Volume 25, Number 18 – 9/16/22


Volume 25, Number 18 – 9/16/2022


  • An AI-Generated artwork, not disclosed as such, won first place at a state fair fine arts competition. 
  • Genes have been identified that may explain the long lives of nearly immortal jellyfish. 
  • Biometric surveillance edu-technology has spread rapidly, with fingerprint and facial recognition tools proliferating worldwide on K-12 and college campuses. 
  • Even if life arises on habitable Earth-like planets only once in 60 billion opportunities, we are not the first civilization in the Milky Way.
Check out the latest issue, focusing on the timely topic of transhumanism.
Click on the image to read!
Gregg Braden spoke on the important choice point we are at between technology redefining our humanness, or awakening to the deep truth of our natural human potential.  If you missed the event with Gregg, “Transhuman 2030,” replay tickets are available here for a limited time. 
Dr. Rainer Viehweger

The Secret Universal Key to
Designing a New World

(or new relationship, health, economy,
government or business)

Saturday, October 22nd, 1:00-5:00
in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Dr. Rainer Viehweger and John Petersen discuss the amazing potential Rainer will share in his upcoming talk in Berkeley Springs.
Click Here for Tickets and More Info
Perhaps the best known metaphysical principle on this planet is “as above, so below – as below, so above.”  All of us have heard it – and probably said it – many times, but what do you think it really means?  Most people think it’s about a similarity – a commonness – which can be found throughout all levels of existence, e.g., just as planets circle a star, electrons fly around the nucleus of an atom.  It describes basic structures and processes. 
But what if the concept was far more profound – and fundamental – than just describing how things look or generally behave?  What if the idea held the secret to the design of the new world that is on our horizon, or the basis of how we might build a new economy, new health, or even a family or personal relationship? What if it was universal, the literal glue that held everything in this reality together? 
What if it was . . . the literal glue that held everything in this reality together? 
If this notion of fractal-ness is what Dr. Rainer Viehweger, our TransitionTalk presenter on the 22nd of October, believes it is, then it is one of the most profound discoveries of our lifetime – opening the key to not only understanding and explaining many things that now seem ineffable, but more importantly, providing a conceptual structure – a framework – for designing a new world . . . and everything else. 

Think about it: if there was an underlying animating principle that could be easily applied that would describe why atoms don’t fly apart but stay in a stable configuration, how planets are specifically related to each other so as to maintain the coherence of solar systems, how companies, institutions and individuals could relate to themselves and their environment in the most efficient way – it would allow any of us to plan and design our futures in the ways that would guarantee harmony and stability.  It could be the basis for a new world!
This concept is called Global Scaling and is the underpinnings for a unique world perspective called ‘interscalar cosmology.’  That’s a scientific way of saying, ‘as above, so below.’  Global Scaling not only describes how things – everything, in fact – work in harmony, but also can be predictive, providing a template for anticipating the most stable relationship between any number of dynamic parts of a complex system.   That includes familial relationships, personal healthcare, business organizations, government policies, international relations and any other organized relationship that one would like to be stable. 

The coming months and years promise more unpredictability than ever before in our lives. The trick will be to navigate around the rapidly approaching implosions by understanding the emerging new principles that will shape the emerging new world.  That’s what this TransitionTalk is all about.

Come be with us – either in person or by livestream — on the 22nd of October for an extraordinary afternoon interchange between Dr. Viehweger and John Petersen as they explore and navigate the amazing implications of this newly discovered principle and speak specifically about the practical implications of being able to design our lives and relationships so that there is coherence and stability regardless of the surrounding chaos. 

All tickets include access to the replay!
Dr. Rainer Viehweger

Saturday, October 22nd,  1:00-5:00
Coolfont Resort
Berkeley Springs, WV

Get Tickets at
Dr. Rainer Viehweger studied medicine at the Szent-Györgyi-Albert Medical University in Szeged in Hungary in the 1980s. In 1992, he qualified as an orthopedic surgeon at the famous Berlin Humboldt University. After leaving the university hospital in 1993 he started an outpatient clinic in Hagenow, a small town in the northern part of Germany.
He also trained in acupuncture, chiropractic and many other complementary methods including magnetic field therapies, Scenar, myofascial Trigger shock wave therapy, Psychosomatic Energy, plasma frequency therapy and assessing and treating the informational body field. At the end of 2002 he left his clinic to open a small private clinic in his house where he started to mainly focus on CAM methods. From 2006 onwards he also worked as a trainer of CAM methods for various companies.

In 2009 he and his family made the decision to leave Germany to be able to give their two sons the opportunity to be home-schooled. The family moved first to Austria for about 5 years, then in 2014 they moved to the UK, where Dr. Viehweger was offered to become the chief research officer of a UK based Cam company (NES Health). In 2021, the family moved back to their home in Germany.     

As part of his long quest to find new ways of dealing with chronic pain syndromes, he found out about the Global Scaling theory in 2003. He took a postgraduate course at Dr. Hartmut Müller’s Research Institute in Wolfratshausen near Munich in 2006. Beside his work of teaching practitioners and doing R&D he still runs his holistic medical practice where he applies the principles of the new physics of global scaling. He also devotes  time to spread knowledge about global scaling so that it can be used in more areas of life as the principle of communication and cooperation.

Dr. Viehweger has published numerous articles about both conventional and complementary medicine and a book, “Understanding the Universe through Global Scaling” in 2011, that discusses the physics of the organization of matter with applications to health and biology.

Dr. Viehweger is one of the co-founders of the MiCellF B.V. company in the Netherlands. MiCellF B.V. develops and distributes wearable PEMF devices for the support of the human biofield in terms of circadian rhythms and providing ultra-weak electromagnetic signals as a template for biofield regeneration based on global scaling principles. Furthermore, Dr Viehweger is involved in other R&D projects both in the US and in Europe.
Click Here for Tickets and More Info
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“Unethical’ and up to 98 Times Worse Than the Disease: Top Scientists Publish Paradigm-Shifting Study about COVID-19 Vaccines – (Epoch Times – September 10, 2022)

A team of nine experts from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and other top universities has published paradigm-shifting research (COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters for Young Adults: A Risk-Benefit Assessment and Five Ethical Arguments against Mandates at Universities) about the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines and why mandating vaccines for college students is unethical. This 50-page study, which was published on The Social Science Research Network at the end of August, analyzed CDC and industry-sponsored data on vaccine adverse events, and concluded that mandates for COVID-19 boosters for young people may cause 18 to 98 actual serious adverse events for each COVID-19 infection-related hospitalization theoretically prevented. As the study pointed out, students at some universities in America, Canada, and Mexico are being told they must have a third dose of the vaccines against COVID-19 or be disenrolled. Unvaccinated high school students who are just starting college are also being told the COVID-19 vaccines are “mandatory” for attendance.  These mandates are widespread. There are currently 15 states which continue to honor philosophical (personal belief) exemptions, and 44 states and Washington, D.C. allow religious exemptions to vaccines. But even in these states, some private universities are telling parents they will not accept state-recognized vaccine exemptions. Against a backdrop of confusing and often changing public health recommendations and booster fatigue, the authors of this new paper argue that university booster mandates are unethical. They present five specific reasons for this claim, detailed in the article.

More Embalmers Report Bizarre Blood Clots Amid Covid Vax Campaign – (Clark County Today – September 7, 2022)

More embalmers are reporting they have seen the emergence of bizarre “fibrous” clots in a substantial portion of their cases since the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines. In February, a veteran funeral director in Alabama, Richard Hirschman, said he and more than a dozen colleagues in the industry had been noticing the clots. Now, the Epoch Times (article is paywalled), which has spoken to others who are observing the same phenomena, reports preliminary research suggests the clots are produced by spike proteins in the body. And some believe there could be a relationship with COVID-19 and/or the COVID-19 vaccines. Hirschman said that in 20 years of embalming, he “had never seen these white fibrous structures in the blood, nor have others in my field.” He said that regardless of the cause of death, he’s seeing similar substances in the blood post-mortem, which raises the question: “Is something causing people to die prematurely?” Wallace Hooker, an expert embalmer who lectures internationally, said he’s one of many seeing the same phenomena. In June, a pathologist who heads one of America’s leading labs, Dr. Ryan Cole, said he was finding unusually long blood clots, as long as one foot, in the bodies of deceased people who received COVID-19 vaccines. Cole, who runs Cole Diagnostics in Boise, Idaho, believes the synthetic spike protein in the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna are “causing inflammation in the lung, the brain, the liver, the kidneys, the heart; it’s causing the same damage that the virus was causing.” “That spike protein is thrombogenic – it causes clots, and it causes a lot of clots,” Cole said. Morticians, he explained  usually “put a dissolving fluid in to break up clots so they can get their embalming fluid in.” And they were getting back pressure on the system, saying, ‘What in the world is going on?’” The morticians, Cole said, ended up pulling out “six-inch clots, 12-inch clots, two to three-foot-long clots [in the long veins of the legs].” See also: Massive Increase in Deaths Following Covid Vax Confirmed by Major Insurance Report

With Stable Diffusion, You May Never Believe What You See Online Again – (Ars Technica – September 6, 2022)

AI image generation is here in a big way. A newly released open source image synthesis model called Stable Diffusion allows anyone with a PC and a decent GPU to conjure up almost any visual reality they can imagine. Stable Diffusion is the brainchild of Emad Mostaque, a London-based former hedge fund manager whose aim is to bring novel applications of deep learning to the masses through his company, Stability AI. It can imitate virtually any visual style, and if you feed it a descriptive phrase, the results appear on your screen like magic. Some artists are delighted by the prospect, others aren’t happy about it, and society at large still seems largely unaware of the rapidly evolving tech revolution taking place through communities on Twitter, Discord, and Github. Image synthesis arguably brings implications as big as the invention of the camera—or perhaps the creation of visual art itself. Even our sense of history might be at stake, depending on how things shake out. Either way, Stable Diffusion is leading a new wave of deep learning creative tools that are poised to revolutionize the creation of visual media. Article explains how it works and how you can run this software locally yourself. Or you can try a demo online. See also Stable Diffusion Is the Most Important AI Art Model Ever

An AI-Generated Artwork Won First Place at a State Fair Fine Arts Competition, and Artists Are Angry – (Vice – August 31, 2022)

A piece of artwork came in first at the Colorado State Fair’s fine art competition using an AI generated artwork. “I won first place,” a user going by Sincarnate said in a Discord post above photos of the AI-generated canvases hanging at the fair. Sincarnate’s name is Jason Allen, who is president of Colorado-based tabletop gaming company Incarnate Games. According to the state fair’s website, he won in the digital art category with a work called “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial.” The image depicts classical figures in a Baroque hall staring through a circular viewport into a sun-drenched and radiant landscape. (Not to mention: in the US, an artwork is always more impressive with a French title.) But Allen did not paint the piece; AI software called Midjourney did. It used his prompts, but Allen did not wield a digital brush. This distinction has caused controversy on Twitter where working artists and enthusiasts accused Allen of hastening the death of creative jobs (among other things). “I knew this would be controversial,” Allen said in the Midjourney Discord server on Tuesday. “How interesting is it to see how all these people on Twitter who are against AI generated art are the first ones to throw the human under the bus by discrediting the human element! Does this seem hypocritical to you guys?” Artists are concerned about the rise of AI-generated art. Atlantic writer Charlie Warzel went viral after running an edition of the magazine’s newsletter with a Midjourney-generated picture of Alex Jones. A major publication using AI for art instead of a human upset a lot of people. “Technology is increasingly deployed to make gig jobs and to make billionaires richer, and so much of it doesn’t seem to benefit the public good enough,” cartoonist Matt Borrs told Warzel in a follow up piece. “AI art is part of that. To developers and technically minded people, it’s this cool thing, but to illustrators it’s very upsetting because it feels like you’ve eliminated the need to hire the illustrator.” (Editor’s note: Bingo – and eventually eliminated the need to hire almost everyone. But here’s the critical question: Then what?)

Scientists Discover a Molecular Switch That Controls Life Expectancy – (SciTech Daily – September 11, 2022)

According to recent research, the protein CHIP can control the insulin receptor more effectively while acting alone than when in a paired state. In cellular stress situations, CHIP often appears as a homodimer – an association of two identical proteins – and mainly functions to destroy misfolded and defective proteins. CHIP thus cleanses the cell. In order to do this, CHIP works with helper proteins to bind a chain of the small protein ubiquitin to misfolded proteins. As a result, the cell detects and gets rid of defective proteins. Furthermore, CHIP controls insulin receptor signal transduction. CHIP binds to the receptor and degrades it, preventing the activation of life-extending gene products. Researchers from the University of Cologne have now shown via tests using human cells and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans that CHIP can also label itself with ubiquitin, preventing the formation of its dimer. The CHIP monomer regulates insulin signaling more effectively than the CHIP dimer. More technical details in the article.

An Alzheimer’s-Proof Brain: Ground-Breaking Case Provides Clues to Treatment and Prevention of Dementia – (SciTech Daily – August 29, 2022)

Due to a rare genetic mutation, Aliria Rosa Piedrahita de Villegas should have had Alzheimer’s disease in her 40s and passed away from it in her 60s. Her brain is now providing important information on the pathology of dementia and potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease since she lived dementia-free into her 70s. The lady, from Medellin, Colombia, was a member of an extended family with a mutation in the PSEN1 gene, as researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and other institutions initially reported in 2019. Because the PSEN1 E280A mutation is autosomal dominant, only one copy of the gene is necessary to cause disease. This woman did not start displaying symptoms of Alzheimer’s until she was in her early 70s when carriers of the mutation normally display signs of the disease in their 40s or 50s and pass away from it shortly after. She passed away at the age of 77 in 2020 from metastatic melanoma. The key difference in the Colombian woman’s ability to fend off the disease for three decades appeared to be that in addition to having the PSEN1 E280A mutation, she was also a carrier of both copies of a mutation known as APOE3 Christchurch. “This patient gave us a window into many competing forces — abnormal protein accumulation, inflammation, lipid metabolism, homeostatic mechanisms — that either promote or protect against disease progression, and begin to explain why some brain regions were spared while others were not,” says Justin Sanchez, AB, co-first author, and an investigator at MGH Neurology.

Immortal Jellyfish Genes Identified That May Explain Their Long Lives – (New Scientist – August 29, 2022)

An immortal species of jellyfish has double copies of genes that protect and repair DNA. The finding could provide clues to human ageing and age-related conditions. Jellyfish start their lives as drifting larvae. They eventually attach to the seafloor and develop into sprout-like polyps. The bottom-dwellers clone themselves, forming stacked, sedentary colonies that bud off into free-swimming umbrella-shaped medusas. That stage is a dead end for most jellyfish – but the immortal jellyfish (Turritopsis dohrnii) can reverse the cycle. When times get tough, like in harsh environments or after injury, they melt their bodies into amorphous cysts, reattach to the seafloor and regress into polyps. They can restart the cycle indefinitely to skirt death by old age. Maria Pascual-Torner at the University of Oviedo in Spain and her colleagues sequenced its genome – its full set of genetic instructions – and compared it to that of the related but mortal crimson jellyfish (Turritopsis rubra). They found the immortal jellyfish had twice as many copies of genes associated with DNA repair and protection. These duplicates could produce greater amounts of protective and restorative proteins. The jellyfish also had unique mutations that stunted cell division and prevented telomeres – chromosomes’ protective caps – from deteriorating. The genes they identified could be relevant to human ageing. They could inspire regenerative medicine or provide insights into age-related diseases like cancer and neurodegeneration. “The next step is to explore these gene variants in mice or in humans,” she says.

Remarkable Anti-Aging Drug Delivers Positive Effects on Health and Lifespan With Brief Exposure – (SciTech Daily – August 30, 2022)

Scientists are searching for drugs that prevent the decline that comes with age and keep people healthy. Currently, the most promising anti-aging drug is rapamycin, a cell growth inhibitor and immunosuppressant that is normally used in cancer therapy and after organ transplantations. It is known for its positive effects on life and health span in experimental studies with laboratory animals. “At the doses used clinically, rapamycin can have undesirable side effects, but for the use of the drug in the prevention of age-related decline, these need to be absent or minimal,” explains Dr. Paula Juricic, the leading investigator of the study and director at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging in Cologne, Germany. A research group there  has now shown in laboratory animals that brief exposure to rapamycin has the same positive effects as lifelong treatment. This opens new doors for a potential application in humans.

Cancers in Adults under 50 on the Rise Globally – (EurekAlert – September 6, 2022)

A study conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston reveals that the incidence of early onset cancers (those diagnosed before age 50), including cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, liver, and pancreas among others, has dramatically increased around the world, with this drastic rise beginning around 1990. “From our data, we observed something called the birth cohort effect. This effect shows that each successive group of people born at a later time (e.g., decade-later) have a higher risk of developing cancer later in life, likely due to risk factors they were exposed to at a young age,” explained Shuji Ogino, MD, PhD, a professor and physician-scientist in the Department of Pathology at the Brigham. “We found that this risk is increasing with each generation. For instance, people born in 1960 experienced higher cancer risk before they turn 50 than people born in 1950 and we predict that this risk level will continue to climb in successive generations.” In an extensive review, the team found that the early life exposome, which encompasses one’s diet, lifestyle, weight, environmental exposures, and microbiome, has changed substantially in the last several decades. Thus, they hypothesized that factors like the westernized diet and lifestyle may be contributing to the early-onset cancer epidemic. The team acknowledged that this increased incidence of certain cancer types is, in part, due to early detection through cancer screening programs. They couldn’t precisely measure what proportion of this growing prevalence could solely be attributed to screening and early detection. However, they noted that increased incidence of many of the 14 cancer types is unlikely solely due to enhanced screening alone. Risk factors such as highly processed foods, sugary beverages, obesity, type 2 diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, and alcohol consumption have all significantly increased since the 1950s, which researchers speculate has accompanied altered microbiome.

Scientists Think They’ve Solved the Enigma of How Air Pollution Causes Lung Cancer – (Science Alert – September 11, 2022)

Scientists have identified the mechanism through which air pollution triggers lung cancer in non-smokers, a discovery one expert hailed as “an important step for science – and for society”. Air pollution has long been thought to be linked to a higher risk of lung cancer in people who have never smoked. “But we didn’t really know whether pollution was directly causing lung cancer – or how,” said Charles Swanton of the UK’s Francis Crick Institute. Traditionally it has been thought that exposure to carcinogens, such as those in cigarette smoke or pollution, causes DNA mutations that then become cancer. But there was an “inconvenient truth” with this model, Swanton said: Previous research has shown that the DNA mutations can be present without causing cancer – and that most environmental carcinogens do not cause the mutations. His study proposes a different model. That is that when a cell is exposed to pollution it can trigger a “wound-healing response” that causes inflammation, Swanton said. And if that cell “harbors a mutation, it will then form a cancer”, he added. In another experiment on mice, the researchers showed that an antibody could block the mediator – called interleukin 1 beta – which sparks the inflammation, stopping cancer from getting started in the first place.

Blood Test Spots Multiple Cancers without Clear Symptoms – (Guardian – September 11, 2022)

A study has developed a simple blood test that can spot multiple cancer types in patients before they develop clear symptoms. The Pathfinder study offered the blood test to more than 6,600 adults aged 50 and over, and detected dozens of new cases of disease. Many cancers were at an early stage and nearly three-quarters were forms not routinely screened for. It is the first time results from the Galleri test, which looks for cancer DNA in the blood, have been returned to patients and their doctors, to guide cancer investigations and any necessary treatment. Beyond spotting the presence of disease, the test predicts where the cancer is, allowing doctors to fast-track the follow-up work needed to locate and confirm a cancer. The Galleri test has been described as a potential “gamechanger” by NHS England, which is due to report results from a major trial involving 165,000 people next year. Doctors hope the test will save lives by detecting cancer early enough for surgery and treatment to be more effective, but the technology is still in development. The blood test was negative for 99.1% of those who were cancer-free, meaning only a small proportion of healthy people wrongly received a positive result. About 38% of those who had a positive test turned out to have cancer. Dr Deb Schrag, a senior researcher on the study at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, said the test was not yet ready for population-wide screening and that people must continue with standard cancer screening while the technology is improved.

That ‘Clean’ Google Translate App Is Actually Windows Crypto-mining Malware – (The Register – August 30, 2022)

The cryptomining Trojan, known as Nitrokod, is typically disguised as a clean Windows app and works as the user expects for days or weeks before its hidden Monero-crafting code is executed. It’s said that the Turkish-speaking group behind Nitrokod – which has been active since 2019 and was detected by Check Point Research threat hunters at the end of July – may already have infected thousands of systems in 11 countries. What’s interesting is that the apps provide a desktop version to services generally only found online. “The malware is dropped from applications that are popular, but don’t have an actual desktop version, such as Google Translate, keeping the malware versions in demand and exclusive,” Check Point malware analyst Moshe Marelus wrote in a report. “The malware drops almost a month after the infection, and following other stages to drop files, making it very hard to analyze back to the initial stage.” Along with Google Translate, other software leveraged by Nitrokod include other translation applications – including Microsoft Translator Desktop – and MP3 downloader programs. The Nitrokod programmers are patient, taking a long time and multiple steps to cover up the malware’s presence inside an infected PC before installing aggressive cryptomining code. Such lengthy, multi-stage infection efforts allowed the campaign to run undetected by cybersecurity experts for years before finally being discovered. Some of the early-stage code will self destruct to cover its tracks. “This way, the first stages of the campaign are separated from the ones that follow, making it very hard to trace the source of the infection chain and block the initial infected applications,” said Check Point malware analyst Moshe Marelus.

Twisty Device Explores Alternative Path to Fusion – (Science – September 7, 2022)

Is the search for fusion energy, long dominated by doughnut-shaped devices called tokamaks, about to undergo a shape shift? Just as ITER, the world’s largest tokamak—and at tens of billions of dollars the most expensive—nears completion in the hills of southern France, a much smaller testbed with a twistier geometry will start throttling up to full power in Germany. If the 16-meter-wide device, called a stellarator, can match or outperform similar-size tokamaks, it could cause fusion scientists to rethink the future of their field. Stellarators have several key advantages, including a natural ability to keep the roiling superhot gases they contain stable enough to fuse nuclei and release energy. Even more crucial for a future fusion power plant, they can theoretically just run and run, whereas tokamaks must stop periodically to reset their magnet coils. Article explains both devices and compares them.

United Airlines Raises Bet on Electric Air Taxis with 200 Aircraft from Upstart Eve – (CNBC – September 8, 2022)

United Airlines agreed to buy 200 electric air taxis from Eve Air Mobility, an Embraer-backed startup, and that it has options to purchase 200 more. Chicago-based United is also investing $15 million in Eve, which listed on the New York Stock Exchange in May. United said it expects the first deliveries of the aircraft as early as 2026. The announcement follows an agreement to purchase 100 electric aircraft from Archer Aviation along with a $10 million deposit. Other airlines including American have also invested in or committed to purchasing electrical vertical-take-off-and-landing aircraft, or Evtol for short, arguing that the new technology could reduce emissions, particularly on short routes such as commutes to the airport. Michael Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures, projected the one-way cost to the airport would be about $100 to $150. Evtol startups still need certification from aviation regulators and questions remain about infrastructure for the aircraft which would be required for takeoff and landing.

Canadian Company Wants to Build a Train-plane Hybrid That Can Go 620mph – (CNBC – September 11, 2022)

Toronto-based TransPod recently unveiled plans for a “FluxJet,” a fully-electric transportation system that’s “a hybrid between an aircraft and a train.” The project, currently in the conceptual stage, would involve 82-foot-long, magnetically levitated trains that would carry passengers at roughly 621 miles per hour. That’s faster than a commercial jet, and roughly three times the speed of most high-speed trains — with zero emissions, no less. The FluxJet would rely on “contactless power transmission,” where the train would pull power from the existing electric grid through magnetic fields, the company says. The levitating train’s aerodynamic design is meant to reduce friction. But the FluxJet’s theoretical ability to outpace jets and high-speed trains rests on technology influenced by “veillance flux,” a relatively new field of physics. The company released a video in July showing off the FluxJet’s design process, including quick looks at how the technology works and concept animations showing what the final version could ultimately look like.

Texas Cattle Industry Faces Existential Crisis from Historic Drought – (The Hill – August 18, 2022)

More than 80% of the West is in severe drought this year, according to the National Drought Monitor — up from just 20% last year. According to a survey by the U.S. Farm Bureau, more than three-quarters of farmers in drought-stricken states have pulled farmland out of production, and 85% of ranchers reported selling off some portions of their herds.  The megadrought in the Western U.S., the region’s worst in 1,200 years, is threatening America’s cattle heartland: withering pastures, wrecking feed harvests and endangering a quintessential way of life. The drought is forcing ranchers here in Texas and across the Southern plains to make an agonizing decision: Sell early now for less money than they planned on — or hold on, pray for rain and risk losing everything. “We’ll keep selling cows till it rains,” Texas High Plains rancher Jim Ferguson told Amarillo station KAMR. For now, Ferguson is just selling his oldest calves, for which he’ll be able to get the best price. But with no rain in the forecast, and therefore no prospect of lush winter pastures for his herds to eat, “it won’t be long before we start getting into the younger ones.” The drought is echoing through beef supply chains, resulting in higher prices for consumers for at least the next two years — and likely serving as the final blow to many small, family-run cattle herds that represent a key part of the industry.  (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for the ways in which it traces the effects of drought and industry consolidation through the entire supply chain from small family operations to dinner tables.)

Tech Offers Police “Mass Surveillance on a Budget” – (Associated Press – September 1, 2022)

Local law enforcement agencies from suburban Southern California to rural North Carolina have been using an obscure cellphone tracking tool, at times without search warrants, that gives them the power to follow people’s movements months back in time. Police have used “Fog Reveal” to search hundreds of billions of records from 250 million mobile devices, and harnessed the data to create location analyses known among law enforcement as “patterns of life,” according to thousands of pages of records about the company. Sold by Virginia-based Fog Data Science LLC, Fog Reveal has been used since at least 2018 in criminal investigations ranging from the murder of a nurse in Arkansas to tracing the movements of a potential participant in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The tool is rarely, if ever, mentioned in court records, something that defense attorneys say makes it harder for them to properly defend their clients in cases in which the technology was used. The company was developed by two former high-ranking Department of Homeland Security officials under ex-President George W. Bush. It relies on advertising identification numbers, which Fog officials say are culled from popular cellphone apps such as Waze, Starbucks and hundreds of others that target ads based on a person’s movements and interests, according to police emails. That information is then sold to companies like Fog. “It’s sort of a mass surveillance program on a budget,” said Bennett Cyphers, a special advisor at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital privacy rights advocacy group.

Let’s Stop Pretending America Is a Functioning Democracy – (Chris Hedges Report – September 4, 2022)

The slow-motion coup is over: corporations and the billionaire class have won. There are no institutions, including the press, an electoral system that is little more than legalized bribery, the imperial presidency, the courts or the penal system, that can be defined as democratic. Only the fiction of democracy remains. The façade of democratic institutions and the rhetoric, symbols and iconography of state power have not changed. The U.S. continues to posit itself as a champion of opportunity, freedom, human rights and civil liberties, even as half the country struggles at subsistence level, militarized police gun down and imprison the poor with impunity, and the primary business of the state is war.  The acceleration of deindustrialization by the 1970s created a crisis that forced the ruling elites to devise a new political paradigm, as Stuart Hall explains in Policing the Crisis. Trumpeted by a compliant media, this paradigm shifted its focus from the common good to race, crime, and law and order.  It told those undergoing profound economic and political change that their suffering stemmed not from rampant militarism and corporate greed but from a threat to national integrity. The old consensus that buttressed New Deal programs and the welfare state was attacked as enabling criminal Black youth, “welfare queens” and other alleged social parasites. This opened the door to a faux populism, begun by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, which supposedly championed family values, traditional morality, individual autonomy, law and order, the Christian faith and the return to a mythical past, at least for white Americans. Anti-politics now masquerades as politics. Politicians do not campaign on substantial issues but on skillfully manufactured political personalities and emotionally charged culture wars. 

Will This Be the First Country Bankrupted by Crypto? – (Rolling Stone – August 26, 2022)

In September 2021, El Salvador enacted the Bitcoin Law and became the first country in the world to adopt a cryptocurrency as national currency. While the main currency of El Salvador continued to be the U.S. dollar — and people are free to use it — critics warned that putting national funds into such a decentralized, unstable currency could be devastating to the country, still reeling from a civil war decades ago. Now, one year later, the authoritarian government is continuing to crack down on citizens speaking out against Bitcoin. They say they have seen their democracy dismantled, human rights suspended, and their economic futures threatened while their government bends over backwards to court wealthy crypto investors. Today, despite efforts to mitigate financial disaster — including Bitcoin-backed “volcano bonds,” and a plan for a tax-free crypto mining hub called “Bitcoin City” — the value of Bitcoin has plummeted, and the country is on the brink of defaulting on its debt. The International Monetary Fund has repeatedly warned El Salvador to drop Bitcoin if it wants to save its economy. “The IMF and World Bank, they’re all like, ‘This is too risky,’” says Jorge Cuellar, who teaches Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies at Dartmouth College. “We shouldn’t get involved in this.” But the crypto-bro president who dreamed up the law and put it in place isn’t backing down. Before the law even went into effect, there were problems. Instead of informing the Salvadoran public about his plan, President Nayib Bukele — the country’s charismatic millennial leader, who’s tweeted about buying up Bitcoin while naked or on the toilet — made the announcement at a May 2021 Bitcoin conference in Miami, stating that he’d be sending a Bitcoin bill to Congress. This article looks at what happened after that.

Undeclared Swimming Pools in France Uncovered by AI Technology – (BBC – August 29, 2022)

Following an experiment using artificial intelligence (AI), more than 20,000 hidden swimming pools were discovered. They have amassed some €10m (£8.5m) in revenue, French media is reporting. Pools can lead to higher property taxes because they boost property value, and must be declared under French law. The software, developed by Google and French consulting firm Capgemini, spotted the pools on aerial images of nine French regions during a trial in October 2021. Antoine Magnant, the deputy director general of public finances, told Le Parisien: “We are particularly targeting house extensions like verandas. “But we have to be sure that the software can find buildings with a large footprint and not the dog kennel or the children’s playhouse,” he added. The crackdown comes after Julien Bayou, of France’s Europe-Ecology Greens party, said that France needs a “different relationship to water”. “The challenge is not to ban swimming pools, it is to guarantee our vital water needs,” he said. His comments come as France tackles its worst recorded drought that has left more than 100 municipalities short of drinking water.

Beware of Big Bathroom Brother – (Unz – August 16, 2022)

Biometric surveillance edu-technology has spread rapidly, with fingerprint and facial recognition tools proliferating worldwide on K-12 and college campuses as a result of the COVID global track-and-trace regime and pandemic profiteers. In 2020, I (author of this article) noted the spread of “electronic beacons” to track student movements and apps like Google’s ClassDojo, which mines intimate student behavioral data and creates long-term psychological profiles that can be shared and sold to third parties unbeknownst to kids and their families. The Pioneer Institute reported that government at all levels had spent $30 billion in 2018 on such intrusive, brainwashing “social-emotional learning” surveillance in K-12. This year Pinnacle High School in Paradise Valley, Arizona, will use e-Hallpass to track social distancing and other student movements with no parental consent. A Twitter user named @hannahposts wrote this week: “Looks like school is gonna make us use ehallpass, the program where we track how long, at what time, and how often each child goes to the restroom and store that information on third party servers run by a private for-profit company. … If you’re a parent and your kid’s school uses e-hallpass, politely yet firmly ask for your kid to be opted out. If we have enough opt outs the system won’t work.” Security researcher Peter Lowe, who is now belatedly awake to e-Hallpass, also tweeted important fundamental questions this week that every parent should be asking: “Hey @Software4Ed, the privacy policy which you use for e-hallpass states that you release data to third parties ‘working directly with Eduspire Solutions to support our software’. Which third parties are those? Can you provide a full list?” And one online student petition calling for repeal of the e-Hallpass system at Lewisburg Area High School in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, blew the whistle on how “E-hallpass knows your age, who your parents are, who your friends are, what classes you’re taking, and what classes you’re struggling in. That’s a lot of very sensitive information the school is forcing you to give to this company, leaving it vulnerable for hackers to hold for ransom, or to sell to identity thieves so they can ruin your life.”

Did My Cat Just Hit On Me? An Adventure in Pet Translation – (New York Times – August 29, 2022)

Entrepreneurs are aiming to put A.I.-powered pet translation tools into our pockets. The app MeowTalk is the product of a growing interest in enlisting additional intelligences — machine-learning algorithms — to decode animal communication. The idea is not as far-fetched as it may seem. For example, machine-learning systems, which are able to extract patterns from large data sets, can distinguish between the squeaks that rodents make when they are happy and those that they emit when they are in distress. Applying the same advances to our creature companions has obvious appeal. In a 2019 study, Stavros Ntalampiras, a computer scientist at the University of Milan, demonstrated that algorithms could automatically distinguish between the meows that cats made in three situations: when they were being brushed, while waiting for food or after being left alone in a strange environment. MeowTalk, whose founders enlisted Dr. Ntalampiras after the study appeared, expands on this research, using algorithms to identify cat vocalizations made in a variety of contexts. “They tend to use different types of melody in their meows when they try to signal different things,” said Susanne Schötz, a phonetician at Lund University in Sweden who led the study as part of a research project called Meowsic. To be candid, “A lot of translations are kind of creatively presented to the user,” Dr. Ntalampiras said. “It’s not pure science at this stage.” Dr. Schötz said that over the years she had seen several cat translation products, but that she had yet to find one that truly impressed her. And dogs could soon have their own day. Zoolingua, a start-up based in Arizona, is hoping to create an A.I.-powered dog translator that will analyze canine vocalizations and body language. Still, even sophisticated algorithms may miss critical real-world context and cues, said Alexandra Horowitz, an expert on dog cognition at Barnard College. For instance, much of canine behavior is driven by scent. “How is that going to be translated, when we don’t know the extent of it ourselves?” Dr. Horowitz said in an email.

Perseverance Can Make as Much Oxygen on Mars as a Small Tree – (CNN – August 31, 2022)

Humans are one small step closer to landing on the red planet. The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment — better known as MOXIE — has been successfully making oxygen from Mars’ carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere in a series of tests, as part of NASA’s Perseverance rover mission, which landed on Mars in February 2021.MOXIE was able to produce oxygen on seven experimental runs undertaken since testing began in April 2021, in a variety of atmospheric conditions including during the planet’s day and night, and through different Martian seasons, according to research published in the journal Science Advances. In each run, MOXIE reached its target of producing six grams of oxygen per hour — about the rate of a modest tree on Earth. “This is the first demonstration of actually using resources on the surface of another planetary body, and transforming them chemically into something that would be useful for a human mission,” said MOXIE deputy principal investigator Jeffrey Hoffman, a retired astronaut and professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s department of aeronautics and astronautics.

A Change in Jupiter’s Orbit Could Make Earth Even Friendlier to Life – (Space – September 13, 2022)

University of California-Riverside (UCR) scientists simulated alternative arrangements of our solar system, finding that when Jupiter’s orbit was more flattened — or ‘eccentric’ — it would cause major changes in our planet’s orbit too. And this change caused by the orbit of Jupiter — the solar system’s most massive planet by far — could impact Earth’s ability to support life for the better. Planets with a more circular orbit maintain a steady distance from their star while more eccentric — oval-shaped — orbits bring planets closer and further away from their stars at different points in that orbit. Proximity to a star determines how much radiation it receives and how it is hearted, meaning it affects a planet’s climate. If Jupiter’s orbit became more eccentric the team found that Earth’s orbit would be pushed into becoming more eccentric too. This means at times Earth would be even closer to the sun than it already gets. As a result, some of the coldest parts of our planet would warm up reaching temperatures in the habitable range — defined as between 32 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit — for Earth’s wide variety of lifeforms. The team thinks their results could help astronomers determine which planets outside the solar system — exoplanets — could be habitable. 

The Paradox of Fermi’s Paradox  – (The Debrief – September 1, 2022)

Is it possible some UAP (Unexplained Aerial Phenomena) are extraterrestrial craft? Is it reasonable to think there is intelligent alien life visiting earth? The answer is, unequivocally, yes… if other civilizations follow technological trajectories similar to those on Earth. As best we can tell, the same laws of physics apply everywhere, and the heavy organic molecules that form the basic building blocks of life are abundant. In short, from the nearest solar systems to the most distant edges of space and time, we are surrounded by endless opportunities for life. But what about the prospects for intelligent life to evolve in Earth’s galactic neighborhood? Although estimates vary considerably, many indicate we are probably not alone in the Milky Way. Duncan Forgan, a Ph.D. Candidate in astronomy at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, Scotland, carefully evaluated data on the composition of the Milky Way and concluded there should be over 360 stable, advanced civilizations in our galaxy. He also believes that if microbial life can spread via meteors, we may be sharing the Milky Way with tens of thousands of technologically advanced civilizations. In 2020, astronomers Tom Westby and Christopher Conselice, researchers at the University of Nottingham, performed an extensive assessment of the latest astronomical data and concluded, within a band of uncertainty, that we share the Milky Way with dozens of other technologically advanced alien civilizations. Astronomers Adam Frank and Woodruff Sullivan took a somewhat different approach but reached similar conclusions. According to co-author Adam Frank, “Even if you are pretty pessimistic and think that you’d have to search through 100 billion planets in habitable zones before you found one where a civilization developed, then there have still been a trillion civilizations over cosmic history!” Even if life arises on habitable Earth-like planets only once in 60 billion opportunities, we are still not the first civilization in the Milky Way.

Insects as Flying Syringes for Genetic Modification, Eugenics and Population Control – (Technocracy – July 28, 2022)

“Insect Allies” is a DARPA program designed to genetically modify mature plants in a live environment by releasing insects infected with genetically modified viruses. DARPA’s position is that in the name of national security, a good way to protect the American crops from potential threats is to genetically modify them using GM viruses as genetic modifiers and insects as flying syringes. And that they just need to test it. In a 2016 release titled, “DARPA Enlists Insects to Protect Agricultural Food Supply,” the agency stated: “A new DARPA program is poised to provide an alternative to traditional agricultural threat response, using targeted gene therapy to protect mature plants within a single growing season. DARPA proposes to leverage a natural and very efficient two-step delivery system to transfer modified genes to plants: insect vectors and the plant viruses they transmit. In the process, DARPA aims to transform certain insect pests into ‘Insect Allies,’ the name of the new effort.” Researchers in Singapore, as well as DARPA in the U.S. have developed remote-controlled “insects”. Because engineered viruses can be used to edit genes in a target species, including in a heritable manner, some scientists, although on board with genetic modification in principle, are questioning DARPA’s motives and raising concerns. Article includes a short 2019 educational animation made by the German Max Planck Society highlighting their main objection which is the potential weaponization of the technology. (Editor’s note: Step past the bias in this article and read it for its substance which is a discussion of the technological advances and potential of this type of genetic modification.)

Curbside Pickup Is Here to Stay, and Retailers Are Going All In – (Washington Post – August 28, 2022)

Curbside pickup, BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) and other “omnichannel” approaches meant to make shopping seamless no matter the point of purchase — in-store, by phone, app or desktop — were already gaining traction before the coronavirus crisis took hold. Now there’s no going back for many consumers: 33% of adults younger than 50 who started using curbside pickup during the pandemic say it’s a habit they expect to continue, according to a study from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the SCAN Foundation. Retailers ranging from major department stores to local hardware stores are leaning into the demand. “Retailers have started to see it as a competitive advantage,” said Katherine Cullen, the senior director of industry and consumer insights at the National Retail Federation. “They know it’s something shoppers like … and it addresses the reality that there’s not really a distinction in consumers’ minds anymore between online or in-store.” Most major retailers don’t charge for curbside pickup as long as customers meet an order minimum, generally at least $30 to $35. But that could change, Chad Lusk, a retail consultant at Alvarez and Marsal, said, noting that Sam’s Club recently added a $4 fee for customers who don’t have the Sam’s Club Plus premium membership.

Historic Drought, Low River Levels Threaten to Cripple Trade Across Europe – (Insurance Journal – August 11, 2022)

In the midst of an arid summer that set heat records across Europe, the continent’s rivers are evaporating. The Rhine — a pillar of the German, Dutch and Swiss economies for centuries — is set to become virtually impassable at a key waypoint, stymieing vast flows of diesel and coal. The Danube, which snakes its way 1,800 miles through central Europe to the Black Sea, is gummed up too, hampering grain and other trade. Across Europe, transport is just one of the elements of river-based commerce that’s been upended by climate change. France’s power crisis has worsened because the Rhone and Garonne are too warm to effectively cool nuclear reactors, and Italy’s Po is too low to water rice fields. The continent’s rivers and canals convey more than 1 ton of freight annually for each EU resident and contribute around $80 billion to the region’s economy just as a mode of transport, according to calculations based on Eurostat figures. Even seasoned veterans are shocked. Gunther Jaegers, managing director at Rhine stalwart Reederei Jaegers GmbH, said he fell off his chair earlier this month when he saw the cost of shipping, with one barge rate surging by 30% in a single day. A sandbank has emerged some 20 kilometers (12 miles) upstream from Kaub, the site of a difficult passage near the famed Lorelei cliffs. The river’s depth at the town west of Frankfurt is forecast to drop to 40 centimeters (just under 16 inches) on Friday. At that level, barges are effectively unable to sail. The Rhine plays a key role in helping transport more coal to German power plants to help offset the impact of Russia’s squeeze on gas supplies. But Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s administration is concerned shipping snarls could undermine plans to revive some mothballed facilities, according to people familiar with the situation. France — normally a power exporter — can’t help ease the energy crunch because only about half the country’s nuclear reactors are available, with the rest off for maintenance. Norway is also gearing up to limit electricity exports as the country prioritizes refilling low reservoirs over power production. See also: Europe’s Energy Crisis Has Ended Its Era of Abundance

Scientists Finally Know Why We Get Distracted — and How We Can Stay on Track – (Inverse – September 10, 2022)

When psychologist Jonathan Smallwood set out to study mind-wandering about 25 years ago, few of his peers thought that was a very good idea. But Smallwood, now at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, forged ahead. He used as his tool a downright tedious computer task that was intended to reproduce the kinds of lapses of attention that cause us to pour milk into someone’s cup when they asked for black coffee. Smallwood learned that unhappy minds tend to wander in the past, while happy minds often ponder the future. He also became convinced that wandering among our memories is crucial to help prepare us for what is yet to come. Smallwood now believes mind-wandering is rarely a waste of time. It is simply our brain trying to get a bit of work done when it is under the impression that there isn’t much else going on. The rest of the article is an edited transcript of an interview with Smallwood. For example:”How and why did you decide to study mind-wandering? Answer: I started studying mind-wandering at the start of my career when I was young and naive. I didn’t really understand at the time why nobody was studying it. Psychology was focused on measurable, outward behavior then. I thought to myself: That’s not what I want to understand about my thoughts. What I want to know is: Why do they come, where do they come from, and why do they persist even if they interfere with attention to the here and now? 

And Now for the Windup – (Twitter – August 17, 2022)

The Savannah Bananas play baseball in the Coastal Plain League, a set of collegiate-level summer clubs in the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia. They’re known for Banana Ball (with rules to speed up the game), their exuberant yellow-clad fans, and… a dance known locally as 3-2-2, because it happens on the second pitch to the second batter in the third inning. How the batter can even swing after that is a mystery. Check it out. (HatTip to Rob Gurwitt.)
Every thought we think is creating our future.
– Louise L. Hay
From there, it follows that every thought is an action.
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