• TECHNOLOGY CONTINUES TO CHANGE OUR WORLD at an accelerating pace as SOFTWARE TOOLS disrupt most industries and worker needs. UBER and AIRBNB, for example – now the biggest taxi and hotel companies in the world – don’t own cars or properties, just very sophisticated software. Within the next few years: (1) Self-driving cars, summoned by smartphone will, for mega-millions, obviate the need for car ownership, eliminate the need for most parking garages, reduce projected accidents by a hundred times and obliterate the car insurance business model; (2) Remote 3-D printing will obviate the need for many manufacturing facilities – already some spare airplane parts are directly printed in remote airports and on the Int’l Space Station.  Almost certainly within the next decade:  (3) Artificial Intelligence could eliminate the vast majority of professional jobs – legal advice is already available within seconds, at some 90% accuracy versus 70% when done by humans, and cancer diagnosis is some four times more accurate; (4) Medical Devices communicating by smartphone can already identify nearly any disease, and will soon provide & deliver treatments, impacting the entire medical establishment; (5) Solar Energy installations have already surpassed fossil fuel in cheaper cost, impacting power delivery and even abundancy of drinking water.  [LINKEDIN.COM.PULSE – May 17]
  • THE INCREASING ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE OF WOMEN, combined with social independence and modern birth control methods, has made marriage less necessary in general, and particularly with regard to childbirth & childrearing. The result is increasing percentages of births out-of-wedlock and of single-parent households. These trends are creating serious concerns from various groups and religious institutions that “the decoupling of sexual relations and procreation from marriage is under-mining the institution of marriage, the centrality of the family for childrearing and the overall stability and wellbeing of society.”   In 45 countries (including China, India, and much of Africa & Latin America), non-marital births are the majority and in 25 the ratio exceeds 60%.  The U.S. ratio is around 40%, with ethnic ratios ranging from 29% for whites to 53% for Hispanics and 71% for blacks, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD). “In the U.S., most women who marry for the first time cohabit first… for reasons varying from escaping costly wedding expenses to legal complications, family entanglements, and being a hedge against the emotional stress, cost and consequences of divorce.”  [YALEGLOBAL ONLINE – Mar 16, 17]
  • UPDATE ON THE CRYPTO-COIN BUBBLE: “Every market mania reaches a point when pitches to would-be investors enter the realm of the surreal; one now invites Facebook users to claim ICO tokens for nothing which, when later become convertible to other tokens, could become worth $124 billion… This latest ICO craze is a scheme to raise funds for an enterprise written into a contract on a ‘blockchain’ – resembling both a new form of crowdfunding, and a technological leapfrog over the regulations that hem in more orthodox funding strategies (along with conceivable avoidance of taxation)… ICOs have so far raised some $2 billion this year, looking like irrationality in action, bound to end in tears… but enthusiasm for new markets or technologies frequently results in excessive optimism, which ultimately collides with reality in a spectacular crash… as infectious stories spread the bullish bug to others, which pushes up prices… Meanwhile, regulators may prevent ICOs from becoming more than a curiosity” (as China, South Korea, and soon Russia are banning them), and “markets are usually efficient enough to punish those who mistake a bet on one version of the future for a sure thing.” Be cautious. [THE ECONOMIST – Oct 7, 17]
  • CYBERSECURITY UPDATE: “The Chinese have recruited a “hacker army” estimated at up to 100,000 techies, including specialized military units, dedicated in part to seizing valuable data from U.S. companies and government agencies. And the Russian military has focused heavily on recruiting hackers from university programs, software companies and even the criminal underworld.” Meanwhile, Yahoo has just disclosed that its infamous 2013 data breach actually affected every one of its 3-billion user accounts, prior to their 2014 breach which affected 500-million accounts, and the recent Equifax breach which exposed broad personal data on some 145 million Americans “may have victimized 75% of U.S. adults.”  [THE WEEK – Oct 13 and 20, 17]  For a look at how Hackers’ do it: https://futurism.com/videos/watch-as-a-world-renowned-hacker-shows-you-how-its-done/

       75% of the world’s food today is derived from just 12 crops and five animal species. The Guardian reports that “scientists fear a mass extinction event could devastate global food supplies.”

       Today, tens of thousands of older Americans whose finances have been devastated by the ongoing economic crisis and/or medical bills now travel the country as ‘nomads,’ living in RV’s or vans (known variously as workampers, vandwellers or rubbertramps) to pick up seasonal employment an any form they can, and living without a safety net.