2004 Issues #1 to #16
Seventeenth Issue 10 January 2005
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Buy this essay and others in Jim's new book Being Sovereign.
The Indomitus Report
22 February 2005
"To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality."
To be governed externally is to be as described by Proudhon. To be sovereign is to govern yourself, to be watched only by yourself or unwatched as you please, to inspect yourself or be uninspected, to be spied upon by none but yourself or to capture spies, to be self-directed, to be driven by what you regard as right, to number yourself or be unnumbered, to self-regulate, enroll or discharge, indoctrinate or enlighten, preach or be silent, control, check, estimate, value, censure, or command yourself as you see fit.
If any creature has the right or wisdom to govern you, it is you. If you lack the virtue to do so, you must suppose yourself to be at least as virtuous as those who would impose government upon you. Or, as Jefferson asked, "have we found angels in the shape of kings?"
To be sovereign is to be at every operation, at every transaction unnoted, unregistered, uncounted, untaxed, unstamped, unmeasured, unnumbered, unassessed, unlicensed, unauthorized, and hidden from admonishment, prevention, prohibition, reform, correction, and punishment. It is, under the context of private utility and in the name of self-interest, to be free from contribution, drilling, fleecing, exploitation, monopolization, extortion, squeezing, hoaxing, or robbing.
Being sovereign means never having to resist, never having to be thwarted, never having to complain to others because you are not governed by others. It means never being repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed. Being sovereign means that all mocking, ridicule, derision, outrage, and dishonor falls from your back like water from a duck.
Your sovereignty means no more fardels to bear, no more grunting and sweating under a weary life, no more patiently taking spurns from the unworthy, no more insolence of office, no more law's delay, no more proud man's contumely to bear, no more oppressor's wrongs to suffer. (See also Hamlet, Act III, scene i.) Being sovereign is a consummation devoutly to be wished. It is the acme of success, the pinnacle of achievement, and available to the lowliest goatherd and the most powerful financier.
External government is pain, humiliation, suffering, and death at the hands of scum. If you would have freedom, you must take the equal station to which you are entitled, the station of sovereignty. To get there, you may need to start walking. You may need to run. When possible, you may wish to ride, race, or fly.
Given the dangers of being externally governed, rather than governing yourself, you need to get away. One of the great capacities inherent to being human is the ability to walk away. Look to the horizon and start walking. Kick up your heels. Get out of town. Make tracks.
Sure, it is pleasant to travel in style, get where you want to go without leaving all your stuff behind. But, in an emergency, in a pinch, when the need is great, when you have no choice, you should be able to grab those things most vital and simply walk away.
After all, for tens of thousands of years, mankind have been cursorial hunters. We can literally walk a prey animal to death. The prey may be a faster runner, but we can always walk fast enough to get within the animal's "startle perimeter" and cause the animal to flee. Do that enough times in a day and the animal becomes exhausted. Very often, the hunter can simply walk up and take the prey in its exhausted condition without resistance.
Walking is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise. It is weight-bearing exercise, so it promotes weight loss. It involves not only the legs and feet but the entire respiratory system, so it improves cardiovascular health. It aligns the body in a natural posture, so it is healthy in ways that running, skiing, cycling, horseback riding, and driving cannot be.
Trade and commerce have never required roads, ships, or anything more sophisticated than a back strap and a bit of stamina. Did we mention that walking builds stamina? It does.
Walking is also subtle. It is not always obvious. A walking man is simply walking, he would run if there were anything to flee. So, walking is a brilliant way to penetrate borders.
Of necessity, many Somalis walk wherever they go. We had the interesting experience of traveling from Djibouti to Borama in December 2000. One of our recent acquaintances, Osman "the Pencil," was denied an exit visa by the Djiboutienne government, and therefore not allowed to join us on our flight with Daallo Airlines. (To our delight, Daallo fully refunded the unused ticket.) Osman had helped us make arrangements to meet with our patron or "aabban" in Borama, walking with us to the Somali quarter of Djibouti to make contact by radio. We also learned a great deal from Osman regarding his involvement as a delegate to the Somali peace proceedings at Arta earlier in the year - which Osman described as an armed camp with the delegates as prisoners.
We thought that would be the last we saw of Osman, as he walked away from the departure area and we took our flight to Borama with Michael van Notten. Some hours later, we had arrived in Borama and been through various minor dramas of being granted entry visas, making obligatory exchanges at the "official" confiscatory exchange rate, and eventually ending up at the home of our patron. The next day we were offered a brief tour of Borama and agreed with enthusiasm. By sundown we were on our way back to our patron's home, and here walking along the road was Osman. He reported having ridden to the border with friends, then walked "out in the desert" away from the guarded border crossings, into Awdal, back to the road, and then by foot and hitchhiking to town.
Sandals, bare feet, or a walking stick are the typical tools involved in Somali walks. With thousands of kilometers of border with Ethiopia and Djibouti merely lines in the sand, diligent Somalis know all the pathways around the border guards.
There happens to be a great deal of interest in bare feet as a preferable mode of dress. Sites like barefooters.org and unshod.org present a wealth of medical and cultural facts about bare feet that are quite convincing. Barefoot children do not develop fallen arches, which typically arise from the cramped toe room of most shoes leading to the flat-footed feet-pointing-away-from-each-other posture that attempts to replace toe spread with foot spread - adding to the pressure on the arches.
Bare feet do not incur athlete's foot fungus, which arises from moisture, sweating, and improper ventilation in many shoes, especially older styles of athletic foot gear. Other disorders such as hallux vagus, bunions, hammer toes, and painful feet are unknown among the unshod. Going barefoot improves the health of the skin of the foot surface, thickening and adding suppleness to it.
Of course, in the many parts of the world with hookworm populations (ancylostoma duodenale in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Asia; necator americanus in Asia, parts of the Americas including the Southern USA, and Africa) bare feet or hands contacting soil is a recipe for infestation. Be particularly careful in hook worm regions not to handle or tread on soil with cuts on your hands or feet. Other parasites do enter through contact with soil or sewage, so shoes and boots are often in order.
It may seem odd that we suggest walking anywhere. It is, after all, the 21st Century. Sir Richard Branson is finally offering a sweepstakes, with Volvo, to give away a trip into space - an excellent idea. Yet, the most basic form of military activity involves guys marching into places on foot. Since that phrase, "guys marching into places on foot," and "with guns" is a bit verbose, the military have adopted the term "infantry." Glory may go to the jet jockeys or the armored cavalry, but ground is occupied by infantry.
Where does the term come from? It derives from the Latin for youth or foot soldier. No doubt the Romans were not the first to observe that young people may be persuaded to join the military more easily than the older and more cynical. Since Roman times, other terms have been developed to describe this phenomenon. Cannon fodder comes to mind.
If you are going in to snake country, especially in parts of Somalia where certain adders prefer the human anatomy between the ankle and the knee, a good pair of snake boots is in order. We like Redwing Boots.
But, if you are tired of walking, then next week you should enjoy our discussion of riding, and the inevitable question: whatever happened to dragoons?
Free Market Money
"The only sound monetary system is a voluntary one. The free market always chooses the best possible form, or forms, of money. To date, the market's choice throughout the centuries, wherever a free market for money has existed, has been and remains precious metal and currency redeemable in precious metal. This preference will undoubtedly remain until a better form of money is discovered and chosen."
We do like Robert Prechter. He seems scholarly, diligent, and sincere. Sadly, every time gold seems to be about to fall below major support, we think of Robert and his 2003 and 2004 predictions of gold going to $200/ounce within a few years. Happily, every time gold tests support, it seems to find rebound strength.
We live in fortunate times when we are not coerced as to our choice of money. Fiat money has come and gone, and will again. It will always carry with it a heavy toll of inflation. Price and capital controls follow. Misery and suffering result.
Even though there is no legal tender law, the deception of Federal Reserve Notes is so widespread that this deception is having dramatic negative consequences. In a recent discussion list conversation, we were provided a figure of 6% to 12% for 2004 inflation. Add that to the unemployment figures, plus the no-longer-seeking-employment, and you have the 21st Century "misery index."
Here's how the stocks we presently suggest in this area look right now:
Western Prospector seems to have gained market acceptance. Their stock is certainly up nicely since our first suggestion. If you bought at that time, you've more than doubled your money.
Newmont, Silver Standard, and Lumina are all nicely higher from our first suggestion of these stocks. Vista seems to be drifting towards a recovery of the value we saw in it at first.
The problem stocks continue to be Luzon and Northgate, with Freegold joining the slide. There don't seem to be any underlying difficulties to report at this time, so investor acceptance should come with higher metal prices.
Free Market Money
Gold popped. Silver popped. Copper popped - we were mistaken about the top.
Gold ran up to over $435, and is now idling above key support of $432. We would not be surprised if this leg up takes us to $480 or beyond.
Silver, true to form, has proven more spiky than gold. It ran up over $7.50 and is now back down to $7.26.
Copper is at $1.5174 per pound and heading higher. Like all the other precious metals, copper popped on the dollar's dramatic drop yesterday, cresting $1.5220. It appears to have broken firmly through key overhead resistance at $1.49 and remains above that point. Obviously, we were wrong about the copper top. The good news about this error is reflected in the stock prices for Lumina and Newmont.
The three stocks we've suggested in this sector are PVH, GBH, and MCG. All three appear unchanged from last week.
"Every dollar spent on dead ends such as the space shuttle is a dollar not spent on the future. The new boss will have to take on constituencies like the shuttle huggers, who are tying NASA to the past and wasting billions of taxpayer dollars. And the shuttle should not be replaced - in any form, large or small. It is time for the agency to get out of the passenger and payload business and get back to exploring and science."
NASA. What an incredible waste of time, talent, and money. Endlessly incompetent. Capable of negligent homicide in batches of seven. Just the sort of agency that committed Nazis like Werner von Braun wanted to lead the conquest of space.
The politics of having President Bush appoint a new NASA administrator to replace whichever drone has gone off to suck more directly from the defense contractor trough, or into taxpayer-funded retirement, seem pretty inevitable at this point. Bush may be willing to ax a few unneeded, dangerous, and pork barrel oriented mass transit systems in Texas, but he doesn't have the brains to realize that NASA should be destroyed. He certainly doesn't have the testicular fortitude to go up against the defense contractor community.
Well, we've disagreed with Rick Tumlinson in the past. We certainly don't like the idea of yet another NASA administrative drone, a head bureau-rat in charge. But, Rick does say a few good things. The shuttle has to be eliminated. NASA must leave the space transportation business to the private sector. Payment for delivery contracting instead of design, development, and operations contracting would stimulate dramatic cost reductions in space transportation, just as Tumlinson suggests - though the commercial sector doesn't need the subsidy, and the contractor sector won't want to be weaned from its typical defense contracting mode.
Is it the last chance for NASA to demonstrate it can do things right and on budget "before patience runs out?" We don't think so. NASA and Congress and the defense contractors will run the same scam over and over again, as long as they get away with it. Even when they dropped Challenger into the sea and Columbia into east Texas, Congress has seen fit to reward NASA and its incompetent defense contractor cronies.
NASA delenda est. "Moreover, we are of the opinion that NASA must be destroyed." But it won't be. So, let's see if the next top bureau-rat can make it slouch into the future for a few more years.
Here's how things stand for the stock we suggested in this sector:
SpaceDev is at $1.78. It is up $0.28 since we first suggested it.
"Of interest to the Space Elevator crowd, especially those seeking investors is this thought from co-founder Sergei Brin, 'At a space camp in Alabama last year, Brin talked about creating a space elevator to transport cargo up a special tether attached to earth."
So, Google co-founder Sergei Brin attended space camp in Huntsville in 2003, we gather, and extols the virtues of a space elevator concept. In other "rich guys love space" news, Google's other co-founder Larry Page has been elected to the board of trustees of the X-Prize Foundation; along with Elon Musk formerly of PayPal, now founder and CEO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX); and Jack Bader of NetEffects, Inc. of St. Louis.
On the topic of space elevators and other tether technologies, we're very interested and agreeable. Some years ago we helped Dennis Wingo and his University of Alabama at Huntsville team with their SEDSsat tether technology demonstrator raise a bit of money. (SEDS stands for "Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.")
Many authors have advanced various schemes on this topic. Charles Sheffield wrote The Web Between the Worlds which includes extensive physics discussion of the topic and some text from Arthur C. Clarke about the contemporary history of the idea. Clarke also wrote The Foundtains of Paradise published about the same time (August 1979). It probably says something about the gift of these two storytellers and the popularity of any actual scientific or engineering treatment of the subject that Clarke's book was released in paperback in 2001 and is still in print.
Unfortunately for the people behind sites like spaceelevator.com and liftport.com there are no readily available materials with the necessary strength to make a suspension bridge from the Earth's surface to some distance beyond geostationary orbit. Carbon nanotube technology may some day provide a material with adequate tensile strength, and there is nothing wrong with design concepts.
But the practical reality is that any space tether involving a planetary surface is far more likely to be implemented for the Moon or Mars than Earth. A cable from the Earth's equator to geostationary orbit at 22,500 nautical miles, and out to approximately an equal distance beyond for optimal orbit insertion dynamics is an extreme engineering concept, beyond current capabilities in engineering, and represents an enormous fixed infrastructure. We expect nanotechnology would be applied to making more efficient propulsion systems long before it is applied to making a bridge to orbit.
Certainly it is far too early to be proposing to invest in such ventures. Liftport and SpaceElevator may have their followers, but they have an unproven design concept, a lack of available materials to build their bridges, a nascent industry in space tourism, little prospect for gaining market share for satellite launches, and an enormous infrastructure to build before their first microgram of gold revenues can be earned.
New Country Developments
"Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were their salvation?"
"...such a habit was thus engendered that conformity seemed freedom instead of servitude...."
Michael Flynn is an outstanding author. His very enjoyable novel In the Country of the Blind published in 2001 describes contemporary society and reflects on Nineteenth Century history from a unique perspective. The title refers to a saying often attributed to Erasmus, the early Sixteenth Century Dutch philosopher, "In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." In his novel, Flynn describes a series of events that are considered critical by several groups that are attempting to manipulate the course of human society.
Flynn opens the 2001 edition of his novel (previously published in different form in 1990) with quotes from Antoine de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet; Henry Thomas Buckle; Lambert Adolphe Quetelet; and Abraham de Moivre which suggest that the study of human society and the application of mathematics and statistical analysis to trends and events has been a subject of considerable interest dating back to 1718. Among these quotes, that from de Moivre suggests that John, James, and Nicholas Bernoulli were interested in "applying the Doctrine of Chances to Oeconomical and Political Uses."
The story is plotted around a series of murders. Each murder, including the assassination of Lincoln, is critical for the manipulations being undertaken by several competing groups. Each group seems to want to control future developments of human society globally, though with apparently different motives. Because each of these groups is interested in monitoring trends, applying statistical analysis to economical and political events, and manipulating the people around them, the groups share a common goal of keeping the study of such matters from becoming very widespread. Thus, these different groups each seek to be king, and do so by occasionally poking sharp objects into the eyes of the rest of the population, or each other.
One of the opportunities inherent in such research is economic advantage. All of the groups are funded in part through their adaptation of historical trends to economic intelligence, often indicating not only which industries would likely prosper, but sometimes which companies.
Again in the 2001 edition, Mr. Flynn provides a detailed analysis of "cliology" or the study of history as he sees it. Much of this analysis was published in 1988 in Analog magazine. His scholarly essay quotes from numerous sources, includes a detailed bibliography, footnotes, fifteen interesting charts, eleven interesting trend examples, and numerous detailed mathematical formulae for making calculations.
Consider his first example, the outbreak of warfare. His chart on the subject shows the number of years during the most recent 432 years (we suspect up through 1988) when zero wars broke out, when one new war broke out, when two broke out, when three new wars started, and when four started. There are zero years when five or more started. The figures are 223 years with zero new wars, 142 with one new war, 48 with two, 15 with three, four with four, zero with five.
A statistical distribution called a Poisson distribution models this distribution of actual wars actually breaking out very closely. The Poisson distribution would have 216.2, 149.7, 51.8, 12, 2.1, and 0.3, respectively. The difference between the theoretical Poisson distribution and the actual data is examined with a chi-square test, and is statistically insignificant. Cool. But what does it mean?
It means that the outbreak of war is similar to other events of low probability but great significance or opportunity. Events which also follow a Poisson distribution include the number of industrial accidents or the number of calls received at a switchboard. The probability of a war breaking out is constant, which suggests that while particular wars may have varying causes, war itself does not.
Another fascinating example is the outbreak of slave revolts or race riots in the United States from 1800 to 1970. He plots these data in five-year increments on a Shewhart chart which we reproduce below, as best we can. The idea of a Shewhart chart is to differentiate between events that are inherent to the system, persistent, and fluctuate randomly about a mean; and events which are disturbances to the system, not normally a part of it, and appear in the data as outliers or "extreme values." The variations outside the distribution may be assigned to particular causes.
To distinguish between the two types of event, a line is drawn at three standard deviations from the mean. All points falling beyond these limits are so unlikely to be due to chance (on the order of a quarter of a percentage point or less) that the hypothesis of random chance has to be discarded, all according to Flynn. Below is our version of the chart. The dark blue line runs across the data at 1.5, which is the average number of outbreaks of slave revolts or race riots per five year increment. The dark green line runs across the data at about 5, which is three standard deviations above the mean.
Obviously the events in 1830, 1835, 1840, 1870, 1875, 1920 and 1965 are extraordinary. The rest of the data is much closer to the mean, and suggests that there are common underlying causes for an average of three slave revolts or race riots per decade. Except for the four spikes, "the series is consistent with a stationary Poisson process 'emitting' lambda = 0.29 riots or slave revolts per year for the last 170 years. This mean value is inherent in the US cultural system (Flynn, p. 482)."
Peaks occur every other generation. The first peak is 1835, the second 1875, the third 1920, the fourth 1965. These are separated by forty, forty-five, and forty-five years, respectively. It might be fruitful to examine the specific data rather than the summary shown on Mr. Flynn's chart in order to establish whether the separation is increasing over time.
Mr. Flynn notes, "Since regularity does not occur by chance, there is probably a systemic cause for the spikes, as well." He likens the spikes to a buildup and release of pressure in a geyser. "Note that the Emancipation did not change the underlying cause system, and, unless the Civil Rights Movement did, the next peak will come around AD 2010." There is very limited data to go on, but the 1965 peak is similar in height to the 1835 peak. If major peaks are followed by forty-year intervals, then the riots could come as early as this Summer.
Since these events were initially characterized as slave revolts, why didn't they end with the "Emancipation Proclamation." Some very cogent analysis of this proclamation has been undertaken by various sources over the years. Any cursory reading of the document shows that Lincoln "emancipated" by decree only those slaves outside his power of control, while keeping in slavery all those slaves within his power to free. Moreover, in a stunning analysis of the entire period, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel suggests that the purpose of Lincoln was Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men with the emphasis decidedly on the latter.
Who then is a slave? If you pay over half your income in taxes including income, sales, property, fuel, FICA, and sundry other taxes, you are a slave. If you are not allowed to keep and bear arms, you are a slave. If you have been incarcerated for a felony, you are allowed neither a vote nor weapons, and you are a slave.
The Baby Boom generation was born between 1946 and 1964. The first of these children reached age 18 and joined the workforce in 1964. (Note the terminology: workforce, human resources, workers - these are terms applied to field hands on a plantation.) After working for forty years, early retirement for these individuals began in 2004 at age fifty-eight. A very large bubble of retirement activities will commence when the eldest Boomers reach age 65 in 2011 - just in time for our anticipated slave revolt.
Social Security, Medicare, and similar programs are fraudulent. They are, at best, Ponzi schemes seizing money from the current generation of workers to pay the "benefits" and "entitlements" of an earlier generation. We wrote about this topic back in 1996. As more and more Baby Boomers retire, and as the generations before them continue to live long, healthy lives into their 90s and 100s, the pressure on the system will be enormous.
Remember, Social Security was orchestrated during a period of very low probability of slave revolts. We cannot help noticing that all the New Deal changes came at a singularly low period from 1925 to 1940 with exactly one race riot in fifteen years! If this particular trend had been scoped out by the people running FDR's administration, their timing could not have been better.
Social Security was also schemed at a time when life expectancy was much lower. According to one source, life expectancy in 1933 was 59.7 years. Put another way, the average person retiring at age 65 in 1935 would expect to live another 12 years. Today, the life expectancy for anyone over age 5 is about 85 years. Thus, a person retiring at 65 in 2005 would expect to live a further 20 years - until 2025. During that time, additional research on longevity, one of our favorite topics, will increase life expectancy further, if not for the retirees of 2005, then certainly for those of 2011.
The other demographic problem that points at slavery is the number of workers paying into the system. In 1935, there were 40 workers paying for each retiree. In 1950 it was just 16 workers per retiree. In 1998 the figure was just over 3 to one. It will fall to 2 to one very soon. FICA taxes or "payroll" taxes will increase. Presently, those receiving Social Security "benefits" may expect to receive over $70,000 more than they paid in, on average. Those enslaved since entering the workforce in 1983 may expect to pay in $250,000 more than they ever receive in "benefits," on average, if they ever receive anything. That generation believes it is more likely they will be abducted by aliens than they will ever see any benefits from Social Security. The slaves, especially the youngest making the lowest pay and with the least expectation of receiving benefits, will revolt.
Another factor pointing at a revolt of the young, especially the most disempowered, such as minority youth, is the prospect for a military draft. Clearly, the draft and the war in Vietnam figured prominently in the minds of many of the rioters during the 1965 peak. In 1965, blacks formed 11 percent of the American population and 12.6 percent of the soldiers in Vietnam. By some figures, as much as 20 percent of all combat-related deaths in Vietnam from 1961 to 1965 were young black men.
With a total of 12 combat divisions in the USA military and ten of these involved in, returning from, or deploying to Iraq, and the Bush Administration apparently eager for air assaults on neighboring Iran, the likelihood of a military draft between now and 2010 seems high. The fact that a memo highly critical of the Army Reserves was not only written by a lieutenant general, but leaked to the press late last year strongly suggests that a military draft is on its way.
Why does it matter that young men, especially young minority men, would likely be taxed at a much higher rate, increasingly unemployed due to the higher payroll tax "contribution" required of employers, and subjected to enslavement in the military? It is exactly the young and the minority youth who are most likely to revolt. Elderly people have more to protect, as do the middle-aged. The young have the least to lose and the most to be upset about.
It would be interesting to review the data on riots since 1970. The evidence from the 1992 riots in Los Angeles and many other cities associated with the acquittal of the vicious police thugs involved in beating Rodney King strongly indicates that the "Civil Rights Movement" did not remove the underlying causes of race riots and slave revolts. It would also be interesting to trace the slave revolt cycle back through history, see if we could get as far as Spartacus.
What else is significant about the peaks every other generation? Perhaps the rebels are persistently disappointed. The generation following a rebellion sees the lack of effective results and the attendant suffering, and resolves not to rebel themselves. However, the following generation sees little to lose and much to gain. Moreover, grandfathers have told some stories about the rebellion in their time, and the youngsters perceive the glory of challenging their oppressors without feeling any of the agony of their rebellion being crushed - until the die is cast.
The prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib and the recent conviction of two British soldiers for abusing Iraqi civilian detainees suggest that while the Roman practice of crucifying rebels and traitors - the Spartacus rebellion retribution apparently lining the road from Naples to Rome with thousands of crucified dead - may not be revived, plenty of atrocities will attend the crushing of the coming slave revolt.
Why would it be crushed? Those who control the system are intolerant of independence, creativity, and rebellion. Their preference is for everything to be licensed and permitted that is not explicitly forbidden. Naturally, having a vested interest in things as they are, they prefer the least amount of change to the status quo. The police state exists to slow down the rate of change and to crush rebellions. If there were any least likelihood of tolerance for rebellion, one would expect that events like the popular referendums legalizing medical marijuana in California and elsewhere would have met less resistance from the federal government - under both Clinton and Bush.
We have little doubt that the revolt would occur, and none at all that it would be crushed. The only matter for further examination is the precise timing, and to get at that matter would require considerable further research. Anyone seeking to underwrite such research is welcome to contact us.
"[A]ging could be described as a reasonably small set of accumulating and eventually pathogenic molecular and cellular changes in our bodies, each of which is potentially amenable to repair."
We are looking forward to this year's Eris Society conference for many reasons. One is that Aubrey Jasper de Grey will be speaking.
Jasper de Grey believes that there are seven distinct ingredients in the aging process. He notes that no new factor has been discovered in twenty years, in spite of the enormous amount of research going into the science of aging. The seven factors are:
1. Cell loss, atrophy, and degeneration. Cells in the brain and heart are particularly vulnerable, as they are not replaced when they die. Jasper de Grey would introduce growth factors to stimulate cell division or periodically transfuse stem cells that had been engineered to provide replacements. Exercise is also recommended. Note that he does not recommend re-lengthening telomeres. Stem cells, would, of course, have long telomeres to begin with and be introduced in that condition.
2. Chromosomal mutation - cancers and the like. Jasper de Grey says, "we don't actually need to fix chromosomal mutations at all in order to stop them from killing us: all we need to do is develop a really, really good cure for cancer. The one that I favour is Whole-body Interdiction of Lengthening of Telomeres (WILT)." The idea is to replace the body's stem cells every ten years with cells that have been engineered not to express the genes (or even have the genes) for telomerase and ALT - alternative lengthening of telomeres. Since the gene for telomerase expression would be missing, cells that subsequently turned cancerous would not be able to lengthen their telomeres.
3. Mitochondria mutations. The mitochondrion, Jasper de Grey explains, takes oxygen and combines it with nutrients from food to make carbon dioxide, water, and adenosine tri-phosphate. We exhale the carbon dioxide and water vapor (water is excreted in other ways, as sweat and urine, e.g.) and we use the adenosine tri-phosphate to energize our cells. There are thirteen proteins which are encoded only in the mitochondria itself, the rest of the mitochondrial proteins are encoded in the cell nucleus. Jasper de Grey proposes to put copies of the mitochondrial genes into the chromosomes in the cell nucleus. "Then, if and when the mitochondrial DNA gets mutated so that one or more of the 12 proteins are no longer being synthesized inside the mitochondria, it won't matter - the mitochondria will be getting the same proteins from outside."
4. Cell surpluses, especially of unwanted cells. These include fat cells, senescent cells, and immune cells. Targeting these unwanted cells may be possible if they have surface receptors that are susceptible to immune bodies that may be designed. Jasper de Grey differentiates between subcutaneous fat, which is not bad unless extremely excessive, and visceral fat in the abdomen, which reduces our ability to respond to nutrients from the digestive system and causes insulin resistance. (DHEA appears to reduce both types of fat.) His WILT therapy would likely take care of the excess immune cells. This area of research is the least developed, it seems.
5. Proteins outside our cells - getting rid of crosslinks. Crosslinks are chemical bonds that join two nearby proteins that were previously "able to slide across or along each other." These crosslinks reduce biophysical functions like tissue elasticity, transparency, or tensile strength. A group of chemists have found a molecule good at reacting with the crosslinks and breaking them without damaging anything else. Their company is called Alteon and their drug is in clinical trials. More work seems to be needed in this area, as well.
6. Junk outside our cells. The acellular lipid core of atherosclerotic plaques are being eaten by macrophages, but these guys can't get rid of it, so they die and add to the problem. The other big problem is amyloid, as mentioned repeatedly in earlier issues of The Indomitus Report on brain chemistry. Jasper de Grey offers several approaches. He also discusses Elan Pharmaceuticals (possibly Elan Corp?) which was vaccinating to stimulate the microglia to engulf the material, but has had to stop clinical trials due to side effects. He mentions they are working on a better vaccine.
7. Junk in our cells. Cells have a vessel called the lysosome, which is basically the machine for breaking down things the cell no longer needs. Unfortunately, some chemical modifications create structures that the lysosome cannot break down, so anything like that accumulates in the lysosome. This effect is less significant in cells which divide regularly, because cell division dilutes the problem. Cells which don't divide regularly are found in "the heart, the back of the eye, some nerve cells (especially motor neurons), and most of all, white blood cells trapped within the artery wall...." Among other things, this process causes atherosclerosis which leads in turn to heart attacks and strokes. The process is also key to neuro degeneration and macular degeneration. Jasper de Grey suggests that enzymes in soil bacteria and fungi probably hold the keys, since the same aggregates that are not degraded in mammals don't accumulate in soil in which animal carcasses decay, nor in graveyards where people decay.
Does he have it all down? We certainly hope so. His reputation is sterling in the fields he has been researching. He's been pursuing these fields earnestly since 1995, and has had a lifelong interest in the topic. (He's also signed up with Alcor in case he doesn't get it all worked out.)
We will be researching Alteon preparatory to making a suggestion. The same for Elan.
Publication note: Lateness. It is becoming habitual. This week we plead the extra work involved in reviewing the Flynn materials on slave revolts. And, of course, we apologize.
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