Volume 19, Number 6 - 3/15/16Twitter  Facebook  JLP Blog  

FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT--
  • The behavior of mice and fish can be altered using a synthetic gene and magnets to influence neurons.

  • The most surreal look at California’s drought is from the air.

  • The Canadian Province of Ontario plans to trial a universal basic income.

  • A team of six microrobots, weighing just 3.5 ounces in total, can pull a car weighing 3,900 pounds.


PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

KRYON Coming to Berkely Springs

Lee Carroll and KRYON will be returning to Berkeley Springs for the fourth time next month. We always get a full house for this extraordinary source of information on the upcoming future. If you’ve been with us before you’ll want to be there. If you haven’t and you are interested in an alternative (and, historically, completely accurate) perspective on what’s inbound, you’ll also be with us on the 2nd of April. Click here for more information.

New Video Show



We have such interesting speakers who come to our Berkeley Springs Transition Talks series that I decided that I will launch a video interview show that presents the opportunity to engage in some serious conversation related to my guests' areas of expertise. We began the series - named Postscript - with mentalist Alain Nu. Alain is a wonderful showman, but he is also a very thoughtful guy who expertly mixes illusion with extraordinary skills in his very interesting performances. In this episode, he bends a spoon on camera and then talks about how he does it: You can find it here. You’ll find it interesting.

Donald Trump: Why He's On the Radar

The Donald is an icon – he’s emblematic of a much larger global shift than just America’s presidential election. There is a huge shift going on, and Trump’s arrival has been predictable, based upon the underlying trends that have been driving this country for at least the last hundred years.

John Michael Greer, in his blog, The Archdruid Report, recounts that in 1918 Oswald Spengler voiced a truism in his “The Decline of the West”:

"Democracy suffers from a lethal vulnerability, which is that it has no meaningful defenses against the influence of money. Since most citizens are more interested in their own personal, short-term advantage than they are in the long-term destiny of their nation,” he continued, “democracy turns into a polite fiction for plutocracy just as soon as the rich figure out how to buy votes, a lesson that rarely takes them long to learn.

“The problem with plutocracy, in turn, is that it embodies the same fixation on short-term personal advantage that gives it its entry to power, since the only goals that guide the rich in their increasingly kleptocratic rule are immediate personal wealth and gratification. Despite the ravings of economists, furthermore, it simply isn’t true that what benefits the very rich automatically benefits the rest of society as well; quite the contrary, in the blind obsession with personal gain that drives the plutocratic system, the plutocrats generally lose track of the hard fact that too much profiteering can run the entire system into the ground A democracy in its terminal years thus devolves into a broken society from which only the narrowing circle of the privileged rich derive any tangible benefit. In due time, those excluded from that circle look elsewhere for leadership.

“The result is what Spengler calls Caesarism: the rise of charismatic leaders who discover that they can seize power by challenging the plutocrats, addressing the excluded majority, and offering the latter some hope that their lot will be improved. Now and then, the leaders who figure this out come from within the plutocracy itself; Julius Caesar, who contributed his family name to Spengler’s term, was a very rich man from an old-money Senatorial family, and he’s far from the only example. In 1918, Spengler predicted that the first wave of Caesarism in the Western world was about to hit, that it would be defeated by the plutocrats, and that other waves would follow. He was dead right on the first two counts, and the current election suggests that the third prediction will turn out just as accurate.” Read more.


Although Spengler called it straight on, I included such a scenario in my 1999 book, Out of the Blue: How to Anticipate Big Future Surprises.



Out of some 85 scenarios of potential events that could precipitate very large change I included one called Rise of an American “Strong Man”. Although I posited his emergence as primarily the product of social degeneration (rather than economic) the key way in which he proposed to “fix” the problem was to put aside Constitutional rights (just for a while), in order to crack down on the perpetrators of the threatening conditions.



We'll have to wait and see if that is one of President's Trump's remedies.

In the middle of all of this , It might be useful to ask: What is the key psychological trait that describes whether someone (of either party), is inclined to Support Trump? In other words, to what does he most fundamentally appeal?

Well, fortunately, we have found the answer to that. It appears to be authoritarianism. At least, that's what a group of social scientists recently found.

The rise of American authoritarianism

A niche group of political scientists may have uncovered what's driving Donald Trump's ascent. What they found has implications that go well beyond 2016. by Amanda Taub on March 1, 2016

The American media, over the past year, has been trying to work out something of a mystery: Why is the Republican electorate supporting a far-right, orange-toned populist with no real political experience, who espouses extreme and often bizarre views? How has Donald Trump, seemingly out of nowhere, suddenly become so popular?

What's made Trump's rise even more puzzling is that his support seems to cross demographic lines — education, income, age, even religiosity — that usually demarcate candidates. And whereas most Republican candidates might draw strong support from just one segment of the party base, such as Southern evangelicals or coastal moderates, Trump currently does surprisingly well from the Gulf Coast of Florida to the towns of upstate New York, and he won a resounding victory in the Nevada caucuses.


Perhaps strangest of all, it wasn't just Trump but his supporters who seemed to have come out of nowhere, suddenly expressing, in large numbers, ideas far more extreme than anything that has risen to such popularity in recent memory. In South Carolina, a CBS News exit poll found that 75 percent of Republican voters supported banning Muslims from the United States. A PPP poll found that a third of Trump voters support banning gays and lesbians from the country. Twenty percent said Lincoln shouldn't have freed the slaves.

Table of Contents

I. What is American authoritarianism?
II. The discovery
III. How authoritarianism works
IV. What can authoritarianism explain?
V. The party of authoritarians
VI. Trump, authoritarians, and fear
VII. America's changing social landscape
VIII. What authoritarians want
IX. How authoritarians will change American politics



Last September, a PhD student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst named Matthew MacWilliams realized that his dissertation research might hold the answer to not just one but all three of these mysteries. Read more

And then here, in a marvelous piece of writing, is one of the most succinct assessments that I have found about how we got here. Vijay Prashad outlines the causes of this effect.

Vijay Prashad: Nation of ‘Crump’ is what tax strike by rich has wrought


Vijay Prashad
You reap what you sow. The Republican Party – pushed along by large segments of the “Third Way” Democrats – crafted policies that allowed the American rich to go on tax strike, that allowed them to deindustrialize the United States and that allowed their banks to control the destiny of people from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters.

This land is their land. Democracy is the mask of the 1 percent.

The detritus of those policies created under-employment and endemic social crises. Between the prison industrial complex and the opioid crisis lies the fault line of race: otherwise these are identical. Wages plummeted, but debt-fueled consumption allowed the American Dream to remain alive. The Great Recession of 2007 awoke sections of the country from its credit card somnolence. For the first time in decades, the American Dream seemed unrealistic. The lives of American children would most certainly be economically more fragile than those of their parents.

Read more

All of this change is not just showing up in the political arena, of course. The structural change is wide spread. One place is in currencies in general and blockchain (the system that allows bitcoin), in particular. Here’s a kind of fun report that not only gives some insight into blockchain but also Richard Branson’s Necker Island in the British West Indies.

My Wet and Wild Bitcoin Weekend On Richard Branson's Island Refuge

Written by Hannes Grassegger

Hannes Grassegger of Das Magazin reports from the Blockchain Summit on Necker Island and discovers how the global economy is being overturned by men in flip flops

A young woman waved from a red pier. The breeze pressed her short jumpsuit against her body. She waved with her right hand, while her left held her sunhat in place. The captain brought the speedboat about, the motor sputtered, and I jumped off.

Read more



THINK LINKS



INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

How Retailers Will Survive in the Amazon Era – (Fast Company – March 15, 2016)
There’s no way around it—the past year has been rough for retail. Even the stalwarts have taken a hit. there are a few incidental reasons, such as an economy that has people saving instead of spending, and an unseasonably warm winter that kept families away from seasonal purchases, like a new space heater or down jacket. But, it’s also about a little company in Seattle called Amazon, which is steadily eating the world of retail. And when we say eating, we mean in one bite; about one of every three product searches begins at Amazon. Just think about what this means for other retailers. A third of their potential customers are starting at their competitors’ front door, leaving them clamoring for scraps and losing costly acquisition dollars (and margin) to the likes of Google and, increasingly, Facebook. In these conditions, what does the future hold for retailers large and small? The tea leaves point to three major developments. One growing trends is the enhancement of multi-channel offerings like pick-up-at-store and return-to-store. These more logistically driven activities will increasingly be monetized thanks to a powerful combination of personalization and location-aware messaging. As these multi-channel dynamics become commonplace among retailers, the service design discipline will not only become commonplace, it will increase its sphere of influence. Not to be confused with UX design, information architecture, or even user experience design as defined today, the service designer is a hybrid role that bridges the online and offline gap. Part researcher and part digital strategist, the role of the service designer will even expand to include aspects of traditional architecture. (Editor’s note: This article offers a glimpse of the increasingly sophisticated ways and means of both serving the consumer and driving his/her behavior.)




NEW REALITIES

These Birds Use a Linguistic Rule Thought to Be Unique to Humans – (Washington Post – March 8, 2016)
When it comes to human language, syntax — the set of rules for arranging words and phrases to impart meaning — is important. For example, we use syntax to impart complex combinations of ideas. "Careful, it's dangerous" is a phrase that has meaning, and so is "come toward me." But when those two phrases are combined, they have a different meaning than they do on their own: They're directing the receiver to act in a different way than either phrase would independently. Until now, only humans seemed to use syntax this way. But a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications suggests that the Japanese great tit — a bird closely related to the North American chickadee — uses grammatical rules like these in its calls. In a previous study, lead author Toshitaka Suzuki of the Graduate University for Advanced Studies showed that the birds used these complex calls as "words" that conveyed different meanings. He wondered if they might also string those words together to form compound messages. It turns out they do — and research suggests that the order of the “words” matters in the same way it does when humans speak to one another.

Fossil Find Reveals Just How Big Carnivorous Dinosaur May Have Grown – (PhysOrg – February 29, 2016)
Alessandro Chiarenza, a PhD student from Imperial College London, last year noticed a fossilized femur bone, left forgotten in a drawer, during his visit to the Museum of Geology and Palaeontology in Palermo Italy. He and a colleague Andrea Cau, a researcher from the University of Bologna, got permission from the museum to analyze the femur. They discovered that the bone was from a dinosaur called abelisaur, which roamed the Earth around 95 million years ago during the late Cretaceous period. Abelisauridae were a group of predatory, carnivorous dinosaurs, characterized by extremely small forelimbs, a short deep face, small razor sharp teeth, and powerful muscular hind limbs. Scientists suspect they were also covered in fluffy feathers. The abelisaur in today's study would have lived in North Africa, which at that time was a lush savannah criss-crossed by rivers and mangrove swamps. This ancient tropical world would have provided the abelisaur with an ideal habitat for hunting aquatic animals like turtles, crocodiles, large fish and other dinosaurs. By studying the bone, the team deduced that this particular abelisaur may have been nine meters long and weighed between one and two tons, making it potentially one of the largest abelisaurs ever found. This is helping researchers to determine the maximum sizes that these dinosaurs may have reached during their peak.

GENETICS/HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/BIOTECHNOLOGY



New Procedure Allows Kidney Transplants From Any Donor – (New York Times – March 9, 2016)
In the anguishing wait for a new kidney, tens of thousands of patients on waiting lists may never find a match because their immune systems will reject almost any transplanted organ. Now researchers have found a way to get them the desperately needed procedure. doctors successfully altered patients’ immune systems to allow them to accept kidneys from incompatible donors. Significantly more of those patients were still alive after eight years than patients who had remained on waiting lists or received a kidney transplanted from a deceased donor. The method, known as desensitization, “has the potential to save many lives,” said Dr. Jeffery Berns, a kidney specialist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and the president of the National Kidney Foundation. Desensitization involves first filtering the antibodies out of a patient’s blood. The patient is then given an infusion of other antibodies to provide some protection while the immune system regenerates its own antibodies. For some reason — exactly why is not known — the person’s regenerated antibodies are less likely to attack the new organ, Dr. Segev said. But if the person’s regenerated natural antibodies are still a concern, the patient is treated with drugs that destroy any white blood cells that might make antibodies that would attack the new kidney. The process is expensive, costing $30,000, and uses drugs not approved for this purpose. The transplant costs about $100,000. But kidney specialists argue that desensitization is cheaper in the long run than dialysis, which costs $70,000 a year for life.

Scientists Grow Eye Lens from Patients’ Own Stem Cells, Restoring Vision – (KurzweilAI – March 12, 2016)
Congenital cataracts — lens clouding that occurs at birth or shortly thereafter — is a significant cause of blindness in children. Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Shiley Eye Institute, with colleagues in China, have developed an eye lens restoration treatment that has been tested in monkeys and in a small human clinical trial. It produced much fewer surgical complications than the current standard-of-care and resulted in regenerated lenses with superior visual function in all 12 of the pediatric cataract patients who received the new surgery. In the new research, Kang Zhang, MD, PhD and colleagues relied on the regenerative potential of the patients’ own lens epithelial stem cells (LECs) at the site of the injury or problem, instead of creating stem cells in the lab and introducing them back into the patient (with potential hurdles like pathogen transmission and immune rejection). After confirming the regenerative potential of LECs in animal models, the researchers developed a novel minimally invasive surgery method that preserves the integrity of the lens capsule — a membrane that helps give the lens its required shape to function — and also developed a way to stimulate LECs to grow and form a new lens with vision. They found the new surgical technique allowed pre-existing LECs to regenerate functional lenses, producing a clear, regenerated biconvex lens in all of the patients’ eyes after three months. Zhang said he and colleagues are now looking to expand their work to treating age-related cataracts. See also: Vision Restored in Rabbits Following Stem Cell Transplantation.

UVA Scientists Use Synthetic Gene and Magnets to Alter Behavior of Mice, Fish – (Univ. of Virginia – March 7, 2016)
University of Virginia scientists have demonstrated that neurons in the brain that have been supplemented with a synthetic gene can be remotely manipulated by a magnetic field. The finding has implications for possible future treatment of a range of neurological diseases, such as schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease. “We may have discovered a major step toward developing a ‘dream tool’ for remotely controlling neural circuits, by manipulating specific cells using engineered gene products that respond to magnets,” said Ali Deniz Güler, a UVA biology professor who led the study in his neuroscience lab. Güler and UVA neuroscience Ph.D. candidate Michael Wheeler engineered a gene that can make a cell sense the presence of a magnetic field. They coupled a gene that senses cellular stretch with another gene that functions as a nanomagnet. This synthetic combination turns on only when in the presence of a magnetic field, allowing them to control neuronal activity in the brain. Using gene therapy to insert the gene, they expressed the synthetic gene in adult mice or in zebrafish embryos, and witnessed remote activation of neurons the presence of a magnetic field through the altered behavior of the animals. Wheeler noted. “This field can penetrate the brain regardless of tissue density – like MRI – and can turn on specific circuits at a specific time, whenever the test subject is within the magnetic field.” Güler added, “If we can use gene therapy to exert control over neurons, the potential exists to modify or eliminate the effects of certain neurological diseases by controlling ill-firing neural networks. Our method may be one possible approach.”

China 'Clone Factory' Scientist Eyes Human Replication – (Discovery News – December 1, 2015)
Boyalife Group and its partners are building the giant plant in the northern Chinese port of Tianjin, where it is due to go into production within the next seven months and aims for an output of one million cloned cows a year by 2020. But cattle are only the beginning of chief executive Xu Xiaochun's ambitions. Boyalife is already working with its South Korean partner Sooam and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to improve primate cloning capacity to create better test animals for disease research. And it is a short biological step from monkeys to humans -- potentially raising a host of moral and ethical controversies. "The technology is already there," Xu said. The firm does not currently engage in human cloning activities, Xu said, adding that it has to be "self-restrained" because of possible adverse reaction. But social values can change, he pointed out, citing changing views of homosexuality and suggesting that in time humans could have more choices about their own reproduction. Presenting cloning as a safeguard of biodiversity, the Tianjin facility will house a gene bank capable of holding up to approximately five million cell samples frozen in liquid nitrogen -– a catalogue of the world's endangered species for future regeneration. Boyalife's South Korean partner Sooam is already working on a project to bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction by cloning cells preserved for thousands of years in the Siberian permafrost.

Human-skin Discovery Suggests New Anti-aging Treatments – (Kurzweil AI – March 4, 2016)
Scientists have known for some time that major structures in the cell called mitochondria (which generate and control most of the cell’s supply of energy) are somehow involved in aging, but the exact role of the mitochondria has remained unclear. The longstanding “mitochondrial free radical theory of aging,” originally proposed by Professor Denham Harman in 1972, is currently the most widely accepted theory of aging. It proposes that mitochondria contribute to aging by producing free radicals — chemicals that can damage our genetic material and other molecules and so accelerate aging. However, Mark Birch-Machin, PhD, professor of Molecular Dermatology at Newcastle University’s Institute of Cellular Medicine and senior author of an open-access article in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, now reports a new research finding: a protein in mitochondria called mitochondrial complex II (a key complex for production of energy) decreases with age in human skin. (Further studies are needed to understand whether that decrease actually causes skin aging, or is a result of skin aging, or is otherwise correlated.) Birch-Machin says this new discovery brings experts a step closer to developing anti-aging treatments and cosmetic products that could counteract this decrease in mitochondrial complex II in aging human skin, and treatment could even be “tailored to differently aged and differently pigmented skin.” The findings may also lead to a greater understanding of aging in other parts of the body, and this could pave the way for drug development in a number of age-related diseases, including cancer.


ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

A Plastic-Eating Bacterium Might Help Deal with Waste One Day – (NPR – March 10, 2016)
Researchers have found a bacterium in the debris fields around a recycling plant in Japan that can feed off a common type of plastic used in clothing, plastic bottles and food packaging. The bacterium is a new species called Ideonella sakaiensis, named for the Japanese city Sakai where it was found growing on plastic debris made from a type of plastic called PET or polyethylene terephthalate. "It's the most unique thing. This bacterium can degrade PET and then make their body from PET," says Shosuke Yoshida, a microbiologist at Kyoto University and lead researcher. Most plastics are insurmountable obstacles for microbes because plastics are large chains of repeating molecules called polymers. The entire chain is far larger than the individual microbe. But Ideonella sakaiensis has two enzymes that can slice and dice the plastic polymer into smaller pieces. The bacterium can then take the pieces and eat them, eventually converting the plastic into carbon dioxide and water. After Yoshida and his colleagues isolated the polymer, they were able to watch it disintegrate a plastic film in about six weeks. Unfortunately, while it grows very fast, it decomposed plastic very slowly. But with more research, the bacterium might be engineered for such a purpose.

The Most Surreal Look at California’s Drought Is From the Air – (Wired – March 15, 2016)
Thomas Heinser’s surreal photographs offer a look at the other California, one parched by drought. His aerial photographs of charred hillsides, depleted reservoirs, and barren salt ponds are not at all what you’d expect of a place nicknamed the Golden State. El Niño has doused much of the state this winter and Sierra snowpack is as much as 121% of normal in places, but it isn’t enough to offset a drought that’s entering its fifth year. Heinser’s photos, part of an ongoing series Reduziert, is a reminder of just how arid things have been. The word is German for “reduced,” an apt description of what the dry spell has done to the landscape. “[It’s] about as minimalistic as it gets,” Heinser says. Heinser, who has been shooting aerial landscapes for about a decade, hired a pilot to fly him over the fields, lakes, and reservoirs of the Central Valley and the vast salt evaporation ponds on the southern end of San Francisco Bay. They set out each day just after sunrise, when the light casts long shadows. Buckled in tightly, Heinser shot from a helicopter with the doors taken off, using a pair of gyroscopes to stabilize a Hasselbad medium format camera with a Phase 1 digital back. The photos border on the surreal. Lake McClure is etched undulating rings like a dirty bathtub, each indicating where the water level once stood. Barren fields are etched with patterns left by irrigation wheels and other equipment. Hillsides are charred by fires. “They’re amazing moon-like landscapes,” he says. As beautiful as the photos are, Heinser hopes they prompt reflection on California’s environmental future. Article includes 9 photos.

Pigeons Fitted with Backpacks Monitor Air Pollution in London – (Tech Times – March 15, 2016)
Pigeons in London are being fitted with backpacks in order to better understand how smog and other air pollution is distributed around Britain's capital city. The data is also being made available to the public in an effort to battle pollution. Plume Labs and DigitasLBi, a pair of technology companies, are now placing air pollution sensors onto wild pigeons, with the electronics attached to a fabric vest, worn by the birds. The Pigeon Air Patrol, utilizing just 10 birds, will last just three days, but this test will lay the groundwork necessary to carry out a larger future study. The next phase of investigation will be carried out in conjunction with investigators from the Imperial College London. In addition to nitrogen dioxide, the sensors also record concentrations of ozone. These two gases make up the majority of air pollution in urban areas. Concentrations of the gases have been carried out using sensors worn by human volunteers. Air pollution is not a trendy topic, so researchers came up with this new means of engaging the public in their research. Pigeons used in the study are racing pigeons, who are cared for by a veterinarian, to ensure the animals remain in good health. Oddly, pigeons in smog-covered regions in China fly faster than normal, although biologists are uncertain why this is the case.



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

Why the Amazon Echo Is the iPhone of the Smart Home – (Forbes – March 13, 2016)
The transformative nature of the iPhone quickly changed nearly every assumption we had about mobile phones and, as a result, had a ripple effect that resulted in nearly every company in mobile (and pretty much every industry) changing their own approach to the market. In many ways, Amazon Echo may be an equally transformative product for the smart home. Whether it’s how early Echo owners are interacting with their device or how Amazon itself is rewriting the rules of competition, the two products share a number of industry-disrupting similarities. While others like Apple, Google and Microsoft have been introducing voice interfaces for some time, Echo’s use of Alexa is more intuitive and natural, and using it is quickly becoming second nature for Echo owners to access information, entertainment services, and to control devices in their home. With Echo, consumers may have initially been sold on a voice-controlled wireless speaker, but what they were really getting was an amazingly powerful digital home command center. Natural voice interaction and the way it could change the control of our homes, our things and the services we use could be significant. The resulting impact on a variety of vertical markets such as elder care, home service and others could be extremely disruptive. The machine learning built into Alexa’s service could begin to help our home systems anticipate our needs and provide feedback to us and to others that not only makes lives more convenient, but also safer and less costly over time. And of course, like the iPhone, the growing popularity of the Echo and Alexa will raise concerns around issues such as privacy and the creep of technology into every facet of our lives.

Augmented Reality Study Projects Life-Sized People into Other Rooms – (Technology Review – January 19, 2016)
Nothing beats talking to another person face-to-face, but a group of researchers are considering whether a life-size projection of a person who appears to be sitting across from you in an actual chair might be a close second. Room2Room, a project from Microsoft Research, does just this: it uses Kinect depth cameras and digital projectors to capture the image of a person in 3-D in one room and project a life-sized version of that person in real time onto a piece of furniture in another room, where someone else is actually hanging out, and vice versa. Each person can then see a digital image of the other with the correct perspective, look at the other person from different viewpoints, and interact accordingly, the researchers say. To make Room2Room work, the researchers took advantage of an existing Microsoft Research augmented-reality project called RoomAlive, which uses Kinect depth-sensing cameras and digital projectors to create a room-sized augmented-reality gaming arena. Instead of setting up just one room with this hardware, though, they set up two similar ones so they could scan a person sitting in each room and project him into the other one. But there are still issues to solve before something like Room2Room is likely to show up in boardrooms or living rooms. While the depth-sensing and projection hardware needed to make it work is widely available, it’s bulky and can be a pain to set up. Also, it doesn’t produce very high-resolution images.


SHELTER/ARCHITECTURE

Los Angeles Skyscraper to Get Glass Slide That Starts at 70th Floor – (CNN – March 2, 2016)
Why walk on a glass platform when you can slide? The tallest building in the west will have a 45-feet-long glass-bottomed slide that juts from the skyscraper and hovers about 1,000 feet above ground. The U.S. Bank Tower is scheduled to open a glass slide in June. Skyslide will bring customers from 70th floor down to 69th floor. Photos in the article also show other international glass-floored projects.

Deltec Launches Line of Super Efficient, Net-zero Energy Homes - Starting Under 100K – ( Inhabitat – March 11,2016)
A company in Asheville, North Carolina is taking prefabricated home design to a new level with their Renew Collection of affordable net-zero energy house. Deltec made a name for themselves with round hurricane-resistant homes, now the company has amped up the energy efficiency by two thirds with their latest home collection, in response to the increasing demand for net-zero energy housing. And these new 'Renew' homes aren't just super energy efficient -- they generate their own energy with photovoltaic solar power and solar water heating, and are surprisingly affordable, with kits starting under 100K. There are currently 9 models in the Renew Collection, each designed to satisfy different needs and tastes.

ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Transforming Wind Turbines Into a Mesmerizing Light Show – (Wired – March 15, 2016)
More than 1,000 historic windmills dot the Dutch countryside. Built from stone and wood, the mills are a charming symbol of the country’s long relationship with water and flooding. The Dutch are proud of their windmills (heck, they’ve built an entire tourism ecosystem around them) but today, these relics of energy past are outnumbered by a new kind of mill. The Netherlands has installed more than 2,000 wind turbines across the country, giving rise to a new kind of landscape aesthetic—one that not everybody is a fan of. “There’s a lot of ‘I want it, but I don’t want to see it,’” says Daan Roosegaarde. Roosegaarde is a designer known for his work at the intersection of design and sustainability. His most recent project, “Windlicht,” is paying homage to wind energy in the form of a light show. Roosegaarde and his team of creative technologists outfitted four turbines in the seaside village of Zeeland with technology that allowed them to visualize the motion of the machines. “I wanted to emphasize the dance, the choreography, the almost meditative state of being when I look at them,” he says. “So we just drew a line from one to the other.” Roosegaarde figured his idea would be simple enough—it’s just a line of light, after all. “It took us two years,” he says. The resulting light show is mesmerizing in its simplicity. Four lines of light pierce through a dark sky, creating a disjointed dance between the turbines as they spin in and out of sync. In the video (embedded in the article), one onlooker describes it as “jumping rope with the wind.”

US Agency Reaches 'Holy Grail' of Battery Storage Sought by Elon Musk and Gates – (Guardian – March 3, 2016)
Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (Arpa-E) – a branch of the Department of Energy – says it achieved a breakthrough in developing a next-generation system of battery storage. Ellen Williams, Arpa-E’s director, said: “I think we have reached some holy grails in batteries – just in the sense of demonstrating that we can create a totally new approach to battery technology, make it work, make it commercially viable, and get it out there to let it do its thing,” If that’s the case, Arpa-E has come out ahead of Gates and Musk in the multi-billion-dollar race to build the next generation battery for power companies and home storage. Such projects, so-called moonshots, are widely seen as too risky for regular investors, but – if they succeed – can potentially be game-changing. Many of the projects fostered by the agency were already in sight of getting funding, Williams said. Several have now secured private sector follow-on funding. Others are being taken up by the State Department or the Pentagon. Companies incubated at Arpa-E have developed new designs for batteries and new chemistries which are rapidly bringing down the costs of energy storage and are on the verge of transforming America’s electrical grid within the next five to 10 years, she said. Three companies now have batteries on the market, selling grid-scale and back-up batteries. Half a dozen other companies are developing new batteries, she added.

Scientists Have Invented a Solar Cell as Light as a Soap Bubble – (Science Alert – February 20, 2016)
Scientists have invented incredibly thin, flexible photovoltaic cells that are so lightweight, they can rest on top of soap bubbles without breaking them. Cells this thin and light could eventually be placed almost anywhere, from smart clothing to helium balloons. "It could be so light that you don’t even know it’s there, on your shirt or on your notebook," said one of the researchers, Vladimir Bulović from MIT. "These cells could simply be an add-on to existing structures." It's that versatility that makes the experiment so exciting - even if it's still only a proof-of-concept at this stage. Key to the creation of the new cell is the way the researchers have combined making the solar cell itself, the substrate that supports it, and its protective coating, all in one process. Unlike conventional approaches to solar cell manufacturing, the whole process takes place in a vacuum chamber at room temperature, and without the use of any solvents or harsh chemicals. Vapor deposition techniques – where heat, pressure, and chemical reactions create a very thin coating of a particular material – are used to grow the substrate and the solar cell together. The MIT team says it's this technique, rather than the materials used, that makes the breakthrough so significant. The resulting ultra-thin and flexible cells are just one-fiftieth of the thickness of a human hair and one-thousandth of the thickness of existing glass-based cells (about 2 micrometres thick), but they can convert sunlight into electricity just as efficiently.

Converting Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide into Carbon Nanotubes for Use in Batteries – (Kurzweil AI – March 4, 2016)
The electric vehicle of the future will be carbon negative (reducing the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide) not just carbon neutral (not adding CO2 to the atmosphere), say researchers at Vanderbilt University and George Washington University (GWU). The trick: replace graphite electrodes in lithium-ion batteries (used in electric vehicles) with carbon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers recovered from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The new technology could also be used in sodium-ion batteries, currently under development for large-scale applications, such as the electric grid. The project builds on a solar thermal electrochemical process (STEP) that can create carbon nanofibers from ambient carbon dioxide. STEP uses solar energy to provide both the electrical and thermal energy needed to break down carbon dioxide into carbon and oxygen and to produce carbon nanotubes, which are stable, flexible, conductive and stronger than steel. In lithium-ion batteries, the nanotubes replace the carbon anode used in commercial batteries. The team demonstrated that the carbon nanotubes gave a small boost to the performance, which was amplified when the battery was charged quickly. In sodium-ion batteries, the researchers found that small defects in the carbon, which can be tuned using STEP, can unlock stable storage performance more than 3.5 times above that of sodium-ion batteries with graphite electrodes. Both carbon-nanotube batteries were exposed to about 2.5 months of continuous charging and discharging and showed no sign of fatigue.



TRANSPORTATION

Self-Driving Cars Won’t Work until We Change Our Roads—and Attitudes – (Wired – March 15, 2016)
Autonomous vehicles will join human drivers on our roads sooner than most people think. The company Baidu plans to put commercial, self-driving cars on the roads by 2018. But the way to make them safe is not to make them act just like human driven cars—in fact, the limitations of today’s technology mean that’s not feasible. Instead, we should make modest changes to our infrastructure, program these cars to behave as predictably as possible, and teach the public new ways to interact with them. These changes can accommodate autonomous cars’ weaknesses, like their inability to interpret a construction worker’s hand gestures, and take advantage of their strengths: their unending vigilance, their lack of blind spots. We’ve made this kind of shift before. The 19th century rise of the railroad gave citizens a faster and safer mode of transportation than the horse, and transformed society. But we had to learn how to behave around trains. Today’s autonomous cars are inferior to human drivers in important ways: for example, when the sun is immediately behind a traffic light, most cameras won’t be able to recognize the color of the signal through the glare. But autonomous vehicles also have advantages over humans: they can maintain full 360-degree awareness and have much faster reaction time than humans. Our system of roads was built with human drivers in mind. Fortunately, with only modest changes, it can support safe computer- and human-driven cars. For example, having construction workers guide traffic with hand signals, we could give them wireless beacons or apps, telling cars what to do via electronic signals. See also this article describing a collaboration between General Motors Co. and ride-hailing service Lyft that is expected to eventually evolve into an autonomous vehicle network.



SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

DARPA Announces VTOL X-Plane Phase 2 Design – (DARPA – March 3, 2016)
For decades, aircraft designers seeking to improve vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities have endured a substantial set of interrelated challenges. Dozens of attempts have been made to increase top speed without sacrificing range, efficiency or the ability to do useful work, with each effort struggling or failing in one way or another. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s VTOL Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program aims to overcome these challenges through innovative cross-pollination between fixed-wing and rotary-wing technologies and by developing and integrating novel subsystems to enable radical improvements in vertical and cruising flight capabilities. The unorthodox unmanned aircraft would push the limits of technology to combine plane-like speed and helicopter-like agility into one breakthrough vehicle. In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded the Phase 2 contract for VTOL X-Plane to Aurora Flight Sciences. The design for VTOL X-Plane envisions an unmanned aircraft with two large rear wings and two smaller front canards—short winglets mounted near the nose of the aircraft (see mockup illustration in the article).

War Zone Tactics Come Home as Pentagon Admits Domestic Spy Drone Use – Common Dreams – March 9, 2016)
An internal Pentagon report made public revealed http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/03/09/pentagon-admits-has-deployed-military-spy-drones-over-us/81474702/ that the U.S. Department of Defense has been using unarmed drones to conduct surveillance missions over American soil since 2006. The Pentagon inspector general report, entitled "Evaluation of DoD Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for Support to Civil Authorities," obtained by USA Today through a Freedom of Information Act request, said that "less than 20" such missions occurred between 2006 and 2015, though they anticipate many more in the years to come. "More than ten years of war in the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan have taught a generation of Airmen valuable lessons about the use of Remotely Piloted Airdfta (RPA) and other [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR)] assets," the analysis states. "As the nation winds down these wars," the report continues, "and USAF RPA and ISR assets become available to support other combatant command (COCOM) or U.S. agencies, the appetite to use them in the domestic environment to collect airborne imagery continues to grow, as does Congressional and media interest in their employment." Moreover, "multiple" military units that operate drones expressed interest in having more opportunities to fly them on domestic missions as "opportunities for UAS realistic training and use have decreased." The review concludes that all missions were conducted within "full compliance" of the law. However, as even the Pentagon analysis notes, at the time there were no standardized, federal statutes that "specifically address the employment of the capability provided by a DoD UAS if requested by domestic civil authorities." (Editor’s note: In other words, there were no federal statutes that prohibited the missions, so there were, de facto, “in compliance”.)



TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

Snowden: FBI's Claim It Can't Unlock the San Bernardino iPhone Is 'Bullshit' – (Guardian - March 9, 2016)
Edward Snowden, the whistleblower whose NSA revelations sparked a debate on mass surveillance, has waded into the arguments over the FBI’s attempt to force Apple to help it unlock the iPhone 5C of one of the San Bernardino shooters. The FBI says that only Apple can deactivate certain passcode protections on the iPhone, which will allow law enforcement to guess the passcode by using brute-force. Talking via video link from Moscow to the Common Cause Blueprint for a Great Democracy conference, Snowden said: “The FBI says Apple has the ‘exclusive technical mean’ to unlock the phone. Respectfully, that’s bullshit.” Snowden then went on to tweet his support for an American Civil Liberties Union report saying that the FBI’s claims in the case are fraudulent. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak also spoke out against the FBI on the Conan O'Brien show on Monday, saying: “I side with Apple on this one. [The FBI] picked the lamest case you ever could.” Wozniak added: “Verizon turned over all the phone records and SMS messages. So they want to take this other phone that the two didn’t destroy, which was a work phone. It's so lame and worthless to expect there’s something on it and to get Apple to expose it.” Apple’s clash with the FBI comes to a head in California this month when the two will meet in federal court to debate whether the smartphone manufacturer should be required to weaken security settings on the iPhone of the shooter. See also: Congress tells FBI that forcing Apple to unlock iPhones is 'a fool's errand'.



GLOBAL RELATIONS

Exposing the Libyan Agenda: A Closer Look at Hillary's Emails – (OpEd News – March 13, 2016)
Before 2011, Libya had achieved economic independence, with its own water, its own food, its own oil, its own money, and its own state-owned bank. It had arisen under Qaddafi from one of the poorest of countries to the richest in Africa. Education and medical treatment were free; having a home was considered a human right; and Libyans participated in an original system of local democracy. The country boasted the world's largest irrigation system, the Great Man-made River project, which brought water from the desert to the cities and coastal areas. Approximately 3,000 emails were released from Hillary Clinton's private email server in late December 2015. One of these emails, dated April 2, 2011, reads in part: “Qaddafi's government holds 143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver [valued at more than $7 billion] . This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA).” For decades, Libya and other African countries had been attempting to create a pan-African gold standard. Libya's al-Qadhafi and other heads of African States had wanted an independent, pan-African, "hard currency." Under al-Qadhafi's leadership, African nations had convened at least twice for monetary unification. African oil-producing nations were planning to abandon the petro-dollar, and demand gold payment for oil/gas. As Canadian Professor Maximilian Forte put it in his heavily researched book, Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO's War on Libya and Africa: “[T]he goal of US military intervention was to disrupt an emerging pattern of independence and a network of collaboration within Africa that would facilitate increased African self-reliance. This is at odds with the geostrategic and political economic ambitions of extra-continental European powers, namely the US.”


LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

People Will Follow a Robot in an Emergency – Even If It’s Wrong – (New Scientist – February 29, 2016)
A university student is holed up in a small office with a robot, completing an academic survey. Suddenly, an alarm rings and smoke fills the hall outside the door. The student is forced to make a quick choice: escape via the clearly marked exit that they entered through, or head in the direction the robot is pointing, along an unknown path and through an obscure door. That was the real choice posed to 30 subjects in a recent experiment at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. The results surprised researchers: almost everyone elected to follow the robot – even though it was taking them away from the real exit. In fact, a total of 26 of the 30 participants chose to follow the robot. Of the remaining four, two were thrown out of the study for unrelated reasons, and the other two never left the room. “We were surprised,” says Paul Robinette, the graduate student who led the study. “We thought that there wouldn’t be enough trust, and that we’d have to do something to prove the robot was trustworthy.” The unexpected result is another piece of a puzzle that roboticists are struggling to solve. If people don’t trust robots enough, then the bots probably won’t be successful in helping us escape disasters or otherwise navigate the real world. But we also don’t want people to follow the instructions of a malicious or buggy machine. To researchers, the nature of that human-robot relationship is still elusive. The results suggest that if people are told the robot is designed to do a particular task – as was the case in this experiment – they will probably automatically trust it to do it, say the researchers. Indeed, in a survey given after the fake emergency was over, many of the participants explained that they followed the robot specifically because it was wearing a sign that read “EMERGENCY GUIDE ROBOT.”

Patients Legally Take Ecstasy While Receiving Therapy In Marin County – (KPIX TV - February 26, 2016)
Decades after the U.S. Federal Government banned the drug ecstasy, which in turn went underground, gaining notoriety as a party drug, a Bay Area medical team got special permission to study its therapeutic use in patients with life-threatening illnesses. The goal of the trial is to see whether the compound MDMA, also known as ecstasy, could be medicinally effective: could it ease the crippling anxiety, fear, or depression felt by those suffering from a life-threatening disease? The lead investigator for this study is psychiatrist Phil Wolfson. The medical doctor has permission from the U.S. FDA to conduct the study, and legally administer the drug. “The FDA approved so the DEA had to follow suit,” explained Wolfson. Before the DEA declared MDMA illegal in 1985, Doctor Wolfson used it medicinally in his own practice and saw a tremendous benefit for patients. In the study, MDMA is not used alone. The use of the compound is combined with psychotherapy sessions that can last five hours or longer. “It’s not this 50 minutes in and out, it's these extended periods of real interactive exchange,” explained [study participant Andy] Gold. “This was work, this was not partying,” added [study participant Wendy] Donner. “With the MDMA, everything opened up,” she recalled. “You start seeing things very, very clearly and at a nice slow pace, truths in your life are bubbling up. And revealed to you piece by piece,” explained [study participant John] Saul. The participants all say they've changed and are better able to face the future. Wolfson hopes the drug may one day be available to other patients as a legally accepted therapeutic approach.



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

This Is the Most Detailed Map Yet of Our Place in the Universe – (Vox – February 11, 2015)
We know that the Earth and the solar system are located in the Milky Way galaxy. But how, exactly, does the Milky Way fit in among the billions of other galaxies in the known universe? In a fascinating 2014 study, a team of scientists mapped thousands of galaxies in our immediate vicinity, and discovered that the Milky Way is part of a jaw-droppingly massive "supercluster" of galaxies that they named Laniakea. This structure is much, much, much bigger than astronomers had previously realized. Laniakea contains more than 100,000 galaxies, stretches 500 million light years across, (the Milky Way is just a speck located on one of its fringes). It's hard to wrap one's head around how enormous this is. Each of those points of light is an individual galaxy. Each galaxy contains millions, billions, or even trillions of stars. Oh, and this all is just our little local corner of an even broader universe. There are many other galaxy superclusters out there. What's interesting is that this structure is much bigger than anyone had realized. Astronomers had long grouped the Milky Way, Andromeda, and other galaxies around us in the Virgo Supercluster, which contained some 100 galaxy groups. But as the team of scientists, led by R. Brent Tully of the University of Hawaii, this Virgo Supercluster is just part of a much, much bigger supercluster — Laniakea. (The name, aptly enough, means "immeasurable heavens" in Hawaiian.) So what happens when we zoom out? The paper notes that Laniakea borders another supercluster known as Perseus-Pisces. The article contains a beautiful 4 min. video from Nature breaking down the team's findings. The stills in the article come from that video. (Editor’s note: The video clip is exquisite – and humbling.)

We Finally Know Why Mercury Is So Dark  - (Gizmodo – March 7, 2016)
Something about the planet Mercury didn’t sit right with astronomers: It’s too dark. Darker than the Moon, despite containing way less iron. But at long last, scientists have solved the mystery—and their discovery is shedding light on the fascinating past of the Solar System’s innermost planet. Mercury is slathered in graphite; the same slate-colored, carbon-based material we put in our pencils. What’s more, the patches of graphite on Mercury’s surface today may be the exposed remnants of a thick carbon crust that formed from an ancient lava ocean. “This was really a huge surprise,” Patrick Peplowski, a planetary scientist at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and lead author on the new study, told Gizmodo. “The question is: if there’s several percent carbon on Mercury’s surface and not on the other planets, what process could have concentrated it?” The graphite data, collected during low-altitude flyovers in the final days of MESSENGER’s mission, indicates that Mercury’s surface could be made up of a few percent carbon, much more than other rocky planets in our Solar System. And rather than delivery-via-comets, MESSENGER’s data is consistent with indigenous carbon that originated deep within the planet. When Mercury was young and even hotter than it is today, its surface was a roiling mess of magma. Graphite, the authors say, could have crystallized out of that magma ocean, forming a primordial crust, the remnants of which sit beneath the planet’s surface today and are exposed during extraterrestrial impacts.



NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

Eyeglasses That Can Focus Themselves Are on the Way – (Technology Review – March 10, 2016)
An Israeli startup is making glasses with lenses that can automatically adjust their optical power in real time, which may be a boon to people with age-related trouble focusing on nearby objects and could also be helpful for making virtual reality less nauseating. Called Deep Optics, the startup has spent the last three years building lenses with a see-through liquid-crystal layer that can change its refractive index—that is, the way light bends while passing through it—when subjected to an electrical current that depends on sensor data about where a wearer’s eyes are trying to focus. Sensors in the glasses track the pupils of the wearer. Changes in pupillary distance, or the distance between the centers of the two pupils, indicate the depth of an object that a person is trying to focus on. A processing unit built into the glasses can use the pupillary distance to calculate exactly how far the user is from the object, and the correct electrical current alters the liquid-crystal layer to provide the perfect prescription in real time. While the company has the basics of a working prototype, including functional lenses and other components, it still has a lot of work to do when it comes to perfecting the lenses and the system for detecting pupil distance, not to mention figuring out how to shrink everything down so it can fit into something as slim as a pair of eyeglasses. Deep Optics hopes to start having people test the glasses extensively in about two years.

Modeled After Ants, Teams of Tiny Robots Can Move 2-Ton Car – (New York Times – March 13, 2016)
A group of researchers at the Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory at Stanford University has been exploring the limits of friction in the design of tiny robots that have the ability to pull thousands of times their weight, wander like gecko lizards on vertical surfaces, or mimic bats. Now they have pushed biomimicry in a new direction. They have taken their inspiration from tiny ants that work as teams to move massive objects by synchronizing the smooth application of very tiny forces. The team of 6 microrobots, weighing just 3.5 ounces in total, work in concert, if slowly. The researchers observed that the ants get great cooperative force by each using three of their six legs simultaneously. “By considering the dynamics of the team, not just the individual, we are able to build a team of our ‘microTug’ robots that, like ants, are superstrong individually, but then also work together as a team,” said David Christensen, a graduate student who is one of the authors of a research paper describing the feat. Their new demonstration is the functional equivalent of a team of six humans moving a weight equivalent to that of an Eiffel Tower and three Statues of Liberty, Mr. Christensen said. The car is the one he uses for commuting to campus. Part of the magic is the use of a special adhesive that was inspired by gecko toes.



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

The Robots Are Coming for Wall Street – (New York Times – February 25, 2016)
Within a decade between a third and a half of the current employees in finance are predicted to lose their jobs to Kensho (automated financial analysis tool) and other automation software. It began with the lower-paid clerks, many of whom became unnecessary when stock tickers and trading tickets went electronic. It has moved on to research and analysis, as software like Kensho has become capable of parsing enormous data sets far more quickly and reliably than humans ever could. The next ‘‘tranche,’’ as Daniel Nadler, owner of the software company Kensho, puts it, will come from the employees who deal with clients: Soon, sophisticated interfaces will mean that clients no longer feel they need or even want to work through a human being. ‘We are creating a very small number of high-paying jobs in return for destroying a very large number of fairly high-paying jobs, and the net-net to society, absent some sort of policy intervention . . . is a net loss.” Goldman employees who lose their jobs to machines are not likely to evoke much pity. But it is exactly Goldman’s privileged status that makes the threat to its workers so interesting. If jobs can be displaced at Goldman, they can probably be displaced even more quickly at other, less sophisticated companies, within the financial industry as well as without.

A Look Inside China's First Finishing School – (BBC News – March 15, 2016)
The Institute Sarita, which it claims is China's first finishing school, is the brainchild of Sara Jane Ho. A native of Hong Kong, she went to boarding school and university in the USA. After working in investment banking, and for a non-governmental organization (NGO) in China, she spent some time studying at a Swiss finishing school. Inspired by what she had learnt, on her return to China she decided to set up a school of her own. The school targets an older age group than its European counterparts. It offers two main courses - one for debutantes, and another, offering instruction in how to be a hostess, for married women. One of the most important subjects it teaches is deportment. How you stand, how you sit, how you walk, how you enter a room, how you shake hands - all these things can have an impact on how you are perceived and how others around you feel, according to Ms Li, "so you have to learn how to behave properly". "Elite Chinese are starting to send their children to boarding school, they're buying property abroad, they're emigrating abroad," she says. "They are learning very quickly, and they're becoming a lot more cosmopolitan, which is why etiquette, now more than ever, is very relevant." Studying at the school is far from cheap, with a 10-day debutante course costing around $12,200. But, as one student, Chelsea Chen, notes, "How much you pay is not important, it's how much you can get from the course." "In some ways it's kind of a silly little business," Ms. Ho says. "We charge high prices, but the volume is very low… our classes are very small… and our costs are high… but I went to Harvard Business School, and I always think about how can I make this into something bigger?" Ms. Ho says her role model is Martha Stewart. "I want to provide the same to the modern day Chinese woman," she says.



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

Canadian Province Ontario Plans to Trial Universal Basic Income – (Independent – March 7, 2016)
Ontario has announced it could soon be sending a monthly check to its residents as it plans to launch an experiment testing the basic income concept. While officials in the Canadian province are yet to release any specific details of the project – including how much will be given to residents who participate – the finance ministry has published a report confirming the government’s intention to roll out the experiment. The general concept of basic income involves a government handing out a flat-rate income to every single citizen within a country, either by replacing existing benefits or to top them up. Proponents of the idea say it would save on welfare administration costs, reduce the poverty traps of traditional welfare states, be fair to people who have jobs, and give people more autonomy in general. Ontario’s budget department explained, “The pilot project will test a growing view at home and abroad that basic income could build on the success of minimum wage policies and increases in child benefits by providing more consistent and predictable support in the context of today’s dynamic labor market. The pilot would also test whether a basic income would provide a more efficient way of delivering income support, strengthen the attachment to the labor force, and achieve savings in other areas such as health care and housing supports. The government will work with communities, researchers and other stakeholders in 2016 to determine how best to implement a Basic Income pilot.”



FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.

Credible Account Says Clinton Is Behind Violent Protests at Trump Rallies – (Washington's Blog – March 12, 2016)
“Right now in Ohio, Democrats and independents in the Mahoning Valley, these people have lost their jobs because of these great globalist trade deals, are lining up to vote for Donald Trump in the Republican primary, which is legal in Ohio with some paperwork. And we saw this same crossover in Michigan. So it occurred to the Clinton people that Bernie’s economic voters — not his hard-left voters, she’s not going to get them, they’re not going for Hillary, blue-collar folks who have just figured out that they have been left out of the new-world-order economy, are a ripe target for Trump; he’s already getting that, she is petrified of it; so, this little maneuver, this David Brock dirty trick, solves two problems at once: it helps knock down Bernie, because after all these people are involved in violence; and it also disqualifies Trump as a future vote, by portraying him as a racist or a bigot. The whole thing is a kabuki dance. And I think it’s very important that Trump understand that it’s not the Sanders campaign that’s disrupting his rallies; this is a Hillary Clinton operation.” (Editor’s note: As this section’s title suggests: Take this article for what you think it’s worth. However much or little that is, you may find this article relevant: Millions of ordinary Americans support Donald Trump. Here's why."The point being made here is that the real issue, the one beneath all the bluster, that earns blue collar support is the fact that trade agreements export jobs.)



JUST FOR FUN

Drone Synchronized Airshow in Germany – (YouTube – January 7, 2016)
 What does it look like when you put 100 drones in the air, at night, synchronized to music played by a live orchestra? Watch this clip and see. "Drone 100" took place at Flugplatz Ahrenlohe, Tornesch, Germany, in November 2015. (Not only is this an remarkable demonstration of what can be done with drones, but it is a literally brilliant advertisement).  



A FINAL QUOTE

Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present. - Albert Camus



A special thanks to: A special thanks to: Bernard Calil, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Johnny Henderson, 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. johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org




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