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
22 September 2005
"Political leaders always prepare to fight the last war."
Our friends in the Houston and Galveston area are suffering due to the excessive zeal of government. Those not in flood prone nor low-lying areas were being encouraged to evacuate on Wednesday and Thursday the 21st and 22nd of September. The government has decided to avoid a repeat of the Katrina disaster in New Orleans as Hurricane Rita casts its baleful eye on the upper Texas and Western Louisiana coastlines.
Already, the state and local governments have ordered and are enforcing a mandatory evacuation for Galveston Island, low lying areas around Galveston Bay, and many other parts of the coast. Nearly a million people are affected by these mandatory coastal evacuations. Over four million people are fleeing inland whether they need to or not, and that's already causing suffering.
Cars are running out of fuel waiting stuck in traffic. Something like twenty-four hour delays have been found along major highways. People are thirsty, frustrated, out of sorts. Some are likely to collapse from the heat as they move into a high pressure zone which is probably going to direct the path of this hurricane. [Late update, Friday: as many as 24 elderly people were killed when the bus they were fleeing in caught fire in Dallas and was totally consumed in flames. Commentators are attributing the fire to many hours in stop and go traffic. These are more deaths due to government incompetence.] Sadly, many are following the projected course of the hurricane north, and will be stuck on the clogged roads when the storm hits, or in the path of tornado vortices the storm spews. Worse, many people have been encouraged to flee from higher ground where they were unlikely to be affected by the storm.
The rule is to flee from water and hide from wind. High water along coastal areas caused by storm surge, rainfall, and tides is certainly a difficulty, and many people along the coast sensibly chose to begin evacuating as early as the morning of Wednesday the 21st. Unfortunately, the mandatory evacuation orders began to go into effect, and a rancher who runs a bridle path along the Galveston beach had called a company to bring in six horse trailers to haul out her 40 horses. The trailers arrived after the mandatory evacuation went into effect and were turned away at the roadblock - the authoritarians love their road blocks, and hate all business activities. Fortunately for her, one trailer got through later on a "rescue" mission, and six of her horses have been evacuated, leaving only 34 to drown when the sea overwhelms that area.
But, the people along the coast who actually have good cause to flee - fleeing water - have been delayed miserably behind about three million others who are fleeing from further inland where they were in no danger of flooding, storm surge, or other water. Instead of encouraging those people further inland to shelter in place and police up their homes and yards to limit the amount of flying debris, the government has urgently encouraged all those people to flee, as well, putting a crushing overload of vehicles on the freeways. Even with Thursday's slowly implemented opening on inflowing lanes to outflowing traffic, enormous delays and actual injuries have resulted from this mass of humanity, panicked and fleeing like inverted lemmings away from the sea.
Monopolies and oligopolies are bad ideas. Competition generates a vast array of information and choices, which leads to greatly expanded opportunities and choices. Individuals are able to make better choices for themselves when they aren't forcibly prevented from having access to information and when they aren't restricted from choosing.
After World War Two, a number of digital computer inventions began to see wider application for big business, universities, government agencies, and research centers like Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore, to name but a few. These huge mainframe computer centers were run by a priesthood of hardware and software experts who restricted access and created phunny money accounts to limit storage and CPU usage. Ultimately, all those computer centers were made more effective by being networked together after 1969 with the advent of DARPAnet, milnet, the university networks, and, subsequently, Compuserve around 1973. And, of course, those computer centers were a sort of cul de sac of diseconomy and restricted access.
Great events were set in motion by simple choices. Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and elsewhere Bill Gates and Paul Allen found interesting ways to make hardware and software for the new microcomputers, starting around 1975. By 1981, computer giant IBM had utterly failed to break into the personal computing market. Centralized mainframe computing centers still exist, but the market trend was toward decentralized, networked computing.
Nowadays we have enormous computing power in nearly every home. Small businesses are able to arrange for computing power undreamt of in 1969 for a few hundred dollars of hardware and software. Thousands of companies vie to create killer application software for various markets. Hundreds of companies make or assemble hardware. The choices are much wider, costs are much lower, economic activity greater, and prosperity abounds. Information technology came of age when it broke free from the oligopolistic model of central computing.
In 1983, I had the opportunity to use an MCI Mail account at First Chicago National Bank where I worked during college. Somewhere there are archives of sci.space before it split off sci.space.policy with a few messages from me posted via that old account. It was completely unknown to me, but the computer data line that MCI installed from New York to Chicago to allow our General Instruments CheckMate 2000 (remember when products with the number 2000 seemed terribly futuristic?) to transmit data on thousands of checks at the fantastic speed of 9,600 bits per second (!) was not only technically impressive but also just barely legal.
Well, to be fair, it did seem fast, to me, at the time. I well remember in 1978 using an acoustically coupled modem (that actually modulated and demodulated to convert analog to digital and back) at 75 baud to connect the high school's workstation to the mainframe at the university five miles away. The term "baud" is now obsolete, thankfully. It refers to that analog-to-digital-to-analog conversion to make digital signals move through analog telephone switches. Happily, even under the old monopolistic, archaic, decrepit, anti-competitive and irritating Ma Bell, phone systems were converting to digital. All that got a kick in the pants, thanks to MCI. Haley Bader & Potts lawyers sat around a table in their company's law library and conceived of a lawsuit to break up the AT&T monopoly on long distance telecommunication. The rest is history.
The model of centralization and monopoly power is stupid. It is a badly conceived concept, it produces poor results, it invariably has negative unintended consequences, it leads to vicious cycle diseconomies, and it is based on evil, authoritarian principles. The mediocre minds in government rarely think past their first notion, and often implement or continue such systems in spite of their demonstrably bad results. But, eventually, the market breaks free.
Very often, it breaks free by going underground, by adopting measures to conceal economic activities and hide from the merciless idiots who run the government. But, happily, in the case of breaking up the corrupt relationship between government and phone monopoly, the breakthrough was above board. So, instead of being implemented as a "black" or free market underground, low cost telecomm became the norm. This decentralization has been enormously important in reducing the cost of telephone calls, making transnational business easier than ever, effectively creating the cell phone business, and synergizing with the computing revolution to bring handheld devices into the 21st Century.
These successes in computing and telecommunication make it more obvious than ever that all government monopolies are evil, shortsighted, wrongheaded, anti-free enterprise, horrid, and monstrous. Slaying these hydra-headed oligopolies and troll-like monopolies is an activity that should become more widespread. Sadly, like everything else touched by coercive government, their attempts to carry the decentralization model into electric power or cable television have been implemented spottily, poorly, and at times disastrously, often amidst crazy new levels of coercive regulation (which brought on the rolling blackouts in California in recent memory).
The work Doug Jackson kicked into high gear in 1996 of decentralizing money and creating free market alternatives is another clear cut example of the power of free enterprise, the benefits of competition, and the opportunity to generate fantastic new levels of economic opportunity heretofore ground under the jackboot heel of the state. Similarly, these low cost distilleries which turn nearly any sort of bio-mass into useful diesel fuel are going to totally restructure the energy business for the benefit of consumers.
It is probably going to be necessary at some point for NASA to be destroyed to get it out of the way of the coming revolution of free market space transport. That industry, however, has clear application of its technologies to the currently oligopolistic airline industry. Lots more low cost aircraft for personal use are likely to be available in the next ten years, some with impressive new propulsion technologies. The defense contractors and their evil cohorts in government are going to work very hard and craftily to suppress these developments, but we'll win through. Freedom always prevails.
The same sort of revolution to bring free market principles has been going on in pharmaceuticals for the last fifty years. The FDA is in the way in this area, and the oligopolistic pharmaceutical manufacturers are the key beneficiaries. Happily, like the airline companies, lots of major drug makers are going bankrupt as their protected status has engendered rotten centers.
So, um, what does all that have to do with hurricanes? Well, quite simply, the business of predicting hurricanes has no proper place in government hands. There is no constitutional power granted to the national government to create a nationalist socialist "oceanic and atmospheric" administration. There is no proper authority for a nationalist socialist weather service nor for a nationalist socialist hurricane center. These people are hoarding the limelight because they want to be in charge of predicting hurricanes, because they have no better idea than centralization, and because "that's the way we've always done it" for a few decades anyway.
I watched in 1984 as the thugs at NASA pretended to commercialize the Landsat program, effectively just handing a sole source contract to a big defense contractor after ignoring the entrepreneurial alternative Space America consortium put together by my friend David Hannah, Jr., Deke Slayton, Space Services, Ball Aerospace, and other companies. So, Landsat was never broken up, and eventually faced spotty competition from Spot Image, the French nationalist socialist alternative. Weather satellites should have been built and operated by the private sector, but remain a "national security asset" and operated at a subsidy to broadcast news stations. It is a disgusting morass of intertwined vested interests, corruption, and scandal.
Weather prediction ought to be funded primarily by insurance companies which should be deregulated and decentralized. The government ought to be forced to leave the free market alone, because the government has been provably negligent, brutal, and idiotic.
Centralization, nationalization, imperial ambitions, and global domination are a set of bad ideas which had their heyday in the 19th Century. It is time for the world to grow up and accept that free markets, competition, and individual choice are better. If necessary, a few more Stalins, Hitlers, and Mussolinis are going to have to be taught these lessons with the only thing they understand: naked force.
But, for the most part, fixing the economic infrastructure is going to be the essential element. As people gain control over their own financial transactions, stop centralizing these at banks and in sight of governments, continue the trend toward encryption, decentralization, distribution, and freedom, it is going to be harder and harder to sell bonds to finance the ever-widening deficits. People will have much better places to invest their money. Governments are going to fall, reform movements are going to pretend to fix them, and the free market is going to expand exponentially in the next few years, to the great distress of those who think government is necessary or useful for solving problems.
If we are careful, if we are intelligent, if we are wise, and if we are blessed by divine Providence, I believe it is yet possible to implement these revolutionary ideas without a vast effusion of blood. However, there are certainly trenchant criticisms of this notion possible, and other writers (including my namesake James Dale Davidson) have envisioned rebellions, economic chaos, and great reckonings long overdue. I do not, in any way, discount these possibilities; rather, I prepare for them. However, lately, I've begun to see a strategy to pursue which may allow these possibilities to be circumvented and then obviated. Seeing those possibilities has been a great blessing, alleviating much reason for despair.
Political leaders always prepare to fight the last war. Mark Twain noted that a cat, having leapt onto a hot stove lid one time would thereafter avoid hot stove lids, but would also avoid cold ones. Twain suggested that many folks likewise get more out of a lesson than it has in it. It is inevitable that political leaders and mediocre minds behave in this way. The only rational solution, then, is to so organize your affairs that you are not dependent upon political leaders, nor subjugated to their caprice. The life you save must be your own.
Free Market Money
"Historically, it is true that all the money that preserved its value for any length of time was metallic (or money convertible into metal - gold or silver); and governments sooner or later used to debase even metallic money, so that all the kinds of paper money of which we have experience were so much worse. Most people therefore now believe that relief can come only from returning to a metallic (or other commodity) standard. But not only is metallic money also exposed to the risks of fraud by government; even at its best it would never be as good a money as one issued by an agency whose whole business rested on its success in providig a money the public preferred to other kinds."
Refined: An Analysis of the Theory and Practice
of Concurrent Currencies, 3rd Edition, 1990
Gold is an anchor, and any anchor is better than a money left to the "discretion of government," Hayek continues. Of course, we all know that government hasn't discretion so much as various levels of indiscretion. What Hayek points out is exactly what I've said above about other business enterprises. Competition among agencies that issue free market money on a commercial basis is a better way to arrange things than having any government or set of governments issue money.
The issue power does not belong in the hands of government, EC Riegel pointed out in 1946 in A New Approach to Freedom because government is not a free enterprise. It is a coercive enterprise, so it on the one hand demands money at gunpoint and, sometimes, issues money and makes it legal tender, forcing it into circulation at gunpoint.
The only people morally fit to issue money are free enterprisers, individuals and businesses operating in the free market. Why? Because, if a free market business issues money, it is always going to provide services for which that money would be acceptable. Therefore, it creates a market for the money it issues. It does so non-coercively, which is the whole point of cooperating in the free market.
We'll continue our focus on Denationalisation next week.
Recently, we had an opportunity to see something new in the digital gold market. It is an exciting new approach, and we hope to be able to share the announcement of its availability in short time.
Meanwhile, two of our friends, Bernard von NotHaus and Doug "Sky" Conway have joined forces to develop films for freedom. The trailer and a web page about the project are now available here. Creating a culture for freedom is a vital project, which Neil Smith has written about repeatedly in his online magazine The Libertarian Enterprise. Films and television are useful media for this culture war.
Here's how the stocks we presently suggest in this area look of late (Thursday 22 September 2005):
Good news, another red light has turned green on the chart above. Vista Gold, on the recent surge in gold prices worldwide is finally back above our suggested entry price.
Problem children Free Gold and Luzon have recovered a bit off their lows. We'll continue to monitor them through the first issue in October. A higher gold price may lift their ships, which is justifiable in the case of Luzon.
Last week, Western Prospector was promising a triple, and this week it confirms at 327%.
Tan Range is well past a triple and headed for home run territory.
The market, it seems, continues to be oblivious to Lumina Resources. We received an e-mail from Lumina's Anthony Floyd, who confirms our understanding that the Casino property is 100% owned by Lumina subsidiary CRS. At today's higher gold and copper prices, the mineral resources these guys hold are approaching $700/share in value. It may be that, misperceived as a new, unproven junior mining company, Lumina Resources won't be understood by the market until they sell one of their enormous lodes to a Canadian mine operator, at which point the price should increase more than tenfold.
It's much the same with Northern Peru in terms of underlying asset value. But, for some reason, Northern Peru Copper is down slightly whereas Lumina Resources has lost over half its value. Meanwhile, Regalito, the primary stock of the four received by each shareholder of old Lumina Copper Corp in May is doing very well, continuing to climb, up nearly 25% since the split.
The last reported price for Lumina Copper was $7.99. Altogether, a share each of Lumina Resources, Regalito Copper, and Northern Peru are now worth $8.05. So, if you held on after the split, you are better off.
Northgate has recovered slightly from last week. Again, the market seems totally oblivious to the underlying asset's current value.
It might be a good idea to look at trailing stops. Now that some of our stocks have shown impressive increases in value, you want to hold onto that value. The function of a trailing stop is to have a sell order in place to stop any loss if the share price tumbles.
Does a trailing stop indicate a loss of confidence? No, certainly not. It is just another way of mitigating risk. If the market loses confidence or goes nuts, you want to lock in your profit. Let's say you bought Tan Range at C$1. Today it is at C$3.48. Fantastic.
By placing a trailing stop at, say, $3.40, you sell your position (or any portion of it you designate) if the trend goes down to that point. You can narrow that gap or widen it. A tight trailing stop locks in max profits for you, and a wide one keeps you from paying broker commissions if the stock moves down but not as far as your sell order. What if the stock keeps going up? Well, at C$4.50, you won't have any need for a trailing stop at $3.40, so you move your sell order to trail the price by the same percentage or the same amount. A trailing stop has to be managed, just like any other investment decision. But, if you have it in place, then if you get distracted by a natural disaster or family emergency and the market drops while you weren't watching, you don't lose out.
Stop loss orders are important, the more so if you trade on margin. I don't claim to be a trading genius, only an analyst who speculates where asset values seem to be under priced by the market (or, in the case of airline stocks, over valued). I don't pretend to make recommendations or give "advice." Chances are pretty good that you aren't infallible, so if you have investments and you don't mitigate your risk by placing stop loss orders against sudden market moves, you may come to regret it.
Free Market Money
Gold was a raging bull this week, touching $475/ounce on early morning trading 22 September 2005. It held the high ground at $473 right up to the New York open. The price fell like a stone to $468, presumably on profit taking. Then the price surged straight back up to $471 before falling minutes later to just over $463. At the close in New York, the price was $466.50, and early Friday morning it shows at $465.
It has been a fantastic week for gold, and the Dow:Au ratio is down to 22.40. Oil is up to $67.30/bbl, and it takes 6.9 barrels to buy an ounce of gold.
Other precious metals are doing great. Rhodium is up to $2450, platinum $918. Palladium is $196.
Silver has run up to $7.33/ounce. The Au/Ag ratio is down to 63.48. Silver is still under priced at this level, and should go higher in the next few weeks.
Copper was priced at $1.782/pound on Thursday. Top? Who knows. Some inventory levels are down, suggesting that metal owners think the current price is a good one for selling, suggesting that they aren't anticipating better prices in the future. But, really, we've guessed on this one. Maybe we're seeing a double top? Or a horsey in that cloud.
Zinc was at $0.6277 per pound on Thursday evening. Taken together, the price of copper and zinc tell us that there's over 18% premium on pre-1982 pennies. Three thousand pennies from that era, face value $30.00 have metal in them worth $35.47.
Nickel metal was $6.1296 also early the 23rd.
U3O8 was still $30.75/pound on 17 September.
Schlumberger was up Thursday to $84.43. Our favorite oil field services company is up $2.21 since we suggested it a few weeks back.
The three stocks we've suggested in this sector are PVH, GBH, and MCG. Prices from Friday 23 September 2005.
No changes here.
The Gold Casino last sale was 105 grams of gold (~$1607) per share. The gram price has changed not at all, but the dollar price is up sweetly.
"It is very Apollo-like, but bigger. Think Apollo on steroids."
On Monday 19 September, NASA announced plans to waste not less than $104 billion to put flags, footprints, and a few habitation modules with supplies on the Moon not sooner than 2018. Keep in mind that NASA is filled with liars, bureau-rats, losers, and scum whose main ambitions seem to be finding jobs in the "private sector" working for the defense contractors they helped by corruptly allocating contracts during their government careers. So, when NASA spokesfools say that their plan costs $104 billion, we are necessarily reminded of the $8 billion budget to build a space station in 1984, proposed by president Reagan.
In point of fact, by best estimates now available, the space station program has already cost in excess of $110 billion. The 1984 plan was for a larger station capable of hosting 12 astronauts. The current station has room for 3 crew on a long term basis with about two weeks for visiting shuttle crews bringing the total to ten, sporadically and very temporarily. Applying the 8:110 ratio to 104:X we find that X equals 1,430. Yes, one trillion, four hundred thirty billion. Hey, those fiat dollars don't go as far as they used to do.
The other important metric to consider is that Reagan asked for a space station within ten years. Within the space community, we knew that Reagan was given three choices for space - a minimal program to launch a few more shuttles and satellites; a middle program to put up a space station; an ambitious program to build a Moon base. Friends and family and I worked very hard writing letters trying to encourage Reagan to choose the visionary course. Happily, he didn't.
The space station now on orbit is not complete, by any stretch of the imagination. But, it was operational around 2002 - in real estate we would call it "beneficial occupancy." So, call it 18 years. One of the reasons NASA spent a lot more on the space station project was their inability to make up their minds on design - by 1994 they were still revising designs. Of course, design contracts are just as easy to corruptly allocate as hardware contracts. The ratio 10:18 gives us a metric to apply to the 12-year Moon program plan. In 21.6 years, or, call it 2028, NASA may be expected to have a much revised, less effective, and nearly useless lunar landing site with one or two astronauts planting flags and footprints and speaking callowly about destiny.
The Apollo program was not a good thing. It substituted a frontier exploration and development program of individual initiative motivated by economics with a socialist boondoggle. By failing utterly to create business opportunities or establish an economically sustainable path to the Moon, NASA's Apollo foolishness set the space migration movement back by decades.
Supporting NASA at this point would be insane. NASA's latest proposed boondoggle comes at the same time they have grounded the remaining shuttle fleet because their external tank contractor's foam insulation keeps falling off in huge chunks. Some NASA bureau-rats and some defense contractor personnel are sitting around a conference table at NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, scratching their heads and other parts of their anatomy, pondering strategies. Can they afford to blow up another crew of seven like they did with Challenger and Columbia or in some innovative new way? Or would it be politically acceptable to go back to the CFC-foam that actually worked for about 80 flights? Much hand wringing and anxiety.
You know what to call someone who is able to keep his head while all nearby are losing theirs? An executioner.
The executioner tends to be the only one in that crowd with a weapon, while his victims tend not only to be disarmed but shackled in some way. NASA is currently tied up with its shuttle woes, unable to fly a vehicle it is supposed to retire in 2010, not yet able to fly the new boondoggle space transport monopoly Crew Exploration Vehicle system until at least 2012. (Mind you, the space shuttle was originally funded in 1972 with the expectation it would fly in 1978. Had it done so, it might have kept Skylab operational. As it is, it flew in 1981. Assuming the same level of incompetence and graft, the CEV funded in 2005 to be ready by 2012 should be expected to fly in the second half of 2015. But, of course, NASA has gotten less competent and more corrupt as time has gone on.) So, now would be the time for space enthusiasts to ask Congress to deal the fatal blow. NASA won't ever be weaker.
NASA delenda est.
SpaceDev closed at $1.54 on Thursday 22 September 2005. It is four cents up from our first suggestion.
Last week we discussed shorting airline stocks. Delta Airlines is down another four cents to $0.82.
"The Ascender is an airship designed to fly at extreme altitudes. It is a telecommunications tool, a rocket launch platform, and the first stage in the Airship to Orbit program."
Imagine a gigantic asterisk, composed of five modules arranged in a star pattern. Each module is a cylinder half a mile long and hundreds of feet in diameter. These modules form the basis for StratoStation, a JP Aerospace design for facilities a mile across that would float at 140,000 feet or about 26.5 miles altitude - nearly half way to suborbital space. Tourists would have a fantastic view and space launch companies would have a high platform for launches. JP Aerospace volunteers have already assembled and launched two prototypes.
Their Ascender has also been prototyped, three times. The first was 20 feet long, the second 93 feet, and the third 175 feet long. These are substantial balloons by airship standards.
JP Aerospace has flown thousands of "PongSats" which are tiny experiments which each fit inside a ping pong ball. These are taken by high altitude balloons to the edge of space, 75,000 to 100,000 feet. Many of these experiments were developed by students who have much more opportunity to fly something on one of JP Aero's high altitude balloons than on NASA's space shuttles - which, after all, continue to be grounded.
JP Aerospace is based in Rancho Cordova, California. They describe their airship to orbit program as "cheap, bulk, safe access to space: it's time to send out the fleet." To accomplish this goal, the company has developed a three element system. Their atmospheric airship starts from the Earth's surface and flies to 140,000 feet. This vehicle is designed for a crew of three to carry cargo or passengers using a combination of aerodynamic lift (wing shape) and buoyant gas. The engine uses a propellor designed to work in near vacuum.
The next element is the suborbital space station, a permanent crewed facility at 140,000 feet altitude, described above. The third element is an airship or "dynamic vehicle that flies directly to orbit," presumably from the suborbital space station. The initial test vehicle is expected to be over a mile long. Never being subject to the strong winds and thick atmosphere of the surface, this airship would use buoyancy to reach 200,000 feet altitude, about 38 miles. Then its electric propulsion system (remember our earlier discussion of Orbital Recovery and Hall effect thrusters) accelerates the airship over several days to orbital velocity.
Perhaps the most impressive thing is that JP Aerospace has run 80 hardware test flights so far. We gather that a further seven years of development should have the full system operational. The company has been funded by several corporate sponsors, and seems to know how to make effective use of small amounts of money.
What if it doesn't work as envisioned? Then, another plan would be developed, either by JP Aerospace or another company. In the free market, plans go awry all the time. People learn from their mistakes and use that experience to build better, stronger, faster, and cheaper. Only government is incapable of learning from its errors and insists on doing stupid things over and over again.
NASA delenda est.
New Country Developments
"The UN's vaunted neutrality props up evil regimes."
The United Nations is the same bad idea applied to nations that we've discussed above in other contexts. It is a sort of centralization of nation forming and credentialing. The UN represents an oligopoly of nations. Among other things, it insists on keeping the colonial borders of the 1884 Berlin Congress which have made Africa such a hell on Earth. The UN record on human rights is itself atrocious.
In 1993 the UN sent Pakistani troops to seize a radio station in Mogadishu that had dared report accurately on UN atrocities in Somalia. So, the Somalis defending the radio station butchered the blue helmets, the UN sent USA military gunships to massacre Somali civilians, and the war was on. A few years later in Kosovo, local papers were closed by UN order enforced by UN "peace keepers." Their crime? Publishing factual information about the UN.
In 1994, the UN proved itself heartless and inept by standing by while nearly a million Rwanda civilians were massacred by French-sponsored militia. French troops went to one massacre site, buried the dead in mass graves, put down sod, set up volleyball nets, and began to play games of volleyball on the burial grounds.
More recently, when a motion was put before the UN commission on human rights to censure North Korea for arbitrarily executing its civilian population, the motion was "soundly defeated thanks to Cuba, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Zimbabwe and others all guilty of similar or worse atrocities," according to the Ayn Rand Institute essay cited above.
The essay also objects to UN funds sent to the Palestinian Authority and the North Korean "belligerent Stalinist dictatorship" which use UN funds to oppress their own people. "What these handouts do is reinforce the walls of prison regimes like North Korea, exacerbate the misery of their citizens, and arm corrupt rulers (Ibid)."
The problem is a lack of judgement. Rather than using some reasonable standard of freedom, decency, and civilization, the UN embraces every jackbooted thug and his pet regime. Since good countries like Estonia are no more acceptable to the UN than bad regimes like Mugabe's Zimbabwe, evil is rewarded. Failing to make any distinction between freedom and slavery, between free enterprise and communism, between due process and arbitrary power is a method of sanctioning and approving the worst forms of tyranny.
Journo ends his essay with "no reforms can salvage the UN; it is morally irredeemable." We'll go with a variation on our theme:
UN delenda est.
"Results 1-10 of about 1,790 for nanotechnology"
In 1982, I had the audacity to propose that I would form a chapter of the L5 Society at Columbia University. Somehow the threat of a second chapter in New York was regarded as a potential difficulty for the New York chapter. After all, there were only 9 million people being under served by the L5 Society chapter at the time. I proposed to uder serve just a few thousand Columbia University students, in cooperation with the Planetary Society.
So, I was called on the carpet and ordered to report to Boston to meet with L5 Society chapters administrator Chris Peterson. While there, I also happened to encounter her significant other, K. Eric Drexler. Five years later, Eric would stun the world with Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology. But, I couldn't help but wonder whether his powerful intellect, apparent from even a brief conversation, would ever turn toward social graces. In subsequent chance encounters at other events, the answer seems to be, "Not yet."
So, it was delightful to be invited to the Foresight Institute's thirteenth annual conference on nanotechnology. The six day shindig in San Francisco is set for 22-27 October at the SF Marriott. Our interest in Aubrey de Grey's Methuselah Foundation seems to have generated this invitation.
Topping this year's speaker list is Peter Diamandis, not our favorite former employer. Peter is an arch enemy of all individuals and a great hater of human freedom because he is against individuals keeping and bearing arms, like all authoritarians everywhere. Seeing his mug on the conference site was an immediate turn off.
Meanwhile, several nanotech start ups are making the news. It is impressive that nearly two thousand hits show up on Google's news search feature. American Pharmaceutical Partners makes the news with FDA approval for a cancer drug in nanoparticle form. The new delivery system eliminates toxic solvents, clearly a plus. Konarka, Nanosolar, and Nanosys are all using nanomaterials to make flexible and inexpensive solar cell materials, potentially able to generate power for $1/watt. Some of these solar cells are capable of being incorporated into building materials and colored or patterned to match or camouflage a building's decor.
FDA delenda est.
CytRx was again $0.90, where we saw it last week. They've been cleared to begin phase two trial for their ALS drug.
Legislatura delenda est.
Accelrys was $6.08 on Friday the 23rd.
Elan Corp, PLC, has dropped to $8.04.
Publication Note: Closing in on the schedule.
Gratuitous example of bizarre legislation: The "Air Defense Identification Zone" for Washington DC, created in February 2003 amidst fear and panic arising from government mismanagement of foreign and domestic policies is now being proposed to become permanent. Pilot association leaders are horrified and outraged. Worse, a further 29 sites around the country may have similarly totalitarian air space restrictions imposed. The FAA which is proposing to make the system permanent is itself under staffed and ill equipped to handle the requirements they presently impose and plan to keep. Idiots.
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