Volume 11, Number 14 – 08/14/08

Volume 11, Number 14 – 08/14/08
A Vision for 2012: Planning for Extraordinary Change

by John L. Petersen

John Petersen wrote his newest book “to provide a framework for the next administration – or any organization, for that matter – for thinking about how to deal with the great change that appears to be on the horizon”.  Priests, shamans, and holy men have been talking about the coming decade for hundreds of years.  Many scholars, examining the recurring patterns of history, also foresee major upheaval on the horizon.
In the small, hard cover volume Petersen surveys the big changes that he sees converging in the next few years and presents alternative scenarios that may emerge from the confluence.   He highlights the unbelievable breakthroughs in knowledge, mindsets, and scientific capabilities that demonstrate our extraordinary capacity not just to preserve, but to evolve.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich has said that “A Vision for 2012 will stimulate you to think deeply about the challenges we face, the solutions we need, and the changes that should occur to prevent the bad changes that could occur”. Former senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart added “Even for those of us who have known John Petersen over the years, his insights into our revolutionary age still are enlightening, and often astonishing. As the Paul Revere of the early 21st century, his message is: The Future is Here!  He is a visionary with an ethical dimension and a too little known national asset. This deceptively short essay is a primer for an explosive future that is already upon us. It should be required reading for the next President.”

FUTURE FACTS – FROM THIS ISSUEFor all who have wondered if they could enjoy the benefits of exercise without the pain of exertion, the answer may one day be: YES.Bangladesh may not be as vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by climate change as previously feared; satellite images show the country’s landmass is actually growing.The nation’s biggest store chains are coming to see their immense, flat, sun-catching roofs as an untapped resource.
An internal World Bank study has concluded that biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% – far more than previously estimated.
INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE• If You Have a Problem, Ask Everyone
• Human Remote Control May Spell End for Teachers
• GPS Headsets Make Sure the Cows Come HomeIf You Have a Problem, Ask Everyone – (New York Times – July 21, 2008)
InnoCentive is a company that links organizations (seekers) with problems (challenges) to people all over the world (solvers) who win cash prizes for resolving them. The company gets a posting fee and, if the problem is solved, a “finders fee” equal to about 40 percent of the prize. The process, according to John Seely Brown, a theorist of information technology and former director of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, reflects “a huge shift in popular culture, from consuming to participating” enabled by the interactivity so characteristic of the Internet.

Human Remote Control May Spell End for Teachers – (CNN – August 7, 2008)

Teachers and textbooks beware – your future could be under threat from a quickly developing and very smart technology. At the center of this technology is a man who recently turned his face into a remote control – Jacob Whitehill, of the University of California’s Machine Perception Lab (MPLAB). More than just a wacky stunt, Whitehill’s feat marked a major step forward in the way people could one day learn by establishing facial expression recognition in robot teachers. The teaching robots or Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) are computer systems that provide personalized instruction and feedback to students without human intervention.

GPS Headsets Make Sure the Cows Come Home – (Crave – August 6, 2008)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are teaming up to remotely corral cattle using a wireless device that sends sound straight into the bovines’ ears. The solar-powered “Ear-A-Round” is a naugahyde “helmet” held in place by the cow’s ears. Atop the holster sits an electronics device hooked to sound-transmitting stereo earphones and containing a GPS unit that could let farmers monitor the animals’ whereabouts or direct them to move in a certain direction from afar.

Return to top of page
NEW REALITIESPractical Cloaking Devices on the Horizon? – (Phys Org – August 10, 2008)
Invisibility cloaks get a step closer to realization, with the demonstration of a new material that can bend (visible) light the ‘wrong’ way for the first time in three dimensions. Researchers report a metamaterial that produces negative refraction of visible light, and show that it can be can be easily probed from free space, paving the way for practical optical device applications.

Return to top of page
DISCOVERIES ENABLED BY NEW TECHNOLOGY• Rock Reunites Antarctica and North America
• The Hottest Water on Earth

Rock Reunites Antarctica and North America – (Live Science – July 28, 2008)

For several decades, researchers have theorized that part of the ancient supercontinent Rodinia broke away from what is now the southwestern United States around 800 million to 600 million years ago, eventually drifting southward to become eastern Antarctica and Australia. The idea is known as the southwestern United States to East Antarctica (SWEAT) hypothesis. But there was little physical evidence that could tie the southernmost continent to the long-disappeared Rodinia. Until scientists stumbled upon this rock, that is.

The Hottest Water on Earth – (New Scientist – August 4, 2008)

Deep down at the very bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, geochemist Andrea Koschinsky has found something truly extraordinary: “It’s water,” she says, “but not as we know it.” At over 3 kilometers beneath the surface, sitting atop what could be a huge bubble of magma, it’s the hottest water ever found on Earth. The fluid is in a “supercritical” state that has never before been seen in nature. The fluid spews out of two black smokers called Two Boats and Sisters Peak. Liquids boil and evaporate as temperature and pressure rise. But push both factors beyond a critical point and something odd happens: the gas and liquid phase merge into one supercritical fluid. For water, this fluid is denser than vapor, but lighter than liquid water.

Return to top of page
GENETICS/HEALTH TECHNOLOGY• Aging May Be an Accident of Evolution
• Couch Mouse to Mr. Mighty by Pills Alone
• Futuristic Fashions will Fight Our Health Scares
• New Chemicals Trick the Brain into Eating Less
• Gene Tags Fuel Obesity Epidemic
Aging May Be an Accident of Evolution – (Daily Galaxy – July 29, 2008)

The prevailing theory of aging is being challenged by Stanford University Medical School researchers. Their discovery contradicts the generally held hyopothesis that aging is a buildup of tissue damage similar to rust. The Stanford findings suggest specific genetic instructions drive the process. If they are right, science might one day find ways of switching the signals off and halting or even reversing aging.

Couch Mouse to Mr. Mighty by Pills Alone – (New York Times – August 1, 2008)

For all who have wondered if they could enjoy the benefits of exercise without the pain of exertion, the answer may one day be yes — just take a pill that tricks the muscles into thinking they have been working out furiously. Researchers at the Salk Institute in San Diego reported that they had found two drugs that did wonders for the athletic endurance of couch potato mice. One drug, known as Aicar, increased the mice’s endurance on a treadmill by 44% after just four weeks of treatment. A second drug, GW1516, supercharged the mice to a 75% increase in endurance but had to be combined with exercise to have any effect. “It’s a little bit like a free lunch without the calories,” said Dr. Ronald M. Evans, leader of the Salk group.

Futuristic Fashions will Fight Our Health Scares – (CNN – August 4, 2008)

From sensors in workout gear that monitor sweating while you run at the gym, to underwear that aims to detect cancer cells, the contents of our wardrobes have been quietly undergoing a revolution. Trials of smart clothes that can repel insects and mask nasty odors such as cigarette smoke have proved successful and are already being marketed. Last year, a design student at Cornell University designed a garment that can prevent colds and flu and, crucially, never needs washing. We can expect to see, in the not-too-distant future, fabrics that have in-built cooling, deodorant, moisturizer and even vitamins, experts say.

New Chemicals Trick the Brain into Eating Less – (Scientific American – August, 2008)

What if a handful of tiny compounds could fool our brains into eating differently? That is the idea behind the new science of flavor modulation. Scientists who have unlocked the long-standing mystery of taste biology are developing inexpensive yet potent compounds that make foods taste sweeter, saltier and more savory (heartier) than they really are. By adding tiny amounts of these modulators to traditional foods, manufacturers could reduce the amount of sugar, salt and monosodium glutamate (MSG) needed to satisfy, resulting in healthier products.

Experts Find ‘Scaredy-Cat’ Gene – (BBC News – August 11, 2008)
Variations in a gene may help explain why horror movies shock some people and entertain others, say German scientists. People with one version of the COMT gene startled more dramatically to unpleasant images than others, the researchers found. The work in Behavioral Neuroscience suggests inborn differences make some prone to extreme anxiety and stress.

Return to top of page
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES• A Dash of Lime – a New Twist that May Cut CO2 Levels
• Canadian Arctic Sheds Ice Chunk
• Bangladesh Landmass is Growing
• Melting Ice Threatens Arctic Park
• Nepal’s “Restaurant” for Vultures
• Is China’s Pollution Poisoning Its Children?

A Dash of Lime – a New Twist that May Cut CO2 Levels – (Phys Org – July 21, 2008)
Adding lime to seawater increases alkalinity, boosting seawater’s ability to absorb CO2 from air and reducing the tendency to release it back again. The process of making lime generates CO2, but adding the lime to seawater absorbs almost twice as much CO2. The overall process is therefore ‘carbon negative’. However, the idea, which has been bandied about for years, was thought unworkable because of the expense of obtaining lime from limestone and the amount of CO2 released in the process. Shell is so impressed with a newly developed approach that it is funding an investigation into its economic feasibility.

Canadian Arctic Sheds Ice Chunk – (BBC News – July 30, 2008)
Nearly 20 sq km (eight sq miles) of ice from the Ward Hunt shelf has split away from Ellesmere Island, according to satellite pictures. It is thought to be the biggest piece of ice shed in the region since 60 sq km of the nearby Ayles Ice Shelf broke away in 2005. Scientists say further splitting could occur during the Arctic summer melt. Scientists visited the area recently and found major new fractures in the ice that stretched for more than 16km (10 miles).

Bangladesh Landmass is Growing – (BBC News – July 30, 2008)
New research shows Bangladesh may not be as vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by climate change as previously feared, scientists in Dhaka say. They say satellite images show the country’s landmass is actually growing because of sediment dumped by rivers. A report by UN scientists has projected that rising sea levels will inundate 17% of Bangladesh by 2050, making about 30 million people homeless. One its authors said he saw little in the new research to change his mind.

Melting Ice Threatens Arctic Park – (BBC News – August 1, 2008)
A national park in Canada’s Arctic has been partly closed after record high temperatures caused flash flooding. A combination of melting permafrost and erosion means part of the park will remain shut until geologists can examine the damage. The Auyuittuq – which means The Land that Never Melts – covers an area of over 19,000sq km (7,340sq miles) and is dominated by the huge Penny Ice Cap. The park consists mainly of glaciers, rock and polar sea ice.

Nepal’s “Restaurant” for Vultures – (BBC News – July 31, 2008)
Two of the seven vulture species in the Indian subcontinent have declined catastrophically in number and are now endangered. Scientists recently pinpointed the cause – the drug, diclofenac. Farmers often give it to their cows as a painkiller. But if the cows die soon afterwards, the drug is deadly for the vultures which feed on their flesh. Nepal and India have now banned diclofenac because it was harming the vultures. It has been replaced by a safe drug called meloxicam. Under a unique initiative to conserve the scavenging birds, the “vulture restaurant” buys old and sickly cattle, cares for them until they die naturally and the feeds them to the vultures.

Is China’s Pollution Poisoning Its Children? – (Scientific American – August, 2008)
Researchers may have found the best test case yet for environmental molecular epidemiology: a city in China whose coal-fired power plant was shut down in 2004. Preliminary analysis shows that children born in 2002, when the plant was still operating, have smaller heads and lower scores on developmental tests than those born a year after the plant closed. They also have correspondingly higher levels of pollution-related genetic abnormalities.

Return to top of page
ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS• First Solar: Quest for the $1 Watt
• Comfy New Commuter Bikes for Getting around Town
• Major Discovery Primed to Unleash Solar Revolution
• EEStor: The Story So Far
• New Biomass Technology Dramatically Increases Ethanol Yield
• China’s Rapid Renewables Surge• Intergalactic Hydrogen Expects to Win Auto X-Prize
• Giant Retailers Look to Sun for Energy Savings

First Solar: Quest for the $1 Watt – (Phys Org – July 23, 2008)
Photovoltaic cells, once so costly they could be used only to power million-dollar satellites, are today turning up even on humble parking meters. Now a company called First Solar plans to take the technology to the next level by making it cost-effective enough to compete with coal-fired generation. Their means to achieve that involves not the photovoltaic cell itself but the way in which it is manufactured. Instead of the familiar silicon, the design uses a compound of cadmium and tellurium.

Comfy New Commuter Bikes for Getting around Town – (US News & World Report – June 20, 2008)
Bike stores and manufacturers across the nation are reporting a significant uptick lately in sales. “They’re selling out of all the commuting bikes—all bikes, by the way—that they can get their hands on,” says Bill Fields, a consultant who has followed the bicycle industry for decades and anticipates a 20% bump in the “comfort bike” category, which includes commuting bikes, by year’s end. Meantime, a bill that will allow employers to offer financial incentives to bicycle commuters is winding its way through the House and Senate. A bike-sharing program launching this month in Washington, D.C., which allows members to use bikes from 10 rental locations with the swipe of a card, has spurred interest in other cities.

Major Discovery Primed to Unleash Solar Revolution – (MIT News – July 31, 2008)
Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. However, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy. The key component in the process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces hydrogen gas. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity – whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source – runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.

EEStor: The Story So Far – (Earth2Tech – July 30, 3008)
Energy storage startup EEStor previously had its energy storage unit labeled as a potentially “disruptive technology” by The Economist. Potential markets for disruption include automotive batteries, grid energy storage and even battlefield power supplies. The company describes its device as follows: “Using revolutionary ultra capacitor architecture and environmentally friendly materials the EESU will have the capability to compete against all existing battery and capacitor technologies.” The company says its technology can provide 10 times the energy of lead-acid batteries at one tenth the weight and half the price.

New Biomass Technology Dramatically Increases Ethanol Yield – (Phys Org – July 28, 2008)
Producing ethanol from renewable biomass sources such as grasses is desirable because they are potentially available in large quantities. The new technology features a fast, mild, acid-free pretreatment process that increases by at least 10 times the amount of simple sugars released from inexpensive biomass for conversion to ethanol. The technology effectively eliminates the use of expensive and environmentally unsafe chemicals currently used to pretreat biomass.

China’s Rapid Renewables Surge – (BBC News – August 1, 2008)
China’s rapid investment in low carbon technologies has catapulted the nation up the global renewable energy rankings. The Climate Group study said China invested $12bn in renewables during 2007, second only to Germany. However, it was expected to top the table by the end of 2009, it added.

Intergalactic Hydrogen Expects to Win Auto X-Prize – (Pure Energy Systems –  August 9, 2008)
Intergalactic Hydrogen (IH) believes they can win the Automotive X-Prize championship with their multi-fuel technology. The Auto X-Prize is searching for a vehicle that can get 100 MPG-equivalent (MPGe), and would like to award the winner the ability to produce 10,000 copies of their championship design. Intergalactic Hydrogen multi-fuel vehicles have the ability to run on hydrogen, methane, or ethanol while retaining the ability to use gasoline. The same system can be used on a diesel engine as well.

Giant Retailers Look to Sun for Energy Savings – (New York Times – August 10, 2008)
The nation’s biggest store chains are coming to see their immense, flat roofs as an untapped resource. In recent months, chains including Wal-Mart Stores, Kohl’s, Safeway and Whole Foods Market have installed solar panels on roofs of their stores to generate electricity on a large scale. So far, most chains have outfitted fewer than 10% of their stores. Over the long run, assuming Congress renews a favorable tax provision and more states offer incentives, the chains promise a solar construction program that would ultimately put panels atop almost every big store in the country.

Return to top of page
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY• Electronics Giants to Create Wireless HD Standard
• Thailand Bans Grand Theft Auto IV
• Emotiv’s New Mind-Control Headset for PCs

Electronics Giants to Create Wireless HD Standard – (Associated Press – July 23, 2008)
Sony, Samsung and other consumer-electronics heavyweights are uniting to support a technology that could send high-definition video signals wirelessly from a single set-top box to screens around the home.The consortium is an important development in the race to create a definitive way to replace tangles of video cables, but doesn’t end it — both Sony and Samsung also are supporting a competing technology.

Thailand Bans Grand Theft Auto IV – (BBC News – August 4, 2008)
Copies of Grand Theft Auto IV have been pulled in Thailand after a teenager confessed to murdering a taxi driver by trying to copy a scene from the game. Bangkok police Captain Veerarit Pipatanasak said: “He wanted to find out if it was as easy in real life to rob a taxi as it was in the game.”

Emotiv’s New Mind-Control Headset for PCs – (BusinessWeek – July 30, 2008)
What if you could simply think about an action, and your computer would respond? The executives at a San Francisco startup called Emotiv Systems have spent the last half-decade researching so-called brain-computer interfaces. Emotiv is currently fine-tuning a mind-reading headset called the Epoc, which should ship late this year. The $299 device purports to eavesdrop on your thoughts and translate them into computer instructions, so you can play a game or arrange photos without using your hands or speaking words.  

Return to top of page
TERRORISM, SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE• Web Security Report Outlines Structure of Cybercrime Gangs
• Bees Join Hunt for Serial Killers
• Photography as a Weapon

Web Security Report Outlines Structure of Cybercrime Gangs – (E-Week – July 15, 2008)
In its trends report for Q2 2008, researchers at Finjan got inside the underground hacker economy and found that as threats have grown more sophisticated, so have the organizations pumping them out. Individual hackers and loosely organized groups have apparently gone the way of the dinosaur, replaced by well-structured organizations complete with a boss and underboss. Competition between the groups can be fierce, as Finjan researchers reported the commodization of certain types of stolen data has dropped profit margins. Credit card and bank account numbers with PINs not too long ago were selling for $100 each or more, according to the report. Today, prices have fallen to $10 to $20 each in some cases.

Bees Join Hunt for Serial Killers – (BBC News – July 30, 3008)
Just as bees forage some distance away from their hives, so murderers avoid killing near their homes, says the University of London team. This “geographic profiling” works so well in bees that future experiments on the animals could now be fed back to improve crime-solving. Bees create a “buffer zone” around their hive where they will not forage, to reduce the risk of predators and parasites locating the nest. It turns out that this pattern of behavior is similar to the geographic profile of criminals stalking their victims. “Most murders happen close to the killer’s home, but not in the area directly surrounding a criminal’s house, where crimes are less likely to be committed because of the fear of getting caught by someone they know,” Dr Raine explained.

Photography as a Weapon – (Zoom – August 11, 2008)
On July 10, various major daily newspapers published a photograph of four Iranian missiles streaking heavenward; then Little Green Footballs (significantly, a blog and not a daily newspaper) provided evidence that the photograph had been faked. Later, many of those same papers published a Whitman’s sampler of retractions and apologies. It begs the question: Why do we tend to trust photographs? Hany Farid, a Dartmouth professor and an expert on digital photography who has published a number of journal articles and a recent Scientific American article on digital photographic fraud, looks at that question in light of the way the brain processes visual information.

Return to top of page
GLOBAL EPIDEMICAIDS Infection Rate in U.S. Higher Than Previously Estimated – (Washington Post – August 2, 2008)
Updated federal estimates of the annual number of new HIV infections in the United States reveal that while the AIDS epidemic here is worse than previously thought, prevention efforts appear to be having some effect. Even though the number of Americans living with HIV has risen by more than a quarter million people since 1998 – largely the result of life-extending antiretroviral drugs – the number of new cases each year has declined slightly over that period. That suggests that a person’s likelihood of transmitting the virus to someone else is substantially lower now than it was a decade ago.

Return to top of page
TRENDS OF GOVERNMENT• Travelers’ Laptops May be Detained at Border
• FBI Admits Spying on Multiple US Reporters, Apologizes

Travelers’ Laptops May be Detained at Border – (Washington Post – August 1, 2008)
Federal agents may take a traveler’s laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed. Also, officials may share copies of the laptop’s contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. DHS officials said the newly disclosed policies – which apply to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens – are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism. Officials said such procedures have long been in place but were disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter.

FBI Admits Spying on Multiple US Reporters, Apologizes – (RawStory – August 9, 2008)
“We’re sorry.” That’s the message from FBI Director Robert Mueller to the executive editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post, after an inspector general discovered that the agency had seized telephone records from four US reporters without a grand jury. Neither Mueller nor his agency offered any explanations regarding the nature of the subject of the investigation that involved spying on American reporters based overseas. Writing in the Post today, Johnson noted that the reporters were writing about Islamic terrorism in Southeast Asia.

Return to top of page
ECONOMIC INDICATORS• Shipping Costs Crimp Globalization
• Pace of Falling Home Prices Gain Speed
• A Second, Far Larger Wave of U.S. Mortgage Defaults is Building
• $2 Trillian in Losses

Shipping Costs Crimp Globalization – (New York Times – August 3, 2008)
Globalization may be losing some of the inexorable economic power it had for much of the past quarter-century, even as it faces fresh challenges as a political ideology. Some see evidence that companies looking to keep prices low will have to move some production closer to consumers. To avoid having to ship all its products from abroad, the Swedish furniture manufacturer Ikea opened its first factory in the United States in May. Some electronics companies that left Mexico in recent years for the lower wages in China are now returning to Mexico, because they can lower costs by trucking their output overland to American consumers.

Pace of Falling Home Prices Gain Speed – (Bloomberg – July 29, 2008)
Home prices in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas fell at a faster pace in May, indicating the three-year housing slump has not stabilized. The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index dropped 15.8% from a year earlier, the biggest decline since records began in 2001, after decreasing 15.2% in April. The gauge has fallen every month since January 2007. One in every 171 households was in some stage of the foreclosure process, an increase of 121% from a year earlier, according to RealtyTrac Inc., a real estate database firm.

A Second, Far Larger Wave of U.S. Mortgage Defaults is Building – (Herald Tribune – August 4, 2008)
The first wave of Americans to default on their home mortgages appears to be cresting, but a second, far larger one is building with alarming speed. After two years of upward spiraling defaults, the problems with mortgages made to people with weak, or subprime, credit are showing the first, tentative signs of leveling off. But with the U.S. economy struggling, homeowners with better credit are now falling behind on their payments in growing numbers. The percentage of mortgages in arrears in the category of loans one rung above subprime, so-called alternative-A, or alt-A, mortgages, quadrupled to 12% in April from a year earlier. Delinquencies among prime loans, which account for most of the $12 trillion market, doubled to 2.7% in that time.

$2 Trillion in Losses – (CNN – August 4, 2008)
This video clip is an interview with Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at New York University, as he discusses what he sees on the economic horizon: a severe recession that might last until the middle of next year, with the total losses becoming as much as $2 – $3 trillion.

Return to top of page
DEMOGRAPHICS• Secret Report: Biofuel Caused Food Crisis
• Mideast Facing Choice between Crops and Water
• Lord of the Memes

Secret Report: Biofuel Caused Food Crisis – (Guardian – July 4, 2008)
An internal World Bank study has delivered a blow to plant energy drive. Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% – far more than previously estimated – according to a confidential World Bank report. The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body. The figure emphatically contradicts the US government’s claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises.

Mideast Facing Choice between Crops and Water – (New York Times – July 21, 2008)
Global food shortages have placed the Middle East and North Africa in a quandary, as they are forced to choose between growing more crops to feed an expanding population or preserving their already scant supply of water. For decades nations in this region have drained aquifers, sucked the salt from seawater and diverted the mighty Nile to make the deserts bloom. But those projects were so costly and used so much water that it remained far more practical to import food than to produce it. Now, the worldwide food crisis is making many countries in this politically volatile region rethink that math.

Lord of the Memes – (Herald Tribune – August 8, 2008)
This tongue-in-cheek editorial to a failed pseudo-intellectual claims that “over the past few years, there has been a tectonic shift in the basis of good taste.” Satire aside, what this article examines is the idea that media has displaced culture. As commenters on The American Scene blog have pointed out, the means of transmission replaced the content of culture as the center of historical excitement and as the marker of social status. Now the global thought-leader is defined less by what culture he enjoys than by the smartphone, social bookmarking site, social network and e-mail provider he uses to store and transmit it.

Return to top of page
JUST FOR FUNAmazing House Designs that Get You Close to Nature – (Green Upgrader – July 29, 2008)
Here are 14 amazing house designs that can help you reconnect with your environment. And don’t worry: there’s a little something here for everyone from billionaires to… well, the homeless.

Return to top of page
A FINAL QUOTE…The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.   Albert Einstein
A special thanks to:, Erik Beaumont, Philip Bogdonoff, Bernard Calil, Ken Dabkowski, Neil Freer, Ursula Freer, Paul Hoffman, KurzweilAI, Planet 2025, Sebastian McCallister, Diane C. Petersen, John C..Petersen, Planet 2025, the Schwartzreport, Joel Snell, Gary Sycalik, and Steve Ujvarosy, our contributors to this issue.

If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.
LinksThe Arlington InstituteWorld’s Biggest ProblemsA Vision for 2012TAI PresentsFUTUREdition ArchiveContactEdited by John L. Petersen

The Arlington Institute
192 E. Fairfax Street
Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
Office: 304.258.7901
Fax: 304.258.7902

What do you think?

Volume 11, Number 13 – 07/30/08

Volume 11, Number 15 – 08/29/08