Volume 11, Number 04 03/12/2008 Edited by John L. Petersen johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org
See past issues in the Archives

In This Issue:
TAI PRESENTS - John L. Petersen Future Facts - From Think Links Think Links - The Future in the News…Today A Final Quote



The Next Four Years: Unprecedented Change

The next TAI Presents will feature our own John L. Petersen, president and founder of The Arlington Institute taking us all on a quick trip to the horizon.

From his unusual vantage at the nexus of all of the input coming into FUTUREdition, John will walk out from the present to 2012, highlighting all of the extraordinary breakthroughs and threatening breakdowns that appear to be between here and there. Big problems are growing... but an extraordinary new world is a distinct possibility very soon after that. It’s literally a time of rapid evolution for humanity.

This will be our second TAI Presents lecture in our new location of Berkeley Springs, WV. Come for the lecture, stay for the weekend and enjoy our spas and art galleries. If you will be joining us from out of town, consider staying at The Country Inn at Berkeley Springs which can be reached toll free (866) 458-2210 or (304) 258-2210. Weekend packages and special rates are available. Just ask for the TAI rate.

April 4th, 2008 8:00PM Ice House Theater Corner of Mercer St. and Independence St. Berkeley Springs, WV 25411 RSVP: Ken@arlingtoninstitute.org Parking & driving directions


FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT...


NEW REALITIES
Binary 'Deathstar' has Earth in its Sights – (Cosmos – March 4, 2008)
http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/1878
A spectacular, rotating binary star system is a ticking time bomb, ready to throw out a searing beam of high-energy gamma rays – and Earth may be right in the line of fire. Astronomers at the University of Sydney, discovered the beguilingly beautiful star system eight years ago in the Constellation Sagittarius. One member of the pair is a highly unstable star known as a Wolf-Rayet, thought to be the final stage of stellar evolution to precede a cataclysmic supernova explosion. "When it finally explodes as a supernova, it could emit an intense beam of gamma rays coming our way", said Peter Tuthill, lead researcher of the team that report their findings in the current Astrophysical Journal.



GENTICS/HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

Cancers Inhibited by Embryonic Stem Cell Protein – (New Scientist – March 4, 2008)
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13404-cancers-inhibited-by-embryonic
-stem-cell-protein.html
The potential for stem-cell therapies to cause cancer is a major concern, but now researchers at Northwestern University say a protein produced by human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can inhibit the growth and spread of breast cancer and malignant melanoma. They suspect that the protein, called Lefty, has similar effects on other tumor types, including those of the prostate. The similarities between stem cells – primitive cells which can differentiate into the body’s different tissue types – and tumor cells have intrigued researchers. Both are self-renewing and have the capacity to give rise to different cells types. The team at Northwestern previously showed that hESCs – the most versatile type of stem cell – produce chemicals that caused melanoma cells to revert to normal skin cells.



DISCOVERIES ENABLED BY NEW TECHNOLOGY

Dubai's Mile-Long Super Bridge Set for March Construction
Antarctic Krill Found in Waters 3,000 Meters Deep

Dubai's Mile-Long Super Bridge Set for March Construction – (Popular Mechanics – February, 2008)
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/extreme_machines/4249163.html
This elegant and as-yet-unnamed span will be the world's largest arch bridge, with 2000 vehicles set to cross its 12 lanes—per hour, in each direction—when it's slated for completion in 2012.

Antarctic Krill Found in Waters 3,000 Meters Deep – (Yahoo News – February 25, 2008)
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080225/sc_nm/krill_dc
Shrimp-like krill can thrive in icy waters 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) deep off Antarctica as well as near the surface. The discovery completely changes scientists' understanding of the major food source for fish, squid, penguins, seals and whales. Krill spawn near the surface and were previously thought to live only in waters down to about 150 meters. Krill is used for everything from heart medicines to fish feed. Catches total about 120,000 tons a year. The British Antarctic Survey said that the total weight of Antarctic krill is calculated between 50-150 million tons but stocks seem to have dropped sharply since the 1970s, apparently because of a decline in winter sea ice.



INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY


Cyber Goggles for Human Tagging
Radar Networks Readies Twine for the Public

Cyber Goggles for Human Tagging – (PopSci – March 4, 2008)
http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2008-03/cyber-goggles-human-tagging
Tagging has become a popular standard in Web content management. Tags let a user associate that data with a subject matter, much like a card catalogue in a library. When that user goes to retrieve the data, they need only remember a keyword or two to find it. Just imagine if you could tag everything you saw with your eyes in the course of a day. University of Tokyo have developed a system which can do just that. Conceived as a memory aid for the elderly, the Cyber Goggles package consists of a pair of over-sized glasses on which a tiny camera and LCD screen are mounted. Both feed into a computer worn on the back.

Radar Networks Readies Twine for the Public – (C/Net News – February 25, 2008)
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9877934-7.html?tag=newsmap
Radar Networks is prepping for a March public beta of Twine, a Web application that organizes information into a "semantic graph," connecting people, places, companies, products, Web pages, videos, and photos, and turning it into semantic Web content. "Twine is a new service for knowledge networking, sharing, organizing and in finding information from people you trust," founder Nova Spivack explained when the application was first introduced in October 2007. "Unlike a social network that is about who you know, Twine is more about what you know."



ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Running the Numbers
The Future of Universal Water
Forget Global Warming: Welcome to the New Ice Age
Superstorm Quickwatch

Running the Numbers – (Chris Jordan – 2008)
http://www.chrisjordan.com/current_set2.php
This series of works by artist Chris Jordan looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 410,000 paper cups used every fifteen minutes. In an elegant fashion, this project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society. The underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.

The Future of Universal Water – (Nanotech Now – February 25, 2008)
http://www.nanotech-now.com/news.cgi?story_id=28193
"Water is becoming increasingly scarce," says futurist Peter von Stackelberg, pointing to the fact that less than 2% of the planet's ample water store is fresh, and much of that is threatened by pollution. "By 2025, about 3.4 billion people will live in regions that are defined by the UN as water-scarce." While much of the future of universal water (adequate supplies of water for the entire world) depends on political and social activity, technological advances in three major areas will be critical for the hydrological future: desalination of seawater or brackish groundwater, purification of water containing chemical or biological contaminants, and conservation to cut demand.

Forget Global Warming: Welcome to the New Ice Age – (National Post – February 25, 2008)
http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/story.html?id=332289
Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966. The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. China is surviving its most brutal winter in a century. OK, so one winter does not a climate make. It would be premature to claim an Ice Age is looming just because we have had one of the most brutal winters in decades. But some experts are convinced we are in for a long period of severely cold weather if sunspot activity does not pick up soon. The last time the sun was this inactive, Earth suffered the Little Ice Age that lasted about five centuries and ended in 1850.

Superstorm Quickwatch – (Unknonwn Country – February, 2008)
http://www.unknowncountry.com/edge/quickwatch/
This article presents another, and more detailed, explanation of the relationship between greatly reduced solar activity and global cooling. There appears to be a major and unexpected change taking place on the sun. Despite the appearance of a high-latitude reverse polarity sunspot on December 14, 2007, the sun, as of February, remained devoid of the sunspots that would signal the beginning of the next solar maximum. Normally, the appearance of such a sunspot signals the beginning of a period of higher solar activity, and NASA scientists had predicted in 2005 that the 2008-2011 solar max would be one of the most intense on record. At present, the question of what the sun will do over the next few years is of overwhelming importance in understanding how humanity might most usefully minimize the effects of what appears to be a period of sudden climate change that is rapidly gaining momentum. Already, one effect of the extraordinarily disturbed weather earth has been experiencing in recent years has been a decline in food supplies, especially wheat, and subsequent dramatic rises in price.



AUGMENTED/ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Brain Blanket Boosts Mind Control
Artificial Playmates for Autistic Children
Brain Control Headset for Gamers
"Green" Robot Self-propels through Sea

Brain Blanket Boosts Mind Control – (New Scientist – February 15, 2008)
http://technology.newscientist.com/article/dn13332-brain-blanket-boosts-mind-control.html
With a sheet of electrodes placed over the brain, people can quickly learn to move a cursor around a computer screen using their thoughts. Early trials suggest that this new procedure could overtake more established brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). The two established techniques involve inserting electrodes into the brain or attaching them onto the scalp. These approaches have let people control robotic limbs, steer wheelchairs, type messages and walk in virtual worlds using thought alone. In recent experiments, five patients learned to control a computer cursor in two dimensions on a computer screen using their brain signals. All five acquired this skill in less than 30 minutes,

Artificial Playmates for Autistic Children – (Science Now – February 15, 2008)
http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2008/215/1
Psychologist and linguist Justine Cassell of Northwestern University says that interaction with virtual peers releases hidden social skills in these children. During unsupervised play with typical children, autistic children don't fill in pauses in conversation, nor do they ask or answer questions in a natural flow. But with a virtual playmate, autistic children begin to do all these things after as little as 20 minutes. A virtual child is a cartoonish-looking, gender-neutral 8-year-old that appears on a TV or projection screen. When it interacts with a real child, half of the action takes place in the real world, and half in the virtual world. Thanks to sensors on the toys, the children can pass dolls back and forth between worlds, and the virtual child "watches" the real child as he or she plays. The virtual child can also speak in a recorded child's voice and even uses lifelike expressions and gestures.

Brain Control Headset for Gamers – (BBC News – February 20, 2008)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7254078.stm
Gamers will soon be able to interact with the virtual world using their thoughts and emotions alone. A neuro-headset which interprets the interaction of neurons in the brain will go on sale for $299 later this year. The technology can be used to give authentic facial expressions to avatars of gamers in virtual worlds. For example, if the player smiles, winks, grimaces the headset can detect the expression and translate it to the avatar in game. It can also read emotions of players and translate those to the virtual world.

"Green" Robot Self-propels through Sea – (Reuters – February 7, 2008)
http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSN0739211620080207?feedType
=RSS&feedName=technologyNews&rpc=22&sp=true
A seagoing glider that uses heat energy from the ocean to propel itself is the first "green" robot to explore the undersea environment. Most gliders rely on battery-powered motors and mechanical pumps, the researchers said. This one draws its energy from the differences in temperature between warm surface waters and the colder, deeper layers of the ocean. Such robots can carry sensors to measure temperature, salinity and biological productivity. They fix their positions using the Global Positioning System and to communicate via Iridium satellite to a laboratory.



ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Famed Geneticist Creating Life Form that Turns CO2 to Fuel
Arizona to Become 'Persian Gulf' of Solar Energy
Oil and Water Can Mix
Government to Help Incubate Clean-tech Start-ups
Saudi Looks to Become Solar Powerhouse
Cracking the Battery Barrier
The Great Battery Race

Famed Geneticist Creating Life Form that Turns CO2 to Fuel – (Yahoo – February 28, 2008)
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080228/ts_afp/scienceusitgenetics;_ylt=
AptyWwW1wiZRtcLis2t1pq8PLBIF

Geneticist Craig Venter has said he is creating a life form that feeds on climate-ruining carbon dioxide to produce fuel. "We think we will have fourth-generation fuels in about 18 months, with CO2 as the fuel stock." Simple organisms can be genetically re-engineered to produce vaccines or octane-based fuels as waste, according to Venter. Biofuel alternatives to oil are third-generation. The next step is life forms that feed on CO2 and give off fuel such as methane gas as waste, according to Venter.

Arizona to Become 'Persian Gulf' of Solar Energy – (CNN – February 22, 2008)
http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/02/22/solar.plant.ap/index.html?iref=mpstoryview
A Spanish company is planning to take 3 square miles of desert southwest of Phoenix and turn them into one of the largest solar power plants in the world. Abengoa Solar could begin construction as early as next year on the 280-megawatt plant in Gila Bend -- a small, dusty town 50 miles southeast of Phoenix – and be producing solar energy by 2011. The project will be able to supply up to 70,000 homes at full capacity. Unlike most solar energy, it will use the sun's heat, not its light, to produce power. Temperatures in Gila Bend reach 120 degrees in the summer.

Oil and Water Can Mix – (Quad-City Times – February 27, 2008)
http://www.qctimes.com/articles/2008/02/27/news/business/doc47c5005337448125816114.txt
Micro Bubble Technology Inc. is the exclusive supplier in the United States and Europe of a technology invented by a South Korean engineering professor that mixes water and various types of oil at a submicron level. The result is an emulsion fuel that burns more efficiently, reduces emissions by 60% and cuts fuel costs by up to 30 percent, said Michael Siegel, company president. The technology also uses a proprietary additive to keep the emulsion fuel stable and prevent it from separating into its water and oil components during long-term storage, said Chul Won Choi, director of engineering at the Dong Seoul College in South Korea, inventor of the technology. A key feature of the technology is that it is capable of mixing the fuel at the point of use. In Japan, where the technology is used to reclaim waste oil and for power generation, some fishing boats have the units on board to mix emulsion fuel at sea

Government to Help Incubate Clean-tech Start-ups – (C/Net News – February w7, 2008)
http://www.news.com/8301-11128_3-9881259-54.html?tag=newsmap
The Department of Energy has chosen three venture capital firms to send promising clean-tech entrepreneurs to as they collaborate with national laboratories. The government's new Entrepreneur in Residence plan is designed to speed the development of the green technology sector. Each firm has 12 months to assist one start-up at a time in working directly with laboratory staff, aiming to spin off successful clean-tech companies. The Department of Energy will offer $100,000 per entrepreneurial round for overhead costs, with additional funds provided by venture capitalists. After each year-long period ends, the government will newly select venture firms for the ongoing program.

Saudi Looks to Become Solar Powerhouse – (Arabian Business – March 2, 2008)
http://www.arabianbusiness.com/512552-saudi-looks-to-become-solar-powerhouse
Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, plans to become an expert in another, cleaner field of energy by investing in solar power, said the country's oil minister. "In the same way we are an oil exporter, we can also be an exporter of power." At a summit in Riyadh last November, Gulf Opec members pledged $750 million to a new fund to tackle global warming through financing research for clean technologies, with the emphasis on carbon capture and storage.

Cracking the Battery Barrier – (Forbes – February 28, 2008)
http://www.zenncars.com/media/documents/Forbes.com.pdf
While the global battery market is enormous – some $55 billion annually – batteries remain one of the most limiting technologies in the modern age, thanks in great part to the pesky laws of chemistry and metallurgy. Meanwhile, the need for generating and storing renewable, sustainable energy continues to swell. That spells massive opportunity for the tech-savvy start-ups trying to crack through these barriers. One of them, EEStor, has developed batteries that boast specific energy of 280 watt-hours per kilogram, whereas a lithium ion battery has about 120 watt-hours and a lead-acid gel battery, commonly used in golf carts and motor scooters, has only 32 watt hours.

The Great Battery Race – (Fortune – March 5, 2008)
http://money.cnn.com/2008/03/04/magazines/fortune/taylor_batteries.fortune/
Here’s the update on hybrid vehicles in current and upcoming production. Every single new Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep is being engineered so that it can be adapted for a gas-electric hybrid powertrain. That's a huge change for technologically challenged Chrysler, which currently markets only two gas-electric hybrid vehicles - both of them equipped with technology developed by General Motors. And whereas 13 hybrid models were for sale in 2007, there are, by one count, expected to be more than 60 available by 2011. GM has announced that it will offer at least 16 hybrid models by 2012. So far it seems all of these will have lithium ion batteries. That may change by the time those models roll off the production lines.



GLOBAL EPIDEMIC

Map Pinpoints Disease Hotspots
EU Backs First Pre-pandemic Flu Shot

Map Pinpoints Disease Hotspots – (BBC News – February 20, 2008)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7252923.stm
A detailed map highlighting the world's hotspots for emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) has been released. It uses data spanning 65 years and shows the majority of these new diseases come from wildlife. The researchers found that 60% of EID events were caused by "non-human animal" sources. They add that 71% of these outbreaks were "caused by pathogens with a wildlife source". "We are crowding wildlife into ever smaller areas, and human population is increasing," explained Dr Marc Levy. "Where those two things meet, that is the recipe for something crossing over."

EU Backs First Pre-pandemic Flu Shot – (Reuters – February 21, 2008)
http://www.reuters.com/article/governmentFilingsNews/idUSL219704220080221
The European Medicines Agency has recommended approval of the first pre-pandemic influenza vaccine, Prepandrix, from GlaxoSmithKline Plc. The shot is intended for use before a pandemic or during an officially declared flu pandemic. It is designed to trigger an immune response against the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which experts fear may become the spark for a flu outbreak threatening millions of people. Glaxo's vaccine should give a degree of protection until a more precisely tailored pandemic vaccine can be produced -- a process likely to take four to six months from the time any pandemic strain is identified.



TERRORISM, SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

A Soldier's Officer
Iraq War Caused Slowdown in the US
US Seeks Terrorists in Web Worlds
National Dragnet Is a Click Away

A Soldier's Officer – (Washington Post – December 7, 2007)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/01/AR2007120101782.html
In a nondescript conference room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside listened last week as an Army prosecutor outlined the criminal case against her in a preliminary hearing. The charges: attempting suicide and endangering the life of another soldier while serving in Iraq. Under military law, soldiers who attempt suicide can be prosecuted under the theory that it affects the order and discipline of a unit and brings discredit to the armed forces. In reality, criminal charges are extremely rare unless there is evidence that the attempt was an effort to avoid service or that it endangered others. Outside the Pentagon, the military still largely deals with mental health issues in an ad hoc way, often relying on the judgment of combat-hardened commanders whose understanding of mental illness is vague or misinformed. The stigma around psychological wounds can still be seen in the smallest of Army policies. While family members of soldiers recovering at Walter Reed from physical injuries are provided free lodging and a per diem to care for their loved ones, families of psychiatric outpatients usually have to pay their own way.

Iraq War Caused Slowdown in the US – (The Australian – February 28, 2008)
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23286149-2703,00.html
The Iraq war has cost the US 50-60 times more than the Bush administration predicted and was a central cause of the sub-prime banking crisis threatening the world economy, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. The former World Bank vice-president said the war had, so far, cost the US something like $US3trillion compared with the $US50-$US60-billion predicted in 2003. Professor Stiglitz and another Clinton administration economist, Linda Bilmes, have produced a book, The Three Trillion Dollar War, pulling together their research on the true cost of the war, which does not include the cost to Iraq. One of the greatest discrepancies is that the official figures do not include the long-term healthcare and social benefits for injured servicemen, who are surviving previously fatal attacks because of improved body armor. The ratio of injuries to fatalities in previous wars was 2:1. In this war they admitted to 7:1 but a true number is (something) like 15:1." Some 100,000 servicemen have been diagnosed with serious psychological problems and the soldiers doing the most tours of duty have not yet returned.

US Seeks Terrorists in Web Worlds – (BBC News – March 3, 2008)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7274377.stm
The US government has begun a project to develop ways to spot terrorists who are using virtual worlds. Codenamed Reynard it aims to recognize "normal" behavior in online worlds and home in on anomalous activity. It is likely to develop tools and techniques for intelligence officers who are hunting terrorists and terror groups on the net or in virtual worlds. "The sophistication is getting a little smarter and they are attacking the infrastructure pieces behind them..., which is typically in most production environments the least invested in." Some of the basic systems of the net, such as the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which help data reach its intended destination, are open to attack.

National Dragnet Is a Click Away – (Washington Post – March 6, 2008)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/05/AR2008030503656
.html?hpid=topnews
Several thousand law enforcement agencies are creating the foundation of a domestic intelligence system through computer networks that analyze vast amounts of police information to fight crime and root out terror plots. As federal authorities struggled to meet information-sharing mandates after Sept. 11, 2001, police agencies poured millions of criminal and investigative records into shared digital repositories called data warehouses, giving investigators and analysts new power to discern links among people, patterns of behavior and other hidden clues. Those network efforts will begin expanding further this month, as some local and state agencies connect to a fledgling Justice Department system called the National Data Exchange, or N-DEx. Federal authorities hope N-DEx will become what one called a "one-stop shop" enabling federal law enforcement, counterterrorism and intelligence analysts to automatically examine the enormous caches of local and state records for the first time.



NANOTECHNOLOGY

Power from Fabrics – (Technology Review – February 14, 2008)
http://www.technologyreview.com/Nanotech/20278/?nlid=876
Georgia Tech researchers have taken an important step toward creating fabrics that could generate power from the wearer's walking, breathing, and heartbeats. They have made a flexible fiber coated with zinc oxide nanowires that can convert mechanical energy into electricity. The fibers, the researchers say, should be able to harvest any kind of vibration or motion for electric current.



ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Food Shortages Loom as Wheat Crop Shrinks and Prices Rise
US to Cut Food Aid Due to Soaring Costs
Crash Course; the Long Slump in China
More Americans Using Credit Cards to Stay Afloat

Food Shortages Loom as Wheat Crop Shrinks and Prices Rise – (Times - February 24, 2008)
http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/natural_
resources/article3423734.ece?print=yes&randnum=1204293794670

After two successive years of disastrous wheat harvest, the world is only ten weeks away from running out of wheat supplies after stocks fell to their lowest levels for 50 years. The crisis has pushed prices to an all-time high and could lead to further hikes in the price of bread, beer, and other basic foods. It could also exacerbate serious food shortages in developing countries especially in Africa.

US to Cut Food Aid Due to Soaring Costs – (Washington Post – March 1, 2008)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/29/AR2008022904029.html
The U.S. government's humanitarian relief agency will significantly scale back emergency food aid to some of the world's poorest countries this year because of soaring global food prices, and the U.S. Agency for International Development is drafting plans to reduce the number of recipient nations, the amount of food provided to them, or both, officials at the agency said. USAID officials said that a 41 percent surge in prices for wheat, corn, rice and other cereals over the past six months has generated a $120 million budget shortfall that will force the agency to reduce emergency operations.

Crash Course; the Long Slump in China – (Economist – February 27, 2008)
http://www.economist.com/daily/news/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10757181&fsrc=nwl
Despite the power of China’s interventionist government, the importance of maintaining appearances for the Olympics and the country’s relatively strong economic growth, China’s stockmarkets have been suffering from a protracted slide. Shanghai is already down by more than a third since October last year. A fall of this severity, had it happened elsewhere, would have already prompted the word “crash” to circulate. There are also reasons to believe that the losses—in excess of $1 trillion—are not as devastating as they first appear. Much of the capitalization of the Chinese markets is tied up in shares held by the government, so whatever the extent of the losses, less than half has been borne by private investors.

More Americans Using Credit Cards to Stay Afloat – (USA Today – February 29, 2008)
http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20080229/1a_cover29.art.htm
As people’s mortgage bills have became unaffordable, a growing number of them have begun paying their credit card bills before — and sometimes instead of — their mortgages. That's a striking reversal from the norm, one that reflects rising desperation. It suggests that some people essentially have given up trying to stay current with their mortgages and instead are focused on using credit cards to squeak by. Even as mortgage growth slowed from April 2006 through December 2007, card debt accelerated, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C.



DEMOGRAPHICS


America's Unfaithful Faithful
Scientist Postulates 4 Aspects of 'Humaniqueness'
China May Scrap One-child Policy

America's Unfaithful Faithful – (Time – February 25, 2008)
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1716987,00.html
A major new survey presents perhaps the most detailed picture we've yet had of which religious groups Americans belong to. And its big message is: blink and they'll change. A large-scale study has quantified what many experts suspect: there is a constant membership turnover among most American faiths. America's religious culture, which is best known for its high participation rates, may now be equally famous (or infamous) for what the new report dubs "churn."

Scientist Postulates 4 Aspects of 'Humaniqueness' – (EurkeAlert – February 17, 2008)
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-02/hu-spf021408.php
Shedding new light on the cognitive rift between humans and animals, a Harvard University scientist has synthesized four key differences between human and animal cognition into a hypothesis on what exactly differentiates human and animal thought. These four novel components of human thought are the ability to combine and recombine different types of information and knowledge in order to gain new understanding; to apply the same “rule” or solution to one problem to a different and new situation; to create and easily understand symbolic representations of computation and sensory input; and to detach modes of thought from raw sensory and perceptual input.

China May Scrap One-child Policy – (Reuters – February 28, 2008)
http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-32199920080228
China, worried about an ageing population, is studying scrapping its controversial one-child policy but will not do away with family-planning policies altogether, according to a senior official. China says its policies have prevented several hundred million births and boosted prosperity, but experts have warned of a looming social time-bomb from an ageing population and widening gender disparity stemming from a traditional preference for boys. Still, the government has previously expressed concern that too many people are flouting the rules. State media said in December that China's population would grow to 1.5 billion people by 2033, with birth rates set to soar over the next five years.



TRENDS OF GOVERNMENT

Rule by Fear or Rule by Law?
USDA Shuts Down Congressional Audit

Rule by Fear or Rule by Law? – (San Francisco Chronicle – February 4, 2008)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/04/ED5OUPQJ7.DTL
Since 9/11, and seemingly without the notice of most Americans, the federal government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without legal or constitutional recourse in the event of "an emergency influx of immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs." Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees. According to diplomat and author Peter Dale Scott, the KBR contract is part of a Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal of "all removable aliens" and "potential terrorists."

USDA Shuts Down Congressional Audit – (Associated Press – February 28, 2008)
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jmMDqqS37QeJR2uBIwSOwQPtBUaAD8V3K7582
The Agriculture Department abruptly ordered congressional auditors to leave its Washington offices this week and told employees not to cooperate with them. The auditors were seeking information for an ongoing review of Agriculture's civil rights office, including whether the department had provided false information about the office's progress in handling discrimination complaints. One employee who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation, met with the auditors before they were asked to leave.



JUST FOR FUN

Digital Tatoo
Patently Weird: Embedded Tattoos

Digital Tatoo – (Gizmodo – February 22, 2008)
http://gizmodo.com/359018/cellphone-display-concept-designed-for-dracula-is-bloody-ridiculous
Here's a design that Dracula would love: a subcutaneously-implanted, wireless digital tattoo display whose fuel cell is powered by blood. The concept uses Bluetooth to communicate with your portable gadgets—or even devices implanted elsewhere in your body. So far, it’s only a concept…

Patently Weird: Embedded Tattoos – (DeadMedia – February 26, 2008)
http://www.deadmedia.org/notes/26/262.html
Picture Dennis Rodman, the resplendently-tattooed Chicago Bulls rebounder. Now try to imagine what Rodman would look like if all his tattoos could be digitally programmed, constantly morphing from one image into another. "Once you get a fix on that psychedelic image, stretch your imagination a bit more: these tattoos are not etched into the skin but, rather, are liquid-crystal displays implanted beneath. They glow through the translucent skin, which acts sort of like a projection screen. Interval Research Corp., a high-tech R&D firm based in Palo Alto, Calif., has just received a patent that appears to cover exactly this kind of subcutaneous electronic tattoo. This is not just a concept.



A FINAL QUOTE...

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



A special thanks to: Ron Ashmore, Tom Burgin, Bernard Calil, Ken Dabkowski, Richard Dell, Neil Freer, Ursula Freer, KurzweilAI, Sebastian McCallister, Diane C. Petersen, Abby Porter, Paul Saffo, the Schwartzreport, Joel Snell, Gary Sycalik and Steve Ujvarosy our contributors to this issue.

If you see something we should know about, do send it along - thanks.
johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org





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