Volume 24, Number 24 – 12/15/21

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Volume 24, Number 24 – 12/15/2021


  • Tiny robots made from frog cells can replicate themselves.
  • Fewer than half of the results of preclinical cancer biology research published in 23 highly cited papers could be successfully reproduced.
  • Globally, agriculture used approximately 13.8 million U.S. tons of plastic for plant and animal production in 2019.
  • A camera the size of a grain of salt can take clear, full-color images—at the level of cameras that are 500,000 times larger.
Freddy Silva
Scotland’s Hidden Sacred Past
Saturday, January 22nd
in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

Around 6000 BC a revolution took place on Orkney and the Western Isles of Scotland. An outstanding collection of stone circles, standing stones, round towers and passage mounds appeared seemingly out of nowhere. And yet many such monuments were not indigenous to Britain, but to regions of the Caspian Sea and the Mediterranean.

Their creators were equally mysterious. Traditions tell of ‘strangers from afar’ who were physically different, dressed in white tunics and lived aside from the regular population. They were regarded as master astronomers with an uncanny ability to work with enormous stones. But where did these relatively advanced ancient architects come from?

Based on Freddy’s new book, Scotland’s Hidden Sacred Past, we shall examine Scottish Neolithic culture and find a trail of evidence leading to Sardinia and the Armenian Highlands — a plan that would eventually form Ireland’s own megalithic culture.

Click below for more information about this event and to get tickets.
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Freddy Silva is a best-selling author, and leading researcher of ancient civilizations, restricted history, sacred sites and their interaction with consciousness. He is also a leading expert on crop circles.

He has published six books in six languages.

Described by one CEO as “perhaps the best metaphysical speaker in the world right now,” for two decades he has been an international keynote speaker, with notable appearances at the International Science and Consciousness Conference, the International Society For The Study Of Subtle Energies & Energy Medicine, and the Association for Research and Enlightenment, in addition to appearances on Gaia TV, History Channel, BBC, and radio shows such as Coast To Coast. 

He is also a documentary filmmaker, art photographer, and leads private tours to sacred sites in England, France, Egypt, Portugal, Yucatan, Malta, Peru/Bolivia, and Scotland.

learn more at

I’d like to introduce you to TransitionNet, our new project to build a vision for a new world.
In the face of the implosion of the old system, I believe that those of us who want to be a part of building a new world must now rise to the occasion.  That’s why we’re here and we need to get about our task.  Now is our time.
Building a new world is not a simple thing.  The complexity and magnitude of our present global situation makes it seem like an effort multiple times more complex than the original founding of the United State, for example.  It’s a big deal.  But although it is much more complicated, we also have the internet and increasingly capable technologies that can both engage people who want to participate as well as build an integrated concept – a vision – of how that new world might operate.

That’s why, for the past 18 months, The Arlington Institute has been working on the conceptualization, design and development of a global collaboration platform that will allow anyone, from anywhere in the world, to participate in an organized initiative to actively design the new world.  We call it TransitionNet and it will support a worldwide network of local groups, each addressing specific pieces of the big puzzle.

All of the individual ideas and solutions from across the planet will feed into a central hub where they will be integrated into a whole picture of how the new world could work.  We want that picture to be a very interesting, dynamic graphical interface that will allow anyone visiting the TransitionNet website to be able to easily navigate around and both visualize the present, emergent state of the whole concept as well as drill down to see the supporting documents for the proposed solutions.  There will be something for everyone: government, energy, education, transportation, science, technology, etc.

Our plans are also to host an annual forum where all of the “designers” and Founders can come together and further work together in person on the big vision. 

The most important – and pressing – goal is to get the software platform finished to that we can launch it and get the project formally operational.

To do that, the first thing we need is a relatively small group of individuals who see the big picture and want to help in making this initial big step a reality. 

We need Founders – those who want to be enablers of the beginning of the biggest change in recorded history. Really. This is literally where we are. It’s a rather amazing time.

So, I’d like to give you the chance to become a Founder of TransitionNet.  Founders are the early supporters of the project who are on the ground floor for everything downstream.
I don’t have the space here to provide you with all of the specifics of TransitionNet, but you can find more information here … and I’ll certainly include a detailed overview if you choose to help us now by becoming a Founder.

You can become a Founder by investing at least $100 in TransitionNet. If only only 150 Founder friends come forth, we should be able to finish the software development for the platform.

That may sound like a small amount of money. If you know anything at all about software development, then you know that $15,000 is a VERY small amount for developing a significant platform. The only way that we can do this is because TAI has been funding the programing team for almost a year and a half, and we’re now in the last phases of the development process. So we’re very close to being able to share a working model of a new capability that is literally designed to change the world.

Many of you have been wonderful supporters of The Arlington Institute over the years, helping us yearly during these holiday campaigns.  It’s the only way we’ve kept FUTUREdition and our other programs going. 

Now, we’re taking the big step into the future with TransitionNet. Our objective is to build a model for a new world.  That is not hyperbole. It is actually what TransitionNet is designed to do.

It would be wonderful if you would join us. 

If you would like to become a TransitionNet Founder or get more information about this big, world-changing project, just click here.   We’d welcome you warmly in becoming one of the very early enablers to the biggest change in recorded history!
Special Bonus: Our friend and great supporter, Sergio Lub, designs and manufacturers a marvelous line of bracelets.  You should check out his website at  Sergio was so moved by the concept of TransitionNet that he is graciously offering every Founder that gives more than $100 to supporting the startup of TransitionNet, a virtual “gift certificate” equal to the amount above $100, which can be redeemed for anything on his site.  So if you contributed $250 to TransitionNet, everything over $100 ($150 in this case), would be available for purchases of Sergio’s bracelets.

This is a great opportunity to both support TransitionNet . . . and get a free gift for holiday giving . . . or find an elegant new addition to your jewelry collection! 

So if you want to take advantage of this offer, just send me an email here indicating the amount of your “gift certificate” and which items from Sergio’s website you’d like.  Be sure to include a shipping address, and I’ll forward it all to Sergio and he’ll send your bracelet(s) directly to you. 

You are invited to participate in an I Ching experiment!
“Summoning Synchronicity”
An experience of collective use of the I Ching,
proposed by Gabriel Felley, Ph.D and the DJOHI Center
The aim of the experiment
To search for links of synchronicity when drawings of the I Ching, dealing with the same thematic of an interpersonal, archetypal nature, are carried out by different people without any particular connections. These drawings are carried out without these people consulting each other beforehand.
The underlying question is the following: are the hexagrams obtained in responses distributed according to the laws of statistics, the hexagrams are all equiprobable, or do they present a certain noticeable, deviation, we may call “resonance”, from this expected uniform distribution? If so, this “resonance” could be considered as the “imprint” of a “collective synchronicity”.
The series of proposed experiments could bring an innovative, new lighting, specific to the I Ching, of synchronicity, within a collective experimentation. The I Ching models our perception of reality and improves it by integrating dimensions inaccessible to strictly rational analysis.
The protocol of the experiment.
Presently more than 150 participants have committed to follow the 12 monthly experiments, starting December 21, 2021, ending December 20, 2022 (this means, at most, half an hour per month). It is also possible to start participation after this date. 
On the 21st of each month, a new question will be sent to the participants. The participants have to draw the coins in the week following the reception of the question. The obtained hexagrams are registered and consolidated into a central data base, whose URL will be communicated to the participants after registration. To register just return an email to

Court-Ordered Pfizer Documents They Tried To Have Sealed For 55 years Show 1223 Deaths, 158,000 Adverse Events in 90 Days Post EUA Release – (Celia Farber – December 5, 2021)

A group called “Public Health and Medical Professional For Transparency Documents” sued the FDA for the release of Pfizer’s documents concerning adverse events from their Covid “vaccine”, which Pfizer fought to have concealed 55 years, however a judge denied the Pfizer request. Based on the document finally released, in the 90 days following EUA release of the “vaccine” they recorded 1223 deaths, and 158,000 adverse reactions, including fetal deaths, spontaneous abortions and more. They call this, in their encrypted, trans-human Pharma-lingo, the “post marketing experience.” Here is a link to the original Pfizer report. Apendix 1 lists, in alphabetical order, almost 9 pages (pages 30-38) of reported “Adverse Events of Special Interest”. 

305 Athlete Cardiac Arrests, Serious Issues, 176 Dead, After COVID Shot – (Real Science – December 10, 2021)

It is definitely not normal for young athletes to suffer from cardiac arrests or to die while playing their sport, but this year it is happening. All of these heart issues and deaths come shortly after they got a COVID shot. While it is possible this can happen to people who did not get a COVID shot, the sheer numbers clearly point to the only obvious cause. The so-called health professionals running the COVID shot programs around the world keep repeating that “the COVID shot is a normal vaccine and it is safe and effective.” So in response to their pronouncement, here is a non-exhaustive and continuously growing list of young athletes who had major medical issues in 2021 after receiving one or more COVID shots. The mainstream media still are not reporting most, but sports news cannot ignore the fact that soccer players and other stars collapse in the middle of a game due to a heart attack. Many of those die – about 50%. Article lists athletes’ names with news links for each person; it also separates out and lists some athletes whose medical conditions were definitely not vaccine related and notes some cases in which the vaccination status is unknown.

Navy Relieves Destroyer XO For ‘Failing to Abide By Lawful Order’ – (US Naval Institute News – December 10, 2021)

A U.S. Navy commander was relieved of his duties as executive officer of a warship for “failing to abide by lawful order,” officials said. “On December 10, 2021, Commander, Naval Surface Squadron 14, Capt. Ken Anderson, relieved Cmdr. Lucian Kins as executive officer of USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) due to loss of confidence in Kins’ ability to perform his duties,” Lt. Cmdr. Jason Fischer said. A Navy official told USNI that Kins was relieved of his duties for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine and refusing to be tested for the disease. Kins as reassigned to the staff of Naval Surface Squadron 14. Kins’ dismissal comes as the Navy works to enforce its COVID-19 mandate. All active duty and reservist sailors are required to be fully vaccinated, which is defined as two weeks post either the of the two-shot Moderna or Pfizer regimens, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson. The Navy’s deadline to be fully vaccinated was Nov. 28. More than 5,500 active-duty sailors are still unvaccinated, according to a 12/10/21 update from the Navy about COVID-19 vaccinations. The 5,731 sailors who are considered unvaccinated include those who are currently in the process of becoming fully vaccinated, those who already received exemptions and those who have still refused the vaccine. The Navy would not disclose how many sailors are facing separation.

Living Robots Made from Frog Cells Can Replicate Themselves in a Dish – (New Scientist – November 29, 2021)

Swarms of tiny living robots can self-replicate in a dish by pushing loose cells together. The xenobots – made from frog cells – are the first multicellular organisms found to reproduce in this way. Xenobots were first created last year, using cells taken from the embryo of the frog species Xenopus laevis. Under the right lab conditions, the cells formed small structures that could self-assemble, move in groups and sense their environment. Now, the researchers behind the work have found that xenobots can also self-replicate. Josh Bongard at the University of Vermont and Michael Levin at Tufts University in Massachusetts and their colleagues began by extracting rapidly dividing stem cells that are destined to become skin cells from frog embryos. When the cells are brought together in clumps, they form spheres of around 3000 cells within five days. Each clump is around half a millimeter wide and covered in minuscule hair-like structures. These act like flexible oars, propelling the xenobots forward in corkscrew paths, says Bongard. The team noticed that individual clumps of cells appeared to work together in a swarm, pushing other loose cells in the dish together. The resulting piles of cells gradually formed new xenobots. It is the first time multicellular organisms have been found to self-replicate in a way that doesn’t involve growth on the organism’s own body. “This work shows there was a previously unknown way that life could self-replicate,” says Bongard.

Investigation Fails to Replicate Most Cancer Biology Lab Findings – (New Scientist – December 7, 2021)

An eight-year-long investigation into the reliability of preclinical cancer biology research has found that fewer than half of the results published in 23 highly cited papers could be successfully reproduced. Tim Errington, director of research at the Center for Open Science in Virginia – which conducted the investigation – says the original plan was to reproduce 193 experiments from 53 papers. But, as explained in one of two studies the team published, this was reduced to 50 experiments from 23 papers. “Just trying to understand what was done and reported in the papers in order to do it again was really hard. We couldn’t get access to the information,” he says. In total, the 50 experiments included 112 potentially replicable binary “success or failure” outcomes. However, as detailed in the second study published today, Errington and his colleagues could replicate the effects of only 51 of these – or 46%. The experiments were all in-vitro or animal-based preclinical cancer biology studies, and didn’t include genomic or proteomic experiments. They were from papers published between 2010 and 2012 and were selected because they were all “high-impact” studies that had been read and heavily cited by other researchers. The results are “a bit eye-opening”, says Errington. The investigation’s findings do, however, align with those of earlier reports published by the big pharmaceutical companies Bayer and Amgen. C. Glenn Begley, who recently co-founded US biotech Parthenon Therapeutics, was a senior cancer biologist at Amgen and an author of its report, which was published in 2012. “We looked back at the papers that we had relied upon at Amgen and found that we could only reproduce 11% of the studies,” says Begley.

New FDA-approved Eye Drops Could Replace Reading Glasses for Millions – (CBS News – December 9, 2021)

A newly approved eye drop could change the lives of millions of Americans with age-related blurred near vision, a condition affecting mostly people 40 and older. Vuity, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in October, would potentially replace reading glasses for some of the 128 million Americans who have trouble seeing close-up. The new medicine takes effect in about 15 minutes, with one drop on each eye providing sharper vision for six to 10 hours, according to the company. Vuity is the first FDA-approved eye drop to treat age-related blurry near vision, also known as presbyopia. The prescription drug utilizes the eye’s natural ability to reduce its pupil size, said Dr. George Waring, the principal investigator for the trial. “Reducing the pupil size expands the depth of field or the depth of focus, and that allows you to focus at different ranges naturally,” he said. A 30-day supply of the drug will cost about $80 and works best in people 40 to 55 years old, a Vuity spokesperson said. Side effects detected in the three-month trial included headaches and red eyes, the company said. Vuity is by no means a cure-all, and the maker does caution against using the drops when driving at night or performing activities in low-light conditions. The drops are for mild to intermediate cases and are less effective after age 65, as eyes age. Users may also have temporary difficulty in adjusting focus between objects near and far.

What Devices Like Apple, Google Smartwatches Are Beginning to Display about Our Health – (CNBC – December 12, 2021)

The global market for wearable health and fitness devices — including sensor-laden watches, wrist bands, rings, skin patches, eyeglasses and clothing — reached more than $36 billion in 2020, according to Fortune Business Insights, and is projected to top $114 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 15.4%. Deloitte Global predicts that the market segment just for smartwatches and smart patches will ship 320 million units worldwide in 2022, a figure likely to reach 440 million by 2024. But beyond the technological capabilities, there is now the critical issue of efficacy — of the devices, the apps that link to them and the petabytes of data generated — which is leading wearables makers to coordinate with independent researchers to see if they deliver as advertised. The ultimate scenario for health wearables envisions the general public donning smart devices, proven to be efficacious, that continuously download vital data to primary care providers who track patients in real-time, monitor their overall health and respond to any emergencies. To make that leap, however, physicians must be convinced that the devices work, patients use them properly and the data is reliable. Joshua Hagen, a research associate professor at Ohio State University’s Department of Integrated Systems Engineering, was studying biosensors more than a decade ago at the Air Force Research Labs “before wearables really exploded on the scene,” he said. Hagen then started testing devices on elite athletes, monitoring their performance data. Hagen has discovered that the part of the body where a device is worn matters. The Polar heart monitor chest strap, for instance, around since the early 1980s, “has been validated a thousand different ways.” And the wrist is good for measuring resting heart rate. “But fingers are a very interesting place,” he said, referring to his studies on the Oura ring. In one, it had the second-highest accuracy among the devices, with chest straps ranking first. Article goes on to discuss other studies of efficacy and their results.

Microplastics May Increase Antibiotic Resistance – (Eco Watch – December 6, 2021)

A new study from Rice University has found that microplastic particles may allow bacteria to develop higher resistance to antibiotics. As microplastics are just about everywhere — in your takeout containers, tea bags, and clothing — the research is concerning. With higher antibiotic resistance, bacteria can make it harder for human immune systems to fight off infections. Scientists at Rice University’s George R. Brown School of Engineering found that microplastics offer a habitat for bacteria, chemical contaminants and genetic materials that give bacteria higher antibiotic resistance. As the plastic particles age, they release chemicals that can make vectors more receptive to horizontal gene transfer. This is how the antibiotic-resistance genes (ARGs) can then spread. The concern is that these microplastics make it possible for bacteria to become more and more antibiotic-resistant, even without the presence of antibiotics. According to the CDC, more than 2.8 million people in the U.S. alone become infected from antibiotic-resistant germs each year. Increasing antibiotic resistance has often been attributed to overusing or misusing antibiotics as directed by health officials. The new study shows that resistance can also flourish without antibiotics present; instead, bacteria can grow stronger against antibiotics and deadlier through pollution.

Plastics in Agriculture ‘Disastrous’ New UN Report Says – (Nation of Change – December 9, 2021)

From mulching films to plastic tree guards and controlled-release fertilizers coated with polymers, plastics are used for many purposes in agriculture. The FAO report determined that “soils are one of the main receptors of agricultural plastics and are known to contain larger quantities of microplastics than oceans.” Its widespread use raises concerns regarding the impact it has on public health and the environment. “The trouble is we don’t know how much long-term damage the breaking down of these products is doing to agricultural soils,” Mahesh Pradhan, coordinator of the UN Environment Program’s (UNEP) Global Partnership for Nutrient Management, said. “We need to develop standardized methods of detecting microplastics in soil to better understand how long they remain there and how they change over time.” According to research, world agriculture used approximately 13.8 million U.S. tons of plastic for plant and animal production in 2019 and approximately 41.1 million ton for food packaging in that the same year. The FAO report stressed the need for better management of agriculture plastics and introduced “the 6R model.” This model, which includes refuse, redesign, reduce, reuse, recycle and recover, is a potential solution that could help change agriculture practices and eventually phase out plastics altogether. While more research is needed to understand the full impact of plastic pollution on the world’s soils, there is “a concern that microplastics in agricultural soils could work their way up the food chain to harm human health,” EcoWatch reported.

Biden Discusses “Hurricanes” In Kentucky – (Real Climate Science – December 12, 2021)

This video clip contrast’s Biden’s current comments (embedded in clip) offering prayers and condolences for those lost or still missing due to the recent “hurricane” in Kentucky. In fact the multi-state damage was caused by tornadoes, not a hurricane. Biden goes on to state, “All I know is that the intensity of the weather across the board has some impacts as a consequence of the warming of the planet and climate change.” He continues, “The fact is that we all know that everything is more intense when the climate is warming. Everything. And obviously it has some impact here, but I can’t give you a quantitative read on that.” Researcher Tony Heller goes back into the records to find that the worst tornado in Kentucky history was actually on April 5, 1974 and left 320 dead. At that time, all the climate experts were asserting that weather extremes were the result of global cooling.

How I Became the Internet’s Most Notorious Bike Thief – (Cycling Tips – November 26, 2021)

This article is not about stealing (or recovering) bicycles. With the reading line, “A globetrotter’s guide to stealing the same bike in the same laneway, over and over again,” it’s really about how an image – one of a guy apparently in the process of stealing a bike – gets lifted and reappropriated again, and again, and again with different headlines, in different countries, on different continents. It’s about how an image, or a bit of text for that matter, can take on a life of its own on the internet. If you aren’t a denizen of the back alleys of the internet, it may be a bit of an eye opener.

Californian Firm Touts ‘Mushroom Leather’ as Sustainability Gamechanger – (Guardian – December 2, 2021)

Vegan alternatives to leather could save more than just animals. The scientists behind fashion’s new latest must-have – the “mushroom leather” handbag – believe that mycelium, a material grown from fungi which can be engineered to look and feel like calfskin or sheepskin, could help save the planet. Dr Matt Scullin, CEO of biomaterials company MycoWorks, forecast that mushroom leather could be a sustainability gamechanger, “unlocking a future of design which begins with the material, not with the object”. Fine Mycelium, a patented material which can be grown from fungi in trays in a matter of weeks, replicates the appearance and feel of leather while outperforming it in strength and durability. Mushroom leather can be grown in pieces to the specific shape and size required by a designer, eliminating the need for cutting room waste. A report by the Higg Materials Sustainability Index found bovine leather to wreak more environmental damage than any other fabric, including plastic-based synthetic leather, due to the deforestation and gas emissions associated with animal rearing. The material recently made its high fashion debut as an exclusive Hermès handbag.

This Is the First House to Be 3D Printed from Raw Earth – (It’s Nice That – April 27, 2021)

Mario Cucinella Architects and Wasp, Italy’s leading 3D printing company, have completed the first house to be 3D-printed from raw earth (clay). The process, coined Tecla (standing for technology and clay), is eco-sustainable and environmentally friendly due to the production being zero waste and needing no materials to be transported to the site as it uses local soil. It took just 200 hours for multiple printers to construct the 60-square-metre prototype in Ravenna, Italy. The design of the house is an organic, cave-like form that seems ancient and carved out of nature, visually contradicting the innovative technology behind it. It is typical of Cucinella’s practice which is focused on “humane” architecture, a crossover of low and high tech worlds. “The aesthetics of this house are the result of a technical and material effort,” Cucinella says in a statement, “it was not an aesthetic approach only. It is an honest form, a sincere form.” The architect studied how a building’s shape could impact its efficiency, in relation to its climate and latitude; and how the material composition of the building could help with insulation and ventilation. The shape and the external ridges also enable the structural balance of the house. Inside is a living area, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom with some furnishings integrated into the structure, and other freestanding objects designed to be recycled or reused. The building is made from 350 12mm layers, and 60 cubic meters of natural materials for an average consumption of less than 6kW. More photos and details here.

Welcome to Invasivorism, the Boldest Solution to Ethical Eating Yet – (Popular Science – December 7, 2021)

Invasives have cost the world an estimated $1.3 trillion by ruining agricultural yields, undermining tourism, and hurting public health over the past half century. Even worse, these outlaws are responsible for roughly a third of extinctions over the past 500 years, including, in 2021, the loss of the Maui ?akepa bird and a Hawaiian variety of flowering mint. There are now 4,300 nonnative types of wildlife in the United States destructive enough for conservationists to label them as invasive. The bold idea to eat them out of existence occurred to conservation biologist Joe Roman 20 years ago, when he developed the concept of invasivorism. It was born from a tizzy over the European green crab, a palm-size crustacean so successful at stuffing mussels, clams, and scallops into its tooth-lined stomach that it cost American fisheries nearly a billion dollars in lost revenue between 1975 and 2000. In 2020, Roman started a website,, to try to convert foodies with an appetite for the unusual into believers. His weapon? Visions of plates piled high with periwinkle fritters and European crabcakes. The chefs at high end restaurants are now taking up the cause. Garlic mustard in salad, Bishop’s weed in soup, Japanese knotweed sorbet… they’re part of a boundary-pushing trend that combines ethical eating with invasive-species warfare.

Native Americans’ Farming Practices May Help Feed a Warming World – (Washington Post – December 10, 2021)

Indigenous peoples have known for millennia to plant under the shade of the mesquite and paloverde trees that mark the Sonoran Desert here, shielding their crops from the intense sun and reducing the amount of water needed. The modern-day version of this can be seen in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, where a canopy of elevated solar panels helps to protect rows of squash, tomatoes and onions. Such adaptation is central to the research underway at Biosphere 2, a unique center affiliated with the University of Arizona that’s part of a movement aimed at reimagining and remaking agriculture in a warming world. “We’re taking Indigenous knowledge,” said Greg Barron-Gafford, a professor who studies the intersection of plant biology and environmental and human factors. But instead of relying on tree shade, “we’re underneath an energy producer that’s not competing for water.” On both sides of the Arizona border with Mexico, scientists are planting experimental gardens and pushing the potential of an “agrivoltaic” approach. Some of the methods at Biosphere 2 — a facility marked by the largest closed ecological system in the world — are being applied in fishing villages on the parched Sonoran coast of Mexico. A multiyear effort there will help ensure water, energy and food sources for some 1,500 members of the Comcaac (or Seri) community. Other researchers are creating a sustainability model for urban settings.

The CIA Is Deep into Cryptocurrency, Director Reveals – (Motherboard – December 7, 2021)

There’s a long-running conspiracy theory among a small number of cryptocurrency enthusiasts that Bitcoin’s anonymous inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, was actually the CIA or another three-lettered agency. That fringe theory is having a fresh day in the sun after CIA Director William Burns said on Monday that the intelligence agency has “a number of different projects focused on cryptocurrency” on the go. This is hardly surprising given the focus ransomware is getting from every corner of government. This year, a ransomware attack targeting a pipeline company led to a shutdown, panic buying, and a gas shortage in several states. Cryptocurrencies “could have enormous impact on everything from ransomware attacks, as you mentioned, because one of the ways of getting at ransomware attacks and deterring them is to be able to get at the financial networks that so many of those criminal networks use and that gets right at the issue of digital currencies as well,” Burns said. While it will likely remain unclear what exactly the CIA and other alphabet soup intelligence agencies are looking at with regards to crypto, this admission is stunning if for no other reason than that it’s yet another example of a normally-cagey government agency confirming longstanding rumors about its work after years of a steady declassification drip from the Defense Department confirming the existence of UFOs.

Canadian Car Thieves Find a New Use for AirTags  – (Cult of Mack – December 3, 2021)

A news release from the Ontario-area York Regional Police outlines a new method investigators said thieves now use to track down and steal high-end vehicles. They stick an AirTag somewhere on a car they find in a public place. Then they use the device’s location tracking capabilities to find that car later, usually at the victim’s residence, and break in using the typical tools of the trade. Once they are inside the car, the thieves deploy an electronic diagnostic device like the kind your friendly mechanic uses. With this device, the car thieves reset the car to factory settings to allow the car to accept a key that they have brought with them. Then the bad guys simply drive away. Apple does offer anti-tracking features that can alert a user when a nearby AirTag is tracking their location. Thieves have no way to disable that. But not all victims receive or act on the notification. And not all of them have an iPhone or other Apple device.

Up All Night with a Twitch Millionaire: The Loneliness and Rage of the Internet’s New Rock Stars – (Washington Post – December 2, 2021)

At 26, Tyler Steinkamp is a millionaire and one of the Internet’s most popular streamers. For 50 hours a week, he broadcasts himself playing video games from his cramped living room in his 900-person Missouri hometown to 4.6 million followers, watching from around the world. He earns more than $200,000 a month in Twitch ads and viewer subscriptions. Sponsorships with Nike and Doritos, contracts with giant esports teams, fan donations and merchandise sales have earned him millions more. When he dropped out of college to stream, Tyler cast himself as an alpha among dweebs, known for crude banter and wild gameplay. To a generation raised by the Internet, he became bigger than a rock star: Fans pay him every month for access and intimacy, which he provides in great amounts, allowing nearly every day of his life — from his virtual battles to his most personal real-world moments — to be dissected and criticized. Streamers like Tyler form the backbone of tech giants’ “creator economy,” and with their lives on permanent display, they’ve pioneered a raw form of entertainment. But that “myth of glamour” obscures a reality of extraordinary pressure — the grueling systems of online metrics, the incessant demands of followers, and the invisible burden of personal attacks. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for its candid look at the reality behind the façade: it’s fascinating, but it’s not pretty.)

Family Estrangement: Why Adults Are Cutting off Their Parents – (BBC News – December 1, 2021)

Despite a lack of hard data, there is a growing perception among therapists, psychologists and sociologists that intentional parent-child ‘break-up’ is on the rise in western countries. Formally known as ‘estrangement’, experts’ definitions of the concept differ slightly, but the term is broadly used for situations in which someone cuts off all communication with one or more relatives, a situation that continues for the long-term, even if those they’ve sought to split from try to re-establish a connection. “The declaration of ‘I am done’ with a family member is a powerful and distinct phenomenon,” explains Karl Andrew Pillemer, professor of human development at Cornell University, US. “It is different from family feuds, from high-conflict situations and from relationships that are emotionally distant but still include contact.” After realizing there were few major studies of family estrangement, he carried out a nationwide survey for his 2020 book Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them. The survey showed more than one in four Americans reported being estranged from another relative. Similar research for British estrangement charity Stand Alone suggests the phenomenon affects one in five families in the UK, while academic researchers and therapists in Australia and Canada also say they’re witnessing a “silent epidemic” of family break-ups. Although research is limited, most break-ups between a parent and a grown-up child tend to be initiated by the child. One of the most common reasons for this is past or present abuse by the parent, whether emotional, verbal, physical or sexual. Divorce is another frequent influence. One of the most common reasons for this is past or present abuse by the parent, whether emotional, verbal, physical or sexual. Clashes in values are also increasingly thought to play a role. Pillemer’s recent research has also highlighted value differences as a “major factor” in estrangements, with conflicts resulting from “issues such as same sex-preference, religious differences or adopting alternative lifestyles”.

Buy Nothing Groups Offer an Antidote to Waste and Isolation, with a World of Free Stuff – (Washington Post – December 10, 2021)

What started in 2013 as a hyperlocal network of “circular gift economies” in Bainbridge Island, Wash., has ballooned into a constellation of Buy Nothing groups with 4.3 million members in 44 countries. Members can request or offer any item or service as long as it’s legal; however buying, selling and bartering are prohibited. The groups are well-represented on social media, particularly Facebook, Reddit and Nextdoor. The Buy Nothing app, launched on Black Friday, has been downloaded more than 125,000 times. For devotees, Buy Nothing is less a statement about consumerism than an antidote to some of the social ills and financial pressures of the moment. It’s a way to spend less at a time when inflation is near a 40-year high. It’s a means of reducing waste in one of the world’s most wasteful countries. And it’s a form of connection during a pandemic that has left many wrestling with isolation. In member exchanges, the stories pile up as would-be recipients vie for desired items, said Liesl Clark, 55, one of Buy Nothing’s co-founders. Deciding who gets what rests solely with the donor, whose offering might hold sentimental value or simply be something that just needs to go. Buy Nothing’s mission is as much about promoting the idea of abundance as it is about buying less, Clark said. People buying stuff is the backbone of the U.S. economy. Consumer spending powers about 70% of gross domestic product, and retail numbers and consumer confidence are tracked breathlessly as a barometer of economic health. On Cyber Monday — generally the biggest online sales event of the year — consumers spent $12 million every minute, according to Adobe Analytics. “The challenge of our times is to reimagine and reinvent the good life in a world of ecological constraints,” said Daniel Fischer, associate professor for consumer communication and sustainability at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands.

Pentagon UFO Rapid Response Teams Ordered Up by Congress – ( – December 7, 2021)

Under newly unveiled defense legislation set to pass Congress, teams of Pentagon and intelligence community experts would rapidly respond to military UFO sightings and conduct field investigations. Lawmakers also want scientific and technical experts to analyze data about the objects, or what the military calls unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP, as well as any recovered materials or medical effects, according to the text of the newly released annual defense authorization bill. The bill requires all of the findings to be collected under a new joint UAP office and delivered to Congress in annual reports and biannual briefings to defense committees, marking the most significant UFO legislation ever passed in the U.S. following high-profile encounters with unknown objects reported by the Navy. The bill says the information could be used to justify requests for funding in the future to “replicate any such advanced characteristics and performance” — or reverse-engineer the UAPs.

How NASA’s New Laser Communications Mission Will Work in Space – (Space – December 4, 2021)

The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will launch on the United States Space Force Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) mission on Dec. 5 or shortly thereafter. “This will be our first foray into understanding, what does it mean to use lasers to communicate and really connect directly to Earth and space users?” Jason Mitchell, Director of SCaN Advanced Communications & Navigation Technology Division at NASA. LCRD will help NASA learn about possible effects to manage, ranging from atmospheric turbulence to cloud deflection, Mitchell noted. The timing is crucial as NASA and its international partners expand its exploration focus over the coming decades. Newly announced private space stations will only expand the need for fast information flowing to and from Earth. Meanwhile, astronauts on the moon and a sample return mission on Mars could benefit from faster communications speeds 10 to 100 times faster than current-day radio. There are more lasers launching soon, too. The Artemis 2 crewed moon-orbiting mission for 2024, is expected to test an Orion spacecraft optical communications system to send ultra-high-definition video feedback to Earth. Also, the first year of the Psyche mission (targeting a metal asteroid of the same name) will include a test of the Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) payload, which will help investigators learn how to precisely direct laser communications from deep space.

How to Prepare for a Solar Flare Hitting Earth (Because It’s Probably Going to Happen) – (Lifehacker – December 10, 2021)

A mass coronal ejection really could hit Earth at any time—a sun-like star 100 light years away called EK Draconis literally just launched one of these things. And short of destroying the sun, there’s nothing humans can do to prevent solar flares—but you can still know what to expect, and prepare accordingly. According to NASA, Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are “large clouds of solar plasma and embedded magnetic fields released into space after a solar eruption.” If the Earth happens to be in the path of one of these ejections, and the ejection is powerful enough, things could get very crazy, very quickly. The charged particles from the sun entering Earth’s magnetic field would cause geomagnetic storms, lighting up the sky with a brilliant aurora borealis that would be visible all over the Earth. Beautiful, for sure. But massively disruptive to our power system. In 2021 when everything relies on power and data, a massive outage and the loss of internet (undersea data cables are particularly vulnerable) would throw the world into considerable chaos. Scientists estimate there’s around a 12% chance of a massively disruptive coronal mass ejection hitting Earth every 10 years. Good news: there are at least 27 separate federal programs aimed at preventing a worst-case-scenario outcome of a solar flare, and private power companies are developing and employing technology to counter massive power surges, too. On an individual level, preparing for a massive solar flare striking our planet is refreshingly doable—this isn’t a zombie apocalypse or a nuclear war we’re talking about. Unlike earthquakes and nuclear attacks, we will likely have warning of a coming magnetic storm—the 1859 Carrington Event was observed 19 hours before it hit Earth—so you should have at least half a day to prepare. Article continues with a few suggestions.

A Camera the Size of a Grain of Salt – (Motherboard – December 7, 2021)

A newly-developed camera the size of a grain of salt can take clear, full-color images—at the level of cameras that are 500,000 times larger. Researchers at Princeton University and the University of Washington created a new type of optical system, called a metasurface, to shrink the camera’s hardware down to size, and combined this with machine-learning image processing that enables the camera to produce clear images in natural lighting. Previously, micro-cameras could only produce useful images in perfect laboratory settings, according to the researchers. Each camera consists of 1.6 million cylindrical posts which interact with light to produce the images. These posts are as small as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The surfaces are made from silicon nitride, a material that makes them compatible with computing microchip manufacturing. This means they’d be cheaper and faster to produce than current full-size camera lenses. The researchers envision these types of cameras being used in procedures like endoscopies, where high-quality photos from inside a patient’s body also need to be as minimally invasive as possible. They also foresee these metasurfaces as covering the whole surface of devices like cell phones.

The Chip Shortage Keeps Getting Worse. Why Can’t We Just Make More? – (Bloomberg – May 6, 2021)

Before you put silicon into chipmaking machines, you need a clean room. A very clean room. Individual transistors are many times smaller than a virus. Just one speck of dust can cause havoc and millions of dollars of wasted effort. Even with all the precautions, the wafers of silicon can’t be touched by humans or exposed to the air. They travel between machines in cartridges carried by robots that run on tracks in the ceiling. They only emerge from the safety of those cartridges when they’re inside the machines and it’s time for a key step in the process. Chips consist of as many as 100 layers of materials. These are deposited, then partially removed, to form complex three-dimensional structures that connect all the tiny transistors. Some of these layers are just one atom thin. Machines made by Applied Materials Inc., Lam Research Corp. and Tokyo Electron Ltd. juggle a host of variables, such as temperature, pressure, and electrical and magnetic fields, to make this happen. One of the most difficult parts of the process is lithography, which is handled by machines made by ASML Holding NV. The company’s gear uses light to burn patterns into materials deposited on the silicon. These patterns eventually become transistors. This is all happening at such a small scale, the current way to make it work is to use extreme ultraviolet light, which usually only occurs naturally in space. To recreate this in a controlled environment, ASML machines zap molten droplets of tin with a laser pulse. As the metal vaporizes, it emits the required EUV light. But even that is not enough. Mirrors are then needed to focus the light into a thinner wavelength. Building an entry-level factory that produces 50,000 wafers per month costs about $15 billion. Most of this is spent on specialized equipment—a market that exceeded $60 billion in sales for the first time in 2020. Once you spend all that money building giant facilities, they become obsolete in five years or less. To avoid losing money, chipmakers must generate $3 billion in profit from each plant. The brutal economics of the industry mean fewer companies can afford to keep up. Most of the roughly 1.4 billion smartphone processors shipped each year are made by TSMC. Intel has 80% of the market for computer processors. Samsung dominates in memory chips. For everyone else, including China, it’s not easy to break in.

In the Works for Years, a Suicide Machine Will Soon Be Tested in Switzerland – (Washington Post – December 9, 2021)

People wishing to end their lives in Switzerland — one of a handful of countries that give the option — could soon have access to a new method: a 3-D-printed pod that its creator says can painlessly end someone’s life in a matter of minutes. Real-life participants will start trying the coffinlike “Sarco” during trials set to begin in early 2022, the capsule’s creator, said Philip Nitschke. will be held at a Swiss clinic for assisted suicide, using about a half-dozen volunteers. A legal analysis commissioned by his nonprofit, Exit International, recently concluded that use of the pod will not violate Switzerland’s assisted suicide laws, he said. At the push of a button, the pod becomes filled with nitrogen gas, which rapidly lowers oxygen levels, causing its user to fall unconscious within a minute, Nitschke said. A person does not suffocate or experience distress, he said, but rather dies of oxygen deprivation after they’ve fallen asleep. In theory, the capsule can be towed to a place of someone’s choosing, said Nitschke, who described the machine as a “stylish and elegant” way to die. But since Nitschke introduced the concept four years ago, it has been met with varying degrees of bewilderment and condemnation, with some critics arguing the Sarco’s appearance is one of its biggest problems. Daniel Sulmasy, the director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, said the capsule’s sleek, almost luxury-car-like design “glamorizes suicide.” He also said he takes issue with Nitschke’s plan to post the 3-D printing instructions online, noting that it could lead to suicide contagion — a phenomenon in which hearing about suicide can lead to more people dying that way.

This Holiday Season, Use Your Money to Change Someone’s Life – (Washington Post – November 24, 2021)

For years, as a columnist for the New York Times, I (Nicholas Kristof, author of this article) wrote an annual giving guide, which in 2019 and 2020 included Holiday Impact awards. I recently resigned from that job to run for governor in Oregon, but I wanted to continue the tradition. My 2021 grand prize winner is a nonprofit called Seva Foundation that restores sight around the world — a dazzling present. When people go blind in a poor country, they can no longer perform chores, care for children or earn an income. They often must pull a young child or grandchild out of school to escort them. So sight-restoring surgery gives two people their lives back. The most common cause of blindness is cataracts — which through Seva can be removed in a 15-minute surgery that costs about $50 per eye. While Seva mostly works abroad, it’s also active on Native American reservations. As grand prize winner, it will receive $100,000 (funds have been donated by readers). My longtime friend and hero Denis Mukwege founded Panzi Hospital in a conflict-ridden part of Democratic Republic of Congo sometimes called the rape capital of the world. Mukwege was nauseated when he saw women and girls suffering devastating internal injuries after sexual assaults by militias. While providing outstanding care to survivors, he also began to denounce the systematized rape by military units — and survived an assassination attempt that killed his friend and security guard. Later, a young Congolese doctor who was his protégé was also slain. Mukwege won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for his courage in standing up for women’s rights. I chose Panzi Hospital (it will receive $25,000, plus reader contributions) partly to help rape survivors in Congo, and partly to demonstrate that the world stands with Mukwege — perhaps making it a bit harder to kill him.

A New Life for a Torn Paper Bag – (YouTube – July 29, 2021)

The video opens benignly: a torn paper shopping bag on the floor. Two hands retrieve the bag, size it up, and lead us on a transfixing journey that sees it reborn as a fine leather tote. Halfway through this montage of steady, exacting craftsmanship you forget all about the paper bag, and something like awe takes over. Check out Hahns Atelier’s YouTube channel for other transformations of ordinary objects, like an old tire becoming a smart pair of sandals. Or transforming an old Prada bag.   Hahns Atelier sells the patterns to make some of these items on Etsy.

Every Noise at Once – (Everynoiseatonce – 2021)

Every Noise at Once is an ongoing attempt at an algorithmically-generated, readability-adjusted scatter-plot of the musical genre-space, based on data tracked and analyzed for 5,701 genre-shaped distinctions by Spotify as of 2021-12-02. The calibration is fuzzy, but in general down is more organic, up is more mechanical and electric; left is denser and more atmospheric, right is spikier and bouncier. It’s an effort by a musical data guy named Glenn McDonald, now with Spotify, to map every music genre. There are over 1300 in there from literally all over the world, algorithmically organized (rock’s basically in the center, more electronic stuff toward the top, folk, jazz, and classical toward the bottom). Click on a name for a 30-second sample; hover over the arrow to get the title of the piece being played, click on the arrow to get a similar map of artists in that  genre. Go ahead, get lost in there.
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The danger of the future is that men may become robots.

Erich Fromm
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