Volume 25, Number 3 – 2/1/22

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Volume 25, Number 3 – 2/1/2022


  • Icefish have a see-through skull and transparent blood; they are the only vertebrates to have no red blood cells.
  • A frog has regrown a lost leg after being treated with a cocktail of drugs in a significant advance for regenerative medicine.
  • In space, astronauts’ bodies destroy around 3 million red blood cells every second. This is 54% higher than what happens in human bodies on Earth. No one knows why.
  • We may not be able to prove that we are all living in a simulation, but at the very least, it’s likely to become a possibility that we can’t rule out.

Joni Patry
The Coming Global Shift

Saturday, February 12th
in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

Massive change is coming as the truth of what has been occurring over the past two years comes to light. The old paradigms are changing, and a new awakening is imminent. 

Joni will give her insights into the cycles of change through her understanding of the planetary energies and how they will affect our world and consciousness. 2022 is the turning point for the truth and reality to surface! We will discuss our purpose in being a part of this incredible age and time, and what we can do to assist and prepare for this awakening.

Click below for more information about this event and to get tickets.
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Joni Patry is one of the most recognized teachers and Vedic astrologers in the world. She was a faculty member for ACVA, CVA and Instructor for online certification programs, published many books, journals and appeared on national and international television shows.

As the keynote speaker for international conferences, she has a Japanese website, and teaches in Austria, Turkey and India. She has been awarded the 2015 Jyotish Star of the year and Dr B. V. Raman’s Janma Shatamanothsava Award Jyotisha Choodamani. She publishes an online astrological magazine, Astrologic Magazine and has an online University for certification, the University of Vedic Astrology.


Youtube channel: Joni Patry

Facebook: Joni Patry Vedic Astrologer

Twitter @jonipatry 

Instagram @jonipatry

Watch this brief video where Joni discusses her upcoming talk.
Click Here for Tickets and More Info
Annual Premium Members receive a 10% discount
AUTOMATICALLY at checkout!
Please be sure you are logged in when you order.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It would be wonderful if you would join us. 

If you would like to become a TransitionNet Founder or get more information about this big, world-changing project, just click here.   We’d welcome you warmly in becoming one of the very early enablers to the biggest change in recorded history!

There is No New Virus. The Flu was Renamed “Covid-19” – (Unz Review – January 2, 2022)

Someone recently came at me with “Anglin (author of this article) is wrong – there is a real coronavirus because people are sick at the hospital.” So, it’s that time again. The time that happens every month or so when I meticulously explain that there is no evidence of a new virus, let alone a “pandemic.” I might use hyperbolic language sometimes, but I have always said that “coronavirus” could be some new strand of the flu. But there are new strands of the flu every year. Every year, people die of the flu. Tens of thousands of people in America die of the flu every year. In 2018, according to the CDC, 80,000 people died from the flu. Article continues with numerous screenshots from old newspaper headlines, dating as far back as 2011, declaring that “hospitals are overwhelmed” – due to bad flu years. That means that people were in the hospital, dying of a respiratory virus, on those dates that you can see in those news articles. The only difference would be that more people now would be on deadly ventilators, because the CDC changed their standards for putting someone on a respirator when they changed the name of “the flu” to “covid-19.” They presumably did this so more people would die. Although I can’t prove that, I can’t think of any other reason. Everyone who died from ventilator-related pneumonia, or any of the other complications caused by a ventilator, was recorded as a “covid-19 death.”

20 Facts about Vaccination Your Doctor Forgot To Tell You – Global Research

This article is simply a list of 20 facts about vaccines in general. Here are the first four. 1) The US Health Department’s National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has shown that between 2,500 and 3,000 children are killed or injured each year by vaccines. 2) The US Government has paid vaccine damage compensation to the parents of autistic children. 3) The Japanese Government has halted part of its vaccination program because of children dying. 4) In the UK, GPs receive massive payments for giving vaccinations. And bonus payments if they vaccinate enough patients. Doctors get very rich out of vaccine programs.

Omicron Coverage Reveals How the Establishment, Media Keep Us Scared – (Principia Scientific – December 23, 2021)

The official response to the Omicron variant provides a case study in the deliberate manufacture of fear. The following strategies are key: 1. Create a group norm of fear. The media want you to believe that everyone around you is scared out of his mind, and thus you should be, too. 2. Buttress group fear with expert opinion. The only public health experts whom the media quote are those determined to put the most dire spin on Omicron. 3. Manufacture epistemological uncertainty and insist on that uncertainty as long as possible. 4. Bury both good news and dissenters from the bad news. 5. Omit relevant context. We hear constantly that 1,300 people are dying a day from COVID. By comparison, about 2,000 people die each day from cancer and 1,600 from heart disease. And finally, 6. Flog the case count. COVID death rates have plunged over the last year and are barely budging in the post-Omicron era. But case counts are a particularly deceptive measure of pandemic severity, when so many of the new cases are mild to asymptomatic.

An Icefish Colony Discovered in Antarctica Is World’s Largest Fish Breeding Ground  – (CNN – January 13, 2022)

A breeding colony of 60 million fish has been discovered in Antarctica’s ice-covered Weddell Sea — a unique and previously unknown ecosystem that covers an area the size of Malta. The vast colony, believed to be the world’s largest, is home to the remarkable icefish (Neopagetopsis ionah), which has a see-through skull and transparent blood. Icefish are the only vertebrates to have no red blood cells. To survive at such low temperatures, it has evolved an anti-freeze protein in its transparent blood that stops ice crystals from growing. The breeding colony was discovered in February 2021 by the German polar research vessel Polarstern, which was surveying the seabed about half a kilometer below the ship. It used a car-sized camera system attached to the stern of the ship that transmits pictures up to the deck as it’s being towed. The expedition was focused on ocean currents and the discovery of the nests, made distinct from the muddy seabed by a circle of stones, was a surprise. John Postlethwait, a professor of biology at the University of Oregon, who studies the fish but wasn’t involved in the research, said, “It is also significant. The extent of the biomass is to me at least unexpected. And the extent to which the fish change the bottom structure of sediment creates (a) habitat for a community that ripples up the foodweb to support a huge variety of species,” he added. The colony covers more than 240 square kilometers (93 square miles), the researchers said. With, on average, one nest for every three square meters, they estimated that the colony includes about 60 million active nests. Each of the evenly spaced nests was about 15 centimeters (6 inches) deep and 75 centimeters in diameter, contained on average 1,735 eggs. Most were guarded by one adult fish. Some nests only contained eggs, and some were unused.

Curiosity Detects Carbon Signature on Mars That, on Earth, Indicates Life – (Atlas – January 18, 2022)

NASA’s Curiosity rover has detected high amounts of an unexpected form of carbon on Mars. That might not sound too exciting, but the kicker is that here on Earth, this chemical signature is usually associated with life. There are also other, non-biological ways that kind of carbon could have gotten there. But NASA also can’t be sure that it’s not aliens, and that warrants a closer look. The Curiosity rover has been drilling samples of rock for years, and then analyzing the chemical composition of the resulting powder. One of the things it can detect is ratios of different isotopes – atoms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei. It was expected that the isotope carbon-13 would be most common, but around half of the samples taken during a recent drilling expedition showed surprisingly large amounts of carbon-12. Crucially, carbon-12 is usually considered a signature of biological chemistry. Earthly organisms use carbon-12 to metabolize their food, while plants use it to perform photosynthesis. That seems to suggest that the rover has detected evidence of ancient life on Mars, however, the team says we just don’t know enough about the Red Planet’s carbon cycle to be sure. The team also gives two non-biological hypotheses about the source of this carbon-12. The first says that ultraviolet light from the Sun could have interacted with carbon dioxide in Mars’ atmosphere, which would have produced carbon-rich molecules that then settle on the surface. And the second story suggests that the solar system may have passed through a huge molecular cloud hundreds of millions of years ago, which could have caused more carbon-12 to rain down to the surface. And then there’s the third hypothesis – that ancient bacteria living on and just below the surface of Mars would have released methane into the atmosphere. This would then have interacted with UV light and been converted into more complex molecules, creating the carbon signature detected by Curiosity billions of years later. As tempting as it is to want to believe the third story, the team cautions that non-biological origins are probably the more likely culprit.

Earth’s Interior Is Cooling Much Faster Than Expected – (SciTech Daily – January 15, 2022)

The evolution of our Earth is the story of its cooling: 4.5 billion years ago, extreme temperatures prevailed on the surface of the young Earth, and it was covered by a deep ocean of magma. Over millions of years, the planet’s surface cooled to form a brittle crust. However, the enormous thermal energy emanating from the Earth’s interior set dynamic processes in motion, such as mantle convection, plate tectonics, and volcanism. Still unanswered, though, are the questions of how fast the Earth cooled and how long it might take for this ongoing cooling to bring the aforementioned heat-driven processes to a halt. One possible answer may lie in the thermal conductivity of the minerals that form the boundary between the Earth’s core and mantle. Researchers at ETH Zurich have demonstrated in the lab how well a mineral common at the boundary between the Earth’s core and mantle conducts heat. This leads them to suspect that the Earth’s heat may dissipate sooner than previously thought. “Our results could give us a new perspective on the evolution of the Earth’s dynamics. They suggest that Earth, like the other rocky planets Mercury and Mars, is cooling and becoming inactive much faster than expected,” ETH Professor Motohiko Murakami explains.

Profound Discovery on Origins of Life on Earth – Evolution of Metal-Binding Proteins – (SciTech Daily – January 14, 2022)

Addressing one of the most profoundly unanswered questions in biology, a Rutgers-led team has discovered the structures of proteins that may be responsible for the origins of life in the primordial soup of ancient Earth. The researchers explored how primitive life may have originated on our planet from simple, non-living materials. They asked what properties define life as we know it and concluded that anything alive would have needed to collect and use energy, from sources such as the Sun or hydrothermal vents. In molecular terms, this would mean that the ability to shuffle electrons was paramount to life. Since the best elements for electron transfer are metals (think standard electrical wires) and most biological activities are carried out by proteins, the researchers decided to explore the combination of the two — that is, proteins that bind metals. “We saw that the metal-binding cores of existing proteins are indeed similar even though the proteins themselves may not be,” said the study’s lead author Yana Bromberg, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “We also saw that these metal-binding cores are often made up of repeated substructures, kind of like LEGO blocks. Curiously, these blocks were also found in other regions of the proteins, not just metal-binding cores, and in many other proteins that were not considered in our study. Our observation suggests that rearrangements of these little building blocks may have had a single or a small number of common ancestors and given rise to the whole range of proteins and their functions that are currently available — that is, to life as we know it. Bromberg, whose research focuses on deciphering the DNA blueprints of life’s molecular machinery, said, “This explanation could also potentially contribute to our search for life on other planets and planetary bodies. Our finding of the specific structural building blocks is also possibly relevant for synthetic biology efforts, where scientists aim to construct specifically active proteins anew.”

Man Gets Genetically-modified Pig Heart in World-first Transplant – (BBC – January 10, 2022)

David Bennett, 57, has become the first person in the world to get a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig. He is doing well three days after the experimental seven-hour procedure in Baltimore, doctors say. The transplant was considered the last hope of saving Mr Bennett’s life, though it is not yet clear what his long-term chances of survival are. “It was either die or do this transplant,” Mr Bennett explained a day before the surgery. “I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice,” he said. Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center were granted a special dispensation by the US medical regulator to carry out the procedure, on the basis that Mr. Bennett would otherwise have died. The possibility of using animal organs for so-called xenotransplantation to meet the demand has long been considered, and using pig heart valves is already common. In October 2021, surgeons in New York announced that they had successfully transplanted a pig’s kidney into a person. At the time, the operation was the most advanced experiment in the field so far. However, the recipient on that occasion was brain dead with no hope of recovery. “We’ve never done this in a human and I like to think that we, we have given him a better option than what continuing his therapy would have been,” said the surgeon, Dr. Bartley Griffith. “But whether [he will live for] a day, week, month, year, I don’t know.”  Update: Two weeks after his operation David Bennett is alive, his pig’s heart beating soundly.

Doctors Transplant Two Pig Kidneys at Once Into a Human – (Gizmodo – January 20, 2022)

This week, a team at the University of Alabama said they were able to transplant two kidneys from a genetically modified pig into a brain-dead patient, a step beyond previous experiments that transplanted only one pig kidney. The Alabama doctors say the kidneys were able to function as expected and weren’t immediately rejected by the body. In October 2021, doctors at New York University Langone Health reported that they had, for the first time, successfully transplanted a kidney from a genetically modified pig that was then able to function normally without rejection from the human body for two days. By December, the same team reported a second working transplant. Both of these experiments were only meant to test the short-term feasibility of the procedure. They involved recipients who were deemed to be functionally dead and whose bodies were only being kept alive through life support. This latest feat is the first such transplant to be detailed in a peer-reviewed journal, an important step for validating any research. And it appears to be the first to transplant two of these modified kidneys into a single human. There are some key differences between all of these transplants. Namely, the NYU team relied on pigs that had only a single gene edited—one responsible for producing a sugar in their muscles that humans don’t make. This incompatibility is thought to be a major reason why past attempts to use animal organs for human transplants haven’t worked, since most mammals produce the sugar. But the pigs used by the UAB and the Maryland team had 10 genes edited to make them more compatible with humans. For more detailed information about the porcine genetic tweaking, see The Genetic Engineering Behind Pig-to-human Transplants in Ars Technica.

Frog Regrows Amputated Leg after Drug Treatment – (Guardian – January 26, 2022)

A frog has regrown a lost leg after being treated with a cocktail of drugs in a significant advance for regenerative medicine. The African clawed frog, which is naturally unable to regenerate its limbs, was treated with the drugs for just 24 hours and this prompted an 18-month period of regrowth of a functional leg. The demonstration raises the prospect that in the future drugs could be used to switch on similar untapped abilities for regeneration in human patients to restore tissues or organs lost to disease or injury. “It’s exciting to see that the drugs we selected were helping to create an almost complete limb,” said Nirosha Murugan of Tufts University in Massachusetts and first author of the paper. “The fact that it required only a brief exposure to the drugs to set in motion a months-long regeneration process suggests that frogs and perhaps other animals may have dormant regenerative capabilities that can be triggered into action.” The scientists amputated a frog’s hind-leg and enclosed the wound in silicone cap containing a five-drug cocktail. The drugs each had a different purpose, including reducing inflammation and the production of collagen to stop scar tissue growing. The drugs also aimed to promote the growth of new nerve fibers, blood vessels and muscle. The experiment was repeated in dozens of frogs and many of those treated had a dramatic regrowth of tissue, with many re-creating an almost fully functional leg, including bone tissue and even toe-like structures at the end of the limb. The regrown limb moved, responded to touch and the frogs were able to make use of it for swimming. In the first few days of treatment scientists observed the activation of molecular pathways that are normally used to map out limbs in the developing embryo. They believe that adult humans still retain the information needed to make body structures and that, in theory, it should be possible to tap into this dormant ability.

Harvard Study Links Air Pollution from Fracking to Early Deaths Among Nearby Residents – (Post Gazette – January 27, 2022)

Western Pennsylvania residents and doctors have been going public for several years with their concerns that fracking for gas has sickened people and may be causing rare cancers in children. Now, a new study out of Harvard links fracking with early deaths of senior citizens. Published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Energy, the team of researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health blames a mix of airborne contaminants associated with what is known as unconventional oil and gas development. That is when companies use horizontal drilling and liquids under pressure to fracture underground rock to extract the fossil fuels through a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The closer people aged 65 and older lived to wells, the greater their risk of premature mortality, the study found. Those senior citizens who lived closest to wells had an early death risk of 2.5% higher when compared to people who did not live close to the wells, the researchers found. See also this Arc Technica article, Particulate Pollution Is Killing Older Americans, Even at Legal Levels which reports on a different study concerning the effects of fine particulate pollution, also known as PM2.5—particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns.

Nearly 75% of Water-resistant Products Contain Toxic PFAS, Study Finds – (Guardian – January 26, 2022)

A new analysis of popular brand name products detected toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” in nearly 75% of items labeled stain- or water-resistant. The study’s authors say the companies are needlessly putting customers’ health at risk. PFAS are a class of about 9,000 compounds most often used to make products water-, stain- and heat-resistant, and are called “forever chemicals” because they don’t naturally break down. The chemicals are applied as a surface treatment to create a barrier against stains and water, or are used to create a membrane that makes rain gear more “breathable”. As the barrier or membrane breaks down, the chemicals can end up in the air and inhaled, or on surfaces where they can be ingested. They’re so effective that they’re used in thousands of applications across dozens of industries, but they’re also linked to cancer, decreased immunity, liver disease, kidney problems, birth defects and more. The study analyzed a total of 60 products – including jackets, hiking pants, shirts, mattress pads, comforters, tablecloths and napkins – from large retailers including Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Macy’s, REI, Target, TJX and Walmart. Among brand names that were found to use PFAS were jackets made by Alpine Design and Patagonia, or in partnership with Gore-Tex and Teflon. Jackets produced by Mammut and the North Face did not contain PFAS, though some of their products do. The study also found 13 products that were labeled water- or stain-resistant but did not contain PFAS, which highlights the fact that alternatives are available. Independent laboratories conducted the testing.

Clothes Dryers Are an Underappreciated Source of Airborne Microfibers – (SciTech Daily – January 12, 2022)

Although it’s known that washing clothes releases microfibers into wastewater, it’s unclear how drying impacts the environment. However, a pilot study reported in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology Letters has found that a single dryer could discharge up to 120 million microfibers annually — considerably more than from washing machines. Microfibers can come from natural fabrics, such as cotton, or synthetic ones, such as polyester — which are also considered to be microplastics. Releasing microfibers into the environment is a concern because they can absorb and transport pollutants long distances. And the fibers themselves can be irritants if they are ingested or inhaled. Kai Zhang, Kenneth Leung, and colleagues separately dried clothing items made of polyester and those made of cotton in a tumble dryer that had a vent pipe to the outdoors. As the machine ran for 15 minutes, they collected and counted the airborne particles that exited the vent. The results showed that both types of clothing produced microfibers, which the team suggests comes from the friction of clothes rubbing together as they tumbled around. For both fabrics, the dryer released between 1.4 and 40 times more microscopic fragments than were generated by washing machines in previous studies for the same amount of clothing. They also found that the release of polyester microfibers increases with more clothes in the dryer, whereas the release of cotton microfibers remains constant regardless of the load size. The researchers suggest this occurs because some cotton microfibers aggregate and cannot stay airborne, a process that doesn’t happen for polyester. Finally, the team estimated that between 90 and 120 million microfibers are produced and released into the air outside by the average single Canadian household’s dryer every year. To control the release of these airborne microfibers, additional filtration systems should be adapted for dryer vents, the researchers say.

Surveillance Will Follow Us into ‘the Metaverse,’ and Our Bodies Could Be Its New Data Source – (Washington Post – January 13, 2022)

This year’s CES was spattered with companies billing themselves as metaverse tech, with ideas ranging from virtual customer service representatives to a food-delivery robot controlled by real people watching from a perch in virtual reality. All are angling for space in an emerging industry spearheaded by tech giants including Meta and Microsoft, both of which announced their own metaverse products in the past few months. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has said that he expects the metaverse to be part of our workplaces in the next three years. But virtual reality (VR) headsets can collect more data about us than traditional screens, which gives companies more opportunities to take and share that data for profiling and advertising. They could also give employers more ways to monitor our behavior and even our minds. There’s also little stopping any government from getting its hands on body-related data from VR tech, and there’s little in place to protect us and our kids from unrestricted data gathering and psychological manipulation, say digital rights advocates and experts following the industry. One of the potential problems with virtual reality is that we still haven’t answered many of the privacy problems we encounter in normal reality. When millions of Americans learned in 2018 that political consulting company Cambridge Analytica had used personal data from Facebook to profile them, it helped secure the passage of a comprehensive consumer privacy law in California called CCPA. But except for Virginia and Colorado, most states still have no such legislation, and critics argue that Facebook and other companies have only ramped up and fine-tuned their data collection since. So far, Facebook hasn’t had unfettered access to your data. At least on smartphones, it has to play by the rules of the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. As privacy becomes a bigger marketing point for Apple, that’s seemingly caused problems for Facebook’s ad business: It ran campaigns against Apple’s decision to allow people to opt out of some ad tracking on their smartphones. Facebook won’t want to make the same mistake again, says Rolf Illenberger, CEO of VRdirect, which makes software for VR and lists Nestle, Siemens and Porsche among its clients. That could be why Meta is building its own hardware and operating system for the metaverse. “Mark Zuckerberg wants to make sure that in the new technology era, there’s no one between him and the customers,” he said. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article – there is more in it than we could summarize here.)

World’s First Commuter Electric Plane Is Preparing for Maiden Flight – (Impact Lab – January 21, 2022)

The prototype of the world’s first all-electric “commuter” e-plane, named Alice, can accommodate nine passengers and two crew members. Made by Israeli company Eviation, Alice made its first public appearance at the Paris Air Show in 2019. Eviation claimed the electric aircraft could reduce maintenance and operating costs by up to 70 percent compared with commercial jets. The latest iteration of Alice features a fly-by-wire system made by Honeywell and boasts a range of 440 nautical miles and a maximum cruise speed of 250 knots. The plane can also be transformed into an “executive” configuration, designed for fewer people in business class-like seating, and a “cargo” configuration that offers a 450-cubic-foot, temperature-controlled cargo bay. Airbus, Boeing and JetBlue are also working on electric prototypes. However, battery technology remains nascent for the aviation industry, and the Federal Aviation Administration has yet to certify any electric propulsion systems, meaning electric planes could still be years away, at least in the U.S.

Curious Farmer Attaches Strange Device to Cow’s Head, Orders 10 More When He Realizes What Happens – (Western Journal – January 9, 2022)

Following the theory that happy cows produce more milk, a new report says that one Turkish farmer has found a way to cure his herd’s winter blahs. Izzet Kocak slapped virtual reality glasses on two cows on his farm in Aksaray, Turkey. The VR glasses replaced the bleakness of winter with happy scenes from summer. He now plans to buy 10 more headsets. “They are watching a green pasture and it gives them an emotional boost. They are less stressed,” he said. Russia’s agriculture ministry first claimed to have implemented such a program in 2019. Here is a very brief Turkish news clip  (with subtitles) of Kocak and a look at one of his cows wearing the VR glasses. (Editor’s note: This article may or may not be “fake moos” as one media outlet hypothesized. Here is an article from Interesting Engineering that plausibly suggests the Russian VR bovine headsets story may originally have been a marketing ploy to encourage farmers to sign up for a conference sponsored by the Russian dairy industry. But what about the cows in Turkey? We don’t know. )

Space Force Just Launched Satellites Capable of ‘Inspecting’ Enemy Satellites – (The Drive – January 21, 2022)

Space Force has just launched two additional satellites as part of its push for greater Space Domain Awareness, or SDA, in geosynchronous orbit some 22,000 miles away from Earth. The two satellites are part of the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, or GSSAP, and will allow Space Force to not only locate and identify objects in this distant orbit, but also maneuver close to them in order to inspect them or assess their capabilities. The launch comes as Space Force leadership continues to sound the alarm about the risks posed to U.S. satellites in orbit. The first two GSSAP satellites were launched in 2014, with the second two following in 2016. Space Force has not released any details about how these two new GSSAP satellites might differ from the previous four, which were designed to operate near the belt of other geosynchronous satellites and maneuver close to them to con duct surveillance. Details about the GSSAP program remain murky. GSSAP is notably part of the “orbital warfare” end of Space Force, tasked with protecting and defending American space assets and deterring adversary threats in space. Space Force’s General David Thompson, the service’s second in command, said last year that U.S. satellites are under attack “every single day” from “reversible attacks” such as electronic warfare jamming, laser dazzling, and cyber attacks. Space Force is known to possess at least one offensive system, the Counter Communications System, or CCS, which reached operational capability in 2020. The exact nature of CCS is unknown, but it is believed to be a jamming system designed to interrupt transmissions sent by enemy satellites. The Secure World Foundation (SWF), which “acts as a research body, convener and facilitator to promote key space security and other space-related topics,” collected data that shows GSSAP satellites made close-in observations of eight foreign-owned satellites between 2016 and mid-2018.

New Bill Would Let Government Quietly Ban Crypto Transactions, Advocates Worry – (Motherboard – January 27, 2022)

Once again, cryptocurrency advocates are worried that the federal government is planning to implement legislation that has the potential to kill crypto in its crib. Coin Center—a D.C.-based cryptocurrency think tank — has reported that a provision quietly tacked onto a new bill might empower the Treasury Department to unilaterally block cryptocurrency transactions without public notice. The bill in question is the America COMPETES Act, which the White House claims will “make our supply chains stronger” and allow the country to “outcompete China and the rest of the world” by moves such as boosting semiconductor manufacturing, expanding visa programs, and investing in U.S. scientific research. China, notably, has sought to stamp out cryptocurrency-related activity in the country for years, including a recent ban on mining that led to an exodus of firms to the U.S. and elsewhere. The provision in question would essentially nullify prohibitions in the Bank Secrecy Act that require the Treasury secretary to publicly disclose decisions to block customers of financial institutions from transacting when money laundering is suspected. Language in the provision and findings suggest that cryptocurrency transactions may bear the brunt of scrutiny here.

To Send Weapons and Troops to Ukraine You’d Have to Be a Stupid Son of a Biden – (CounterPunch – January 27, 2022)

The U.S. government’s internal memos right now, if we see them years from now, will be found to have said that expanding NATO and putting troops and weapons into Eastern Europe including Ukraine has provoked Russia to put troops near its border with Ukraine — a giant success for weapons dealers, NATO’s continued existence, and militarist politicians. They’ll say that sending even more weapons and troops is likely to generate even more weapons sales, subservience to U.S. interests, and isolation of Russia as an eternal enemy — albeit with other designated enemies such as China and Iran aligning with Russia, and albeit with a risk of war in Ukraine and of nuclear war that would end life on the planet — a risk deemed sufficiently low because of the unlikelihood that Russia will invade Ukraine. On the other hand, the U.S. has zero Russian weapons on its borders. A single one would provoke at the very least: U.S. troops near that border and the demand that all troops and weapons and military alliances be removed the hell out of the neighborhood and hemisphere. But that’s the U.S. that deserves such security due to its being a democracy. Are you unaware that every single war is based on lies? Are you unaware that nuclear winter is not a seasonal fashion trend? Do you really think that the nuclear option is a Senate voting procedure? Have you gone back and convinced yourself that Gadaffi was planning mass rapes, Hussein was taking babies out of incubators, Assad has been spraying chemical weapons left and right, the Vietnamese staged an attack in the Gulf of Tonkin, South Korea was an innocent democracy, nobody provoked Japan, the Lusitania had no weapons or troops, the Spanish blew up the Maine, the boys in the Alamo died playing a shuffleboard benefit for their freed former slaves, Patrick Henry really wrote that speech 30 years after he died, Molly Pitcher existed, Paul Revere (and Lee Harvey Oswald) rode alone, and George Washington never told a lie? Are you out of your ever-loving minds?

Security Scanners across Europe Tied to China Govt, Military – (Associated Press – January 20, 2022)

At some of the world’s most sensitive spots, authorities have installed security screening devices made by a single Chinese company with deep ties to China’s military and the highest levels of the ruling Communist Party: the World Economic Forum in Davos, Europe’s largest ports, airports from Amsterdam to Athens, and NATO’s borders with Russia. All depend on equipment manufactured by Nuctech, which has quickly become the world’s leading company, by revenue, for cargo and vehicle scanners. Nuctech has been frozen out of the U.S. for years due to national security concerns, but it has made deep inroads across Europe, installing its devices in 26 of 27 EU member states, according to public procurement, government and corporate records. A growing number of Western security officials and policymakers fear that China could exploit Nuctech equipment to sabotage key transit points or get illicit access to government, industrial or personal data from the items that pass through its devices. Nuctech’s critics allege the Chinese government has effectively subsidized the company so it can undercut competitors and give Beijing potential sway over critical infrastructure in the West as China seeks to establish itself as a global technology superpower. “The data being processed by these devices is very sensitive. It’s personal data, military data, cargo data,” said Bart Groothuis, director of cybersecurity at the Dutch Ministry of Defense before becoming a member of the European Parliament. “You’re dependent on a foreign actor which is a geopolitical adversary and strategic rival.” In Europe, Nuctech’s bids can be 30 -50% below their rivals’, according to the company’s competitors, U.S. and European officials and researchers who study China.

Microsoft Bought Activision Because Gaming Is the New Social Media – (Washington Post – January 20, 2022)

Games aren’t just where kids go to unwind anymore. They’re where kids go to hang out. If the 2010s were the decade of social media in the tech industry, there’s reason to think the 2020s are the gaming decade. Games have been a big industry for a long time, from Nintendo and PC gaming in the 1990s to PlayStation and Xbox in the 2000s, to the rise of mobile gaming in the 2010s. But in recent years, leaps in technology and innovations in gameplay have made them ubiquitous, from addictive smartphone time-killers to deeply immersive, console-based worlds that let millions of players interact in real time. Already, two-thirds of U.S. adults and three-fourths of kids under 18 play video games weekly, according to the Entertainment Software Association, a trade group. But it’s not just the number of users that matters. It’s how they’re using those games. Increasingly, games such as “Fortnite,” “Roblox” and “World of Warcraft” serve not just as places to complete quests and shoot bad guys but places to hang out. “Fortnite” hosts massive live concerts attended by millions; “Roblox” invites you to build your own games and experiences and invite your friends; “Warcraft” was a pioneer in encouraging players to make friends, chat and work together in guilds. These three are not outliers. These days, teens are as likely to hang out on Discord or Xbox Live playing video games together as they are to interact on Instagram or Snapchat. Kids who aren’t old enough for a Facebook or Instagram account can socialize on Roblox, which is played by nearly 50 million people per day, most of them young. That convergence of gaming and socializing is part of what has tech CEOs and investors frothing about “the metaverse.” Microsoft dropping $69 billion on Activision to counter Facebook/Meta suggests that the near future of the metaverse will be something less than grandiose: an extension of today’s corporate platform wars in which the largest companies vie to expand their empires of attention and data by conquering swaths of the fast-growing gaming and remote-work sectors.

How A.I. Conquered Poker – (New York Times – January 18, 2022)

The pursuit of perfect poker goes back at least as far as the 1944 publication of Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, by the mathematician John von Neumann and the economist Oskar Morgenstern. The two men wanted to correct what they saw as a fundamental imprecision in the field of economics. Theory of Games pointed the way to a future in which all manner of competitive interactions could be modeled mathematically: auctions, submarine warfare, even the way species compete to pass their genes on to future generations. But in strategic terms, poker itself barely advanced in response to von Neumann’s proof until it was taken up by members of the Department of Computing Science at the University of Alberta more than five decades later. Poker, though, remained a particularly thorny problem, for precisely the reason von Neumann was attracted to it in the first place: the way hidden information in the game acts as an impediment to good decision making. Unlike in chess or backgammon, in which both players’ moves are clearly legible on the board, in poker a computer has to interpret its opponents’ bets despite never being certain what cards they hold. But as the field of artificial intelligence grew more robust, and as the team’s algorithms became better tuned to the intricacies of poker, its programs began to improve. Crucial to this development was an algorithm called counterfactual regret minimization. Computer scientists tasked their machines with identifying poker’s optimal strategy by having the programs play against themselves billions of times and take note of which decisions in the game tree had been least profitable (the “regrets,” which the A.I. would learn to minimize in future iterations by making other, better choices). In 2015, the Alberta team announced its success by publishing an article in Science titled “Heads-Up Limit Hold’em Poker Is Solved.” The same year a Polish computer programmer and former online poker player named Piotrek Lopusiewicz began selling the first version of his application PioSOLVER. For $249, players could download a program that approximated the solutions for the far more complicated no-limit version of the game. (Editor’s note: This article is a fascinating exploration of how AI is being used by top poker professionals to train themselves. “The best players are able to reverse-engineer the A.I.’s strategy and create heuristics that apply to hands and situations similar to the one they’re studying.” Poker is no longer the same game.)

We Don’t Know Why, But Being in Space Causes Us to Destroy Our Blood – (Ars Technica – January 14, 2021)

Space isn’t easy on humans. Some aspects are avoidable—the vacuum, of course, and the cold, as well as some of the radiation. Astronauts can also lose bone density, thanks to a lack of gravity. NASA has even created a fun acronym for the issues: RIDGE, which stands for space radiation, isolation and confinement, distance from Earth, gravity fields, and hostile and closed environments. New research adds to the worries by describing how being in space destroys your blood. Or rather, something about space—and we don’t know what just yet—causes the human body to perform hemolysis at a higher rate than back on Earth. This phenomenon, called space anemia, has been well-studied. It’s part of a suite of problems that astronauts face when they come back to terra firma, which is how Guy Trudel—one of the paper’s authors and a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation at The Ottawa Hospital—got involved. “[W]hen the astronauts return from space, they are very much like the patients we admit in rehab,” he said. To study space anemia, Trudel worked with 14 astronauts on a six-month stint on the International Space Station. The astronauts brought specialized canisters and exhaled into them at four set intervals: at five days, 12 days, three months, and just before heading home at six months. Then, with their primary mission over, they brought the canisters back down to Earth, breath and all. Back in the lab, the researchers looked at the astronauts’ breath using a high-resolution gas chromatograph, which measures the amount of carbon monoxide they were producing after different amounts of time in space. According to Trudel, carbon monoxide is created each time a red blood cell is hemolyzed in the body. The team’s results showed that in space, the astronauts’ bodies destroyed around 3 million red blood cells every second. This is 54% higher than what happens in human bodies on Earth, where the rate is 2 million every second. Trudel’s team found that a year after an astronaut returned, their red blood cell destruction was still 30% higher than normal. It’s also uncertain how long a person in space can continue to destroy 54% more red blood cells than their Earth-bound kin. “We don’t have data beyond six months. There’s a knowledge gap for longer missions, for one-year missions, or missions to the Moon or Mars or other bodies,” he said.

Beam of Light ‘Like Something from a Sci-Fi Movie’ Leaves Witnesses Stunned – (NewsBreak – January 25, 2022)

Residents and visitors to Turkey’s Zigana Pass in the Pontic Mountains were recently treated to a very rare, but also eerie, phenomenon that many thought was some kind of alien tractor beam, bringing up people and wildlife to an awaiting spacecraft. What those in the area, which is popular for skiing, watched was a bright golden beam of light shining on a single point in the mountains, which stayed focused on that spot for three hours. According to scientists, it was a form of a crepuscular ray, a beam of sunlight that is made more visible by particles in the air, like dust, as they pass through gaps in the clouds. Usually they only occur during sunrise or sunset, so it is very rare for them to last as long as the one in Turkey did. Article includes video clip of the aerial phenomenon.

How Big Is Our Universe?– (BBC – November 11, 2021)

In this 7 minute video clip, physicist Brian Cox narrates a journey through time and space to see how our understanding has changed, using images from progressively more advanced telescopes and satellites. Every ten seconds of the video, the frame moves out by a power of ten. A hundred thousand light years takes us only to the edge of our own galaxy, and not until 10 billion light years do we reach the limit of our understanding of the universe and its origins. (Editor’s note: This is really pretty cool – well worth your time.)

SpaceX Rocket to End 7 Years as Space Trash by Smashing into the Moon – (Jalopnik – January 26, 2022)

A four-ton Falcon 9 rocket launched in 2015 is heading straight for the Moon at 2.5 kilometers a second and is scheduled to strike Earth’s favorite natural satellite sometime in the next few weeks. The potential for collision was first identified by Bill Gray, who created the Project Pluto software in order to track near-Earth objects. He believes the rocket could impact near the Moon’s equator around March 4. While Gray is confidant about the date, several factors that can’t be accounted for that could still affect exactly where the rocket will crash. The second stage rocket burned up all its fuel years ago on SpaceX’s first interplanetary mission. The Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage was high enough that it did not have enough fuel to return to Earth’s atmosphere. It also lacked the energy to escape the gravity of the Earth-Moon system, so it has been following a somewhat chaotic orbit since February 2015.? While NASA intentionally crashed into the Moon in 2009 during the LCROSS mission, this Falcon 9 rocket stage is likely the first human-made hardware to make an uncontrolled and unintentional impact into the Moon’s surface. While it sounds like we’re just littering on a whole new celestial body, scientists are quite stoked to see the results of this impact.

Scientists Develop World’s Smallest ‘Easy-to-Use’ Antenna Using Human DNA – (Impact Lab – January 21, 2022)

A team of chemists from the University of Montreal has designed the world’s smallest antenna using human DNA, which is the building block of genetic material and measures 20,000 times smaller than a human hair. Calling it an ‘easy-to-use device’, the scientists said that this nanoantenna will help scientists identify new drugs and better understand natural and human-designed nanotechnologies. Fitted with fluorescent molecules at the end, this nanoantenna has basically been designed to monitor the motions of proteins explained Professor Alexis Vallée-Bélisle, the study’s senior author. The design of this device is inspired by the ‘Lego-like’ properties of DNA, which helped in the manufacturing of a five-nanometre long antenna fitted with fluorescent ends. Discussng the working of this device, another study author Scott Harroun said that the antenna signals a structural change of proteins by emitting light in different colors.

Walmart Is Quietly Preparing to Enter the Metaverse – (CNBC – January 16, 2022)

The big-box retailer filed several new trademarks in late December that indicate its intent to make and sell virtual goods, including electronics, home decorations, toys, sporting goods and personal care products. In a separate filing, the company said it would offer users a virtual currency, as well as NFTs. Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney, said that ever since Facebook announced it was changing its company name to Meta, signaling its ambitions beyond social media, businesses have been rushing to figure out how they will fit into a virtual world. Nike, GAP, Under Armour, Urban Outfitters, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch have also filed trademarks in recent weeks detailing their intent to open some sort of virtual store. A report from CB Insights outlined some of the reasons why retailers and brands might want to make such ventures, which can potentially offer new revenue streams. Launching NFTs allows for businesses to tokenize physical products and services to help reduce online transaction costs, it said. And for luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton, NFTs can serve as a form of authentication for tangible and more expensive goods, CB Insights noted. Gerben said that as more consumers familiarize themselves with the metaverse and items stored on the blockchain, more retailers will want to create their own ecosystem around it. According to Frank Chaparro, director at crypto information services firm The Block, many retailers are still reeling from being late to e-commerce; they don’t want to miss out on any opportunities in the metaverse.

Amazon Is Opening a Real-world Clothing Store with High-tech Fitting Rooms – (CNBC – January 20, 2022)

Amazon has spent years growing its share of apparel sales. Last March, Wells Fargo said Amazon surpassed Walmart as the No. 1 apparel retailer in the U.S., and estimated that Amazon’s apparel and footwear sales in the U.S. grew by approximately 15% in 2020 to more than $41 billion. Now Amazon is about to launch its first apparel store, called Amazon Style.  The first location, based in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, California, will open later this year. The store will feature women’s and men’s apparel, shoes, and accessories from a mix of well-known and emerging brands, with prices catering to a wide range of shoppers. At roughly 30,000 square feet, the retail space is around the size of a typical T.J. Maxx location, but smaller than the average department store. Shoppers will rely heavily on their smartphone in order to browse the store. When shoppers walk into the store, they’ll see “display items,” featuring just one size and color of a particular product; the remaining inventory for each product will kept in the back of the store. After logging into the Amazon app on a smartphone, they’ll scan a QR code on the item to view additional sizes, colors, product ratings and other information, such as personalized recommendations for similar items. After scanning the QR code on an item, shoppers can click a button in the Amazon app to add the item to a fitting room or send it to a pickup counter. In the fitting rooms, Amazon has added touch-screen displays, which shoppers can use to rate items or request different styles or sizes to be delivered to their fitting room. Each item is then dropped off in a “secure closet” in the fitting room, which unlocks after a store associate delivers the clothing. This allows customers to continue shopping without having to leave the fitting room and find an employee, the company said.

We Might Be in a Simulation. How Much Should That Worry Us? – (New York Times – January 26, 2022)

Simulation hypothesis is the idea, lately much discussed among technologists and philosophers, that the world around us could be a digital figment, something like the simulated world of a video game. The idea is not new. But until recently the simulation hypothesis had been a matter for academics. Why should we even consider that technology could create simulations indistinguishable from reality? And even if such a thing were possible, what difference would knowledge of the simulation make to any of us stuck in the here and now, where reality feels all too tragically real? But a brain-bending new book by New York University professor of philosophy, David Chalmers, Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy sheds new light on the those questions. After reading and talking to Chalmers, I’ve (author of this article) come to believe that the coming world of virtual reality might one day be regarded as every bit as real as real reality. If that happens, our current reality will instantly be cast into doubt; after all, if we could invent meaningful virtual worlds, isn’t it plausible that some other civilization somewhere else in the universe might have done so, too? Yet if that’s possible, how could we know that we’re not already in its simulation? The conclusion seems inescapable: We may not be able to prove that we are in a simulation, but at the very least, it will be a possibility that we can’t rule out. But it could be more than that. Chalmers argues that if we’re in a simulation, there’d be no reason to think it’s the only simulation; in the same way that lots of different computers today are running Microsoft Excel, lots of different machines might be running an instance of the simulation. If that was the case, simulated worlds would vastly outnumber non-sim worlds — meaning that, just as a matter of statistics, it would be not just possible that our world is one of the many simulations but likely. Chalmers writes that “the chance we are sims is at least 25% or so.” (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for its thoughtful analysis of the potential for the utter blurring of “real” and “virtual”.)

Wanna Join Me in a News Fast? – (Charles Eisenstein – January 16, 2022)

It’s time for me to go on a news fast. That means a complete break from reading any news site, including the various social media channels where I get a lot of my news. Most of the news I read deals with certain controversial issues that are at the forefront of public attention, especially the attention of those who produce and propagate it. These sources may diametrically oppose each other in their opinions, but they collude in a tacit agreement about what “the issues” are. They agree that these are what are worthy of our attention. They may disagree violently about the answers, but they agree on the questions. When I read the news, I agree to put my mind here. I buy into a certain assumption about what conversations to be having. But what gets left out of those assumptions? Maybe there are other important things happening in life and the world that no one considers newsworthy. What questions have I been ignoring under media hypnosis? I cannot easily attune to them if the news clogs my organs of perception. When I read a lot of news I think the same old thoughts and notice the same old things. Other ways of seeing, thinking, and knowing atrophy. It’s time for me to revitalize them. I’ve gone on news fasts before, anywhere from weeks to months. They have always been a potent reset. And you know what—I never missed out on anything important. I’m sure this time that if something truly momentous happens, such as a zombie apocalypse, AI takeover, world disarmament, mandatory microchipping of all humans and their pets, Judgment Day, or Kylie Jenner’s baby shower, I will find out about it somehow.

14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible – (Bremont – no date)

There are only 14 mountains in the world higher than 8,000 meters. This documentary (available on Netflix) follows the mountaineering legend, Nirmal “Nims” Purja, and his team of Nepali Sherpa mountaineers as they attempt to summit all 14 of the world’s ‘Death Zone’ peaks in just 7 months. The Western mountaineers who climb the Mount Everest are provided support and guidance by Sherpas. So generally, there is one Sherpa for each climber who accompanies him throughout. But, not a lot of credit is given to them for their support in the whole expedition. Sometimes even their names are not taken, which makes them faceless before the entire world. The incentives they get are far lower than Westerners, given they do the same job. Nims wanted to change that. He wanted to bring these native Nepali climbers into the limelight and at least give them their due credit, even if nothing else. So Purja assembled a team of several Nepali Sherpas to join him for what he dubbed “Project Possible.” The high degree of difficulty of the mission and limited funding meant the team also filmed its own ascents. Website has film trailer, more details, interview with Nims, and links to various articles about the project.

These Polar Bears Are Living Their Best Life on an Abandoned Island – (My Modern Met – January 14, 2022)

When humans move out, nature moves back in. Russian underwater and wildlife photographer Dmitry Kokh took a trip of a lifetime to an abandoned meteorological station on Kolyuchin Island. This small island, located in the Chukchi Sea, is in a remote area of the Russian arctic. While humans have long since left the area, Kokh discovered that polar bears have overtaken the station, turning the old buildings into cozy homes and, from the looks of it, thriving. This is the first time polar bears are known to inhabit buildings by choice.
The future doesn’t just happen. We are building it, and we are building it all the time.
— Hannah Fry, British mathematician, author, lecturer
A special thanks to: Mandy Cavanaugh, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past.  If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.

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Joni Patry coming to TransitionTalks, February 2022

PostScript Insight – Fact Checking or Perception Management?