FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT--
- The human genome has at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as “junk” but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave.
- Adding spinach to solar panels nearly triples their efficiency.
- Someone on a gun enthusiast web site claims to have printed a gun. Which makes for a complicated future for society. Plastic parts, working gun. No serial number, no registration, no waiting period.
- Apple has patented a piece of technology which would allow government and police to block transmission of information, including video and photographs, from any public gathering or venue they deem “sensitive”.
by John L. Petersen
Smoke and Mirrors
This past week I gave a talk in downstate Virginia about all of the change that we are surrounded with these days and how each of us might actively be a part of the shift and both become a new human and help to shape a new world. One of the slides that I used was a quote from the Hathors, the angelic group of great wisdom that over the years has been explaining what is transpiring on a planetary and cosmic scale and making available explicit processes for surfing this rapidly cresting wave. In one case they explain the structure and operation of this transition and how we will experience it:
“This particular transition state has to do with the collapse of the collective lies of your culture. Increasingly more and more of you will see behind the shadow play; you will sense the puppet masters, and although their identities may elude you, you will see with increasing reality that aspects of your culture are a manipulation, a limitation, and in many cases, downright lies.”
They go on to explain: “The lie that we are speaking to here is not the lie of economics, the lie of wars, or the lie of confining religions, but the lie of your identity—a lie that ensures your imprisonment. This lie is the belief and cultural assertion that you are nothing more than a physical human being and that there are, in fact, no other realms of being beyond your earthy experience.”
I was reminded of that quote as I sat down to write this, because this week was the anniversary of 9/11, that event that has so changed our lives here in the U.S. The Hathors talk about becoming aware of the manipulation of our sense of who we think we are as individual humans, but the more general theme of how we are rapidly coming to see through the layers of influence and mistruth in the scientific, political and geopolitical areas – to say nothing about economics and finance – was pressed upon me.
In particular, I received a number of missives from friends pointing me to rather compelling articles that questioned the official version of what happened on that tragic day. One especially trenchant piece is this one by Paul Craig Roberts. He opens the article in this way:
In order to understand the improbability of the government’s explanation of 9/11, it is not necessary to know anything about what force or forces brought down the three World Trade Center buildings, what hit the Pentagon or caused the explosion, the flying skills or lack thereof of the alleged hijackers, whether the airliner crashed in Pennsylvania or was shot down, whether cell phone calls made at the altitudes could be received, or any other debated aspect of the controversy.
You only have to know two things.
One is that according to the official story, a handful of Arabs, mainly Saudi Arabians, operating independently of any government and competent intelligence service, men without James Bond and V for Vendetta capabilities, outwitted not only the CIA, FBI, and National Security Agency, but all 16 US intelligence agencies, along with all security agencies of America’s NATO allies and Israel’s Mossad. Not only did the entire intelligence forces of the Western world fail, but on the morning of the attack the entire apparatus of the National Security State simultaneously failed. Airport security failed four times in one hour. NORAD failed. Air Traffic Control failed. The US Air Force failed. The National Security Council failed. Dick Cheney failed. Absolutely nothing worked. The world’s only superpower was helpless at the humiliating mercy of a few undistinguished Arabs.
It is hard to image a more far-fetched story–except for the second thing you need to know: The humiliating failure of US National Security did not result in immediate demands from the President of the United States, from Congress, from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and from the media for an investigation of how such improbable total failure could have occurred. No one was held accountable for the greatest failure of national security in world history. Instead, the White House dragged its feet for a year resisting any investigation until the persistent demands from 9/11 families for accountability forced President George W. Bush to appoint a political commission, devoid of any experts, to hold a pretend investigation.
Read the whole piece and think about the possibility that we have all been systematically manipulated – at the highest levels, in the most extraordinary ways.
Then, Burt Rutan sent me a copy of an interview that he gave to Forbes magazine about his approach to and thinking about the climate change issue. This is an honest, very bright engineer who has always been interested in conservation (he’s been into electric cars and solar and wind power from the beginning), who took the time to seriously drill down and figure out exactly what had happened and how it was being presented. It is quite illuminating. The article starts with a question from the interviewer:
Q: Burt, as someone with such intense involvement in aerospace design and development, what got you interested in climate issues?
“Even though I’ve been very busy throughout my entire career developing and flight-testing airplanes for the Air Force, I’ve always pursued other research hobbies in my time away from work. Since I’m very accustomed to analyzing a lot of data, about three or four years ago many alarmist claims by some climate scientists caught my attention. Since this is such an important topic, I began to look into it firsthand.
“Although I have no climate science credentials, I do have considerable expertise in processing and presenting data. I have also had extensive opportunities to observe how other people present data and use it to make their points. There is a rampant tendency in any industry where someone is trying to sell something with a bunch of data, where they cherry pick a little bit…bias a little bit. This becomes quite easy when there is an enormous amount of data to cherry pick from.
“The first thing that got my attention, a lot of people’s attention, was statements that the entire planet is heading towards a future climate catastrophe that is attributable to human carbon dioxide emissions. So I decided to take a look at that and just see if this conclusion was arrived at ethically. It’s obviously an extremely important issue which has gotten a huge amount of media attention. I was particularly concerned because the proposed solutions will have enormous impacts upon costs of energy, which of course, will increase costs of everything.
“Many people seem to get much of their information from what they see in newspapers, with variously biased viewpoints presented in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, Canadian Free Press, etc. I may be considerably different, in that I always like to look at both sides of things that I take special interest in. So when I decided to look closely at the anthropogenic [man-made] global warming crisis claims, I avoided focusing on media reports, and instead, went directly to available raw climate data. The intent was to see if that data might just as reasonably be interpreted differently.
“Then, what really drew me into the subject, was when I found that I couldn’t obtain the raw data that I was looking for. I was shocked to find that there were actually climate scientists who wouldn’t share the raw data, but would only share their conclusions in summary graphs that were used to prove their various theories about planet warming. In fact I began to smell something really bad, and the worse that smell got, the deeper I looked.”
You can read the whole article here and access Burt’s climate change presentation here.
Now, perhaps you think that Burt has his own agenda and has shaped the data into a compelling argument for economic development regardless of the environmental cost. I don’t think that is true. My experience has been that throughout science there has been an increase in the political and economic influence in what is presented and how it is presented. This is certainly the case in agriculture and pharmaceuticals, to say nothing about giant projects like the fusion energy Tokamak. Furthermore, the history of science is absolutely littered with examples of alternative (or skeptical) perspectives being beaten down by the mainstream with every possible attempt made to drive the threatening ideas (and individuals) out of the “business” of science. So there certainly is a precedent for this kind of activity.
Happily, each of us gets to choose. Just remember the First Law of Discordianism: Convictions cause convicts. What you believe imprisons you.
A while back I was interviewed by Kingsley Dennis about the big picture of what is happening and where we are going. It was a fun exchange. You can find it here.
When Diane and I were in Chile earlier this year, we visited the fascinating, eclectic home of Pablo Neruda, so when I came upon this poem of his I found it first interesting . . . and ultimately provocative.
By Pablo Neruda
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about; . . .
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead in winter
and later proves to be alive.
Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
--Pablo Neruda, "Keeping Quiet"
Who Inherits Your iTunes Library? – (MarketWatch – August 23, 2012)
Many of us will accumulate vast libraries of digital books and music over the course of our lifetimes. But when we die, our collections of words and music may expire with us. Someone who owned 10,000 hardcover books and the same number of vinyl records could bequeath them to descendants, but legal experts say passing on iTunes and Kindle libraries would be much more complicated. And one’s heirs stand to lose huge sums of money. “I find it hard to imagine a situation where a family would be OK with losing a collection of 10,000 books and songs,” says Evan Carroll, co-author of Your Digital Afterlife. “Legally dividing one account among several heirs would also be extremely difficult.” Part of the problem is that with digital content, one doesn’t have the same rights as with print books and CDs. Customers own a license to use the digital files — but they don’t actually own them.
Scientists Declare: Animals Are as Aware as Humans – (Discovery Channel – August 25, 2012)
An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are — a list of animals that includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus. What’s interesting about the declaration is the group’s acknowledgement that consciousness can emerge in those animals that are very much unlike humans, including those that evolved along different evolutionary tracks, namely birds and some encephalopods. “The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states,” they write. “Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors.” (Editor’s note: As a thought-provoking addendum, we suggest an article from the Washington Post: Of Mice, Men and In Between, which notes that “In Minnesota, pigs are being born with human blood in their veins. In Nevada, there are sheep whose livers and hearts are largely human. In California, mice peer from their cages with human brain cells firing inside their skulls.” The article was written 8 years ago and research moves forward constantly. The question arises, if these creatures are “as aware as humans”, and in fact are part human, what ethical responsibility do humans have to them? And, by extension, to all creatures?)
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
Scientists Invent Oxygen Particle That, If Injected, Allows You to Live Without Breathing – (Tech Wench – August 23, 2012)
A team of scientists at the Boston Children’s Hospital have invented what is being considered one the greatest medical breakthroughs in recent years. They have designed a microparticle that can be injected into a person’s bloodstream that can quickly oxygenate their blood. This will even work if the ability to breathe has been restricted, or even cut off entirely. This finding has the potential to save millions of lives every year. The microparticles can keep an object alive for up to 30 min after respiratory failure. This is accomplished through an injection into the patients’ veins. Once injected, the microparticles can oxygenate the blood to near normal levels. This has countless potential uses as it allows life to continue when oxygen is needed but unavailable. For medical personnel, this is just enough time to avoid risking a heart attack or permanent brain injury when oxygen is restricted or cut off to patients.
“Junk” DNA Dark Matter Proves Crucial to Health – (New York Times – September 6, 2012)
Among the many mysteries of human biology is why complex diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and psychiatric disorders are so difficult to predict and, often, to treat. An equally perplexing puzzle is why one individual gets a disease like cancer or depression, while an identical twin remains perfectly healthy. Now scientists have discovered a vital clue to unraveling these riddles. The human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as “junk” but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave. The discovery, considered a major medical and scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in hundreds of gene switches.
Tough Gel Stretches to 21 Times Its Length, Recoils, and Heals Itself – (Harvard University – September 5, 2012)
A team of experts in mechanics, materials science, and tissue engineering at Harvard have created an extremely stretchy and tough gel that may pave the way to replacing damaged cartilage in human joints. Called a hydrogel, because its main ingredient is water, the new material is a hybrid of two weak gels that combine to create something much stronger. Not only can this new gel stretch to 21 times its original length, but it is also exceptionally tough, self-healing, and biocompatible—a valuable collection of attributes that opens up new opportunities in medicine and tissue engineering.
Evolution Could Explain the Placebo Effect – (New Scientist – September 6, 2012)
On the face of it, the placebo effect makes no sense. Someone suffering from a low-level infection will recover just as nicely whether they take an active drug or a simple sugar pill. This suggests people are able to heal themselves unaided - so why wait for a sugar pill to prompt recovery? New evidence from a computer model offers a possible evolutionary explanation, and suggests that the immune system has an on-off switch controlled by the mind. It all starts with the observation that something similar to the placebo effect occurs in many animals, says Peter Trimmer, a biologist at the University of Bristol, UK. For instance, Siberian hamsters do little to fight an infection if the lights above their lab cage mimic the short days and long nights of winter. But changing the lighting pattern to give the impression of summer causes them to mount a full immune response.
Deaf Gerbils Hear Again after Stem Cell Cure – (BBC News – September 13, 2012)
UK researchers say they have taken a huge step forward in treating deafness after stem cells were used to restore hearing in animals for the first time. Hearing partially improved when nerves in the ear, which pass sounds into the brain, were rebuilt in gerbils. In about one in 10 people with profound hearing loss, nerve cells which should pick up the signal are damaged. It is like dropping the baton after the first leg of a relay race. The aim of researchers at the University of Sheffield was to replace those baton-dropping nerve cells, called spiral ganglion neurons, with new ones. They used stem cells from a human embryo. A chemical soup was added to the stem cells that converted them into cells similar to the spiral ganglion neurons. These were then delicately injected into the inner ears of 18 deaf gerbils. Over 10 weeks the gerbils' hearing improved. On average 45% of their hearing range was restored by the end of the study. However, treating humans is still a distant prospect.
Robots to Rescue Coral Reefs – (Heriot Watt University – August 22, 2012)
Researchers are developing a swarm of intelligent robots to help save coral reefs. A team of 'coralbots', each individually working to simple rules, will piece together damaged bits of coral, allowing them to regrow. The approach is inspired by the behaviour of natural swarms of insects such as bees, wasps and termites which collectively build substantial and complex structures. The deep waters west of Scotland are characterised by the occurrence of large reef-forming corals similar to those in the tropics. These coral are threatened by bottom fishing that damages and kills large areas of reef. Luckily, this species can sometimes survive this damage and re-grow, but this can take many decades to centuries. At present, this process of regrowth is assisted by volunteer scuba divers reassembling coral fragments on the reef framework. But the method has only limited success because they cannot spend long periods underwater nor reach depths of over 200 metres where some of the deep-sea coral grows. 'Swarm' robotics provides an innovative solution, whereby multiple small autonomous robots follow a simple set of rules and seek out coral fragments and re-cement them to the reef.
“Nano-Velcro” Traps and Detects Heavy Metals in Contaminated Waterways – (Giz Mag, September 11, 2012)
While progress has been made in reducing the amount of heavy metal pollution, the very nature of heavy metal contamination means it continues to be a problem in waterways around the world. Conventional heavy metal contamination detection methods require sending samples off to a lab for analysis on expensive equipment. Now a Swiss-American team has developed a cheap way to immediately ascertain the levels of heavy metals in lakes and rivers and the fish pulled out of them.
Race to Save Alaskan Arctic Archaeology – (BBC News – September 7, 2012)
A recently discovered 500-year-old Alaskan settlement is rapidly disappearing into the Bering Sea. The exquisitely preserved frozen site provides a spectacular insight into the Yup'ik Eskimo culture. Researchers are using isotope analyses on recovered Eskimo hair to investigate how humans adapted to rapid climate change in the Arctic village. "It's probably the most spectacularly well preserved and valuable site in terms of information content I've ever seen", Dr Rick Knecht, of the University of Aberdeen, said. "In the first couple of years we found about 7,000 pieces, including items like ivory, woven grass, incredibly well preserved animal remains, animal fur and even human hair." But the means by which the bounty of discoveries has been released from the soil is also the reason why the site is being eradicated: the permafrost is melting due to climate change. As it melts, it exposes the very soft soil to marine erosion: the shoreline retreats and the sites get damaged," explained Dr Knecht, who has been working in Alaska for more than 30 years. Ironically, the artifacts released by the effects of sea ice reduction may help the scientists better understand how the Yup'ik people adapted to a rapidly changing climate.
Police May Block Mobile Devices Via Apple – (RT – September 5, 2012)
Apple has patented a piece of technology which would allow government and police to block transmission of information, including video and photographs, from any public gathering or venue they deem “sensitive”, and “protected from externalities.” -In other words, these powers will have control over what can and cannot be documented on wireless devices during any public event. And while the company says the affected sites are to be mostly cinemas, theaters, concert grounds and similar locations, Apple Inc. also says “covert police or government operations may require complete ‘blackout’ conditions.” The statement led many to believe that authorities and police could now use the patented feature during protests or rallies to block the transmission of video footage and photographs from the scene, including those of police brutality, which at times of major events immediately flood news networks and video websites. Apple patented the means to transmit an encoded signal to all wireless devices, commanding them to disable recording functions. Those policies would be activated by GPS, and WiFi or mobile base-stations, which would ring-fence ("geofence") around a building or a “sensitive area” to prevent phone cameras from taking pictures or recording video.
Wireless Charging Technology – One Step Closer to Reality – (Intel – August 29, 2012)
Integrated Device Technology, Inc. (IDT), a technology company with specialized expertise in wireless charging, has announced it will develop and deliver chipsets for Wireless Charging Technology by Intel. IDT’s product leads to a solution that isn’t limited to inductive charging and ‘smartphone on a charging mat’ usage. Size and cost reductions are key to IDT’s solution, as is their differentiated “resonance wireless charging technology” that simplifies the way a PC can charge a cellphone wirelessly. IDT has stated they will be delivering their full chipset solution for reference design work in early 2013.
Feds Say Mobile Phone Location Data Is Not Constitutionally Protected – (Wired – September 5, 2012)
The Obama administration told a federal court Tuesday that the public has no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in cellphone location data, and hence the authorities may obtain documents detailing a person’s movements from wireless carriers without a probable-cause warrant. The administration, citing a 1976 Supreme Court precedent, said such data, like banking records, are “third-party records,” meaning customers have no right to keep it private. The government made the argument as it prepares for a re-trial of a previously convicted drug dealer whose conviction was reversed in January by the Supreme Court, which found that the government’s use of a GPS tracker on his vehicle was an illegal search.
Malware Inserted on PC Production Lines – (BBC News – September 13, 2012)
Cybercriminals have opened a new front in their battle to infect computers with malware - PC production lines. Several new computers have been found carrying malware installed in the factory, suggests a Microsoft study. One virus called Nitol found by Microsoft steals personal details to help criminals plunder online bank accounts. Microsoft said the criminals behind the malicious program had exploited insecure supply chains to get viruses installed as PCs were being built. The viruses were discovered when Microsoft digital crime investigators bought 20 PCs, 10 desktops and 10 laptops from different cities in China. Four of the computers were infected with malicious programs even though they were fresh from the factory.
Ski Lifts Help Open $25 Billion Market for Storing Power – (Bloomberg – August 28, 2012)
Technology developers are shuttling between caves and mountaintops to build a market for utilities set to attract $25 billion in annual investment within a decade. To store surplus electricity from power plants, they’re trying to squeeze air into salt mines and run empty trains up hills, testing how to harness the energy released when the air bursts out and the cars roll back down. “Electricity is the only commodity in the world that isn’t really stored,” said Prescott Logan, who heads GE’s storage business in Schenectady, New York, where last month it opened a $100 million plant to make batteries for utilities. When storage becomes cheap and massive, “the impact will be huge.” The $260 billion renewables industry needs storage so power companies can absorb surges from solar and wind farms from Texas to Mongolia. There are a number of possible solutions still at the development stage: Bill Gates-backed Energy Cache is shoveling gravel up and down a slope on ski lifts. Gravity Power LLC is pushing water in and out of underground caves. Advanced Rail Energy Storage LLC sends electric trains between high and low rail yards.
Bird Friendly Compressed Air Wind Turbine – (Design Boom – September 05, 2012)
Retired veteran Raymond Green has developed a wind turbine system that prevents birds and bats from being injured in comparison to traditional three-blade turbines. typically, high-speed spinning blades hit and knock airborne animals to the ground, in most cases killing them. by removing external components within the unit and integrating all moving parts within the interior space of a specifically designed compression cone, the conception eliminates the chance of disabling avian species in their natural environments. Additionally, by reducing larger blade elements, the 31 inch diameter turbine virtually cancels sounds, eradicating the negative associations with loud wind-farms.
Adding Spinach to Solar Panels Nearly Triples Their Efficiency – (Daily Mail – September 5, 2012)
Researchers from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee have discovered that combining the green-leafed veg with silicon produced a much stronger electrical current in solar cells than present methods. And it could eventually lead to a much more efficient form of using the sun’s rays for sustainable energy in the future. The team of biomolecular engineers and chemists used the photosynthetic protein in spinach - the vital ingredient that converts light into energy to make plants grow. Then they combined it with silicon, which is already used in solar cells, in a way that produced an electrical current 2.5 times more powerful that existing solar cells. The discovery could lead to the production of a new wave of solar cells within three years.
MakerPlane – (MakerPlane.org – no date)
MakerPlane is an open source aviation project which will enable people to build and fly their own safe, high quality, reasonable cost plane using advanced personal manufacturing equipment such as CNC mills and 3D printers. The project will also include open source avionics software to enable state-of-the-art digital flight instruments and display capabilities. Basically we are designing an aircraft that can be built on a computer controlled mill at home, or at a makerspace which is easy to assemble and quick to build. The plans and instructions will be available for free to anyone that wants them!
Big Brother in Your Car - (Nation of Change - September 7, 2012)
Your chipper TV friend Flo, otherwise known as Progressive Insurance's ubiquitous shill, wants you to be excited — very excited. As you've probably learned from her effervescent commercials, she and her Big Brothers in the insurance biz want you to see their new tracking devices for your car not as a privacy-destroying step to justify raising your government-mandated car insurance premiums. Instead, they want you to see the gizmos, which record your vehicle's every move, as a great innovation to get you premium discounts for safe driving. Yet, despite the happy TV ads, questions are nonetheless swirling around this so-called "telematics-based insurance" — questions that Flo doesn't want you to ask, because the tracking system is so frighteningly invasive and arbitrary. Of course, Flo insists the system today only exists to give customers premium discounts for “good” driving. However, if and when the devices become a prerequisite for insurance — which many experts predict will happen — we would likely see a system in which the standard premium is inflated and the discounts for “good” driving only slightly reduce premiums.
McDonald's to Opens It's First Vegetarian Restaurant - (Wall St. Journal - September 5, 2012)
McDonald’s plans to open vegetarian-only restaurants in India next year—a world-wide first for the beef-centric fast-food chain. In India, McDonald’s restaurants have already dropped beef and pork from their menus, adhering to the religious practices of Hindus and Muslims, who make up most of India’s population. McDonald’s kitchens in India are also divided into separate sections for cooking vegetarian and nonvegetarian food. “The new restaurants in pilgrimage areas will be vegetarian-only because of the specific area and customer base,” a McDonald’s spokeswoman said. Part of McDonald’s success globally has been attributed to its ability to cater to local tastes without losing its brand image. In India, it has numerous vegetarian versions of some of its American classics, like the McVeggie burger and McSpicy Paneer, as well as chicken offerings. On the value menu, the McAloo Tikki burger, which uses a spiced potato-based patty, is a top seller, accounting for as much as one-fourth of the restaurants’ total sales in the country. See also: Highest-Calorie Menu Item At McDonald's? Not a Burger.
Nanoparticles Bioaccumulate and Harm Soybean Crops – (Institute of Science in Society – March 9, 2012)
New research suggests nanoparticles are a threat to agricultural production as well as health. wide variety of nanoparticles is flooding the market; and the concomitant build-up of nanoparticles discharged into the environment may well have profound effects also on ecology and agriculture. A study published online in PNAS Early Edition reports that the soybean plant is susceptible to some of the most commonly manufactured nanoparticles. The research team led by Patricia Holden at the University of Texas El Paso grew soybean plants in soil amended with nanoparticles currently manufactured at high volumes for numerous industrial applications. The researchers decided to look at soybean because it is the fifth largest crop in the world, and second largest in the US. It is also highly exposed to nanoparticles. Soybean is farmed intensely with fossil-fuel powered equipment, resulting in large deposition of nanoparticles from the exhaust. It is amended with wastewater treatment biosolids as a matter of routine. Previous studies have already shown that soybean plants bioaccumulated pharmaceuticals and metals from biosolid amended soils.
Mounting Evidence of Bug Resistance to Monsanto's Corn - (Bloomberg - September 5, 2012)
Evidence is mounting that Monsanto's genetically modified corn is losing its effectiveness to bugs, the EPA says, with studies finding that rootworms on two Illinois farms had become resistant to insecticide that the corn produces. Rootworms affect corn’s ability to draw water and nutrients from the soil and were responsible for about $billion a year in damages and pesticide bills until seeds with built-in insecticide were developed a decade ago. The agency’s latest statement on rootworm resistance comes a year after the problem was first documented and just as U.S. corn yields are forecast to be the lowest in 17 years amid drought in the Corn Belt. Corn accounted for $4.81B of Monsanto's sales last year, or 41% of the total.
Modern Wheat a "Perfect, Chronic Poison," Doctor Says – (CBS News – September 3, 2012)
Modern wheat is a "perfect, chronic poison," according to Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist who has published a book all about the world's most popular grain. Davis said that the wheat we eat these days isn't the wheat your grandma had: "It's an 18-inch tall plant created by genetic research in the '60s and '70s," he said on "CBS This Morning." "This thing has many new features nobody told you about, such as there's a new protein in this thing called gliadin. It's not gluten. I'm not addressing people with gluten sensitivities and celiac disease. I'm talking about everybody else because everybody else is susceptible to the gliadin protein that is an opiate. This thing binds into the opiate receptors in your brain and in most people stimulates appetite, such that we consume 440 more calories per day, 365 days per year." Asked if the farming industry could change back to the grain it formerly produced, Davis said it could, but it would not be economically feasible because it yields less per acre. However, Davis said a movement has begun with people turning away from wheat - and dropping substantial weight.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
FBI disputes claims of hackers' Apple data breach - (Associated Press - September 5, 2012)
The FBI has disputed a computer hacker group's claim that it stole personal identification data on millions of Apple device owners from an FBI agent's laptop. FBI officials said the bureau never asked for and never possessed the database that the group, which calls itself AntiSec, is posting on a website. The group has released a link to a database of more than 1 million unique identification numbers for Apple devices, which could include iPhones and iPads. AntiSec said the data is just a piece of the more than 12 million unique identification numbers and personal information on the device owners that it got from a laptop used by an FBI agent. Apple assigns unique device identification numbers (UDIDs) — a string of numbers and letters — to all of its devices. The numbers let iTunes and application developers know which device is running which apps. As an example, the numbers allow game developers to keep track of users' high scores. Besides the identification numbers, the information posted by AntiSec has the name that a person chooses to name their device and a description of whether the device is an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Notwithstanding and FBI denial, AntiSec is very specific about the laptop it managed to hack. “Supervisor Special Agent Christopher Stangl's machine was compromised via a AtomicReferenceArray vulnerability in Java in March, the black hats claim.” More details.
Report Details US Abuse of Gaddafi Opponents under Bush - (Nation of Change - September 6, 2012)
Startling new evidence of the torture, unlawful rendition, and other abuse of Libyan anti-Gaddafi rebels in U.S. detention facilities during the George W. Bush administration has been revealed by Human Rights Watch (HRW). The groundbreaking report, “Delivered into Enemy Hands: U.S.-Led Abuse and Rendition of Opponents to Gaddafi’s Libya”, was made public one week after Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Justice Department’s decision to cease investigations of Central Intelligence Agency officials who may have been responsible for the deaths of two prisoners. The investigation, which initially began with the examination of 101 prisoner cases, was reduced to that of only two already dead prisoners. Additionally, the investigation only encompassed the abuses which were unauthorized by Bush. Thus, the investigations did not include alleged waterboarding and other forms of torture which were approved by the president, according to Laura Pitter, counter-terrorism advisor at HRW and author of the report. For a detailed description of what was done to people by U.S. interrogators, see: U.S. Used This Torture Box to Interrogate Gadhafi’s Enemies
The Dilemma of U.S.-Iran Relations – (University of Virginia Magazine – September 10, 2012)
R.K. Ramazani is the Edward R. Stettinius Professor Emeritus of Government and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia and an Iranian by birth. In this essay, he notes that “It will take political will in Tehran and Washington to overcome the 33 years of mutual demonization and hostility since the Revolution. But the two sides are not talking to each other, while the drumbeats of war over Iran's nuclear program continue.” Tracing 70 years of friendship and 33 years of hostility between the two countries, he observes that the dilemma of U.S.-Iran relations at this point is how to move into normal relations.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’? – (AutoBlog – August 31, 2012)
According to a recent study, nearly a third of American 19-year-olds haven't bothered to get their driver's licenses yet. Three decades ago, it was just one in eight who skipped that right of passage, according to Michael Sivak, of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, (UMTRI). Among those 20 to 24, meanwhile, only 81% had gotten their licenses in 2010, down from 92% in 1983. Even those teens who do get licensed seem to be getting behind the wheel less often. An April study by the Frontier Group found that the average number of miles driven by those aged 16 to 34 dropped by 23% between 2001 and 2009 – to 7,900 miles annually. The national norm runs between 12,000 and 15,000 miles. Why are young Americans losing their love affair with the automobile? The biggest reason behind this dwindling love affair might be a series of broad societal shifts. A recent analysis of census data found that for the first time since the launch of the Model T, America's urban population is growing faster than in the suburbs. Have you ever tried to take a cellphone or iPad away from a teenager? For a large percentage of Millennials, texting has become the preferred form of communication, and "Virtual contact reduces the need for actual contact," suggests UMTRI's Sivak. "We found that the percentage of young drivers was inversely related to the availability of the Internet."
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Best UFO Sightings of June, 2012 – (You Tube – June 26, 2012)
This is a video compilation of more than a dozen UFO sightings in June of this year. The compiler notes that he has put a lot of effort into researching each case in this video, however nobody's perfect, and there are bound to be a few videos in here that have been debunked or proven fake. On the other hand, there are enough of them that describing them all as fake raises numerous other questions.
Study Finds Middle Class Shrinking – (CBS News – August 23, 2012)
Kids Average $15 a Week in Allowance - (CNN - August 24, 2012)
Kids are raking in an average of $15 a week in allowance, according to a recent survey. While children generally receive a larger allowance the older they get, the average across all ages is $780 a year, according to a survey by the American Institute of CPAs. That's enough to buy an iPad and an iPod Touch, or an XBox 360 with 10 video games. In just four years, a diligent saver could buy their first clunker to drive their friends around. But money earned isn't money saved, and a majority of parents say their kids are spending their allowance just as quickly as they receive it.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
A Colloidal Display: Application and Summary – (You Tube – April 2, 2012)
The Colloidal Display proposes an innovative solution which transforms a soap film into the world's thinnest screen. This screen's transparency, texture, and shape can be controlled dynamically by using ultrasonic sound waves. The screen's unique material, which allows objects to pass through, promotes new ways of interaction. Basically they've made a bubble material that you can control with ultrasonic noise, which lets you control patterns of colour and reflectivity and transparency. So you can 'paint' images on the surface, making parts reflective or transparent, using sound.
Synthetic Materials Set New World Record for Greatest Amount of Surface Area – (Giz Mag – September 11, 2012)
Researchers at Northwestern University, Illinois, have broken a world record in the creation of two synthetic materials, named NU-109 and NU-110, which have the greatest amount of surface areas of any material to date. To put this into perspective: if one were able to take a crystal of NU-110 the size of a grain of salt, and somehow unfold it, the surface area would cover a desktop. Additionally, the internal surface area of just one gram of the new material would cover one-and-a-half football fields. The NU-109 and NU-110 synthetic materials belong to a class of crystalline compounds referred to as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). MOFs are thought to hold considerable potential as vessels for the transport and storage of natural gas, catalysts, and other sustainable materials chemistry.
The 10 Best Job Opportunities of the Future - (NBC - September 3, 2012)
Between 2010 and 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the number of pest control workers will increase by 26.1 percent. But number one? Actuaries. An actuary analyzes the financial costs of risk for individuals and organizations, using a combination of statistics and financial theory to make projections. While there were only 21,700 actuaries in the U.S. as of 2010, there will be 18,900 new job openings in this field by the end of the decade. However, only 5,800 of those new openings, or slightly less than 31%, will be derived from job growth. The other 13,100 actuary openings will be available to replace those leaving the field, meaning more than six of 10 actuaries won’t remain in the field during the decade.
Are We Prepared for a World Where People Print Guns? – (Market Place – September 4, 2012)
The latest info about the emerging technology of 3D printing: someone on a gun enthusiast web site claims to have printed a gun. Which makes for a complicated future for society. Plastic parts, working gun. No serial number, no registration, no waiting period. So how does the law deal with something like that? According to Jonathan Zittrain, law and computer science professor at Harvard, "It's the kind of thing that might just be alright, we missed a spot. You could see legislators going back in and so long as it could withstand the constitutional challenge under the Second Amendment, decide to tighten up the law a little bit to say whatever you're not allowed to acquire at a store, suppose you're a convicted felon for a violent crime, and under the law you're not allowed to go into the store and buy a gun, whatever you can't do in the store, you're not allowed to do at home. The problem is how do you enforce that kind of thing."
Democracy: Is a Continent Too Big? – (Truth Out – September 7, 2012)
Is it really feasible - in systemic and foundational terms - to sustain equality, liberty, and democracy in a very large-scale, centrally governed continental system that spans almost three thousand miles and includes almost 300 million people? And if not, how might a democratic nation ultimately be conceived? Reflection on the impact of very large scale on democracy can be traced back to the Greeks, and later especially to Montesquieu, who held that democracy could flourish only in small nations. The judgment that very large scale is inimical to democracy was also taken very seriously by the founding fathers. Indeed, at a time when the United States hardly extended beyond the Appalachian mountains, John Adams worried: "What would Aristotle and Plato have said, if anyone had talked to them, of a federative republic of thirteen states, inhabiting a country of five hundred leagues in extent?" Similarly - again, at a time when the nation numbered a mere 4 million people - even James Madison (who challenged the traditional argument that democracy was possible only in small nations) believed that a very large- (rather than a "mean"-scale) republic could easily become a de facto tyranny because elites at the center would be able to divide and conquer diverse groups dispersed throughout the system. Few people imagined democracy in a continent. (Editor’s note: Please excuse the US-centric authors of this article who have overlooked the fact that Canada and Mexico are also part of the North American continent and, between them, probably exceed the land mass of the US. Not to mention, democracy seems to be working fairly well in Canada which also spans the continent. Nonetheless, the article is worth considering.)
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.
Britain's ‘Atlantis' Found at Bottom of North Sea – (Daily Mail – July 2, 2012)
Britain's ‘Atlantis' - a hidden underwater world swallowed by the North Sea - has been discovered by divers working with science teams from the University of St Andrews. Doggerland, a huge area of dry land that stretched from Scotland to Denmark was slowly submerged by water between 18,000 BC and 5,500 BC. Divers from oil companies have found remains of a 'drowned world' with a population at one time of tens of thousands. The area was once the ‘real heartland’ of Europe and was hit by a devastating tsunami, the researchers claim. The wave was part of a larger process that submerged the low-lying area over the course of thousands of years. A team of climatologists, archaeologists and geophysicists has now mapped the area using new data from oil companies - and revealed the full extent of a 'lost land' once roamed by mammoths.
JUST FOR FUN
24 Hours of World Air Traffic Compressed into One Minute – (YouTube – April 23, 2009)
This is a 24-hour observation of all of the large aircraft flights in the world (recorded by the airplane flight transponders via Geo-stationary orbital satellites) patched together and condensed to about a minute, i.e., you watch 24 hours of flights compressed into one minute. You can see it is summer in the north by the location of sunlight on the planet. With this 24-hour observation of aircraft travel on the earth's surface, we also get to see the daylight pattern move across the planet. Note the intensity of traffic in London Heathrow Airport. Notice the reduction of activity in each region during the darkness of late night/early morning. (Editor’s note: This is actually NOT satellite imagery as claimed; but it IS a very clever graphic presentation that makes visible the density of contemporary global air traffic. Snopes refers to it as "fauxtography". )
Flughafen Knuffingen – (You Tube – August 12, 2011)
Maybe as a kid, you were fascinated with model trains that powered through miniature villages, countryside and forests. Technology has updated our standard means of transportation, but not our fascination. How about a miniature international airport on the outskirts of a modern urban setting, every detail in place and all of it working – including take-offs and landings? Next time you are in Hamburg, Germany you can see it live.
A FINAL QUOTE--
I don't try to describe the future. I try to prevent it. ~ Ray Bradbury
A special thanks to: Thomas Bergin, Bernard Calil, Ken Dabkowski, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Kurzweil AI, Diane Petersen, Petra Pieterse, Bobbie Rohn, 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