30 September 2011

'Science and Tech' Advisor to the US President


John P. Holdren, author of Ecoscience, says the optimum world population is 1 billion people (we're at almost 7 billion), and in order to provide a higher quality of life for all there must be fewer people..... he says you could do this by putting chemicals in food and water, licences for birth, compulsary abortion, and that a planetary 'regime' should be given the responsibility for determining this... Ramblings of a mad-man? #Advisor to President Obama for Science and Tech

28 September 2011

Professor: It's time for Humanity 2.0

The sociology professor says we are moving away from seeing ourselves as 'normal' humans as we increasingly embrace technological and medical advances – if we can afford them
steve fuller, humanity 2.0 author, at warwick
Professor Steve Fuller, author of Humanity 2.0, at the University of Warwick. Photograph: Andrew Fox for the Observer
Steve Fuller holds the Auguste Comte chair in social epistemology in Warwick University's Department of Sociology. His new book, Humanity 2.0: What it Means to be Human, Past, Present and Future, is published by Palgrave Macmillan.
  1. Humanity 2.0: What it Means to be Human Past, Present and Future
  2. by Steve Fuller
  3. Buy it from the Guardian bookshop
  1. Tell us what you think:Star-rate and review this book
What do you mean by Humanity 2.0?
Humanity 2.0 is an understanding of the human condition that no longer takes the "normal human body" as given. On the one hand, we're learning more about our continuity with the rest of nature – in terms of the ecology, genetic make-up, evolutionary history. On this basis, it's easy to conclude that being "human" is overrated. But on the other hand, we're also learning more about how to enhance the capacities that have traditionally marked us off from the rest of nature. Computers come to mind most readily in their capacity to amplify and extend ourselves. Humanity 2.0 is about dealing with this tension.
In what areas have we reached 2.0 already?
Let's put it this way: we've always been heading towards a pretty strong sense of Humanity 2.0. The history of science and technology, especially in the west, has been about remaking the world in our collective "image and likeness", to recall the biblical phrase. This means making the world more accessible and usable by us. Consider the history of agriculture, especially animal and plant breeding. Then move to prosthetic devices such as eyeglasses and telescopes.
More recently, and more mundanely, people are voting with their feet to enter Humanity 2.0 with the time they spend in front of computers, as opposed to having direct contact with physical human beings. In all this, it's not so much that we've been losing our humanity but that it's becoming projected or distributed across things that lack a human body. In any case, Humanity 2.0 is less about the power of new technologies than a state of mind in which we see our lives fulfilled in such things.
Wouldn't someone like Archimedes describe us as Humanity 3.0 compared to his era?
Yes, Archimedes would probably see us as pretty exotic creatures. He would already be impressed by what we take for granted as Humanity 1.0, since the Greeks generally believed that "humanity" was an elite prospect for ordinary Homo sapiens, requiring the right character and training. Moreover, he would be surprised – if not puzzled – that we appear to think of science and technology as some long-term collective project of self-improvement – "progress" in its strongest sense. While the Greeks gave us many of our fundamental scientific ideas, they did not think of them as a blueprint for upgrading the species. Rather, those ideas were meant either to relieve drudgery or provide high-brow entertainment.
Is it desirable or possible to put the brakes on the move to 2.0?
Well here's my proviso: these developments do have the potential to create whole new deep class divisions, maybe not along the lines of the old industrial class divisions, but just as deep. Sometimes, people talk about this as the "knows" versus the "know-nots". Divisions open up along the lines of who has access to all of these potential enhancements. At the moment, the problem is that the state is dwindling away and it is becoming less of regulator of any kind of activity, so market forces are basically determining the development of all these things I'm talking about. And what that means is that the rich get access to them more quickly and the poor get left behind.
For example, in terms of the NHS, we don't deprive people of prosthetic enhancements such as hearing aids and eyeglasses along the lines of income, so we should be thinking about what other future enhancements we want people to have access to as part of being human 2.0.
Such as?
A good example would be cosmetic neurology, which is essentially plastic surgery for the brain. Where you go in every so often and you get a tune-up of your synapses. This is done at the University of Pennsylvania medical school.
What does this have to do with my daily life?
I think a lot. You already see the problem of smart drugs – people taking drugs to do well in exams or job interviews. The use of these substances is much more widespread than the official records indicate. People are taking the stuff and pretty soon people are going to feel they can't be left behind.
People who work within the disability sector talk about "able-ism" – the idea that we're going to be living in a world in the future where everyone will take having a disability as the normal state because you will never be doped up enough, you will always be worried about the next enhancement, about whether you have enough enhancement for your next job interview, or whether someone else has a smarter drug that you don't have access to. So people will feel that they have to somehow keep up. And that's a real issue, especially in an unregulated market environment.
So our ideas of what is normal change?
Yes, there does need to be wide-ranging discussion about what is means to be normal. To be in normal health – how does your brain or body have to function in order to be "normal"? We've had a fairly constant view of what normalcy is for quite a long time but I think we need to reopen this debate and then define the minimal requirements for medical care.
So you foresee an enhanced generation emerging because of their ability to take advantage of various drugs and treatments?
It's going to happen through individuals taking choices about getting treatments or not and then, within a generation or two, you'll start seeing interesting effects on society at large. What I can imagine is that life expectancy won't uniformly go up, it'll start to be bimodal distribution – some people will live beyond 100 and there'll be a large number of people who die under the age of 70. And that won't be because of some government mandate, that will be because people will definitely take advantage of the enhancements on offer, but others won't have those choices open to them.
Are you optimistic about Humanity 2.0?
We need to be always reminding ourselves that we have always been enhancing ourselves, that science has always been enhancing the human condition, that we have been trusting machines over our own bodies for at least 300-400 years now. We've already broken through that barrier – we do live in a very artificial world. Even though the stuff on the horizon may amplify our powers tremendously, it is nevertheless part of the same process. It is a step change but it's the same story, the story of scientific progress.
Humanity 2.0 is published by Palgrave Macmillan, £19.99. To buy it for £15.99 with free UK p&p, go to guardianbookshop.co.uk or call 0330 333 6847

Dead Sea Scrolls put Online

The Great Isaiah Scroll

View the Great Isaiah Scroll
Click to examine the scroll.
The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) • Qumran Cave 1 • 1st century BCE • Parchment • H: 22-25, L: 734 cm • Government of Israel • Accession number: HU 95.57/27
The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) is one of the original seven Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran in 1947. It is the largest (734 cm) and best preserved of all the biblical scrolls, and the only one that is almost complete. The 54 columns contain all 66 chapters of the Hebrew version of the biblical Book of Isaiah. Dating from ca. 125 BCE, it is also one of the oldest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, some one thousand years older than the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible known to us before the scrolls' discovery.
The version of the text is generally in agreement with the Masoretic or traditional version codified in medieval codices, such as the Aleppo Codex, but it contains many variant readings, alternative spellings, scribal errors, and corrections. Unlike most of the biblical scrolls from Qumran, it exhibits a very full orthography (spelling), revealing how Hebrew was pronounced in the Second Temple Period. Around twenty additional copies of the Book of Isaiah were also found at Qumran (one more copy was discovered further south at Wadi Muraba'at), as well as six pesharim (commentaries) based on the book; Isaiah is also frequently quoted in other scrolls (a literary and religious phenomenon also present in New Testament writings). The authoritative and scriptural status of the Book of Isaiah is consistent with the messianic beliefs of the community living at Qumran, since Isaiah is known for his prophecies of judgment and consolation, and his visions of the End of Days and the coming of the Kingdom of God.
Modern scholarship considers the Book of Isaiah to be an anthology, the two principal compositions of which are the Book of Isaiah proper (chapters 1-39, with some exceptions), containing the words of the prophet Isaiah himself, dating from the time of the First Temple, around 700 BCE, and Second Isaiah (Deutero-Isaiah, chapters 40-66), comprising the words of an anonymous prophet, who lived some one hundred and fifty years later, around the time of the Babylonian exile and the restoration of the Temple in the Persian Period. By the time our Isaiah Scroll was copied (the last third of the second century BCE), the book was already regarded as a single composition.
Several prophesies appearing in the Book of Isaiah have become cornerstones of Judeo-Christian civilization. Perhaps the most renowned of these is Isaiah's vision of universal peace at the End of Days: "And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not take up sword against nation; they shall never again know war" (2:4).

Versions and Translations of the Book of Isaiah

As you use the translator tool in the scroll viewer, we would like to call your attention to the complexities of translating the words of the Prophet Isaiah of around 2,800 years ago, as reflected in the different Hebrew variants and subsequent English translations. The museum's mission here is to provide you the background information required to reach your own objective perspective when reading this English translation of the biblical text.
Basic Concepts:
  1. Masoretic Version of the Hebrew Bible
    The evidence emerging from the Qumran scrolls is that there were several concurrent versions of the biblical text, though one - now referred to as the proto-Rabbinic or proto-Masoretic - enjoyed a special status by the Greco-Roman period (3rd century BCE - 1st century CE). That apparently became the authoritative text for mainstream Judaism toward the end of the Second Temple, as evidenced by ancient parchment fragments of several biblical books (1st-2nd century CE) discovered in other parts of the Judean Desert (Masada, Wadi Murabba'at, Nahal Hever, and Nahal Tze'elim).
    Through the activity of generations of sages (known as "Masoretes"), who faithfully preserved and transmitted the sacred words across centuries, an authoritative or Masoretic version of the Hebrew Bible gradually evolved, containing its definitive correct text, proper vocalization, and accentuation marks. The Aleppo Codex, transcribed by the scribe Solomon son of Buya'a and annotated by the scholar Aaron ben Asher in the 10th century CE in the Galilean city of Tiberias, is considered the finest extant example of this version.
    Since then, the Masoretic version has become the standard authoritative text of the Hebrew Bible, from which modern translations were and still are being made. While there are numerous English online translations of this traditional text, the version you see here is the authoritative version of the biblical Book of Isaiah, as rendered by the Jewish Publication Society in 1917 and published by the American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise.
  2. Great Isaiah Scroll Version
    The text of the Great Isaiah Scroll generally conforms to the Masoretic or traditional version codified in medieval codices (all 66 chapters of the Hebrew version, in the same conventional order). At the same time, however, the two thousand year old scroll contains alternative spellings, scribal errors, corrections, and most fundamentally, many variant readings. Strictly speaking, the number of textual variants is well over 2,600, ranging from a single letter, sometimes one or more words, to complete variant verse or verses.
    For example, the second half of Verse 9 and all of Verse 10 in the present Masoretic version of Chapter 2 are absent from the Great Isaiah Scroll in the Israel Museum's full manuscript that you see here online. The same verses, however, have been included in other versions of the Book of Isaiah in the scrolls found near the Dead Sea (4QIsaa, 4QIsab), and the Hebrew text from which the ancient Greek version or Septuagint (3rd-1st century BCE) was translated. This confirms that these verses, although early enough, were a late addition to the ancient and more original version reflected in the Great Isaiah Scroll.
  3. Recommendations:
    Keeping these basic concepts in mind, we recommend that you use the tools at your disposal in the following ways:
    1. If you are a Hebrew reader, choose any passage of the Great Isaiah Scroll, and compare it to the Masoretic version of the same passage in the Aleppo Codex (http://www.aleppocodex.org/links/10.html). You may then assess the agreements and disagreements between both versions.
    2. If you do not read Hebrew, please take the following suggested steps:
      1. Choose a specific passage from the Great Isaiah Scroll version, and click on the online JPS English translation of the Book of Isaiah in the online viewer. Note that this translation reflects only the Masoretic version of the biblical book, and does not specifically reflect the present text of the Great Isaiah Scroll version.
      2. If you wish to compare both versions, please click here, and you will see the first five chapters of the Book of Isaiah in parallel columns: On the left, the English translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll by Professor Peter Flint (Western Trinity University, Canada), and on the right, the JPS English translation of the Masoretic version. Thus you will be able to evaluate on your own the intricate issue of variant readings, which have obvious literary, historical and theological implications for the correct understanding of Isaiah's original words.

25 September 2011

Bad Archaeology - The History Channel's 'Ancient Aliens'

For some reason, there is a channel known as The History Channel. Given its schedule, I can only conclude that the name is ironic in a postmodern sense. It certainly bears only a tangential relationship to something that I would recognise as ‘history’. I’ve been aware for some time that its programming is weighted towards the American Civil War and Nazis, much in the way that the ‘bookshop’ W H Smith has a ‘History’ section that deals largely in World War II and bullshit history. Given that the channel has aired series such as The Bible Code: predicting Armageddon and Nostradamus Effect, I really ought not to be shocked at any of its offerings.
And yet…
Head from Tikal (Guatemala)
According to the History Channel’s website, “This ancient stone figure, found at the Mayan ruins in Tikal, Guatemala, resembles a modern-day astronaut in a space helmet”; no, it doesn’t!
And yet, the discovery that it has given air time to a programme called Ancient Aliens (note that it’s not even a question!) is shocking and profoundly depressing. And it’s in its second series! Given that many people in the modern world use the television as their principal window on the world and source of information about that world, for a significant number of them, it has an authority that probably no other institution (even school) does. If it’s been on a television documentary, so popular wisdom has it, then it must be true: a twenty-first century equivalent of “I read it in the paper, so it must be true…”. A quote from an online forumshould suffice to illustrate the point: “I don’t think you will be able to easily ‘debunk’ anything you see on the history channel. Everything that you see on their shows comes from legit scientific sources and is supported by many word class researches and experts”. There are times when I despair for the future of our civilisation.
The background information for the series, posted on the channel’s website, says:
According to ancient alien theorists, extraterrestrials with superior knowledge of science and engineering landed on Earth thousands of years ago, sharing their expertise with early civilizations and forever changing the course of human history… Ancient alien theory grew out of the centuries-old idea that life exists on other planets… The space program played no small part in this as well: If mankind could travel to other planets, why couldn’t extraterrestrials visit Earth? …
Most ancient alien theorists, including von Däniken, point to two types of evidence to support their ideas. The first is ancient religious texts in which humans witness and interact with gods or other heavenly beings who descend from the sky—sometimes in vehicles resembling spaceships—and possess spectacular powers. The second is physical specimens such as artwork depicting alien-like figures and ancient architectural marvels like Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt.
This blurb flatters the promoters of the ideas that descriptions of gods from the sky in ancient texts are accounts of genuine extraterrestrial visitations and that archaeological remains that make little obvious sense to us today: it calls themtheorists. Almost as if they are scientists. And for many of us, scientists are the ultimate arbiters of what is real and what is not.
On the page dealing with Evidence of Ancient Aliens? (at least the web designer has had the courtesy to make it a question!), we find six things presented in support of the idea (okay, let’s be generous and go with the channel’s word,theory). These are:
  • The Nazca Lines
  • Vimanas
  • The Moai of Easter Island
  • Puma Punku
  • The Book of Ezekiel
  • Pacal’s Sarcophagus
It’s an eclectic list, to be sure, and it covers some exotic locations as well as some interesting ancient literature. But it’s a hugely problematical list and it has the fingerprints of Erich von Däniken all over it; moreover, four of the items have been widely debunked since the 1970s (perhaps best in Ronald Story’s 1976The space-gods revealed: a close look at the theories of Erich von Däniken).
Geoglyph depicting a hummingbird, Nazca
Geoglyph depicting a hummingbird, Nazca (Perú)
The Nazca Lines are one of von Däniken’s favourite bits of evidence, so it’s little wonder they show up here. Situated in southern Perú, they consist of lines, geometric shapes and animal representations etched into the surface of the desert by the simple expedient of removing the oxidised pebbles on its surface to reveal the contrasting colour of the sand beneath. The designs are thus shallow, on average only 0.15 m (5.9 inches) deep. The History Channel’s website repeats the claim first put forward by Erich von Däniken that “the lines served as runways” for the gods’ spaceships; this conveniently ignores the fact that anything with any weight, such as a spaceship, landing on the plain would disturb the pebble surface and reveal the lighter sand underneath, thus creating new lines and effacing any designs it might pass over. This has clearly not happened. The lines – whatever their origin – can never have been used as runways.
Rama in his vimana
Rama in his vimana, depicted on a modern mural
vimana (Sanskrit विमान) is something found in ancient Hindu literature, with a variety of meanings. Its etymology (it can be analysed vi-māna) means ‘measuring out’ or ‘traversing’ but in literature it refers to a ruler’s palace, the tower above the holy of holies in a Hindu temple, a god’s palace, a flying seat or flying building (from which, some modern dialects use the word to mean ‘aircraft’) and a chariot. Although vimanas make occasional appearances in Vedic literature, the text most quoted as evidence for their reality is the Vaimanika Shastra, purportedly a treatise on aeronautics written by Bharadwaja (Sanskrit भरद्वाज), one of the mythical sages of Hinduism. If genuine, it would be remarkable. Of course, it isn’t. Nobody had heard of the text until 1952, when its existence was revealed by Gomatam R Josyer (said to have been Director of the International Academy of Sanskrit Research in Mysore), according to whom it had been dictated by Pandit Subbaraya Shastry (1866-1940) in 1918-23. Despite its sonorous name, the International Academy of Sanskrit Research seems only to have had the one director and to have produced only one publication of its prestigious research: G R Josyer’s Vymaanika Shaastra Aeronautics of Maharshi Bharadwaaja. I can smell something and it isn’t aircraft fuel. Basically, the pillar on which the Ancient Aliens theory that vimanas were real flying machines rests turns out to be a mid-twentieth century hoax.
A re-erected mo'ai
A re-erected mo’ai, complete with coral eyes and red topknot
The mo’ai of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) are the well known monolithic stone statues that were erected in special locations on the island between about 1250 and 1500 CE. About 887 statues are known to exist, almost half of which are still in the quarry at Rano Raraku, which appears to have been the principal source of the stone from which they were carved. Those that made the journey were set up on stone platforms (known asahu) on the coast, with the statues facing inland over the different clan areas of the island; each statue was carved to represent a deceased ancestor and they were intended to watch over their living descendants. After the first European contact with the islanders in 1722, when all the mo’ai on ahu were standing, fighting among the islanders resulted in the toppling of every single statue by 1868. Archaeological research since 1955 has revealed a great deal about the date and purpose of the statues and it is difficult to understand why they are considered evidence for ancient astronauts. Indeed, they are not ancient and were still being erected after Columbus’s voyage across the Atlantic.
Scattered masonry at Pumapunku
Scattered masonry at Pumapunku
Pumapunku is a site that forms part of the better known Tiwanaku(Tiahuanaco) complex in Bolivia. Although the ancient astronauts proponents try to ascribe a vast age to the complex (over 14,000 years is not uncommon), there is a radiocarbon date from a primary deposit of 1510 ± 25 bp, which calibrates to 517-605 CE at 96% confidence. This quite clearly puts the origin of the site in the sixth century CE; those who want an earlier origin have to explain why no earlier cultural material has been found at the site. The sites are known for their stone architecture, which displays features that are quite unlike Old World building techniques. The complex joints between the stones are sophisticated and designed to provide strong wall without mortar and maximum stability in an earthquake zone; they are not evidence that aliens guided the human builders, as the programme seems to have claimed, and exhibit increasing sophistication with time.
Raphael's "The Vision of Ezekiel"
Raphael’s imagined view of the vision of Ezekiel
The Book of Ezekiel is one of the more bizarre works in the Hebrew Bible. Attributed to a prophet who calls himself Ezekiel ben Buzi (יְחֶזְקֵאל בֶּן-בּוּזִי), who appears to have been born around 622 BCE, it details what he refers to as “visions of God”. This is the first problem for the ancient astronaut theorists, who want him to be describing an actual Close Encounter with a spaceship and its occupants. Nor is it a straightforward eyewitness account, as there is evidence in the text itself for extensive editing (indeed, there are numerous variants of the text in existence). The plan of the work is actually quite straightforward: Yahweh reveals himself to Ezekiel as a warrior god in a chariot and pronounces a series of judgements on Jerusalem and Judah, followed by a series of judgements on the gentiles (specifically the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, Tyrians, Sidonians and Egyptians) and concluding with some vague prophecies about the return of the Jews to Judah, the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the bestowing of great blessings on the Jews. This does not sound like the imparting of extraterrestrial wisdom from a technologically advanced flying machine. Instead, it is typical of early Jewish apocalyptic literature.
The sarcophagus lid of K’inich Janahb’ Pakal
The sarcophagus lid of K’inich Janahb’ Pakal
The sarcophagus of K’inich Janahb’ Pakal(603-683 CE, more often known simply as Pacal), discovered in 1952 in the Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque (Bàak’ in Modern Maya), is another thoroughly debunked bit of evidence, but it is one that Erich von Däniken seems to regard as his best, so keen is he to promote it. When he first wrote about the relief on the lid of the sarcophagus, there was only rudimentary knowledge of how to translate Maya hieroglyphs, so we can excuse him (to a limited extent) for not understanding the nature of the scene depicted. We can now read the inscriptions that gave the temple its name and they outline the history of Katun 4 to Katun 13, giving the background to the dates on the sarcophagus. An understanding of Maya iconography allows us also to ‘read’ the relief on the lid as the journey of the king into Xibalba (the underworld) during the night, wshere he will battle with and defeat the Lords of Death, with the water god (guardian of the underworld) waiting below, while the king escapes from the open jaws of a dragon or serpent, rising up towards the world tree; he is in a foetal position, ready to be reborn as K’awiil, god of maize. There is no spaceship, no astronaut, no alien…
I find it incredible and frightening that a worldwide distributed television channel that bills itself as ‘The History Channel’ can broadcast such rubbish as Ancient Aliens. If it were an entertainment programme, I’d have fewer worries (although it would still make me cross); it is the implied authority of the channel (‘TheHistory Channel’, not just any old ‘History Channel’) that makes the broadcast of this series so potentially damaging, as we saw in the reaction of the forum poster quoted above. A channel that is making claims for its authoritative status, which offers educational resources, has a responsibility not to mislead its viewers (no doubt its executives think of them as ‘customers’). That responsibility is one that all makers and broadcasters of supposedly factual television have, but one that few of them take seriously: the responsibility to check facts.

Is The U.S. Government Stockpiling Food In Anticipation Of A Major Economic Crisis?

Is the U.S. government stockpiling huge amounts of food and supplies in anticipation that something bad is about to happen?  Is something about to cause a major economic crisis that will require large quantities of emergency food?  For a while, I have been hearing things about the government storing food through the grapevine and I have not been sure what to think about those rumors.  Well, today I received a phone call that blew me away.  I debated for quite a while before I decided whether or not to share this information with you all.  Normally I do not like to talk about anything unless I am able to prove it by pointing to an article in the mainstream media.  But the source of the information that I am about to share with you is rock solid.  I cannot reveal his name, so you will just have to trust me on that.  Hopefully the following information will be one more "dot" as we all try to connect the dots about what is really going on out there.
This morning I received a call from a very prominent person in the storable food industry.  He has asked me not to reveal his name.  I have been dealing with him for an extended period of time and I consider him to be a rock-solid source.  When I talked to him today, he had just received a huge order for storable food from a U.S. government source.  He told me that the dollar amount of the order was in the "five figures".
When he asked about why so much food was being ordered, the government source told him essentially that "you know what is coming".  When pushed further, the government official did not elaborate.
It was unclear whether this was part of a larger food stockpiling program by the government.  Perhaps this order was just part of the normal preparations that government agencies make for potential emergencies.
Nobody could blame the government for storing up some emergency food.  That is something that we all should be doing.
The truth is that the government is taking emergency preparedness very seriously these days.  For example, you can see video of a high-level NASA official urging NASA employees to develop preparedness plans for their own families right here.
But what if this is a sign of something bigger?
Remember, this is not some rumor I just pulled off the Internet.  This is not something that someone got from "an aunt" somewhere.
I got this information over the telephone from the person who took the order.
I promised that I would not reveal any more specific details, so I won't.
But this does seem to fit with a pattern that we are beginning to see emerge.
Earlier this year, FEMA issued an RFI (Request For Information) that inquired about the availability of 140 million meals of emergency food.  Apparently the food was meant to be stored up in case there was a "catastrophic disaster event" along the New Madrid Fault.
You can view this FEMA RFI right here.  The following is an excerpt....
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) procures and stores pre-packaged commercial meals to support readiness capability for immediate distribution to disaster survivors routinely.  The purpose of this Request for Information is to identify sources of supply for meals in support of disaster relief efforts based on a catastrophic disaster event within the New Madrid Fault System for a survivor population of 7M to be utilized for the sustainment of life during a 10-day period of operations.   FEMA is considering the following specifications (14M meals per day):
- Serving Size - 12 ounce (entree not to exceed 480 calorie count);
- Maximum calories - 1200 and/or 1165 per meal;
- Protein parameters - 29g-37g kit;
- Trans Fat - 0;
- Saturated Fat - 13 grams (9 calories per gram);
- Total Fat - 47 grams (less than 10% calories);
- Maximum sodium - 800-930 mg;
Requested Menus to include snacks (i.e. fruit mix, candy, chocolate/peanut butter squeezers, drink mix, condiments, and utensils).  All meals/kits must have 36 months of remaining shelf life upon delivery.   Packaging should be environmentally friendly.
Mysteriously, seven days later this RFI was cancelled.
At that same time, FEMA also issued an RFI that sought to identify a supplier for 140 million blankets.  You can view that RFI right here.  The following is an excerpt....
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) procures and stores blankets to support readiness capability for immediate distribution to disaster survivors routinely.  The purpose of this Request for Information is to identify sources of supply for blankets in support of disaster relief efforts based on a catastrophic disaster event within the New Madrid Fault System for a survivor population of 7M to be utilized for the sustainment of life during a 10-day period of operations.   FEMA is considering the following specifications (14M blankets per day):
- 100% cotton;
- White;
- 66" x 90"
Also, there have been some much publicized shortages of storable feed recently.  There has been much speculation about whether or not the government is part of the reason for these shortages.
There are some products that simply were not available for an extended period of time.  For example, the following was posted on the Mountain House home page....
As you know we have removed #10 cans from our website temporarily. The reason for this is sales of #10 cans have continued to increase. OFD is allocating as much production capacity as possible to this market segment, but we must maintain capacity for our other market segments as well.
The shortages around the country got so bad at one point earlier this year thata special alert was posted on Raiders News....
Look around you. Read the headlines. See the largest factories of food, potassium iodide, and other emergency product manufacturers literally closing their online stores and putting up signs like those on Mountain House's Official Website and Thyrosafe's Factory Webpage that explain, due to overwhelming demand, they are shutting down sales for the time being and hope to reopen someday.
Unfortunately, shortages have not been limited to storable food.  Most Americans don't realize this, but there is a significant shortage of certain pharmaceutical drugs in many areas of the country right now.  Just check out the video news report posted below....
In addition, it is not just in the United States where food is being aggressively stored up.  For example, a recent article in The Telegraph noted that governments all over the globe are now stockpiling food....
Authoritarian governments across the world are aggressively stockpiling food as a buffer against soaring food costs which they fear may stoke popular discontent.
Also, some governments are now gobbling up as much farmland as they can.
According to the New York Times, China has been buying up "vast tracts of Latin America’s agricultural heartland" and is seeking to acquire quality farmland all over the globe.
So what does all of this mean?
It could mean something.
It could mean nothing.
But as I have written about so much recently, we really do seem to be on the verge of a major economic crisis.
The signs that the financial world is melting down are all around us.  I won't take the time to repeat what I have covered in the last few days here.  If you missed any of it, just go back and read these articles over....
One thing that I haven't covered yet is a very curious move by Lloyd's of London.  It turns out the Lloyd's of London has started pulling money out of banks in Europe’s peripheral economies according to Bloomberg....
Lloyd’s of London, concerned European governments may be unable to support lenders in a worsening debt crisis, has pulled deposits in some peripheral economies as the European Central Bank provided dollars to one euro-area institution.
At this point, world financial markets have officially entered "bear" territory.  In fact, global stocks are down approximately 20 percent since May.
Many believe that what we have seen is just the beginning of another major financial crisis.
For example, in a recent editorial for The Ticker, Karl Denninger (who saw the 2008 crash coming) warned that the house of cards is starting to fall once again....
Well, America (and the world), you’ve been scammed by the financial institutions and governments for the last 30 years.  2008 was the first spasm of recognition but was short-circuited by…. you guessed it…. even more scams.  Rather than demand truth and an end to the games the American consumer lapped up the frauds and schemes of the politicians on both sides of the aisle who conspired with the financiers to rip you off once again.
Later on in the editorial, Denninger stated that he hopes that all of us have "taken the last couple of years to become prepared"....
Now recognition of that fact is dawning on people in a convulsive fashion, and markets of all sorts are reacting as one would expect when their entire worldview is exposed as having been a gigantic and intentional pyramid scheme constructed of debt layered upon debt thatcannot be paid down.  The wrong thing was done in 2008 and there is zero evidence that our government has changed one iota in their singular focus on misdirection and lies in this regard.
Welcome to awareness; I hope you’ve taken the last couple of years to become prepared.
Well, if the anecdotal evidence presented above is an indication of a larger trend, it appears that the government is getting prepared.
And if the government is stockpiling food, who can blame them?
It should be obvious to anyone that the world has become an incredibly unstable place.
Hopefully we are not about to enter another major economic crisis, but it never hurts to be prepared.
If anyone out there has any additional information that is relevant to this report, please let me know.
If the government really has started to aggressively stockpile food, that would be an important thing to know.
If it is happening, the mainstream media surely will not tell us about it.  So we will have to rely on one another for information.
So what do you think about all of this?  Please feel free to post a comment with your opinion below....