Christmas Day “Planet Earth Report” –2017’s Top Tech Stories,Ten Top Science Tweets, #We’re-Not-Alone Obsession




Monday, December 25, 2017: Today's links to headline stories from around the world on the threats, opportunities, and dangers facing our fragile planet –along with an occasional dash of humor, popular culture, and an intriguing conspiracy theory or two. Coverage includes Rock Star's UFO Obsession, Nation's Top Cartoonists Lampoon Trump, 25 Reasons to Love the Movies in 2017

The Top US Tech Stories of 2017: The Utopian Dream Comes to an End
Scandal at Uber, Backlash Against Facebook, Smartphone Addiction



The utopian dream of Silicon Valley is no more – 2017 made sure of that. Every month has brought fresh scandal to the titans of the industry, from Russian interference to sexual harassment; from Uber’s never-ending woes to YouTube’s advertising scandals.

Facebook and Google’s coffers may be overflowing, but these companies are being held increasingly responsible for their role in a divided world, where inequality is rising and extreme points of view thrive – and are even rewarded – online. Here are some of the pieces that captured the mood:

‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia

Paul Lewis spent several months tracking down and interviewing the designers and thinkers who were at the forefront of the smartphone and social media revolution, and found many of them now regret their involvement in these hyper-addictive technologies. The resulting piece expertly questioned the role the attention economy is playing in undermining democracy itself.

“If the people who built these technologies are taking such radical steps to wean themselves free, can the rest of us reasonably be expected to exercise our free will?

Not according to Tristan Harris, a 33-year-old former Google employee turned vocal critic of the tech industry. “All of us are jacked into this system,” he says. “All of our minds can be hijacked. Our choices are not as free as we think they are.”

Read more…


Technology More Advanced Than Human Capabilities –Proved “Beyond Reasonable Doubt”




The existence of unidentified flying objects using technology more advanced than human capabilities has been proved “beyond reasonable doubt”, the former head of a secret US government program has said. Luis Elizondo, who quit as head of the Advanced Threat Identification Program (AATIP) two months ago, warned nations now “had to be conscious” of the potential threat posed by UFOs.

The unit, which the Department of Defense (DoD) insisted was terminated in 2012, produced documents that described sightings of aircraft travelling at extremely high speeds with no visible signs of propulsion.

“In my opinion, if this was a court of law, we have reached the point of 'beyond reasonable doubt'. I hate to use the term UFO but that's what we’re looking at,” Mr Elizondo told The Telegraph.

"I think it's pretty clear this is not us, and it's not anyone else, so one has to ask the question where they're from."

Mr Elizondo told the newspaper there were geographical “hot spots” – sometimes around nuclear facilities and power plants – which emerged during AATIP’s investigations, as well as common factors between UFO sightings.

He said: "It was enough where we began to see trends and similarities in incidents. There were very distinct observables. Extreme manoeuvrability, hypersonic velocity without a sonic boom, speeds of 7-8,000mph, no flight surfaces on the objects. A lot of this is backed with radar signal data, gun camera footage from aircraft, multiple witnesses.

"There was never any display of hostility but the way they manoeuvred, in ways no-one else in the world had, you have to be conscious something could happen."

Read more…


Eight of the Nation’s Top Cartoonists Show Us How They Lampoon the President


Being president is a tough job. The president has to sign bills, conduct wars, and uphold a heap of dusty rituals and customs. One of these traditions, perhaps the least dignified of all, is to be the focus of the ink-stained wretches of the cartooning trade.

Since the earliest days of the republic, these artists have taken a president’s face, really his whole public image, and put it through a wringer of ridicule, contorting distinctive features and twisting them into a cartoon caricature. For Barack Obama and George W. Bush, it was their oversized ears; for Bill Clinton, his bulbous red nose. That image becomes the inky avatar that can not only define a presidency, but follow a leader right into the history books.

View them here

Inside Tom DeLonge's UFO Obsession


On a sunny afternoon in San Diego, Tom DeLonge sits in front of a Mac in a darkened room, searching "black triangle UFOs" on YouTube. He plays a clip of a mysterious glowing craft, which hovers over Paris before disappearing in a flash of light. Conspiracy theorists refer to it as a TR-3B; some believe it's a machine the government secretly built from gathering UFO intelligence. "It's pure, unadulterated anti-gravity," he says, marveling at the craft's movement. "It would scare people if they knew this existed."



For as long as he can remember – even before he sang "Aliens Exist" on Blink-182's multiplatinum pop-punk classic, Enema of the State, in 1999 – DeLonge has been obsessed with what he calls "the phenomenon." He can tell you about reports of triangular aircraft spotted over Belgium in 1990. He can tell you about the airships of 1897, blimp-shaped objects reported throughout the West over the course of three months. "They went across the country and landed in certain cities, and mayors and senators met with the pilots," says DeLonge. "It was national news. And then they completely disappeared. No one knows who they were."

The guitarist has made several aircraft-spotting pilgrimages himself, driving his Airstream trailer to Nevada test sites like Area 51 and Tonopah, bringing spotting scopes, satellite phones and night-vision goggles ("They're registered with the State Department – I can't leave the country with them").

Read more… 


10 Science Tweets That Defined This Weird, Bad, But Often Hopeful Year




The Science March, the eclipse, Tim Allen, and all points in between. It’s been a heck of a year, and for anyone who uses Twitter regularly, it’s all played out in a never-ending stream of nightmares, summed up in 180 (or sometimes 280) characters or less. The Trump administration’s role in shaping science policy was at the forefront of science Twitter discussions, usually in a bad way, but so was the show-stopping solar eclipse in July, and that was pretty dang cool. So, it’s been a mixed bag.

Read more…


25 Reasons to Love the Movies in 2017



From amazing directorial debuts to 'Dunkirk,' offbeat docs to Daniel Day-Lewis – the films, performances and moments that made the year in movies. 25 reasons to love the movies in 2017 – Rolling Stone's picks for best performances, blockbusters, directorial debuts and movie moments of the year.

There were a lot of reasons to hate the movie industry in 2017, from the way it kept foisting reheated-leftover franchises on us to finally finding out just how much enabling it's given to sexual predators and power-abusing monsters for decades.

There were, however, a lot of reasons to love the movies over the last 12 months, even if this was an art form that gave us both a parody of dark, bloated Batman blockbusters and an actual dark, bloated caped-crusader adventure in a single year. We will remember 2017 as the Reckoning era and the age of the Female Gaze, but also the year of Get Out and Greta Gerwig, of existential ghosts and extraordinary docs, of saying hello to Timothée Chalamet and Tiffany Haddish and goodbye to Daniel Day-Lewis.

There was, in fact, a lot that was worth shouting out about the films of 2017 that went beyond just a mere top 10 list (though I've included one below just for posterity's sake). Here are 25 things we loved about the movies this year – from great works to standout moments, career-high performances to big-picture revolutions and small touches. Keep watching.

Read more…


A man evades relentless drones in this action-packed science fiction film


In a new short film called SENTiNEL, a man wakes up in an empty field and discovers that he’s being chased by a flying drone, which sets off a desperate race for survival.



That’s the premise behind Ryan Connolly’s intriguing new short film, which premiered earlier this week on YouTube and Vimeo. The film is really short: it clocks in at just under five minutes, but it lays out a gripping action sequence that reveals just enough information to hint at a larger story as it plays out.

At first, it seems as though the man is simply trying desperately to escape from his would-be killer, but Connolly flips those expectations at the end when the character discovers a rifle: it seems that he’s part of some violent game. It’s a slickly-shot short, and it shows that you don’t necessarily need dialogue to tell an intriguing story.



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