Volume 25, Number 22 – 11/16/22


Volume 25, Number 22 – 11/16/2022


  • Saudi Arabia has plans to build a 170-kilometer-long (approx. 105 miles) mirrored skyscraper to house nine million people. 
  • Trust in the judicial branch of the federal government now sits at 47%, below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s polling history.  
Mark Gober
Turning Government Upside Down:
A Vision for a New World
Saturday, November 19th, 1:00-5:00
in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Click Here for Tickets and More Info

How should our world be structured? Author Mark Gober will tackle this big question by laying out a societal framework that blends metaphysics and politics. He will examine the nature of reality through an exploration of consciousness, quantum physics, philosophy, “paranormal” phenomena, and beyond. Within this context, politics takes on a whole new meaning. Many aspects of our existing governing structures, which are commonly taken for granted, make less sense from a more metaphysically evolved standpoint. Mark will highlight such often-overlooked political and economic assumptions to chart the path to a new organizational structure for our future. Ultimately, we may be in the midst of a metaphysical battle between Good and Evil—including potential “aliens” and “multidimensional” lifeforms—so these topics are essential for our survival.  

Join us Saturday, November 19th, in person or via livestream. Get tickets below.

Mark Gober

Saturday, November 19th,  1:00-5:00
Coolfont Resort
Berkeley Springs, WV

Get Tickets at
Mark Gober is the author of An End to Upside Down Thinking (2018), which was awarded the IPPY award for best science book of 2019. He is also the author of An End to Upside Down Living (2020), An End to Upside Down Liberty (2021), and An End to Upside Down Contact (2022); and he is the host of the podcast Where Is My Mind? (2019). 
Additionally, he serves on the board of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and the School of Wholeness and Enlightenment. Previously, Gober was a partner at Sherpa Technology Group in Silicon Valley and worked as an investment banking analyst with UBS in New York. He has been named one of IAM’s Strategy 300: The World’s Leading Intellectual Property Strategists. Gober graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, where he wrote an award-winning thesis on Daniel Kahneman’s Nobel Prize–winning “Prospect Theory” and was elected a captain of Princeton’s Division I tennis team.
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A Lost Small Town. Running Errands in the Wake of Emotional Violence, USA –(Global Research – October 27, 2022)

I live in a picture-perfect region — the Hudson Valley, memorialized by painters and poets; a patchwork of autumn reds and yellows, majestic hillsides, storied waterfalls, and little homesteads dotted picturesquely on the slopes of sleepy hamlets. Towns in our area look like Norman Rockwell paintings: there is Main Street, Millerton, with its white 19th century church steeple, its famous Irving Farm cafe with the excellent curated coffee beans, its charming antiques mall, its popular pizzeria. When you drive to Millerton, it looks like you are driving into the heart of archetypal America — everything decent and pure. It sure looks that way, anyway. But these days, I am obliged to maintain a fervent inner monologue, just so I can pleasantly go about my business in the local hardware store, in the local florist, in the post office. Because an emotional massacre has taken place in these little towns. And now we are expected to act as if — this never happened at all. So my quiet internal mantra, is: I forgive you. I forgive you, Millerton movie theatre. Your owner, who was interviewed just before the pandemic, saying lovely things in a local paper about how the revamped theatre would enhance the local community, posted a sign in 2021 saying that only vaccinated people could enter. You needed to really look for the fine print to see that you could walk through those doors, if unvaccinated, but only with a PCR test. I forgive the movie theatre owner for shouting at me defensively when I questioned this policy. I forgive the elderly couple nearby in the lobby; the woman who started shrieking at me alarmingly that she was glad of the policy and did not want me anywhere near her. I forgive her. I forgive her silent, embarrassed husband for his silence. I forgive a flower shop employee for presenting me with this startling question that each time made me, with my clinically diagnosed PTSD from a very old trauma, feel ambushed, violated and humiliated. Surely this sense of ambush was felt by trauma survivors everywhere. The viral clip of the Pfizer marketing rep, admitting to the European Parliament that the mRNA vaccines never stopped transmission, should make every single one of these moments, into a source of deep embarrassment and self-criticism for all those people — all of them —- who inflicted these violations of privacy on others, or who excluded in any way, their neighbors and fellow countrymen and women. They did so, it is clear now to all, on the basis of arrant nonsense.

Nanotech Assembly Inside a Covid-19 Vaccine Filmed in Real Time – (BitChute – October 26, 2022)

In this 20 minute video clip, Dr. David Nixon shows and discusses footage in real time of the nanotechnology assembly inside of the COVID-19 vaccine and what appear to be robotic arms that guide the nanotechnology development.

The Cost of Going Cashless – (New York Times – November 13, 2022)

Clearly a cash-free economy has its beneficiaries, foremost banks and credit card companies: Visa and Mastercard reap $138 billion from participating merchants in service fees a year. According to a recent report in The Economist, Visa and Mastercard are two of the most profitable companies in the world, with net margins of 51% and 46% last year. Many people believe cashless is the wave of the future, citing Sweden as an example. Countries such as India and South Korea have also made a strong push toward a cash-free future. According to an analysis of sales data by the payment platform Square, the share of cashless businesses nearly doubled in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada between February 2020 and February 2021; in the United States, cash payments dropped more than 8% in that period. And while the United States is far from the vanguard on going cash-free, here consumers use either credit or debit cards for 57% of transactions. So who’s paying for all this? One recent study found that merchants increase their prices by approximately 1.4% to offset the interchange fees they pay to credit card companies; for those earning miles or other perks, that may not matter — but those who pay cash pay the price. Consumers also pay in terms of privacy. Do you want your payment app or credit card company to share exactly how many beers or Big Macs you’ve bought in the past week with its data partners, or to know every item you picked up at the pharmacy? And while a cash system is subject to crime, like employee theft and robbery, digital payments aren’t without their own risks, including double charges and identity theft. But the most significant objection to a cashless system is whom it shuts out. To pay directly for goods or services rather than use an intermediary, credit and debit cards generally require a bank account. Not everyone — including 301,700 households, or almost one in 10 households in New York City alone — has one.

Lucid Dying: Patients Recall Death Experiences During CPR – (Neuroscience – November 6, 2022)

One in five people who survive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after cardiac arrest may describe lucid experiences of death that occurred while they were seemingly unconscious and on the brink of death, a new study shows. Led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and elsewhere, the study involved 567 men and women whose hearts stopped beating while hospitalized and who received CPR between May 2017 and March 2020 in the United States and United Kingdom. Despite immediate treatment, fewer than 10% recovered sufficiently to be discharged from hospital. Survivors reported having unique lucid experiences, including a perception of separation from the body, observing events without pain or distress, and a meaningful evaluation of life, including of their actions, intentions and thoughts toward others. The researchers found these experiences of death to be different from hallucinations, delusions, illusions, dreams or CPR-induced consciousness. A key finding was the discovery of spikes of brain activity, including so-called gamma, delta, theta, alpha and beta waves up to an hour into CPR. Some of these brain waves normally occur when people are conscious and performing higher mental functions, including thinking, memory retrieval, and conscious perception. “Our results offer evidence that while on the brink of death and in a coma, people undergo a unique inner conscious experience, including awareness without distress,” said Sam Parnia, MD, PhD, the lead study investigator and an intensive care physician, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone Health. Identifying measureable electrical signs of lucid and heightened brain activity, together with similar stories of recalled death experiences, suggests that the human sense of self and consciousness, much like other biological body functions, may not stop completely around the time of death, he added. “These lucid experiences cannot be considered a trick of a disordered or dying brain, but rather a unique human experience that emerges on the brink death,” according to Parnia.

Tree Rings Offer Insight Into Mysterious, Devastating Radiation Storms – (SciTech Daily – October 28, 2022)

A team of researchers, led by Dr. Benjamin Pope from UQ’s School of Mathematics and Physics, applied cutting-edge statistics to data from millennia-old trees, to find out more about radiation ‘storms’. “These huge bursts of cosmic radiation, known as Miyake Events, have occurred approximately once every thousand years but what causes them is unclear,” Dr. Pope said. “The leading theory is that they are huge solar flares. We need to know more, because if one of these happened today, it would destroy technology including satellites, internet cables, long-distance power lines, and transformers.“The effect on global infrastructure would be unimaginable.” Enter the humble tree ring. First author Qingyuan Zhang, a UQ undergraduate mathematics student, developed software to analyze every available piece of data on tree rings. “Because you can count a tree’s rings to identify its age, you can also observe historical cosmic events going back thousands of years,” Mr Zhang said. “When radiation strikes the atmosphere it produces radioactive carbon-14, which filters through the air, oceans, plants, and animals, and produces an annual record of radiation in tree rings. “We modeled the global carbon cycle to reconstruct the process over a 10,000-year period, to gain insight into the scale and nature of the Miyake Events.” The common theory until now has been that Miyake Events are giant solar flares. “But our results challenge this,” Mr. Zhang said. “We’ve shown they’re not correlated with sunspot activity, and some actually last one or two years. “Rather than a single instantaneous explosion or flare, what we may be looking at is a kind of astrophysical ‘storm’ or outburst.”

CRISPR Cancer Trial Success Paves the Way for Personalized Treatments – (Nature – November 10, 2022)

A small clinical trial has shown that researchers can use CRISPR gene editing to alter immune cells so that they will recognize mutated proteins specific to a person’s tumors. Those cells can then be safely set loose in the body to find and destroy their target. It is the first attempt to combine two hot areas in cancer research: gene editing to create personalized treatments, and engineering immune cells called T cells so as to better target tumors. The approach was tested in 16 people with solid tumors, including in the breast and colon. “It is probably the most complicated therapy ever attempted in the clinic,” says study co-author Antoni Ribas, a cancer researcher and physician at the University of California, Los Angeles. “We’re trying to make an army out of a patient’s own T cells.” Ribas and his colleagues began by sequencing DNA from blood samples and tumor biopsies, to look for mutations that are found in the tumor but not in the blood. This had to be done for each person in the trial. “The mutations are different in every cancer,” says Ribas. “And although there are some shared mutations, they are the minority.” The researchers then used algorithms to predict which of the mutations were likely to be capable of provoking a response from T cells, a type of white blood cell that patrols the body looking for errant cells. After a series of analyses to confirm their findings, validate their predictions and design proteins called T-cell receptors that are capable of recognizing the tumor mutations, the researchers took blood samples from each participant and used CRISPR genome editing to insert the receptors into their T cells. Each participant then had to take medication to reduce the number of immune cells they produced, and the engineered cells were infused. One month after treatment, five of the participants experienced stable disease, meaning that their tumors had not grown. Only two people experienced side effects that were likely due to the activity of the edited T cells. Although the efficacy of the treatment was low, the researchers used relatively small doses of T cells to establish the safety of the approach, says Ribas. “We just need to hit it stronger the next time,” he says.

Switzerland Is Paying Poorer Nations to Cut Emissions on Its Behalf – (New York Times – November 7,  2022)

Switzerland, one of the world’s richest nations, has an ambitious climate goal: It promises to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. But the Swiss don’t intend to reduce emissions by that much within their own borders. Instead, the European country is dipping into its sizable coffers to pay poorer nations, like Ghana or Dominica, to reduce emissions there — and give Switzerland credit for it. Here is an example of how it would work: Switzerland is paying to install efficient lighting and cleaner stoves in up to five million households in Ghana; these installations would help households move away from burning wood for cooking and rein in greenhouse gas emissions. Then Switzerland, not Ghana, will get to count those emissions reductions as progress toward its climate goals. However, there are questions over whether this mechanism is fair. “It’s a way of passing on the responsibility to reduce emissions,” said Crispin Gregoire, a former ambassador to the United Nations from Dominica, a tiny island nation of 72,000 people that made an agreement with Switzerland last year. “Instead of reducing emissions itself, Switzerland is going to other countries — ones that have very low emissions — to fulfill that obligation.” At last year’s global climate summit in Glasgow, President Luis Arce of Bolivia called the idea tantamount to “carbon capitalism.”

Can a New Form of Cryptography Solve the Internet’s Privacy Problem? – (Guardian – October 25, 2022)

The ability of two strangers to pool their knowledge without revealing any personal information to each other is a seemingly paradoxical idea from theoretical computer science that is fuelling what many are calling the next revolution in tech. The same theory enables, for example, two governments to discover if their computer systems have been hacked by the same enemy, without either government divulging confidential data, or two banks to discover if they are being defrauded by the same person, without either bank breaking financial data protection laws. The umbrella term for these new cryptographic techniques, in which you can share data while keeping that data private, is “privacy-enhancing technologies”, or Pets. They offer opportunities for data holders to pool their data in new and useful ways. In the health sector, for example, strict rules prohibit hospitals from sharing patients’ medical data. Yet if hospitals were able to combine their data into larger datasets, doctors would have more information, which would enable them to make better decisions on treatments. Indeed, a project in Switzerland using Pets has since June allowed medical researchers at four independent teaching hospitals to conduct analysis on their combined data of about 250,000 patients, with no loss of privacy between institutions. Juan Troncoso, co-founder and CEO of Tune Insight, which runs the project, says: “The dream of personalized medicine relies on larger and higher-quality datasets. Pets can make this dream come true while complying with regulations and protecting people’s privacy rights. This technology will be transformative for precision medicine and beyond.” According to research firm Everest Group, the market for Pets was $2bn last year and will grow to more than $50bn in 2026. Last year, the United Nations launched its own “Pet Lab”,for national statistical offices to find ways to share their data across borders while protecting the privacy of their citizens. Jack Fitzsimons, founder of the UN Pet Lab, says: “Pets are one of the most important technologies of our generation. They have fundamentally changed the game, because they offer the promise that private data is only used for its intended purposes.” Article includes explanations of three groundbreaking concepts – secure multiparty computation, zero-knowledge proofs and fully homomorphic encryption – which are different ways that data can be shared but not revealed and are fundamental to Pets cryptography. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for an entry-level look at what this technology can change.)

How the EU is Forcing Twitter to Censor (and Musk Can’t Stop It) – (Brownstone Institute – October 7, 2022)

Twitter is at the center of what is commonly known as “Big Tech censorship.” It has been busily using the censorship tools at its disposal – from removing or quarantining tweets to surreptitiously “deboosting” them (shadow-banning) to outright account suspension – for at least two years now. And those who have managed to remain on the platform will have noticed a sharp upturn in its censorship activities starting last summer. The expression “Big Tech censorship” implies that Twitter et al. are censoring of their own accord, which invariably elicits the retort that, well, they are private companies, so they can do what they want. But why would they want to? What Twitter is doing by censoring is subverting its own business model, thus undermining profitability and putting downward pressure on share price. Censored speech translates into lost traffic for the platform. And traffic is, of course, the key to monetizing online content. On one hand, there is no way that Twitter could possibly “want” to censor any voices, and thus restrict its own traffic. But, on the other hand, if it fails to do so, it risks incurring massive fines of up to 6% of turnover, which would likely represent a deathblow to a company that has not turned a profit since 2019. Twitter, in effect, has a financial gun to its head: censor or else. However, it is not the Biden administration, but rather the European Commission, under the leadership of Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, that has its finger on the trigger. The law in question is the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), which was passed by the European Parliament last July 5 amidst almost total indifference – in Europe as much as in the United States – despite its momentous and disastrous implications for freedom of speech worldwide.

Saudi Arabia Reveals 170-kilometer-long Mirrored Skyscraper to House Nine Million People – (Dezeen – July 26, 2022)

The Saudi Arabian government has unveiled visuals of a 500-metre-tall linear city named The Line, which will be built near the Red Sea as part of Neom. Set to stretch 170 kilometers across northwest Saudi Arabia, the megastructure, which will have mirrored facades, will be 500 meters tall, but only 200 meters wide. The Line was designed as a dramatic alternative to traditional cities that typically radiate out from a central point. Article includes many drawings of the proposed project.”At The Line’s launch last year, we committed to a civilizational revolution that puts humans first based on a radical change in urban planning,” said Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. “The Line will tackle the challenges facing humanity in urban life today and will shine a light on alternative ways to live.” Not everyone shares that certainty. See: Sustainability and Liveability Claims of Saudi 170-kilometer City Are Naive Say Experts. Neom is being planned at a time when wet-bulb temperatures in the Arabian desert already exceed 20 degrees Celsius across half the year, and are projected to spike sharply higher by the end of the century. Such conditions make the desert literally uninhabitable in the absence of massively energy-intensive cooling operations. However, the issues are even broader than that, see also: “All Those Complicit in Neom’s Design and Construction Are Already Destroyers of Worlds“.  The project involves the fate of the Huwaitat tribespeople forcibly displaced from Tabuk Province to make way for the coming of Neom. In April 2020, Saudi security forces reportedly shot Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti dead in his home after he posted videos protesting the clearance of communities inconvenient to the government’s plans.

The Weirdest Thing about Being in a Self-driving Car – (Washington Post – October 31, 2022)

Since October 2020, the Google spinoff Waymo has operated a driverless commercial taxi service south of Phoenix. Having written about the possibilities of a self-driving future, I wanted to try it out, so I headed over to Chandler and downloaded the Waymo One app. This was no curated demo for journalists, hovered over by anxious engineers and peppy PR folks; I got exactly the same service that you will, if you ever find yourself in Chandler and want to go for a ride in the future. I warn you that if you do, you will find the future feels almost disappointingly normal. The car’s ultracautious driving style quickly overcame my reservations, for no Uber driver ever piloted a vehicle so conservatively. My car waited patiently at the parking lot entrance for a clear break in traffic, rather than trying to force its way into the flow. It slowed when other vehicles behaved erratically and merged with the polite delicacy of a Victorian aunt. It was all so soothing that eventually I got caught up in texting with a colleague and absent-mindedly started to ask the driver how much longer it would be until we got to the restaurant.

All-terrain Wheelchairs Arrive at U.S. Parks: ‘This Is Life-changing’ – (Washington Post – November 8, 2022)

Cory Lee has visited 40 countries on seven continents, and yet the Georgia native has never explored Cloudland Canyon State Park, about 20 minutes from his home. His wheelchair was tough enough for the trip to Antarctica but not for the rugged terrain in his backyard. Lee’s circumstances changed Friday, when Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources and the Aimee Copeland Foundation unveiled a fleet of all-terrain power wheelchairs for rent at 11 state parks and outdoorsy destinations, including Cloudland Canyon. The Action Trackchair models are equipped with tank-like tracks capable of traversing rocks, roots, streams and sand; clearing fallen trees; plowing through tall grass; and tackling uphill climbs. Georgia is one of the latest states to provide the Land Rover of wheelchairs to outdoor enthusiasts with mobility issues. In 2017, Colorado Parks and Wildlife launched its Staunton State Park Track-Chair Program, which provides free adaptive equipment, though guests must pay the $10 entrance fee. Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources has placed off-road track chairs in nearly a dozen parks, including Muskegon State Park. In 2018, Lee reserved a chair at the park that boasts three miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake. “It allowed me to have so much independence on the sand,” he said. In 2019, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan became the first national park to offer a track chair, said superintendent Scott Tucker. This year, Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, the nonprofit that oversees the program, added a third. The Action Trackchair, which several state programs use was developed by a Minnesota-based company was founded by Tim and Donna Swenson, whose son, Jeff, was paralyzed in a car accident. The original design resembled a Frankenstein of sporting goods parts, with snow bike tracks and a busted boat seat. Today’s model could be an opening act at a monster truck rally. The off-road chairs cost around $12,500 each.

Tiny Toiletries Forever? The Future of TSA, from Liquids to Shoes – (Washington Post – November 1, 2022)

TSA was established 21 years ago, and many of the early protocols are still in place. But new technology will be changing the experience at security checkpoints. This article reviews the latest security developments and what the future might hold for travelers and their toiletries. One change you may already have encountered: since 2019, TSA has been acquiring and deploying Computed Tomography (CT) X-ray systems, the same technology that hospitals use for patients and TSA employs on checked bags. The agency initially purchased 300 CT scanners and plans to expand its inventory by more than 1,230 machines. Airports have been installing the technology at a steady pace. The three-dimensional machines provide a more detailed and comprehensive picture of a bag’s contents than the earlier two-dimensional models. In addition, TSA officers can electronically poke around the luggage’s interior, which will reduce the frequency of manual bag checks. More on technology upgrades and changes in the article. (Note: The nation’s 430 federalized airports don’t incorporate new technologies simultaneously because of budget and staffing limitations, so what you experience at one airport might not be the same at another.)

Volunteer Sleuths Are Hunting for Your Stolen Car – (New York Times – October 29, 2022)

The nation is on track to record about 1.1 million stolen vehicles this year, the highest number in more than a decade but still well below numbers set in the early 1990s, when many cars were easy to steal without a key, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, an insurance industry group that tracks claims. The trend appears to be connected in part to the pandemic, as disruptions in the supply chain have created a surge in the value of catalytic converters and other car parts and have made vehicles a more lucrative target for theft. For example, vehicle thefts in Portland, Oregon are on track to reach well over 10,000 this year, more than triple the number the city recorded a decade ago. In Portland, the brazenness of the crimes, inattention from the police and desperation of residents who suddenly find themselves missing one of their most valuable possessions have led many to take matters into their own hands. For much of the past year, Titan Crawford, 38, has led a growing network of volunteer sleuths who scour Portland’s streets, alleys and forests, racing against time in hopes of finding stolen vehicles before they end up shredded for parts. Similar groups have popped up and grown around the country as vehicle thefts have soared. For Mr. Crawford’s network, the effort is less about vigilante justice — his group rules say that people who take the law into their own hands will not be tolerated — and more about community building and expanding eyes and ears around town. Rewards aren’t allowed either: The group wants people motivated by a desire to help, rather than focusing on finding cars that might earn money. Neighbors share pictures of license plates, keep watch during commutes to work and hunt online for reports of stolen vehicles. Nearly every day, the group, PDX Stolen Cars, helps a resident reconnect with a vehicle in Portland or the surrounding suburbs. “This is an army, and it’s exploding,” said Victoria Johnson, who joined the group after someone drove off with her SUV while she was helping at the scene of a car accident.

‘These Are Conditions Ripe for Political Violence’: How Close Is the US to Civil War? – (Guardian – November 6, 2022)

Americans are increasingly talking about civil war. In August, after the FBI raided Donald Trump’s Florida home, Twitter references to “civil war” jumped 3,000%. Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, said there would be “riots in the streets” if Trump was indicted. Trump himself predicted that “terrible things are going to happen” if the temperature wasn’t brought down in the country. In January 2022, 34% of Americans surveyed said that it was sometimes OK to use violence against the government. Seven months later, more than 40% said that they believed civil war was at least somewhat likely in the next 10 years. Two years ago, no one was talking about a second American civil war. Today it is common. The most frequent question I (Barbara F. Walter, author of this article) get asked following my book How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them is whether a civil war could happen again in the US. Skeptics argue that America’s government is too powerful for anyone to challenge. Others argue that secession will never happen because our country is no longer cleanly divided along geographic lines. Still others simply cannot believe that Americans would start killing one another. These beliefs, however, are based on the mistaken idea that a second civil war would look like the first. It will not. This article goes on to discuss what a second civil war could look like. A 2012 declassified report by the CIA on insurgencies outlines the signs. (Editor’s note: If you have time to read only one article from this issue of FE, choose this one.)

Japan Steps Up Push to Get Public Buy-in to Digital IDs – (Associated Press – October 24, 2022)

Japan has stepped up its push to catch up on digitization by telling a reluctant public they have to sign up for digital IDs or possibly lose access to their public health insurance. The initiative is about assigning numbers to people, similar to Social Security numbers in the U.S. Many Japanese worry the information might be misused or that their personal information might be stolen. Some view the “My Number” effort as a violation of their right to privacy. So the system that kicked off in 2016 has never fully caught on. Now the government is asking people to apply for plastic My Number cards equipped with microchips and photos, to be linked to drivers licenses and the public health insurance plans. Health insurance cards now in use, which lack photos, will be discontinued in late 2024. People will be required to use My Number cards instead. That has drawn a backlash, with an online petition demanding a continuation of the current health cards drawing more than 100,000 signatures in a few days. The reluctance to go digital extends beyond the health care system. After numerous scandals over leaks and other mistakes, many Japanese distrust the government’s handling of data. They’re also wary about government overreach, partly a legacy of authoritarian regimes before and during World War II. Koichi Kurosawa, secretary-general at the National Confederation of Trade Unions, a 1 million-member grouping of labor unions, said people would be happier with digitization if it made their work easier and shorter, but it was doing just the opposite at many Japanese work places. He added, “They are worried it will lead to tighter surveillance.”

How Elon Musk Became a Geopolitical Chaos Agent – (New York Times – October 28, 2022)

The world’s richest man has inserted himself in some of the world’s most combustible conflicts. In the last four weeks, Elon Musk has offered a peace plan for Russia and Ukraine that outraged Ukrainian officials. He has posted a tweet about Iranian internet access that exposed government protesters to a phishing scheme. He has also suggested in a newspaper interview that China could be appeased if it were given partial control of Taiwan, whereupon an official in Taipei demanded that he retract his suggestion. While plenty of billionaire executives like to tweet their two cents on world affairs, none can come close to Mr. Musk’s influence and ability to cause disruption. While the bulk of Mr. Musk’s wealth comes from his stake in his electric car company, Tesla, his influence stems largely from his rocket company, SpaceX, which runs the Starlink satellite network. Starlink can beam internet service to conflict zones and geopolitical hot spots, and it has become an essential tool of the Ukrainian army. His critics worry that it is difficult to separate Mr. Musk’s opinions from his business interests, especially when it comes to Tesla, which is increasingly dependent on China. This month, Mr. Musk confirmed that he faced pressure from Beijing, when he told the Financial Times that the Chinese government had made it clear that it disapproved of his offering Starlink internet service in Ukraine. Beijing sought assurances, he said, that he would not offer the service in China. Some have pointed out that if a military conflict breaks out between the two sides, the Taiwanese, like the Ukrainians, may call on Mr. Musk to provide an emergency means of communication with satellite internet. But given Mr. Musk’s public stance on the situation and links to China, Starlink may not be a viable option. (Editor’s note: One doubts that any “richest man in the world”, whomever that was at any given time, has ever had as much power to pull the strings behind the scenes as Elon Musk. But that much power doesn’t go unchallenged.  How quickly will various nations create their own proprietary Starlink-type systems to compete in terms of geopolitical influence? In addition to a number of commercial ventures, the European Union is already working on it.)

The Netherlands May Be the First Country to Hit the Limits of Growth – (Financial Times – October 27, 2022)

Over-construction and understaffing are now global problems, but they are particularly acute in the Netherlands. The country has run out of space and staff. Sure, a recession may temporarily loosen the jobs market, but the problem was acute pre-pandemic and will simply resurface whenever growth resumes. The Netherlands is probably the first country to hit the limits of economic growth. Other overdeveloped places such as the Bay Area, New York and Singapore may follow, running out of room for new workers and businesses. This raises the question: can a rich place be happy if its economy stops growing? The country now tops ETH Zurich’s KOF Globalization Index as the world’s most globalised country. When the population hit 14 million in 1979, Queen Juliana said, “Our country is full.” In 2010, Statistics Netherlands said the population would probably never reach 18 million. Today it’s 17.7 million and rising. The country has 507 people per sq km, nearly five times the EU’s average. This article looks at a variety of factors that make the Netherlands such an economic magnet and simultaneously less and less functional. The article closes by posing an important question: Does a rich country need more carbon-emitting growth? “We focus far too much on purchasing power, but extra purchasing power barely makes us happier,” says Sandra Phlippen, ABN Amro Bank’s chief economist. However, she notes, we’ve seen in recent years how people in stagnant economies “become angry and unsatisfied”. (Editor’s note: Contentment is not a particularly well-developed human skill.)

Images Show Fresh Crater on Mars Caused by Major Meteorite Impact – (GizModo – October 28, 2022)

On December 24, 2021—the day before the Webb Space Telescope would launch—a rock hurtled through the thin Martian atmosphere and slammed into the ground, leaving a crater nearly 500 feet across. Now, NASA has revealed images of the impact site taken by a Mars-orbiting satellite. Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said the rock that caused the crater was probably between 17 and 33 feet across. The meteorite strike was immediately detected as a magnitude 4 quake by NASA’s InSight lander, positioned 2,150 miles away. The crater was first spotted on February 11 by scientists who operate the Context Camera and Mars Color Imager aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The Context Camera took images of the region where the meteorite crash-landed before and after the event. Images shown in the article. The impact kicked up and scattered large chunks of ice, as seen in the HiRISE image. It’s the closest buried Martian ice has been observed to the Martian equator, the warmest part of Mars.

‘Planet Killer’ Asteroid Spotted Hiding in the Sun’s Glare – (CNN – October 31, 2022)

Astronomers have spotted three near-Earth asteroids that were lurking undetected within the glare of the sun. One of the asteroids is the largest potentially hazardous object posing a risk to Earth to be discovered in the last eight years. The asteroids belong to a group found within the orbits of Earth and Venus, but they’re incredibly difficult to observe because the brightness of the sun shields them from telescope observations. To avoid the sun’s glare, astronomers leaped at the chance to conduct their observations during the brief window of twilight. “So far we have found two large near-Earth asteroids that are about 1 kilometer across, a size that we call planet killers,” said lead study author Scott S. Sheppard, an astronomer at the Earth & Planets Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC. One of the asteroids, called 2022 AP7, is 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) wide and has an orbit that could bring it within Earth’s path in the future, but it’s difficult for the scientists to know when. Scientists determined that the asteroid crosses Earth’s orbit, but it occurs when Earth is on the opposite side of the sun – this pattern will continue for centuries since it takes the asteroid five years to complete an orbit around the sun. But over time, the asteroid’s orbital movement will be more in sync with Earth’s. Scientists don’t yet know the asteroid’s orbit with enough precision to say how dangerous it could become in the future, but for now, it “will stay well away from Earth,” Sheppard said.

Trust in Federal Government Branches Continues to Falter – (Gallup – October 11, 2022)

As recently as 2005, all three branches of the US government were trusted by the majority of Americans. When Gallup first measured federal trust in 1972, no fewer than two-thirds trusted in each branch of the government. Currently, Americans are continuing to lose trust in the federal government, with low levels of trust in all three branches. Gallup previously reported that trust in the judicial branch of the federal government has cratered in the past two years; it now sits at 47%, below the majority level for the first time in Gallup’s polling history. At 43%, trust in the executive branch is just three percentage points above its record low from the Watergate era. Americans are even less trusting in the legislative branch, at 38%, but this figure has been as low as 28% in the past. The poll finds Americans are much more trusting in their state (57%) and local (67%) governments than in any branch of the federal government. Trust in state and local governments has been more stable historically than trust in the three federal branches. While state and local trust levels are currently below their historical averages of 63% and 70%, respectively, they are only slightly so.

The Internet Archive – (Internet Archive – no date)

The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, people with print disabilities, and the general public. Our mission is to provide universal access to all knowledge. We began in 1996 by archiving the Internet itself, a medium that was just beginning to grow in use. Like newspapers, the content published on the web was ephemeral – but unlike newspapers, no one was saving it. Today we have 25+ years of web history accessible through the Wayback Machine and we work with 950+ library and other partners through our program to identify important web pages. As our web archive grew, so did our commitment to providing digital versions of other published works. Today our archive contains: 625 billion web pages, 38 million books and texts, 14 million audio recordings (including 240,000 live concerts), 7 million videos (including 2 million Television News programs), 4 million images, and 790,000 software programs. Anyone with a free account can upload media to the Internet Archive. We work with thousands of partners globally to save copies of their work into special collections. The Internet Archive is one of the top 300 web sites in the world. Wander around on this site – the Internet Archive is as much metaverse as most of us will ever need.

They Made a Material That Doesn’t Exist on Earth  – (NPR – November 8, 2022)

Two teams of scientists — one at Northeastern University in Boston; the other at the University of Cambridge in the UK — recently announced that they managed to manufacture, in a lab, a material that does not exist naturally on Earth. It — until now — has only been found in meteorites. Laura Henderson Lewis, one of the professors on the Northeastern team, explained that the material found in the meteorites is a combination of two base metals, nickel and iron, which were cooled over millions of years as meteors tumbled through space. That process created a unique compound with a particular set of characteristics that make it ideal for use in the high-end permanent magnets that are an essential component of a vast range of advanced machines, from electric vehicles to space shuttle turbines. The compound is called tetrataenite, and the fact that scientists have found a way to make it in a lab is a huge deal. If synthetic tetrataenite works in industrial applications, it could make green energy technologies significantly cheaper. It could also roil the market in rare earths, currently dominated by China, and create a seismic shift in the industrial balance between China and the West.

Chick-fil-A Operator Has a Winning Recipe for Employees: Three-day Workweek – (CNN – October 31, 2022)

What staffing shortage? One Miami Chick-fil-A owner/operator has been deluged with applications after switching his staff to a three-day, 14-hour workweek. The popular franchise was profitable and sales were robust but that was coming at the expense of staff burnout. So, early this year, franchisee Justin Lindsey cooked up a new recipe for success: overhauling weekly schedules. He divided his staff of 38 — 18 store leaders and 20 frontline employees — into two groups and alternated weekly schedules into three-day blocks of 13- to 14- hour shifts. The result: 100% retention at the management level and a flood of new job applicants. An opening this fall at a new location drew more than 420 candidates. A three-day workweek is still very rare, but the buzz around a four-day week has been gaining momentum. In a six-month pilot program in the UK, 3,300 workers across 70 companies agreed to work 80% of their usual weekly hours in exchange for promising to maintain 100% of their productivity. Their pay was unchanged. At the end of this month, the companies will decide whether to keep the program. A similar test in Iceland was successful.  And when Microsoft tried a shorter workweek in Japan in 2019, it found productivity increased up by almost 40%. See also: U.S. Workers Have Gotten Way Less Productive. No One Is Sure Why.

Disinformation, Absolutely – (Patrick Lawrence:Sheerpost – November 1, 2022)

When we come across anyone who thinks differently than we do we simply call him or her a disseminator of disinformation, a liar, and nothing more need be said. The New York Times published a piece on Oct. 20 under the headline, “How Disinformation Splintered and Became More Intractable.” In it, Steven Lee Myers, formerly of the Times’s Moscow bureau, and Sheera Frenkel, a technology reporter in the San Francisco bureau, made the point very plain, although hardly did they intend to do so: Those flinging around all these charges of disinformation with notable vigor and conviction are crusaders in the cause of a dangerous form of liberal absolutism. Much has been written about disinformation these past few years, of course. I have read nothing to date that so exposes the malign design that is implicit in the war against it. This war rests squarely on the cynical use of disinformation in the service of power as it intrudes ever more stealthily into our lives and rights. Absolutists are those who assert their authority to make the law, to enforce the law, and—key point here—to hold themselves above the law, “the state of exception” as the scholars put it. This is why we associate the term most commonly with the age of monarchies. Those claiming to wage a war against disinformation are absolutists in a very similar meaning. They assert the right to determine what is true and what is not and to force the public to abide by their determination—this while holding their version of what is true and what is not entirely beyond scrutiny or question. But let’s look closely: The idea that someone needs to be in charge of deciding what’s true and false on behalf of the rank-and-file citizenry is becoming more and more widely accepted. In practice it’s nothing other than a call to propagandize the public more aggressively. You might agree with their propaganda. The propagandists might believe they are being totally impartial and objective. But as long as they have any oligarchic or state backing, directly or indirectly, they are necessarily administering propaganda on behalf of the powerful.

Love Like There’s No Yesterday – (Caitlin Johnstone – October 30, 2022)

Caitlin Johnstone who generally writes politically oriented commentary on where we as a species find ourselves right now also pens an occasional poem. This one speaks to our human condition from a different vantage point: Love like there’s no yesterday/ like you’re the first to ever love/ like it’s fresh and for the first time/ because it is fresh and for the first time/and the illusion otherwise is just a trick of human perception…  Love like a three year old rides a tricycle….

A Non-stop Flight from Alaska to Tasmania May Be for the Birds — and a Possible Record – (NPR – October 21, 2022)

A young bar-tailed godwit appears to have set a non-stop distance record for migratory birds by flying at least 8,435 miles from Alaska to the Australian state of Tasmania. The bird was tagged as a hatchling in Alaska during the Northern Hemisphere summer with a tracking GPS chip and tiny solar panel that enabled an international research team to follow its first annual migration across the Pacific Ocean. Because the bird was so young, its gender wasn’t known. Aged about five months, it left southwest Alaska at the Yuko-Kuskokwim Delta on Oct. 13 and touched down 11 days later at Ansons Bay on the island of Tasmania’s northeastern tip on Oct. 24, according to data from Germany’s Max Plank Institute for Ornithology. Woehler said researchers did not know whether the latest bird, known by its satellite tag 234684, flew alone or as part of a flock. “There are so few birds that have been tagged, we don’t know how representative or otherwise this event is,” said Birdlife Tasmania convenor Eric Woehler, who is part of the research project. Guinness World Records lists the longest recorded migration by a bird without stopping for food or rest as 7,580 miles by a satellite-tagged male bar-tailed godwit flying from Alaska to New Zealand. Woehler hopes to see the bird once wet weather clears in the remote corner of Tasmania, where it will fatten up having lost half its body weight on its journey. (Editor’s note: How little we really know of the goings-on in the world around us. What are the biological means that permit a creature to survive, staying aloft for 11 days, without food or water?)

20 Funny Finalists of the 2022 Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards – (My Modern Met – October 20, 2022)

Here they are: animals caught in the act of living their lives – and doing things we didn’t realize they sometimes got up to. This website has added captions to better catch the humor. (Spoiler: the humor is pretty strictly from a human point of view.) And here you can see the full gallery of the winners and all the finalists on the official website.
After the final no there comes a yes
and on that yes the future of the world hangs.

– Wallace Stevens
A special thanks to:  Abby Porter, Bobbie Rohn, Bill Sanda, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past.  If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.

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Questions – November 2022

Martin Armstrong, Extraordinary Changes Coming

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