FUCKING CLOSE!!!

Yeah. Had it coming.

In a hurry? Leave earlier. An Emergency? Call 911...and escort will be provied.

Too entitled to bother with that BS? BACK THE FUCK OFF.

No, I don't have any road-rage issues. Why do you ask? ;)

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (3, Insightful)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560383)

They wouldn't stop, they'd slow down.

Plus, if you can ram into the car in front if something unexepected happens (which there's a nonzero chance of whenever you're driving) *you're too damned close* and you bring it upon yourself. There's a reason why the card behind is *always* considered to be at fault for insurance purposes.

point of focus is a little too far front? (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560333)

Crowded highway, guy. Even in the hypothetical, you have to think further back, and to the left and right.

If the tailgater's engine just stalls and the tailgater knows how to safely get to the side of the road, fine.

I suppose you're going to blame the people behind the tailgater for not following at a safe distance? Are you always far enough back to safely stop if the car ahead of you suddenly rolls or spins out?

But what about the oncoming traffic? What about beyond the sides of the road?

If his brake system or steering has electronics (pneumatics?) go wonky, or if even if he doesn't know how to get over safely without power, maybe he strays into oncoming traffic the opposite direction. Maybe he spins or rolls. Maybe he shoots off the road into the pedestrian zone. What if the road is elevated over a residential district?

If you're going to think about disabling the tailgater, you've got to think a bit further -- machines that can take over the entire control of the car. And then think that about the implications of that.

By the way, this may seem to be out of the blue, but are you in favor of stricter laws about intellectual property, or stricter enforcement?

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560203)

someone threatens you with a deadly weapon (this is what a car is classified as during a crime) and you act in a non-lethal way to disarm them. Yes, this is a disproportionate response, because acting in a proportionately lethal manner would have a higher risk.

Absurdly safe (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559803)

That company has been making those soft foam toys for years, and I don't think anyone has ever been hurt. I've seen the guns and they are harmless.

Doesn't always work (1)

sfm (195458) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560133)

With my luck, I would go through the trouble of building it and the idiot behind me would be driving an older car.... you know, with points, a condenser, and a coil providing the spark. All this high-tech effort for not.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (2, Funny)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559939)

Can that kill cellphones that are blasting shitty and distorted hiphop? That would be great!

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560139)

Can that kill cellphones that are blasting shitty and distorted hiphop? That would be great!

That would be a good use of this technology.

Alternate definition... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560323)

HERF is an example of onomatopoeia. It is the phrase uttered collectively by Americans who thought they were voting for a new kind of politics as they take it up their collective asses.

Re:From the last Slashdot article and FYI: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560437)

The car follows the HERF gun or something?

Stealing cars from a distance is quite a feat...
that's a really scary technology.

Sounds like... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559717)

... the sort of thing that can work both ways.

Re:Sounds like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559825)

how can this be used against protesters?

Re:Sounds like... (4, Insightful)

bughunter (10093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559873)

In fact, one of the simplest HERF designs (a hi current coil compressed suddenly by igniting an explosive surrounding the coil) has a dual-lobed bidirectional radiation pattern. So yes, without some sort of reflector or attenuator, it certainly can work both ways.

bad idea (2, Insightful)

sarduwie (1571169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559735)

I can't claim to know what HERF is without a visit to wikipedia, but compared to protesters, authorities will always outperform them when it comes to weaponry.

is there any other way to prevent crowd dispersal? (4, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559757)

Yes, there is. Too bad most of the people in countries where it is available think little of it. It is called voting, and it works - although not very often. The idea is, basically, that you vote your friends into your parliament and they pass laws that forbid hi-tech crowd control.

A serious coordination effort is needed for that to happen, which would have been facilitated by some electronic medium that allows easy and cheap communication over large distances, by wire or otherwise. Maybe someone can build a prototype of such a medium as well?

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (4, Interesting)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559817)

The US and UK have two parties each, and the two parties are basically not very different. Barring a few specific situations, votes for other parties or independents have no effect. If you don't agree with the way things are, you can't stand for the major parties, and I'm not too familiar with the US system, but the UK's "first past the post" system makes it nearly impossible for new parties to go anywhere, as the only way for one to become effective would be for large numbers of people to throw their votes away for several elections in a row.

Sometimes, voting is not going to change anything.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559881)

if only a 3rd party large would stand for voting reforms...oh wait!

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559923)

This is so much BS. There is nothing stopping voters from voting from candidates they like (or from joining a party and actually becoming a candidate).

If local politics actually worked better than state and national politics, I might believe it, but (in my experience) they are often worse, with even more blatant favoritism and abuses of power.

The problem you have is that voters are apathetic and easily bought off with things you don't like, not some two party hegemony holding power from everyone else.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (1)

Changa_MC (827317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560057)

You say the system is broken because the voters are apathetic, the GP said voters are apathetic because the system is broken.
As evidence you point to local elections, which are incestuous and dishonest in SoCal, but very sincere and productive in NorCal (the two areas I've experienced). So local politics reflects local values. But what values do national elections reflect?

I say, as long as federal tax dollars are spent to promote the democratic and republican parties exclusively, we don't actually live in a democracy. Voters don't matter when the government itself will outspend your party.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560171)

I don't think the system is broken. I have low expectations and figure it is about what we are going to get.

Mostly, I wish more people had a healthy distaste for rules (this doesn't mean having zero rules, it just means not having rules about every goddamn inane thing some tiresome biddy thinks about once).

But there's plenty preventing you from winning (2, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560121)

You can vote for anyone you like to your hearts content, but unless that person has the blessing of a major party they will not be permitted to take office.

Because only voting for winning candidates has effect, voting for anyone but the majors has exactly the same effect as not voting at all.

Re:But there's plenty preventing you from winning (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560141)

You believe that about every single race (National politics covers a wide range...)?

Did the Democratic party change Barack Obama more than Barack Obama changed the Democratic party? If so, maybe there is a point, but I'm pretty sure he influenced the party a great deal, and it is a little hard to write him off as previously entrenched and powerful.

Re:But there's plenty preventing you from winning (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560303)

I don't think Obama has had any impact on the party other then campaign tactics. His agenda is determined more by the House Speaker than him or his people and when it comes to key components of major agenda points the Senate and House folks are calling the shots. Mind you thats how the constitution says it should be. I don't think there is a strong case that can be made for Obama making a difference. Its pretty much DNC agenda and talking points as usual.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (2, Insightful)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560123)

In the US, the "two party system" is a sham designed to keep the real power(s) (in power) and no one could ever have a successful third party.
In fact, the most successful "third party" presidential candidates (Libertarian & Green) are forbidden entry into the presidential debates (even as audience attendees).
In many states new laws have been passed which effectively prevent any participation by third party groups by making it impossible to get a candidate on the ballot.
In the US (IMHO) the government is just a tool of the vast financial interests that are the real masters of the US of A.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (4, Insightful)

skornenicholas (1360763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560275)

"Sometimes, voting is not going to change anything." Whoa there sparky! No offense but this is EXACTLY the sentiment that keeps the corrupt in power. Especially in a country like the United States, the ability of congress, or elected officials in general, to infringe on your rights is proportional to your willingness to accept it. I am from a small town in North Carolina, our local government was using federal authority to condemn property along a projected water works project. It was supported by 80% of our local elected officials. Our High School took it upon ourselves to put an end to this because two of our teachers were losing their family homes because of it. We found candidates who were qualified and AGAINST the use of eminent domain and campaigned for and with them. We managed to replace 75% of our incumbents in a single election, in my town all officials are elected for two year terms, including our mayor. We held public rallies and carnival like events explaining how the government was stealing "Your land" and caused the mass replacement of elected officials. The waterworks project was canceled, and my ex-teachers are still in their homes. The point of this rant is this, the day we stop exercising our right to a democracy is the day we lose it. Sitting on your couch complaining about what is going on achieves nothing! As long as a large section of the population is uninterested corruption becomes ever more common. Democracy works but it requires you to care. Anyone that does not get involved with politics but complains about the outcome is simply asking for others to make decisions for them and do all the leg work, if you want a country where you don't have to worry about being involved with politics try Iran. It seriously sickens me to hear "Vote? What's the point?" Your FREEDOM is at stake fool! Governments rarely destroy liberty overnight, they do it peicemeal, as in "The came for the eggs, they came for the tobacco, they came for the money, they came for the land..." eventually you wake up under a dictatorship. Don't believe me? Look at world history, dictators don't come to power overnight they build a strong political base of loyalists first and THEN take over. Wake up, get off your couch, and make a difference before you have no say at all.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (2, Insightful)

Ibag (101144) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560385)

If you truly believe that the two parties are roughly equivalent and that both candidates are equally bad for the job, then, at least in Britain, you aren't throwing your vote away by choosing a third party candidate. No, you're not going to win the entire government, but you will end up with at least some representation. In the U.S., if a national third party were to get 25% of the vote in a years worth of Senate races, spread out roughly equally all across the country, absolutely nothing would come of it. If that happened in England, the third party would have a decent representation in parliament. So while it is very difficult in England for a third party to gain significant power, it is absolutely impossible in America (unless winning the presidency but having no support in congress counts as significant power, which would require a well funded, well connected, and charasmatic candidate, in addition to miraculous circumstances).

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560429)

The UK is a pathalogical case, where we even have a viable (theoretically) third party but every time there's a general election its support collapses and we're back to the 'pick one of the following: labour, conservative, throw away your vote'.

Worse - every single general election is basically a foregone conclusion. We *already* know that the conservatives will win the next election. Hardly worth bothering with the whole democratic bit to be honest.. just give cameron the key to number 10 and see how popular he is in 5 years.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559829)

So who should I vote for?

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559861)

You might think that would work, until you realize the majority of the average electorate is more concerned with frivolity than rights violations.Certainly not rights violations against those wacko protesters. Look at the outrage at the various bailouts (not frivolous at all, mind you) or the various personal Clinton scandals (certainly frivolous) the Nixon scandal (frivolous compared to his warmongering) and compare that to the outrage over the PATRIOT act, the Iraq war, the various torture scandals, etc. etc.

Who do those protester guys think they are, anyways? Ah well, it's time for the football game.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (1, Troll)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559863)

The idea is, basically, that you vote your friends into your parliament and they pass laws that forbid hi-tech crowd control.

This will work only in a parliamentary democracy, with fair elections and multiple parties. This will not work in today's USA because of the one-party (some say two-party) rule. Your voting choices would be limited to two evils, and it's hard to tell which is a lesser one. A third party, even if allowed onto the ballot, will not be elected.

It is also hard to get enough support for small issues. If Alice proposes to stop the war and Bob promises to permit demonstrations who do you think will win? Once elected, US politicians have only one concern - how to get reelected. Usually that requires working with important people and companies, often against interests of their constituents.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559981)

This will not work in today's USA because of the one-party (some say two-party) rule.

No. It will work in any country that elects its officials and has an active, informed and participating civil society. Which begins not on elections day, but at home. People who complain about a two-party system, impossibility of change, etc. etc. are just uninformed or lazy.

It is also hard to get enough support for small issues. I

No, it isn't. If it were hard, there would be no lobbying industry in Washington. Most lobbyists are working on small to smaller to microscopic issues. That is how they tend to get an article in an unrelated law that benefits a single company.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (4, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559935)

Yes, there is. Too bad most of the people in countries where it is available think little of it. It is called voting, and it works - although not very often. The idea is, basically, that you vote your friends into your parliament and they pass laws that forbid hi-tech crowd control.

My kingdom for a mod point. Human societies often suffer from the Little Red Hen [wikipedia.org] syndrome, wherein everyone wants the bread, but nobody can be bothered to actually help prepare it.

Democracy is a messy, tiresome, boring, downright infuriating system where one is constantly tormented by the most aggravating invention known to man: other people's opinions. It is, however, the one system that actually incorporates social/political change into its very structure. And that is something that countless people suffering under authoritarian or absolutist rulers find remarkably appealing.

A serious coordination effort is needed for that to happen, which would have been facilitated by some electronic medium that allows easy and cheap communication over large distances, by wire or otherwise. Maybe someone can build a prototype of such a medium as well?

The technical means exist. That's never been the problem. The issue here is creating and sustaining a culture of participation. While social networks and other means go a long way to facilitating that process, people still need to actually listen to one another. And that, as I've said, is one of the most exquisite tortures known to man. Except of course for all the other ones.

By the way - and not coincidentally - the Beck-ification of political discourse is neither accidental nor unplanned. Politicians have known for decades that the best way to subvert democracy was simply to shout it down. It's far, far easier to manipulate a population that's splintered, resentful and incapable of conducting an actual dialogue to resolve its differences or find manageable compromise. The knee-jerk name-calling on either side of every issue, when it's echoed, magnified and given focus by mass media, is specifically designed to subvert the kind of processes that sustain democracy.

In short: Yes, there are anti-democratic forces at play, and yet we are still our own worst enemies.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (5, Insightful)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560287)

It is, however, the one system that actually incorporates social/political change into its very structure. And that is something that countless people suffering under authoritarian or absolutist rulers find remarkably appealing.

a) Genuine democracy does not scale with current population levels. As someone else here said, the American Constitution was originally written for a population of 3 million, which is 1/100th of the population's current size.

b) Government now has sufficient control of the media that they don't need to play by the rules. They can kill whoever they want, whenever they want, and then call it terrorism, and the majority of the population will not challenge it.

c) Any attempt to displace the current government would result in unspeakably massive civilian casualties, and you can bet that the government knows that. They would be relying on the domestic population's reluctance to engage in large scale conflict, more than anything else.

It's also a very safe thing for them to rely on. The contemporary population of the entire Western world has been domesticated more chronically than at any other time in human history. Only very small percentages of that population have actually seen active combat. The rest of them would have less than no chance, and that includes you and me. Training and physical fitness aside, the single biggest problem is probably simply the extent to which we would not have the stomach for it.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560389)

The problem is that democracy is so incredibly easy to subvert.

People are, by and large, easily manipulated.

The media corporations in democratic nations mostly control the democratic process in those nations.

Very few people who vote do so for genuine reasons; they vote the way that they do based on 'advertising', in much the same way that they decide what brand of coffee to buy.

I have zero faith in democracy because I have zero faith in (the majority of) peoples ability to resist being manipulated by the sorts of techniques employed in marketing.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (0, Troll)

j1mmy (43634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560075)

voting hasn't changed a single thing in the US in the last 200 years

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (2, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560195)

The process you're referring to is called "buying" and is done by lobbies. Voting is just a facade, because it does not matter who you vote for. Nearly everyone on the list is already bought.
The rest is pushed out by not having tons of financed marketing.

I say: Build your own community. Your own state. And make yourself as independent as possible. Especially from the cattle that still vote those strawmen.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560273)

Voting works in certain situations but not in others. The right to peaceably assemble is indeed often called into question when large crowds are concerned, especially if the authorities don't like what the crowds are assembling against. However such crowds do indeed often pose a real public safety risk.

I see the real defence against these new anti-crowd techniques to be sousveillance. The crowd recording and quickly posting their experiances online. Showing police provocation if any, (and being peaceful themselves).

Peaceful also means not provoking the police and putting forth one's message in a calm manner. Screaming at the top of one's lungs or through a bullhorn is not necessarily a right as it often infringes upon the rights of others by crossing over into private spaces. Gahndi and Dr. King are prime examples to follow.

Re:is there any other way to prevent crowd dispers (1)

Faulkner39 (955290) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560281)

"Ok, the question for our next candidate goes to Mr. Handsome Dashing. Please explain your stance on HERF guns. You have two minutes, starting now."

Screw "nonviolent" resistance... (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559813)

But the deployment of 'morally gray' forms of high-tech crowd control [...] creates a new purpose for these relatively easily assembled devices.

No, it creates a new purpose for the second amendment to the US constitution.

Until a few people die to demonstrate that we won't put up with casual torture via tasers, sound cannons, pain rays, and what-have-you, the police will continue to use such technologies on the populace for increasingly trivial reasons. We've already seen them go from "nonlethal defense" to promoting "compliance" to merely enforcing obsequious levels of civility... And now, merely to clear the streets in blatant violation of another of our rights (the first).

Can't say I have the balls to put myself in the firing line, but I predict another "Kent State" within the next few years.

Re:Screw "nonviolent" resistance... (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559887)

With the sound weapons, it gives a new meaning to that Buffalo Springfield song "For What It's Worth"

Stop, hey, what's that sound,
That's your ear drums blow'in out.

History of the song. (2, Informative)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559911)

Shit I forgot about you Young'ins> That song by Buffalo Springfield (Neil Young was in it - the crazy looking old guy who sang "Rockin in the Free World" ) was a song about the Kent State Massacre. A bunch of national guardsmen shot some college kids for protesting against the Viet Nam War.

Re:Screw "nonviolent" resistance... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559893)

Uh, you do know that the Kent State shootings [wikipedia.org] was where National Guard troops shot non-violent war protestors and not the other way around, right?

Re:Screw "nonviolent" resistance... (2, Insightful)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560157)

Can't say I have the balls to put myself in the firing line, but I predict another "Kent State" within the next few years.

The real problem is simple tactical viability. Not only are the civilian population outgunned, but they are generally out-trained as well. You have a scenario in America now where the Blackwater mercenaries truly love to fight, and are very well trained and equipped for it. That is the entire reason, I strongly suspect, why they were brought in.

Any viable insurgency is going to need a very large percentage of the domestic population in order to have even a vague chance to succeed; and the civilian death rate would be truly horrific. The current government would fight to the death of the last man in order to retain power; I have no difficulty believing that.

Silver foil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559833)

What about dressing up in silver foil to force the electromagnetic waves around your body?

Re:Silver foil (3, Funny)

rtyhurst (460717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559927)

All you have to do is wear a Faraday Cage (see wikipedia on HERF)and you're immune!

The fools!

Simple: arrest people making them (-1, Troll)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559841)

I'm old enough to have lived through Race Riots in my high school. People making stuff like this to use "against the man" - people have no business doing that. I have no problem criminalizing normal stuff and arresting people "interested" in making them - because it's just plain old simple terrorism.

Those of you supporting this have taken one little step from being just anti-Bush to pro Blow Stuff Up. Slippery slope.

Cops are supposed to have an unfair advantage. What do you think about armor piercing bullets?

Re:Simple: arrest people making them (3, Insightful)

magnusrex1280 (1075361) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559941)

I think the gist of people's interest is the overwhelming concern about the police having access to such technology, without any policy in place guaranteeing that it won't and/or can't be misused. It scares the heck out of me that I could be in a perfectly legal protest, and some officer in charge arbitrarily decides we're "not in compliance", and all they have to do is press a button to force people into submission. And your contention that it should be alright to arrest people for interest in this subject is absurd. Plain and simple.

Re:Simple: arrest people making them (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559955)

I'd rather get shot with an armor piercing bullet (generally something with a hard metal jacket) than with something designed to mushroom and spall. Of course, I'd rather not get shot at all, but there you go.

Re:Simple: arrest people making them (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559959)

Armor piercing bullets a.k.a. cop killers? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teflon_coated_bullet

If it's legal to use them on citizens for things like crowd dispersal I have no problem using them on cops for things like pig dispersal.

When the government suppresses our basic human rights it becomes our duty as human beings to suppress them. We have no choice.

Re:Simple: arrest people making them (5, Informative)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559975)

I don't know Stephen, that depends. Are they using those AP bullets against drug lords wearing body armor or are they spraying windshields on the highway after having an unmarked police car pull an illegal maneuver to give them an excuse?

This isn't using molotov's in a riot "against the man", its a bigass radio antenna that breaks high tech equipment that's used to torture people sometimes to death in the streets after a few undercover cops threw rocks out of a crowd.

The police and military are supposed to have an advantage, they're not supposed to use that advantage butcher american citizens just because its more convenient. Go read up on "Excited Delirium".

Re:Simple: arrest people making them (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559977)

Must be nice to be a rich white man. And I say this with all due respect... you are a tool. HERV weapons don't blow things up, they aren't designed to do so, and they aren't generally capable of doing so. They do disable sophisticated electronics in an area.

The police are not "supposed" to have an unfair advantage, WTF ever gave you that idea? The same armor police wear is available to anyone that wants to buy it. The same weapons the police use are available to anyone that wants to buy them (with some exceptions). However, the systems and weapons to defeat the police are also available to anyone that wants them. (or can build them).

Ultimately the people will take the power back. The only question is how much and whoes blood will be spilt in the process.

Re:Simple: arrest people making them (5, Insightful)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560105)

Cops are supposed to have an unfair advantage. What do you think about armor piercing bullets?

Cops are supposed to uphold the legitimate rule of law, as well; not to act as the brute force support system of global fascism. There is a vast difference.

Re:Simple: arrest people making them (2, Insightful)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560181)

I have no problem criminalizing normal stuff and arresting people "interested" in making them - because it's just plain old simple terrorism.

Epic fail. Being interested in building a HERF device - or even doing so - doesn't make anyone a criminal, let alone a terrorist. I direct your attention to the concept of "intent".

Re:Simple: arrest people making them (1)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560197)

Cops are supposed to have an unfair advantage. What do you think about armor piercing bullets?

What do you think about SWAT teams and the national guard?

Countermeasures (4, Interesting)

bughunter (10093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559901)

I'm all for promoting homegrown electronic countermeasures, as I've long fantasized about building a directional, subsonic-targeting HERF weapon to discourage noise pollution on my residential street.

However, I think promoting Counter-countermeasures is equally important: Faraday cages, attenuators, reflectors, and EMP-hard electronics. If you're gonna play with fireworks, then learn how to make a fire extinguisher, too.

Tyranny (3, Interesting)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559969)

I'm all in favour of making DIY HERF devices to safeguard against tyranny. But we only need such things because the government is no longer afraid of the people who vote it into power. When ordinary people can no longer acquire the tools to depose despots, then it is a sure sign that those tools are now needed.

Re:Tyranny (1)

FluffyWithTeeth (890188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560091)

Interesting question: I'm not american so I'm not sure exactly how it works, but would equipment like this fall under the right to bear arms, or would it get buried by some blanket "terrorist materials" law?

It's certainly a weapon after all, but is it more gun or bomb?

Re:Tyranny (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560277)

It's clearly something they would object to, but short of violence, this is a very effective non-violent way of countering something offensive to any democratic peoples.
Also, it can be made from a microwave oven, which every home has.

patriot vs traitor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560309)

I'm all in favour of making DIY HERF devices to safeguard against tyranny. But we only need such things because the government is no longer afraid of the people who vote it into power. When ordinary people can no longer acquire the tools to depose despots, then it is a sure sign that those tools are now needed.

If you're a conservative wanting weapons to depose a despot, you're a patriot.

If you're a liberal peacefully protesting a despot, you're a traitor.

Two Words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559993)

Scientology Protest.

Earplugs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560033)

Surely just putting in a pair of earplugs and lining your clothes with tin foil would do the trick?

Methods of crowd dispesal?? (0, Flamebait)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560065)

That's freakin' ILLEGAL! It's mass-assault! Don't act as if it were something normal or even OK.

Some plainclothes cops in that crowd starting a riot, does not change that.

Re:Methods of crowd dispesal?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560387)

Some plainclothes cops in that crowd starting a riot, does not change that.

And you really believe that, don't you?

Your world is obviously a much nicer place than the real one. Here in the real world, the government doesn't need to agitate people to riot because there are plenty of kooks like you to do it for them.

they are somewhat impractical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560111)

the HERF and EMP devices I've looked at are a little impractical.

You can't assemble and carry explosive devices about. A compressed coil EMP device looks and works like a bomb. This means serious jail time if you are caught with one. I can't find any other kind of device that is small enough to transport and has even a small chance of producing a large enough pulse to be effective.

A HERF device effective against the sound cannon would need a lot of power and a waveguide. This makes them heavy to move about and obvious to their location. The military have put a lot of research into these, from as far back as the 1960's, and they still tend to be large truck mounted devices. A two man solution was once tried, with one person carrying the batteries and voltage multiplier and the other with the capacitors and magnetron. Insulation problems and insufficient power ended the project.

The problem always seems to be getting a powerful enough power source that is portable.

Pacemaker (5, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560113)

All it would take is some unlucky person with a pacemaker getting near your device and you're in for negligent homicide.

Maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560165)

"Could HERF guns become a new method to counter the silencing of protesters via these sophisticated attacks, or is there any other way to prevent such efficient, convenient crowd dispersal?"

Only if they are cyborg protesters.

HERF how (1)

physburn (1095481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560327)

Following the link from the May 10 Slashdot, gets you a dumb miniportal site and nothing on HERF guns. Which is a pity because I wanted to know how exactly an amateur could make one, giving time a bit of money and a small budget. I far as know, most Radar and Microwave devices still use custom thermonic valve type system, with components like cavity magnetrons and Klystrons. Sure modern transistors do go up to high frequencies, but not at very high power. So I want to know what an amateur could do without access to this kind of rare glassware. Did our HERF builder just use a load of high frequency transistors in parallel, or did he do something cleverer to get the power from his Car stalling gun?

---

DIY Electronics Feed [feeddistiller.com] @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

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