The Expansionary Times

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PerfectSight (NETRA) Turns Droid, IPhone Into Eye Diagnostic Tool

PerfectSight (NETRA) Turns Droid, IPhone Into Eye Diagnostic Tool


July 16, 20101:42 PM MST

In Ageless Nation and The Future Factor, I described two broad medical revolutions that are vastly improving our lives. One of these is the Superlongevity Revolution, the radical extension of the human life span to 150 years and beyond. The other is the human enhancement phenomenon, the development of technologies that will enable humans to expand their mental and physical capabilities and enhance their physical appearance. Breakthroughs in fields such as biotechnology, genetic engineering, nanotechnology and bionics are the driving force behind both trends.

As one would expect, professional biologists, physicists, geneticists and doctors are creating most of the key technologies driving these revolutions. However, as I predicted in Seizing The Future, advances in computer and communications technologies are enabling patients to participate more fully in their own medical treatment.


For example, the Internet now makes it possible for patients to gather as much, if not more, information about whatever ails them than their overworked physicians can. I have long advised people to become “health sleuths,” using the Internet’s cornucopia of information—medical journals, medical websites, patient support groups-- to discover all there is to know about their particular malady and the best treatments available, at home and abroad.


Technology is making it possible for patients to diagnose their physical condition. For years women have been able to self-administer pregnancy tests in the privacy of their home. Diabetics no longer have to visit a physician to measure their blood sugar content.

Now, researchers at MIT have taken self-diagnosis to a whole new level with a technology that is actually an “app” for the standard “smart phone.”


Most of us think of our smart phone as a tool to communicate with others via speech or text, play games, surf the internet, watch videos, and record events. Now these clever little gizmos will have another function. Your IPhone or Droid has just become a tool for medical diagnosis!


The NETRA (Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment) enables IPhone and Droid owners to self-administer an eye exam on their mobile phones! Invented by India-born researchers along with the Media Lab of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the "app" will be sold under the commercial name PerfectSight.


Part of the beauty of PerfectSight is the sheer simplicity of its operation. The user places the NETRA plastic device, actually a lens, on the cell phone's screen. When he looks into the lens, he will see two lines, one red and the other green. Using arrows on the phone the user will adjust the line to bring them into alignment. If the user sees the lines merge, his eyesight is fine.


The user must repeat the test eight times, after which software downloaded to the phone analyzes the test data and tells the person whether he or she has an eye problem such as astigmatism.


According to Ramesh Raskar, who developed PerfectSight with visiting professor Manuel Oliveira, this device will revolutionize the vision diagnosis process. "So imagine if you could use your mobile phone,” Raskar said, “Hold it right next to your eye, click a few buttons, say ‘calculate’ and get your prescription for your glasses."


The plastic pieces cost about US$1 to $2 now, but mass production could drive them down to only a few cents each. Amazingly, the test takes all of two minutes.


According to The World Health Organization, 2 billion people have refractive errors. Uncorrected refractive errors are the world's second-highest cause of blindness. PerfectSight can make eye-testing affordable and accessible for millions of people around the world. Not surprisingly, the team of researchers will make the tool commercially available first in Asia and Africa.


PerfectSight has profound implications for the field of telemedicine. While the inventors are using the IPhone as a diagnostic tool, it is  also a communication device. So presumably after you measure your eye strength with PerfectSight operating through the IPhone, you could then forward that information stored on the smart phone from your IPhone to an ophthalmologist who can then prepare your prescription while you are traveling to his office.


The developers next hope to invent apps that can detect other eye problems, such as cataracts. But why stop at eye tests? It is conceivable that in the near future someone will invent Droid “apps” that can perform blood pressure tests and other diagnostics whose results can be immediately submitted to hospitals, physicians, and personal medical data banks for analysis.

Years from now we might look back at the invention of PerfectSight as a watershed event in the medical diagnosis field as well as the beginning of a new era in  patient empowerment.





Post-Moratorium Gulf Oil Regulations Could Drive Out Jobs, Drillers

Post-Moratorium Gulf Oil Regulations Could Drive Out Jobs, Drillers


October 15, 201011:51 PM MST

Unemployed commercial fishermen and their families wait in line to receive hand-outs from New Orleans Catholic Charities in Hopedale, La.

Washington Post

As I have stated in previous publications, the only way for the US to create real jobs, wipe out its debt, strengthen the dollar, and grow its GDP by 6%-8% per year is to produce the goods and services US and global consumers want and need. To do this, the US must revitalize a number of industries, especially those in the aerospace, manufacturing, and high-tech areas.

Growing these industries requires a vibrant energy production base. Unfortunately, the policies that the Obama administration has been pursuing since the April 2010 Deep Horizon Gulf oil disaster, namely the moratorium on deep-water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, have made achieving energy growth much more difficult.


As Gulf Coast businesses and lawmakers warned last Spring, the moratorium would prompt many drilling operators to leave the region for good. Three of the 33 companies engaged in deepwater drilling in the Gulf when the moratorium was imposed have since relocated their operations to Nigeria, Egypt and elsewhere.


On Wednesday, the administration announced that it would lift its moratorium on deep-water drilling, a move which should have inspired hopes for the revival of the Gulf’s drilling industry. Instead, the onerous rules the administration is imposing on the drilling operations are dampening hopes of such a revival.


Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal had warned that as a result of the moratorium some of the remaining drilling companies are “actively exploring additional opportunities to relocate rigs.” The morass of new regulations such companies will now face could accelerate their exodus out of the Gulf.


Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement that oversees offshore oil drilling, said that operators must now demonstrate that their proposed development and exploration plans can deal with potential blowouts. He stated that the agency won’t approve permits “without vital supplemental information required by the rules.” The new plans call for independent third parties, so-called “blowout preventers,” to perform detailed inspections and reviews of their construction plans and design.


The first meeting of the seven-member commission on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill held this week hardly instills confidence in the administration’s ability and willingness to help the drilling industry begin operating in the Gulf. Many commission members harbor an inherent bias against offshore drilling. Some even seem downright antagonistic to America’s use of fossil fuels in general, and see the Deep Horizon spill as an opportunity to promote a “green” energy agenda. Said one commissioner, Cherry Murray, the dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, "If you went to all electric cars, 70% of our oil usage would go away,"


Economists predict that companies, spooked by revenue losses resulting from the moratorium as well as a new regulation framework, will begin mass lay-offs throughout the region by year’s end. University of Houston Michelle Foss contends that large numbers of oil rig workers, as well as lawyers, accountants and engineers could lose their jobs.


This would be in addition to the job losses caused by the Obama moratorium. A federal report said the moratorium probably caused the loss of 8,000 to 12,000 jobs in the Gulf region. Other reports, such as that authored by Joseph Mason, Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge economist, estimate that 20,000 jobs were lost, both in the region and nationally

The President’s decision to shut down the Gulf’s deep water drilling industry has cost the US jobs and made us more dependent on foreign oil than we were six months ago. Misguided energy policy decisions might potentiall transform what started as a man-made technological disaster, the explosion of an oil rig, into an economic catastrophe.




The administration is pinning its hopes for an economic rebound not on industrial development but on monetary legerdemain and creative accounting. Over the last two years the Fed and the Treasury have tried every trick in their financial playbook to boost the economy—TARPs, the “stimulus,” low interest rates, and the printing of trillions of dollars.




None of these measures have worked. Unemployment has stayed above 9.5% for 14 months, and the real unemployment rate, which includes those who have dropped out of the job market, has exploded to 17.1%. GDP is slogging along at 1.5%-2% growth rates at best.




We can only hope that a new Congress, and eventually a new administration, will aggressively pursue more expansionary, pro-growth policies that unleash America’s productive potential and set the US back on the path to prosperity.





Obama Administration Further Tightens Restrictions on Offshore Oil Drilling

Obama Administration Further Tightens Restrictions on Offshore Oil Drilling


August 20, 20106:42 PM MST

The Obama-Salazar restrictions on drilling could impact economy, jobs.

If the US ever hopes to jumpstart its moribund economy it must aggressively develop all its domestic energy resources.


As I have pointed out in books such as The Future Factor andSeizing the Future, the US possesses within its borders, off its coastline, and in the Alaska region the energy resources to not only free the country from dependence on foreign oil, but also to transform the US into a net energy exporter.


By dramatically increasing domestic energy production we can lower the price of energy for US consumers and businesses and at the same time rake in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues and taxes.


Goodbye budget deficit, hello prosperity!


Since most Americans favor a broad expansion of domestic energy production, it is not surprising that they are puzzled by the Obama administration’s energy policies, especially those related to offshore oil drilling. As I have I chronicled In earlier articles, the Obama administration seems determined to place as many restrictions as possible on offshore development of our rich oil resources both in the Alaska region and off the mainland US coast.

The Obama Administration has just announced that it will further curtail the development of America’s rich oil reserves by requiring “significantly more environmental review” before approving any new offshore drilling permits.


Interior secretary Ken Salazar, and Michael R. Bromwich, director of the offshore energy service, said that the government will conduct exhaustive environmental reviews of all new drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf, in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.


This new policy, along with the ongoing moratorium on most deepwater drilling in the Gulf pending completion of a study of the recent oil spill, will further restrict US energy development.


Under the new policy there will be much more environmental scrutiny of drilling applications, and the agency will have longer than the 30 days it currently has to decide whether to approve a drilling application. No new wells will be exempt from this intense new environmental review.


The American Petroleum Institute’s Erik Milito claims that the new rules will slow approval of new wells. Milito stated that “We’re concerned the change could add significantly to the department’s workload, stretching the timeline for approval of important energy development projects with no clear return in environmental protection.”


The NY Times reports that oil industry officials are worrying that “the new environmental, safety, technical and financial requirements will drive some companies out of business, discourage future exploration and worsen the nation’s dependence on imported oil.” The new rules will most likely raise the costs of developing new wells and slow their development.


Many feel the Obama administration is overreacting to the spill, and that existing regulations go far enough to provide reasonable safety. After all, the Obama administration itself admits that this “worst case scenario” oil spill has caused minimal environmental damage. And BPcapped the well quicker than originally expected.


By all accounts, the BP oil spill, while serious, was an anomaly.Since1947 over 50,000

wells have been drilled in federal water in the Gulf of Mexico largely without incident. 331 wells were drilled there in 2009 alone. 4,000 of those Gulf wells have been drilled in water deeper than 1,000 feet, 700 in depths of 5,000 feet.


Yet there has not been a major oil spill since 1969, and that was off the coast of California!

Critics fear that the new policy will cost the US jobs. The administration seems to give little thought to the people who will stay unemployed while these reviews take place. Oil drilling creates hundreds if not thousands of jobs, offshore and on land. By some estimates 150,000 jobs are provided by offshore oil and gas operations; thousands more will be created if we vastly expand our energy development industries.


With the announcement in late August that new jobless claims have broken the 500,000 mark, one would expect the administration to exhibit a greater sense of urgency to preserve current jobs

and create new ones. Perhaps the President will provide a bailout program for those made jobless by the drilling moratoria and new bureaucratic roadblocks to energy development.




In spite of the recent oil spill, the majority of the public still supports expanding the nation’s oil drilling program. As in the case of the health care bill, the Arizona immigration law, the stimulus package and a host of other issues, President Obama appears to be taking a position unpopular with the American people.




If polling data is any indication, the American public is ready to express their displeasure with such policies come November 2nd







January’s 36,000 New Jobs Figure Casts Doubts on US Economic Recovery

January’s 36,000 New Jobs Figure Casts Doubts on US Economic Recovery

February 11, 20116:51 PM MST


Current job losses (light blue) in US is worst since WW2, and these losses look very long-term.

Last Friday’s disappointing jobs report raised doubts about the overall health of the U.S.economy. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, only a sparse 36,000 jobs were generated in January, 2011. And the BLS revised the number of jobs lost since the recession began in Dec. 2007 upwards, from 8.31 million jobs to 8.74 million jobs.


All last month there were growing indications that the January jobs numbers would be weak. Weekly unemployment claims in January were as high as 450,000. The Gallup organization’s bi- weekly employment poll reported that the U.S.unemployment rate had been gradually increasing over the last few months, from 8.8% in November 2010, to 9.6% in December and 9.8% in January. There are almost 5 unemployed workers per job opening. In 2007, that ratio was 1.7 per job opening.


The BLS report had more bad news. Real unemployment, the U-6 figure that includes those who have given up looking for work and the underemployed, reveals an unemployment rate or 16%- 17%, not the 9%-10% BLS number the media usually report. Gallup says this U-6 number is actually in the 19%-20% range.


The NY Times and the Wall Street Journal, and pundits such as CNBC/WABC’s Larry Kudlow, initially blamed January’s severe snow conditions for the poor job numbers. However, as critics pointed out,Canada, where the winters are as bad as or worse than those the USexperiences, added 69,200 jobs in January 2011, equivalent to 600,000 jobs created in the U.S.By Saturday the Journal was backtracking somewhat on making the link between weather and jobs figures in its article “Storms Effect on Hiring is Tough to Measure.”


Many analysts are scratching their heads over why companies are hesitant to hire. After all, corporate profits are reasonably robust, and many American companies are flush with cash! At the end of the third quarter, cash held by 419 nonfinancial companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 list was up 49% from three years ago. At a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday, even President Obama expressed bewilderment at the seeming reluctance of companies to spend their “trillions” on hiring new workers.


The truth is that businesses are in fact investing much of that excess cash in plants, equipment, and in many cases new employees. However, according to a Wall Street Journal study on the global economy, much of this new investment is headed overseas, to the faster-growing economies of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, not the stagnant US.


Corning Inc, maker of specialty glass and ceramics is investing $300 million to expand its research and development center in Corning, N.Y., adding about 100 researchers and Ph.Ds. However, it will spend 3 times that amount to build factories in China and Taiwan. Engine maker Cummins Inc., plans to add about 2,500 and technical jobs in 2011. But it is also building plants in India and China for huge engines used in mining equipment and oil rigs. A good portion of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. investments will go to ships in Europe and Asia.

3M told the Journal that it is expanding capacity in China, India, Singapore, Brazil and other rapid-growth foreign markets. General Electric is boosting R&D spending to $5 billion in 2011, expanding research operations in Brazil, China and Michigan. Pro Logis plans to spend up to $1 billion this year on new warehouses in Europe and Asia, as well as in the U.S.




The report’s major conclusion could not be clearer: Companies with the greatest global reach, especially into emerging countries such as Brazil, China, and India, are the likely to spend on more workers. Those focusing their sales efforts in the U.S. are the least likely to hire.




A host of policy-related issues are discouraging companies from hiring here in the US. The onerous corporate tax policies, the expenses associated with the new Obamacare law, and the possibility of new taxes on carbon emissions are just a few. The U.S.regulatory process has been cited as a reason that companies in the medical device fields are adding jobs first in Europe or elsewhere outside the United States before hiring here. Venture capital funding is also directing new investment to overseas medical device companies.




Policymakers and media pundits cling to the notion that the millions of jobs lost in the U.S. over the last 2-3 years will somehow miraculously reappear. The truth is, until these jobs-killing policies and laws are drastically modified or eliminated completely, expect weak hiring and stagnant wages for those lucky enough to have full-time jobs. According to economist Brad Schiller, the US needs to create 250,000 jobs a month to get back to the 5% unemployment rate by 2018. Over the last few years we have only achieved such monthly numbers a few times.




New policies must be instituted that unleash the power of US businesses to create those quality, high-paying jobs that Americans want and deserve. We can start by slashing corporate taxes, and then eliminate the onerous regulations stifling American ingenuity and sending jobs overseas!





The Superlongevity Effect
Intrepid Guidelines For Anticipating the Future
The Leader As Futurist