Barbers in California during the Spanish Flu Pandemic
The University of California, Berkeley, California. Open-air barbershop during the influenza epidemic 1917–1918

The Grey Swan Guild News Wrap — The Week That Was February 19, 2021

Volume 1, Edition 5

These are a series of stories and headlines we track in the Grey Swan Guild’s Global League of Sensemakers Newsroom. Here are The Great, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of what we observed this week. Hola Hermoso Mundo. Hola Marte. 🌑 Lead Editor: Rob Tyrie

The Great 😇

  1. Two masks are better than one. Masks and the use of masks have been discussed and debated since the beginning of the pandemic. Just as it was in the throes of the Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918–1920, masks have become politicized, maligned and prized. Now, science is leading with innovations from France and Israel. Bioserenity is readying a Cideltex mask for medical and public use to offer 99.9% protection against the COVID-19 virus. It blocks and kills the virus in aerosol in under 5 minutes. In Israel, special anti-pathogen masks are being manufactured by Sonovia. These multi-layer masks eliminate some 99% of COVID-19 particles. Sonovia is an early-stage public company with a strategic investment from Gucci, yes, Gucci's design company. — Sortir a Pari & Jerusalem Post
  2. Or you can make them from home. In an unexpected spurt of growth, hobbies are turning into businesses. Etsy sellers are up 4% since the start of the pandemic. It now has almost 4 million sellers and 69 million buyers. Mommy and Me clothing, Soap making, bedazzling denim, pressing vinyl, and new pet rocks are capturing attention. It’s really capturing the attention of the stock-market set, with share prices growing from $54 to $227 in 12 months. No wonder Elon is a fan. — New York Times
  3. Marvin, paging Mr. Martian. In a historic moment, the US mission to land an autonomous robot probe on Mars this week. Perseverance has already sent back dramatic landing photos and the first colour photos of the rubicund planet for NASA scientists to start studying. In another first, the first autonomous helicopter, name Ingenuity is also successfully deployed and will be doing short flights beyond the mobile rover. The distance from Earth to Mars is 129 Million miles. A road around the circumference of the Earth would be about 25,000 miles. Ingenuity indeed. Photo Credit: NASA — CNN

The Good 😀

  1. The How-To of all How-To’s. Multi-Billionaire Philanthropist Bruce Wayne, strike that, we mean Bill Gates, is on a media cavalcade promoting his new climate change response initiatives and his third book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” which was released this week. Initial he was skeptical about human caused climate change. He was convinced by the science his compatriots exposed him to. In his words from his blog Gates Notes, he says, “I went back to the group several times with follow-up questions. Eventually, it sank in. The world needs to provide more energy so the poorest can thrive, but we need to provide that energy without releasing any more greenhouse gases”. Sure to go under the scrutiny of many critics and the mottled lens of conspiracy theorists, Gates is turning his leverage and focus to 4 major themes: Reducing the “Green Premium” on energy (the extra costs for cleaner fuels); Investing in companies with carbon saving surpluses; Investing more intensely in research and development; and reshaping public policy of the national government. This ambitious strategy may change the world. At a minimum, it will force rethinking the modern economy to understand the interdependence between forests, oceans, weather, agriculture, disease and human health. We know there is another road ahead, and it starts with sense-making in the transition. — Financial Times & Gates Notes
  2. Is there a doctor in the house? The first-year medical student population is up by 1.7%, and applications have ballooned by 18% this year. Today, there are more than 92,000 medical students, 140,000 residents physicians and over 179,000 medical faculty members in the United States. This gives us hope. “The increased interest in medicine comes at a crucial moment. Even before COVID-19, the United States was facing a significant projected shortage of physicians,” said AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton. “The pandemic is spotlighting the extraordinary services that physicians provide on the front lines. It’s heartening to see that more students want to pursue a career in medicine to serve their communities and make a difference.” — AAMC.
  3. Freaky Deaky. “They actually f***ing did it. How mental is that?” were the words of a CGI artist streaming the sample of Unreal Engine’s new MetaHuman Creator platform when the announcement hit. The geniuses or genii, depending on what dictionary you use, over at Epic Games have released a new software toolset that will get a lot of attention from gamers, developers and privacy experts. The Metahuman Creator is a new platform for expert digital artists and designers to create and stream digital characters. These characters will end up in games, social network avatars and movie CGI. They will look like, and move like be like a human, with the most fidelity in digital history. They will never be paid, but they are IP, and they will be designed to be portable across platforms. Grok that for a second. It is not lost on us that at this level of detail and capability, they can create… you. Check the video because we can not explain this clearly enough. Oh yeah… Human influencers, Hollywood actors and extras, be aware, West World is happening in the future's digital realms. Look forward to movie studios staffed with “metahumans — Virtual Humans.”

The Bad 😬

  1. Everything is big in Texas. The greatest forced blackout in U.S. history resulted from a systemic and multifaceted failure in the independent electrical grid that covers the state. Nearly 3 Million households are experiencing over blackouts or scheduled outages. A nuclear reactor had to be powered down. The impact of winter storms and frigid, low temperatures have wreaked havoc on the Lone Star State. Transportation, energy and water systems are impacted after months of COVID-19 restrictions and measures. Many Texas cities have “boil water” orders for their residents. 590 water systems across the state have reported water disruptions. Citizens are frustrated with the government's responses and mitigations. GOP politicians' early claims and right-leaning media blaming wind and solar power portions of the grid were quickly debunked. With windmills in the nordic countries, seeing cold weather can be planned for and managed. There are no promises as to when power will be restored and little likelihood that the episode won’t be repeated in other corners of the country, hard hit by climate change and extreme weather — Texas Tribune & Snopes.
  2. The 12th player natural experiment finally. A long-held understanding of world football is that the home side has a clear advantage. We’ve been to a North London Darby at the Emirates. When you feel the pressure of 70,000 Gunner fans verbally assaulting the opposing Saints players and their 5,000 travelling fans lined with yellow jacketed Bobbys and then lifting their players in exhaulted songs and expletive-laden chants when they blast a goal home, you know why. In the COVID-19 sports era of empty or sparsely attended stands, the home advantage is not apparent. It certainly felt that way with the first games we watched, but now as the season moves on, it is clear in the statics. The UK money ballers have noted that home wins have decreased by 2%, and away wins are up by 26%. Well now mates, there’s an effect. We can tell you the Hammers are loving it, and Klopp’s boys are missing the giant, manic energy of their Scousers along with the key play of their giant centre-backs. We will see what happens when the stadiums begin to refill for the beautiful game in the summer. — ESPN UK
  3. What the hellfest? There is difficult entertainment news out of France as planning decisions for the summer festivals are being made. The key decision is that maximum attendance will be set at 5,000 socially distant revellers, which means at least a 10,000 seat venue must be used or cordoned off. That’s a pretty empty Parc du Prince. The bookers and organizers are skeptical there is a business in such festival and are in shock. The Eurockeennes Festival attracted 128,000 fans in 2019 and was cancelled in 2020. Hellfest, a heavy metal festival with 180,000 attendees in 2019, thinks the new rules make things impossible. It seems to us when full concerts return, there will be choruses of “Another Brick in the Wall” that will demand we leave these kids alone. — Radio France International
Hellfest 2019 (Photo Credit: Twitter @Kulturlesite 2019)

The Ugly 😱

  1. Ebola Again. Confirmed outbreaks of Ebola have been confirmed in Guinea. WHO resources, already stretched, are in action alongside government health resources in Guinea, supporting the response and delivering thousands of vaccines to the country. The disease killed over 11,000 people there in 2013–16. The country is experienced in battling the hemorrhagic disease; however, outbreaks of COVID-19, yellow fever and measles are happening concurrently, which exacerbates the response. — The Washington Post
  2. #SCIENCEPORCS The publication of a book accusing highly-regarded political scientist Olivier Duhamenl of sexually assaulting his stepson has triggered a huge debate about incest and child abuse in France. After Olivier Duhamel resigned from all his positions, including his board presidency of the elite school Sciences Po, and the director of Sciences Po who covered his acts resigned as well, students have started to reveal multiple assaults and a “boys club culture” within the university. Using #sciencesporcs, current and former Sciences Po students are detailing instances of rape and sexual assault. — NY Times, Politico and The Week
  3. Disgrace and conspiracy. Indictments have expanded to 9 people from the Oath Keepers organization. Investigators continue to gather evidence and bring cases to the courts in the aftermath of the Storming of the US Capitol. “The six-count indictment includes charges of aiding and abetting the obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property, tampering with documents and trespassing. The obstruction charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison”. — The Washington Post
Washington DC (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

Sweet Memes, Gently into the night.

In Saskatchewan, Canada, The Northern Lights delight.

Terms of the Week

Gambler’s Fallacy — the mistaken belief that if an event occurred more frequently than expected in the past, then it’s less likely to occur in the future (and vice versa) in a situation where these occurrences are independent of one another. A roll of a dice or a spin of a roulette wheel is understood as a discrete event in statistics. So the next time you see that white ball land on a 00 twice times in a row at the roulette table in Vegas, the next spin is just as likely to be 00 again as it is Black 13. We think you should bet on Black 13 anyway. The odds of the ball landing on the same number twice in a row are 1,368 to 1. Good luck.

Visit our Medium channel every Friday for a weekly wrap on the world’s biggest challenges. Please drop by our Grey Swan Guild website ( for more publications and articles about how we make sense of the world ongoing and also the raft of possibilities to participate as a Sensemaker.

This Week’s Grey Swan News Wrap Editor: Rob Tyrie, CEO, Managing Producer, Ironstone Advisory

Grey Swan Guild Invites You …

In an interview yesterday with a top executive from Portland Oregon we asked what his biggest realization has been in the last 12 months. He said succinctly, “ It’s become clearer and clearer to me. There are going to be three types of business people that will come out of the Pandemic. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and lastly, those who wonder what the hell happened. I choose to make things happen”.

For more thoughts, com make things happen and participate in our latest Pulse Check Survey that is capturing the opinions of zeitgeist of futurists, leaders, writers, analysts, and influencers. Click here to contribute your thoughts and opinions.

Interested in spreading some good sense? Motivated to make sense of the world and create a global movement? Have skills in marketing, media, growth, content, sponsorship and building movements. We want you! Become a Grey Swan Guild Catalyst.

🔋 Until next week, keep the windmills turning, stay warm, be energized, boil the water and be safe. 🧲

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Making Sense of the World’s Biggest Challenges & Next Grey Swans — curating and creating knowledge through observation, informed futurism, and analysis🦢