It’s Not Your Imagination

“It is not your imagination that there are more bad things than ever before happening all at once, intertwined. It’s not your imagination, because the world that you are inheriting is at a crossroads – dozens of crossroads all at the same time. You are inheriting a world filled will peril my generation never faced. The good news is: you’re going to have tools we never had. I urge each of you to answer the grand challenges of our times by committing to positively impact one million people.” – Dr. Larry Brilliant’s 2010 keynote at Singularity University (with quote from Peter Schwartz)

Larry (who co-founded one the world’s first public virtual network) chairs the Skoll Global Threats Fund, focused on promoting innovative solutions to the world’s most challenging problems. Singularity University hosts small gatherings of world leaders and bright students. The goal of “positively impacting one million people” is clearly within the reach of each Singularity invitee. More importantly, this goal is within the reach of virtually all people willing to dream big, sacrifice time, and continually renew their efforts in the face of tribal and ideological adversity.

“We should not live out of a sense of duty, but out of a sense of intoxication” – Martin Shaw (HT Richard Lagravenese)

Remembering Bruce Jackson

UPDATE 9 Feb:  An Australian memorial service will be held for Bruce in the Sydney Opera House on 25 Feb at 10AM. U.S. memorial service is being planned. Will post date and location when available. There’s a chance it will held in the Spring.

. . . .

1 Feb:  There has been a rumor floating around the audio industry nets today, and sadly the rumor was just confirmed true. My dear friend Bruce Jackson was killed in his private plane when it crashed in the California desert on Saturday. Bruce loved to fly his fast little Mooney single-engine aircraft. I understand that his wife, Terri, was informed last night. I last saw Bruce about four months ago. I’ve included some photos from a visit Bruce and  family made to Placerville a few years ago. He took Dan and Cynthia up for a ride in the Mooney and let young Daniel be the pilot.

Besides being a genuinely sweet soul, Bruce will be remembered as one of the greatest audio engineering talents of the last four decades. After building his audio business into the largest sound company in Australia, Bruce started his U.S. career as Elvis Presley’s live sound engineer (oh, the stories he told) and was Elvis’s private jet pilot. Bruce would go on to engineer for (among countless others) Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Cash, and Barbra Streisand (including the legendary Millennium Concert, the highest grossing one night performance in live music history). Bruce founded the electronics company Apogee Electronics, and later Lake Technology, which was acquired by Dolby Labs.

Bruce was selected as the audio designer / director for no fewer than three recent Olympics (Australia, China, Canada). The leading U.S. live sound magazine of the day did a cover story hailing Bruce as “Live Sound Engineer of the Century.”

I’ll never forget the Streisand Millennium concert (01-01-00). After the show, I was hanging out with Bruce at the front-of-house mixer (a big Midas, for you audio geeks). Bruce had something like 100 channels of my mic amplifiers on stage (full orchestra), and Bab’s vocal path included our NSEQ parametric EQ and TCL compressor. The house (15,000 seat MGM auditorium) was now empty, but Barbara is coming back out to do “pickups” for the TV special.

So Bruce needs to run back stage and asks me to babysit the console. He says, “if Barbara comes back out, un-mute her microphone.”  Not long after Bruce leaves me, Babs comes walking out on stage. So I un-mute her channel and . . . . . . . SSSCCCCREEEEEEETTTCHHHHHH !!!!!!!!!  Massive piercing feedback pumped into 20,000 watts of a Clair Brothers Line Array (apparently, the acoustic signature of the empty room was less absorbent and more prone to feedback, even though her audio gain hadn’t changed). It took me about five seconds to get over the shock and pull down her fader. About the only thing I remember after that was Streisand yelling something at me, and then a few seconds later Bruce sprinting back to the console!

Bruce leaves behind a great many people who will miss him terribly, including his beautiful family.

Bruce and my better half Cynthia on a walk around our neighborhood.


Cynthia getting ready for a flight around the Sierras with Bruce and Daniel


After going through these photos, I remembered that Daniel (8?) was running around the airplane and bumped his head pretty good on the wing. I snapped this photo right after that happened. Ouch!


Dan’s first flight. Bruce let him pilot the aircraft.


Cynthia, Dan, Bruce’s daughter Brianna, his wife Terri, and Bruce. On an evening stroll in historic downtown Placerville.


Terri, Brianna, and Daniel in the hood


Tail Number N50BJ – so long buddy

Other memorials:

Ann vs. Darren

I’ve been watching lectures and Q&A from the 2006 Beyond Belief conference. Highly recommended. One short exchange between Darren Schriber and Ann Druyan really caught my attention. You might remember Ann as Carl Sagan’s biographer.

Darren employs a personal religious experience as a platform to make some larger points in the religion-science conversation. Ann’s reply is nothing short of brilliant. This video has just 3,000 hits in four years on YouTube? Maybe we could add a cat playing the piano, or a baby biting Ann’s finger? More people should view this, as it speaks to heart of fundamentalism, reductionism, and tribalism.

Addicted to Risk

“Ignore those creeping fears that we have finally hit the wall. There are still no limits. There will always be another frontier. So stop worrying, and keep shopping.” – Naomi Klein, TEDTalk

I appreciate Naomi’s voice in the conversation on sustainability vs. risk as we enter the era of “extreme energy.” This is a compelling talk about “master narratives” which may challenge you to reconsider your preconceptions. Her overview on the Alberta Tar Sands is especially powerful.

“Just when we understand that we must live off the surface of our planet – off the power of sun, wind, and waves – we are frantically digging to get at the dirtiest, highest carbon-emitting stuff imaginable… This is how Jared Diamond and others have shown that empires commit suicide – by stepping on the accelerator at the exact moment they should be putting on the brakes… Life is too precious to be risked for just any profit… We need different stories.”

Futurism on NPR

NPR gives some air time to Singularity: the idea (among others) that artificial intelligence will one day be smart enough to learn on its own, and grow exponentially smarter day-by-day until it surpasses the collective intelligence of humanity. And continues to grow.

I enjoyed Ray Kurzweil’s book of same name and agree with him that we are making a mistake – thinking that the pace of change in the future will be the same as the past. Change, of all kinds, is accelerating. And while I’m more reserved about humanity’s future than Ray, both in time scale and degree of social disruption, I do think that many futurists are underestimating the power of accelerating returns.

Tech-fueled globalism will continue to flourish relentlessly into the future, connecting all humanity on increasingly deeper levels of understanding and empathy. Technology assures this unstoppable human bonding – it is who we are as a species: we connect. This frightens many people, especially those with strong religious-tribal or nationalistic agendas. Personally, I believe that a deeply networked planet can’t come soon enough.

What concerns me is not the world becoming a single place of meeting, but the institutional interests (ideological, financial, etc.) who seek  to dominate this emerging global town square. The organic nature of a free and open global network assures that every ideology has a voice. It’s only when we have a flattened sharing of all ideas that the most universally helpful ideas can truly rise to eminence.

But when a free and open network is not assured (think China, Iran, and even recent attempts by the U.S. FCC to control the Internet), imbalances emerge and grow – voices are institutionally silenced – the network no longer collectively reflects the planet’s inhabitants, but rather becomes a platform for the narrow interests of old pre-networked institutions grasping for power.

Quantum Teleportation

If this experiment turns out to be accurate (doubtful), I believe it will be the discovery of the century, equivalent in many ways to Einstein’s theories.

Luc Montagnier, who shared the Nobel prize for medicine in 2008 for his part in establishing that HIV causes AIDS, says he has evidence that DNA can send spooky electromagnetic imprints of itself into distant cells and fluids. If that wasn’t heretical enough, he also suggests that enzymes can mistake the ghostly imprints for real DNA, and faithfully copy them to produce the real thing. In effect this would amount to a kind of quantum teleportation of the DNA.

Two adjacent but physically separate test tubes were placed within a copper coil and subjected to a very weak extremely low frequency electromagnetic field of 7 hertz. The apparatus was isolated from Earth’s natural magnetic field to stop it interfering with the experiment. One tube contained a fragment of DNA around 100 bases long; the second tube contained pure water.

After 16 to 18 hours, both samples were independently subjected to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a method routinely used to amplify traces of DNA by using enzymes to make many copies of the original material. The gene fragment was apparently recovered from both tubes, even though one should have contained just water.

DNA was only recovered if the original solution of DNA ” whose concentration has not been revealed “ had been subjected to several dilution cycles before being placed in the magnetic field. In each cycle it was diluted 10-fold, and “ghost” DNA was only recovered after between seven and 12 dilutions of the original. It was not found at the ultra-high dilutions used in homeopathy.

Physicists in Montagnier’s team suggest that DNA emits low-frequency electromagnetic waves which imprint the structure of the molecule onto the water. This structure, they claim, is preserved and amplified through quantum coherence effects, and because it mimics the shape of the original DNA, the enzymes in the PCR process mistake it for DNA itself, and somehow use it as a template to make DNA matching that which “sent” the signal (

“The biological experiments do seem intriguing, and I wouldn’t dismiss them,” says Greg Scholes of the University of Toronto in Canada, who last year demonstrated that quantum effects occur in plants. Yet according to Klaus Gerwert, who studies interactions between water and biomolecules at the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, “It is hard to understand how the information can be stored within water over a timescale longer than picoseconds.”


Like Spiders Across the Stars

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”  –Jack Kerouac
In remembrance of Zoe Anderson (1986-2010).

The Opposite of Good

“The opposite of good is not evil. The opposite of good is good intention.” Kurt Tucholsky

“Consider what you mean when you tell someone: be realistic. It’s another way to say: lower your expectations. It’s also connected with a view of maturity that holds growing up to be a process of becoming resigned…

Moral inquiry and political activism start where reason is missing. When righteous people suffer and wicked people flourish, we begin to ask why. Demands for moral clarity ring long, loud bells because it is something we are right to seek. Those who cannot find it are likely to settle for the far more dangerous simplicity, or purity, instead.” Susan Neiman