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NHNE News Brief 60
Friday, May 9, 1997
"A thought-provoking exploration
of the extraordinary times in which we live."
967 days until January 1, 2000
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Without Any Masks
"Blue Jets" Found Above Thunderclouds
$10 Million Prize for Private Space Shot
THE LIGHTER SIDE:
The Force is With Them
Cat DNA Solves Crime
NEWS BRIEF SPONSOR:
Project "Beyond Coincidence"
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
I Wish I Had It All Figured Out
Who Was First?
Blown Out of Proportion
New Age Alert
ANCIENT CIVILIZATION WATCH:
More Intrigue From Egypt
Roswell Author Now Rejects Saucer Story
Government UFO Hearings Urged
CROP CIRCLE WATCH:
First Crop Circles of Season Reported
The Origin of Life?
Internet in the Sky
The Curse of QWERTY
ABOUT NHNE & HOW TO JOIN US
WITHOUT ANY MASKS
"Each living individual has the understandable tendency to want to appear superior when he deals with his fellow creatures. He hides his faults, he hides his shortcomings and he wants to show his best side. Why? This is because he craves admiration, he craves acceptance, and he craves love. He thinks that showing his best side will bring him love. And yet all of you know that if you want to receive love, you have to give it first. Do you really give love by impressing other people? In effect, this is what you actually believe consciously and subconsciously. On the other hand, you very decidedly give love in the deepest sense if you give and show yourself as you really are, without any masks... If you show yourself as you really are, with all your weaknesses and without any pretense, you make a great and generous gift; your brother or sister will say and feel, 'Well, he is not any better than I am,' and it will give him a lift. He will relax, will feel less lonely. Then do you know what will happen? You will receive in this way exactly what you have set out to gain: love, admiration."
---From Pathwork Guide Lectures of Eva Pierrakos, #17, "The Call"
Many people know that dreams can be tremendous sources of guidance and inspiration. But how about making regular stock market predictions? That's what Stephen Kapit claims his dreams have been helping him do. "It just started happening," says Kapit. "I would wake up with names of companies on my breath. And I would also have these dreams giving me names of companies and stock symbols and messages about how they will do." Sceptical at first, Kapit says that it took him a year and a half before he began taking his stock market dreams seriously. Now, some three years later, Kapit publishes a newsletter of his dream predictions and has also created a Web site. Aware of our no-nonsense, ultimately uncomplimentary coverage of Gordon-Micheal Scallion's predictions, Kapit actually contacted NHNE and asked us to track him as carefully as we tracked Scallion. We decided to take Kapit up on his challenge and we invite you to swing by Kapit's "DreamTime" Web site and do likewise:
"BLUE JETS" FOUND ABOVE THUNDERCLOUDS
(Source: SCIENCE FRONTIERS, Jan-Feb/96)
Something very strange is taking place above thunderclouds. First, there is the phenomenon of upwardly-directed discharges called "sprites" or "rocket lightning," which are short-duration red flashes in the ionosphere, sometimes with bluish tendrils extending down into the thunderclouds. Second, there are "blue jets," a new class of narrow beams of blue light that appear to race upwards from the tops of thunderstorms, first recorded by video cameras during the Sprites94 aircraft campaign, in June and July 1994. The jets appear to propagate upward at speeds of about 100 km/s and reach terminal altitudes of 40-50 km. 56 examples were recorded during one 22-minute interval in a storm over Arkansas. To date, there is no satisfactory theory to explain this phenomenon. (JG)
$10 MILLION PRIZE FOR PRIVATE SPACE SHOT
(Source: Connie Farrow, ASSOCIATED PRESS via CNI 5/1/97)
Can private enterprise build a space vehicle that is safe and practical enough to use for space tourism? The X PRIZE FOUNDATION is offering $10 million to the first group outside government space programs which can build and launch a spacecraft capable of carrying three adults 62 miles into space, make two flights in two weeks, and land intact. Peter Diamandis, who heads the foundation, has visions of vacations in space at "orbital hotels" with panoramic views of the Earth. So far, ten teams have registered to compete for the prize. Robert Zubrin, a leading expert on Mars exploration and co-founder of PIONEER ROCKETPLANE in Lakewood, Colorado, says he is putting together a team to build a spacecraft "that will be able to launch satellites at half the current price [and also] be able to fly passengers from New York to London in less than one hour." The announcement of the prize came on the 69th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh's solo, nonstop flight from New York to Paris. That flight in his Spirit of St. Louis single-engine plane took place May 20-21, 1927 and won a $25,000 prize first offered by New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig in 1919. Diamandis predicts that someone will win the X Prize in three to five years. "And one to two years after that, we will have commercial tickets available for sale," he says. The X PRIZE FOUNDATION Web site is <www.xprize.org>. (JG)
THE LIGHTER SIDE:
THE FORCE IS WITH THEM
(Source: Carolyn O'Neil, CNN ONLINE, 5/6/97)
It had always been a dream of George Lucas to create a work environment that promoted creativity and productivity. That dream has become a reality for the 250 employees at Lucas' Skywalker Ranch. Outside the rural office of LUCASFILM, wild birds chirp, cattle graze on the hills, there is a dock on a lake and quiet views in every direction. Come lunch time, the sights are just as appealing, since part of the plan includes a quality food service. Whether it's turkey breast roasted outdoors or a rainbow of fruit in a simple salad, the chefs at Skywalker Ranch serve up a bounty of fresh foods at three different restaurants. "I feel healthier working here than any other place I've worked," says one employee. In addition to a place to eat lunch, Lucas' future plans include an organic vegetable garden. (JG)
(Source: FLAGSTAFF LIVE!, 5/1/97)
To discourage illegal logging in northern Thailand, Buddhists ordained 50 million trees in February, wrapping some of them in the orange robes usually worn by monks. "It is a ritual to connect people's minds with nature," said monk Phra Somkid Jranadhammo. The hope was that in this predominantly Buddhist country, the gesture would make outlaw loggers think twice before cutting down the sacred trees. In effect, with every tree they cut down they would be murdering a Buddhist monk. (JG)
CAT DNA SOLVES CRIME
(Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS via CNN ONLINE, 4/23/97)
A Canadian man has been convicted of murder after hairs on a bloodstained jacket were genetically matched to his parents' cat. The murdered woman disappeared from her home on Prince Edward Island in 1994. Her body was found in a shallow grave a few months later, and police suspected her former common-law husband. Tests on a bloodstained leather jacket discovered in the woods showed the bloodstains belonged to the woman. White cat hairs were found in the lining. Police recalled seeing Snowball, a white American shorthair cat, at the man's home during their investigation. They sent a blood sample from Snowball and hair from the jacket to Stephen J. O'Brien, an expert in genetics in Frederick, Maryland whose team performed the DNA analysis for the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Snowball's DNA matched genetic material from the root of one of the hairs. The likelihood that the jacket hair DNA would match Snowball's DNA was computed at 1 in 45 million. The suspect was convicted of second-degree murder last July, and the DNA evidence was "a major contributing factor," said Corporal Alphonse MacNeil of the RCMP in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. The case is one of the few times that nonhuman DNA has been used this way in a murder trial. (JG)
NEWS BRIEF SPONSOR:
PROJECT "BEYOND COINCIDENCE"
"Beyond Coincidence" is a compilation of true stories of synchronicities/Godcidences that everyday people have and create, validating our experience of the divine in earth life. Project Director, Linda O'Keefe, is putting out a call for your stories of manifestation and co-creation. If you have experienced divine solutions, and would be willing to share your story with others, please contact Linda. You can write the story yourself, using an outline that will be provided, or just relate it to Linda.
Phone: (520) 615-1449
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
I WISH I HAD IT ALL FIGURED OUT
"I thought David Sunfellow's article, 'A Few Absolutes' in the Heaven's Gate Special Report was terrific. Right now I wish I had it all figured out but I don't, so you can imagine why I find 'A Few Absolutes' encouraging. Your team is the best in my eyes. I still enjoy every moment of your News Briefs."
---Brenda Johnson, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
WHO WAS FIRST?
"The quote 'Our Deepest Fear' attributed to Marianne Williamson in News Brief 59 may have been hers originally, but I first read it as part of Nelson Mandala's inaugural speech in 1994. You may want to check the source to see who was first. Perhaps Mandela borrowed it from Marianne. I have personally used that quote many times with various classes and groups, and am curious myself as to the original source."
---Cordell Svengalis, West Des Moines, Iowa
[The quotation comes from Williamson's book, "A Return to Love" (pp. 190-191 in the deluxe paperback edition) published in 1992. The complete quote reads:
"'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
We are not sure how the quote got attributed to Mandala. (Thanks to Allen Watson for this information.) James Gregory]
BLOWN OUT OF PROPORTION
"I have a fairly extensive Jewish education, but I had never heard anything about a red heifer before (News Brief 58). I would assume that this is an orthodox or Hasidic belief. I doubt that it is a mainstream type of thing like the white buffalo calf, and that people are blowing it out of proportion."
---Sandy Ezrine, Cornville, Arizona
NEW AGE ALERT
"Ten years ago, I 'gave my life to Jesus' and joined an Evangelical/Pentecostal Church. I was involved in a worship team and I was very enthusiastic. Then some bad things happened -- all over the country and even in my own church, religious leaders were found to be having adulterous or homosexual relationships, denominations fought over silly things, and I was treated badly by a church leader who could not stand criticism. My response to all this was to withdraw for a time from all 'religious' activity. I spent a long time thinking about what I really believed, and what I thought was true in Christian theology. I came to the conclusion that I simply couldn't believe a lot of the dogma anymore, like that the Bible is completely God-inspired from A to Z, or that non-Christians being would burn in hell forever. I also couldn't tell the difference between most 'born-again Christians' and 'normal' people. So I read a lot of books about UFOs, Atlantis, near-death experiences by Dannion Brinkley, Betty Eady, Dr. Morse, Dr. Moody and others. Plus your News Briefs, of course. I appreciated your sincerity, honesty and open-mindedness, but also your scepticism and no-nonsense attitude. I was often very touched by things David Sunfellow wrote. But now I have a dilemma -- my religious background gives me a red warning alert on the topic 'New Age.' I have read a lot of evangelical material that claims the New Age is demonic, antichristian and very dangerous, and can lead to mental and psychological problems. 'The devil is behind it!' they say, and when I consider black magic, Voodoo and satanism, I am forced to I agree with them. Yet, on reading your News Briefs, I see only honest people like me searching for the truth. It's so frustrating. Sometimes I feel like believing nothing anymore, yet I've learned a number of spiritual lessons over the years which I know are true because they enrich my life. So I remain very careful where I look for the truth and what I spend my money on.
"By the way, I really enjoyed the 'Otto' coverage (News Brief 50). I know Otto from Dutch TV and I'm looking forward to his TV special on Sedona in June."
---Mark N., Zeewolde, Holland
ANCIENT CIVILIZATION WATCH:
MORE INTRIGUE FROM EGYPT
(Source: ATLANTIS RISING, Spring/97)
Sketchy reports are coming in from Egypt that the SCHOR GROUP has discovered a tunnel running between the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid. Ground-penetrating radar gave the first indication of the existence of the tunnel. Then members of the group actually found a way into the tunnel and cleared away some of the debris. The SCHOR GROUP has applied for a permit from the EGYPTIAN COUNCIL OF ANTIQUITIES to do further exploration.
Ali Hassan, Chairman of the Council, says that he is more inclined to offer permits to recognized institutions, rather than private research groups. There is even talk of the Egyptians doing the excavation of the tunnel themselves. Foreign archeologists, particularly those with unorthodox views, are finding it harder and harder to get approval from antiquities authorities.
Meanwhile, filming continues on a documentary which hopes to reveal a secret chamber under the Sphinx. There is no firm broadcast date, but the best estimate is sometime this fall.
In order to get the true story of all that's happening in Egypt, you may have to attend the annual Egypt conference at the ASSOCIATION OF RESEARCH & ENLIGHTENMENT (A.R.E.) in Virginia Beach. This year's conference, entitled "Egypt Rises Again," features Robert Bauval ("The Message of the Sphinx"), Hartwig Hausdorf ("The White Pyramid"), Richard Hoagland (proponent of the Face on Mars), Ahmed Fayed (fifth-generation Egyptologist and Giza guide), and Joseph Schor (SCHOR FOUNDATION). The conference will be held from August 14 to 17; tuition is $265. For more information, call the A.R.E. at: (800) 333-4499. (JG)
ROSWELL AUTHOR NOW REJECTS SAUCER STORY
(Source: CNI NEWS, 5/1/97)
Kent Jeffrey, the author of "The Roswell Declaration" who called for an international petition to end to government secrecy on UFOs, has now decided that the Roswell UFO case did not involve an alien spacecraft as he once believed. In an interview on KTVU-TV NEWS in Oakland, California on April 23, Jeffrey said that after four years of investigations, his conclusions about the Roswell case are a major disappointment. "I started out in a quest for the truth," he said. "Unfortunately, that truth ended up to be different than I hoped it would be."
Jeffrey was instrumental in getting Roswell witness Jesse Marcel, Jr., a Montana-based physician, to undergo six hours of hypnotic regression recently in an effort to reconstruct exactly what he saw when his father, Major Jesse Marcel Sr., showed him pieces of debris from the famous Brazel Ranch crash site in July, 1947. Young Jesse was only eleven years old at the time. Marcel's regression session was conducted by FBI hypnotist Neil Hibbler in Washington, DC. Though videotapes of the sessions have not been made public, Jeffrey, who viewed the tapes, is of the opinion that Marcel's hypnotically-recovered testimony indicates that the wreckage came from a top-secret "Mogul" balloon and not from a flying saucer.
Despite Jeffrey's apparent change of heart, Marcel himself still thinks there is more to Roswell than a balloon. In a follow-up interview, Marcel told CNI NEWS, "The [hypnosis] session was interesting, but it didn't change my mind. My recollections are the same." Marcel said he is aware of several clear discrepancies between the material he saw as a child and the material said to come from the Mogul balloon. In the Mogul explanation, the "I-beam" is described as stick of balsawood. But Marcel says, "It was very light, but I recall metal, not wood." He also commented on the strange symbols. "I looked at some of the drawings of the letters and flower-like images [from the Mogul tape] and I just don't recall anything close to that." In addition, Marcel noted that "the foil they used on the [Mogul] radar target was paper-backed foil. The foil I saw was not paper-backed."
Also noted in the KTVU story is the fact that Walter Haut, former press officer for the 509th Bomb Wing at Roswell AAF who issued the famous July 8, 1947 press release claiming recovery of a flying disc, now says he too thinks it was just a balloon. Haut was one of the original founders of the INTERNATIONAL UFO MUSEUM in Roswell, New Mexico, but has now cut all ties with the organization. Researchers point out that Haut never claimed any direct access to wreckage or other evidence of the crash and was only following orders when he wrote the "flying disk" press release. (JG)
GOVERNMENT UFO HEARINGS URGED
(Sources: FT. WORTH STAR TELEGRAM via AUFORA NEWS UPDATE, 4/22/97; CNI NEWS 5/1/97; THE SUNDAY TIMES, 4/27,97; MUFON, 4/26/97; AUFORA NEWS UPDATE, 5/1/97)
In a series of recent briefings with reporters and congressional officials, Dr. Steven M. Greer, Director of the CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE (CSETI), former astronaut Edgar Mitchell, and a panel of "experts" charged that the U.S. government was suppressing evidence that several extraterrestrial civilizations working together from bases within the solar system and possibly from temporary outposts under water on Earth were preparing for widespread contact with humans. "We're not asking anybody suddenly to believe in UFOs, because nine out of every ten times, what you hear is absolute rubbish," says Greer. "We just want them to see there is sufficient evidence to warrant a hearing where we can present our case. We hope at least one of them is brave enough to back us." Greer claims to have photographic, video and documentary evidence that shows the military has tracked and even recovered UFO craft as well as their occupants. While admitting that their assessment of extraterrestrial activities was widely disputed, Greer and company stated that this government coverup of earthly visits by extraterrestrial lifeforms required urgent federal attention for the good of humankind.
Reactions have been mixed. In AUFORA's opinion, the claim of multiple extraterrestrial civilizations hiding out beneath Earth's oceans was a bit extreme. The UFO group also thought that it didn't make much sense to accuse the government of conspiracy, and then ask for their help. AUFORA suggested that if Greer had instead urged the government to reopen the Project Blue Book investigation into UFOs, he would have accomplished more and retained some degree of respect.
MUFON was annoyed at Greer's tactics. They claimed that for two years they had been working at grooming contacts in Washington, and that the briefing document Greer used looked very much like the one they paid to have put together. They suspect that his actions have set the whole agenda back instead of making progress.
In an open letter to Greer, James Oberg, arch UFO debunker, stated: "I applaud CSETI's efforts to strip away the 'government secrets prosecution' barrier to the disclosure of people's stories about UFO experiences. But don't stop merely with legalizing the disclosure of government secrets about 'real UFOs.' I believe there is a far more valuable body of 'secrets' that will help understand the decades of UFO phenomena that the world has experienced, [namely] government-related activities which directly or indirectly led to public perceptions that UFOs might be real when they weren't. I'm referring to situations where government representatives -- officials, military officers, employees -- used 'UFOs' as a convenient camouflage for other official classified activities, used artificial 'UFO stories' as 'tracers' in studying the function of security safeguards and personnel psychological responses, or used 'UFO' as an excuse to cover-up improper, forbidden, or diplomatically delicate activities."
CSETI Executive Council member, Joseph Burkes rebutted the criticism of CSETI by UFO groups: "I attended the Washington briefings [and] I can tell you from direct personal knowledge that over 20 Congressional offices where present at the behind closed-door briefings. The group also included representatives from the Executive Branch. The audience was so attentive during the presentation that you could practically hear a pin drop. It is my hope that after learning more about Project Starlight, you might find reasons to support the push for Congressional hearings." (JG)
CROP CIRCLE WATCH:
FIRST CROP CIRCLES OF SEASON REPORTED
(Sources: CNI NEWS, 5/1/97; UFO ROUNDUP, 5/4/97)
Britain has reported its first two crop circles of the 1997 crop circle season. Both were found in fields of canola, the first crop to mature in the English growing season. On April 20, the earliest-reported "season opener" ever was found at Barbury Castle, Wiltshire in a crop that had not even reached its distinctive yellow flower phase. It was described as "a ringed circle with six half-crescents" in a counter-clockwise direction. The outer diameter was about 160 feet (48 meters). On April 26, 1997, the second crop circle appeared in Littlebury Green, Essex, just off Highway M11. Phenomena researcher Paul Vigay said the circle had probably been formed on April 22 or 23. The formation consisted of a single large thin ring about 300 feet (97 meters) in diameter with a much smaller ring attached like a bauble on a necklace. In addition, there are two thin, slightly curved lines forming a large V shape, meeting at the center of the larger circle and extending several yards outside the perimeter. Photos of the circles are available at THE CROP CIRCLE CONNECTOR: <http://alpha.mic.dundee.ac.uk/ft/crop_circles/1997/1997.html>.
While this promising start bodes well for another great crop circle season, it is likely to rekindle the authenticity debate. Two years ago, George Wingfield had the temerity to state that in his opinion many of the crop circles were hoaxes, and for the past four months, Colin Andrews (CIRCLES PHENOMENON RESEARCH INTERNATIONAL) has been publicly stating that he thinks that as many as 70 percent of the glyphs are man-made. Andrews went on to announce that he thought that the "Oliver's Castle video" was a hoax. Hard-core crop circle fanatics have accused Wingfield and Andrews of abandoning the cause. The anger has spilled over into the public domain with countercharges like, "There is not a dime of evidence that even one crop circle has been man-made" and "All you need to identify the real crop circles is a dowsing rod." Andrews comments, "For absolute certainty and with a mountain of evidence, I can tell you both statements are complete nonsense. I am totally convinced [authenticated] crop circles constitute a very real and important phenomenon. I believe the subject would be better served by sticking with the research and making information available to those who wish it." (JG)
THE ORIGIN OF LIFE?
(Source: Don Knapp, CNN ONLINE, 4/17/97)
NASA researchers Chris McKay and Bill Borucki think we may have some distant comet cousins of Hale-Bopp to thank for the origin of life on Earth. Not only did comets bring the water, nitrogen and carbon dioxide that make up our atmosphere, the researchers have demonstrated that their actual collision with the planet itself may have been a key event in the origin of organisms. McKay and Borucki created a vial of gas simulating the best guess as to the composition of the early atmosphere. They then mimicked a collision of a comet and Earth by aiming a laser blast at the primitive mix. What they found was that the powerful shock waves from this "microblast" created temperature and pressure changes that altered the molecular composition of the pseudo-atmosphere. "Those new molecules, when mixed in with water, form amino acids. They're the first step toward life," Borucki says. 3.9 billion years ago, in the late formative period of the Earth, McKay believes comets were decidedly more common than they are now: "The sky literally would have millions of such [comets], and thousands of them would be slamming into the surface, creating havoc here on Earth -- but also creating the stuff that might have led to life." (JG)
(Source: ECS, 5/5/97 via Sandy Ezrine)
Here is a first-person account of what is happening in Grand Forks, North Dakota:
"Grand Forks looks like a war zone. Everywhere you go, there are mountains of debris piled up on the berms. It feels like people are trashing their whole lives -- furniture, toys, carpets, household appliances, photographs, collectibles -- you name it, people have to discard it, due to contamination.
"Almost everyone sustained some damage to their homes, especially to basements. The entire basement has to be completely gutted and rebuilt from scratch, including the sheetrock, furnace, electrical panel, hot water heaters, washer/dryers, etc. Only 5 percent of the population had flood insurance, which means that most people have to pay for repairs and replacement themselves. Contractors are booked for months.
"The emotional devastation is as bad as the financial. Several people I've talked to said that while they can borrow the money, they'll have to work the rest of their lives to pay it back. One woman I talked to today was in tears because she had just paid off their mortgage in February, and now she has 12 inches of water on her main floor as well as her basement being gone. Our neighbors across the street had their house condemned yesterday -- every wall cracked, including the foundation. One woman in our synagogue, a survivor of the holocaust, watched as the house she's lived in for 40 years went under floodwaters up to its roof.
"As for the business community, it's anyone's guess what happens next. The best estimates are that 10 to 20 percent of the population will leave (many already have), and dozens of independents were ruined because of the devastating downtown fire that occurred after the flood. Government assistance will rebuild our roads and schools, but not our businesses. There's a group trying to create a master plan for a safe, secure future, but it will take years to implement.
"But there are earthly angels. I'm sure everyone has heard about the woman from California who put $10 million in a fund to give as many people as possible $2,000 each. Truckloads of donations arrive daily. We also welcome all prayers on our behalf, since all thought carries energy and information wherever it's directed. Anyone who wants to donate would do well to contribute to either the SALVATION ARMY or the RED CROSS -- just mark your donation "Flood Disaster in North Dakota/Minnesota." Both organizations have been lifesavers throughout this crisis. If anyone wants to come to Grand Forks, we are in dire need of people to help haul, clean, babysit, make sandwiches, sort donations, etc. We thank everyone for their concern and good wishes. If anyone has a specific interest or donation they wish to make, please let me know."
---Robin Silverman, P.O. Box 13135, Grand Forks, ND 58208-3135, (701) 277-7299, "firstname.lastname@example.org"
INTERNET IN THE SKY
(Sources: Adam Rogers & Jennifer Tanaka, NEWSWEEK, 5/12/97; Kevin Maney, USA TODAY, 4/30/97)
Back in 1990, MICROSOFT's Bill Gates and cellular telephone pioneer Craig McCaw came up with a concept to establish an "Internet in the Sky." The plan required a net of 840 low-orbiting satellites that would have the capacity to beam the Internet anywhere in the world at a rate 35 times faster than the fastest analog modem. They even formed a company -- TELEDESIC -- with the mandate of building and launching the satellites within ten years and creating a global communication infrastructure from scratch. Analysts said it could not be done.
The fantasy moved one step closer to reality with BOEING recently adding $100 million to the pot to become an equity partner. At the same time, BOEING becomes TELEDESIC's prime contractor, receiving a multi-billion dollar contract to build all the satellites, now scaled down to 288. If it works, all the participants stand to get richer, and the world will become smaller. "It's a defining moment in the history of both companies," said Dave Ryan, Vice President of BOEING, the world's largest airplane maker. The deal is by far the strongest sign yet that TELEDESIC will get built.
However, a few obstacles stand in the way. The communications net makes use of low earth orbiting (LEO) satellites. Because they orbit relatively close to the planet's surface (900 miles up), a lot more are required than if they were in geosynchronous orbit, adding to the cost of the project. Gravity is also more of a factor for LEOs, and the birds can't see as far, requiring some fancy data-swapping maneuvers. On top of all these technical considerations, TELEDESIC does not yet have a marketing plan developed. The YANKEE GROUP forecasts satellite systems will only have 60 million subscribers worldwide by 2010, compared to the 500 million cell phones expected by that time.
Of the three satellite systems that plan to provide multimedia access using LEOs, only TELEDESIC so far has FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION and WORLD RADIO CONFERENCE approval. "The FCC license was our starting gun," says TELEDESIC CEO David Twyver. The company plans to spend $9 billion to have all 288 satellites launched and the network functional by 2002. Customers will connect to TELEDESIC using a small plate-sized dish, a computer and an Internet access provider. The system can be used for voice calls, email and video -- the only satellite system that supports all three services simultaneously. Users can be anywhere, but must be stationary when receiving the signal. TELEDESIC does not intend to offer the service itself, instead, the plan is for communications companies such as ATT, being the middlemen, buying time on TELEDESIC's infrastructure for the connection.
The agreement and the pending purchase of McDONNELL DOUGLAS would also make BOEING the world's largest aerospace and defense firm. "Space is going to be a $30 billion market over the next 20 years. BOEING is positioning itself for the long term," says NATWEST SECURITIES analyst Nicholas Heymann. (JG)
THE CURSE OF QWERTY
(Sources: Jared Diamond, DISCOVER, 4/97; Randy Cassingham, author of "This is True")
The standard typewriter and computer keyboard layout, called QWERTY after the first five keys on the top row, traces its roots back to the early days of typewriters. The first working typewriter was invented in 1808, but it wasn't until 1874, when rifle manufacturer E. REMINGTON & SONS applied the principals of mass production, that the typewriter achieved commercial success. The REMINGTON typewriter was based on a design developed by American inventor Christopher Sholes, whose first model in 1867 used piano keys arranged alphabetically.
The prototype was slow to respond to keystrokes and the keys often jammed, so to overcome the problem, Sholes applied what is now known as "anti-ergonomic principles" in order to solve the problems of the jamming, which also had the effect of slowing down the typing and making it more difficult. This wasn't a problem in the 1870s, since the goal was only to type at handwriting speed (about 20 wpm maximum). Sholes commissioned a study to determine the most common letters in English texts, and then deliberately scattered those common letters as widely as possible over the keyboard. REMINGTON adopted the layout with one small change -- the letter "R" was moved to the top row so that typewriter salesmen could quickly type the word "typewriter" and impress prospective clients. Thus the QWERTY keyboard layout was born.
From 1880 to 1920, an incredible diversity of competing models poured fourth from numerous inventors, including a variety of alternative keyboard layouts which were faster to use than QWERTY and easier to learn. Yet QWERTY prevailed because it had a headstart on other designs and layouts. And unfortunately, when UNDERWOOD, REMINGTON's chief rival, took over the lead in 1893, they chose to stay with the QWERTY layout. By this time, typewriting was considered a "must-have" skill for clerks and office workers, with typing schools springing up everywhere. Offices invested in QWERTY machines because the schools were churning out skilled typists to operate them. The QWERTY layout became entrenched. Even Sholes himself received a patent for an "improved" layout, but it too never caught fire.
Sholes' research was thorough -- he had created a design bound to frustrate and impede the best typist. Only 32 percent of keystrokes were performed on the QWERTY home row, where the fingers naturally returned after each keystroke, while 52 percent fell on the top row. Not more than 300 words could be typed without leaving the home row. This placement resulted in the home row becoming an obstacle to fingers searching out the more common letters on other rows forcing them to reach out from and often completely hurdle the home row during the typing of a single word. In addition, the strategic placement of vowels and consonants placed unnatural stress on the hands. 3,000 English words required the use of the right hand alone, while the weaker left hand was forced to make 56 percent of all typing strokes. Sholes' legacy to future generations was a keyboard that was unnecessarily tiring, slow, inaccurate, hard to learn, and difficult to remember.
Was there a better way? In 1932, after 20 years of research which included time-and-motion studies analyzing slow-motion films of typists hands and recording the errors that typists commonly made, August Dvorak, a Professor of Education at the UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON in Seattle, came up with an infinitely superior keyboard. The home row of the Dvorak keyboard contained 9 of the 12 most common letters, including all 5 vowels. At least 5,000 words could be typed without leaving the home row. The six rarest letters were banished to the hard-to-reach bottom row. As a result, 70 percent of typing strokes remained on the home row compared with 32 percent on a conventional layout. Reaches and hurdles hardly ever happened. The Dvorak keyboard forced the typist to alternate hands frequently to spread the workload and 56 percent of all keystrokes were assigned to the stronger right hand.
QWERTY typists made twice the number of mistakes as their Dvorak counterparts. For a beginner to reach a speed of 40 words a minute required 56 hours of training in a QWERTY keyboard, but only 18 hours on a Dvorak layout. Within two years of the design becoming public, Dvorak typists began to sweep typing contests, and have held most typing titles ever since. Dvorak once made the off-hand comment that on a normal day, a busy typist's fingers covered 12 to 20 miles on a QWERTY keyboard and only one mile on the Dvorak layout. While the statement was intriguing, it was unclear what was being measured and how it could be measured. Nevertheless, the claim stuck and has come to be regarded as a Dvorak "factoid."
So why hasn't the Dvorak keyboard become the norm? The answer reveals some interesting truths about our society. As long as typewriters made use of conventional type bars, the need to prevent jams could be used as an excuse to defend the inefficient design. But once electric typewriters burst on the scene in the '60s, especially the ubiquitous IBM Selectric with its jam-free ball elements, the excuse was no longer valid. Yet the QWERTY design persisted, mostly under the weight of its own momentum. Resistance to new ideas tends to be in proportion to their importance. Electric lighting was slow to catch on in England because of opposition from local governments with heavy investments in the gas industry. The horse-and-carriage industry resisted the advent of self-propelled vehicles, claiming they were noisy and dangerous. Although the transistor was invented in the U.S., Japan has long dominated the world market of transistorized components because America was too attached to the vacuum tube to let go. And if you think that, other than an irrational attachment to QWERTY, modern American society is free of quirks, ask yourself why we measure our gas in gallons, our lumber in feet, and our weight in pounds -- in the rational sea of metric, Fortress America stands alone.
Typists trained on QWERTY quickly learn the new Dvorak layout. Mechanical typewriters are fast going the way of the dodo. There is no sensible argument for holding on to the QWERTY keyboard. The only real obstacle is our fear of abandoning a familiar habit, even though it no longer serves us. Are you ready?
PCs can be converted over to the Dvorak layout with simple on-screen commands -- in Windows 95, open Control Panel; then open Keyboard, click the Languages tab, then your language; then Properties where "US Dvorak" ought to be one of keyboard layout options. NHNE could not locate any keyboard manufacturers currently making Dvorak keyboards. Both KEYTRONICS and NORTHGATE used to make Dvorak keyboards, but discontinued the practise due to lack of demand. However, key-conversion kits to modify your existing PC keyboard are available from most PC product mailorder houses. Inexplicably, APPLE, which is normally noted for its progressive attitude, does not make or support Dvorak keyboards. In all fairness, APPLE has sent a representative to the ANSI standards board. Dvorak is the only "alternative" layout with an ANSI standard.
Randy Cassingham, author of the book "The Dvorak Keyboard," has a printed list of Dvorak sources that is available for $2 from FREECOM, P.O. Box 17326, Boulder, CO 80308. FREECOM is the only source of Dr. Dvorak's 1936 book, "Typewriting Behavior" detailing the design of the Dvorak keyboard.
Cassingham recommends that the best commercial product for Macintosh is "MacQwerty" from NISUS SOFTWARE. There is also a shareware conversion for Mac called "Electric Dvorak." The best learning materials are from KEYTIME: (206) 522-8973. For general Dvorak information, and for ordering information on "The Dvorak Keyboard" and "Typewriting Behavior" books, check out Cassingham's Web site: <http://www.thisistrue.com/dvorak.html.
If any NHNE readers have any more information about the Dvorak layout, especially where someone could pick up a Dvorak keyboard, we would like to hear from you. (James Gregory "email@example.com")
David Sunfellow (DS)
James Gregory (JG)
Gail Rossi (GR)
Joya Pope (JP)
Palden Jenkins (PJ)
Kathleen-Blake Frankel (KBF)
Karol Ann Barnett (KAB)
Mary Koch (MK)
Robert Perry (RP)
Steve Haag (SH)
Chris Czech (CC)
Sandy Ezrine (SE)
Mark Nijenhuis (MN)
Rev. Ann Tognetti (AT)
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