Editorial: School of Thought: Critical Thinking Cards.
Travel: WiFi rescue locator.
Technology: One shot lifetime flu protection.
Stationery: Bookplates.
Gadgets and Gear: MyKee 2.0.
Books and writing: PD's Make 100 Project.
Project of the week: Fiskkit.

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EDITORIAL: School of Thought: Critical Thinking Cards

PD has written several times about the sad loss of critical thinking and weighing up of facts in our "post-truth" world, where opinions matter regardless of the facts of a matter. PD is not alone in this lament.

The school of thought is a non-profit organisation that produces and provides educational material to teach critical thinking, creative thinking and philosophy.

To help raise funds the School of Thought has a Kickstarter project for its Critical Thinking Cards. These are not just for children; in PD's opinion adults should acquire and hone the skills of critical thinking too. The deck consists of "54 fallacies and biases cards for honing critical thinking skills, calling out people you’re arguing with, or spotting actual fake news" (quote from the project page).

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TRAVEL: WiFi rescue locator

Those who like to venture far off the beaten track are likely to be in areas away from cell phone coverage. Getting lost or injured meant being unable to call for help, unless you carry an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) device. These used to be bulky but have come down considerably in size and weight. Once activated, the EPIRB transmits a coded message on the 406 MHz distress radio frequency via satellite and earth stations to the nearest rescue co-ordination centre. Each EPIRB device is uniquely identifiable and is registered to a single person, so the identity of the person is known to rescuers. The EPIRBs give a location to within 5km of the person, however if a GPS fix is available this reduces it to 100m.

Now Spain's Universidad de Alicante has developed a cell phone application which when activated will periodically send a distress signal and GPS co-ordinates to within a range of several kilometres. Rescue teams require a special device to pick up the signals.

More information here:

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: PD has not tested the illustrated EPIRB device or any other EPIRB device and is providing this information as general information only and should not be used to make any decision regarding rescue location devices. Seek the advice of a professional before purchasing or using any device. It is a sad reflection of these times that PD has to use such disclaimers, when common sense used to prevail in past times.

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TECHNOLOGY: One shot lifetime flu protection

Influenza is not a pleasant disease and in the elderly and immune compromised it can be fatal. Even the young can succumb to it. We have all heard about the terrible 1918 flu pandemic. Vaccines do help, but the virus mutates quickly and so they are not as efficient as doctors would like. Current vaccines induce the body to produce antibodies against molecules on the surface of the virus. The problem is that when the virus mutates it changes these surface molecules and so the antibodies no longer recognise them (PD knows that analogies are not really great, however think of a crook who gets a facelift so that the police no longer recognise him).

[Above: Image from the University of Washington School of Medicine]

Now researchers have developed a flu vaccine that targets the virus' DNA (genetic material). DNA vaccines insert their own code into a cell, directing it to produce a molecule (antigen) that induces the body to produce antibodies. Once given the vaccine, animals became immune to all tested strains of the influenza virus. This is a new field yet to be tested on humans, and so it will probably be several years before the vaccine is available at your local doctor's office.

For the scientifically minded, here is the link to to the paper:

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STATIONERY: Bookplates

Marking a book as your own is as old as the book itself. Marks proving ownership appeared in Ancient Egypt, and inscriptions were common in the middle ages, however the form that we recognise today first appeared in 15th century Germany.

[Above: Hilprand Brandenburg of Biberach, Germany, 1480]

Some are very elaborate, such as this example from 1912:

[Design: Allan Wyon (1843-1907)]

If you want to personalise your books, there are a number of bookplate makers. You can try some of the smaller makers who sell through Etsy:

Above: Sunshine and Ravioli:

Above: Bookplate Ink:

Above: Nancy Nikko Design:

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A couple of years ago MyKee was released on Kickstarter and quickly became a huge hit, getting 3.301 backers. Although other key-shaped EDC tools are available, this one is light and very well thought out, and the add-on KeeBit accessories, coming with a small flat pouch that also could be added to your key ring, made them even more versatile. Now the creator is back with an updated version, the MyKee 2.0.

Above: the original MyKee.

This is a truly improved version, even though PD thought that the original was perfect.

The improvements are:

  • The blade.

  • The front claw.

  • Re-designed hex wrench slots to allow an additional size and to improve its functionality.

  • The availability of a protective cover.

Best of all, you can use the original KeeBits with the new version.

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BOOKS AND WRITING: PD's Make 100 Project

Long time followers know that PD actually started as a social commentary blog on WordPress before moving to the Ghost platform and evolving into the lifestyle and crowdfunding magazine that it is today.

Kickstarter is bringing back last year's Make 100 project, in which people were invited to have projects limited to 100 pieces. The project runs in January.

PD is participating this year by publishing a limited edition anthology of lost love, originally written for the PD blog by Alex Conway.

[Note: the above image is an early design proposal and may change in the final publication.]

More information soon. Follow this project on PD's Facebook page.

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Related to this week's editorial is Fiskkit. The word "fisk" arises from Robert Fisk, a journalist, and refers to the reprinting of articles or blog posts with added rebuttals and a refuting of false information, showing its flawed facts, unfounded assertions, and logical fallacies.

There is also a problem that on-line discussions often are not civil because trolls degenerate discussions into name-calling and abuse, and an exchange of ideas becomes impossible., which is also a non-profit organisation, aims to allow civil discussion by reprinting articles and allowing members to annotate them sentence by sentence. The site aims to keep out trolls. Like School of Thought, Fiskkit aims to bring back critical thinking and civilised discussion.

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Contact Prowling Dog at

Important disclaimer: Remember that crowdfunding sites are not stores. You may decide to back this project and provide funds, however there is no guarantee that any project will be delivered - the rate of failure is about 10%. PD is in no way accountable for the success or otherwise of any project and writes in this column purely for entertainment purposes, and will in no way be held liable for any failure or money lost by anyone. It is a case of "buyer beware". It is a sad reflection on the era we live in that PD must resort to this type of disclaimer.

Note: Photographs and illustrations are from the relevant websites and are the copyright of the respective owners.

© 2017 Prowling Dog