The Grey Swan Guild News Wrap — The Week That Was Friday, June 4th, 2021
This Week’s Theme: Re-Emergence
Grey Swan Guild — News Wrap Edition: #20 of Vol. 1
These are a series of stories and headlines we are tracking in the
Grey Swan Guild’s Global League of Sensemakers’ Newsroom. Here is The Great, the Good, the Undecided, the Bad, the Ugly and the Tapestry of what we observed this week.
We settled on the theme of “Re-Emergence” this week as we considered the raft of developments that made us consider and sample a little of what returning to a “new normal”, a “great reset”, the new “roaring Twenties” and/or “life reimagined” might look like after some settling.
Whether it’s the workplace, stadiums, theatres, techno-sphere or ecology, as we emerge from our COVID hives, we have seen a glimpse of what our realities might look like in the near future. We have also explored some topics that have re-established themselves in the front page narrative: space exploration, Russian hacking, mental health and how we treat dark chapters of our histories. With humility, we also note on a couple of subjects that what we observe each week is not the way everybody is experiencing reality around the world. Finally, we share a couple of important and fun reminders of a world that when you strip away some of the things we are angry about, makes us remember how great it is to be alive.
Part of our effort is to go those “one or two levels” deeper to understand what’s really going on behind our headlines. Part of our intrigue is how we react to Re-Emergence. Will we invest and hold onto the comfortable and nostalgic? Perhaps we will heroically embrace it? Find escape and distraction from it? Delude ourselves into a different reality? Or fall into despair and experience re-entry anxiety? Interesting times ahead, now let’s cover 20 angles on Re-Emergence.
Join us on Sunday, June 5th at 8am (PST) 11am (EST) / 4pm BST on Clubhouse to engage with your favourite Grey Swan Guild Wrap Editors, including: Sean Moffitt, Ben Thurman,, Sylvia Gallusser, Agustín Borrazás, Rob Tyrie, Louise Mowbray, Antonia Nicols, Doyle Buehler and Keith Phillips as well as some of our guest Clubhouse contributors.
For more events, check the Grey Swan Calendar — we have an interesting Guild-wide Atelier called Around the Globe Sensemaking this coming Friday. All Ateliers are free for members and the public. And if you like what we cover here and are interested in joining the Guild as members, we have our “Regatta” onboarding session this coming Wednesday at 4pm ET as we do every second Wednesday of the month.
The Great 😇
1.Re-Emergence — Airships. Air travel has come under the microscope during the pandemic, not only for how little traffic is going through airports now, but how much of an environmental impact our air travel was having on our environments in the past. Enter the dirigible. Rigid airships were the dream of early 20th century aviationists that were never realized. Perhaps it’s time now. With the environmental impact on short hop trips being as much as 1/12th between major cities with airships (making it better than rail too) and with no major impacts on time, the Zeppelin may be back. Throw in vertical take off/landing, floor-to-ceiling windows, and silent journey and it just makes too much sense. Interestingly, Iron Maiden’s lead singer is a major investor of our profile company Airlander10. Singularity profiles four nascent airship companies. Foreign Policy provides a balanced view on their history and potential.
2. Re-Emergence — Space Exploration. We continue to be intrigued by the pace of new space travel initiatives. Is it being driven by the reality of climate change on our own planet? Is it the new space race except this time between China (not Russia) and USA? Is it the litany of sci-fi entertainment making us dream about frontiers? Or is it the cheaper and privatized enablement of space initiatives? Regardless, NASA announced plans on Wednesday to launch a pair of missions to Venus between 2028 and 2030 to study the atmosphere and geologic features of Earth’s often overlooked so-called sister planet Venus and better understand why the two emerged so differently. We have not launched anything at Venus since a Magellan spacecraft orbited and landed in 1990. There is a catch— Venus’ powerful greenhouse effect is hot enough to melt lead and therefore any probes that launch at the surface will overheat in 20 minutes.
3. Re-Emergence — A Broader Longer Perspective. One of our editors Antonia surfaced an important perspective-raising piece from Concoda on the progress the world is making over the last two centuries. So much anger and negative sentiment has percolated during COVID, sometimes the bigger picture gets obscured. Negativity and availability bias seems to be winning. However, it’s important to note with longer lenses, things aren’t as bad as they appear. Global GDP is up 100x over last 220 years. Poverty will drop from 84% of the world in the early 1800s to 5% in 2030. Famine has virtually disappeared. In the late 1990s, more democracies existed vs. autocracies for the first time in history and the gap is widening. Tree canopy has grown globally since 1982 by 2.2 million square kilometres. There is 99% less chance (based on technology and information distribution), someone will die from a disaster. Armed conflict between states and countries is virtually non-existent. And with declining birth rates, our population may never peak past 10 billion people, allowing a chance for our planet to sustain us. So let’s all cheer up before we identify our next aggravation.
The Good 😀
1.Re-Emergence — Box Office. Stadiums are now full of people. Theatres have opened back up. Vegas is back baby. Nudism/“naturisme” is returning back to Paris. We are starting to experience life again F2F (face-to-face). Breathe. Paramount opened with a Quiet Place Part II for a $57M 4-day opening at 3,726 theaters which is a number which isn’t too far from the $60M the sequel was anticipated to do pre-pandemic. The total box office in the U.S. three day haul was $80M, the first time since January, 2020. Will people feel safe to return to public indoor spaces? Admittedly some of us are experiencing the reluctance of going back to our old places. On entertainment however, I think we are getting our answers early.
2. Re-Emergence — UFOS. The Twilight Zone may have been right after all. In a surprise turn of transparency and openness, the U.S. is planning to release a declassified report on UFOs and their appearances above U.S. skies and from the accounts of military pilots. Although previous Presidents and military personnel had admitted unexplainable phenomena, it would appear more people in positions of power are taking the results of this report with more curiosity and gravity. Update: the declassified report turns out to be … inconclusive but does admit in the past 20 years, military pilots have made more than 120 sightings of objects with no apparent signs of conventional propulsion. I suppose the first step is admitting it.
3. Re-Emergence- Back to Work, Hybrid-Style. This week, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichal laid out some principles for a return to a flex work environment. Flexibility for employees was the mantra with a capital F. The highlights?: a more flexible work week, remote work expansion, multi-purpose offices, private workspaces, more global employees, work from anywhere weeks, focus time and global “reset”days. Taken altogether, 60% of Googlers are coming together in the office a few days a week, another 20% are working in new office locations, and 20% are working from home. Microsoft has also released its own Hybrod Work vision — conclusion:employees want the best of everything — over 70 percent of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, while over 65 percent are craving more in-person time with their teams.
The Undecided 😕
1.Re-Emergence — Mental Health vs. Expectations of the World
This week we saw tennis star Naomi Osaka pull out of one of the big four tennis tournaments, The French Open, for mental health reasons. One of the factors she cited was media obligations after matches pitting the health of tennis players up against the obligations to grow the revenue and interest of a massive global sport. Popular app Calm created some good marketing for itself by stating they would pay for any fines levied on tennis players refusing the media scrums. The question is which trumps which motive, and how?
2. Re-Emergence — Remembering History vs. Revering the Wrong People
This week we experienced one of the biggest revelations and pockmarks on Canadian history and dealings with its Indigenous people. 215 Children that had attended the Kamloops residential school were found in scattered burial sites. Beyond the horrific scale and treatment of these children of generation ago, it did bring about a spree of associated protest, resentment, vandalism and public conversation about the architects of this system and how their statues and legacies should be represented. Schools are being renamed. Universities are considering changing their names and institutions. Statues are being removed, even of our first Prime Minister Sir. John A. MacDonald. #CancelCanadaDay is trending topic, with raised anger on both sides of the fence. It does open up the debate how do we treat our histories in public spaces. Leger conducted a poll on this previous to this residential celebration with a real split on people’s views. CTV conducted a poll on our first Prime Minister’s highway naming after this revelation:
3.Re-Emergence — Global Government Collaboration vs. Public Overreach
The G7 countries agreed this week on having a threshold corporate income tax rate of 15% so corporations could not switch their tax obligations to a lower taxed geography. Are we building a level playing field or a universal big brother?
4. Re-Emergence—Vaccine Plateauing
The good news is the world is generally inclined the get vaccines and the number of resistors is getting lower and lower. However there is obstinance among one billion of people around the world that remain against getting vaccinated for various reasons. Will there come a point where people call for mandatory vaccine rollouts?
The Bad 😬
1.Re-Emergence — Wave 1/2 meet 3/4. The pandemic is over! Hmmm, maybe not. As seen by the graphic above, more than 70 countries have actually seen more cases week-to-week. Only 6 relatively small countries have seen zero cases for four weeks. With vaccine availability concerns, vaccine effectiveness concerns, vaccine anti-vax resistance and variants on the rise, we are not out of the woods yet. Some claim the post-pandemic world might not arrive for us until 2024. Update: Upon writing this, the 54 hole leader of a Professional Golf Association Tour event Jon Rahm was disqualified for being diagnosed positive with COVID as he finished his final hoie. Stay safe everybody.
2.Re-Emergence — China’s One Child Policy becomes a Three Child Policy. China just announced a reversal of their decades-long policy of one child per couple (they have allowed two children since 2016). It’s a reaction to a falling birth rate that has been China’s lowest since 1961. As a personal bias, I am against any type of state interventions into the bedrooms and family planning of society. Beyond that aversion, there is a societal notion driven by short term economics that increasing population is always a good idea. Perhaps it is not. There are definite planetary environmental and resource problems servicing this many people. Slower population is a sign that geographies are moving toward gender equality and facilitating women playing a different variety of roles in life than full time mom. It may also allow for a non-mandated retirement age, a smoother transition and need of technology and advocacy for a more holistic measure of societal progress than GDP economic output (Gross Happiness has been advocated by Bhutan over the last 50 years).
3. Re-Emergence — Renaming Teams. What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. This falls in the bad camp only because there are team names and mascots that are still offensive being used. This last week the Edmonton Eskimos officially became the Edmonton Elks in the Canadian Football League. Although judgmentally not as offensive as the Washington “Redskins” and Cleveland “Indians” (who are both in the process of changing their team names) as judged by their decision to stick with the name in recent years, the Edmonton team, Indigenous leaders and the Inuit all believe this is a good step forward. It does cast judgment on why it actually takes so long to change team names —the use of racially insensitive names has many nuances and the actual change itself is not as straightforward as people think. It looks like alliteration was part of the criteria as the other 6 options were : Evergreens, Evergolds, Eclipse, Elkhounds, Eagles and Elements. Personal design opinion, but I for one think the logo is amazing (see below). Good luck Edmonton on your new inclusive and Elk-y future.
“The Ugly” 😱
1. Re-Emergence- Environmental Catastrophe. Time and time again, we don’t look at the externalities of what our global supply chains are doing to our environment. We profiled the challenges of a dependent ocean-based supply chain when the Ever Given got stuck and the Suez Canal traffic jam happened in March. Now news this week of a cargo ship capsizing off the west coast of Sri Lanka. Never mind some heavy oil and nitric acid risks onboard, three billion plastic pellets were released into the ocean that are notorious tough to clean up and will last generations in the water. Debris is expected to make it as far as Indonesia and the Maldives in the next 40 to 50 days. Ocean risks from vessels sea-going vessels is a continuing ticking time bomb.
2. Re-Emergence — Russian Hacking. You thought Russians were only interested in hacking during big elections. Think again. A war is happening under our noses and we hardly even know it. Instead of missiles, we have bits and bytes being set in motion : stealing intellectual property, paralyzing public agencies, crippling infrastructure, and making democracies more vulnerable. Cyberthreats and ransomware attacks are flourishing. This last month has seen meat plants shuttered temporarily in Canada; cars lined up at empty U.S. gas stations when a major pipeline was hacked; chemical levels at a water-treatment plant in Florida played with; and nuclear and other power facilities, voting systems, political parties, hospitals and governments all being compromised. Putin has described the propagators as “talented artists”. As more of the utilities and networks we depend on go online, look for these episodes to continue. The price and risk to play has gone up considerably.
3. Re-Emergence — South American Pandemic. Peru revised its coronavirus death poll counts with more accurate data and it turns out it has the tragic distinction of being the worst hit COVID geography in the world. With a tripling of death poll numbers, Peru skyrockets past Hungary as the most affected geography with 500 people out of 100,000 succumbing to the virus. South American countries are experiencing a COVID humanitarian crisis made worse by poor vaccine coverage.
The Tapestry ✨
a) Meme of the Week — The Mullet
Financial Times covered this off. The 70s/80s cut is a thing. Apparently it’s more aerodynamic too. As barber shops and hair stylists return, will this hockey-styled haircut remain?
b) Term of the Week — ASMR
We were going to profile the term “cheugy” but that would too cheugy. So instead — we are covering ASMR — an acronym that started to be used a decade ago and has flourished online and on YouTube, it stands for autonomous sensory meridian response — “that pleasant tingling sensation that originates on the back of the scalp and often spreads to the neck and upper spine, that occurs in some people in response to a stimulus (such as a particular kind of sound or movement), and that tends to have a calming effect.”
Think rolling waves, crinkling wrapping paper, mixing paint. water drops, hand movements and ticking clocks. Careful — one person’s ASMR might be another’s annoyance — do you find tapping nails, buzzing and popping pimples videos relaxing &compelling, or aggravating & gross?
c) Chart of the Week
Our own Grey Swan Guild research on what will change for the better in each one of your life segments
d) Photo of The Week — The Portal
Re-Emergence — Stargate? One of the most impressive public space uses of technology we’ve seen in awhile knitS the pedestrians of the two cities of Vilnius, Lithuania and Lublin, Poland together. Have a look.
e) Video of the Week — Human>Bear>Dogs
Whether it’s bear or person, the moral is don’t piss off a protective and committed teenage girl.
f) Quote of the Week
Mike Tyson showing remarkable clarity in his assessment of the Sunday June 6th Floyd Merriweather fight against YouTube sensation Logan Paul and the disrupted, crossover world we are in:
That’s the Wrap! Your thoughts?
Why not join us on Sunday, [Date] at 8:00 (PST)/11am (EST) /4pm (BST) on Clubhouse to engage with us on our headlines. See you next week for Edition #21 where we will ponder and ruminate on the week that was, what it means for the future and Wrap it for you.
The GSG Medium is The Message
Visit our Medium channel every Friday for a weekly wrap on the world’s biggest challenges and other fresh articles and points of view The Guild is sharing. Please drop by our Grey Swan Guild website (greyswanguild.org) 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: Sean Moffitt with added help from Ben Thurman, and the full Editorial Team: Rob Tyrie, Sean Moffitt, Agustín Borrazás, Ben Thurman, Doyle Buehler, Louise Mowbray, Antonia Nicols, Sylvia Gallusser and Keith Philips.
We’ll be adding in new editions for June — Sensemaking Tuesdays and Futurism Sundays. Let us know if you’d like to write a column.
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