|Volume 12, Number 4 – 9/30/09PUBLICATION ANNOUNCEMENT|
Former senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart has said “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.”
by John L. Petersen
For a number of years, now, I’ve been suggesting in public that the future of the planet’s climate may have much more ice than fire. There have always been – for me at least – some questions around the theories related to the forecasts of long-term global warming, and especially the notion that humans were a major causal factor in the influencing the whole of the planet’s climactic system.
Some sources were suggesting to me that the future was one of rapid cooling . . . and that we should be getting ready for that, rather than a period of constantly increasing temperatures. I’d seen several attempts to argue against the IPCC proposals that are the mainstream perspective, but none that were overly comprehensive and compelling. That has now changed.
Recently a friend sent me a copy of a presentation that Burt Rutan made at the big airplane convention that is held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin each year. Burt, the foremost aircraft designer of this era and an extraordinarily creative and out-of-the-box thinker, has put together a very persuasive presentation that shows that real science doesn’t support the currently popular global warming theories.
When I commented to him about his presentation Burt pointed me to a film, The Great Global Warming Swindle, which further convinced me that in terms of the climate, at least, we should seriously be thinking about something other than trying to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Let me recommend that you visit this site where you can find both Burt’s presentation and a link to the film.
Having said this, I think it’s important to also say that there are a number of very good reasons to move on from using so-called fossil-based fuels. If you’ve ever choked your way across the Los Angeles basin during one of their bad smog days, or witnessed the effects of acid rain, tried unsuccessfully to see just a half-block away through the extraordinarily polluted air of Xian, or considered the devastating health costs associated with the major fuels we now use, then there’s no question that we need to find a better way to do some of these things.
We’re full into the beginning of the most extraordinary explosion in science and technology that humanity has ever seen. There are breakthroughs all over the place – especially in the energy sector. I’m aware, for example, of a number of new biomass-based startups that have extraordinary potential for providing clean, renewable alternatives to oil and coal. One tree that I examined grows 65 feet in three years . . . and grows again just that rapidly after you cut it down, and cleans up the soil in the process. So there are alternatives.
And keep in mind, the aliens don’t have gas tanks. There’s surely a next generation of energy and propulsion that we can tap into that will allow us to do extraordinary things that only science fiction writers have thought of without technology that has a smoke stack or tail pipe.
Winslow Wheeler was kind enough to send along another take on the systemic nature of the issues that confront us nationally. Defense analyst Chuck Spinney is rather famous (some would suggest infamous) for his very creative, out of the box perspectives. If you’re not familiar with the OODA loop, please follow the link and find out more. This is just a brilliant assessment of the structural dynamics in play and the need for a change in Orientation (read consciousness, if you like) in order to facilitate large-scale social change. It’s interesting to me that ideas like this (“it’s time for fundamental, structural change or the whole system is at risk”) are now coming out of the national security community. – JLP
By Chuck Spinney: The recent article in Counterpunch by David Michael Green, “Can America be Salvaged?”
(counterpunch.com/green09182009.html) is a brilliant expository argument describing what are in effect the destructive outcomes of self-referencing/incestuously amplifying OODA loops that are becoming ever more disconnected from reality. If these effects continue to multiply, the interaction of chance with necessity will inevitably produce in some kind of evolutionary pathway toward even more confusion and disorder, which will amplify itself into even more doubt, fear and chaos, and will eventually culminate in self destruction, death, or extinction. Indeed, if read in the context of the Colonel John Boyd’s theory of the Observation – Orientation – Decision – Action (OODA) Loop, together with the related idea of incestuous amplification, (the process by which a decision maker’s orientation, or his interior model of how the world operates, distorts his observations of external events to such a extent that he sees and acts on what he wants to see, rather than the external world as it is), Green’s question answers itself … and that answer is not pretty.
Boyd’s theory explains why and how this ruin is likely to occur; why the key to dodging this fate is to change our collective Orientation, and why changing Orientation is both psychologically painful and very difficult. Changing one’s Orientation involves (1) destroying utterly cherished belief systems and ideologies flowing out of one’s previous experiences and cultural heritage — which is akin to changing the lens thru which people observe, interpret, make sense of, and act on events in the real world — and then (2) creating new more relevant ways of looking at that world out of the chaotic rubble of past preconceptions and biases. Of course, the rub is that uncertainty and fear is magnified by the fact that no one can say what the new frame of reference will look like before the existing one is destroyed. This is what happened until Isaac Newton finally destroyed forever the Ptolemaic view of the Universe, the culmination of a destructive process that was not easy and took hundreds of years. That is what is still happening in the post-Darwinian science of evolution. The intensity of that struggle is obvious for all to see, notwithstanding the overwhelming persuasive power of a growing mountain of scientific evidence in favor of the neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory.
In politics and governance, where ideology and interests play an even larger role than in science, changing the collective Orientation is far more difficult. The bottom line: It is much easier for a group psychology that increasingly feels threatened by adverse selection pressure, and is in a state of growing confusion, apprehension, and fear, to cling to what it is comfortable and familiar with, while it rides down the slippery slope to ruin as the selection pressure works its grimly ineluctable magic. Only a thoroughly mobilized citizenry can change this outcome, and that is why every thinking American should read Green’s essay.
Niso Lipsi, Greece
Note to readers unfamiliar with Boyd or his theory of the OODA Loop: A brief introduction can be found in my essays Genghis John. More comprehensive but accessible descriptions can be found in the books by Robert Coram and James Fallows, and Chet Richards, among many others. For those readers who are interested in heavy intellectually lifting, see Franz Ozinga‘s analysis of Boyd’s strategic thought or even better, they could study Boyd’s original papers, which can be found in the in the form of his original briefings and can be downloaded in various formats from Chet Richards’ website
FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
Observations suggest vast sheets of ice sit just below the red top-soil of Mars.Ray Kurzweil believes that “in around 20 years we will have the means to reprogram our bodies’ stone-age software so we can halt, then reverse, ageing. Then nano-technology will let us live forever.”Two sunspots are visible on our star’s face for the first time in more than a year, possibly ending an unexpected lull in solar activity.Placebos are getting more effective; drugmakers don’t know why.
Tweeting Medics Expose Patients – (BBC News – September 24, 2009)
Research in the Journal of the American Medical Association found examples of web gossip by trainee doctors sharing private patient stories and details. Over half of 78 US medical schools studied had reported cases of students posting unprofessional content online. One in 10 of these contained frank violations of patient confidentiality. Most were blogs, including one on Facebook, containing enough clinical detail that patients could potentially be identified. While most incidents resulted in informal warnings, some were deemed serious enough to lead to dismissal from medical school. But few of the medical schools had policies that covered online social networking and blogging.
Mars Probe Watches Water-Ice Fade
Superheavy Element 114 Confirmed
Mars Probe Watches Water-Ice Fade – (BBC News – September 25, 2009)
Photographs acquired by a NASAa orbiter show white material exposed by fresh meteorite impacts fading over time – behavior expected of ice on Mars. An onboard instrument also detected the tell-tale chemical signature of water. The observations suggest vast sheets of ice may reside in near-surface layers. To date, exposed water-ice has only been seen at very high latitudes. The implication, even with the small set of examples scientists now have, is that broad deposits of ice sit just below the red top-soil of Mars.
Superheavy Element 114 Confirmed – (Science Daily – September 25, 2009)
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have been able to confirm the production of the superheavy element 114, ten years after a group in Russia, at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, first claimed to have made it. The search for 114 has long been a key part of the quest for nuclear science’s hoped-for Island of Stability. Elements heavier than uranium, element 92 – the atomic number refers to the number of protons in the nucleus – are radioactive and decay in a time shorter than the age of Earth; thus are not generally found in nature.
Scientists Make Paralyzed Rats Run Again
Harvard Study Finds Nearly 45,000 Deaths Annually Linked to Lack
of Health Coverage
Enzyme Is Key To Clogged Arteries
A Turning Point for Personal Genomes
Scientists Make Paralyzed Rats Run Again – (Breitbart – September 20, 2009)
Paralyzed rats whose spinal cords had been severed from their brains were made to run again using a technique that scientists say can work for people, according to a recent study. Consistent electrical stimulation and drugs enabled the rats to walk on their hind legs on a treadmill — bearing the full weight of the body — within a week of being paralyzed. With the addition of physical therapy, the rodents were able after several weeks to walk and run without stumbling for up to 30 minutes, reported the study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. “This means that the spinal network is almost capable of cognitive processing,” explained Gregoire Courtine, a professor at Zurich University.
Harvard Study Finds Nearly 45,000 Deaths Annually Linked to Lack of Health Coverage – (Common Dreams – September 17, 2009)
A study published online today estimates nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance. That figure is about two and a half times higher than an estimate from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2002. The Harvard-based researchers found that uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993.
Enzyme Is Key To Clogged Arteries – (Science Daily – September 26, 2009)
Researchers have discovered that an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase-8 plays a crucial role in raising blood pressure and causing abnormal build-up of cells in the arteries – both of which increase the risk of heart disease. The researchers studied mice which were genetically altered so they could not produce the MMP8 enzyme. The mice were fed on a Western-style diet high in fat and cholesterol and compared to normal mice fed on the same diet. The mice which lacked the enzyme had clearer arteries and lower blood pressure. The researchers also studied 2,000 patients who were being tested for clogs in arteries leading to their hearts. They found that around 25% had a slightly different version of the gene for MMP8 and their arteries were more clogged than other patients.
A Turning Point for Personal Genomes – (Technology Review – September 24, 2009)
Last year, when more than 100 of the world’s top geneticists, technologists, and clinicians converged on Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York for the first annual Personal-Genomes conference, the main focus was James Watson’s genome. But there was very little usable information in the genome. That has changed. In a few cases, scientists have already been able to find the genetic cause of a disorder by sequencing an affected person’s genome. Genome sequencing has also engendered a new approach to cancer research.
DISCOVERIES ENABLED BY NEW TECHNOLOGY
Butterfly ‘GPS’ Found in Antennae
Feather-covered Dinosaur Fossils Found
Butterfly ‘GPS’ Found in Antennae – (BBC News – September 25, 2009)
Every autumn about 100 million Monarch butterflies migrate 4,000 kilometers to winter in Mexico. The insects navigate according to the position of the Sun, adjusting their calculations as it appears to move across the sky. A paper in the journal Science shows the location of the clock is the antennae rather than the brain. Scientists say the finding is a surprise as it has always been thought that the butterflies used a 24-hour clock in their brains in conjunction with their “Sun compass” when they migrated. Based on a half-century old study that noted that if butterflies lost their antennae mid-flight, they became disoriented, researchers put butterflies in a flight simulator. Those with their antennae intact had no problem orienting and flying south. But those without their antennae just couldn’t do it. Next they painted some butterflies’ antennae black, blocking light sensing. Those insects couldn’t orient themselves. Butterfly antennae were already known to sense odor, wind, even sound.
Feather-covered Dinosaur Fossils Found – (Science News – September 25, 2009)
A newly described, profusely feathered dinosaur may give lift to scientists’ understanding of bird and flight evolution, researchers report. The lithe creature, which stood about 28 centimeters tall at the hip, is the oldest known to have sported feathers and is estimated to be between 1 million and 11 million years older than Archaeopteryx, the first known bird. Several fossils of the creature, which has been dubbed Anchiornis huxleyi, have been unearthed in northeastern China. The strata that contained those feathered fossils were laid down as sediments between 151 million and 161 million years ago.
Tech Helps Dandelions Ooze
Tipping towards the Unknown
Global Warming or Global Freezing: Is the Ice Really Melting?
Laser Satellite Records Ice Loss
The Sun Gets Its Spots (Back)
Seismic Bangs Block Whale Calls
China Fights Back: Scientists Find “no solid scientific evidence to strictly correlate global temperature rise & CO2 concentrations”
Tech Helps Dandelions Ooze – (Discovery News – September 15, 2009)
Pop off most dandelion heads and, just for a second, white sap oozes freely from the wound. Pop the head off a new genetically engineered dandelion, however, and white sap oozes for minutes, allowing scientists to gather five times more latex than from the average dandelion. The research could lead to a variety of new or cheaper products, including new car tires or even new pharmaceutical drugs. “We have identified the enzyme responsible for the rapid polymerization and have switched it off,” explained Dirk Prufer, a scientist at Fraunhofer Institute in Munich, Germany, who is developing the technology.
Tipping towards the Unknown – (Stockholm Resilience Center – September 24, 2009)
A number of resilience researchers and many others have proposed the concept of nine planetary boundaries, beyond which the functioning of the earth system will fundamentally change. Three of nine interlinked planetary boundaries have already been overstepped; they argue that we have crossed the climate, nitrogen and extinction boundaries, and need to change the course of our civilization to move back into conditions which provide a safety for human civilization. But they also suggest there is hope.
Global Warming or Global Freezing: Is the Ice Really Melting? – (Financial Sense Editorials – September 24, 2009)
At least some members of the jury are still out: Are humans the cause of global warming or not? A major new study published in the respected Journal of Geophysical Research of the American Geophysical Union, (link to research in the article), confirms that over the past fifty years, since 1950, fully 81% of tropical climate change can be linked to the Pacific weather phenomenon known as El Nino. And the remaining 19% they linked to increased solar radiation. No man made emissions played a role. In Sweden a new study confirms that the Arctic today is not warmer than in previous historical periods centuries ago before coal power plants or automobiles. “The 200-year long warm period centered on 1000 AD was significantly warmer than the late-twentieth century….”
Laser Satellite Records Ice Loss – (BBC News – September 24, 2009)
Greenland and parts of Antarctica are losing large volumes of ice to the oceans as their glaciers get thinner, a NASA satellite has revealed. Many glaciers have increased their flow rates in recent years, and the Icesat mission now allows scientists to measure their thickness in detail. The extent of “dynamic thinning”, observed by the satellite, has been a major source of uncertainty in projections of sea-level rise. The swiftness with which some of the glaciers now move towards the sea far outstrips the rate at which ice can be restored to the land through precipitation.
The Sun Gets Its Spots (Back) – (Wired – September 24, 2009)
Two sunspots are visible on our star’s face for the first time in more than a year, possibly ending an unexpected lull in solar activity. Solar flares rise and fall on an 11-year cycle, so scientists thought sunspot activity would pick up some time in 2008. It didn’t. And this year has been quiet, too. No sunspots have been visible on the sun for 80 percent of the days this year. Sunspot activity is correlated with the total amount of energy we receive from the sun. If the sun’s activity were to change remarkably, it would have an influence on global climate. So, in the context of climate change, the fact that the current solar minimum has been the longest and deepest in more than a century has been of special interest. In May, a big sunspot seemed to augur a return to normal, but it faded away and sunspotless days returned. The latest activity might not mark the end of the solar minimum, however.
Seismic Bangs Block Whale Calls – (BBC News – September 23, 2009)
A number of recent reports have highlighted the increase in ocean noise brought about by humanity’s use of the oceans, in particular shipping. One study indicated that the level of background noise from ships’ propellers was doubling every decade in the Pacific Ocean. Conservation groups are raising the issue because many marine animals, including whales and dolphins, use sound to communicate and to hunt. The use of very sharp, very loud bangs of seismic surveys are a particular concern. Engineers typically use these to map oil and gas deposits because they produce the clearest images of geological structures below the sea floor.
China Fights Back: Scientists Find “no solid scientific evidence to strictly correlate global temperature rise and CO2 concentrations” | Climate Realists
Burning Question: Does Internet Speed Vary by Season? – (Wired – September 21, 2009)
The Wiedemann-Franz law states that the electrical conductivity of a metal falls as the temperature rises. Since the vast majority of the world’s cable is in the northern hemisphere, the warm summertime months above the equator should see a drop in Internet speeds. “No way,” said Doug Webster, a senior director at Cisco. “The infrastructure is engineered to counter those effects.” Cisco had never crunched the numbers to account for seasonal variation until Wired Magazine asked, its data shows that the bits move most swiftly in June, July, and August. How could the Internet thumb its binary nose at the laws of physics? Webster has a theory: The Internet runs faster in the summer because people are outside enjoying the nice weather. It turns out that he’s right. Traffic has a far greater effect on speed than the weather does. Download-friendly July has the least Web traffic. In 2008, 56% fewer bits moved through the Intertubes in July than in September.
AUGMENTED/ ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Unicycle for Seniors Unveiled in Japan
Robotic Hand Grabs for More Flexibility
Unicycle for Seniors Unveiled in Japan – (BBC News – September 25, 2009)
Honda has unveiled a prototype of a battery-powered unicycle, deigned for the elderly. The one-wheeled U3-X “personal mobility vehicle” can travel at speeds up to 3.7 miles per hour and was shown off in Tokyo, Japan. The sit-on design allows a rider to move by leaning their weight in the direction they want to travel. Some of the technology in the vehicle was originally developed as part as Honda’s humanoid robot project ASIMO. The 10kg vehicle also uses what Honda claims to be the “world’s first omni-directional driving wheel system”, which enables it to move in all directions. With more than 22% of Japans population over retirement age, the country is increasingly turning towards technology to help deal with its rapidly aging society.
Robotic Hand Grabs for More Flexibility – (Harvard Crimson – September 25, 2009)
Unlike most robotic hands-which are made of rigid steel- researchers in the lab of Robert D. Howe, Harvard professor of engineering have developed a robotic hand which is polymer-based and has flexible joints. Researchers conceived of the hand in response to a common problem in earlier models. Unlike human hands, the steel versions weren’t able to adapt to unexpected variations in their environments. The flexibility of the robotic hand lets it conform to and grasp objects of different sizes and shapes that may not be in the position predicted-in other words, the environment found outside of the laboratory. “As a result, in the real world, when your object isn’t exactly where you expect it to be, the hand can adapt to it and doesn’t end up damaging itself or the object.”
Fossils from Animals and Plants Not Necessary for Crude Oil
Refitted to Bury Emissions, Plant Draws Attention
Fossils from Animals and Plants Not Necessary for Crude Oil – (Science Daily – September 12, 2009)
Researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm have managed to prove that fossils from animals and plants are not necessary for crude oil and natural gas to be generated. The findings are revolutionary since this means, on the one hand, that it will be much easier to find these sources of energy and, on the other hand, that they can be found all over the globe.
Refitted to Bury Emissions, Plant Draws Attention – (New York Times – September 22, 2009)
Poking out of the ground near the smokestacks of the Mountaineer power plant in New Haven, WV are two wells that look much like those that draw natural gas to the surface. But these are about to do something new: inject a power plant’s carbon dioxide into the earth. Built in 1980, long before global warming stirred broad concern, Mountaineer is poised to become the world’s first coal-fired power plant to capture and bury some of the carbon dioxide it churns out. The hope is that the gas will stay deep underground for millennia rather than entering the atmosphere as a heat-trapping pollutant.
Thailand’s Long Battle with HIV/AIDS – (BBC News – September 24, 2009)
Thailand has held the largest ever trial of an HIV vaccine. More than 16,000 Thais volunteered to take part in the trial, which was run jointly by the Thai government and US military. The researchers had sought HIV-negative men and women between the ages of 18 and 30 years old who were at an average risk of infection. They wanted to test a combination of two vaccines, ALVAC and AIDSVAX, which on their own had previously not worked. The results of the trial show that the vaccine lowered the rate of HIV infection by 31.2% compared with the placebo. All volunteers received counseling on how to prevent infection throughout the trial, and those who became infected were given free access to HIV care and treatment.
Nanotechnology to Make Man Immortal? – (India Server – September 25, 2009)
Ray Kurzweil, who is famous for his predictions which he had made on technologies about 10 years back, has written in The Sun ,”I and many other scientists now believe that in around 20 years we will have the means to reprogram our bodies’ stone-age software so we can halt, then reverse, ageing. Then nano-technology will let us live forever.” According to him, nanobots, which are blood cell-sized submarines, are being tested in animals. He said that these will soon be used for the destruction of tumours, for the unblocking clots as well as performing surgeries, without leaving any scars. Ultimately, nanobots will have the potential to replace blood cells and do their work thousands of times more effectively, he added.
TERRORISM, SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
DARPA Spy Cams to Find Threats in ‘Weak Evidence’ – (Wired – September 24, 2009)
The military’s got spy drones and surveillance cameras all over Afghanistan, and they’re looking to add even more. But the heaps of footage are already more than analysts can handle. Now, the Pentagon’s launching a a new effort that will use computer programming to help human analysts and improve the speed and accuracy of spy-cam threat detection – even when there’s only “weak evidence” of an impending attack. DARPA, the military’s far-out research arm, is looking for proposals for a software program that will zero in on useful intelligence collected by all those aerial cameras. And they want the system to work in two ways: as a forensic tool to scan older footage and help human analysts trace the onset of specific events, and as a real-time analyst itself, using algorithms to detect potential threats.
WAYS TO ADDRESS THE COMING SHIFT
SurvivalBlog – (Blog by Jim Rawles – ongoing blog, no date)
SurvivalBlog is dedicated to family preparedness, survival, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency. Jim Rawles, creator of SuvivalBlog, describes himself as “a survivalist author, former U.S. Army Intelligence officer and technical writer. I now work as a full-time blogger, retreat consultant, and freelance writer.” He is forthright about his outlook, his perspectives and his personal philosophy, (see his “About” and “Precepts” pages) and readers of FUTUREdition may or may not find themselves in harmony with all his personal views. However, he is exceptionally knowledgeable in just about all the areas of survival that you might want to consider. For the sheer value of his practical expertise, we recommend his blog as a resource.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Life on Earth Came from Other Planets
Chinese Scientist Clarifies He Filmed an Unidentified Object,
not a UFO
British RAF Suspected Aliens of “Tourist” Visits to Earth
Life on Earth Came from Other Planets – (Journal of Cosmology – Vol. 1, 2009)
In an exhaustively researched paper, Rhawn Joseph proposes a comprehensive theory to explain how life on Earth came from other planets. Life appeared a few hundred million years after the Earth’s creation during a period of heavy bombardment. The first life forms to appear on Earth were produced by microbes which were likely encased in debris from the shattered remnants of those planets that circled the parent star nearly 5 billion years ago.
Chinese Scientist Clarifies He Filmed an Unidentified Object, not a UFO – (The Indian News – September 15, 2009)
In a September 7 report, the Daily Mail reported “UFO ‘filmed for 40 minutes’ by Chinese scientists during solar eclipse” The British newspaper quoted Ji Haisheng, director of Nanjing-based Purple Mountain Observatory as having said: “During the July 22 total solar eclipse observation, China had discovered near the sun an unidentified object, it’s physical nature remains to be further studied.” But Ji has scotched that report by saying that he does not know why his explanation about a bright spot close to the sun, very likely to be the result of some coronal activity filmed during the total eclipse, was misunderstood. The “bright spot” was one of the best examples of Chinese scientists’ success in capturing some fresh and clear images of the corona of a solar eclipse.
British RAF Suspected Aliens of “Tourist” Visits to Earth – (Telegraph – September 20, 2009)
Documents in declassified Ministry of Defence records reveal that there were high level defense officials in the 1990s who believed UFOs could be spacecraft piloted by extraterrestrials. In 1993, an RAF Wing Commander lobbied MoD officials about the need for a properly funded study and said, “If the sightings are of devices not of earth then their purpose needs to be established as a matter of priority. There has been no apparently hostile intent and other possibilities are: (1) military reconnaissance, (2) scientific, (3) tourism.” An exasperated intelligence office wrote to the UFO Desk: “I see no reason for continuing to deny that (Defence Intelligence) has an interest in UFOs. However, if the association is formally made public, then the MoD will no doubt be pressured to state what the intelligence role/interest is. This could lead to disbelief and embarrassment since few people are likely to believe the truth that lack of funds and higher priorities have prevented any study of the thousands of reports received.”
Start-Up Tries to Revive Online Group Buying – (New York Times – September 16, 2009)
When most people think about buying in bulk, they think about buying 50 rolls of toilet paper, a case of air freshener or 40 boxes of cereal. But what about four hours of services from a personal assistant or four salsa dance classes? Groupon, a start-up based in Chicago, offers daily deals in which people can score reduced prices and discounts on acupuncture, meals, opera tickets, Segway tours, even teeth cleanings – as long as enough people participate.
Ghost Fleet of the Recession Anchored East of Singapore
China to World: No More Shiny Metals for You
In Pursuit of the Impossible Recovery
Raise the Bismarck!
Ghost Fleet of the Recession Anchored East of Singapore – (Daily Mail – September 16, 2009)
The biggest and most secretive gathering of ships in maritime history lies at anchor east of Singapore. It is bigger than the U.S. and British navies combined but has no crew, no cargo and no destination. As Briton Tim Huxley, one of Asia’s leading ship brokers, says, ‘If the world is really pulling itself out of recession, then all these idle ships should be back on the move. This is the time of year when everyone is doing all the Christmas stuff,’ he points out. ‘But now you’ve got something like 12% of the world’s container ships doing nothing.’
China to World: No More Shiny Metals for You – (Financial Times – September 17, 2009)
There are rumors that China may ban the export of silver and gold. Be that as it may, as recently as 2002, the private ownership of gold was prohibited in China. You could be jailed if caught with any in your possession. Beginning in 2009, in a stunning about-face, the central government removed all restrictions. In fact, the government is now actively pushing folks to buy some personal metal, with China’s Central Television, the main state-owned television company, letting the public know just how easy it is to purchase gold and silver as an investment. It truly is simple because every bank sells gold and silver bullion bars in four different sizes to individuals.
In Pursuit of the Impossible Recovery – (Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin – September 16, 2009)
Now, as summer 2009 comes to a close, and as the three rogue waves start impacting the global economy hard: unemployment, bankruptcies and monetary shocks. However, no one can now construct a true picture of today’s global economic situation as macroeconomic figures are more and more contradictory or simply absurd. Measurement data and instruments have been so manipulated and limited to a volatile US Dollar as sole benchmark, that no government, international organization or bank can now tell in which direction the global system is heading. However, there is some interesting single point data quoted in this article with which one can extrapolate one’s own opinion.
Raise the Bismarck! – (Market Watch – September 21, 2009)
Prince Otto von Bismarck may be on his way back. With a few tweaks, the initials form his name: Brazil, India, South Africa, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and Korea. These are the main emerging market economies within the G20 group. And they are the ones whose currencies could be so much in demand over the next 5-10 years that they could collectively displace the dollar. The acronym is the brainchild of Ousmène Mandeng, an economist who previously worked at the International Monetary Fund and who wants to promote wholesale reform of the global currency system. IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, giving the Bundesbank’s annual lecture in Berlin earlier this month, held out the prospect of a multi-currency reserve system in which the renminbi could play a role as a “co-equal” alongside the dollar and the euro.
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH — articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.
Placebos Are Getting More Effective. Drugmakers Don’t Know Why.
Hummer Owners Claim Moral High Ground
2.8% of Oklahoma High School Students Pass Citizenship Test
Placebos Are Getting More Effective. Drugmakers Don’t Know Why. – (Wired – August 24, 2009)
The fact that taking a faux drug can powerfully improve some people’s health-the so-called placebo effect-has long been considered an embarrassment to the serious practice of pharmacology. It’s not that the old meds are getting weaker, drug developers say. It’s as if the placebo effect is somehow getting stronger. The reasons are only just beginning to be understood. A network of independent researchers is doggedly uncovering the inner workings-and potential therapeutic applications-of the placebo effect.
Hummer Owners Claim Moral High Ground – (Science Daily – September 25, 2009)
To critics, Hummers represent the ills of contemporary society. Hummer owners, however, consider Hummer driving a highly moral consumption choice,” according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. The authors explain that Hummer owners employ the ideology of American foundational myths, such as the “rugged individual,” and the “boundless frontier” to construct themselves as moral protagonists. “Our analysis of the underlying American identity discourses revealed that being under siege by (moral) critics is an historically established feature of being an American,” write the authors. “The moralistic critique of their consumption choices readily inspired Hummer owners to adopt the role of the moral protagonist who defends American national ideals.”
2.8% of Oklahoma High School Students Pass Citizenship Test – (Daily Kos – September 18, 2009)
The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative public policy research organization commissioned a study aimed at determining the level of basic civics knowledge of Oklahoma High School students. To their dismay the study revealed that only 23% of students knew that our first President was George Washington and only 2.8% of the students scored well enough on the test to be eligible for US citizenship.
A FINAL QUOTE…
“The vast possibilities of our great future will become realities only if we make ourselves responsible for that future.” – Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946), first Chief of the United States Forest Service
A special thanks to: Kevin Clark, Ursula Freer, Humera Khan, Stu Rose, Nova Spivack, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.
Edited by John L. Petersen
The Arlington Institute
World’s Biggest Problems
A Vision for 2012
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