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Volume 13, Number 9 – 5/15/10

Volume 13, Number 9 – 5/15/10FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT…
The ‘Living Earth Simulator’ will mine economic, environmental and health data to create a model of the entire planet in real time.Using single-molecule computation, physicists have demonstrated a calculation speed thousands of times faster than a PC.Google Ventures has sunk an undisclosed sum into a startup that “offers customers new ways to analyze the past, present and the predicted future.”.Facebook has reneged on its privacy promises and made much of your profile information public by default. That includes the city that you live in, your name, your photo, the names of your friends and the causes you’ve signed onto.
PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

Don’t forget that Lee Carroll and KRYON are coming to Berkeley Springs on the 17th of July. There are already more than 20 signed up, so there’s going to be a good group. It will be a great time. Come out for the weekend at our little resort town and spend Saturday learning to see yourself and the future in a new way. Click on the banner on the right for more information.

I contributed a chapter to a new book, Transforming through 2012: Leading Perspectives on the New Global Paradigm which was published recently. It’s a digest that includes articles by Jean Houston, Bruce Lipton, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Daniel Pinchbeck, Carl Calleman, and Peter Russell, among others. It ranges all across the spectrum of ideas about what these authors think is happening in the next few years. I found it interesting. Calleman, for example says it’s not 2012 we should be focused upon, but October 2011 – next year. That accelerates things a bit. I recommend it. Take a look.

Speaking of change, I’m constantly running into people who really believe that the pace of time is rapidly increasing. I don’t know exactly what that means, but maybe the effect is a perception that our experience of time is changing – it passes more quickly. My sense is that this is not a byproduct of physical aging but is a general feeling shared by many if not most people. Some of it is driven and enabled by technology that exposes us to much more information in a given period of time and allows us to do far more than was possible in the past. Accomplishing more in a given amount of time would certainly translate into a sense of accelerating time.

In any case, we are certainly watching the emergence of major structural shifts across the board. In some cases these are attempts to hold on to the past, in others it is significant movement into the future. Today in the Washington Post for example, Dana Milbank makes the pretty persuasive case that the U.S. Republican party is fragmenting – “coming unglued”, is the term used. Think about that. If we’re watching a major American political party that has been around for more than a century and a half starting to come apart, it is a big deal. It signals a fundamental shift in the attitudes of a sizable group of people . . . all trying to hold on to the past, I’d say.

And then in the New York Timesthere’s a piece about the beginning of the end of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as a metric of economic health. Even though a number of us have disparaged the use of this index for many years as not being at all representative of the full spectrum of important indicators that fully reflect the health of a country, it has been in use for all of my life. Now it appears that is about to change – and the change is in the right direction of being far more inclusive and comprehensive.

Attempts to deal with change are almost always (and necessarily) based upon concepts and values of the past. We bring the tools and perspectives from an earlier, far simpler time and try to use them to craft policies to deal with change that is far more complicated than in previous times. Often times, though well meaning, these initiatives lack common sense. I was in California last week visiting a friend and asked her what she was doing later that day. She was going up to a major penitentiary to visit her brother who was locked up for the rest of his life. He was the victim of California’s “three-strikes” policy that dictates that when someone has committed three felonies, no matter how severe, they are automatically given a life sentence. This 47 year old man had committed a couple of felonies when he was 18, served his time and then run afoul of the law one more time at age 45 which sent him back to prison for all of his remaining days on this earth. “What did he do?”, I asked. Well, I was told, he was caught looking at an “inappropriate” web page in a public library which, in the enlightened state of California, is a felony.

I couldn’t believe it. I’m not a fan of pornography, but the notion that looking at anything on a computer in a library is a felony, really is hard for me to understand. Furthermore, the willingness of Californians, whose government is essentially bankrupt and is shutting down agencies and support to education and public safety, to spend more than $70,000 per year to warehouse some poor soul for maybe 30 years at a cost of over $2 million, because he was looking at dirty pictures really lacks common sense.

I think there are a lot of knee-jerk, reactive responses that are going to come out of our legislators in the coming years that will rather soon be seen to be quite foolish. We don’t understand complex change and we really don’t understand rapidly accelerating complex change. New approaches are needed for all of this. My guess is that government can never get ahead of the curve – can never act with foresight and wisdom – and will increasingly become marginalized.

As a matter of fact, I think the collapse of representative democracy (as we practice it, at least) is almost certain in time as information technology fundamentally and very rapidly changes what and who we know and how we can organize ourselves. Freedom of speech was a concept conceived for individuals who were severely limited in whom they could influence and how fast they could do it. The notion that many thousands of people can rapidly mobilize themselves around certain ideas or concepts (under the protection of the Constitution) and that single individuals can now inflame millions of people with rhetoric that does not have to be true, is a dramatically different environment than the framers of the Constitution (or anyone since) ever envisioned.

It will be interesting to see how it all evolves.


INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

Bristol Psychologist Seeking Tweets about Dreams – (BBC News – April 24, 2010)
A Bristol (UK) academic is to take part in a worldwide experiment to collect and analyze people’s dreams using the social networking service Twitter. The 10 judged the best will be analysed by Dr Parker, who is a member of the Association for the Study of Dreams. The best 10 tweeted dreams will appear on www.twitter.com/dreamshrink . We have no idea what the criteria for “best” may be, but this is the first time we have seen Twitter being used for international research.

Europe’s Plan to Simulate the Entire Planet – (Technology Review – April 30, 2010)
The ‘Living Earth Simulator’ will mine economic, environmental and health data to create a model of the entire planet in real time. Dirk Helbing at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich intends to create a kind of Manahattan project to study, understand and tackle these techno-socio-economic-environmental issues. His plan is to gather data about the planet in unheard of detail, use it to simulate the behaviour of entire economies and then to predict and prevent crises from emerging. Think of it as a kind of Google Earth for society. Imagine a similar model that uses in real time things like financial transactions, health records, travel details, carbon dioxide emissions and so on to build a model of not just the planet but the entire society that populates it. The great worry, of course, is that it will not be the great public universities and government-funded research institutes that complete this task.

Lie-Detection Brain Scan Could Be Used in Court for First Time – (Wired – May 3, 2010)
A Brooklyn attorney hopes to break new ground this week when he offers a brain scan as evidence that a key witness in a civil trial is telling the truth. If the fMRI scan is admitted, it would be a legal first in the United States and could have major consequences for the future of neuroscience in court. Laboratory studies using fMRI, which measures blood-oxygen levels in the brain, have suggested that when someone lies, the brain sends more blood to the ventrolateral area of the prefrontal cortex. In a very small number of studies, researchers have identified lying in study subjects (.pdf) with accuracy ranging from 76% to over 90%. But some scientists and lawyers like New York University neuroscientist Elizabeth Phelps doubts those results can be applied outside the lab.


NEW REALITIES

Jupiter Loses One of its Stripes; Scientists are Stumped – (Daily Mail – May 12, 2010)
The largest planet in our solar system is usually dominated by two dark bands in its atmosphere, with one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere. The band was present in at the end of last year before Jupiter ducked behind the Sun on its orbit. However, when it emerged three months later the belt had disappeared. Jupiter loses or regains one of its belts every ten of 15 years, although exactly why this happens is a mystery.

X-ray Discovery Points to Location of Missing Matter – (NASA – May 11, 2010)
NASA astronomers have detected a vast reservoir of intergalactic gas about 400 million light years from Earth. This discovery is the strongest evidence yet that the “missing matter” in the nearby Universe is located in an enormous web of hot, diffuse gas. This missing matter – which is different from dark matter – is composed of baryons, the particles, such as protons and electrons, that are found on the Earth, in stars, gas, galaxies, and so on. A variety of measurements of distant gas clouds and galaxies have provided a good estimate of the amount of this “normal matter” present when the universe was only a few billion years old. However, an inventory of the much older, nearby universe has turned up only about half as much normal matter, an embarrassingly large shortfall.


GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

Search for Genes Leads to Unexpected Places – (New York Times – April 27, 2010)
Dr. Marcotte and his colleagues at the University of Texas have discovered hundreds of other genes involved in human disorders by looking at distantly related species. They have found genes associated with deafness in plants, for example, and genes associated with breast cancer in nematode worms. The scientists took advantage of a peculiar feature of our evolutionary history. In our distant, amoeba-like ancestors, clusters of genes were already forming to work together on building cell walls and on other very basic tasks essential to life. Many of those genes still work together in those same clusters, over a billion years later, but on different tasks in different organisms.

Big Brother to Track Your Medication Compliance with Electronic Transmitters in Pills – (Natural News – April 27, 2010)
New technologies are in the works that will allow the government to remotely monitor and track whether ordinary citizens are complying with taking medications prescribed by conventional doctors. One new technology described at the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging allows “pills to be electronically outfitted with transmitters” which would track the patient’s compliance with medications and broadcast that information back to government health care enforcers who check for “compliance and efficacy.” (Editor’s note: we suspect that, if one wanted to, it would be fairly easy to “game” the system on this one.)

President’s Cancer Panel Recommends Precaution with Cell Phones and Wireless Technologies – (Electromagnetic Health – May 6, 2010)
The President’s Cancer Panel reported that “the true burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated” and named cell phones and other wireless technologies as potential causes of cancer that demand further research and precaution. In its recommendations, the panel stated “Methods for long-term monitoring and quantification of electromagnetic energy exposures related to cell phones and wireless technologies are urgently needed given the escalating use of these devices by larger and younger segments of the population and the higher radiofrequencies newer devices produce. ” Link to the original report sponsored by the NIH.

New Detection Technology Identifies Bacteria, Viruses, Other Organisms Within 24 Hours – (Science Daily – May 6, 2010)
Law enforcement authorities seeking to detect bioterrorism attacks, doctors diagnosing diseases and regulatory agencies checking product safety may find a new ally in a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory detection technology. The process detects viruses and bacteria with the use of 388,000 probes that fit in a checkerboard pattern in the middle of a one-inch wide, three-inch long glass slide. The current operational version contains probes that can detect more than 2,000 viruses and about 900 bacteria.

Scientists to Test Ultrasound as a Male Contraceptive – (BBC News – May 11, 2010)
Based on early work, University of North Carolina experts believe a blast of ultrasound to the testes can safely stop sperm production for six months. With a grant of $100,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation they will push ahead with more clinical trials. “Our long-term goal is to use ultrasound from therapeutic instruments that are commonly found in sports medicine or physical therapy clinics as an inexpensive, long-term, reversible male contraceptive suitable for use in developing to first world countries.”


DISCOVERIES ENABLED BY NEW TECHNOLOGY

Photosynthetic Fish and Other Oddities – (Technology Review – May 4, 2010)
Photosynthetic humans – endowed with the power to derive energy from the sun – are a popular construct of science fiction. But Pamela Silver, a biologist at Harvard Medical School, aims to push that concept into reality. Silver’s research focuses on cyanobacteria, a microbe responsible for almost 50 percent of the earth’s photosynthetic ability. Her team aims to harness the organisms’ photosynthetic powers by engineering them to generate fuel and other valuable chemicals.

‘Starving Yogi’ Astounds Indian Scientists – (Breitbart – May 10, 2010)
An 83-year-old Indian holy man who says he has spent seven decades without food or water has astounded a team of military doctors who studied him during a two-week observation period. Prahlad Jani spent a fortnight in a hospital under constant surveillance from a team of 30 medics equipped with cameras and closed circuit television. During the period, he neither ate nor drank and did not go to the toilet. The long-haired and bearded yogi was sealed in a hospital in a study initiated by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the state defence and military research institute. The DRDO hopes that the findings, to be released in several months, could help soldiers survive without food and drink, assist astronauts or even save the lives of people trapped in natural disasters. “If Jani does not derive energy from food and water, he must be doing that from energy sources around him, sunlight being one,” said Shah.


CLIMATE CHANGE & ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

World’s 2010 Nature Target Will Not Be Met – (BBC News – April 29, 2010)
The world’s governments will not meet their internationally-agreed target of curbing the loss of species and nature by 2010, a major study has confirmed. Virtually all species and ecosystems show continued decline, while pressures on nature are increasing, it concludes. The study confirms what conservationists have known for several years. The 2010 target was adopted in 2002, but the scientists behind this study say implementation has been “woeful”.

Fears for Crops as Shock Figures from America Show Scale of Bee Catastrophe – (Guardian – May 2, 2010)
Disturbing evidence that honeybees are in terminal decline has emerged from the United States where, for the fourth year in a row, more than a third of colonies have failed to survive the winter. Since 2006 more than three million colonies in the US and billions of honeybees worldwide have died and scientists are no nearer to knowing what is causing the catastrophic fall in numbers. Potential causes range from parasites, such as the bloodsucking varroa mite, to viral and bacterial infections, pesticides and poor nutrition stemming from intensive farming methods.

Signs of a Coming Magnetic Pole Reversal – (Earth Changes Media – May 1, 2010)
Geophysicists specializing in Earth Core dynamics, supported by the National Science Foundation, may have charted the illusive signs and symptoms of a “pole reversal” which may occur sooner than anyone conceived. Furthermore, their findings suggest is far less time between the beginnings of a reversal event, and the event itself. It was originally thought we would witness a decade or two of a ‘bouncing North Pole’ prior to a full reversal event. Now it is believed it could happen in short order.

Farmers Cope with Roundup-Resistant Weeds – (New York Times – May 3, 2010)
American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds. To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing. The first resistant species to pose a serious threat to agriculture was spotted in a Delaware soybean field in 2000. Since then, the problem has spread, with 10 resistant species in at least 22 states infesting millions of acres, predominantly soybeans, cotton and corn.

Profound Decline in Fish Stocks Shown in UK Records – (BBC News – May 4, 2010)
Researchers used port records dating from the late 1800s, when mechanised boats were replacing sailing vessels. They say this implies “an extraordinary decline” in fish stocks and “profound” ecosystem changes. Four times more fish were being landed in UK ports 100 years ago than today, and catches peaked in 1938.

Mediterranean Gray Whale Appears Back from the Dead – (BBC News – May 10, 2010)
A gray whale has appeared off the coast of Israel, shocking conservationists. However, the North Atlantic population of gray whale became extinct sometime in the 17th or 18th Century, for reasons that are not clear. So the appearance of an individual within the Mediterranean Sea is a major surprise. The whale may have inadvertently travelled a huge distance from its natural habitat thousands of kilometres away in the Pacific Ocean. However, it raises the possibility that gray whales have returned to former haunts in the western hemisphere.


INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Google Invests in Firm that Tries to Predict the Future – (Computer World – May 3, 2010)
Google’s investment arm, Google Ventures, has sunk an undisclosed sum into Recorded Future, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup that “offers customers new ways to analyze the past, present and the predicted future.” Recorded Future’s own Web site doesn’t list any products for sale, but the company appears to have developed a data analytics technology that could be used to try to predict future stock market events or even terrorist activity, according to blog posts and videos on its site. The technology looks at how frequently an entity or event is referred to in the news and around the Web over a period of time, then uses that data to project how it might behave in the future.

Single Molecule Can Calculate Thousands of Times Faster Than a PC – (Daily Galaxy – May 11, 2010)
An experimental demonstration of a quantum calculation by researchers in Japan has shown that a single molecule can perform Fourier transform operations thousands of times faster than any conventional computer. Researchers in Japan describe a proof-of-principle calculation they performed with an iodine molecule. The calculation involved that computation of a discrete Fourier transform, a common algorithm that’s particularly handy for analyzing certain types of signals.


AUGMENTED/ ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Japan’s Brainwave Initiative: Mind-Reading Bots by 2020 – (H Plus – May 4, 2010)
The Japanese government and private sector are collaborating on a new initiative to develop bots with AI capable of detecting when you’re hungry, cold, or in need of assistance, and electronics that can be controlled by thought alone. The project envisions coordination between three different kinds of bots: “visible” (think Asimo), “virtual” (think Avatar), and “unconscious” (think embedded sensor), all in a cooperating system to provide a complete set of social services to both augmented and non-augmented humans in the urban environment. Such a networked robotic system would possess the intelligence to modify its communication techniques – including thought, speech, and gesture – to meet the needs of the current situation.

Augmented-Reality Floor Tiling – (Technology Review – April 28, 2010)
Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada have developed floor tiles that can simulate the look, sound and feel of snow, grass or pebbles underfoot. Such a tool could perhaps be used for augmented reality applications, tele-presence, training, rehabilitation or even as virtual foot controllers. The floor could even function as a giant touch-screen controlled by feet, acting as a way of navigating a giant map on the floor of a building lobby or public square.

Will Robots Evolve to Ask: “What is Life?” – (Daily Galaxy – May 11, 2010)
Some go so far as to say that robot “emotions” may already have occurred-that current robots have not only displayed emotions, but in some ways have experienced them. Rodney Brooks author of “Flesh and Machines,” and former director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, “Robots are made of different sorts of components than we are – we are made of biomaterials; they are silicon and steel – but in principle, even human emotions are mechanistic.” A robot’s level of a feeling like sadness could be set as a number in computer code, he said. But isn’t a human’s level of sadness basically a number, too, just a number of the amounts of various neurochemicals circulating in the brain? Why should a robot’s numbers be any less authentic than a human’s?


ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Can World’s Largest Laser Zap Earth’s Energy Woes? – (CNN – April 28, 2010)
Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are trying to use the world’s largest laser – it’s the size of three football fields — to set off a nuclear reaction so intense that it will make a star bloom on the surface of the Earth. If they’re successful, the scientists hope to solve the global energy crisis by harnessing the energy generated by the mini-star.

The Train that Never Stops at a Station (Softhunder – April 13, 2010)
A new Chinese train innovation allows people to get on & off a bullet train without the train stopping. No time is wasted. If there are 30 stations between Beijing and Guangzhou , just stopping and accelerating again at each station will waste both energy and time. Even a 5 minute stop per station would result in a total loss of 2.5 hours (5 min x 30 stations). Watch the YouTube simulation.


GLOBAL EPIDEMIC

New Clue to Fighting Dengue Fever – (BBC News – May 06, 2010)
Dengue fever is a viral infection spread by a mosquito bite. It is a major cause of illness worldwide, and cases are on the rise. There is currently no licensed vaccine or drug treatment. Researchers, based in the UK and Thailand, took blood samples from infected volunteers and found antibodies produced in response to the virus do not do a very effective job. Rather than neutralizing the virus, they actually help it infect more cells, springing into action when a person is infected a second time by a different strain of the virus.


TERRORISM, SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

Facebook’s Gone Rogue – (Wired – May 7, 2010)
Facebook has decided to turn “your” profile page into your identity online – figuring, rightly, that there’s money and power in being the place where people define themselves. But to do that, the folks at Facebook had to make sure that the information you give it was public. So in December, with the help of newly hired Beltway privacy experts, it reneged on its privacy promises and made much of your profile information public by default. That includes the city that you live in, your name, your photo, the names of your friends and the causes you’ve signed onto.

Pentagon’s Mach 20 Glider Disappears, Whacking ‘Global Strike’ Plans – (Red Ice Creations – May 3, 2010)
The Pentagon’s controversial plan to hit terrorists half a planet away has suffered a setback, after an experimental hypersonic glider disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. In its first flight test. the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 was supposed to be rocket-launched from California to the edge of space. Then it would could screaming back into the atmosphere, maneuvering at twenty times the speed of sound before landing north of the Kwajalein Atoll, 30 minutes later and 4100 nautical miles away. Thinly wedge-shaped for better lift, equipped with autonomous navigation for more precision, and made of carbon-carbon to withstand the assault of hypersonic flight, the hope was it could fly farther and more accurately at a lower angle of attack than other craft returning to Earth. Instead, nine minutes after launch, Darpa researchers lost contact with the craft. They’re still trying to figure out why.


SOCIAL TRENDS

Syphilis Cases Rise Sharply in China – (BBC News – May 6, 2010)
Syphilis is now the most commonly reported communicable disease in Shanghai, China’s second-largest city. Pregnant women are also increasingly passing the disease to their children. No other country has seen such a rise since the discovery of penicillin. The rise is linked directly to China’s economic reforms and the growing number of migrant workers and men with expendable income, which has led to a growth in the commercial sex industry.

Science has Changed in Our Lifetime – (BBC News – March 30, 2010)
Modern science has changed from a vocation to a career path, to the detriment of the subject, according to Professor James Lovelock, the man who developed the Gaia theory. As he put it, it used to be “a sin against the holy ghost to fudge data”, but that career pressures now meant scientists “tended to adjust data to what the bosses wanted”.


DEMOGRAPHICS

‘Strategic’ Mortgage Defaults Jump to 12% of Total – (Bloomberg – April 29, 2010)
About 12% of all mortgage defaults in February were “strategic,” up from 4% in mid-2007, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. Borrowers are more likely to stop paying their mortgages the higher their credit scores and the larger their loans, the analysts said. Strategic defaults also increase based on how much more borrowers owe in housing debt than their homes are worth. A fifth of U.S. homes carrying mortgages were worth less than their loans in the fourth quarter, according to Seattle- based Zillow.com, which runs a real estate data Web site.

Surprise Tax Hit on Foreclosures – (Wall St. Journal – May 8, 2010)
For Americans considering walking away from an unaffordable mortgage: Beware of taxes. Though not every homeowner who’s underwater on a mortgage need worry, many are finding that a foreclosure or other form of housing loss can lead to a big tax obligation. Federal and state tax laws have long viewed canceled debt as income (and therefore taxable) because consumers who borrow money to buy a house-or who pull money out of their house to buy cars and such-and then don’t pay it back “wind up ahead of where they were,” says an IRS spokesman.


ECONOMIC INDICATORS

The European Crisis In Eight Simple Charts – (Zero Hedge – May 9, 2010)
Here is a simplified representation of why anything and everything that the EU, ECB and the IMF can do is simply delay the inevitable disintegration of the eurozone and the upcoming eventual debt payment moratorium.

Europe’s Web of Debt – (New York Times – May 1, 2010)
With one final graph, you can see the interconnected debt between the five PIIGS and their primary lenders: banks and governments in Germany, France and the UK.

US States Consider Starting Their Own Banks – (TruthOut – April 30, 2010)
At least eight U.S. states are considering proposals to start state-run banks in the wake of an economic crisis where many private banks ceased or greatly decreased their lending, literally shrinking the money pool available in state economies. North Dakota is the only one out of the 50 U.S. states that is still operating with a fiscal surplus, and some economists argue it is in part due to the state-owned Bank of North Dakota – the only bank of its kind in the U.S. – which has been able to pump money into its own economy by making loans to farmers, small businesses and families.

U.S. Goes Low-Tech On China Exports – (Geo-Graphics – April 22, 2010)
Over the past decade, trade between the United States and China has grown dramatically while also becoming significantly more imbalanced. One factor contributing to this imbalance is U.S. export controls on certain high-tech products deemed important for national security. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has bluntly observed that “America’s decades-old, bureaucratically labyrinthine [export control] system does not serve our 21st-century security needs or our economic interest.”

China Widens Its Reach – (Forbes – April 21, 2010)
While the rest of the world suffered through its worst financial crisis in a half century, China went shopping. Since 2005, China has made 185 deals worth $100 million or more, totaling more than $222 billion. The largest of these deals was the $12.8 billion joint venture between Chalco and Alcoa made to purchase 12 percent of Rio Tinto back in 2008. This deal was struck in Australia which has been China’s most popular destination both in terms of quantity and dollar amount. Indicative of the large future the Chinese government has in store for its country, the most popular sectors for these deals have been metals and energy, respectively.


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

Not Even in South Park? – (New York Times – April 25, 2010)
Two months before 9/11, Comedy Central aired an episode of South Park in which Prophet Muhammad, (upon whom be peace) was depicted with a turban, a 5 o’clock shadow, and introduced as “the Muslim prophet with the powers of flame.” That was a more permissive time. Two weeks ago in an episode that mentioned him, the Prophet never showed his face. He “appeared” from inside a U-Haul trailer and then from inside a mascot’s costume. These gimmicks then prompted a writer for the New York-based Web site revolutionmuslim.com to predict that the creators of South Park would end up like Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker murdered in 2004 for his scathing critiques of Islam. The “South Park” case is illuminating, not because it tells us anything new about the lines that writers and entertainers are no longer allowed to cross, but because it’s a reminder that Islam is just about the only place where we draw any lines at all.




JUST FOR FUN

Shanghai Is Trying to Untangle the Mangled English of Chinglish – (New York Times – May 4, 2010)
For English speakers with subpar Chinese skills, daily life in China offers a confounding array of choices. At banks, there are machines for “cash withdrawing” and “cash recycling.” The menus of local restaurants might present such delectables as “fried enema,” “monolithic tree mushroom stem squid” and a mysterious thirst-quencher known as “The Jew’s Ear Juice.” However, for the past two years the Shanghai Commission for the Management of Language Use has been trying to excise these and other uniquely Chinese maladaptations of the English language. (If you’re still scratching your head about that last one, it probably should be “The Juicier Juice”.) For ten of the “best”, click here.


A FINAL QUOTE…

“The future is purchased by the present.” – Samuel Johnson

A FINAL NOTE…

If you’d like to take part in an International Delphi Survey and Scenario development project about Latin America 2010 – 2030, please click here.


A special thanks to: : Gary Bekkum, Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Vladimir Gagachev, Kurzweil AI, Diane Petersen, Abby Porter, Burt Rutan, Cory Shreckengost 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.
[email protected]


CONTACT US

Edited by John L. Petersen
[email protected]
www.arlingtoninstitute.org

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A Vision for 2012: Planning for Extraordinary Change
by John L. Petersen

Former senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart has said “It should be required reading for the next President.”








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Volume 13, Number 8 – 4/30/10

Volume 13, Number 10 – 5/30/10