Volume 25, Number 11 – 6/1/22

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Volume 25, Number 11 – 6/1/2022


  • Metaverse real estate purchasers are being scammed out of the real money they paid for virtual investments.
  • In mice, the HIV drug Maraviroc appears to restore a type of memory called relational memory which is the ability to link memories that occur around the same time.
  • A Turkish company’s drone has literally changed the nature of modern warfare.
  • A ransomware gang has taken over the computer system of Costa Rica and threatened to overthrow the government itself.
Dr. David Martin
2027 … Big Financial Disruption

Saturday, July 23rd, 1:00 pm
in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

One of the largest financial crises of our lifetimes occurred in 2008.  Starting with the US Congress voting in an emergency session for a $700 billion bailout of the banks which had issued thousands of subprime mortgages to individuals who were not qualified to pay them, there followed a huge freefall that, among many other things, resulted in the collapse of Lehman Brothers investment bank and a loss in household wealth in the US of $11 trillion. 

Almost 18 months before that event, In July 2006, Dr. David Martin gave two Arlington Institute Spring Side Chats in Berkeley Springs laying out the coming events that would begin in December of 2007 and become known as the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.  It was an extraordinary example of predictive analysis.

Similarly, in 2012, Dr. Martin laid out the events that would usher in the State Council of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and anticipated the use of bioterrorism as an agent of enabling the associated geopolitical instability. 

Now David Martin comes again to Berkeley Spring to TransitionTalks in July of 2022 – 17 years after John Petersen and David met —  to once again paint a picture of a great, inbound disruption guaranteed five years from now, at which time the United States will become bankrupt, unable to pay social security, Medicare, Medicaid and the pensions of many millions of people, This upheaval will occur along with many other converging factors that promise a near future that will be unlike anything that any of us have experienced before. 

Come and hear Dr. Martin detail what is in our future and talk about what we can do to prepare for this extraordinary event.

Click below for more information about this event and to get tickets.
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In this brief interview David Martin lays the foundation for his upcoming talk.
Join us on July 23rd (In Person or via Livestream) for the big reveal!

The Tyranny of Modern Scientism – (Global Research – May 26, 2022)

Corruption is a high-stakes game played by the pharmaceutical complex, without which we might actually have a functioning healthcare system that improves public health. Whether it be concealing or fudging prior knowledge about drugs’ adverse effects to maximize profits, publishing junk clinical trials, buying off legislators, or engaging in devious retaliatory efforts to pressure and silence critics, these are only the costs of doing business that keep drug companies’ and Wall Street’s coffers overflowing. And this corporate culture of deception has the full approval of governments’ health ministries and the World Health Organization. Today our lives are at the mercy of a powerful cartel of medical bureaucrats in white physician coats intent on protecting a corporate-based inquisition to stifle dissent. The frontline physicians who found strong evidence for cheap off-patent drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin as effective treatments against SARS-2 infections acted upon their intuitive suspicions and prescribed these drugs. They were proven correct; yet, despite having saved countless lives, who would have otherwise died in intensive care units due to the medical bureaucracy’s faith in the unfounded and barbaric medical advice from Anthony Fauci and the CDC, these physicians were vilified and viciously attacked in the media. “The philosophies of one age,” wrote the father of modern medicine William Osler, “have become the absurdities of the next, and the foolishness of yesterday have become the wisdom of tomorrow.” For the hardcore followers of modern scientism, particularly those in the medical and biological sciences, a human being is nothing more than an animate machine controlled by a computer in the skull that will break and ultimately cease to function. In line with that, Klaus Schwab asks the appropriate questions: “Where do we draw the line between human and machine? What does it mean to be human?” The fact that we are even asking these questions indicates how far modern humanity has been torn away from itself. The potential consequences of this catastrophic self-inflicted dementia permeating scientism are literally terrifying.

Graphene Covid Kill Shots: Let the Evidence Speak for Itself – (Global Research – May 14, 2022)

This article compiles evidence to prove that Graphene Oxide, Graphene Hydroxide and other Graphene variants are in fact being injected into people by governments and Big Pharma. There’s a concerted effort by the pharmaceutical cartel funded “fact checkers,” Big Tech platforms and mainstream media, to hide the evidence and slander the people bringing this to light. For example, Dr. Noack is a chemist and the world’s leading expert in activated carbon engineering and GRAPHENE. The embedded 23 minute video is of crucial importance. Dr. Noack said that two of the frequency bands that Dr. Pablo Campra, Professor at the University of Almeria, Spain, detected were of Graphene Hydroxide. Graphene Hydroxide (GHO) is a mono-layer activated carbon, 50nm long and 0.1nm thick (an atom layer thick). Thus, the injections contain nano-razorblades of exceptional stability, which are non-biodegrable (a fact that every chemist knows). In effect, these nano-razorblades cut up and destroy the heart, brain and cardiovascular system. The epithelial cells become rough so things stick to them. He says that toxicologists cannot find them in a petri dish by normal methods as they do not move and they don’t expect to discover nano-sized razor blades. Moreover, any doctor who injects them with knowledge of this issue, is a murderer.

Cybercriminals Target Metaverse Investors with Phishing Scams – (CNBC – May 26, 2022)

The metaverse is not one single place. From virtual reality headsets to digital worlds that you can explore as an avatar, the term “metaverse” refers to a series of virtual reality platforms that immerse users in an interactive online experience. The three most popular platforms for purchasing metaverse real estate are The Sandbox, Decentraland and SuperWorld. While the three platforms have existed for years, they only started selling blockchain-based plots of land during the past year. Users in the metaverse make bids on virtual plots of land through NFT marketplaces, like OpenSea, in a process that works much like buying real estate in the real world. The rising popularity of investing in the metaverse – in which users purchase virtual “land” on various platforms with an expectation that it will increase in value – has also ushered in a new wave of high-tech fraud, according to authorities, interviews with victims and cybersecurity experts. Investors across the country told CNBC that hackers stole their land in the metaverse by tricking them into clicking on links they believed were genuine portals to the virtual universe, but which turned out to be phishing sites designed to steal user credentials. What they wanted was a piece of the metaverse — a new, blockchain-based virtual set of platforms that has recently come to prominence because of significant involvement from celebrities, fashion shows and investors. Instead, they say they got a lesson in the dangers of high-risk investing. Article explains the buying process and lays out the scam techniques.

She Thought a Dark Moment in Her Past Was Forgotten. Then She Scanned Her Face Online – (CNN – April 24, 2022)

Pim-Eyes is a facial-recognition website meant to be used to find pictures of yourself from around the web — ostensibly to help stamp out issues such as revenge porn and identity theft. This article features the story of a former Apple employee, Cher Scarlett, who used her own face to research the capabilities of the software tool, Pim-Eyes. With a few clicks of a mouse, PimEyes brought back a real-life nightmare that occurred in her life nearly two decades ago. PimEyes’ images come from a range of websites, including company, media and pornography sites — the last of which PimEyes said it includes so people can search online for any revenge porn in which they may unknowingly appear. PimEyes says it doesn’t scrape images from social media. Scarlett has since tried and failed to get all of the explicit photos removed from PimEyes’ search results, despite the site saying it would scrub images of Scarlett from results. Giorgi Gobronidze, who identified himself as the current owner and director of PimEyes (he said he bought the company from its previous owners in December), said he wishes nobody would experience what Scarlett went through, which he acknowledged as “very, very painful. However, just simply saying, ‘I don’t want to see images’ or ‘I don’t want to see the problem’ doesn’t make the problem disappear. The problem isn’t that there is a search engine that can find these photos; the problem is there are the photos and there are people who actually uploaded and did it on purpose.” Scarlett got help in sending out DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown requests to websites hosting images she wanted taken down, she said. However, she isn’t the copyright owner of the images and the requests were ignored. Users can opt out of PimEyes’ search results for free, but this detail can be easy to miss in the midst of its fee-based offerings. The opt-out process “sets people up to fight a losing battle,” said Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University, “because this is essentially like playing whack-a-mole or Sisyphus forever rolling the boulder up the hill. It will never stop. The images will resurface.” (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for its analysis of the issues surrounding facial recognition software use and misuse on the internet.)

NASA: Mysterious New Hubble Data on the Universe Is ‘Something Weird’ – (BGR – May 20, 2022)

Since its launch in 1990, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has been used to try to learn more about how quickly our universe is expanding. However, the data Hubble has captured continues to challenge what we know about how fast the universe is expanding. NASA says that there appears to be a key discrepancy in the universe’s rate of expansion around us compared to observations of the early universe right after the Big Bang. If we can understand the universe’s expansion rate, it will allow us to more properly understand how some celestial objects evolve and come to be. As such, part of Hubble’s mission has been creating milepost markers of the universe’s expansion. To date, the 30-year-old space telescope has created 40 milepost markers. This, NASA says, allows for the most precise measure of how fast space has expanded since the Big Bang. This would allow us to properly measure how long the universe has existed. But getting that answer appears to be a bit more complex than scientists suspected. Especially with these new results. Hubble’s data shows that the universe’s expansion rate is around 73 kilometers per second per megaparsec. However, models predicted it would be approximately 67.5 kilometers per second per megaparsec. It is an interesting dilemma, and it has scientists a bit baffled. As such, NASA has summed it up as “something weird” going on in the universe.

Cave Discovery in Laos Could Unlock More about Human Evolution’s Biggest Mystery – (CNN – May 17, 2022)

A tooth unearthed from a remote cave in Laos is helping to sketch an unknown chapter in the human story. Researchers believe the tooth belonged to a young female who lived at least 130,000 years ago and was likely a Denisovan — an enigmatic group of early humans first identified in 2010. The lower molar is the first fossil evidence placing Denisovans in Southeast Asia and may help untangle a puzzle that had long vexed experts in human evolution. The only definitive Denisovan fossils have been found in North Asia — in the eponymous Denisova cave in Siberia’s Altai Mountains in Russia. Genetic evidence, however, has tied the archaic humans most closely to places much further south — in what’s now the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Australia. “This demonstrates that the Denisovans were likely present also in southern Asia. And it supports the results of geneticists who say that modern humans and the Denisovans might have met in Southeast Asia,” said study author Clément Zanolli, a researcher in paleoanthropology at CNRS, the French National Center for Scientific Research and the University of Bordeaux. In deeming the Laos tooth Denisovan, the researchers in this study relied heavily on a comparison with the Xiahe jawbone, said Katerina Douka, an assistant professor of archaeological science at the department of evolutionary anthropology at the University of Vienna. She wasn’t involved in the research. She said she would have liked to see “more and extensive evidence” that the tooth was definitively Denisovan. Indeed, the jawbone, while thought by many to be Denisovan, was not an open-and-shut case. No DNA had been retrieved from the fossilized jawbone, only “thin” protein evidence, she added. The study authors said they planned to try and extract ancient DNA from the tooth, which, if possible, would provide a more definitive answer but the warm climate means that could be a long shot. The research team also plans to continue excavating the site after a pandemic-induced hiatus in the hope of more discoveries of ancient humans that lived in area.

A Drug for HIV Appears to Reverse a Type of Memory Loss in Mice – (NPR – May 28, 2022)

An HIV drug — known as maraviroc — may have another, unexpected, use. The medication appears to restore a type of memory that allows us to link an event, like a wedding, with the people we saw there. Maraviroc’s ability to improve this sort of memory was demonstrated in mice, but the drug acts on a brain system that’s also found in humans and plays a role in a range of problems with the brain and nervous system. The ability to link memories that occur around the same time is known as relational memory. It typically declines with age, and may be severely impaired in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Alcino Silva, an author of the study and director of the Integrative Center for Learning and Memory at UCLA, said, “You learn about something, but you can’t remember where you heard it. You can’t remember who told you about it. These incidents happen more and more often as we go from middle age into older age.” Scientists have known about the existence of relational memory in people for a long time. What they haven’t known is how the brain does this. That changed when Silva’s lab began studying a molecule called CCR5. In the body, CCR5 is a key part of the immune system. But in the brain, CCR5 controls a process that helps separate recent memories from older ones. It turned out that levels of CCR5 increase with age, and appear to “turn off” the ability to link memories. In mice, maraviroc appears to be able to control the level of CCR5 in the brain and restore the memory linking function. This drug may be useful to people with Alzheimer’s disease, those who have suffered a stroke, have Parkinson’s disease or who have spinal cord injuries. The researchers are currently involved in a study that will test whether maraviroc can help people who’ve had a stroke.

Fecal Microbiota Transfer Between Young and Aged Mice Reverses Hallmarks of the Aging Gut, Eye, and Brain – (Microbiome – April 29, 2022)

Altered intestinal microbiota composition in later life is associated with inflammaging, declining tissue function, and increased susceptibility to age-associated chronic diseases, including neurodegenerative dementias. Here, we tested the hypothesis that manipulating the intestinal microbiota influences the development of major comorbidities associated with aging and, in particular, inflammation affecting the brain and retina. Using fecal microbiota transplantation, we exchanged the intestinal microbiota of young (3 months), old (18 months), and aged (24 months) mice. Whole metagenomic shotgun sequencing and metabolomics were used to develop a custom analysis workflow, to analyze the changes in gut microbiota composition and metabolic potential. The transfer of aged donor microbiota into young mice accelerates age-associated central nervous system (CNS) inflammation, retinal inflammation, and cytokine signaling and promotes loss of key functional protein in the eye, effects which are coincident with increased intestinal barrier permeability. Conversely, these detrimental effects can be reversed by the transfer of young donor microbiota. These findings demonstrate that the aging gut microbiota drives detrimental changes in the gut–brain and gut–retina axes suggesting that microbial modulation may be of therapeutic benefit in preventing inflammation-related tissue decline in later life.

You Can Now Ask Google to Remove Your Personal Data from Its Search Results—Here’s How – (CNBC – May 15, 2022)

Google is finally making it easier for you to make sure your personal information doesn’t show up in online search results – and all it took was hundreds of thousands of requests over nearly a decade. The Alphabet-owned internet search giant recently rolled out new policies and tools that allow users to quickly and easily request the removal of personal data – like your phone number, email address, or even a physical address – from search results. Previously, users had to show evidence of potential harm, such as doxxing or identity theft, to get Google to remove their personal information from search results. Crucially, however, not every request is guaranteed approval: The company may not remove your personal data from its search results if the information is newsworthy – for instance, if it appears in a relevant news article – or if it’s included on a government website or another official source, according to Google.

Unique Quantum Material Could Enable Ultra-powerful, Compact Computers – (PhysOrg – May 20, 2022)

To shrink devices while improving their performance—a goal of an emerging field called spin-electronics (“spintronics”)—researchers are searching for unique materials that combine both quantum properties. Writing in Nature Materials, a team of chemists and physicists at Columbia finds a strong link between electron transport and magnetism in a material called chromium sulfide bromide (CrSBr). Created in the lab of Chemist Xavier Roy, CrSBr is a so-called van der Waals crystal that can be peeled into stackable, 2D layers that are just a few atoms thin. Unlike related materials that are quickly destroyed by oxygen and water, CrSBr crystals are stable at ambient conditions. These crystals also maintain their magnetic properties at the relatively high temperature of -280F, avoiding the need for expensive liquid helium cooled to a temperature of -450F. The team used an electric field to study CrSBr layers across different electron densities, magnetic fields, and temperatures—different parameters that can be adjusted to produce different effects in a material. As electronic properties in CrSBr changed, so did its magnetism. In CrSBr, resistance can serve as a proxy for otherwise unobservable magnetic states. “That’s very powerful,” said Roy,  especially as researchers look to one day build chips out of such 2D magnets, which could be used for quantum computing and to store massive amounts of data in a small space.

Can Gravity Batteries Solve Our Energy Storage Problems? – (BBC News – May 16, 2022)

A cleaner future will mean focusing on ever-larger lithium-ion batteries, some energy experts say. Others argue that green hydrogen is the world’s best hope. And then there are those placing their bets not on chemistry, but the limitless force that surrounds us all: gravity. “What goes up, must come down” – this is the immutable Newtonian logic underpinning gravity batteries. This new field of energy storage technology is remarkably simple in principle. When green energy is plentiful, use it to haul a colossal weight to a predetermined height. When renewables are limited, release the load, powering a generator with the downward gravitational pull. A similar approach, “pumped hydro”, accounts for more than 90% of the globe’s current high capacity energy storage. Funnel water uphill using surplus power and then, when needed, channel it down through hydroelectric generators. It’s a tried-and-tested system. But hydro projects are big and expensive, and they have exacting geographical requirements – vertiginous terrain and an abundance of water. The world needs an energy storage system that can be situated almost anywhere, and at scale. Gravitricity, an Edinburgh-based green engineering start-up, is working to make this a reality. In April last year, the group successfully trialed its first gravity battery prototype: a 15m (49ft) steel tower suspending a 50 tonne iron weight. Inch-by-inch, electric motors hoisted the massive metal box skyward before gradually releasing it back to earth, powering a series of electric generators with the downward drag. The demonstrator installation was “small scale”, says Jill Macpherson, Gravitricity’s senior test and simulation engineer, but still produced 250kW of instantaneous power, enough to briefly sustain around 750 homes. Equally encouraging was what the team learned about their system’s potential longevity. While the Gravitricity prototype pointed upward, the company’s focus is now below ground. Engineers have spent the last year scoping out decommissioned coal mines in Britain, Eastern Europe, South Africa, and Chile. The rationale, explains managing director Charlie Blair, is pretty straightforward: “Why build towers when we can use the geology of the earth to hold up our weights?”

New Research Could Lead to Solar Panels That Work at Night – (Eco Watch – May 18, 2022)

A team of researchers, including researchers from the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering at UNSW Sydney and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science, have made a breakthrough in infrared technology that could lead to the development of solar panels that work at night. The researchers were able to run a successful test on a device, called a thermo-radiative diode, that converts infrared heat into electricity. According to the researchers, the thermo-radiative diode is similar to the technology used for night-vision goggles. For now, the amount of energy produced in the tests is incredibly small compared to solar panel output, about 0.001%. But it does show hope in developing solar panels that can produce energy, even at night. For now, the team is looking to do more research and form industry partnerships. “We do not yet have the miracle material that will make the thermoradiative diode an everyday reality, but we made a proof of principle and are eager to see how much we can improve on this result in the coming years,” said lead researcher Nicholas Ekins-Daukes. These aren’t the only scientists looking to create solar panels that operate 24/7. Rune Strandberg, a researcher from Norway, was the first to explore the possibility. Currently, researchers at Stanford University are also testing alternate methods of harnessing thermal energy in the dark.

Physicists Just Rewrote a Foundational Rule for Nuclear Fusion Reactors That Could Unleash Twice the Power – (Live Science – May 25, 2022)

Future fusion reactions inside tokamaks could produce much more energy than previously thought, thanks to groundbreaking new research that found a foundational law for such reactors was wrong. The research, led by physicists from the Swiss Plasma Center at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EFPL), has determined that the maximum hydrogen fuel density is about twice the “Greenwald Limit” – an estimate derived from experiments more than 30 years ago. The discovery that fusion reactors can actually work with hydrogen plasma densities that are much higher than the Greenwald Limit they are built for will influence the operation of the massive ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) tokamak being built in southern France, and greatly affect the designs of ITER’s successors, called the Demonstration power plant (DEMO) fusion reactors, said physicist Paolo Ricci at the Swiss Plasma Center. “The exact value depends on the power,” Ricci told Live Science. “But as a rough estimate, the increase is on the order of a factor of two in ITER.” ITER (also meaning “The Way” in Latin) is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world today. In southern France, 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers our Sun and stars. For more info, see the ITER website.

The Turkish Drone That Changed the Nature of Warfare – (New Yorker – May 9, 2022)

The Bayraktar TB2 is a flat, gray unmanned aerial vehicle (U.A.V.), with angled wings and a rear propeller. It carries laser-guided bombs and is small enough to be carried in a flatbed truck, and costs a fraction of similar American and Israeli drones. Its designer, Selçuk Bayraktar, the son of a Turkish auto-parts entrepreneur, is one of the world’s leading weapons manufacturers. In the defense of Ukraine, Bayraktar has become a legend, the namesake of a baby lemur at the Kyiv zoo, and the subject of a catchy folk song, which claims that his drone “makes ghosts out of Russian bandits.” In April, 2016, the TB2 scored its first confirmed kill. Since then, it has been sold to at least thirteen countries, bringing the tactic of the precision air strike to the developing world and reversing the course of several wars. The TB2 has now carried out more than eight hundred strikes, in conflicts from North Africa to the Caucasus. The bombs it carries can adjust their trajectories in midair, and are so accurate that they can be delivered into an infantry trench. Military analysts had previously assumed that slow, low-flying drones would be of little use in conventional combat, but the TB2 can take out the anti-aircraft systems that are designed to destroy it. “This enabled a fairly significant operational revolution in how wars are being fought right now,” Rich Outzen, a former State Department specialist on Turkey, told me. “This probably happens once every thirty or forty years.” I (author of this article) spoke with Bayraktar in March, via video. He was in Istanbul, at the headquarters of his company, Baykar Technologies, which employs more than two thousand people. When I asked him about the use of his drones in Ukraine, he told me, “They’re doing what they’re supposed to do—taking out some of the most advanced air-defense systems and armored vehicles in the world.” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s President, wishes “to build a powerful, industrialized Turkey that serves as the natural leader of the Muslim world.” Turkey’s arms industry has grown tenfold in the past twenty years, and most of the country’s military equipment is now manufactured locally. “The Bayraktars, and particularly the TB2s, have turned into the flagship of the Turkish defense industry,” according to Alper Coskun, a former Turkish diplomat.

AI May Be Searching You for Guns the Next Time You Go out in Public – (Washington Post – May 20, 2022)

Evolv Technology makes an AI-based system meant to flag weapons, “democratizing security” so that weapons can be kept out of public places without elaborate checkpoints. As U.S. gun violence increases — firearms sales reached record heights in 2020 and 2021 while the Gun Violence Archive reports 198 mass shootings since January — Evolv has become increasingly popular, used at schools, stadiums, stores and other gathering spots. To its supporters, the system is a more effective and less obtrusive alternative to the age-old metal detector, making events both safer and more pleasant to attend. To its critics, however, Evolv’s effectiveness has hardly been proved. And it opens up a Pandora’s box of ethical issues in which convenience is paid for with RoboCop surveillance. Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union’s project on speech, privacy, and technology, asks, “But do we really want to create more ways for security to invade our privacy? Do we want to turn every shopping mall or Little League game into an airport?” Evolv machines use “active sensing” — a light-emission technique that also underpins radar and lidar — to create images. Then it applies AI to examine them. Data scientists at the Waltham, Mass., company have created “signatures” (basically, visual blueprints) and trained the AI to compare them to the scanner images. The result is a smart system that can “spot” a weapon without anyone needing to stop and empty their pockets in a beeping machine. When the system identifies a suspicious item from a group of people flowing through, it draws an orange box around it on a live video feed of the person entering. It’s only then that a security guard, watching on a nearby tablet, will approach for more screening. Sports franchises like the Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers now use it. North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system, with 150,000 students, has also licensed Evolv. Theme parks are excited, too — all 27 Six Flags parks across the country now use it. But IPVM, a security-industry trade publication, concluded after a review that Evolv has “fundamental technological limitations in differentiating benign objects from actual weapons.” One issue, IPVM said, citing its examination of the company, is that some metallic objects confuse the AI, including particularly the ruggedly designed Google Chromebook. The publication also says the company will not engage with it due to its inquiries; it says the firm has even asked it to stop reporting on Evolv in the name of public safety. Security consultants note that no system probably would have stopped the Buffalo shooter, who began firing in the parking lot. (Editor’s note: We wonder if and how this technology will be adopted  in states with open carry, concealed carry, or permitless carry gun laws.)

Ten Times Empire Managers Showed Us That They Want to Control Our Thoughts – (Caitlin Johnstone – May 29, 2022)

The single most overlooked and under-appreciated aspect of our society is the fact that immensely powerful people are continuously working to manipulate the thoughts we think about the world. Whether you call it propaganda, psyops, perception management or public relations, it’s a real thing that happens constantly, and it happens to all of us. And its consequences shape our entire world. That we are propagandized by people with authority over us is not seriously in dispute by any good-faith actor and has been extensively described and documented for many years. This article offers concrete examples with its sources extensively documented.

How an Obsession with Safety Leads to Mental Illness & Tyranny – (YouTube – March 15, 2022)

This 10 minute video clip from the Academy of Ideas notes that the modern world is caught in the grip of fear psychosis.  And, as a result, a huge priority of safety has entrenched itself in the West. Our chances of dying from war, natural disasters, pandemics, or famine are at levels our ancestors could only have dreamed of. But given all this security we are more fearful than ever before. This video explores some of the philosophies that underpin the prioritization of safety but actually worsen mental illness. What happens when we value safety above all other values?

Kayfabe Populism: Notes from the Edge of the Narrative Matrix – (Caitlin Johnstone – May 28, 2022)

It’s so important that the public have no real say in US politics that the empire not only set up two oligarchic puppet parties which pretend to oppose each other, but also set up fake populist movements within each of those factions which pretend to be fighting the establishment within those parties. It’s a very clever illusion that sucks up almost all real opposition. If you don’t fall for the first kayfabe conflict and realize the game is rigged for the powerful, you can still end up buying into the fake populist movements set up to oppose them. I fell for them both early on in this commentary gig. But after a while of watching what they do (as opposed to just listening to what they say) and seeing where they actually stand and fight or refuse to fight, you see it’s all an Inception-level fakery. The opposition is controlled, and so is the opposition to the opposition. This all sounds like an awful lot of work to go through until you remember that an entire globe-spanning empire depends on the ability to prevent the American public from either (A) voting in a disruptive government or (B) fighting a revolution. So much power rides on their ability to do this. Whenever I try to talk about the risk of the Ukraine war escalating into a nuclear holocaust I get people telling me if that happens it will be Putin’s fault. Like that would make it okay somehow. Like that would somehow validate all the steps our leaders took to get us to that point. Of all the intensely stupid ways team loyalty and partisanship can express itself, I really don’t think you could come up with one dumber than “Our nuclear brinkmanship isn’t a problem because it’ll be the other side who launches the first nuke” if you tried.

Ransomware Gang Threatens to Overthrow Costa Rica Government – (AP News – May 16, 2022)

A ransomware gang that infiltrated some Costa Rican government computer systems has upped its threat, saying its goal is now to overthrow the government. Perhaps seizing on the fact that President Rodrigo Chaves had only been in office for a week, the Russian-speaking Conti gang tried to increase the pressure to pay a ransom by raising its demand to $20 million. Chaves also said the impact was broader than previously known, with 27 government institutions, including municipalities and state-run utilities, affected. He blamed his predecessor Carlos Alvarado for not investing in cybersecurity and for not more aggressively dealing with the attacks in the waning days of his government. In a message Monday, Conti warned that it was working with people inside the government. “We have our insiders in your government,” the group said. “We are also working on gaining access to your other systems, you have no other options but to pay us. We know that you have hired a data recovery specialist, don’t try to find workarounds.” See also: Fears Grow for Smaller Nations after Ransomware Attack on Costa Rica Escalates.

The Second American Civil War Is Already Happening – (Guardian – May 11, 2022)

The second American civil war is already occurring, but it is less of a war than a kind of benign separation analogous to unhappily married people who don’t want to go through the trauma of a formal divorce. One America is largely urban, racially and ethnically diverse, and young. The other is largely rural or exurban, white and older. The split is accelerating. Red zip codes are getting redder and blue zip codes, bluer. Of the nation’s total 3,143 counties, the number of super landslide counties – where a presidential candidate won at least 80% of the vote – jumped from 6% in 2004 to 22% in 2020. Surveys show Americans find it increasingly important to live around people who share their political values. Animosity toward those in the opposing party is higher than at any time in living memory. Forty-two per cent of registered voters believe Americans in the other party are “downright evil”. Almost 40% would be upset at the prospect of their child marrying someone from the opposite party. Even before the 2020 election, when asked if violence would be justified if the other party won the election, 18.3% of Democrats and 13.8% of Republicans responded in the affirmative. Increasingly, each America is running under different laws. Red states are making it nearly impossible to get abortions but easier than ever to buy guns. Blue states are moving in the opposite direction. Several, including Colorado and Vermont, are codifying a right to abortion. Some are helping cover abortion expenses for out-of-staters. Where will all this end? Not with two separate nations. What America is going through is analogous to Brexit – a lumbering, mutual decision to go separate ways on most things but remain connected on a few big things (such as national defense, monetary policy and civil and political rights). America will still be America. But it is fast becoming two versions of America. The open question is like the one faced by every couple that separates: how will the two find ways to be civil toward each other?

The Metaverse Has a Groping Problem Already – (Technology Review – December 16, 2021)

After Meta (the umbrella company formerly known as Facebook) opened up access to its virtual-reality social media platform, Horizon Worlds, early descriptions of the platform made it seem fun and wholesome, drawing comparisons to Minecraft. In Horizon Worlds, up to 20 avatars can get together at a time to explore, hang out, and build within the virtual space. But not everything has been warm and fuzzy. According to Meta, on November 26, a beta tester reported something deeply troubling: she had been groped by a stranger on Horizon Worlds. Meta’s internal review of the incident found that the beta tester should have used a tool called “Safe Zone” that’s part of a suite of safety features built into Horizon Worlds. Safe Zone is a protective bubble users can activate when feeling threatened. Within it, no one can touch them, talk to them, or interact in any way until they signal that they would like the Safe Zone lifted. A constant topic of debate on message boards after one gamer penned an article about having been groped was whether or not what she had experienced was actually groping if her body wasn’t physically touched. “I think people should keep in mind that sexual harassment has never had to be a physical thing,” says Jesse Fox, an associate professor at Ohio State University who researches the social implications of virtual reality. “It can be verbal, and yes, it can be a virtual experience as well.” Fast forward to this current article: Disturbing Reports of Sexual Assaults in the Metaverse.   Disturbing accounts of women being sexually assaulted and harassed in the metaverse are racking up, according to online watchdogs. One 21-year-old woman says she was raped within one hour of being in the metaverse, according to a report from SumOfUs, a “nonprofit advocacy organization and online community that campaigns to hold corporations accountable” for a variety of alleged infractions. The report examines the allegations of a woman being “virtually gang raped,” hate speech,  and content moderation issues at Meta, the rebrand of Facebook Inc.

UFO Sleuths Make Extraordinary Discoveries; Congress Should Take Note – (The Hill – May 15, 2022)

Congress is set to hold the first public hearing on UFOs in more than 50 years. Government transparency — long overdue — is at the top of the agenda. The million-dollar question is whether the U.S. government will admit that UFOs demonstrate extraordinary technology. And why shouldn’t it? Former President Obama, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), NASA administrator Bill Nelson and several other former officials and members of Congress have all but stated as much. John Ratcliffe, former president Trump’s director of national intelligence, summed up the situation: UFOs exhibit “technologies that we don’t have” and – critically – “that we are not capable of defending against.” Moreover, according to Ratcliffe, UFOs “engage in actions that are difficult to explain, movements that are hard to replicate, that we don’t have the technology for.” First revealed in late 2017 by explosive reporting in The New York Times, the “Gimbal” video is arguably the most recognizable UFO footage in the public domain. Intense interest on Capitol Hill ultimately led the aviator who recorded the video to brief Congress on the encounter. In recent months, a small group of UFO sleuths conducted meticulous geometrical analyses of the “Gimbal” incident. They found a highly anomalous flight path for the UFO that, combined with radar observations and credible eyewitness descriptions, confirm that the “Gimbal” object exhibited breakthrough technologies. Thus, the question before Congress is simple: If so many former officials can state that UFOs demonstrate extraordinary capabilities while, at the same time, members of the public can independently verify these statements, why has the government not admitted as much?

Astrophotographers Around the World Share Their Best Photos of the Milky Way – (Capture the Atlas – May, 2022)

Photographing the Milky Way is a magical experience. There aren’t many events as moving as seeing our galaxy rising and illuminating the night sky. However, at night, many things are invisible to the naked eye. When you use a camera to capture the Milky Way, a whole new world of details, colors, and light opens up. Beyond the technical aspects, every Milky Way photograph has a story and a seed that has been growing in the photographer’s mind for some time until all the elements align to create the image. To help you find inspiration for planning and executing your Milky Way images, we’ve gathered the best Milky Way images taken around the world, as we do every year. Buckle up because this trip is going to take you from the remote deserts of Xingjian, Atacama, and Utah to the unfamiliar landscapes of Tibet, Australia, and New Zealand, passing by spectacular glaciers, volcanoes, mountains, beaches…always with the Milky Way shining in the sky. The full gallery of winners is literally stellar and can be found on the link above.

A Record 100 Million People Have Been Forced from Their Homes – (NPR – May 23, 2022)

An estimated 100 million people around the world are forcibly displaced, the highest number on record, according to the United Nations.  The figure represents 1% of the world’s population and would be equivalent to the 14th most populous country, the U.N. said. At the end of 2021, 90 million had been displaced from their countries, including 14.4 million people displaced within their countries’ borders due to violence. An estimated 23.7 million people, mostly in the Asia-Pacific region, were displaced internally in 2021 due to natural disasters. “One hundred million is a stark figure — sobering and alarming in equal measure.” said Filippo Grandi, the U.N.’s high commissioner for refugees. “It’s a record that should never have been set. This must serve as a wake-up call to resolve and prevent destructive conflicts, end persecution, and address the underlying causes that force innocent people to flee their homes.”

The Rich Are Not Who We Think They Are. And Happiness Is Not What We Think It Is, Either. – (New York Times – May 14, 2022)

A groundbreaking 2019 study by four economists, “Capitalists in the Twenty-First Century,” analyzed de-identified data of the complete universe of American taxpayers to determine who dominated the top 0.1 percent of earners. The study didn’t tell us about the small number of well-known tech and shopping billionaires but instead about the more than 140,000 Americans who earn more than $1.58 million per year. The researchers found that the typical rich American is, in their words, the owner of a “regional business,” such as an “auto dealer” or a “beverage distributor.” It is rare that I read a sentence that changes how I view the world. This was one of them. I hadn’t thought of owning an auto dealership as a path to getting rich; I didn’t even know what a beverage distribution company was. What are the lessons from the data on rich earners? First, rich people own. Among members of the top 0.1 percent, the researchers found, about three times as many make the majority of their income from owning a business as from being paid a wage. Article continues with some other interesting data points on how rich people make their money. Spoiler: Second, rich people tend to own unsexy businesses. Just as anonymous tax data, which has been made widely available to researchers only in the past few years, has led to credible research on what actually makes people rich, new sources of data in the past decade have given us many insights into what actually makes people happy. Another spoiler: Work generally does not make people happy. Dr. MacKerron and the economist Alex Bryson found that work is the second-most-miserable activity; of 40 activities, only being sick in bed makes people less happy than working. What does make people happy? This article nails it.

Cheap Gel Film Pulls Buckets of Drinking Water Per Day from Thin Air – (New Atlas – May 24, 2022)

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have now demonstrated a low-cost gel film that can pull many liters of water per day out of even very dry air. The gel is made up of two main ingredients that are cheap and common – cellulose, which comes from the cell walls of plants, and konjac gum, a widely used food additive. Those two components work together to make a gel film that can absorb water from the air and then release it on demand, without requiring much energy. First, the porous structure of the gum attracts water to condense out of the air around it. The cellulose meanwhile is designed to respond to a gentle heat by turning hydrophobic, releasing the captured water. Making the gel is also fairly simple, the team says. The basic ingredients are mixed together then poured into a mold, where it sets in two minutes. After that it’s freeze-dried, then peeled out of the mold and ready to get to work. It can be made into basically any shape needed, and scaled up fairly easily and at low-cost. In tests, the gel film was able to wring an astonishing amount of water out of the air. At a relative humidity of 30%, it could produce 13 L (3.4 gal) of water per day per kilogram of gel, and even when the humidity dropped to just 15% – which is low, even for desert air – it could still produce more than 6 L (1.6 gal) a day per kilogram. That’s a huge improvement over other water harvesters we’ve covered over the years. The highest previously was 8.66 L (2.3 gal), but that was in air with much higher humidity. The new gel film’s efficiency could be improved even further, the team says, but perhaps most importantly, the material is extremely inexpensive to produce, costing as little as US$2 per kilogram.

Ingenious Underwater Drone Can Transition to Flight in Less Than a Second – (Gizmodo – May 18, 2022)

Researchers from Beihang University have developed a robotic drone that can operate underwater just as easily as in the air, and it features a clever, nature-inspired trick for maximizing its range. The adaptable approach makes it easier for companies or research organizations to justify the high cost of a robot. Beihang University’s Biomechanics and Soft Robotics Lab has created a drone that can carry out tasks either underwater, in the air, or both, without the need for modifications in between. The drone is completely waterproof and features a set of self-folding propellers that collapse when operated at lower speeds underwater to efficiently maneuver the drone when submerged. They then automatically extend as the drone transitions out of the water and takes to the air. The researchers optimized the drone’s performance so that the water-to-air transition takes about a third of a second, and, like a pod of dolphins leaping out of the water, the drone is capable of repeated water-air transitions, performing seven of them consecutively during testing in roughly 20 seconds. To dramatically increase the range of this drone, and to help conserve battery power while traveling to and from a mission site, the researchers gave it an additional upgrade inspired by the remora fish, better known as the suckerfish, which uses an adhesive disc on top of its head to temporarily attach itself to other underwater creatures in order to hitch a ride and conserve energy.

Giant Container Ships Are Ruining Everything – (Freight Waves – May 19, 2022)

We can blame the Big Boat Era for many of our supply chain headaches. Each year brings a new, larger-than-ever megaship. The largest ship class of a given year has increased by 50% from 2012 to today, or nearly sixfold from 1981 to today. Today, we appear to reach peak Big Boat Era. The largest container ships to be delivered this year have a maximum capacity of 24,000 TEUs (or twenty-foot equivalent units). TEUs translate to about half of a standard forty-foot shipping container.  The 24,004 TEU Ever Alot (yes, that is the actual name of the ship) has recently been floated out of the Jiangnan Changxing Shipyard, the first of six megamaxes contracted by the Evergreen shipping company, the same company with a ship that blocked the Suez Canal last year. This article highlights three ways in which megaships are responsible for much of the world’s ongoing shipping crisis. One issue is that global shipping is now dominated by only a few giant firms. In the 1970s, there were so many ocean carriers that no single company controlled the industry. Since then, the market has consolidated into just a few large firms. Up to 60 of the 100 largest ocean carriers have vanished from the 2000s to today. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for its careful analysis of the very rational and essentially predictable profit-driven chain of events that has brought shipping costs to their current and unequaled heights.)

Could an Advanced Civilization Change the Laws of Physics? – (Apple News – May 19, 2022)

Do the laws of physics place a hard limit on how far technology can advance, or can we re-write those laws? This question relates directly to the Kardashev scale. The Kardashev scale is all about energy harvesting. A Type I civilization in Kardashev’s scheme can capture all of the energy falling on its home planet. A Type II civilization can capture all of the energy generated by a star, and a Type III can do the same for an entire galaxy. Harvesting the energy output of a whole galaxy seems pretty advanced indeed, yet we could take the idea further. Might there be Type IV civilization, or a Type V? Kardashev envisioned civilizations that are still subject to the laws of physics. We cannot change these laws — we can only use them more or less efficiently. But what if a civilization becomes so advanced that it can in fact change those laws? Such a civilization would have gone well beyond merely harvesting energy. The very nature of energy itself, with established rules like energy conservation, would be subject to revision within the scope of engineering. Astrophysicist Caleb Scharf explored this kind of question in a piece entitled, Is Physical Law an Alien Intelligence?   He considered the rules of physics and asked which ones might have been rewritten by a sufficiently advanced form of life. One eyebrow-raising possibility concerned dark matter. This article delves further into that possibility and others.

No Grandchild? Six Years After Son’s Wedding, These Parents Are Suing – (New York Times – May 29, 2022)

After spending their savings to have their son trained as a pilot in the United States, Sanjeev Ranjan Prasad and Sadhana Prasad financed his lavish wedding back in India, along with a luxury car and an overseas honeymoon. They assumed their investments would eventually pay off, in the form of a grandchild. But as time ticked by, they say, the not-so-newlyweds showed little interest in producing one. After waiting anxiously for six years, they decided to sue. They are demanding that their son and daughter-in-law produce a grandchild within a year or pay $650,000 in damages. An initial hearing on the suit is scheduled in a court in northern India. Even if the case goes nowhere, which experts say is distinctly possible, it has already tapped into a broader debate within India over what children owe their parents — from both a legal and a spiritual standpoint. But as India’s population ages — the country now has about 140 million people who are 60 or older, second only to China — more younger adults are entering the middle class and living independently of their parents. The result is a growing sense among older Indians that children are not fulfilling their filial duties, said Professor Annapurna Pandey, an anthropologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who has studied religion and social issues in India. Those duties are enshrined, to some degree, in the legal code of India, a secular republic with a Hindu majority. A 1956 law made adult children responsible for supporting their parents; a 2007 law on the “maintenance and welfare” of parents and seniors says that children who fail to do so can be fined or imprisoned for up to three months. The Prasads eventually became so despondent that they would feel ashamed whenever they saw older people drop off grandchildren at a bus stop, said Mr. Srivastava, the couple’s lawyer. The court filing accuses their son and his wife, who live in Hyderabad, of neglecting their “duty to give the pleasure of having either a grandson or a granddaughter.” The case has made headlines in national newspapers and prompted a debate about how much control parents should have over their children’s life choices. The Prasad case is an extreme example of an Indian couple trying to recoup a moral debt from a child, but it is rooted in the same “cultural logic” that informed those laws, Professor Pandey said. “Bottom line here is there is a lot of moral pressure, and the state very much supports the elderly in terms of children’s obligation to their parents.”

Drawing Life with George Booth – (Vimeo – April 29, 2022

George Booth, at 95 is the oldest living New Yorker cartoonist.  In “Drawing Life,” directed by Nathan Fitch, George Booth looks back on fifty years of work — including the only cartoon to be published in the issue following 9/11.  This 23 minute documentary is as charming and as quirky as Booth’s cartoons. Enjoy.
Any mistakes that I make are an investment in my future.
Rose Namajunas, American mixed martial artist
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