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Volume 21, Number 10 – 5/15/18
FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT–
If your genome is out in a public database, then it is technically reasonable to re-ID you.Research has identified 44 gene variants, or small changes in genes, which contribute in some small way to a person’s risk of depression.“The world is becoming a computer,” Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft said, “Computing is getting embedded in every person, place and thing.” And in this new age, the tech in your pocket and on your desk just doesn’t matter as much anymore.Data taken from Blue Cross Blue Shield members’ medical claims from 2013 to 2016 found a 33% jump in diagnosis of major depression over that time.
by John L. Petersen
Penny Kelly returns to Berkeley Springs Transition Talks
Join us Saturday, June 23, 2018, 2 to 4 pm in Berkeley Springs
ETs, Consciousness, and The Nature of Reality
As we move closer to official disclosure of the fact that we are not the only beings in the universe, it becomes more and more important to prepare ourselves and consciousness to interact with other beings, many of whom have a much more advanced understanding of the true nature of reality.
This brings us to ask, “What do they know that we do not know? How do they manage themselves within this reality system? What is their understanding of the nature of reality?”
Join us for a deep look at information, technology, and perspectives held by beings that are waiting for us to join the greater community and that we must mature into before we can take on a greater role.
Penny Kelly is an author, teacher, speaker, publisher, personal and spiritual consultant, and Naturopathic physician. She travels, lectures, and teaches a variety of classes and workshops, and maintains a large consulting practice. She has been involved in scientific research and investigations into consciousness at Pinelandia Laboratory near Ann Arbor, MI.
Get complete details at TransitionTalks.org.
John Petersen to speak at Energy, Science and Technology Conference
I will be one of the keynote speakers at one of the foremost new energy conferences in the world, held in Idaho (near Spokane, Washington), on the 5th – 8th of July. ESTC is a marvelously interesting mix of researchers and inventors who are on the leading edge of “free” and alternative energy. It is always a most provocative time full of new ideas . . . and mind-blowing technology that really works. The revolution is starting there.
Here’s what some of the folks who attended last year had to say about their experience:
This is a really great conference, with ample opportunities to meet many very interesting people and hear sometimes amazing presentations about working technologies that trumpet the emergence of a new world. That’s what I’m going to talk about. Here’s the description of my talk.
New Energy: The Linchpin to Unprecedented Change and the Emergence of a New Era
We are full into the most extraordinary period of change ever experienced by humanity . . . and the acceleration will increase before things begin to settle down. Amazing breakthroughs and manipulations of our reality signal a transition the likes of which baffles conventional wisdom.
The endpoint is a new world populated by new humans – both fundamentally different from the familiar forms that we all grew up with. Many sources paint a picture of a world without war for millennia.
Futurist John Petersen will paint the big picture of what is going on, where it could be headed and why new energy is such a key piece of the extraordinary new world.
You can get complete information on the program at energyscienceconference.com. If this is of interest to you, there are only about 40 seats left, so register soon.
Hope to see you there.
What the Golden State Killer Case Means for Your Genetic Privacy – (CNN – April 27, 2018)
Fears about the privacy of our data have become commonplace amid credit monitoring hacks and a political firm accessing Facebook users’ information. A recent arrest takes it one step further, raising questions about how our genetic information is being used and who has access to it. Nearly 32 years after the Golden State Killer’s rampage ended, police arrested Joseph James DeAngelo, 72. The arrest was made on the basis of genetic information, with detectives matching a discarded DNA sample from his home to evidence from the investigation, law enforcement officials said. The investigators used an open-source genetic database, GEDmatch, to explore family trees and see whether any contained matches to DNA samples from the crime scenes. In short, the investigators tracked down DeAngelo based on genetic information provided not by him but by one of his relatives. Genetic testing appears to be an evolution in the “when the product is surprisingly cheap, you are the product” ethos. “23andMe has … suggested that its longer-range goal is to collect a massive biobank of genetic information that can be used and sold for medical research and could also lead to patentable discoveries,” wrote George J. Annas, a legal scholar at Boston University School of Public Health, and Dr. Sherman Elias of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. When it comes to “anonymizing” DNA, it is so far impossible to truly do so, according to Yaniv Ehrlich, a core member at the New York Genome Center and assistant professor of computer science and computational biology at Columbia University. “If your genome is out in a public database, then it is technically reasonable to re-ID you,” said Erlich, who, with colleagues, published a paper in which “de-identified” genetic information was re-identified through cross-references to publicly available information.
Google Sells the Future, Powered by Your Personal Data – (NBC News – May 10, 2018)
Some of Google’s most advanced technology includes an assistant that can schedule appointments for you over the phone, customized suggestions in Google Maps, and even a new feature that can help finish your sentences as you type an email. It’s all underpinned by the same thing: the massive trove of data that Google is collecting on billions of people every day. Until recently, most users may have either been unaware their data was being used like this or were fine with the tradeoff. Google has seven products that each have at least 1 billion active monthly users, and they couldn’t work as well without access to users’ data. That has helped make Google one of the world’s most well-regarded brands, but in a world that is growing increasingly leery of how major tech companies track people, the data collection practices by the world’s leading digital advertising company have come under renewed scrutiny. David Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School, said in an email. “Search, plus Android gives Google amazing insight into individual behavior. Google’s stated privacy policies seem adequate, but the question that I cannot answer is whether Google’s stated policy and actual behavior are one and the same. Facebook had a stated policy for the last three years which most of us found acceptable, until Cambridge Analytica came to light.” The extent of the information Google has can be eyebrow-raising even for technology professionals. Dylan Curran, an information technology consultant, recently downloaded everything Facebook had on him and got a 600-megabyte file. When he downloaded the same kind of file from Google, it was 5.5 gigabytes, about nine times as large. His tweets highlighting each kind of information Google had on him, and therefore other users, got nearly 170,000 retweets. “This is one of the craziest things about the modern age, we would never let the government or a corporation put cameras/microphones in our homes or location trackers on us, but we just went ahead and did it ourselves because … I want to watch cute dog videos,” Curran wrote. What can you do about it? This article explains how users can see and limit the data Google collects on them and offers a number of links to websites with instructions on how to do it.
Bizarre Quantum Phenomenon Demonstrated on Massive Scale in World First – (Newsweek – April 26, 2018)
Quantum entanglement is a mind-boggling phenomenon in which pairs, or groups, of particles interact with each other in such a way that they defy the classical laws of physics. One object can seemingly influence another simultaneously, even if they have no direct physical connection and are separated by vast distances—such as the length of the universe. Entanglement, which was once described by Albert Einstein as “spooky action at a distance,” is a cornerstone of quantum mechanics—the bizarre physics of the very small—and plays an important role in potentially revolutionary technologies like quantum computers. Thus far, it has only been demonstrated on a tiny scale using particles of light, or other similarly sized atomic objects. However an international team of scientists from the University of New South Wales, Australia, the University of Chicago, and the universities of Jyväskylä and Aalto, both in Finland, have generated quantum entanglement on a massive scale, in a world first that promises to expand our understanding of quantum physics. The team managed to entangle the motion of two aluminum drumheads on a silicon chip by applying microwaves to the circuit, which made them vibrate at high frequencies. These drumheads are tiny, measuring just 15 micrometers across—about the width of a human hair—but they contain many billions of atoms, which is massive for the quantum scale, and far larger than any object that has been entangled before. Small vibrating objects already play a crucial role in a number of different applications—for example, as sensors and filters in your cell phone. Quantum versions of these mechanical devices could have a host of applications—for example, as a kind of ‘bus’ that could move quantum information from one kind of physical system to another.
Why Earth’s Magnetic Field Might Not Flip After All – (Live Science – April 30, 2018)
A gradual weakening in Earth’s geomagnetic field has raised concerns that the field could flip, reversing magnetic north and south. But now, new research suggests the field has been in a similar state before — without making a move. In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers compared the current magnetic field, which is created by the churning of Earth’s core, with the magnetic field of eons past. They found that today’s patterns don’t resemble the two most extreme disruptions in the past 50,000 years, when the magnetic field nearly reversed. Instead, the modern field appears similar to the field during two other periods — one 49,000 ago, and one 46,000 years ago — when the field wobbled but didn’t flip-flop. Even a wobble, though, could have ramifications, the authors wrote. If the field continues to weaken, it could affect things like electronics aboard low-Earth-orbit satellites, even without a total reversal of magnetic north and south. Currently, magnetic north is very close to the North Pole, while magnetic south is near the South Pole. That’s been the case for about 780,000 years — the last time the geomagnetic field underwent a complete reversal, with magnetic north and south swapping places. But the field has been weakening by about 5% per century since direct observations started in 1840, and indirect observations hint that this weakening might have been going on for at least 2,000 years, Maxwell Brown, who studies paleomagnetism at the University of Iceland, and his colleagues wrote in their new paper. A particularly weak area called the South Atlantic Anomaly, which stretches from South Africa to Chile, has been pinpointed as a potential ground zero for a global polarity reversal.
The Universe Is Out of Balance and Nobody Knows Why – (CNN – May 3, 2018)
In 1928, British physicist Paul Dirac was fiddling around with the then-new theories of quantum mechanics and special relativity, trying to merge them into a single theory that would explain the behavior of ordinary matter. His equations were successful in doing so, but they had an unexpected feature. They had not one, but rather two, solutions. The first one explained the familiar world of atoms, but the second solution seemed to describe some sort of mirror world, with everything backward. Using modern language, his equations predicted not only the negatively charged electron, but also a cousin particle with identical mass and positive charge — an anti-electron we now call the positron. Similarly, it predicted both the positively charged proton and a negatively charged “antiproton.” In fact, Dirac predicted that for every known type of particle that we discover, there is a corresponding “antiparticle.” The generic term for this surprising substance is antimatter. While antimatter sounds like science fiction, it is most definitely science fact. It was discovered in August of 1932 by American physicist Carl Anderson. In principle, you should be able to combine antiprotons and positrons and make anti-atoms and even antimatter molecules, cells, planets and people. There could be an entire antimatter galaxy out there. However, there’s just one problem. Antimatter is almost entirely absent from the cosmos. That turns out to be a very hard thing to explain, because not only did Dirac’s equations tell us that antimatter should exist, it told us how to make it. If you concentrate enough energy, you can make matter. But, when you make matter, you make an identical amount of antimatter. And that’s where the puzzle arises. We know that our universe was created in a process called the Big Bang, which released an incredible amount of energy. As the universe expanded and cooled, it should have made equal amounts of matter and antimatter. Yet our universe consists essentially entirely of matter, and therein lies the problem: We have two observations that are inarguable (the production of equal amounts of matter and antimatter, and the preponderance of matter) and are in stark contradiction with one another. This is a painfully obvious disagreement and is one of the leading mysteries of modern science. The logical conclusion is that in the formation and expansion of the universe something happened that favored matter over antimatter. Scientists have been trying for decades to identify how that happened, to no avail. Recently, the ALPHA collaboration at CERN announced that they were assembling an experiment that would be able to answer a long-unanswered question, “Does antimatter fall up?” Essentially all theoretical physicists are confident that antimatter is affected by gravity in the same way matter is. But it’s never been tested. The ALPHA experiment expects to be able to definitively answer this question later this year. If theorists have predicted wrong, this will be the physics measurement of the decade.
Game-Changing Study Finds Dozens of Genes Tied to Depression – (Live Science – April 29, 2018)
A global consortium of more than 200 scientists identified 44 gene variants, or small changes in genes, each one contributing in some small way to a person’s risk of depression. Thirty of the gene variants had not been identified in any previous study. The hope is that the discovery will pave the way to new, diverse therapies for depression, an often-crippling disease that affects nearly 15% of adults worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Only about half of patients respond well to existing treatments, which include both drug and psychotherapy. Many of the genes tied to depression also are associated with other psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as health issues linked to depression, including obesity and insomnia, the study found. Some of the gene variants control neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and adrenaline, which the current class of antidepressant drugs can target. Other gene variants have nothing to do with neurotransmitters, though, which may be why antidepressants don’t work for some people if the genetic underpinnings of their depression lie elsewhere in the brain, the scientists said. In the new study, the researchers found no single gene variant that was a strong risk factor for depression, the way that mutations in the BCRA1 gene frequently lead to breast cancer. Instead, each gene variant contributes to depression in an incremental way.
If You Already Have a Diagnosed Terminal Illness, Artificial Intelligence Can Predict When You’ll Die – (Daily Beast – April 30, 2018)
When patients receive a terminal cancer diagnosis, they are often given a frustratingly vague sense of how much time they have left. “You’ve got x months/years to live,” they’re typically told. But physicians are human, and forecasting like this is wrought with not only errors but also the pain of planning for a death that may or may not happen in the given time frame. In many cases the end-of-life time frame is off, forecasted to be way more in the future than it actually is. That leaves some patients scrambling to stitch together end-of-life care, and makes what was supposed to be as comfortable and peaceful a process as possible actually more stressful and wretched. There’s no way to perfectly predict when a person will die—but that may be about to change. Researchers at Stanford University’s School of Medicine have released an algorithm that could help solve this problem. The group collected and analyzed data from hundreds of thousands of medical records to create a model that would predict when patients were likely to die. The time frame is kept purposely tight—between three months and a year—to be as accurate as possible. Lloyd Minor, a dean with Stanford’s School of Medicine, said that AI was able to independently figure out when a person would pass away nine out of 10 times. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. Ultimately, what this AI might be able to do is create a more personalizable end-of-life experience. As it inches closer to 100% accuracy, it gives power to the patient to pursue the treatment option they desire—potentially making what Minor calls “empowering” decisions about how they’d like to live the remainder of their days, on their own terms. “What AI can do is give patients information they have never had before that can help them realize their preferences as they near the end of their lives, whether that’s remaining mentally aware, being able to spend time with family, avoiding severe pain, or exhausting every possible avenue to defeat their disease,” said Minor.
A Soldier Lost Her Ear in a Car Accident. So the Doctors Grew Her a New One – in Her Forearm – (Newsweek – May 9, 2018)
Shamika Burrage survived a near-fatal car accident two years ago, but not without losing something pretty important: her left ear. Now, thanks to a novel procedure performed at an Army medical center in Texas, Burrage is getting that ear back in a most unusual way. Plastic surgeons harvested cartilage from Burrage’s ribs to create a new ear and then grew it under the skin of her forearm. Then the doctors at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso successfully transplanted the ear from her arm to her head. The technique — a first time in the Army — is called prelaminated forearm free flap, said Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at William Beaumont Army Medical Center. Some of the big advantages of it is that it reduced the chance of more scarring around Burrage’s ear. Also, growing the ear under the skin of her forearm allows new blood vessels to form. “(The ear) will have fresh arteries, fresh veins and even a fresh nerve so she’ll be able to feel it,” Johnson said on the US Army’s website.
Chemotherapy-free ‘Cancer Vaccine’ Moves from Mice to Human Trials at Stanford – (SF Gate – March 27, 2018)
A recent Stanford cancer study that cured 97% of mice from tumors has now moved on to soliciting human volunteers for a new cutting-edge medical trial. The trial is part of a gathering wave of research into immunotherapy, a type of treatment that fights cancer by using the body’s immune system to attack tumors. “Getting the immune system to fight cancer is one of the most recent developments in cancer,” said Dr. Ronald Levy, a Stanford oncology professor who is leading the study. “People need to know that this is in its early days and we are still looking for safety and looking to make this as good as it can be.” The treatment is not a true vaccine that creates lasting immunity, but it does feature a vaccine-like injection carrying two immune stimulators that activate the immune system’s T cells to eliminate tumors throughout the body. The treatment does not work on all types of cancer, Levy said, because each type of cancer has a different set of rules regarding how it can be affected by the immune system. The current trials are only working with people who have a low-grade lymphoma.
UK Pledges £61.4 Million to Fight Ocean Plastics – (Nation of Change – April 17, 2018)
British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that her government will earmark £61.4 million towards cleaning the world’s oceans of plastics. May hoped to encourage other Commonwealth countries to join the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance (CCOA) through which the funds will be directed. The CCOA was established by the UK and Vanuatu to tackle plastic pollution. So far, Ghana, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka have also decided to join, May announced. The fund will be divided in three parts: £25 million towards researching the science and economics of marine plastic pollution, £20 million to prevent plastic and other pollutants from industry in developing countries from reaching the ocean, and £16.4 million to improve waste management in the UK so that plastics don’t enter the ocean through rivers. May also hopes to encourage the 52 countries in the Commonwealth to join the UK in banning microbeads and restricting plastic bag use.
Are Jupiter and Venus Messing with Earth’s Climate? – (Gizmodo – May 8, 2018)
Our planet is in a remarkably circular orbit around the Sun, but as new research points out, Earth’s orbit sometimes experiences a slight jolt, thanks to the combined gravitational influence of Jupiter and Venus. Incredibly, this cycle has been going on for at least 215 million years—and one scientist suggests it could possibly have influenced the trajectory of life on this planet, according to the new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Jupiter and Venus elongate Earth’s orbit to a tiny but measurable degree every 405,000 years, explained Dennis V. Kent, the lead author of the new study and a professor at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Kent believes this highly predictable and long-running celestial pattern could be used to study geological changes on Earth and subsequent environmental and ecological shifts—and because this cycle can be traced back to the Late Triassic Era, it could even tell us something about the dinosaurs. “The climate cycles are directly related to how the Earth orbits the sun and slight variations in sunlight reaching Earth lead to climate and ecological changes,” said Kent in a statement. “The Earth’s orbit changes from close to perfectly circular to about five percent elongated especially every 405,000 years,” he said. “Scientists can now link changes in the climate, environment, dinosaurs, mammals and fossils around the world to this… cycle in a very precise way.” Indeed, armed with this potential empirical evidence for the APTS, scientists will be challenged to correlate these planetary interactions with known ecological shifts. For example, Kent said, the cycle could explain why dinosaurs had such a restricted geographical range during the Late Triassic, and why tropical dinosaurs didn’t spread further and dominate until the close of the Triassic Era. Currently, the Earth is in the middle of the cycle, with the last significant orbital influence happening about 200,000 years ago.
EU Member States Support Near-total Neonicotinoids Ban – (BBC News – April 27, 2018)
Member states have voted in favour of an almost complete ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides across the EU. Scientific studies have long linked their use to the decline of honeybees, wild bees and other pollinators. The move represents a major extension of existing restrictions, in place since 2013. Manufacturers and some farming groups have opposed the move, saying the science remains uncertain. Neonicotinoids are the most widely used class of insecticides in the world, but concerns about their impact on bees have been reinforced by multiple research efforts, including so-called “real world” trial results published last year. In 2013 the European Union opted for a partial ban on the use of the three chemicals in this class: Imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Those restrictions applied to crops including maize, wheat, barley, oats and oil seed rape. The newly agreed Commission regulation goes much further, meaning that almost all outdoor uses of the chemicals would be banned. Growers will only be free to use neonicotinoids in greenhouses across the EU, despite some environmental groups having reservations about the chemicals leaching into water supplies. Other neonicotinoids, including thiacloprid and sulfoxaflor, will continue to be exempt from the ban.
Arabian Sea Has the Largest and Thickest Dead Zone in the World – (IB Times – May 2, 2018)
“Dead zones are areas devoid of oxygen. In the ocean, these are also known as ‘oxygen minimum zones’ and they are naturally occurring between 200 and 800 meters deep in some parts of the world,” said Dr. Bastien Queste from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences who led the study. The dead zone near the Gulf of Oman is growing fast by the year. It is now about as big as Scotland and several thousand meters thick, say researchers. A new study conducted by the University of East Anglia (UEA) has confirmed that the Gulf of Oman is losing an alarming amount of Oxygen and it is losing it fast. The research was carried out using robotic divers called Seagliders which are about as big as a human diver, but can drop down to 1000 meters into the water and collect data for months. Machines were put to use in this research, notes the report because of the growing concerns of piracy and existing geopolitical tensions that prevail in that part of the world. Two gliders were put to work, collecting data for eight months under water, constantly in contact with satellites through which scientists were able to map the ocean for oxygen, covering thousands of kilometers worth of sea. The data they collected was used to create a picture of not only how much oxygen was left in the sea, but also the extent to which oxygen was transported from region to region. “They are a disaster waiting to happen – made worse by climate change, as warmer waters hold less oxygen, and by fertilizer and sewage running off the land into the seas. “The Arabian Sea is the largest and thickest dead zone in the world. But until now, no-one really knew how bad the situation was because piracy and conflicts in the area have made it too dangerous to collect data. We barely have any data collected for almost half a century because of how difficult it is to send ships there,” Queste explained.
Sunscreen Chemicals Are Destroying Coral Reefs and Now Hawaii Is Banning Them – (BuzzFeed – May 2, 2018)
Hawaii is set to become the first state in the US to ban the sale of sunscreen chemicals that are toxic to coral reefs and marine life. A bill to ban the sale of sunscreens containing two types of chemicals toxic to the ocean was passed by the Hawaii state legislature and will now go to the governor’s office for his signature. If signed, the ban would start in 2021. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are destroying the oceans around the world, according to scientists whose research has shown that the chemicals break down coral by leaching it of nutrients and disrupt the development of fish and marine life, like sea urchins and algae. About 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotion ends up in coral reefs around the world each year, according to a study published in 2015 in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. The highest concentrations of sunscreen were found in tourist-filled beaches, like many found in Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands. In Hawaii, a study conducted by the non-profit Haereticus Environmental Laboratory at the iconic snorkeling spot Hanauma Bay last year found that the nearly 2,600 average daily visitors left about 412 pounds of sunscreen in the ocean. The damaging effects of sunscreen can occur in concentrations as low as 62 parts per trillion, which is equivalent to one drop of oxybenzone in six Olympic-size swimming pools. Studies have also shown that the ocean pollution comes from both people wearing sunscreen as well as through wastewater streams that are sent to the sea. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are found in almost all common sunscreens, including products sold by Hawaiian Tropic, Banana Boat, and Coppertone, as well as some face lotions. Many alternative sunscreen options are for sale — some from the same aforementioned brands — which use ingredients such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide for skin protection. Also, sun protection clothing rated with Ultraviolet Protection Factor — a similar system to SPF — are made by Patagonia, Australia’s Coolibar, REI, Lilly Pulitzer, Athleta, and others.
Microsoft’s Obsession with Windows Is Ending – (CNet – May 11, 2018)
For anyone who’s followed the tech industry over the past couple of decades, Windows sitting on the sidelines at the developer conference of the company that made billions off of it speaks to the fact that we — you, me, the tech industry at large — just don’t care about computers like we used to. Or tablets. Or most smartphones, even. What we do care about is AI and the web. Or we will very soon. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella knows this. He sees Microsoft as one of the key AI and web companies of the future. A company that will touch your life, whether you know it or not. The world is becoming a computer,” Nadella said, “Computing is getting embedded in every person, place and thing. Every walk of life — in our homes, in our cars, in our work, in our stadiums, in our entertainment centers; in every industry from precision agriculture to precision medicine; from autonomous cars to autonomous drones; from personalized retail to personalized banking — are all being transformed.” And in this new age, the tech in your pocket and on your desk just doesn’t matter as much anymore. Everything else is the new hotness. And it’s pushed Microsoft to make more of its technology available to everyone. “We’re finally being freed from dependence on specific devices,” said Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst of Technalysis Research, who’s been tracking tech trends and the PC industry for two decades. “Hardware’s important, but it’s become a tool through which we experience these services.” Now Microsoft’s beginning to spread innovations across the tech industry, like its Timeline feature that helps you keep track of apps you used, documents you wrote and websites you visited, no matter what device you were using. We’re all benefiting, regardless of whether we have an Apple iPad, Google Android-powered phone or an Alienware PC. This is good for the industry. Times change, though, and now it’s all about the promise of AI, apps and services that work across devices.
Flatpack M.A.Di House Pops up in a Matter of Hours – (New Atlas – November 11, 2017)
Italian architect Renato Vidal has created a prefabricated foldable house that takes less than a day to install once on site. The M.A.Di home is an economic flat-packed housing solution that is not only sustainable, but designed to last and withstand earthquakes. Manufactured by wood specialist Area Legno in Italy, the M.A.Di home is built using CLT (cross laminated timber) to create a modular and multi-functional anti-seismic family home. The M.A.Di home comes in several sizes, including a 290-sq ft tiny house; 495-sq ft or 603-sq ft double home and a 753-sq ft or 904-sq ft triple family house. Each home stretches over two levels and comes equipped with a kitchen, dining area and bathroom located on the ground floor, while the bedroom/s are located on the upper floor. The building’s A frame structure and unique folding ability allows the home to be prefabricated off site, flat-packed and transported via truck or container to its designated build site. The M.A.Di home can be installed as a temporary or permanent structure and does not necessarily need any foundations at ground level, allowing the structure to have zero impact on the landscape. The home is anchored down using an innovative screw pile system, which has no impact on the soil and can leave the land without a footprint. Alternatively, the home can be built on top of a reinforced concrete foundation. If desired, the home can be packed away and stored in a warehouse for future uses. Article includes a photo gallery of 33 images.
Throttling Nuclear Power Production Could Lead to Cheaper, Greener Energy – (New Atlas – April 30, 2018)
The 99 nuclear power plants on US soil provide nearly 20% of the country’s energy needs and have been operating at an increasingly high capacity, from 50% in the early 70s, to 70% the early 90s, and keeping above 90% since 2002. However, according to new research from MIT and the Argonne National Laboratory, throttling down the capacity of nuclear power plants and adapting their output dynamically to compensate for the unpredictability of renewable sources could lead to savings for both consumers and nuclear plant owners. According to the study, nuclear power plants do not need to operate at maximum capacity to maximize their efficiency. Rather, by adapting their output dynamically to compensate for the unpredictability of clean energy sources, they could create a symbiotic relationship that can minimize greenhouse gas emissions while also decreasing the cost of electricity to consumers as well as the cost of operations to power plant owners. In particular, the study found that one of the most limiting constraints to flexible operations in nuclear power plants is the increased concentration of xenon (an effective neutron poison that lowers nuclear fuel reactivity) following every reactor power drop. Despite this, the researchers conclude that nuclear plants can not only be efficient when not operating at full output, but they are also also fully capable of responding dynamically to hourly electricity market prices and second-to-second frequency regulation needs.
This Startup Wants to Replace Cars (and Subways) with Elevated Pods – (Fast Company – May 9, 2018)
A startup called Transit X argues that we need a different form of mass transit to get people to stop driving. The company’s system, which it says will soon be deployed in the Philippines, will use networks of lightweight, automated, solar-powered pods. Each small pod is large enough for up to five people, and suspended from a narrow elevated rail 14 feet above the ground, tall enough that a semi truck can pass underneath. At a stop, passengers would enter their destination in an app or a kiosk, walk up to a small platform to board their own pod nearly immediately, and then take a nonstop ride to wherever they’re trying to go. (Each stop is designed to have an exit ramp for boarding, so it’s possible for other pods to pass by without stopping until their final destinations.) “People don’t like to wait,” says Mike Stanley, CEO of Transit X. “They want to have a single seat and a private experience. So if you’re going to replace the dominant mode share of cars, you’d better give them something that they’ve already expressed a preference for rather than trying to force them into [something they don’t really want] saying ‘use mass transit because it’s better for the environment.’” The company hasn’t yet begun production of the pods, but has designed prototypes. Each carbon-fiber pod will weigh around 100 pounds, around 28 times less than an average car, and because they avoid the inefficiencies of car travel–which start and stop 20 times on a trip, and continually slow down and speed up, the pods will get the equivalent of 1,500 miles per gallon. That makes it possible to power the system with solar cells attached to the track. The support poles will hold large batteries; the pods will park where energy is available and charge while parked.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Spy Agency NSA Triples Collection of U.S. Phone Records: Official Report – (Reuters – May 4, 2018)
The U.S. National Security Agency collected 534 million records of phone calls and text messages of Americans last year, more than triple gathered in 2016, a U.S. intelligence agency report said. The sharp increase from 151 million occurred during the second full year of a new surveillance system established at the spy agency after U.S. lawmakers passed a law in 2015 that sought to limit its ability to collect such records in bulk. The spike in collection of call records coincided with an increase across other surveillance methods, raising questions from some privacy advocates who are concerned about potential government overreach and intrusion into the lives of U.S. citizens. The 2017 call records tally remained far less than an estimated billions of records collected per day under the NSA’s old bulk surveillance system, which was exposed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. The records collected by the NSA include the numbers and time of a call or text message, but not their content. Overall increases in surveillance hauls were both mystifying and alarming coming years after Snowden’s leaks, privacy advocates said. “The intelligence community’s transparency has yet to extend to explaining dramatic increases in their collection,” said Robyn Greene, policy counsel at the Washington-based Open Technology Institute that focuses on digital issues.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
Trump Team Hired Spy Firm for ‘Dirty Ops’ on Iran Arms Deal – (Guardian – May 5, 2018)
Aides to Donald Trump, the US president, hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to orchestrate a “dirty ops” campaign against key individuals from the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, the Observer can reveal. People in the Trump camp contacted private investigators in May last year to “get dirt” on Ben Rhodes, who had been one of Barack Obama’s top national security advisers, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama, as part of an elaborate attempt to discredit the deal. Sources said that officials linked to Trump’s team contacted investigators days after Trump visited Tel Aviv a year ago, his first foreign tour as US president. Trump promised Netanyahu that Iran would never have nuclear weapons and suggested that the Iranians thought they could “do what they want” since negotiating the nuclear deal in 2015. A source with details of the “dirty tricks campaign” said: “The idea was that people acting for Trump would discredit those who were pivotal in selling the deal, making it easier to pull out of it.” According to incendiary documents seen by the Observer, investigators contracted by the private intelligence agency were told to dig into the personal lives and political careers of Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, and Kahl, a national security adviser to the former vice-president Joe Biden. Among other things they were looking at personal relationships, any involvement with Iran-friendly lobbyists, and if they had benefited personally or politically from the peace deal. Although sources have confirmed that contact and an initial plan of attack was provided to private investigators by representatives of Trump, it is not clear how much work was actually undertaken, for how long or what became of any material unearthed. Neither is it known if the black ops constituted only a strand of a wider Trump-Netanyahu collaboration to undermine the deal or if investigators targeted other individuals such as John Kerry, the lead American signatory to the deal. Both Rhodes and Kahl said they had no idea of the campaign against them. Rhodes said: “I was not aware, though sadly am not surprised. I would say that digging up dirt on someone for carrying out their professional responsibilities in their positions as White House officials is a chillingly authoritarian thing to do.”
US Admits It ‘Lost’ 1,500 Immigrant Children, Handed Many of Them Directly to Human Traffickers – (Free Thought Project – May 13, 2018)
According to a Senate subcommittee testimony, nearly 1,500 immigrant children were lost in government arranged foster homes last year, with the suspicion that many of them were kidnapped by human traffickers. During the hearing, Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota told child protection representatives with the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) that “You are the worst foster parents in the world. You don’t even know where they are. We are failing. I don’t think there is any doubt about it. And when we fail kids that makes me angry.” Subcommittee Chairman Senator Rob Portman said that an investigation into the lost children began after the HHS put eight children from Guatemala into the custody of human traffickers, who forced them to work on a farm for 12 hours a day without pay. “Whatever your views on immigration policy, everyone can agree that the administration has a responsibility to ensure the safety of the migrant kids that have entered government custody until their immigration court date,” Portman said. Acting assistant secretary at HHS, Steven Wagner, told the committee that between October and December of 2017, HHS called 7,635 children that the agency placed with sponsors and they were only able to track down 6,075 of them. At least 28 of them had reportedly run away, five others were deported, 52 were living with someone else and 1,475 were missing. In 2016, an AP investigation found that more than two dozen children had been sent to homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay. Child welfare lawyers from Ohio who testified at the hearing said that increased persecution from immigration enforcers has made family members of unaccompanied children who enter the US afraid or unable to take custody. There have been similar concerns about the safety of immigrant children in Europe. In 2016, it was reported that more than 10,000 immigrant children may have disappeared after arriving in Europe over a two-year time period. “It’s not unreasonable to say that we’re looking at 10,000-plus children. Not all of them will be criminally exploited; some might have been passed on to family members. We just don’t know where they are, what they’re doing or whom they are with,” Europol’s chief of staff told the Observer newspaper.
Who Is the Vassal? – (Gush-Shalom – May 12, 2018)
Most people in Israel now believe that Binyamin Netanyahu, Bibi the Great, is really leading Trump on a leash. Bibi has such a magical hold over Trump, that the American president has to follow Israel’s lead. Or perhaps it is the other way around. Trump’s main object in life is to get out of the Iran deal, “the worst deal ever”. Why? I have listened intently and have discerned no other reason than that the deal was forged by his hated predecessor, Barack Obama. What other reason was there for annulling the deal? I have heard none. The deal stopped Iran from proceeding with the building of a nuclear weapon. All experts, without exception (even in Israel) confirm that Iran has scrupulously adhered to its commitment. But Bibi is obsessed with Iran. He wakes up in the morning with Iran and goes to sleep with Iran. Nobody seems to ask: Why, for God’s sake? Well, there is ideology. The present rulers of Iran are extreme Shia Islamists. They want to become the overlords of the Arab Muslim world. The Arabs hate Israel, mainly because of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. So the Iranians pretend to be the great enemy of the “Little Satan” (their rather insulting appellation of Israel, to distinguish it from the Great Satan, the USA). Frankly, I think that the rulers of Iran don’t give a damn about Israel, except as an useful instrument. The hatred of Israel is a weapon in the battle with the Sunni Arab world, led by the hyper-active Saudi Crown Prince. (The conflict between Sunni and Shia goes back almost to the times of the Prophet, more than 15 centuries ago.) So why is Bibi obsessed with Iran, to such an extent that he commands his American vassal to drive towards World War III? Depends how cynical you are. If you are very cynical, you might well say that both Trump and Bibi are up to their respective necks in criminal investigations. What better way to divert the attention of their subjects than a little war? It is a precept that has been tried out since the beginning of the world, and it almost never fails. Who will worry about trifles like Trump’s porno stars or Bibi’s gifts from (American) billionaires, when the lives of our boys are at stake? (Editor’s note: This article is an Israeli op-ed piece from Gush-Shalom. Translated from Hebrew, the name means “The Peace Bloc” and is the hard core of the Israeli peace movement.)
Maybe Israel Is Interfering in Our Politics over the Iran Deal? Naaah! – (Mondoweiss – May 8, 2018)
Questions about who is leading whom are not just arising in Israel. For the last three years, Benjamin Netanyahu has been doing everything he can to sink the Iran deal, from speaking in Congress against the deal in 2015 with the support of Democrats who were defying President Obama on his signature foreign policy achievement, to sending his Defense Minister over to try to sink the deal, to cartoon presentations at the U.N., and a video lecture in English last week saying, Iran Lies. Netanyahu’s interference was so obtuse that Obama once said that Israel was the only country that was against the deal and it would be an “abrogation of my constitutional duty” if he didn’t push the Iran deal. Then it came out over the weekend that a “creepy” Israeli intelligence outfit that did spying for Harvey Weinstein reportedly tried to dig up personal dirt on two Obama officials who had spearheaded the deal (Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl), in order to discredit the deal. The firm was reportedly hired by a business client that has “commercial interests related to sanctions on Iran,” reports the New Yorker. But no one is going to connect the dots here. No one will point out that Trump’s biggest financial backer, Sheldon Adelson, who wishes he had served in the Israeli army not the American one, wanted President Obama to nuke Iran. Or that Trump’s former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, had to resign after it came out that he had lied about his contact with the Russians– in order to help Israel. Flynn got in touch with the Russians during the transition in December 2016, in a failed attempt to help Israel in the Security Council on the resolution condemning settlements that President Obama was about to abstain on. (Editor’s note: we recommend this article.)
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Childish Gambino – This is America – (YouTube – May 5, 2018)
Recording artist, Donald Glover, has just released a video of his latest project. Appearing as his hip-hop alter ego, Childish Gambino in “This is America”, he takes his audience on a macabre journey through a nation where entertainment is more important than justice. (Editor’s note: We recommend watching the clip. And then reading this article in the New York Times which offers snippets from other reviews with links to each. For example, Doreen St. Félix notes in the New Yorker that “The video has already been rapturously described as a powerful rally cry against gun violence, a powerful portrait of black-American existentialism, a powerful indictment of a culture that circulates videos of black children dying as easily as it does videos of black children dancing in parking lots.” And if you really want to dive in, read ‘Unpacking All the References in Childish Gambino’s Phenomenal New Video’.
When Teens Cyberbully Themselves – (NPR – April 21, 2018)
During the stressful teen years, most adolescents experience emotional highs and lows, but for more than 20% of teenagers, their worries and sad feelings turn into something more serious, like anxiety or depression. Studies show that 13% – 18% of distressed teens physically injure themselves via cutting, burning or other forms of self-harm as a way to cope with their pain. Recent research and clinical psychologists now suggest that some adolescents are engaging in a newer form of self-aggression — digital self-harm. They’re anonymously posting mean and derogatory comments about themselves on social media. Child psychologist Sheryl Gonzalez-Ziegler of Denver says it’s a growing problem among teens whom she counsels. One recent client, an adolescent girl, told Gonzalez-Ziegler that she anonymously cyberbullied herself because, as a gay teen, she felt vulnerable and exposed. “She set up ghost accounts on Instagram and posted mean comments about herself, saying things like, ‘I think you’re creepy and gay’ and ‘Don’t sit next to me again,’ ” Ziegler says. According to a survey published late last year in the Journal of Adolescent Health, teens are bullying themselves online as a way to manage feelings of sadness and self-hatred and to gain attention from their friends. For the study, 5,593 middle and high school students from across the U.S., ages 12 to 17, completed a series of questionnaires that asked about their experiences with digital self-harm and cyberbullying. “We were alarmed to learn that 6% of the youth who participated in our study engaged in some form of digital self-harm,” says Sameer Hinduja, co-author of the study and a professor of criminology at Florida Atlantic University. He is also the co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. Hinduja and a colleague found that more than half the teens who cyberbullied themselves had done so more than once. When asked why they had participated in this behavior, the teens said things like, “I already felt bad about myself, and I wanted to make myself feel worse” and “I wanted to see if someone was really my friend.”
The Reinvention of America – (Atlantic – May, 2018)
Americans don’t realize how fast the country is moving toward becoming a better version of itself. Everyone knows how genuinely troubled the United States is at the level of national politics and governance. It is natural to assume that these disorders must reflect a deeper rot across the country. But that is only one side of the picture; the other side is what is rejuvenation on so many levels that is occurring on the local level all across the country. In what underpublicized areas is America moving forward locally and regionally, while we read only about chaos and discord nationally? To summarize a few: civic governance, immigration, talent dispersal, schools, libraries, manufacturing, downtowns, and conservation. (Editor’s note: This article has a lot of substance and very little “Pollyanna”; we recommend it.)
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
“Maybe We’re Going About It All Wrong” — Behavior of Galaxies and Clusters Don’t Fit Predictions of General Relativity – (Daily Galaxy – May 4, 2018)
For decades, astronomers have noticed that the behavior of galaxies and galaxy clusters doesn’t seem to fit the predictions of general relativity. Dark matter is one way to explain that behavior. Likewise, the accelerating expansion of the universe can be thought of as being powered by a dark energy. “The business of alternative gravity theories is a messy one,” said said Anne Archibald, an astrophysicist at the University of Amsterdam. “Some would-be replacements for general relativity, like string theory and loop quantum gravity, don’t offer testable predictions. Others “make predictions that are spectacularly wrong, so the theorists have to devise some kind of a screening mechanism to hide the wrong prediction on scales we can actually test.” All attempts to directly detect dark matter and dark energy, continues Katia Moskvitch in Quanta Magazine, have failed, however. This article goes on to discuss the various alternative gravity theories and how a recently observed neutron-star merger blows holes in them. For a more scholarly article on the same topic, see the Quanta article, Troubled Times for Alternatives to Einstein’s Theory of Gravity noted above.
When the Sun Dies It Will Turn into a Bright Dust Ring for 10,000 Years – (Quartz – May 7, 2018)
Compared to other more distant stars, the Earth’s sun is medium-sized (even among other yellow dwarf stars) prompting scientists to wonder whether its size would make it behave differently once it died. Using their new model, based off data with updated calculations of the mass of individual stars, the researchers determined that the sun is just barely big enough to act similarly to some of the faraway stars they’ve observed in their death throes. That is to say, the sun will one day dramatically transform into a bright ring of cosmic dust. When medium-sized stars die, they undergo a flurry of activity, including one phase of extreme loss of mass. That creates a “superwind” effect that pushes huge amounts of dust outward from the star’s degenerate core, creating a bright, nebulous ring around its former self. That luminous envelope of dust can be as much as half the star’s mass. The star then enters a 10,000-year cooling stage before disappearing altogether. Although it is projected to have a much fainter nebula than bigger stars, the Earth’s sun is expected to follow that same course. The study adds more evidence supporting one side in a long-running debate about the death of stars in the scientific community. For more than 25 years, scientists have disagreed about how bright—if at all—the luminous dust of the sun could be, given its relative size. Many said they believed it wouldn’t be visible at all. The new data suggest the sun is just big enough to give off a bright ring of light.
Americans Are a Lonely Lot, and Young People Bear the Heaviest Burden – (NPR – May 1, 2018)
Loneliness isn’t just a fleeting feeling, leaving us sad for a few hours to a few days. Research in recent years suggests that for many people loneliness is more like a chronic ache, affecting their daily lives and sense of well-being. Now a nationwide survey by the health insurer Cigna underscores that. It finds that loneliness is widespread in America, with nearly 50% of respondents reporting that they feel alone or left out always or sometimes. More than half of survey respondents — 54% — said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well. Fifty-six percent reported they sometimes or always felt like the people around them “are not necessarily with them.” And 2 in 5 felt like “they lack companionship,” that their “relationships aren’t meaningful” and that they “are isolated from others.” The results are consistent with other previous research, says Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University, who studies loneliness and its health effects. She wasn’t involved in the Cigna survey. While it’s difficult to compare the loneliness scores in different studies, she says, other nationally representative estimates have found between 20% and 43% of Americans report feeling lonely or socially isolated. The latest survey also found something surprising about loneliness in the younger generation. “Our survey found that actually the younger generation was lonelier than the older generations,” says Dr. Douglas Nemecek, the chief medical officer for behavioral health at Cigna. Members of Generation Z, born between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s, had an overall loneliness score of 48.3. Millennials, just a little bit older, scored 45.3. By comparison, baby boomers scored 42.4. The Greatest Generation, people ages 72 and above, had a score of 38.6 on the loneliness scale. (People scoring between 20 and 80 on the UCLA scale are considered lonely, with a higher score suggesting a greater level of loneliness and social isolation.)
How Depressed Is Your State? – (CBS News – May 11 2018)
Major depression is on the rise among Americans and certain groups and parts of the country have been hit harder than others, according to a new report from Blue Cross Blue Shield of America. The data looks at medical claims from Blue Cross Blue Shield members from 2013 to 2016 and found a 33% jump in diagnosis of major depression over that time. In total, more than 9 million commercially insured people across the United States suffer from major depression, the report estimates. Millennials and teenagers have experienced the fastest climb in diagnosis rates, up 47% and 63%, respectively. “The high rates for adolescents and millennials could have a substantial health impact for decades to come,” Trent Haywood, the group’s senior vice president and chief medical officer, said in a statement. The report also found wide geographic differences in the diagnosis of major depression among states. The data showed higher rates of major depression in New England, the Pacific Northwest and various pockets throughout the South and Midwest. The highest rate of depression was in Rhode Island at about 6%, while the lowest was in Hawaii at 2%. (Article includes a map showing rates per state.) Every state except Hawaii experienced rising diagnosis rates of depression over the course of the study period. The surge in people being diagnosed for major depression is likely due to a number of factors. A 2017 study published in the journal Child Development found nighttime usage of a cellphones can increase anxiety and depression in teenagers and reduce self-esteem. The Blue Cross Blue Shield report also suggests a link between major depression and other health conditions. Of the more than 9 million Americans diagnosed with major depression in 2016, just 15% were diagnosed with that condition alone.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Welcome to the Automated Warehouse of the Future – (The Verge – May 8, 2018)
They call it “the hive,” or “the grid.” Or sometimes just: “the machine.” It’s a huge structure that fills a warehouse on the outskirts of Andover, a small and quiet town in southeast England. It’s impossible to take in at a single glance, but standing on a maintenance walkway near the building’s rafters, you look over what seems to be a huge chessboard, populated entirely by robots. There are more than a thousand of them, each the size and shape of a washing machine, and they wheel about, night and day, moving groceries. Their job is to be cheaper and more efficient than humans, and they are very good at it. Imagine a huge machine, with groceries going in one end and shopping orders coming out the other. Humans do the unpacking and packing, while in the middle, robots sort and rearrange this vast inventory 24 hours a day. The hive-grid-machine is the creation of Ocado, a British online-only supermarket that’s made a name for itself in recent years designing highly automated warehouses and selling the tech to other grocery chains. When fully up and running, Ocado’s Andover operation will be its most advanced yet, processing 3.5 million items or around 65,000 orders every week. It’s also a perfect example of the wave of automation slowly hitting countries around the world. The tasks being undertaken by Ocado’s bots are so basic they’re best described by simple verbs — “lifting,” “moving,” “sorting” — and that means they exist in various forms in a range of industries. And when the price is right, someone will want a machine to do those jobs, too. At the Andover facility, there are still plenty of humans knocking about. One of those is Ocado’s chief technology officer, Paul Clarke, who joined the company more than a decade ago and has been tasked with developing its automated operations. He explains that Ocado’s goal is to “disrupt itself;” to continually upgrade its technology so it can’t be overtaken by competitors.
How ‘Secret Fares’ Might Change the Way You Fly – (Bloomberg – May 2, 2018)
Jump onto Expedia or Priceline to search for a flight and you’ll likely see an “opaque” fare: A price, but no carrier or even the exact time. How does this help you, one may ask? Well it’s not meant to help you—it’s meant to help the airlines. These mysterious fares are a tool that can help carriers move seats they have a hard time selling. This strategy is turning even more complex with “secret fares,” the next evolution in the airline quest to more tightly control ticketing inventory, and the costs imposed by companies that distribute their fares. It even involves an app. Tthe mobile-only travel seller Hopper Inc. began offering these “secret fares” from a half dozen airlines, including Air Canada, at prices that could be as much as 35% below what the same carriers publish elsewhere. The initial 60,000 routes covered will be international, and mostly long haul. The minimum discount is 5% below fares offered with full details elsewhere, according to Hopper. Air China Ltd., Panama’s Copa Holdings SA, Chile’s LATAM Airlines Group SA, Turkish Airlines and WestJet Airlines Ltd. are the other carriers participating in Hopper’s secret offerings. “This is the first time in years that these airlines have actually allowed someone” to offer fares lower than what they offer publicly, said Dakota Smith, Hopper’s head of growth and business. “Because we’re mobile-only and don’t have a website, airlines are not seeing us as direct competition to their web fares.” Montreal-based Hopper plans to add another six airlines in coming weeks and predicts that the U.S. Big Four (American, United, Delta, Southwest) will be interested because of the “closed” selling environment, one that’s invisible to online search engines such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Baidu Inc. They “can’t scrape our web site to see what we’re doing,” Smith said. “You also can’t link to these fares.” Airlines see mobile as their most important way of selling tickets, according to a 2016 report by Atmosphere Research Group for the International Air Transport Association, an trade group. Of seven ticket distribution platforms, carriers rated their mobile app most important both today and going forward to 2021, according to the study, which examined the likely evolution of airline ticket distribution over the next five years. “Airlines recognize that mobile will become passengers’ ‘first screen’ for connecting with airlines—and everyone and everything else in their lives,” Atmosphere analyst Henry Harteveldt wrote. By 2021, more than 26% of leisure travelers and 20% of business passengers globally will be “mobile only,” operating with smartphones and tablets rather than laptop or desktop computers, according to the Atmosphere report. A Pew Research Center survey found that 20% of Americans have a smartphone but no broadband Internet at home. Among those 29 and younger, that figure jumps to 28%.
Crossing Divides: The Community Trying to Unite Rich and Poor – (BBC News – April 26, 2018)
Housing in a crime-ridden part of Toronto was ripped down and new flats went up. But this was not another case of poor people being driven out – it was a daring social experiment. Market price and subsidized housing are being built side-by-side in hopes of creating a thriving, mixed-income community. And it seems to be working.
Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right! – (New York Times – April 30, 2018)
As we reach the bicentennial of Marx’s birth (May 5, 1818), what lessons might we draw from his dangerous and delirious philosophical legacy? What precisely is Marx’s lasting contribution? Educated liberal opinion is today more or less unanimous in its agreement that Marx’s basic thesis — that capitalism is driven by a deeply divisive class struggle in which the ruling-class minority appropriates the surplus labor of the working-class majority as profit — is correct. Even liberal economists such as Nouriel Roubini agree that Marx’s conviction that capitalism has an inbuilt tendency to destroy itself remains as prescient as ever. But this is where the unanimity abruptly ends. While most are in agreement about Marx’s diagnosis of capitalism, opinion on how to treat its “disorder” is thoroughly divided. And this is where Marx’s originality and profound importance as a philosopher lies. First, let’s be clear: Marx arrives at no magic formula for exiting the enormous social and economic contradictions that global capitalism entails (according to Oxfam, 82% of the global wealth generated in 2017 went to the world’s richest 1%). What Marx did achieve, however, through his self-styled materialist thought, were the critical weapons for undermining capitalism’s ideological claim to be the only game in town. The key factor in Marx’s intellectual legacy in our present-day society is not “philosophy” but “critique,” or what he described in 1843 as “the ruthless criticism of all that exists: ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.” Racial and sexual oppression have been added to the dynamic of class exploitation. Social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, owe something of an unspoken debt to Marx through their unapologetic targeting of the “eternal truths” of our age. Such movements recognize, as did Marx, that the ideas that rule every society are those of its ruling class and that overturning those ideas is fundamental to true revolutionary progress. Changing those norms entails changing the very foundations of society. For a decidedly different perspective on the validity of Marx’ theories, see: The Future of the American Left.
JUST FOR FUN
Now This Is Grafitti – (SlideShare – January 17, 2015)
Roughly 30 slides of street art that creatively “embed” fixed architectural elements (trees, windows, cracks in walls, etc.) into playful images.
A FINAL QUOTE
The future is not something we enter. The future is something we create. – Leonard I. Sweet
A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, 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.
Edited by John L. Petersen
A Vision for 2012: Planning for Extraordinary Change
by John L. Petersen
Former senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart has said “It should be required reading for the next President.”
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