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Volume 14, Number 7 – 04/15/11

Volume 14, Number 7 – 4/15/11FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT…
Experiments conducted at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois seem to indicate that a new particle has been found and suggest that most of our ideas about what is beyond the standard model of elementary particle physics are wrong.Scientists have successfully introduced human genes into 300 dairy cows to produce milk with the same properties as human breast milk.A respected astrophysicist has calculated the orbital motion of Martian moon Phobos and concluded that it is artificial, hollow, and basically a titanic spaceship.Take a look at a “transparent” factory – everything from the windows to the assembly process is completely transparent.
PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

First of all, let me encourage you to tell someone about FUTUREdition. We don’t do any marketing or advertising so all of our new subscribers come from people like you — current subscribers – who appreciate the unique perspective this free newsletter brings every couple of weeks. Just send along the link www.futuredition.org and your friends who are inclined to think about the future in a new way will be able to sample past issues of FE and easily sign up. Some folks “give” subscriptions away at Christmas and for birthdays . . . but you really don’t need a reason, other than you would like someone to be informed and provoked in new ways about what is on the horizon.

I was going to focus this issue on the situation of the nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan, but after having reviewed all of the many articles that my friend Gary Sycalik kindly forwarded to me over the past four weeks I’m wondering specifically what we might contribute here that would illuminate the situation – murky as it is.

Certainly not discounting the obvious and severe implications that this extraordinary event has had on Japan and some of the other nearby areas, I’ve nevertheless been impressed with the struggle for truth that has emerged from different factions trying very hard to paint a picture, either disastrous or not so much, of what the implications for the rest of the world might be. I’ve found obvious mistakes and distortions in the prognostications of both those on the side of nuclear energy and those who believe that any exposure to radiation is certain to be personally damaging.

This morning, for example, I saw a report that said that conventional radiation treatment for cancer is twice the levels deemed healthy by the government for any other situation. There is increased contamination in the rain in North America and Europe but it’s not clear to me just what that means in terms of personal health. Most reports say don’t drink milk . . . but if it’s in milk, I’d guess it is in most meat and perhaps plants. I really don’t know. Some sources say we all should be taking iodine pills, others say that is not good and one should only do so if they are actually exposed to radiation.

There’s also the difference between radiation and contamination – radiation being the energy that I’m exposed to right now from the sun as I sit in this airplane – and the other being radioactive particles that get ingested into the body and continue to expose localized areas to continuous radiation.

There’s a lot of talk about the assumed half-life of certain isotopes but very little about known ways to radically decrease the term of that radiation.

As I said, it’s not at all clear to me what this all means. My guess is that it’s not good, but just how bad is it? Is it worse for you than the pollution in some American cities on bad days?

What’s more interesting is the bigger picture and the answer to the question of why these things are happening. In 1998, Mitch Battros (www.earthchangesmedia.com) developed this equation:

Sunspots => Solar Flares (charged particles) => Earth Magnetic Field Shift => Shifting Ocean and Jet Stream Currents => Extreme Weather, Earth and Human Disruption. He developed this after observing a direct correlation between the giant blasts of energy hitting the earth’s magnetic field (and the earth) and subsequent tornadoes, straight-line winds, micro-bursts, earthquakes and volcanoes. His ability to forecast weather and earthquake/volcano events based upon storm activity on the sun has been extraordinary.

On Mar 9, 2011 at 1:26:05 PM, Mitch issued the following alert: “Over the last 48 hours, ten (10) M-Class flares have fired off from at least three separate sunspot regions. Forty-eight hours after the first set of flares, a 7.2 mag. earthquake hit Japan setting off a small tsunami. Ten hours later, a series of “straight-line winds” along with several tornadoes hit the southeastern United States.” He went on to say: “With this second set of four M-class flares, I suspect a second wave of earth changing events to occur within the next 24 – 48 hours. There is a good chance for an X-class flare to occur over the next two weeks.” (Solar flares are classified as A, B, C, M or X according to the peak flux of 100 to 800 picometer X-rays near Earth, as measured on the GOES spacecraft. Each class has a peak flux ten times greater than the preceding one, with X class flares having a peak flux of order 10-4 W/m2.

The next day (March 10th, he issued this report: “An X1-class flare has fired away from sunspot region 1166. I had predicted an X-class flare would come within the next two weeks, but today’s event has taken many by surprise. At the same time of this flare, a CME (coronal mass ejection) has hit the Earth’s magnetic field setting off a geo-magnetic storm.”

Here was his next alert:

Massive Quake Hits Japan – Tsunami Now in Effect
By Mitch Battros – Earth Changes Media Mar 11, 2011 – 12:56:10 AM


Sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections are all related to each other and sunspots presage the latter two increasingly powerful activities. The sunspot activity varies in a regular cyclical pattern of 11 years. We are now only half way up the 24th cycle of sunspots and solar storms – they will peak later this year or early next year. These huge, energetic bursts that hit the earth and the magnetosphere don’t only affect the weather and physical earth changes but also have been found to impact the health and emotions of humans, so there’s good reason to believe that the disruptions, both planetary and personal, will continue for the coming months.

The situation is potentially exacerbated by an incoming comet and an increasing energetic field that is hitting us that originates from the center of the galaxy. Lots of big things on the horizon.

So, do you want to know what’s happening in the coming future? One way to get some kind of fix on it, I suppose, is to ask Google what everybody thinks. The folks at XKCD did just that and compiled a future timeline that is both informative and entertaining. It’s nice to know that the national debt would have been paid off just two years from now if we were still keeping to President Clinton’s plan!

All of this converging change is certain to produce significant restructuring of who we are and how we live. From where I sit, many facture lines are obvious, but until now, I’ve not seen a rant like this one from Jesse Ventura, that captured all of the elements in one paragraph.

We Ain’t Got Time To Bleed. It’s Time for the Revolution.

“You control our world. You’ve poisoned the air we breathe, contaminated the water we drink, and copyrighted the food we eat. We fight in your wars, die for your causes, and sacrifice our freedoms to protect you. You’ve liquidated our savings, destroyed our middle class, and used our tax dollars to bailout your unending greed. We are slaves to your corporations, zombies to your airwaves, servants to your decadence. You’ve stolen our elections, assassinated our leaders, and abolished our basic rights as human beings. You own our property, shipped away our jobs, and shredded our unions. You’ve profited off of disaster, destabilized our currencies, and raised our cost of living. You’ve monopolized our freedom, stripped away our education, and have almost extinguished our flame. We are hit…we are bleeding…but we ain’t got time to bleed. We will bring the giants to their knees and you will witness our revolution! “

-Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, April 12, 2011

Perhaps it’s just the stuff that shows up here, but I’m increasingly seeing anger in people about the disconnect between citizens and their governments. Just this morning I received a piece that said that a recent poll said that most Americans don’t have confidence in the future of the economy. At the same time we’ve got officials like Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defending the TSA putting their hands in the pants of a 6 year old girl, apparently searching for bombs. ” . . . it was done professionally according to the protocols,” she said on TV.

And then the Huffington Post reported that a provision in the new 9/11 health bill may be adding insult to injury for people who fell sick after their service in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks. The tens of thousands of cops, firefighters, construction workers and others who survived the worst terrorist assault in U.S. history and risked their lives in its wake will soon be informed that their names must be run through the FBI’s terrorism watch list in order to get medical treatment for the numerous, worsening ailments that specific legislation was passed to address. Did you get that? Our government wants to withhold treatment for 9/11 incurred health problems in individuals who sacrificed their future to help others unless they are screened for being potential terrorists.

Where does being a civilized human fit into all of this? Where has common sense gone? How long does it keep going on? Well, it keeps going on until we change, and that change has to come from within us. I promise you that our government is not going to suddenly see the light and mend their ways. There are just too many lobbyists!

But there is hope. I’ve just returned from a very provocative workshop led by Drunvalo Melchizedek in Sedona, Arizona that was all about this internal change. It was pretty radical, proposing that through certain processes one could reconfigure the energy around themselves such that it would make them impervious to major disruption going on outside. I know it sounds a bit farfetched, but I’m increasingly convinced that the essence of the shift that humanity and the world are going through is essentially invisible – it is about profound changes of things like personal energy fields and feelings of love and gratitude for the earth and the rest of the universe, which, of course derive from quite a different view of how all of this reality works. It’s no less than a paradigm shift. A radical re-understanding of the fundamentals of life. These new ideas seem to make sense in part because they really do seem to work.

So, I’m encouraged. It’s a good start.


INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

Can an Algorithm Spot the Next Google? – (Technology Review – April 14, 2011)
By definition, “disruptive” technologies are those that take the world by surprise. Now a startup called Quid claims that its software can make good guesses about what the next big thing will be. It does this by analyzing a store of data on existing companies, ideas, and research. Over the past 18 months, Quid has developed a system that charts the relationships between existing technologies, and identifies areas ripe for influential new ideas. “The goal is to map the world’s technology and to understand where it’s going,” says Sean Gourley, Quid’s chief technology officer. “The human brain can’t process all of this.” The company thinks its software can help people who invest in early-stage technologies pick more winners than losers, or guide companies into potentially lucrative areas of research.


NEW REALITIES

Tevatron Experiment Could Send Particle Physicists Back to the Drawing Board – (Tech World News – April 7, 2011)
Experiments conducted at the Tevatron particle accelerator at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois seem to indicate that a new particle has been found. If indeed this is correct, it would be the first particle that does not fit into the standard model of particle physics, said UC Riverside physics and astronomy professor John Ellison. The standard model of particle physics is a theory of three of the four known fundamental interactions and the elementary particles that take part in these interactions. These particles make up all visible matter in the universe. It would mean that most of our ideas about what is beyond the standard model of elementary particle physics are wrong.


GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY

Genetically Modified Cows Produce ‘Human’ Milk – (Telegraph – April 2, 2011)
Scientists have successfully introduced human genes into 300 dairy cows to produce milk with the same properties as human breast milk. The scientists behind the research believe milk from herds of genetically modified cows could provide an alternative to human breast milk and formula milk for babies, which is often criticized as being an inferior substitute. They hope genetically modified dairy products from herds of similar cows could be sold in supermarkets. The research has the backing of a major biotechnology company.

Chemical Found Which Makes Bone Marrow Repair Skin – (BBC News – April 4, 2011)
Bone marrow was thought to play a role in repairing damaged skin, but the exact process was unknown. The chemical which summons stem cells from bone marrow to the site of a wound has been identified. Scientists at Osaka University and King’s College London gave mice bone marrow cells that glow green – which can be tracked while moving round the body. They then wounded the mice and some were given skin grafts. In mice without grafts, very few stem cells traveled to the wound. Those with grafts had many stem cells traveling to the wound.

More Do-It-Yourself Medical Tests – (Technology Review – April 14, 2011)
Over the last few years, a small slice of medicine has moved out of the doctor’s office and into clinics at CVS, Walmart, or other retail outlets. QuickCheck Health, a startup based in Excelsior, Minnesota, aims to push this trend further by bringing more diagnostic testing to the home. The company is developing tests for urinary tract infections, strep throat, and other ailments that will be sold at drugstores for consumers to use at home. While consumer diagnostic tests are already in use for a number of conditions, treatment or follow-up care requires a visit to the doctor. At-home tests for other conditions, such as urinary tract infections, are available, but most doctors are reluctant to prescribe antibiotics or other medication without validating the results. QuickCheck Health plans to change that by requiring patients to log on to a website or call to learn the results of the test. If the test is positive, the user will be directed to an online health-care provider, who can prescribe treatment.

Study: BPA Destroys Sperm – (Natural News – November 16, 2010)
Results from a five-year trial on the effects of bisphenol-A (BPA) in human males has revealed that the popular plastics chemical destroys sperm. One of the few BPA studies involving humans, the trial sheds more light on the obvious harm BPA causes on male reproduction, and the need to immediately remove the chemical from from all products. “This study counters the argument that only highly exposed populations are affected,” explained Dr. De-Kun Li, author of the study and reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. “You can be exposed from the workplace. You can be exposed from consumer products. It doesn’t really matter. Ultimately it will reflect in your urine.”


ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Radiation Detected in Drinking Water in 13 More US Cities & Cesium 137 Found in Vermont Milk – (Forbes – April 9, 2011)
Radiation from Japan has been detected in drinking water in 13 more American cities, and cesium-137 has been found in milk (in Montpelier, Vermont) for the first time since the Japan nuclear disaster began, according to data released by the Environmental Protection Agency late Friday. Milk samples from Phoenix and Los Angeles contained iodine-131 at levels roughly equal to the maximum contaminant level permitted by EPA, the data shows.

Number of Dead Dolphins and Whales in Gulf May Be 50 Times Higher – (Huffington Post – March 30, 2011)
At least 138 dolphins have died in the Gulf this year, nearly half of them premature or newborn calves. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, scientists say. Many more dolphins are dying in the Gulf than are officially counted. New research released today shows that the average number for most species may be 50 times higher than what’s reported now. That suggests that so far this year, more than 6,500 dolphins may have died, and, according to the report, for some species of mammals, the rate is 250 times higher.

Scientists Find Superbugs in Delhi Drinking Water – (Reuters – April 07, 2011)
A gene that makes bugs highly resistant to almost all known antibiotics has been found in bacteria in water supplies in New Delhi used by local people for drinking, washing and cooking. The NDM 1 gene, which creates what some experts describe as “super superbugs,” has spread to germs that cause cholera and dysentery. NDM 1, or New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1, makes bacteria resistant to almost all antibiotics, including the most powerful class, called carbapenems. It first emerged in India three years ago and has now spread across the world. It has been found in a wide variety of bugs, including familiar pathogens like Escherichia coli, or E. coli. No new drugs to tackle it are on the horizon for at least 5-6 years.

Prepare for a New Ice Age Now Says Top Paleoclimatologist – (Helium – March 28, 2011)
Geologic records show that Ice Ages are the norm, punctuated by brief periods of warming. Now one of the most highly respected paleoclimatologists has weighed in and is warning everyone to prepare for a new Ice Age. George Kukla, retired professor of paleoclimatology at Columbia University and co-author of an important section of the book Natural Climate Variability on Decade to Century Time Scales,” he asserts all Ice Ages start with a period of global warming. They are the harbingers of new Ice Ages. Actually, he explains, warming is good. Ice Ages are deadly and may even kill millions.

Gas from Fracking Worse than Coal on Climate – (The Hill – April 10, 2011)
Cornell University professors will soon publish research that concludes natural gas produced with a drilling method called “hydraulic fracturing” contributes to global warming as much as coal, or even more. The conclusion is explosive because natural gas enjoys broad political support – including White House backing – due to its domestic abundance and lower carbon dioxide emissions when burned than other fossil fuels. Cornell Prof. Robert Howarth, however, argues that development of gas from shale rock formations produced through hydraulic fracturing – dubbed “fracking” – brings far more methane emissions than conventional gas production. See also: Chemicals and Toxic Materials That Come With Hydrofracking

The Worldwide Thirst for Clean Drinking Water – (NPR – April 11, 2011)
“We use purified drinking water to flush our toilets and water our lawns. That doesn’t make any sense,” says Charles Fishman, author of The Big Thirst. “In an era of scarcity, we won’t need to limit whether we have water to boil pasta or take a bath. But we will think differently about a whole portfolio of water. There will be different kinds of waters for different uses. And water itself will get smart.” Currently, one out of six gallons of water acquired, treated and pumped by water utilities in the U.S. leaks back into the ground before it can be used by a home or business. This, says Fishman, will change — but only if technology at water utility companies starts to improve.


COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

Planned Wireless Internet Network Threatens GPS – (CT Post – April 9, 2011)
A new, ultra-fast wireless Internet network is threatening to overpower GPS signals across the U.S. and interfere with everything from airplanes to police cars to consumer navigation devices. The problem stems from a recent government decision to let a Virginia company called LightSquared build a nationwide broadband network using airwaves next to those used for GPS. Manufacturers of GPS equipment warn that strong signals from the planned network could jam existing navigation systems. A technical fix could be expensive – billions of dollars by one estimate – and there’s no agreement on who should pay. Government officials pledge to block LightSquared from turning on its network as scheduled this year unless they receive assurances that GPS systems will still work.

Brain Waves from Thoughts of Sounds Used to Move Cursor – (BBC News – April 11, 2011)
A cursor on a computer screen can be controlled using thoughts about a range of vowel sounds, research has found. Brain signals have been translated into motion or even pictures before, but the current research showcases a nascent technique called electrocorticography. The approach uses sensors placed directly on the surface of the brain.

3-D Avatars Could Put You in Two Places at Once – (New York Times – April 11, 2011)
Here is what’s in store for you and your avatar, probably within the next five years: 1) Without leaving your living room or office, you’ll sit at three-dimensional virtual meetings and classes, looking around the table or the lecture hall at your colleagues’ avatars. 2) Your avatar will be programmed to make a better impression than you could ever manage. 3) While your avatar sits there at the conference table gazing alertly and taking notes, you can do something more important: sleep. Sound like future hype? Check it out before you bet against it.

Smartphone App Produces 3-D Scans – (Kurzweil AI – April 15, 2011)
An app developer at Georgia Tech’s College of Computing has created Trimensional, the first smartphone app that allows users to take 3D scans of faces or other objects and share them by email. Trimensional works using an iPhone’s screen, for example, to shine four different lighting patterns on a subject while also using the front-facing camera to snap photos. It produces a full 3D model that you can zoom into, pan around, and view from any angle. It works by taking every pixel and asking the same question using four different lighting conditions.

AI Algorithm Gives Computers ‘Hindsight’ to Anticipate the Future – (Kurzweil AI – April 15, 2011)
An AI algorithm that gives computers “hindsight” to anticipate the future has been developed by computer scientists and economists at Tel Aviv University. Funded by Google, the researchers have developed an algorithm that uses academic game theory to measure the distance between a desired outcome and an actual outcome. The algorithm can adapt to the situation at hand by analyzing the behavior of users as it is running. The results, a form of hindsight, may prove useful in more accurately predicting future outcomes – such as a bidding war on an online auction site, a sudden spike of traffic to a media website, or demand for an online product.


ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

New Solar-thermal Device Harnesses Heat and Light – (Gizmag – April 7, 2011)
Researchers at Wake Forest University have developed a polymer solar-thermal device that combines photovoltaics with a system that captures the Sun’s infrared radiation to generate heating. By taking advantage of both heat and light, researchers say the device could deliver up to 40% savings on the cost of heating, as well as helping reduce power bills by producing electricity. The hybrid cell is designed with an integrated array of clear tubes, approximately 1/4 inch in diameter. Lying flat, visible sunlight shines into the clear tube which is filled with an oil blended with a proprietary dye, heating the oil which then flows into a heat pump to transfer the warmth inside a home. Electrical current is produced via a polymer photovoltaic sprayed onto the back of the tubes. The result is a solar-thermal device with an impressive 30% conversion efficiency.

Oil May Run Out by 2060 – HSBC – (Financial Post – April 1, 2011)
HSBC, one of the world’s larger banks, is not a wild-eyed prophet of doom. But it is not optimistic there is much oil left in the world – in fact a mere 49 years of the black gold on current consumption levels. “At more than US$100 per barrel, substitutes for crude such as tar sands and synthetic liquids become more viable. Towards US$150 per barrel biofuels come into their own,” HSBC analysts write in ‘Energy in 2050’ report. And that’s just to meet current levels of global energy consumption. The bank expects global consumption levels to surge as emerging markets develop their economies.

Rossi Cold Fusion Validated by Swedish Skeptics Society – (Pure Energy Systems – April 7, 2011)
The evidence in support of Andrea Rossi’s “cold fusion” or “LENR” (low energy nuclear reaction) based Energy Catalyzer continues to grow. For those who are not aware, his system combines nickel powder, hydrogen gas, and an input of pressure and heat to produce a large output of thermal energy. On March 29th, 2011 yet another test of the technology was performed at the University of Bologna. Like previous tests, the outcome was a complete success. However, this time a smaller version of the E-Cat was tested and two new observers were present.


TRANSPORTATION

Google’s Driverless Car – (You Tube – March, 2011)
Sebastian Thrun, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, helped build Google’s amazing driverless car, powered by a very personal quest to save lives and reduce traffic accidents. Video clip shows the DARPA Challenge-winning car motoring through busy city traffic with no one behind the wheel, and dramatic test drive footage from TED2011 demonstrates how fast the thing can really go.

New Engine Sends Shock Waves through Auto Industry – (MSNBC – April 6, 2011)
Researchers at Michigan State University have built a prototype gasoline engine that requires no transmission, crankshaft, pistons, valves, fuel compression, cooling systems or fluids. Their so-called Wave Disk Generator could greatly improve the efficiency of gas-electric hybrid automobiles and potentially decrease auto emissions up to 90% when compared with conventional combustion engines. The engine has a rotor that’s equipped with wave-like channels that trap and mix oxygen and fuel as the rotor spins. These central inlets are blocked off, building pressure within the chamber, causing a shock wave that ignites the compressed air and fuel to transmit energy. The Wave Disk Generator is 3.5 times more fuel efficient than typical combustion engines. Researchers estimate the new model could shave almost 1,000 pounds off a car’s weight currently taken up by conventional engine systems.

Fast Charge Battery Could Jumpstart the Electric Vehicle Market – (Worldwatch – April 11, 2011)
For electric vehicles to become the dominant mode of personal transportation, the charging process will have to evolve: it will need to be either much faster, or far less frequent. In a recent article in Nature Nanotechnology, scientist Paul Braun and his research team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign describe their blueprint for a new battery with a greatly reduced charging time. Their most successful lithium-ion prototype reaches a 90% charge in just two minutes. Braun’s team has proposed a new architecture for the cathode that creates large areas of contact between the cathode and the electrolyte (enabling ions anywhere in the cathode to reach the electrolyte quickly) while not losing much cathode volume compared to existing batteries.


AGRICULTURE/FOOD

Roundup or Roundup-Ready Crops May Be Causing Animal Miscarriages and Infertility – (Organic Consumers Assoc. – February 18, 2011)
A senior soil scientist has alerted the federal government to a newly discovered organism that may have the potential to cause infertility and spontaneous abortion in farm animals, raising significant concerns about human health. Dr. Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, believes the appearance and prevalence of the unnamed organism may be related to the nation’s over reliance on the weed killer known as Roundup and/or to something about the genetically engineered Roundup-Ready crops. In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the professor called on the federal government to immediately stop deregulation of Roundup-Ready crops, particularly Roundup-Ready alfalfa.


SECURITY

The Law Enforcement Surveillance Reporting Gap – (Social Science Research Network – April 10, 2011)
Over the last decade, law enforcement agencies have enthusiastically embraced many new sources of investigative and surveillance data for which there are no mandatory reporting requirements. As a result, most modern surveillance now takes place entirely off the books and the true scale of such activities, which vastly outnumber traditional wiretaps and pen registers, remains unknown. Privacy advocates worry that tech firms are being turned into unofficial intelligence agents with increasing regularity, handing over user information to the government and law enforcement too frequently and too easily. A new study argues that the scope of government surveillance in the digital era is not fully realized.


TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

We’ve Become a Nation of Takers, Not Makers – (Wall St. Journal – April 1, 2011)
If you want to understand better why so many states-from New York to Wisconsin to California-are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government. In fact, more Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined.

Obsessed with Jacob – (The Stranger – April 7, 2011)
Jacob Appelbaum is a 28-year-old University of Washington researcher who recently earned notoriety as the American face of WikiLeaks, and with it the ire of US government officials eager to punish somebody-anybody-for last year’s leak of embarrassing helicopter footage and massive dump of diplomatic cables. The harassment is beginning to take its intended toll. When he recently flew into Newark from a conference in Berlin, customs agents met him at the plane and detained him for “random” screening. Appelbaum was thoroughly frisked (“They actually put on the gloves and felt my testicles,” he says) and his belongings were searched, his receipts photocopied, and his laptop and three cell phones seized. Then he was handed over to a US Army official for further questioning. It’s a cliché to describe a run-in with government bureaucrats as “Kafkaesque,” but when people from the government tell you that they’re handing you over to agents they describe as “people from the government,” that qualifies.


LIFESTYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

A Virtual Choir 2,000 Voices Strong – (You Tube – March, 2011)
In a moving and madly viral video last year, composer Eric Whitacre led a virtual choir of singers from around the world. He talks through the creative challenges of making music powered by YouTube, and unveils the first 2 minutes of his new work, “Sleep,” with a video choir of 2,052. If you’re short for time, skip to minute 12 of the clip and just listen to the new work, “Sleep”: it’s a treat to hear.


CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

Scientist Claims Mars Moon Phobos Is Hollow! – (UFO Digest – April 7, 2011)
Astrophysicist Dr. Iosif Samuilovich Shklovsky calculated the orbital motion of Martian satellite Phobos and came to the jaw-dropping conclusion that the moon is artificial, hollow, and basically a titanic spaceship. The scientist is world-renown for penning the classic science book, Intelligent Life in the Universe with famous Cornell University professor, the late Carl Sagan of PBS and Voyager space probe fame. The United States Naval Observatory weighed in on the Russian astrophysicist’s conclusion, stating: Dr. Shklovsky quite correctly calculated that if the acceleration of Phobos is true, the Martian moon must be hollow, since it cannot have the weight of a natural body and behave in the prescribed manner.


DEMOGRAPHICS

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% – (Vanity Fair – March, 2011)
The upper 1% of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1% control 40%. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12% and 33%. While the top 1% have seen their incomes rise 18% over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous-12% in the last quarter-century alone. An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year-an economy like America’s-is not likely to do well over the long haul. There are several reasons for this.


NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

The Transparent Factory – (You Tube – February 8, 2009)
An automotive assembly plant in Dresden is environmentally “green”, as visually interesting as a modern art museum and, in terms of engineering and design, generations ahead of manufacturing technology in the US. The integration of robots to support human effort is brilliant and the entire assembly line is open to customers (and tourists). This is a place where you can watch your car being assembled – by men wearing white gloves – and, if you wish, you can help.


ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

How to Turn a $10 Treatment into a $30,000 Drug Money-Maker – (Mercola – April 7, 2011)
A synthetic form of progesterone was given FDA approval more than half a century ago, and ever since doctors have been prescribing it for their patients with high-risk pregnancies through compounding pharmacies at about $10 per dose. But recently it was designated an “orphan drug” by the FDA, meaning that the company KV Pharmaceutical was given the exclusive right of production and sale. They immediately raised the price from $10 per dose to $1,500. Since the drug comes in the form of a weekly injection, that means a price hike for at-risk pregnant women that could be as much as $30,000.


PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

Open Letter To Ron Paul: “Impeach Bernanke” – (Zero Hedge – April 6, 2011)
There are serious questions about the legality of Quantitative Easing. Most people believe, and the media confirm them in that belief, that the Fed can legally create dollars ‘out of the thin air’ in any quantity, and can do with them as it pleases. This may well be the pipe dream of Dr. Bernanke who is quoted as saying that the U.S. government has given the Fed a tool, the printing press, to stop deflation – but it hardly corresponds to the truth.


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

Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot – (You Tube – September 5, 2008)
Get a sense of perspective. This video clip shows planet Earth – and specifically the human species – relative to the rest of the universe.


JUST FOR FUN

Sakura 2450 – (You Tube – March 10, 2011)
Here is a xylophone that plays only one tune: Bach’s Cantata #147. In the last few seconds, a product is displayed – but guaranteed: you have never seen anything like this. s. Additionally, for a 3 minute clip of how both the xylophone and the commercial were constructed, click here to see the extraordinary craftsmanship taking place behind the scenes.

Ancient Greek Computer Had Surprising Sun Tracker – (Wired – April 1, 2011)
The world’s oldest astronomical calculator is famous for having intricate gear systems centuries ahead of their time. But new work shows the Antikythera mechanism used pure geometry, as well as flashy gears to track celestial bodies’ motion through the heavens. The device, a 2,000-year-old assemblage of gears and wheels that matched 19th century clocks in precision and complexity, was salvaged from a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901. The machine gracefully kept track of the day of the year, the positions of the sun and the moon, and perhaps the other planets. It also predicted eclipses and kept track of upcoming Olympic games. New research reveals that it correctly accounted for the earth’s slightly elliptical orbit around the sun.

Batman, Iron Man and a Dragon Make Forbes Fictional Rich List – (The Escapist – April 8, 2011)
Forbes, which puts together a list of the richest people in America each year, has also assembled a list of the richest people in fiction, which includes the likes of Tony Stark, Bruce Wayne, and the dragon Smaug from The Hobbit. A collection of eleven men, one woman, a vampire, a dragon and a duck make up the world’s 15 wealthiest fictional characters. Topping the list is Scrooge McDuck, from Duck Tales, thought to be worth about $44.1 billion. (Carlos Slim: Watch your back.)


A FINAL QUOTE…

One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea. – Walter Bagehot (1826 – 1877), former editor-in-chief of The Economist


A special thanks to: Thomas Bergin, Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Thomas Carter, Kevin Clark, Ken Dabkowski, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Kurzweil AI, Diane Petersen, Petra Pieterse, Abby Porter, T. Roberts, Stu Rose, Gary Sycalik, Hal Taylor 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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A Vision for 2012: Planning for Extraordinary Change
by John L. Petersen

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