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Volume 14, Number 3 – 02/15/11

Volume 14, Number 3 – 2/15/11FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT…
Widespread drought in the Amazon rainforest last year caused it to produce more carbon dioxide than it absorbed, potentially leading to a dangerous acceleration of global warming.Brazil is employing an idea now in use in some 40 countries around the globe, one already successful on a staggeringly enormous scale and likely the most important government anti-poverty program the world has ever seen.Allstate Insurance has analyzed its claims data against the astrological chart to determine the safest drivers.Check out a selection of breathtaking views from the International Space Station, our only off-planet vista point.
PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

There are any number of sources – mostly unconventional – that are suggesting that this year is going to be particularly memorable for humanity and this planet. Most assessments of the Mayan calendar, for example, say we are entering a particularly active and disruptive period. The big astrological picture points to a ramping up of instability from now to April and then continued big shifts through September, and the Half Past Human folks see this year as being really quite extraordinary. Other sources like Kryon and the Hathors are explicit in describing what we are experiencing.

It’s one thing to hear these prognostications (among many others) in January and muse intellectually about the possibilities that might be on the horizon. It’s quite another – for me, at least – to watch the converging vectors of great change play out in the news each day.

We’re watching rapidly growing political instability and shifts within the Islamic Middle East – a trend that really caught most of the world flat-footed and now clearly has the potential of fundamentally – and rapidly – reconfiguring the geopolitics of the world. At the same time, the climate is generating all kinds of weather surprises – significant anomalies that haven’t been seen, in some cases in 1500 years.

In the energy arena a new report in the prestigious journal Nature proposes that the world may peak in its ability to economically mine and deliver coal within a decade. That’s new: peak coal. And now, the Wall Street Journal reports that ExxonMobil, a corporation which spent a great deal of money pooh-poohing the notion of peak oil is now discovering less than it is pumping. “The company said that for every 100 barrels it has pumped out of the earth over the past decade, it has replaced only 95. It’s a conundrum shared by most of the other large Western oil-producing companies, which are finding most accessible oil fields were tapped long ago, while promising new regions are proving technologically and politically challenging.”

Sounds like the classic description of peak oil to me.

There’s also big domestic political disruption in the U.S. that, responding to impending fiscal disaster on the horizon, feels like the first significant attempt to change the conventional approach to budgeting and politics since I’ve been around. This after the U.S. Federal Reserve has given as much as $15 trillion (really) to bail out foreign and U.S. banks and insurance companies and there are many indications that the present “recovery” is fundamentally manipulated. On that point, read this piece by Giordano Bruno on How to Fake an Economic Recovery. Discount the hyperbole, if you want, but think about the logic of the argument that is advanced.

The global financial system gives many indications of being in the final throes of one lifetime, about to be necessarily reincarnated into a new system that operates on a whole new set of principles. The transition will certainly be interesting.

There’s a growing sense of fear behind all of these changes with people desperately reaching out to apply conventional, familiar tools to push the out-of-control forces back into a familiar box of predictability. For example, in Obama’s budget there is $44 billion for naked body scanners for airports. Think about that. Why do we need 275 more naked body scanners? Are the terrorists beating their way through the conventional scanners that seem to work for every other building in the country? What good things could we do to deal with problems like education and poverty with $44 billion? How about rebuilding our infrastructure? And then, there’s good reason to believe that this technology is harmful to humans – that’s what I’ve heard from very authoritative sources who know what the technology is being used for in other areas. Maybe that’s why the Transportation Security Agency hasn’t published the report on the health implications of the scanners that has been mandated by Congress.

Our government, for instance, is contemplating a “kill switch” for the Internet in the U.S. This kind of thinking is extraordinarily short-sighted. The notion that the government wants to control (and potentially immobilize) the essential connective infrastructure of our society and species is an extension of the fundamentally flawed perspective that has undermined the commitment to net neutrality.

Here’s the idea. Humanity’s and America’s ability to rise to the extraordinary occasion of a global shift to a new world will be DIRECTLY determined by the ability of the Internet to facilitate the unimpeded flow of ideas needed to allow the organism to evolve. The Internet is a global brain – a global nervous system. Constraining it is like drugging a person and then hoping that they will be able to fly an airplane safely. You degrade the senses, response times decrease, new ideas are lost in the fog. The necessity to invent the solutions needed for a rapidly morphing world are fundamentally threatened if the nervous system is inhibited. Drunks don’t generate good ideas.

If the national and global nervous system is run on the golden rule of “he who has the gold, rules”, then it will necessarily degenerate to being heavily biased toward mediocrity. It doesn’t take much thought to understand that most of the people in a society don’t generate most of the new ideas and discoveries that illuminate the path to the future. In a world of junk food and cable television it’s obvious where the interests of most people lie, and it’s not National Public Radio and public television.

This is not just about engendering new ideas . . . it is about distributing and proliferating them. If a new idea never gets out of the shower where it showed up, it isn’t worth much. The organism grows and develops only if the new options are shared – broadly and rapidly shared.

The powers that be have influenced and shaped a world where the majority are numb to what is being discussed here. It is a world that is mostly about being economically productive enough to make a living and then being entertained during those times when one is not working. Value has been equated to money and acquiring money has become the principle objective.

That is the argument that is being made for the eliminating the underlying capability of the Internet to neutrally transmit whatever anyone wants – to let ideas flow. Listen to the politicians making the argument: they all argue about the investment made by the wireless companies. They are oblivious to the underlying function and extraordinarily power of the ideas that do, or do not, get proliferated. The ability of the social organism to evolve is absolutely determined by the health of the neural system and an environment that encourages development.

It’s like a child born with extraordinary, if not unlimited potential. In one situation, having the encouragement and freedom to explore and think and become everything that he or she might, the fledgling sees hope and opportunity and happily engages in becoming more than where they came from. In a constrained environment that revolves around mass market economics, the system produces mediocrity – individuals that must be sustained by the system and are unable to rise to the occasion that is being presented to all of us.

The notion is even more sinister if you consider the likely motivation of governments for developing the capability to shut the Internet down. It’s obvious in the way it has already been used. The proposal may be couched in “national security” and cyber attack defense terms, but in the end it is all about maintaining the power of the government in extraordinary times – regardless of what the people desire. That’s admirable to have this capability if there is a large-scale attempt to take down the system, for sure. But it is far more likely that the switch would be used to constrain ideas and behavior that the government (for whatever reason) found distasteful. Look around. The government and large institutions are largely about control.

It is not an overstatement to suggest that the literal future of humanity will depend upon the freedom (or not) that underpins the continued development of our species’ social nervous system – the Internet.

Of course, other major things are in play in this amazing confluence of converging forces and opportunities. Growing numbers of observers are pointing to accelerating changes in the earth’s magnetic field, for example, which protects us from a growing bath of cosmic energy that is coming from the center of our galaxy and also from the sun. Some are also positing the likely collapse and reconfiguration of the magnetosphere (a magnetic pole shift) that might also uncouple the crust of the earth from the moving liquid core . . . and lead to a physical pole shift.

Changing surface temperatures, the reconfiguration of water (and therefore weight), and the interaction of the earth and the sun appear to be producing more, larger earthquakes and volcanoes than have been seen in any time in modern history.

The changing magnetosphere and increasing energetic environment appears to be changing our DNA – opening up the possibility of a variety of new capabilities.

We are in the middle of an unprecedented basic reorganization of the physiology of plants, animals and humans, the reconfiguration of the essential operation of the planet, an explosive expansion of knowledge coupled with broad-based access to both the physical and spiritual, and a new era characterized by an evolutionary jump of our species. Seems like nothing less to me.

There are amazing breakthroughs happening and under development that have the clear potential of shaping a new world. It’s as though the organism is providing the means – like the Internet – for an evolutionary jump, but instead of preparing and adapting to the inevitable shift, most institutional efforts are trying to blunt it – to sustain the familiar. We must offer an alternative.

So, what’s driving all of this? Although certainly some aspects of the convergence of all of these events are hard to directly attribute to them, I think the major forces behind much of this change are the byproducts of unprecedented cosmic events – both related to unparalleled on-goings in the Milky Way galaxy, our solar system, other sources in the cosmos and activities of the Sun. Some of the explanations are necessarily unconventional (if they were conventional, everyone would know about them, wouldn’t they?), and certainly speculative, but they are informed by multiple substantive sources which all point in this general direction.

I’ve been doing a series of audio interviews over the past few months with a Swedish friend on different future-oriented subjects and a couple of weeks ago I addressed these cosmic shift issues directly, talking about what seems to be happening and what the implications might be. There are also ideas about how one might best position oneself to deal with this change. You can download that interview here until the 5th of March. This is a 44MB file and an hour-and-a-half-long interview so it may take a little time for you to download it. You’ll find it provocative though, I’d guess.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the coming months. We’ll keep revisiting this transition in this space as it evolves.


INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal – (Time – February 10, 2011)
At the age of 17, Ray Kurzweil built a computer that composed a short piece of music and blurred a line that cannot be unblurred: the line between organic intelligence and artificial intelligence. Since then computers have consistently been getting faster faster – that is, the rate at which they’re getting faster is increasing. So if computers are getting so much faster, so incredibly fast, there might conceivably come a moment when they are capable of something comparable to human intelligence or even surpass it. There are a lot of theories about what happens then. The one thing they all have in common is the transformation of our species into something that is no longer recognizable as such to humanity circa 2011. There’s an intellectual gag reflex that kicks in anytime you try to swallow an idea that involves super-intelligent immortal cyborgs, but suppress it if you can, because while the Singularity appears to be, on the face of it, preposterous, it’s an idea that rewards sober, careful evaluation. See also: Be Careful What You Wish For, an article that looks at the demographics and costs – to the economy and the planet – if life expectancy in the US increased by 10 years in 2012.


NEW REALITIES

Experiments: The World May Be Influenced by the Future – (Huffington Post – February 3, 2011)
An amazing set of experiments suggest that the present and the future are entangled, and that events in the future may influence things happening in the world now. If a proposed experiment confirms a hypothesis of Roger Penrose, the renowned Oxford physicist, it would furnish the most powerful evidence that biocentrism — that is, the biocentric view of the universe — is correct at the level of living organisms. If biocentrism is correct, future experiments will confirm the world is indeed influenced by the future. Consciousness can’t exist simply in space and time, and at the same time be aware of the interrelations of all parts of space and time. In order to have knowledge of objects, it must somehow be part of them.

Particle Pings: Sounds of the Large Hadron Collider – (NPR – January 2, 2011)
Deep beneath the border of France and Switzerland, the world’s most massive physics machine is sending subatomic particles smashing into each other at speeds nearing the speed of light. Physicists working with the 17-mile-long Large Hadron Collider hope it will help solve some of the universe’s mysteries. But first, researchers must overcome two very mundane hurdles: how to handle all of the data the LHC generates, and how to get non-scientists to care. In the process of searching for the Higgs boson, the subatomic particle that scientists say gives everything in the universe mass, the collider generates a massive amount of information – more than 40 million pieces of data every second. And that’s just from the ATLAS detector, one of the four main detectors One physicist has a novel way to solve both problems: sound.


GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY

Adult Skin Cells Converted Directly to Beating Heart Cells – (Science Daily – January 31, 2011)
Scripps Research Institute scientists have converted adult skin cells directly into beating heart cells efficiently without having to first go through the laborious process of generating embryonic-like stem cells. The general technology platform could lead to new treatments for a range of diseases and injuries involving cell loss or damage, such as heart disease, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. The next step will be to modify this technique further to remove the need for initially inserting the four genes, which have been linked to the development of cancer.

Thinking Caps and Super Brains – (BBC News – February 4, 2011)
Could there be a time when everyone from schoolchildren to pensioners, and artists to accountants top up their natural abilities with some funky head-gear? There have already been suggestions that electricity can boost mathematical talent and now researchers in Australia have found a way to boost problem solving. The researchers passed an electric current through the brain to reduce the activity of part of the brain called the left anterior temporal lobe and increase the activity of the right. As a result, three times as many people could solve a test brain-teaser problem.

Biomarker Panel Discovered for Early Detection of Breast Cancer – (Life Extension – December 23, 2010)
Using a new method for rapidly screening molecules associated with disease, proteomics expert Joshua LaBaer and colleagues from the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University have identified a broad panel of 28 early predictors, or biomarkers, that may one day aid in the early diagnosis of breast cancer. The findings represent the first demonstration of a custom protein array technology deployed to find biomarkers in breast cancer patients before they were clinically diagnosed for cancer. These biomarkers were specific for breast cancer patients and not in healthy women or women with a benign form of breast disease.


ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Black Death Sweeps into Britain’s Forests – (Telegraph – February 3, 2011)
Millions of larch trees have had to be felled to prevent the spread of a lethal virus from Asia. Remember Dutch Elm Disease, which caused 28 million elms to perish in the Seventies? Well, meet its aggressive younger brother, Phytophthora ramorum, or PR, a fungus-like pathogen thought to have begun in Asia and to have spread to these shores via Europe. The first sign of PR is when a tree’s foliage starts to wilt or blacken. But by then, it’s too late. Cutting down and removal is the only treatment. Failure to do so ensures the spread of the disease not just to other trees (beech, sweet chestnut and horse chestnut are known to be susceptible), but to a range of plants, including rhododendron, viburnum, pieris, lilac and camellia (the pathogen devours their leaves and shoots).

Magnetic Polar Shifts Causing Massive Global Superstorms – (Salem News – February 04, 2011)
NASA has been warning about it…scientific papers have been written about it…geologists have seen its traces in rock strata and ice core samples. Now “it” is here: an unstoppable magnetic pole shift that has sped up and is causing life-threatening havoc with the world’s weather. The first evidence we have that the dangerous superstorm cycle has started is the devastating series of storms that pounded the UK during late 2010. On the heels of the lashing the British Isles sustained, monster storms began to lash North America. The latest superstorm was a monster over the U.S. that stretched across 2,000 miles affecting more than 150 million people.

Icelandic Volcano Set to Erupt – (Telegraph – February 08, 2011)
Scientists in Iceland are warning that another volcano looks set to erupt and threatening to spew-out a pall of dust that would dwarf last year’s event. Pall Einarsson, a professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland said sustained earthquake tremors to the north east of the remote volcano range are the strongest recorded in recent times and there was “no doubt” the lava was rising.

Catastrophic Drought in the Amazon – (Independent – February 4, 2011)
A widespread drought in the Amazon rainforest last year caused the “lungs of the world” to produce more carbon dioxide than they absorbed, potentially leading to a dangerous acceleration of global warming. Scientists have calculated that the 2010 drought was more intense than the “one-in-100-year” drought of 2005. They are predicting it will result in some eight billion tonnes of carbon dioxide being expelled from the Amazon rainforest, which is more than the total annual carbon emissions of the United States. For the second time in less than a decade, the earth’s greatest rainforest released more carbon dioxide than it absorbed because many of its trees dried out and died. See also: Wildfires Breaking out in Rain Forests –


COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

Tiny Device Could Transform Mobile Communications – (Guardian – February 7, 2011)
Mobile phone base stations no bigger than a golf ball could help to bridge the digital divide and bring mobile broadband to distant areas both in the developing and developed world, the networking company Alcatel-Lucent has claimed. The company’s new technology, which shrinks many of the functions of a standard base station down to a few chips which fit in a cube, called the “lightRadio”, would mean that mobile networks could run their systems with lower power demands and half the cost overall, while broadening deployment. The base stations – reduced from the bulky cabinet of past years to a system-on-a-chip integrated circuit – can be installed wherever there is electricity, and can then connect either over an internet connection or via microwave links to processing units elsewhere.


ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Solar Roadways – (You Tube – June 2, 2010)
If all the roadways in the US were covered with solar panels with only a 15% efficiency, they could produce three times more electricity than the country uses on an annual basis – almost enough to power the entire world. And why not? The technology to produce drivable glass exists. (Editor’s note: the drivable glass can apparently stand up to use by fully loaded 18-wheelers; we wonder how well it can handle the abuse of snow plows and road salt.)


AGRICULTURE/FOOD

Global Food Prices Hit Record Hit – (Common Dreams – February 3, 2011)
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) gave warning that the high prices, already above levels in 2008 which sparked riots, were likely to rise further. Food prices, which throughout most of the last two decades have been stable, have taken off in alarming fashion in the last three years. Surging food prices have come back into the spotlight after they helped fuelled protests that toppled Tunisia’s president in January. Food inflation has also been among the root causes of protests in Egypt and Jordan, raising speculation other nations in the region would secure grain stocks to reassure their populations.

UN Food Agency Warns on Chinese Drought – (New York Times – February 8, 2011)
A severe drought is threatening the wheat crop in China, the world’s largest wheat producer, and resulting in shortages of drinking water for people and livestock. China has been essentially self-sufficient in grain for decades, for national security reasons. Any move by China to import large quantities of food in response to the drought could drive international prices even higher than the record levels recently reached. With $2.85 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, nearly three times that of Japan, the country with the second-largest reserves, China has ample buying power to prevent any serious food shortages but the rest of the world will be noticeably impacted.


SECURITY

China’s Blatant Cyber-Espionage – (Dallas News – January 28, 2011)
After photos surfaced recently of a prototype Chinese stealth fighter, Pentagon officials acknowledged that they have continually underestimated the pace of Chinese technological advances. Perhaps that’s because China is stealing technology from the West at a blinding pace, through cyber-espionage. And U.S. companies are doing little to stop it. The polite term is “technology transfer.” How much pilfered information winds up fueling Chinese technology development is not known, but that it happens is a certainty. In 2007 and 2008, funding for “Information Acquisition and Processing” was the top priority in Natural National Science Foundation of China science grants. Chinese patent filings have gone up 500 percent in the last five years.

WikiLeaks Springs a Leak – (Truth Dig – February 11, 2011)
Inside WikiLeaks is a book full of anecdotes about the website’s wacky set of fellow travelers, and it suggests that the hacking underground has finally found a cause. Author Daniel Domscheit-Berg was the WikiLeaks spokesman and Assange’s right-hand man until he publicly broke with his former boss last September. Domscheit-Berg writes that the organization has lost its way and betrayed its principles, and that, because it went astray, he and another employee deliberately crippled it, shutting down the platform WikiLeaks uses to accept submissions, essentially locking the door to new material and walking off with the keys. He says the system still isn’t fixed and implies a fix isn’t likely.


TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

Why Bradley Manning Is a Patriot, Not a Criminal – (AlterNet – February 10, 2011)
Pfc. Manning is alleged to have obtained documents, both classified and unclassified, from the Department of Defense and the State Department via the Internet and provided them to WikiLeaks. (That “alleged” is important because the federal informant who fingered Manning, Adrian Lamo, is a felon convicted of computer-hacking crimes and was also involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution in the month before he leveled his accusation. All of this makes him a less than reliable witness.) The records allegedly downloaded by Manning revealed clear instances of war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, widespread torture committed by the Iraqi authorities with the full knowledge of the U.S. military, previously unknown estimates of the number of Iraqi civilians killed at U.S. military checkpoints, and the massive Iraqi civilian death toll caused by the American invasion. For bringing to light this critical but long-suppressed information, Pfc. Manning has been treated not as a whistleblower, but as a criminal and a spy.


GLOBAL RELATIONS

The Middle East’s Freedom Train Has Just Left the Station – (Daily Star – February 2, 2011)
To appreciate what is taking place in the Arab world today you have to grasp the historical significance of the events that have started changing rulers and regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, with others sure to follow. What we are witnessing is the unraveling of the post-colonial order that the British and French created in the Arab world in the 1920s and 1930s and then sustained – with American and Soviet assistance – for most of the last half-century. It is insular, to focus attention, as much Western media are doing, on whether Facebook drove these revolts; or to ask what will happen if the Muslim Brotherhood plays a role in any new Egyptian government.

Did Obama’s Promise Trigger the Arab Revolt – (Atlantic – January 30, 2011)
In contrast to the euphoria surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Arab Revolt of 2011 leaves one with a disquieting sense that we may be standing on the wrong side of history. Obama has done surprisingly little to fulfill the hopes and dreams he unleashed worldwide during the election of 2008. Moreover, he deliberately magnified them in the Arab world with his 2009 Cairo speech. But coupled with his continuation of America’s cynical policies to prop up tyrannical Arab regimes, and particularly his spectacular failure to rein in the illegal Israeli settlements in the so-called Arab-Israeli Peace Process in 2010, Mr. Obama may have inadvertently exacerbated the explosive combination of frustrated expectations and business-as-usual that pressurized the current eruption of resentment, anger, and alienation among the Arab people in 2011.


LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

Catholic Church Gives Blessing to iPhone App – (BBC News – February 8, 2011)
The Catholic Church has approved an iPhone app that helps guide worshippers through confession. The Confession program has gone on sale through iTunes for $1.99. Described as “the perfect aid for every penitent”, it offers users tips and guidelines to help them with the sacrament. In what is thought to be a first, senior church officials in both the UK and US have given it their seal of approval.

Fox News: Stuff is Just Made Up – (Media Matters – February 10, 2011)
Asked what most viewers and observers of Fox News would be surprised to learn about the controversial cable channel, a former insider from the world of Rupert Murdoch was quick with a response: “I don’t think people would believe it’s as concocted as it is; that stuff is just made up.” And that’s the word from inside Fox News. “It is their M.O. to undermine the administration and to undermine Democrats,” says the source. “They’re a propaganda outfit but they call themselves news.”


CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

Astronomers Now Predict Killer Asteroid Will Hit Earth in 2036 – (Helium – February 5, 2011)
Grim astronomers in Russia have recalculated the trajectory of the ominous asteroid Apophis and now predict it will slam into Earth on April 13, 2036. The asteroid’s name, Apophis, is the Greek name for the Egyptian god Apep, also known as “the Uncreator.” While Russian and European scientists have increased their warnings of the approaching danger the asteroid poses, NASA has charted a different course. In 2010, NASA announced it had reduced the chances the object’s disastrous collision with Earth.

Outside the Box; Space Photos from ISS by NASA Astronaut Wheelock – (Trigger Pit – November 11, 2010)
On September 22, 2010, Colonel Douglas H. Wheelock assumed command of the International Space Station and the Expedition 25 crew. He has been tweeting space photos since he arrived at the space station. Here is a selection of breathtaking views from our only off-planet vista point.


DEMOGRAPHICS

The Youth Unemployment Bomb – (Business Week – February 2, 2011)
In Tunisia, the young people who helped bring down a dictator are called hittistes-French-Arabic slang for those who lean against the wall. Their counterparts in Egypt are the shabab atileen, unemployed youths. In Britain, they are NEETs-“not in education, employment, or training.” In Japan, they are freeters: an amalgam of the English word freelance and the German word Arbeiter, or worker. Spaniards call them mileuristas, meaning they earn no more than 1,000 euros a month. In the U.S., they’re “boomerang” kids who move back home after college because they can’t find work. Even fast-growing China, where labor shortages are more common than surpluses, has its “ant tribe”-recent college graduates who crowd together in cheap flats on the fringes of big cities because they can’t find well-paying work. In each of these nations, an economy that can’t generate enough jobs to absorb its young people has created a lost generation of the disaffected, unemployed, or underemployed-including growing numbers of recent college graduates for whom the post-crash economy has little to offer. (Editor’s note: we particularly recommend this article for its exploration of the long range implications of youth unemployment.)


ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

To Beat Back Poverty, Pay the Poor – (New York Times – January 3, 2011)
Today, Brazil’s level of economic inequality is dropping at a faster rate than that of almost any other country. Between 2003 and 2009, the income of poor Brazilians has grown seven times as much as the income of rich Brazilians. Poverty has fallen during that time from 22% of the population to 7%. A major part of Brazil’s achievement is due to a single social program that is now transforming how countries all over the world help their poor. The generic term for the program is conditional cash transfers. Brazil is employing a version of an idea now in use in some 40 countries around the globe, one already successful on a staggeringly enormous scale. This is likely the most important government anti-poverty program the world has ever seen. It is worth looking at how it works, and why it has been able to help so many people.

When Irish Eyes Are Crying – (Vanity Fair – February 3, 2011)
Ireland’s financial disaster shared some things with Iceland’s. But while Icelandic males used foreign money to conquer foreign places-trophy companies in Britain, chunks of Scandinavia-the Irish males used foreign money to conquer Ireland. Left alone in a dark room with a pile of money, the Irish decided what they really wanted to do with it was to buy Ireland. From one another. An Irish economist named Morgan Kelly, whose estimates of Irish bank losses have been the most prescient, made a back-of-the-envelope calculation that puts the losses of all Irish banks at roughly 106 billion euros. (Think $10 trillion.) At the rate money currently flows into the Irish treasury, Irish bank losses alone would absorb every penny of Irish taxes for at least the next three years.

Chinese Picks and Shovels – (Energy and Capital – February 8, 2011)
This article is an investment tout; however what’s particularly informative are two photographs showing Shanghai in 1990 and, from the same vantage point, again in 2010. The development that has taken place in China in the last twenty years is extraordinary and the Chinese demand for planetary resources is still in its infancy.

Russia Admits It’s Dead and Falling Apart – (Smart Economy – February 1, 2011)
A member of the Russian Advisory Council in the State Duma Committee for Regional Policy, Natalia Zubarevich, outlines four issues that he projects will lead to the inevitable and inexorable death of the Russian Federation, as a result of which this country will cease to exist as a single entity and will be divided into independent states. Among them is an increasing marginalization of vast peripheral areas along with a growing depopulation. This supports a prediction by the CIA that by 2015 Russia will disintegrate into six to eight states. This is reported on an open site in the CIA website which contains a forecast of the world until 2015.


PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

New Astrological Signs Foretell Drivers’ Chances of Crashing – (Awe B News – January 28, 2011)
Your astrological sign, along with a lot of other people’s, may have changed because of the gravitational pull of the moon. And a thirteen sign, the new, no-way-to-pronounce Ophiuchus (Nov. 27 to Dec. 17 now) has been added to the Zodiac. What makes this more noteworthy is that Allstate Insurance has decided to add another layer to the zodiacal chaos. Its staff has analyzed its claims data against the revised astrological chart to determine the safest drivers. Virgos (Sept. 16 to Oct. 30 birth date now), are the most apt to crash. In the last year, they were 700% more likely to be in a crash than the old Scorpios, known as determined and aware, and the safest drivers, according to the study. Will insurance rates be adjusted based on your sign? That’s unknown. But astronomers have known about shifting position of the earth relative to the sun the since about 130 B.C. For more about the “new” 13th sign, click here.

Russia Poised to Breach Mysterious Antarctic Lake – (Reuters – February 8, 2011)
For 15 million years, an icebound lake has remained sealed deep beneath Antarctica’s frozen crust, possibly hiding prehistoric or unknown life. Now Russian scientists are on the brink of piercing through to its secrets. Lake Vostok, about the size of Lake Baikal in Siberia, is the largest, deepest and most isolated of Antarctica’s 150 subglacial lakes. It is supersaturated with oxygen, resembling no other known environment on Earth. The explorers now face the question: How do we go where no one has gone before without spoiling it or bringing back some foreign virus?

Prehistoric Treasure in the Fields of Indiana – (Archeology News – January 3, 2011)
A mysterious and advanced culture flourished in the Eastern and Midwestern U.S. between about A.D. 100 and 500. Because it predates the written record, this prehistoric culture doesn’t have a Native American name but in the 1800s, archaeologists dubbed it the Hopewell Tradition (after the farmer who, at the time of discovery, owned the land). Two of the most notable features are “wood henges” – like Stonehenge, but made of wooden posts – which may be one of a kind in the U.S. But there may be an even more remarkable discovery, one that could rewrite history books. Scientists are starting tests on what looks like evidence of lead smelting, a practice that, until now, was only seen in North America after the arrival of the French.


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

9 Life-Changing Inventions the Experts Said Would Never Work – (AlterNet – February 12, 2011)
The lightbulb. The telephone. Email. If you’re a specialist in your field, there are two ways to become a household name: create something new, or claim it can never be done. If you want to be remembered on the Internet, choose the second one. Here are 9 examples of breakthroughs, inventions and innovations the experts were completely wrong about.

Jet Stream Analysis Maps – (San Francisco State University – no date)
Updated every 6 hours, jet stream analysis maps attempt to highlight the location and strength of the jet streams. The maps presented by the California Regional Weather Server (CRWS) show the pattern of winds in the upper troposphere, on the 300 millibar pressure surface (which corresponds roughly to an altitude of around 32,000 ft.). This is very roughly the level where winds in the atmosphere are typically strongest (with the exception of winds in tornadoes, strong hurricanes, and a few other unusual situations, all near the earth’s surface).


JUST FOR FUN

Experts Determine Age of Book Nobody Can Read – (Phys Org – February 10, 2011)
While enthusiasts across the world pored over the Voynich manuscript, one of the most mysterious writings ever found penned by an unknown author in a language no one understands a research team at the University of Arizona solved one of its biggest mysteries: When was the book made? Using radiocarbon dating, a team in the UA’s department of physics has found the manuscript’s parchment pages date back to the early 15th century, making the book a century older than scholars had previously thought.


A FINAL QUOTE…

The empires of the future are the empires of the mind. – Winston Churchill


A special thanks to: Thomas Bergin, Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Kurzweil AI, Matthew Lakenbach, Robert Marggraf, Diane Petersen, Stu Rose, Cory Shreckengost, Gary Sycalik, Winslow Wheeler 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.
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Edited by John L. Petersen
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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 14, Number 2 – 01/30/11

Volume 14, Number 4 – 02/28/11