Volume 13, Number 2 – 1/30/10

Volume 13, Number 2 – 1/30/10FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS

Rogue genetic elements previously dismissed as “junk” DNA may play a role in the development of some cancers, or at least act as a marker of the disease’s progression.Satellite imagery of the deforestation of the Amazon basin has revealed the vast remains of an unknown civilization.Cars that run on hydrogen, get the equivalent of 300 miles per gallon, are leased rather than owned, and are produced under an open source business model will be in test use in 2012 in the UK.By its own admission: the statement by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2007 report reporting that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 had no scientific basis.
by John L. Petersen

I’ve been thinking about our president lately and his efforts to get his administration back on the track. My assessment of Barack Obama is fundamentally colored by having read his book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream back during the election campaign.

In one of my earlier incarnations I spent a significant amount of time around some presidential candidates and I have a sense about how some of them look at the world and how the inside of the American political system works. This experience and then reading Obama’s book convinced me that at his core, this is a good man who is very bright and had some deep, fundamental ideas about what needed to be done set this country off in a desirable, new direction. He was different from most politicians. Not since Gary Hart had there been as thoughtful a candidate in the race.

Regardless of the criticisms of the brevity of his campaign mantra pitching “just” change, a majority of the American electorate saw in Obama these very basic, good qualities and even if they hadn’t read the book, sensed that he perceived himself, the country, and the world in quite a different way than his predecessor. There really was a chance for a new world this time.

That’s what gave many of us hope. That’s what radically changed the perspective of the U.S. around the world. Most Americans don’t understand how poorly we were thought of outside of our borders during the previous administration – how that what we were doing in the war on terror, etc., was seen as fundamentally at odds with what everyone had come to believe we really stood for. They were quite saddened by the torture and other stuff. The turn to the dark side sent shivers around the world, raising ominous questions in the minds of our friends about the future for our country and by extension, the world.

It’s no wonder why the Nobel Foundation gave him the Peace Prize. His campaign and victory radically changed feelings about America and the future of the world across the planet.

It’s not nationalistic to suggest that in the big picture, the U.S., unlike any other country provides extraordinary hope for the future of humanity. Look around the world. Certainly there are many other wonderful, perhaps even more enlightened nations, but none has the size and ingenuity coupled with a basic sense of goodness that America has. At least, that’s what I am told when I travel out of the country by many thoughtful folks who hail from all over the globe.

Obama very clearly connected with that sense of goodness that many of us have. He gave us hope. But, delivering on that hope has been quite a different issue.

The problem is our government. James Fallows, in a very provocative piece in the latest issue of The Atlantic asks, “Is America going to hell?” In the end, he argues that the pieces for getting back on track are there . . . except for our government (the senate, in particular). He doesn’t see a way out without changing an integral piece of our form of government.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations cannot be limited in their ability to influence our elective process with contributions, the issues with legislators has been exacerbated. In ways like they were unable to do before, senators can now say that representing the interests of corporations is equivalent to (and important as) representing individual citizens. I’ll be quick to say that I don’t have any ideas about what to do about that.

But, there’s another piece that is also a problem – especially for Obama. Our government is extraordinary complex and arcane. Lots of moving parts and many places where someone inside of the system can effectively hijack it for their own interests if one doesn’t know what is going on. You need people in senior places who have experience in being in government or they won’t know how to manage this complexity, or so the argument goes. The result is managers, not visionaries, in places of high responsibility and influence. Their objective is not to change the world or the country, their job is to manage their parts of the government.

Because they were in government before, these senior people have often earlier been associated with producing the structures, processes – and problems – that now exist. One could reasonably suggest that it would be hard for a person to come up with the motivation to dramatically change an organization that he or she had helped to build. Vision, and the significant change that necessarily accompanies it, is not part of that equation.

Obama, on the other hand, was elected to be a visionary. The people wanted change, and it would be hard to read his book and not believe that this man had a vision to produce that change. (This all presumes he wrote the book, of course.)

Here’s the rub: in a sense, the president doesn’t know much. He hasn’t been the president before. It’s the biggest job in the world. He’s responsible for more dynamic pieces than any global corporation that exists and thousands of highly paid lobbyists are working every angle possible to see that they get a chunk of the proceeds. He has to make decisions about things in which he clearly doesn’t have a background (and perhaps an interest). In this case, he’s operating in significantly uncharted financial, energy, and climate territory. So, he is very highly dependent upon his staff and advisors.

My experience is that most advisors and managers that come out of the government are risk-adverse. They’re much better at telling you why something could fail and what you can’t do (legally, politically, because of the stock market, geopolitically, etc.), than trying to be creative in defining the world in new ways. The natural inclination of the system is not to push too hard; there will always be more voices against significant change than for it. This is particularly the case if there is not a sense of urgency and clear personal incentives in place to encourage those who must lead the change down into the organization.

This is a problem in these unprecedented times. We’re at a hinge point in history where big pieces of the global system that supports human activity are in serious flux. Whether it’s climate change, a transition to a new era in energy, or dealing with the likely next dip in the financial system, we’re talking here about the need to change.

I believe the American people intuitively resonate with this need to evolve – to move on to the next level of development. They know that every week the present system is working less well and that the problems are systemic – they cannot be fixed at the margins. Sure, there are some who are change-adverse and will oppose anything, but the great upwelling of support for Obama was not just related to him as an individual; it was contextual -a resonance with the underlying need.

This is a special time of immense opportunity that calls for leadership – bold leadership – that captures the evolutionary need for progress, realizes that the past cannot be sustained, and begins to rapidly move humanity to a new way of living. That’s easy to say and much harder to do. But you can’t do it without doing it. You must engage.

Obama is the visionary and he needs to get into the space where he trusts the larger process, hard as that might be. He has to believe that if his vision, motives and objectives are right, the rest of the world will necessarily reconfigure itself to meet them . . . if he always does what’s right. He has to trust his intuition and not his staff. He must motivate those around him to see and embrace the vision but not make decisions based on the possibility of failure. Focusing on how things might go south encourages the likelihood of that happening. He’s got more help than he knows and it will all show up if he really changes direction.

This can only be done by transcending – by operating at a different level than that of the present system. If the president believes that he is operating within the constraints of the political system, (which of course his experience and staff will tell him), then that will be the reality. But, if he decides that what he is here to accomplish is greater than politics and bigger than the past, he will engage the citizenry and world at a higher level of idealism . He will play a different game by different rules. If he does that, the country and the rest of the world will jump to their feet in support . . . and those playing by the old rules won’t know what hit them. Nothing will make sense to them.

That’s the change that Americans voted for, whether they knew it explicitly or not. That’s what they’ll support.

There’s an extraordinary opportunity here Mr. President. I hope that you reach up and help us all to manifest it.


An E-Book Buyer’s Guide to Privacy – (Electronic Frontier Foundation – December 21, 2009)
E-readers are starting to transform how we buy and read books in the same way mp3s changed how we buy and listen to music. Unfortunately, e-reader technology also presents significant new threats to reader privacy. E-readers possess the ability to report back substantial information about their users’ reading habits and locations to the corporations that sell them. And yet none of the major e-reader manufacturers have explained to consumers in clear unequivocal language what data is being collected about them and why. For example, Google’s new Google Book Search Project has the ability to track reading habits at an unprecedented level of granularity. In particular, according to the proposed Google Books Privacy Policy, web servers will automatically “log” each book and page you searched for and read, how long you viewed it for, and what book or page you continued onto next.


Sea Slug Surprise: It’s Half-plant, Half-animal
Physicists Tie Light in Knots
If You Think a Crow is Giving You the Evil Eye

Sea Slug Surprise: It’s Half-plant, Half-animal – (MSNBC – January 12, 2010)
A green sea slug is the first critter discovered to produce the plant pigment chlorophyll. The sneaky slugs seem to have stolen the genes that enable this skill from algae that they’ve eaten. With their contraband genes, the slugs can carry out photosynthesis – the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy. “They can make their energy-containing molecules without having to eat anything,” said Sidney Pierce, a biologist at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The slugs accomplishment is quite a feat, and scientists aren’t yet sure how the animals actually appropriate the genes they need. “DNA from one species can get into another species, as these slugs have clearly shown,” Pierce said. “But the mechanisms are still unknown.”

Physicists Tie Light in Knots – (Science Daily – January 18, 2010)
Optical vortices can be created with holograms which direct the flow of light. In this work, the team designed holograms using knot theory — a branch of abstract mathematics inspired by knots that occur in shoelaces and rope. Using these specially designed holograms they were able to create knots in optical vortices. This new research demonstrates a physical application for a branch of mathematics previously considered completely abstract. Professor Miles Padgett from Glasgow University, who led the experiments, said: “The sophisticated hologram design required for the experimental demonstration of the knotted light shows advanced optical control, which undoubtedly can be used in future laser devices.”

If You Think a Crow is Giving You the Evil Eye – (New Scientist – January 26, 2010)
Wild crows can recognise individual human faces and hold a grudge for years against people who have treated them badly. This ability – which may also exist in other wild animals – highlights how carefully some animals monitor the humans with whom they share living space. John Marzluff at the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues donned a rubber caveman mask and then captured and banded wild American crows. The birds’ antipathy to the caveman mask has lasted more than three years, even though the crows have had no further bad experiences with people wearing it.


‘Junk’ DNA Linked to Aggressive Cancers
Baby Boomers Not Losing Hearing as Fast as Parents
Why Your DNA Isn’t Your Destiny
Is There Really Life After Death?
Video Game Success May Be in the Mind
Aerobic Exercise Grows Brain Cells

‘Junk’ DNA Linked to Aggressive Cancers – (New Scientist – January 6, 2010)
Only about 3% of the human genome actually encodes instructions to RNA for making proteins. About 17% of our DNA is made up of recurrent sequences called L1 elements. Many geneticists had dismissed L1 elements as molecular parasites that do nothing but further their own survival, but recent studies have hinted that they are sometimes transcribed into RNA too. Rogue genetic elements previously dismissed as “junk” DNA may play a role in the development of some cancers, or at least act as a marker of the disease’s progression.

Baby Boomers Not Losing Hearing as Fast as Parents – (Life Extension Daily News – January 15, 2010)
Though they were the first generation to endure rock concerts, boom boxes and iPods, the baby boomers have lost less of their hearing than their parents, according to a study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. While everyday life may be getting noisier, actual hearing loss from one generation to the next has declined, said Weihai Zhan, lead author of the study. More stringent rules about workplace noise and fewer people working in noisy industries such as mining and manufacturing also may be contributing to less hearing loss in the younger generation. Reduced smoking may also play an indirect role, since smoking increases the risk of heart disease, which can lead to less blood flow to the inner ear. Another factor may be better health care and antibiotics resulting in less inflammation and infection.

Why Your DNA Isn’t Your Destiny – (Time – January 6, 2010)
Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve alterations to the genetic code but still get passed down to at least one successive generation. These patterns of gene expression are governed by the cellular material – the epigenome – that sits on top of the genome, just outside it (hence the prefix epi-, which means above). It is these epigenetic “marks” that tell your genes to switch on or off, to speak loudly or whisper. It is through epigenetic marks that environmental factors like diet, stress and prenatal nutrition can make an imprint on genes that is passed from one generation to the next. For decades, we though DNA was an ironclad code that we and our children and their children had to live by. Now we can imagine a world in which we can tinker with DNA, bend it to our will. It will take geneticists and ethicists many years to work out all the implications, but be assured: the age of epigenetics has arrived.

Is There Really Life After Death? (Impact Lab – January 25, 2010)
Is there life after death? Radiation oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Long says if you look at the scientific evidence, the answer is unequivocally yes. Drawing on a decade’s worth of research on near-death experiences – work that includes cataloguing the stories of some 1,600 people who have gone through them – he makes the case for that controversial conclusion in a new book, Evidence of the Afterlife. Medicine, Long says, cannot account for the consistencies in the accounts reported by people all over the world.

Video Game Success May Be in the Mind – (BBC News – January 20, 2010)
US researchers found they could predict how well an amateur player might perform on a game by measuring the volume of key sections of the brain. Writing in the journal Cerebral Cortex, they suggest their findings could have wider implications for understanding the differences in learning rates. Certain parts of the brain can be disproportionately larger which may explain some differences in cognitive ability – between individuals as well as species.

Aerobic Exercise Grows Brain Cells – (Phys Org – January 20, 2010)
Neuroscientists working on mice showed that even a few days of running stimulates the brain to grow new cells in a part of the brain involved in memory and recall. The scientists divided the mice into two groups: one of which had a running wheel they could use at any time, and the other of which did not. In subsequent memory tests the scores of mice with access to the running wheel were almost double those of the non-running group.


Evidence of Ancient Amazon Civilization
Giant Cattle to Be Bred Back from Extinction

Evidence of Ancient Amazon Civilization – (Sphere – January 8, 2010)
As a result of the deforestation of the Amazon basin, the vast remains of an unknown civilization have been found. Satellite imagery was used to discern the footprint of the buildings and roads of a settlement believed to span more than 150 miles. This sophisticated, pre-Columbian society probably had a population of around 60,000 people. The discovery of these ruins overturns the previously held belief that the upper Amazon basis had always been uninhabited.

Giant Cattle to Be Bred Back from Extinction – (Telegraph – January 18, 2010)
Aurochs, huge cattle with sweeping horns which once roamed the forests of Europe, have not been seen for nearly 400 years. Now Italian scientists are hoping to use genetic expertise and selective breeding of modern-day wild cattle to recreate the fearsome beasts which weighed around 2,200lb and stood 6.5 feet at the shoulder. Breeds of large cattle which most closely resemble Bos primigenius, such as Highland cattle and the white Maremma breed from Italy, are being bred with each other in a technique known as “back-breeding”. At the same time, scientists say they have for the first time created a map of the auroch’s genome, so that they know precisely what type of animal they are trying to replicate.


Climate Change Authority Admits Mistake
IPCC’s Himalayan Glacier ‘Mistake’ Not an Accident
Pachauri: the Real Story Behind the Glaciergate Scandal
Are Strange, Illicit Sinkings Making the Mediterranean Toxic?
Major Antarctic Glacier is ‘Past Its Tipping Point’
What’s Keeping the Earth Cooler Than Expected?
It’s the Sun, Stupid!
Extreme Waves Increase Dramatically in Pacific Northwest

Climate Change Authority Admits Mistake – (Technology Review – January 21, 2010)
One of the most alarming conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a widely respected organization established by the United Nations, is that glaciers in the Himalayas could be gone 25 years from now, eliminating a primary source of water for hundreds of millions of people. But a number of glaciologists have argued that this conclusion is wrong, and now the IPCC admits that the conclusion is largely unsubstantiated, based on news reports rather than published, peer-reviewed scientific studies.

IPCC’s Himalayan Glacier ‘Mistake’ Not an Accident – (Science News – January 24, 2010)
A London newspaper reports today that the unsubstantiated Himalayan-glacier melt figures contained in a supposedly authoritative 2007 report on climate warming were used intentionally, despite the report’s lead author knowing there were no data to back them up. Until now, the organization that published the report – the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – had argued the exaggerated figures in that report were an accident: due to insufficient fact checking of the source material. Uh, no. It now appears the incident wasn’t quite that innocent.

Pachauri: the Real Story Behind the Glaciergate Scandal – (Telegraph – January 23, 2010)
Last week, the IPCC, led by its increasingly controversial chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, was forced to issue an unprecedented admission: the statement in its 2007 report that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 had no scientific basis, and its inclusion in the report reflected a “poor application” of IPCC procedures. What has now come to light, however, is that the scientist from whom this claim originated, Dr Syed Hasnain, has for the past two years been working as a senior employee of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the Delhi-based company of which Dr Pachauri is director-general. Furthermore, the claim – now disowned by Dr Pachauri as chairman of the IPCC – has helped TERI to win a substantial share of a $500,000 grant from one of America’s leading charities, along with a share in a three million euro research study funded by the EU.

Are Strange, Illicit Sinkings Making the Mediterranean Toxic? – (Scientific American – February, 2010)
Processing and safely storing waste from the chemical, pharmaceutical and other industries, including radioactive waste, can cost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars per ton-which makes illegal disposal highly profitable. According to the Italian environmental organization Legambiente, some waste shippers that have operational bases in southern Italy have been using the Mediterranean as a dump. Physicist Massimo Scalia of the University of Rome, contends that 39 ships were wrecked under questionable circumstances between 1979 and 1995 alone; in every case, he adds, the crew abandoned the ship long before it sank. An average of two ships per year suspiciously disappeared in the Mediterranean during the 1980s and early 1990s, according to Legambiente-and the number has increased to nine wrecks per year since 1995.

Major Antarctic Glacier is ‘Past Its Tipping Point’ – (New Scientist – January 12, 2010)
Pine Island glacier (PIG) is one of many at the fringes of the West Antarctic ice sheet. In 2004, satellite observations showed that it had started to thin, and that ice was flowing into the Amundsen Sea 25% faster than it had 30 years before. Now, the first study to model changes in the ice sheet in three dimensions shows that PIG has probably passed a critical “tipping point” and is irreversibly on track to lose 50 per cent of its ice in as little as 100 years, significantly raising global sea levels.

What’s Keeping the Earth Cooler Than Expected? – (Daily Galaxy – January 21, 2010)
The planet has warmed much less than expected during the industrial era based on current best estimates of Earth’s “climate sensitivity” – the amount of global temperature increase expected in response to a given rise in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. Stephen Schwartz, team leader at the Brookhaven National Laboratory attributes the reasons for this discrepancy to a possible mix of two major factors: 1) Earth’s climate may be less sensitive to rising greenhouse gases than currently assumed and/or 2) reflection of sunlight by haze particles in the atmosphere may be offsetting some of the expected warming.

It’s the Sun, Stupid! – (Climate Sceptics – no date)
The sun, a million times larger than the earth, is the nuclear power station that controls the climate of the Earth and every other planet in the solar system. The popular belief that human activity is the main cause of catastrophic global warming is essentially a return to the religious, guilt-ridden mythology of the pre-Copernican age. World temperatures peaked in 1998 – ten years ago – and the downward cooling trend has been unmistakable since about 2002. It’s now official that 2008 has been the coldest year this decade. The world has continued to cool whilst CO2 levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise.

Extreme Waves Increase Dramatically in Pacific Northwest – (Daily Galaxy – January 27, 2010)
A major increase in maximum ocean wave heights off the Pacific Northwest in recent decades has forced scientists to re-evaluate how high a “100-year event” might be. The findings raise special concerns for flooding, coastal erosion and structural damage. The new assessment concludes that the highest waves may be as much as 46 feet, up from estimates of only 33 feet that were made as recently as 1996. Using sophisticated techniques that account for the “non-stationarity” in the wave height record, researchers say the 100-year wave height could actually exceed 55 feet, with impacts that would dwarf those expected from sea level rise in coming decades. Increased coastal erosion, flooding, damage to ocean or coastal structures and changing shorelines are all possible, scientists say.


Skype Calls Coming to LG and Panasonic HDTVs
Kurzweil Unveils e-reader with Full-color Multimedia Across Various

Skype Calls Coming to LG and Panasonic HDTVs – (PC World – January 5, 2010)
Skype users can now make high-definition video calls as long as they have an HD webcam and sufficient bandwidth and processing power. Skype also announced that HDTVs will ship later this year with its Internet calling software embedded on them. The HD capability is included in the beta version of Skype 4.2 released for PC users in early December but Skype didn’t disclose the HD features at the time. Skype says around one-third of its calls made between PCs now include video.

Kurzweil Unveils e-reader with Full-color Multimedia Across Various Platforms – (Kurzweil AI – January 6, 2010)
The free Blio eReader is the first to preserve the image-rich format of books and magazines, including their layout, typesetting, images, color and graphics, while also supporting full media functionality, including video, graphics, and web links. The Blio software application will be available for desktop and tablet PCs, netbooks, and mobile devices (including iPhones and iPods); users can download Blio at in late January 2010. A read-aloud feature provides further distinction from other eReaders. A synthesized voice synchronizes with follow-along word highlighting, so the consumer can look and listen in tandem, an attractive feature for travelers, language learners, young children and the vision impaired.


Open-source Hydrogen Car – (Ecologist – January 20, 2010)
Imagine cars that run on hydrogen, get the equivalent of 300 miles per gallon, are leased rather than owned, and are produced under an open source business model. One company has now created a car with the future in mind and its business model is challenging the very architecture of the auto industry. Riversimple’s network electric car is a hydrogen fuel cell powered car, with unique technologies that enable it to run on a 6kW fuel cell, with greenhouse gas emissions at 30g per km – less than a third of that from the most efficient petrol-engine cars currently available. And the business model is brilliant.


MRSA Superbug Strain Tracked Via Genome – (BBC News – January 21, 2010)
Researchers have developed a technique for precisely tracking the spread of the superbug MRSA in hospitals. Scientists used new high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies to compare MRSA samples from patients to show how they were genetically related. They were able to spot single-letter differences in the genetic code. They found that the MRSA strain studied acquired about one single-letter change in its genetic code every six weeks. The rate of mutation apparently supports the theory that MRSA emerged in the 1960s at the time of widespread antibiotic use.


Plug Your iPod into Your T-Shirt for Power? – (Science News – January 25, 2010)
Wearable electronics represent a developing new class of materials with an array of novel functionalities, such as flexibility, stretchability, and lightweight, which allow for many applications and designs previously impossible with traditional electronics technology. A new process has been developed for making E-textiles that uses “ink” made from single-walled carbon nanotubes. When applied to cotton and polyester fabrics, the ink produced e-Textiles with an excellent ability to store electricity. The fabrics retained flexibility and stretchability of regular cotton and polyester, and kept their new e-properties under conditions that simulated repeated laundering.


Stealthy Personal Flyer Half Airplane, Half Helicopter
Pentagon Report Calls for Office of ‘Strategic Deception’
Counterterrorism In Shambles; Why?

Stealthy Personal Flyer Half Airplane, Half Helicopter – (Al Fin – January 20, 2010)
This pretty little personal flyer lets you take off and land vertically (VTOL) in a stealthy manner, using electric motors. Called the “Puffin”, it is NASA’s answer to the US Marines’ Osprey VTOL airplane. In theory it can cruise at 150 miles per hour and sprint at more like 300 miles per hour. Since the craft is electrically propelled it doesn’t need air intake, so thinning air is not a limitation, meaning it can reach – again, in theory – 30,000 feet before limitations on battery power force it to descend.

Pentagon Report Calls for Office of ‘Strategic Deception’ – (Wired – January 26, 2010)
The Defense Department needs to get better at lying and fooling people about its intentions. That’s the conclusion from an influential Pentagon panel, the Defense Science Board (DSB), which recommends that the military and intelligence communities join in a new agency devoted to “strategic surprise/deception.” the DSB notes in a January report (.pdf) first unearthed by “In an era of ubiquitous information access, anonymous leaks and public demands for transparency, deception operations are extraordinarily difficult. Nevertheless, successful strategic deception has in the past provided the United States with significant advantages that translated into operational and tactical success.

Counterterrorism In Shambles; Why? – ( – January 7, 2010)
In this interview, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern is asked to respond to three questions regarding recent events involving the CIA, FBI, and the intelligence community in general. His answers are informed, insightful and free of rhetoric. For example, he points out to truly address terrorism, “…there is no getting around the necessity to address the root causes of terrorism or, in the vernacular, “why they hate us.”


Attack on Canada and the United States is Attack on Muslims Too
China to Scan Text Messages to Spot ‘Unhealthy Content’
Commentary: Global Fatigue and Trust Deficit
One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists

Attack on Canada and the United States is Attack on Muslims Too – (Islamic Supreme Council of Canada – January 8, 2010)
Twenty Imams affiliated with the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada have issued a Fatwa (religious edict) declaring the attacks on Canada and the United States by any extremist will be considered an attack on the freedom of Canadian and American Muslims. Full text of the Fatwa is included in the link.

China to Scan Text Messages to Spot ‘Unhealthy Content’ – (New York Times – January 20, 2010)
As the Chinese government expands what it calls a campaign against pornography, cellular companies in Beijing and Shanghai have been told to suspend text services to cellphone users who are found to have sent messages with “illegal or unhealthy content,” state-run news media reported. China Mobile, one of the nation’s largest cellular providers, reported that text messages would automatically be scanned for “key words” provided by the police, according to China Daily, a state-controlled English-language newspaper. Messages will be deemed “unhealthy” if they violate undisclosed criteria established by the central government, the newspaper said.

Commentary: Global Fatigue and Trust Deficit – (UPI – January 21, 2010)
This op-ed piece notes: There is a growing chorus of geopolitical deep thinkers and intellectuals who favor a strategic retreat from the imperial posture of the Cold War, where we are now fighting terrorist cells on a planetary scale, and a reassessment of priorities. One of the Democratic Party’s champion fundraisers, speaking privately, said, “At times I feel that we’re exhausted, sitting on the sidewalk, applauding the inevitable as Team China marches by.” We are now saddled with a dysfunctional system of government that raises the key question for the 21st century: Have we allowed ourselves to become ungovernable with a Congress that seems prone to micromanage everything into unworkable policies, courtesy of a system that has moved from no child left behind to no lobbyist left behind.

One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists – (TruthDig – December 28, 2009)
Our First Amendment rights have become a joke; habeas corpus no longer exists and we torture, not only in black sites such as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantánamo Bay, but also at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. Radical activists in the environmental, globalization, anti-nuclear, sustainable agriculture and anarchist movements are already being placed by the state in special detention facilities with Muslims charged with terrorism.


Religion Could Survive Discovery of ET, Survey Suggests
The Search for Earth’s Twin
Hello ET, We Come in Peace
Space Shuttles for Sale

Religion Could Survive Discovery of ET, Survey Suggests – (New Scientist – January 26, 2010)
A survey, designed by a professor at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California asked 1300 people whether they thought the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence would shake their individual belief, the strength of their religion as a whole or would adversely affect the beliefs of other religions. The survey included both religious and non-religious people, and most respondents were based in the US. Of the 205 people who identified themselves as non-religious (either atheists or those who describe themselves as spiritual but not religious), only 1% thought it would affect their atheist or spiritual outlooks. But 69% thought the discovery of ET could cause a crisis for other world religions. An average of only 34% of religious people shared that belief.

The Search for Earth’s Twin – (Daily Galaxy – January 27, 2010)
According to Dimitar Sasselov, professor of astrophysics and director of Harvard University’s Origins of Life Initiative Project, believes that life is probably common in the universe. He said that he believes life is a natural “planetary phenomenon” that occurs easily on planets with the right conditions. “It takes a long time to do this,” Sasselov has said at a recent Harvard conference. “It may be that we are the first generation in this galaxy.” Though it may be hard to think of it this way, at roughly 14 billion years old, the universe is quite young, he said.

Hello ET, We Come in Peace – (New Scientist – January 21, 2010)
Should we break our interstellar silence? In the 50 years we have been scanning the skies in search of extraterrestrial intelligence, all we have heard is a whole lot of nothing. We have even sent a few hopeful transmissions into space, to no avail. Now some SETI researchers are suggesting that we take a more active approach and systematically advertise our existence to the cosmos. Others say this would be rash, and that to shout into the dark is unwise when we have very little idea who, or what, is out there. There’s a good evolutionary argument that any intelligent alien species is likely to be predatory. Cosmic culture shock is a more likely consequence.

Space Shuttles for Sale – (New Scientist – January 18, 2010)
Space shuttles for sale, fully loaded, air conditioning, one careful owner. It’s the ultimate bargain. NASA has cut the price of a space shuttle to $28.8 million. NASA had hoped to get $42 million for each vehicle but lowered the cost in the hope of sealing a deal.


Time For An Audit…Or Some Competition
Somali Sea Gangs Lure Investors
IMF & World Bank Warnings of a Double Dip Recession in 2010

Time For An Audit…Or Some Competition – (Chris Martenson – January 13, 2010)
The Fed will return about $45 billion to the U.S. Treasury for 2009, according to calculations by The Washington Post based on public documents. That reflects the highest earnings in the 96-year history of the central bank. The Fed, unlike most government agencies, funds itself from its own operations and returns its profits to the Treasury. For those who understand the very simple idea that the Federal Reserve prints Federal Reserve Notes (or their electronic equivalent) out of thin air, the concept of ‘earnings’ on those same thin-air money units is intellectually challenging. And since we have no idea to what extent the Fed is sitting on massive losses, or even what they are sitting on in many cases, the concept of P&L ‘earnings’ are as completely irrelevant as anything can possibly be. Thus, promotion of the idea of Fed ‘earnings’ is not just erroneous, it’s misleading.

Somali Sea Gangs Lure Investors – (Reuters – December 1, 2009)
In Somalia’s bustling town of Haradheere, the sea gangs have set up a cooperative to fund their hijackings. “Four months ago, we set up this stock exchange. We started with 15 ‘maritime companies’ and now we are hosting 72. Ten of them have so far been successful at hijacking,” said one local participant. “The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials … we’ve made piracy a community activity.” Mohamed Adam, the town’s deputy security officer noted, “Piracy-related business has become the main profitable economic activity in our area and, as locals, we depend on their output. The district gets a percentage of every ransom from ships that have been released, and that goes toward public infrastructure, including our hospital and our public schools.”

IMF & World Bank Warnings of a Double Dip Recession in 2010 – (Smart Money – January 20, 2010)
The managing director and chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in this past week, warned that the world economy could soon be heading back into a double dip recession. This is largely due to the 100 or so asset or debt bubbles around the globe that could burst in 2010 sending the world into a double dip recession. The World Bank’s chief economist Justin Lin echoed similar concerns: “The foundation for the recovery is very fragile… We may have a double dip,” he said, citing excess global capacity that could linger until 2014. In an environment of low interest rates and excess capacity, most of the liquidity could go into speculative investments, he said.

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.

Flight 77 Cockpit Door Never Opened During 9/11 “Hijack”
Lost Generation
What Do the Plastic Recycling Numbers Mean?
PurinaCare Offers Pet Insurance as Group Benefit to Employers

Flight 77 Cockpit Door Never Opened During 9/11 “Hijack” – (Rock Creek Free Press – December 15, 2009)
Pilots for 9/11 Truth has reported that the data stream from the flight data recorder (FDR) for American Airlines flight 77, which allegedly struck the Pentagon on 9/11, shows that the cockpit door never opened during the entire 90 minute flight. The data was provided by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which has refused to comment. There are numerous other oddities and contradictions about AA77’s black boxes. While it was widely reported in the media that the FDR for AA77 was found at 4 am on September 14, 2001, the file containing the FDR data was dated over four hours earlier. In other words, we are asked to believe that the data from the FDR was downloaded prior to the FDR being found.

Lost Generation – (You Tube – November 30, 2007)
A palindrome reads the same backwards as forward. This minute, 44 second video reads the exact opposite backwards as forward. It was submitted by a 20-year old for a contest sponsored by AARP titled “U @ 50” and won second place.

What Do the Plastic Recycling Numbers Mean? – (EcoVillageGreen – April 1, 2009)
There are seven numbers you will find on plastic containers, reflecting seven different types of plastic available in the market. The number is a resin identification code associated with the type of plastic used in the container. Some plastics are healthier and more environmentally friendly, some less so. Some are easier to recycle, some less. Here’s a guide to what the numbers mean, whether they’re safe, and how easily recyclable they are.

PurinaCare Offers Pet Insurance as Group Benefit to Employers – (Biz Journals – January 25, 2010)
PurinaCare created a Group Benefits Department that will offer employers and associations group discounts for providing their employees and members with pet health insurance. Pet insurance is a coverage program designed to pick up the tab on the high cost of vet bills. A report by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association showed that last year dog owners spent $785 on average on vet bills while cat owners spent $516. Another survey by the same association showed that despite the recession, 80% of pet owners continued to spend the same level of money on their furry friends.


The Coming Revolution in Audio Design – (D Visible – September 28, 2009)
A revolution in design shakes both inner and outer worlds – and rarely is this more apparent than with new media technologies that reshape the sensory environment of our everyday lives. One such innovation – a radical twist in the world of sound engineering – immediately spun into speculation on a bizarrely probable near-future world… It’s 2015. I’m attending the premiere performance of the Houston Audioplanetarium, a marriage of science and art that guides the audience by the ears on a tour of our night sky’s celestial bodies. Sonic qualities of each signal are modulated to trick our brains into assigning a specific, independent position, distance, and velocity for every sound source – animating the simulated sky with a vast choir of outer space’s spooky resonances as if we were actually listening to the night.


“My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.” — Charles F. Kettering (American engineer, inventor of the electric starter, 1876-1958)

A special thanks to: Falk Beindorf, Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Kevin Foley, Ursula Freer, Jerome C. Glenn, Lee Karlsson, J. Kearney, Diane Petersen, Ted Rockwell, Paul Saffo, Gary Sycalik, 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

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