Upgrade by Blake Crouch

I’d put Blake Crouch in a group of speculative fiction writers including Michael Crichton and Robert Sawyer.

Crichton doomsday. Sawyer looking at the potential upsides of ever changing technology.

Personally, I was super psyched by  Jennifer Doudna, one of the co-creators of CRISPR, an astonishing new technology. Precisely editing DNA.

BUT it turns out Doudna had nightmares about someone like Hitler getting hold of CRISPR.

This book is set a few years from now in a dystopian future. Climate change flooded New York. Wildfires have devastated many parts of the world.

Lead character, Logan Ramsey, is the adult son of a defamed scientist whose CRISPR-like technology caused millions of people to die.  His Mom was trying to change DNA for the better — but the unintended side effects were catastrophic. Famine.

In hiding, his Mom decides to hack her own children — Logan and his sister.

Logan becomes an “upgraded” version of himself: he can focus better, read faster, and operate on a lot less sleep. But his upgrade comes at a cost.

Ultimately the book is a look at whether or not our species will survive on Earth.

And should we try to improve our odds by changing our DNA?

Read the TIME interview.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Build Better Refugee Camps

Karmod Prefabricated Building Technologies is a leading Turkish company founded in 1986 and has since been running projects in more than 100 countries around the world.

They provide many different kinds of buildings for refugee camps.

In the near future we’ll have more refugees, not fewer. And they’ll be more desperate.

Afraid to return home. Willing to risk death to escape.

Of course each nation should have a system for handling claims for asylum. But only a small percentage will be granted entry. As populations are getting older, many nations — starting with Japan — need MORE young people to migrate.

BEST of many bad options for refugees not chosen for asylum is to stay on the border. Months. Perhaps years.

There are about 700 refugee camps worldwide, as I post.

Who should pay?

I’d first look to organizations like the Gates Foundation. And to other billionaires who have far more money than they could ever spend.

Life in camp should be minimal. But safe. Police. Schools. Clean water. Medical facilities.

Transportation home should be offered.

If possible, there should be opportunities to work and volunteer.

Some will be under age-18. They should have special protection as should anyone with physical or mental challenges.

Some of the nations most needing decent refugee camps:

  • Syria — 6.8 million refugees and asylum-seekers
  • Venezuela — 4.6 million refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants
  • Afghanistan — 2.7 million refugees and asylum seekers
  • South Sudan — 2.4 million refugees and asylum-seekers
  • Myanmar – 1.2 million refugees and asylum-seekers

Trump and his political ilk around the world don’t want to help refugees. Instead, they use the problem to anger people — hoping to motivate them to vote for right wing political parties.

That’s much easier than motivating regular people to HELP refugees.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Listen to Elon

I’m often critical of Elon Musk. Turned off by his egomania.

Disappointed in his juvenile comments from the bully pulpit of Twitter. One of the richest and most powerful men in the world attacking and mocking people who are unable to fight back.

I’m disappointed that a guy who claims he doesn’t care about money is so reluctant to pay more in taxes though his businesses have received billions of dollars in tax subsidies.

That said, I admire almost everything else. His work ethic. His companies, especially Boring and Starlink.

Elon Musk does much more good for the world than bad. He’s scientific and well aware of the risks of climate change. He calls for a carbon tax. Musk endorsed Andrew Yang and expressed support for his proposed universal basic income.

Though the headlines shout that Elon is a “free speech absolutist”, Musk himself says Twitter must abide by the laws of each nation. I doubt much will change in terms of Twitter policy in Canada or the USA.

In fact, I’m guessing Twitter will be better for me with Musk as owner.

Warren had me watch this recent interview. Elon defends his life and ethics quite well.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

WOW – Don’t Look Up

I rejoined Netflix mainly to watch Don’t Look Up.

Brilliant.

Be sure to watch the credits. There are 3 endings.

Satire that reminded me of both Swift’s A Modest Proposal and Wag the Dog.

Something between a star-studded Hollywood blockbuster and an amateur YouTube documentary. Very original editing.

You’ve never seen DiCaprio like this. He had a lot of input on the script.

The cast is great. Best is Jonah Hill who plays a Don Jr. idiot appointed by his mother as the insanely unqualified  Chief of Staff.

The Republican tribe is urged to NOT LOOK UP at the planet busting comet. And deny what they can see with their own eyes. 😀 It parallels the American idiocracy of covid denial, for example. Apathy, incompetence and self-interest.

Denial of science.

It’s certain ReTrumplicans will hate this film.

This movie came from my burgeoning terror about the climate crisis and the fact that we live in a society that tends to place it as the fourth or fifth news story, or in some cases even deny that it’s happening, and how horrifying that is, but at the same time preposterously funny.[10]— Adam McKay, writer, director, and producer of Don’t Look Up

Lookout: Love, Solitude, and Searching for Wildfire by Trina Moyles  

Trina Moyles is a northern Alberta woman who decided to write a book about climate change and the resulting increase in forest fires.

Forest fires are one of the few outdoor “dangers” that truly worries me when hiking and cycling.

Over several 5-month summers alone in fire towers, it evolved into more of a life memoir.

And Trina has had a very interesting life.

While searching for smoke, Trina unravels under the pressure of a long-distance relationship–and a dawning awareness of the environmental crisis that climate change is producing in the boreal. Through megafires, lightning storms, and stunning encounters with wildlife, she learns to survive at the fire tower by forging deep connections with nature and with an extraordinary community of people dedicated to wildfire detection and combat. In isolation, she discovers a kind of self-awareness–and freedom–that only solitude can deliver.  …

Amazon

I learned a lot. And found the book very entertaining.

Canadian Geographic REVIEW.