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.

Xi Jinping now Dictator for Life

One man will now decide whether or not China invades Taiwan.

That could lead to a World War.

It’s very possible that the dictator will need something to distract the population as Covid continues to drag down the economy.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Economist was at the Party Congress.

Xi Jinping has no interest in succession planning

Dopesick (miniseries)

Dopesick is based on the non-fiction book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy. …

At the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, the series received fourteen nominations …

Dopesick focuses on “the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction” across the U.S., on how individuals and families are affected by it, on the alleged conflicts of interest involving Purdue Pharma and various government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Justice, and finally, on the legal case against Purdue Pharma and their development, testing and marketing of the drug OxyContin. …

Michael Keaton is great as Dr. Samuel Finnix.

Rotten Tomatoes 88% approval.

It’s non-linear but — happily — not confusing as the years flip past as it switches on the timeline.

There’s no question the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma are EVIL.

House Dems, GOP Agree: Sacklers, Purdue Pharma ‘Sickening’
— “I’m not sure I’m aware of any family in America that’s more evil than yours”

Purdue / Sackers EVIL

On October 21, 2020, it was reported that Purdue had reached a settlement potentially worth $8.3 billion, admitting that it “knowingly and intentionally conspired and agreed with others to aid and abet” doctors dispensing medication “without a legitimate medical purpose.” Members of the Sackler family will additionally pay US$225 million and the company will close.

Some state attorneys general protested the plan. In March 2021, the United States House of Representatives introduced a bill that would stop the bankruptcy judge in the case from granting members of the Sackler family legal immunity during the bankruptcy proceedings.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson is the darling author of tech geeks.

His breakthrough came in 1992 with Snow Crash, a cyberpunk or post-cyberpunk novel.

Termination Shock, published in November 2021, is a climate fiction novel about solar geoengineering.

A Texas oil-industry billionaire builds a launcher on the Texas-Mexico border to fire sulfur into the air, a form of stratospheric aerosol injection intended to cool the planet by reflecting sunlight into space.

This technique replicates the effects of volcanic eruptions that inject sulfates into the atmosphere and produce global cooling, such as the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption.

Schmidt’s plan has uneven effects, helping low-lying areas such as the NetherlandsVenice, and the Maldives, but threatening the Punjab with drought. …

Eventually India sends a hit team with drones to take out the project.

The book did keep me interested. Some of the characters entertaining: the Queen of the Netherlands, and granddaughter of Queen Beatrix; Rufus Grant, a part-Comanche exterminator of feral hogs. And others.

In the end, I was wondering if this technology MIGHT be part of the solution in future.

Staying NEUTRAL is Supporting the Oppressor

In Coach Education we have a concept called ETHICAL ACTION.

If you see something you think is wrong, take action.

Record what you saw in a diary. Keep records.

Videotape what you saw.

Notify authorities in a respectful, diplomatic way.

Ideally you ask the (possible) offender: Why are you doing that? I don’t understand.”

People wonder why I’m so vocal about the high crimes of Donald Trump.

Ethical action. That’s why.

Trump inspired smarter people in Florida to enact a law called Don’t Say Gay. That’s like passing a law called Don’t Say Black. Don’t Say Latino.

We should take ethical action against people who discriminate when their Constitution clearly states that ALL ARE CREATED EQUAL.

Support the lesser of two evils if both sides are bad.

Martin Niemöller was a Lutheran pastor. Initially a supporter of Adolf Hitler and a self-identified antisemite. Later best known for his opposition to the Nazi regime during the late 1930s and for his widely quoted 1946 poem:

“First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Never by Ken Follett

As a teenager I loved Follett’s World War II thriller, “Eye of the Needle” (1974).

Follett got even more famous writing historical fiction: Kingsbridge Series ➙ Century Trilogy.

In 2021 he published a geopolitical thriller — Never. Quite a departure.

Never is set in today’s world.

The sprawling saga is a fictionalized story of our world stumbling towards a nuclear war that nobody wants.

It begins in the Sahara Desert. Islamic terrorists, drugs and human trafficking.

The American President Pauline Green is a 4′ 11″ Republican. A former gymnast. Of course she’s challenged on the right by a Trumpy populist. Top of the American agenda is a revolt in North Korea. Rebel military have seized the nuclear weapons.

A high-ranking Chinese Intelligence official offers insight into the mindset of that superpower.

This book is terrifying as you can see how a nuclear war could start. In fact, I’m affected enough to no longer want to travel to Taiwan or Korea for hiking. They are both too close to nuclear attack.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As always, Follett writes great love stories. It’s the human stories that separate his work from other authors.

Click PLAY or watch an interview on YouTube.

Another book with a similar plot is 2034: A Novel of the Next World War (2021).

$5 trillion COVID relief mostly gone to the RICH

American taxpayers are throwing around money like drunken sailers.

WHY have the outcomes been so lousy?

Just 400 wealthy families provide about half the funding for presidential campaigns, and they speedball their influence through think tanks, legal advocacy groups, and friendly media.

Rupert Murdoch, the Mercer family, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos all shape our views and influence national policy.  …

… $3 trillion in new money and historically low interest rates have been the nitro and the glycerin, respectively, of the stock market’s ascent.

The dirty secret is that there are two pandemics. While a quarter of America is food insecure and behind on rent, the shareholder class has experienced an explosion in net worth …

Professor Galloway

Is the USA still a democracy?

For me a authoritarian regime (dictatorship) is a place where the leader can order opponents murdered, without consequences. Russia and Saudi Arabia in 2020, for example.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) scores countries on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture.

Nations are then classified under four types of governments: full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian regime.

Under Trump the USA became a flawed democracy.

Obviously, the main goal of the GOP under this egocentric toddler is to make the rich richer. Which they’ve done.

Nations still ranking high as democracies include Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand and Denmark. Canada and Ireland are up there, as well.

Recently a Republican Senator claimed that “democracy isn’t the objective” any longer. Knowing that his Party was likely to lose the 2020 election, it’s part of the GOP plan to contest the results.

That Senator was bored, at home, COVID-19 positive at the time. #loser

I want people to be able to easily un-elect bad leaders. To have more influence in governance, even when they get it wrong. When wrong, they should be able to later easily change again.

David Attenborough’s A Life On Our Planet

David Attenborough is now age-94.

His newest work is a “witness statement” — his reflection on his career as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has seen.

A love letter to Earth from the beloved broadcaster.

The first half is very depressing. Humanity doomed.

But in the second half Attenborough explains how mankind MIGHT possibly survive the next 80 years.

As it seems nations can’t organize to do even the most trivial collective good, I’m not optimistic.

In the USA, the Trump regime has been doing the exact opposite as recommended. In Alberta, the Kenney regime is making the future worse, as well.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.