Chapter I - Extract
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Chapter I - The Invisible World  

        The world turned twice that day for Oskar Feller. He would have been the first person to agree that he needed every mirrored minute to understand what he had seen on that 16-hour flight from San Francisco to Berlin.

        Indeed, to have made sense of it all, he would have needed a mirror.

        As he curled, pushed and stretched his 5’11", 185 lb. frame into the ever-diminishing space consigned to a coach class seat in preparation for a long flight, he tried to come up with a mantra. He had found mantras useful in quieting his ever increasing anxiety about flying. This was a recent phenomenon. On an intellectual level, he knew that his fears were irrational; however, he knew the Law of Probability justified his fears. "If ‘N’," he mused, "is equal to an Infinite line, and ‘S’ is equal to the sum of all statistical fluctuations within that unbroken line, with function ‘R’ equaling the rate in which ‘S’ …" He gulped and began mentally chanting, "Newworldmodelingengine, Newworldmodelingengine, Newworldmodelingengine."

        As a reporter and scout for IT-Rag, the San Francisco based Internet journal, and writer for the technology news Website,, he had covered a thousand science and information technology conferences and shows around the world and had flown in a thousand different airplanes of every description. Why all of a sudden, this anxiety? Perhaps, as an engineer, he knew the odds. "Newworldmodelingengine, Newworldmodelingengine, Newworldmodelingengine."

        He fell back into his seat waiting for the thunderous rolling of the aircraft’s tires to stop, indicating that the plane was in the air, followed shortly by the sound of the landing gear doors closing somewhere beneath his seat. For Oskar, this signaled the time to start the ten-minute countdown. Most airplane accidents, he knew, occur in the first ten minutes of flight…or the last ten. Fifteen minutes into the flight, relieved, he began to smile, suddenly realizing where he had appropriated his mantra: Terri Raffles.

        Dr. Theresa S. Raffles had put the thought of a "New World Modeling Engine" into his mind. Both she and O.K. Fellow (as Oskar Kiernan Feller had been known since childhood) were members of an Internet think tank, the Golden Sky. Oskar had known Terri from the period in her life when she was a computer science and IT professor in the San Francisco Bay Area before returning to teach in her native Singapore. They had known each other more than five years before the Golden Sky formally came together in 2002 at the Cape Town breakout, "Beyond 2001." That conference was an important milestone in the sense that a group of 15 disparate men and women—writers, consultants, academics, environmentalists, financiers, a doctor, a musician, a politician, a military officer turned intelligence and security consultant and a philosopher—had come together under the umbrella, "Golden Sky."

        The plane began to bank on its left wing. It was a beautiful maneuver as the plane pirouetting like a ballerina turned away from the sea and made a 180-degree turn over the bay and the city. There appeared before him an impressionistic portrait of blues, grays and greens. He could identify downtown San Francisco, Montgomery Street and the building in which he worked. For a moment, it seemed that the gray mass stretching out in a 50-mile radius was merely the slopes of the mountain that was his office building on Montgomery Street. Then, it was gone. In front lay a manmade green checkered carpet, then real snowcapped mountains, then brown: hundreds upon hundreds of miles of brown, here and there small patch of gray. Oskar closed his eyes. He crossed his arms across his chest, touching his Inraxx, the digital device technologically superior to any other that all the Golden Skyers preferred, wondering if he had received any recent messages from Terri. He decided to send her a message to tell her what he had just seen and experienced. He knew that she would be interested in his description. They had been discussing different ways in which the geography of the world could be seen.

        Professor Terri Raffles had known Oskar before meeting the others. She could trace their friendship to 1996, when Oskar had interviewed her about the future of the Internet for IT-Rag.Thereafter, when either one of them knew of an interesting IT conference, they would invite the other. Occasionally, he would invite her on motorcycle ride from San Francisco down to Santa Barbara on Route One, the Pacific Coast Highway. They would invariably end up at the house of a friend and fellow classic BMW enthusiast, who was, also, somewhat of a computer geek and Internet pioneer.

        Both Raffles and Oskar—who she calls, "Fellow"—had, years earlier, eschewed any possibility of physical intimacy, preferring the intellectual connection that they had established. On the surface, no two people could have been more dissimilar. Oskar was 39, and was born and raised in the Bay Area, the son of a German émigré father and a German-Irish mother from Seattle. His father, an industrial designer, had insisted that his son study electrical engineering. However, after a few years working in a computer company, he quit, deciding, instead, to pursue his real love: writing. He took a position writing about emerging technology and the Internet for IT-Rag. The same year Netscape announced its IPO, he became the resident IT/Technology writer and Internet Scout for the Website,

        Raffles on the other hand, was 45, and of Eurasian stock. Her green eyes were inherited from her British progenitor, Thomas Stamford Raffles, who, in the early 19th Century, was credited to have founded the British commercial colony, Singapore. Her long black hair worn in a braid pointing unmistakably to her Chinese-Malay heritage. She was born the same day that Singapore officially became independent of Malaysia, September 16, 1963. She was sent to the UK to study, earning her Ph.D. in economics and communications at St. Julian’s College, Oxford. There, the people she refers to as "uppity twits," or "louche louts." seized on her mixed ethnicity, alternately calling her "Singapore raf," or, even more impertinent, "Singapore riff raff." Having thus been singed by the insinuations and imprecations on the part of her colleagues and fellow classmates, she had no difficulty turning down a teaching position at St. Julian’s in favor of a teaching and research post in California where she remained for more than 20 years. Recently, she returned to Singapore, ostensibly to care for her mother who passed away shortly after her arrival.

        Terri invited her friend and colleague Oskar to the IT conference in Berlin. On short notice, she agreed to substitute for the scheduled speaker, the internationally recognized philosopher and fellow Golden Sky member Emanuel who had fallen ill. For Terri, it seemed like a good opportunity to deliver a white paper on an evolving new world modeling engine to the conference before presenting it to the group during their year-end week-long 2007-08 breakout retreat on the Big Island in Hawaii. Terri invited Oskar because she thought he would be the only one among the Golden Skyers who could drop what he was doing and be able to come on such short notice.

        Oskar woke with a start. It was the cabin attendant offering the now all too familiar prepackaged lunch. He waved off the pasta in favor of black coffee and reached for his Inraxx (Interactive Remote Access Communicator). As he expected, the most recent three calls were from "labratsings," Terri’s user name. She was warning him that the Internet entrepreneur they called "BridgeMan" was arriving at the conference unannounced. She had been informed that her time slot had been cut from an hour to 20 minutes—not enough time to present her thesis. "I apologize for inviting you. I should have expected something like this," she wrote, adding, "I wouldn’t blame you if you got off the plane in NYC. However, should you continue on, I have something very exciting to talk to you about concerning our new world modeling engine."

        Oskar sent a quick reply: "See you in 10 hours. I am looking forward to talking to you."

        The "fasten seat belts" sign lighted up before he had returned his Inraxx into his jacket pocket. No sooner had the thought of imminent danger flashed across his mind when the voice of the Capitan came over the cabin’s intercom system.

        "This is your captain. We will be making an unscheduled landing in St. Louis."

        Dread shot through every nerve and cell of Oskar’s body. "I knew it," he thought to himself. "I damn well knew it." Before he could continue dwelling on his fears, the voice of the captain, suffusing confidence, came back on the intercom.

        "There is no need to be alarmed…" Immediately, O.K. Fellow was alarmed. "We will be landing in 15 minutes at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Some of you may have noticed that I have shut down the number three engine. We have enough power in the remaining three engines to get us to New York City if it were necessary. We could even do it on two engines. However, we were getting some interesting data from number three here in the cockpit, so, as some of you have noticed, I have elected to shut the engine down and land in St. Louis to have it checked out. There, you may change to another aircraft. The cabin crew will be walking through the aircraft to recover your trays. I apologize for the inconvenience."

        The woman sitting on his right with her daughter stopped a cabin attendant and asked her if there was a real problem. "No," the attendant replied, "It’s a minor data transfer problem. However, when we are airborne, it’s ultimately up to the pilot to make whatever decision needs to be made to assure a safe and comfortable journey."

        The woman seemed satisfied with the attendant’s explanation. Oskar looked at the corners of the attendant’s mouth for the slightest hint of strain. Concluding that she was being sincere, he turned his head and tried to imagine he was the pilot and was preparing to land.

        The bright blue sky and golden sun began to disappear as the aircraft descended through the cloud cover. There was the Mississippi River flanked by green fields. He forced himself to appreciate the moment. The Mississippi stretched north and south for a thousand miles in each direction. He could see many small vein-like streams leading into the river. "It’s like seeing a cut away of Earth’s circulatory system," he thought. Directly below was a patch of gray concrete stretching for miles, which Oskar could imagine rising into the sky. It was the city of St. Louis. The Mississippi split it into halves. Oskar wasn’t as concerned about the cloud cover as he was about his own personal countdown. There were approximately ten minutes until landing.

        "Who lives in all those houses?" he asked himself. "Where do the writers live? How can you tell them apart from those houses belonging to teachers, mechanics or the police?" The architectural spires on top some of the buildings denoted Christian churches…but which denomination? Why couldn’t he distinguish the synagogues and the mosques? Some of the homes of the rich could be distinguished by their size and amount of green that surrounded them. The bang of the landing gear going down and locking into place startled him. "Newworldmodelingengine, newworldmodelingengine, newworldmodelingengine."

        While Oskar was measuring the distance from the ground to his seat, Dmitri Rabinovich’s train was pulling into Warsaw. He had sworn off flying—if he could avoid it—after two of his colleagues died in separate airplane accidents in Russia. That’s why he had chosen to take the three-day train journey from Moscow to Berlin to hear his Golden Sky colleague Emanuel give a talk: "Rendering Visible the Invisible." He had kept his mobile off from Moscow to Warsaw, but when he finally did turn it on, he was surprised and upset that his two-day trek had been for naught. He was wondering to himself if it would be better to immediately turn around and take the train back for another uncomfortable journey back to Moscow, or go one more day down to Berlin and eat and bathe well for three days at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski when he received the short message text from Emanuel informing him that Labratsings was going to cover for him. That was enough for him. He would be happy to see Terri and, rather than tell her he was coming, he decided to surprise her in Berlin

        Like Terri, Dmitri was born on a propitious day, January 22, 1943, the day the siege of Leningrad was lifted. His family had come from Moscow at the beginning of the war and settled in Ekaterinburg in the Urals. In elementary school, he joined the Pioneers, and he joined the Party in college. Later, in 1965, after graduating from the Ural State Mountain University with a degree in business administration, he disappeared from public view for two years. He never denied the rumor that he had been dispatched to Poland on an assignment for the KGB. He popped up, later in Moscow, in 1973, as a graduate student at the State Economic Administration University, where he received his Grand Maters Degree and Ph.D. in People’s Economics (1979).

        From 1979 to 1991, he worked for the Russian oil and gas company, RNG, rising to be chairman of the production and development committee. In 1992, with a few other colleagues, he started a technology consulting firm in Moscow. Originally focused on energy, his firm expanded to take in IT in 1994. He was able to weather the "consulting bust," of the late 1990’s, because of the work he received from the government. His was one of the few consulting firms to survive. Now, he was a top consultant to the Kremlin, a position he most likely owed to his wife. Rabinovich Elena Igorevna met her husband at the Economics University, after which she embarked on a career with the KGB that lasted 30 years before moving over to the Kremlin in 1995 as a political advisor to the administration. In Moscow, the couple were considered part of the politically connected elite.

        Dmitri joined the Golden Sky in 2002 after presenting a white paper on the future of IT technology in Europe and Russia at the IT conference in Cape Town. He became the ninth member to join the founding eight. With the group’s membership closed at 15, he is comfortable with all but two, the environmentalists. Hans Dietrich Peters and Antônio Montes Rodrigues never cease accusing him of unashamedly representing the views of the Russian government and being its apologist for the ecological damage to the Urals and Siberia; the catastrophic destruction of the Lake Aral ecosystem; the dumping of radioactive waste in the Pacific; not to mention the environmental damage done to the lands of the former Soviet Republics. For his part, Dmitri is unrepentant in his belief that, for the Russian economy, the most important thing to do at this moment in history is to pump up as much oil to feed Europe’s and China’s ever increasing thirst.

        As the train pulled out of Warsaw, he was feeling a little hungry and disheveled in the Soviet era business suit for which he had a penchant, but decided to wait another six hours and put off eating until he reached Berlin. The cuisine there, he mused, would be more interesting. Dmitri had one personality trait when he joined the group that all the other Golden Skyers found troubling. He smoked cigarettes—very strong Turkish cigarettes, one of which he was wont to light every ten minutes. When he traveled, he would always reserve a private compartment, recalling that one of the advantages was being able to smoke without having to apologize or to ask anyone’s permission. In Russia smoking in public was never a problem, but in Europe it had become more and more so over the past decade. Now, a reformed smoker, having one’s own compartment meant that he didn’t have to share air space with those gripped by his former addiction. Within the group, only Terri and Emanuel would not insist he leave the room when he wanted to smoke. It was Emanuel who had, in the most gentle way, helped him to stop. It was those two, Emanuel and Terri, for whom he had the most admiration: the "Philosopher" and the "Brain." The Philosopher was never critical of his past, and the Brain respected Dmitri’s views. She had personally extended the invitation to Dmitri to join the Golden Sky as the international IT think tank had begun to become known.

        Dmitri was no stranger to Poland having traveled through the country many times in his career. The first time was 1966-67, when he was sent by his government to work on a covert communications network that was so secret that not even the Polish government or other members of the Warsaw Pact were aware of it.

        He looked at his watch and decided it was a good time to turn it two hours back. He hated doing that because the watch was his father’s and he was always afraid when he pulled the knob out to adjust it, it would break. He closed his eyes as the countryside of a thousand small farms whizzed by and each farm, he knew, used Russian gas to heat their homes, Russian petrol to run their farm machines and even the electricity was a product of Russian energy resources. "Poland," Dmitri, calculated as he began to doze off, "is the model for all of Europe."

        Two hours after landing, Oskar was back up in the air. Ironically, he felt better. Probability had, in fact, inserted its reality; now, he was functioning on a whole new set of numbers—at least for a while.

        "How odd," he thought, "gray is more common than green." Over there was Indianapolis; shortly it was Columbus—or was it Cincinnati? Pittsburgh followed then green again, then gray, miles and miles of gray becoming denser and denser until the captain’s voice announced over the cabin intercom that they would be landing in New York’s JFK in 15 minutes.

        Simultaneously, Oskar’s Inraxx began to vibrate announcing a text message from Terri: "Talked to E., he said that DR and Winnie were coming to Berlin and he wasn’t sure but that Hans might be coming, too. E. says that DR and Hans were originally coming to heckle him (ha, ha), but Winnie has a private meeting with BridgeMan. Looks like things are going to become interesting whether I have a chance to speak or not. See ya soon. TR"

        Oskar had seen Winnie’s name in the Internet edition of the Asian SignPost earlier that day as he was perusing his list of info Websites. He was looking for any mention of his Golden Sky colleagues when he came across a story about Winnie. Oskar quickly retrieved the Asian SignPoststory, hardly realizing that the plane was taking off again. 

Chinese Internet Billionaire to Purchase American Social Platform 

SHANGHAI. Eighty-Eight Technologies’ CEO, Winston Chee, whose Web properties /  and, may beon the verge of purchasing the American internet social platform, for $1 billion, according to Seattle and Shanghai Internet sources.

Chee, a long time Shanghai resident and Internet entrepreneur, whose platforms boast an access of 100 million users daily, will now move into the North American and European regions and emerge as the major global player in the social platform market.

It was just ten years ago next month, that Mr. Chee, using three PCs he purchased in London, began his first Internet enterprise in the back of his cousin’s clothing apparel factory in Hong Kong. Chee studied English and German at the Shanghai Polytechnic Institute, graduating in 1991. The following year, he and his mother, a former Hong Kong resident, moved to Hong Kong where he went to work for his cousin’s apparel exporting business. That was the first time he came into contact with desktop computers.

He persuaded his cousin and other colleagues to teach him everything they knew about computers. In 1993, he was sent to London by his cousin to attend to company business. He was captivated with the modern electronic gadgetry that was then beginning to appear in shops. He bought three PCs and sent them back to Hong Kong. But, what attracted his attention was the awareness that businesses and academics were using computers to send each other messages and information. There were even some rudimentary bulletin boards. He laid out his plans for establishing an IT company to a couple of British and Chinese businessmen to help him establish an Internet company in the then still royal colony of Hong Kong. He quickly discovered that many people were anxious to invest in his idea. Before the end of the year, his company 8T8 Tech (pronounced "Eighty-Eight Technologies") was up and running. The following year, he accepted an invitation by the Chinese government to set up a broadband Internet infrastructure in Shanghai. Soon, it was extended to Beijing. With some help from old friends of his father who were well positioned in the Party on a national level, he began to wire China for a national Internet infrastructure. In 1997, he was being recognized

by stakeholders and Internet pioneers in the West as one of the world’s leaders in IT the digital age.

Mr. Chee’s big break, however, came when he was recognized by the Golden Sky, the international Internet think tank, which opened the door to substantial public and private funding to launch his second Internet venture called and a virtual community platform for both the domestic Chinese market and the global community. This community has emerged as a trading platform and marketplace that can be considered a totally segmented planet of its own. went public on March 6, 2000, during the period when the NASDAQ had reached its all time high. The thinking in China is that it’s a lucky platform and its community is growing exponentially. Audiences from around the globe are able to see the world from a Chinese perspective and savor its richness. The platform was designed and is being maintained by 5,000 engineers, who are paid less than $11 a day for their efforts. However, 51Societies has facilitated the marketing of Chinese brands and products to a global market.

        Oskar switched back to his email. He knew the rest of the story. Over the last six years, he had written at least a dozen stories about his friend "Winnie." He hadn’t expected to run into him before the groups next breakout at Winnie’s estate in Hawaii scheduled for the holiday season 2007-08, but was pleased by the prospect of getting a chance to pick his colleague’s brain once again. He recalled that day in Singapore in 1999, when he and Theresa, who was hosting the conference IT in a Globalized World, went outside of the hotel to met Winston. Winnie hadn’t seen her for almost a year following her tenured position at the Palo Alto Institute of Technology, where she had been a professor of economics and IT. It was she who pointed out to Oskar that Winston’s arrival seemed auspicious because the white Mercedes Benz limousine in which he was being transported had tinted glass that brightly reflecting the sunlight. "Ah, Mr. Chee," she said as she greeted her star panelist, "you must have been sent by  the gods, because you appear to have emerged out of golden world."

        Oscar’s jet leapt into the darkening sky. Below, the Atlantic lost its definition and what was left of the sun glistened off the wing. He calculated that he would be in Berlin in six hours, enough time to still get something decent to eat and get a few hours sleep before the conference.

        "It would be nice," he mused, "if Theresa or one of the other Golden Sky would meet me for a late dinner..." The vibrations of his Inraxx interrupted his thoughts. It was his BMW chat room friend, Klaus Steiner.

        "Hello Oscar, I’m sorry I am just now getting back to you, but I have been in Romania. I picked up a 1969 R69S in almost mint condition. Are you interested? When can you come down to Munich? We can ride together and try the bike out. How long do you expect to stay in Berlin?"

        Oscar wrote back a quick reply: "Yes yes, the bike sounds spot on; however, I’m not sure if I’ll be free before Thursday. The conference starts tomorrow and is scheduled to run three days. Everything depends on what happens. I’m on a plane right now, somewhere over the Atlantic. I see lights; I think we are passing over Thule. Talk to you from Berlin. O.K.F."

        He closed his eyes, and decided to see if he could sleep the rest of the way to Berlin when his Inraxx began vibrating again. He was about to disregard the message thinking it was just Klaus responding to his email. However, he had always found it difficult to let his PDA ring without answering it. It was an exercise he had often tried but was never able to follow through on. He wished that he had turned it off, but couldn’t recall when was the last instance he had let either his laptop or Inraxx ring without answering them. Long ago, he had realized that he was an Internet and IT junky. He hated the feeling of isolation, of not being in contact with the world. Grudgingly, he reached again for his device, and was surprised by who had written to him. It was Hans.

        "O.K., I’m in Berlin on business, I understand a few more of us will be in Berlin. Look forward to seeing you. Hans."

        If there was a true aristocrat in the group, it was Hans. Always impeccably dressed and standing ramrod erect in his six foot, 195 lb. frame with graying blond hair and blue eyes, he appears like a member of the nobility. He is not of the blood royal as he is very quick to clarify to anyone who might inquire. However, he is just as quick to point out that he comes from a long line of merchants, whose family began as traders in their home in Lübeck, Germany, in the 13th Century. Later, his family moved to Hamburg, where their trading guild established itself in the lucrative salt trade. The Peters family has lived and thrived in the city of Hamburg’s import/export business to this day. They have outlasted kings, countries and centuries of war. They were able to keep their wealth and continue doing business through every eventuality because their financial assets were always spread out over the globe—in effect, globalized—sometimes as letters of credit, cash in foreign banks, or, in the their cargos, which were always at sea in far-flung corners of the world.

        Hans’ father, Gustav, rebuilt their company after the war trading in scrap metal, used cars and farm machinery; later chocolate, coffee and spices. Now, the family business traded in all manufactured goods, commodities and oil and was whispered to be worth more than €10 billion. Much of the credit for the company’s excellent financial situation through the 80s and 90s belongs to Hans’ stewardship of the company. Before becoming the company’s CEO in 1975, he had worked at all levels of the company right after graduating from Hieronymus Praetorius University zu Hamburg with a BA in economics and a Master’s in business. 

        The nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986 affected him profoundly and wakened him to an interest in the environment. He considered himself a pragmatist or "Realo." At first, he was opposed to all forms of nuclear energy. He joined the environmental movement urging a greater dependency on alternative forms of energy, including all forms of carbon fuels. He progressed to wind and ocean current power. Then, one day he had an epiphany, and began to believe that the nuclear accident at Chernobyl was a conspiracy planned and executed by Russia’s KGB to frighten Europeans from nuclear generated power, which, according to his thinking, eventually lead to a gradual dependence on the energy resources of Russia. In his mind, this situation is destined to lead to another political confrontation in the future.

        Perhaps, he argued, the nuclear energy technology industry could, in fact, be made a safe source of energy. His associates in the green movement vehemently disagreed with him, but put up with him because of the financial support he contributed to the movement. Many, however, within the movement detested him, going so far as to call him mad. He caught the attention of the Golden Sky because of his high profile articulations of his beliefs on world platforms. He was asked to join the Golden Sky in 2001, after debating members of the group at a conference in Stockholm. Predictably, within the group he often comes into conflict with Dmitri Rabinovich. Ironically, the other environmentalist in the group, Antônio Montes Rodrigues, who identifies himself as a "Fundi," is Hans’ bête noire, who he believes is pathological and in need of immediate psychiatric intervention.

        Oskar opened his eyes just in time to see a huge glistening diamond in the middle of the Atlantic. This nighttime diamond, he quickly recognized was, by day, the Emerald Isle. In the distance, more lights, which he correctly assumed to be the southern tip of Scotland. Then, more lights stretching even further north to south.

        "All right," he murmured to himself. He was conscious that his lips were moving and he looked over to his right and noticed that the girl’s mother was looking at him. "I said, ‘It’s a beautiful sight.’"

        Satisfied that O.K. was simply as excited as she was, she smiled and began waking her daughter to see the European continent emerging like an enormous lighted Christmas tree stretching from far into the horizon.

        "Belgium," Oskar, noted silently. He looked up at the electronic map at the front of the cabin to see if he was right. "Oh well. Almost," he mused when he realized that they were passing over northern France. Seconds later, they were over Belgium. Oskar felt a sense of frustration not being able to see through the clouds and darkness and see…see what?

        Below, the little dots of light reveal the presence of humanity. Small clusters of lights were undoubtedly small areas of habitation, the larger clusters were probably towns and the even larger concentration of lights were metropolitan areas.

        "That’s Brussels," he said to the woman next to him.

        She nodded politely. Oskar felt that the woman was humoring him and decided not to say anything further; they would be soon approaching Germany. Why couldn’t he see factories and banks as he could identify the highways that snaked through the landscape below? It would be interesting to see who the French speakers from those who spoke Flemish were. Where were all the BMW lovers?

        That last thought continued to run through his mind. "But, I don’t like all BMW bikers," recalling some awful people he had met who, although they liked the same classic bikes as he, held nothing else in common with him. "I should be

        "All right," he murmured to himself. He was conscious that his lips were moving and he looked over to his right and noticed that the girl’s mother was looking at him. "I said, ‘It’s a beautiful sight.’"

        Satisfied that O.K. was simply as excited as she was, she smiled and began waking her daughter to see the European continent emerging like an enormous lighted Christmas tree stretching from far into the horizon.

        "Belgium," Oskar, noted silently. He looked up at the electronic map at the front of the cabin to see if he was right. "Oh well. Almost," he mused when he realized that they were passing over northern France. Seconds later, they were over Belgium. Oskar felt a sense of frustration not being able to see through the clouds and darkness and see…see what?

        Below, the little dots of light reveal the presence of humanity. Small clusters of lights were undoubtedly small areas of habitation, the larger clusters were probably towns and the even larger concentration of lights were metropolitan areas.

        "That’s Brussels," he said to the woman next to him.

        She nodded politely. Oskar felt that the woman was humoring him and decided not to say anything further; they would be soon approaching Germany. Why couldn’t he see factories and banks as he could identify the highways that snaked through the landscape below? It would be interesting to see who the French speakers from those who spoke Flemish were. Where were all the BMW lovers?

        That last thought continued to run through his mind. "But, I don’t like all BMW bikers," recalling some awful people he had met who, although they liked the same classic bikes as he, held nothing else in common with him. "I should be able to distinguish those people who ride BMWs who share my interests from those to whom I would not speak two words."

        This time he reflected on something Raf had once pointed out to him: If you looked into the night sky and wanted to find other stars similar to our sun, you would first have to remove all those that were white or blue. Then, you would see, not only the red stars, but the streams of other red stars seamlessly connecting one to the other. Fellow was a little surprised at finally understanding something that Raf had been trying to tell him for more than a year. He was so caught with the idea that he didn’t pay much attention to the final approach. There was no need for a mantra, he had a Gordian Knot to untie in his mind.

        Standing on the observation deck of the Berlin-Schönefeld International Airport, an unnerved Antônio had been watching as one aircraft after another landed and took off. He had come early to meet Oskar. It was a surprise. He had read Raf’s and O.K.’s broadcast messages to the group and knew when Oskar’s plane was due. He hadn’t planned to wait an extra three hours, a result of the unscheduled landing Oskar’s plane had been forced to make in St. Louis. Several times, he had almost convinced himself to go back into the city, but the thought of running into Hans without the others being around at the conference of the World Bell Tower was enough to persuade him to stay where he was.

        Antônio, whose full name is Antônio Montes Rodrigues, was aware that his dark skin and his outrageous mode of dress was attracting attention from security personnel as well as others on the observation deck. The stares did not bother him; after all, attracting attention was the purpose of walking around Europe in his dancing costume. He had been in Frankfurt at a martial arts exposition, where he had been demonstrating his prowess in Capoeira. He was a master in the Regional style. He had written a lot of music that was being used worldwide by Capoeira dancers and had gone to Frankfurt as an honored guest. He saw no reason to change his mode of dress just because he was going to a more staid IT conference in Berlin. In his mind, he was in the business of promoting his love of Capoeira along with his passion for protecting the Brazilian rain forest. In many ways he saw them as part of the same ethos. He was still riding high on his experience at Frankfurt. The following day, he would be in Amsterdam where the Capoeira world tour would be traveling to next. He thought it would be a nice detour to come over to Berlin to meet Oskar. Now, after almost three hours, he wasn’t so sure that he had made the right decision.

        He could see Oskar’s plane coming in on its final approach. As he looked on, it appeared that for a moment, the jumbo jet froze in mid air, neither moving forward or falling, suspended between earth and sky. For a moment that seemed like much longer, Antônio transcended his mortal form and joined Oskar in his plane, their minds melding together.

        At 36, Antônio was not the youngest member of the Golden Sky, but at nearly two meters (6’6"), he was easily the tallest. He had taken part in the IT Millennium Conference in Rio de Janeiro, on New Year’s Day 2000, which was also his 31st birthday. He had been an invited panelist. There he met the group of futurists who would evolve into the Golden Sky. Later, he was invited by Oskar and Raf to join their biannual break-out sessions. Both Oskar and Raf had immediately recognized his genius and respected his passion, which, at any moment of disagreement, could explode into a shouting match. He was known to jump up, cry or slip into a deep depression. The others, except for Hans and Rabinovich, tolerated his explosive behaviors, realizing that much of what he was resulted from his very different background.

        His mother was an indigenous Munduruku whose parents had been killed by ranchers clearing that part of the rain forest where the Munduruku had retreated decades earlier from a similar encroachment. She had been saved by two American anthropologists, a husband and wife, who found her beneath the body of her slain mother. They took her to the city of Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian State, Amazonas, on the Rio Negro where she was placed in a Catholic orphanage and boarding school. There, she was named Carolina by the Sisters of Charity who raised and educated her. Behind it all was the thought that she would grow up and take vows. However, all that changed at the Federal University of Amazonas. There she met her future husband and Antônio’s father, Luiz Gomes Rodrigues, the late-life son of a local banker of Portuguese ancestry. Although she was indigenous, she was embraced by his family. A year after graduation, they were married.

        Then, a year later, history repeated itself. Carolina, succumbed to complications at the birth of her son, whose name, Antônio, had been on her lips at the moment she expired. Antônio was raised by a Portuguese nanny who instilled in him a love of music and nature. Antônio traces his vegetarian lifestyle to his nanny who was a strict vegetarian. The family resented that she had insinuated her beliefs onto Antônio, and when he was 13, they discharged her. That event was a seminal moment in his life. It had the same trauma as losing his real mother. Antônio was devastated and began to hate his father and grandparents, whom he rightly believed were destroying the letters she continued to send to him.

        In high school he wrote an essay on indigenous people, which sparked a lifelong interest in the culture of indigenous peoples, and began to take trips deep into the rain forest. There, he first became aware of the destruction that was occurring. He began to identify with the plight of the Indios, sometimes shocking his family and friends by wearing feathers and collars associated with Amazonian Indians.

        It was, also, in high school, that he discovered his love of music. He studied the rhythms and melodies of the local indigenous tribes. At the same time he developed an interest in Afro Brazilian music and, by extension, Capoeira. Horrified at this unpredicted turn in their son’s life, his father and grandparents were determined to stop what they perceived as youthful rebellion and retrogressive behavior on the part of Antônio. After graduating from secondary school, they sent him to Sao Paulo to study at the Catholic University. However, a year later, his interest in music led him to transfer to the University of Sao Paulo. There he studied music and his new passion, Capoeira. It was there that he came under the influence of teachers and students who were involved in the environmental movement.

        By the time he had graduated, he had become the leader of a musical ensemble playing a mix of Indian, African and Portuguese music that had already begun to catch on in Sao Paulo, largely inspired by musicians from the black soul of Brazil, Salvador de Bahia. He became an activist in the environmental movement, drawing the attention of the worldwide movement. At the same time, he also attracted the attention of the authorities and was arrested several times for his environmental activities. By the time of his 26th birthday, he was well known throughout Brazil for his music and activism. His family, fearing that they were losing him, relaxed their position and welcomed him home in Manaus, slowly learning to respect his dedication to indigenous music and the environment. During his 20s, he traveled abroad extensively, visiting Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.

        During a musical tour in the US, he was invited to take part in a quasi-legal environmental demonstration in the northern Redwood forest of California, in which a logger was accidentally killed. He and others were arrested. The charges were dropped through the intervention of a philanthropic foundation that provided him with legal assistance; however,

        Antônio was branded a radical revolutionary, designated persona non grata, and banned from ever entering the US again. Four years later, as his international stature grew, the ban was reversed. It was during the early 90s that he became interested in the Internet to expand his musical career and to connect with other like-minded environmentalists.

        He was way ahead of most of his contemporaries in understanding the potential power of the Internet, which was why he attracted the attention of certain members in the Golden Sky and was subsequently invited to take part in the group’s Millennium IT Conference in Rio.

        Antônio’s eyelids began to flutter spastically; he covered his face with his hands, but as suddenly as the spasm began, it stopped. For Antônio, these were a common occurrence. He thought of them as moments of transcendence although, since childhood, they had been diagnosed as petit mal seizures.

        Below, he could see that Oskar’s plane had already begun discharging its passengers. Not wanting to miss his friend, he ran down to the arrivals area to be able to greet O.K. as he came out of the custom’s gate. Twenty minutes later, Antônio jumped onto his friend, surprising and nearly knocking him to the ground. Oskar was the only one in the group who appreciated Antônio’s exuberance. The two had been good friends for six years and often visited each other’s international venues.

        "What’s going on here?" Oskar asked his friend after regaining his composure, "I came out to root for Raf. I thought that I was the only member of the group that was going to show up. Now, I find out that not only are you here, but Dmi and Hans are here, too."

        Antônio looked up wryly at his friend. "Yeah, I ran into Hans back in the hotel."

        "Did you guys get into it?" inquired Oskar.

        "Oh no, we didn’t have a chance, I caught up with them in the lobby. They didn’t even notice me when I sat down next to them. I think Dmitri waved a hand at me: they had already become engrossed in some subject—something to do with windmills. I just wasn’t interested in getting involved. No one could have gotten a word in sideways with them, anyway. I’m still grooving on the music I’ve been hearing and playing all week."

        Oskar nodded knowingly, then, quickly changing the subject, "I heard a rumor that Winston is also going to show up on business."

        "Yeah, he’s supposed to hook up with BridgeMan," Antônio replied. "He’ll probably connect up with Raf and the rest of us at some point. There will be plenty of time to talk because the sound system in the conference room is on the blink. I was going to help them fix it until the hotel’s audio engineer gave me this weird look, so I said to myself ‘screw it, let them fix it themselves.’"

        "Hey, I like your backpack," Antônio continued, grabbing his friend’s luggage. "We have to take a cab; I had to send the hotel’s limo back when I learned that your flight had been delayed. I heard you lost an engine." Antônio chuckled.

        "Bad sensor," smiled Oskar, acknowledging his friend’s graveside humor. "I appreciate your meeting me, but why didn’t you go back to the hotel? By the way, are you in a Capoeira event in Berlin?" He indicated Antônio’s clothing.

        "No, I was in Frankfurt, didn’t you get my email? The day after tomorrow, I have to be in Amsterdam. Come on, Raf has been waiting for you."

        As the cab wound its way through Berlin’s streets, Antônio tried to bring his friend up to speed. "It doesn’t look like Terri is going to get a chance to deliver her paper, the BridgeGuy bumped her. But like I said, there’s no sound system. Everybody is sitting around talking to each other." Antônio, looked out the window, then turned and raised his finger as if he had just remembered to tell Oskar something. "You know, I heard Sonja was coming tonight."

        As always, the first thing out of her bag was a framed picture of her two children, which she gingerly placed on the night table next to her bed. It was always a moment of exquisite tenderness for Sonja when away from home to spend a few minutes looking at the picture of her four-year-old twins, Batuldzii (which, in Mongolian, means "Saturday Power") and Elvis, whom she and her wife, Jacqueline Waters, the ballet dancer and painter, had recently adopted in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. While Sonja was away on her frequent business trips, it was left to Jacqueline to care for the children in the home they shared in Darien, Connecticut.

        She picked up her Inraxx, and, not sure if it was a good time to call, decided to send a text message, instead: "Hi J. I’m in my room in Berlin. I hope you guys are doing well; I don’t think that I will be returning to Zurich tomorrow. Guess that means I’ll be coming home tomorrow evening, Yeah-h-h-h! Kiss the kids for me. I’m going to freshen up and go down and see if I can find Raf. The hotel lobby was crowded when I arrived. I think that I got a peak at a few of the Golden Sky people. I hadn’t expected to see them. Should be interesting. Kiss, S."

        Both Sonja and Jacqueline were born and raised in Toronto. Unlike her partner, Sonja’s parents were Quebecois from a long line of Alsatian French who immigrated to Montreal in the 18th century. Moving to Toronto was, according to her father, the most difficult decision he had ever made. 

        However, setting up his women’s fashion apparel business to Ontario had proven to have been a prudent and financially correct relocation. Still, her parents lamented and pined for their former home. Both have indicated that they wished to be buried in the same Monkland cemetery as their ancestors. By contrast, Sonja had only limited affection for Montreal, being an internationalist almost from her days in elementary school. Later, she would live out her childhood fantasies by traveling extensively and living on five continents.

        She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Toronto in 1984 and received her Ph.D. in 1990 in molecular biology from the University of California, Santa Monica, again finishing at the top of her class. She spent much of her free time on the beach, which was conveniently located two blocks from the university. She often mentioned those hours sitting or stretching out her 5’11" body on the sand watching the waves roll in as having a direct impact on her thinking that life, which sprang from the sea, was slowly poisoning itself with the chemicals it found and produced on land. "You are what you eat," is one of her favorite quotes.

        Her proclivity for hard work and long hours paid off early. While still a graduate student, she was recruited and given a contract even before she had finished her dissertation by QMH, the multi-national corporation based in Wilmington, Delaware, one of the most aggressive players in the food industry specializing in consumer goods, particularly premium and high end food brands. Recently, the company, under the advice and management of its rising star Sonja F. Meyer, has increasingly moved into a position of dominance in the area of life science products.

        QMH, originally Quague, Michelson and Hutton, is one of those midwestern food companies that flourished in the early 1860s as a response to the demand to feed the Union Army during the American Civil War. One hundred years later, it was one of the top two American companies in the food industry. When it decided, 1961, to acquire several European food companies, it changed its brand to QMH and set up its headquarters in Delaware. Although listed at the New York Stock Exchange, 60% of the company was now owned by various private investors from Dubai, U.A.E, a group of private equity firms from the Bay Area, two Asian businessmen (one from Korea, the other one from Taiwan, both of whom made their fortune in electronics and semi-conductors). Just recently, a Swiss-Indian pharmaceutical alliance announced that it had bought a 5% package on the open market. Reflecting its global ownership, its operations, plants, research centers, offices and distribution centers were spread out in more than 100 countries.

        Sonja became part of the executive leader talent program, picked up a master’s in marketing and media in her rare spare time. Part of the executive leadership talent program included living and working eight years in eight countries: Egypt, India, Ukraine, Australia, Mexico, China, Japan and Switzerland. However, her role within the company was not region or country specific.

        Sonja calls herself a digital nomad since she is connected to the Internet 24/7 wherever she might be in the world. Her understanding of local environments and dynamics has taught her to see the world’s structure vertically. Last year, following the untimely passing of her mentor and previous boss, she was immediately promoted to chief marketing officer. The nature of her former boss’s death (stomach cancer) further strengthened her commitment to develop and market healthy and organic products.

        Sonja and Jacqueline had known each other since their days at U of T. Four years ago, they decided to marry and moved to Connecticut. However, Sonja would fly to Boston every day on one of the company’s shuttle jets, working at her home office Saturday and Sunday.

        In 2003, she was invited as a speaker at an IT conference in Brussels entitled "LSD (Linear Sequential Development) from McLuhan to Friedman: What’s next?" There she met and came to like members of the emerging think tank group, the Golden Sky. She joined them a few months later, at one of the group’s retreats in Geneva.

        The lobby of the Hotel Adlon Kempinski was crowded, just as Antônio had mentioned to Oskar. Groups of conferees had moved lounge chairs into circles, and they were all involved in animated conversations. The largest circle, with many people standing around the perimeter, contained not only Terri, but also BridgeMan, Winston, Hans and Rabinovich. The circle would soon make room for three others: Sonja, Oskar, and Antônio, who still had not bothered to change his clothes and stood out in bas relief against the others in their business suits.

        Entering the lobby, Sonja quickly joined the circle. There were no more chairs left, so she took a place standing behind Terri. Instantly, Winston stood up and offered her his chair and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She was greeted similarly by Hans, Rabinovich and Terri, who had already clasped her hand warmly. At that point, a Chinese delegate dressed in a blue pinstriped suit rose and indicated that Sonja accept his seat. Sonja responded in Chinese saying. "Thank you," and then continued in Chinese, asking the businessman if in fact, they had not once met in Shanghai at a Chinese government sponsored workshop relating to China’s emerging bio-foods industry. Flattered that she would remember him and speak to him in perfect Mandarin, he shook her hand and gave her his business card. He immediately turned toward the circle of standing conferees smiling and glowing from the effect of being recognized by such a beautiful woman. Then, he quickly

        Raf was the first to speak: "Sonja, have you met BridgeMan?"

        "Oh yes, we have, several times," she replied, then, turning to BridgeMan, who was now halfway out of his seat to shake her hand. She raised her hand with an insouciance one associates with royalty, indicating that he should stay seated. "Hello Stephen, long time no see." They both smiled after her greeting. Then, without hesitation, she went on to greet her Golden Sky colleagues, leaving BridgeMan to play a minor fifth. That was her way. "Hello Winnie," she said, first in English then Chinese.

        Winston smiled and gave her a thumbs up signal. "Hi Hans, you and Dmi look at peace there together. What’s the matter? I expected to see lightening and hear thunder when I came into the lobby."

        Dmitri stood up, and kissed Sonia on both cheeks and remarked on how beautiful she looked. Not wanting to seem overly flirtatious, he turned to Raf and offered the same compliment.

        Sonia quickly responded in her basic Russian, "I suppose you didn’t bring your wife?"

        Dmitri laughed heartily, "No," he went on in Russian, "But she sent a half dozen of her colleagues to see that I remember who is the boss in the family."

        Sonia interjected, still in Russian, "Elena and I see eye to eye on many issues, especially how to treat men."

        Turning to the group as a whole, she said, "I have to tell you, I’m really surprised that all you guys are here. I didn’t expect to see most of you until the end of December in Hawaii."