FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT–
- Scientists at a meeting at Harvard Medical School discussed the idea of formulating a synthetic genome to create human beings without biological parents.
- The world’s largest coal company, China’s state-owned Shenhua Group Corp., is going solar.
- The Pentagon is building a ‘self-aware’ killer robot army informed by social media.
- Sony has filed a patent for contact lens that records what you see.
by John L. Petersen
Looking Into the Future: Hang On!
This whole global shift business looks like it’s about to shift into high gear – as if what we have been experiencing so far is not enough.
We’re sitting here looking at increasingly erratic weather, unraveling international relations, growing global financial instability, familiar political processes that are out of control, concerns about a world-wide epidemic, Europe staggering under giant immigration and fiscal problems, fundamentally changing mores around gender . . . the list goes on and on.
Now, there is a rising crescendo (particularly in the financial and economic analysis space), of solid citizen reporters who have long histories of being accurate in handicapping markets, etc. who are saying that it’s about to hit the fan. The reporters say a really big recession is inevitable and soon but they don’t know when. There’s a long list, Doug Casey, Jim Rickards, Chris Martenson, Chris Hedges, David Stockman, and Paul Craig Roberts just to name a few, who all say that a very large “correction” is inbound.
Clif High Predicts Rapid, Dramatic Change
Perhaps the most galvanizing prognostication comes from Clif High, of HalfPastHuman.com. Clif is famous for having developed a very
complex planet-wide, Internet-based anticipation system that catalogs and analyzes new ideas and concepts that emerge over time in global conversations – that point toward incoming significant perturbations. His system has been demonstrably accurate in predicting a rather long list of major events months before they arrive. Clif publishes monthly summary reports about what he sees on the horizon and his two most recent ones for April and May are enough to keep you awake at night pondering what you’d do if what he sees actually happens.
It’s particularly galvanizing because he sees extraordinary, broad-based, rapid change beginning in two weeks. . . . yeah.
The thing that is compelling to me about his analysis is the rich, comprehensive interdependency of his pictures. It’s one thing to highlight a single disruption – like a coming currency crisis – and quite another to weave a tapestry that includes just about every area of human activity, showing the linkages across domains and the likely/possible endpoints. Think food, energy, social cohesion, etc.
The ALTA reports cost $15, but I think the $30 that I spent was the best investment I made in a long time. You can find them here.
David Stockman: It’s Going Down
Former Reagan OMB director David Stockman has long been describing the systemic unsustainability of the global financial system. Here, in a short but informative CNBC interview, he runs down the list of converging issues that guarantee that the world is close on to a rapid recession that will threaten the global financial and economic systems – to say nothing about politics and social interaction.
Governments, of course, are doing whatever they can to try to keep all of this change from spinning out of control. They are manipulating things so much that it is hard to know, with any certainty, what is actually happening. The US, for example, says that American unemployment is somewhere near 5% but independent analysts estimate it is at least twice if not three times that high.
Although this next article does not represent our government trying to adjust to big change, it certainly illuminates the extent to which it will go to achieve its ends. It would therefore be fair to presume that these levels of extreme efforts are underway in many places within government (and business, for that matter) trying to maintain control of the situation. I think they’re losing.
Fred Burks: The Government Knows How to Make You Do Things That You Will Never Remember Doing
In his always interesting and provocative site www.WantToKnow.info, Fred Burks gathers up compelling information on seriously important aspects of our world that don’t otherwise get reported. Behavior modification by the CIA is one of them. If you’re not familiar with the term MKUltra, you should know that in the 50’s and 60’s, the agency carried out many experiments to try to learn how to manipulate humans and get them to do most anything that they wanted, mostly without the subject being aware of what they did. As the New York Times said:
“In all, the agency [CIA] conducted 149 separate mind-control experiments, and as many as 25 involved unwitting subjects. At least one participant died, others went mad, and still others suffered psychological damage after participating in the project, known as MKUltra. The C.I.A. … deliberately destroyed most of the MKUltra records in 1973.” ~~ New York Times article on CIA’s secret behavior modification program
Burks gathered together 17 different published articles on the program and I’d encourage you to take two minutes and at least read through the headlines and highlighted areas. That will certainly get your attention… and change the way you think about your government. Click here.
Penny Kelly and Rosemary Ellen Guiley Plot a Path to the Future
Where is all this change going?
With the global transformation accelerating, and with extraordinary changes emerging wherever we look, it is clear that this will be a new world, both in terms of who humans become and how that new world works. Our June Berkeley Springs Transition Talks will feature two extraordinary authors and thinkers in an all-day double-header, exploring where that change is taking us. Come and explore both the inner journey – who we are becoming as new humans – and then the notion of our outer expansion into other worlds and whether it will include obvious intelligences from off of this planet.
This will be a delightfully interesting day of thinking about fascinating issues that are not the usual subjects of discussions about global change.
Penny Kelly: Transforming the Self – To What?
Whether we turn to New Age, New Thought, old-time religion, or ancient wisdom traditions like yoga and meditation, we eventually run into teachings that urge us toward ascension or transformation. However, this brings up the questions – ascension to where… transformation to what, exactly? Where do we think we are going? And who will we be if not who we already are? Very few people have useful or clear ideas of what our real destiny is or the true nature of reality. If you have wondered what it’s really all about . . . if you are looking for input that goes far beyond dogma and platitudes, join us for a talk by author Penny Kelly that presents the path that all individuals are designed to follow, and that reveals our planetary destiny as creations of Mother Earth. Based on the conclusions of her controversial book, Consciousness and Energy, Vol. 3 – History and Consciousness, this is an event not to be missed.
Rosemary Ellen Guiley: Preparing for Trans-Reality Earth
Contacts with otherworldly visitors of all kinds are on the rise. Many of these visitors come from Earth, but exist in a different dimensional realm. Our contact experiences are contributing to an expansion of consciousness on a collective level that stands to change the very nature of physical reality. Ultimately, humanity will be in an open sharing of the planet with a variety of beings, all of whom have their own agendas. How can we prepare ourselves for a trans-reality that not only involves nonhuman intelligent beings, but also involves expanded powers of human consciousness that will affect us all? We have already crossed the threshold, and the trans-reality Earth presents one of the greatest challenges to humanity ever experienced.
Register for this June 25th event here.
Also remember that music maestro Robert Haig Coxon will be here Friday, July 15th – Saturday, July 16th, 2016. That will be a wonderful concert and workshop!
New Technology: A New, Dramatically Different Emergent World
All of this change is not negative, of course. Consider this: a 13-year old kid has invented a free energy device (that produces usable electricity from out of the air) for only $15 worth of parts. Hey, it’s on the Internet – and on TV – so it must be true! Maybe it is . . . If so, the change is accelerating. Check it out.
And then there’s this blockbuster: real time audio translation between two spoken languages. Futurism.com summarizes it thus:
New York City-based company Waverly Labs says they will soon release the Pilot, a pair of in-ear translators designed to let people who speak different languages understand each other in real-time.
I’ll talk more about this next time in this space. You don’t even begin to understand what this could mean. Read all about it.
Miscellaneous Data Points – (No Website – No Date)
Software is predicted to disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years. Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers are already having trouble getting jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 time more accurately than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. We currently have roughly one accident per every 100,000 km of road use, with autonomous driving that is expected to drop to roughly one accident in 10 million km. As the average number of auto accidents drops quickly, the auto insurance business model will be hugely disrupted. And maybe, just maybe, “Technology Will Replace the Need for Big Government.”
These Ancient Asian Primate Fossils Might Be the Missing Pieces of a Major Evolutionary Puzzle – (Washington Post – May 6, 2016)
For decades, scientists thought that the story of human evolution was fairly straightforward: We and our primate ancestors evolved in Africa over millions of years. But then, in the 1990s, researchers in China made a surprising discovery: The fossil of a tiny monkey-like creature that was some 10 million years older than anything that had been found in Africa. The ancestors of apes, and ultimately us, seemed to have come from Asia. But they hadn’t stayed there. In a study published in the journal Science, K. Christopher Beard, a paleontologist at the University of Kansas, and his colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing report on an “incredible cache” of fossils from 10 previously unknown species uncovered in China’s Yunnan province. These fossils help illuminate a new story of our evolution: one in which our primate ancestors evolved in Asia, sailed across a narrow sea to Africa, then were pushed to extinction on their home continent because of drastic climate change. Some of the only primates that survived were the ones whose fossils were just uncovered — primitive creatures that were closer to lemurs than apes and humans living today. This more convoluted version of our history begins in the Eocene, some 40 million years ago. At this time, Earth’s climate was hot and humid, and the continents were just beginning to move into the positions they hold today. India was zooming headlong toward the bottom of Asia (the inevitable collision would one day give rise to the Himalayas). An inland sea flooded the center of the Eurasian land mass. And Africa was an island continent, separated from Asia and Europe by a narrow stretch of ocean.
Starving Cancer Cells of Nutrients Halts Tumor Growth – (GizMag – May 5, 2016)
Work done by researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) opens the door to future treatments that could be less prone to resistance than many current methods, and could work across with a wide range of cancers. The researchers worked to cut off the cancer cell’s access to the amino acid glutamine by identifying and blocking its supply route. The cells use the amino acid when generating building blocks and for energy. The team first had some success by genetically altering the cancer cells, but it found things to be a little more complicated than hoped, with that action setting off a biochemical alarm that opened a second gateway through which the cell could obtain the amino acid. Undeterred, the team continued its work, and eventually managed to disable the second gateway using a technique known as RNA silencing. Combined, the two steps has an astonishing positive impact – without access to glutamine, cancer cell growth rate dropped by a huge 96%. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but the breakthrough could have a huge impact of cancer treatment. As blocking the glutamine transport mechanism is an external process, it would be both very difficult for the cancer cells to develop any kind of resistance, and the treatment should work across a wide range of cancers.
For First Time, Scientists Grow Two-week-old Human Embryos in Lab – (Reuters – May 4, 2016)
Using a culture method previously tested to grow mouse embryos outside of a mother, the teams were able to conduct almost hour by hour observations of human embryo development to see how they develop and organize themselves up to day 13. “This is the most enigmatic and mysterious stage of human development,” said Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, a University of Cambridge professor who co-led the work. “It is a time when the basic body shape is determined.” As well as advancing human biology expertise, the knowledge gained from studying these developments should help to improve in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments and further progress in the field of regenerative medicine, the researchers said. But the research also raises the issue of an international law banning scientists from developing human embryos beyond 14 days, and suggests this limit may have to be reviewed. Zernicka-Goetz, who spoke to reporters in London, said a wealth of new information could be discovered if human embryos could be grown in a lab dish for just a few days more. “Longer cultures could provide absolutely critical information for basic human biology,” she said. “But this would of course raise the next question – of where we should put the next limit.”
Two Groundbreaking Alzheimer’s Discoveries Could Revolutionize Research – (Modern Readers – April 27, 2016)
Along with discovering what could be the earliest symptom of preclinical Alzheimer’s, experiments on test subjects have highlighted a possible method for reversing the symptoms of the disease. Scientists from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Glasgow University injected mice with a protein called IL-33 on a daily basis, which resulted in a full reversal in cognitive decline and the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in a matter of days. Though the tests have so far been limited to rodents, the team believes it possible that the same technique could be used to treat human patients. IL-33 is a protein naturally present in the body, which has been linked to a reduction in the amyloid plaque development that causes Alzheimer’s and its devastating symptoms. Meanwhile, the results of a new study carried out at Washington University in St. Louis suggest that long before a clinical diagnosis is possible, Alzheimer’s patients display signs of increasing difficulties with navigation. Specifically, their brains’ capacity to build, store and access mental maps of their surroundings was found to be somewhat reduced. “These findings suggest that navigational tasks designed to assess a cognitive mapping strategy could represent a powerful new tool for detecting the very earliest Alzheimer’s disease-related changes in cognition,” wrote associate professor of psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences, Denise Head. See also: New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function.
Scientists Turn Skin Cells into Heart and Brain Cells Using Only Drugs — No Stem Cells Required – (KurzweilAI – April 29, 2016)
Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have used chemicals to transform skin cells into heart cells and brain cells, instead of adding external genes — making this accomplishment a breakthrough, according to the scientists. The research lays the groundwork for one day being able to regenerate lost or damaged cells directly with pharmaceutical drugs — a more efficient and reliable method to reprogram cells and one that avoids medical concerns surrounding genetic engineering. Instead, the team of scientists at the Roddenberry Center for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine at Gladstone used chemical cocktails to gradually coax skin cells to change into organ-specific stem-cell-like cells and ultimately into heart or brain cells. “This method brings us closer to being able to generate new cells at the site of injury in patients,” said Gladstone senior investigator Sheng Ding, PhD, the senior author on both studies involved. “Our hope is to one day treat diseases like heart failure or Parkinson’s disease with drugs that help the heart and brain regenerate damaged areas from their own existing tissue cells. This process is much closer to the natural regeneration that happens in animals like newts and salamanders, which has long fascinated us.”
Scientists Talk Privately About Creating a Synthetic Human Genome – (New York Times – May 13, 2016)
Scientists are now contemplating the fabrication of a human genome, meaning they would use chemicals to manufacture all the DNA contained in human chromosomes. The prospect is spurring both intrigue and concern in the life sciences community because it might be possible, such as through cloning, to use a synthetic genome to create human beings without biological parents. While the project is still in the idea phase, and also involves efforts to improve DNA synthesis in general, it was discussed at a closed-door meeting at Harvard Medical School in Boston. The nearly 150 attendees were told not to contact the news media or to post on Twitter during the meeting. Organizers said the project could have a big scientific payoff and would be a follow-up to the original Human Genome Project, which was aimed at reading the sequence of the three billion chemical letters in the DNA blueprint of human life. The new project, by contrast, would involve not reading, but rather writing the human genome — synthesizing all three billion units from chemicals. But such an attempt would raise numerous ethical issues. Could scientists create humans with certain kinds of traits, perhaps people bred to be soldiers? Or might it be possible to make copies of specific people?
More Than One Fifth of the World’s Plant Species Are Now Threatened with Extinction – (Science Alert – May 11, 2016)
The world’s first international study of plants estimates that there are 391,000 known unique species of vascular plants – ie. those with conductive tissue that transport water and synthesize foods – but warns that 21% of these are currently at danger of becoming extinct. The report, released by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in the UK, says about 2,000 new plant species are discovered by scientists every year, but while we’re continually increasing our records of plants, there’s still much we don’t know about them and the factors that threaten them around the world. While climate change is a factor threatening the survival of plant species, the biggest issues at the moment include destruction of habitats for farming, deforestation for timber, and the construction of buildings and infrastructure – with 13 out of 14 of the world’s vegetation biomes having seen a loss of more than 10% of land in the past decade.
USDA: Beekeepers Lost 44% of Honey Bee Colonies Last Year – (EcoWatch – May 11, 2016)
The Bee Informed Partnership, in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), released its annual report on honey bee losses in the U.S. Beekeepers reported losing 44% of their total number of colonies managed over the last year—close to the highest annual loss in the past six years. These losses are considered too high to be sustainable for U.S. agriculture and the beekeeping industry. A large and growing body of science has attributed alarming bee declines to several key factors, including exposure to the world’s most widely used class of insecticides, neonicotinoids. States, cities, universities, businesses and federal agencies in the U.S. have passed measures to restrict the use of these pesticides due to delay by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, these pesticides are still widely used despite mounting evidence that they kill bees outright and make them more vulnerable to pests, pathogens and other stressors. This past year, the USDA, a co-chair of the Pollinator Health Task Force, a group established by President Obama’s Presidential Memorandum on pollinators, was reported to suppress and silence its own scientists for speaking to the harms of neonicotinoids and glyphosate—an herbicide that is a leading contributor to monarch decline. See also the article from the Washington Post: Was a USDA scientist muzzled because of his bee research?
Nuclear Waste Leaking at ‘American Fukushima’ in Northwest – (Newsweek – May 3, 2016)
The Hanford Nuclear Reservation sits on the plains of eastern Washington, where the state meets Oregon and Idaho. This is open country through which cars pass quickly on the way to the Pacific coast or, conversely, deeper into the heartland. The site is nearly 600 square miles in area and has been largely closed to the public for the past 70 years. Late last year, though, it became part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which will allow visitors to tour B Reactor, where plutonium for one of the two atomic weapons dropped on Japan in World War II was produced. This was a hopeful turn for a place that, for four decades, stocked the American nuclear arsenal. A total of nine reactors operated at Hanford, and though they are now decommissioned, the reactors have left behind 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. That a place so tainted with radioactive material could become parkland was a positive sign. Not quite, it seems, with recent reports indicating new breaches in the tanks holding the nuclear waste. Workers on the site have been sickened too, suggesting that designating Hanford as a park may have been premature. The 177 underground tanks were never a permanent solution, and the government has hired private contractors to build a plant that will solidify the waste and prepare it for permanent safe storage. The project will cost an astonishing $110 billion, according to estimates, making it what many believe to be the most expensive, and extensive, environmental remediation project in the world. Completion is about five decades away. Otherwise sober observers have likened the place to a nuclear tinderbox. Of the 28 newer double-shelled tanks, AY-102 was already known to be leaking toxic sludge into the soil. Now a second double-shelled tank, AY-101, is believed to be leaking as well. For more explicit details of the leak, see this article from a UK newspaper, the Daily Mail: Nuclear leak at Washington’s infamous Hanford Site is catastrophic, former worker claims, as eight inches of radioactive waste escapes core of ‘the world’s safest’ tank.
OkCupid Study Reveals the Perils of Big-Data Science – (Wired – May 14, 2016)
Recently, a group of Danish researchers publicly released a dataset of nearly 70,000 users of the online dating site OkCupid, including usernames, age, gender, location, what kind of relationship (or sex) they’re interested in, personality traits, and answers to thousands of profiling questions used by the site. When asked whether the researchers attempted to anonymize the dataset, Aarhus University graduate student Emil O. W. Kirkegaard, who was lead on the work, replied bluntly: “No. Data is already public.” He observed, “Some may object to the ethics of gathering and releasing this data. However, all the data found in the dataset are or were already publicly available, so releasing this dataset merely presents it in a more useful form.” For those concerned about privacy, research ethics, and the growing practice of publicly releasing large data sets, this logic of “but the data is already public” is an all-too-familiar refrain used to gloss over thorny ethical concerns. The most important, and often least understood, concern is that even if someone knowingly shares a single piece of information, big data analysis can publicize and amplify it in a way the person never intended or agreed. However, many of the basic requirements of research ethics—protecting the privacy of subjects, obtaining informed consent, maintaining the confidentiality of any data collected, minimizing harm—are not sufficiently addressed in this scenario. And since OkCupid users have the option to restrict the visibility of their profiles to logged-in users only, it is likely, due to their collection methods, the researchers collected—and subsequently released—profiles that were intended to not be publicly viewable. This article goes on to examine the ethical responsibilities of working with big data.
Raytheon Developing Technology to Make Software “Immortal” – (PR Newswire – May 2, 2016)
A team led by Raytheon BBN Technologies is developing methods to make mobile applications viable for up to 100 years, despite changes in hardware, operating system upgrades and supporting services. The U.S. Air Force is sponsoring the four-year, $7.8 million contract under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Building Resource Adaptive Software Systems program. “Mobile apps are pervasive in the military, but frequent operating system upgrades, new devices and changing missions and environments require manual software engineering that is expensive and causes unacceptable delays,” said Partha Pal, principal scientist at Raytheon BBN. “We are developing techniques to eliminate these interruptions by identifying the way these changes affect application functionality and modifying the software. The Raytheon-led team, which also includes Securboration, Inc., Oregon State University, Vanderbilt University and Syracuse University, plans to: Develop a set of static and dynamic discovery techniques to identify the ways in which changes in the application’s ecosystem can affect the software’s functionality; Develop a set of transformation technologies that modify the software as needed to adapt to these changes; and Create a software framework to demonstrate and evaluate software evolution in response to ecosystem changes.
San Francisco Becomes First Major City to Require Solar Panels on New Buildings – (Truth Out – April 21, 2016) San Francisco is one step closer to its goal of transitioning to 100% renewable energy after the city’s Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Tuesday to mandate solar installations on new buildings. Starting Jan. 1 of next year, new commercial and residential buildings up to 10 stories high must install rooftop solar systems for heat or electricity. Buildings that are taller are exempt for now. The famously green metropolis is now the first major city in the U.S. to legislate such a requirement. San Francisco follows the footsteps of the smaller towns of Lancaster and Sebastopol. The municipalities, which are also in California, passed similar mandates in 2013. “This legislation will help move us toward a clean energy future and toward our city’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2025,” according to supervisor Scott Wiener, who introduced the legislation. He added that San Francisco’s new rooftop solar law is an extension of an already established California law that requires all buildings 10 floors or less designate at least 15% of the rooftop for solar use. “My legislation takes the next step by requiring that the rooftops not just be solar ready, but actually have solar panels installed,” he said.
Desk-Size Turbine Could Power a Town – (Technology Review – April 11, 2016)
GE Global Research is testing a desk-size turbine that could power a small town of about 10,000 homes. The unit is driven by “supercritical carbon dioxide,” which is in a state that at very high pressure and up to 700 °C exists as neither a liquid nor a gas. After the carbon dioxide passes through the turbine, it’s cooled and then repressurized before returning for another pass. The unit’s compact size and ability to turn on and off rapidly could make it useful in grid storage. It’s about one-tenth the size of a steam turbine of comparable output, and has the potential to be 50 percent efficient at turning heat into electricity. Steam-based systems are typically in the mid-40 percent range; the improvement is achieved because of the better heat-transfer properties and reduced need for compression in a system that uses supercritical carbon dioxide compared to one that uses steam. The GE prototype is 10 megawatts, but the company hopes to scale it to 33 megawatts. In addition to being more efficient, the technology could be more nimble—in a grid-storage scenario, heat from solar energy, nuclear power, or combustion could first be stored as molten salt and the heat later used to drive the process. (For more on molten salt storage, see the next article.)
The World’s Largest Coal Company is Going Solar – (Futurism – May 6, 2016)
The world’s largest coal company, China’s state-owned Shenhua Group Corp., has just partnered with Santa Monica, Calif.-based SolarReserve in order to bring 1,000 megawatts of solar thermal plants into China. Under the memorandum, Shenhua will bring its expertise in constructing and operating power plants and take the lead on development, while SolarReserve brings its solar thermal technology, as well as its support services. SolarReserve just brought its 110 MW Crescent Dunes project in Nevada online earlier this year, and is currently working on its 100 MW Redstone Project in South Africa and the 260 MW Copiapó facility in Chile. Unlike other solar power providers, SolarReserve builds and develops its own molten salt energy storage technology. The way it works is that it focuses the solar energy from the sun into a tall molten salt tower at the center of the complex, heating the molten salt into more than 566 C(1050 F). This is then transferred to storage tanks and used to run turbines. Because the salt can maintain its heat for up to ten hours, the plant can continue to produce energy long after the sun goes down. This technology allows SolarReserve’s plants to create power for 24 hours a day and maintain a stable electricity output—in contrast to the inconsistent production from typical renewable plants difficult to cope with.
Billions Are Being Invested in a Robot That Americans Don’t Want – (Bloomberg – May 4, 2016)
Three-quarters of drivers don’t want to own an autonomous car. One commuter’s concern: `It scares the bejeebers out of me’. The driverless revolution is racing forward, as inventors overcome technical challenges such as navigating at night and regulators craft new rules. Yet the rush to robot cars faces a big roadblock: People aren’t ready to give up the wheel. Recent surveys by J.D. Power, consulting company EY, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Canadian Automobile Association, researcher Kelley Blue Book and auto supplier Robert Bosch LLC all show that half to three-quarters of respondents don’t want anything to do with these models. “Technologically, we will be ready for automated driving within this decade,” said Kay Stepper, a vice president and head of the automated driving unit at Bosch, which supplies components to the world’s leading manufacturers. “But it will take well into the next decade to convince consumers.” Automakers and tech giants including Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit have high hopes for a rapid rollout of autonomous vehicles, which they say will radically reduce traffic deaths and cure congestion in big cities. Boston Consulting Group says the market for autonomous technology will grow to $42 billion by 2025, and self-driving cars may account for a quarter of global sales by 2035. All of this depends on people buying something they don’t currently want. Experience will assuage those apprehensions. Consumers are getting their first exposure through semi-autonomous features such as automatic brakes, systems that steer a drifting car back into its lane and adaptive cruise control that operates the brake and accelerator to stay a set distance from vehicles ahead. Luxury makers such as Mercedes and Audi soon will introduce traffic-jam assist that takes over in stop-and-go situations. (Editor’s note: When the autonomous vehicles are road-ready and individual baby boomers reach the point at which s/he is no longer capable of driving safely, that autonomous vehicle is going to equal the ability to maintain an autonomous life style. We expect these vehicles will be adopted far more readily – and sooner – than pollsters currently imagine.) For more on the development of the underlying technology: “You’re in your self-driving car, with heavy rain and poor visibility. All of a sudden, a blurred shape appears on the road. What should the car do?” See: Deep neural networks that identify shapes nearly as well as humans.
BMW Plans Self-driving Car Launch by 2021- (ZD Net – May 13, 2016)
BMW wants to have its first fully driverless vehicle on the roads within five years, the German auto manufacturer’s CEO Harald Krueger has revealed. “In 2018, we will launch a BMW i8 Roadster. This will be followed in 2021 by the BMW i Next, our new innovation driver, with autonomous driving, digital connectivity, intelligent lightweight design, a totally new interior and ultimately bringing the next generation of electro-mobility to the road,” he said. Until recently, BMW’s parent company Daimler was reportedly in talks with Apple about a collaborative project on automonous vehicles, but the German firm is said to have walked away from a deal after being unable to come to terms with who will own data received from customers’ driving. The race to develop driverless cars is getting increasingly competitive, with a number of high profile automotive manufacturers working on projects in this area. Volvo has already set out plans to test driverless vehicles on the streets of London from next year, while Toyota recently opened a research institute with a focus on “fully autonomous” driving. (Editor’s note: Note that phrase, “who will own data received from customers’ driving”. Whatever company can access it has at its disposal a huge trove of deep data.)
Self-driving Robots Are the New Longshoremen on L.A. Waterfront – (Seattle Times – May 14, 2016)
On one end of a dock at America’s busiest port, tractor-trailers haul containers through dense, stop-and-go traffic. Sometimes they collide. Sometimes the drivers must wait, diesel engines idling, as piles are unstacked to find the specific container they need. A few hundred yards away, advanced algorithms select the most efficient pathway for autonomous carriers to move containers across the wharf. The four-story-high orange machines cradle their cargo, passing quietly within inches of each other, at speeds as fast as 18 miles an hour, but never touching. Self-driving cranes on tracks stack the containers and then deliver them to waiting trucks and trains with minimal human intervention. TraPac’s Los Angeles marine-cargo facility demonstrates how autonomous technology could revolutionize freight transport as much as or more than personal travel. TraPac’s equipment doubles the speed of loading and unloading ships, saving money and boosting profits. Its impact is rivaling that of containerization, which eliminated most manual sorting and warehousing on docks after World War II. “Self-driving won’t just rebuild the current freight system, it will create a whole new way of thinking about it,’’ said Larry Burns, a former research and development chief at General Motors and now a consultant at Alphabet’s Google unit. “It will happen sooner with goods movements than with personal transportation, because the economics are crystal clear.’’
This New Restaurant Feeds Thousands of Hungry People Every Day – (Huffington Post – April 29, 2016)
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 48.1 million Americans have insecure access to food, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children (approximately 1 out of 5). Inspired by TOMs shoes, the company that gives a pair of shoes to someone in need with every pair sold — Even Stevens, a new restaurant based in Salt Lake City, gives a sandwich to a local hungry person with every sandwich sold. According to their website, Even Stevens has donated 444,022 sandwiches so far. The founder of Even Stevens, Steve Down, is a serial entrepreneur with several start-ups he’s currently trying to build to IPO. As the father of millennials who care deeply about social consciousness and giving, Down saw the opportunity to use his skills as an entrepreneur to turn the food service industry into a force for social good. The result is “a sandwich shop with a cause.” Even Stevens is growing rapidly, with seven current locations since the first opened in Salt Lake City in June, 2014. Down plans to have 20+ locations open by the end of 2016. The 10 year plan is to have 4,000 locations feeding over 1,000,000 people per day. To put these numbers in perspective, Subway has approximately 34,000 locations and Chipotle has approximately 2,000. The results of Even Stevens speak for themselves, with each location currently opened achieving profitability within the first 30-60 days.
What Does the New CRISPR-Edited Mushroom Mean for Agriculture? – (Fast Company – April 26, 2016)
The mushrooms of the future may last a little longer on the shelf, and a certain type of corn will have better yields. The white button mushroom and waxy corn were the first foods edited with CRISPR-Cas9—a gene-editing technique—to get a pass from the USDA. CRISPR makes it simple to target a gene and delete it, or paste in another. By snipping a gene out of the mushroom’s genome, a researcher from Penn State was able to develop a new variety with less activity from the enzyme that makes white mushrooms turn brown if they’re cut. The common white button mushroom, which is produced mainly in Pennsylvania, was actually cultivated after a mushroom farmer in the 1920s discovered some all-white mushrooms in his mushroom bed. In other words, it was a chance mutation that happened to reduce enzyme activity. The new version of the mushroom is functionally no different than something that might have also mutated naturally. But CRISPR made the change simpler. “It would be hard to find this kind of mutation, because the mutation on the surface is a little easier to spot,” said Yinong Yang, the plant pathologist at Penn State who developed the mushroom. “For this one, you’d have to cut thousands of these mushrooms, and you probably won’t find it.” When Yang sent a letter of inquiry to the USDA about the new mushroom, after several months, they replied that the mushroom wouldn’t fall under their scope of regulating genetically modified foods. That’s because the agency uses a peculiar test: If a new food is made with a “plant pest” such as bacteria or a virus, then the USDA has oversight under the Plant Protection Act of 2000. When the U.S. first developed its regulatory framework, most GMOs used the so-called plant pests in production. Now, they don’t—so the law doesn’t apply. The FDA doesn’t evaluate plants for safety (it’s up to the producer not to put something unsafe on the market).
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Listen to an FBI “Honeypot” on the Job – (Intercept – April 21, 2016)
After one woman broke his heart, Khalil Abu Rayyan, a 21-year-old Michigan man, contemplated suicide. Then, when he confided his dark thoughts to another woman, she suggested he steer his violence toward other people. Both women, it turned out, were FBI honeypots, and one of the recorded conversations with Rayyan entered into ongoing court proceedings provides a rare glimpse into how federal informants work. The U.S. government now alleges that Rayyan, who has been indicted on federal gun charges, is an Islamic State sympathizer who talked of attacking a church in Detroit. Federal prosecutors have not filed terrorism-related charges, yet they are handling Rayyan’s indictment with the secrecy of a national security investigation. When Ghaada called off the relationship, Rayyan was heartbroken. The FBI then introduced “Jannah Bride,” a 19-year-old Sunni Muslim who had a soft and charming accent when she spoke (in Arabic, Jannah means heaven). “I love your voice, by the way,” Rayyan told her in one conversation. To impress his new romantic interest, who appeared preoccupied with jihad, Rayyan claimed to have an AK-47 (he didn’t), and to have attempted travel to Syria (there’s no evidence he even bought a ticket). In a motion filed April 15, Rayyan’s lawyers, Todd Shanker and Benton C. Martin, wrote: “The government clearly exploited Rayyan, and blatantly attempted to steer him toward terrorism as an acceptable form of suicide before God.” After his arrest, Rayyan told a psychologist: “I have never been touched by a girl in any way nor have I touched one.”
The Pentagon Is Building a ‘Self-aware’ Killer Robot Army Informed by Social Media – (INSURGE intelligence – May 12, 2016)
An unclassified 2016 Department of Defense (DoD) document, the Human Systems Roadmap Review, reveals that the US military plans to create artificially intelligent (AI) autonomous weapon systems, which will use predictive social media analytics to make decisions on lethal force with minimal human involvement. Despite official insistence that humans will retain a “meaningful” degree of control over autonomous weapon systems, this and other Pentagon documents dated from 2015 to 2016 confirm that US military planners are already developing technologies designed to enable swarms of “self-aware” interconnected robots to design and execute kill operations against robot-selected targets. More alarmingly, the documents show that the DoD believes that within just fifteen years, it will be feasible for mission planning, target selection and the deployment of lethal force to be delegated entirely to autonomous weapon systems in air, land and sea. The Pentagon expects AI threat assessments for these autonomous operations to be derived from massive data sets including blogs, websites, and multimedia posts on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The raft of Pentagon documentation flatly contradicts Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work’s denial that the DoD is planning to develop killer robots. (Editor’s note: Note the research project using “data which is already public” in the “OkCupid” article in the Communications section above; here’s another way that similar blocks data are going to be used.)
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru – (New York Times – May 5, 2016)
This article is an in-depth profile of Benjamin R. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. “The Iran experience was the place where I saw firsthand how policy, politics and messaging all had to be brought together, and I think that Ben is really at the intersection of all three,” said Rob Malley, a favored troubleshooter. “He reflects and he shapes at the same time.” Now the most effectively weaponized 140-character idea or quote will almost always carry the day, and it is very difficult for even good reporters to necessarily know where the spin is coming from or why. (Editor’s note: This article is quite long and worth every minute of your time if you are interested in how American foreign policy is shaped and communicated. If you have a few more minutes, read this commentary which offers a little distance and perspective on the primary article: Did the New York Times just accidentally tell the truth about the Obama administration?)
Did China Trade Cost the United States 2.4 Million Jobs? – (Foreign Policy – May 8, 2016)
The question of whether trade with China has inflicted lasting harm on the United States is the subject of some much-celebrated research by three distinguished economists: David Autor, David Dorn, and Gordon Hanson. They argue that import growth from China cost the United States about 2.4 million jobs over a dozen years. The work provides evidence that U.S. labor markets do not adjust quickly or easily to shocks. When a manufacturing worker loses a job, not only can it take a long time to find another, not only might that new job have lower wages, but the worker’s entire lifetime stream of earnings may suffer. But we already knew this. The real question is whether American workers have suffered ills due to trade — more specifically, due to trade with China. Autor, Dorn, and Hanson show empirically that where imports from China increased the most, the pain to workers was most acute. But this does not prove their point; that would require them to defend their preferred cause against alternative explanations. What this article goes on to show is that pointing a finger specifically at China is more a political message than a reality. The reality is that production moves from places with higher labor costs to places with low labor costs, be that China, Viet Nam, Brazil, India, or the Rust Belt – and American workers as a whole have suffered due to these moves. To frame the issue as “Chinese exports cost American jobs” evidences a blindness to the larger economic forces at play.
Hillary Clinton Approved Delivering Libya’s Sarin Gas to Syrian Rebels: Seymour Hersh – (Global Research – May 1, 2016)
The investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, has reported that the Obama Administration falsely blamed the government of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad for the sarin gas attack that Obama was trying to use as an excuse to invade Syria; and Hersh pointed to a report from British intelligence saying that the sarin that was used didn’t come from Assad’s stockpiles. Hersh also said that a secret agreement in 2012 was reached between the Obama Administration and the leaders of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, to set up a sarin gas attack and blame it on Assad so that the US could invade and overthrow Assad. “By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria”. There have been multiple independent reports that Libya’s Gaddafi possessed such stockpiles, and also that the US Consulate in Benghazi Libya was operating a “rat line” for Gaddafi’s captured weapons into Syria through Turkey. So, Hersh isn’t the only reporter who has been covering this. Indeed, the investigative journalist Christoph Lehmann reported on 7 October 2013, ‘Top US and Saudi Officials responsible for Chemical Weapons in Syria” and reported, on the basis of very different sources than Hersh used, that “Evidence leads directly to the White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, CIA Director John Brennan, Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar, and Saudi Arabia´s Interior Ministry”. And, the definitive analysis of the evidence that was performed by two leading US analysts, the Lloyd-Postal report, concluded that, “The US Government’s Interpretation of the Technical Intelligence It Gathered Prior to and After the August 21 Attack Cannot Possibly Be Correct”. Obama has clearly been lying. However, now, for the first time, Hersh has implicated Hillary Clinton directly in this “rat line”.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
The Circles of American Financial Hell – (Atlantic – May 5, 2016)
Middle-class Americans, by definition, earn decent incomes and live in relative material comfort. Yet they are in financial distress. For people earning between $40,000 and $100,000, 44% said they could not come up with $400 in an emergency (either with cash or with a credit card whose bill they could pay off within a month). Even more astonishing, 27% of those making more than $100,000 also could not. So what’s going on here? At its core, this relentless drive to spend any money available comes not from a desire to consume more lattes and own nicer cars, but, largely, from the pressure people feel to provide their kids with access to the best schools they can afford (purchased, in most cases, not via tuition but via real estate in a specific public-school district). The biggest sources of Americans’ debt are housing and education. Housing and education appear to be two distinct categories of spending, but for many families they are one and the same: For the most part, where a family lives determines where their kids go to school, and, as a result, where schools are better, houses are more costly. Breaking the bank for your kids’ education is, to an extent, perfectly reasonable: In a deeply unequal society, the gains to be made by being among the elite are enormous, and the consequences of not being among them are dire. When understood mainly as a consequence of this rush to provide for one’s children, the drive to maximize spending is not some bizarre mystery, nor a sign of massive irresponsibility, but a predictable consequence of severe inequality.
U.S. Families Struggling with Teens’ Phone Addiction: Report – (Reuters – May 3, 2016)
Half of teenagers in the United States feel addicted to their mobile phones, with most checking the devices at least every hour and feeling pressured to respond immediately to messages, a survey has found. The majority of parents concurred, with 59% of those with children between ages 12 and 18 saying their kids cannot give up their phones, according to a poll of 1,240 parents and children by Common Sense Media. U.S. children between ages 8 and 12 report spending nearly six hours a day using media, while those ages 13 to 18 spend almost nine hours per day using media, according to the group. About a third of those parents polled said they argue every day about screen use, the San Francisco-based group said. Its survey is the latest indication of American families struggling to balance mobile devices in an age of ever-evolving technology. It also underscores the ongoing debate over Internet addiction and its consequences.
Meet the Doctor Who Treats the Homeless – (CNN – March 21, 2016)
Dr. Jim Withers used to dress like a homeless person. Two to three nights a week, he rubbed dirt in his hair and muddied up his jeans and shirt before walking the dark streets of Pittsburgh. Withers wanted to connect with those who had been excluded from his care. “I was actually really shocked how ill people were on the street,” he said. “Young, old, people with mental illness, runaway kids, women (who) fled domestic violence, veterans. And they all have their own story.” Homelessness costs the medical system a lot of money. Individuals often end up in emergency rooms, and stay there longer, because their illnesses go untreated and can lead to complications. For 23 years, Withers has been treating the homeless – under bridges, in alleys and along riverbanks. “We realized that … we could make ‘house calls,'” he said. It’s something that Withers’ father, a rural doctor, often did. Withers’ one-man mission became a citywide program called Operation Safety Net. Since 1992, the group has reached more than 10,000 individuals and helped more than 1,200 of them transition into housing. In addition to street rounds, the program has a mobile van, drop-in centers and a primary health clinic, all where the homeless can access medical care. In the way I’d like to see things, every person who is still on the streets will have medical care that comes directly to them and says, “You matter.” Having street medicine in [the] community transforms us. We begin to see that we’re all in this together.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Study Asserts That Earth Is Not the First Intelligent Civilization in the Universe – (Futurism – May 6, 2016)
Two scientists from the University of Rochester and the University of Washington have developed an “archaeological form” to the famous Drake equation, which will allow us to determine how many technological civilizations have formed in the history of the universe. And it seems there may be a number of them. The famous “Drake equation,” formulated by astronomer Frank Drake in 1961, sought to establish a mathematical, probabilistic framework to understand the question of whether or not humanity ia really alone in the cosmos; it used a number of ingenious terms to estimate the number of technological civilizations in our galaxy. The problem with Drake’s original formulation was that three of those terms, in particular, were just too uncertain to permit a reliable estimate. The results of a newly modified formulation suggest that humankind is only likely to be unique if the odds of another civilization developing on a habitable world are less than one in 1022. That’s a very—some might say improbably—small number. “To me, this implies that other intelligent, technology producing species very likely have evolved before us,” says Frank. “Think of it this way: before our result you’d be considered a pessimist if you imagined the probability of evolving a civilization on a habitable planet were, say, one in a trillion. But even that guess, one chance in a trillion, implies that what has happened here on Earth with humanity has in fact happened about 10 billion other times over cosmic history!
Pluto Is Looking More Like A Planet After All – (Tech Times – May 8, 2016)
Pluto may have been demoted to the status of dwarf planet, but as astronomers learn more about this distant body, they are learning it behaves more like a planet than once believed. This frigid globe interacts with solar wind in a way that is much like its larger cousins. The New Horizons team is still interpreting vast amounts of data recorded by the spacecraft as it whizzed past Pluto in the summer of 2015. A Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) instrument aboard the vehicle measured the effect the distant world had on charged particles from the far-distant sun. Pluto was found to affect the solar wind in a manner that appeared to be a hybrid between cometary and planetary effects. Comets hardly change the course of this stream of electrically charged particles, and what little alteration that does occur takes place close to the body. Planets have a great effect on the solar wind, which is felt for significant distances. Astronomers found the river of particles was significantly affected by Pluto, but only for short distances from the icy sphere. Until New Horizons arrived at the dwarf planet in July 2015, most astronomers believed heavy ions from Pluto’s atmosphere would quickly be lost to space. The body was thought to be too small, and too far from the sun, to hold on to these molecules. The spacecraft found atmospheric ions in far greater concentrations than thought likely. Pluto was also found to possess an ion tail extending 73,800 miles behind the frozen globe. The dwarf planet was found to only interfere with the solar wind just 1,844 miles in front of the body. This is roughly the distance between Chicago and Los Angeles.
Could Medical Errors Be No. 3 Cause of Death? – (NBC – May 4, 2016)
Medical mistakes — from surgical disasters to accidental drug overdoses — are the No. 3 cause of death in the U.S., behind cancer and heart disease, according to two experts. They said a careful count of all deaths from preventable medical errors shows between 200,000 and 400,000 people a year die in the U.S. from these mistakes. The only way to get the country to do something about them is to start counting them, Dr. Martin Makary and Michael Daniel of Johns Hopkins University medical school argued. Cancer and heart disease are neck and neck as the top cause of death in the United States. In 2012, 24% of all deaths were from heart disease — 599,711 to be precise. And 582,623 deaths, or 23% of the total, were from cancer. Number three, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, with 149,000 deaths. Makary’s estimate of 250,000 deaths a year would top that. Health policy experts and many doctors have been trying to call attention to the problem of medical errors for more than a decade. In 1999 the Institute of Medicine released a landmark report estimating that as many as 98,000 people died every year from medical errors. Since then, other studies have put the number as high as 400,000 a year. One problem is that errors are not usually put down on death certificates, said Makary, who’s been helping lead the movement to disclose and prevent medical mistakes. See also this article which discusses that fact that hundreds of papers published in prestigious medical journals are being pulled from the scientific record, for falsified data, for plagiarism, and for a variety of other reasons that are often never explained. Sometimes it’s an honest mistake. But it’s estimated that 70% of the retractions are based on some form of scientific misconduct.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Sony Files Patent for Contact Lens That Records What You See – (GizMag – May 5, 2016)
The tech nerds are calling them “smart eyes,” and they’re supposed to measure a person’s blink, wink, and tilt of the eye to figure out when to record, save and delete video. Sony’s contacts include a camera, a wireless processing component and a storage unit, unlike Samsung’s smart lenses patented earlier this month, which rely on a smartphone. A patent filing by the Japanese company reveals its vision for a contact lens that not only records video and images with a simple blink, but manages to store them right there and then on the user’s eyeballs. Google, Samsung and a number of research groups have also made plans for various types of smart contact lenses public. The motivation behind these range from glucose monitoring to augmented reality to boosting vision through telescopic lenses. But one thing they have in common is that they are all early-stage prototypes or patented pipe dreams, with consumer-ready products seemingly still a ways off. Sony’s patent application doesn’t change that, but does reveal an even bolder plan for a smarter, and probably scarier, piece of eyewear. Among the hardware built into the lens would be an image capture unit, a main control unit, storage module, antenna and a piezoelectric sensor. See also: Google Wants to Inject Cyborg Lenses into Our Eyeballs.
CIO Explainer: What Is Blockchain? – (Wall Street Journal – February 2, 2016)
Known by many as the technology underpinning the bitcoin digital currency, blockchain has acquired a new identity in the enterprise. At a time when companies face new challenges in data management and security, it’s emerging as a way to let companies make and verify transactions on a network instantaneously without a central authority. Today, more than 40 top financial institutions and a growing number of firms across industries are experimenting with distributed ledger technology as a secure and transparent way to digitally track the ownership of assets, a move that could speed up transactions and cut costs while lowering the risk of fraud. Some companies see an opportunity to use blockchain to track the movement of assets throughout their supply chains or electronically initiate and enforce contracts. Blockchain remains in the experimental phase inside many large firms and there are few tested use cases, experts and analysts caution. The blockchain architecture allows a distributed network of computers to reach consensus without the need for a central authority or middleman. A good example is in financial services, where trades are often verified by a central clearinghouse that maintains its own central ledger. Using that process, it can take days to settle a transaction, and the clearinghouse typically collects some kind of fee. Here’s a look at how this emerging technology works. See also: How Blockchain Technology Will Revolutionize Far More Than Money.
It’s Clear Beijing is Silicon Valley’s Only True Competitor – (CNBC – May 13, 2016)
Beijing will be the only true competitor to Silicon Valley in the next 10 years. Beijing is not just a nice startup playground which might become truly interesting in a few years. This is the big leagues now. Startups can achieve massive scale quickly, because the domestic market is 1.3 billion people, which is four times the U.S. or European population. An increasing share of these 1.3 billion people is actually targetable. In the U.S., 190 million people carry a smartphone; in China, it is more than 530 million today, and it will be 700 million or more in three years. But a large market alone does not mean that a place will become a startup hub. it is the combination of market size and the extreme consumer-adoption speed of new services, combined with the entrepreneurial spirit and hunger for scale of Chinese entrepreneurs. We pride ourselves on being fast in Silicon Valley. Chinese startups are faster. Big startups are built in 3 to 5 years versus 5 to 8 in the U.S. Accordingly, entrepreneurs who try to jump on the bandwagon of a successful idea scramble to outcompete each other as fast as they can. Work-life balance is nonexistent in Chinese startups and meetings are anytime — really. In China, there is a company work culture at startups that’s called 9/9/6. It means that regular work hours for most employees are from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week. And the argument that Chinese entrepreneurs are mainly cloning Western startups is outdated.
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.
Life-Sized Noah’s Ark Replica to Hit the High Seas This Summer – (Huffington Post – April 26, 2016)
A life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark may soon be hitting the Atlantic Ocean — but don’t worry, there’s no forecast for genocidal floods (that we know of). The Dutch ship’s creator has announced plans to move the massive vessel, with the help of a barge, from its port in the Netherlands to Brazil this summer as part of a multi-country tour. Carpenter Johan Huibers, who completed the biblical boat in 2012 as a religious attraction, said he hopes its 6,000-mile journey to South, Central and North America will help spread the message of the Bible. According to the foundation’s page, Huibers decided to build the mega ship after dreaming that his homeland was flooded by a storm, like one that led to the creation of Noah’s ark as told in the Book of Genesis. Taking a chapter straight out of the Old Testament, Huibers said he crafted his modern-day ark using the same measurements used by Noah. See also an article about an ark-building project in Kentucky, Noah’s Ark Rises in Kentucky, Dinosaurs and All.
JUST FOR FUN
What’s That Sound? Nature? No, It’s This Guy’s Voice – (New York Times – May 2, 2016)
Long before he became a global web fascination for using his mouth and his nose and — he swears — his soul to make nature sounds spring from a microphone like a geyser from the ground, Gennady Tkachenko-Papizh was a show-business chameleon. however, widespread renown did not arrive for Mr. Tkachenko-Papizh, 52, until March. That was when, while sitting at a cafe here checking his smartphone, he saw that Miss Arab U.S.A. — who is a 22-year-old Brooklyn-born Syrian named Fabiola al-Ibrahim — had, for some reason, posted to her Facebook page a video of Mr. Tkachenko-Papizh competing on a talent show in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. “This will take you to another world!” she promised of the link, which leads to about three minutes of Mr. Tkachenko-Papizh vocalizing the sounds of crickets, bird wings rustling, water dripping, and hyper-dramatized operatic chanting.
A FINAL QUOTE
We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims. – R. Buckminster Fuller
A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, Bobbie Rohn, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks. [email protected]
Edited by John L. Petersen