FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT...
- Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University and former secretary of the Treasury, poses (and proposes answers to) the question: If the educational system were drastically altered to reflect the structure of society and what we now understand about how people learn, how would what universities teach be different?
- Readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations confirm (and NASA concurs) that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.
- The five largest American banks have a net exposure of roughly $50 billion to the sovereign debt of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece, according to an analysis of the banks' financial disclosures.
- Divers locate large, unexplained object at bottom of Baltic Sea
by John L. Petersen
Peering Over the Precipice of Change
Let me first point you to an early warning piece compiled by Michael Snyder: George Soros, IMF & The World Bank: Warnings Of An Impending Economic Collapse. In my DVD, 2012: The Year of Great Transition, I talk about the multiple indicators that propose that the global economic system will suffer a great implosion starting late next month. I certainly have thoughtful friends who don't believe this is going to happen and I have other friends who have questioned both the value and motivations associated with highlighting these potential discontinuities. They generate fear, they say. And furthermore, those things might not happen.
This got me thinking a bit more about this whole transition and our preparation/response to it all.
I guess it's becoming clearer to me that each of us has only ourselves to assess in determining what we need to do going forward. I remember the response of one of our friends here in Berkeley Springs when he began to read my 2012 book: "I read the first couple of chapters the first night and wanted to go get my gun and shoot myself," he announced to a party we were attending. My response was, "No, no! You've got to read it all, don't stop as soon as you find things uncomfortable!" I guess, in general, I'd suggest the same thing in terms of these kinds of messages that harbinger destruction and upheaval. Don't stop at the bad stuff, the really exciting stuff comes where the larger context is explained.
E. Dee Conrad's book, A New Dawn Awaits, which I've mentioned here and many of your now have, is like this-you can't stop in the first chapters that talk about all of the disruption-you have to read it all. You need to understand where this all is going. I've had many people tell me that they were seriously moved and appreciative of my making her book available to them, so I know that it works for those people for whom it works.
I guess that is the point. Each of us enters this transition from a different perspective and a different set of needs and therefore each person's appropriate engagement with the shift must necessarily be unique.
That being said (and I really do appreciate that each of us must approach this personally and that none of us is in a position to judge others), let me loft out a couple of ideas.
I think one of the most fundamental (practical) objectives of this life experience is learning to live without fear-finding comfort in the "eternal now"-as Paul Tillich called it. The ability to live without fear of the future fundamentally changes one's approach to life and opens up significant options that fear and anxiety preclude. There are a number of ways to find this space-Echardt Tolle has famously written about some of them-but what I, at least, have found is that fear seems to coexist with a sense of uncertainty. In other words, the more uncertain someone is about a potential situation, the more open the person becomes to unleashing a gnawing apprehension about what might happen . . . and, of course, how bad it could become.
For me, the two general approaches to dealing with this uncertainty revolve around ignorance and information, the pursuit of which, in turn quickly becomes a bit of a logical labyrinth. On one hand, you can purposely stay uninformed of what is developing around yourself and, in not knowing about what might be inbound, neither think nor worry about the future. That works. That is what Wayne Dyer advertises that he does. I have no doubt that that is the best approach for some, if not most, people.
The problem for me is that this approach revolves around the notion of surprises. When something big happens that you haven't considered-and therefore don't understand and can't contextualize- uncertainty is generated. If the event is really abrupt and strange, it engenders a great deal of very rapid uncertainty and therefore fear. Having not considered the possibility before the fact (when time was available to make some sense of not only what such a thing could mean but also what might be done about it), you very quickly finds yourself out of time, money and options . . . and that's usually not fun.
The alternative is to try to stay knowledgeable about what might be on the horizon, therefore engendering a picture of what you might encounter and having the opportunity to prepare yourself, mentally, physically and spiritually for the coming changes.
But that only works if you don't become stressed by what you see. If the incoming change is scary, you internalize all of the potential ways in which the future might turn on you and that compounds your insecurity. You're fearful again. So that won't work either.
The challenge, therefore, is to be informed but not to become emotionally involved in what you learn and consider-to maintain an arm's length, "observer" perspective of all that might happen that has any aspect of what might be considered negative personal implications. It's a process of looking at the future with your head, not your heart. The underlying principle, of course, is that the future almost never shows up as you thought it would . . . and it seldom is a bad as anticipated. Worrying does absolutely no good whatsoever and embellishing those "negative" images with stressful emotions which literally increases the likelihood that something unsavory will, in fact, be manifest. Your consciousness is causal and when your emotions are supercharged, it's like pouring gasoline on a fire. It really gets going.
So, you can stand on the sidelines and hope everything works out, or engage in the process, but only if can do so without internalizing the emotionally negative things you see emerging.
It's one thing to be surprised when the events are small but it's quite another when the unanticipated is large and fast moving. Like the difference between a thunderstorm and a hurricane: the net effects are magnified when things are unfamiliar. They don't make sense. You can only make sense out of anything by understanding its context. Pick any single event or concept by itself-star, storm, change, or my wife Diane-and unless you understand the context, you have no idea what it means. We all know that you also need some history-some distance-from an experience to fully appreciate what its real meaning was. Everyone has had what at the time seemed to be a bad experience, that, in retrospect made a lot of good sense and contributed positively to their lives. That is the value of context-you begin to see how the short-term disruption contributes to the longer term stability and expansion.
I mention this because many substantive indicators suggest we are entering a period of very significant, abrupt, unprecedented events. Like the article mentioned above, the channeled material from E. Dee, the clear picture coming out of the webot process, and a host of other credible sources, very good source material suggests that our world is about to change dramatically. My friend Kevin Blackwell (and many others) make the point that the planet needs to change in order for the new world to emerge. It's all part of the process.
The bigger context is the key. It is all good, because the short term change, like childbirth, might be painful in the present but it is an integral part of something quite wonderful and beautiful being born. If you can hold that larger picture in your mind-and the fact that the universe is benign and loving and will care for you-then you can look at big change without any negative charge and be excited about participating in what appears to be the grandest event in the history of our species. The context is rather extraordinary and shifts how you look at everything.
An important distinction must be made between reasonable, supportable attempts to inform, and those kinds of transmissions that have words like "apocalypse" in their title-which, wittingly or not, are designed to prospect for and mine fear and other negative emotional responses. I would clearly put E. Dee's book in the former category. It is coherent, unimpassioned reporting from a source that is very consistent with many other sources. As a number of people have said to me: "There's nothing new here, but this presentation is so coherent, comprehensive and clear."
Now, we all respond how we respond, so it would be foolish to feed one's fear while knowing that that would be the effect. That's why I think that many, if not most people probably can't effectively handle the full truth of what appears to be heading this way. They will neither see nor fully appreciate the much larger context of what is transpiring and therefore slip into fear; but in this case, being uninformed risks being unprepared.
This is why I think we need balance. We have a mind for a reason and we should use it. The human mind's capacity for logic has been one of the central tools in the evolution of our species. We have reached this place of being about to be catapulted into an extraordinary new world in good part because of the increasingly effective use of our minds. Now we need to expand-and balance-the way we operate to include logic and analysis as well as the softer, non-linear intuitive resource that many of us have essentially ignored. But we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater as we move in this larger, expanded direction. That's my guess.
But, all of the above is conventional analysis. Let me be quick to say that we can jettison all of this kind of thinking in a heartbeat if some indicators of the character and magnitude of the incoming change turn out to be true. There is the possibility that with DNA change, expanded operation in fourth and fifth dimensional reality and a bunch of other radically unconventional ideas, all the rules about how to live on this planet could change. It would be a different game on a different playing field with very different rules. Should this emerge, much of what is capturing our attention on a day-to-day basis (in the short term, at least) would be unlikely to illuminate the magnitude of what we are really experiencing. In that case, it might turn out that effectively insulating oneself from all that is going on around would be the best policy. Maybe not cluttering up one's mind with trying to understand and anticipate in a linear way would be the best approach. I honestly don't know. But I do think that we each must do the best that we know how to do at each stage of this transition and that, if we do that, there isn't anything else that we really can do.
The Revolution is Love
As I mentioned in the last issue of FE, there is a practical example of how one can think about these things. It's not the endpoint, but you can start to see the possibility of a different paradigm. Here's a short YouTube video featuring Charles Eisenstein called The Revolution is Love. There's an almost angular difference to the conventional analytical orientation. Eisenstein is working from a different operating plane-he's using a radically different set of metrics to assess and make sense of what is happening.
That's what is interesting to me about this big shift, "they" are changing not only the rules . . . but also the playing field. This is really a different game that we're in.
Charles Eisenstein Coming to Berkeley Springs
So, I'll mention again that Charles is coming to give a presentation here in our Transition Talks series in Berkeley Springs next month. He will talk about his sacred economics ideas and some of his other both creative and radical concepts. We're really looking forward to it.
If you can, you should try to come and hear Charles. He'll be here on Sunday afternoon, the 4th of March at 2PM at the Ice House (that's a new time-we had to reschedule this presentation to a week later). You can get details here.
We hope that you can join us.
As I mentioned above, we've got a new DVD out on what 2012 looks like to me. I gathered the information from eight or nine credible sources together in a synthetic picture. It was interesting because it became clear that there were multiple indicators that were very specifically forecasting the rapid collapse of significant pieces of the existing system in the coming 12 months-some of the big pieces start coming down in the next 90 days!
For example, one can make a pretty compelling case that there will be an extraordinary cosmic happening in the third quarter . . . to say nothing about two other major earth-shaking events that appear to be on the schedule for June and September.
2012 is gearing up to literally become one of the most important years in the history of humanity.
Very strange things seem programmed for the third quarter-events for which we don't yet have descriptive language. It is interesting that the input from both conventional and unconventional reporters has pointed consistently toward the uniqueness of this period.
I talked about these things for about an hour on this DVD and then the producer, Brian Hardin, and I added a half-hour of interchange about preparing for what appears to be headed our way.
If you're interested in seeing this presentation, you can get the DVD of the interview - 2012: The Year of Great Transition - here for $15. You'll find it both interesting and provocative. I promise!
We've had some production issues associated with these DVD's that will get resolved this week, so these DVDs will ship about the 12th of February if you order them this week.
Cracking Open the Scientific Process - (New York Times - January 16, 2012)
For centuries, science has progressed through private research submitted to science and medical journals to be reviewed by peers and published for the benefit of other researchers and the public at large. The system is hidebound, expensive and elitist. Peer review can take months, journal subscriptions can be prohibitively costly, and a handful of gatekeepers limit the flow of information. It is an ideal system for sharing knowledge, said the quantum physicist Michael Nielsen, only "if you're stuck with 17th-century technology." Advocates for "open science" say science can accomplish much more, much faster, in an environment of friction-free collaboration over the Internet. Their ideas are gaining traction. Open-access archives and journals like arXiv and the Public Library of Science (PLoS) have sprung up in recent years. GalaxyZoo, a citizen-science site, has classified millions of objects in space, discovering characteristics that have led to a raft of scientific papers. And a social networking site called ResearchGate - where scientists can answer one another's questions, share papers and find collaborators - is rapidly gaining popularity.
What You (Really) Need to Know - (New York Times - January 20, 2012)
This article by Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University and former secretary of the Treasury, poses the questions: Suppose the educational system is drastically altered to reflect the structure of society and what we now understand about how people learn. How will what universities teach be different? He then offers 6 specific guesses and hopes. The first one is: Education will be more about how to process and use information and less about imparting it. This is a consequence of both the proliferation of knowledge - and how much of it any student can truly absorb - and changes in technology.
Udacity and the Future of Online Universities - (Reuters - January 23, 2012)
Expanding on the previous article, this one recounts how former Stanford professor, Sebastian Thrun, put his "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence" course online for free, to anybody in the world who was interested. It included quizzes, grades and a final certificate, in parallel with the in-person course he was giving his Stanford undergrad students. He sent out one email to announce the class, and from that one email there was ultimately an enrollment of 160,000 students. Thrun scrambled to put together a website which could scale and support that enrollment, and succeeded spectacularly well. His students learned brilliantly-and so did he. What he learned caused him to give up his tenure at Stanford, and started a new online university called Udacity. He wants to enroll 500,000 students for his first course, on how to build a search engine. And it's going to be free.
New Antarctic Life Discovered in the Deep - (Time - January 3, 2012)
Sea creatures have always held our interest, if only for their odd and otherworldly looks. And species don't get any weirder than the critters that cluster around deep-sea vents, the earth's underwater exhaust system. Researchers have discovered a host of new species of crabs, barnacles and octopuses huddled around the warmth of these chimneys in the cold waters of the Antarctic. With 9 photos of "otherworldly" beauty, including a 7-armed starfish.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
Edible Drug-Tracking Microchips to Be Unveiled in UK by Year's End - (Natural News - January 20, 2012)
A California-based biotechnology company is about to unveil an edible microchip tracking device in the UK that monitors patients' compliance with prescribed drug regimes, and sends this information to family members and caretakers. Smaller than a grain of sand, the tiny chip will electronically send this information to patches worn on patients' arms. The patches will then send the information to the mobile phones of patients' relatives and physicians. The chips are reportedly made of "ingredients commonly found in food," and are layered with copper, magnesium, and silicon components. When consumed along with pharmaceutical drugs, these chips are activated by stomach acids, which causes them to generate electric currents marked with specific signatures that match the drugs taken. What advocates fail to note is how the technology can, and likely will, be abused down the road to enforce compliance with government drug mandates, including vaccine mandates. (Editor's note: Ignore the fear-mongering in the article. For example, vaccine mandates do not require this type of monitoring; a physician's signature on a vaccine form before a child is allowed to enter school is all that is needed.) Time will tell if Brits accept the technology, and whether or not they are willing to shell out their own cash to pay for the microchips themselves. Reports indicate that the technology, at least initially, will not be covered by the UK's National Health Service.
First Mixed Embryo Monkeys Born - (BBC News - January 5, 2012)
For the first time, scientists have produced monkeys composed of cells taken from separate embryos. The animals were born after researchers combined cells from different embryos and implanted them into female monkeys. Such animals, which contain genetically distinct groups of cells from more than one organism, are called "chimeras". A US team says the advance could have "enormous" importance for medical research. The three rhesus monkeys are said to be normal and healthy. They have tissues made up of a mixture of cells representing as many as six distinct embryos.
Swine Flu Death Toll Hits Nine in Mexico as Cases Almost Double - (Telegraph - January 23, 2012)
Health officials have identified 573 cases of A (H1N1), up from 333 instances earlier. The strain represents 90% of influenza cases in the country, the health ministry said in a statement. Authorities brushed aside suggestions of a new health emergency. In 2009, an outbreak of the same swine flu strain in Mexico and the United States became a global pandemic, claiming the lives of 17,000 people. In Mexico alone, 1,250 people died. The pandemic ended in 2010, after the World Health Organisation said flu patterns had returned to normal levels.
Fukushima Radioactive Seawater Impact Map - (ASR - November 11, 2011)
This 27 second video clip shows where free floating material (fish larvae, algae, phytoplankton, zooplankton...) present in the sea water near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station plant could have gone since the earthquake on March 11th. Please note: This is NOT a representation of the radioactive plume concentration. Since researchers do not know how much contaminated water and at what concentration was released into the ocean, it is impossible to estimate the extent and dilution of the plume. However, field monitoring by TEPCO and modeling by the Sirrocco group in University of Toulouse, France both show high concentration in the surrounding water. Assuming that a part of the passive biomass could have been contaminated in the area, we are trying to track where the radionuclides are spreading as it will eventually climb up the food chain.
Forget Global Warming - and if NASA Scientists Are Right the Thames Will Be Freezing Over Again - (Daily Mail - January 29, 2012)
The consensus on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years. The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century. Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.
Micro-plastic Fibers from Washing Clothes Showing up in Marine Environment - (Extinction Protocol - January 29, 2012)
Microscopic plastic debris from washing clothes is accumulating in the marine environment and could be entering the food chain, a study has warned. Researchers traced the "micro-plastic" back to synthetic clothes, which released up to 1,900 tiny fibers per garment every time they were washed. Earlier research showed plastic smaller than 1mm were being eaten by animals and getting into the food chain. In order to identify how widespread the presence of micro-plastic was on shorelines, the team took samples from 18 beaches around the globe, including the UK, India and Singapore. "We found that there was no sample from around the world that did not contain pieces of micro-plastic." The smallest fibers could end up causing huge problems worldwide co-author Mark Browne, an ecologist now based at the University of California, Santa Barbara added: "Most of the plastic seemed to be fibrous. "When we looked at the different types of polymers we were finding, we were finding that polyester, acrylic and polyamides (nylon) were the major ones that we were finding."
Huge Pool of Arctic Water Could Cool Europe - (Reuters - January 22, 2012)
A huge pool of fresh water in the Arctic Ocean is expanding and could lower the temperature of Europe by causing an ocean current to slow down, according to British scientists. Using satellites to measure sea surface height from 1995 to 2010, scientists from University College London and Britain's National Oceanography Center found that the western Arctic's sea surface has risen by about 15 centimeters since 2002. The volume of fresh water has increased by at least 8,000 cubic km, or about 10% of all the fresh water in the Arctic Ocean. The rise could be due to strong Arctic winds increasing an ocean current called the Beaufort Gyre, making the sea surface bulge upwards. The Beaufort Gyre, a slowly swirling body of ice and water north of Alaska, about 10 times bigger than Lake Michigan, is one of the least understood bodies of water on the planet.
Expansion Tectonics Explained - (James Maxlow - no date)
The Plate Tectonic interpretation of global data is based on the fundamental premise that the Earth's radius has remained constant, or near constant, throughout history. As will be outlined in this paper, this contrasts with an Expansion Tectonic interpretation of the same global data which is based on the fundamental premise that the Earth's radius has been steadily increasing throughout Earth history. The suggestion that continents have not always been at their present positions was introduced as early as 1596 by the Dutch map maker Abraham Ortelius. Ortelius suggested, based on the symmetric outlines of the Atlantic coastlines, the Americas, Eurasia and Africa were once joined and have since drifted apart creating the modern Atlantic Ocean. Since then there has been a quantum leap in both technology and people's understanding of our physical Earth, ranging from the introduction of computers, modern data gathering and processing capabilities, advances in software, and satellite technologies. Revisiting some old theories may possibly be in order.
Google+ Vs. Google Search - (Focus on the User - January 23, 2012)
How much better would social search be if Google surfaced results from all across the web? The results speak for themselves. Focus-on-the-User created a tool that uses Google's own relevance measure-the ranking of their organic search results-to determine what social content should appear in the areas where Google+ results are currently hardcoded. All of the information in this demo comes from Google itself, and all of the ranking decisions are made by Google's own algorithms. a demo or try this alternate search tool. All of the information in the demo comes from Google itself, and all of the ranking decisions are made by Google's own algorithms. No other services or APIs are accessed.
Google to Merge User Data, Privacy Policies - (Reuters - January 24, 2012)
Delta Diverts Polar Flights Due to Solar Storm - (Reuters - January 24, 2012)
Delta Air Lines was diverting some flights on polar routes between Detroit and Asia to avoid disruptions to aircraft communications by a strong solar radiation storm, the airline said recently. The storm which, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is the strongest since 2005, has caused minor disruptions for U.S. airlines, and Delta said it altered routes for "a handful" of flights, and that the changes were adding about 15 minutes to travel times.
For Farmers Everywhere, Small is (Still) Beautiful - (Nation of Change - January 18, 2012)
Small-scale organic farmers growing rice for themselves and local markets in the Philippines have demonstrated substantial immediate savings from eliminating chemical inputs while, within a few harvests-if not immediately-their yields were close to or above their previous harvests. A UN report came to the same conclusion: "Recent [agroecology] projects conducted in 20 African countries demonstrated a doubling of crop yields over a period of 3-10 years." Agroecology extends the organic label to a broader category of ecosystem-friendly, locally adapted agricultural systems, including agro-forestry and techniques like crop rotation, topsoil management, and watershed restoration. As one expert notes, "We won't solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations. The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers' knowledge and experimentation, and in raising incomes of smallholders so as to contribute to rural development." As he put it at a recent conference, "Each region must be able to feed itself."
Apple Juice Made in America? Think Again - (USA Today - January 21, 2012)
Americans are finding some surprises lurking in U.S. government information about where the food they eat comes from. One food revelation came when low levels of a fungicide that isn't approved in the United States were discovered in some orange juice sold here. It was then revealed that Brazil, where the fungicide-laced juice originated, produces a good portion of the orange pulpy stuff Americans drink. Overall, America's insatiable desire to chomp on overseas food has been growing. About 16.8% of the food that Americans eat is imported from other countries, according to the Department of Agriculture, up from 11.3% two decades ago. About half of the fresh fruit Americans eat comes from elsewhere. That's more than double the amount in 1975. Better communication via the Internet and cheaper, faster transportation play a role in all the food importing. And it's also become less expensive to ship food from distant countries, where wages are often lower and expensive environmental rules often laxer than in the U.S.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Air Force's Top Brain Wants a 'Social Radar' to 'See Into Hearts and Minds' - (Wired - January 19 2012)
Air Force Chief Scientist, Dr. Mark Maybury, would like to build a set of sensors that peer into people's souls - and forecast wars before they erupt. Maybury calls his vision "Social Radar." "The Air Force and the Navy in this and other countries have a history of developing Sonar to see through the water, Radar to see through the air, and IR [infrared] to see through the night. Well, we also want to see into the hearts and the minds of people," says Maybury. But Social Radar won't be a single sensor to discover your secret yearnings. It'll be more of a virtual sensor, combining a vast array of technologies and disciplines, all employed to take a society's pulse and assess its future health. It's part of a broader Pentagon effort to master the societal and cultural elements of war - and effort that even many in the Defense Department believe is deeply flawed. First step: mine Twitter feeds for indications of upset.
FBI Releases Plans to Monitor Social Networks - (New Scientist - January 25, 2012)
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has quietly released details of plans to continuously monitor the global output of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, offering a rare glimpse into an activity that the FBI and other government agencies are reluctant to discuss publicly. The plans show that the bureau believes it can use information pulled from social media sites to better respond to crises, and maybe even to foresee them. The information comes from a document looking for companies to build a monitoring system for the FBI. The bureau calls for the system to be able to automatically search "publicly available" material from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites for keywords relating to terrorism, surveillance operations, online crime and other FBI missions. Agents would be alerted if the searches produce evidence of "breaking events, incidents, and emerging threats". Agents will have the option of displaying the tweets and other material captured by the system on a map, to which they can add layers of other data, including the locations of US embassies and military installations, details of previous terrorist attacks and the output from local traffic cameras.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
Red Spotlights to Mark 'Precrime' Suspects - (InfoWars - January 23, 2012)
In a review of the rising prevalence of high-tech big brother surveillance gadgets in police force use, the Associated Press reports that East Orange, New Jersey plans to cut crime by highlighting suspects with a red-beamed spotlight- before any crime is committed- a "pre-crime" deterrent to be mounted on nearby street lights or other fixtures (near video-surveillance cameras). According to the report, police officers monitor hundreds of video feeds from across the city and opt to brand would-be criminals with a red glow if they believe they are about to engage in a crime, such as a street corner mugging. William Robinson, Police Chief for East Orange said, "The message to criminals is, we're observing you, the police are recording you, and the police are responding." Additionally, all squad cars scan the license plates of every single vehicle they pass, checking them against a variety of lists- from terrorist monitor lists, to unpaid parking tickets, warrants and more. Officers can then pull over vehicles that match watch lists, even if the driver has committed no violations to draw attention from the patrol vehicle. A 3-minute embedded video clip makes the red-spotlight concept clearer.
Greece Names and Shames Tax Dodgers - (Reuters - January 23, 2012)
A list of 4,000 top tax dodgers has been released by the Greek government as part of a name-and-shame policy to get evaders to pay up. The list includes a host of convicted tax frauds and failed businessmen, a prominent singer, the husband of a former government minister as well as a retired basketball star who was recently released from a two-year jail term for illegally owning an arms cache. Athens has been threatening to publish the list for months and had to change privacy laws to follow through on the threat. The list had been kept in a safe in parliament, where lawmakers were allowed to read it without taking notes. The 4,000 people featured in the list owed Greece about 15 billion euros in total, but publishing it may be largely symbolic. Much of that money cannot be recovered, said Dimitris Mardas, an economics professor at the University of Thessaloniki.. "Many just can't pay -- some are even owed money by the government itself." Topping the list with arrears of 952 million euros is a convicted tax fraud who is already serving a 504-year prison sentence for issuing fake receipts to companies that wanted to lower their tax bill.
Panetta Calls for Release of Pakistani Doctor in bin Laden Case - (Nation of Change - January 29, 2012)
A senior American official has for the first time admitted that a Pakistani doctor played a key role in tracking Osama bin Laden to his hideout in northern Pakistan and called for his release. Dr. Afridi has been in Pakistani custody since the country's own spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, discovered the secret task performed by the doctor, who set up a fake vaccination program in Abbottabad, in a bid to gain DNA samples from those staying at the suspect compound. Afridi was arrested in late May and was subsequently tortured. It is believed that he remains in the custody of the intelligence agency, which is part of the military, but has not been charged formally with any crime. The military, which will decide what happens ultimately to Afridi, was furious that the CIA was recruiting Pakistani citizens for clandestine operations inside the country and, privately, officials point out that it is a crime to work for a foreign intelligence agency.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Meet the Parents: a FiancÚ for Hire - (Financial Times - January 17, 2012)
Now, thanks to Taobao (the Chinese version of Ebay) and the inventiveness of Chinese entrepreneurs, for as little as Rmb100 per day, Chinese singles can rent a boyfriend to take home for lunar new year. Chatting up the parents is included in the price, while hand-holding and hugging sometimes cost extra. The boyfriend-substitute will even share a bedchamber with the customer, if that helps persuade the doubting parents. There seems little limit to the a la carte ingenuity of the companies that provide this service: some even offer to waive the fee if the girl and guy share the same bed. In a country with a severe shortage of females of marriageable age, surely anyone who needs to rent a boyfriend must be fat, old and surly? Not so, says Mr. Zhu: his clients average about 25 years old and are "not ugly" - just eager to please their parents. Just as marriage is not the only casualty of modern urban life in China, fake fiancÚs are not the only service available to help today's Chinese meet traditional obligations they no longer have time for.
How Is the Popular Mix of Meditation and Psychotherapy Changing the Way We See the World? - (AlterNet - January 4, 2012)
In a 2007 survey conducted by the Psychotherapy Networker, 41.4% of the nearly 2,600 therapists who responded reported that they were practicing some form of "mindfulness therapy." Mindfulness-based treatments are now being introduced into graduate programs, are frequently discussed at academic conferences, and are a constant on the workshop circuit. Books about mindfulness for the treatment of you-name-it are coming out weekly. As neurobiological research expands to show that mindfulness practices change brain structure and function in meaningful, measurable ways, and clinical research continues to show that it can be helpful in treating a wide range of disorders, how could it not be destined to revolutionize psychotherapy? The main reason is that it requires effort-often a lot more effort than clients, and sometimes even therapists, are willing to muster. The most compelling positive results of mindfulness practice-the radical shifts in how we experience ourselves and the world-don't usually come about from casual dabbling.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Life on Venus? Russian Scientist's Claim Proven False - (MSNBC - January 23, 2012)
A respected Russian scientist claims to have found signs of life on Venus in photographs taken by a Soviet probe 30 years ago. According to the Russian news service RIA Novosti, Leonid Ksanfomaliti, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences who worked on unmanned Soviet missions to Venus during the 1970s and '80s, has written a new article in the journal Solar System Research (Editor's Note: Solar System Research is the English edition of Astronomicheskii Vestnik, a respected scientific journal.] In the article, Ksanfomaliti calls attention to several objects photographed by the Venera 13 landing probe, a spacecraft that landed on Venus in 1982. Whether the scientist really has suggested that the old photographs contain living creatures that were somehow overlooked previously, or whether his words have been mistranslated, misconstrued or should have been quietly ignored, the claim has made headlines around the globe. This article attempts to unravel some of the mystery.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Printrbot - Your First 3-D Printer - (Kick Starter - no date)
This all-in-one 3D printer kit can be assembled and printing in a couple of hours. Other kits will not only take you many more hours to build, they will also have hundreds more parts, and they will cost more. The design also does away with the finicky calibration and adjustment from which most 3D printers suffer. This is the printer a kid could put together. All the electronics, the hotend, and the connectors on all the motors and components are pre-assembled... no soldering required!
Showdown over 'Showrooming' - (Wall St. Journal - January 23, 2012)
In one of the starkest signs yet that chain stores fear a new twist in shopping, Target is asking suppliers for help in thwarting "showrooming"-that is, when shoppers come into a store to see a product in person, only to buy it from a rival online, typically at a lower price. In an urgent letter to vendors, the Minneapolis-based chain suggested that suppliers create special products that would set it apart from competitors and shield it from the price comparisons that have become so easy for shoppers to perform on their computers and smartphones.
How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the 1% - (Nation of Change - January 29, 2012)
Sweden and Norway both experienced a major power shift in the 1930s after prolonged nonviolent struggle. They "fired" the top 1% of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different. Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. By then, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated to avoid starvation. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries built robust and successful economies that nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a matter of right and created a system of full employment. Unlike the Norwegians, the Swedes didn't find oil, but that didn't stop them from building what the latest CIA World Factbook calls "an enviable standard of living." However, "nonviolent" didn't mean they managed to avoid bloody struggle. In both countries, the troops were called out to defend the status quo and people died. Award-winning Swedish filmmaker Bo Widerberg told the Swedish story vividly in ┼dalen 31, which depicts the strikers killed in 1931 and the sparking of a nationwide general strike.
George Soros, IMF & The World Bank: Warnings Of An Impending Economic Collapse - (ETF Daily News - January 25, 2012)
Over the past couple of weeks, George Soros, the IMF and the World Bank have all issued incredibly chilling warnings about the possibility of an impending economic collapse. Considering the power and the influence that Soros, the IMF and the World Bank all have over the global financial system, this is alarming. Are they purposely trying to scare the living daylights out of us? Soros is even warning of riots in the streets of America. Unfortunately, way too often top global leaders say something in public because they want to "push" events in a certain direction. Do George Soros and officials at the IMF and World Bank hope to prevent a worldwide financial collapse by making these statements, or are other agendas at work? We may never know.
U.S. Banks Tally Their Exposure to Europe's Debt - (New York Times - January 29, 2012)
The five largest American banks have more than $80 billion of exposure to Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece, according to an analysis of the banks' financial disclosures. Using credit-default swaps, along with other measures, the five banks have cut their theoretical exposure to the troubled countries by $30 billion, to $50 billion. Citigroup has the greatest percentage of its exposure potentially protected, at 47%, while Bank of America has bought the least protection, at 12%. Some market participants now doubt they would work properly during periods of great financial instability. Yet, as of June, 2011, only 9.4% of the $29.6 trillion credit-default swap market is centrally cleared, according to the Bank for International Settlements. Notably, the credit-default swaps that pay out if a European government defaults appear to have been held back from central clearing by the British regulator, the Financial Services Authority, which declined to comment on why it had not yet approved these swaps. (Editor's Note: One would presume that such disclosure might not be in the interests of UK banks or the Bank of England which owns large portions of certain British banks. The majority of the world's sovereign debt-but not, as it happens, Greek sovereign debt-is governed under British law.)
If You're an Average Worker, You're Going Straight to the Bottom - (Business Insider - January 20, 2012)
The way we do business is changing fast and in order to keep up, your entire mentality about work has to change just as quickly. Unfortunately, most people aren't adapting fast enough to this change in the workplace, says marketing guru Seth Godin. According to Godin, the current "recession is a forever recession" because it's the end of the industrial age, which also means the end of the average worker. Now, if you're the average person out there doing average work, there's going to be someone else out there doing the exact same thing as you, but cheaper. However, if you're different somehow and have made yourself unique, people will not only find you but be willing to pay you more, Godin says.
Is This Land Made for You and Me - Or for the Super-Rich? - (Nation of Change - January 16, 2012)
In this op-ed piece by Bill Moyers, he notes, "Barack Obama asked Bruce Springsteen and Woody Guthrie's longtime friend Pete Seeger to sing "This Land is Your Land" at that big, pre-inaugural concert the Sunday before he was sworn in. And sing they did, in the spirit of hope and change that President Obama had spun as the heart of his campaign rhetoric. Today, whatever was real about that spirit has been bludgeoned by severe economic hardship for everyday Americans and by the cynical expedience of politicians who wear the red-white-and-blue in their lapels and sing "America the Beautiful" while serving the interests of crony capitalists stuffing SuperPACs with millions of dollars harvested from the gross inequality destroying us from within.
Strange Noises - (Various sources - Various recent dates)
From many different parts of the globe, reports are coming of unusual sounds apparently generated by the earth. Most of the links below are for "home-made" video clips with poor sound quality. Different individual articles propose different possible causes and many of them, as individual clips, could easily be written off. However, collectively, they suggest that some unknown earth phenomenon may in fact be occurring. FUTUREdition first noted this phenomenon in its September 15, 2011 issue referencing a commercially broadcast news report from Windsor, Canada, (link again provided below). We now include a collection of other clips.
Windsor, Canada Shaken and Stirred by Rumbling - (CBC News - August 19, 2011)
The Earth is Groaning: Unknown Sound Phenomena Occurring 2011
Strange sounds heard worldwide
Lovely sound vibration heard over Western PA
Strange noise in the sky August 27, 2011 St. Pete, Florida
Strange sound in Poland
Strange sound in Lublino, Poland
Strange sound in Kiev (Ukraine):
Strange sound in the sky, Curitiba, Brasil
Strange sound in Montreal
Strange sounds in Czech Republic
Booming Trumpet of the Apocalypse in Costa Rica
Strange noise in Germany sets off car alarms
Strange sounds in Los Angeles
Strange sounds in Edmonton, Alberta
Strange sounds in Conklin, Alberta
Strange sounds in Thunder Bay
Strange sounds in Spain
Loud humming vibration from the earth
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.
The Serial Backdoor Roth - (Forbes - January 20, 2012)
If your income is too high, you can't contribute directly to a Roth individual retirement account, but you can get one in a backdoor way. This article is a thorough walk-through of the "backdoor" mechanics (conversion for a traditional or non-deductible IRA) with the caveats well detailed. And as the article points out: to know if it would make sense of you, "You have to do the calculations." But as it also notes, if you are planning to leave anything to heirs, "Inheriting a $100,000 Roth IRA is a whole lot better than inheriting a $100,000 traditional IRA; the higher your beneficiary's tax bracket, the bigger the savings."
How Magic Mushrooms Trip Up Brain Activity - (MSNBC - January 23, 2012)
The active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms decreases brain activity, possibly explaining the vivid, mind-bending effects of the drug, a new study finds. The decreases were focused in regions that serve as crossroads for information in the brain, meaning that information may flow more freely in a brain on mushrooms. The findings could be useful in developing hallucinogenic treatments for some mental disorders. "There is increasing evidence that the regions affected are responsible for giving us our sense of self," study author Robin Carhart-Harris, a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College London, wrote in an email to LiveScience. "In other words, the regions affected make up what some people call our 'ego.' That activity decreases in the 'ego-network' supports what people often say about psychedelics, that they temporarily 'dissolve the ego.'"
Divers Find Large, Unexplained Object at Bottom of Baltic Sea - (Yahoo! News - January 26, 2012)
Using sonar, a team of salvage divers has discovered an unexplained object resting at the bottom of the Baltic Sea near Sweden. "This thing turned up. My first reaction was to tell the guys that we have a UFO here on the bottom," said Peter Lindberg, the leader of the amateur treasure hunters.Sonar readings show that the mysterious object is about 60 meters across, or, about the size of a jumbo jet. And it's not alone. Nearby on the sea floor is another, smaller object with a similar shape. Even more fascinating, both objects have "drag marks" behind them on the sea floor, stretching back more than 400 feet. Article includes link to CNN video clip.
JUST FOR FUN
A Neat Puzzle - (NTT Basic Research Laboratories - no date)
Use your cursor to move the puzzle pieces around. When you have one in the right place, you'll hear a locking/swooshing sound if you have the sound turned on.
Classic Old Computers and Machines - (You Tube - January 16, 2012)
In slightly more than one minute, see an array of old military computers and machines-lots of buttons, knobs, and lights. Watch computer "dinosaurs" in motion and hear the narrator confidently predict, "The day is not far off when these electronic brains will take guesswork out of decisions." Worth considering: both how right-and how wrong-that prediction was.
A FINAL QUOTE...
Not only is another world possible, it is on its way. On a quiet day, I can hear it breathing. - Arundhati Roy
A special thanks to: Bruce Anderson, Greg Balestrero, Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Humera Khan, Deanna Korda, Kurzweil AI, Diane Petersen, Petra Pieterse, Cory Shreckengost, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy 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