FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT...
- The Mariana Trench in the western Pacific, the deepest part of the oceans, is home to single-celled organisms more than four inches long.
- Purging "senescent" cells in mice is found to combat aging ills.
- Military suicides have increased since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes; from 2005 to 2010, approximately one service member committed suicide every 36 hours.
- In 1963, Dr. Robert Becker (twice nominated for the Nobel Prize) and colleague, Dr. Freedman, proved intense solar activity leads directly to psychotic outbreaks and mass insanity. Beware the solar maximum of 2011-2012.
by John L. Petersen
Rapidly Evaporating Privacy
I've been inundated (relatively speaking) the last week with pieces about how governments and corporations are using newly designed technology to learn more and more about most everything in your life.
The Washington Post had an enlightening piece about License plate readers: A useful tool for police comes with privacy concerns. Essentially, the law enforcement agencies around Washington, DC, are tracking the real-time location of almost every vehicle in the area . . . and storing the information for long lengths of time. I know they have been doing this in the U.K. for a long time, but it really does seem antithetical to the essence of what we have thought of American being.
I particularly liked the statement by a state police sergeant who was responsible for his part of the surveillance network: "If you're not doing anything wrong, you're not driving a stolen car, you're not committing a crime," he said, "then you don't have anything to worry about." I wonder who gets to decide whether you're doing anything wrong or not?
Then there's this summary: Every Breath You Take, Every Move You Make - 14 New Ways That the Government Is Watching You. It's extraordinary how 9/11 and the Patriot Act has allowed intrusion that was never before considered constitutional.
The Wall Street Journal then had this article on the marketplace for all of this new, collection technology: Document Trove Exposes Surveillance Methods. Read this, and then tell me you don't wonder who knows what about you that you didn't think was possible, if not practicable.
All of this is happening in an environment that makes it harder and harder for more and more people to make a living. China's Vice Premier Sees Chronic Global Recession said CNBC. That's significant for not only China, but also for the US, of course. As more and more people are squeezed, there would likely be more Occupy Wall Street-type activities . . . except that the government is increasingly tightening its control.
In light of all of this, I shouldn't have been surprised to read how the homeland security folks in the federal government coordinated the efforts of local police forces to move against the Occupy Wall Street (and some 17 other groups) all at the same time. And I remembered how governments here and in Europe convinced all of those companies with WikiLeaks accounts to close them, ultimately shutting down that organization.
I'm really glad a new world is coming our way, because I'm liking this old world less and less.
Living Sacred Economies
In the last issue of FUTUREdition I included a quote from Charles Eisenstein, who is on the faculty of Goddard College and author of a couple of rather extraordinary books, The Ascent of Humanity and Sacred Economics. In the vernacular that I use, Charles is one of the new humans - the individuals who are actively working to shape the new world that is emerging. More than anyone else that I have found lately, he is thinking about the essentials of how humans might live in a new world that doesn't at all work like this one.
I've thought a good bit about what the fundamental values might be in a new world and how they, in turn, might then inform the organized activities of humans - government, legal system, education, etc. One of the areas that always seemed intractable to me was that of economics: what kind of system might emerge that really didn't work like the present one . . . and would really work!
Well, Charles has seriously considered (and written) about that . . . and his ideas are really quite fascinating. I particularly like the notion of negative interest - money that naturally decreases in value over time. It precipitates an economy based upon giving gifts.
Charles and his wife Stella (who makes a killer quiche!), live up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania not far from here, so I drove up there a couple of weeks ago to chat a bit about a couple of things that were on my mind. One conversation topic was his upcoming online course in which I'm participating. It's called Living Sacred Economies and it might be something that you would find interesting. Here's what the Reality Sandwich folks say about it:
As the protests inspired by Occupy Wall Street suggest, many of us yearn to live in a Sacred Economy, in all aspects of our lives, during this time of global transformation. More and more of us are seeking a way to make money and human economy as sacred as everything else in the universe.
Now you can join the inspiring visionary Charles Eisenstein in a unique online video course that explores Sacred Economics in all its aspects. Entitled, "Living Sacred Economies: Money, Gift and Transition", we will explore the forces driving the current financial system's collapse, and access a vision of a new kind of money system that will replace it - a system that fosters cooperation not competition, cyclicity not growth, abundance not scarcity; a system that is an extension of ecology, not an exception to it; a system corresponding to a new (and ancient) way of thinking, relating, and being on earth.
This course has a threefold intention: to help us understand the changes happening today in the money system and beyond, to empower us as active change agents, and to help us live that change ourselves.
The transformation of money mirrors a shift in our own psychology, and the way we relate to the world. We can indeed live in Sacred Economy today, seeding cultural rebirth through our words and actions.
Charles has brought together an amazing line-up of guests with whom to explore the ideas and practical realities behind sacred economics. They are: Julio Olalla, Susan Davis, John L. Petersen, Lynne Twist, Orland Bishop, and Mark Boyle. Charles will also be joined by Andrew Harvey on a free inaugural session (see below for details). Through this course, you will understand:
The course is for people who want to apply the ideas of Sacred Economics to their own lives, goals, and activism; people who want to attune to the emergent "field" that this work taps into.
- Why money is so often opposed to our best intentions
- Why money is the root of so much evil in the world (hint: it is not because of "greed")
- How we become enslaved to money
- The power of gratitude
- The power of the gift
- How to bring money back into the realm of the sacred
- The nature of the planetary transition happening in our time
- The defining myths of our civilization and how they operate
- Becoming a storyteller of the new world
- How to create miracles through living in the gift
It takes place on 6 consecutive Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. EST, and you can participate from your laptop anywhere in the world with a broadband connection. If you can watch a YouTube video, you can take part in this course.
Each of the six sessions will consist of a talk by Charles outlining the basic theme of the session, along with a dialogue with another visionary in the field of money, economy, or social change. The live format will allow Q&A, dialog, discussion, and reflective exercises so that participants can integrate the knowledge on a deeper level. More than the delivery of mere "information", the course will engage deeper methods of transmission, in particular the sacred stories that the extraordinary guests in the series will share.
It all starts on November 30th. For more information, please click here.
Welcome to the "Augmented Revolution" - (Salon - November 6, 2011)
How the linkage of the online world to offline protest is remaking politics around the world: Occupy Wall Street and the subsequent occupation movements around the United States and increasingly the globe might best be called an augmented revolution. By "augmented," the author us referring to a larger conceptual perspective that views our reality as the byproduct of the enmeshing of the on- and offline. And what is often overlooked is how social media promises an audience for this content. This is an important change. No longer are protesters just shouting into the wind, one is also shouting into a network where there is an audience that may be receptive to the message. Augmented by the Internet, what one is doing seems to matter more. This is the not-so-secret weapon of augmented revolution.
In 21st Century America, Privacy, Truly, Is Gone - (Oregon Live - October 30, 2011)
In 1999, Scott McNealy, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, told reporters: "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." Others, including the top executives of Google, LinkedIn and Facebook, have since said much the same thing. They are right. Privacy in 2011 is a matter of nostalgia, not practice. Just in the past two months, Facebook introduced "frictionless sharing," Verizon told customers it could share their location and search strings with advertisers, and two members of Congress have called for the FTC to investigate "supercookies," which track your activity across multiple websites and are difficult to detect and remove. These developments signal an accelerating rush to compile, index and disseminate personal data in the digital age. Unless you live off the grid and alone, you leave a trail of information every day. Consider this typical, non-private, day in contemporary America as the article plays it out.
"Tractor Beam" is Possible with Lasers - (BBC News - March 2, 2011)
It is known that light can provide a "push", for example in solar sails that propel spacecraft on a "wind of light". Now, researchers from Hong Kong and China have calculated the conditions required to create a laser-based "pull". The effect is different from that employed in "optical tweezers" approaches, in which tiny objects can be trapped in the focus of a laser beam and moved around; this new force, the authors propose, would be one continuous pull toward the source. The process does not use a standard laser beam, but rather one known as a Bessel beam, that has a precise pattern of peaks and troughs in its intensity.
Nature's Laws May Vary Across The Universe - (Before It's News - November 1, 2011)
One of the laws of nature may vary across the Universe, according to a study published in the journal Physical Review Letters. According to research carried out at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Cambridge, one of the four known fundamental forces, electromagnetism - measured by the so-called fine-structure constant and denoted by the symbol 'alpha' - seems to vary across the Universe. The first hints that alpha might not be constant came a decade ago. The new study doubled the number of observations and measured the value of alpha in about 300 distant galaxies, all at huge distances from Earth, and over a much wider area of the sky. "The results astonished us," said Professor Webb. "In one direction - from our location in the Universe - alpha gets gradually weaker, yet in the opposite direction it gets gradually stronger. The discovery, if confirmed, has profound implications for our understanding of space and time and violates one of the fundamental principles underlying Einstein's General Relativity theory."
For a Giant Single-Celled Organism, Home Is the Deepest Address on the Planet - (New York Times - October 31, 2011)
The Mariana Trench in the western Pacific, the deepest part of the oceans, is home to single-celled organisms more than four inches long. The organisms, known as xenophyophores, are the largest individual cells known to exist in the deep sea, said Lisa Levin, the Scripps oceanographer who spotted them in the video. They usually build their dwelling structure using sediments, Dr. Levin said, and act as habitats for starfish, crustaceans, worms and clams. "They act like little apartment houses," she said.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
Researchers Identify Enzyme that Holds Key to Living Longer through Calorie Restriction - (Giz Mag - November 2, 2011)
Although calorie restriction has been shown to slow the aging process, delay the development of age-related diseases and have favorable effects on health, researchers have had a hard time explaining why this is so. Using yeast as a model, researchers at the University of Gothenburg have successfully identified that active peroxiredoxin 1 (Prx1), an enzyme that breaks down harmful hydrogen peroxide in the cells, is required for caloric restriction to work effectively. The research team's study showed that Prx1 is damaged during aging and loses its activity but caloric restriction counteracts this by increasing the production of another enzyme called Srx1, which repairs Prx1. In potentially good news for those that like their food, the team also found that aging can be delayed without caloric restriction by increasing the quantity of Srx1 in the cell.
Scandal Exposed in Major Study of Autism and Mercury - (Coalition for Mercury Free Drugs - October 25, 2011)
Communications between Centers for Disease Control (CDC) personnel and vaccine researchers reveal that U.S. officials apparently colluded in covering-up the decline in Denmark's autism rates following the removal of mercury from vaccines. Documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that CDC officials were aware of Danish data indicating a connection between removing Thimerosal (49.55% mercury) and a decline in autism rates. Despite this knowledge, these officials allowed a 2003 article to be published in Pediatrics that excluded this information, misrepresented the decline as an increase, and led to the mistaken conclusion that Thimerosal in vaccines does not cause autism. Article contains substantiating links.
Purging "Senescent" Cells in Mice Is Found to Combat Aging Ills - (New York Times - November 2, 2011)
In a potentially fundamental advance, researchers have opened up a novel approach to combating the effects of aging with the discovery that a special category of cells, known as senescent cells, promote the aging of the tissues. Cleansing the body of the cells, they hope, could postpone many of the diseases of aging. Senescent cells accumulate in aging tissues, like arthritic knees, cataracts and the plaque that may line elderly arteries. The cells secrete agents that stimulate the immune system and cause low-level inflammation. In a delicate feat of genetic engineering, a research team led by Darren J. Baker and Jan M. van Deursen at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., has generated a strain of mouse in which all the senescent cells can be purged by giving the mice a drug that forces the cells to self-destruct. The gene-altering approach used on the mice cannot be tried in people, but now that senescent cells appear to be harmful, researchers can devise ways of targeting them.
Tepco Detects Nuclear Fission at Fukushima Dai-Ichi Station - (Business Week - November 2, 2011)
The detection of xenon, which is associated with nuclear fission, was confirmed by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the country's atomic regulator. "Given the signs, it's certain that fission is occurring," Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at Tepco. There's been no large-scale or sustained criticality and no increase in radiation, he said. Fission taking place in the reactor can lead to increases in radiation emissions and raises concerns about further leaks after another radioactive hot spot was discovered in Tokyo on Oct. 29. It's possible there are similar reactions occurring in the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors, the other cores damaged at the station, Matsumoto said. "Melted fuel in the No. 2 reactor may have undergone a sustained process of nuclear fission or re-criticality," according to Tetsuo Ito, the head of Kinki University's Atomic Energy Research Institute. "The nuclear fission should be containable by injecting boron into the reactor to absorb neutrons."
New International Report Shreds Japan's Carefully Constructed Fukushima Scenario - (Oil Price - November 2, 2011)
This article dissects an independent study on the radioactive release following the Fukushima disaster. Not surprisingly, the minimalistic version of events spewed by Japan's government and TEPCO is disputed before the report takes on the effect of Cesium-137 in the Pacific. The bad news is the dangerous release is spread through the food chain from plankton all the way up to swordfish. The good news - if you can call it that - is the half-life of cesium is a relatively short 30 years.
Climate Change's Health Costs Projected to Be Enormous - (Huffington Post - November 8, 2011)
A tally of lost lives and health care expenditures arising from just six recent weather-related or epidemiological events suggests that the economic toll of future climate change is likely to be even more staggering than previously thought, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs. The researchers examined morbidity and mortality data -- including expenditures for hospitalization, visits to the emergency room and other medical services -- arising from two California wildfires and a heat wave in the same state; the 2004 hurricane season in Florida; an outbreak of West Nile virus in Louisiana in 2002; a river flood two years ago in North Dakota; and nationwide ozone pollution between 2000 and 2002. Although none of these scenarios can be definitively linked to climate change, all six were chosen as emblematic of the types of episodes that experts expect to see more of as the planet warms. In reviewing that data, the researchers concluded that these six events resulted in 1,689 early deaths, 8,992 hospitalizations, 21,113 emergency department visits and 734,398 outpatient visits, with estimated costs totaling more than $14 billion.
New Cyber Attack Targets Chemical Firms - (Reuters - November 1, 2011)
Symantec says at least 48 chemical and defense firms were hit by a coordinate cyber attack from hackers traced to China. According to the company, the computer breaches allowed the operation to steal information, formulas, and details on manufacturing processes. Computers belonging to these companies were infected with malicious software known as "PoisonIvy," which was used to steal information such as design documents, formulas and details on manufacturing processes, Symantec said. It did not identify the companies, but said they include multiple Fortune 100 corporations that develop compounds and advanced materials, along with businesses that help manufacture infrastructure for these industries. The bulk of the infected machines were based in the United States and United Kingdom.
Mask-bot Takes a New Approach to Giving Robots a Human Face - (GizMag - November 7, 2011)
While great strides have been made in the development of humanoid robots, giving robots a human face with natural expressions and movement has proven a difficult task. While some look to create lifelike faces and expressions with motors under artificial skin replicating the function of facial muscles, German and Japanese researchers have joined forces to come up with a different solution called Mask-bot that uses a 3D image of a human face projected onto the back of a plastic mask. The projector beams a human face onto the back of the mask to create realistic features that can not only be seen from various angles, including the side, but can also be changed on demand. Mask-bot can also realistically reproduce content typed on a keyboard in English, Japanese, and soon German. A text-to-speech system converts the text to audio signals, producing a male or female voice, which can then be set to quiet or loud, happy or sad, at the touch of a button.
U.S. Fuel Exports Hit New Record in August - (Los Angeles Times - November 11, 2011)
U.S. exports of refined fuels, particularly diesel, have surged to fresh all-time highs, helping to keep the prices of gasoline and diesel in this country at record levels for this time of year.In 2003, U.S. refiners exported a little more than 100,000 barrels of fuel a day, primarily to Central America and South America, the federal Energy Department said. Since then, that figure has soared, reaching 656,000 barrels a day in 2010, marking a seventh straight record year. This year, export volume has moved further into record territory. It averaged 730,000 barrels a day through the first six months of the year. In August, the latest month for which Energy Department data is available, those exports jumped again, to a record 895,000 barrels a day during one of the busiest months of the summer driving season in the U.S. Driving the trend is strong global demand for diesel fuel. (Editor's note: Two points to note here: oil producers and refiners can and do sell to the highest bidder - where ever that buyer is located. If that were not the case, we would wind up with some very strange price distortions (and, almost certainly, supply shortages). Whether they know it or not, politicians and talk show personalities wringing their hands about "dependency on foreign oil" and in favor of pipelines, off-shore drilling, etc. are not actually supporting an energy independent agenda but rather some different one. True energy independence, if it is to come at all, probably has to come from locally produced, non-exportable sources, such as solar, tidal, geothermal and wind.)
Google Map Reveals Massive Geothermal Potential Nationwide - (Nation of Change - November 6, 2011)
Southern Methodist University's Geothermal Laboratory recently released a map that proves once again how much potential energy is locked beneath America. SMU's resource map, which took years to develop with funding from Google.org, shows that there are enough technically recoverable resources throughout the U.S. to equal 10 times the amount of coal capacity in place today. This approach incorporates a newly proposed international standard for estimating geothermal resource potential that considers added practical limitations of development, such as the inaccessibility of large urban areas and national parks. Known as the 'technical potential' value, it assumes producers tap only 14% of the 'theoretical potential' of stored geothermal heat in the U.S., using currently available technology. In other words, this assessment, which shows we have enough recoverable resources to overtake our coal capacity ten times over, is pretty realistic.
Abiotic Oil: a Theory Worth Exploring - (US News - September 14, 2011)
Advocates of the "abiotic theory" have been dismissed as heretics, frauds, or idealists. They hold that oil can be derived from hydrocarbons that existed eons ago in massive pools deep within the earth's core. That source of hydrocarbons seeps up through the earth's layers and slowly replenishes oil sources. In other words, it turns the fossil-fuel paradigm upside down. Perhaps the breakthrough for this theory came when Chris Cooper's story appeared April 16, 1999, in The Wall Street Journal about an oil field called Eugene Island. Here's an excerpt: Production at the oil field, deep in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, was supposed to have declined years ago. And for a while, it behaved like any normal field: Following its 1973 discovery, Eugene Island 330's output peaked at about 15,000 barrels a day. By 1989, production had slowed to about 4,000 barrels a day. Then suddenly-some say almost inexplicably-Eugene Island's fortunes reversed. The field, operated by PennzEnergy Co., is now producing 13,000 barrels a day, and probable reserves have rocketed to more than 400 million barrels from 60 million. Stranger still, scientists studying the field say the crude coming out of the pipe is of a geological age quite different from the oil that gushed 10 years ago." All of which has led some scientists to a radical theory: Eugene Island is rapidly refilling itself, perhaps from some continuous source miles below the Earth's surface. That, they say, raises the tantalizing possibility that oil may not be the limited resource it is assumed to be. More recently, Forbes presented a similar discussion.
First Manned Flight of an Electric Multi-copter - (Giz Mag - November 1, 2011)
Readers may be familiar with quadracopters - small hovering unmanned electric aircraft, which get their lift from a set of four propellers. Well, make the whole thing larger, boost the number of propellers (and accompanying motors) to 16, and you get what German aircraft developer e-volo calls a multicopter. While the company has previously demonstrated unmanned drones, on October 21st it accomplished what it claims is a world first - a manned flight. According to e-volo, its multicopter is simpler in construction and mechanics than a helicopter, and safer - it can reportedly land even with up to four of its motors failed, and its propellers experience much less wear. Onboard computers running custom firmware control the rotational speed of the propellers, dictating the attitude (horizontal orientation to the ground), altitude and direction of travel of the aircraft. Potential flight times range from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on payload and battery capacity. The e-volo team are also working on a commercial version of the manned multicopter, which they hope will be ready for the marketplace "at an affordable price" within the next few years. Video clip embedded in article.
The Coming Food Crisis-The Social Tsunami Headed Our Way - (Explore Journal - November 8, 2011)
Oxfam International reports, "The warning signs are clear. We have entered an age of crisis: of food price spikes and oil price hikes; of scrambles for land and water; of creeping, insidious climate change. The 2008 spike in food prices pushed some 100 million people into poverty. Price rises since June 2010 have done the same to 44 million more-equivalent to almost the entire population of Spain. Behind these shocking statistics lie millions of tragic individual stories of suffering as families struggle to cope with spiraling food prices, fall into debt and are left with no money to send their children to school or treat them when they get sick. These crises are spikes- often deadly-on a longer term trend of surging food instability." Food prices have already doubled once in the last few years. In the developing world where, according to the United Nations three-fourths of the population lives on less than $2 a day, when rice or wheat goes up a penny, thousands die. Right now the world's poorest people spend up to 80% of their tiny incomes on food. As with much of the developed world America's affluence has buffered a critical mass of us from such extreme sensitivity to supply and cost but that does not mean we are unscathed. Feeding America, the largest food program in the country, reported in 2010: "that hunger is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States, and our network is expanding its reach in response." The statistics of hunger in the U.S. as quoted in the article bear reading, for example: 36% of the households served by Feeding America have at least one person working.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Pay-to-Stay Prisons - (Nation of Change - November 12, 2011)
On October 8th the Riverside County (California) Board of Supervisors approved a measure that authorizes the municipality to begin charging prisoners $142.42 per day of their prison stay in an effort to save the county up to $5 million dollars per annum. A recent court ruling means that the state of California must reduce its prison population by approximately 32,000 prisoners within the next two years. But rather than free 32,000 low-level offenders, Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a law to transfer them to other "local facilities." Governor Brown's "realignment plan" is designed to ease prison overcrowding by sentencing thousands of nonviolent felons to county jails instead of state prisons, thereby shifting the economic burden from the state to municipalities. Brown defends "realignment" as a measure aimed both 1) reducing the state's corrections expenditures to free up additional outlays for public education and 2) accommodating a federal court order. California's adult prison population has grown from about 97,000 in 1990 to nearly 161,000 today, while the annual cost of incarceration during has risen from $20,562 per inmate to $47,101. (There are, by the way, currently over 2.3 million citizens incarcerated in the United States.) The corrections department now draws $9.8 billion from the state's general fund, or 11.4% of this year's spending plan. That is more than the state spends on the University of California and California State University systems combined. Over eighteen states, in fact, spend more on corrections than public education. (Editor's note: we can't imagine how these funds are going to be collected… or from whom.)
Unemployment, Homelessness Hit Veterans after Return from Conflict - (Free Speech Radio News - November 11, 2011)
An estimated 240,000 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed. Thousands more will be returning home in the coming months to a struggling economy. Without steady income, some vets will find themselves without stable housing. As Congress tries to make it easier for veterans to get hired, a new report paints a troubling picture of the nation's homeless vets. (Article is a 4.16 minute MP3 file which can be heard online or downloaded.)
Veteran Suicide: Are We Losing the Battle? - (Huffington Post - November 2, 2011)
Military suicides have increased since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a Center for a New American Security Suicide report. In the fiscal year 2009 alone, 1,868 veterans of these wars have made suicide attempts, according to armytimes.com. A veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes, a fact the study attributes to the Veterans' Administration (VA). These staggering figures underscore the need for the VA to develop more mental-health programs and an accurate system for recording the number of veterans and service members who take their lives. The Veterans Crisis Line, launched in 2007, has fielded more than 400,000 calls and has saved more than 14,000 lives, according to the Veterans Affairs mental health website. The epidemic is raging among those who are currently serving too. From 2005 to 2010, approximately one service member committed suicide every 36 hours, the CNAS study revealed.
Veterans Heeding Occupy Call to March - (Military.com - November 3, 2011)
Thousands of U.S. military veterans are heeding the rallying cry of Occupy Wall Street, saying corporate contractors in Iraq made big money while the troops defending them came home - and can't make a living now. Their unemployment rate outstrips the national average and is expected to worsen. They worry about preservation of First Amendment rights. And they're angry. "For 10 years, we have been fighting wars that have enriched the wealthiest 1 percent, decimated our economy and left our nation with a generation of traumatized and wounded veterans that will require care for years to come," said Carter, who leads the national Iraq Veterans Against the War group.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
And Congress' Rich Get Richer - (Roll Call - November 1, 2011)
An analysis of the net worth of members of Congress shows a 25% jump in wealth in just two years, led by the 50 richest members who account for nearly 80% of the institution's cumulative wealth. The bigger question: Are voters electing richer people to Congress or are members just outperforming the populace with their money?
South Korea Plans $50 Billion Fund to Pay for Unification With the North - (Bloomberg - November 1, 2011)
South Korea will set up a fund as early as this year to begin raising up to 55 trillion won ($50 billion) to pay for its eventual reunification with North Korea. Individual Koreans at home and abroad will be able to make donations to the fund and the government in Seoul may earmark money including budget surpluses, Unification Minister Yu Woo Ik said in his first interview since being sworn in on Sept. 19. "We cannot apply the German unification model to Korea as the North is much poorer and has a bigger population," said Moon Chung In, a professor of political science at Yonsei University in Seoul. "Germany had a strong economy while ours is still fragile."
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
We Are the 1% and We Stand with the 99% - (Nation of Change - November 10, 2011)
This is an op ed piece from a man "born lucky" as he puts it - and with a strong sense of social justice. "When the Occupy Wall Street protests began, I decided it was time for me to step up, publicly out myself as a part of the 1%, and share my outrage at the injustices that are occurring globally. I have to admit that this was scary for me, because I didn't know what kind of reaction I would get. After all, this was a movement of and for the 99%, many of whom seemed to have anger towards the 1%. With the streets of San Francisco crowded with protesters shouting "We are the 99%!" and "Whose streets? Our streets!" I was less than excited to walk out into the open with a giant sign confessing my status as the 1%." In this article, he recounts his experience of joining others on the street.
People "Are Occupying Wall Street Because Wall Street Has Occupied the Country" - (Huffington Post - November 2, 2011)
Journalist Bill Moyers was the keynote speaker at the 40th anniversary celebration of Ralph Nader's Public Citizen. In his speech, Moyers discusses the Occupy Wall Street movement and chronicles the history of America's middle class. This article is the text of his speech - in which he pulls absolutely no punches. "John Boehner calls on the bankers, holds out his cup, and offers them total obeisance from the House majority if only they fill it. That's now the norm, and they get away with it. GOP once again means Guardians of Privilege. Barack Obama criticizes bankers as "fat cats", then invites them to dine at a pricey New York restaurant where the tasting menu runs to $195 a person. That's now the norm, and they get away with it. Let's name this for what it is: Democratic deviancy defined further downward. Our politicians are little more than money launderers in the trafficking of power and policy - fewer than six degrees of separation from the spirit and tactics of Tony Soprano."
Bankers Blast Batali's Attack; Others Say 'Leave Mario Alone!' - (Bloomberg - November 11, 2011)
When Mario Batali, the New York- based restaurateur and celebrity chef, recently compared bankers to Hitler and Stalin, the response from patrons of Babbo and Del Posto in the financial industries was swift and furious. Batali quickly back-pedaled. (Editor's note: The article is a very clean demonstration of the possible effects of publicly stating that the "emperor has no clothes" - particularly when done in a politically insensitive manner and to the emperor. Whether Batali is in the 99% or actually in the 1% doesn't really matter; the point is that many people flourish in the shadow of the 1% and there can be costs to speaking out. That shouldn't necessarily stop anyone - it certainly did not stop Bill Moyers, see above - but one might wish to pause long enough to run a quick calculation - just to have an idea of what the future holds - before proceeding.) Apparently Batali wishes he had paused.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
China's Area 51 - (View Zone - no date)
The article includes very curious images taken from Google-Earth, with latitude and longitude coordinates. One hypothesis is that this is the Chinese "Area 51" where captured (alien?) technology is kept and tested. It is also near an area where the nuclear bombs were detonated many years ago. Supposedly the main laboratories are underground. Contact has been made with other "technology" (?). Possibly a new propulsion system was being tested but it was not well controlled and could not be stabilized. An accident happened and the device blew up. Reportedly, the area is very contaminated now. The article encourages readers to "Check this for yourself with Google-Earth and let us know what you find."
The End of Population Growth - (Nation of Change - October 31, 2011)
"[I]t is likely that world population will peak at nine billion in the 2050's, a half-century sooner than generally anticipated, followed by a sharp decline." Most countries conducted their national population census last year, and the data suggest that fertility rates are plunging in most of them. Birth rates have been low in developed countries for some time, but now they are falling rapidly in the majority of developing countries. Chinese, Russians, and Brazilians are no longer replacing themselves, while Indians are having far fewer children. Indeed, global fertility will fall to the replacement rate in a little more than a decade. Population may keep growing until mid-century, owing to rising longevity, but, reproductively speaking, our species should no longer be expanding.
America's "Oh Sh*t" Moment - (Daily Beast - October 30, 2011)
The latest World Economic Forum (WEF) Executive Opinion Survey found that on no fewer than 15 of 16 different issues relating to property rights and governance, the United States fares worse than Hong Kong. Indeed, the U.S. makes the global top 20 in only one area: investor protection. On every other count, its reputation is shockingly bad. The U.S. ranks 86th in the world for the costs imposed on business by organized crime, 50th for public trust in the ethics of politicians, 42nd for various forms of bribery, and 40th for standards of auditing and financial reporting. The latest data on "mathematical literacy" reveal that the gap between the world leaders - the students of Shanghai and Singapore - and their American counterparts is now as big as the gap between U.S. kids and teenagers in Albania and Tunisia. (Editor's note: in particular, the article's demographical statistics are worth noting; they are embedded in a larger argument also worth reading even though the suggestions appear somewhat simplistic.)
More 25-34 Year Olds Living with Parents - (Wall St. Journal - November 7, 2011)
The tough economy and the housing bust have rejiggered many Americans' living arrangements. This year, about 14.2% of the 42 million people aged 25 to 34 are living in their parents' homes. That compares with 10.6% in 2000. Put another way, there are1.5 million people under Mom and Dad's roof who, in better times, would probably be under their own.
Net Worth of Younger Americans Has Fallen 68% Since 1984 - (Daily Kos - November 7, 2011)
In 2009, the median net worth (all assets minus all debts) of households headed by an adult ages 65 or older was 42% more than that of their same-aged counterparts in 1984. By contrast, the net worth of a typical household headed by an adult under the age of 35 in 2009 was 68% less than that of their same-aged counterparts in 1984. People generally accumulate wealth as they age, so it is not unusual to find large age-based gaps on this measure. However, the current gap is unprecedented. In 1984, the age-based wealth gap had been 10:1. By 2009, it had ballooned to 47:1.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Engineering the 10,000-Year Clock - (IEEE - November, 2011)
The 10,000-Year Clock is a monument-sized mechanical clock designed to measure time for 10 millennia. Danny Hillis, an electrical engineer with three degrees from MIT who pioneered parallel supercomputers at Thinking Machines Corp., worked for Walt Disney Imagineering, and then cofounded the consultancy Applied Minds, dreamed up the project in 1995 to get people thinking more about the distant future. But the clock is no longer just a thought experiment. In a cluttered machine shop in San Rafael, Calif., it's finally ticking to life. Over the course of its 10 000-year life span, it will be able to power itself enough to keep time, synchronize that timekeeping with the sun, and randomly generate unique melodies on its chimes so that visitors will never hear the same tune twice. And it will do so entirely without electricity. Think of it as "the slowest computer in the world," says project manager Alexander Rose. But that's just a description of the clock; the article is worth reading for the thinking behind it.
Thought Control: Move Objects With Your Mind - (You Tube - November 11, 2011)
The BodyWave, a new iPod-size device that straps onto your arm, allows the mind to control objects on a computer screen (without using the Force). The technology is complicated, but the implications are staggering. What if you could wear a device that told you when your brain was focused enough to make a split-second decision (such as when to put a scalpel into a patient or when to make a put on the 18th green)? By measuring beta waves, the device can determine when your concentration has peaked - and therefore when your brain is functioning optimally and ready to make an important decision.
Bank Simple is Now Accepting Its First Customers - (Tech Crunch - November 8, 2011)
BankSimple, the well-funded startup that's setting out to build 'a bank that doesn't suck', is now allowing its first users into the service. And to mark the occasion, it's announcing another major change: the company is now just called Simple (and yes, they own Simple.com). The service partners with FDIC-insured banks to allow consumers to make purchases with a Simple credit card, pay bills, earn interest, and track savings goals without banging up against traditional bank services fees and bureaucracy. Simple isn't a bank itself - it's working with FDIC-insured banks that will handle your money, as it serves as the more human-friendly frontend. To be clear, this is still a limited beta. If you go to Simple.com you'll note that you need an invitation, but it marks the first time that non-employees will be able to use the service.
An Artist for President - (Art Week LA - October 31, 2011)
Susanna Dakin's new book, An Artist for President, is a personal reflection of her journey crossing the blurry boundary between art and politics. In 1984, she became a presidential candidate intent on illustrating that "the Nation is an artwork and we the people are its artists." Dakin, an audacious artist/citizen, traveled the nation meeting people and talking about the intersection of creativity, politics and spirituality. Traveling mostly by rail through rural towns, large cities and the nation's capital, she sometimes received a surprisingly serious hearing. This book, coming more than a quarter of a century after her campaign, is a story of that journey and Dakin's commitment to the possibility that all citizens really can participate in the ongoing creation of our nation.
Grateful-ology - (UT Health Leader - November 21, 2007)
If you start practicing now, you could be grateful by Thanksgiving. Not only that, your marriage could improve, you might be exercising more, feel less depressed, sleep better, have a healthier heart, more life satisfaction, and increase your chances of living longer. This may sound like a late-night ad that comes with a free set of steak knives (...and that's not all!), but a growing body of research shows that gratitude is truly amazing in its physical and psychosocial benefits. And several studies have shown depression to be strongly inversely related to gratitude; the article lists 4 reasons that may underlie this fact.
Magnetic 'Death Vortex' Now Approaching - (Before It's News - November 3, 2011)
Almost a century ago, the Russian scientist Alexander Chizhevsky founded the diverse sciences of astrobiology, heliobiology, and historiometry. He liked to study cycles and brought his extensive knowledge of physiology, biophysics and astrophysics to the study of the sun's cycles. Studying the sun's cycles, he was able to correlate the data and show the link between the sun and Earth's climate, and how the solar maximum and minimum cycles affects planetary life: specifically the functioning of the brain. The scientist revealed that the geomagnetic field surrounding the planet was one of the primary influences of the entire biosphere. Digging deeper into the data, he realized that intense solar storms deeply affects the cognitive process of human and animal brains, and the primal emotions. He argued his findings showed geomagnetic storms cause terrible changes in the minds of populations, drive epidemics and insect infestations, affect weather creating monster storms, and leads to societal upheavals, civil wars, revolutions, and so on. In 1963, Dr. Robert Becker and his colleague, Dr. Freedman, corroborated Chizhevsky's work. They proved intense solar activity leads directly to psychotic outbreaks and mass insanity. Twice nominated for the Nobel Prize, Becker was a full professor at the State University of New York. Beware the solar maximum of 2011-2012.
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.
Rebels and Messiahs: 10 Spiritual Ancestors for Occupy Wall Street - (Huffington Post - November 7, 2011)
We started to make a list of people throughout history who might be considered Occupy Wall Street's spiritual forefathers and mothers, but it got ridiculously long. So with great difficulty the list has been narrowed down to ten. There are rebels, organizers, poets, a conservative icon, and a surprise entry or two. Each reflects some part of the heart, soul, and spirit of the movement.
How Much is Waiting for the Cable Guy Costing You? - (USA Today - (November 5, 2011)
People often joke about how much waiting for the cable guy and other service people is costing them - in time and billable hours. Now someone has actually done the math. Hint: the number isn't pretty. And, if you've had it with waiting, you're not alone: The survey found 58% of Americans suffered fist-pounding frustration, waiting on somebody for something, in the past year.
JUST FOR FUN
The Life of Flowers - (Vorobyoff Production - August 19, 2011)
Winter is nearly upon us, but just to remind you that spring will return, here is about 2 ½ minutes of gorgeous time-lapse photography of flowers bursting into bloom. The video clip was assembled by Vorobyoff Production, located in Astana, Kazakhstan; the flower photography came from "Artbeats" (artbeats.com).
Clarke and Dawe - Quantitative Easing - (You Tube - October 19, 2011)
Two British comedians (posing as a television interviewer and an economist) explain quantitative easing with a dry wit and a wink. For their analysis of the Greek situation, see: this video.
A FINAL QUOTE...Well, two quotations this time, two that fit snugly, back-to-back:
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. - Anaïs Nin
How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. - Annie Dillard
A special thanks to: JoAnn Burnett, Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Tom Dillin, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Kurzweil AI, James Lee, Sergio Lub, Diane Petersen, Petra Pieterse, Stu Rose, Gary Sycolik, Steve Ujvarosy, Heidi Waltos, and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along - thanks.
Edited by John L. Petersen