Volume 25, Number 6 – 3/15/22

View this email in your browser

Volume 25, Number 6 – 3/15/2022


  • The Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies are merging.
  • In a tissue engineering advance, sound waves are being used to turn stem cells into bone cells.
  • The World Banks estimates 5.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas is wasted annually by either flaring or being vented. A new technology can change that.
  • Holographic duality posits that the theory of gravity and the theory of particles are equivalent. At least, mathematically.

Penny Kelly
UFO’s, Aliens, Insights

Saturday, March 19th
in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

Penny Kelly is a naturopathic physician and a farmer.  She is a psychic … and an engineer … and a researcher in the science of how our reality manifests itself.  Along the way she has written or co-written 16 books and teaches advanced courses in developing intuition to students around the world. 

She’s also the only person that I – John Petersen – have ever met that claims to come from another star system … and remembers all of how that happened.  She came here to help humanity during this transition.

She also knows how space ships operate, extraterrestrial societies are organized and work, how this part of the galaxy runs and who is in charge, etc., and has interacted with “anomalous aerial phenomenology” and those who operate the craft. 

Sounds a bit wild and crazy, but it is amazing and fascinating when you talk to her about these subjects. And that is exactly what we are going to do at Penny’s upcoming TransitionTalk on the 19th of March.  I will interview her and ask the most provocative questions that I can … and then we’ll open the place up for questions from the audience and livestream participants. 

Over the many years that I have known Penny, we have had some of the most interesting conversations that I’ve ever had with anyone about these kinds of subjects, so I thought it would be timely and most informative to bring you into that conversation, and that’s what we’re going to do. 

I can promise you that this will be one of the most memorable events that you ever attend.  Not only is the subject matter “out of this world,” but the authority and insights that Penny Kelly brings to these discussions are unlike anything you have probably ever experienced before.  You’ll leave with a whole new perspective about what and who exists around (and on) this planet and be far better prepared for the extraordinary changes that are inbound for all of us. 

Do come. 19th of March at 1PM – either here personally in Berkeley Springs or by livestream (wherever you are).

Click below for more information about this event and to get tickets.
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.

Penny Kelly is an author, teacher, speaker, publisher, personal and spiritual consultant, and Naturopathic physician. She travels, lectures, and teaches a variety of classes and workshops, and maintains a large consulting practice. She has been involved in scientific research and investigations into consciousness at Pinelandia Laboratory near Ann Arbor, MI.

Annual Premium Members receive a 10% discount
AUTOMATICALLY at checkout!
Please be sure you are logged in when you order.
Click Here for Tickets and More Info
Penny Kelly, ND, talks with John L. Petersen about her upcoming TransitionTALK.

Spike Protein Detox Guide – (World Council for Health – January 10, 2022)

The spike protein can be found in all SARS-CoV-2 variants. It is also produced in your body when you get a Covid-19 injection. Even if you have not had any symptoms, tested positive for Covid-19, or experienced adverse side effects after a jab, there may still be lingering spike proteins inside your body. In order to clear these after the jab or an infection, doctors and holistic practitioners are suggesting a few simple actions.  If you have had Covid-19, have recently had a Covid-19 injection, or are experiencing symptoms that may be related to Covid-19 vaccine transmission (also called shedding), you may benefit from using one or more items from our list of medicines and supplements to reduce spike protein load. The spike protein, which is both a part of the Covid-19 virus and is produced in our bodies after inoculation, can circulate around our bodies causing damage to cells, tissues, and organs. Many people have been unable to find help for spike protein related illness (also called spikopathy) through existing healthcare services. This information is relevant if you have experienced adverse reactions after a jab, have Long Covid, or have post Covid-Injection Syndrome (pCoIS). About this guide: This is an evolving guide with emerging information on how to clear viral and vaccine-induced spike proteins from the body. The lists of herbal and other medicines and supplements have been compiled in a collaboration between international doctors, scientists, and holistic medical practitioners.

COVID Vaccines – What Happened to ‘Safe and Effective’? – (American Thinker – March 7, 2022)

Major medical institutions such as Johns Hopkins University have echoed Dr. Fauci and the CDC saying, “The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are strongly recommended as safe and effective at preventing serious illness or death from COVID-19.” The mission of the FDA is to protect public health by, “ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices,” and vaccines certainly fall into this category. Recently, the FDA released, under orders from a U.S. District Judge, 55,000 pages of clinical trial documents which Pfizer submitted to the FDA as part of the approval process. Originally the FDA wanted to suppress this data for 75 years as they had “limited resources” to prepare this data for release, yet they took approximately 75 days to review and analyze this same data before granting approval. In the appendix is a “List of adverse events of special interest,” noting 1,291 different adverse events post-vaccination, running 9 pages. There is always the issue of association versus causation, but the fact that Pfizer submitted this data to the FDA and the FDA fought to prevent its release raises red flags. Aside from the FDA submission, there is the VAERS database that specially tracks vaccine-related adverse effects. From that report: “Additionally, there have been 4,021 cases of myocarditis and pericarditis in the U.S. with 2,475 cases associated with Pfizer, 1,364 cases with Moderna and 171 cases with J&J’s COVID vaccine. These include 643 reports of myocarditis and pericarditis in children aged 12 to 17.” The U.S. Department of Defense also reported, “Sharp spikes in miscarriages, myocarditis, cancer diagnoses, Bell’s palsy, female infertility” post-vaccination. Then there is the question of efficacy. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky last admitted that the CDC dropped the ball on honesty saying, the CDC mislead the public about long-term effectiveness with “too little caution and too much optimism.” She went further, “Nobody said ‘waning’ when this vaccine is going to work, oh, maybe it will wear off or not be as potent against the new variant.”

The Russia-Ukraine Conflict Has Thrust Crypto into the Spotlight and Raised 3 Big Questions – (CNBC – March 4, 2022)

The role of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin has been a key talking point during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the enacting of sanctions and subsequent financial market turmoil. And it has thrown up three big questions about how it is being used and what its future looks like. Article discusses those questions: Can cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin be used by Russia to avoid sanctions?; Is Bitcoin finally becoming ‘digital gold’?; and Has blockchain tech proven its utility?

A Deepening Crisis Forces Physicists to Rethink Structure of Nature’s Laws – (Quanta – March 1, 2022)

Despite a major upgrade in 2016, the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva still hadn’t conjured up any of the new elementary particles that theorists had been expecting for decades. The swarm of additional particles would have solved a major puzzle about an already known one, the famed Higgs boson. The hierarchy problem, as the puzzle is called, asks why the Higgs boson is so lightweight — a hundred million billion times less massive than the highest energy scales that exist in nature. The Higgs mass seems unnaturally dialed down relative to these higher energies, as if huge numbers in the underlying equation that determines its value all miraculously cancel out. The extra particles would have explained the tiny Higgs mass, restoring what physicists call “naturalness” to their equations. But after the LHC became the third and biggest collider to search in vain for them, it seemed that the very logic about what’s natural in nature might be wrong. “We are confronted with the need to reconsider the guiding principles that have been used for decades to address the most fundamental questions about the physical world,” Gian Giudice, head of the theory division at CERN, the lab that houses the LHC, wrote in 2017. Not only had the $10 billion proton smasher failed to answer a 40-year-old question, but the very beliefs and strategies that had long guided particle physics could no longer be trusted. Many particle physicists migrated to other research areas, “where the puzzle hasn’t gotten as hard as the hierarchy problem,” said Nathaniel Craig, a theoretical physicist at UCSB. Some of those who remained set to work scrutinizing decades-old assumptions. Their introspection is bearing fruit. Researchers are increasingly zeroing in on what they see as a weakness in the conventional reasoning about naturalness. Researchers are increasingly zeroing in on what they see as a weakness in the conventional reasoning about naturalness. It rests on a seemingly benign assumption, one that has been baked into scientific outlooks since ancient Greece: Big stuff consists of smaller, more fundamental stuff — an idea known as reductionism. In a slew of recent papers, researchers have thrown reductionism to the wind. This article explores some of that research.

Andromeda and Milky Way Galaxies Are Merging – (EarthSky – March 2, 2022)

The Andromeda galaxy, the nearest spiral galaxy to our Milky Way, isn’t noticeable in our night sky, unless you look for it. Under dark skies, however, you can see it without optical aid, but only as a barely visible fuzzy patch of light. But one day, far in the future, Andromeda will be bright in our sky, appearing to grow larger and larger as it gets closer to us. And even though the two galaxies are still 2.5 million light-years apart, the eventual merger of our two galaxies has, in fact, already begun. The Andromeda galaxy is currently racing toward our Milky Way at a speed of about 70 miles (113 km) per second. With this in mind, our merger will occur five billion years from now. But, in August 2020, the peer-reviewed Astrophysical Journal published new research revealing that the collision between our galaxies is already underway. The Andromeda galaxy, our Milky Way and other galaxies all sit enshrouded in a large envelope – called a galactic halo – which consists of gas, dust and stray stars. When astronomers measured the size of the halo of the Andromeda galaxy by looking at how much it absorbed light from background quasars. They were surprised to find that the Andromeda galaxy’s halo stretches much, much farther beyond its visible boundaries. Indeed, it extends as far as half the distance to our Milky Way (1.3 million light-years) and even farther in other directions (up to 2 million light-years). Because Andromeda and the Milky Way are so similar in size and appearance, scientists have assume that the halo of the Milky Way would be similar in size. In other words, it’s the faint halos of the galaxies that indeed appear to have started to touch one another. Thus, in a manner of speaking, the collision between our two galaxies has already started.

Deepest Hole Drilled in the Name of Science Evidences Precambrian Life – (Principia Scientific – March 7, 2022)

In the late 1950s and early 1960s Americans and Soviets began planning separate efforts to drill as deep as possible into the Earth’s crust, the rocky shell that comprises the outer 30-50 km of the 6730 km distance to our planet’s core. The American “Project Mohole,” stationed off the Pacific coast of Mexico, was cut short in 1966 due to lack of funding but set an important precedent for future off-shore drilling programs. The Soviets had greater success. From 1970 to 1994 their drill on the Kola Peninsula chipped slowly away to create a Earth-shattering record at the time: the deepest hole in the world. In actuality, the Kola Superdeep Borehole consists of several holes branching from one central hole. The deepest hole is called “SG-3,” and though just nine inches in diameter, it extends down a staggering 7.5 miles. That’s roughly a third of the way through the Baltic continental crust. To meet scientific objectives and provide a nearly continuous look at the crust’s profile, the Soviets even developed instruments to take direct physical measurements at the bottom of the borehole. The drilling apparatus thus allowed for greater measurement integrity, since rock samples would deform under their incredible internal pressure when brought to the surface. The most intriguing discovery made by the Kola borehole researchers is undoubtedly the detection of biological activity in rocks more than two billion years old. The clearest evidence of life came in the form of microscopic fossils encased in organic compounds that remained surprisingly intact despite the extreme pressures and temperatures of the surrounding rock. While data produced by the Kola drilling project continues to be analyzed, the drilling itself was forced to stop in the early 1990s when unexpectedly high temperatures were encountered. While the temperature gradient conformed to predictions down to a depth of about 10,000 feet, temperatures after this point increased at a higher rate until they reached 180 °C (or 356 °F) at the bottom of the hole. This was a drastic difference from the expected 100 °C (212 °F). Also unexpected was a decrease in rock density after the first 14,800 feet. Beyond this point the rock had greater porosity and permeability which, paired with the high temperatures, caused the rock to behave more like a plastic than a solid and made drilling near impossible.

Sound Waves Convert Stem Cells Into Bone in Regenerative Breakthrough – (Good News Network – February 24, 2022)

Researchers have used sound waves to turn stem cells into bone cells, in a tissue engineering advance that could one day help patients regrow bone lost to cancer or degenerative disease. The innovative stem cell treatment from RMIT researchers offers a smart way forward for overcoming some of the field’s biggest challenges. Tissue engineering is an emerging field that aims to rebuild bone and muscle by harnessing the human body’s natural ability to heal itself. A key challenge in regrowing bone is the need for large amounts of bone cells that will thrive and flourish once implanted in the target area. To date, experimental processes to change adult stem cells into bone cells have used complicated and expensive equipment and have struggled with mass production, making widespread clinical application unrealistic. Additionally, the few clinical trials attempting to regrow bone have largely used stem cells extracted from a patient’s bone marrow—a highly painful procedure. The RMIT research team showed stem cells treated with high-frequency sound waves turned into bone cells quickly and efficiently. Importantly, the treatment was effective on multiple types of cells including fat-derived stem cells, which are far less painful to extract from a patient.  “The sound waves cut the treatment time usually required to get stem cells to begin to turn into bone cells by several days,” said Gelmi, a Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow at RMIT.  “This method also doesn’t require any special ‘bone-inducing’ drugs and it’s very easy to apply to the stem cells. The high-frequency sound waves used in the stem cell treatment were generated on a low-cost microchip device developed by RMIT. The next stage in the research is investigating methods to upscale the platform, working towards the development of practical bioreactors to drive efficient stem cell differentiation.

The End of Inflammation? New Approach Could Treat Dozens of Diseases. – (National Geographic – March 4, 2022)

“Simply stopping inflammation is not enough to return tissue to its normal state,” says Ruslan Medzhitov, a professor of immunobiology at Yale School of Medicine. This approach ignores the other side of the inflammation coin: resolution. Resolving inflammation is an active, highly choreographed process for rebuilding tissue and removing the dead bacteria and cells. When that process is disrupted, inflammatory diseases arise. In the early 2000s researchers began to recognize the role of inflammation in conditions as varied as Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, prompting them to recast inflammation as the unifying explanation for a myriad of ailments, including those we develop as we age. Even aging itself, and its associated pathologies, is driven by persistent inflammation. “Until relatively recently, we believed that inflammation just stopped,” says Molly Gilligan, an internal medicine resident at Columbia University who studies how the immune system impacts cancer development. Immunologists thought that products of inflammation—molecules that trigger it and dead cells and tissue—are eventually metabolized, or spontaneously dissipate on their own. The reality is more complicated, and recognizing that could have game-changing effects on how we treat a wide swath of diseases. Medzhitov likens an infection to a broken pipe that has flooded an office with water. Fixing the pipe might stop water from streaming in, but it doesn’t restore the office to its previous, functional state. Similarly, inflammation has a clean-up phase known as resolution, and it proceeds in a series of highly coordinated steps. Like inflammation’s onset, its resolution is orchestrated by an army of signaling molecules. Among the most intensely studied are the specialized pro-resolving mediators, or SPMs, which were discovered in the 1990s by Charles Serhan, a professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School. The article discusses current research regarding SPMs.

Neuroscientists Find Two Types of Brain Cells That Help Us Make Memories – (Science Alert – March 7, 2022)

Researchers have discovered two types of human brain cells that physically help us form memories. These cells play a significant role in dividing continuous conscious experience into distinct segments that can be recalled in the future. Similar to how we perceive objects and entities in the world, our memories have clear boundaries, and in the new study, neuroscientists ask if the neurophysiological formation of memories reflects the discrete character of memories in our conscious experience. The team gathered data from epilepsy patients who had electrodes surgically implanted into their brains to locate where their seizures were taking place. With their consent, epilepsy patients often take part in neuroscientific studies due to these useful intracranial electrodes. They allowed investigators to record the activity of individual neurons while patients viewed film clips with ‘cognitive boundaries’. While these boundaries in our daily lives may be nuanced and less obvious, scientists, for research purposes, focused on what they called ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ boundaries. Ueli Rutishauser, a neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai hospital, interim director of the Center for Neural Science and Medicine, and co-author of the study, said, “The difference between hard and soft boundaries is in the size of the deviation from the ongoing narrative. Is it a totally different story, or like a new scene from the same story?” Researchers were able to find two types of cells that responded to these cognitive boundaries: ‘boundary cells’, that responded to both soft boundaries and hard boundaries, and ‘event cells’ that responded solely to hard boundaries. Article explains the research and its findings more fully.

An ‘Oracle’ for Predicting the Evolution of Gene Regulation – (PhysOrg – March 9, 2022)

Despite the sheer number of genes that each human cell contains, these so-called “coding” DNA sequences comprise just 1% of our entire genome. The remaining 99% is made up of “non-coding” DNA—which, unlike coding DNA, does not carry the instructions to build proteins. One vital function of this non-coding DNA, also called “regulatory” DNA, is to help turn genes on and off, controlling how much (if any) of a protein is made. Over time, as cells replicate their DNA to grow and divide, mutations often crop up in these non-coding regions. Many of these mutations are trivial, and some are even beneficial. Occasionally, though, they can be associated with increased risk of common diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, or more life-threatening ones, including cancer. Now, a team of scientists has developed a framework for studying the fitness landscapes of regulatory DNA. They created a neural network model that, when trained on hundreds of millions of experimental measurements, was capable of predicting how changes to these non-coding sequences in yeast affected gene expression. They also devised a unique way of representing the landscapes in two dimensions, making it easy to understand the past and forecast the future evolution of non-coding sequences in organisms beyond yeast—and even design custom gene expression patterns for gene therapies and industrial applications. Prior to this study, many researchers had simply trained their models on known mutations (or slight variations thereof) that exist in nature. However, Aviv Regev, a professor of biology at MIT and the study’s senior author, and colleagues wanted to go a step further by creating their own unbiased models capable of predicting an organism’s fitness and gene expression based on any possible DNA sequence—even sequences they’d never seen before. This would also enable researchers to use such models to engineer cells for pharmaceutical purposes, including new treatments for cancer and autoimmune disorders.

An Extinct Rat Shows CRISPR’s Limits for Resurrecting Species – (Science News – March 8, 2022)

With the advent of gene-editing technology such as CRISPR, scientists have shifted from cloning to genetic engineering as the most promising method for “de-extinction,” or the resurrection of species that have died out. But unlike cloning, genetic engineering wouldn’t create an exact replica of an extinct species. Instead, the technique would edit an existing animal’s genome so that it resembles that of the desired extinct animal. The challenge is making that proxy as similar to the extinct species as possible. To explore the limits of this method, researchers attempted to recover the genome of the Christmas Island rat. By comparing fragments of the extinct rat’s genetic instruction book with the genome of a living relative, the Norway brown rat, the team was able to recover about 95% of the extinct genome. That sounds like a lot, but it means that 5% of the genes were still missing, including some important to smell and the immune system, scientists report. “You can only bring back what you can find. And our point is we can’t find everything,” says Tom Gilbert, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Copenhagen. Gilbert doesn’t think it’s likely that anyone will try to de-extinct a rat. But he says that what the team has demonstrated could prove useful for people working on even more ambitious projects, like bringing back the woolly mammoth. The divergence between the Norway brown rat and the extinct Christmas Island rat, for example, is similar to that between the Asian elephant and woolly mammoth. “By doing these kinds of analyses, which is not hard to do, you can at least come up with the what will you get, what will you not get, and you can use that to decide is it worth doing,” Gilbert says. “As a science, it’s awesome,” he adds. But “is this the best use of the money in a world where we can’t keep our rhinos alive?”

Cancelling Trees – (Real Climate Science – March 12, 2022)

The tree ring record was reliable for a thousand years, but didn’t match tampered government thermometer data. So climate scientists cancelled the trees. In this 8 minute video clip, Tony Heller compares temperature charts from various sources including a report from the UN Intergovernmental  Panel on Climate Change.  That report showed that we are just emerging from the coldest period during the last 10,000 years. The report also showed that temperatures around the year 1300 were considerably warmer than they were during the 20th century. The graph also showed that temperatures peaked around 1940 and had declined. More at the link.

Global Wind Currents – (Null School – no date)

About a decade ago, a couple of Google researchers, Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, created visualizations of wind currents around the US using weather service data. These days, the wind map is global, built by developer Cameron Beccario and updated every three hours using global forecast data. So are ocean waves (hit “earth” at the bottom left to bring up the toggle box) and a lot more. They’re mesmerizing. And there’s a whole Facebook community dedicated to visualizations like these. Put your cursor anywhere on the map to find the longitude, latitude, and current wind speed. And check out the wind currents around Antarctica – they are incredibly complex.

A Tribute to a Leopard, Fig – (YouTube – March 8, 2022)

This 3.5 minute video clip from Great Plains Conservation honors the memory of Fig, a leopard who lived in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Fig’s hunting and nurturing inspired many of the Reserve’s guests, who spent tens of thousands of hours with her. One of her cubs, Toto, inspired our film, Jade Eyed Leopard.

U.N. Adopts Historic Resolution Aimed at Ending Plastic Pollution – (Washington Post – March 2, 2022)

For the first time, the international community has agreed on a framework to curb the world’s growing plastic problem. A resolution adopted by the United Nations lays out an ambitious plan for developing a legally binding treaty to “end plastic pollution.” It calls for the creation of an intergovernmental negotiating committee to hash out details of a treaty by the end of 2024. The committee’s mandate includes all phases of the plastic life cycle — from design and production to waste management. It comes at a time when the world produces billions of pounds of plastic waste annually — about 353 million tons in 2019, according to a recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and amid mounting scientific concerns about issues such as marine plastic debris and the potential impact of microplastics. Among the achievements in the resolution, its final version specifically charged the negotiating committee with looking at plastic production, included the option for a dedicated fund to help finance the treaty and mentioned human health impacts of plastic pollution. Getting from resolution to treaty will not be easy. “The fact that they are headed toward binding rules I take as a very good sign,” said Steven Blackledge, who runs the conservation program at the nonprofit group Environment America. “The devil is in the details.” The U.N. negotiating committee will have a multitude of specifics to wade through in a relatively short time. Among the many items, any treaty will have to tackle reporting standards, financing mechanisms and, perhaps the thorniest issue, plastic production. “The million-dollar question is how much we’ll talk about reducing the production of virgin plastic,” said David Azoulay, a lawyer at the Center for International Environmental Law.

Swedish Study Says 5G Causes Microwave Syndrome – (Principia Scientific – March 11, 2022)

The first-ever study of the health effects (publication is in Swedish) of 5G radiation on humans shows that 5G causes typical symptoms of microwave syndrome and a massive increase in microwave radiation. The case study also confirms that radiation well below levels allowed by the authorities causes ill health. The Swedish Radiation Protection Foundation study was published in Medicinsk Access no. 1/2022. It was carried out by the oncologist and researcher Lennart Hardell from the Research Foundation for Environment & Cancer and Mona Nilsson from the Radiation Protection Foundation. The study concerns the health consequences for a man and a woman who received a 5G base station directly above the apartment, only 5 meters above the bedroom. Measurements before and after the installation of 5G on the roof showed that 5G caused a massive increase in radiation in the apartment. Before 5G, there were already base stations for 3G or 4G in the same place directly above the apartment, but switching to 5G technology led to an increase in radiation from 9,000 microW / m2 to a maximum of 1,690,000 microW / m2. What is shown in this study on the health effects of microwave radiation from 5G is consistent with the symptoms that have been described over 50 years ago as an effect of whole-body exposure to microwave radiation and were called microwave syndrome. In addition to showing that 5G causes microwave syndrome reasonably immediately, the case study also shows that 5G leads to a massive increase in radiation in our environment.

Natural Gas Refining Process Results in Industry Breakthrough – (Principia Scientific – March 7, 2022)

With the help of a Texas A&M University chemical engineering professor, a Dallas-based gas-to-liquids (GTL) energy firm has developed what it labels as the industry’s first commercially viable process for converting natural gas into useable fuels. The result could mean millions of barrels of new petroleum products – all produced more efficiently and in an environmentally friendly method. Synfuels International, Inc., has patented a method for refining natural gas that will enable the firm to take advantage of existing natural gas deposits. Prior to this technology, those deposits have remained untapped for a number of reasons, said Ben R. Weber, chairman and CEO of Synfuels International. Quadrillions of cubic feet of natural gas exist globally, but because of geographical barriers, transportability, undesirable product contents, or non-existing entry points to commercial markets, those deposits lay dormant in areas such as Peruvian jungles or Indonesian islands. In addition, World Banks estimates another 5.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas is wasted annually by either flaring or being vented, said Thomas R. Rolfe, president of Synfuels International. “Flaring” occurs when natural gas is inefficiently burned into the atmosphere during the refining process. Currently, an amount equivalent to 25% of the United States’ annual gas consumption is lost in this manner, he said. Kenneth R. Hall, a professor in the university’s Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, developed the process – the result of nearly 10 years of work – which will address both of those issues. Not only will it enable Synfuels to convert natural gas to a clean-burning pipeline or tanker-ready liquid, it will do so in an efficient and environmentally friendly method, which still renders the liquid product competitive with the crude oil market, Weber said. Synfuels intends to develop the world’s first commercially viable GTL plant in Kuwait. The new facility, once completed, will have the capabilities to produce high-octane fuels, which may be used to power any motorized vehicle including aircraft and automobiles, with only the need to flare a small amount of gas to remove nitrogen from the process stream.

Cybercriminals Who Breached Nvidia Issue One of the Most Unusual Demands Ever – (Ars Technica – March 3, 2022)

Data extortionists who stole up to 1 terabyte of data from Nvidia have delivered one of the most unusual ultimatums ever in the annals of cybercrime: allow Nvidia’s graphics cards to mine cryptocurrencies faster or face the imminent release of the company’s crown-jewel source code. A ransomware group calling itself Lapsus$ claimed that it had hacked into Nvidia’s corporate network and stolen more than 1TB of data. Included in the theft, the group claims, are schematics and source code for drivers and firmware. A relative newcomer to the ransomware scene, Lapsus$ has already published one tranche of leaked files, which among other things included the usernames and cryptographic hashes for 71,335 of the chipmaker’s employees. The group then went on to make the highly unusual demand: remove a feature known as LHR, short for “Lite Hash Rate,” or see the further leaking of stolen data. “We decided to help mining and gaming community,” Lapsus$ members wrote in broken English. “We want nvidia to push an update for all 30 series firmware that remove every lhr limitations otherwise we will leak hw folder. If they remove the lhr we will forget about hw folder (it’s a big folder). We both know lhr impact mining and gaming.” Nvidia introduced LHR in February 2021 with the launch of its GeForce RTX 3060 models. Three months later, the company brought LHR to its GeForce RTX 3080, 3070, and 3060 Ti graphics cards. The reason: to make the cards less desirable to people mining Ethereum and possibly other types of cryptocurrencies. LHR works by looking for specific attributes of the Ethereum mining algorithm. When one of those attributes is found, LHR limits the hash rate, which dictates mining efficiency, by around 50%. In recent years, the soaring prices of cryptocurrencies have created enormous demand for the cards because the cards are generally much faster and more efficient in performing the intensive computations required during the mining process. The demand has led to a shortage that has often made GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit) virtually impossible for gaming enthusiasts to buy.

What Lies Beneath: Vets Worry Polluted Base Made Them Ill – (Associated Press – February 23, 2022)

For nearly 80 years, recruits reporting to central California’s Fort Ord considered themselves the lucky ones, privileged to live and work amid sparkling seas, sandy dunes and sage-covered hills. But there was an underside: the dirty work of soldiering. Recruits tossed live grenades into the canyons of “Mortar Alley,” sprayed soapy chemicals on burn pits of scrap metal and solvents, poured toxic substances down drains and into leaky tanks they buried underground. When it rained, poisons percolated into aquifers from which they drew drinking water. But in 1990, four years before it began the process of closing as an active military training base, Fort Ord was added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the most polluted places in the nation. Included in that pollution were dozens of chemicals, some now known to cause cancer, found in the base’s drinking water and soil. Decades later, several Fort Ord veterans who were diagnosed with cancers — especially rare blood disorders — took the question to Facebook: Soon, the group grew to hundreds of people who had lived or served at Fort Ord and were concerned that their health problems might be tied to the chemicals there. Local utilities, the Defense Department and some in the Department of Veterans Affairs insist Fort Ord’s water is safe and always has been. But the VA’s own hazardous materials exposure website, along with scientists and doctors, agree that dangers do exist for military personnel exposed to contaminants. The problem is not just at Fort Ord. This is happening all over the U.S. and abroad, almost everywhere the military has set foot, and the federal government is still learning about the extent of both the pollution and the health effects of its toxic legacy. The AP’s review of public documents shows the Army knew that chemicals had been improperly dumped at Fort Ord for decades. Despite the military’s claims that there aren’t any health problems associated with living and serving at Fort Ord, nor hundreds of other shuttered military bases, almost every closure has exposed widespread toxic pollution and required a massive cleanup. Dozens have contaminated groundwater, from Fort Dix in New Jersey to Adak Naval Air Station in Alaska. Fort Ord is 25 years into its cleanup as a federal Superfund site, and it’s expected to continue for decades. What is known is that veterans in general have higher blood cancer rates than the general population, according to VA cancer data. And in the region that includes Fort Ord, veterans have a 35% higher rate of multiple myeloma diagnosis than the general U.S. population.

Russia Sanctions Blowback Only Beginning: Globalization in the Crosshairs, Russian Retaliation Coming?  – (Naked Capitalism – March 10, 2022)

Because financial and real economy effects occur in very different time scales, we are in a phase similar to the runup to the global financial crisis, where it was clear Something Bad to Horrible was underway, yet the press and pols were largely sanguine. The reason the blowback from the sanctions could be cataclysmic is that trying to isolate one of the biggest commodity producers in the world, with significant market share in many critical ones, will soon hit Covid-stressed supply chains. And if the economic brinksmanship isn’t dialed down soon, we’ll see tightly-coupled systems start to go critical. And recall that the defining characteristic of a tightly coupled process is that a shock moves through the system so quickly that it can’t be interrupted (or may not be reversible at all. Mind you, that does not necessarily mean it moves quickly in clock time. Unprecedented economic measures, like preventing Russia’s central bank from using $300 billion of its foreign exchange reserves. Even the Financial Times politely pointed out that that move would focus the minds of other central bankers. As various commentators have pointed out, this move alone is a strong impetus of the heretofore slow-moving trend for China and other major non-Western economies to move away from the dollar, which has been a powerful tool of American economic and increasingly foreign policy. Another source of pain we’ve mentioned more than once is fertilizer. Russia and Ukraine provide roughly 40% of global supply. Fertilizer was already expected to be in short supply before the war. It’s hard to ship it given the inability to use the Black Sea and difficulties in getting paid. A lack of fertilizer means greatly reduced output of grains and famine. That will be compounded by reduced wheat exports from Russia and Ukraine. Similarly, Russia is a critically important supplier of aluminum, necessary for airplanes and other equipment, and metals used in non-electric cars. It was possible to work around chip shortages to a degree. Metals are a much more binding constraint. And car prices were already a big driver of headline inflation.

Ukraine Tweeted Its Crypto Wallet, and Got $4 Million in Donations – (Buzz Feed – February 26, 2022)

Just days after Russia invaded Ukraine, the country’s official Twitter account tweeted out a call for donations through bitcoin, ethereum, and the stablecoin tether. The vice prime minister of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, confirmed on his Twitter account that the call for donations was real. After hearing from the vice prime minister, Buterin tweeted that he had received confirmation, but encouraged people to always be cautious when sending donations in cryptocurrency. So far, according to the ledger, the largest donation of 100ETH (approximately $278,000) has come from Deepak Thapliyal, the CEO of, a blockchain technology company. “When I realized the Ukrainian government had requested donations in the form of crypto, I felt compelled to do my part to help,” Thapiyal explained. “Crypto donations are borderless and near instant, so I am hoping that the government there can tap into it as soon as possible to help the people in need.” Ukrainian NGOs and volunteer groups have a history of accepting bitcoin. The volunteer group Come Back Alive, which provides supplies to the Ukrainian military, has asked for donations in crypto since 2018, according to the blockchain analytics company Elliptic. In a report, Elliptic said that the government and NGOs have received $11 million in crypto donations since the invasion began. The nation is particularly poised to handle crypto donations. This fall, it passed a law to legalize and regulate bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, making it one of a handful of countries to have embraced crypto. Ukraine’s low taxes and large pool of tech talent have made it a crypto hub.

Astronomers Discovered What’s Inside a Black Hole for the First Time Ever – (BGR – February 23, 2022)

Black holes could be a hologram. In fact, the entire universe could be a hologram. At least, that’s one part of the idea behind a recent study. The study is also an attempt to better understand the idea of holographic duality. Holographic duality is a mathematical conjecture that attempts to connect theories of particles and their interactions and the theory of gravity. Essentially, holographic duality posits that the theory of gravity and the theory of particles are equivalent. At least, mathematically. Thus, what happens mathematically in the theory of gravity also happens in the theory of particles. For the most part, both of these theories describe different dimensions. However, gravity describes three dimensions, whereas particle theory consists of only two dimensions. The researchers hoped that probing this idea could help them understand what’s inside a black hole. Enrico Rinaldi, a research scientist at the University of Michigan, noted, “In Einstein’s General Relativity theory, there are no particles—there’s just space-time. And in the Standard Model of particle physics, there’s no gravity, there’s just particles. Connecting the two different theories is a longstanding issue in physics—something people have been trying to do since the last century.” Is the universe really a hologram? The article explains why the researchers say “Yes, and no.”

The Weather on This Exoplanet Includes Metal Clouds and Rain Made of Precious Gems – (CNN – February 21, 2022)

A massive gas giant orbiting a star about 855 light-years from Earth, WASP-121b may have metal clouds and rain made of liquid gems, according to new research. A study showing how water atmospherically cycles between the planet’s two sides was published in the journal Nature Astronomy. The planet, first discovered in 2015, is considered to be an ultrahot Jupiter-like planet because it’s hotter and has a greater mass and diameter than the largest planet in our solar system. Since then, researchers have made discoveries that show WASP-121b only gets stranger the more they learn. The exoplanet has a glowing water vapor atmosphere and is being deformed into the shape of a football due to the intense gravitational pull of the star it orbits. Every 30 hours, WASP-121b completes one orbit and is tidally locked, much like the moon is to Earth. That means one side of the planet, the dayside, always faces the star. The other side experiences a permanent night that faces space. On WASP-121b, water goes through a vicious cycle. The water atoms are ripped apart by the blazing hot temperatures experienced by the planet on the dayside. These atoms are carried over to the nightside by winds that reach more than 11,000 miles per hour (17,703 kilometers per hour). There, the molecules come together once more to form water before being shoved over to the dayside again. “These winds are much faster than our jet stream, and can probably move clouds across the entire planet in about 20 hours,” said study coauthor Tansu Daylan, a postdoctoral research fellow in astrophysics at MIT. The temperature differences between the two sides of the planet also mean that the nightside is cool enough for metal clouds made of iron and corundum to form. Corundum is a mineral found in rubies and sapphires. Much like water vapor that gets cycled around on WASP-121b, these metal clouds may get shoved over to the dayside where the metals vaporize into gases. But before the clouds leave the nightside, they could release rain made of liquid gems.

Mysterious Repeating Fast Radio Burst Traced to Very Unexpected Location – (Science Alert – February 23, 2022)

A recently discovered repeating fast radio burst (FRB) named FRB 20200120E is deepening the mystery of these already deeply mysterious space signals. FRBs have been deviling scientists since the first one was discovered back in 2007. They consist of extremely powerful signals from deep space, millions of light-years away, some discharging more energy than 500 million Suns and only detected in radio wavelengths. Astronomers have tracked its location to a galaxy 11.7 million light-years away, which makes it the closest known extragalactic fast radio burst, 40 times closer than the next-closest extragalactic signal.  But it also appears in a globular cluster – a clump of very old stars, not the sort of place at all one might expect to find the type of star spitting out FRBs. Its discovery suggests a different formation mechanism for these stars, suggesting that FRBs could emerge from a wider range of environments than we thought.

Tiny Laser-propelled Spaceships Could Travel to the Far Reaches of the Solar System and Beyond – (Space – March 6, 2022)

Miniature spaceships the size of cellphones could fly across the solar system using sails propelled by lasers, which would allow the tiny spacecraft to reach much faster speeds — and, potentially, much more distant destinations — than conventionally powered rockets, a new study finds. Current spacecraft usually take years to make trips within the solar system; for example, NASA’s New Horizons probe took nearly 10 years to reach Pluto. Previous research has suggested that “light sailing” might be one of the only technically feasible ways to get a spacecraft to another star within a human lifetime. Although light does not exert much pressure, scientists have long suggested that what little pressure it does apply could have a major effect. Indeed, numerous experiments have shown that “solar sails” can rely on sunlight for propulsion if the spacecraft is light enough and has a large enough sail. Indeed, the $100 million Breakthrough Starshot initiative, announced in 2016, plans to launch swarms of microchip-size spacecraft to Alpha Centauri, each of them sporting extraordinarily thin, incredibly reflective sails propelled by the most powerful lasers ever built. The plan has them flying at up to 20% the speed of light, reaching Alpha Centauri in about 20 years. A major challenge Starshot faces is building the lasers needed for propulsion. It calls for a ground-based laser array on the order of 0.4 square miles (1 square kilometer) and as powerful as 100 gigawatts, which would be by far the most powerful laser ever made on Earth. In the new study, the researchers suggest that a more humble ground-based laser array — one that’s 3.3 to 33 feet (1 to 10 meters) wide and 100 kilowatts to 10 megawatts in power — could still prove useful by sending tiny probes across the solar system, propelling them to much faster speeds than rocket engines could. “Such lasers can be built already today with a relatively small investment,” said study senior author Artur Davoyan, a materials scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “We do not need to wait till a 100-gigawatt laser becomes available.”

NASA Just Opened a Sealed Lunar Sample Collected by Apollo Astronauts 50 Years Ago – (Space Daily – March 10, 2022)

NASA thinks 50 years is the right amount of time as it begins tapping into one of the last unopened, Apollo-era lunar samples to learn more about the Moon and prepare for a return to its surface. The sample is being opened at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston by the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division (ARES), which safeguards, studies, and shares NASA’s collection of extraterrestrial samples. This work is being led by the Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis Program (ANGSA), a science team who aim to learn more about the sample and the lunar surface in advance of the upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon’s South Pole. When Apollo astronauts returned these samples around 50 years ago, NASA had the foresight to keep some of them unopened and pristine. “The agency knew science and technology would evolve and allow scientists to study the material in new ways to address new questions in the future,” said Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. “The ANGSA initiative was designed to examine these specially stored and sealed samples.” Article details the new technology being used to study the sample and the possible discoveries.

Walmart Rolls Out a Tech Tool to Help Shoppers Try on Clothes Without Actually Trying Them on – (CNBC – March 2, 2022)

Instead of trying on a pile of clothing, online shoppers can turn to a high-tech tool on Walmart’s website and app to do the heavy lifting. The new tool, Choose My Model, allows a shopper to pick a person who resembles her height, shape and skin tone. The feature, powered by computer vision and artificial intelligence, shows how a clothing item would flow and fit on a similar body. The feature, which is in Beta, is available on select items across Walmart’s exclusive brands, including Free Assembly, Scoop and Sofia Jeans. The technology takes things a step further by making it easier for shoppers to imagine how clothing would look without stepping into a store. The next phase will be virtual try-on, which will allow shoppers to upload their own photos. Choose My Model is the first implementation of Zeekit, a start-up that Walmart acquired in May for an undisclosed amount. (Editor’s note: This does not yet appear to be available for men’s or children’s clothing, but we expect it is on the horizon, not only at Walmart but at most major online clothing merchandisers. But do you want to upload your personal photo, or your child’s, to Walmart or Amazon?)

Dreaming of Suitcases in Space – (New York Times – March 7, 2022)

The mission to turn space into the next frontier for express deliveries took off from a modest propeller plane above a remote airstrip in the shadow of the Santa Ana mountains. Inversion Space, a start-up that’s barely a year old, tossed a capsule resembling a flying saucer out the open door of an aircraft flying at 3,000 feet. The exercise looked like the work of amateur rocketry enthusiasts. In fact, it was a test run for something more fantastical. Inversion is building earth-orbiting capsules to deliver goods anywhere in the world from outer space. Inversion is betting that as it becomes cheaper to fly to space, government agencies and companies will want to not only send things to orbit but also bring items back to earth. Inversion aims to develop a four-foot-diameter capsule carrying a payload equivalent to the size of a few carry-on suitcases by 2025. Once in orbit, the capsule could, the company hopes, navigate itself to a private commercial space station or stay in orbit with solar panels until summoned back to earth. When it was time to return, the capsule could drop out of orbit and re-enter the atmosphere. The capsule would deploy a parachute to slow its descent and land within a radius of tens of miles from its target location. If Inversion is successful, it’s possible to imagine hundreds or thousands of containers floating around space for up to five years — like some (really) distant storage lockers. Inversion’s founders think what seems like a pipe dream may become more realistic as launch costs drop from current prices, which start at $1 million (and increase depending on weight) to share space on a SpaceX rocket. Inversion declined to offer an estimate of how much its capsules will cost.

Car Industry Woes Show How Global Conflicts Will Reshape Trade – (New York Times – March 7, 2022)

Automakers, with their global reach, complex supply chains and millions of employees, are a prime example of how the war in Ukraine could reshape international commerce. After trade wars and the pandemic exposed the acute vulnerability of global supply chains, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia will add to the pressure that corporations now face to manufacture closer to home and reduce the risk that turmoil in a faraway place will throw their operations into chaos. “The longer-term implications of this war are that we will see a faster de-globalization and a more fundamental move away from the — above all German — doctrine that economic interests often stand above foreign or security policy interests,” said Carsten Brzeski, an economist at the Dutch bank ING. “As a consequence, China could become less important as an export market for European carmakers.” China has become the world’s largest and fastest-growing car market and a crucial source of profit for most large automakers and suppliers, including U.S. companies like General Motors and Tesla. Volkswagen sells more than half the cars it makes in China, and the country accounts for about one-third of sales for BMW and Mercedes-Benz. China has also become a crucial source of refined lithium required for electric car batteries, as well as a major manufacturer of the batteries. The most immediate problem facing European carmakers is how to return production to normal after the Russian invasion cut off supplies of wiring systems made in western Ukraine. Supply chains were already severely strained by shortages of semiconductors and other parts. Ukraine had become a popular place to manufacture the systems, which connect electronic components like taillights or entertainment systems inside cars. The assembly is done largely by hand, requiring large numbers of skilled workers. So-called wiring harnesses are among the first components to be installed in a new vehicle, and their absence brings assembly lines to a standstill. War and sanctions could soon crimp supplies of raw materials for auto manufacturing from Russia and Ukraine. Those include palladium, used for antipollution equipment in cars, and nickel, essential for electric car batteries from Russia. Ukraine is a major source of neon, a gas used for high-performance lasers that, in turn, are required for production of scarce semiconductors.

Fraud Is Flourishing on Zelle. The Banks Say It’s Not Their Problem. – (New York Times – March 6, 2022)

Created in 2017 by America’s largest banks to enable instant digital money transfers, Zelle comes embedded in banking apps and is now by far the country’s most widely used money transfer service. Last year, people sent $490 billion through Zelle, compared with $230 billion through Venmo, its closest rival. Zelle’s immediacy has also made it favorite of fraudsters. Other types of bank transfers or transactions involving payment cards typically take at least a day to clear. But once crooks scare or trick victims into handing over money via Zelle, they can siphon away thousands of dollars in seconds. There’s no way for customers — and in many cases, the banks themselves — to retrieve the money. Nearly 18 million Americans were defrauded through scams involving digital wallets and person-to-person payment apps in 2020, according to Javelin Strategy & Research, an industry consultant. “Organized crime is rampant,” said John Buzzard, Javelin’s lead fraud analyst. “A couple years ago, we were just starting to talk about it” on apps like Zelle and Venmo, Mr. Buzzard said. “Now, it’s common and everywhere.” The banks are aware of the widespread fraud on Zelle. When one customer called Wells Fargo to report the crime, the customer service representative told him “a lot of people are getting scammed on Zelle this way.” Getting ripped off for $500 was “actually really good,” the rep said, because “many people were getting hit for thousands of dollars.” It’s not clear who is legally liable for such losses. Banks say that returning money to defrauded customers is not their responsibility, since the federal law covering electronic transfers — known in the industry as Regulation E — only requires them to cover “unauthorized” transactions, and the fairly common scam that customers fall prey to being tricked into making the transfers themselves. Victims say because they were duped into sending the money, the transaction is unauthorized. Regulatory guidance has so far been murky. Many swindled customers, already upset to find themselves on the hook, are enraged to find out that Zelle is owned and operated by banks. “It’s like the banks have colluded with the sleazebags on the street to be able to steal,” said Bruce Barth, another victim. In late 2020, Mr. Barth was hospitalized with Covid-19 and his phone disappeared from his hospital room. A thief got access to his digital wallet and ran up charges on his credit card, took out cash at an A.T.M. and used Zelle to make three transfers totaling $2,500. All three accounts were at Bank of America, where Mr. Barth has been a customer for more than 30 years. When he filed fraud reports, the bank quickly refunded his cash and credit card losses. But it denied his claims for the Zelle thefts, saying the transactions were validated by authentication codes sent to a phone that had been previously used for that account. Bank of America was essentially saying that the Zelle transactions were authorized — even if his phone was stolen. The Zelle network is operated by Early Warning Services, a company created and owned by seven banks: Bank of America, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC, Truist, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.

Parallel Timelines – (Charles Eisenstein – March 7, 2022)

Archeological evidence exists in diverse parts of the world to confirm that ancient peoples had the means to erect stone structures for which there is no known adequate technology. There are some alternative archaeological narratives that attempt to explain the artifacts. As Eisenstein puts it, “It is as if two historical timelines present themselves for our consideration. The observer chooses which reality to occupy, and cannot occupy both. Each is inconsistent with the other.” And neither of those perspectives is entirely satisfactory. But what if there is another possibility entirely? “Modernized humans, immersed in a Cartesian worldview, typically assume that while there may be many possible futures, there is only one past. The past cannot change. Our information about it may change, but what has happened has happened. But could it be that the past itself (not only our interpretation of it) changes as we change? Could it be that existence—past, present, or future—is relationship and not an absolute, observer-independent fact?” His is definitely a “wooly” hypothesis, but Eisenstein makes his case well and it is at least worth consideration. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article even if for nothing more than a little imagination stretching.)

A Psychedelic May Soon Go to the FDA for Approval to Treat Trauma – (Scientific American – February 1, 2022)

PTSD is characterized by the reliving of unwelcome traumatic memories, and according to the National Center for PTSD, upward of 15 million people in the U.S. suffer from this debilitating condition in any given year. MDMA, short for 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is an amphetaminelike compound that was first developed by European pharmaceutical giant Merck in 1912 as part of a research program on blood-clotting agents. Shelved for years, it was resynthesized by chemist Alexander Shulgin in the 1970s and immortalized in his book PiHKAL, which contains a recipe for MDMA. In 1985 the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classified MDMA as a Schedule I substance, making its possession a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The National Institutes of Health subsequently spent two decades funding research that suggested MDMA is neurotoxic and often lethal. These data were later retracted after it was revealed that amphetamine, not MDMA, had caused the reported neurotoxicity. But it has taken us years to get beyond sensationalistic antidrug propaganda posters in which phrases such as “This is your brain on Ecstasy” were splashed atop artificially colored brain scans, making it look as if MDMA, as one DEA official put it, “turns your brain into Swiss cheese.” More recent animal data indicate that MDMA helps to extinguish memories of fearful experiences and impairs the reactivation of traumatic memories in rodents. If MDMA can truly soften the grip of negative memories, how do we take the next step toward evaluating and developing it as a potential therapeutic drug for veterans, victims of physical and sexual assault, and survivors of natural disasters who experience PTSD? This article examines the regulatory, compliance, and manufacturing issues that are on the table before MDMA can be approved and used for treatment. 
They Bought a Caribbean Island to Start Their Own Country – (CNN – March 10, 2022)
Marshall Mayer is co-founder of Let’s Buy an Island, an ambitious project that in 2018 set out to crowdfund the purchase of an island. By December 2019, the group’s aspirations became reality, raising over $250,000 to complete the purchase of Coffee Caye, a 1.2-acre, uninhabited island off the coast of Belize. The investors weren’t just buying into a share of Belizean property. They were also investing in an unusual nation-building project, because Coffee Caye, reimagined as the “Principality of Islandia,” complete with its own national flag, anthem and government, is also the world’s newest “micronation”– an entity that claims independence but isn’t recognized as such by the international community. For Mayer, it is the culmination of years of crowdfunding and island-hunting efforts, and he was animated as he showed an initial group around Coffee Caye. The idea of crowdfunding an island emerged almost 15 years ago, when Gareth Johnson, who is co-founder and CEO of the project, bought the domain name after deciding it might be fun to buy an island and start a micronation. The founding members established early on that each share in the island would cost $3,250. So far they have sold almost 100 shares and counting. While investors can purchase multiple shares, each person is only entitled to one vote in the democratic decision-making process. Coffee Caye was purchased for $180,000 plus tax, and the sale was completed in December 2019 — right before Covid-19 put a halt to any further plans. Successfully crowdfunding the purchase of an island might be a world first, but there’s a strong precedent of micronationalism that provided inspiration for the Principality of Islandia, which is a key feature of the project for many of the travel-obsessed investors. Micronations — often eccentric territories that claim to be independent nation-states — may hand out lavish titles to their supporters and create unusual constitutions and quirky laws. The Principality of Sealand, a World War II fighting platform off the coast of England that was declared an independent nation by its new owners in 1967, is one famous example of a micronation, and it provided direct inspiration for the Principality of Islandia. Another is the Republic of Uzupis, a neighborhood in Vilnius, Lithuania, that has its own constitution, and also claims independence.
Fantasy Author Raises $15.4 Million in 24 Hours to Self-Publish – (New York Times – March 3, 2022)
Brandon Sanderson, a prolific sci-fi and fantasy author, started an online fund-raising campaign to self-publish four of the novels he wrote during the pandemic. His goal: to raise $1 million in 30 days. He blew past the first million in about 35 minutes. In 24 hours, he raised $15.4 million, which the fund-raising website Kickstarter said was the single most successful day of any of their campaigns. By two days into it, he had raised more than $19 million. It’s definitely not the future trajectory of any rank-and-file author. Part of why this project has worked for Sanderson, said Kristen McLean, the executive director of business development at NPD Books, which tracks book sales, is his unique relationship with his fans. Like many authors of science fiction and fantasy, he has spent a lot of time in conventions and interacting with his audience. In 2019, he said, he was on the road for 111 days. But the eye-popping sum raises questions about what is possible for authors with major platforms who are willing to self-publish — and why the vast majority of big names stick with traditional routes to publication.
Pass the Ball – (Vimeo – January 28, 2022)
This video is the group effort of 40 different animators, spanning the globe, who contributed their talents. The concept, dreamt up by Nathan Boey, is simple: Make a 3-second animation of a red ball; pass it to someone in another country; they pick up where the last one leaves off. The result is a playfully surreal tour of the animated universe, from digital to hand-drawn art—and so much more. (Hat tip to Rob Gurwitt and Daybreak).
To be hopeful means to be uncertain about the future,
to be tender toward possibilities,
to be dedicated to change all the way down to the bottom of your heart.

— Rebecca Solnit, writer, historian, and activist
A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, 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.

PRIVACY POLICY: We don’t share your information with anyone.

Quartet – Current Events, March 9, 2022

PostScript Insight – Are your opinions being manipulated?