Volume 24, Number 2 – 1/17/21

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Volume 24, Number 2 – 1/17/21




  • Greenland sharks don’t reach reproductive maturity until they are around 150 years old.
  • A Russian startup is showcasing the technology for a wireless TV.
  • Scientists have a new theory for how it might one day be possible to harvest energy from a black hole.
  • Using plastic derived from microalgae, high-performance skis incorporate materials that replicate the properties of petroleum-based plastics.


by John L. Petersen

Hello Friends,

I recently chatted with my friend, Robert David Steele, about these turbulent times and the hope for humanity. Watch this short video from his website below:


By the way, Robert will be joining us on TransitionTalks June 12th. Further details on that, and our full line up, coming soon at



What Does Vedic Astrology Say
About the Next Five Years

The next five years will be transformative. As our global world becomes smaller are we willing to accept the radical forces of change? Many will refuse and believe what they want to believe instead of the overwhelming truth. The old paradigms are changing and a new awakening is imminent.

Joni will give her insights into the cycles of change through her understanding of the planetary energies and how it will affect our world and consciousness. 2020 is the true beginning for these radical shifts! We will discuss our purpose being a part of this incredible age and time, and what we can do to assist and prepare for this awakening.

Livestream and In Person

Saturday February 13, 1-4 pm

Berkeley Springs, WV

We hope you will join us at Coolfont Resort in Berkeley Springs, but if you can’t make it to Berkeley Springs, you can still watch the whole presentation by livestream … as many times as you like, for two weeks thereafter. Space is limited for the in-person event, so register early.







Broken Promises: How Singapore Lost Trust on Contact Tracing Privacy – (Technology Review – January 11, 2021)
For Singaporeans, the covid-19 pandemic has been closely intertwined with technology: two technologies, to be specific. The first is the QR code, whose little black-and-white squares have been ubiquitous all over the country as part of the SafeEntry contact tracing system rolled out in April and May. Under SafeEntry, anyone entering a public venue—restaurants, stores, malls—must scan a code and register with a name, ID or passport number, and phone number. If somebody tests positive for covid-19, contact tracers use it to track down those who got close enough to be potentially infected. There’s also TraceTogether, an app that launched in March 2020. It uses Bluetooth to ping close contacts; if two users are in proximity, their devices trade anonymized and encrypted user IDs that can be decrypted by the Ministry of Health should one person test positive for covid-19. For those who can’t or don’t want to use a smartphone app, the government also offers TraceTogether tokens, small digital fobs that serve the same purpose. And while TraceTogether is currently voluntary, the government has announced that it is going to merge the two systems, which would make it mandatory to either download the app or collect a token. The Singaporean government repeatedly assured Singaporeans that the data collected with such technology would be used only for contact tracing during the pandemic. Earlier this month, it emerged that the government’s claim was false. The Ministry of Home Affairs confirmed that data could actually be accessed by the police for criminal investigations; the day after this admission, a minister revealed that such data had, in fact, already been used in a murder investigation. It rapidly became clear that, despite what ministers had previously said, Singaporean law meant it had been possible for law enforcement to use TraceTogether data all along.

Fauci Admits He Lied About Herd Immunity to Trick Americans into Vaccine – (Health Impact News – December 27, 2020)
At issue is the percentage of the population which must require resistance to the coronavirus – through infection or vaccination – in order for the disease to disappear. Early into the pandemic, Fauci repeatedly claimed ‘60-70%‘ herd immunity was required to achieve herd immunity. Beginning around a month ago, however, Fauci’s estimate drifted higher – to “70, 75%,” and more recently telling CNBC “75, 80, 85%” and “75 to 80-plus %.” When asked about it, Fauci essentially said he lied for political purposes due to vaccine skeptics. In a telephone interview, Dr. Fauci acknowledged that he had slowly but deliberately been moving the goal posts. He is doing so, he said, partly based on new science, and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks. Hard as it may be to hear, he said, he believes that it may take close to 90% immunity to bring the virus to a halt — almost as much as is needed to stop a measles outbreak. “We need to have some humility here,” Fauci then said. “We really don’t know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90%. But, I’m not going to say 90%,” because doing so might discourage Americans. Asked about Dr. Fauci’s conclusions, prominent epidemiologists said that he might be proven right. The early range of 60 – 70% was almost undoubtedly too low, they said, and the virus is becoming more transmissible, so it will take greater herd immunity to stop it. See also: Fauci Lied – He Never Took the Maderna Vaccine.

How COVID-19 Is Changing the Future of Vaccines – (Mercola – January 12, 2021)
By pushing for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, or imposing social restrictions on those who refuse, the COVID-19 vaccine is paving the way for nonconsensual medical experimentation on the general public. Since the beginning of the pandemic, world leaders have warned that social distancing, mask wearing, travel restrictions and other measures will become part of our “new normal.” And, while the vaccine is sold as a way to end the pandemic and return us to normal, it cannot, since it has only been evaluated for its ability to lessen COVID-19 symptoms, not reduce the risk of infection, hospitalization or death. While some COVID-19 vaccines have been granted emergency use authorization, they still haven’t even completed Stage 3 clinical trials. Data for some end points won’t even be collected until 24 months after injection. As such, they are still entirely experimental. COVID-19 vaccines’ adverse side effects are still relatively unknown. It’s also unknown whether they might affect fertility — a real concern since the vaccine triggers your body to produce antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, and spike proteins in turn contain syncytin-homologous proteins that are essential for the formation of placenta. If a woman’s immune system starts reacting against syncytin-1, then there is a possibility she could become infertile. Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine contains polyethylene glycol (PEG), and studies have shown 70% of people develop antibodies against this substance. This suggests PEG may trigger fatal allergic reactions in many who receive the vaccine. See also: Think Twice Before Taking the Covid Vaccination.

WHO Changes Definition of Herd Immunity – (Mercola – January 15, 2021)
Herd immunity occurs when enough people acquire immunity to an infectious disease such that it can no longer spread widely in the community. The World Health Organization’s definition of herd immunity long reflected this, but in October 2020 it quietly revised this concept in an Orwellian move that totally removes natural infection from the equation. Immunity developed through previous infection is the way it has worked since humans have been alive: Your immune system isn’t designed to get vaccines; it’s designed to work in response to exposure to an infectious agent. This perversion of science implies that the only way to achieve herd immunity is via vaccination, which is blatantly untrue. It’s all part of the Great Reset: The rollout of widespread COVID-19 vaccination coupled with tracking and tracing of COVID-19 test results and vaccination status are setting the stage for biometric surveillance and additional tracking and tracing.


Earth Is Whipping around Quicker Than It Has in a Half-century – (Live Science – January 6, 2021)
Even time did not escape 2020 unscathed. The 28 fastest days on record (since 1960) all occurred in 2020, with Earth completing its revolutions around its axis milliseconds quicker than average. That’s not particularly alarming — the planet’s rotation varies slightly all the time, driven by variations in atmospheric pressure, winds, ocean currents and the movement of the core. But it is inconvenient for international timekeepers, who use ultra-accurate atomic clocks to meter out the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by which everyone sets their clocks. When astronomical time, set by the time it takes the Earth to make one full rotation, deviates from UTC by more than 0.4 seconds, UTC gets an adjustment. Until now, these adjustments have consisted of adding a “leap second” to the year at the end of June or December, bringing astronomical time and atomic time back in line. These leap seconds were tacked on because the overall trend of Earth’s rotation has been slowing since accurate satellite measurement began in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since 1972, scientists have added leap seconds about every year-and-a-half, on average. The last addition came in 2016, when on New Year’s Eve at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, an extra “leap second” was added. However, according to Time and Date, the recent acceleration in Earth’s spin has scientists talking for the first time about a negative leap second. Instead of adding a second, they might need to subtract one. The year 2020 was already faster than usual, astronomically speaking. According to Time and Date, Earth broke the previous record for shortest astronomical day, set in 2005, 28 times. That year’s shortest day, July 5, saw Earth complete a rotation 1.0516 milliseconds faster than 86,400 seconds. The shortest day in 2020 was July 19, when the planet completed one spin 1.4602 milliseconds faster than 86,400 seconds.

Several Short Sentences about Greenland Sharks – (How to Save the World – December 31, 2020)
Greenland sharks, known to the Kalaallisut (Greenlandic First Nation) as eqalussuaq (“huge fish”), are the longest-living vertebrates on the planet. No known current or past species of fish, amphibian, reptile, bird or mammal has ever lived longer. Two hundred year-old eqalussuaq are common, and some have been alive more than twice as long. A few still roaming around were probably born before Shakespeare, before the invention of telescopes or newspapers. They move at less than 1 mph, and top out at about 2 mph, but because of their deep coloring and stealth can often suck in and swallow whole seals, sea lions, and other creatures, which remain unaware of the shark’s looming presence. Youngsters (less than 120 years old) eat mostly squid, but then graduate to larger fish and other ‘seafood’ as they reach adulthood. Perhaps of necessity because of their slowness, Greenland sharks are also carrion eaters, able to process, and content to eat, creatures that have been dead a long time, including drowned and frozen deer, moose and polar bears. They are the ocean’s equivalent to vultures. Normal gestation for females is about — twelve years! The females keep the developing shark embryos inside their bodies in a unique live-birth process called ovoviviparity. Ten pups, 1-2 feet each in size, is a normal litter. They reach sexual maturity at about 150 years of age, and may then have 20 litters over the centuries of adulthood that follow. Article has other fascinating details about this little-known creature, including its very unusual perceptual abilities.

Why Crocodiles Have Changed So Little Since the Age of the Dinosaurs – (Science Daily – January 7, 2021)
Crocodiles today look very similar to ones from the Jurassic period some 200 million years ago. There are also very few species of crocodiles alive today — just 25. Other animals such as lizards and birds have achieved a diversity of many thousands of species in the same amount of time or less. In new research published in the journal Nature Communications Biology, the scientists explain how crocodiles follow a pattern of evolution known as ‘punctuated equilibrium’. The rate of their evolution is generally slow, but occasionally they evolve more quickly because the environment has changed. In particular, this new research suggests that their evolution speeds up when the climate is warmer, and that their body size increases. Lead author Dr. Max Stockdale from the University of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences, said: “Our analysis used a machine learning algorithm to estimate rates of evolution. Evolutionary rate is the amount of change that has taken place over a given amount of time, which we can work out by comparing measurements from fossils and taking into account how old they are. The findings show that the limited diversity of crocodiles and their apparent lack of evolution is a result of a slow evolutionary rate. It seems the crocodiles arrived at a body plan that was very efficient and versatile enough that they didn’t need to change it in order to survive. This versatility could be one explanation why crocodiles survived the meteor impact at the end of the Cretaceous period, in which the dinosaurs perished.


Artificial Intelligence to Map Our Intestinal Bacteria – (Science Daily – January 14, 2021)
Current studies focus on the intestinal flora’s role in physical diseases such as diabetes and overweight, while others seek to establish a connection between the intestinal flora and e.g. autism, schizophrenia and depression. “We still have not identified all the bacteria found in and on the human body. That is where our technique can make a difference,” says Associate Professor Simon Rasmussen, who together with his team of researchers at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research is responsible for the new study. “But the problem is that it is very difficult to study intestinal bacteria in their natural environment, which they often deeply depend on in order to survive. Now, we have developed a method that uses artificial intelligence to help us identify the bacteria found in and on the human body,” he explains. Instead of studying the bacteria inside the intestines, the researchers have analyzed the intestines’ ultimate by-product: feces. Feces contain remains of the bacteria that have helped metabolize the food in the stomach and intestines and thus offer unique insight into an otherwise inaccessible environment. So far technology has only allowed researchers to read fragments of the bacteria’s’ DNA — which is equivalent to doing a puzzle with only a fraction of the pieces. Therefore, Simon Rasmussen and his team have developed an algorithm that uses artificial intelligence to complete the DNA strings of bacteria in feces. And now researchers from all over the world can help finish the puzzle. ‘One gram of feces contains around a billion bacteria of 500-1000 different kinds. If we are able to reconstruct their DNA, it will give us an idea of the types of bacteria we are dealing with, what they are capable of and what they actually do. The method is not limited to intestinal bacteria, Simon Rasmussen explains. The ability of artificial intelligence to analyze the bacterial content of very small samples may also be used to study other substances such as soil samples or lakes and watercourses.

Research Finds There’s More Than One Type of Curiosity. Which Do You Have? – (Science Alert – January 14, 2021)
Using Wikipedia browsing as an activity to observe, and graph theory to formally chart and measure it, 149 participants were observed browsing for 15 minutes a day over the course of 21 days, covering 18,654 pages in total. The resulting study was able to split the individuals into two previously identified types, as far as curiosity goes: the ‘busybody’ who explores a lot of diverse information, and the ‘hunter’ who stays on a more focused track when it comes to gaining knowledge. By recording pages as nodes and analyzing how closely they were related, biophysicist Danielle Bassett, from the University of Pennsylvania, and her colleagues were able to find both busybodies and hunters in their pool of volunteers – those who tended to jump all around Wikipedia and those who were more likely to stay on closely related pages. Based on the surveys, a need to fill specific knowledge gaps seemed to drive hunter-style behavior, while a desire to seek out brand new information was an indicator of a busybody-style of Wikipedia browsing – taking larger leaps between nodes or pages. One of the reasons that this study stands out is that it looks at how curiosity is expressed – rather than trying to quantify it through engagement in activities like asking questions, playing trivia games, and gossiping, as previous studies have done. These findings can be useful in a number of ways, including in informing approaches to teaching – particularly in how knowledge and resources can be best presented, and how different problem-solving styles can be supported. “We need more data to know how to use this information in the classroom, but I hope it discourages the idea that there are curious and incurious people,” says psychologist David Lydon-Staley, from the University of Pennsylvania.


Coldest in Recorded History in Spain, China, Canada – (Dr. Sircus – January 8, 2021)
It is too bad CO2 has betrayed the human race by not warming us as scientists swore it would. With temperatures plunging to the lowest levels in recorded history in Spain, China, and Canada, it would be more than nice to have something breaking the advancing cold and snow, which is on its way to overwhelming people and local governments in the northern regions. A record-breaking blizzard hit Baffin Island in Canada shaking houses and crushing cabins. In mid-December, 7+ feet of snow stranded thousands of Japanese motorists, and the Washington Post reported that another 7 feet fell on January 1. Man-made global warming was an illusion. In reality, it did not stop working. According to top scientists who still have some wits about them, it never worked as a warming gas in the first place. It certainly has not worked for Iceland, where a wealth of new research in glacier and sea ice extent shows modern Iceland is 2-4°C colder than all of the last 8000 years except for a slightly colder late 19th century. Even the 1700s were warmer with less ice than today in and around Iceland. Article includes a survey of exceptionally cold temperatures in other parts of the world.


The Tech That Will Invade Our Lives in 2021 – (New York Times – January 6, 2021)
This year, the technologies that we will most likely hear the most about will be the stuff we don’t usually see: workhorse software and internet products that are finding their moment now. With that in mind, here are four tech trends that are set to invade our lives this year: tech that replaces our stores; Wi-Fi is getting smarter; tech that lets us keep our hands to ourselves; and tech that virtualizes work and self-care. Article delves into all four trends.

Prototype TV Ditches the Plug and Powers Up Wirelessly – (New Atlas – January 14, 2021)
TVs have been getting thinner and lighter for decades, able to stand or mount virtually anywhere. But those pesky wires are still holding them back. They look unsightly when dangling down from the a wall-mounted screen and create issues when attempting to place the TV too far from an electrical outlet. Could wireless transmission be the answer? Not yet, but the Russian startup Reasonance is working on it. The company’s wireless TV loses the power plug and gains a standalone electrical transmitter and a receiver coil integrated into the TV. The company explains that its “reasonance” technology differs from other magnetic resonance tech in developing a magnetic field by both conduction and displacement currents. It says that efficiency rises up to 90%, at a cost affordable enough to use in consumer electronics. Reasonance’s system can send power over distances up to a meter (3.3 ft) and can continue to operate efficiently even if the transmitter and receiver coils are not perfectly aligned. The company says the transmission distance could be increased by adjusting the size of the coils. Reasonance isn’t the first to research the idea of wireless TV. Samsung, the world’s largest television manufacturer, had originally planned to bring its own wireless TV to last year’s CES but ultimately decided the tech wasn’t ready. Reasonance believes its tech solves efficiency and cost issues to the point that it could be integrated into marketable products. It has patented the tech in Russia and applied for patents in the US, EU, China, India, Canada and South Korea. It intends to license its technology to existing manufacturers, as opposed to building its own products, citing a wide range of potential applications beyond TVs, from appliances and electric bikes at home to electric automobiles and smart roads.


City is Converting Highway Pillars into Vertical Gardens to Clean the Air – (Good News Network – June 18, 2018)
An organization in Mexico City is making their city into a better place one concrete pillar at a time. Via Verde is a project that is working to convert at least 1,000 grey highway pillars into vertical gardens that can soak up pollution and smog. The gardens are an innovative way of beautifying urban spaces, and absorbing CO2, heat, and city noise. The greenery has been shown to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety in city residents, and the structural material used to make the gardens are constructed entirely out of recycled plastic. The self-sufficient irrigation system of the gardens ensures that the plants are efficiently maintained by collecting rainwater, instead of clean drinking water. The plant species are also specially chosen for their urban benefits, such as having low water consumption and high resistance. Once the project is completed, the gardens will contain roughly 2.2 million plants for Mexico City’s growth. Additionally, the gardens are being utilized as a source of social rehabilitation and job experience for local inmates. Men and women from The Santa Marta Acatitla Women’s Social Reintegration Center and the Oriente Men’s Preventive Detention Center are responsible for weaving the hydroponic textile substrate, which provides them with valuable training and employment opportunities. See also: Mexico City’s Garden-Lined Highway Is Thriving, but Not Without Criticism. Critics of Via Verde claim that the smog-absorbing qualities of the vertical gardens that were promised are, in reality, nil. An environmental group, Liga Peatonal (Pedestrian League), has claimed that greening one highway column costs the same as planting 300 trees, which in addition to cleaning the air, are effective at filtering stormwater, providing shade, lowering temps, elevating moods and, yes, adding all-important aesthetic oomph.

8 Ways Robots May Transform Urban Nature – (Inverse – January 13, 2021)
This link explores the ways in which Robotic and Autonomous Systems (RAS) technologies will impact the urban environment and experience. For example, Urban land use: more autonomous vehicles and fewer personal vehicles are predicted to change the ways in which cities plan transport infrastructure. Fewer vehicles will make more room for green spaces – although autonomous vehicles could also encourage sprawl as commutes are transformed into fully productive time. Infrastructure management: smart buildings will regulate their own energy use and maintain heat to keep cities more efficient and comfortable. Link includes 6 other areas of urban change. Note: There is no article, in the conventional sense of the word, here; the information is simply presented in text boxes superimposed on photographs. Click on the right side of any photo to advance to the next or on the left side to return to an earlier photo. At a meta level, this link will give you a glimpse into a new format for information transfer and visually based electronic communication: it is basically a picture book with captions. The format is called “card stories”.


This Super-energy-dense Battery Could Nearly Double the Range of Electric Vehicles – (Technology Review – December 8, 2020)
Scientists have long seen lithium-metal batteries as an ideal technology for energy storage, leveraging the lightest metal on the periodic table to deliver cells jam-packed with energy. But researchers and companies have tried and failed for decades to produce affordable, rechargeable versions that didn’t have a nasty habit of catching on fire. Then earlier this year Jagdeep Singh, the chief executive of QuantumScape, claimed that the heavily funded, stealth Silicon Valley company had cracked the key technical challenges. He added that VW expects to have the batteries in its cars and trucks by 2025, promising to slash the cost and boost the range of its electric vehicles. After going public in November, QuantumScape is now valued at around $20 billion, despite having no product or revenue as yet (and no expectation that it will until 2024). VW has invested more than $300 million in the company and has created a joint venture with QuantumScape to manufacture the batteries. The company has also raised hundreds of millions from other major investors. QuantumScape’s technology is a partially solid-state battery, meaning that it uses a solid electrolyte instead of the liquid that most batteries rely on to promote the movement of charged atoms through the device. The batteries can charge to 80% capacity in less than 15 minutes. (MotorTrend found that Tesla’s V3 Supercharger took a Model 3 from 5% to 90% in 37 minutes, in a test last year.) And they retain more than 80% of their capacity over 800 charging cycles, which is the rough equivalent of driving 240,000 miles. In fact, the battery shows little degradation even when subjected to aggressive charge and discharge cycles. But the company, based in San Jose, California, is still withholding certain details about its battery, including some of the key materials and processes it’s using to make it work. And some experts remain skeptical that QuantumScape has truly addressed the tricky technical challenges that would make a lithium-metal battery possible in commercial vehicles in the next five years.

Could We Extract Energy From a Black Hole? Scientists Propose a Wild New Plan – (Science Alert – January 15, 2021)
For decades, scientists have wrestled with a complex mystery of physics: Could the immense amounts of energy theoretically produced by rotating black holes ever be tapped by human hands? Now scientists have a new explanation for how such an exotic extraction might one day be possible. “Black holes are commonly surrounded by a hot ‘soup’ of plasma particles that carry a magnetic field,” explains astrophysicist Luca Comisso from Columbia University. “Our theory shows that when magnetic field lines disconnect and reconnect, in just the right way, they can accelerate plasma particles to negative energies and large amounts of black hole energy can be extracted.” Comisso’s new work – co-authored by physicist Felipe A. Asenjo from the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez in Chile – provides a new prism for glimpsing how energy extraction from a spinning black hole could work. Given their extreme mass, it’s only natural to assume black holes also contain an extreme amount of energy. Unfortunately it’s all locked away at the bottom of a slippery pit of spacetime. Under conditions where that mass rotates, it could be possible to dip a toe into this immense energy pool as the slopes of spacetime are dragged along. Article discusses various current theories for doing so.


EV Charging Stations Critical As European EV Sales Fly High – (Clean Technica – December 23, 2020)
In November, plug-in vehicles accounted for 16% of the overall auto market in the UK, over 20% in Germany, and an oil-slaying 80% in Norway. However, a lack of charging infrastructure threatens to spoil the party. According to a new report by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), the availability of charging infrastructure in the EU still falls far below what is needed and remains unevenly distributed across member states. The second edition of “Making the Transition to Zero-Emission Mobility,” an annual study of EV adoption in Europe, reports that sales of plug-in vehicles in the EU increased by 110% over the past three years. During the same period, however, the number of charging points grew by just 58% (to under 200,000). “This is potentially dangerous, as we could soon reach a point where growth of electric vehicle uptake stalls if consumers conclude there are simply not enough charging points where they need to travel, or that they have to queue too long for a fast charger,” warned ACEA Director-General Eric-Mark Huitema. The ACEA’s analysis reveals that DC fast chargers account for only 1 in 7 charging points in the EU. Also, the existing infrastructure remains unevenly distributed. Four countries — the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK — account for more than 75% of all EV charging points. The country with the most infrastructure, the Netherlands, has over 1,000 times more charging points than the country with the least infrastructure (Cyprus, with 38 charging points).

Italian Superyacht Designers Unveil Solar-powered Amphibious Catamaran – (New Atlas – January 15, 2021)
Renowned Italian yacht design firm Lazzarini has unveiled designs for a solar-powered amphibious “crabmaran”. According to the studio, it will be the first in the world. Dubbed Pagurus, the striking 82-ft superyacht merges solar technology with innovative design. Originally conceived for military use, this unique vessel is now being offered to the private sector, with a €24,000,000 (US$29,134,800) price tag. “We decided to call it Pagurus: the Latin word for crab,” a Lazzarini design studio representative said. “Pagurus is our third project inspired by the crab, highlighted not only in its catamaran forms but also in its functions; the fact it can move on the sand just like the crab.” Pagurus can accommodate up to eight guests and four crew members, featuring three bedrooms plus a lounge, kitchen and bathroom facilities. The yacht is built with twin steel hulls, each of which can be configured to suite different interior design requests. Its living spaces are split across the two hulls, which are connected via a steel bridge and tower deck. The steel bridge is implemented to strengthen and reinforce the main body of the vessel. Additionally, the central part of the yacht incorporates a crane platform connected to four electric winches. This feature allows for the loading and unloading of various items, including an off-road vehicle. It can also be transformed into an outdoor lounge or dining area. “Pagurus merges innovative automotive design with nautical design to create the very first amphibious catamaran in history,” says Lazzarini. “We like the idea of being able to navigate and arrive in front of a beach, with the possibility to land ashore for the night.” “We are also considering a sail version with some weight reduction improvements,” says the studio. “At the moment, solar systems can guarantee good autonomy on extremely light vessels, however, to achieve good performance we need to have a higher tonnage and we are therefore still reliant on fuel powered engines. Nevertheless, engines available on the market today offer some interesting possibilities for hybridization; for every eight hours of diesel navigation, we can generate two hours of electric cruising.”


Samsung Is Making a Robot That Can Pour Wine and Bring You a Drink – (The Verge – January 11, 2021)
Samsung is working on a robot that can pick up laundry, load the dishwasher, set the table, pour wine, and even bring you a drink. The robot is called Bot Handy, and Samsung says it’ll be able to recognize objects using a camera and AI. The bot is meant to be “an extension of you in the kitchen, living room, and anywhere else you may need an extra hand in your home,” said Sebastian Seung, president of Samsung Research. For now, it’s not clear how close Bot Handy is to being a real, ready-to-ship product. Samsung didn’t announce a price or release window, and the company has previously used CES to show off futuristic-looking robots that are more of a concept than a real product. In its current form, Bot Handy is a tall, thin, black-and-white robot with two large digital eyes that change expressions as it moves around. The robot has a single arm that can pivot at three points — essentially a shoulder, elbow, and wrist — with a clamp-like hand at the end of it. There are cameras mounted on top of the robot’s body and hand for recognizing objects. The robot can move around the room on what appears to be a rolling base, swivel from side to side, and raise itself up to reach higher objects. Samsung says the robot will be able to assess the material that different objects are made of so that it’ll grab them with the right amount of force. It’s also supposed to be able to handle objects of varying sizes, weights, and shapes. Article includes a 29 minute video showcasing its bots – and how they can help you, with maybe more help than you are ready for. See also: Samsung’s smart home vision includes more intelligent fridges and vacuums.

Scientists Tackle a Curious Food Mystery — Why So Many People Hate Cheese – (Inverse – January 15, 2021)
These are people who don’t just dislike the beloved treat — they are thoroughly disgusted by it. And they are everywhere. In fact, the number of people who dislike cheese was high enough to surprise Jean-Pierre Royet, a neuroscientist and the author of what appears to be the first and only scientific study on the brains of cheese-haters. In his 2016 study “The Neural Bases of Disgust for Cheese: An fMRI Study,” he found as many as 6% of 332 people disliked cheese so much that they were disgusted by it. Part of the hatred, the study suggests, comes down to negative experiences with cheese, like the misery of lactose intolerance (18% of subjects said they had milk intolerance). However, some people find it purely disgusting, even without prior negative experiences. Ultimately, the study found that a key brain area associated with reward, the ventral palladium, is deactivated in cheese haters. Instead, disgust is triggered. That may seem impossible to a lover of cheese, but it’s actually a fairly normal reaction, explains Paul Rozin, a professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania and a cultural psychologist who studies food and human life. Cheese-making begins with curdling milk, the first step towards spoilage that smells abhorrent if you encounter it by accident. This is a classic smell of decay, Rozin says. “The classic stimulus for disgust is the decay odor, which is what cheese has,” Rozin explains. Cheese, in turn, never stops emitting that decay odor. However, the way we feel about that odor can change. Cheese fans, meanwhile, have to learn to love that decay odor. Rozin explains why: When children are as young as two years old, they’ll basically eat anything. In the 1980s, he did a study on children between 2 and 5-years-old observing the development of disgust. (Editor’s note: Whether you like cheese or find it revolting, this is an interesting article that looks at the possible reasons behind that preference.)


‘Missile-like’ Object Found in Indonesian Waters Is a Chinese Underwater Drone, Says Defense Analyst – (CNBC – January 10, 2021)
An underwater surveillance drone recovered deep inside Indonesian sovereign waters last month has been found to be of Chinese origins, according to defense analytics firm Janes. The “missile-like” object with wings has been identified as the Chinese-built autonomous underwater glider Haiyi or “sea wing,” said Kelvin Wong, Janes’ principal unmanned systems analyst, in a Sunday note. A local fisherman reportedly found the glider off Selayar Island in Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province, before handing it over to the Indonesian navy. That’s the third identical underwater glider found in Indonesian waters within two years, said Wong. Underwater gliders are typically used to conduct scientific research on the underwater environment, such as gathering data on chlorophyll and oxygen levels, as well as water temperature, said the analyst. Such data are also useful for naval operations, especially in submarine and anti-submarine warfare, he added. “Superior knowledge of a region’s waters can enable submarines to operate more quietly and reduce the likelihood of discovery,” said Wong. “Conversely, intimate knowledge of these underwater characteristics can aid (anti-submarine warfare) personnel in hunting potentially hostile submarines.”

New Facial-recognition Technology Can Accurately Identify Travelers Wearing Masks 96% of the Time, According to a Test Run by the Department of Homeland Security – (Business Insider – January 6, 2021)
New facial-recognition technology can now identify airline passengers wearing face masks a majority of the time, according to new data from the US Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate. “This is bleeding edge,” said Arun Vemury, director of the group’s Biometric and Identity Technology Center. At best, the technology identified 96% of masked passengers, compared to almost 100% of unmasked passengers, according to results from the 2020 Biometric Rally, hosted at a DHS-affiliated testing laboratory. The tests evaluated 60 combinations of various cameras and algorithms used to identify a person. For people wearing face masks, the median accuracy was 77%, compared to a median 93% for unmasked participants. The worst rate was 4% for masked passengers and 11% for unmasked, the data shows. He later added that still, “the best algorithms right now are definitely better than the best people at looking at faces.” DHS is required by law to develop an automated biometric system, meaning one that uses a person’s physical characteristics such as facial pattern or fingerprint, to identify foreign nationals entering and exiting the country. Other biometric identifiers wouldn’t work as well in the Covid-19 era, according to Rank One Computing, a biometric algorithm firm. Finger printing, for example, creates an opportunity for disease transmission, the firm said, and iris recognition technology is difficult to acquire in mass.


As Birthrate Falls, South Korea’s Population Declines, Posing Threat to Economy – (New York Times – January 4, 2021)
For the first time on record, the number of newborns in South Korea last year fell below the number of deaths, underscoring a long-term crisis in one of world’s most important economies. Census data from the Ministry of Interior and Safety showed that South Korea’s population totaled 51,829,023 as of Dec. 31, down 20,838 from the end of 2019. There were 275,815 births, down 10.65% from 2019, and 307,764 deaths, up 3.1% from 2019. It was unclear to what extent the coronavirus pandemic may be exacerbating the population problem. The roughly 1,000 deaths in South Korea attributable to Covid-19 did not affect the basic outcome. But the Bank of Korea, in a regular economic appraisal, said the pandemic would exert a “a negative impact on the nation’s marriage and birthrate, leading to an acceleration of aging in the population.” Successive South Korean governments have sought to counter the declining birthrate by offering financial incentives for couples to have more children. The latest package of inducements was introduced just a few weeks ago by President Moon Jae-in, offering monthly allowances of 300,000 won, or about $274, for every newborn and infant up to the age of 1 starting in 2022. Expectant couples would get a 2 million won cash bonus starting next year, along with increased medical and other benefits. While Mr. Moon’s package was an acknowledgment that prior inducements had failed, it was unclear whether increasing the financial rewards for bearing children would help. Other trends in South Korea strongly discourage births. They include unaffordable housing and the rising opposition among women to child-rearing expectations by men in what remains a patriarchal society. More women in South Korea, rebelling against the country’s deeply embedded sexism, are foregoing marriage and motherhood in pursuit of education and professional careers. South Korea’s fertility rate, a measurement of the average number of children per woman, is the world’s lowest. Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show its fertility rate has gradually fallen from 2.9 in 1979 to .9 in 2019. Forecasters expect it to fall further.

We Are Israel’s Largest Human Rights Group – And We Are Calling This Apartheid – (Guardian – January 12, 2021)
There is not a single square inch in the territory Israel controls where a Palestinian and a Jew are equal. The only first-class people here are Jewish citizens such as myself, and we enjoy this status both inside the 1967 lines and beyond them, in the West Bank. Separated by the different personal statuses allotted to them, and by the many variations of inferiority Israel subjects them to, Palestinians living under Israel’s rule are united by all being unequal. Unlike South African apartheid, the application of our version of it – apartheid 2.0, if you will – avoids certain kinds of ugliness. You won’t find “whites only” signs on benches. Here, “protecting the Jewish character” of a community – or of the state itself – is one of the thinly veiled euphemisms deployed to try to obscure the truth. Yet the essence is the same. That Israel’s definitions do not depend on skin color make no material difference: it is the supremacist reality which is the heart of the matter – and which must be defeated. The key lesson Israel seemed to have learned from how South Africa’s apartheid ended was to avoid too-explicit statements and laws. These can risk bringing about moral judgments – and eventually, heaven forbid, real consequences. Instead, the patient, quiet, and gradual accumulation of discriminatory practices tends to prevent repercussions from the international community, especially if one is willing to provide lip service to its norms and expectations.


The Sperm Kings Have a Problem: Too Much Demand – (New York Times – January 8, 2021)
The coronavirus pandemic is creating a shortage, sperm banks and fertility clinics said. Men have stopped going in as much to donate, even as demand has stayed steady at some banks and increased rapidly at others. Sperm banking was about a $4 billion industry in 2018. “We’ve been breaking records for sales since June worldwide not just in the U.S. — we’ve broken our records for England, Australia and Canada,” said Angelo Allard, the compliance supervisor of Seattle Sperm Bank, one of the country’s biggest sperm banks. He said his company was selling 20% more sperm now than a year earlier, even as supplies dwindled. Michelle Ottey, director of operations at Fairfax Cryobank, another large sperm bank, said demand was up for access to its catalog for online sperm shopping because “people are seeing that there is the possibility of more flexibility in their lives and work.” And so in the capitalist crunch, Sperm World — the world of people buying and selling sperm — has gotten wild. Donors are going direct to customers. They meet with prospective mothers-to-be in Airbnbs for an afternoon handoff; Facebook groups with tens of thousands of members have sprung up. “People are fed up with sperm banks,” said Kyle Gordy, 29, who lives in Malibu, Calif. He invests in real estate but spends most of his time donating his sperm, free (except for the cost of travel), to women. He also runs a nearly 11,000-member private Facebook group, Sperm Donation USA, which helps women connect with a roster of hundreds of approved donors. Reliable numbers are tough to find in Sperm World. Researchers cite data collected in the 1980s to estimate the number of children born by donor sperm in the United States at anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 a year, though advocates push back even on that range, saying there are no dependable figures because there is no regulation.


2021 Could Be a Huge Year for Space. Here’s What’s to Come from NASA, Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos. – (Washington Post – December 30, 2020)
Here’s just some of what could happen in 2021. After two successful flights carrying astronauts to the International Space Station, SpaceX is set to do it again. Crew-2, its second fully operational mission, is scheduled to launch a quartet of astronauts from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the spring. Then, in the fall, the company is set to launch Crew-3. Late in the year, SpaceX also is planning to fly a mission for Axiom Space, a Houston-based company that has purchased a trip to the International Space Station for a crew of four. Michael López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut who now works for Axiom, would accompany three private citizens for the mission, among them Eytan Stibbe, an Israeli former fighter pilot. Axiom is expected to announce the other two tourists sometime in the future. SpaceX continues to test its Starship spacecraft, a next-generation vehicle that looks like a flying grain silo but, Musk hopes, will one day fly people to Mars. Article goes on to discuss what’s coming up for Boeing, for the Artemis program (a U.S. government-funded international human spaceflight program that has the goal of landing “the first woman and the next man” on the Moon), for Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic, and for Jeff Bezos and his space company, Blue Origin.

Yoda: Cosmic Agency Video Series with Preliminary Summary and Link to Transcripts – (Public Intelligence Blog – September 11, 2020)
This article offers a Summary and Link to Transcripts of the Cosmic Agency video series. Here are some takeaways. 1. Earth is presently surrounded by a blockade of Federation ships that are here to entrap the Cabal and negative ET races. They are also guarding portals to keep the negatives from coming in or leaving. The Federation ships rotate in and out – just like Earth military forces do when on assignment. For a time, the Blue Avians/Sphere Being Alliance were enforcing the blockade (just like Corey Goode said). They have since left and have been replaced by the Taygeteans from the Pleiades. 2.We are living in a matrix within a matrix. In 3D, we can see 1st density (rocks, minerals), 2nd density (animals, plants) and 3rd density (humans) entities, but nothing beyond that. Occasionally, people will get a glimpse of the lower 4th density because the control system is weakening. This is where what we call the paranormal resides, i.e. ghosts, fairies, trolls, monsters, Reptilian races, etc. (This is why things are going to get dicey as we pass from 3D into 5D). These things have always been with us, we just haven’t been able to see them. Even 5D is a type of matrix, but it is not under the control of the Cabal. Many of the people we encounter everyday are NOT real people – they are part of the holographic illusion of our personal experience. They have no souls. Buildings in large cities and people walking down the street are mostly an illusion. However, Nature, for the most part, is REAL.

Scientists Looking for Aliens Investigate Radio Beam from Nearby Star – (Guardian – December 18, 2020)
Astronomers behind the most extensive search yet for alien life are investigating an intriguing radio wave emission that appears to have come from the direction of Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the sun. The narrow beam of radio waves was picked up during 30 hours of observations by the Parkes telescope in Australia in April and May last year. Analysis of the beam has been under way for some time and scientists have yet to identify a terrestrial culprit such as ground-based equipment or a passing satellite. It is usual for astronomers on the $100m Breakthrough Listen project to spot strange blasts of radio waves with the Parkes telescope or the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia, but all so far have been attributed to human-made interference or natural sources. The latest “signal” is likely to have a mundane explanation too, but the direction of the narrow beam, around 980MHz, and an apparent shift in its frequency said to be consistent with the movement of a planet have added to the tantalizing nature of the finding. The beam that appears to have come from the direction of Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf star 4.2 light years from Earth, has not been spotted since the initial observation, according to an individual in the astronomy community who requested anonymity because the work is ongoing.


Record 61% of Restaurants, 35% of Small Businesses Can’t Pay December Rent – (Zero Hedge – December 16, 2021)
The following findings are based on the most recent Alignable Rent Poll conducted among 9,204 small business owners from 11/21-11/23/2020. Here are the highlights: 61% of restaurants can’t pay their rent in December. That’s up 19% from 42% in November. 35% of U.S. small businesses couldn’t pay their rent in December, up 3% from 32% in November. Beauty salons (46%) and travel/hospitality businesses (43%) round out the Top 3 most-affected businesses, but many others are in trouble. Looking at demographics, minority-owned businesses are suffering the most, as 49% of them reported that they could not afford their rent in December. That figure is 5% higher than it was in November. Women-owned businesses are also struggling (38% of those have not paid their rent, up 3% from 35% last month).


A New Satellite Can Peer Inside Buildings, Day or Night – (Futurism – December 16, 2020)
A few months ago, a company called Capella Space launched a satellite capable of taking clear radar images of anywhere in the world, with incredible resolution. It can even see inside some buildings, including spotting airplanes inside hangars — though only in the case of lightweight structures, the company clarified, and not dense ones like high rises or residential homes. And unlike most of the huge array of surveillance and observational satellites orbiting the Earth, its satellite Capella 2 can snap a clear picture during night or day, rain or shine. Recently Capella launched a platform allowing governmental or private customers to request images of anything in the world — a capability that will only get more powerful with the deployment of six additional satellites next year. Yes, that raises questions from a privacy point of view. But as CEO Payam Banazadeh, a former system engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory notes, it also plugs numerous holes in the ways scientists and government agencies are currently able to monitor the planet. Capella can peer right through cloud cover, and see just as well in the daylight as in total darkness because it uses synthetic aperture radar, or SAR, instead of optical imaging. SAR works similarly to how dolphins and bats navigate using echolocation. The satellite beams down a powerful 9.65 GHz radio signal toward its target, and then collects and interprets the signal as it bounces back up into orbit. “At that frequency, the clouds are pretty much transparent,” said Banazadeh. Another innovation is the resolution at which Capella’s satellites can collect imagery. Each pixel in one of the satellite’s images represents a 50-centimeter-by-50-centimeter square, while other SAR satellites on the market can only get down to around five meters. When it comes to actually discerning what you’re looking at from space, that makes a huge difference. Right now, that’s as good a resolution as is possible with SAR. Not because of technological limitations — Capella hopes to improve with subsequent satellite launches down the road — but because of U.S. law, export controls, and licensing requirements. As long as the company doesn’t improve the resolution a hair beyond what it’s at now, Banazadeh said its satellites can image any part of the world that a paying customer asks for.

These High-performance Skis Are Made out of Algae – (Fast Company – December 28, 2020)
After biotech startup Checkerspot created plastic derived from microalgae, outdoor recreation products seemed like a perfect test for new compounds that replicate the properties of petroleum-based plastics. “We’re leveraging biotechnology to create new building blocks,” says cofounder and CEO (and skier) Charles Dimmler. He launched spinout WNDR Alpine in 2019, which introduced an algae-based, high-performance backcountry ski, the Intention, last winter. The Vital ski, designed for hardpacked snow, followed in July. WNDR’s manufacturing process eliminates 2 pounds of landfill-bound plastic waste per ski. The ski’s stiff outer walls are made with algae polyurethane, poured into place to bind with the aspen, creating a stronger bond with-out additional adhesives. Domestically harvested aspen is strong yet flexible, providing the responsiveness required in a high-performance ski. The foam core, which is derived from algae, helps make the skis about 15% lighter than competitors.


The Future of Offices When Workers Have a Choice – (New York Times – January 4, 2021)
Even before the pandemic, there were signs of trouble with the office market in the handful of cities where the “creative class” had been flocking. In 2018, net migration to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco was negative, while the U.S. economy grew at a healthy 2.9%. Creative magnets like London and Paris were experiencing similar declines. For the fastest-growing companies, being able to tap into talent anywhere became more important than having all their teams in one place. Smaller cities were good enough. In retrospect, this shouldn’t have been a surprise, despite all the talk about the importance of giant, dense labor markets to fuel innovation. After all, Silicon Valley itself is not a city but a cluster of sprawling towns scattered along a highway. The defining characteristic of this new version of the creative class may not be where it lives, but its ability to live anywhere it wants. Covid-era market data is offering mixed signals. Many companies are renewing their existing leases for a shorter period until market conditions become clearer. It seems safe to say that total demand for offices will diminish to a moderate degree. The office will become more of a consumer product. And just like every consumer product, the office will have to continually fight for its customers and meet their needs — not only when it’s time to renew the lease. The changes will be gradual, but they will have a significant impact on urban office buildings, which used to be perceived as almost as safe as government bonds. Consider, in comparison, that the “retail apocalypse” that led to multiple bankruptcies and the closing of tens of thousands of stores was a result of less than 12% of all retail activity moving online, over a period of two decades, while total sales were still growing.

New York City Proposes Regulating Algorithms Used in Hiring – (Wired – January 8, 2021)
In 1964, the Civil Rights Act barred the humans who made hiring decisions from discriminating on the basis of sex or race. Now, software often contributes to those hiring decisions, helping managers screen résumés or interpret video interviews. That worries some tech experts and civil rights groups, who cite evidence that algorithms can replicate or magnify biases shown by people. In 2018, Reuters reported that Amazon scrapped a tool that filtered résumés based on past hiring patterns because it discriminated against women. Legislation proposed in the New York City Council seeks to update hiring discrimination rules for the age of algorithms. The bill would require companies to disclose to candidates when they have been assessed with the help of software. Companies that sell such tools would have to perform annual audits to check that their people-sorting tech doesn’t discriminate. The proposal is a part of a recent movement at all levels of government to place legal constraints on algorithms and software that shape life-changing decisions. The proposal faces resistance from some unusual allies, as well as unresolved questions about how it would operate. Some civil rights groups and AI experts also oppose the bill—for different reasons. Albert Fox Cahn, founder of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, organized a letter from 12 groups including the NAACP and New York University’s AI Now Institute objecting to the proposed law. Cahn wants to regulate hiring tech, but he says the New York proposal could allow software that perpetuates discrimination to get rubber-stamped as having passed a fairness audit. Cahn wants any law to define the technology covered more broadly, not let vendors decide how to audit their own technology, and allow individuals to sue to enforce the law.


Take a Peek Into One of the Last Studios Still Making Globes by Hand – (Smithsonian – January 12, 2021)
Bellerby & Co., located in the U.K., is one of the only remaining ateliers that still makes globes by hand using a meticulous step-by-step process that hasn’t deviated much over the centuries. A custom globe may take as much as a year to create; the end result is worth the wait. Before founding the company in 2008, Peter Bellerby worked as a property developer, with a brief stint as a violin maker. The thought of becoming a globemaker never crossed his mind until his father said he wanted a globe for his 80th birthday. Not pleased with what was available on the market, he decided to try his hand at making a globe himself. He figured it would take him about three or four months to complete, with enough time to spare to make one for himself. He didn’t realize how truly difficult the art of globemaking really is. Over the years, globemaking has evolved, but many of the same steps of the process remain in place. In an embedded video from the 1950s, artisans can be seen gluing sheets of newsprint onto a wood sphere before covering it in nine separate coats of plaster until perfectly smooth. The map is then cut and applied by hand. Globemakers today follow similar steps, but in a much more streamlined fashion that relies on computer-created geography, and hardier materials, such as the resin molds. Bellerby’s studio employs more than 20 craftspeople, from cartographers who design the maps (during a commission, clients have the opportunity to customize their globe, highlighting points of interest like their hometown or routes of past travels) to artists who paint on the details once the spheres have been gored, dipping into a wide spectrum of paint and ink pots to help bring each globe to life. With a steady hand, artists highlight each continent by shading in borders, coastlines and other geographic details, ensuring that each brushstroke is perfectly executed while also giving each globe a handcrafted touch. Bellerby estimates that about six people will have touched each globe before it’s ready to be shipped to a client. On average, the studio produces about 750 globes each year, with rates starting at about £1,300 ($1,800) for a mini desk globe to £44,500 ($89,000) for the largest model.


Get a Bird’s-Eye View of UNESCO World Heritage Sites Across the Globe – (My Modern Met – November 28, 2020)
Since 1972, UNESCO has been working to preserve monuments around the world by assigning destinations the status of World Heritage Site. As of today, there are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which include both natural and cultural areas. In some cases, entire cities are named to the list for their cultural significance. With so many places in the program, it can be difficult to keep track, but luckily Overview is taking us on a unique tour. Overview seeks to share the world as seen from above by generating incredible aerial photos. The community primarily uses high-resolution satellite imagery to composite overhead images. They’ve put together a collection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as seen from above, and the results are astounding. From well-known places like the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Grand Canyon to lesser-known areas like the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, the photos are an excellent opportunity to discover new places and revisit old favorites.


Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.
― President Dwight D. Eisenhower


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

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