Volume 20, Number 16 - 10/15/17 Twitter  Facebook  JLP Blog  


FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT--
  • An estimated 2% of the DNA in non-African humans comes from Neanderthals.
  • Here's how to stop your devices from listening to (and saving) everything you say.
  • Check out the best luxury tiny houses on the market.
  • Only about 1 in 10 Americans have a lot of friends in the opposing political party.


PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

Mary Rodwell coming to Berkeley Springs

October will be a special month for Transition Talks because Mary Rodwell, from Australia, is coming to talk to us about children who have very distinct memories from previous lives on other planets, flying craft, and dimensions. Mary is an extraordinary, internationally known authority on “experiencers”, those folks who have interacted with aliens, other dimensions, etc.

Let me tell you about Mary:



Here’s a link to one of Mary’s talks on YouTube. Check this out . . . and then come to see her live!



She’ll be here in Berkeley Springs on the 21st of October at 1PM at the Ice House.

Get complete information here: TransitionTalks.org

See you there!




THINK LINKS



NEW REALITIES

There’s New Evidence That Life on Earth Began with Meteorites Crashing into Warm Little Ponds – (Business Insider – October 3, 2017)
The biggest question about life is an obvious one, but the answer is hotly debated. How did it all begin? The most well-known of biologists, Charles Darwin, once theorized in a private letter to his friend Joseph Lee Hooker that life — the very first molecules of it — could have emerged from a "warm little pond" where some precursor components underwent a chemical reaction, creating compounds that would later develop into the forms of life as we know them today. The other main theory is that life could have first emerged underwater at ultrahot hydrothermal vents, where cold seawater is heated to searing temperatures by volcanic activity deep in the ocean, providing enough energy to transform chemicals and other particles. Recently, the warm little ponds theory got a boost. In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers wrote that they had mathematically modeled a way that meteorites, which smacked into early Earth far more regularly than they do now, could have delivered organic materials called nucleobases to warm little ponds all over the earth. These nucleobases would have served as the building blocks for RNA (a cousin of DNA), which many scientists think was the first sort of "life" to emerge, since it can both store information and help catalyze chemical reactions that would lead to the formation of other organic compounds.

Like Your Skin, Your Hair? Thank Your Neanderthal Ancestors – (Health Day – October 5, 2017)
Neanderthals are long gone, but bits of their genetic code help shape the bodies and minds of people today, researchers report. These ancient genes still appear to play a role in determining people's skin tone and hair color, plus characteristics as varied as mood, tendency to smoke, and sleep/wake patterns ("circadian rhythms"), the scientists said. The key to these traits in today's humans may lie in how Neanderthals adapted to sun exposure in their home in Eurasia. "Skin and hair color, circadian rhythms and mood are all influenced by light exposure," the study authors wrote in the Oct. 5 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics. "We speculate that their identification in our analysis suggests that sun exposure may have shaped [Neanderthal DNA], and that gene flow into modern humans continues to contribute to variation in these traits today," according to Janet Kelso, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, and colleagues. An estimated 2% of the DNA in non-African humans comes from Neanderthals, who interbred with early humans. The investigators analyzed genetic information from about 112,000 participants in the UK Biobank pilot study. The team found evidence that Neanderthal DNA affects the appearance of human skin and hair. "We can now show that it is skin tone, and the ease with which one tans, as well as hair color that are affected," Kelso said.

Half of the Universe's Missing Normal Matter Has Been Found – (Alphr – October 10, 2017)
Astronomers have a problem when it comes to the mass in the universe; a lot of it is missing. You may know about dark matter, the enigmatic substance thought to make up 27% of the universe, but this isn't the only mysterious absence. When it comes to normal matter; the stuff we are made of including protons, neutrons and electrons, there's also a chunk missing. In fact, models of the universe hint there should be about twice as much matter as we can see. This is called the missing baryons problem. Now, two papers have come out suggesting we may have found half of this missing chunk, in huge stretches of hot, diffuse gas that hold galaxies together. The particles in this gas are baryons; particles made up of three quarks, like protons and neutrons. Two teams, who both found these baryons using an effect called Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (tSZ). This effect is essentially light left over from the Big Bang scattering off the particles in the gas. When this happens, it leaves a trace in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the relic radiation from the earliest universe seen from across space. “This result establishes the presence of ionised gas in large-scale filaments, and suggests that the missing baryons problem may be resolved via observations of the cosmic web,” said the authors of the second study. “The missing baryon problem is solved,” claims Hideki Tanimura at the Institute of Space Astrophysics in Orsay, France, leader of one of the groups.





GENETICS/HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/BIOTECHNOLOGY

Researchers Develop Smart Tattoos That Use Color Changing Ink for Medical Info – (Slashgear – October 2, 2017)
Researchers working together at Harvard and MIT have developed a new ink for tattoos that is able to monitor health and change color to warn of certain medical issues. The ink could change colors if the person is dehydrated or if the blood sugar rises. The inks used in the tattoos are biosensitive and the tech seeks to merge tattoo art with medical monitoring devices. The researchers say that the issue with current wearable monitoring devices for medical uses is that they don’t integrate well with the body. These devices also have a short battery life and need wireless connectivity. The biosensitive tattoo would need none of these things. The project is called Dermal Abyss and was conducted as a proof of concept. The team is still working the concept and needs to stabilize the ink so designs don’t fade or diffuse into surrounding tissues. Those issues need to be sorted before the tattoo ink could be used for medical needs.

Brain's Link to Immune System Might Help Explain Alzheimer's – (NPR – October 3, 2017)
Fresh evidence that the body's immune system interacts directly with the brain could lead to a new understanding of diseases from multiple sclerosis to Alzheimer's. A study of human and monkey brains found lymphatic vessels — a key part of the body's immune system — in a membrane that surrounds the brain and nervous system, a team reported in the online journal eLife. The new finding bolsters recent evidence in rodents that the brain interacts with the body's lymphatic system to help fend off diseases and remove waste. Until a few years ago, scientists believed that the brain's immune and waste removal systems operated independently. The discovery of lymphatic vessels near the surface of the brain could lead to a better understanding of multiple sclerosis, which seems to be triggered by a glitch in the immune system, says Dr. Daniel Reich, an author of the study and a senior investigator at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The research also has implications for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. These diseases occur as certain toxic waste products accumulate in the brain. And lymphatic vessels appear to be part of the system that usually removes these waste products. "The discovery of a lymphatic system in the brain raises the possibility that a disorder of the lymphatic system is somehow involved in the causation of Alzheimer's disease," says Dr. Michael Weiner, a professor of radiology at the University of California San Francisco, who was not connected with the study. For centuries, most scientists believed that the body's lymphatic system didn't connect to the brain, Reich says. "The brain was thought to be what is called immune-privileged," he says. "It has a different immune system from the rest of the body."

Scientists Establish New Nonviral Method for CRISPR Using Gold Nanoparticles – (Futurism – October 3, 2017)
CRISPR has the potential to revolutionize genetic engineering, but up until now, delivery methods have been something of a limiting factor. However, a new study has successfully used gold nanoparticles to carry out a nonviral application. Scientists coated a gold nanoparticle with DNA that had been edited so that it would latch onto it. Donor DNA used to carry out a process known as homology-directed repair (HDR) was bound to the particle, and finally, the Cas9 protein and guide RNA was added. The researchers were able to use CRISPR-Gold to induce HDR in human embryonic stem cells and muscle cells from a mouse in vitro. They also performed a successful test in vivo by injecting the assembly into a mouse model for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which was not able to produce the protein dystrophin. Post injection, the researchers observed an improvement to muscle function.One the biggest concerns for researchers regarding current methods of administering CRISPR is that they run the risk of unwanted off-target effects. However, a more targeted, nonviral approach, like the one co-author Irina Conboy’s team has developed, avoids those potential pitfalls. However, while this is a promising step in the right direction, there is still plenty of work left to be done. A localized injection is well-suited to the treatment of a condition like Duchenne muscular dystrophy, but other applications would require systemic delivery — which isn’t currently possible with CRISPR-Gold.

New Microchip Technology Could Be Used to Track ‘Smart Pills' – (TechXplore – September 12, 2017)
Researchers at Caltech have developed a prototype miniature medical device that could ultimately be used in "smart pills" to diagnose and treat diseases. A key to the new technology—and what makes it unique among other microscale medical devices—is that its location can be precisely identified within the body, something that proved challenging before. Called ATOMS, which is short for addressable transmitters operated as magnetic spins, the new silicon-chip devices borrow from the principles of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in which the location of atoms in a patient's body is determined using magnetic fields. The microdevices would also be located in the body using magnetic fields—but rather than relying on the body's atoms, the chips contain a set of integrated sensors, resonators, and wireless transmission technology that would allow them to mimic the magnetic resonance properties of atoms. "A key principle of MRI is that a magnetic field gradient causes atoms at two different locations to resonate at two different frequencies, making it easy to tell where they are," says Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Heritage Medical Research Institute Investigator Mikhail Shapiro. "We wanted to embody this elegant principle in a compact integrated circuit. The ATOMS devices also resonate at different frequencies depending on where they are in a magnetic field." The researchers say the devices are still preliminary but could one day serve as miniature robotic wardens of our bodies, monitoring a patient's gastrointestinal tract, blood, or brain. The devices could measure factors that indicate the health of a patient—such as pH, temperature, pressure, sugar concentrations—and relay that information to doctors. Or, the devices could even be instructed to release drugs. An ATOMS device is 250 times smaller than a penny.




ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Yellowstone Supervolcano's Nasty Surprise: Only Decades to Prepare for an Eruption – (Forbes – October 11, 2017)
Beneath the beautiful Yellowstone National Park lies a supervolcano, a hidden a force of nature that has the potential to blanket the United States in ash and send the world into a volcanic winter. While scientists have studied Yellowstone's supervolcano extensively, the fact of the matter is there's not much we can do about it if/when the supervolcano erupts again. Albeit, that hasn't stopped NASA from trying to engineer a solution to the next supervolcano eruption. What scientists have relied upon is that when Yellowstone's supervolcano begins to rumble and its magma chambers begin to fill, we would have centuries to prepare for the devastating eruption. However, recent studies find that the speed at which the volcano can fill its magma chamber and erupt is on the order of a few decades. That means Yellowstone supervolcano could go from its usual activity like today to erupting in 2030's.

Trash-sucking Seabin Goes to Work in the UK – (New Atlas – October 12, 2017)
There are a number of schemes out there intended to tackle the huge problem of ocean waste, and while none claim to be a complete solution, they do promise to help in their own ways. Among them is the Seabin, a rubbish-sucking flotation device that is now being installed commercially for the very first time. Dreamt up by a pair of Australian surfers fed up with wading through trash, the Seabin started as a wildly successful crowdfunding project in 2015 and has now matured into a commercial product. Its design has changed a little since but the premise remains the same. The Seabin is basically a water filtering system that floats on the surface within marinas, ports or calm bodies of water and hoovers up floating debris. Placed strategically to take advantage of wind and currents, the Seabin collects trash by drawing water in through a removable mesh catch bag, thanks to a small 110 V or 220 V pump. The bag is made from recycled plastics and collects not only trash, but certain oils and detergents as well. Its creators say it can collect around 3.3 lb of debris per day, depending on the conditions. The device is being attached to a pontoon in Old Portsmouth, England, where it expects it to remove half a ton of debris from the waters each year, along with oils and detergents. The Seabin team is well aware of the fact that its machine won't put a dent in the wider problem. But projects like the Seabin and the Ocean Cleanup Project help raise awareness of the problem by eliminating trash on a smaller scale, and that surely is better than nothing.



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

How to Stop Your Devices from Listening to (and Saving) Everything You Say – (Fox News – October 1, 2017)
While virtual assistants are handy, they’re always listening. As more manufacturers and developers jump onto the audio tracking bandwagon, you may wonder how much your devices are recording. And what happens to the audio files they gather? Worst of all are the apps that use ultrasonic data to profile you. You don’t hear the tones, but your device does. (More about that later.) Some regular apps are designed to spy and report back recordings. Article includes a link for five spy apps that could be watching and listening on your phone right now. Creeped out? Lots of consumers don’t trust their virtual assistants and wonder how to switch them off. If you're worried about the privacy risks of your smartphone's always-on microphone, here are tips for turning it off.

New System Allows Near-zero-power Sensors to Communicate Data over Long Distances – (Kurzweil – September 18, 2017)
University of Washington (UW) researchers have developed a low-cost, long-range data-communication system that could make it possible for medical sensors or billions of low-cost “internet of things” objects to connect via radio signals at long distances (up to 2.8 kilometers) and with 1000 times lower required power (9.25 microwatts in an experiment) compared to existing technologies. “People have been talking about embedding connectivity into everyday objects … for years, but the problem is the cost and power consumption to achieve this,” said Vamsi Talla, chief technology officer of Jeeva Wireless, which plans to market the system within six months. “This is the first wireless system that can inject connectivity into any device with very minimal cost.” The new system uses “backscatter,” which uses energy from ambient transmissions (from WiFi, for example) to power a passive sensor that encodes and scatter-reflects the signal. (This article explains how ambient backscatter, developed by UW, works.) Backscatter systems, used with RFID chips, are very low cost, but are limited in distance.

Above the Sky – (YouTube – March 14, 2015)
Prairie aerial – dedicated to all the workers who climb the heights to keep us connected. This video is a portion of a video made for the 20th Anniversary of the National Association of Tower Erectors. You can see the complete video here. The tower in the clouds was shot during the deconstruction of the KWTV tower in Oklahoma City in December 2015 by Tower King II. (Editor's note: Don't miss this one; it's stunning.)

Is Mixed Reality the Future of Computing? – (Fast Company – October 6, 2017)
Since joining Microsoft 16 years ago, Alex Kipman has been the primary inventor on more than 100 patents, including Xbox Kinect’s pioneering motion-sensing technology that paved the way for some of the features in his latest creation, the holographic 3D headset called the HoloLens. enthusiastically explains that the key benefit of technology is its ability to displace time and space. He brings up “mixed reality” (MR), Microsoft’s term for tech that mixes real-world with computer-generated imagery and will, some day, according to Kipman, seamlessly blend augmented and virtual reality. He says that one of the most exciting features of MR is its potential to unleash “displacement superpowers” onto the real world. Humans attach value to the feeling you get when physically sharing a space with another person, which is the reason I took a 10-hour flight to have a face-to-face conversation with Kipman. “But if you could have this type of interaction without actually being here,” he says, “life suddenly becomes much more interesting. “My daughter can hang out with her cousins in Brazil every weekend, and my employees don’t need to travel around the globe to get their job done,” he continues. “With the advent of artificial intelligence, we could still be talking, but I’m not even here anymore. One day you and I are going to be having this conversation, you’ll be sitting on Mars, and I’ll have been dead for 100 years. Our job as technologists is to accelerate that future and ask how we do that.”



SHELTER/ARCHITECTURE

The Best Luxury Tiny Houses on the Market Right Now – (New Atlas – October 11, 2017)
The small living movement tends to be all about sacrifices and compromises – there's only so much that can be done with such limited space, after all. That said, those with the means to spend some extra money can look forward to improved amenities, high-end materials, and gadgets a-plenty in their tiny house. Article focuses on high-end tiny houses that cost over US$70,000 and include outstanding features, interesting design, or notable technology. We've also highlighted firms we're familiar with, but do urge readers to carry out their own research if considering splashing hard-earned cash on one of these. All except one are based in the USA (the other is in New Zealand). Article includes 47 images. See also: Parking space-sized micro-house is made for city life.

Sports Hall for School in Thailand Has Bamboo Construction – (TechXplore – August 14, 2017)
An idea worth saving—an ambitious bamboo structure serving as a large sports hall with open, natural ventilation, strong enough to withstand nasty weather and boasting zero carbon footprint. The project team is known for their use of sustainable materials for villas, offices, homes and schools. What does that actually mean, zero carbon footprint? Reports said the bamboo absorbed more carbon than what was emitted during treatment, transport, and construction. David Malone, associate editor, Building Design+Construction, talked about the requirements for a larger assembly space, an indoor sports facility, and a space that could keep students from getting wet in the rainy season and keep them cool on hot summer days. "As the climate is mainly hot or wet, it became important as the school grew to provide for a sheltered sports arena. Thus the Panyaden International School Sports Hall was conceived," said the designers and builders. "The brief was to build a hall that should be big enough to hold the projected capacity of 300 students, but still smoothly integrates with the previous earthen and bamboo buildings of the school as well as the natural hilly landscape of the area." Talking about structures and materials such as adobe, wattle & daub and rammed earth walls, rammed earth floors, bamboo roofs, bamboo structures and bamboo pavilions, they said, "For many these materials have the stigma of being 'poor people's materials' or outdated, 'dirty' materials. For us these materials rather haven't been updated with 21st century knowledge, design, research and marketing. The mainstream was made to believe that concrete solves all problems. We don't think so." The life span of the bamboo hall is expected to be at least 50 years.



ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

China Is Showing the World What Renewable Energy Dominance Looks Like, Says New IEA Report – (Nation of Change – October 5, 2017)
The growth of solar energy continues to outpace forecasts and this growth, according to a report published by the International Energy Agency, “is a China story.” While China today is far and away the global leader in solar generation, a decade ago, the country had just 100 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed. That’s nothing. For reference, it’s actually less than is currently installed in the city of San Antonio. By the end of 2016, China had increased its solar PV capacity by nearly 800 times, with more than 77 gigawatts currently installed. China’s solar dominance is only going to keep growing, according to the IEA report. As Dr. Paolo Frankl, one of the lead authors on the report, said on a call to reporters, “In one year, China will install the equivalent of the total history of solar development in Germany.” The stunning growth trajectories reflected in the IEA report show how quickly the transition to renewables can surge when aggressive policies cut through the barriers to growth. The Renewables 2017 report takes a deep dive into renewable energy deployment across all industries and throughout the world, but the dominance of solar PV stands out. As a whole, renewables represented nearly two-thirds of new electricity capacity additions last year, far outshining coal and natural gas growth. For the very first time, solar PV additions grew faster than any other resource, surpassing coal growth.

Asphalt Helps Batteries Charge More Quickly – (BBC News – October 6, 2017)
Lithium batteries (for mobile gadgets) can be made to charge 10 to 20 times faster by using asphalt, suggests US research. Scientists at Rice University speeded up the charging time by making one component of a battery using carbon derived from the viscous liquid. In tests, batteries made using asphalt charged to full power in minutes, said the researchers. They also found that using asphalt stopped the formation of deposits that can shorten the life of a battery. To make their batteries, the Rice team used carbon derived from asphalt that was mixed with graphene nanoribbons and then coated with lithium metal. According to Professor James Tour, who heads the lab that developed the batteries, the manufacturing process behind this new approach is simpler than earlier techniques previously developed for making fast-charging batteries.

Study Shows North Atlantic Wind Farms Could Power the Whole World – (New Atlas – October 10, 2017)
Wind is one of the cleanest energy sources available, and the US is sitting next to a gold mine. A new study has found that wind speeds over the oceans could allow offshore turbines to generate far more energy than a land-based wind farm – with the North Atlantic, in particular, theoretically able to provide enough energy for all of human civilization. In addition to being safer to bird life and less disruptive to humans, the main advantage of setting up wind farms offshore is the fact that the wind speeds are higher out there. In theory, those speeds mean there's five times as much energy blowing around over water than there is over land, but whether that would translate to electricity production gains was another question. Researchers from Carnegie Science set out to find the answer. The team used computer models to compare the output of existing land-based wind farms in Kansas to huge, theoretical facilities out in the open ocean. According to their results, turbines in the ocean wouldn't drag down the wind speeds as much as those over land would, and in some areas, they could generate three times as much electricity as their land-based counterparts.



TRANSPORTATION

Drink-drive Rules Need Updating for Autonomous Car Era – (BBC News – October 5, 2017)
Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs should be exempt from drink-drive laws if they are using autonomous cars, an Australian report has suggested. The National Transport Commission (NTC) has recommended the change, comparing it to someone getting into a taxi. Current laws could be a "barrier" to the adoption of such vehicles, it said. Many countries are considering updates to the laws of the road to accommodate autonomous vehicles. The NTC has been tasked with looking at the legislative changes necessary as self-drive vehicles become common on Australia's roads. Such cars have already been trialed in Australia, and commercial rollouts are expected by 2020. It does not recommend drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs be exempt if they are in semi-autonomous vehicles or cars that allow a switch-over to manual driving. Ben Gardner, an associate at law firm Pinsent Masons, said that the technology had a long way to go before such changes would become necessary. "The technology is not quite there for full autonomous vehicles and, as long as we require a human to gain control if needed, it would not be right for them to get drunk," he said. (Editor’s note: Persons in a fully autonomous vehicle are not “drivers”; they are passengers. The autonomous vehicle with an intoxicated passenger – or no passenger – should be handling the road just as perfectly as ever, well enough not to get pulled over. Additionally, there would be no need for a driving age; a fully autonomous vehicle would be able to drive a 6 year old, alone, from school to her piano lesson. Soccer moms will still have to attend the games.)



AGRICULTURE/FOOD

Jelly-like "Living" Plates Tremble and Bounce in Response to Food – (Dezeen - June 28, 2017)
Silicone tableware designed by Royal College of Art graduate Lina Saleh wobble and jiggle to influence how diners experience their dinner. Saleh created each plate to influence the perception of taste. According to her research, our experience of taste begins before we even start eating. The collection includes bowls that pop inside out, bouncing domes, saucers that can be folded in the hand and dishes that tremble as food is eaten from them. "The project started by trying to create a dish for dessert that would convey the heaviness and richness of it, even before tasting it," explained the designer. They respond to touch, coming to life, thus changing our interaction with a plate. They add a new dimension to what plateware can achieve, thus changing our perception of it but also adding a new tool for a chef to express himself.




SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

False Flag Terrorism Isn’t a “Theory” … It’s Admitted and Widespread – (Washington’s Blog – July 28, 2017)
“False flag terrorism” is a term for horrific, staged events blamed on a political enemy and used as a pretext to start a war or enact draconian laws in the name of national security. And it has been used successfully by many nations. This article lists numerous such instances openly admitted by the officials of various governments and provides external links to support each event.




GLOBAL RELATIONS

Xi Jinping Has More Clout Than Donald Trump. The World Should Be Wary. – (Economist – October 14, 2017)
The Washington Post quotes Donald Trump as saying that China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, is “probably the most powerful” China has had in a century. Mr. Trump may be right. And were it not political suicide for an American president to say so, he might plausibly have added: “Xi Jinping is the world’s most powerful leader.” To be sure, China’s economy is still second in size to America’s and its army, though rapidly gaining muscle, pales in comparison. But economic heft and military hardware are not everything. The president of the world’s largest authoritarian state, by contrast, walks with swagger abroad. His grip on China is tighter than any leader’s since Mao. And whereas Mao’s China was chaotic and miserably poor, Mr Xi’s is a dominant engine of global growth. His clout will soon be on full display. On October 18th China’s ruling Communist Party will convene a five-yearly congress in Beijing. It will be the first one presided over by Mr. Xi. Its 2,300 delegates will sing his praises to the skies. More skeptical observers might ask whether Mr. Xi will use his extraordinary power for good or ill. On his numerous foreign tours, Mr. Xi presents himself as an apostle of peace and friendship, a voice of reason in a confused and troubled world. Mr Xi’s words are heeded partly because he has the world’s largest stockpile of foreign currency to back them up. His “Belt and Road Initiative” may be puzzlingly named, but its message is clear—hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese money are to be invested abroad in railways, ports, power stations and other infrastructure that will help vast swathes of the world to prosper.



LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

Only About 1 in 10 Americans Have a Lot of Friends in the Opposing Political Party – (Washington Post – September 5, 2017)
New research from Pew Research shows that 97% of Democrats are more liberal than the median Republican, and 95% of Republicans are more conservative than the median Democrat. In 1994, those figures were 70% and 64%, respectively. We know (again from Pew) that more than 80% of Republicans and Democrats hold unfavorable views of members of the other party, with 44% of Democrats and 45% of Republicans holding very unfavorable views of their political opponents. In 16 states last year, more than a third of 2016 voters lived in a neighborhood where either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton won by more than 50%. In four, more than half of voters lived in such polarized areas. More than half of Republicans and Democrats also say that they have only a few or no friends from the opposite party. That includes 14% of Republicans and 21% of Democrats who report having no friends who vote with the other party.

The Great Tech Panic: The Inevitability of Porn – (Wired – August 23, 2017)
Your kids will see internet porn. Deal with it. Visitors to Pornhub, the largest porn site on the internet, watched about 92 billion sexytime videos last year. This article is an interview with Peggy Orenstein. The author of Girls & Sex and Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Orenstein is currently working on a book about boys, masculinity, sex, love—and yes, porn. “The first thing I recognized when I started working on the new book was that the question to ask boys is not whether or if they watch porn. The question is, when was the first time they saw it? The most typical answer I get is 11, sometimes 13, sometimes younger.” With just a couple of clicks, a search can lead them to images or videos they’re not prepared to understand or process. What I always say to parents is, if you’ve never gone on Pornhub to see what is there for free—on the opening page—then you have no idea what we’re talking about. Because of our own squeamishness, we’re unable to engage with our children. We silo discussions about sex as if they have nothing to do with everything else. You should have already spoken to your kids about relationships and human behavior and sexuality. So that when you get to the porn conversation, you have a foundation. Porn shouldn’t be where you start.



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

SETI Astronomer Seth Shostak: We’ll Find Intelligent Alien Life within 20 Years – (Newsweek – October 3, 2017)
In the Milky Way there are an estimated 100,000 million stars and 100 billion planets, of which many are considered “potentially habitable”—meaning that they could have the conditions right for life to emerge. Furthermore, NASA recently said there could be 10 times more galaxies in the observable universe than previously thought. Senior astronomer, Seth Shostak, from the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, said he had “very little” to say about our current understanding about the existence of alien life “because we haven’t found any” yet. However, he added that simple extraterrestrial lifeforms may be found in the near future: “We may find microbial life—the kind you’d find in the corners of your bathtub. We may find that a lot sooner, but that remains to be seen. But it’s gonna happen, I think, in your lifetime.” While he says the existence of intelligent alien life will be confirmed in 20 years, Shostak said the chance of making contact is far less likely: “I mean if they’re 500 light years away ... you’ll hear a signal that’ll be 500 years old, and if you broadcast back ‘Hi we’re the Earthlings, how’re you doing?’—it’ll be 1,000 years before you hear back from them. If you ever hear back from them. So, it’s not exactly contact, but at least you know they’re there.”

United Arab Emirates to Build Martian Mini-city – (Gears of Biz – October 4, 2017)
Leave it to the United Arab Emirates, land of superlative everything, to lead the charge when building the world’s largest — and, predictably, flashiest — Mars colony simulation. When complete, the 1.9-million-square-foot Martian mini-city will give scientists a “viable and realistic” taste of what human colonization of the Red Planet might be like. News of the so-called Mars Science City, which comes equipped with a price tag of $140 million (U.S.) and will be located in the Emirati desert on the outskirts of Dubai, comes just months after the country announced ambitious and not entirely surprising plans to colonize Mars by the year 2117. Considering the Emirates’ vast wealth and penchant for erecting seemingly impossible structures at a breakneck pace, the colonization of Mars by the UAE certainly isn’t all that implausible. After all, Dubai, which is hyper-futuristic and located in an incredibly harsh climate, essentially already is a city-state imported from outer space. Mars Science City will enable scientists to simulate gardening and food production in the same conditions as a self-sustaining Martian settlement. If all goes as planned, an Emirates-led international team of scientists and engineers will figure out how to merrily accommodate upwards of 600,000 erstwhile Earth dwellers in a self-sustaining settlement located some 34 million miles from home. See also: Deep space exploration a reality within a decade.

Fmr. Manager of DOD Aerospace Threat Program: “UFOs are Real” – (Huff Post – October 11, 2017)
Something extraordinary was revealed the other day. Former high-level officials and scientists with deep black experience who have always remained in the shadows came forward on one platform. These insiders have long-standing connections to government agencies which may have programs investigating unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP/UFOs). The team includes a 25-year veteran of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, a Lockheed Martin Program Director for Advanced Systems at “Skunk Works”, and a former deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. It marked the official launch of To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science (TTS/AAS) an innovative Public Benefit Corporation which will advance research into unexplained phenomena and develop related technology. Luis Eiizondo [is] the former Director of Programs to investigate Unidentified Aerial Threats for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. As a result of his position managing the DOD program for almost a decade, Lue said “I learned that the phenomena is indeed real.” Lue does not speak for the DOD, since he is no longer employed there; he speaks independently as part of the TTS Academy. Lue also stated: “We are also planning to provide never before released footage from real US Government systems...not blurry, amateur photos, but real data and real videos.” And even more significant: “We are inviting our Government colleagues and friends in Defense to participate regularly with their own findings.”

Note: Watch an intriguing 40-minute video of this group of very high level military intelligence talking openly about UFOs (transcript here). This is clearly a carefully planned and staged event. The question is to what end? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing UFO news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our UFO Information Center.

STATISTICS/DEMOGRAPHICS

Obesity-related Cancers on the Rise in the U.S. – (CBS – October 3, 2017)
There's a link between obesity and 40% of all the cancers diagnosed in the United States, health officials report. That doesn't mean too much weight is causing all these cancer cases, just that there's some kind of still-to-be explained association, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, the study findings suggest that being obese or overweight was associated with cancer cases involving more than 630,000 Americans in 2014, and this includes 13 types of cancer. The 13 cancers include: brain cancer; multiple myeloma; cancer of the esophagus; postmenopausal breast cancer; cancers of the thyroid, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovaries, uterus and colon, the researchers said. Dr. Lisa Richardson, director of CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, said early evidence indicates that losing weight can lower the risk for some cancers. Of the 630,000 Americans diagnosed with a cancer associated with overweight or obesity in 2014, about two out of three occurred in adults aged 50 to 74, the researchers found. Excluding colon cancer, the rate of obesity-related cancer increased by 7 percent between 2005 and 2014. During the same time, rates of non-obesity-related cancers dropped, the findings showed. In 2013-2014, about two out of three American adults were overweight or obese, according to the report.

Las Vegas Massacre Dispels the Myth of Who’s Most Violent in This Country – (Yes Magazine – October 5, 2017)
Even before a 64-year-old real estate investor shot and killed 58 people in Las Vegas, resulting in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, researchers had been slow to acknowledge a disturbing pattern among a once-taboo demographic: middle-aged Whites. Specifically, their involvement in gun violence—suicides, homicides, accidents—is growing. The latest CDC statistics show Whites 35 and older—America’s wealthiest and most politically powerful demographic—make up 37% of the population but 47% of the nation’s gun deaths and 55% of deaths from illicit drugs. White men 35 and older, just 18% of Americans, now account for 40% of all gun fatalities, and 31% of illicit-drug deaths. Tabulations of mass shooters vary in design and completeness, but several that are reviewed consistently show the overwhelming majority of those whose races are identified are non-Latino Whites, and most are over age 35. In a particularly jarring statistic from California—the only state to tabulate crime by race crossed with age—non-Latino Whites age 40 and older (a record 335,000 in 2016) are now being arrested for criminal offenses at a higher rate than are Blacks and Latinos under age 30 combined.




NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

Do Gravitational Anomalies Prove We're Not Living in a Computer Simulation? – (New Atlas – October 3, 2017)
Is our entire universe just a computer simulation? It sounds like the premise for a sci-fi movie, but over the years the idea has been debated by scientists in earnest. But now theoretical physicists believe they've found proof that our universe is far too complex to be captured in any simulation. According to the researchers, the hypothesis is done in by gravitational anomalies, tiny "twists" in the fabric of spacetime. For many, the concept that our civilization might exist inside a simulation goes back to the movie The Matrix, but it has actually been discussed in scientific circles as a legitimate possibility, including at the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate at the American Museum of Natural History last year. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson puts our odds of living in a simulation at 50/50, while Elon Musk is far less optimistic, saying the chance is "one in billions" that we inhabit the one true world. researchers at Oxford and Hebrew University may now have proven that the universe is far too complex to simulate. The key is a quantum phenomenon known as the thermal Hall conductance – in other words, a gravitational anomaly. These anomalies have been known to exist for decades, but are notoriously difficult to directly detect. Effectively representing twists in spacetime, they arise in physical systems where magnetic fields generate energy currents that cut across temperature gradients, particularly in cases where high magnetic fields and very low temperatures are involved. That means that simulating just a few hundred electrons would require a computer with a memory made up of more atoms than the universe contains. Considering that our universe contains 1080 particles – that's a 10 followed by 80 zeroes – the number of atoms needed to simulate that is incomprehensible and utterly unsolvable.

Sound Waves Enable Blood Sample Analysis in Minutes – (New Atlas – September 21, 2017)
A few years ago, a team of MIT scientists developed a novel way to separate blood cells using sound waves. Now the team, in conjunction with scientists from several other institutions, has taken the technology even further by demonstrating that the process can isolate exosomes from blood samples. This has the potential for a fast way to detect biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. "These exosomes often contain specific molecules that are a signature of certain abnormalities," says senior author on the study, Ming Dao. "If you isolate them from blood, you can do biological analysis and see what they reveal." It has traditionally been a laborious and time-consuming process to isolate exosomes from a blood sample. It takes nearly 24 hours, and requires the sample to undergo high-speed centrifugation, which is done in a large machine that isn't easily transportable. These violent centrifugal forces can also damage the fragile exosomes. "Acoustic sound waves are much gentler," says Dao. "These particles are experiencing the forces for only a second or less as they're being separated, which is a big advantage."



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

6 Myths You Probably Believe About Success – (Yes Magazine – September 29, 2017)
How do you use 20 pieces of spaghetti, some tape, and a piece of string to build the biggest tower you can that will support a single marshmallow? Designer Peter Skillman has given this challenge to everyone from Stanford students to Taiwanese engineers, and one group is the clear winner: kindergarteners. It turns out this Marshmallow Challenge is a good metaphor for life: The path to success isn’t all that straightforward (at least for adults). In his new book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, science blogger Eric Barker pulls together a wide range of research that can help you achieve whatever kind of success you’re after—whether that means boosting your productivity, earning more money, or becoming an expert in your field. Along the way, he debunks six common myths that many of us believe about how to become successful at our goals and in our work. Examples of those myths? Here are two: Winners Never Quit and Always Believe in Yourself.



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

How Silicon Valley Is Erasing Your Individuality – (Washington Post - September 8, 2017)
Today’s ascendant monopolies aspire to encompass all of existence. Google derives from googol, a number (1 followed by 100 zeros) that mathematicians use as shorthand for unimaginably large quantities. Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google with the mission of organizing all knowledge, but that proved too narrow. They now aim to build driverless cars, manufacture phones and conquer death. Amazon, which once called itself “the everything store,” now produces television shows, owns Whole Foods and powers the cloud. The architect of this firm, Jeff Bezos, even owns this newspaper. Along with Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, these companies are in a race to become our “personal assistant.” They want to wake us in the morning, have their artificial intelligence software guide us through our days and never quite leave our sides. They aspire to become the repository for precious and private items, our calendars and contacts, our photos and documents. They intend for us to turn unthinkingly to them for information and entertainment while they catalogue our intentions and aversions. More than any previous coterie of corporations, the tech monopolies aspire to mold humanity into their desired image of it. They think they have the opportunity to complete the long merger between man and machine — to redirect the trajectory of human evolution. Google helps us sort the Internet, by providing a sense of hierarchy to information; Facebook uses its algorithms and its intricate understanding of our social circles to filter the news we encounter; Amazon bestrides book publishing with its overwhelming hold on that market. (Editor’s note: This is a long, thoughtful article that doesn’t lend itself well to condensation; it’s worth reading in its entirety.)



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

Bakery Had Violations Besides ‘Love’ Label – (Associated Press – October 4, 2017)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has told Nashoba Brook Bakery in Concord, Massachusetts that “love” should be removed as an ingredient listed on the label of its Nashoba Granola. In a letter, the FDA says federal regulations require that ingredients be listed by their common or usual name, and that love is not a common or usual name of an ingredient. (Editor’s note: We might all be in better health if love were a common ingredient.) The FDA said that listing love as an ingredient was just one of several violations, including a failure to clean its facility properly. Bakery CEO John Gates says the company has gotten positive reactions from people since news of the letter began to circulate.



JUST FOR FUN

At One with Nature - (Daily Mail - May 4, 2016)
Artist Orly Faya poses naked people in scenic landscapes and camouflages them with intricate body paint to 'merge' each of them with their surroundings. She said the paintings were originally intended to be her first exhibition but "I realized that people essentially wanted to be painted in the nature and have artworks of themselves on their walls – so the experience transformed into a service and product." She added: "Today, people get painted into the earth to celebrate their bodies, to celebrate weddings and anniversaries, to celebrate their time spent in a particular location or their homes, to heal illness and disease and to celebrate new health after surviving terminal conditions and to simply enjoy the experience under the brush. There are many reasons why people want to connect with nature, with their fundamental human origins and I appreciate that the value of this process is far more than final artworks - rather it is about healing through vulnerability trust magic and beauty."



A FINAL QUOTE

The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created – created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths to it are not found but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination. ~ John Schaar, scholar and political theorist



A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along - thanks.
johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org




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Edited by John L. Petersen
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