FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT--
- HIV Genes Have Been Removed from Live Animals Using CRISPR.
- A beer company has developed edible six-pack rings that feed, rather than kill, marine life.
- The U.S. Navy is developing an electromagnetic “railgun” with a 32’ long barrel that fires projectiles traveling at 4,500 miles per hour (more than 1 mile/second) as they exit the barrel.
- Just before 2020, adults aged 65 and over will begin to outnumber children under the age of 5 among the global population.
by John L. Petersen
Transforming the Self – To What?
Global transformation is accelerating with extraordinary changes emerging wherever we look. This will be a world that is definitely different, both in terms of who humans become and how that new world works. Our June Berkeley Springs Transition Talks will feature extraordinary author and thinker, Penny Kelly, N.D., who will lead us in examining where that change is taking us. Come and explore both the inner journey – who we are becoming as new humans – and the outer journey – where we are going as a species.
Whether we turn to New Age, New Thought, old-time religion, or ancient wisdom traditions like yoga and meditation, we eventually run into teachings that urge us toward ascension or transformation. However, this brings up the questions – ascension to where . . . transformation to what, exactly? Where do we think we are going? And who will we be if not who we already are? Very few people have useful or clear ideas of what our real destiny is or the true nature of reality. If you have wondered what it’s really all about . . . if you are looking for input that goes far beyond dogma and platitudes, join us for a talk by author Penny Kelly that presents the path that all individuals are designed to follow, and that reveals our planetary destiny as creations of Mother Earth. Based on the conclusions of her controversial book, Consciousness and Energy, Vol. 3 – History and Consciousness, this is an event not to be missed.
This will be a delightfully interesting talk about fascinating issues that are not the usual subjects of discussions about global change.
Saturday, June 25th, 1:00PM – 3:00PM
Ice House Theater
Mercer & Independence Streets
Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
Postcript: Michael Waters
If you were unable make it to our last TransitionTalk with inventor, Michael Waters, then you’ll be happy to know that there are two episodes of Postscript, our interview program, that feature Mike in fascinating discussions. We talk about both his inventions and the flaw he has discovered in conventional physics that changes the underpinnings of how we understand – and design – almost every aspect of life. Very interesting stuff! Click on the picture below.
Discoveries and Inventions
The extraordinary change happening on this planet manifests itself in a number of ways. The last couple weeks have highlighted a number of things that are emblematic of this: a new form of water , a new form of light, and real-time portable translation. These are pretty big deals, because in both of the first cases, for what, hundreds of years?, humans have thought that there were only three forms of H2O (ice, water, and water vapor) and light was just light. These discoveries of different versions of two of the most fundamental “substances” that define our reality and living suggest that there will soon be some very interesting implications of this research – like Dr. Pollack’s mention of inexpensive methods of desalinization.
And what kind of Star Trek thing is it that translates whatever you hear in a half-dozen foreign languages into your native tongue? Well, it’s here, now.
A New Form of Water
Dr. Gerald Pollack from U of Washington describes his new discovery in this TEDx talk. Click on the picture below.
A New Form of Light
Researchers in Ireland have discovered a new form of light. Their discovery is expected to reshape scientists' understanding of light's basic nature. Click on the picture below.
Siri: The End of Foreign Relations (as we know it)
The other day I met one of the inventors of what has become Siri, the iPhone’s ubiquitous “intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator”. In case you don’t know of “her”, you can ask Siri questions and request actions – like “Call my wife” or “Where is the closest Costco?” – and Siri will do it or come up with the answer. I use it a lot for making phone calls and setting alarms, etc. when driving.
Siri is the beginning of a revolution in human affairs. In time, Siri-like capabilities will be able to make sense out of most common conversation and respond accordingly. But it really gets interesting when you add real-time translation to and from a foreign language, because now the principal historic barrier between different cultures begins to collapse. It’s starting to happen now, with at least three translators – in your ear, on your wrist, hanging from your neck..
I also think it’s the end of foreign relations as we have known it. Two things are happening here. Individual citizens have largely ceded the formal interactions between countries to governments for two reasons: distance and language. The other country is a significant distance away and we don’t understand their language . . . so we need an intermediary, the government, to develop specialists who negotiate the relationships between us and “them”.
Both of these constraints are now evaporating. The Internet is eliminating the historical effects of distance (I talk to and see people around the world every day for pennies), and now, translators are on their way to ending the lack of communication between common people with different native languages.
The net effect will be disintermediation – the lack of the need for government specialists to be the intermediaries for the populace. The Internet already allows people with common interests to find each other faster than at any other time in human history. Those kinds of capabilities will only increase. If we can talk to anyone anywhere, we’ll all find out that a) we largely have common interests, and b) our governments have not been effectively representing our true interests.
Siri and these translators are the beginning of the end . . . or the early indicators of the emergence of a new world.
Real-time In-ear Translation
Check out this Waverly Lab “Pilot” in ear translator and then click on the picture below for a demonstration.
There’s also a wearable translator. Click on picture below.
And here’s a translator wrist watch
More Indications of Big Change
The signals of big change are not just technological, of course. U.S. politics are in the middle of the biggest shift in my lifetime. Similar value shifts are manifesting themselves throughout Europe as well, with third parties popping up all over the place.
And then, here are three friends from different periods of my past speaking of the need for change . . . and the coming change. General Lee Butler, a courageous and principled man who used to command the U.S. Strategic Command, continues to call for abolishing the nuclear forces he once commanded, Colonel John Alexander describes the death of American democracy, and Dr. David Martin predicts the onset of the next global recession (which will be greater than the last one). I commend them all to you.
Where Did All the Sunspots Go?
VANISHING SUNSPOTS: Something interesting is happening to the sun. On June 3rd, the sunspot number dropped to 0, and the solar disk is still blank on June 4th. Latest images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory reveal no significant dark cores:
What does this mean? The solar cycle is like a pendulum, swinging back and forth between periods of high and low sunspot number every 11 years. Today's blank sun is a sign that the pendulum is swinging toward low sunspot numbers. In other words, Solar Minimum is coming.
The spotless state of today's sun is just temporary. Underneath the visible surface of the sun, the solar dynamo is still churning out knots of magnetism that will soon bob to the surface to make new sunspots. The current solar cycle is not finished. It is, however, rapidly waning.
Forecasters expect the next Solar Minimum to arrive in 2019-2020. Between now and then, there will be lots of spotless suns. At first, the blank stretches will be measured in days; later in weeks and months. Don't expect space weather to grow quiet, however. Solar Minimum brings many interesting changes. For instance, as the extreme ultraviolet output of the sun decreases, the upper atmosphere of Earth cools and collapses. This allows space junk to accumulate around our planet. Also, the heliosphere shrinks, bringing interstellar space closer to Earth. Galactic cosmic rays penetrate the inner solar system with relative ease. Indeed, a cosmic ray surge is already underway. Goodbye sunspots, hello deep-space radiation!
For complete information on the current activities of the sun go to www.spaceweathernews.com.
The End of Code: Soon We Won’t Program Computers. We’ll Train Them Like Dogs – (Wired – May 17, 2016)
Over the past several years, the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley have aggressively pursued an approach to computing called machine learning. With machine learning, programmers don’t encode computers with instructions. They train them. This approach is not new—it’s been around for decades—but it has recently become immensely more powerful, thanks in part to the rise of deep neural networks, massively distributed computational systems that mimic the multilayered connections of neurons in the brain. And already, whether you realize it or not, machine learning powers large swaths of our online activity. Facebook uses it to determine which stories show up in your News Feed, and Google Photos uses it to identify faces. Machine learning runs Microsoft’s Skype Translator, which converts speech to different languages in real time. Self-driving cars use machine learning to avoid accidents. Even Google’s search engine—for so many years a towering edifice of human-written rules—has begun to rely on these deep neural networks. In February the company replaced its longtime head of search with machine-learning expert John Giannandrea, and it has initiated a major program to retrain its engineers in these new techniques. “By building learning systems,” Giannandrea told reporters this fall, “we don’t have to write these rules anymore.” But here’s the thing: With machine learning, the engineer never knows precisely how the computer accomplishes its tasks. The neural network’s operations are largely opaque and inscrutable. It is, in other words, a black box. And as these black boxes assume responsibility for more and more of our daily digital tasks, they are not only going to change our relationship to technology—they are going to change how we think about ourselves, our world, and our place within it. We’re about to have a more complicated but ultimately more rewarding relationship with technology. We will go from commanding our devices to parenting them. (Editor’s note: If you have time for only one article here, read this one.)
How the Digital Age Is Reshaping Politics – (Positive News – March 22, 2016)
Estonians take pride in e-government in the same way that other countries take pride in space programmes, says local tech guru Daniel Vaarik. “It started as a way to differentiate us from many other post-Soviet countries. Suddenly we could have this clean start,” he says. “We grabbed the opportunity to talk about the future, instead of about painful issues to do with the past.” The crown jewel of Estonia’s e-government platform is an online voting system that lets Estonians cast ballots from anywhere in the world. Rolling out universal electronic voting was a big gamble, but with a third of the population now routinely voting online, it’s one that’s paid off, Vaarik believes. “Every product has its testing period,” he says. “Estonia has chosen to be the country that’s doing the testing.” More than a dozen countries are tentatively following Estonia’s lead, with Switzerland, France, Australia and Panama all piloting online voting systems for expatriate citizens. That’s a big deal, says Sebastián Calderón Bentin, a Panamanian working in New York, who for years was effectively excluded from his country’s elections by rules demanding that expats physically return home to cast their ballots. In 2014’s hardfought presidential election, however, Calderón Bentin was able to register to vote by flashing his ID card during a Skype chat with a government official, and later cast his vote simply by logging on to a secure website and clicking a button. But digital participation isn’t just about casting ballots. In Finland, gay rights activists celebrated an important victory in 2014 after more than 1,100 people used an online crowdsourcing platform, dubbed the Open Ministry, to collaboratively draft legislation establishing gender-neutral marriage. A petition in support of the bill won more than 160,000 signatures – more than three times the number needed, under a new citizen’s initiative law, to bring the bill before the Finnish parliament, where it was swiftly voted into law.
Mysterious Cave Rings Show Neanderthals Liked To Build – (NPR – May 26, 2016)
It appears that a group of Neanderthals walked into that cave about 176,000 years ago and started building something. Neanderthals were our closest living relatives but they weren't known as builders or cave explorers. Scientists identify the forms as "constructions," but they can't figure out what they were for. In 1990, a French archaeologist first ventured deep into Bruniquel Cave in southwestern France. Spelunkers had just broken through the entrance, which apparently had been obstructed for millennia. The archaeologist traveled deep into the cave, over 1,000 feet. There he discovered something strange — someone had broken stalagmites from the floor and arranged them in two large ovals. Twenty-three years later, in 2013, a crew of scientists returned to the site. The team found the circles of stone spikes, almost like 2-foot-high fences. But they found more than the original discoverer. There were more stone fragments lying in piles nearby. It was like a huge Neanderthal Lego set, because all of this calcite stone dated back 176,000 years — long before modern humans arrived in Europe. Why did they build it? No one knows. Then there's the location, more than 1,000 feet from the cave entrance. The scientists found pieces of burned animal bone at the site, which they think could have been used as torches because the fatty interior of bone burns. Archaeologist Marie Soressi with Leiden University in the Netherlands, and a Neanderthal expert, points out that recent discoveries keep stoking the argument that Neanderthals were in fact not dumb throwbacks compared to modern humans. "I think ... we have by now many different lines of evidence to show that Neanderthals, and even Neanderthals 200,000 years ago, had cognitive abilities not so different from our direct ancestors."
Balloon-in-a-pill Might Be New Weight Loss Tool – (CBS – May 25, 2016)
A new ingestible and inflatable balloon system seems to be a noninvasive way to fill up the stomach and curb appetite, researchers report. The balloon system, known as Obalon, helped obese people lose nearly 7% of their body weight, the investigators added. "Patients swallow a capsule containing a balloon tethered to a small catheter," said study author Dr. Shelby Sullivan, director of bariatric endoscopy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "Once it's reached the stomach, we inflate the balloon with a nitrogen mixed gas," Sullivan said. Patients ingest three capsules in all: the second at three weeks, and a third at either week nine or 12. When expanded, each balloon holds about a cup of gas (750 cubic centimeters in all) to fill the stomach and reduce eating urges, the researchers explained. At six months, all balloons are removed through an outpatient procedure (endoscopy), in which a flexible tube is inserted through the mouth and into the stomach. Removal takes about 16 minutes, she added. A second balloon system, known as Elipse, is also being tested in ongoing trials. The Elipse system entails swallowing just one balloon that is then filled with distilled water, rather than gas. After four months, that balloon automatically deflates and is naturally excreted, without endoscopic removal. The Obalon is farther along in the development process than the Elipse and could be available by the end of the year.
Harvard Researchers Unveil New Alzheimer's Theory – (KHOU – May 27, 2016)
Researchers at Harvard this week offered a new theory of Alzheimer’s Disease that - if true - would upend our understanding of the disease and suggest new routes for treatment and prevention. The researchers think that the immune system may play a key role in the development of Alzheimer’s, which slowly robs people of their memory and is eventually fatal. A protein called beta amyloid, long considered the bad actor in Alzheimer’s, actually plays a positive role in fighting off bacteria and fungus in mice, worms and cells, the researchers showed. Assuming that’s also true in people, it suggests that getting rid of amyloid, as some drug trials have tried, could be dangerous, and approaches that stimulate the immune system could be safer and more effective. In this view, Alzheimer’s would be triggered by a normal immune response gone astray or into over-drive in response to bacteria or other pathogens, according to the paper’s authors, Rudy Tanzi and Robert Moir, both of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Amyloid “lights the fire,” said Tanzi. “We think it’s meant to be beneficial, but it can turn against you and cause problems.”
'Nightmare Bacteria' Superbug Found for First Time in U.S. – (NBC – May 26, 2016)
A drug-resistant "superbug" that doctors have been dreading has shown up in the U.S. for the first time. The bacteria has genetic changes that make it resistant to a last-ditch antibiotic called colistin and while it had been seen in Europe and China, no one in the U.S. had been seen with it before. It doesn't spell doom just yet. The mutant E. coli germ was found in a Pennsylvania woman with symptoms of a urinary tract infection, but it does not appear to be spreading at epidemic proportions. And it was susceptible to other antibiotics, so the patient was not left without any hope. What's worrying is the gene that made the E. coli drug-resistant. It's called mcr-1, and it is passed from one bacteria to another. It sits on a piece of material called a plasmid, which makes it easy for one species of bacteria to pass it along to another species of bacteria. Scientist fear an E. coli bacteria with the mcr-1 gene could pass it to another superbug with other mutations-- creating a truly super-superbug that resists all known antibiotics. If such a superbug spread, it would take the world back to a time when there were no antibiotics, says Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "It is the end of the road for antibiotics unless we act urgently," he said. This discovery suggests the drug-resistance gene has been in the U.S., flying under the radar. "This patient hadn't traveled," Frieden said.
University of South Florida Scientists Discover Antarctic Sponge Extract Can Help Kill MRSA – USF – May 18, 2016)
The medical community may be running out of useful antibiotics, but researchers are also finding new potential solutions in unlikely places. A serious and sometimes fatal bacterial infection, known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), may soon be beatable thanks to the efforts of University of South Florida scientists who have isolated and tested an extract from a sponge found in Antarctica. The sponge extract, known as Dendrilla membranosa, yields a new, natural product chemical which can eliminate more than 98% of MRSA cells. The research team has named the new chemical “darwinolide.” Like many other bacterium, the MRSA bacteria forms a biofilm. “Biofilms, formed by many pathogenic bacteria during infection, are a collection of cells coated in a variety of carbohydrates, proteins and DNA,” said study co-author and USF microbiologist Dr. Lindsey Shaw. USF chemistry professor Dr. Bill Baker and colleagues have literally gone to the ‘ends of the Earth’ to help in the fight against MRSA. Baker studies the chemical ecology of Antarctica and dives in the frigid waters near Palmer Station to retrieve marine invertebrates, such as sponges, to carry out “natural product isolation,” which means drawing out, modifying and testing natural substances that may have pharmaceutical potential. His group led the effort to extract and characterize chemical structures to create darwinolide from the freeze-dried Antarctic sponges and then test in Shaw’s lab to determine its effectiveness against the MRSA bacteria.“When we screened darwinolide against MRSA we found that only 1.6% of the bacterium survived and grew. This suggests that darwinolide may be a good foundation for an urgently needed antibiotic effective against biofilms,” said Baker.
HIV Genes Have Been Removed from Live Animals Using CRISPR – (Time – May 19, 2016)
Scientists led by Kamel Khalili, director of the Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center at Temple University, report that they have for the first time successfully eliminated HIV genes from the genomes of mice and rats infected with the virus. While rodents don’t get infected with HIV in the same way that humans do, Khalili and his team engineered the animals to incorporate specific HIV genes into nearly every cell in their body, from the brain, heart, liver, kidney lungs and spleen to their blood cells. They then created a pair of molecular scissors using a gene editing technique called CRISPR to snip out the viral genes. CRISPR’s power lies in the fact that it’s precise enough to find and cut out just the viral genes, leaving the animals’ own DNA intact. The CRISPR procedure was successful in cutting out the virus in more than 50% of the cells of each type. In previous studies, Khalili used CRISPR to snip out HIV from cells taken from HIV positive people and grown in a lab dish. But proving that it works in a living animal is a huge step forward to developing the technique as a possible treatment, or even cure, for HIV-AIDS.
Beer Company Develops Edible Six-Pack Rings That Feed, Rather Than Kill, Marine Life – (Nation of Change – May 18, 2016)
The sad reality is that 80% of the plastic humans throw away ends up in the oceans. As a result, billions of pounds of plastic are now swirling in convergences in the seas. In fact, 40% of earth’s total ocean mass is now covered by plastic. According to Greenpeace, approximately 70% of Seabirds and 80% of Sea Turtles are now ingesting plastic. As a result,1,000,000 birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles are dying each year. One of the major contributors to this epidemic are the seemingly harmless six-pack rings found around cans of soda and beer. Because the rings have little value, consumers nonchalantly throw them into the trash without any regard for marine life. 99% of seabirds are expected to have plastic in their guts by the year 2050. This is horrific. But in partnership with the We Believers ad agency, the Saltwater Brewery in Delray, Florida, conjured the brilliant idea to create edible six-pack rings that feed, rather than kill, marine life to offset the damage being done by plastic pollution. The rings are created from beer by-products during the brewing process, such as barley and wheat, and are completely safe for humans and fish to eat. In addition, the invention is 100% biodegradable and compostable.
Uber Knows When Your iPhone Battery Is Dying And You’re Getting Desperate – (Huffington Post – May 20, 2016)
Keith Chen, Uber’s head of economic research, discusses the psychology of surge pricing. Among other things, he revealed that Uber knows when the battery on your phone is low — it keeps tabs on your battery so the app knows when to switch into low-power mode — and that it knows you’re willing to pay more for a ride when your battery is running out. “One of the strongest predictors of whether or not you are going to be sensitive to surge [pricing] — in other words, whether or not you are going to kind of say, ‘Oh, 2.2, 2.3, I’ll give it 10 to 15 minutes to see if surge goes away’ — is how much battery you have left on your cell phone,” Chen said. When “that little icon on the iPhone turns red,” he went on, “people start saying, ‘Well, I better get home, because I don’t quite know how I’m going to get home otherwise.’” “And we absolutely don’t use that to kind of, like, push you a higher surge price,” Chen quickly added. “But it’s an interesting kind of psychological fact of human behavior.” Another interesting tidbit from Chen: People are more likely to accept surge pricing at a multiple of 2.1 than 2.0, basically because we’re suspicious of round numbers. “When you tell someone ‘Your trip is going to be two times more than it normally costs,’ they think, ‘Wow, that’s capricious and unfair,’” he said. “Whereas if you say ‘Your trip is going to [cost] 2.1 times more than it normally does,’ [people think] ‘Wow, you know, there must be some smart algorithm in the background here that’s at work.’ It doesn’t seem quite as unfair.”
Microsoft Sues Government for Secret Searches – (CNN – April 14, 2016)
Microsoft has filed a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice. The company accuses the federal government of adopting a widespread, unconstitutional policy of looking through Microsoft customers' data - and forcing the company to keep quiet about it. Over the past 18 months, federal judges have approved 2,600 secret searches of Microsoft customers. In two-thirds of those cases, Microsoft can't even notify their customers that they've been searched - ever - because there's no expiration date on these judicial orders. At issue here is the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which creates a double standard when it comes to a person's right to know when police are rummaging through their stuff. "People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud," Microsoft says in its lawsuit. "The government, however, has exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations." In its lawsuit, Microsoft claims that federal agents have been violating the company's First Amendment right to speak to its own customers, as well as their customers' Fourth Amendment right to know when they're being searched. This lawsuit also notes the odd, modern distinction that the government makes between searching your computer and searching your information on a company's computer. Law enforcement agents often remain covert when they dig through information stored on company data backup services.
Real-time Translation Earpiece May or May Not Help You Woo Foreign Cuties – (The Verge – May 19, 2016)
The buzziest new thingamajig making the viral rounds is the Pilot, a smart earpiece that can translate conversations between two people speaking different languages — in real time. Obviously, tech like this would be extremely useful for everything from hospitals to airports to mixed-language underground bunker situations. But the main use the creator — Waverly Labs' Andrew Ochoa — had in mind is much more important: meeting foreign cuties. (Seriously.) In a video about the earpiece, Ochoa explains, "I came up with the idea for a translator when I met a French girl." Cute! There is nothing more endearing than when a dude blushes, smiles, then firmly states "Put this in your ear." Gadget fans have been a little skeptical about the device — it hasn't launched its Indiegogo campaign yet or provided demos to news outlets, and there's an aura of "too good to be true" around it — but it's very possible that it's real. You need a phone to pair with the earpiece, and it seems to simply send phrases to a translation service and then play them back.
These Vacant Lots in Detroit Are Turning into an Eco-Village – (Fast Company – May 24, 2016)
When the city of Highland Park, Michigan—a small city within Detroit—could no longer afford the most basic services in 2011, it tore streetlights out of neighborhoods. On one dark block, Shamayim "Shu" Harris realized that neighbors could solve the problem themselves: working with the nonprofit Soulardarity, the community banded together to buy their own solar streetlights that run virtually cost-free. Now, Harris is leading an even bigger push to turn most of her entire block into her vision of an eco-village. On former blighted, vacant lots, a greenhouse will let hungry residents grow their own food; an abandoned gas station will turn into a café serving health food. Inside a converted shipping container, a marketplace will sell products from women-owned businesses. A healing center will teach yoga and meditation. An abandoned house will turn into a "homework house," where children will get meals and tutoring after school. Later, new buildings will add affordable housing. Everything will run, as much as possible, off the grid, with features such as rainwater catchment and retention. "It's cleaner, it's better for us, it helps us to be more self-sufficient," says Harris. She wants her neighborhood to look like others in the city that managed to avoid blight. "We want to give the people what they deserve to look at," she says, "the services they deserve to have." Harris began revitalizing the block nine years ago, when her two-year-old son was killed by a hit-and-run driver. In his memory, she built a park for neighborhood children on the vacant lots next to her home. The new project will take over another 14 properties, with the first phase of construction completed by September, continuing over the next four years. Harris thinks the same thing could happen throughout Detroit and in other cities struggling with blight. When she started, she says, there was almost nothing left on her block. "Houses was tore down, it was just clay, dirt, nothing, glass, bathtubs," she says. "Now it's fresh grass, flowers, benches, things like that.”
Germany Just Produced So Much Renewable Power, It Had to Pay People to Use It – (Fast Company – May 17, 2016)
On Sunday, May 8, sun and wind energy was so bountiful in Germany, that the utility had to pay people to use it all up. Due to weather conditions that day, the combined spike caused renewable to make up 87% of the country’s total energy consumption, if only briefly. The result was that Germany’s power energy prices were actually negative for a few hours that Sunday, "This day shows again that a system with large amounts of renewable energy works fine." Christoph Podewils, spokesperson for the think tank Agora Energiewende. Overall, Germany produces around a third of its electricity from renewables, with wind energy seeing the biggest growth recently. In 2015, wind power production rose 50% from the previous year. Germany is also the European Union’s biggest user of coal, and coal use is still rising along with renewables, mostly because coal is replacing natural gas as a power source. In terms of renewables mix, though, Germany still has a way to go to beat Denmark, which is on track to get half its power from wind turbines, and even ran for a whole day last September without any of its regular power stations being in operation.
Google Patents Pedestrian Flypaper for Self-driving Cars – (The Verge – May 19, 2016)
Google knows that its self-driving cars are going to get into accidents — maybe even accidents involving pedestrians — and so the company has patented a unique solution to minimize injuries if this happens: human flypaper. The patent, granted earlier this week, describes "an adhesive layer positioned on the front end of the vehicle" that pedestrians will simply stick to "in the event of a collision." "The adhesive bonds the pedestrian to the vehicle so that the pedestrian remains with the vehicle until it stops and is not thrown from the vehicle," says the patent, adding that this prevents secondary impact between the pedestrian and the road surface or other object." It sounds goofy, but it's addressing a serious issue. As the patent notes, many crash injuries are not cause by the initial collision, but when the pedestrian is thrown from the car onto the ground. Of course, driving around with a coating on your car "similar to flypaper or double-sided duct tape" means you'd pick up dirt and bugs as well as pedestrians. So, Google envisions an exterior "eggshell" covering that goes on top of the adhesive layer. This would break instantaneously in the event of a crash, says the patent, "revealing the adhesive layer below, and bonding to the pedestrian."
FDA Changes Food Nutrition Label Requirements for the First Time in 20 Years – (Nation of Change – May 22, 2016)
The nutrition labels for food and drink products will be changing for the first time in 20 years. There are four major changes that will go into effect July 26, 2018. For example, added sugars will now be clearly labeled to distinguish between additives such as high fructose corn syrup and naturally occurring sweeteners, in which the former is linked to causing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cavities. For these added sugars, there will be a caveat that states how many grams are in that product and what percentage of the calories from the sugars will make up the person’s 2000 calorie diet. Serving sizes on the label will be more realistic and reflect the servings that people actually consume in one sitting. According to the FDA, serving sizes have changed since the last major change to nutrition labels and the new label must be based on current sizes. For packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20 oz soda, the label will now have to change the calories and nutrients to display the amounts for one serving since most people would drink it in one sitting.
Businesses Find New Opportunity in Food That Once Went to Waste – (San Francisco Chronicle – April 19, 2016)
Bay Area shoppers will soon be able to get a new kind of local produce at Whole Foods stores. Affectionately known as ugly produce, the fruits and vegetables are perfectly healthy and safe yet are usually left to rot because they don’t meet typical supermarket cosmetic standards. Bags of the aesthetically challenged produce will arrive at Northern California Whole Foods outposts later this month thanks to Emeryville’s Imperfect, one of several new Bay Area companies taking advantage of crops that are usually wasted in California fields. Of the estimated 62.5 million tons of food Americans waste annually, much more is generated in homes, stores and restaurants than farms, but the loss at farms is more suitable for reuse, and is responsible for almost 20% of American food waste. For some specialty California crops, such as greens, 50% is left in the field because it’s not worth harvesting, said Christine Moseley, founder and chief executive officer of Full Harvest, a San Francisco startup that aggregates ugly produce from Salinas Valley growers for Bay Area food and beverage companies. “I found out that there’s this massive problem with food waste, and I saw that as an opportunity,” said Moseley. She has projects in the works with larger national companies and has contracts in place to deliver 1 million pounds of imperfect and surplus produce this year. Since it launched last year, Full Harvest has rescued 15,000 pounds of previously worthless produce.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Wound-plugging XStat Syringe Saves Its First Life on the Battlefield – (GizMag – May 24, 2016)
With the capacity to stem severe bleeding within around 20 seconds, the XStat sponge-filled syringe could be a real game-changer when it comes to medical care. It has just proved its worth in the most testing of environments, with battlefield surgeons successfully using the device to plug a soldier's gunshot wound for the first time. The syringe, which was first approved for battlefield use in 2014, works by filling a wound with small cellulose sponges. These are made from wood pulp and covered in chitosan, an antimicrobial compound found in crustacean shells. This not only fights off bacteria, but also causes blood clotting that combines with the expanding sponges to apply pressure and quickly stop arterial bleeding. When a coalition forces soldier received a gunshot wound to the left thigh, opening up the femoral artery and vein to leave a gaping cavity, doctors were unable to stem the residual bleeding even after around seven hours of surgery. The team then called on the XStat syringe to fill the wound, applying a single syringe to the cavity which almost immediately stopped the flow of blood. The soldier then became stable and was moved to a definitive care facility.
A First Look at America’s Supergun – ( Wall St. Journal – May 26, 2016)
The weapon is called a railgun and requires neither gunpowder nor explosive. It is powered by electromagnetic rails that accelerate a hardened projectile to staggering velocity—a battlefield meteorite with the power to one day transform military strategy, say supporters, and keep the U.S. ahead of advancing Russian and Chinese weaponry. In conventional guns, a bullet loses velocity from the moment the gunpowder ignites and sends it flying. The railgun projectile instead gains speed as it travels the length of a 32-foot barrel, exiting the muzzle at 4,500 miles an hour, or more than a mile a second. “This is going to change the way we fight,” said U.S. Navy Adm. Mat Winter, the head of the Office of Naval Research. The Navy developed the railgun as a potent offensive weapon to blow holes in enemy ships, destroy tanks and level terrorist camps. The weapon system has the attention of top Pentagon officials also interested in its potential to knock enemy missiles out of the sky more inexpensively and in greater numbers than current missile-defense systems—perhaps within a decade. The 16-inch guns of mothballed World War II-era battleships could fire a distance of 24 miles and penetrate 30 feet of concrete. In contrast, the railgun has a range of 125 miles, officials said, and five times the impact. The railgun, which requires a power plant that generates 25 megawatts—enough electricity to power 18,750 homes. The Navy began working on the railgun a decade ago and has spent more than half a billion dollars. The Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities office is investing another $800 million—the largest share for any project—to develop the weapon’s defensive ability, as well as to adapt existing guns to fire the railgun’s high-tech projectiles.
See also this article from the U.S. Office of Naval Research on how the electromagnetic railgun works.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
A Former Senior U.S. General Again Calls for Abolishing the Nuclear Forces He Once Commanded – (Center for Public Integrity – May 27, 2016)
For 76-year-old retired Air Force General George Lee Butler, a country boy from rural Mississippi who once had his finger on the trigger for thousands of nuclear warheads more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, Obama and the rest of Washington are moving far too slowly towards a denuclearization; indeed, he believes the devastation that unfolded there is still a haunting vision of what could happen in the future. Butler is a former bomber pilot who in 1994, after retiring from a position as commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, made the highly unusual and controversial decision to renounce his lifelong profession of preparing for cataclysmic conflict and publicly embrace the abolition of nuclear arms on the grounds that they are “immoral and therefore anathema to societies premised on the sanctity of life.” Butler says that while he is cheered by Obama’s rhetorical embrace of denuclearization and by the agreement to cap nuclear arsenals that the president reached with the Russians in 2010, he is generally chagrined that the two largest nuclear powers, the United States and Russia, have missed opportunities to move towards much smaller nuclear arsenals and to limit the risks of a surprise or accidental nuclear attack. In a new memoir, Butler writes that “any sense of urgency for further reductions has been lost” in part because the United States has mishandled its relations with Russia. According to data recently declassified by the Pentagon, the United States still has 4,571 warheads in its stockpile, plus more awaiting dismantlement. The data show, according to Hans Kristensen, a nuclear policy expert at the Federation of American Scientists, a smaller reduction in the U.S. nuclear arsenal under Obama than during any other post-Cold War administration, and a steady decline during the Obama administration in the pace of warhead dismantlement.
Silencing America as It Prepares for War – (Dissident Voice – May 29th, 2016)
As Obama prepares to leave office, the fawning has begun all over again. He is “cool”. One of the more violent presidents, Obama gave full reign to the Pentagon war-making apparatus of his discredited predecessor. He prosecuted more whistleblowers – truth-tellers – than any president. He pronounced Chelsea Manning guilty before she was tried. Today, Obama runs an unprecedented worldwide campaign of terrorism and murder by drone. In 2009, Obama promised to help “rid the world of nuclear weapons” and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. No American president has built more nuclear warheads than Obama. He is “modernising” America’s doomsday arsenal, including a new “mini” nuclear weapon, whose size and “smart” technology, says a leading general, ensure its use is “no longer unthinkable”. On Obama’s watch, a second cold war is under way. The Russian president is a pantomime villain; the Chinese are not yet back to their sinister pig-tailed caricature – when all Chinese were banned from the United States – but the media warriors are working on it. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders has mentioned any of this. There is no risk and no danger for the United States and all of us. For them, the greatest military build-up on the borders of Russia since World War Two has not happened. On May 11, Romania went “live” with a Nato “missile defense” base that aims its first-strike American missiles at the heart of Russia, the world’s second nuclear power. In Asia, the Pentagon is sending ships, planes and special forces to the Philippines to threaten China. The US already encircles China with hundreds of military bases that curve in an arc up from Australia, to Asia and across to Afghanistan. Obama calls this a “pivot”. As a direct consequence, China reportedly has changed its nuclear weapons policy from no-first-use to high alert and put to sea submarines with nuclear weapons. The escalator is quickening. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article because its clearly non-mainstream perspective offers some balance when placed opposite most of the current news media articles.)
Venezuelans Resort to Looting as Food Shortages Hit Crisis Point – (Financial Times – May 27, 2016)
On one side, under the burning midday sun of Maracay in north-central Venezuela, hundreds of angry people have been waiting in line since 4am to buy food. On the other side, a group of military men guard the gate of a supermarket. The high-noon showdown is tense. Snaking queues for scarce staples are a common sight across Venezuela and looting is becoming routine. This poses the biggest risk to Nicolás Maduro, the socialist president. “The situation is very, very critical,” says Marianella Herrera, a professor of food and nutritional public policy at the Central University of Venezuela, who also runs Fundación Bengoa, a watchdog dealing with issues around nutrition. “The anguish when it comes to acquiring food is gigantic and generates violence.” Only days before the supermarket showdown, hundreds of people had broken into the wholesale market next door, which had been guarded by paratroopers in red berets. Eyewitnesses say there was a “stampede”, with people rushing to get their hands on packs of rice, sugar and cornmeal flour. Henry Ramos Allup, speaker of the national assembly, says the food and medicine scarcities may have not yet led to a full-blown Caracazo — referring to an uprising in 1989, when thousands of people were estimated to have died in confrontations with security forces — but warns of “little Caracazos happening all over Venezuela”. See also: Hungry Venezuelans Hunt Dogs, Cats, Pigeons as Food Runs Out and Sugar shortage halts Coca-Cola production in Venezuela
Third Parties Rising Throughout Europe – (Armstrong Economics – May 28, 2016)
Article opens with a map showing the rise of nationalism in Europe based on the results of the most recent national elections across the EU. The rise of third parties is a reality and our computer accomplished this forecast by simply doing what government does not seem capable of doing — correlating political trends with economic trends. Socialism is the lite version of communism where you let the people own property and freely buy and sell homes instead of dictating where they live, but you tax the hell out of them for the privilege of existing. The politicians pretend to be all noble for they are taking your money for some greater good, but somehow there is a sea of hands in the pot belonging to government employees with pensions that often include free healthcare for life that nobody in the real world can possibly get. So what’s going on should be of no surprise. There are many separatist movements building throughout Europe because government has become corrupt. In the US., the polls show that 57% of Americans believe Hillary is dishonest. Currently, there are also separatist movements in Hawaii, Texas, and Vermont. (Editor’s note: This article actually contains very little about the rise of third parties across Europe, but the opening info map/graphic is usefully informative.)
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
5 Views on What Basic Income Should Be and Why It Matters – (Futurism – May 16, 2016)
From Finland to the Netherlands, Switzerland to Canada, governments and cities have embraced the idea of a basic income as one worth testing. Beyond the hype, however, lie some crucial questions that need to be addressed. It is evident that the discussions on basic income are painstakingly broad in scope and variety. This article reports in interviews with 5 prominent basic income proponents. Admittedly, the authors asked deceptively simple questions and did not give the proponents anything approaching enough room to fully flesh out all the nuances. Nevertheless, this is a beginning, a spark to the needed public discussion on what a basic income could be and should be. For one important answer to “why it matters”, see the first article mentioned in the “Economy/Finance/Business section below. See also: Universal Basic Income. The Answer to Automation?
Piercings and Eye-Popping Tattoos: Fashion’s Latest Canvas Is the Skin You’re In – (New York Times – May 11, 2016)
Among the more polarizing sights in Manhattan this spring were the Madison Avenue windows of Barneys New York, an unlikely showcase for a series of mannequins. They were ringers for the real-life models who stalked the Hood by Air men’s runway in January, right down to their elaborate tattoos and the uncanny grillwork distorting their grins. During a recent week, passers-by stood welded to the spot, challenged to make what they could of the scene, a curious hybrid of street theater and fashion porn. “Obviously, this was done by an artist,” Paul Roberts, a visitor from Edinburgh, said appreciatively. “It goes beyond window dressing, doesn’t it?” But Claudia Brien, a young Upper East Side matron, pronounced those vitrines “beyond disgusting.” Love them or loathe them, the windows, their mannequins lurching toward spectators, lips ringed in jeweled pacifiers, “skin” elaborately inked, were a come-on. They were as surely a testament to a widening fascination with body modification in its most eye-popping extremes: allover tattoos, subdermal implants, piercing, stretching, scarring, branding and the like. “We’re seeing a lot of people who probably would have never set foot into a piercing studio,” said Miro Hernandez, a spokesman for the Association of Professional Piercers and a partner in Dandyland, a piercing studio in San Antonio. “We’re seeing business professionals, doctors, nurses and teachers more discerning about what to look for and what to choose.” Indeed, the continuing appropriation — commodification, some might say — of this former taboo by fashion designers, celebrities and civilians alike suggests that it has made deep incursions not just into the mainstream, but also into the consciousness, and the pocketbooks, of a moneyed elite. Article includes photos.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Climate Change Is Happening on Mars, Where an Ice Age Is Coming to an End – (LA Times – May 26, 2016)
By examining swirling patterns left in ice topping the Red Planet’s north pole, scientists using radar data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have put together an unprecedented look into our rusty neighbor’s most recent ice age. The findings offer fresh insight into the dynamics of the Martian climate – and might even prove useful in understanding climate change on Earth. Mars, like Earth, experiences ice ages, but the mechanics are quite different. On Earth, ice gathers at the poles as the temperature drops, spreading to other high latitudes. But Mars has a tilt with a pretty extreme wobble: It’s currently tilted about 25 degrees but can lean all the way over to about 60 degrees, compared with Earth’s, which stays between a narrow range of about 22 to 25 degrees. These tilt cycles take eons to complete, but when that tilt is at its most extreme, Mars looks like it’s nearly lying on its side – which means its poles become very warm, and all that water ice turns into vapor in the atmosphere and recollects around the planet’s mid-latitudes. So on Mars, an ice age actually means less ice at the poles, and more near the middle. If we were to see it then, we might not recognize it. “Mars, without oceans and without biology, is a more simple laboratory in a sense to understand the physics of climate,” said Isaac Smith, a planetary scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson.
A Demographic Shift Unprecedented in Human History – (Business Insider – May 16, 2016)
The world is about to see a mind-blowing demographic situation that will be a first in human history: There are about to be more elderly people than young children. Just before 2020, adults aged 65 and over will begin to outnumber children under the age of 5 among the global population, according to a chart from a Bank of America Merrill Lynch team led by Beijia Ma, citing an earlier report from the US Census Bureau. And these two age groups will continue to grow in opposite directions: The proportion of the global population aged 65 and up will continue to increase, while the proportion of the population aged 5 and under will continue decreasing. According to the Census Bureau, by 2050 those ages 65 and up will make up an estimated 15.6% of the global population — more than double that of children ages 5 and under, who will make up an estimated 7.2%. Aging has become a universal phenomenon, and by 2050, 80% of older people will live in EMs (emerging market nations). Life expectancies of 300-400 years or even an infinite extension of life expectancy may be within reach in our lifetimes.
For First Time in 130 Years, More Young Adults Live with Parents Than Partners – (NPR – May 24, 2016)
For the first time in more than 130 years, Americans age 18-34 are more likely to live with their parents than in any other living situation, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center. In that age group, 32.1% of people live in their parents' house, while 31.6% live with a spouse or partner in their own homes and 14% live alone, as single parents, or in a home with roommates or renters. The rest live with another family member, a non-family member or in group-living situations such as a college dorm or prison. Pew notes that this is not a record high percentage for the number of young people living at home — in 1940, for instance, approximately 35 of people in that age range lived at home. But back then, living with a spouse or partner was even more popular than that. Today not so: More people choose an alternate living situation, and out of the crowded field of choices, life with mom and/or dad has become the top pick for millennials. Less-educated young adults are also more likely to live with their parents than their college-educated counterparts — no surprise, Pew notes, given the financial prospects in today's economy. Black and Hispanic young people, compared with white people, are in the same situation. For black people in particular, the "new" milestone isn't so new at all. Black young adults have been more likely to live with their parents than in any other situation since 1980.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Microsoft Has Developed a Mirror That Can Read Your Emotions – (CNBC – May 19, 2016)
You CAN be smart and good-looking. That's the message from Microsoft's Magic Mirror - a so-called smart mirror that can recognize and greet users, read their emotions and display the weather, time and other information. All the while looking just like a regular mirror. "Imagine when you wake up in the morning, you're able to use the mirror to style your hair, do your make up, and while doing that, you can also view the weather," Izzat Khair, a member of Microsoft Singapore's developer experience team explained. The Magic Mirror has a hidden facial-recognition camera that can detect eight human emotions, including anger, happiness and surprise. Microsoft plans to expand the mirror's features, allowing it to show app-fed news as well as Facebook and Twitter feeds in a display panel. The mirror was still at the demo stage but had real business potential, Khair said, pointing out that the advertising and marketing industries, for example, could use the technology. "Imagine on the monitor of the mirror, you're able to play an advertisement. And you have a camera that can snap a photo of the users that are viewing the advertisement," he said. (Editor’s note: Here’s another opportunity for the consumer to become the product.)
Adidas to Return Mass Shoe Production to Germany in 2017 – (Reuters – May 25, 2016)
Adidas will launch mass production of running shoes at a German factory operated largely by robots next year and plans to open a similar plant in the United States next year, according to the company. Founded by German cobbler Adi Dassler in 1949, Adidas had closed all but one of its 10 shoe factories in Germany by 1993 as it shifted most production from Europe to lower-wage Asia, particularly China and Vietnam. But advances in robotics and automation means that Adidas can now afford to bring production back closer to customers to meet demands for faster delivery of new styles and to counter rising wages in Asia and lengthy shipping times. Chief Executive Herbert Hainer said Adidas hoped to open a similar plant in the United States next year and expects the two factories to produce at least a million pairs of shoes a year combined within the next couple of years. See also: It Has Begun: Apple Supplier Foxconn Replaces 60,000 Employees With Robots. (Editor’s note: This trend has huge implications for domestic stability in China and other low-wage emerging nations - and therefore for global political stability.)
9/11 - The Evidence for Insider Trading – (Information Clearing House – May 25, 2016)
After 9/11, there were indications that traders with inside information had benefited financially from the terrorist attacks. It also appeared that the phenomenon was not limited to US markets. The list of affected nations was long and included, in addition to the US, Germany, Japan, France, Luxembourg, the UK, Switzerland, Spain, and even Hong Kong. One consultant, Jonathan Winer, told ABC, “It’s absolutely unprecedented to see cases of insider trading covering the entire world from Japan to the US to North America to Europe.” Soon, independent investigations were underway on three continents, in the belief that the paper trail would lead to the terrorists. Press statements by leading figures in the international banking community left little doubt that the evidence was compelling. Ernst Welteke, President of the German Deutsche Bundesbank, said that “a preliminary review by German regulators and bank researchers showed there were highly suspicious sales of shares in airlines and insurance companies, along with major trades in gold and oil markets, before September 11 that suggest … advance knowledge of the attacks. Welteke said that his researchers came across … almost irrefutable proof of insider trading.” Welteke himself was emphatic: “If you look at the movements in markets before and after the attacks, it really makes your brow furrow.… What we found makes us sure that people connected to the terrorists must have been trying to profit from this tragedy.”
The Economy Is Great; the Economy Is Terrible – (Atlantic – May 3, 2016)
There is an easy story to tell about the Obama Recovery. Devastated by a financial crash, the U.S. launched a historic comeback. The private sector added jobs in 73 consecutive months, the longest stretch ever. Unemployment is lower today than in the month Reagan left office. Real GDP has grown more than 13% since its most-recent low in 2009, Obama’s first year in office. But there is an opposite story that is attracting widespread support and millions of votes: The recovery is a failure. Donald Trump is an IMAX projection of white working-class grievances, calling America “a third-world country.” Bernie Sanders’s supporters describe a country where poverty and financial insecurity are not bugs but rather features of a rigged economy. Taken together, the two narratives produce a dissonant, but not contradictory, summary of America: On average, everything is getting better, but for many people, nothing is going well. This fits what statisticians call a “power law” distribution, where exponential equations (hence “power”) deliver extremely unequal rewards. Averages mean little in a power law. Imagine if 100 people enter a lottery, and 90 people win nothing; five people win $10; four people win $100, and one person wins $1,000. The lottery awards $1,450 to 100 people. The average prize is $14.50. But that statistic is nearly meaningless. Ninety percent of the participants won nothing, and one person won 69% of the cash. In a normal distribution, “average” is a useful indicator. In a power-law distribution, “average” is misleading. The U.S. economy’s power-law features, in which averages disguise massive inequalities in outcomes, go a long way in explaining the current economy – and this article goes a long way in explaining the reasons behind the contradictory “truths”.
U.S. Judge’s Striking Move in Felony Drug Case: Probation, Not Prison – (New York Times – May 25, 2016)
A federal judge in Brooklyn, in an extraordinary opinion calls for courts to pay closer attention to how felony convictions affect people’s lives, sentenced a woman in a drug case to probation rather than prison, saying the collateral consequences she would face as a felon were punishment enough. Judge Frederic Block of Federal District Court said such consequences served “no useful function other than to further punish criminal defendants after they have completed their court-imposed sentences.” The judge noted that there were nearly 50,000 federal and state statutes and regulations that imposed penalties on felons. Those penalties — denial of government benefits, ineligibility for public housing, suspension of student loans, revocation or suspension of driver’s licenses — can have devastating effects, he wrote, adding that they may be “particularly disruptive to an ex-convict’s efforts at rehabilitation and reintegration into society.”
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.
5,000-Year-Old Chinese Beer Recipe Revealed – (NPR – May 23, 2016)
A 5,000-year-old brewery has been unearthed in China. Archaeologists uncovered ancient "beer-making tool kits" in underground rooms built between 3400 and 2900 B.C. Discovered at a dig site in the Central Plain of China, the kits included funnels, pots and specialized jugs. The shapes of the objects suggest they could be used for brewing, filtration and storage. It's the oldest beer-making facility ever discovered in China — and the evidence indicates that these early brewers were already using specialized tools and advanced beer-making techniques. The research group inspected the pots and jugs and found ancient grains that had lingered inside. The grains showed evidence that they had been damaged by malting and mashing, two key steps in beer-making. The 5,000-year-old beer "recipe" included a mix of fermented grains: broomcorn millet, barley and Job's tears, a chewy Asian grain also known as Chinese pearl barley. The recipe also called for tubers, the starchy and sugary parts of plants, which were added to sweeten and flavor the beer. (Craft brewing has a long tradition.)
JUST FOR FUN
Amazing Holoram – (YouTube – March 25, 2016
Watch an amazing hologram created by Magic Leap. See also: What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?
Spotted at the Libertarian Party convention, this guy: "DEMAND TRANSPARENCY"
A FINAL QUOTE
So often do the spirits of great events stride on before the events. And in today already walks tomorrow. - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
A special thanks to: Bernard Calil, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Sergio Lub, 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.
Edited by John L. Petersen