Multiple disruptions. Tesla disrupting Automotive. Inexpensive computer tools disrupting production of high quality content. Viral distribution disrupting the purchase of expensive media.

Undisruptable: Imagination.

The Journalism of Speculation

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The mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Air Flight 370 is tragic at many levels. It is impossible to comprehend the pain of the families waiting to hear the fate of their loved ones.  I just hope they aren’t watching any of the US news cable networks.

In modern media the lines between news, commentary, speculation (educated or otherwise) and pure rumor mongering are very blurred. In fact, speculation has become a genre in and of itself.

When there is no news to report, today’s journalistic playbook is to invent it.  Think about our election cycles. Panels of experts and prognosticators dissect every word a candidate utters and analyze pollsters’ spew until headlines are magically fabricated. But that all mercifully ends on election day. Same playbook with high-visibility trials like Trayvon Martin.

Now we have the mother of of all news events. An unprecedented mystery with scant facts to report- a veritable information vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum and in this case it seems the void is being filled with caca.

Since there is no crash site, no real answers, and very little to talk about, CNN is programming “theater of the what if?”  Experts are paraded through to opine on what it may be. An expert on catastrophic failure. A terrorism maven. Pilot after pilot. A string of utterly inane questions that begin with “do you think it is possible that…?” 

The latest speculation brings the notion that the plane may have been in the air for seven hours after loss of contact. This has led to the further speculation that the plane may have actually landed somewhere. Or been forced to. “Do you think that is possible?” asks Erin Burnett?

“It’s possible. not probable” answers an aviation analyst. And with that answer the line of questioning drifts toward the plane being forcibly landed and all of the passengers are hostages. Possible…not probable.

Next up? Is there a mysterious island with a supernatural force that brought that plane down? Writer/Producer J.J. Abrams here to discuss the possibility.

Gorbachev’s Sochi - a memoir

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Note: a very dear family friend Marvin Goldman Ph.D. is a renowned World expert on the effects of radiation. A professor/researcher at UC Davis he was called upon by President Reagan to be part of an international team dealing with the crisis at Chernobyl. It was a very different Soviet Union and a very different Sochi. He shared his memories in this article. (Pictured above is Dr Goldman and his lovely wife Joyce in the background the Soviet era Dzerjinsky health spa in Sochi).

Sochi and Me

By Marvin Goldman Ph.

All this talk about the upcoming Winter Olympics prompted me to recall that I spent a week in Sochi in the spring of 1988, a quarter century ago. It was a most significant week even though I never saw any snow. This was during the fading days of the Soviet Union and two years after the Chernobyl disaster, an event that precipitated the end of Gorbachev.

I had been inducted into the team of international nuclear experts discussing the causes of the accident, its consequences and what might be done to prevent a recurrence. This time on my visit I was the guest of the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy. For some reason they had taken a liking to me, maybe because I headed the American team on the accident’s global impact.

This trip was not an official American government venture, but was for the many nuclear societies, including our American Nuclear Society. Some 35 of us met in Moscow and were taken to a military airfield and boarded a Yak-40 tri-jet. I immediately knew that this Russian visit was going to be different. The small 40-passenger jet was packed with computers, printers, projectors and stuff (vodka) to properly equip a business meeting. Nothing was tied down, and no one used seat belts. Instead, we worked our way through a few bottles of vodka, and in no time we landed, (uneventfully) at Adler on the Black Sea, at the base of the Caucasus Mountains. There we boarded buses to take us to Dagomys, a deluxe resort next to Sochi. I don’t remember the name of the hotel, but it was not your typical Soviet Intourest lodging. It was springtime and the weather was mild. I had a large suite with large balcony, small dining room and living room all to my self. I’m suspected that half of the many ceiling smoke detectors were KGB microphones.

We were very well treated, and it was then that I more fully appreciated the fact that there were really two Soviet Unions, one for everyone else and one for the party elite. This was quite different from anything I’d seen on my earlier Soviet visits. We had a nice meeting room and were served quite good food and drink.

When the meeting was over one day, I was invited to take a walk on the beach. It was sunset and the Black Sea was calm and quite nice. The beach was not of sand, but small pebbles. On that beachfront stroll, I learned about some significant radiation exposure situations more serious than Chernobyl.

I heard about a place in the Siberian Ural Mountains near Chelyabinsk called MAYAK. This was where the Soviets nuclear materials are produced to get plutonium for nuclear warheads. I learned that in the early days (1948-1953) at MAYAK, the workers had little nuclear exposure protection and that under Stalin they operated under a “production not protection” policy. I wondered if we couldn’t get some cooperation going between our countries to better understand the effects of plutonium exposure in people. It was my impression that perhaps the Soviets perhaps hadn’t done enough on understanding the risks of long-term plutonium exposure. I realized that I could now be on to what might be a very significant radiological issue. Thus, my visit to Sochi started an atomic journey for me that ultimately included some 36 trips to Russia and the initiation of a major binational bioenvironmental radiation research program that continues to this day.

I told my hosts that the Dagomys area looked very verdant and pleasant. They told me that it was next to the tea-producing region of Russia, and said nothing about winter sports. I was told that people came here for summer vacations, if they were elite enough. I also noted that there seemed to be very many pretty women, a distinct difference from frumpy Moscow. “Oh”, they said, “this is where all the Moscow prostitutes come to spend their money”.  I wonder if this may be behind President Putin’s choice of Sochi for the Olympics? A place for both indoor and outdoor activities!

© 2014 Marvin Goldman 

3D Printed Cheese Mold and follower with finished soft goat cheese Mold lined with Cheese Cloth - yes, this is why it is named cheese cloth Freshly made cheese curd packed into mold Curd being pressed at 50lbs for 12 hours - the printed biodegradable PLA stands up to the pressure

Before Makers 3D printed objects, they made food. Whole food. Now they go perfect together. When you need a MacGyver moment a 3D Printer is handy to have. It took me 15 minutes to model in TinkerCad and three hours to print. The cheese took two hours to make from fresh local milk. the mold makes a 2 lb. wheel which is produced from two gallons of milk.