2004 Issues #1 to #16
Seventeenth Issue 10 January 2005
B M GM FMM S LT N L P
Twenty-eighth Issue 11 April 2005
Buy this essay and others in Jim's new book Being Sovereign.
The Indomitus Report
25 August 2005
"Dennis Tito paid $12.5 million at launch. Jeff M- has seen the contract."
The comment above from Dennis Wingo is typical of the inside information one may obtain from speakers and participants at the Eris Society conferences. (Jeff M- is another acquaintance, whose name has been partly obscured, but whose position at the time certainly gave him access to the contract details.) Since the mainstream media have consistently claimed Tito paid $20 million, this information is uniquely available to Eris participants - and the select readership of this newsletter.
We understand from Doug that the conference is to be held in Stowe, Vermont next year, which should bring many east coast attendees who've not been recently. As soon as details are released, we'll let you know.
Friday morning dawned pretty and early. The Sun seems to come up sooner at high elevation, and Summer in the Colorado Rockies has long days indeed. There was plenty of time to get up and arrive in the meeting hall early to set up our reference library.
The first guest speaker was Michael Karlfeldt with the provocative question, "What color is your health?" We were feeling somewhat blue-grey.
Michael is a Swedish naturopathic doctor, has a PhD in some subject which wasn't clear from his self-description, is a reflexologist and a certified aroma therapist with seventeen years of clinical experience who practices in Boise and Santa Monica. He speaks well, has a charming accent, and managed to get Vernie Kuglin to take her shoes off and let him rub her feet in front of the audience. So, poking the bottom of each foot and having her hold strips of colored cloth was the focus of a very long segment of his presentation. Fortunately, the feet were clean and attractive, so the exercise was not entirely wasted.
There's certainly evidence, much of it compelling, that nerve endings in the feet, ears, back, and finger tips communicate in interesting ways with various parts of the body. The feet are particularly interesting in some ways, having numerous nerve endings which seem to correspond to different parts of the body. In addition to reflexologists, these views are held by acupuncture specialists with considerable application. There are certainly worse things than foot massages for relaxation. Michael's presentation suggests there might be some diagnostic value to prodding the soles of one's feet. While Vernie seemed to respond well to certain colors, the relationship between the color red and any reduced feeling of pain when her heel was jabbed is a bit hard to explain.
At a guess, and meaning no disrespect to Michael, Vernie, or anyone, this mechanism may have to do with the Hawthorne effect. Briefly, the Hawthorne effect is based on a series of observations. Factory workers were initially subjected to increased levels of light in the work place. Their productivity improved. Then, as a control to see whether the light was responsible, the level of illumination was decreased. Productivity improved again. Researchers from Harvard conducted these studies at the Hawthorne plant of Western Electric in Cicero, Illinois during the 1927 to 1932 period. The effect refers generally to subjects being enthusiastic about being singled out, and often to the tendency of individuals to attempt to respond well or please researchers who are paying attention. Apparently, the amount of light was less significant to the workers than the fact that anyone seemed interested in their opinions and work environs. Being singled out and made to feel important is itself relaxing and enjoyable, so it should not be surprising that such treatment results in apparent benefits.
Art Goodtimes is a very talented speaker, and thoroughly knowledgeable about mushrooms. Art is also a politician, who represents the Green Party in San Miguel County, Colorado. The big town there is Telluride. It seems likely that the name "Goodtimes" is an example of autonomous naming behavior. Since he gets elected, we may suppose he's got legal name-change documents for that label, but the important thing is that he chooses to be named "Goodtimes."
Whenever I hear the name Telluride, I'm reminded of the amusing song lyrics to "Smuggler's Blues." Art organizes the Mushroom Festival in Telluride. He also endorses the Libertarian sheriff of the county, Sheriff Masters, who endorses Art. Art proposed a "joint" conference among Greens and Libertarians, of whom he said there were many common points of view.
Art's view on the right to keep and bear arms was refreshingly pro-freedom. By way of contrast, the 2004 Green Party platform indicates support for "carefully considered gun control laws such as the 'Brady Bill' and the waiting period for record search...." So, Art seems more aligned with individual liberty on this issue than the party he represents.
It was clear from his presentation that Art loves mushrooms. He spoke at great length about hunting for mushrooms, about teaching neophytes to see mushrooms all around in the forest, and about some of the tastier varieties. He spoke of shaggy maned mushrooms, which was amusing because of his own shaggy mane. He also spoke of dessert mushrooms, mushrooms on which drug researchers are doing research, and mushrooms with interesting psycho-tropic effects. Art suggests that with very rare exceptions, mushrooms should always be eaten after cooking. He suggested that the ordinary white mushrooms most people buy in grocery stores are not so good to eat, especially raw, but even when cooked they have a cumulative poison which is dangerous to your liver. But, shitake and portobello mushrooms are quite safe, as are many other edible varieties.
From his name, presentation and demeanor, it seems likely that Art has enjoyed some of the mind-altering pastimes that certain mushrooms provide. He was fairly matter of fact about his knowledge of such features. He also discussed the Mushroom Festival he hosts and some of the things that go on during that time - including education about poisonous varieties.
Robert Doornick is a high-tech puppeteer. While his company is International Robotics, Inc., the tool he demonstrated was a remote controlled puppet. Large for a radio-controlled toy, the puppet had a wheeled base, a platform capable of supporting Vernie Kuglin's weight along with the puppet, arms with shoulder, elbow, and limited wrist joints, and very primitive claw end effectors. The toy also had an oversize head mounted cantilever fashion.
Given the impressive technology available in the robotics business, with very sophisticated end effectors, automation software to operate extremely complicated movements without manual intervention, and telemetry systems with synthesized-voice audio it was mildly amusing and largely disappointing to witness several dozen people responding with fascination to a human-size puppet. Doornick's distinctive accent was very apparent in the output speakers of the puppet from its first sentence, and many of its movements were subsequently revealed to be radio controlled by the puppeteer. Apparently, some of its dancing routines were pre-programmed, so it is well that the orchestra pit was otherwise empty while the puppet was put through these paces.
The function of this system, according to Doornick, is to provide insight into how people react to and interact with technology. The branch of psychology, which may be very loosely construed as a science, is called "Technology-to-People Behavioral Psychology." It seems to share with other branches of behavioral psychology a willingness to dupe individuals and treat people as guinea pigs. Apparently, tools like this puppet are used for "surrogate communications" with learning disabled, autistic, "socially maladjusted," and "emotionally challenged" individuals. Given the bizarre nature of contemporary society, one wonders where to find any "socially well-adjusted" people.
It was certainly a challenge to find a suitable emotion with which to react to Doornick's radio-manipulated mannequin. Bemused was about all I could muster, until I referred to his toy as a puppet, to which he reacted with dismay, but, to his credit, no denial. Yet, for all that it is radio controlled rather than on strings, it's nothing more than a large, shiny marionette. The talk was billed as "the Ethics of smart machines in our society, past, present, future, co-hosted by Robot Millennial."
Really, though, it was an elaborate humbug, a puppet show at best, which placed Doornick in about as much position to comment on ethics as, say, Edgar Bergen. There was no "Robot Millennial," just a large puppet run from behind the audience at first, and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. It is conceivable that a future robotic technology based on a general purpose android of unknown design might be conjured to mimic human voice patterns and "idiosyncratic behavior," but the existing robots, such as the one presently marketed by Honda, are nothing of the sort. Rather, they are machines designed to perform functions, and no more emotional nor idiosyncratic than an automobile. Indeed, given the desire for machinery that is reliable, predictable, and suited to particular functions, it seems unlikely that any responsible programmer would design a machine to be emotional, unpredictable, unreliable, and generally idiosyncratic. So, as an exercise in responding to Doornick as a puppeteer the presentation was adequate, but as any sort of analogy to future technology, it left me wanting less.
Brian Wowk's presentation was the fulfillment and satisfaction of every dream conceived of by readers of Robert A. Heinlein's classic A Door into Summer. First published in 1956, Heinlein's book wrote of a man drugged by a femme fatale who is placed into deep freeze suspended animation, to be awakened decades later. We discuss some of the promise of cryonics research under longevity, below.
Certainly, the presentation Brian made on vitrification techniques was extremely impressive. Dr. Brian Wowk, PhD, is the senior physicist for Twenty-first Century Medicine and works in their cryobiology division.
Whereas cryonics has long had little mainstream appeal, and been considered "flaky," the science of cryobiology is, as the Greek roots imply, the study of biological organisms from single cells up to entire animals at low temperatures. Freezing has been known to preserve food for thousands of years. During the last two centuries, scientists have become very interested in the effects of low temperatures on metabolism and cell viability.
Presently, techniques are well developed for freezing egg cells, sperm cells, and complete embryos. These techniques are useful for reproductive freedom, so that individuals and families can choose when to procreate. More recently, freezing has been investigated for its potential in preserving organs and other tissues needed for transplantation from donors into victims of organ failure. Unfortunately, just as meat in your freezer may suffer freezer burn, freezing of organs has been difficult.
In 1949, the cryo-protective properties of glycerol were reported in the medical literature. Fortunately, glycerol helps prevent ice crystal formation. Unfortunately, most of the compounds which are good for stable freezing are highly toxic to the tissue into which they must be perfused. The ideal being sought became clear: some method of freezing at a low enough temperature to completely solidify or vitrify the organ, without ice formation. As recently as 1997, according to a paper co-authored by Brian, it was possible to vitrify blood vessels but not whole organs.
Starting in 1998, with work pioneered by 21st Century Medicine founder Greg Fahy, a series of advances controlling the toxicity of cryoprotectants and limiting nucleation, crystal growth, and chilling injury began to yield results. One of the techniques involves perfusing at temperatures slightly below freezing (-3° C) or substantially lower (-22° C) and washing the cryoprotectant out during the warming process.
Not only have the pioneers at 21st Century Medicine developed techniques for stable vitrification with the potential for long-term storage at -150° C, but also they've demonstrated these techniques with whole organs, in this case, rabbit kidneys. For various reasons, presumably including the reproductive behavior and therefore the cost of lab rabbits, much of the research on organ freezing and tissue freezing has involved rabbit kidneys. Whole organ freezing is on the verge of commercial application, with viable rabbit kidneys vitrified, stored at low temperature, warmed, detoxified, and transplanted successfully.
Suspended animation is not just for cells anymore, as Brian pointed out in the title of his talk. (We were reminded of an old commercial for Florida orange juice with Anita Bryant telling us it wasn't just for breakfast anymore. She also adverted that a day without orange juice was like a day without sunshine. Steve Martin ended that advertisement with his 1978 stand up routine, reminding us that "A day without sunshine is like...night!") It may be that patients vitrified today may be revived in the future.
There are certainly many gaps in the technology between where we are today and the routine suspended animation and routine revival of patients. For example, those who chose head-only suspension are going to need new bodies, perhaps generated from their own tissue, built by cloning techniques or with nanotechnology. However, it is this vitrification technology that answers the age gap in Aubrey de Grey's presentation. Those who find themselves too old for robust rejuvenation in the next fifty to one hundred and fifty years may require temporal ambulances to transport them into a future more competent to address their survival.
Brian's delightful presentation was followed by lunch. At the invitation of Vernie Kuglin, we had lunch with her and another couple of attendees. Vernie became famous last year when she won her criminal case against the Infernal Revenue Disservice. Her case and Joe Banister's are convincing evidence that the application of the tax code to most Americans is a fraud and that the IRS is not to be trusted.
Vernie gave her lunch audience of three an overview of her case, how she got started looking into the tax code, and how she determined that, no matter what the consequences for her, she had to go through with her pursuit of justice. Happily, she's triumphed in court, with a jury finding no law requiring her to pay taxes nor have them withheld from her income. Sadly, the IRS is now pursuing a civil claim against her, alleging the same obligations they were not able to prove in criminal court.
Paul D. MacCready seems troubled. He is evidently worried about CO2 in the atmosphere destroying Earth's climate. In his presentation, he discussed his concern that humans, their livestock, and their pets had been a negligible part of the globe's "vertebrate mass on land and in the air," but now represent some 98% of that mass. (It isn't clear whether wild animals in zoos or game preserves represent livestock or pets.) He says, therefore, that natural creatures have decreased to 2%, but his metric is unsound.
Natural creatures are not measured by looking only at vertebrates, nor by looking only at those on land and in the air. Rather, natural creatures include a mass of worms which easily outweighs all vertebrates combined; bacteria, viruses, amoeba, slime mold, phyto-plankton, blue-green algae which are among the most prevalent species on Earth; plants, and let's not forget Flipper and his sea-going vertebrate cousins, as well as chordates in all the world's oceans. The idea that natural creatures are dying out because humans are prospering is bizarre.
Nor is the evidence convincing that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is going to destroy life on Earth. Rather, we know from the fossil record of periods in the past when carbon dioxide was much greater in the atmosphere, supporting periods of tremendous plant growth which we harvest every year in coal mining. Notwithstanding that carbon dioxide levels have been higher in the past without tragic consequences - indeed with an even greater cornucopia of food plants and animals - it was suggested by speaker Dennis Wingo on Thursday evening that increased output of the Sun by as little as one tenth of one percent would account for all the temperature rise now being attributed to carbon dioxide. Astrophysicists have known for many years that the Sun is a variable star with at least that much variability. Moreover, the evidence that human or livestock sources contribute significantly to the carbon dioxide "problem," is scant at best. Carbon dioxide is bound up in rocks which are subducted into deep magma chambers by plate tectonics, and is released in volcanic activity. Carbon dioxide is consumed by plants, and the volume of plant matter in the oceans has never been modeled accurately.
So, the title of Paul's talk, "Doing More with Less: Especially Decreasing CO2" did not augur well for an enjoyable presentation. It was, however, extremely pleasant.
Paul is a technologist at Aerovironment who gained notoriety with his development of the Gossamer Condor, an aircraft so lightweight that it could be powered by a single man running a bicycle drive train. The Gossamer Condor, like last year's SpaceShip One success was motivated in part by a prize. In Paul's case, it was the Kremer Prize committee's challenge to produce a human-powered flying machine. Not only was the aircraft developed and successfully flown, but it was subsequently flown over the English Channel.
Another innovative aircraft was the Gossamer Penguin which flew using solar power. His Solar Challenger was another successful solar-powered aircraft. In the field of autombiles, Paul developed a Sunraycer which was also solar powered. Unfortunately, the cost of solar cells remains out of reach for most applications like solar powered flying. Instead, Paul has begun looking at battery power.
In a video presentation from his company, Paul showed the features of the all-electric Impact sports car developed for General Motors. Of course, batteries only transport power from where it is highly concentrated to where it is used. Batteries are unlike bicyclists or solar cells in that they don't produce power, but merely store some of it. So, the problem of carbon dioxide, to the extent it exists, is shifted by battery powered cars from individual internal combustion engines to large power plants typically burning coal, oil, or natural gas. Presumably, nuclear energy is a high quality electric power producing system with low carbon dioxide emissions, but it wasn't clear from his presentation whether Paul supports nuclear energy.
What was clear was an overriding sense of pessimism. In his summary for the program guide, Paul wrote, "Unfortunately, civilization is incapable of genuine solutions, although technologies exist." His comment seems odd, because civilization today supports a larger population than ever, with less starvation than ever, greater prosperity, more widespread dissemination of technology and wealth, and greater long term prospects than ever before. Since genius is at least partly genetic, if there is a fixed percentage (say 0.1%) of geniuses in the population, more people on Earth means a greater number of geniuses alive at one time, thus greater ingenuity. One may visit Julian Simon's body of work for similar arguments that humans are a blessing, not a curse.
Janet Hardy was the last programmed speaker for Friday. She spoke on the topic of "Polyamorists, Paraphiliacs, and Other Outlaws: A Tour of Today's Sexual Subcultures." Her talk included an overview of all kinds of sexual preferences. She even came equipped with a multi-page handout identifying and defining a vast dictionary of sexual subculture terms.
Janet is the founder of Greenery Press, which publishes books about alternative sexuality. She is also the author or co-author of several books including The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities; The Sexually Dominant Woman: A Workbook for Nervous Beginners; and When Someone You Love Is Kinky. Living as she does in San Francisco, her talk was significantly open minded and oriented toward multi-cultural tolerance.
It turns out her talk was more timely than we knew. Although Janet mentioned unpleasantness from sexual repression enthusiasts in the conservative political movement, she had no way of knowing about the new attorney general's program for opposing sexual expression among consenting adults. According to an article in the Daily Business Review by Julie Kay released 30 August 2005, the new interim US Attorney Alex Acosta and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have invented new language in the constitution to support their power grab in the area of obscenity. Pornographic material featuring consenting adults is to be the main priority for the Justice Department under Gonzales. Terrorism, organized crime, government corruption, defense contractor fraud, all are to take a back seat to prosecutions of distributors of adult pornography, over the objections of prosecutors in his own department.
The hotel served a very pleasant dinner. During this event, a Phoenix lawyer named Marc Victor asked our table of attendees some impertinent questions which some of us refused to answer. Later, there was a paper airplane throwing contest which quickly developed into a paper wad throwing contest, impressively littering the orchestra pit with trash.
The after dinner speech was by "George," not his real name, a former Central Intelligence Agency spook. Apparently George developed scruples which were offended by the behavior of senior policy personnel within the current administration. Anyway, he left the agency. His views on world events and agency policies were unremarkable. Perhaps it would have been different had he begun with an abject apology for being involved in the sadistic machinery of repression, control, and abuse, but he seemed rather to be defending his role in holding up the tyranny of the contemporary state. Indeed, the whole idea of listening to this former agent of oppression became so disgusting that we got up and left.
Unfortunately, as a result, we missed the video presented by Sean Hastings on Havenco and the Sealand platform. This video apparently featured Prince Roy Bates speaking at some length on the exciting proposal by two young entrepreneurs to build an island at the Sealand location using coffer dam technology.
Free Market Money
"The supposed chief weakness of the market order, the
recuurence of periods of mass unemployment, is always pointed out by
socialists and other critics as an inseparable and unpardonable defect
of capitalism. (Footnote: The long depression of the 1930s, which led
to the revival of Marxism (which probably would have been dead today
without it) was wholly due to the mismanagement of money by government
- before as well as after the crisis of 1929.) It proves in fact
wholly to be the result of government preventing private enterprise
from working freely and providing itself with a money that would
Refined: An Analysis of the Theory and Practice
of Concurrent Currencies, 3rd Edition, 1990
Externally imposed, coercive government is the enemy of freedom. Any individual who does not see this fact is deluded or asleep. Freedom itself is served by self-government or what some might name self-control. The most essential tool of self-control is the deliberate personal acceptance of self-responsibility.
Once you accept responsibility for yourself, for your actions, for your successes and failures, and for your future, you begin to see the benefits of cooperation with others. Cooperation with others may be based primarily on either one of two general strategies. These are the strategy of exchange of value and the strategy of violence. It is difficult to mix the two strategies to good effect, because they are necessarily at odds in a great many cases.
It would be mistaken to say that violence never solves anything. Rather, violence is a very old, very comfortable response to stimuli. Flight is another, which is why people enjoy having safe places to go and wide open spaces in which to breathe. Fighting is a comfortable response to stimuli, and violence is a solution. It is, however, not the only solution, and often brings with it unintended negative consequences. Since we started out by accepting personal responsibility for our actions, we now have to conceive of a method of testing for whether violence is a suitable strategy to apply. Let's develop that test after we examine the other strategy.
Exchange of value may mean any number of things. The essence of the market is the exchange of something which I value less for something which I value more. If I have many grapefruit, perhaps an entire orchard of grape fruit trees burdened with fruit, some of which I harvest every day for weeks, then I would not value grapefruit very much. Left without alternatives, I might eat grapefruit three meals a day, and be quite sick of it. So, therefore, I would gladly exchange grapefruit for honey. Indeed, I might value honey so highly that I would exchange a bushel of grapefruit for a pint of honey. Honey happens to be well suited to the sweetening of grapefruit, and by making this exchange with some beekeeper, I would be better off. Given the cloying sweetness of honey, the beekeeper would likely reason that he is also better off, having now less inventory of honey and some tasty grapefruit. Having now arrived at a solution that satisfies both parties as superior to their situation before the exchange, the exchange itself is made.
Barter is only one way to achieve an exchange of value. I may seek gold, silver, or some other medium of exchange for my grapefruit, owing to the flexibility such a choice would have for me in making other purchases. I may seek to exchange intangibles, such as good will, love, happiness, a smile, joy, the feeling of prosperity, or satisfaction for other intangibles, or, through mechanisms resembling altruism, for things such as grapefruit. I may provide grapefruit to harvesters in exchange for their labor and some measure of loyalty. Owing to the nature of intangibles, someone may prefer to work for me for grapefruit rather than for someone else for gold owing to the remarkable decency and honesty with which I treat them. These are aspects of the exchange of value that are difficult to measure, but no less real for being intangible. People take choices. Left to their own choices, they very often choose wisely and well.
Violence and the threat of violence may be coercive, and would tend to break up wise choice taking. People would be forced to accept a particular choice owing to the threat of violence, or the application of violence. However, there is a class of violent behavior which is not coercive, but defensive. Force which is applied for the purpose of preventing loss, preventing death, defending against coercion, is meritorious. It is worth undertaking because it supports free choice and the non-coercive exchange of value. Thus, individuals who seek peace and prosperity should prepare for war. Having the means and the skills to defend oneself is essential to the operation of free market commerce. So, the test we seek is very simple. If violence is applied for coercive purposes, in an aggressive way to bend others to your will, then force is inappropriate, unethical, bad, and wrong. If it is applied for defensive purposes, in a limited way, to prevent others from bending you to their will, then it is appropriate, ethical, good, and proper.
This word, proper, relates to property. Private property is the sine qua non of individual liberty. Without private property, free enterprise is unable to operate.
Money is a tool with three functions. It is a store of value which consequently is a medium of exchange. A medium of exchange breaks barter into separate transactions with the store of value bridging the gap, so that barter from one person to another is not stymied by the person with a surfeit of good A being uninterested in any of good B. Money is the good that everyone seeks, and it is sought because of its usefulness as a medium of exchange and store of value. If a medium of exchange is used which is not a good store of value, because it devalues, then the market is distorted as everyone tries to shed the poor store of value and exchange it for something that stores value better. It is possible for a medium of exchange to be a poor store of value. It is inevitable that a good store of value becomes a medium of exchange. And, as a result of storing value over time and being useful in exchange, money is a unit of account. As a unit of account, money provides an essential tool for planning, budgeting, forecasting, anticipating, saving, and organization.
Socialism is a set of policies which denies individual liberty, free enterprise, and free markets have any benefits. Instead, socialists, who may also be called thieves and murderers, insist that violence is appropriate to all human interactions, and refuse to adopt the test for the proper application of force. Whether they delude themselves that they have superior knowledge and therefore should be authorized to use force to demand compliance, or whether they are simply evil is a superfluous examination of motives. It just does not matter. Whatever reason thieves have for stealing, whatever reason violent murderers have for killing, whatever excuse the state gives for its betrayal of liberty and its destruction of life and property, is irrelevant. We don't ask vermin to explain why they spread disease, attack livestock, or pilfer storehouses, we simply make ourselves impervious to their predations by killing them, blocking them from our property, and maintaining a watch against their return.
Employment, like all other exchanges of value, is best pursued under free enterprise conditions. Thus, every dictator must guard his borders against his own people getting out. Money flows over borders and around obstacles to create exchanges of value where none seemed possible. Thus, dictators seek to control the choice of money and its movement, especially over borders. Again, dictators or socialists may excuse their coercive behavior with all manner of rationales, and it is irrelevant. They add prevarication to theft and murder. When dictators prevent the free operation of the market, especially when the interfere with the operation of the singularly useful tool of money, they eliminate flexibility and, necessarily, degrade stability. It is no surprise that they then blame the free enterprisers for the difficulties which the dictators have created.
The state is a tool of socialism. It is a weak tool compared to free enterprise. It is unable to plan effectively, organize cleverly, surmount difficulties, behave flexibly, or provide stability. All the state has going for it is force, so, like a three-year-old with a hammer, everything becomes a suitable target for force. When force fails to motivate exchanges of value, the state applies more force, deception, and arrogance to disguise its failures.
On 8 June 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, told the New Orleans Times Picayune, "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we're doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."
Needless to say, we anticipate considerable deception to be the Bush administration's response to this obvious flaw in their casual approach to allocating resources. Sometimes, it seems that Bush is unconcerned because he's just doing what he's told, and isn't taking any personal responsibility for his actions. Doug Casey at the recent Eris Society conference mentioned that Bush seems unaffected by the presidency. Whereas other presidents age a decade in their first term, Bush hardly seems to have matured a bit.
One thing that seems mistaken in Hayek's essay is this notion that Marxism would have died out were it not for government mismanagement (or deliberate malfeasance) which led to the Great Depression. Very likely, that's mistaken because Marxism has always been a deception funded by the banking cartel and those with vested interests in creating a power structure that is encouraged to strip private property from individuals. While it is clearly foolish for anyone to think they would long remain in control of such a tyranny, it is clear from the evidence that schemers in power always imagine themselves immune to the brutal monstrosities they create.
Marxism as a putative branch of economics is drivel. It has no substance, no predictive usefulness, and has been repeatedly shown to fail to describe actual economic processes. Marx as an author was tedious, devoid of wit, and apparently determined to emulate all the narrative excitement of ... Hegel. Marxism has to be seen as tool useful to some power hungry thieves. There's simply no other explanation for such horrid mendacity to be studied decades after being revealed as useless and turgid. The only explanation that makes any sense is that Marxism serves the purposes of some group who insist that it be propagated into the future.
We'll continue our focus on Denationalisation next week.
Here's how the stocks we presently suggest in this area look of late (Friday 2 September 2005):
Tan Range produced a double for us. Pinnacle hit a double in August, and is down a bit from that peak. Western Prospector is back over a double, so if you sold half when it doubled earlier this year, hold on for the ride up; if you didn't sell half on the earlier double, do so now to recover your investment and continue to profit.
Our doubles have been Western Prospector, Tan Range, and Pinnacle.
Free Market Money
Gold has been up nicely this week. Gold closed Friday 2 September 2005 at $442.80, about $10 higher than at the end of August. We expect it to spend the Autumn rising to reflect increased perception of inflation. (With $3 gasoline, everyone is now perceiving inflation; with $6/gallon gasoline to be anticipated....) A price by year end of $500 to $600 would not be surprising. Shocking events might send gold even higher. Gold is low compared to, say, oil. Whereas oil is often as much as fifteen barrels to buy an ounce of gold, oil is now closer to 6.62 barrels to the ounce. Since a stronger dollar is unlikely, a higher gold price is very likely. We also enjoy watching the Dow:Au ratio. The Dow closed Friday at 10,447 or 23.6 ounces of gold. Look for this ratio to reach 3 ounces before another secular bull in stocks.
Silver is, if anything, even more under-priced right now than gold. Silver closed Friday 2 September at $6.97 per ounce. Thus, the price of an ounce of gold is 63.53 ounces of silver. When gold peaked in 1980, the ratio was around 19 ounces of silver to buy an ounce of gold.
Copper topped $1.80/pound very briefly on Friday before closing at $1.7878. Warehouse levels continue to rise. Rising warehouse levels suggest two possibilities. Either supply is exceeding demand, in which case prices should top soon. Or, suppliers are anticipating higher prices in the future, and not so far off that paying inventory holding costs would be excessive, and are holding aside production to sell at a higher price not that long from now. Since inventory levels have been extremely low compared to any point earlier than about three months ago and going back five years, it is this latter motivation that may better explain current events. Certainly, the price has continued to rise along with inventory levels for many weeks now.
Elsewhere in base metals, zinc topped $0.64/pound on Friday before closing at $0.6319. Thus, zinc is now where it was six months ago when it peaked. Zinc warehouse levels are dropping.
Pre-1982 pennies now carry an 18% premium to face value. Three thousand pennies, $30 face value, have nearly $35 of copper and about sixty-five cents of zinc in them.
Nickel metal is also rising, recovering some of the ground lost in the last thirty days, coming close to $7/pound on Friday and closing at $6.9158. The nickel coin circulates with less than a 33% face value premium to metal content. We look for higher base metal prices next week. Put another way, we look for the dollar to continue to deteriorate broadly.
U3O8 is again higher at $30.20/pound.
While we're watching commodities, a look at oil. US crude prices were down on Friday to close at $66.90. Higher oil prices seem likely, though, as the 1980 high in current dollars was closer to $84.63 per barrel (if one believes the deceptive government figures on inflation; even higher if one believes inflation has gone under-reported). One way to profit from higher oil prices would be the Houston company Schlumberger, a good quality firm providing services to the oil exploration, development, and production companies. We recently ran across a letter from an old friend from business school, Pierre Schlumberger Melcher, which reminded us to look into this possibility.
The three stocks we've suggested in this sector are PVH, GBH, and MCG. Prices from Friday 2 September 2005.
Micro Casino Gold is doing well and is paying dividends regularly. Gold Barter Holdings is at a new all-time low, but open interest is back. We anticipate another dividend for GBH this year.
The Gold Casino surged nicely, with last sale at 107.5 grams (~$1530). Dividend yield is 8.9% (9.6 grams per year or $136.70 per year at the current monthly dividend of 0.8 grams per share.)
"In our business development we had to come up with a metric to determine what 'cost effective' meant. Our design guidance was to posit the simplest on-orbit servicing system possible and limit customers to those with the most valuable commercial assets. The spacecraft that fit these parameters are three-axis stabilized commercial geosynchronous earth orbit comsats with a revenue of at least $40-$50 million per year. To us, this meant that we had to achieve a cost target for our system that was no more than a year to a year and a half of revenue for the operator. This would give an operator a revenue of between $200 - $500 million over the life extended mission....It turns out that out of the existing 286 commercial comsats in orbit today over 50 of them that fit our metrics will need replacing by 2009."
Responsive Commercial Space Tug,"
AIAA Second Responsive Space Conference
19-22 April 2004
Let's just take a quick look at the project Dennis is proposing to make into a business. Take 50 satellites that need replacing by 2009 and, instead of replacing them at a cost of $200 million, extend their lives by five to ten years at a cost of $75 million.
If Dennis were able to capture 30% of that market, his company would show revenues of over a billion dollars. The market from 2004 to 2009 is fifty satellites, or ten per year. Large spacecraft in lower Earth orbits, including government birds, might be suitable targets for Orbital Recovery systems. More advanced versions which have been conceptually designed would do more than provide station-keeping fuel - they would also be able to supply repairs, critical components, and added power. So, the entire methodology for building communications satellites for geosynchronous orbit could be changed to provide for repair and refurbishment after launch, with much lower costs to the operator.
These aren't just concepts. Orbital Recovery has a customer, a launch vehicle - the Ariane V on which it is a secondary payload - and a development team. Hardware has been designed and is being built and prepared for launch.
Orbital Recovery, Limited (ORL) is based in London. The company has put together an industrial team including the European Space Agency as sole source launch services provider with the Ariane, the German space agency DLR, Kayser Threde, Swedish Space Corporation, Dutch Space, Contraves Space, Grupo GMV, SENER, Snecma, and EADS Casa. These outfits are a who's who of European space agencies and companies.
DLR used to be DFVLR, or "Deutsche Fortschungs Versuchsanstalt fur Luft und Raumfahrt," or German research group for flight and rocketry. DFVLR was one of the consulting companies on the successful 1982 Conestoga launch from Matagorda Island, organized by Deke Slayton for David Hannah's Space Services Incorporated. DLR developed the capture tool and telepresence software for on-orbit servicing. The capture tool basically sits at the top of the ORL system and enters the motor nozzle of the upper stage attached to the comsat, making a secure mechanical connection. ORL has an exclusive license for this technology, which is being industrialized for DLR by Kayser Threde.
The vehicle ORL has developed is called the Cone Express Orbital Life Extension Vehicle or CX-OLEV. It is an integration of mature, flight-proven technologies. The platform itself is derived from the Dutch Space (formerly Fokker Space) Cone Express, a program funded by the European Space Agency which modifies the existing Ariane 5 payload adapter to become a free-flying spacecraft after separation from the primary payloads. The ORL vehicle uses Hall Effect thrusters which produce an ion propulsion for orbit raising and station keeping. The docking maneuvers use electric propulsion and cold gas thrusters.
The company has teamed with Aon Space to provide risk management solutions. These include insurance for the launch and vehicle operations. Orbital Recovery is privately held. Shareholders include Dutch Space, Swedish Space Corporation, Kayser Threde, and SENER. The company has offices in London, Leiden, and Sydney.
Given the very interesting prospects for Orbital Recovery, any subscribers interested in the prospects for investment with ORL or a related venture should contact us.
NASA delenda est.
SpaceDev closed at $1.47 on Friday 2 September 2005. It is down $0.03 since we first suggested it. Since the company has again reported quarterly profits, it is unclear why the stock price is suffering. We'll look into it for our next report.
"We have to find early adopters willing to lead the way."
It is sort of sad. Anderson's company doesn't have enough innovators to lead the way, but he's looking for early adopters. Sadly, early adopters do not lead the way.
The product life cycle or "diffusion curve" works thus: Sales are generated even though prices are very high, because innovators want to be involved in the very latest thing. The innovators represent the first 2.5% or so of the market. These are the people who lead the way. They tend to be very well-informed and often enthusiastic about trying new things. Every market has its innovators, though these are not the same across widely different markets.
Early adopters do not lead the way. They look to the innovators. The innovators lead, and the early adopters follow. The early adopters typically represent 13.5% of the market. So, by the time the innovators have accepted the new product or service and the early adopters have been inspired to follow suit, about sixteen percent of the market has gotten involved.
The next two groups are the early majority and the late majority. These people follow the early adopters. So, yes, early adopters are important, but they aren't leading the way. Innovators lead, early adopters follow them, and the early majority looks to the early adopters to see what's new and whether it is cool. The early majority is about 34% of the market, and the late majority is about 34% of the market, for a total of 68% of the market. With the innovators and early adopters forming 16%, the total to this point is 84%. The rest of the market is described as laggards, who simply don't want to innovate, adopt early, or be involved until all the risk and adventure has been sucked from the marrow.
There is also some irony in the company name, Space Adventures. According to a very large message at the headquarters of the Royal Geographic Society, an adventure is an expedition gone awry. Again, Anderson notes, "This is an expedition, not a trip to the beach. Sure they're private citizens. But they're also explorers, like the people who first climbed Mount Everest." And those people were? Probably some unknown Sherpas, but later Edmund Hillary at some point.
Anyway, the good news is that in the next three to five years, two tourists each willing to fork over $100 million and one Russian pilot are going to be launched to Earth orbit. If all goes well, the Space Adventures mission would meet up with a booster system in Earth orbit. The Soyuz spacecraft and the booster would proceed around the far side of the Moon, and return to Earth orbit, where the Soyuz would re-enter.
NASA delenda est.
New Country Developments
"Ubi libertas, ibi patria."
James Otis was a patriot during the American Revolutionary War. His motto was Latin, "Where [you find] liberty, there is my country." His idea probably has some application to contemporary living.
Two of the related ideas we're now working on involve networks of discount houses and networks of hospitality services. Both sets of networks are developmental stage business opportunities, and we intend to say more about them in future issues. The discount houses relate to a new approach to financing ongoing business operations. The hospitality services relate to our idea for a theme park in Wyoming, but with a distributed approach to geographical, political, and financial risks.
As we prepare to go to press, it has been a week since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and parts east. Much attention has been focused on the poor job done by the government in maintaining the flood control systems of levees and canals that were meant to protect New Orleans. Much attention continues to be focused on the Keystone Kops approach to emergency management, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency turning off essential communications, interdicting fresh water supplies donated by Wal-Mart, and refusing the Jefferson Parish sheriff's department fuel that had been available from the Coast Guard.
A fairly obvious conclusion may be reached. Drainage in low lying areas is too important to be left to politicians and bureau-rats. Emergency preparedness is too important to be left up to the government. Emergency response is too urgent to be left in the hands of government. We are frequently blessed in not getting all the government we pay for, and often punished for relying on government for any essential services.
What may be done to revive New Orleans? Should it be "bulldozed" and left? Clearly, there are plenty of economic opportunities there, with a major port at the mouth of the world's largest system of rivers and tributaries. Since the government has proven so completely incompetent at making New Orleans livable, providing for flood control, and providing for emergency response, wouldn't it be great to remove the government entirely from the scene?
Make New Orleans a free port and free trade zone. Eliminate all taxes, all licenses, all government fees, all government "services," and all regulatory authority. Within the flood-damaged zone, let "laissez faire" be the rule.
In the extremely unlikely event that such a policy were adopted, laissez faire would return New Orleans to "les bon temps" in record time. Leave New Orleans to the depredations of government, and it may be economically depressed for years to come.
"A medical technology based on such [nanotechnology] molecular tools will quite literally be able to arrange and rearrange the molecular structure of the frozen tissue almost at will. The molecules in frozen tissue are like the bricks in a vast Lego set, bricks which in the future we will be able to stack and unstack, arrange and rearrange as we see fit....So, the question of whether or not we can revive a person who has been frozen can be transformed into a new question: can we cryptanalyze the 'encrypted message' that is the frozen person and deduce the 'plain text' which is the healthy person that we wish to restore?....Against this backdrop it would seem prudent to exercise caution in claiming that freezing, ischemic injury, or cryoprotectant injury result in information theoretic death."
Beginning in the 1960s in Michigan, Professor Robert Ettinger conducted experiments with cryonics, the technology of freezing human bodies after death. While these very early experiments were based on limited understanding of the extensive difficulties posed by the way water ice forms in human tissue, they were a start. As Goethe wrote, if you would achieve something great, begin it; commitment has power and magic within it.
Ettinger founded the Cryonics Institute in Michigan, which still operates today. Some of the early techniques were lampooned in a Woody Allen film, "Sleeper." Through the 1970s, competitors and cooperators were organized in Europe, California, and elsewhere. The motto of these pioneers was that any chance of recovery in the distant future was better than being cremated, or buried in the ground. In the early 1980s, the technology was improving, and so were the slogans.
One of the pioneering organizations, the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, was operating from Riverside, California when I first visited their facilities. I'd been invited to a series of job interviews with TRW, Computer Science Corporation, and McDonnell Douglas, in various plants around the Los Angeles sprawl. Fortunately, these "opportunities" led nowhere, so I didn't end up working a dead end job for a festering defense contractor. But, I did have time to visit Alcor.
Blood replacement fluids had been developed which were intended to "perfuse" the tissues of the human subject. These were circulated post mortem using cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and artificial blood pumps. Among the chemicals involved were various glycerol derivatives intended to act as anti-freeze agents. Even so, experiments with tissue samples revealed significant damage from freezing.
Mike Darwin was kind enough to show me around the lab and storage facilities. Several subjects had been frozen full body, while others had opted for the less expensive route of having their heads removed along with part of the cervical spine for freezing with the rest of the body discarded, in each case according to the last wishes of the individuals. Darwin showed me a dog in reasonable health which had been part of a freezing experiment, and had been resuscitated after many minutes of below freezing core temperature.
While the freezing of dead people may at first blush seem gruesome, and somewhat more so when viewing television reports on the subject describing the use of chain saws to quickly sever necks, and although the technology was clearly in a primitive state at the time, Mike made a convincing argument. He said that cryonics was like a temporal ambulance. A physical ambulance is designed to transport victims from a place where medical technology is not readily available, where skilled surgeons are absent, and where essential supplies of blood and talent are limited, to places we call hospitals where all these things are available in abundance. Life flight helicopters are ambulances, only more so. Over the years, we've found as a culture that if injured people are transported to hospitals very rapidly, their chances of survival are immensely improved. The places where people are injured are still dangerous, and remain devoid of good medical techniques for saving lives, but ambulances move people from accident scenes to hospitals - which makes a huge difference in their rate of survival.
(As an aside, this awareness combined with improved transport technology has had remarkable life saving benefits in combat situations. Combat wounds were very often fatal as recently as 140 years ago during the War for Southern Independence. Wounds to arms or legs often led to amputations, and wounds to the trunk or head were mortal. Antibiotics, antiseptics, and improved surgical techniques made the survival rates for soldiers at hospital improve dramatically, but battlefield casualties during World War Two were often terminal. The advent of helicopter evacuation during Korea and Vietnam began a dramatic reduction in mortality from combat injuries.)
So, what's a temporal ambulance? Simply, a method for transporting victims through time, from a time when the victim is certain to die to a time when the victim may be cured, and even beyond, to a time when the victim may be revived from "cold sleep." A temporal ambulance takes people from now, into the future, in a condition which doesn't allow their bodies to decay further. Whatever damage is done in the freezing process and whatever killed them in the first place may be reversed at some point in the future. When? We don't know, but it may be during this century.
Very likely, the advances in nano-technology which we keep an eye upon in this part of our newsletter, are going to be critical not only for restoring the cryonics patients, but also for other life extension technologies.
Legislatura delenda est.
Integrated Pharmaceuticals closed Friday 2 September at $0.80 down twenty-seven cents since we've started following it. It appears to be a dog, and has not been suggested for your investment dollars.
Dendreon is up to $5.98 close Friday 2 September.
Elan Corp, PLC, was up to $9.04 also on Friday. It has risen $1.81 since we began following it.
Publication Note: We took some good natured ribbing recently about apologizing every time this newsletter comes out late. Our friend wanted to suggest that we apologize when it comes out on time, just to throw you off. But, this newsletter issue was due on 15 August, and here it is 5 September. Three weeks late. Fortunately, no issue was due for this week, but we still haven't written the issue for 29 August.
Finances, especially the high price of gasoline, forced cancellation of our trip to the North American SF conference in Seattle. Too bad. We're disappointed, but perhaps next year we'll attend WorldCon. The fact that 21 subscribers keep us going forward is great. So, tell your friends to subscribe.
More bad news. It looks like our special report on the New Orleans Conference won't happen, either. As you may know, by now, New Orleans was inundated by a combination of Hurricane Katrina and excessive reliance on government to provide drainage services. According to Doug Casey's International Speculatorthe show has been postponed to next year. When next year? Unless we hear otherwise, we expect late October or early November 2006. Too bad, too. We were looking forward to finding out more about Doug's advertised conversion to "Libertarian" in his debate with Ann Coulter.
Gratuitous example of bizarre legislation: Hunting or shooting across the main West levee of the Mississippi or Arkansas Rivers from the Louisiana-Arkansas state line to the intersection of state Highway 11 is illegal. Source.
Copyright © 2005 Free West Trust, All Rights Reserved.
Song lyrics shown to encourage album sales, and for fair use educational purposes.
There's trouble on the street tonight, I can feel it in my bones.
I had a premonition that he should not go alone.
I knew the gun was loaded, but I didn't think he'd kill.
Everything exploded, and the blood began to spill.
So, baby, here's your ticket, put the suitcase in your hand.
Here's a little money, now, do it just the way we planned.
You be cool for twenty hours and I'll pay you twenty grand.
I'm sorry it went down like this, someone had to lose.
It's the nature of the bus'ness, it's the smuggler's blues.
The sailors and the pilots, the soldiers and the law,
The payoffs and the ripoffs and the things nobody saw.
No matter if it's heroin, cocaine or hash,
You've got to carry weapons, 'cause you always carry cash.
There's lots of shady characters, lotsa dirty deals.
Every name's an alias, in case somebody squeals.
It's the lure of easy money, it's got a very strong appeal.
Perhaps you'd understand it better, standin' in my shoes,
It's the ultimate enticement, it's the smuggler's blues.
You see it in the headlines, you hear it every day.
They say they're gonna stop it, but it doesn't go away.
They move it through Miami and sell it in LA.
They hide it up in Telluride, I mean it's here to stay.
It's proppin' up the governments of Colombia and Peru,
You ask any DEA man, he'll say, "There's nothin' we can do,
From the office of the President, right down to me and you."
Me and you.
It's a losing proposition, but one you can't refuse.
It's the politics of contraband. It's the smuggler's blues.
Song lyrics shown to encourage album sales, and for fair use educational purposes.