FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT...
- The KG5 drug offers a new approach against cancer that works by blocking the function of proliferation of the malignant cells which then commit suicide because they can't multiply.
- By acting on a genome regulator (NCoR1), researchers were able to modulate the activity of certain genes, creating a strain of mighty mice whose muscles were twice a strong as those of normal mice. The mice with the mutation became true marathoners, capable of running faster and longer before showing any signs of fatigue.
- The average farmer in Japan is now 65.8 years old and that figure is rising steadily - but a wave of Japanese young people are becoming attracted to farming and a rural lifestyle.
- A new generation of contact lenses that project images (such as your email) in front of the eyes is a step closer after successful animal trials.
by John L. Petersen
This Would Be a Good Time to Help
We're approaching the end of our 14th year of publishing this free newsletter. During that time we've tried to provide you with information and a perspective that you can't find anywhere else. The many, kind responses that I receive from FE readers suggest that they have been regularly moved, provoked and informed by this little bi-monthly horizon-scanning endeavor that we started so many years ago.
Even though it costs us about $20,000 per year to publish FE (not counting my time!), we've been able to provide FUTUREdition to you at no cost because a number of generous friends and readers have contributed to covering some of those costs. We've had sponsors, philanthropic folks, and just plain readers who have valued what we are doing and pitched in to keep things going. I can assure you that we've never made any profit on FE and frankly, have always operated at a loss.
I'm told that over 25,000 people read FE each issue. If just one thousand of those of you who benefit from our efforts decided that it was worth $15 to keep FE showing up in your inbox 23 times a year we'd be a good way toward covering our costs. If you wanted to give more than that, it would help even more.
So, perhaps during this holiday season, you'd like to chip in. I can certainly assure you that we need and will efficiently use any contributions that you might send our way. Here's a link to an easy place to make a contribution.
Thanks so very much for considering becoming a part of our effort in this way.
Holy Crap! Holy Crap! Holy Crap!
Things are getting weird. Very disconcerting reports are surfacing daily about activities - whether about financial, climate, government, science, or technical issues - that are so different from what we have found familiar, that one could charitably suggest that things are truly getting more unsettling by the day. Let me walk you through a number of these indicators that have shown up here in the last couple of weeks . . . and then suggest a way to position one's self in order to effectively deal with the extraordinary change.
Try to stay with me here if you can. If you jump off half-way through, this could be quite depressing - which is certainly not how I'd like to leave you.
In the last issue of FE I listed a number of initiatives and capabilities that are now in place which allow the government to track many aspects of where you are and what you are doing. I got a number of responses to that litany including some new submissions for my consideration, one of which came from a number of friends. This Bloomberg Businessweek piece, which arrived in one case in an email titled "Holy Crap! Holy Crap! Holy Crap!" details an extraordinary new technology - named Palantir - that originated with one of the founders of PayPal, and uses a highly pumped-up capability that started with financial fraud monitoring programs to now link almost every kind of database you can think of together to focus on the past and current activities of an individual.
Please read this piece first before proceeding.
This kind of technology is now being used on nonviolent protesters across this country to coordinate civil and military responses to the protests. There is a clear militarization of our police forces that has even very small jurisdictions - like the little county where I live in West Virginia - fielding SWAT teams trained to breakdown doors and subdue people like military units. In this article, "How Could This Happen in America?" Why Police Are Treating Americans Like Military Threats, the erosion of the line between law enforcement and the military is clear.
You might ask, "What is really underneath all of this amazing domestic militarization and the growing disenchantment felt by increasing numbers of Americans?" Why is the government reacting the way it is? The magnitude of this militarization and the extraordinary fear that the government exhibits about protesting groups must have a deeper, unstated reasons than just the need to "keep the peace". Here is where the deeper truths begin to surface.
Read this Guardian article, The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy, very carefully. Think about whether the ideas advanced are reasonable and credible. If what is suggested here is true, then we are seeing the beginning of a major tear in the fabric in the American society that has the possibility - if not likelihood - of turning into an inflection point that completely reorganizes how we Americans live.
The direction and velocity of this social change will be influenced by other pieces of the larger system. Many indicators suggest that the Eurozone is about to crater - and those problems are already affecting China and the US financial systems. If it comes apart in the next few weeks, the reverberations could/would exacerbate the whole domestic social situation. Of course, if Israel is successful in starting a war with Iran, that too would send many things into different directions.
The potential implications of these early social indicators are hard to overstate. Already, multiple academically minded authors are writing pieces comparing the structural prerequisites of historical social revolutions with what is happening in this country today. Here's one of a couple that I've seen in the last few days. This Is What Revolution Looks Like.
The Future Is Here Already
If you think that this analysis is farfetched, then you should consider these next two things. (You need to stay with me here. Trust me. This will make sense.)
Jacques Vallee recently made a TEDx presentation in Brussels about the new physics that he sees emerging in the coming decades. About fifteen minutes into his interesting talk, Vallee mentions that mainstream physics is now starting to understand time, as it relates to our human experience, in quite different ways. He references the work of Dr. Philippe Guillemant of CNRS (author of La Route du Temps), who has proposed that:
The future is already realized and in transformation under the influence of our observations and intentions
Synchronicities are caused by a "double causality": our intentions cause effects in the future that become the future causes of present effects.
Did you follow that? He says that that future has already happened and emerges from how we presently see things and what we intend. He's saying that the future gives itself away in the present - if we just know where to look. The human collective unconscious already knows the future . . . and consciousness is causal: what we intend becomes manifest.
There are lots of potential implications to that very strange notion, but one thing it means is that in order to see into the future (the big chunks, at least), we just need to recognize the weak signals in our present reality that point to what is about to emerge from the cosmic, energetic soup.
Well, there's one little outfit that has figured out where to look - very specifically. The webot folks at www.HalfPastHuman.com have a very sophisticated and complex approach that looks at the use of human language across the planet as they extract it from the Web. If you think about it, where would be a better place to look for indication of the intentions and the early indicators of approaching ideas-about-to-become-manifest than in what people say. Here's how they describe it.
Here at Half Past Human we forecast the future.
We are not alone in forecasting the future, all humans do it to some degree. Just a quick search of the internet will provide dozens of forms of future forecasting. Some use astrology, some use other methods.
We employ a technique based on radical linguistics to reduce extracts from readings of dynamic postings on the internet into an archetypical database. With this database of archtypical language, we calculate the rate of change of the language. The forecasts of the future are derived from these calculations. Our calculations are based on a system of associations between words and numeric values for emotional responses from those words. These 'emotional impact indicators' are also of our own devising. They are attached to a data base of over 300/three hundred thousand words. This data base of linked words/phrases and emotions is our lexicon from which the future forecasting is derived.
We call our future viewing the ALTA reports for 'asymetric language trend analysis'. The ALTA reports are available by subscription.
These guys sent out web crawlers (webots) that collect all of the appropriate information they're looking for and bring it back to them.
It turns out that they are really quite accurate, particularly on very big events. I've read other places better than 50% accuracy (which is interestingly good, compared to most other approaches). They officially say:
Even by our own rigorous standards, our forecasts are proving out better than mere chance would allow. Our track record is being tested with each new report series. So far, so good. We have a very high rate of returning subscribers (over 90%) which is likely an indication of needs being met.
So, what does Clif High (the chief time monk, as he calls himself) say about the coming months? Hold on to your hat.
It's your fault...
with respect, let us be clear.
At this time, and for a period that i have reason to suspect extends to March of next year, a delicate balance exists in the planetary social body.
A small number of psychopaths will end that balance with a global war of such proportions that most humans will NOT survive it.
Let me restate this for clarity: the small number of people who rule this planet are proceeding with their plans to engage the masses of humanity to fight each other until most are dead.
This is their intent. They have chosen a day in March of next year that represents certain symbolic energies in their twisted understanding of universe to escalate to the next level of their horror show.
Even now the aware observer sees daily maneuvering in their propaganda media to vilify an enemy and to spark contention and divide humanity along the artificial lines of the geopolitical map drawn by our 'masters'.
The collapse of the paper money system is in play as the distraction for those humans not content with 'bread and circus', nor the broadcast pabulum for damaged minds (the 'news').
All this so that armies are not observed as they are set in motion.
But this is an old, even ancient story, and we have all seen it before...just as we are now seeing it again.
This time, however, new special effects will be added to this war. This time, the actual horror of scalar (quanta affective energy weapons) will be thrown into the regular terror of metals and chemicals searing through soft human flesh.
It is underway now, this 'next war'. One only need look around carefully to watch as they, the psychopaths (some of whom you call 'leaders'), wage war on humanity.
You see, it has never been us against each other. No, the ONLY war ever has been the psychopaths against us, humanity. In fact, and in spite of appearances to the contrary, every war in the past has always been 'them' against 'us'.
THE problem is that we let the psychopaths decide who is 'us', and who is 'them'.
For my part, i am with humans. This makes me 'against' them, the psychopaths. They won't understand that, being so blinded by their own surety of purity they are certain that everyone wants to be them, but even the psychopaths will understand that right now, a state of grace exists.
This is a special time, to the educated palate the karios of the moment imparts a dark, and bitter-sweet flavor.
At this juncture, humanity, the whole stinking roiling contentious disparate, and dysfunctional mass of us, over these next few precious months, needs to learn to ALL live together, for surely, if we let the psychopaths begin this next war, we will ALL die together.
This one thing is true: they are not in control, you are. Remember, if this shit war happens, it is your fault.
OK, you don't have to believe all of that . . . but it does represent a data point in a cluster of indicators in a trend line that certainly isn't going up. And I don't know about the psychopath war starters, but there obviously are some folks who are hell bent to start another middle east war.
Now, here is where I don't want you to leave. If you quit reading now it would be hard to generate hope. In fact, when I collect and analyze these kinds of things, I'm left feeling a bit like Clif High, with no sense of how humanity might be able to extract itself from the predicament that we've driven ourselves into. There are too many huge, moving pieces, all of which are going the wrong way, to believe that anything - absent the arrival of space aliens who threaten us (either physically or psychically) so that we dramatically change our ways -- is waiting in the wings to provide quick salvation for all. This is not going to be fun.
Well, it's not going to be fun from a conventional point of view. But, it's quite another thing to consider the unconventional approach to dealing with this epochal shift.
The Best Approach Must Be Unconventional
Here's my sense of things. This whole situation is very weird and very strange . . . and very disruptive. It's very unconventional. Many signs point to our being on the edge of a no-kidding paradigm shift that is driven by cosmic energies coming out of the center of the galaxy and out of our sun in ways that no one alive has ever experienced. Serious science is saying that. For example, there are multiple studies now that historically correlate these energetic bursts from the Milky Way and Sun with crazy, violent behavior by men which result in wars and social disruption. Ring a bell? There are also studies that suggest that our DNA is being changed by this cosmic shower that appears will be around for the next decade or two, and that capabilities that are not now generally active in humans (remember all of that "junk" DNA that science doesn't understand?) may well be activated. It's nothing less than an evolutionary jump for the species. Again, if you're not willing to consider that possibility, skip the rest of this. It's only going to get weirder.
So, if this is an evolutionary jump, neither understanding our present situation nor finding a successful approach to dealing with the disruption ahead will lend themselves in any serious way to conventional analysis or prescriptions. So, by definition, we have to look elsewhere - quite out of the box.
Now, if you're unwilling to consider possibilities that are not familiar and are not explained by "science" and conventional experts, then you will not cotton to what I am about to propose here. If, for example, you think that reality is only what you sense with your five senses - and nothing more - then the solutions that follow will seem foolish at best and certainly not consistent with "human nature." But, if you're willing to honestly think about other options that seem to be providing great encouragement to many people, then hang in there. Here we go.
It's All Consciousness
Let me set the stage by mentioning the story of Dr. Eben Alexander III: Neurosurgeon's Near-Death Experience Defies Medical Model of Consciousness
Dr. Alexander, a renowned academic neurosurgeon, spent 54 years honing his scientific worldview. He thought he knew how the brain and mind worked. A transcendental Near-Death Experience (NDE), in which he was driven to the brink of death and spent a week deep in coma from an inexplicable brain infection, changed all of that - completely!
He was shocked to find the hyper-reality of that spiritual realm, which many had reported in NDEs. He has spent the last two and a half years reconciling his rich spiritual experience with contemporary physics and cosmology. His spiritual experience is totally consistent with the leading edges of scientific understanding today.
As he first returned from coma, all memories from his prior life, including knowledge of his loved ones, of humans and our universe, were gone. Even words, and his very faculty of language, were initially absent. His memories from deep within coma were a patchwork quilt, a stream of consciousness, without obvious temporal flow and order. He recalled a blend of the monotonous "Earthworm's Eye View" of the world, and a richly vivid, highly interactive and awe-provoking realm of brilliant beauty (the "Alternate Dimension"). Deep in "The Core", he (as Universal Consciousness) was shown fundamental truths of the Universe by the Omnisapient (or Creator, or Source, or God) and the Orb of Light.
More specifically, Dr. Alexander has said, "One thing that we will have to let go of is this kind of addiction to simplistic, primitive reductive materialism because there's really no way that I can see a reductive materialist model coming remotely in the right ballpark to explain what we really know about consciousness now.
"Coming from a neurosurgeon who, before my coma, thought I was quite certain how the brain and the mind interacted and it was clear to me that there were many things I could do or see done on my patients and it would eliminate consciousness. It was very clear in that realm that the brain gives you consciousness and everything else and when the brain dies there goes consciousness, soul, mind-it's all gone. And it was clear.
"Now, having been through my coma, I can tell you that's exactly wrong and that in fact the mind and consciousness are independent of the brain. It's very hard to explain that, certainly if you're limiting yourself to that reductive materialist view."
I've introduced this story about Dr. Alexander only because in both experiential and scientific terms, here is a very credible source (among many others), who has come to the conclusion that we live in a multi-dimensional reality. There is another space that surrounds us that is very much active and alive, even if invisible to most of us.
Einstein famously said that a problem cannot be solved from the same level that at which it was created. This is exactly a situation like that. It is in this alternative space of consciousness - that non-logical dimension, if you will - where the solution space exists. All of us live in this space. Most of us just don't know it or know how to use it to our advantage.
A New Dawn Awaits
Many sources suggest that the planet and all of us with it are moving into an area in the galaxy that has a different cosmic energetic composition than where we've come from and are familiar with. In this space things behave differently. One way in which it different is that human consciousness can influence the way physical reality manifests more directly and efficiently. The leading edge of research (supported by tons of ancient writings) is discovering, as Dr. Alexander experienced, that consciousness is causal. The way we think and feel directly shapes the life that we experience.
I'm not going to unpack all of consciousness studies here, but each of us has been in a room with someone who was much happier and cheerier than we were. It was the same room with the same people standing around, but they were experiencing quite a different reality than we were. Why? Because they were simply thinking and feeling differently than we were. There's a lot that can be said about this, but essentially, that's all there is to it. They were in a different space of consciousness.
The most important thing to understand is that each of us can control what we think and feel. We can choose what we think about and we can quite easily introduce joyful, happy and grateful feelings . . . if we try. If we consciously and systematically choose to enter into this much more benign space throughout the day, it will change our reality.
This all gets even bizarrer, for not only do we feel better and see the world through a different set of eyes, but in a strange way that isn't at all clear, the world around us begins to change to conform to the feelings that we have generated.
You could think of this, I suppose, as a head and heart thing. If we mostly operate out of our head, logically trying to understand and make reason out of our sense-created reality, then we are going to see no way out of the collapsing systems that are caving in all around us.
On the other hand, if we change our feelings and perspectives - operating from the heart - we now enter the place where we can literally change the reality - and the future - that evolves. That's what Dr. Guillemant was saying: if we change the way we intend and feel, we will reach out and influence the future that subsequently comes our way.
As it turns out, this approach appears to be the key to effectively transiting from this imploding reality to a new one that appears to be on the horizon.
I certainly cannot do justice to these ideas in this space, but I can recommend a wonderful book that I just read this week that really does illuminate what is happening to us and how we can practically change the way we live and exist so as to help to bring a new world into existence. It's called A New Dawn Awaits: The Times Ahead and How to Shift Your Consciousness. The author, E.Dee Conrad, came by and said hi to me at a book fair that I was participating in here in Berkeley Springs last weekend. I read the book in a couple of hours and was quite taken with the clarity, practicality and deep wisdom that emerged.
The major sections are titled: Universal Consciousness and the Origins of the Universe; The Way Forward - Choosing Our Future; One Person Can Make a Difference; and There Are No Secrets.
The liner notes say: Humanity is at a crossroads - the future is ours to choose. The coming years will be full of unprecedented challenges on many levels - spiritual, physical, emotional, and financial. Those who will best survive this transition will be those who are willing to shift to the next level of consciousness and a new way of being. In this channeled work, E.Dee Conrad brings together the wisdom of the ages and shows us how to access the knowledge that has been part of our consciousness, but has been dormant for eons. The time has come to reach inwards into our divine essence and outwards to the energy that connects us as ONE humanity. This book is a powerful reminder that the end is not near but the future is - humanity is poised to reclaim its magnificence.
I asked E.Dee to bring me some books and we're offering them with free shipping here. I'm excited enough about this book that I'll happily buy it back if you decide that it isn't exactly your cup of tea. That's pretty much a no risk deal!
Sacred Economics Video Course
In the last issue of FUTUREdition I mentioned 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.
Charles has seriously considered (and written) about substantive change . . . and his ideas are really quite fascinating. I thought you might like knowing about Charles' upcoming video 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.
Warmest wishes for the holidays. Help support FUTUREdition, if you can!
Weird World of Water Gets a Little Weirder - (Science Daily - November 9, 2011)
Scientists are reporting that H2O, when chilled below the freezing point, can shift into a new type of liquid. The report appears in ACS' Journal of Physical Chemistry B. Pradeep Kumar and H. Eugene Stanley explain that water exhibits more than 80 unusual properties, including some that scientists still struggle to understand. For example, scientists have proposed that water can go from being one type of liquid into another in a so-called "liquid-liquid" phase transition, but it is impossible to test this with today's laboratory equipment because these things happen so fast. That's why Kumar and Stanley used computer simulations to check it out.
'Brinicle' Ice Finger of Death Filmed in Antarctic - (BBC News - November 23, 2011)
Using time-lapse cameras, for the first time specialists were able to photograph the effects of salt water being excluded from the sea ice and sinking. The temperature of this sinking brine, which was well below 0C, caused the water to freeze in an icy sheath around it. Where the so-called "brinicle" met the sea bed, a web of ice formed that froze everything it touched, including sea urchins and starfish. Article includes a short, fascinating video clip.
Earth's Core Deprived of Oxygen - (Science Daily - November 23, 2011)
At Earth's center are a liquid outer core and a solid inner core. Scientists know that the liquid outer core consists mainly of iron, but it is believed that small amounts of some other elements are present as well. Oxygen is the most abundant element in the planet, so it is not unreasonable to expect oxygen might be one of the dominant "light elements" in the core. The light elements are thought to play an important role in driving the convection of the liquid outer core, which generates Earth's magnetic field. New research from a team including Carnegie's Yingwei Fei shows that oxygen does not have a major presence in the outer core. This has major implications for our understanding of the period when Earth formed through the accretion of dust and clumps of matter.
How to Turn Darkness into Light - (Physics World - November 17, 2011)
Quantum mechanics tells us that the vacuum is not empty but is filled with virtual particles that pop into and out of existence. Normally these particles are hidden from our view, but now a team of physicists has used the electrical equivalent of an ultrafast mirror to convert virtual photons into real electromagnetic radiation. Known as the dynamical Casimir effect, it was first predicted more than 40 years ago.
Faster-than-Light Neutrino Result Queried - (BBC News - November 21, 2011)
The team at the INFN-Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy said they had measured faster-than-light speeds in neutrinos sent from Cern, 730km away. Now a different team at the same lab reports findings that, they say, cast doubt on that surprising result. The Icarus team at Cern says that because the neutrinos sent from Cern do not appear to lose energy on their journey, they must not have exceeded the speed of light along the way. The momentous nature of the finding has sparked a flurry of papers and ideas to challenge or support the idea that particles can travel faster than the speed of light. However, it is clear the issue is unlikely to be conclusively resolved until the results of similar experiments around the world are published in the coming months.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
Wonder Drug to Kill off Cancer - (Express - November 14, 2011)
The KG5 drug is a new approach that works by stopping tumor cells from multiplying. They then shut themselves down. Study leader Professor David Cheresh, of the School of Medicine at UC, San Diego, said the drug "blocks the function of proliferation" and the malignant cells commit suicide when they can't multiply. Effective in tests against pancreatic, breast and kidney cancers, it could well have a positive effect on a broad range of other tumors. KG5 works in a totally different way to traditional therapies by altering the structure of a cancer growth protein, an enzyme known as RAF. The drug could be available in as little as five years.
New MRI Technique to Diagnose or Rule out Alzheimer's Disease - (Science Daily - November 16, 2011)
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have found a new way of diagnosing and tracking Alzheimer's disease, using an innovative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique called arterial spin labeling (ASL) to measure changes in brain function. The team determined that the ASL-MRI test is a promising alternative to the current standard, a specific PET scan that requires exposure to small amounts of a radioactive glucose analog and costs approximately four times more than an ASL-MRI. "In brain tissue, regional blood flow is tightly coupled to regional glucose consumption, which is the fuel the brain uses to function. Increases or decreases in brain function are accompanied by changes in both blood flow and glucose metabolism," explained John A. Detre, MD, professor of Neurology and Radiology at Penn, and senior author. "We designed ASL-MRI to allow cerebral blood flow to be imaged noninvasively and quantitatively using a routine MRI scanner."
Pfizer's Latest Twist: Pay for Delay - (Nation of Change - November 23, 2011)
Pharmaceutical companies have sought for years to protect their expensive brand-name drugs by paying generic rivals handsome sums of money to put off efforts to introduce cheaper, generic alternatives that could steal market share. The controversial practice, known as "pay for delay", typically buys a brand-name drug company more time to sell its blockbuster drug exclusively until its patent on the drug expires. Federal Trade Commission regulators have said the practice costs consumers an estimated $3.5 billion each year, and have pushed for a ban. But now it appears the drug company Pfizer is adding yet another twist to its efforts to delay generic competitors. As the New York Times reports, the company appears to have struck a deal with certain pharmacy benefit managers, the middlemen in the pharmaceutical industry (rather than rival drug companies), to block generic versions of Lipitor. Lipitor is the best-selling drug ever, accounting for $106 billion sales over the last decade, or almost one-quarter of Pfizer's total.
Tweaking a Gene Makes Muscles Twice as Strong: New Avenue for Treating Muscle Degeneration - (Science Daily - November 21, 2011)
An international team of scientists has created super-strong, high-endurance mice and worms by suppressing a natural muscle-growth inhibitor, suggesting treatments for age-related or genetics-related muscle degeneration are within reach. The scientists found that a tiny inhibitor may be responsible for determining the strength of our muscles. By acting on a genome regulator (NCoR1), they were able to modulate the activity of certain genes, creating a strain of mighty mice whose muscles were twice a strong as those of normal mice. The mice with the mutation became true marathoners, capable of running faster and longer before showing any signs of fatigue. "This could be used to combat muscle weakness in the elderly, which leads to falls and contributes to hospitalizations," lead author Jean Auwerx says. "In addition, we think that this could be used as a basis for developing a treatment for genetic muscular dystrophy." He added that if these results are confirmed in humans, there's no question they will attract interest from athletes as well as medical experts.
Ozone from Rock Fracture Could Serve as Earthquake Early Warning - (Science Daily - November 17, 2011)
Scientists in the lab of Raúl A. Baragiola, a professor of engineering physics in the University of Virginia, set up experiments to measure ozone produced by crushing or drilling into different igneous and metamorphic rocks, including granite, basalt, gneiss, rhyolite and quartz. Different rocks produced different amounts of ozone, with rhyolite producing the strongest ozone emission. Baragiola began the study by wondering if animals, which seem -- at least anecdotally -- to be capable of anticipating earthquakes, may be sensitive to changing levels of ozone, and therefore able to react in advance to an earthquake. It occurred to him that if fracturing rocks create ozone, then ozone detectors might be used as warning devices in the same way that animal behavioral changes might be indicators of seismic activity. He said the research has several implications.
Extreme Weather Will Strike as Climate Change Takes Hold, IPCC warns - (Guardian - November 18, 2011)
Heavier rainfall, fiercer storms and intensifying droughts are likely to strike the world in the coming decades as climate change takes effect, the world's leading climate scientists said. This could wipe billions off economies and destroy lives. Rising sea levels will increase the vulnerability of coastal areas, and the increase in "extreme weather events" will wipe billions off national economies and destroy lives, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body of the world's leading climate scientists convened by the United Nations. Scientists have warned of these effects for years, but the most recent report - the "special report on extreme weather" compiled over two years by 220 scientists - is the first comprehensive examination of scientific knowledge on the subject, in an attempt to produce a definitive judgment.
As Glaciers Melt, Bhutan Faces Increased Risk of 'Mountain Tsunamis' - (Time - November 16, 2011)
The Kingdom of Bhutan, tucked between India and China in the foothills of the Himalaya mountain range, is paying the price for global industrialization. Climate change is causing many Himalayan glaciers to melt in increasingly unstable ways, and there are concerns about the long term viability of the ice in a warmer world. Water flows from these melting glaciers until it breaks the natural ice dams that hold it in place. That, in turn, can result in devastating floods like the one that occurred in 1994, when a torrent of mud killed dozens of people in Bhutan and wiped out entire villages. Western scientists call this phenomenon a glacial-lake-outburst flood, or GLOF. With 24 of its 2,674 glacial lakes considered unstable, Bhutan is preparing in the coming years for even deadlier "mountain tsunamis," as the phenomenon is sometimes referred to.
Will Your Mall Be Tracking Your Cellphone Today? - (Time - November 25, 2011)
As millions of Americans flock to the malls in pursuit of holiday deals, some of those malls will be tracking customers by their cellphone signals. The technology comes from U.K.-based Path Intelligence, who have installed their FootPath system in shopping centers across Europe and Australia. It works like this: A network of monitoring units are set up across a mall to track shoppers' cellphone signals, locating them within a couple of meters. The data is then fed to a central processing center. Afterwards, management can gain insight into their customers' shopping habits, letting them know which stores complement each other or which pathways have the most foot traffic so they can allocate their maintenance crews and ad posters accordingly. Great for the malls? Sure. Great for consumer privacy? That's where it gets complicated.
Bionic Contact Lens to Project Emails Before Eyes - (BBC News - November 21, 2011)
A new generation of contact lenses that project images in front of the eyes is a step closer after successful animal trials, say scientists. The concept is to stream real-time information in front of the eyes. The technology could allow wearers to read floating texts and emails or augment their sight with computer-generated images, Terminator-syle. Early tests show the device is safe and feasible, says the University of Washington in Seattle. But there are still wrinkles to iron out, like finding a good power source.
An MIT Student is Developing a Lie Detector for the Internet - (The Next Web - November 22, 2011)
According to Nieman Journalism Lab, an graduate student of MIT is developing a way to check for lying in political writing as easily as you check for spelling errors. In a partnership with PolitiFact, Dan Schultz is looking to "bridge the gap between the corpus of facts and the actual media consumption experience." That's a lot of words to say this - it will know when you're full of crap. The project is using natural language processing to verify facts, via API, against the information contained in PolitiFact. That is to say that it's not able to tell a lie from the truth on its own, but rather it does so by pulling in data on phrases that are in a system. Sometime next year, when the project is finished, Schultz plans to open-source it and then the abilities should grow.
Sharp Announces "World's Most Efficient" Solar Cell - (Tom's Guide - November 7, 2011)
Sharp claims to have developed the world's most efficient solar cell, a triple-layer cell which achieves a conversion efficiency of 36.9%. The solar cell is based on triple-junction compound technology, similar to cells that were used in NASA's Mars rovers. Sharp's announcement may be a little overstated. U.S.-based Spire Semiconductor announced in October 2010 a triple-junction cell that had a claimed 42.3% efficiency. The mass market photovoltaics industry usually trails the best-performing solar cells by two to three years. The good news is that a substantial improvement in efficiency can be anticipated.
The Future of Nano-Electric Power Generation - (You Tube - October 28, 2011)
Justin Hall-Tipping, CEO of Nanoholdings, explains how nanotechnology is about to change the future of energy and replace fossil and nuclear fuels.
Inside TSA Scanners: How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA - (Helium - December 12, 2010)
While the application of scientific knowledge creates technology, sometimes the technology is later redefined by science. Such is the case with terahertz (THz) radiation, the energy waves that drive the technology of the TSA: back scatter airport scanners. THz waves are found between microwaves and infrared on the electromagnetic spectrum. Over the past several years the possible health risks from cumulative exposure to THz waves was mostly dismissed. Experts correctly assert that while higher energy photons like ultraviolet rays and X-rays are harmful, the lower energy ones like terahertz waves are basically harmless. While that is true, there are other biophysics at work. Boian Alexandrov working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory recently published an abstract with colleagues, "DNA Breathing Dynamics in the Presence of a Terahertz Field" that reveals very disturbing evidence that the THz waves generated by TSA scanners is significantly damaging the DNA of the people being directed through the machines, and the TSA workers that are in close proximity to the scanners throughout their workday. See also: Europe Bans X-Ray Body Scanners Used in U.S. Airports
Japan's Youth Turn to Rural Areas Seeking a Slower Lifestyle and More Stable Employment - (BBC News - November 27, 2011)
The average farmer in Japan is now 65.8 years old and that figure is rising steadily. The bright lights of the big city have been a draw for decades, pulling people into Tokyo from the countryside. But now some young people are considering making the journey back. Bus excursions around apple orchards and greenhouses full of strawberry plants, talking to farmers in their fields, now take place pretty much every week somewhere in rural Japan. They are organized and paid for by local authorities which are desperate to repopulate the countryside.
Eating Canned Soup Poses a Chemical Risk - (BBC News - November 23, 2011)
People who eat canned soup should be aware that a chemical used to line the tin can leach into the food and end up in the body, say scientists. Tests on 75 volunteers revealed the compound bisphenol A (BPA) was readily ingested and detected in large amounts in the urine, the Journal of the American Medical Association reports. Past studies have linked high BPA levels with adverse health effects. In the EU the chemical is already banned from baby bottles. But it is still used in cans as a coating to prevent rusting and keep the food fresh. Some soft drink cans and bottles also contain BPA.
Petri Dish to Dinner Plate, In-Vitro Meat Coming Soon - (Reuters - November 11, 2011)
The first lab-grown hamburger will cost around $345,000 to produce, according to Mark Post, a vascular biologist at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, who hopes to unveil such a delicacy soon. "The first one will be a proof of concept, just to show it's possible," Post said. Experts say the meat's potential for saving animals' lives, land, water, energy and the planet itself could be enormous. In-vitro or cultured meat is a real animal flesh product, just one that has never been part of a complete, living animal - quite different from imitation meat or meat substitutes aimed at vegetarians and made from vegetable proteins like soy. Using stem cells harvested from leftover animal material from slaughterhouses, Post nurtures them with a feed concocted of sugars, amino acids, lipids, minerals and all other nutrients they need to grow in the right way.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Palantir, the War on Terror's Secret Weapon - (Business Week - November 22, 2011)
Since its founding in 2004, Palantir has quietly developed an indispensable tool employed by the U.S. intelligence community in the war on terrorism. Palantir technology essentially solves the Sept. 11 intelligence problem. The Digital Revolution dumped oceans of data on the law enforcement establishment but provided feeble ways to make sense of it. The company's software pulls off one of the great computer science feats of the era: It combs through all available databases, identifying related pieces of information, and puts everything together in one place. Palantir has built a customer list that includes the U.S. Defense Dept., CIA, FBI, Army, Marines, Air Force, the police departments of New York and Los Angeles, and a growing number of financial institutions trying to detect bank fraud. (Editor's note: as the article eventually discloses, the opening scenario is a hypothetical example used by the company in sales demos.)
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
Women in Prison: An American Growth Industry - (Nation of Change - November 19, 2011)
In 1980, before the War on Drugs became big business and for-profit corporations started taking over the running of prisons, there were 12,300 women incarcerated in the United States. By 2008, that number had grown to 207,700. The rate of increase between 1995 and 2008 alone was a staggering 203%. The $9 million dollars it cost to incarcerate female offenders in 1980 has now ballooned to over $68.7 billion. Who are these women, and how did they come to be caught in the web of the prison-growth industry? By and large, these are young women who have less than a high-school education, have a history of being battered and/or sexually abused, and, with that, a resultant history of drug abuse. They are more likely to be HIV positive or infected with Hepatitis C, have either symptoms or a diagnosis of mental illness, and prior to incarceration were unemployed. While young African American women are the fastest growing incarcerated population, roughly 49% of women in prison are white, 28% are African American, and almost 17% are Latina. More than two-thirds are incarcerated for drug, property, or public order offenses and the vast majority are mothers of minor children.
Chinese TV Host Says Regime Nearly Bankrupt - (Epoch Times - November 13, 2011)
Larry Lang, television personality and chair professor of Finance at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said in a lecture that he didn't think was being recorded that the Chinese regime is in a serious economic crisis-on the brink of bankruptcy. He coined the phrase: "In China, every province is a Greece." The restrictions Lang placed on the Oct. 22 speech in Shenyang City, in northern China's Liaoning Province, included no audio or video recording, and no media. (The unauthorized recording in Chinese can be heard here.) Lang's assessment that the regime is bankrupt was based on five conjectures, the first one being that the regime's debt sits at about 36 trillion yuan (US$5.68 trillion) including Chinese local government debt and the debt owed by state-owned enterprises (another 16 trillion, he said). But with interest of two trillion per year, he thinks things may unravel quickly.
China Keen to Avoid Domestic Backlash - (Financial Times - November 20, 2011))
Europe's embattled leaders have been looking to China and other emerging markets to contribute to a bail-out fund they hope will stop the contagion. On the surface, contributing to this fund makes sense for China but Beijing has to worry about a backlash in public opinion that could result from rescuing what they perceive to be coddled, lazy Europeans so they can continue retiring early and enjoying the world's best health and social welfare systems. China's government has reduced its own welfare obligations over the past three decades today its public health, pension and welfare sectors are regarded as run-down and inadequate. According to China's official central budget, public spending on healthcare, including central government spending and transfer payments to local governments, came to just under Rmb150bn last year. That is roughly the same as public healthcare spending in Greece before recent austerity measures were announced. China's population is 120 times the size of Greece's.
'They Found Nothing. Nothing.' - (Media Lens - November 24, 2011)
Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its much-trailed report "presenting new evidence suggesting that Iran is secretly working to obtain a nuclear weapon," according to the BBC News. But one of the stunning omissions in the media coverage of the IAEA report are the WikiLeaks disclosures concerning IAEA chief, Yukiya Amano. According to a US Embassy cable from a US diplomat in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, Amano described himself as 'solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program.' Greg Thielmann, a former US State Department and Senate Intelligence Committee analyst who was one of the authors of the Arms Control Association (ACA, a non-profit organisation campaigning for effective arms control), assessment of the IAEA report noted, 'There is troubling evidence suggesting that studies are still going on, but there is nothing that indicates that Iran is really building a bomb. Those who want to drum up support for a bombing attack on Iran sort of aggressively misrepresented the report.'
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Cooking up Karma: A Taste of the Gift Economy - (Yes Magazine - November 18, 2011)
What if your meal was paid for by the people who dined before you? At Karma Kitchen, that is exactly what occurs every Sunday at Taste of Himalayas in Berkeley, CA. Volunteers serve food to hungry patrons who in turn pay forward what they value their experience at. There are no prices on the menu and the bill reads $0.00. With busy locations now in D.C. and Chicago, Karma Kitchen is a success in attracting enthusiasm for a gift economy where what you give benefits those who come after you-and you benefit from everyone who came before. Pay it forward for future diners and rack up the karma points! Article includes YouTube clip of the restaurant.
The Myth of the Wealthy Elderly - (Nation of Change - November 15, 2011)
Those seeking cuts to Social Security and Medicare have been vigorously promoting the notion that the elderly are an especially affluent and privileged group. Two recently released reports call this view into question. The first was a report from the Census Bureau that used a new experimental poverty index. While this new measures showed a slightly higher overall poverty rate the most striking difference between the new measure and the official measure was the rise in the poverty rate among the elderly. With the new measure, the poverty rate for the elderly jumps to 14%, compared with 13% for non-elderly adults. A Pew Research Center report showed that the median wealth for a household over age 65 is $170,500. This measure includes everything that they own, including equity in their home. With the median house selling for roughly $170,000, this study implies that the typical household over age 65 would essentially have enough money to pay off their mortgage. They would then have nothing else to live on except their Social Security. (Editor's note: we suspect there is a flaw in the implication drawn from the Pew study. It appears to assume that those over 65 have zero equity in their homes rather than that almost all of their equity is in their homes. However the implication may be that unless the people sell their homes, they have very little besides Social Security to live on.)
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Long-Lasting All-Weather Night-Vision Material Unveiled - (BBC News - November 21, 2011)
A team of scientists claims to have invented a material that releases over two weeks of night-vision light after just one minute's exposure to the sun. The University of Georgia team says the near-infrared emitting substance could offer the military "secret" illumination at nighttime. It says the all-weather material could also revolutionize diagnostic medicine. Lead author, Zhengwei Pan said "The military and security services could use this for identification purposes - either to locate people or equipment in the night so that only people with night vision goggles could see them. We are also experimenting with nanoparticles of the substance to see if we can bind them to cancer cells to help researchers and doctors identify them." Prof Pan said the substance could also help develop next-generation solar energy cells thanks to its efficiency at collecting and storing sunlight.
Insect Cyborgs May Become First Responders - (Science Daily - November 23, 2011)
Research conducted at the University of Michigan College of Engineering may lead to the use of insects to monitor hazardous situations before sending in humans. "Through energy scavenging, we could potentially power cameras, microphones and other sensors and communications equipment that an insect could carry aboard a tiny backpack," Najafi said. "We could then send these 'bugged' bugs into dangerous or enclosed environments where we would not want humans to go." The principal idea is to harvest the insect's biological energy from either its body heat or movements. The device converts the kinetic energy from wing movements of the insect into electricity, thus prolonging the battery life. The battery can be used to power small sensors implanted on the insect (such as a small camera, a microphone or a gas sensor) in order to gather vital information from hazardous environments.
World's Lightest Material Unveiled by US Engineers - (BBC News - November 18, 2011)
The substance is made out of tiny hollow metallic tubes arranged into a micro-lattice - a criss-crossing diagonal pattern with small open spaces between the tubes. The researchers say the material is 100 times lighter than Styrofoam and has "extraordinarily high energy absorption" properties. Potential uses include next-generation batteries and shock absorbers. The research was carried out at the University of California, Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology and is published in the latest edition of Science. "The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness 1,000 times thinner than a human hair," said lead author Dr Tobias Schaedler.
Honda's New Asimo: Mixing Robotics and Drinks - (Wall St. Journal - November 8, 2011)
Asimo, Honda Motor Corp.'s stair-climbing, hand-shaking, soccer-ball kicking robot, has received a major upgrade that heralds a watershed innovation. Boasting improved intelligence, it has the ability to walk over an uneven surface without falling, hop on one leg and move forward, run at the speed of 6 miles/hour and run backwards. It can open a thermos and pour from it into a glass. As part of its upgrade, the new Asimo can also recognize the voices of multiple people who are speaking simultaneously. Watch a video clip of the robot in action.
China's Vice Premier Sees Chronic Global Recession - (Reuters - November 20, 2011)
A long-term global recession is certain to happen and China must focus on domestic problems, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan has said. "The one thing that we can be certain of, among all the uncertainties, is that the global economic recession caused by the international financial crisis will be chronic," Wang was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying. Wang's comments were the most bearish forecast ever by a top Chinese decision-maker about the world economy, and Beijing's worry about a worsening global environment could translate into an impetus for pro-growth policies at home.
The 1% Are the Best Destroyers of Wealth the World Has Ever Seen - (Guardian - November 7, 2011)
This is a well-researched essay on why we are in the financial crisis we are in. It makes the point that we must move past capitalism to a system that places planetary, national, familial, and individual wellness first and everything else second. Not that profit cannot be made, even encouraged, but that it must occur in the context of wellness defined by data, not ideology or theology. A fully referenced version of this article can be found here.
Chinese Ratings Agency Threatens US with New Debt Downgrade - (Guardian - November 11, 2011)
The head of China's biggest ratings agency, Dagong Global Credit Rating, is warning that it may downgrade the US's sovereign debt rating again because of Washington's failure to tackle the federal budget deficit. Dagong, which has maintained a pessimistic outlook on US fiscal policy, has been leading the charge to downgrade US debt over the last 12 months, lowering the US rating from AA to A+ a year ago.
Unbelievable Rant on MSNBC; Reporter Cracks & Spews Truth! - (Field and Stream - October 29, 2011)
Dylan Ratigan, an MSNBC talk show host, hosts his own 1 hour program. On this particular day when he departed from any semblance of professional presentation, he had a small panel assembled: one Dem, one GOP, and a Washington lobbyist. Reportedly Mr. Ratigan quite regularly "goes off" on Representatives and Senators alike when all they do is claim that it's the other party's fault. His early career was working on Wall Street, then reporting on Wall Street, and as of a year or so ago, trying to explain how Wall Street and the investment banks are so ingrained into the government and the subsequent corruption that follows. The "rant" as aired on MSNBC (originally uploaded on October 18, 2011) can be viewed here.
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.
Time Banking: An Idea Whose Time Has Come? - (Truth Out - November 17, 2011)
Time banks - the concept is simple: one hour of help of any kind given to another member earns one time credit, exchangeable for an hour of help in return. One equals one. That's the math. The IRS has consistently ruled that time banks are not commercial barter organizations, so time credits earned are not treated as taxable income. After 25 years of experimentation, learning, and expansion, the United States has 300 registered time banks. Given the current state of the economy, the question that everyone asks about time banking is: How can it help us get through this recession? In more ways than you might think.
JUST FOR FUN
The Beauty of Pollination - (You Tube - May 7, 2011)
Louise Schwartzberg is an award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer. He is an innovator in the world of time-lapse, nature, aerial and "slice-of-life" photography. This clip includes a few seconds of a hummingbird's stunning aerobatics (around the 35 second mark) that are slowed down enough that you can watch what the bird actually does. A second video clip is of a TED talk in which Schwartzberg premiered a short film on the intersection of beauty, wonder and gratitude.
A FINAL QUOTE...
Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy. - Albert Einstein
A special thanks to: Thomas Bergin, Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Dan Drasin, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Robert Hoge, Kurzweil AI, James Lee, Oliver Markley, Diane Petersen, Petra Pieterse, Stu Rose, Beverly Spicer, Gary Sycalik, Hal Taylor, Steve Ujvarosy, Alain Wouters, 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