| FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS|
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
- Synthetic blood could be used in transfusions in just two years.
- For the first time, Google is not only disclosing the number of U.S. government requests that it receives for user data, but is also showing the number of users or accounts that are specified in those requests.
- Scientists are tantalizingly close to a breakthrough in producing a malaria vaccine.
- More than 10,000 petitions have poured in to the White House since the new initiative to answer citizen petitions on the most pressing problems of the day was announced. Check out the top 10.
by John L. Petersen
John Petersen and Kevin Blackwell in Berkeley Springs on November 4th
First, let me tell you that later this week, noted psychic Kevin Blackwell and I will be giving a presentation on the evening of November 4th in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Kevin has some very personal and powerful insights about what is inbound in the coming months and years and he and I are joining up to provide a kind of left brain-right brain review and assessment of the extraordinary shift that is playing out under us all.
If you are particularly interested in what this change is all about and where it is going, we cordially invite you to come to our pretty little town and spend a certain to be provocative evening exploring the biggest transition in the history of humanity. You can find complete information here.
GOODNESS, MEANNESS, TRUTH and SECRECY
I’ve been in Latin America for the last two weeks and it has encouraged me to consider this area, where I haven’t spent a great deal of time, in a new way.
Throughout my visits to Chile and Mexico I met wonderful, kind, enlightened people who are going out of their way to make this world a better place. I was impressed with the congruity between their aspirations and commitment and that which I have found almost every other place that I’ve visited on this planet. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, but when going to a new country, I, at least, seem to start with the notion that the place is different – I’ve never been there, after all – and it’s sometimes interesting how, at the most fundamental and substantive level humans can almost immediately connect.
This individual common commitment to goodness was contrast in both countries to the way my government thinks about and treats this part of the world. In Chile, for example, there were regular, lingering remembrances of how the U.S. CIA had overthrown the legitimately elected president, Salvador Allende, and installed the dictator Pinochet, who “disappeared” many thousands of citizens during his 20 year reign. One of my translators mentioned in passing that he had been tortured for six months during that period of the country’s history.
Many of us “Americans” (we’re Norte Americanos to these folks), have been brought up to believe that the U.S. is the land of opportunity. You can do anything that you want to do – become anyone that you want to become in our America. To a degree not found in most other places in the world, that probably is true, but one of the reasons it is true, is because of the mobility that we Americans have – we can move to where the opportunities might be emerging. We can travel. American’s often are heard to say: “Well, if you don’t like it here, why don’t you leave?”.
That principle – that perspective – stops at our southern border. Somehow, in the same way that we believe in free elections here, but not Chile, we also believe in opportunity and mobility for us, but not our most immediate southern neighbors.
In a very real way, that’s quite selfish. It essentially says that “I’ve got mine and I’m going to ‘protect’ it from everyone else”, regardless of what I’ve got to do to those others.
You can see that perspective clearly in our government’s policies: it’s OK for Americans to vote with their feet . . . but only norte Americanos. If the Mexicans try to cross our borders to try to find decent work or to get away from the drug cartels who are killing scores of their people as they pursue their business of providing drugs to “Ameicans”, we’ll build walls at our borders and invest a significant amount of our effort and treasure to find those poor people and ship them back to where they came from.
It’s not just selfish, it’s worse than that, it’s becoming downright mean. Consider this kind of behavior by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They’re using computer databanks to cross reference different government sources to find and extract law-abiding, tax-paying, hard working individuals from their place of work . . . and destroying American businesses in the process.
A friend here in West Virginia recently asked, “Why do all of the construction companies who come into our community to do major projects have mostly Latinos for workers?” I guessed that his assumption was that the employers were paying them substandard wages and that they were taking jobs away from legitimate “Americans” – in particular, West Virginians. Although I didn’t, I wanted to say to him that they’re probably working for these companies because they are good, dependable workers . . . unlike the typical people who are available in the local labor pool, who don’t show up to work, come late, quit without notice and malinger on the job. (I say that from years of experience in trying to find reliable workers for a whole series of farm and construction projects around our place.)
We Americans seem to be fixated on dealing with symptoms rather than the underlying problems, whether it’s education, the economy, healthcare . . . or immigration. I guess I wonder why with the proximity and importance of Mexico and Central America why we’re not trying to help Mexico deal with its underlying issues, rather than fighting the effects.
The U.S. has something that we call the Monroe Doctrine that says that we have the right and will respond to anything in our “neighborhood” that we think threatens our national security. Wouldn’t the best regional security be for all of our neighbors to be strong, secure and friendly? Why aren’t we working on that?
I’m not naïve enough to believe that if we simply changed our goals, the problems with Latin America would go away. But I do know that we have now spent over USD 1 trillion to kill people in Afghanistan and Iraq (and Yemen, Pakastan, et. al.) and if only half of that money was put back into making the lives of Americans (both Norte and Latin) better, I’ll bet they would be. Mexicans only risk their lives to come over the border because they’re lives are not very good where they have to live.
Believe it or not, all of this is directly connected to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. The same set of values that produces our policies in Latin America are the ones that are producing demonstrations all around the country and the world.
The feelings that the demonstrators try to articulate are clearly present in a great deal of our society. When The New Yorker (not Mother Jones or some other overly liberal publication) runs a cover like this one, then you know that a broad-based raw nerve has been hit.
At its base, OWS is about the rich doing all they can to become richer with no regard for the implications to anyone else. You don’t think so? Check these out:
Where the 1 Percent Fit in the Hierarchy of Income
The Occupy Wall Street protests have set off an enduring conversation in the city concerning what has come to be known as the 99 percent. There has also been a collateral conversation about the richer and remaining 1 percent. Here is the hierarchy of income that underlies the conversation. The volume of each section represents the number of American families in each category, based on a study of 2006 tax returns by Emmanuel Saez of Berkeley. Selected individual salaries are from publicly available sources.
If you want something less concrete (but quite powerful), listen to Charles Eisenstein writing in Reality Sandwich suggest that OWS is about a change in consciousness. He says:
Occupy Wall Street has been criticized for its lack of clear demands, but how do we issue demands, when what we really want is nothing less than the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible?
If Occupy Wall Street has a demand, it should be this: wake up!
Ultimately, we want to create a money system, and an economy, that is the ally not the enemy of love. We don’t want to forever fight the money power to create good in the world; we want to change the money power so that we don’t need to fight it. I will not in this essay describe my vision – one of many – of a money system aligned with the good in all of us. I will only say that such a shift can only happen atop an even deeper shift, a transformation of human consciousness. (full article)
This orientation toward an extreme disparity in acquisition at the expense of the masses exists in other areas as well. Whitley Strieber wrote a very provocative little book (that I’ve given away to many friends) simply called The Key. In it, he tells the true story of a very strange little man who came to his Toronto hotel room in the middle of the night many years ago and began to tell him about what was going to happen in the future. The narrative is full of profound truths, one of which really stood out to me which was a statement that the most inhibiting aspect of our society is the secrecy that exists in general and within the government.
Government secrecy is literally corroding our society, keeping from the citizenry information that could radically change our lives for the better. The purpose, of course, is ultimately economic – keeping the money machine going for those who currently run it. Whitley wrote, “Form an assault on secrecy. You are right to fight against official secrecy. It is the greatest present evil.” WikiLeaks began to open the door on that before government pressure influenced PayPal and all of the other vehicles that the organization used for fund raising to shut down their accounts. (I suspect, by the way, that the next Leaks organization that emerges will have fixed that problem.)
Perhaps the area where this government control of information has been best researched is in space and flying anomalies. In that regard, let me point you to an unusual, but compelling, presentation that step-by-step makes the point about the rather extreme secrecy that has existed for decades around the subject of strange things flying in the sky. Richard Dolan makes the calmest, thoughtful, reasonable and comprehensive case I have yet heard for the notion that there is a very extensive, broad-based parallel reality that exists in the classified world that keeps extraordinary, very useful knowledge away from us all. His presentation is about one and three-quarters hours long, but it is well worth the time to watch it.
Human evolution is the point to all of this. It’s about our species evolving and becoming something more than it has been – about our reaching for who we need to become.
It’s about discovery and a frontier. The purpose of this human experiment is to learn and discover and in the process see ourselves in new, larger and more inclusive ways. That’s what all of human history has been about: broadening horizons and discovering that we are integral parts of increasingly larger, more complex and wonderful systems.
When information about worlds and others who exist off of our planet are kept from the people it robs us of the opportunity to see that there is more to life than just what we observe in front of our faces. It takes away from our young the whole notion of a frontier that demands to be explored. The historical trend of looking for new land, new people, new oceans and continents has been truncated. If new energy sources, extraordinary craft, interesting new concepts of other, non-human life are really available and are being kept from us then those who call themselves our leaders have literally stolen our horizon and our future.
I think that’s what OWS is about. It’s about the human species wrestling against the constraints imposed by the powerful. Everyone – on both sides of this struggle – should consider well how these kinds of competitions have resolved themselves in the past. Even when there wasn’t a global Internet-based nervous system that connected and coordinated the activities of the oppressed, they often prevailed. Those transitions provided the opening to the new. They allowed humans to become who we are.
It is happening again.
Next Frontier in Credit Scores: Predicting Personal Behavior – (Wall St. Journal – October 27, 2011)
Fair Isaac Co., the company that created the FICO credit score, is branching into new territory, assembling disparate data in an effort to better understand a range of human behaviors. “We know what you’re going to do tomorrow,” Mark Greene, Fair Isaac’s chief executive, told investors earlier this year. Fair Isaac’s partners and sometimes-rivals at the nation’s credit bureaus also are delving deeper into consumers’ financial histories to generate tailored scores, which influence where a person can live and work and how much they have to pay for insurance. Use of credit-related data is regulated by a federal law that gives people the right to see and correct information about them. But those provisions may not apply to some new products.
Disruptive Companies/Disruptive Innovations – (Focus.com – no date)
Disruptive companies create innovations that invade the market, force change and create new sectors in the industry. This website examines 7 such companies and the industry effects of their innovations. You know the company names: Apple, Google, Skype, Tata, Zynga, Pandora, and Netflix – but you probably don’t know just how disruptive, in terms of dollars, users and market share, their technologies are. If you are in any doubt about “disruption”, check out this short video clip. For this one year old child, a magazine is an iPad that does not work.
Uturuncu Volcano In Bolivia Is ‘Inflating With Astonishing Speed’- (Huffington Post – October 25, 2011)
Uturuncu, a nearly 20,000 foot volcano located in southwestern Bolivia, is expanding at a rate of one to two centimeters per year. At the rate that Uturuncu is expanding on the surface, scientists estimate that the magma underneath is expanding by 27 cubic feet every second, according to LiveScience. Despite extensive research, volcanologists do not yet know why Uturuncu is expanding so rapidly. A Wired Science blog writes, “This uplift is likely due to the intrusion of magma at depth and could imply that a large reservoir of magma is building under Uturuncu, which is thought to have not erupted since sometime in the Pleistocene (2.6 million to 11,700 years ago).”
Faster-than-light Neutrino Experiment to Be Run Again – (BBC News – October 28, 2011)
Physicists working on the Opera experiment announced the perplexing findings last month. Neutrinos sent through the ground from Cern (the home of the Large Hadron Collider) in Geneva toward the Gran Sasso laboratory 732km away in Italy seemed to show up a tiny fraction of a second earlier than light would have. Scientists who announced that sub-atomic particles might be able to travel faster than light are to rerun their experiment in a different way. For many, the most comforting explanation is that some repeated “systematic error” has so far eluded the experimenters. Stay tuned: this might – or might not – dramatically change what we believe to be true about the nature of the universe.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
Breakthrough Malaria Vaccine Tantalizingly Close – (Boston Channel – October 18, 2011)
A malaria vaccine has eluded scientists for decades, but preliminary results from a phase 3 clinical trial in Africa are providing hope. The data suggest that the vaccine, known as RTS,S, cuts the number of malaria cases in half. Overall 15,000 children in seven African countries are participating in the trial, which represents the furthest that any malaria vaccine candidate has ever progressed. The preliminary results, which were announced at a malaria forum hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, which supported the research very generously. The study covered 6,000 of the participating children, all aged between 5 and 17 months. Andrew Witty, the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline says that if approved, his company does not intend to make a profit from this venture. GlaxoSmithKline will provide the vaccine at 5% above the cost of production, and that the excess amount will be reinvested for research into the next malaria vaccine.
Natural Intestinal Flora Involved in the Emergence of Multiple Sclerosis – (Science Daily – October 27, 2011)
The likelihood of developing multiple sclerosis, a disease in which proteins on the surface of the myelin layer in the brain activate the immune system, is influenced by genes. However, environmental factors have an even greater impact on the disease’s development. Scientists have long suspected that it is caused by infectious agents. The Max Planck researchers now assume that multiple sclerosis is triggered by the natural intestinal flora. This astonishing finding was made possible by newly developed genetically modified mice. In the absence of exposure to any external influences, inflammatory reactions arise in the brains of these animals which are similar to those associated with multiple sclerosis in humans – however, this only occurs when the mice have intact intestinal flora. Mice without microorganisms in their intestines and held in a sterile environment remained healthy. When the scientists “vaccinated” the animals raised in sterile conditions with normal intestinal microorganisms, they also became ill.
Synthetic Blood Could Be Used in Transfusions in Just Two Years – (Daily Mail – October 28, 2011)
Artificial blood created from stem cells could be tested on Britons within two years. The scientists behind the research, which could provide industrial scale quantities of blood, believe it will transform transfusions by preventing hospital shortages, and save thousands of lives on battlefields and at the scene of car crashes. The ‘holy grail’ of blood research, the man-made blood would be free of infections that have blighted natural supplies and could be given to almost everyone regardless of blood group. The hope comes from Edinburgh and Bristol university researchers who have, for the first time, made thousands of millions of red blood cells from stem cells – ‘master cells’ seen as a repair kit for the body – taken from bone marrow. But with the average blood transfusion containing 2.5million million red blood cells, this is not enough. Cells taken from human embryos in the first days of life are easier to multiply in large numbers, but the researchers have so far not managed to make such realistic blood. If they crack the recipe, just one embryo could theoretically provide all the cells ever needed for Britain’s blood supply.
Obese People Regain Weight After Dieting Due to Hormones – (Science Daily – October 28, 2011)
Professor Joseph Proietto from the University of Melbourne said a recent study revealed the important roles that hormones play in regulating body weight, making dietary and behavioral change less likely to work in the long-term. “Our study has provided clues as to why obese people who have lost weight often relapse. The relapse has a strong physiological basis and is not simply the result of the voluntary resumption of old habits,” he said. Dr Proietto said, “Ultimately it would be more effective to focus public health efforts in preventing children from becoming obese. The study also suggests that hunger following weight loss needs to be addressed. This may be possible with long-term pharmacotherapy or hormone manipulation but these options need to be investigated,” he said.
How Plants Sense Touch, Gravity and Other Physical Forces – (Science Daily – October 21, 2011)
“Picture yourself hiking through the woods or walking across a lawn,” says Elizabeth Haswell, PhD, assistant professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis. “Now ask yourself: Do the bushes know that someone is brushing past them? Does the grass know that it is being crushed underfoot? Of course, plants don’t think thoughts, but they do respond to being touched in a number of ways.” The mechanism for their perception may be mechanosensitive ion channels. Mechanosensitive channels were discovered when scientists started looking for ion channels in bacteria, which wasn’t until the 1980s because ion channels were associated with nerves and bacteria weren’t thought to have a nervous system. Then, in the early 2000s, scientists began to compare the genes for the bacterial channels to the genomes of other organisms and they discovered that there are homologous sequences not just in other bacteria but also in some multicellular organisms, including plants.
Seven Billion People Are Not the Issue: Human Development Is What Counts – (Science Daily – October 28, 2011)
As the global media speculate on the number of people likely to inhabit the planet on October 31 an international team of population and development experts argue that it is not simply the number of people that matters but more so their distribution by age, education, health status and location that is most relevant to local and global sustainability. Included in the article are points formulated by twenty of the world’s leading experts in population, development and environment who met at IIASA in Austria in September 2011, with the objective of defining the critical elements of the interactions between the human population and sustainable development.
Occupy Wall Street Hackathons Produce Digital Tools and New Activists – (Mashable – October 19, 2011)
Groups of programmers gathered in three cities recently to build digital tools for the Occupy Wall Street movement. Several of those tools have already launched, and in many cases they’re being maintained by activists who’ve never held a sign in a park. For example, Mark Belinsky has been working on a decentralized decision-making platform that he calls OccupyVotes. Belinsky, the president of a non-profit called Digital Democracy, used his time at the New York City hackathon to turn a platform he developed for the Jan. 25 protests in Egypt into a tool for articulating the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement. “It kind of struck me, of course we can use it here, because the media keeps asking what the protesters want,” he says. Others have built a group texting app for on-the-fly coordination, a Q&A site for occupy organizers, a video-editing platform that doubles as an advertising platform, an app that can use multiple cell phones in a small area to amplify one person’s voice and offered suggestions for the Occupied Wall Street Journal’s website. Their projects are in various stages of launch.
Nokia Kinetic Labs Concept Hands-on – (Slash Gear – October 26, 2011)
Nokia’s development team has created an eye-catching, a flexible smartphone prototype that allows for navigation by physically deforming the device, sizable screen and all. It definitely makes for a more involving experience: Nokia has whipped up a UI for navigating music and photos, and by twisting the handset laterally you can scroll through the lists of media. Bending the edges toward you or away from you zooms in and out, and then more twisting pans around the zoomed image. In fact, the UI is pretty much platform agnostic and could be placed on top of any current OS.
Google’s Maps Street View Pilots Indoor Photos – (BBC News – October 28,2011)
Google has started a pilot project allowing the public to look inside shops and other businesses found on its maps. The feature is an extension of the firm’s Street View technology, which already lets users view 360-degree exterior images. The new project is on a completely voluntary basis. Building on the Google Art Project, which took Street View technology inside 17 acclaimed museums, this project is another creative implementation of Street View technology, to help businesses as they build their online presence,” said a company spokesman.
1 MW E-Cat Cold Fusion Device Test Successful – (Pure Energy Systems – October 28, 2011)
On October 28, 2011, Andrea Rossi’s one-megawatt-capable E-Cat cold fusion device has been tested in Bologna, Italy; and the unknown customer, who ran the test, is apparently happy. There were some issues, so it couldn’t be run at full power in self-looped mode, but what it did do was plenty impressive. It ran for 5.5 hours producing 479 kW, while in self-looped mode. That means no substantial external energy was required to make it run, because it kept itself running, even while producing an excess of nearly half a megawatt.
Mass Use of Cold Fusion in One Year Or Less – (Cold Fusion Now – October 18, 2011)
Recent mainstream press (article provides references) on Andrea Rossi’s Energy Catalyzer has brought new pubic attention to the field of cold fusion research. Based on the exponential curve for the adoption of digital devices, (using the free and open-source Geogebra), in the author’s opinion, the data gives visual-space credibility to the mass use (adopted by ¼ of the population) of cold fusion in one year or less after it is commercially introduced. (Editor’s note: extrapolating from the adoption rate for the iPad, the one year time frame may not be so far fetched – the toe-stubber here is “after it is commercially introduced”.)
How Vehicle Automation Will Cut Fuel Consumption – (Technology Review – October 24, 2011)
Increased automation could reduce congestion, but also allow for radical redesigns of automobiles to make them lighter and more fuel-efficient. Partially automated vehicles that let drivers take their hands off the steering wheel and the accelerator, but still require them to pay attention, could be sold by the end of the decade. But the biggest fuel savings could come with full automation. Cars that park themselves-a trick GM has demonstrated with its EN-V concept vehicle-could save fuel by eliminating the need for drivers to circle the block waiting for a parking space to open up. The ambition is for a car to drop its owner off and go directly to the nearest available parking spot-even if that spot happens to be miles away, too far for the owner to walk. When it’s time to leave, the owner notifies the car with a smart phone, and it picks him or her up.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Darpa Wants to Master the Science of Propaganda – (Wired – October 18, 2011)
Darpa is asking scientists to “take narratives and make them quantitatively analyzable in a rigorous, transparent and repeatable fashion.” The idea is to detect terrorists who have been indoctrinated by propaganda. Then, the Pentagon can respond with some messages of its own. The program is called “Narrative Networks.” Once scientists have perfected the science of how stories affect our neurochemistry, they intend to develop tools to “detect narrative influence.” These tools will enable “prevention of negative behavioral outcomes … and generation of positive behavioral outcomes, such as building trust.” As a researcher familiar with the project put it: “The government is already trying to control the message, so why not have the science to do it in a systematic way?”
Suspected US Satellite Hacking Attacks – (BBC News – October 28, 2011)
Hackers interfered with two US satellites four times between 2007 and 2008, according to reports. The claim is made in a draft paper prepared for the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, according to the Bloomberg news agency. It said the incidents involved the Landsat-7 and Terra AM-1 earth observation systems which were targeted through a ground station in Norway and used to observe the earth’s climate and terrain. The report highlights the risks that would have been posed had the breaches involved satellites with “more sensitive functions”. Currently most military and government systems are interconnected and have substantial data links – some online and some offline – to public and commercial systems and networks. At this point, the “total isolation” model is outdated and the traditional military security model has collapsed. The latest, alleged, Landsat incident is a clear example of that. While the system is operated mainly from military facilities and systems, it can be accessed from a commercial station in Norway which in turn is connected to the internet.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
More Data, More Transparency – (Google Blog – October 25, 2011)
Google has updated its Government Requests tool with numbers for requests that it received from January to June 2011. For the first time, it is not only disclosing the number of requests for user data, but is also showing the number of users or accounts that are specified in those requests. Google has also recently released the raw data behind the requests. Interested developers and researchers can now take this data and revisualize it in different ways, or mash it up with information from other organizations to test and draw up new hypotheses about government behaviors online. Google believes that providing this level of detail highlights the need to modernize laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which regulates government access to user information and was written 25 years ago-long before the average person had ever heard of email. Google hopes others will join in the effort to provide more transparency, so we’ll be better able to see the bigger picture of how regulatory environments affect the entire web.
Dear White House: Please Tell Us the Truth about E.T. – (Wall St. Journal – October 27, 2011)
More than 10,000 petitions have poured in since the new initiative to answer citizen petitions on the most pressing problems of the day was announced last month in a bid to bring government closer to the people. The White House has promised that any petition meeting a threshold for a number of signatures – more than 50 so far have met it – will get an expedited hearing and an official policy response. The White House’s initial threshold for consideration was 5,000 electronic signatures in 30 days, but more than 30 petitions met that in the first week, blowing past expectations. Officials then raised the bar to 25,000 names. Marijuana legalization is the reigning champion of we’ll-take-any-question politics, reaching the top of the heap every time the White House takes suggestions from the public. Of the 202 petitions posted with at least 150 signatures, not one mentions President Barack Obama’s jobs plan, something the White House talks about almost every day. The article lists the top 10 petitions and some others to provide a sense of the breadth of the petitions.
Occupying the First Amendment – (Huffington Post – October 21, 2011)
Whatever else it accomplishes, Occupy Wall Street is revealing distortions in our current understanding of the First Amendment. In recent decisions, the Supreme Court has protected Wall Street’s constitutional right to pour millions into political campaigns. But as presently construed, the First Amendment isn’t an obstacle when it comes to silencing the Occupiers. The demonstrators were almost evicted from Zuccotti Park recently; but were saved, paradoxically, by Zuccotti’s status as a private enclave reserved for public use by zoning laws. In contrast, New York City imposes a flat ban on sleeping in its public parks.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
7 Toys You Gotta Have – (CNN – October 24, 2011)
Some of the coolest toys this year are coming from small toymakers that are quietly revolutionizing how kids play today. Check out FlyrFlyz, Ickee Stickeez and a few other toys likely to show up on your holiday most-requested list.
Challenging the Old Boys Network at the Vatican – (Nation of Change – October 27, 2011)
It started when the Rome police spotted the three women in long white church liturgical robes, the man in a roman collar dressed all in black, and their supporters walking several blocks down the middle of Via della Conciliazione directly towards the Vatican. The group wanted to deliver a petition, printed on pink paper, signed by more than 15,000 people who asked the Vatican not to expel Fr. Roy Bourgeois, 72, from the church for saying that women are called to be priests in the church. Fr. Roy faces expulsion from his Catholic community, Maryknoll, for refusing to recant his belief that women can and should be allowed to become priests. Bourgeois, a decorated Vietnam veteran, has been a faithful member of the Catholic missionary group, Maryknoll, for 44 years.
Two Amazon.com Nuggets of Wisdom – (Kid Dynamites World – October 17, 2011)
“There’s been a fundamental change in buying behavior,” said Bill Martin, the chief executive officer of ShopperTrak. First, from Bloomberg: “Impulse purchases require people to browse the aisles, however, and that’s happening less and less these days because Web-savvy consumers often already know what they plan to buy and simply pick it up and leave, Martin said. These mission shoppers visit fewer stores – three per trip, down from five pre-recession, according to ShopperTrak. As a result, foot traffic may fall 2.2 percent during the holiday shopping marathon, says the Chicago-based research firm. Additionally, Amazon now has smartphone apps that allow you to scan a barcode from in-store and immediately see that you can (almost certainly) buy it cheaper from Amazon.com, and place your online order instantly.
“Occupy Wall St.” – Approved – (Huffington Post – October 11, 2011)
Popular television personality, Suze Orman, is the author of this article in which she endorses OWS. She writes, “What I find so encouraging is that Occupy Wall Street’s more important message is that this marks an end point. An end to just shrugging and putting up with the inequity. An end to patiently waiting for government to get its act together and take steps to reduce the pain felt by millions of Americans who are unemployed, the millions more who are underemployed, and the millions more again who worry that if we indeed slip into a double dip recession they will soon become unemployed. An end to letting Washington just continue further down its dysfunctional dark hole without being called out.” What’s interesting isn’t so much what she says, but that she says it; so far there haven’t been many mainstream voices supporting the “Occupy” movement.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Alien Base Found at Chinese Pyramid – (Before It’s News – October 27, 2011)
China is the focus of legends, myths and stories of alien visitations and many of them center on the Xianyang pyramid. The hypothesis regarding extra-terrestrials is “understandable and worth looking into, [but] scientific means must be employed to prove whether or not it is true,” Yang Ji, one of the scientists and a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences explained to reporters. The anomalous pyramid rises almost 200 feet above the countryside, with the surrounding area littered with mystifying pipes, bizarre artifacts and curious odds and ends. China’s state-run Xinhua agency sent a nine man team to investigate the pyramid and report back on their findings. The team discovered pipes running from the three caves in the pyramid and deep into the ground slanting down into the earth…towards what?
More Than One in 10 Americans Use Antidepressants – (Reuters – October 19, 2011)
More than one in 10 Americans over the age of 12 takes an antidepressant, a class of drugs that has become wildly popular in the past several decades. Antidepressants were the third-most common drug used by Americans of all ages between 2005 and 2008 and they were the most common drug among people aged 18 to 44, according to an analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. They found that antidepressant use in the U.S. jumped nearly 400% in the 2005-2008 survey period compared with the 1988-1994 period, with 11% of those over age 12 taking the drugs. Several antidepressants are now used to treat a host of problems, including anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, bulimia and even post traumatic stress disorder.
Student Loans Outstanding Will Exceed $1 Trillion This Year – (USA Today – October 19, 2011)
The amount of student loans taken out last year crossed the $100 billion mark for the first time and total loans outstanding will exceed $1 trillion for the first time this year. Americans now owe more on student loans than on credit cards, reports the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Students are borrowing twice what they did a decade ago after adjusting for inflation, the College Board reports. Total outstanding debt has doubled in the past five years – a sharp contrast to consumers reducing what’s owed on home loans and credit cards. “It’s going to create a generation of wage slavery,” says Nick Pardini, a Villanova University graduate student in finance who has warned on a blog for investors that student loans are the next credit bubble – with borrowers, rather than lenders, as the losers.
The 99 Percent – (Economist – October 26, 2011)
Of all the many banners being waved around the world by disgruntled protesters from Chile to Australia the one that reads, “We Are the 99%” is the catchiest. It is purposefully vague, but it is also underpinned by some solid economics. A report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) points out that income inequality in America has not risen dramatically over the past 20 years-when the top 1% of earners are excluded. With them, the picture is quite different. The data tend to support two prejudices. First, that a system that works well for the very richest has delivered returns on labor that are disappointing for everyone else. Second, that the people at the top have made out like bandits over the past few decades, and that now everyone else must pick up the bill.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Quantum Levitation – (Kottke.org – October 18, 2011)
Two video clips at this website. The first is a demonstration of quantum levitation from the Superconductivity Group of the School of Physics and Astronomy at Tel Aviv University. The second video gives a little more explanation into the process at work here (superconductivity + quantum trapping of the magnetic field in quantum flux tubes) and an awesome demonstration of a crude rail system. You can almost hear your tiny mind explode when the “train” goes upside-down.
Wall St. Protesters Have Money Problem: Too Much of It – (USA Today – October 19, 2011)
Actually, the problem isn’t too much of it, but managing it. After a month of bashing banks and other corporations, the Occupy Wall Street movement has had to become a money manager itself. It has $435,000. Most of it came from online credit-card donations, but $85,000 has been donated in person at the Manhattan park that’s become the center of the global “anti-greed” protests. Roughly $8,000 is coming in every day just from lock boxes set up to take donations at Zuccotti Park, said Darrell Prince, an activist using his business background to keep track of the daily donations. More is coming by mail and online. “It’s way more support than we ever thought would come in,” Prince said.
Houston – We’ve Got a Problem: Bevilacqua – (Amvona – October 19, 2011)
On Oct. 18th, 2011 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court handed down their decision in the case of FRANCIS J. BEVILACQUA, THIRD vs. PABLO RODRIGUEZ – and in a moment, essentially made foreclosure sales in the Commonwealth over the last five years wholly void. In essence, the ruling upheld that those who had purchased foreclosure properties that had been illegally foreclosed upon (which is virtually all foreclosure sales in the last five years), did not in fact have title to those properties. Given the fact that more than two-thirds of all real estate transactions in the last five years have also been foreclosed properties (roughly six million of them), this creates a small problem. The Massachusetts SJC is one of the most respected high courts in the country, other supreme courts look to these decisions for guidance, and would find it difficult to rule any other way in their own states. It is a precedent. It’s an important precedent. This article details the key components of the case. See also: Eaton – Dividing the Mortgage Loan and Affirming the Consequent.
14 Companies And Initiatives That Are Planning Furthest Into The Future – (Business Insider – October 14, 2011)
British consultancy Volans and advertising agency JWT just released The Future Quotient: 50 Stars in Seriously Long-term Innovation, which identifies the most future-ready companies, groups, individuals and initiatives in the world — including Google, China’s 5-Year Plan and the London 2012 Olympic Committee. The list is based on a survey of 500 public, private and NGO leaders about who’s leading the charge in sustainability, innovation and social enterprise. This article highlights 14 of the most future-ready companies and initiatives.
Elders a (Labor) Force for Social Change – (Nation of Change – October 27, 2011)
We’ve stretched the average life span from 47 years in 1900 to nearly 80 today. But our imagination about the shape of those longer lives has lagged behind. Until not long ago, the 50s and 60s meant retirement, grandparenthood, senior discounts, and early-bird specials. Today there is a growing group of what the author of this article call “neither-nors.” Neither young nor old, neither ready to be retired nor able to afford it. By capitalizing on the unique assets of this vast population, we can make something extraordinary out of what so many think of as the leftover years. Today’s boomers are the first wave passing into this new period, which will soon be occupied by their longer-living children and grandchildren. In crafting our society to respond, we’ll open up options for younger people, who could then make life decisions with the expectation of more than one bite of the apple. Article suggests possible new social policy changes, not necessarily viable, but a good starting point for discussion.
Bombings, beheadings? Stats Show a Peaceful World – (Seattle Post Intelligencer – October 24, 2011)
Yes, thousands of people have died in bloody unrest from Africa to Pakistan, while terrorists plot bombings and kidnappings. Wars drag on in Iraq and Afghanistan. In peaceful Norway, a man massacred 69 youths in July. In Mexico, headless bodies turn up, victims of drug cartels. This month eight people died in a shooting in a California hair salon. Yet, historically, we’ve never had it this peaceful. That’s the thesis of three new books, including one by prominent Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. Statistics reveal dramatic reductions in war deaths, family violence, racism, rape, murder and all sorts of mayhem. In his book, Pinker writes: “The decline of violence may be the most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species.”
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.
Manliness in a Can – (Nation of Change – October 24, 2011)
If you worry that American corporations have lost the innovative, can-do edge necessary to compete in today’s global economy, meet Dr Pepper Ten, a brand-new concoction that promises to deliver the impossible: a macho diet soda. How’s that for innovation? Corporate officials won’t disclose what’s in the formula that supposedly will make men salivate for a can of Ten, but the key ingredient seems to be raw hucksterism. The pepped-up Dr Pepper is being launched with a massive, testosterone-infused ad campaign that bluntly proclaims: “It’s not for women.” (Editor’s note: the ad campaign may be “testosterone-infused”, but we don’t believe the beverage is.)
JUST FOR FUN
The Meaning of Life – (Janine Reyes’ Blog – September 8, 2010)
While this short video won’t actually give you the meaning of Life, it offers some great tips on how to navigate joyfully through Life.
A FINAL QUOTE…
The greatest mistake is to imagine that we never err. – Thomas Carlyle
A special thanks to: Thomas Bergin, Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Dane Erickson, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Kurzweil AI, Diane Petersen, Stu Rose, 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