First Week[edit | edit source]
Quarantine[edit | edit source]
As one of her first acts after the election, the President signed into law the Civil Conscription Act of 2017. This law, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, provides for the expansion of the Selective Service authority to include both males and females, and for the service to re-focus on development and recovery efforts within the United States.
All US citizens and resident aliens between the ages of 17 and 29 are required to register for Civil Conscription. Failure to register will result in a loss of any government aid, fines, and for resident aliens, the possibility of deportation.
As of 2019, approximately 1% of qualifying registrants are drafted, with a required service of two years (with the potential to have that expanded for another two years, in the case of national emergency). At present, most conscripts have been assigned to help with the New Orleans Final Recovery, helping to save and move what remains of historical buildings and art, and assisting with relocation of remaining residents.
Numerous small islands in the South Pacific, many of which were formally resort destinations, have been effectively cut off from the rest of the world. Part of the initial quarantine zone overreaction, these islands saw all air and sea contacts stopped in early 2015. In some cases, such as with the island nation of Fiji, sea links were re-established in late 2016. Islands such as French Polynesia, Cook Islands, and -- perhaps surprisingly -- American Samoa remain officially isolated from the larger world. Ships and planes are not allowed to land, and any vessel coming from these locations will be forcibly prevented from landing in any location outside of the region.
The result has been a thriving black-market for goods and supplies, a rapidly-growing virtual telepresence service economy, and -- ironically -- a reported total lack of ReDS infections.
Exhibit at Tate Modern of artwork by ReDS-infected artists. An exhibition of art by ReDS-infected artists, ranging in age from 24 to 73, opened this week at Tate Modern Art Museum in London. The artwork, including sculpture, kinetic art, and numerous paintings and drawings, provides a glimpse into the inner lives of artists suffering in the global pandemic. Tate Modern spokesperson Heidi Abdullah notes that all 90 of the pieces will be available for sale, with the proceeds going to ReDS-assistance funds.
"We believe that artwork tells us a story about human life that doesn't easily translate into prose," Ms. Abdullah observed. "Although not all of the pieces are representational, the pain and hope felt by the artists comes through clearly."
Tate Modern is open for in-person tours only Monday through Wednesday, and open only to hosted telepresence tours Thursday and Friday. Both in-person and telepresence tours are welcome on the weekends.
The exhibition will run through the beginning of 2020.
Ravenous[edit | edit source]
E.A.T. (Evolve - Act - Triumph!) is formed to bring organizers world-wide together in one forum to begin coordinating all Superstruct effort. Find it at: the Reconstruct site.
With the proliferation of home gardens, "victory gardens," and neighborhood farms in urban centers across the world, the local "farmer's market" has made something of a comeback. But today's farmer's market would be unfamiliar to most farmers -- and buyers -- of even a decade ago. Today's farmer's market is entirely online, and we have Foodcycle to thank for it.
Foodcycle started in 2014 as a way for struggling home gardeners to find people to swap produce with. One local garden may have a bumper crop of tomatoes, for example, while another has an over-supply of bell peppers. A swap could be easily and swiftly arranged online. Foodcycle started as a Silicon Valley mailing list, but now serves metropolitan areas across the United States and Europe.
Soon Foodcycle began to offer produce to non-farmers, a decision that was quite controversial at the time, but now seems to have widespread support within the Foodcycle community. Non-food members can offer services or other products as barter, or even pay with money. "It's not as pure as it used to be," said Foodcycle founder Hiroko Moore with a sigh, "but it serves a wider community."
Al Jazeera Quashes Rumor
A rumor whipping through the Muslim world this week claims that rice shipments from non-Muslim nations have been engineered to include pig genes. But Al Jazeera brought samples of supposedly transgenic rice to bioengineering specialists in Dubai. These scientists found no signs of any transgenic tampering in the rice, finding only the standard "golden rice" engineering to boost vitamin C production.
Most versions of the rumor blame the CIA, but a popular variation instead blames the hacker community of ARK. Although most pig genes would not express effectively in rice, scholars concluded that any engineered food containing pig genes would be inherently haram.
Nu Burger Review
The first cultured meat burger went on sale in 2015, and was widely considered a commercial failure. Although it looked and tasted like real hamburger, its texture was a bit off, and that was enough to doom the brand. But changing carbon laws, serious concerns about food network stability, and a populace shocked into being willing to try something new led to a variety of new efforts to bring cruelty-free meat to the Western table.
Of the various brands competing in this market, NuBurger, from NuConcept Foods of Austin, Texas, has become the clear leader. As with all cultured meat products, NuBurger starts out as bovine muscle fiber cloned and nurtured in an organic broth; muscle cells are also stimulated on a regular basis to build protein strength. NuConcept claims that the original cells came from Kobe beef cattle, and the taste and texture of the final product -- after the still-proprietary NuBurger process -- lives up to those claims.
NuBurgers have less than 10% of the carbon footprint of traditional burgers, involve no cruelty to animals, and taste and feel like the highest-quality beef. Five stars.
Power Struggle[edit | edit source]
Under pressure from its largest client, Google, the leaders of the energy haven of SeaStar, which offers a combination of abundant clean energy (from wave, wind, and solar power), year-round aquaculture, and high-bandwidth connections to the global Internet, voted today to end efforts to declare SeaStar an autonomous national entity, accepting instead a status of protectorate of the United Kingdom.
With a year-round population of over a thousand people and a thriving economy based on provision of zero-carbon data services, and the export of clean energy, SeaStar was considered by many specialists to be in the best position of any of the offshore energy havens to declare independence. Attacks last winter by pirates, attempting to take over key SeaStar resources, prompted the autonomy drive. Google's representatives argued persuasively, however, that a protectorate treaty with the UK would offer greater security than a home-grown defense force.
Black Market Coal Ring
Chinese Government Breaks Up Black-Market Coal Ring
Beijing announced the arrests of six high-level organized crime figures involved with the illegal mining and distribution of coal. The operation, in the northeast Heilongjiang Province, reportedly employed over a thousand local miners. All of those arrested are expected to be tried and executed before the end of the month, charged with crimes against the state and against the climate.
As its need to cut down on air pollution and carbon emissions grew desperate, in 2015 China announced the closure nearly all coal-fired power plants built before 2001, and the corresponding closure of hundreds of mines. Unexpected delays in the construction of nuclear and wind power facilities left numerous communities with little or no regular electric power. Organized crime (and, reportedly, terrorist) groups have stepped in to manage coal production and power, usually with the acquiescence of corrupt local officials.
Robot Guard Kills Child
Robot Guard Kills Child in Kuwait
The spokesman for the government of the People's Republic of Kuwait admitted today that a 9-year-old child killed near the Ratqa oil facilities was attacked by an automated guard, after the child threw a rock at the dog-shaped device.
The newly-installed Kuwaiti government made the controversial decision to deploy robotic guard systems to protect oil facilities and pipelines after a series of attacks in 2017 crippled Kuwaiti oil production. The Kuwaiti government blamed "royalist provocateurs" for the attacks, which left over a hundred workers dead.
Despite calls from both neighboring states and the UN not to do so, the Kuwait government purchased an advanced robot guard system from the private military service Blackhound International The guard robots, reportedly the "Dire Wolf" system, can be programmed to attack either with or without human authorization. Kuwait initially claimed that their guard systems all required human authorization, but now admit that some facilities -- including Ratqa -- had guard units able to decide to attack targets on their own.
Outlaw Planet[edit | edit source]
The South African government is in an uproar after the anonymous hacking group known as the "transparency bombers" released more data and video showing widespread corruption in the legislature and civil service. The material was made available on both file-sharing networks and the various websites dedicated to putting secrets on display.
"We already had these abuses under investigation," stated Justice Minister Nathan Ngobe. "This act of digital terrorism now makes our efforts useless." Opposition leader Joma Mandoko responded that "our investigators must be stinging after being shown how easily this information could be revealed."
In a statement found along with the data and video, the Transparency Bombers said that there is "more to come."
MR5ive Issues Recall
The popular WorldVu augmented reality glasses, produced by Japanese electronics giant MR5ive, face an immediate recall as MR5ive deals with the fallout from the recent digital attacks on WorldVu users.
WorldVu, which offered wearers an information layer over what they saw, was the most popular of the new -- and still buggy -- augmented reality devices, due primarily to its low cost. But hackers proved able to easily defeat the minimal security on the glasses, and began a campaign of adding misleading, false, even hallucinatory images to the augmentation display. Three people have died in accidents related to the attacks.
The recall is expected to cost MR5ive over a €300 million. Its stock tumbled in after-hours trading, and analysts consider a hostile takeover likely.
Reality Check Suspended
Until further notice, this site will be suspending its daily "reality check" service. The reality check had promoted as accurate a distressingly large number of false or misleading stories, sometimes as corrections to entirely accurate reports. We cannot in good conscience allow that to happen again.
Like many news services, we began a regular reality check report in 2014, as a way of countering the proliferation of deliberately inaccurate items coming from hoaxers and professional "data pollution" services. Although this problem had been observed (and regularly countered) for some time, the number of fraudulent and deceptive videos and photos emerging during the mid-term elections in the United States, and in the Parliamentary elections in the United Kingdom, demanded a more systemic response.
Our reality check service was considered by many to be among the best on the Internet, but, sadly, this only meant that we were to become the top target for so-called "reality hackers" and data polluters. It is clear now that our methodologies have been broken, and rather than unknowingly promote mistruths as truths, we have suspended the service, and will rely once again on the wisdom of the crowds of readers to find our errors. Caveat lector.
Generation Exile[edit | edit source]
Mexico Adopts Open Border
Mexico is the latest country to remove most ID checkpoint stations from its borders, as the spread of electronically-tagged passports, so-called "e-cards" (or "everything cards"), and datamined surveillance have made traditional border controls largely irrelevant.
In the late 1990s, Singapore led the way with the use of tagged identity cards providing access to transit, building access, and even low-cost commerce. More recently, the European Union adopted similar cards as a means of both improving internal security (after the string of mall bombings in 2013) and giving greater access to the citizens of EU-applicant nations. Canada adopted tagged passports and everything cards last year, and several bills mandating adoption in the United States await the seating of a functional Congress.
As with most countries adopting tagged passports and e-cards, the penalties for not carrying a one's identity card are stiff, although Mexico has adopted a 90-day "grace period" as its citizens adjust to the new rules. The system will be rolled out first in the southern Mexican states, in part to maintain better supervision of ReDS-quarantined groups, and to keep a closer watch on the numerous migrants coming in from Central and South America.
Refugee Kits Offer Instructions, Advice
Refugee Kits Offer Instructions, Advice
Migrant Survival Toolkits -- more popularly known as refugee kits -- traditionally offer basic instructions for purifying water and identifying edible plants, along with tips on staying safe while traveling. More generous kits sometimes come with straws for filtering water and a solar-powered radio. But a new refugee kit, developed by the United Nations, offers something else: advice on when to hit the road.
Officially known as UNHCR Provision 3, the new refugee kit includes the filters and radio, but also gives detailed guidelines for determining whether one's home (or current location) is safe, or whether evacuation will be necessary.
"We saw too many people waiting too long to leave disaster zones, or returning too quickly, or squatting in dangerous areas. We realized that they needed something more," stated UN spokesperson Carla Chen. The UN will produce over 100 million new kits over the next year.
Open-Source Building Heats Up
Melbourne witnessed its first -- but undoubtedly not its last -- open source building faire this week. Over 150 designs were on display, from architects, aid workers, and amateurs. All of the designs are freely available online, and often require little expertise or materials to build.
The faire included both experimental buildings from designers looking at how to adopt new technologies (such as fabbing) or new materials, and buildings meeting all manner of severe weather and conditions codes. Most were meant to hold a single family, but some, such as ArchiTXT's "Chrome Dome," were designed to serve as community centers, schools, or even makeshift hospitals.
One design stood out for nearly all attendees: the self-building shelter, from the University of Beijing school of environmental engineering. With a limited built-in fabber and lightweight carbon materials, the self-building shelter could build a severe-weather-rated dwelling in under six hours.
Second Week[edit | edit source]
Quarantine[edit | edit source]
Attack on ReDS Hospice Leaves 75 Dead
Homemade bombs exploded today at a ReDS hospice outside of Birmingham, England, killing 75 people, and leaving more than 30 clinging to life. Birmingham has seen significant unrest since the opening of the hospice last year, as many residents fear the possible outbreak of ReDS in the community. A riot in March killed two hospice workers, and hospice management has reported near-weekly threats of violence. The anger over the hospice, coupled with one of the highest unemployment rates in the UK, puts Birmingham at the top of the list of dangerous cities Great Britain, according to a recent study.
No suspects have yet been identified, but investigators state that they have collected abundant genetic and molecular data. A hospice spokesperson declined to answer questions about whether the hospice would be rebuilt.
Can PANDA Stop ReDS?
PANDA--the Pandemic Surveillance System--offers an open model for real-time tracking of ReDS hotspots, using data pulled from the mobile devices of global participants. Image analysis and touch sensor data, combined with locational information, allow the PANDA system to take a "pandemic snapshot." The results are then fed to the global INSTEDD disease monitoring network. INSTEDD, which has been in operation for over a decade, uses this data to build epidemiological models and warn of impending outbreaks.
The idea of using personal mobile devices (phones, web tablets, and the like) as nodes in a distributed sensor network has been with us since early in the century, but PANDA is the first project to do more than propose a structure. More information about the PANDA project can be found at the Superstruct wiki and at the Supestruct site.
Genome Sequencing Services Under Fire
With the cost of sequencing an individual's full genome now costing less than $200 in the U.S. (and under €50 in the Eurozone), services offering quick genetic work-ups have sprung up in corner stores and shopping malls everywhere. Although questions remain about the utility of full genomic scans--especially about genetic susceptibility to disease--many of these services offer to provide information about an individual's vulnerability to cancer, heart disease, and even ReDS. Scientists at the World Health Organization, in a recent white paper, stressed that there are no known genetic indicators linked to ReDS, and that any services offering such a link are fraudulent.
Warnings about the abuse of genetic testing have taken on a new urgency with the release of a home genetic testing kit in the United States. The manufacturers--BioFunTime--are marketing the test system as a way of learning more about potential romantic partners, roommates, or even co-workers.
Ravenous[edit | edit source]
Supermarket Squatters Offer Food, Hope
Abandoned supermarkets have become temporary village squares in many parts of Amsterdam, according to local residents. Local growers have begun to use empty supermarkets as gathering places for regular farmers' markets, taking advantage of the open shelves and refrigerators. Local residents can purchase fresh vegetables and other food items from the farmers, who return on a weekly or biweekly basis.
The markets have become informal public gathering spots, as well. One resident described it in this way: "Unlike the Tesco, the market is not seen as a quick place to visit on your way home. People linger, discuss the issues that are effecting our community--and come up with plans."
Civic officials note that, while these markets technically trespass on the grounds, there are no plans to arrest or impede the activities. Further information can be found at [].
Drought in Sao Paulo Hits Day 160
According to Brazilian officials, Sao Paulo, Brazil, has now gone for 160 days without rainfall, setting a new record. Reservoirs and local aquifers have begun to show signs of depletion, and, for the first time, the Sao Paulo government is talking openly about the need to create plans for an orderly evacuation of the city. Meteorologists caution that there are few indicators of near-term rainfall, and that the drought may last for another month or more.
"This is entirely unprecedented," stated one city administrator. "We've had droughts before, but never at this scale. We fear that the worst is yet to come."
A personal narrative of the impact of the drought can be found at the . City officials would not comment on the record about the accuracy of this account, but some confirmed the details on background.
Possible Bluefin Tuna Sighting Passengers on a private sailboat crossing the Pacific may have seen an adult bluefin tuna, according to Japanese officials. The bluefin tuna, thought to be extinct as of 2014, was once a staple of Japanese diets. Although there have been sporadic reports of sightings over the past five years, officials at Tokyo University gave credence to the story after seeing photos taken by one of the passengers, a retired marine biology instructor from the University of California, who declined to be identified by name.
"If there are still bluefin populations in existence, it would be vitally important to declare their region off-limits to all manner of fishing," declared Hiroko Yamamoto, a spokesperson for the University. The Japanese government and Tokyo University are assembling a survey team to confirm the sighting.
To prevent poaching, the precise location of the sighting has not been provided.
Power Struggle[edit | edit source]
Ecocity Plans Offer Promise The success of Masdar City in Abu Dhabi can and should be replicated elsewhere, according to the Gulf nation's Minister of Environmental Development.
Masdar City is one of many high-efficiency developments begun in the early 2000s. Unlike most of its competitors--in particular the expansion of Shanghai touted by the Chinese government as a "zero-carbon-footprint" project--Masdar City has managed to live up to its initial plans. Total energy consumption for the city of 500,000 is approximately equivalent to that of a typical U.S. suburb of 20,000. All of the energy for Masdar comes from renewable sources, including wind, tidal power, and primarily solar-thermal power.
Abu Dhabi, unlike most of its neighbors, has weathered the fragmentation of the global energy market reasonably well, largely by moving aggressively away from any energy production-related industries over the course of the last decade. A partially government-owned company, Masdar Partners, is now offering urban redesign services globally.
A discussion of the early plans for Masdar City, and its implications for other urban centers, can be found at http://superstructgame.org/StoryView/198.
Bombing of Chinese Coal Power Plant Kills 10 According to sources given anonymity for their own protection, a major coal-fired power plant in northern China was hit by the Chinese eco-terror group "Earth's Righteous Fist" last month. Seven bombs placed around the power plant brought the entire facility down, killing at least 10 workers. The Chinese government has not confirmed the attack and has threatened reporters with deportation for asking about it.
Earth's Righteous Fist emerged in late 2016 in response to the worsening of air quality in major cities across China, linked to the accelerated deployment of coal-fired power plants in the first decade of the century. Global health officials have attributed tens of thousands of deaths in the region to the use of coal power.
According to European intelligence sources, this is the eighth coal power plant struck by the terror group since 2016.
Sealed "Neighborhood Nuke" Again Delayed Sony's 1 megawatt thorium Nuclear Battery, dubbed the "neighborhood nuke" by both critics and advocates, hit another stumbling block today, as simulations demanded by both the Japanese Ministry of Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy found rare conditions in which the permanently-sealed units could be breached, potentially spilling radioactive material.
Proponents of the Nuclear Battery concept emphasize its safety, pointing out that the thorium fuel cannot be converted into nuclear weapons and that the waste--which would remained sealed in the battery--has a much shorter half-life than uranium or plutonium. Critics contend that the suggestion that these units would be entirely safe increases the likelihood that the systems would be misused.
Outlaw Planet[edit | edit source]
In the wake of the announcement of the Human Extinction Report, the Global Extinction Awareness System--GEAS--was hit by a wave of griefing and hacking attacks intended to disrupt activity and bring down networks.
"We fully anticipated network attacks on us after the report came out, especially given that one of the superthreats focuses on the rise of griefing," noted GEAS spokesperson Jeremy Taylor. "But we were surprised at the volume and sheer fury of the attacks. It's like we hit a hornet's nest."
Most of the attacks targeted the Superstruct site, a resource and gathering place for collaborative development of responses to the superthreats. But some of the attacks were clearly aimed at the WorldRun simulation platform, in an effort to revise or corrupt the simulation settings.
More details on the griefing of Superstruct can be found at http://superstructgame.org/StoryView/163.
Credit for Superstruct The Global Extinction Awareness System released a statement today confirming that it is the sole source of the Superstruct effort. Neither blame nor credit should be assigned to other organizations.
An online misinformation campaign has sought to claim Superstruct as the work of noted transhuman Ray Kurzweil, who lives now entirely in a former Google server after his infamous uploading experiment. The Kurzweil construct is not involved with Superstruct, other than alerting his followers to the project. Kurzweil's digital agents are assisting with investigating the origins of the rumor, which is believed to be part of a larger griefing campaign against GEAS.
Drones Reduce Illegal Logging in Amazon
Brazil's controversial "all-seeing-eye" project, using hundreds of autonomous flying drones to monitor the Amazon rain forest for illegal logging, has already resulted in over a dozen arrests this year. The program, begun in 2017, saw a quadrupling of the number of drones in use this year. The Brasilia government has declared the program a success and has announced that it will seek funds for further expansion in the next budget.
Environmental advocates are pleased with the results and the government's commitment to expanding the program, but they caution that spotting illegal logging does not always mean the logging has been stopped. One group, "Allies of the Amazon," notes that only five percent of the investigations of logging have resulted in prosecutions.
"We still see too much willingness on the part of local officials to give the loggers a break," the activist website noted. "While we empathize with the need for local peoples to make a living, it cannot be at the expense of the planet." For more details, see http://superstructgame.org/StoryView/5.
Generation Exile[edit | edit source]
Winter Housing Crisis Hits Minnesota
Displaced populations from the American southeast now living in Minnesota number over a hundred thousand, according to a new survey out from St. Olaf College. Among its findings: Minnesota social services, already reaching a breaking point, will not be able to support the migrants during the upcoming winter.
"Few of the people coming here from the Gulf states or southern Atlantic states have any experience with the kind of cold we get here in the winter. And with the weather models all pointing to an extra-harsh season, we could be looking at thousands of deaths," a St. Olaf representative noted.
One observer from Saint Paul (http://superstructgame.org/StoryView/64) is fearful: "Most of these new climate refugees are families. They have children. The state has a bunker mentality--shut people out to make them go. But with fuel costs the way they are, many of these people couldn't leave, even if they had somewhere to go. A tank of gas gets you, where exactly? North Dakota?"
Congo Civil War Refugees Forced Out of Rwanda The ongoing civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has resulted, at last estimate, in over a million refugees streaming across the failed state's borders. A significant fraction have attempted to enter Rwanda, which has close ethnic ties to many of Congo's peoples. But Rwanda, which has faced its own internal turmoil in recent decades, has evidently decided that the refugees from Congo pose too much of a danger. Over a dozen informal refugee camps were forcibly broken down over the weekend by Rwandan troops, and the inhabitants forced back across the border. An unknown number was shot or trampled in the incidents. The Rwandan government is refusing all comment.
Observers on the scene report a chilling detail: the Rwandan troops wore full-filter breathing masks and HAZMAT gloves.
Global Media Group announced today that the next episode of its award-winning documentary series, "Lost Generations," will focus on the emerging "Voluntary Extinction" movement. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees claims that Voluntary Extinction is responsible more than a thousand suicides over the last month alone. Supporters of the concept dispute these claims, arguing that the focus of Voluntary Extinction is on sterilization and other forms of permanent birth control. Lost Generations will go inside the Voluntary Extinction movement and try to understand the origins and potential future of this growing idea.
Despite rumors that Voluntary Extinction is a form of social griefing, anthropologists working with Global Media Group have found evidence that it is an entirely indigenous response to forced migration, with strong historical antecedents.
(A more personal exploration of the meaning of Voluntary Extinction can be found at http://superstructgame.org/StoryView/175.)