Volume 15, Number 22 - 11/30/12 Twitter  Facebook  

FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT--
  • In the most massive study of genetic variation yet, researchers estimated the age of more than one million variants to our DNA code, found across human populations. The vast majority proved to be quite young.

  • It has been nearly 28 years since we have had a colder-than-average month.

  • If you were a pundit who had to answer every Big Question about politics and economics with the same four-word explanation, what would it be? Hint: “Demographics” might be the major word.

  • A UK project is underway to develop technologies and procedures to allow large commercial aircraft to operate routinely and safely without pilots in the same skies as manned civilian flights (i.e. drones as commuter planes).


PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

Well, it’s the holiday time again. On one hand, it clearly is a joyous time of the year, but I’m one who frankly gets tired of more than thirty days of Christmas carols on the radio, one after another after another. Maybe it’s a function of age and the lack of any small kids in our immediate families, but when the Christmas shopping season starts before Thanksgiving – as it does around here – and the selling machine gears up big time, the warmth and softness of what it used to be seems missing.

No matter, most of us are looking around for gifts to give this season, so I thought I’d send along some suggestion of books that you and your dear ones might find provocative. If you’re interested in any of these books, just click on the picture and you will be taken to Amazon.

Too Much Magic
Jim Kunstler has a new book out, “Too Much Magic: Wishful Think, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation.” You can tell from the title that Jim is still operating in big-idea land. Kunstler is always fun to read, and whether you buy all of his ideas or not, they always make you think.

This book is like a straight line into the future – considering many of the ideas and people who believe that humanity and America will be saved by technology. This is a good summary of the structural, sustainability arguments against the automobile industry, mass migrations and demographic shifts out of suburbia and the inadequacy of renewable energy sources and alternative fuels (as we understand them today) to sustain the present systems. As always, Kunstler offers delightful reading (he does know how to use the language), and thoughtful perspectives.

Evolutionaries
If Jim believes that all of the change that we are experiencing is part of some much larger cosmic and evolutionary shift that is a path to a new human and a new world, then this book is not the forum in which he has chosen to express those views. But, Carter Phipps, who has written “Evolutionaries: Unlocking the Spiritual and Cultural Potential at Science’s Greatest Idea” clearly believes that something of that nature is afoot.

Carter, who used to be the executive editor of EnlighteNext magazine, has seen and met a large number of people who are at the forefront of change. In this book he highlights key individuals and makes the case that each of them is playing a specific role in the emergence of a new world.

Publishers Weekly called it “A masterful survey of the diverse ideas that make up the emerging field of Integral thought,” and he does do a good job extracting the new ideas that are changing the nature of who we are.

If Kunstler’s book is a straight line toward disaster, Phipps’ is a loop, starting with ancient ideas, going out to the bleeding edge of new scientific thought and circling back to the new meanings of some older concepts that argue for a future of positivity and excitement. It’s a good book.

Both Kunstler and Phipps intersect at Ray Kurzweil – with each offering rather dramatically different assessments about Ray’s ideas, as you might expect.

Eben Alexander, M.D. has written a book that immediately raced to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list that makes the scientific and experiential case for the existence of a heaven. My wife Diane read the book (first) on a recent road trip and pronounced "Proof of Heaven - A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife" a really useful read. She suggested that this blurb from the website was a good summary (I couldn’t get her to write a review).

A SCIENTIST’S CASE FOR THE AFTERLIFE

Proof of Heaven
Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists. A highly trained neurosurgeon, Alexander knew that NDEs feel real, but are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.

Then, Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human—shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back.

Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.

Alexander’s story is not a fantasy. Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.

This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to. That it happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary. No scientist or person of faith will be able to ignore it. Reading it will change your life.
Return of the Bird Tribes
Recently I was drawn to reread "Return of the Bird Tribes" by Ken Carey. One of my friends, who I recommended this book to, responded by saying it was really interesting how books like this, though you probably read them 20 years ago when they first came out, suddenly seem to have far more significance when you read them now. That certainly was the case here. This is a channeled book (notice how we’re moving inexorably from hard things to the soft stuff here?), that was the result of an epiphanal multi-day experience more than two decades ago where Carey was shown the big picture of what was going on with humanity and this planet during this period of time. It’s a fascinating and enlightening perspective that could fill in a lot of holes in your understanding.

I was very moved when I finished this book. The last part provides some very valuable advice on what we, as individuals, could be doing to position ourselves appropriately for this shift. I strongly recommend it.

Now, things really start to get strange and weird. My friend Frank Demarco, who was once the chief editor of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, has written a number of books, many of which are derived from the rather extraordinary capability that he has had most of his life that allows him to connect across the veil to very bright and informed sources in other dimensions who understand far more than most of us do about how the larger reality works. This book, “The Cosmic Internet: Explanations From the Other Side” literally explains, in understandable terms, how the energetic entities that we are populate and interface with everything else in the space.

The Cosmic Internet
The book's first chapter, "A Model of Our Minds on the Other Side," provides a way to see the interaction of lives in the three-dimensional physical world and the greater life that exists on the non-physical side of things.

"The Individual as Convenient Fiction," chapter two, reinterprets our lives and essence, showing that what we think we know about ourselves is true only partially, and only from a particular point of view.

The whole book is like that: logical explanations from the dramatically different perspective of the operation of a world-space that we otherwise take for granted. For example, Frank’s sources say that thoughts are essentially alive . . . really, that everything is alive to one degree or another. You can easily make the case from these missives that the sunlight that bathes us is energy that has intelligence within it. Like calling across the room to someone where the audible sound is not just noise, but is information: if you know the language you can make sense out of it.

If you are like me, you’ll hunt up his other books after your read this.

The Twelve Layers of DNA
There are quite a few esoteric sources that suggest that part of the shift that we are experiencing is the activation of previously unactivated DNA. I really don’t know what is happening here except that energy pulses from the sun and the center of the galaxy are apparently communicating with our DNA and activating capabilities that have not been widely available.

If you’d like to understand more – from an esoteric base – about how DNA works and some of what might come out of this change, there is only one book I’d recommend to you. It is “The Twelve Layers of DNA” by Lee Carroll.

Lee, as you may know, channels a source named Kryon, which claims, very convincingly, that it was responsible for developing the underlying operational scheme of this reality that we live in and that we refer to as science. Kryon designed our science.

Starting in 2006 Kryon alerted Lee that over the next three to four years he would be giving an esoteric primer about DNA to Lee and that it would be the subject of his next book. It was published two years ago. Here’s how others have described it:

DNA is our chemical blueprint, but the Human Genome Project found that over 90 percent of it is not coded. In fact, only approximately 4 percent creates the 23,000 genes in the Human body. The rest? It’s a puzzle to the extreme, and to this day there is no answer why most of DNA seems to have no symmetry or codes of any kind. In fact, it seems to be random.

Kryon has now given us full channeled explanation of this, bringing it right into the quantum world. Is it possible that DNA is mostly quantum instructions—information that speaks to the Human body? And if so, what’s in those instructions that comprise over 2.7 billion chemicals per DNA double helix?
If this subject interests you, here is the best book.

Help Us Please.

In the coming year, we’re going to do our best here at FUTUREdition to continue to try to provide you with provocative indications of what’s headed our way and try to make a some sense out of what we can. Will you help us do that?

It costs about $15,000 a year to produce this free newsletter and we have no other source of funding, so every holiday season we ask you to pitch in to offset that cost. Many of you have been very generous in the past, for which I am very appreciative. I hope that you’ll be able to be generous again.

If you think that 24 issues of FE that you receive is worth $25 – just a nickel more than a dollar an issue (in U.S. money!) – then please send that along. If you can help with more than that, let me tell you that we can use it and I will assure you that your gift will be used directly to continue to publish FUTUREdition.

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INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

Leahy Scuttles His Warrantless e-mail Surveillance Bill – (CNET – November 20, 2012)
Sen. Patrick Leahy has abandoned his controversial proposal that would grant government agencies more surveillance power -- including warrantless access to Americans' e-mail accounts -- than they possess under current law. The Vermont Democrat said on Twitter that he would "not support such an exception" for warrantless access. The remarks came a few hours after a CNET article was published earlier that same morning that disclosed the existence of the measure. Leahy's about-face came in response to a deluge of criticism, including the American Civil Liberties Union saying that warrants should be required, and the conservative group FreedomWorks launching a petition to Congress—with more than 2,300 messages sent so far—titled: "Tell Congress: Stay Out of My Email!" (Editor’s note: This is just one example of effective participatory democracy as it is now taking place at the electronic level on an ongoing basis.)



NEW REALITIES

This Device Can Make an Object Invisible – (Business Insider – November 12, 2012)
Researchers are getting closer to being able to hide a solid object from sight. Study researcher David Smith, from Duke University, and his graduate student, Nathan Landy, have created a structure that can guide electromagnetic waves around an object and have them converge on the other side. To an outside observer, these waves look like they passed right through the object. However, microwaves, which were used in this study, are at a lower energy frequency than visible light, which makes them easier to deflect around an object.

Human Evolution Enters an Exciting New Phase – (Wired – November 29, 2012)
If you could escape the human time scale for a moment, and regard evolution from the perspective of deep time, in which the last 10,000 years are a short chapter in a long saga, you’d say: Things are pretty wild right now. In the most massive study of genetic variation yet, researchers estimated the age of more than one million variants, or changes to our DNA code, found across human populations. The vast majority proved to be quite young. The chronologies tell a story of evolutionary dynamics in recent human history, a period characterized by both narrow reproductive bottlenecks and sudden, enormous population growth. The evolutionary dynamics of these features resulted in a flood of new genetic variation, accumulating so fast that natural selection hasn’t caught up yet. As a species, we are freshly bursting with the raw material of evolution. “Most of the mutations that we found arose in the last 200 generations or so. There hasn’t been much time for random change or deterministic change through natural selection,” said geneticist Joshua Akey of the University of Washington, co-author of the study. “We have a repository of all this new variation for humanity to use as a substrate. In a way, we’re more evolvable now than at any time in our history.”



GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY

Cartilage Made Using Hybrid 3D Printer – (BBC News – November 22, 2012)
Researchers have developed a way to "print" cartilage that could help treat joint diseases and sports injuries. They say that the new material is more robust and hardwearing than previous efforts to create artificial cartilage. Scientists said they were able to build cartilage made from a chemical compound known as a polymer coated with cartilage cells from a rabbit's ear. They combined the ink-jet printer with a machine that uses an electric current to spin very fine fibres from the polymer solution. It allowed the construction to be easily controlled, meaning scientists could make the artificial cartilage porous. This is key to encouraging real cartilage cells to integrate into the surrounding tissue. So far the printed cartilage has been tested on mice and, after eight weeks, appeared to have developed the properties of real cartilage, suggesting it has potential for insertion into human patients.

Study Spotlights High Breast Cancer Risk for Plastics Workers – (Center for Public Integrity – November 19, 2012)
For more than three decades, workers, most of them women, have complained of dreadful conditions in many of the plastic automotive parts factories in Windsor, Ontario: Pungent fumes and dust that caused nosebleeds, headaches, nausea and dizziness. Blobs of smelly, smoldering plastic dumped directly onto the floor. The women fretted, usually in private, about what seemed to be an excess of cancer and other diseases in the factories across the river from Detroit. Now, workers are the focal point of a new study that appears to strengthen the tie between breast cancer and toxic exposures. The six-year study, conducted by a team of researchers from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, examined the occupational histories of 1,006 women from Ontario’s Essex and Kent counties who had the disease and 1,146 who didn’t. Adjustments were made for smoking, weight, alcohol use and other lifestyle and reproductive factors. The results were striking: Women employed in the automotive plastics industry were almost five times as likely to develop breast cancer, prior to menopause, as women in the control group. These workers may handle an array of carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. They include the hardening agent bisphenol A (BPA) — whose presence in polycarbonate water bottles and other products has unnerved some consumers — plus solvents, heavy metals and flame retardants.

Polymer Implants Could Help Heal Brain Injuries (Giz Mag – November 27, 2012)
Using implants made from porous biocompatible materials, scientists have recently been successful in regrowing things such as teeth, tendons and heart tissue, plus bone and cartilage. The materials act as a sort of nanoscale three-dimensional scaffolding, to which lab-cultivated cells can be added, or that the recipient’s own cells can colonize. Now, a Spanish research team has used the same principle to grow new brain tissue – the technique could ultimately be used to treat victims of brain injuries or strokes. The project was led by Prof. José Miguel Soria from Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera, and Prof. Manuel Monleón of the Universitat Politècnica de València. They implanted samples of the copolymer within two areas of the brains of live rats – the cerebral cortex and the subventricular zone. After two months, new blood vessels had grown into the implants, plus the material had been colonized by the rats’ neural progenitor cells. According to the scientists, the presence of the blood vessels and progenitor cells should allow for the generation of new neurons and glia (cells that support neurons), which should in turn be capable of healing brain injuries.

Re-Timer to Reset Sleep – (Flinders University – November 21, 2012)
Re-Timer is a wearable green light device invented by Flinders University sleep researchers to reset the body’s internal clock. The portable device, which is worn like a pair of sunglasses and emits a soft green light onto the eyes, will help to counter jet lag, keep shift workers more alert and get teenagers out of bed by advancing or delaying sleeping patterns. Psychologist Professor Leon Lack, the device’s chief inventor, said that the light from Re-Timer stimulates the part of the brain responsible for regulating the 24-hour body clock. “Our extensive research studies have shown that green light is one of the most effective wavelengths for advancing or delaying the body clock, and to date is the only wearable device using green light.” Lack recommended wearing the glasses for three days for 50 minutes each day either after awakening in the morning to advance the body clock, or before bed for those wanting to delay the body clock to wake up later.

First Randomized Controlled Trial to Show Spinal Cord Regeneration in Dogs – (Cambridge University – November 19, 2012)
Cambridge scientists used a unique type of cell to regenerate the damaged part of the dogs’ spines. The researchers are cautiously optimistic that the work could have a future role in the treatment of human patients with similar injuries if used alongside other treatments. Scientists have been aware for over a decade that olfactory ensheathing cells (OEC) might be useful in treating the damaged spinal cord because of their unique properties. The cells have the ability to support nerve fiber growth that maintains a pathway between the nose and the brain. Previous research using laboratory animals has already revealed that OECs can aid regeneration of the parts of nerve cells that transmit signals (axons) so as to form a ‘bridge’ between damaged and undamaged spinal cord tissue. A Phase 1 trial in human patients with SCI established that the procedure is safe.

Building Biomimetic Synthetic Membrane Channels out of DNA – (Kurzweil AI – November 22, 2012)
Physicists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) and the University of Michigan have constructed synthetic membrane channels using DNA molecules as programmable building materials for custom-designed, self-assembling, nanoscale structures. Synthetic membrane channels could be used as molecular sensors, antimicrobial agents, and drivers of novel nanodevices. To wall off the insides of cells from the outside world, organisms use an impermeable membrane made from two layers of lipid molecules. Such membranes can also be found within cells, for example encapsulating the nucleus, and even surrounding many kinds of viruses. Membrane channels are tube-like structures made of proteins, which pierce the barriers and regulate the two-way exchange of material and information between the inside and outside. Now researchers have demonstrated the first artificial membrane channel made entirely of DNA. One possible application is to imitate the action of viruses or phages, breaking through the cell walls of targeted bacteria to kill them. In gene therapy, synthetic membrane channels might be used as nano-needles to inject material into cells.



ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

We’re on Pace for 4°C of Global Warming. Here’s Why That Terrifies the World Bank. – (Washington Post – November 19, 2012)
Over the years at the U.N. climate talks, the goal has been to keep future global warming below 2°C. But as those talks have faltered, emissions have kept rising, and that 2°C goal is now looking increasingly out of reach. Lately, the conversation has shifted toward how to deal with 3°C of warming. Or 4°C. Or potentially more. The World Bank just commissioned an analysis by scientists at the Potsdam Institute looking at the consequences of a 4°C rise in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels by 2100. And the report appears to have unnerved many bank officials. “The latest predictions on climate change should shock us into action,” wrote World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. The report notes that a 4°C world could prove difficult—perhaps impossible—for many poorer countries to adapt to. Article details the 5 major points in the report as well as giving a link to the complete report. See also: Investment Alliance with 22 Trillion in Assets Pleads for Urgent Climate Action based on the World Bank report.

It Has Been Nearly 28 Years Since We Have Had a Colder-Than-Average Month – (Slate – November 16, 2012)
Found in NOAA's latest State of the Climate report: The average temperature across land and ocean surfaces during October was 14.63°C (58.23°F). This is 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average and ties with 2008 as the fifth warmest October on record. The record warmest October occurred in 2003 and the record coldest October occurred in 1912. This is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature. The last below-average month was February 1985. The last October with a below-average temperature was 1976.



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

Smartphone Battery Life Could Be Doubled Or Tripled With Silicon Graphene Tech – (Idea Lab – November 11, 2012)
Now over a year since the method was first described in detail, the technology is making its way into commercial production: A Los Angeles-based startup company called California Lithium Battery in late October 2012 announced that it had achieved a record-setting lithium-ion battery performance in laboratory tests. The technology is called GEN3, and it involves extremely precise modifications to the anode portion of a standard lithium-ion battery. GEN3 uses silicon for the anode, where most lithium ion batteries today use graphite. Silicon has a much higher absorption rate of lithium ions, which flow from the cathode to the anode during charging, making silicon a better material to use when building high-capacity batteries. But silicon also rapidly deteriorates after just a few charge/discharge cycles, making it unsuitable for any longterm use. A way around this involves inserting porous sheets of graphene - a relatively new, Nobel Prize-winning nano-material that is among the strongest, thinnest and most electrically conductive ever developed - in between silicon nanoparticles, creating a kind of sandwich.

New Tech Could Boost HDD Capacity Fivefold – (Giz Mag – November 15, 2012)
A team of researchers at the University of Texas is working on a novel design that could circumvent some of the pressing limitations of current data storage technology and open the door to a new generation of very high-density, cheap and reliable hard disk drives. Since disk drives were first introduced in the mid 50s, memory storage density has increased by nine orders of magnitude – a staggering pace that rivals the exponential growth in performance of integrated circuits. In hard disk drives, bits are stored as individual magnetic dots laid onto a metal surface: the closer together the dots, the higher the storage density. We can now cram as many as one trillion dots (128 GB of data) on a single square inch of metal. However, placing the dots any closer than that would cause magnetic interference from neighboring dots that will randomly flip bits and corrupt the data irreparably. Researchers at the University of Texas have come up with a solution to the problem: nanoscale self-assembling dots. In doing so, they have laid the foundations for the production of cheap, reliable hard drives with record storage density.



SHELTER/ARCHITECTURE

In China, New Sustainable Cities Are Rising From Nothing – (Fast Company – November 16, 2012)
In 1902, a self-taught urban planner named Ebenezer Howard published his utopian vision for "Garden Cities"—self-contained circular towns radiating from a central city, connected only by train. Neither town nor country, they were a dense, compact fusion of the two: suburbia without sprawl. Although Garden Cities never really caught on in the West, the Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture has resurrected the idea with Chinese characteristics: a “prototype city” twice as populous and 20 times as dense, with a tower taller than the Empire State Building at its core. The first prototype is slated for a patch of farmland roughly 10 miles from the core of Chengdu, China’s westernmost mega-city. The master plan calls for 80,000 residents to live and work within a half-square mile circle in which any point will be at most a 15-minute walk away. To achieve that level of density—which is comparable to the Chicago Loop—“the average height of the buildings would have to be 18 stories,” says Adrian Smith. But to preserve a 480-acre greenbelt around the city, and to mollify officials anxious about developers chewing up so much farmland, the plans call for towers as high as 400 meters (1,312 feet), taller than anything in Chengdu itself. See also: Strange, Beautiful and Unexpected: Planned Cities as Seen from Space

A Sleek Pre-Fab Design for the Modern Homesteader – (Fast Company – November 9, 2012)
A new wave of pre-fab home manufacturing is bringing inexpensive, sustainable homes to the eco-friendly masses. The latest design is a $52,000 home that can be shipped anywhere in the country and assembled for a just a few thousand dollars (though the additional costs bring the price up to about $200,000). Named the Solar Homestead, it’s a solar-powered, two-bedroom, one-bath unit with a porch. The manufacturer says it’s net-zero—the home will produce as much energy as it consumes—thanks to a strategic design relying on solar panels, superior insulation, including triple-glazed windows and double-stud walls, and high-efficiency heating and appliances. An added bonus: The factory that makes the Homestead runs entirely on renewable energy.



ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Lessons from Sandy: How One Community Kept the Lights On – (Christian Science Monitor – November 15, 2012)
The lessons learned since darkness descended on central New Jersey in the wake of Sandy's wrecking winds include at least one tiny triumph: Princeton University's leafy campus stayed lit by tapping its own smaller version of the power grid – a "microgrid." Microgrids were a hot topic among some policymakers even before Sandy hit. Backup generators may fail to start, run out of fuel, or break down. But microgrids like the one at Princeton act as a highly efficient, miniature version of the big power grid, operate 24/7, and tap into reliable natural gas-fired generators or perhaps wind turbines or even solar panels with battery storage. Minutes after trees fell on utility lines two weeks ago, knocking out power to Princeton, the university's energy manager, Ted Borer, began checking the school's big natural gas-fired turbine generator. Serving 12,000 students and faculty, the generator routinely supplies all the school's heat and hot water and half its electricity – the rest usually coming from the local utility. After a few minutes in the dark, Mr. Borer flipped switches that restored power to much of the campus including one dining hall, the dormitories, and all the critical lab experiments. Some classrooms and administration buildings remained dark. But for nearly two days the campus was on its own power, which allowed some students to begin organizing efforts to help others in the surrounding city, which was still in the dark.

Four African Teenagers Create Power from Pee – (Fast Company – November 6, 2012)
At a recent innovation fair in Lagos, Nigeria, one of the most impressive and surprising devices displayed there was one that uses a material we all have ready access to in order to power an engine. Four girls, aged 13 and 14, have created a prototype generator that runs on urine. For one liter of urine (about half what a person produces in a day), the generator will six hours of electricity. The process works by separating the hydrogen out of the urine, and then using it to power the generator. While the ammonia and urea in your urine make it easier to separate the hydrogen than it is to separate hydrogen from water (which is why we can’t use water as a power source) this generator still requires a large power input to work in the first place. You couldn’t just set this up in your bathroom and power your house from your toilet. That said, other, more established scientists are pursuing urine as a power source, and so we can do nothing but tip our caps to these four girls for doing some serious technology leap-frogging.

Germany Has Built Clean Energy Economy U.S. Rejected in 80s – (Bloomberg – November 14, 2012)
The German Reichstag, rebuilt from near ruins in 1999, is now both a symbol and an example of the revolutionary movement known as the Energiewende. The word translates simply as, "energy change." It calls for an end to the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power and embraces clean, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass. The government has set a target of 80% renewable power by 2050, but many Germans believe 100% renewable power is achievable by then. Such a massive power shift may sound impossible to those of us from the United States, where giant oil and coal corporations control the energy industry and the very idea of human-caused climate change is still hotly contested. In Germany, that debate is long over. A dozen years of growing public support have driven all major political parties to endorse the Energiewende. If a member of parliament called climate change a hoax or said that its cause is unknown, he or she would be laughed out of office.

Russian Scientist — New Little Ice Age Near – (Ice Age Now – November 13, 2012)
Dr Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St. Petersburg, Russia, is suggesting the next Grand Minimum in this paper: Bicentennial Decrease of the Total Solar Irradiance Leads to Unbalanced Thermal Budget of the Earth. “From early 90s we observe bicentennial decrease in both the TSI and the portion of its energy absorbed by the Earth,” says Abdussamatov. “The Earth as a planet will henceforward have negative balance in the energy budget which will result in the temperature drop in approximately 2014.” (Editor’s note: In addition to his work as head of Space Research of the Sun Sector at the Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, astrophysicist Dr. Abdussamatov is also head of the Russian segment of the International Space Station – and, judging from the preceding article, it’s probably a good thing that he isn’t running for any office in the German government.)



TRANSPORTATION

Pilotless Aircraft: This Is Your Ground Pilot Speaking – (Economist – November 24, 2012)
Autonomous civil aircraft could be flying before cars go driverless. Within the next few weeks a twin-engined Jetstream will take off from Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire, England, and head north towards Scotland. Like any other flight, the small commuter airliner will respond to instructions from air-traffic controllers, navigate a path and take care to avoid other aircraft. But the pilot flying the aircraft will not be in the cockpit: he will have his feet firmly on the ground in a control room back at Warton. Pilotless aircraft are now widely used by the armed forces, but those drones fly only in restricted airspace and conflict zones. The Jetstream mission is part of a project to develop the technologies and procedures that will allow large commercial aircraft to operate routinely and safely without pilots in the same skies as manned civilian flights.



AGRICULTURE/FOOD

An Electron Microscope Reveals the Hidden Horrors of Processed Foods – (Fast Company – November 9, 2012)
Photographer Caren Alpert wants you to take a good, hard look at what you eat. Not that she’s proselytizing: “I’m not trying to dictate what foods are important or what foods you should like or dislike,” Alpert maintains. “I’m saying, ‘Look at it differently.’” To that end, she’s given everything from chocolate cake and candy to radishes and coffee beans the microscopic treatment, in the hopes of underscoring how natural and processed foods differ not only in their nutritional value but in their chemical structures. “If you start to look at what’s in the photos, like the pineapple leaf, there’s such a complicated scenario happening right on the leaves of the plant,” she says. “Conversely, the Lifesaver shows how our food is being changed so much in processing that it is not reminiscent of anything.” Actually, her image of a Pop Tart (photo in article) is reminiscent of a pink (and wholly unappetizing) calcium deposit. A collection of the electron microscope photographs can be seen here.

“Magical” Paper Prevents Your Food From Rotting – (Fast Company – November 15, 2012)
All in all, spoilage contributes to about a third of the global food supply going to waste each year, stuffing landfills while leaving hungry mouths empty. Kavita Shukla didn’t set out to solve this problem. In fact, she was in middle school when she had the brainstorm that led to the invention of Fenugreen FreshPaper, small squares of spice-infused paper that can extend the shelf life of produce up to four times longer than usual. “It basically works by inhibiting bacterial and fungal growth, as well as the enzymes that cause fruit to over-ripen,” Shukla explains. “The concept is that you can just drop a sheet into a drawer or carton. Sometimes people put it into a fruit bowl. Our customers call it a ‘dryer sheet for produce.’” Like so many innovations, this one has a great origin story.

Kaiser Speaks about GMOs – (Willamette Live – November, 2012)
Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plan, has made an official statement on GMOs (genetically modified organisms in food,) calling the topic important both scientifically and politically. “What You Need To Know About GMOs,” was the title of an article printed in Kaiser Permanente’s Northwest Fall 2012 newsletter, Partners in Health. An official spokesperson for Kaiser, when asked about the article, responded, “The article was written by one of our nutritionists, and presents her views and insights on the subject. As a mission-based non-profit healthcare organization, we believe it is important to share information with our members on a wide range of topics related to health care and health, but we do not take an organizational position on every issue.” Though Kaiser Permanente will not state an official policy on GMOs, the nutritionist-author of “What You Need To Know About GMOs” (who is not named,) described studies that showed significant physical damage caused by GMOs and listed ways its members could avoid them.



SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

US Buys Yemen a Fleet of Spy Planes for Growing Shadow War – (Wired – November 27, 2012)
It’s not enough for Yemen’s skies to fill up with armed U.S. drones. Now the Pentagon wants to buy its Yemeni ally small, piloted spy planes. It’s a sign that the U.S. is upgrading the hardware it gives the Yemeni military, and digging in for a long shadow war. That’s the upshot of a recent U.S. military message to the aviation industry. The Navy asked earlier this month for 25 “Light Observation Aircraft” — two-seater Cessna-style planes, good for short-range reconnaissance over, say, a patch of land that an al-Qaida affiliate is trying to overrun. That’s in addition to all of the American remotely piloted aircraft that already fly over Yemen, which has become the hottest undeclared battlefield in the global U.S. drone campaign.



TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

Members of Congress Implore Feds to Back Down on Marijuana Prosecution – (Nation of Change – November 19, 2012)
In light of the marijuana legalization measures passed in Washington and Colorado, 18 members of Congress are asking the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration not to take enforcement action against any individual complying with state law, while two others have introduced a bipartisan bill to formally exempt states with marijuana laws from the federal counterpart. In part, a letter to the two agencies read, “The voters chose to eliminate the illegal marijuana market controlled by cartels and criminals and recognized the disproportionate impact that marijuana has on minorities. These states have chosen to move from a drug policy that spends millions of dollars turning ordinary Americans into criminals toward one that will tightly regulate the use of marijuana while raising tax revenue to support cash-strapped state and local governments. We believe this approach embraces the goals of existing federal marijuana law: to stop international trafficking, deter domestic organized criminal organizations, stop violence associated with the drug trade and protect children.”

The Permanent Militarization of America – (New York Times – November 4, 2012)
Eisenhower’s least heeded warning — concerning the spiritual effects of permanent preparations for war — is more important now than ever. Our culture has militarized considerably since Eisenhower’s era, and civilians, not the armed services, have been the principal cause. From lawmakers’ constant use of “support our troops” to justify defense spending, to TV programs and video games like “NCIS,” “Homeland” and “Call of Duty,” to NBC’s shameful and unreal reality show, “Stars Earn Stripes,” Americans are subjected to a daily diet of stories that valorize the military while the storytellers pursue their own opportunistic political and commercial agendas. Of course, veterans should be thanked for serving their country, as should police officers, emergency workers and teachers. But no institution — particularly one financed by the taxpayers — should be immune from thoughtful criticism. It doesn’t help that there are fewer veterans in Congress today than at any previous point since World War II. Those who have served are less likely to offer unvarnished praise for the military, for it, like all institutions, has its own frustrations and failings. But for non-veterans — including about four-fifths of all members of Congress — there is only unequivocal, unhesitating adulation. The political costs of anything else are just too high.

Boston Police Accused of Spying on Antiwar Groups – (Boston Globe – October 18, 2012)
Internal department documents indicate that between 2007 and 2010, members of the Boston Police Department conducted surveillance on several antiwar groups that have no apparent connections to crime or terrorism — a violation of federal regulations, civil rights groups say. The documents were obtained by the National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union through a lawsuit filed in August 2011 against Boston Police. Those documents include 13 “intelligence reports” that provide details about antiwar groups — among them, the Stop the Wars Coalition, United for Justice with Peace, and Greater Boston Code Pink — along with information about their scheduled events, beliefs, political leanings, and internal dynamics. Each intelligence report is categorized by “criminal act” — either “extremists,” “civil disturbance,” or threats to domestic homeland security. Police said that they are reviewing the accusations asserted in that letter from the ACLU, but said that the Boston Regional Intelligence Center – established after Sept. 11 to focus on antiterrorism and overseen by the department – does not conduct surveillance on protest groups without reason to believe they are tied to crime or terrorism. The Boston Regional Intelligence Center is one of 77 “fusion centers” around the country established with funding from the Department of Homeland Security to help streamline the sharing of information between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in an attempt to combat domestic terrorism.



GLOBAL RELATIONS

Anonymous Hacks Israel, Declares 'All Your Base Are Belong To Us' – (Huffington Post – November 17, 2012)
As the conflict in Gaza escalated, hacker group Anonymous launched a series of attacks on websites owned by the Israeli military, government and other institutions within Israel. Since then, the scope of attacks has widened to include the deletion of government and financial databases, and the posting of more than 2,000 email addresses and passwords from an Israeli real estate website. A series of tweets from @YourAnonNews, a Twitter account associated with the hacktivist group, claimed that databases belonging to Bank Jerusalem and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been deleted. The phrase “All your base are belong to us” echoes a famous meme which originated in the video game "Zero Wing." (Editor’s note: It is interesting to note that this article does not carry a “by line” which is unusual for Huffington Post.) For a more detailed account, see this.

US Fingered for Flame Attack on Élysée Palace – (Register – November 21, 2012)
US-sponsored snoopers hacked into the computers of the Élysée Palace earlier this year ahead of the French presidential election and lifted top secret information, using what appears to be the notorious Flame malware, a French newspaper has alleged. The attack, which occurred in May a few days before the second round of the election, was first revealed by French media in July, although the details have been largely suppressed until now by the Palace, according to L’Express. The newspaper claims hackers gained entry to the computers thanks to simple social engineering on Facebook – befriending workers at the palace and then sending a link to a fake log-in page for the Élysée intranet thanks to which they managed to harvest access credentials. Once inside, the attackers installed malware which moved around inside the network looking for the information it wanted – infecting the machines of several senior presidential advisors including Sarkozy’s secretary general, Xavier Musca. The president himself escaped as he didn’t have a networked PC, L’Express said. The report fingers the US because of the relative sophistication of the attack – it apparently took the French information security agency (Anssi) several days to clean and restore the network, and servers on five continents were used to hide the attack's origin.



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

Frozen Water and Organic Material Discovered on Mercury – (Wired – November 29, 2012)
For the first time, scientists have confirmed that the planet Mercury holds at least 100 billion tons of water ice as well as organic material in permanently shadowed craters at its north pole. The findings come from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, which has been in orbit around the solar system’s smallest and innermost planet since 2011. Researchers have suspected that ice could exist in such craters since 1992, when Earth-based radar measurements found bright areas at the planet’s polar regions. Craters in this area cast long shadows, which prevent any sunlight from reaching their floors. Though alternative explanations had been put forward to account for the radar-bright areas, MESSENGER has provided convincing evidence for water ice on the planet closest to our sun, where surface temperatures can sometimes reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit.



DEMOGRAPHICS

Demographics Explain Practically Everything – (Atlantic – November 26, 2012)
If you were a pundit who had to answer every Big Question about politics and economics with the same four-word explanation, what would it be? How about: "First, look at demographics."? This answer would do sensationally well for diagnosing President Obama’s recent electoral victory where he took women and minorities by historic margins but lost the white male vote by double-digits. Outside of politics, it's even more consistently useful. What's behind health care prices? First, look at demographics: An aging world is driving medical inflation around the globe, in health care systems of all varieties. Why have the last three recoveries been so slow? First, look at demographics: Since women maxed out their own labor-force participation rate, our overall worker-participation ratio has gone flat and started to fall, which hurt our ability to recover quickly from downturns. Article contains some highly informative graphs.

Shopping Malls Cater to Shifting Demographics – (Chicago Tribune/Reuters – November 27, 2012)
A small but growing number of real estate owners and developers are tapping into the same demographic change U.S. politicians have begun to recognize. Two ethnic groups - Hispanics and Asian-Americans - are expected to see their population and buying power soar in the coming years. And several demographic experts project that non-Hispanic whites will be a minority nationally by 2040 or 2050. If mall and shopping center owners fail to adapt to the changing demographic make-up of the country, they risk seeing their properties become mausoleums of a less-diverse American past. In California, Primestor Development is transforming the 850,000-square-foot Baldwin Hill Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles into an Hispanic-focused mall, plowing in up to $40 million for renovations. Further south in Irvine, Diamond Development Group has created Diamond Jamboree, with small service-oriented tenants, such as doctors' offices, anchored by an Asian food market. In Atlanta, a vacant 220,000-square-foot furniture store has been converted into Global Mall, the largest U.S. mall targeting consumers whose roots are in southern India.



NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

Namib Desert Beetle Inspires Self-filling Water Bottle – (BBC News – November 23, 2012)
The Namib Desert of southern Africa is a brutal a place to live, even for a beetle. To survive, the Namib beetle farms moisture, using its back to condense the water and then storing the water to drink later. A team of recent MIT graduates is hoping to tap into the Namib beetle's secret in order to bring water to the estimated three billion people — otherwise known as about half the human race — who live in regions with insufficient water resources. The company, NBD Nano, is attempting to create a water bottle that is coated in an alternating mix of water-attracting and water-repelling, or hydrophilic and hydrophobic, materials.

BodyWave- Wristband Brain Command & Control of Apps on iPhone, Android, or PC – (Indiegogo – no date)
Here’s a company looking for funding to take a very interesting capability from a sports arm band model to a (much lower cost) wrist band model. BodyWave uses 3 little sensors to monitor the tiny electrical outputs generated by your brain’s activity even though it's far away from you brain. Think heart rate monitor when you go jogging. Now think brain monitor as you work, play, or relax. As your brain shifts between states like attention, stress, and relaxation, BodyWave's algorithms show you those changes in real time, just like a heart rate monitor can provide information about your physical activity. Just as you use a heart rate monitor to improve your fitness, BodyWave can help you improve your brain fitness. The fact that no intrusive or invasive headset must be worn to collect brain activity makes BodyWave incredibly useful to achieve peak performance, meditation, or to use it with one’s Droid or iPhone totally discretely -- even while sitting on a crowded train -- if we move it to the wristband form factor.

First Pressure-sensitive, Self-healing Material Developed – (GizMag – November 11, 2012)
While synthetic materials that can repair themselves or are pressure sensitive exist, combining these properties in a single synthetic material has understandably proven more difficult. Now researchers at Stanford University have developed the first pressure-sensitive synthetic material that can heal itself when torn or cut, giving it potential for use in next-generation prostheses or self-healing electronic devices.

Wax-Filled Nanotech Yarn Behaves Like Super-Strong Muscle – (UT Dallas – November 15, 2012)
UT Dallas Team's Development Could One Day Power Robots, Micromotors, Intelligent Textiles. New artificial muscles made from nanotech yarns and infused with paraffin wax can lift more than 100,000 times their own weight and generate 85 times more mechanical power than the same size natural muscle, according to scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas and their international team from Australia, China, South Korea, Canada and Brazil. The artificial muscles are yarns constructed from carbon nanotubes, which are seamless, hollow cylinders made from the same type of graphite layers found in the core of ordinary pencils. Individual nanotubes can be 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, yet pound-for-pound, can be 100 times stronger than steel.



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Spain’s Banking Problems a Global Reality – (Wall St. Journal – November 19, 2012)
Spain's banks are struggling with EUR182 billion ($232 billion) of bad debts, some 10.7% of their loan books. Until these debts are restructured and the Spanish banking sector's bondholders are forced to eat their losses—including the sovereign and the various multi-national agencies like the European Central Bank, which holds considerable amounts of Spanish collateral—not much is going to be resolved. But Spain is merely a microcosm of the widespread problem of too much debt having been accumulated in the good times, now unable to be paid back. By one estimate, one in ten U.K. businesses can only pay the interest on outstanding loans, a clear indication of corporate zombification. Meanwhile, among households, more than 50% of mortgages in London and the populous South-East of England are interest only.



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

Jose Mujica: The World's Poorest President - (BBC News - November 14, 2012)
It's a common grumble that politicians' lifestyles are far removed from those of their electorate. Not so in Uruguay. Meet the president - who lives on a ramshackle farm and gives away most of his pay. Laundry is strung outside the house. The water comes from a well in a yard, overgrown with weeds. Only two police officers and Manuela, a three-legged dog, keep watch outside. This is the residence of the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, whose lifestyle clearly differs sharply from that of most other world leaders. President Mujica has shunned the luxurious house that the Uruguayan state provides for its leaders and opted to stay at his wife's farmhouse, off a dirt road outside the capital, Montevideo. The president and his wife work the land themselves, growing flowers. Elected in 2009, Mujica spent the 1960s and 1970s as part of the Uruguayan guerrilla Tupamaros, a leftist armed group inspired by the Cuban revolution. He was shot six times and spent 14 years in jail. Most of his detention was spent in harsh conditions and isolation, until he was freed in 1985 when Uruguay returned to democracy. Those years in jail, Mujica says, helped shape his outlook on life.



FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.

Karl Rove Loses Election After Being Checkmated By Cyber Sleuths? – (Occupy for Accountability – November 15, 2012)
“The Protectors”, apparently a group of white hat cyber hackers, said that they had identified the digital structure of Rove’s operation and of ORCA, a Republican get out the vote software application. After finding open “doors” in the systems, they created a “password protected firewall” called “The Great Oz,” and installed it on servers that Rove planned to use on election night to re-route and change election results “from three states.” The letter indicated that “ORCA Killer” was launched at 10am EST and “The Great Oz” at 8pm EST on November 6th. “The Protectors” watched as ORCA crashed and failed throughout Election Day. They watched as Rove’s computer techs tried 105 times to penetrate “The Great Oz” using different means and passwords. (Editor’s note: We know of no way to confirm or deny the accuracy of the content of this article, however it does not appear to be entirely outside the realm of possibility. Therefore, we recommend it for our readers’ consideration and definitely suggest that they take it “for whatever they think it’s worth”.)

DNA Study Suggests Bigfoot Exists – (Statesman Journal – November 27, 2012)
The whole Sasquatch thing may be moving from the realm of the weird to the level of “truth is stranger than fiction.” That will depend on how mainstream science responds to the impending release of a five-year DNA study apparently suggesting Sasquatch exists, and is not entirely human and not entirely non-human. It is, says the study’s author, a hybrid cross of the two. The research was done by a team led by Melba Ketchum, a former veterinarian who moved into genetic research 27 years ago and runs DNA Diagnostics, Inc., based in Texas. Ketchum said the 50-page manuscript containing the research and DNA findings is still in peer review at a scientific journal.

Meghalaya's Living Bridges – (You Tube – November 7, 2011)
In the “Land of Clouds" of India, Meghalaya, people have found an ingenious natural solution for managing the forces of Nature. Suspension bridges, some of them hundreds of years old, are formed by training vines to grow across chasms filled by rushing torrents in the monsoon season.



JUST FOR FUN

Deep Sea Mystery Circle – A Love Story – (Spoon & Tamago – September 18, 2012)
Yoji Ookata, a freelance underwater photographer, diving in the semi-tropical region of Amami Oshima, roughly 80 feet below sea level, spotted something he had never seen before. As it turned out, no one else had seen it before either. On the seabed a geometric, circular structure measuring roughly 6.5 ft in diameter had been precisely carved from sand. It consisted of multiple ridges, symmetrically jutting out from the center, and appeared to be the work of an underwater artist, carefully working with tools. For its resemblance to crop circles, Ookata dubbed his new finding a “mystery circle,” and enlisted some colleagues from a television crew to help him investigate. An installed underwater camera managed to film the artist—simply trying to attract a mate. Article includes photos.



A FINAL QUOTE--

Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today. – African proverb



A special thanks to: Marty Blaker, Bernard Calil, Ela, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, James Henry, George Kuper, Kurzweil AI, Oliver Markley, Diane Petersen, Todd Pierce, SchwartzReport, Christopher Scobba, 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.
johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org



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Edited by John L. Petersen
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