The ride to Club 21 seemed to take forever. Our minds were racing as fast as we were. The only sound was that of our high pressure tires rolling smoothly down the road. My mind began to wander.
Riding a bicycle with belt drive technology was smooth and quiet, making the experience even more intimate and allowing the rider to be more aware of their surroundings. We’d recently upgraded to some PiCycle hybrid electric bicycles that were rated at an energy efficiency equivalence of 2,025 miles per gallon. The bicycles communicated wirelessly to our iPhones so we’d know battery level, speed, and other vitals. As technology integration specialists, my wife and I enjoyed seeing the role that technology was playing in making the world more sustainable.
We’d both grown up in an era of chain drive bicycles. The grease, noise, and road grit were all part of the bicycling experience. That was before the Oil Decline, when fossil fuel vehicles were still commonplace. There were warnings back then of a Peak Oil crisis. Among those who were concerned, it seemed like we were on a Titanic that would inevitably crash with nobody in power willing to avoid the crisis. There was a risk that we’d use up the last drop of fossil fuel before creating a replacement energy infrastructure. If that happened, billions of people would die and cities would go dark. That was the Peak Oil scare. We all studied the history of Cuba’s oil crisis to prepare ourselves for what we would soon face. [source]
The public energy crisis protests raised awareness, yet they had become mostly ineffective to bring about any real change. It was like when there were 10 to 30 million people in 60 countries simultaneously protesting the Iraq war. It raised awareness. People felt better, but the war continued, and the protest only sparked a war at home, with thousands of activists arrested and the rest trying to make their way home with pepper spray in their eyes. [source] The police and national guard troops were almost always called in to shut things down when those practicing freedom of speech became a nuisance. So, the protests became ineffectual and predictable theatrics that accompanied an unceasing parade of wars. Years after the 2003 Iraq protests, the arrests of other protestors continued, regardless of who controlled the White House. This and the ongoing simultaneous multiple wars brought about political disillusionment among those wanting to give peace a chance. From January 2009 through May 2011, over 2,600 activist were arrested in the U.S. alone. [source]
After decades of seeing this pattern repeat itself, activists realized a new strategy was needed, and a new strategy emerged: “Influence those in power, or become those in power.” We called it Transcendent Activism.
The first test of Transcendent Activism was actually early on. In April 2005, with no protestors, no arrests, no police, no national guard, and no pepper spray, Jean-Michel Cousteau applied what in retrospect seems like Jedi Mind Tricks [video] on then President George W. Bush. Cousteau held a screening of Voyage to Kure in the White House. Moments after seeing the film, Cousteau recounts, “President Bush looked at all of us and said-[and] I am quoting- ‘Let’s get it done.'” It was then that Bush committed to preserving what became nearly 200,000 square miles of Pacific ocean in three national marine monuments. [source]
Cousteau’s success inspired many others to pursue careers in politics or business. It would take decades, but eventually those young activists would become decision makers, legislators, and business leaders.
Eventually we reached critical mass. Businesses and world political leaders created numerous green energy incentives which made it profitable to sell clean energy and inexpensive to buy. Consumers and investors simultaneously flocked to the newer cleaner technologies.
Entire cities switched over to 100% green electricity. One of the early and most visible examples was Cincinnati, Ohio. [source] Having 53,000 households and businesses switch to green electricity in a single day was a huge victory, and it proved that one or a few people in leadership making a progressive decision, could impact tens of thousands. Like Jean-Michel Cousteau’s White House victory, the Cincinnati switch over brought even more activists to embrace the power of Transcendent Activism.
The only thing that had been holding back progress was our past inclination to protest in the streets with our complaints rather than quietly engaging leadership in discussion about solutions. It’s easier to just complain, but ultimately less effective.
Club 21 was birthed out of the green revolution in the early 21st Century. It was one of the first LEED certified sustainable night clubs in the country. Urban areas were slow to adopt geo-thermal because early technologies required the ability to run underground pipes through a large yard or field. Coil systems reduced the land required, but still weren’t an option in urban areas. By 2018 drilling technologies were developed that would send geothermal pipe coils vertically deep into the ground which made it possible to retrofit just about any residence or business with geothermal. With new construction the process was even easier. Club 21 was built from the ground up with sustainability in mind. The geothermal system provided liquid cooling for solar/wind powered instruments and amplifiers for live music performances. The entire club was powered by solar and wind on premises.
Roads still existed in the city for trucks making deliveries, but bicycles had become the transportation method of choice for most people. A network of interconnected bicycle trails provided multiple paths to get around the city. Many of the trails were fully covered for easier all-year riding, and to make bridges and flyovers safer for riders zipping through town two or three stories above street level. They were like pedestrian walkways that connect buildings, but instead moved through the city. Bicycling was made safer, faster, and all-round more enjoyable so the masses of consumers would being choosing bicycles over cars (if $20 per gallon gas prices hadn’t already convinced them).
We got to Club 21 right at 8:00 PM. We could hear the house music playing from outside the building — not because they had the volume so loud on the inside, but because low volume studio speakers allowed those passing to get a sample of the music which would be different from one night to the next. So, it was like restaurants that use a fan to blow the small from their kitchen into the street. Tonight was techno trance dance music.
There was almost always a cover charge, except on rare occasions when the club was reserved special parties. In which case no amount of money could get you in. Apparently tonight was one of those occasions when club entry was by invitation only. As we approached the door, the two muscular guys flanking the door asked for our invitation.
My wife looked at me and said, “Give him the prescription.”
The man looked down at the piece of paper, then looked up at us and shook his head. He wasn’t going to let us in.
Maybe we’d totally misread the note on the back of the prescription. Maybe this was all in our head. A secret message? An address based on Google results? It was all too implausible. We began walking away.
Then my wife asked, “What side of the prescription did he look at?”
“The Rezifp Dawn invitation…” As soon as I answered, I knew what her next words would be. The prescription for aspirin was the pass into the club, not the handwritten note on the back from Dr. Jerrard.
We turned around and this time showed the prescription for aspirin, and were allowed entry.
Although the music outside the club was techno trance dance music, inside the music was different. It was ambient music. Very mellow. People were at tables socializing. Some eating. Some just talking. There was Dr. Jerrard walking toward us.
“I’m glad you figured out my cryptic invitation,” she said with a smile. “I need to be very careful at the hospital. These days, healthcare is considered a matter of homeland security. There’s such a high concern about biohazards and viral warfare.”
“Dr. Jerrard…” my wife said, beginning to ask a question.
“Hey, you guys can call me Steph. Believe me, I’m sick of the formalities and impersonal institutionalism of modern medical facilities. I’m actually trained in a very different kind of medicine.”
She guided us toward a table, and kept talking, apparently not concerned about the people around us. “At the hospital, everything we say and do is monitored. Back in 2013, when the NSA’s Utah spy center went online, our hospital surveillance was shunted over to that facility. It’s a 2 billion dollar, heavily fortified, 25,000 square foot data center with a 60,000 ton cooling system to keep the high powered processors from melting down. That’s enclosed in 1 million square feet of surveillance and security costing more than $10 million dollars.” [source]
“I’d never heard about that…” I wondered if she was speaking rumors or facts. It seems like something of that size would be well known.
“It was written up in a short article in Wired Magazine. That was just to remove the allure that a secret facility has. Those who had an interest at the time read the story, but most people never heard about it again, and the story or future news of the facility never resurfaced. Imagine the power of that place by now. I’ve heard rumors that in subsequent years, they built more levels below the original construction plan.” She looked up and waived at a server who seemed to know from her hand gesture what she was ordering.
“I hope you don’t mind, I ordered us some drinks,” she smiled.
“I’m glad you’re here,” she said looking at both of us. “I’d hoped you would come here together. Because you’re both patients of mine, and given what I know about you, I thought you’d be ideal candidates for an assignment we’re working on.”
Three green drinks soon arrived at the table in tall glasses. I was sort of tracking, but not very well. Seeing Dr. Jerrard, or Steph, out of context like this, and without her institutional persona was like meeting a different person. So, it was like starting all over trying to figure out who she really was, and what this meeting was about.
“So, what’s the assignment?” I asked hoping if she kept talking I’d figure out what was going on and I wouldn’t look so stupid.
“All of us here in the club tonight are doctors of alternative medicine and advocates for more natural and preventative healthcare. Some of us work inside the system, trying to fix it, change it, and learn about it. Others provide care outside the system — primarily preventing illness rather than reacting to it.”
She took a sip of her green drink, and continued, “The other day at your medical exam, when I told you that I couldn’t help you until you became sick. Weren’t you curious? Didn’t it seem like something was wrong with a system that only helps people when they are sick?”
“Well, yes. That’s why I reacted the way I did.” I didn’t know where she was going with this.
She began scribbling a flowchart and some notes on a napkin, “The hospital computer systems analyze patient lab work and give medical staff advice what to do based on that lab work. Some of us believe that the software is designed to favor the pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies at the expense of the patient’s wellbeing.”
“Are you following me?” She looked at both of us and continued, “You can take that same lab work to a doctor outside the system, and they will give you a long laundry list of things you can do to avoid the illnesses that are very easily identified as future outcomes based on present conditions. Take diabetes for example. There are simple, inexpensive, early detection methods for that. The cure costs little or nothing. Yet, the modern medical system gives patients no warning until they are full-on diabetic. Doctors outside the system will recommend a diet and exercise routine that can completely turn around pre-diabetic conditions. That’s one example of hundreds.”
“….But the doctors outside the system aren’t covered by insurance, which makes them mostly inaccessible except to those who have financial means.” My wife was now leaning further toward Steph and focusing in on what she was telling us.
“Right.” Steph said, and put down her pen. “What we don’t know is if the hospital software has intentionally been programmed to favor the pharmaceutical companies. Were the software programmers in fact ‘paid off’ to create such a system? That’s what we need your help to find out.”
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