FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
- Scientists have discovered a planet that orbits a dual-star system.
- An expert in antibiotic resistance at Cardiff University, UK, said: “We are very close to having pan-resistant bacteria in this country. The consequence of this is that we are more or less back to the pre-antibiotic days of the 1920s.”
- In three weeks, on-line gamers produced an accurate model of an enzyme that had stymied scientists for a decade.
- Scientists at Penn State College of Medicine say they have discovered a virus that is capable of killing all grades of breast cancer within 7 days of first introduction within a laboratory setting.
by John L. Petersen
The tempo of change is increasing. Many indicators now point to a further unraveling of the financial system. My guess is that within six weeks the headlines will be talking about the collapse that is then obviously taking place. If you believe the Economic Cycle Research Institute (which has always been right before), it’s already inevitable. Watch this video and see what you think.
Chris Martenson also has a rather technical assessment that comes to the same conclusion under the title of “Economy on Ropes Going Down”.
Clearly others have gotten the message as well. For almost two weeks now thousands of people have been demonstrating on Wall Street against corporate greed and a long list of other grievances. Yesterday 700 were arrested as they crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. This CBS news story talks about the spreading demonstrations to other cities in the U.S.
Perhaps we should have listened to Thomas Jefferson long ago when he talked about the potentially negative role that the financial institutions would play in the future of the country if they were allowed to control the issuing of currency.
In the end, nothing changes unless we have a mind shift – we see ourselves and the world in different terms. Kingsley Dennis has written an interesting piece in the Huffington Post explaining ‘Why We Are in Need of a Positive Worldshift’.
If you’re up for ranging even further from the conventional in order to prepare yourself for what’s coming downstream, then I’d commend to you this advice from the Hathors, as communicated by Tom Kenyon. The importance of gratitude in facilitating the ability to transcend all that is going on around us seems paramount to me.
The Next Three Years
Where are we going? What’s going to happen in the next three years?
In light of all of this change, perhaps you would benefit from a (relatively) informed perspective of what this shift is all about and what might happen in the next three years. As it happens, I’ve produced a DVD of a presentation that I gave recently that addresses just those topics. Many FE readers have ordered these discs and have sent along very nice comments about how they’ve been helped by watching them.
This 2.5 hour, two-DVD presentation weaves the predictions and explanations about what is happening in the galaxy, solar system and planet from five different “unconventional” sources and then shows where NASA and other more conventional sources confirm that we have entered a period of change unlike anything previously seen before by our species. The talk addresses the following questions:
- What is happening on our planet now?
- Why is all of this change taking place?
- What kind of human and world could result from this shift?
- What are the implications for you?
- What can you do about preparing yourself for this change?
Since putting this together, I have had repeated indications from a number of new sources that suggest that the essential dynamics of what this presentation proposes is correct. I think that you’d find the integrated perspective to be provocative and useful.
We’ve had really great response to our making this presentation available and I’d be happy to send one to you. You can order the DVDs here or by clicking on the banner above.
Lest you think that it’s all doom and gloom, there certainly is some rather positive change in the works as well. Witness the Aptera, a new car that gets 400 miles per gallon . . . and is pretty sexy looking at that! They’ve taken organic design to its logical end here and achieved extraordinary efficiencies. Here’s the website.
And in other automobile news, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors says that the Tesla Model S “Will Be Faster Than A Porsche 911”. That may not be particularly meaningful to some of you reading this, but for others of us, that’s pretty impressive for an electric car that can transport 7 people for up to 300 miles. It’s a pretty machine as well.
Don’t forget to Tell someone today about FUTUREdition. It’s free. It’s intelligent. It’s provocative. You learn things here that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s a good deal. Send them to www.futuredition.org.
Should Faking a Name on Facebook Be a Felony? – (Wall St. Journal – September 14, 2011)
Scientists Find a Planet with Two Suns – (Time – September 16, 2011)
Double-star systems are very common in the Milky Way – in fact, solitary stars like the sun are in the minority. But it wasn’t clear, said theorists, that planets could form and survive in their vicinity: when two elephants are waltzing, it could be very difficult for mice to tiptoe safely under their feet. That uncertainty is now gone. The Kepler space telescope has found a planet known as Kepler-16b: a huge, gaseous planet, about the size of Saturn, and its temperature is at least 100°F below zero. Although Kepler-16b is positively uninhabitable, it does orbit a dual-star system. The planet’s very existence suggests that the number of places to look for other worlds is much vaster than anyone had counted on.
Dwarf Galaxies Suggests Dark Matter Theories May Be Wrong – (BBC News – September 16, 2011)
The current theory holds that around 4% of the Universe is made up of normal matter – the stuff of stars, planets and people – and around 21% of it is dark matter. The remainder is made up of what is known as dark energy, an even less understood hypothetical component of the Universe that would explain its ever-increasing expansion. But research on dwarf galaxies suggests they cannot form in the way they do if dark matter exists in the form that the most common model requires it to.
Neutrinos May Have Traveled Faster Than the Speed of Light – (Washington Post – September 23, 2011)
Scientists at CERN, the world’s largest physics lab, have announced a startling finding: Subatomic particles, called neutrinos, have been found to be traveling faster than the speed of light. If true, this development would break a fundamental pillar of physics. Einstein’s special theory of relativity has always told us nothing is supposed to move faster than the speed of light, 299,792,458 meters per second. CERN scientists are now asking others to verify the measurements before claiming the discovery to be true.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
Breakthrough Device Helps Alzheimer’s Patients Regain Cognitive Skills – (Israel 21C – September 8, 2011)
A new electromagnetic stimulation system developed in Israel appears to change the course of the degenerative Alzheimer’s disease and allow patients to regain faded cognitive skills. The non-invasive NeuroAD system, developed by Yokneam-based Neuronix, is the first medical device to receive approval for treating mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, a terminal brain disease affecting about 30 million elderly people worldwide. Clinical results show measurable cognitive improvement after a few weeks of treatment that is superior to improvements achieved with available drugs, says Neuronix CEO Eyal Baror, and NeuroAD can be used in conjunction with medication. One year later, trial subjects still maintained improvement in cognition, activities of daily living and decision-making to a state comparable to two years before treatment.
On-line Gamers Crack AIDS Enzyme Puzzle – (Raw Story – September 18, 2011)
Online gamers have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade. Figuring out the structure of proteins is vital for understanding the causes of many diseases and developing drugs to block them. But a microscope gives only a flat image of what to the outsider looks like a plate of one-dimensional scrunched-up spaghetti. Pharmacologists, though, need a 3-D picture that “unfolds” the molecule and rotates it in order to reveal potential targets for drugs. Foldit, developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, is a fun-for-purpose video game in which gamers compete to unfold chains of amino acids. To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks. One of Foldit’s creators, Seth Cooper, explained why gamers had succeeded where computers had failed. “People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at,” he said.
Antibiotics Losing the Fight Against Deadly Bacteria – (Independent – September 18, 2011)
Disturbing statistics reveal an explosion in cases of super-resistant strains of bacteria such as E.coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, a cause of pneumonia and urinary tract infections, in less than five years. Until 2008, there were fewer than five cases a year in the UK of bugs resistant to carbapenem, the most effective intravenous (IV) antibiotic. But there have been 386 cases already this year. Doctors are particularly concerned because carbapenems are often the last hope for hospital patients suffering from pneumonia and blood infections that other antibiotics have failed to treat. Such cases were unknown in the UK before 2003. Professor Tim Walsh, an expert in antibiotic resistance at Cardiff University, said: “We are very close to having pan-resistant bacteria in this country. The consequence of this is that we are more or less back to the pre-antibiotic days of the 1920s, so these drugs that we’ve relied on for so long and taken for granted have now become obsolete because we’ve become complacent.”
CEUS Detects Abdominal Cancers without Radiation – (Life Extension – September 28, 2011)
Abdominal cancers may be detected sooner, with more specificity, and without exposing patients to ionizing radiation using a simple “contrast-enhanced ultrasound” (CEUS) scan, according to preliminary results of a new Canadian study. “This readily available ultrasound tool can replace some CT scans, allowing us to accurately diagnose these cancers without radiation and at a significantly lower cost,” according to Dr. Stephanie Wilson, Professor of Radiology at the University of Calgary and a practicing radiologist at Foothills Medical Center in Calgary. By comparison, expensive “big box” imaging tools like CT, PET and SPECT (nuclear) imaging all expose patients to ionizing radiation, which can increase an individual’s lifetime risk of cancer.
Scientists Discover Virus that Kills All Types of Breast Cancer within Seven Days – (Raw Story – September 23, 2011)
Scientists at Penn State College of Medicine say they have discovered a virus that is capable of killing all grades of breast cancer within 7 days of first introduction within a laboratory setting. The virus, known as adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) is naturally occuring and carried by up to 80% of people, but it does not cause any type of disease. “If we can determine which viral genes are being used, we may be able to introduce these genes into a therapy,” explained a Penn State researcher. “If we can determine which pathways the virus is using, we can then screen new drugs that target those pathways. Or we may simply be able to use the virus itself.”
Israeli Researchers Build a Rat Cyborg With a Digital Cerebellum – (Pop Sci – September 27, 2011)
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a synthetic cerebellum that has restored lost brain function in rats, demonstrating that artificial brain analogs can potentially replace parts of the brain that aren’t functioning properly. The team’s synthetic cerebellum is more or less a simple microchip, but can receive sensory input from the brainstem, interpret that nerve input, and send the appropriate signal to a different region of the brainstem to initiate the appropriate movement. The chip was connected to the brain by electrodes, not implanted in the rat’s brain and currently it is only capable of dealing with the most basic stimuli/response sequence, but the very fact that researchers can do such a thing marks a significant leap forward.
Failure of Electrical Power Equipment Due to Solar Magnetic Disturbances – (Nuclear Regulatory Commission – 1990)
This information is not new, but it’s distribution has been very limited. On March 13, 1989, an exceptionally strong geomagnetic storm caused major damage to electrical power equipment in Canada, Scandinavia, and the United States. The greatest damage occurred in Canada, where the Hydro-Quebec extra high voltage (EHV) transmission system experienced seven static compensator trips, causing system instability and tripping of lines carrying power to Montreal from hydroelectric generating facilities at James Bay. Automatic load-shedding was not able to offset the loss, and within a few seconds, frequency and voltage excursions occurred throughout the rest of the system resulting in total blackout of the Hydro-Quebec system. On September 19, 1989, at the Salem Unit 2 nuclear power plant, a second solar storm damaged the generator step-up transformer.
South Korea: Heat Wave Causes Massive Power Outages – (Huffington Post – September 15, 2011)
An unseasonable heat wave caused power outages around South Korea recently, trapping hundreds of people in elevators, shutting down traffic lights and stopping factory operations. The outages reported in Seoul and other major cities affected at least 820,000 homes across the country for about six hours. Officials said demand was 3.2 million kilowatts higher than expected. The temperature of 88 degrees Fahrenheit in Seoul was the highest in nearly two weeks. The state-run Korea Power Exchange, which coordinates power supplies, said that some power facilities were being repaired when the demand for power peaked.
Sea Level Continues Inexorable Decline – (Ice Age Now – September 16, 2011)
“The latest sea level numbers are out,” says Steven Goddard on Real-Science.com. “Envisat shows that the two year long decline is continuing, at a rate of 5mm per year.” This decline is a continuation of the sea-level decline that began in 2010. (See this article.) If the water is not in the oceans, it must be being locked up on land as snow and ice. That’s how ice ages begin. If that persists, sea levels will continue falling and won’t begin rising again until the end of the next ice age. (According to the European Space Agency website, Envisat is the largest Earth Observation spacecraft ever built. Launched in 2002, it carries ten sophisticated optical and radar instruments to provide continuous observation and monitoring of the Earth’s land, atmosphere, oceans and ice caps. Envisat data collectively provide a wealth of information on the workings of the Earth system, including insights into factors contributing to climate change.)
Bulldozers Tear into Big Washington Dams – (National Geographic – September 23, 2011)
Bulldozers have started carving out pieces of the Elwha Dam’s concrete barrier. on Washington’s Olympic peninsula Saturday morning. It was the start of a three-year, $351 million project to dismantle two dams near the mouth of the Elwha River, opening the waterway to salmon for the first time in a century. It’s the largest dam removal in the history of the U.S. with 80,000 of the man-made structures, many of them aging, silting up, and no longer useful (or at least necessary). Some, like the two Elwha dams, were built without fish ladders, meaning they serve as completely impenetrable barriers to fish migrations. Recently at the base of the dam, officials counted only 72 salmon, unable to swim any farther upstream. Members of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe tell stories of a time when the river was so chock-full of glistening flesh that one could practically walk across on the bodies of writhing fish.
Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Resigns from American Physical Society Over Group’s Promotion of Man-Made Global Warming – (Climate Depot – September 14, 2011)
Nobel prize winner for physics in 1973, Dr. Ivar Giaever resigned as a Fellow from the American Physical Society (APS) on September 13, 2011 in disgust over the group’s promotion of man-made global warming fears. Giaever explained in his email to APS: “In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but [you state that] the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible? The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable….” Also see: More than 100 scientists rebuke Obama as ‘simply incorrect’ on global warming: ‘We, the undersigned scientists, maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated’.
Rising Volcanic Activity Prompts Evacuations On El Hierro, The Canary Islands – (Prepper Podcast Radio News – September 28, 2011)
Fears are growing that the El Hierro volcano in the Canary Islands could soon erupt after seismic activity beneath the island has increased dramatically in the last week. Over 150 earthquakes were recorded on the smallest of the Canary Islands recently prompting officials to evacuate some local residents, shut El Hierro’s main tunnel, and close local schools. Hierro, a shield volcano, has had a single historic eruption from the Volcan de Lomo Negro vent in 1793. The eruption lasted approximately one month and produced lava flows. The Canary Islands Government commenced an in-depth geological survey of El Hierro earlier this month in an effort to determine the source of an earthquake swarm and raised the volcanic risk level to ‘Yellow’ on Sunday, the highest alert status since an unprecedented earthquake swarm commenced in mid-July. Prior to two weeks ago, the majority of earth tremors ranged between 1 and 3 magnitude. However, the majority of quakes are now registering between 2 and 4 magnitude and are occuring at depth of 14-17 kilometers, according to the National Geographic Institute.
How Google Translate Works – (Independent – September 13, 2011)
Using software originally developed in the 1980s by researchers at IBM, Google has created an automatic translation tool that is unlike all others. It is not based on the intellectual presuppositions of early machine translation efforts – it isn’t an algorithm designed to extract the meaning of an expression from its syntax and vocabulary. In fact, at bottom, it doesn’t deal with meaning at all. Instead of taking a linguistic expression as something that requires decoding, Google Translate takes it as something that has probably been said before. It uses vast computing power to scour the internet in the blink of an eye, looking for the expression in some text that exists alongside its paired translation.
Apple’s Secret is in Our DNA- (NPR – August 30, 2011)
Why are so many of us addicted to Apple products (and yes, I mean literally addicted)? What, when asked what she loves about her Macbook and iPhone and iPad, makes my friend Caren respond with: “When something is a prosthesis, how can one begin to unravel it?” The answer may lie in mathematics and our own DNA. Beauty is more objective than you might think. It’s based on numbers and proportions. As humans, we’re biologically programmed to seek out and respond to these numbers and proportions because they indicate superiority, in everything from the human form, to great works of art, to musical patterns, to plants, to architecture and to product design. With the help of Jonathan Ive, Apple’s VP of industrial design, Steve Jobs has exploited our biological tendencies to give us exactly what we want. For example, the pulsing light that softly undulates to indicate that a Macbook is asleep mimics the rhythm of a human heartbeat, a deeply resonating mathematical pattern which can also be found in tidal flows, DNA sequences and blissful cognitive states.
The ‘Worm’ That Could Bring Down the Internet – (NPR – September 27, 2011)
For the past three years, a highly encrypted computer worm called Conficker has been spreading rapidly around the world. As many as 12 million computers have been infected with the self-updating worm, a type of malware that can get inside computers and operate without their permission. “What Conficker does is penetrate the core of the [operating system] of the computer and essentially turn over control of your computer to a remote controller,” writer Mark Bowden tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “[That person] could then utilize all of these computers, including yours, that are connected. … And you have effectively the largest, most powerful computer in the world.” The gigantic networked system created by the Conficker worm is what’s known as a “botnet.” The Conficker botnet is powerful enough to take over computer networks that control banking, telephones, security systems, air traffic control and even the Internet itself, says Bowden. His new book, Worm: The First Digital World War, details how Conficker was discovered, how it works, and the ongoing programming battle to bring down the Conficker worm. However the creator of Conficker seems to have little interest in taking down the Internet or using its bot to create mass destruction. “The people behind it apparently want to use it for criminal reasons – to make money,” says Bowden. The list of infected computers includes big networks within the FBI, the Pentagon, and large corporations.
‘Smart’ Window Switches to Dark Mode to Save Energy – (BBC News – September 27, 2011)
A new type of “smart” window that switches from summer to winter mode has been made by South Korean scientists. The window darkens when the outside air temperatures soar, and becomes transparent when it gets cold in order to capture free heat from the sun. Similar windows already exist, but the researchers say their method allows for an almost instantaneous switch from opaque to transparent. The existing technology uses charged particles called ions sandwiched between panes of glass. Electric current is then applied to switch the window from opaque to clear and back. The new process uses a special polymer, charged particles known as counterions and solvents such as methanol. The result is a glass that is less expensive to manufacture and much less toxic than those currently on the market. The window is able to switch from 100% opaque to almost completely clear in a matter of seconds.
What Determines the Price of Oil and Gas – (Cumberland Times-News – September 17, 2011)
This year may see the highest average annual price of gasoline in U.S. history. Underlying this high price at the pump is the cost per barrel of crude oil. What determines that price? The answer is far from simple, however the most important factor in determining the price of oil is the spare capacity. The spare capacity is the difference between the maximum global oil that could be pumped per day versus the actual amount pumped. Late in the last century, when the price of crude oil dropped to less than $10 per barrel, there was spare capacity of the order of 6-8%. The amount of oil available then exceeded the demand so oil was relatively cheap. But with the global demand for oil increasing, the amount of spare capacity has shrunk to a few percent, making the price of crude oil much less stable and in general driving up the price. (Editor’s note: we might modify this analysis slightly by noting that projected demand relative to presumed spare capacity may be even more critical as a price driver. Volatility in the price of crude is caused by rapidly changing estimates of both these factors.)
How Fast Can China Go? – (Vanity Fair – October, 2011)
The world’s great powers have long declared themselves through their rail lines and on June 30 the Chinese made their bid for supremacy, with the first official run of a $32 billion high-speed line between Shanghai and Beijing. Faster (820 miles in 288 minutes) and sleeker than any other, the needle-nosed CRH380A symbolizes China’s accelerating pace, even as it faces questions about safety, and taps into an ancient rivalry with Japan. Shanghai’s Rainbow Bridge Station is the largest station in Asia, with 60 platforms: it sees 250,000 passengers a day, is made of 80,000 tons of steel, is home to countless stores and restaurants and viewing galleries, and is powered by the biggest solar-panel array in creation. And at a cost of $6.64 billion, 140 of the train sets (a hundred with 16 cars and 40 with just 8 cars, for shorter-haul expresses) were ordered and pressed into immediate service within one year.
India Files Biopiracy Lawsuit against Monsanto, Says Biotech Giant Is Stealing Nature for Corporate Gain – (Natural News – September 28, 2011)
Representing one of the most agriculturally bio-diverse nations in the world, India has become a primary target for biotechnology companies like Monsanto and Cargill to spread their genetically-modified (GM) crops into new markets. Massive public outcry against planned commercial approval of Monsanto’s “frankencrop” variety of eggplant in 2010 led to the government banning it for an indefinite period of time. But Monsanto is still stealing native plant varieties, and quietly working on GM varieties of them in test fields, which is a clear violation of India’s Biological Diversity Act (BDA). This has led the Indian government to take an offensive approach against this attempted agricultural takeover by suing Monsanto for “biopiracy,” accusing the company of stealing India’s indigenous plants in order to re-engineer them into patented varieties.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Diebold Voting Machines Can Be Hacked by Remote Control – (Salon – September 27, 2011)
Voting machines used by as many as a quarter of American voters heading to the polls in 2012 can be hacked with just $10.50 in parts and an 8th grade science education, according to computer science and security experts at the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. The experts say the newly developed hack could change voting results while leaving absolutely no trace of the manipulation behind. The Argonne team’s attack required no modification, reprogramming, or even knowledge, of the voting machine’s proprietary source code. It was carried out by inserting a piece of inexpensive “alien electronics” into the machine. The team’s video (article includes link to video clip) demonstrates how inserting the inexpensive electronic device into the voting machine can provide virtually complete control over the machine. A cheap remote control unit can enable access to the voting machine from up to half a mile away.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
The Costs of War – (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – September 8, 2011)
Of all the nation’s wars, only World War II cost the United States more than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although leading neoconservatives from Paul Wolfowitz to Ken Pollack predicted that the war in Iraq would largely pay for itself, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and his collaborator Linda Bilmes estimate that, in funds already disbursed or committed, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have so far cost the American taxpayer a whopping $3.2 trillion – at least. Furthermore, we could pull every last soldier out of Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow, but the costs of caring for them will keep climbing until at least 2040. See also the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University website containing the study: costsofwar.org.
Does the United States Spend Too Much on Homeland Security?- (Slate – September 7, 2011)
The government refuses to subject homeland security to a cost-benefit analysis. In seeking to evaluate the effectiveness of the massive increases in homeland security expenditures since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the common and urgent query has been, “Are we safer?” This, however, is the wrong question. Of course we are “safer”-the posting of a single security guard at one building’s entrance enhances safety, however microscopically. The correct question is, “Are the gains in security worth the funds expended?” The key fact is this: At present rates (and including 9/11 in the count), the likelihood a resident of the United States will perish at the hands of a terrorist is 1 in 3.5 million per year. And the key question, one almost never broached, is this: How much should we be willing to pay to make that likelihood even lower? Tallying all the expenditures and adding in opportunity costs-but leaving out the costs of the terrorism-related (or terrorism-determined) wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and quite a few other items that might be included-the increase in expenditures on domestic homeland security over the decade exceeds $1 trillion.
Nevada’s Big Bet on Secrecy – (Reuters – September 26, 2011
Ten years ago, Nevada enacted some of America’s loosest disclosure and liability laws for corporations, in a bid to spur the state economy. It protected corporate officers and directors from liability for breaches of duty, bad faith and self-dealing – acts that can be the basis of lawsuits in other states. Today, the business of registering companies in Nevada, many of them shells, is booming. Nevada has emerged as the state with the second-largest number of corporate entities registered per capita, after longtime leader Delaware. As a result, Nevada is attracting an outsize number of companies with shaky financial reporting, according to a study published in March by Michal Barzuza and David C. Smith of the University of Virginia. Nevada has also emerged as a hotbed for a key subset of shell companies, those that are listed on stock exchanges. Public shells have drawn scrutiny from regulators as a backdoor way for foreigners to list on U.S. markets, because buyers can get a listing without the scrutiny of an initial public offering. The shells are also being used for “asset protection” (tax evasion) and money laundering.
Supercomputer Predicts Revolutions – (BBC News – September 06, 2011)
Feeding a supercomputer with news stories could help predict major world events, according to US research. A study, using a hundred million of articles, charted deteriorating national sentiment ahead of the recent revolutions in Libya and Egypt. While the analysis was carried out retrospectively, scientists say the same processes could be used to anticipate upcoming conflict. News articles were analyzed for two main types of information: mood – whether the article represented good news or bad news, and location – where events were happening and the location of other participants in the story. The computer event analysis model appears to give forewarning of major events, based on deteriorating sentiment. However, in the case of this study, its analysis is applied to things that have already happened. According to Kalev Leetaru, based at the University of Illinois, such a system could easily be adapted to work in real time, giving an element of foresight. “That’s the next stage,” said Mr Leetaru. “It is very similar to what economic forecasting algorithms do.”
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
The World’s First Trillionaire – (Slate – September 20, 2011)
The flourishing of the ultra-rich raises an interesting thought experiment: In a world in which a lucky hedge fund manager can make billions in a single year, when will we get our first trillionaire? The answer depends on variables including inflation, tax rates, and overall economic growth. At an average pace of growth, between 4% and 9% per year, the richest American could possess a trillion sometime between 2050 and 2085, presuming no major changes to the tax code and a healthy economy otherwise. It is, however, myopic to presume the first trillionaire will be an American. Indeed, it seems far more likely that the first person to make the 13-digit dollar mark will come from a country more conducive to wealth concentration.
Civil Rights Group Adopts Resolution Opposing Water Fluoridation – (Natural News – September 17, 2011)
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the US, recently adopted a resolution decrying water fluoridation as a civil rights abuse. The resolution declares that adding fluoride to water supplies is essentially an illegal mass medication of the public. It also mentions the many current scientific studies that highlight the dangers of ingesting fluoride, particularly among those with pre-existing health conditions — and that public health authorities have ignored this science in favor of their unscientific, pro-fluoride agenda. Based on decades-worth of statistics released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), water fluoridation has provided no substantial oral benefits for those consuming it. Particularly in the Hispanic community, many of those drinking fluoridated water still have plenty of cavities – but they also now have high rates of dental fluorosis, a condition where teeth become brittle, mottled, and brown as a result of fluoride ingestion.
Single Dose of ‘Magic Mushrooms’ Hallucinogen May Create Lasting Personality Change, Study Suggests – (Science Daily – September 29, 2011)
A single high dose of the hallucinogen psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called “magic mushrooms,” was enough to bring about a measurable personality change lasting at least a year in nearly 60% of the 51 participants in a new study, according to the Johns Hopkins researchers who conducted it. Lasting change was found in the part of the personality known as openness, which includes traits related to imagination, aesthetics, feelings, abstract ideas and general broad-mindedness. Changes in these traits, measured on a widely used and scientifically validated personality inventory, were larger in magnitude than changes typically observed in healthy adults over decades of life experiences, the scientists say. Researchers in the field say that after the age of 30, personality doesn’t usually change significantly. “Normally, if anything, openness tends to decrease as people get older,” says study leader Roland R. Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The research, approved by Johns Hopkins’ Institutional Review Board, was funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
The Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole Went Ballistic During the Renaissance – (IO9 – September 15, 2011)
The center of the Milky Way is full of X-ray sources, many of which seem to originate from clouds that could not possible produce them. Astronomers figure that what they’re really look at are the aftershocks of a more severe event that occurred at some earlier point, before there were telescopes capable of noticing this original flare. Previous analysis of these X-ray emissions suggest that they indeed do have an earlier origin, but until now astronomers couldn’t know for sure what that was.
UFO Sighting in Moscow: Multiple Objects Glowed Like Orange Fire – (Examiner – September 11, 2011)
On September 9, 2011, a UFO sighting in Moscow was caught on video by 41-year-old UFO Hunter Oleg Tarabanov. Several large UFOs were recorded near Falcon Mountain. The objects appeared to glow from within with a fiery orange light. Article includes video clip.
Bad Decade for Male College Grads – (Word Press – September 25, 2011)
In terms of real earnings, male college graduates were absolutely pounded, taking a 9.7% decline in real pay from 2000-2010 (that’s bachelor’s only). Meanwhile female college grads saw no decline at all in real earnings. The analysis covers only the real mean earnings of full-time workers 25 years and over. For every educational category, the same pattern holds: Males doing worse than females in terms of change in real earnings. This is not directly related to the sharper job loss for men, since this data covers only full-time workers. (Editor’s note: this study only compares the change in earnings for men and women; it does not juxtapose this to the absolute difference in earnings for men and women. It does not address the extent to which the net effect may be that women’s average compensation has become closer to men’s average compensation.)
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Game Theory in Practice – (Economist – September 3, 2011)
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, an academic at New York University, has made some impressively accurate political forecasts. In May 2010 he predicted that Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, would fall from power within a year. Mr. Bueno de Mesquita uses a computer model he developed that relies on a branch of mathematics called game theory, which is often used by economists to work out how events will unfold as people and organisations act in what they perceive to be their best interests. Reinier van Oosten of Decide, a Dutch firm that models political negotiations and vote-trading in European Union institutions, notes that forecasts go astray when people unexpectedly give in to “non-rational emotions”, such as hatred, rather than pursuing what is apparently in their best interests. Where is all this heading? Alongside the arms race of increasingly elaborate modelling software, there are also efforts to develop software that can assist in negotiation and mediation.
The End of An Era in China – (Street Light – September 15, 2011)
For almost 20 years, manufacturing firms have been able to move production to China, employ low-cost but productive labor there, and earn unusual profits. But with increasing labor costs and an aging workforce, China is losing its foothold as the world’s lowest cost manufacturer of consumer goods. “Sourcing goods in China purely because of ultra-low costs is a thing of the past,” said Nick Debnam, KPMG’s Asia Pacific chair.
Share Traders More Reckless Than Psychopaths – (Der Spiegel – September 26, 2011)
Researchers at a Swiss research university measured the readiness to cooperate and the egotism of 28 professional traders who took part in computer simulations and intelligence tests. The results showed that share traders behaved more recklessly and were more manipulative than psychopaths according to the study’s co-authors, forensic expert Pascal Scherrer, and Thomas Noll, a lead administrator at the Pöschwies prison north of Zürich. Particularly shocking for Noll was the fact that the bankers weren’t aiming for higher winnings than their comparison group. Instead they were more interested in achieving a competitive advantage. Instead of taking a sober and businesslike approach to reaching the highest profit, “it was most important to the traders to get more than their opponents,” Noll explained. “And they spent a lot of energy trying to damage their opponents.” The researchers were unable to explain this penchant for destruction, they said. (Editor’s note: The “penchant for destruction” may have to do with the fact that trading is a nearly (in some cases, precisely) zero-sum activity. In that circumstance, damaging an opponent is nearly (or exactly) synonymous to achieving a competitive advantage. And bonuses are based on relative performance.)
Do Loved Ones Bid Farewell from Beyond the Grave? – (CNN – September 23, 2011)
According to paranormal investigators, a “crisis apparition” is the spirit of a recently deceased person who visits someone they had a close emotional connection with, usually to say goodbye. Reports of these eerie encounters are materializing in online discussion groups, books such as “Messages” – which features stories of people making contact with loved ones lost on September 11 – and local ghost hunting groups that have sprung up across the country amid a surge of interest in the paranormal. These encounters suggest the bond that exists between loved ones is not erased by death. “We don’t know what to do with these stories. Some people say that they are proof that there’s life after death,” said Steve Volk, author of “Fringe-ology,” a book on paranormal experiences such as telepathy, psychics and house hauntings. Scientific research on crisis apparitions is scant, but theories abound.
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.
Australian Aborigine Hair Tells a Story of Human Migration – (New York Times – September 22, 2011)
A lock of hair, collected by a British anthropologist a century ago, has yielded the first genome of an Australian Aborigine, along with insights into the earliest migration from the ancestral human homeland somewhere in northeast Africa. The Aboriginal genome bolsters earlier genetic evidence showing that once the Aborigines’ ancestors arrived in Australia, some 50,000 years ago, they somehow kept the whole continent to themselves without admitting any outsiders. The Aborigines are thus direct descendants of the first modern humans to leave Africa, without any genetic mixture from other races so far as can be seen at present. “Aboriginal Australians likely have one of the oldest continuous population histories outside sub-Saharan Africa today,” say the researchers who analyzed the hair, a group led by Eske Willerslev of the Natural History Museum of Denmark. Use of the ancient hair reduced the possibility of mixture with European genes and sidestepped the political difficulties of obtaining DNA from living Aborigines.
Perfectly Preserved Dinosaur Feathers – (Edmonton CTV – September 16, 2011)
Prehistoric feathers have been found perfectly preserved in amber in southern Alberta, Canada. This marks the first time such a sample has been found – a real change for experts who are used to studying feathers fossilized in rock.
JUST FOR FUN
Two Classics – One Car – (New York Times – July 8, 2011)
After six decades, Margaret Dunning still breezes down the road in her creamy 1930 Packard roadster. Ms. Dunning is 101 and just as sharp as the vehicle she drives. When asked if she’s lived in Plymouth, MI all her life, she replies, “Not yet.”
Drunken Moose Ends up Stuck in Swedish Apple Tree – (CNN – September 8, 2011)
“It was raining really bad. In the wind I heard something screaming with a very dark voice,” said Per Johansson, a resident of Saro, Sweden. “We got the alarm that a moose was stuck in a tree,” said Anders Gardhagen, spokesman at the Gothenburg Fire and Rescue Services. “When we arrived we used the winch to bend down the apple tree so the moose could get himself out of the tree. Once free, the moose collapsed on the ground and fell asleep. So we let him sleep it off and went back home. In the autumn when the apples have fallen off the trees we normally have at least one of these cases of intoxication. These apples, which ferment in their bellies, aren’t part of their natural food, so they can get quite angry from this drunkenness,” Gardhagen said.
A FINAL QUOTE…
The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome becomes bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance. – Cicero, circa 55 BCE
A special thanks to: Kenton Anderson, Thomas Bergin, Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Kingsley Dennis, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Kurzweil AI, Mark Mayle, Diane Petersen, Ray Petersen, Petra Pieterse, Deva Premal, Gary Sycalik, Hal Taylor, Kermit Weeks, 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