(CNN)A month ago, Americans woke up to the horrible news that as we slept, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history the most violent terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 — had just occurred in Orlando. As the terrible details began to circulate on June 12, we could scarcely comprehend that 49 innocent men and women, who had gone out for a night of dancing and fun with their friends, had been murdered in cold blood.
Apps such as Pokmon Go turn physical space into a game and as technology has done since the telegraph, we are subtly distributed via these connected tools
In his 1963 book God and Golem, the founder of the cybernetics movement Norbert Wiener suggested a compelling thought experiment. Imagine cutting off someones hand, he wrote, but leaving intact the key muscles and nerves. Theoretically, a prosthesis could connect directly both to nerves and muscles, giving the subject control of the replacement organ as if it were real.
So far so sensible: this scenario was a reasonable extrapolation at the time, and is close to becoming a reality today. Wiener, however, went further. Having imagined an artificial hand able to replace its original, he wondered why we should not now imagine the addition of an entirely new kind of limb or sensory organ? There is, he wrote, a prosthesis of parts which we do not have and which we never have had. There was no need to stop at nature. Human-machine integration could in theory blur its boundaries well beyond replacement.
Its 14 July 2016, and between typing this paragraph and the last I dashed outside with my iPhone to catch a Pokmon lurking next to a tree (a cute orange lizard: Charmander, weight 8.5kg, height 0.6m).
What would Wiener have made of this? I suspect he would have been delighted. While Im playing Pokmon, my smartphone functions much like a sensory prosthesis. In order to move my avatar around a map, I must move myself. When I get close enough to a target, I hold the device up and through its camera see something superimposed on the world that would otherwise be invisible. Its like having a sixth sense. My Pokmon-gathering escapades place me somewhere between a cyborg and a stamp collector.
Yet there are also elements in this species of enhancement that clash with Wieners vision. If I had a superhuman prosthetic eye able to see infrared like Arnies beloved cybernetic organism in the Terminator movies I could step outside into the dark with clear vision. I would have access to actuality in a fresh way: a machine-enhanced grasp of whats under my nose. This is the kind of enhancement that technology has offered humans over millennia. We move faster, further; we enhance the strength of our limbs, the reach of our wills; we look deep into space, or at the microscopic order of things. We magnify our scope and capacities.
None of this is quite like playing Pokmon. What I see and do while lobbing tiny balls at a cartoon orange lizard does not exist outside of the machines Im using. Yet nor is it a straightforward piece of mediation like reading a book or watching a movie. The experience is present on my screen, in my mind, and in the dance of data between mobile device, GPS satellites, mobile networks and distant servers. And everyone else with the right app is welcome to join in.
A clue to whats going on lies in a term first coined in 1990: augmented reality. Whats on offer is a supplement rather than straightforward enhancement: an act of layering and addition. My smartphone is not helping me to see the world with superhuman acuity (quite the reverse: I nearly fell into a canal while capturing that Charmander). Rather, its like a third eye opening onto the information realm a gaze overlooking the Earths oceans of data.
In a famous 1974 paper, the philosopher Thomas Nagel asked what it might feel like to be a bat. We cannot begin to discuss such a question, he argued, until we accept that the universe as experienced through a bats sensory organs is alien to our psychological reality. A bats primary sense is sonar. It may share a planet with us, but there is no bridge between our experiences.
What, I wonder, does it feel like to be an iPhone? I dont mean to imply that machines have feelings. Rather, Im intrigued by the fact that the inputs received by my smartphone its experienced reality, if you like are not tied to any particular location in the way my inputs are. Its world is the network. A query is issued, a matched response is served the device is above and beyond actuality as I experience it. And yet we continuously, solicitously interact. As communications technologies have done since at least the age of the telegraph, I am subtly distributed by my connection to the connected tool: blurred between networked spaces.
We are barely at the beginning of this process, one characterised by the astonishing intimacy of our interactions with and through digital devices. Information is everywhere and nowhere. It is simultaneous, placeless. Similarly, augmentation trumps enhancement because it is unconstrained by the actual because there is no limit to how far my experience of the world can be supplemented or supplanted. The free download of a single app turns physical space into a gameboard. Gleefully, my phone and I turn presence into play. In augmented reality, all the worlds a screen.
Today, Pokmon lives on my mobile device. Tomorrow by which I mean within five years it will make the magic leap to retinal projection, into something increasingly labelled mixed reality: the seamless interfacing of informational artefacts and environment.
As Wiener foretold half a century ago, the boundaries between human and machine experience are not so much interlacing as being erased. Is it a new sensory organ, this ever-more-intimate interface with information? Perhaps. Its certainly a mental prosthesis whose absence already feels crippling. We are beginning our migration towards a networked sensorium. The question is no longer how technology makes us feel. Its whether, without it, we are even ourselves.
(CNN)When the newly developed Mars 2020 rover lands on the Red Planet in February 2021 after embarking on a seven-month cruise through space, we will be able to hear sounds of the landing and the Martian surface for the first time, according to NASA.
We may be living through times of unprecedented change, but in uncertainty lies the power to influence the future. Now is not the time to despair, but to act
Your opponents would love you to believe that its hopeless, that you have no power, that theres no reason to act, that you cant win. Hope is a gift you dont have to surrender, a power you dont have to throw away. And though hope can be an act of defiance, defiance isnt enough reason to hope. But there are good reasons.
In 2003 and early 2004, I wrote a book to make the case for hope. Hope in the Dark was, in many ways, of its moment it was written against the tremendous despair at the height of the Bush administrations powers and the outset of the war in Iraq. That moment passed long ago, but despair, defeatism, cynicism and the amnesia and assumptions from which they often arise have not dispersed, even as the most wildly, unimaginably magnificent things came to pass. There is a lot of evidence for the defence.
Coming back to the text more than a dozen tumultuous years later, I believe its premises hold up. Progressive, populist and grassroots constituencies have had many victories. Popular power has continued to be a profound force for change. And the changes we have undergone, both wonderful and terrible, are astonishing.
This is an extraordinary time full of vital, transformative movements that could not be foreseen. It is also a nightmarish time. Full engagement requires the ability to perceive both. The 21st century has seen the rise of hideous economic inequality, perhaps due to amnesia both of the working people who countenance declines in wages, working conditions and social services, and the elites who forgot that they conceded to some of these things in the hope of avoiding revolution. The attack on civil liberties, including the right to privacy, continues long after its global war on terror justifications have faded away.
Worse than these is the arrival of climate change, faster, harder and more devastating than scientists anticipated. Hope doesnt mean denying these realities. It means facing them and addressing them by remembering what else the 21st century has brought, including the movements, heroes and shifts in consciousness that address these things now. This has been a truly remarkable decade for movement-building, social change and deep shifts in ideas, perspective and frameworks for large parts of the population (and, of course, backlashes against all those things).
It is important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and destruction. The hope I am interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. It is also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse one. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings. Critical thinking without hope is cynicism, but hope without critical thinking is naivety, the Bulgarian writer Maria Popova recently remarked. And Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, early on described the movements mission as to Provide hope and inspiration for collective action to build collective power to achieve collective transformation, rooted in grief and rage but pointed towards vision and dreams. It is a statement that acknowledges that grief and hope can coexist.
The tremendous human rights achievements not only in gaining rights but in redefining race, gender, sexuality, embodiment, spirituality and the idea of the good life of the past half-century have flowered during a time of unprecedented ecological destruction and the rise of innovative new means of exploitation. And the rise of new forms of resistance, including resistance enabled by an elegant understanding of that ecology and new ways for people to communicate and organise, and new and exhilarating alliances across distance and difference.
Read more: http://imgur.com/gallery/auY8D
Breakouts of lava have been slowly consuming sections of forest on the rural southeast corner of Hawaii’s Big Island for several months.
But because the flow isn’t currently staring down any populated areas, the lava is pretty much out of sight and out of mind.
It’s only when geologists hike out to the flow fields, or when helicopters take to the skies, that we get a peek at the fiery, destructive action taking place.
And from a bird’s eye view, it’s completely mesmerizing.
In footage recorded in late April, lobes of molten rock are shown eating away at the edges of a forest, burning trees and other vegetation.
The flow fields are also seen giving off plumes of steam, which happens after rain falls on them, according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Janet Babb. Even though the lava appears dark, suggesting it has cooled, it can still be dangerously hot.
Though this process happens slowly, it’s an impressive example of how unstoppable nature can be. And the ever-advancing flow field is just one act in Kilauea’s incredible performance.
The footage also shows red-hot outbreaks oozing through lava fields, and a vigorously spattering lava vent. And if that’s not enough excitement, there’s a pond of lava bubbling nearby.
Though it’s business as usual for most residents on the Big Island, the burning vegetation can cause trouble in certain conditions.
It “can be problematic if the wind blows the smoke toward residential areas,” Babb told The Huffington Post. “How much of a problem it creates depends on how much smoke there is, which way it is being blown, how sensitive people in its path are to the smoke.”
So, if you’re sensitive to smoke, steer clear of this newly barren forest:
If you want to follow Kilauea’s activity more closely, check out USGS daily updates here.
Watch the full video below:
WASHINGTON — In the modern era of Congress, it’s a rare day when lawmakers vote on legislation actually intended to go to the president’s desk. It’s an even rarer occasion when that legislation is meant to help individuals battling opioid addiction — as is the case with the bills the House passed on Wednesday and the raft of legislation it’s expected to pass in the next few days.
As with most things in Congress, though, this is not an entirely cheery story.
Lawmakers will pat themselves on the back and issue self-congratulatory press releases this week. And there is, in fact, some reason to celebrate. Republicans and Democrats have managed to find some consensus on an important issue. But there’s concern from lawmakers, the White House and recovery advocates that the measures are just scratching the surface on addiction treatment.
The House bills come in response to the Senate’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which passed the upper chamber by a 94-1 vote two months ago. CARA co-author Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has been haranguing his House GOP colleagues ever since, insisting that they take up the Senate legislation, which was the result of three years of bipartisan, bicameral work. The House instead took up a smattering of its own bills, and largely dropped the focus on treatment and recovery, instead emphasizing prevention and law enforcement aspects.
“I think that’s a fair criticism,” said Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), whose three bills addressing the epidemic are expected to become part of the final package. “I’m hopeful that if we can pass this package of bills… that we’ll be able to combine that with the Senate version that has more of a focus on treatment.”
But recovery groups warn that by making the process more complicated — a conference committee must now be convened, which takes precious time to create; it must then meet and negotiate the differences between the Senate and House legislation; then each chamber must take up and pass the new packages — Congress could easily run out of time. Meanwhile, more than 100 people are dying every day of overdoses.
Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said that the process could move “pretty quick” now that the House has nearly finished its work. “I imagine most of it will be pre-conferenced before they meet,” he said. “[McConnell] has made clear that he wants this done quickly.”
Portman expressed a similar sentiment Wednesday. “I’m confident that at the end of the day we’ll be able to get together and have one comprehensive package go to the president for his signature and begin to help in our communities around the country,” he said on MSNBC.
The House is taking up 18 bills this week that try, in various ways, to address the country’s epidemic of opioid addiction, from legislation that would help pregnant mothers battling heroin dependency to bills that would crack down on excessive opioid prescriptions. Perhaps most importantly, some of the legislation is aimed at improving what is a thoroughly broken treatment system, with many addicts stuffed into programs that rely on faith-based or 12-step programs, eschewing evidence-based approaches such as medication-assisted treatment.
The assorted House and Senate bills try to nudge the system toward a MAT-based approach. One bill would increase access to such medications by lifting the cap on the number of patients a doctor can treat, and allowing physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe them as well.
Republicans have dubbed Tuesday through Friday “Opioid Week,” and GOP leadership — eager to discuss something that isn’t their party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump — devoted its weekly press conference on Wednesday to talking about the legislation.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) acknowledged that most reporters were likely at the press conference to discuss his upcoming meeting with Trump on Thursday, but Ryan said he wanted to talk instead about a meeting he’d had that week with the family of Jason Simcakoski.
Simcakoski was a Marine who died of a prescription opioid overdose while under the supervision — “or the appearance of it,” Ryan said — of a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center.
Ryan charged that Simcakoski’s death was the result of mistreatment and loose VA guidelines on the prescription of opioids. Thanks to legislation the House passed Tuesday night — the Jason Simcakoski PROMISE ACT — those sorts of deaths would be rarer, he said. (The bill requires the VA to come up with new patient guidelines for prescribing opioids, with the aim of restricting those drugs.)
The House is taking up 12 more of those opioid bills on Wednesday, and is expected to continue passing measures dealing with those issues until Friday. Rep. Clark’s legislation to make the overdose reversal drug naloxone easier to get, a bill to create an advisory committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to review opioids more stringently before they’re approved — these are all among the topics to be addressed.
House lawmakers contend that their legislation, as a whole, does more to combat opioid addiction than the Senate version.
That might depend, however, on your perspective, and on what you think Congress should be doing about the opioid crisis.
In some cases, the House bills appear to be several steps behind what states are already doing, or seem like they could be potentially harmful. Kentucky and other states have already passed protections for first responders and loved ones who administer naloxone to overdose victims.
Another bill would establish a pilot grant program for prescribing naloxone to people at risk for an opioid overdose. Many states have already put in place programs to allow residents to receive naloxone without a prescription at all. In fact, Baltimore’s health commissioner issued a blanket naloxone prescription for the entire city last year and has suggested that the medication should be in every medicine cabinet.
One bill would authorize the U.S. Government Accountability Office to study the capacity of the U.S. treatment system — though the system’s capacity, or lack thereof, is already well-understood. The bill would require the GAO to complete its work within two years.
Portman, for his part, has suggested the House legislation is still lacking. “More than 70 anti-drug groups have publicly expressed concern that these House bills omit critical initiatives focused on treatment and recovery that are part of CARA,” he wrote Tuesday in an op-ed for The Cincinnati Enquirer.
“I’m hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the House soon — but that agreement must be comprehensive,” Portman added. “I will insist on it.”
Others have greeted the House bills with more enthusiasm. Dr. Kelly Clark, president-elect of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, praised the House action and noted that although some bills were catching up to individual states, the goal was to widen the scope of the response to the crisis.
“It’s a historic day for addiction medicine that the House has recognized the emergency that is the opioid epidemic,” she told The Huffington Post. “ASAM is very grateful to the champions who have been out in the front on these issues.”
Dr. Clark was especially pleased that a bill expanding access to buprenorphine was expected to clear a legislative hurdle. “There are too many people being doomed to waiting lists because physicians are at their limit,” she said.
But Dr. Yngvild Olsen, medical director at the Institutes for Behavior Resources Inc. in Baltimore, saw the bills as not going far enough.
“At a time when opioid-related deaths continue to increase, bold action is needed in Congress to fund the comprehensive effort that is needed to deal with this epidemic,” Olsen said in an email. “That includes education, prevention, naloxone for overdose reversal, and expanding access to treatment with buprenorphine by raising the cap for physicians and permanently allowing trained nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to prescribe buprenorphine.”
The plan is for the House to combine its 18 opioid bills into one, then go into a rare conference with the Senate to work out the differences. “We intend to put a bill on the president’s desk fast,” Ryan said Wednesday.
But the administration has expressed concern that “without the resources necessary to prevent opioid addiction and increase access to treatment and recovery services, [these bills] would do little to help the thousands of Americans struggling with addiction.”
The White House pointed out this week that it asked Congress in February for $1.1 billion in new funding to combat opioid addiction. The administration further noted that 28,647 people died in 2014 as a result of opioid pain medication and heroin, and that in 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for prescription opioids, with four out of five heroin users starting with the abuse of prescription opioids.
“These trends will not change by simply authorizing new grant programs, studies and reports,” the administration said.
The White House continued that it looks forward to working with Congress to secure funding to address opioid abuse. But it doesn’t exactly sound impressed by everything the House has come up with.
Of course, this could be an opening gambit for Congress. Getting lawmakers to agree on anything is no small achievement. The House legislation could ultimately evolve into something that more closely resembles the Senate version as far as treatment provisions, and the Senate could add many of the House provisions to its own comprehensive legislation.
The federal budget is filled with pots of money, which Republicans say can be made available for the new legislation if and when it all passes. But there’s wide agreement that the funding doesn’t add up to the $1.1 billion the White House says is needed. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said on Wednesday that lawmakers not only need to pass the bills — they also have to provide the funding.
“If we don’t do that, all the speeches that we give this week will amount to empty rhetoric,” he said.
For more news on the opioid epidemic and the response to it, sign up here to receive Ryan Grim’s newsletter in your inbox.
A prominent fisheries scientist who has challenged the need for marine conservation is under investigation by his university after the environmental group Greenpeace accused him of failing to reveal seafood industry funding.
Ray Hilborn, a professor at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, received at least $3.56 million over 12 years from fishing and seafood industry groups for research and private consulting, according to documents cited by Greenpeace. The group submitted a complaint to the University of Washington on Wednesday, asking it to investigate whether Hilborn adequately disclosed industry backing and whether the funding is a conflict of interest.
Greenpeace said Hilborn’s research shows he is a “denier of overfishing.”
“The seafood industry has given millions of dollars to Ray Hilborn in an attempt to undermine the broad scientific consensus that poor fisheries management has resulted in depleted fish populations and damaged ecosystems,” Greenpeace USA Oceans campaign director John Hocevar said in a statement. He said readers of Hilborn’s work “should at the very least know that corporate interests are underwriting his commentary.”
University of Washington spokesman Norman G. Arkans said the school takes the accusations “very seriously” and would investigate whether Hilborn had breached policies.
Hilborn, 68, whose research has earned multiple awards — including the 2016 International Fisheries Science Prize — told HuffPost he “absolutely rejects” the criticism. He said Greenpeace targeted him because his work doesn’t fit the narrative that all marine ecosystems need conservation to prevent overfishing.
“Greenpeace is unable to attack the science I and my collaborators do; science that threatens their repeated assertions that overfishing is universal and that the oceans are being emptied,” Hilborn wrote on his blog.
The $3.56 million that Hilborn received from industry groups from 2003 to 2015 is just 22 percent of all the funding the scientist brought to the university, according to the Seattle Times.
Hilborn’s funding sources included companies like Trident Seafoods and Peter Pan Seafoods, as well as the industry group National Fisheries Institute. In some of his scientific papers, Hilborn failed to disclose industry funding, Greenpeace alleged.
Hilborn acknowledged receiving the $3.56 million in funding, but said the figure includes money from Alaskan community groups that depend on fishing.
Greenpeace cited is a 2006 paper published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences on the orange roughy in New Zealand, which said the fish population needed no changes in fishery management. Hilborn failed to disclose $58,000 in funding from the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council around the time of the study, Greenpeace said.
Greenpeace also pointed to a 2007 article in the journal Ecosystems, which said current fishing management was working in some places, but not in others. Hilborn should have disclosed in that paper that he was receiving funding from Trident, Peter Pan, the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council and the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, Greenpeace said.
Hilborn argued in his blog post that if he had to disclose every group that contributed to his research on every paper, the list would be “as long as some of the papers.” He said he acknowledges funders of research that is the main subject of each paper.
Industry funding, he said, helps support student and staff salaries, and pays for field expenses.
Hilborn said more of his funding has come from environmental foundations than from industry, including the Society for Conservation Biology, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund.
“I am a vocal advocate for where marine conservation has worked, and identifying where it is not working,” Hilborn said.
“In fact, it is in the financial interest of fishing communities and industries to find solutions that are sustainable and provide for healthy stocks into the future,” he wrote on his blog. “And funding from these groups should be considered part of an inclusive, transparent and honest research process.”
Hilborn’s work challenging the claims that marine ecosystems are being depleted by overfishing has drawn the scorn of conservation groups and other scientists for years.
“The major threat to sustainable jobs, food, recreational opportunity and revenue from U.S. marine fisheries is no longer overfishing, but underfishing,” Hilborn wrote in a 2013 testimony submitted to Congress.
Industry funding of scientific research has stirred significant debate in recent years. A 2015 New York Times report exposed scientists backed by Coke for downplaying the link between soda and obesity.
But as public funding for science declines, researchers are turning to industry and other groups for financial support. Some scientific journals, including some that have published Hilborn’s papers, have created or toughened policies for disclosure of that funding.
When somebody is critically ill, people pick up their mobile phones and let their relatives know. But in 1923 the BBC started broadcasting directly to individuals letting them know their loved ones were “dangerously ill”. These SOS messages lasted for 70 years.
In 1954 my grandfather found out his father was dying through a BBC SOS message. He didn’t hear it himself, but a man at the building site he was working on in the East Riding of Yorkshire, did. “Please head to Dublin where your father is dangerously ill,” it instructed.
It’s remarkable that the message even made it. It was heard by somebody who deduced it was him even though they only knew him by his nickname, Joe.
My grandfather had left his home in Ireland almost seven years before, and the relationship between him and his father had broken down.
Despite this, on hearing he was the subject of an SOS, he headed straight to Dublin, trusting that the short message was correct. It was – but he was too late to see his father again before he died.
The impact of that 30-second message was life-changing, both for him and the rest of the family. He re-connected with his mother and secured for my family our link with the Emerald Isle.
I tried to find that message in the BBC’s archives, without success. But I listened to many others. They are a snapshot of some of the most intense, personal moments in people’s lives.
They’re very short, and clinical. “Will Mr and Mrs Little, last heard of eight months ago in the Birmingham area, head to Leeds General Infirmary where Mrs Little’s mother is dangerously ill,” for example. Listening to them leaves more questions than answers – did the subject make it there in time? What happened afterwards? How had they lost contact with their family in the first place?
These questions were never going to be answered. John Reith, the BBC’s first director-general was personally involved in the creation of the SOS messages and was clear that they were a public service and not entertainment.
The words were never sensationalised, a few facts such as names, addresses, car registrations, caravan descriptions and phone numbers.
The first SOS message played out in March 1923, a 30-second appeal to help find a missing six-year-old boy. Listeners got in touch, and the boy was found safe and well.
This success encouraged the BBC to keep producing them, and an eclectic mixture of “emergencies” followed – a Pelican escaping at St James’ Park, and a callout for a wet nurse for twins born at a hospital in Norfolk in 1937.
Another message to a bird-lover urged him to contact a Birmingham pet shop after buying parrots there because the seller had subsequently died from what was believed to be Psittacosis or “parrot fever”.
By the 1930s they were part of the radio furniture and decisions had to be made on how to stem the flow of messages. The BBC arranged to have research done to find out which SOS messages were working.
The results were in by 1931. For missing persons about 45 out of 190 were successful, but for illness the success rate was higher at about a half. The BBC stopped broadcasting appeals for missing persons.
Jack Thompson remembers hearing his name on an SOS message and says it was terrifying to suddenly have the presenter talking directly to you, especially after the news bulletin had focused on serious world news stories.
He was on a camping trip with his wife and three sons in the early 70s and was enjoying “whatever food it is you eat on camping trips” when they heard the radio message: “Will the Thompson family, believed to be travelling somewhere in Surrey contact Chesterfield Hospital as Mrs Thompson’s mother is dangerously ill.” The words are burnt into his memory.
“We just weren’t expecting it to be for us,” 84-year-old Jack says. “It put us into a bit of a panic and, of course, at that time we didn’t have any phone numbers to call apart from the hospital so it was stressful as they couldn’t give us much information.”
They were a long way from Chesterfield but headed straight to the hospital. Jack remembers the journey vividly, his wife was scared for the whole way having been startled at the broadcast, and having no details about her mother’s situation. After a long car journey they arrived in time to see Mrs Thompson, who recovered slightly but died soon after. The SOS message had given them the chance to spend time with her at the end.
While the Thompson family heard the message themselves, often the subjects would be informed by complete strangers – a neighbour down the road, a manager at a hotel they were staying at, somebody recognising a car registration plate.
It seems unbelievable that a stranger would recognise a car registration plate from a 30-second clip but this is exactly what happened to Linda Miller. She told her story to the BBC’s Eddie Mair for a Radio 4 documentary in 2011.
Linda was six when she became very ill with suspected osteomyelitis, inflammation of the bone. She was staying with her aunt while her parents were on holiday in London.
An SOS message went out but they didn’t hear it. Remarkably a stranger had, and knocked on their car window to alert them to the fact their daughter was ill in a hospital in Sunderland. He had heard the message and recognised their registration plate.
Miller’s parents rushed to Sunderland. She recovered and was fine, but the stranger kept in touch sending letters to find out how she was.
A stranger, knocking on a car window to alert parents to the news their daughter was ill. It seems as though the BBC’s 1931 year book summed up the SOS messages perfectly when it wrote that they show the “inherent kindliness of human nature”.
It is not known when the messages ended, but it was at some point during the 90s. Mobile phones made them redundant, but for those who were directly affected by the SOS messages, my family included, they had a huge impact that lives on today.
Follow Kathleen Hawkins on Twitter @kat_b_hawkins
Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-35815747