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First Issue 15 May 2004
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Second Issue 30 August 2004
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Third Issue 10 September 2004
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Fourth Issue 19 September 2004
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The Indomitus Report

26 September 2004

Being Sovereign

    "I'll tell you what I think about the way
    This city treats her soundest men today;
    By a coincidence more sad than funny,
    It's very like the way we treat our money.
    The noble silver drachma that of old we were
    So proud of, and the recent gold coins that
    Rang true, clean-stamped and worth their weight
    Throughout the world, have ceased to circulate.
    Instead the purses of Athenian shoppers
    Are full of shoddy silver-plated coppers
    Just so, when men are needed by the nation,
    The best have been withdrawn from circulation."
    - Aristophanes, "The Frogs," 400 BC

It is one of history's oddities that we call this particular property of free market money described by Aristophanes in 400 BC by the name "Gresham's Law" although Sir Thomas Gresham lived about two millennia later. Naturally, we'll want to discuss free market money further along in this report, in the usual place.

Meanwhile, it was a property of men, as well as money, that Aristophanes was highlighting. Where have all the good men gone? Are Americans really faced with a choice between a white, male, Yale graduate, Skull & Bones Society initiate, military veteran of doubtful distinction, from a wealthy family, who has never been elected to the White House by a majority of the people, and another of the same?

Of course, voting is pointless not only in this situation, but also in all other situations. As George Carlin has pointed out, "I don't vote. I don't consent to be governed." In a recent interview, Carlin made the point that "If you vote, you don't get to [gripe]." After all, the deal is well understood: if you vote you are agreeing to accept the outcome of the election, whether or not that outcome is the will of the majority of the people or the majority of the Supreme Court.

"Don't Blame Me. I voted for none of the above!"

There are minor party candidates, including a Constitution Party candidate, a Libertarian Party candidate, and Ralph Nader who has been a Green Party candidate, two of whom are among the best of men. But these men aren't willing to subject themselves to the limitations of the two major parties, and, by running as third party candidates have effectively withdrawn themselves from contention for the race for president, if not from circulation entirely.

Voting has other deficits. It is certainly immoral, in that voting is the delegation of force. Politicians invariably tax someone, draft or coerce others, and impose laws or decrees that function as initiatory force. Voting is certainly a poor way of taking choices, since the majority is rarely well informed and even more rarely correct about any matter.

Of course, voting would be more common if it were at all clear that the votes were being counted. Most of the 100 million or more Americans who are qualified to vote and chose not to vote in the year 2000 did so because they didn't think their vote made a difference. Many of them didn't think their vote would even be counted.

And for good reason. Machine politics control most major cities and many rural counties. It is a widely accepted fact that the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy would not have been possible if the dead had not voted in Chicago and South Texas, overwhelmingly Democratic as it would happen. We've met a man who voted six times in the 1960 election in Chicago, who is proud that he did his part for the party. William F. Buckley once commented on his television show "Firing Line" that he had an uncle who was a sheriff in South Texas who was such a good Democrat that he voted for LBJ for the Senate in 1948 and 1954, in spite of the fact that he had died in 1947.

Vote fraud was a major motivation in the 1993-1995 Atlantis Project. Both Eric Klien and Chuck Geshlider were aware of the vote fraud perpetrated against Tamara Clark who probably won the election for the state legislature from Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas), but was almost certainly cheated of election. Among other irregularities, the culinary union hall brought forth bundles of absentee ballots, each bundle having 100 ballots all marked exactly alike, Klien noted. Boxes of evidence of vote fraud were presented to the state senate committee tasked with overseeing fair elections. The chairman of that committee chose to adjourn the session without considering the evidence because the committee members were very tired.

In the 1998 election in Texas, no less a source than the Texas Republican Party identified some 206 instances of vote fraud and abuse. To our knowledge, not a single one of these instances has been positively resolved. So "don't vote, it only encourages them."

A system which is evidently operated on the basis of vote fraud, which bears no important resemblance to the republic of limited powers described in the constitution, and which routinely embarrasses, brutalizes, steals from, and kills its people cannot be expected to gain the loyalty of the best nor the brightest. Rather, the property Aristophanes identified 2400 years ago is still very much in operation. The best have withdrawn from circulation, or been forced into hiding or retirement, because the worst are not willing to accept limitations on their power.

Of course, since the productive and competent are under no obligation to provide leadership or opportunity to anyone else, there is no great loss here. The decadent and corrupt go on running major countries and will do so until a crisis beyond their meager talents to correct.

In the absence of such a crisis, one or more may be manufactured. These artificial crises will be portrayed as evidence that yet more power must be centralized, yet more control must be exerted, and yet more freedom must be denied. The system will continue to become more and more rigid until it fails. Fortunately, that day is not far off.

As with the fall of the Roman Empire, the fall of the American Empire will be celebrated in many places. Its fall will bring about a flowering of arts, science, technology, and commerce that will dwarf everything that has come before. In five centuries, people will lie about this great period of prosperity and perhaps call it a Dark Age. Those of us fortunate to live through it will know it for something far greater.

Free Market Money

Something excellent has happened. The government no longer decrees the value of gold or silver. While various attempts to intervene in the free market still occur, as discussed in previous issues of this report, the fact is that the market is pricing gold and silver. The attempts to keep the price of silver and the price of gold at fixed exchange rates to the dollar was essentially finished before Nixon closed the gold window in 1971. The fact of market pricing was admitted in that final act of debasement. Since 1976, Americans have once again been free to own gold, eliminating the last vestiges of a failed economic policy.

If the price of gold and silver is not artificially under valued by governmental decree, then gold and silver remain available as money in direct competition to artificially overvalued fiat dollars. This fact, combined with the fact we discussed last week, that you are under no obligation to accept fiat dollars, provides the necessary economic underpinnng for the free market money economic system that is now arising.

Ultimately, attempts to control the price of gold will fail, for the same reasons they have always failed historically. The price of gold cannot be controlled in the free market through market operations of buying and selling. All that can be produced through market operations is a more rapid alignment of prices to actual supply and demand. Indeed, it is the capitulation of the government to the free market which spells the doom of its manipulation efforts.

Gold Mining

We've been following PTM, ITF, and NEM. All three have dropped in price since we first began following them. Given our views of the underlying value for all three companies, these drops in price should represent additional buying opportunities. PTM is down from C$1.11 to C$0.96 at last trade. ITF has recovered a bit from our last report, and is now trading at C$0.32 bid/ask. NEM is down to $42.34 and is moving up in a channel since a May low. All three stocks should be positively affected by an increase in the price of gold.

Free Market Money

We like The Gold Casino. The games are very well developed and include not only standard fare such as video poker and slots, but also multi-player games which take place in real time. This technology is possible thanks to some advanced programming. You can enjoy a low stakes or high stakes game with friends or meet new people. The system allows for chatting while you play, which can add to the enjoyment of a good bluff.

Best of all, the Gold Casino accepts free market money, be it e-gold, GoldMoney, e-Bullion, or Pecunix. Their casino chips are simply grams or centigrams of gold.

Space Frontier

    "In spite of the opinions of certain narrow-minded people who would shut up the human race upon this globe as within some magic circle which it must never outstep, we shall one day travel to the Moon, the planets, and the stars with the same facility, rapidity, and certainty as we now make the voyage from Liverpool to New York."
    - Jules Verne, From Earth to the Moon, 1865

In our issue of 30 August 2004, we reported that SpaceDev (now SPDV:OB) had been selling at $1.50 per share. The last sale as of this issue (26 September 2004) was $2.20 per share. An alert reader who invested in 1,000 shares of SpaceDev when it was trading at $1.50 per share would have made $700 on his shares thus far, in about 27 days time. Annualized, that return on investment would be 631%, though, of course, we should not rely upon SpaceDev to provide the same return over every 27 day period. (As well, the SpaceDev profits must be viewed in the context of gold mining stock losses aforementioned.)

At the time we liked to buy SPDV at prices under $2. We still like it for purchase at those prices, though it may prove to be worth holding even at higher prices.

The company continues to perform well. Its propulsion system for the Scaled Composites X-Prize attempt performed very well earlier this year during the first entirely private manned spaceflight, and should do well in the X-Prize flights later this month and at the beginning of October.

We are mildly negative on the recently announced Dream Chaser joint development agreement with NASA, as we see NASA as a drag on an otherwise profitable space venture company. However, these memoranda of understanding tend to be thoroughly non-binding, especially on any action by NASA.

Launch Technology

"We're still a go for launch."
Brian Feeny, da Vinci Project leader, 26 September 2004

Just not for a launch on schedule. Taking a page from NASA, the GoldenPalace.com da Vinci Project has postponed their launch which had been planned for Saturday 2 October for up to several weeks. this effectively puts the X-Prize in the hands of Burt Rutan's team, "American Mojave Aerospace" to win or lose.

Rutan's team, led by Scaled Composites and including funding from Paul Allen and propulsion from SpaceDev is already the clear leader, having successfully reached space with their system back in June. The team is scheduled to launch on Wednesday 29 September and again on Monday 4 October. The public is invited to both launches and will be broadcast live via Internet.

New Country Developments

"The presence of an active and rapidly growing high-tech internet industry in Sealand has changed the character of the Principality; once more, Sealand rings with the sound of voices, boasts regular support ferry services, and is host to a growing and dynamic population."
Sealand
Web Site, c. 1999

On 2 September 1967, some centuries after a similar ploy by a guy named Grimaldi in a place called Monaco, former English major Paddy Roy Bates occupied a WW2 anti-aircraft station called "Rough's Tower" and proclaimed the island his own country. Originally seeking the location for the purpose of free market ("pirate") radio broadcasts, Sealand became a home for Prince Roy and his family.

In late 1968, the ownership of the Sealand platform was in contention, and warning shots were fired on approaching British naval vessels. On 25 November 1968, an English court reviewing the case found itself not competent for want of jurisdiction. The Sealand platform was outside the formal 3 mile limit of British territorial waters and was therefore not a part of the United Kingdom.

Since then, a number of adventures have followed. The country formed a constitution in 1975. In August of 1978, the platform was invaded and conquered, briefly, by Dutch employees of a German businessman. Prince Roy subsequently recaptured the platform.

In 1987, following the ratification of the Law of the Sea, Britain extended its territorial waters from three to 12 miles. Prince Roy had already made a similar declaration.

In 1999, the succession was provided for with the appointment of Crown Prince Michael as Prince Regent and sovereign pro tempore. Prince Michael seems determined to carry on the fine tradition of independence which Sealand represents.

More recently, Sealand has joined forces with HavenCo, Limited to offer dedicated co-location facilities. Sealand is now host to several dozen high speed computers with fairly stable Internet connectivity. As a data haven and private jurisdiction, Sealand provides an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs dedicated to the ultimate in jurisdictional arbitrage.

Longevity

"The three leading causes of death in 1900 were pneumonia, tuberculosis, and diarrhea....The three leading killers today are heart disease, cancer, and stroke."
William Faloon, LEF.org, September 2004

This week, we want to discuss something very bizarre and perhaps frightening. We want to discuss the possibility that there is something better to do than "lay there with dirt in your face, holding your breath forever" as Burt Reynolds once described death.

Consider these facts from the National Vital Statistics Report of 21 March 2002. In 1800 the average life expectancy was 37.0 years. A standard test for clinical death was whether the patient had stopped breathing. In 1900, the average life expectancy was 47.3 years. A standard test for clinical death was whether the patient's heart had stopped beating. A number of methods existed for artificially restoring respiration.

In 2000, the average life expectancy was 76.9 years. That figure is dramatically reduced by infant mortality. For those age 5 or greater, life expectancy is about 85 years. Today, neither the cessation of breathing nor a stopped heart are regarded as determinants for clinical death, since both conditions can be reversed. Instead, various tests of brain function seem to be regarded as indicating clinical death.

If you could travel just 100 years into the future, what wonders would await? Since life expectancy increased by 2.87 times as much between 1900 and 2000 as it did from 1800 to 1900, perhaps another tripling will occur, bringing life expectancy to 161 years. Perhaps clinical death would no longer be regarded as some form of cessation of brain function owing to new capabilities to restore brain function.

Fortunately for all of us, the technology to travel into the future may be much closer than is widely reported. Research into suspended animation continues. Meanwhile, there is cryonics.

You've had an accident. An ambulance rushes to the scene. Your body is carefully handled to prevent further injury and you are rushed to a hospital. What's going on? You are being transferred from a location where it is very likely that you would die owing to lack of adequate medical technology to a place where there is plenty of medical equipment and trained personnel to diagnose and treat you.

Suspended animation and cryonics technologies function much like an ambulance, but instead of transferring you through space from one place to another, they seek to transfer you through time. Presently, medical technology doesn't exist that can restore brain function in the event of clinical death, cure various forms of cancer, or reverse human aging with good reliability. If you assume that such deficits will always be the case, you are ignoring the course of recent history.

This very idea was first put forward by Robert Ettinger in his book The Prospect of Immortality now available online. Ettinger proposed in 1962 that tissue preserved at the temperature of liquid nitrogen would be effectively in stasis for centuries. His Cryonics Institute began to offer full body cryonic preservation in 1976, although the first instance of a person being deliberately frozen at liquid nitrogen temperatures occurred in 1967.

Since then, several companies have come forward to offer the same service. One of the leaders in this regard is the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, founded 1972 with 60 patients currently in cryopreservation and several hundred signed up for the service. In addition to full body preservation, Alcor offers to chop your head off with a chainsaw and freeze the brain and upper spinal column, on the theory that any technology advanced enough to revive tissue from liquid nitrogen freezing will allow you to regrow a new body. Or as Alcor enthusiast Keith Henson put it at a North American Science Fiction Convention green room party nearly 20 years ago, "If the house is on fire, you grab the hard drive and CPU and let the monitor and printers go up in flames."

One of the more interesting evaluations of the cryonics concept appears on the web site of Ralph Merkle. Merkle is well-known as the co-inventor of public key cryptography, and is a distinguished professor of computing at Georgia Tech. He points out that the correct scientific answer to the question, "Does cryonics work," is: "The clinical trials are in progress. Come back in a century and we'll give you a reliable answer."

Merkle also gives an excellent case analysis. If cryonics works and you sign up, you live. If you do nothing, you die. If cryonics doesn't work and you sign up, you die, and you lose some life insurance money that was used to fund your cryonic suspension. And if you do nothing, you still die.


Publication note: We're quite close to on time with this issue, so we'll see about keeping to the current schedule. Meanwhile, careful readers will have found separate links from "Green" and "Party" above. We had difficulty choosing which site was the official party site, then decided we don't really care.
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Indomitus Industries heraldic achievement