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The Signposts Timeline:
2001 AD-2002 AD

In the aftermath of a stunning terrorist attack, a wide variety of opportunists exploit a panicked America

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2000-2001 milestone: The new millennium's arrival fails to end the world, even with help from the Millennium Bug, industrial accidents, armed conflict, natural disasters, terrorists, and religious zealots

A considerable number of religious zealots and cult leaders and their followers of various kinds are humiliated and stymied by the failure of the millennium to bring about the world's end, as these factions have been warning and threatening non-believers with for years now. The desired end does not come, despite the fact that at least a few of these factions suspect the failure beforehand, and try to bring about their own man-made calamities to take the place of natural Armageddon (and Mother Nature of course provides her typical serving of natural disasters too for pundits to point at). Those of the cultist perpetrators who are not killed by the consequences of their own actions, are afterwards imprisoned, institutionalized, and/or ridiculed as appropriate.

5.6% of Americans polled were "very concerned" about the possible consequences of the Y2K bug; 5.5% believed the world might end in the 21st century; 65% of this portion said they were most influenced by the Bible.

-- Americans Feel Too Tech-Dependent-Reuters Poll, November 18 1999, Yahoo!/Reuters Tech Headlines

Signposts Prologue 2001-2002 Contents

1960- 2001: The transformation from physical economies to information economies seems evident in the steadily declining gross physical weight of US GDP (Gross Domestic Product) relative to the rising value of same over the period-- from $two trillion to $ten trillion

The uninterrupted bull market of 1991-2000 was the longest in history. From roughly 1981 to 2001, computer capacities increased by 16,000%. Real prices (inflation adjusted) for manufactured products have dropped 40% since around 1963, while costs related to health care and formal education have risen substantially.

-- Beyond the speed bump By Wes George, February 14, 2001, MacWEEK, Mac Publishing LLC.

Signposts Prologue 2001-2002 Contents

2001 milestone: It is not illegal for the United States government to sell a dead person's personal identification information

What personal info of the deceased can be bought from the government? Complete name, Social Security number, last known address, dates of birth and death, and possibly more. Some deaths are unverified in the database; thus, at times still living people may have their information sold this way.

A 1980 court ruling declared that dead people have no privacy rights, and the Freedom of Information Act requires ID info to be made public.

The primary customers for this information at present is usually restricted to institutions like banks and insurance and financial companies, due to a substantial sunscription fee. But secondary dissemination of the info from this circle appears to have few constraints.

-- Congress Probes Death Data Privacy By LEIGH STROPE; Associated Press/Yahoo! ; November 8, 2001

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2001 milestone: The National Security Agency of the USA has far more information flooding in than it can assimilate

But the NSA still says there's much it can't access for both legal and technological reasons. Apparently the agency and its advocates wish to eavesdrop on everyone and everything possible, and hold that data in their vaults indefinitely. In theory this would allow it to perform limited searches for specific items down the road, to build legal or other types of cases against specific targeted individuals or organizations. If the technology required to perform a more comprehensive and general analysis of the data in real time ever becomes available (allowing agencies to use analysis of newly collected data to actually prevent crimes or terrorism), that too could be done in the future. But in the meantime, they plan to fill up an awful lot of data disks with info that can only be used to build criminal cases after crimes have already been committed.

-- Salon.com Books | "Body of Secrets" by James Bamford (review by Bruce Schneier); April 25, 2001, and Supersecret NSA Said Falling Behind in Tech Advances; Yahoo!/Reuters; March 22, 2001

Signposts Prologue 2001-2002 Contents

2001 milestone: Scientists are experimenting in labs with tractor beams, stretchable ceramics, transparent electronics, inertial dampening systems, object replicators, synthetic wood manufacturing, Terminator-like materials which may shift from liquid to solid states and back again, and cleaner and more effective replacements for many modern chemical catalysts

Pseudo tractor beams using dual laser beams to physically move around microscopic objects now exist in labs and are expected to be used in future micro-machines and biotech applications.

-- A 'Star Trek' Tractor Beam at Microscopic Level By Will Dunham; Yahoo!/Reuters; May 3, 2001

A substance which can be instantly turned from liquid to solid and back again via magnetic field means now exists in laboratories. The maximum density of the solid state available at this time can be similar to a hard wax. The normal state (no magnetic fields applied) is liquid.

The medium can be as low tech as iron filings in corn oil, or utilize much more advanced materials (like ceramics in polymers) for enhanced capabilities.

The materials are called Magnetorheological, or MR. They can be used in a variety of vibration and shock absorbing functions, and dynamic, shape-changing molds for manufacturing processes.

MR materials can reduce the number of different and moving parts required in certain devices, can likely be made at costs competitive with other technologies, and are highly energy efficient. This makes MR materials often the best choice in contests with magneto-strictive or piezeo materials, or hydraulic actuators.

-- Space-Age Goop Morphs Between Liquid and Solid By Erik Baard; space.com; 05 September 2001

The addition of ionic mixtures to plastic polyesters makes for easier processing and manufacturing. Some call it 'molecular Velcro', in that it makes it easier to combine or strip apart the molecules of the materials with light or temperature differentials.

-- Charged molecules may improve processing of polymers; 4 APRIL 2001; EurekAlert!; US Contact: Dr. Timothy Long telong@vt.edu 540-231-2480 PR Contact: Susan Trulove; STrulove@vt.edu; 540-231-5646; Virginia Tech; http://www.chemistry.vt.edu/chem-dept/NSF/STCweb1/LongWeb/index.html

Several species of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) have the genetic potential to produce the biopolymer cellulose, the stiffness agent in plants like trees. Genetically engineered variants might one day allow us to mass produce paper and other wood products without cutting down a single tree.

Pools of cyanobacteria in fresh or salt water could be used to produce wood-type products with no need for arable land.

-- Bacteria 'to make wood products' By Dr David Whitehouse; BBC News Online; 2 November, 2001; Plant Physiology also has information on the discovery

Invisible electrical circuits on glass look increasingly possible.

-- Advances made in transparent electronics By David Stauth; 541-737-0787; 4 APRIL 2001; EurekAlert!; US Contact: Janet Tate; tatej@ucs.orst.edu; 541-737-1700; Oregon State University; SOURCES: Arthur Sleight; 541-737-6749; Janet Tate; 737-1700

Ionic liquid solvents may help transform current chemical industry processes to greatly diminish the byproducts of pollution, poisons, and odor created today, and make far more products amenable to recycling too. They may also allow the creation of all new and better materials. In some cases the new solvents can even accelerate industrial processes, and/or increase their productivity in terms of quantity of product produced.

Ionic liquids also show promise in improving rebreathing or air re-cycling technologies for spacecraft and underwater work, and removing some greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, to reduce global warming.

The biggest obstacle to exploiting ionic liquids may be overcoming the relative cost advantages in industry that older technologies enjoy due to the infrastructure already being tailored specifically for them. Thus, ionic liquids use may begin in small niche areas first, and then spread slowly into other processes. Verification of non-toxicity and dealing with potential intellectual property issues also pose road blocks at present.

The widescale adoption of ionic liquids in the chemical industry of the developed nations may require 25 years or more.

-- Faster, Better, Cleaner? by Jessica Gorman; Science News, Vol. 160, No. 10, Sept. 8, 2001, p. 156; Science Service; sciserv.org

Super ceramic stretches further By Ivan Noble; BBC News Online; 19 September, 2001

Vibration frequency dampening systems to strengthen weak floors could also be used to dynamically stiffen other types of surfaces-- at least against some types of stress failures. "Smart" moving counterweights are used in this system. By contrast, an older approach called the TMD system (tuned mass damper) would require 30 times more weight to accomplish the same effect.

-- New Penn State approach steadies floors too flexible for comfort; 21-Sep-2001; Contact: Barbara Hale; bah@psu.edu; 814-865-9481; Penn State; Sources of more info: Active Control to Reduce Annoying Floor Vibrations in the Engineering Journal, fourth quarter issue, 1998, and http://www.engr.psu.edu/www/dept/arc/server/faculty/hanagan.htm

Complicated metal parts could be fabricated from the Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS) system from metal powders.

-- Star Trek Revisited: Lehigh Professor Creates Objects From Powders; 4/9/2001; ScienceDaily Magazine; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010406073446.htm; Lehigh University; http://www.lehigh.edu/

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2001 milestone: Software complexity is reaching crisis proportions for many users and developers

The current downturn in tech-related purchases by consumers may be due to building resentment against products which often do not work as their makers claim they will, are too frequently sub-standard in quality, too time-consuming to use, and too expensive.

All too often it seems companies are not passing obvious tech-related savings on to customers either, such as seems the case with online banking.

-- The Betrayal of Technology By John C. Dvorak; September 25, 2001; Ziff Davis Media Inc.

"Software entities are more complex for their size than perhaps any other human construct..." -- Frederick P. Brooks, 1986, No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering.

Both the costs of development and maintenance of software are increasing. But the sheer complexity of some projects is getting close to becoming a showstopper. We may be nearing a virtual dead end in real software advancements.

Today just 16% of programming projects are reaching completion within budget and planned schedules. 22% of computers fail annually. Only 24% of the typical programmer's time is spent on creating new programs, while the rest is spent on projects which eventually end up being canceled. Meanwhile, average end users either can't or won't use more than 10% of the features built into modern software-- so 90% of a given program's features are a waste of development effort.

Part of the software development problem seems to be that developers are not as accountable for their failures as makers of physical products usually are.

The largest difficulty in software creation may be in the design-- the conceptual planning, and laying out of functional specifications and testing details. With a sufficiently well made blueprint (and out right banning of significant changes to the blueprint after actual coding gets underway), many development projects would likely turn out much better than they do today. Modern commercial development often does not follow either of these practices.

Many ERP (enterprise resource planning) software projects gone awry could offer ample illustrations of the current problems regarding software complexity. Five to ten times as much money in an ERP installation may be spent on consulting services than the actual software development.

Poor quality software is a huge burden on the economy.

Much improved development tools and software design practices are desperately needed by the industry.

-- The Rising Costs of Software Complexity By Shannon Cochran; Dr. Dobb's Journal April 2001

The current state of the information technology industry is dismal, and personal computer technologies require a complete revamp to fix present problems. A huge problem is complexity. Most users cannot fathom more than a few aspects of their machines.

The essential design of PCs remains unchanged since the 1980s. Many major scientific advances may have to wait until the fundamental nature of PCs is markedly improved.

-- Scientists, engineers rail at PC industry By Rachel Konrad; CNET News.com, March 13, 2001

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2001 milestone: The global internet now boasts 100 million hosts and over 350 million users; Significant rebellion against ICANN emerges; The US Congress largely ignores its email messages

-- Techweb News Internet Hosts Study Finds 100 Million Internet Hosts By John Rendleman, InformationWeek Jan 10, 2001, The Technology Network, CMP Media Inc., http://www.techweb.com/wire/story/TWB20010110S0020

In a rebellion of sorts against the official internet authority ICANN, some organizations attempt to expand the internet in their own way-- by adding new and unapproved domain names to the net. The new domains however cannot deal with email, and are not available to all internet users by default, being heavily ISP dependent at this time (Earthlink, NetZero, and Excite@Home were early adopters).

-- Salon.com Technology | A Web of Babel By Damien Cave March 14, 2001

In the meantime, the US Congress in 2001 is ignoring most emails it receives, perhaps mostly because it has no practical way to manage the flood of messages (there were 80 million in 2000). A large chunk of the overload appears to come from lobbying-related efforts.

Actual constituents who find themselves ignored along with the lobbyists are not pleased.

-- Study Finds U.S. Capitol Faces E-Mail Crisis By Adam Entous; March 18, 2001; Yahoo!/Reuters

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"Money no longer buys goods or services -- it buys the chance to maybe possibly get a good or service."

-- Ted Rall, Mother Jones magazine, 2001

Modern capitalism seems to be going to the dogs. Under normal circumstances these days (not including the temporary aftermath of events like the 9-11-01 WTC attack), airlines routinely sell more airplane seats than exist on a flight. Thus, buying a ticket is not a guarantee that you'll have a seat on a given flight. Reservations for cars and hotel rooms are increasingly less dependable as well, in the new economy.

Taking the mail order route to obtain merchandise is also chancy. Modern JIT (just-in-time) inventory practices mean few if any vendors actually stock what they offer for sale, which means your order fulfillment could be stymied or delayed in any number of ways. You might get your package days or weeks later than originally promised-- or you might not get it at all.

But a physical presence in a real store, with real inventory, is no panacea either. In mid-2001 I bought a futon couch at a major discount store chain. As usual, I had to assemble it myself when I got it home. Unfortunately, as is very often the case these days, I got it around 50% assembled only to find the manufacturer had screwed up the included parts inventory with the wrong items, making it impossible to complete assembly of the piece. I was working long hours 1100 miles from home at the time, and didn't have extra time and energy to spend trying to rectify the matter. I threw the futon mattress on the floor to sleep on it, and four months later threw the whole unassembled contraption away when I was able to return home again after my work stint.

All possible ways to improve the quality of the futon purchase at the time were excessively inconvenient and resource-consuming for me. So I didn't. The store offered a money-back guarantee on everything, but little good that did me, as the waiting line for such refunds was always enormous at the store. Plus, just to get it from the store to the apartment I'd had to remove everything from its original packaging to fit it into the car-- which meant I'd have to try to repack the thing in its box in the store parking lot, in 100 degree heat.

There was also a flight of stairs to consider, and the lack of any mattress at all to sleep on if I ended up with no replacement or alternative afterwards. Not to mention the awful traffic predicament the local situation required: An easy hour spent in traffic jams during a round trip to the store, which was only about half a mile from my residence. In 100 degree heat. My car had already broken down once during such conditions, only a week or so before.

But heck, this discount store chain is the most popular in the USA circa 2001. We've all become accustomed to its ways. Despite snafus like the purchase described above being frequent for us.

Now, getting back to other elements of present day capitalism...

Cell phone and internet access also work only intermittantly at times. But personal computers may be the epitome of the new age. They are often dead on arrival new from the store, or else promptly die as soon as the user adds a new program or peripheral to the system. And all the pre-purchase guarantees in the world of stellar technical support typically mean squat if you actually turn out to need it.

Only a few decades ago business behavior like oversold airplane tickets and hotel rooms, unreliable PCs, cell phones, and net access, might have been labeled fraud. But today it's called by some the "new economy". Ted Rall's term "Lotto Economy" seems pretty apt.

Much of the above taken from my own (J.R.'s) personal experience, plus...

-- Lotto Economics by Ted Rall March 16, 2001; Mother Jones magazine; FOUNDATION FOR NATIONAL PROGRESS, and other sources

-- Study: Airline Service Worsens for Another Year By Simon Hirschfeld; Yahoo!/Reuters; April 2, 2001

-- Silicon Valley Technology: PC unreliability rears its ugly head again (2-05-2002)

-- Computing Is Ridiculously Complex; Businessweek

-- You Call This Service?; PC World

-- Shoddy software steams users - Tech News - CNET.com

-- Programming: Why software sucks [Librenix.com]

-- Buggy software costs users, vendors nearly $60B annually - Computerworld

-- Why Software Is So Bad; Technology Review

-- Quality Is Job 753

-- 1903-2003: A Century of Innovation ... except at Ford

-- 'auto fleets are hardly any cleaner or more fuel-efficient than they were years ago'

-- 'Japanese cars are the best'

-- Consumer Watch Twelve Ways Companies Drive Us Nuts; PC World

-- '10 percent of Windows machines crash every day'

-- '5 percent of all Windows-based computers now crash more than twice each day'

-- Microsoft has laid the blame for half of all Windows crashes on third-party code

-- Spread of buggy software raises questions on methods, regulation

-- When Rebooting is Not an Option

-- Rebate delays irk bargain hunters

-- 'If the chip in the ink cartridge is set to expired, the cartridge cannot be restored'

-- Promises, Promises (about pcs)

-- 'Ink for home printers is now seven times more expensive than vintage champagne'

-- Hi-tech babble baffles many

-- Computers make us more productive. Do they also slow us down?

-- 'now two or three will get you cancelled'

-- 'HP inkjet cartridges have built-in expiry dates'

-- Shoddy Building in the Housing Boom?

-- 'Imagine a day when you can only replace a Ford headlamp with another Ford headlamp, or the car will stop running'

-- Slashdot Why Do Computers Still Crash?

-- Insurers dropping more customers who file claims

-- 'The complaints about insurance keep rolling in'

-- It Sure Doesn't Feel Like Low Inflation

-- 'Our computers are probably 10,000 times faster than they were twenty years ago. But operating them is much more complex'

-- 'Since 1996, when Congress voted to deregulate the industry, the average monthly cable bill has risen 50 percent'

-- Dell's Software License Policy Dude, you're getting screwed.

-- Service & Reliability

-- Loathing for the U.S. cable industry has not abated

-- Show us the bugs - users want full disclosure

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2001 milestone: Public libraries in USAmerica are under seige as never before

The traditional factions pushing censorship and book burning are still around. But now they've been joined by others wanting to censor internet terminals in libraries. And even some business interests which want to prohibit the free access to books and periodicals that libraries provide-- permanently. The outcome of this battle may well help determine the ultimate fate of America itself. Just as the availability of public libraries and the free access to information they provided contributed to America's survival and prosperity from post-Colonial days up to modern times.

With traditional "fair use" rights endangered by new copyright laws, public libraries in America are under heavy threat from commercial interests.

-- Copyright laws out of balance; Silicon Valley Technology; found on or about 4-8-01

The Association of American Publishers and ex-congresswoman Pat Schroeder seem to be among the libraries' worst enemies at this time.

To justify her position against library policies of free access to information, Schroeder tells listeners that technological people never give away anything. This makes it seem that Schroeder is either ill-informed or else is purposely misleading people with her words. For instance, Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Cailliau, and CERN created and gave away the technology to enable the World Wide Web you're using right now [The World Wide Web, A Little History of the World Wide Web, and Saving Bits and Bytes for History By ASHLEY DUNN, August 7, 2000, Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/news/front/20000807/t000073831.html]

And Open Source software is in many ways a massive ongoing giveaway of huge amounts of work and effort on the part of programmers worldwide [Why Linux Is Giving Microsoft a Migraine By Sam Jaffe,Edited by Douglas Harbrecht, FEBRUARY 22, 2001, BusinessWeek Online, The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.].

Even as Schroeder and others basically complain that libraries offering free access to resources are taking money away from publishers, the American Library Association says publishers have been raising prices to outrageous levels-- such as $14,000 for a one year subscription to a single chemistry publication-- without any explanation whatsoever. Note that libraries do pay for subscriptions like these. And still publishers insist that libraries are stealing their money. What other subscribers besides libraries do publishers think they can sell $14,000 subscriptions to?

-- Pat Schroeder's New Chapter By Linton Weeks, February 7, 2001 ; Page C01, Washington Post, washingtonpost.com

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2001 milestone: USAmerican power utilities are paying mid-western farmers $2000-$3000 per year per each wind-driven electricity generating turbine on their land

-- Answer to energy woes is blowin' in the wind by BRAD KNICKERBOCKER, Nando Media/The Christian Science Monitor, January 17, 2001

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2001 milestone: Medical research scientists are making progress towards growing mice with human brains

The morality of these experiments may get cloudier each day, but as with cloning and lazziz faire capitalism in general, ethics may be in short supply for decades to come.

So far mice with some human brain cells but not an entire human brain have been grown. The next stage may be to make almost the entire mouse brain be composed of human cells. In other words, a human brain.

The tiny size of course may prevent anything like human intelligence and awareness from emerging in a mouse's skull. But surprising awareness and intellectual capacities have been discovered in small non-human brains like those of certain talking parrots and the like. So this research could get into murky territory quite quickly.

-- Scientists Craft Mouse with Human Brain Cells By Andrew Quinn, February 24, 2001, Yahoo!/Reuters

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2001 milestone: Humanity as a whole's short attention span is costing it dearly

At this time even the foremost experts remain woefully unaware of the vast majority of humanity's history and prehistory, as well as the bulk of its accumulated knowledge and wisdom.

And, of course, humanity-at-large knows virtually nothing at all of these matters. Why?

Because of the fact that modern human civilization has come to be dominated by only a handful of relative infant languages such as English, Spanish, French, etc., etc., while virtually all its elder languages and their attendent knowledge languish in obscurity, little-noted, and vanishing completely at a rate of one every two weeks.

Most people's attention today is focused squarely on 'new' knowledge being generated in laboratories and universities. However, much of this apparently consists of redundant efforts searching for knowledge already present in many dying human languages and peoples-- especially in fields like medicine and biology. The possible waste of financial resources in these fields alone is staggering.

Plus, are we actually gaining useful knowledge in these areas faster than we are losing it? No one knows. Few are even attempting to measure or define what's being lost, much less capture it for posterity.

Part of the reason for all this may be that discovering medical knowledge in proprietary settings offer corporations much stronger legal grounds for profiteering from such knowledge, as well as allows them to more easily concoct a laborious and complex process of manufacturing for a product-- after all, medicines which can simply be grown in one's backyard for free don't make for huge profit windfalls.

-- Vanishing tongues By Gareth Cook, page A01, the Boston Globe, 11/5/2000, Globe Newspaper Company

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"We're in the worst possible time to have to rely on our government to do the right thing. Government has been captured..."
-- Lawrence Lessig, 2001

-- The Accidental Activist by Brendan I. Koerner; March 20, 2001; http://www.business2.com/content/magazine/indepth/2001/03/12/28050

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2001 milestone: Fullerene nanotubes cost roughly $230,000 per pound

-- Technology Review - Wires of Wonder by David Rotman; March 2001; Q&A with Richard E. Smalley

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2001 milestone: It appears that ancient DNA can survive in the ground no more than 100,000 years, barring extraordinary and/or highly unusual environmental conditions

-- Meet the ancestors by Chris Lavers; August 11, 2001; The Guardian; Guardian Unlimited; Guardian Newspapers Limited; review of The Molecule Hunt: Archaeology and the Hunt for Ancient DNA by Martin Jones, Penguin

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2001 milestone: Though DVD is an important media standard in several types of consumer appliances now (for gaming consoles, digital TV recordings, etc.), the battle with CD for dominance of the PC/NC markets continues...

...due to the earlier incompatibilities within the DVD standard itself, the large headstart, and less demanding and less costly technology CD drives enjoy relative to DVDs, the huge installed base of CDs relative to DVD, the dilution of demand for disk-based media due to improving net bandwidth, multi-year large marketshare of low end CD-equipped PCs compared to mid-range and high end DVD-equipped machines (and price wars among makers which delayed not only DVD adoption but implementation of much of the "PC98" and "PC99" standards recommendations themselves), and few compelling disk titles exclusive to DVD (unavailable on the net or CD). Even Iomega's venerable ZIP standard has been steadily losing ground for some time now too-- not only due to increasingly obsolete technology, but to Iomega miscalculating and maintaining a punishingly high artificial premium on the disk media compared to superior alternatives early on (a mistake previously made by an Iomega competitor named SyQuest too, which didn't survive the arrival of Iomega's ZIP drive).

Write-once CD devices and media have also proven far more cost-effective and in stronger demand than many industry experts expected over this period-- partly due to their early substantial cost discount over both CD and DVD Rewritables, and partly because many computer users preferred permanent records of virtually all data over rewritable functionality, anyway. Throw in the across-the-board backward compatibility with most previous generations of CD ROM drives (and much lower costs per blank disk than many competing standards), and CD Writables were an offer few users could refuse.

As technology has improved and added CD-RW (ReWritable) options to CD-R drives as well, that's been an additional bonus.

Sources include PC Magazine (datestamps 2-24-98 and 3-10-98), "DVD vs. CD-ROM: Is CD-ROM Dead?" PC Computing June, 1997; "IDC study says recordable CDs to stymie DVD adoption", InfoWorld Electric, Apr 9, 1998, "Don't Go Blindly Down the DVD Path", Jesse Berst, ZDNet AnchorDesk, April 15, 1998, and others

-- "Transition From CD To DVD Made Easier" by Joseph F. Kovar, Computer Reseller News/TechWeb, 6-18-98

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2001: Around 75% of worlds similar to Earth in the Universe have existed on average roughly one to three billion years longer than Earth

The exact average is 1.8 billion years more than Earth, give or take 900 million years.

-- The Goldilocks effect: How other earths form just right; 27 JUNE 2001; US Contact: Ann Cairns acairns@geosociety.org 303-447-2020 x1156 Geological Society of America; EurekAlert!

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2001 milestone: USAmerican power sources consist of 39% petroleum; 25% coal; 22% natural gas; 6% nuclear power; and roughly 8% from a combination of geothermal, solar, wind, and biomass; Photovoltaic cells cost $2.20 per watt to manufacture

Biomass could possibly provide over 50% of US energy needs, if it were fully exploited. But so far it costs more to produce than fossil fuels. Biomass sources refer to methane being collected from water and sewage treatment plants, and the wastes of livestock farms to be burned to generate electricity. It also includes the combustion of certain agricultural crops and wastes for the same purpose.

Many of the renewable energy sources must be used in clever combinations to provide long term, reliable, and clean power in small scale installations today-- and even then in most locales they require some supplemental technologies to achieve true practicality as complete energy sources. With the technologies and supporting infrastructures remaining immature, the most practical usage remains matching particular types to appropriate locations, and concentrating production in large scale, centralized operations.

The cost of wind power is four to six cents per kw hour now. But many areas rich in wind power lack proper connections to the power grid to make them practical.

Electricity generating solar cells cost $2.20 per watt to produce today.

-- Power crisis has renewable energy lab humming By TIFFANY MEREDITH, Associated Press, April 15, 2001; Nando Media/Nando Times

Another source offers numbers somewhat at odds with the previous citation. Namely, that 10% of US electric power is hydro-electric sourced. 2% comes from geothermal, wind, and solar sources.

A recent study indicates that, given the choice, at least some consumers will opt for 'greener' energy sources, even if they have to pay more for it than dirtier sources. Thus, it appears usage of 'green' energy sources would increase by 40% by 2010 if users were given a green option-- whether the energy markets themselves were deregulated or not.

-- Customer Choice Can Boost 'Green Power' Use -Study; Yahoo!/Reuters; November 3, 2001

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"The privacy war is over--you lost"
-- Brock Meeks, MSNBC, 2001

-- The privacy blitz is coming By Brock Meeks, MSNBC, April 6, 2001; http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/comment/0,5859,2705181,00.html

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September 11, 2001: Over 35,000 people die of starvation worldwide, most of them children under five years old; 578 entire species go extinct; on this same day almost 3,000 people die in a terrorist attack on US soil

-- The Three Top Sins Of The Universe by Mark Elsis; available online 6-19-04; september112001.net

-- September 11, 2001 attacks; accessible online on or about 8-4-05; en.wikipedia.org

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2001 milestone: USAmerica is stunned by a successful terrorist strike on its World Trade Center and Pentagon, leading to a crisis in governance for some years to come

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"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

-- Conservative US columnist Ann Coulter, 2001

-- Ann Coulter on Barbara Olson on National Review Online; September 13, 2001 ; Universal Press Syndicate

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"I am worried about it -- I think we are getting an overreaction."
-- a senior U.S. official, 2001, speaking about certain troubling aspects of the newly passed U.S.A. Patriot Act

-- An Intelligence Giant in the Making (washingtonpost.com) By Jim McGee Washington Post; November 4, 2001; Page A04

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"Americans ... need to watch what they say..."
-- White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, 2001

Fleischer's full statement was "There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do, and this is not a time for remarks like that; there never is."

-- White House whitewashers By Jake Tapper; Salon.com; Sept. 27, 2001

Ari Fleischer's stunning comment was missing from the official transcript afterwards, though the White House said that was due to an error. As of October 4th however the transcript still hadn't been corrected.

-- Spin-Off by Ryan Lizza; The New Republic; Posted date 10.04.01; Issued date 10.15.01

-- Rhetoric Check By Josh Gerstein; Oct. 11, 2001

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"...freedom and human rights in America are doomed...the U.S. government will lead the American people in and the West in general into an unbearable hell and a choking life."

-- terrorist Osama bin Laden, late 2001

-- Source: Cheney warned Al-Jazeera about bin Laden tapes; CNN; John King contributor; found on or about 2-2-02; http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/02/01/cheney.al.jazeera/index.html

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"We have to fight the terrorists as if there were no rules and preserve our open society as if there were no terrorists."
-- Thomas Friedman, 2001

-- Freedom flees in terror from Sept. 11 disaster By Paul McMasters; pmcmasters@freedomforum.org; Ombudsman; First Amendment Center; 09.19.01

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2001 milestone: Perhaps the last significant governmental impediment to Microsoft's global monopolies in the computer and internet industries is cleared away-- maybe setting the stage for an eventual global economic depression ten years down the road

Microsoft's stunning win in its settlement with the US government seems to have stemmed from a convergence of factors. First off, the Bush Administration all along had a different perspective on the case than previous Administrations. Microsoft also put up a fierce lobbying campaign. Then there was the weakening economy, the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and the judge wishing for a speedy settlement. This set the stage for Microsoft to negotiate some sweet terms for itself.

Many observers believe the Department of Justice simply didn't understand the technical details of the issues under negotiation, and so Microsoft got the best of them.

-- Circumstance Had Role in U.S.-Microsoft Deal (washingtonpost.com) By Jonathan Krim; Washington Post; November 3, 2001; Page A21

Microsoft has made a deal with the US government giving it (Microsoft) effective control over the internet. What did the government get in return for handing over such power to Microsoft? Will Microsoft become effectively another branch of government, performing surveillance on users, censoring or shutting down web sites the government dislikes, or helping collect internet taxes down the road? It appears Windows XP is the final lock on Microsoft's absolute control of the internet.

-- You're free to think by Dave Winer; Nov 6, 2001

Preventing excessive concentrations of power over the public in either government or corporate entities has been a hallmark of the American way for much of our history. Now however, such prevention is becoming more difficult to do, as advances in computer and telecommunications technologies are allowing the creation of new global organizations and the reshaping of old ones in ways which defy the previous constraints any one government could exercise upon them.

A current example of such concentration of power is Microsoft's present course of extending its computer monopoly to the internet via .NET.

Microsoft's monopoly in PCs has reduced innovation and competition in the industry. Now via .NET it is trying to do the same with the internet industry. If it works, soon Microsoft could become a gating force in the online world, effectively controlling who may participate there.

But even if Microsoft acts responsibly with all this power, there would still remain the enormous security vulnerability such dependence upon a single standard would mean for any nation so enthralled. For within such a system, a single flaw could lead to the entire nation being compromised. Its citizenry, its businesses, its utilities, its government, its military-- everything. Maybe all simultaneously. We're talking not of the crash of a single computer, or even thousands here, but of an entire nation crashing, and being unable to get back up and running again. Maybe as the result of an accident, or bug. Maybe from a terrorist attack. Maybe from a military attack.

The past history of Microsoft product security provides plenty of reasons for concern here.

-- The Threat Of Microsoft's .Net BY WHITFIELD DIFFIE AND SUSAN LANDAU; found on or about 10-25-01, and other sources

Some economists who've studied economic depressions believe the clearest causes of depressions are too little business competition, especially when government itself contributes to such reductions. Also, when governments prop up inefficient businesses rather than letting them fail, that too can help bring on depression.

The USA itself may still be vulnerable to experiencing economic depressions in the present or future. There's no clear way to guarantee they won't occur. All we have available are clues from past experience about how we might minimize the frequency and severity of economic downturns.

-- Could We Face Another Depression? By Christopher Farrell; BusinessWeek; The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. ; OCTOBER 19, 2001

The Republican political party of USAmerica controlled both houses of Congress for the whole decade preceding the Great Depression. They also held the Presidency during these years. They pushed tariffs to an all time high, often looked the other way as big business commited violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and market competition within the USA waned, and made tax cuts which benefited the wealthy.

It was after all this that the Great Depression took place, lasting for many years. Republicans lost their popular support with this event.

-- Encyclopedia Americana: Republican Party possibly by George H. Mayer, University of South Florida, Grolier Incorporated

When nations are at war or in economic trouble they tend to reduce their tolerance of free and open markets, and open borders. If this happens in 2002 and after in USAmerica, it could lead to economic and technological stagnation. Increases in defense-related research and development will also reduce the engineering and scientific talent available for commercial developments, further slowing overall progress. Increased security concerns make for more secrecy too, which slows information flow through the economy, making business responses to markets more sluggish.

Note that according to USAmerican leadership in late 2001, America is both at war and in economic recession, simultaneously.

-- RETHINKING THE ECONOMY By Michael J. Mandel, Peter Coy and William Symonds; OCTOBER 1, 2001; BusinessWeek Online; The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

-- Extending its tentacles; The Economist Newspaper/The Economist Group; Oct 20th 2001

Microsoft is steadily squeezing customers harder and harder for more revenues-- i.e., the real costs of being a Microsoft customer are growing by the day. Microsoft is also using its legal clout to gag sources which might publish information about Microsoft's software performance or quality compared to competitors. The company's latest software also leaves users with little or no privacy left at all on their machines, as personal info is routinely sent to the Microsoft mothership. Info, which among other things, allows Microsoft to keep tabs on competing software applications a user might install. With its new system Microsoft now could also decide to make your PC stop working entirely if you install too many new items on it-- unless you cough up more money for the company. The UCITA (Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act) theoretically gives them the power to shut down the entire world and demand new payments before allowing everyone to continue.

Oh yes-- and Microsoft is thumbing its nose at free speech rights in nations like the USA as well, by imposing censorship clauses in its software licenses. For example, users of FrontPage 2002 are not allowed to criticize the company or its products using the package.

-- A punitive puppeteer? The Gripe Line by Ed Foster; INFOWORLD; InfoWorld Media Group, Inc., October 04, 2001

The entertainment industry hopes to seize control of all digital devices with the SSSCA (Security Systems Standards and Certification Act). The SSSCA would effectively build copy protection into every new electronic device on the planet, making certain the industry could squeeze every last penny out of consumers, even for extra copies they have always had legal rights to for free in years past.

The previously passed 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act gave the industry such control in principle, but the SSSCA would give it to them in cold hard physicality.

Add to these items the huge new surveillance and control powers the US government wants over US citizens, plus Microsoft's own new user control systems added to Windows XP, and you get a possible convergence of corporate and government interests which could spell real trouble for civil liberties in all sorts of arenas.

At this point the entertainment industry may not realize they're stepping onto a slippery slope. Because the same weakening of individual rights they're presently pushing out of their own greed could eventually allow political extremists in government to turn around and start dictating what the industry itself can publish or air.

-- Entertainment control freaks have an ally in Microsoft (10-23-2001)

-- Ashcroft: 'Unlawful conduct' is over November 2, 2001; Cable News Network; CNN.com

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"...not even in their wildest dreams could the business elites have imagined that in 2001, the [US] AntiTrust department itself would be offering a convicted monopolist state protection..."
-- Andrew Orlowski, The Register, 2001, describing the US settlement with Microsoft

-- MS snags crucial authentication, DRM opt-outs in DoJ settlement By Andrew Orlowski; 3 November 2001

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"...."Sellout" isn't too strong a word to describe the U.S. Justice Department's settlement [with Microsoft]....Neither is "dangerous"..."
-- Dan Gillmor, 2001

-- A Fraudulent, Cynical Settlement; News, Views and a Hong Kong Diary by Dan Gillmor; November 2, 2001; KnightRidder.com

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2001 milestone: Microsoft wants to keep private all information about newly found security problems with its software

Microsoft is trying to stifle free speech and public disclosures pointing out security problems and bugs in its software. The company is using terms like "information anarchy" in its arguments.

Public disclosure forces Microsoft to correct problems, and do it as soon as possible. If problems were not publically disclosed, Microsoft might never correct them, leaving ever larger numbers of users vulnerable to the first criminals who discovered the vulnerabilities on their own. Public disclosure also allows others to possibly put up temporary defenses to hold off attackers until Microsoft does distribute a patch.

Public disclosure of ongoing security problems with Microsoft's software also slows the adoption of its newest wares, and offers opportunities for competing operating systems like Linux; another reason Microsoft would probably like to stop such disclosures.

-- Microsoft, Researchers Tussle Over Security Issues By Elinor Mills Abreu; Yahoo!/Reuters; November 6, 2001, and other sources

Microsoft is using its considerable market clout to try to silence security researchers-- to prevent them from disclosing to the public information about security flaws in Microsoft's software.

It appears that if Microsoft succeeds in censoring security problems with its software, enormous new opportunities will open up for both domestic and international 'crackers' and/or various computer criminals to steal money and identities electronically, as well as sabotage the systems of companies or governments dependent upon Microsoft software.

-- MS to force IT-security censorship By Thomas C Greene; The Register; 2 November 2001

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"...the more private people are the more likely it is that they can represent a threat to our public safety..."
-- Richard Purcell Sr., Microsoft, 2001

-- Microsoft, Researchers Tussle Over Security Issues By Elinor Mills Abreu; Yahoo!/Reuters; November 6, 2001

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2001 milestone: 56% of the Global 2500 IT companies are using open source software

-- The coming "open monopoly" in software By Petr Hrebejk and Tim Boudreau; October 24, 2001; CNET Networks, Inc.

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2002 milestone: Approximately $200 virtual PCs/NCs (or pseudo-PCs/Network Computers) are becoming available in a variety of ways now

In many cases these virtual or pseudo PCs/NCs are intriguing software adaptations of existing hardware-- including game consoles which are transformed via the new software to perform like personal computers and/or web clients (the 2002 announcement by Sony of a Linux distribution for its Playstation II game machines is one example). Other variations include older PCs originally sold running Microsoft Windows but now having another OS like Linux being installed, thereby giving the aging machines a new lease on useful life. Still others include much of the functionality of desktop PCs being shoehorned into PDAs and other portable devices via software changes and/or enhanced internet support.

-- Are you ready for the $200 PC? By John G. Spooner, ZDNN October 10, 1999 3:28 PM PT, http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn

Some analyst predictions for April 2002 in PCs include: Game consoles will replace some PCs; minimum PC prices will continue to hover around $400-- although by sometime in 2002 a price drop of 25% or more might be possible.

-- Tomorrow's computers may not be what you think By STEVE ALEXANDER, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, April 20, 2000, http://www.nandotimes.com

While Microsoft and Apple Computer in late 2001 were touting new OS versions requiring expensive, relatively new and heavily equipped computers including items like 128 MB RAM and 1.5 Gigabytes of free disk space, the open sourced Linux OS could run on ancient 486 PCs with a fraction of those hardware resources.

-- Computer Giants Up the Ante By Mike Musgrove; September 14, 2001; Page E01; The Washington Post

-- Wal-Mart Delivers a Sub-$200 PC

-- Wal-Mart, Microtel Ship $199 Lindows PC

-- PCWorld.com - Walmart.com Offers Sub-$200 LindowsOS PC

-- Lindows and the $199 Computer

-- Lindows Prepping $199 PC

-- A move to build PCs without Windows csmonitor.com

Sony Playstation 2 game consoles not only play games but will soon be getting their own custom Linux OS too from Sony, according to news reports. As of mid-May 2002 Sony had announced price cuts on the console hardware as well, putting it down to around $200. Microsoft was apparently being forced to make similar cuts for its X-Box. There's currently various debates going on about whether someone might be able to convert the X-box into a multi-purpose computer too, similar to how a Sony PS 2 running Linux might.

-- Linux for PlayStation 2 Community Home

-- Linux for the Playstation 2

-- PSX Documentation Project

-- Xbox-Linux - News

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"This century may be a defining moment for the cosmos. If humans do not destroy themselves they may spread beyond the earth into a universe that could last almost forever."

-- Martin Rees, 2002

-- The science of eternity by Martin Rees; www.prospect-magazine.co.uk; January 2002

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1998-2002 subtrends and detours: Online services, cable TV companies, telecommunications utilities, and TV/PC/set top box makers appear to be converging in many instances...

...in an attempt to become more competitive and build marketshare and expand profit opportunities. TV and PC makers offer net access along with their boxes, and telecomms, cable TV companies, and online services start selling/giving away their own set top devices to consumers.

America Online buys itself a set top box company..

-- "AOL Buys Into TV", 5-6-98, By John Borland, Net Insider, and "AOL May Work With Spyglass on Internet Service for TV" by AIMEE PICCHI, Bloomberg News/ the New York Times Syndicate (on or about 5-8-98)

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"...the argument for national security should not serve as an excuse for obliterating the Constitution."

-- U.S. District Court Judge Robert M. Takasugi, 2002

-- Los Angeles Times: Terror Funding Charges Rejected By JESSICA GARRISON and DAVID ROSENZWEIG; June 22 2002; http://www.latimes.com/la-me-terror22jun22.story

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"I've been warning people that we are already moving toward a police state.....we're going in exactly the wrong direction."
-- Ron Paul, 2002; Republican, and one of only five US Congressmen to vote against the USA Patriot Act

-- When Conservatives Sue Conservatives by Harley Sorensen; June 17, 2002; SF Gate

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1977 AD- 2002 AD: The average cost of a US college education increases by 300%

Between 1979 and 2002 the average aid to poor college students from individual state governments in the USA fell by 32%.

-- Log cabin to White House? Not any more by Will Hutton; April 28, 2002; The Observer; Guardian Newspapers Limited

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2002 milestone: The world is awash in potential energy sources; Enormous (perhaps "inexhaustible") supplies of hydrogen gas (an almost ideal type of fuel) are discovered deep in the Earth's crust, even as simple biological sources of hydrogen are also isolated; Another immense pool of untapped energy reserves consists of gas hydrates in sea floors and permafrost around the world; Recent discoveries show that at least some old fashioned crude oil deposits are refilling themselves after depletion too, via unexpected natural means, possibly indicating estimates of world oil reserves are far too low

Apparently a single cubic meter of stone from a certain depth in the crust may hold up to 1,000 liters of hydrogen.

Though it may be prohibitively expensive with current technologies to directly extract the trapped hydrogen from these deep rockbeds, indirectly tapping it by seeking out shallower reservoirs where the gas has naturally become trapped in ways similar to crude oil and natural gas deposits, may be viable in the near and intermediate term.

-- Huge hydrogen stores found below Earth's crust by Robert Matthews; Vancouver Sun; April 15, 2002

-- Hydrogen found in Earth's crust is 'limitless fuel supply' By Robert Matthews; Telegraph Group Limited; 14/04/2002

There's also research underway investigating the feasibility of tapping the enormous supply of gas hydrates embedded in certain expanses of sea floor and permafrost around the world. Estimates place these so far untouched resources as being larger than all known natural gas reserves in the world.

-- Fuel Fathom Five By Kathy A. Svitil; DISCOVER Vol. 21 No. 12; December 2000

The natural refilling of some previously depleted crude oil reserves may (or may not) be fast enough to make a substantial difference in near term energy reserves. More study is required to determine the impact such natural replenishment might have on the world's energy needs.

-- Oil Fields' Free Refill By Robert Cooke; Newsday.com; April 16, 2002

Hydrogen can be produced from algae.

Algae can be made to produce substantial quantities of hydrogen gas by way of photosynthesis. This breakthrough means valuable high quality and pollution-free fuel may be generated with a combination of water and sunlight. The process may require another 10 years or so of development to be made commercially viable. By simply removing all sulfur from the algae's surroundings, the algae can be forced to begin using its internal stores of food in a different manner than normal-- thereby releasing hydrogen gas. The algae must periodically (every several days) be given a chance to recharge themselves with their normal metabolic processes, however.

-- Common algae can be valuable source of hydrogen fuel, 21 FEBRUARY 2000, EurekAlert! Contact: Kathleen Scalise; kms@pa.urel.berkeley.edu; 510-643-7741; University of California, Berkeley http://www.eurekalert.org/releases/ucb-cac021800.html

Another related URL was http://www.urel.berkeley.edu/urel_1/CampusNews/PressReleases/releases/01-27-2000b.html

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii algae makes use of the enzyme hydrogenase to split water into oxygen and hydrogen in a form of biological electrolysis. Properly maintained, the fuel producing algae appear capable to continue cycling through the hydrogen production process indefinitely. Despite its many theoretical advantages, hydrogen fuel does pose challenges in the area of safe storage, among other things.

-- Algae May Be 'Green' Fuel of Future - Experts Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines, February 21, 2000

Cheap production and safe storage of hydrogen fuel is somewhat of a Holy Grail in energy circles. Now it appears common algae may offer half of what's required to reach the goal.

Algae's ancient capacities to switch from digesting carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight to produce needed nutrients as well as waste oxygen, to subsisting off internal stores of carbohydrates, water, and sunlight to produce the same nutrients but output waste hydrogen might offer us some pointers for future technological breathing backups for soldiers, astronauts, and undersea workers. The algae uses the backup system wherever there is no sulfur or oxygen. This alternative breathing system is not shared with other plants in nature-- but scientists envision it being added via genetic engineering to higher plants perhaps. It would also be helpful if the process could be reworked to operate in normal atmospheric conditions (where oxygen is present) as well.

It may be 20 years or longer before hydrogen fuel serves as a major pillar of the world's energy usage. At present hydrogen must be made relatively expensively from natural gas.

-- Pond algae can be prompted to produce hydrogen on demand By PAUL RECER, February 21, 2000, Nando Media/Associated Press, http://www.nandotimes.com

-- Anything into Oil

Keep in mind all the above energy sources do not directly include other increasingly useful sources such as solar, tidal, geothermal, and wind power, as well as more exotic technologies of dazzling potential like nuclear fusion and anti-matter reactors.

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"We won't be putting money into a society which is not transparent and [is] corrupt, and I suspect other countries won't either."

-- US President George W. Bush, 2002

-- EU gives more aid to Arafat in defiance of Bush by Suzanne Goldenberg; June 28, 2002; The Guardian

"...a state cannot be based on a foundation of terror or corruption...a...state must be based on the principles that are critical to freedom and prosperity: democracy and open markets, the rule of law, transparent and accountable administration, and respect for individual liberties and civil society." -- US President George W. Bush, 2002

-- a jaundiced eye - the weblog, found on or about 5-8-02; citing the New York Times at http://nytimes.com/2002/05/02/politics/02CND-PREX.html

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"Fifty-one percent of 280 fund managers...said...that U.S. earnings are the worst in the world when it comes to predictability, volatility and transparency."

-- Pierre Belec, Reuters; 2002

-- Not Buying the U.S. Earnings Story By Pierre Belec; Jun 22, 2002;Yahoo! /Business - Reuters

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"...many of the professionals on whom we would like to rely for guidance are proving untrustworthy and even corrupt."
-- TIME magazine, 2002

-- You're On Your Own, Baby By DANIEL KADLEC; You're On Your Own, A Consumer Survival Guide; time.com; found on or about 1-21-02; Jan. 28, 2002 - Feb. 3, 2002 issue of TIME

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2002 milestone: There is mounting evidence that certain American notions of economics and capitalism are not necessarily the best or most efficient

High wage, heavily unionized western Europe, with its notoriously short work weeks, 'welfare state giveaways' (plus the high taxes that support them), and substantial government ownership of major companies, which pay their business executives only a fraction what their US counterparts receive, appears poised to eat America's lunch economically. For example:

Germany's Volkswagen automaker has increased its European marketshare by 3% (and its US marketshare by 2%) since 1993, mostly by outcompeting US carmakers GM and Ford.

Nokia of Finland today boasts twice the world marketshare in cell phones of American Motorola.

Work output per hour in many parts of western Europe, such as western Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and France has risen to above that of the US. Several other nations like Austria, Ireland, and Denmark are now roughly matching America's statistics, and still improving, while America's closest western European ally, Great Britain, stands out as substantially lagging these others in the competition.

America's apparent growing relative weakness seems to stem from its ever-increasing focus on short term return on investment, at the expense of its future.

-- What Europe can teach Uncle Sam by Will Hutton; April 29, 2002; The Guardian; excerpts from book The World We're In; Little, Brown publisher [apparently to be released in 2002]

Apparently as of early 2002 the US is much less competitive in the world economy than France, since France enjoys a large surplus in trade accounts while the US suffers from a trade deficit equivalent to about 4% of US GDP. The French recently reduced their standard work week to 35 hours, which looks to have caused an enormous increase in French productivity, even as it improved French living standards.

-- Economics Reporting Review January 28 - February 1; [post date may be Feb 04 2002; author may be Dean Baker] citing French Greet Campaign With a Yawn Keith B. Richburg The Washington Post, January 28, 2002, Page A16

America also appears to be failing (or falling behind) in its health care industry, compared to much of the developed world.

-- Skyrocketing Health-Care Premiums By Jackie Judd; April 25, 2002; ABC News Internet Ventures

Due to mounting health insurance costs, American business may soon join consumers and liberal politicians in pushing for a national health plan. The article cited below states that the biggest reason for rising health care costs is technology: as improvements in technology reduce the cost and improve the quality of care for chronic disease, demand for such care soars, pushing up the total healthcare bill.

-- Shifting Health-Care Costs to You By Howard Gleckman; Edited by Douglas Harbrecht; APRIL 30, 2002; WASHINGTON WATCH; BusinessWeek Online

-- New Drugs Termed Riskier Than Old (washingtonpost.com) By Marc Kaufman Washington Post; May 1, 2002; Page A1

The Bush Administration is proposing allowing more private insurers to become involved in the Medicare program, despite the facts that studies by the Congressional Budget Office and the General Accounting Office have concluded that use of HMO insurers costs the government more than traditional Medicare practices, and existing HMO participants in the Medicare system have so far dumped roughly 33% of the Medicare patients who enrolled with them.

-- Economics Reporting Review, January 28 - February 1 [author or editor possibly Dean Baker]; Feb 04 2002; citing Brief Health-Care Remarks Draw Praise and Skepticism by Robin Toner; The New York Times, January 30, 2002, Page A27

The world's healthiest people are the Japanese, while France appears to possess the best health care system overall. The United States spends more per person on health care every year than any of the other 190 countries in the study, yet ranks only 37th in terms of health care quality, and 24th in the World Health Organization's Disability Adjusted Life Expectancy.

The World Health Organization studied health care quality and cost in 191 countries worldwide, announcing their conclusions around mid-2000 AD. Among them were these items of note:

WHO's study focused primarily upon the cost-effectiveness of each nation's health care, compared to all others. Important factors included the health of a country's native population relative to others, the treatment of the nation's minorities and poor, and how well a country's public health system does at preventing sickness in the first place.

The people of Japan were judged to be the most healthy population overall, living on average 4.5 years more in good health during their lifespan than Americans. Japan spends an average of $1,759 per person in health care.

France was judged to possess the best health care system overall, with Italy coming in second. The French live on average three more years in good health than Americans. France spends an annual average of $2,125 per person on health care.

Japan, Singapore, and Spain ranked among the top ten best health care systems in the world.

Britain and Canada, which offer a free national health service and a widely acclaimed system respectively, came in 18th and 30th on the scorecard.

The United States came in 37th in ranking, despite spending more per person on health care every year than any of the other 190 countries in the study ($3,724).

Professionals commenting on the study pointed out that Italy probably benefits from the advantages of the so-called Mediterranean diet, which includes substantial amounts of olive oil, known to help maintain good health. They also said the USA was good in the area of expensive, high end health care-- it's in the realm of low cost prevention that it does poorly, compared to some of those countries scoring higher on the list. Other observations were that government-run health insurance isn't necessary to have a good system, according to the study. Some nations perform well with combinations of public and private programs.

-- Controversial study finds France has world's best health-care system By LAURAN NEERGAARD, Associated Press, June 20, 2000, http://www.nandotimes.com

Of 191 nations considered, Japan appears to boast the most healthy and long lived population overall.

By the World Health Organization's own Disability Adjusted Life Expectancy (DALE) years of bad health are subtracted from average life expectancy to better measure the length of healthy lifespans per country. By this measure the USA ranked only 24th on the list-- trailing states like Switzerland, Monaco, and Greece.

The lowest life expectancy (under 26) exists in Sierra Leone.

-- Japan Has Longest Healthy Life Expectancy - WHO By Patricia Reaney, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories Headlines, June 4, 2000

Indeed, American health care in some respects appears to be trailing the quality of much poorer and smaller nations around the world.

By one measure, the total healthcare monies spent in the US annually per person around 2000 amounted to $4,187. By contrast, Costa Rica spent only $226. The US also enjoyed twice as many doctors per person as Costa Rica. Some results of this vast resource disparity include higher life expectancies at birth for Costa Rican men than US men-- with expectancies for women just a bit less in Costa Rica than the US. Why? Perhaps because basic healthcare services focused on prevention are available to most Costa Ricans, and the Costa Rican economic policies allow most everyone sufficient income for food and housing for themselves and their families. The biggest healthcare difference all the extra money spent in the US seems to bring is the addition of a bit more lifespan via advanced technology to old folks near the end of their lives.

-- The slowing pace of progress By Phillip J. Longman, US News & World Report, found on or about 12-30-2000

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2002 milestone: The overwhelming majority (90%) of young white male employees in USAmerica are destined to experience a smaller rise in income over their lives than their father's generation did

Apparently this change in economic fortunes hasn't had much effect on political elections as yet because the greater infusion of women into the job market has turned many households into the two-income variety, thus enabling them to avoid most of the worst ramifications of this trend for upward mobility so far. However, this circumstance makes it harder for families in general to cope.

-- Ninety percent of young white male workers now doing worse than they would have 20 years ago; EurekAlert!; 20-Feb-2002; Contact: Joel Schwarz; joels@u.washington.edu; 206-543-2580; University of Washington

Note this may be one of the factors making for so many couples today deciding to delay, minimize the numbers, or forget altogether about having children of their own.

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2002 milestone: The world wide web is diverging into at least two distinctly different entities

The heavily commercial portions of the world wide web circa early 2002 funnel the vast majority of online traffic through the same relatively small number of web sites, usually minimizing or eschewing entirely links to external or new sites outside their own domains, for reasons of trapping customers for advertising and e-commerce revenues, among others. This practice makes the commercial parts of the web more vulnerable to mass disruption and closed to many new or different ideas, opinions, and innovations.

By contrast, a whole other region of the web is much more receptive to new and alternative ideas and destinations, and therefore more secure from large disruptions. This other region in 2002 consists of many college and newspaper domains, as well as other public business sites of various sorts, which tend to assimilate new links and ideas at a considerably greater pace than the more well known commercial web domains.

Sources include World Wide Web community behavior makes it less vulnerable to attack, more friendly to new sites; 15-Apr-2002; Contact: Barbara Hale aem1@psu.edu 814-865-9481 Penn State

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2002 milestone: Mainstream internet news reports are fluid, often subject to on-going changes to respond to additional information received, editorial changes to the 'balance' in the story, and more; such changes are not always noted for the readers of the medium

Anything and everything about a given online news story-- including the title and byline-- may change between two separate viewings of the item. This practice is called "writethroughs".

-- Slashdot | Online News Stories that Change Behind Your Back by Roblimo; May 09, 2002

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2002 milestone: Regular jobs kill, injure, and sicken more people worldwide each year than war

The world's three most dangerous jobs include construction, agriculture, and mining.

-- Guardian | Work is three times as deadly as war, says UN by Andrew Osborn; May 2, 2002; The Guardian; Guardian Newspapers Limited

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2002 milestone: Possibly as much as 98% of the 'dot-com' companies existing in early 2000 may have failed or been bought out by early 2002

-- What's Ahead for Average Dot-Com? Death by Brad Shewmake, InfoWorld.com/PC World April 11, 2000

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(For more about this period check out Perspectives 1990 AD-2050 AD)

Beyond 2002 in the Timeline...

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