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What people will pay for …

Sep. 29, 2017, under disturbing, opinions

One of the SPAM messages I looked at today claimed to be from Fairfax Finance Limited, offering business loans and startup capital.  I was suspicious if for no other reason than because the “fairfax.finance.limited@europe.com” email address looked bogus.  (It turns out europe.com is a parked domain, so how would legitimate mail go through it?)

In my research to see if Fairfax Finance Limited is a real company (which it apparently is, but not related to the email), one of the links Google provided led to a page on ZoomInfo.com that appeared to have some information in an expanded view.  I enabled Javascript for the page, and clicked the “more…” link to see what they had – and got a pop-up window that was trying to get me to install an executable program!  Of course, I shut the window and did NOT install the program, but instead started doing some research on ZoomInfo.com itself, especially after reading the terms and conditions in the popup window that included “… in exchange for downloading and installing the ZoomInfo Contact Contributor utility which, among other features, involves sharing my business contacts as well as headers and signature blocks from emails that I receive.” (emphasis mine)

There’s a Wikipedia page about the company, saying it’s a subscription-based SaaS site that “sells access to its database of information about business people and companies to sales, marketing and recruiting professionals.”  The Wikipedia page also says “Part of the company’s business model involves copying contents of web pages and storing them on its servers, and according to patent attorney Gene Quinn who runs the IPwatchdog intellectual property blog, this activity violates copyright law.”

So, from what I can see, this company builds its database by scraping public info off the Web, and by reading emails its users receive to collect contact information through software the user is expected to install and run on their system – for the sole benefit of ZoomInfo.com!  Then, ZoomInfo turns around and sells that information back to those same users, and to anybody else they can get to buy it – and people pay for this??!??!??  Apparently so, since the company has been in business since 2000 and has 100-200 employees.

… and we wonder why we have so much SPAM …


We are going to run out of oil. Before that happens, we MUST have a replacement source of energy and feed stock for our civilization that has become so dependent on plastic. The time to act is NOW!! Please visit SpacePowerNow.org to help build a solution.

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NASA’s plans, Sept. 11, 1969, and what they mean today

Sep. 11, 2014, under call to action, history, opinions, space t/e/d

In today’s Space History Newsletter, you will find this information:

Program information, NASA manned space flight after 1969

Two major directions were identified for NASA’s manned space flight in the next decade on 11 September 1969. These were further exploration of the Moon, with possibly the establishment of a permanent Lunar surface base, and the continued development of manned flight in Earth orbit, leading to a permanent manned space station supported by a low-cost shuttle system. To maintain direction, the following key milestones were proposed:

  • 1972 AAP operations using a Saturn V launched Workshop
  • 1973 Start of post-Apollo lunar exploration
  • 1974 Start of suborbital flight tests of Earth to orbit shuttle
  •   Launch of a second Saturn V Workshop
  • 1975 Initial space station operations
  •   Orbital shuttle flights
  • 1976 Lunar orbit station
  •   Full shuttle operations
  • 1977 Nuclear stage flight test
  • 1978 Nuclear shuttle operations-orbit to orbit
  • 1979 Space station in synchronous orbit

By 1990

  •   Earth orbit space base
  •   Lunar surface base
  •   Possible Mars landing

(The acronym “AAP” stands for the “Apollo Applications Program” established by NASA headquarters in 1968 to develop science-based manned space missions using surplus material from the Apollo program.)

Harvest Moon, 98% Illuminated, September 7, 2014, by Fred Koschara

Obviously, things didn’t work that way – in effect none of those objectives were achieved:

  • the Saturn V Workshop was downgraded to Skylab, with only one workshop launched, and which was later abandoned (see 11 July 1979 Skylab fell – and the American public was robbed)
  • Lunar exploration stopped after Apollo 17, never mind putting up a Lunar orbit station or surface base, foisting on Gene Cernan the dubious title of being the Last Man on the Moon
  • the “low-cost shuttle” turned into the “Space Transportation System” which proved to be one of the most expensive launch options whose first flight didn’t occur until 1982 and never achieved the number of flights per year that was predicted when the project was proposed, and now discontinued, leaving America without a way to send humans to orbit on our own
  • the space station in synchronous orbit never happened, and the Earth orbit space base that was supposed to be in place by 1990 devolved into the International Space Station now with a “permanent” crew of 3-6 occupants
  • NASA’s initial space station operations didn’t begin until the first ISS resident crew consisting of one American (commander) and two Russians arrived in November 2000 in the Russian Soyuz TM-31 capsule
  • the nuclear stage and nuclear shuttle for orbit to orbit operations have been completely abandoned
  • the first human Mars landing hadn’t occurred by 1990, current predictions are that the earliest it will happen is in the 2030’s

So, what went wrong? Essentially, it boils down to politics – President Richard Nixon decided that the American public wasn’t interested in space travel, and cut NASA’s budget drastically, putting the money into the military and social welfare programs. Rather than continuing the peaceful development of space exploration and travel which was driving innovation and economic growth at an amazing pace, America was turned to a weapons manufacturer where “need” is given higher precedence than ability or reason. Among other things, that led to the September 11, 2001 attacks which destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and the subsequent “war on terror” that has stripped American citizens of so many of their fundamental rights, and to an economy on the brink of collapse due to uncontrolled expansion of the “entitlement” mentality.

Can this be fixed?

I believe it can – but not if space travel and the economy are left in the hands of the government.

Historically, two things have led to growth of the American economy – expansion into new frontiers, and innovation – creation of new industries, and new methods for existing ones. Since there are no longer any frontiers available on the Earth, there’s only one option left: Innovation is what has to drive economic growth. While there have been bursts of development such as introduction of personal computers and the whole set of industries that grew out of that innovation, and there are many fields where incremental innovation can be seen today, the whole-economy blast of innovation painted in broad strokes that led to six pairs of astronauts landing on the Moon hasn’t been seen since the government-funded space program was castrated in the early 1970’s. Developing a strong space exploration and development program, one that can and will achieve the kind of plans laid out in NASA’s 1969 outline, will require a lot of innovation, in nearly every field of endeavor. That is how to solve the economic woes the country now finds itself mired under.

Does that mean the only way we can get back on track is through another expansion of the government-run space program, by pouring more dollars into NASA? No! For example, America’s transcontinental railroad system wasn’t built as a government project – it was built by investors who recognized a tremendous market opportunity and put their money into it. The “advantage” of using tax dollars to put money into space programs is everybody participates – whether they want to or not. Wouldn’t you rather make your own choices about how your money is being invested, and where future growth will come from? I know I would – which is why I think the government needs to get out of the space “business” and let private enterprise take over.

In order for a healthy space exploration and development business to come to reality, funding has to come from everywhere – from kids bagging groceries, from multinational corporations, and everywhere in between. People and institutions that want to invest into the project need to have a mechanism for doing so, with an understandable and believable way to get a return on their investment. The L5 National Bank bonds briefly outlined on the Space Power Now Development Plan page are a system I am trying to build to make that possible: The objective is to provide investors, large and small, with a good way to invest in the future, to build a space program that will open new frontiers, solve the world’s energy problems, and boost the American economy back into high gear. Building the space business will make the military-industrial complex obsolete, creating jobs that will reduce dependency on social welfare programs, the only realistic solution to their cancerous growth.

It’s going to take political action to stop the “war on terror” and its cohorts – unconstitutional domestic surveillance, militarization of police departments, etc., and people will find it a lot easier to focus on those issues if they don’t have a failing economy about to bury them.

Space – the next frontier – the cure for what ails you!


We are going to run out of oil. Before that happens, we MUST have a replacement source of energy, and feed stock for our civilization that has become so dependent on plastic. The time to act is NOW!! Please visit SpacePowerNow.org to help build a solution.

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SPAM tools in the wrong hands

Sep. 01, 2014, under opinions

At best, SPAM tools in the wrong hands are a nuisance. An example is the user failing to configure their program properly, resulting in noise emails with Subject lines containing strings such as [?var that are easily filtered out.

August 28th was a day where some truly incompetent SPAM wannabe launched their campaign without even bothering to include a “payload” (e.g., a link to a Web site they want you to visit). On that date, I received nearly 400 SPAM messages with unpatterned From addresses and plausible Subject lines, each containing two lines of random text selections, mostly at least semi-complete sentences – and nothing else. It made finding real messages nearly impossible, and setting up an automated filter to block the noise unfeasible.

There were a couple things I noticed in the noise that made me decide I wanted to save the lot for inspection and contemplation, tidbits of at least marginally useful or interesting information, such as “PLANC is a language in the PASCAL family” (a fact I’m sure I knew at one point but had forgotten) and “Therefore, it takes an average worker over one year to make as much money as his boss makes in one day” (I’m curious to know where that conclusion came from.) I copied the messages to a file whose contents you can find here if you’re interested.

By the time I’d gone through the lot, marked them as SPAM, then went through Thunderbird’s Trash folder to delete them again to make sure I hadn’t thrown a baby out with the bath water, I’d lost a couple of hours more than I usually do to the SPAM problem for the day.

All of which begs the question “what are the right hands for SPAM tools to be in?” I had some thoughts on the matter in my previous SPAMmers are *so* stupid – or are they? post…


We are going to run out of oil. Before that happens, we MUST have a replacement source of energy and feed stock for our civilization that has become so dependent on plastic. The time to act is NOW!! Please visit SpacePowerNow.org to help build a solution.

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The face on Mars – and other questions

Aug. 07, 2014, under history, opinions, philosophy, puzzling, space t/e/d

As it circled Mars on the 25th of July 1976, NASA’s Viking 1 orbiter photographed the Cydonia region of Mars. One of the frames included an image of a 2 km (1.2 miles) long mesa, situated at 40.75 degrees north latitude and 9.46 degrees west longitude, with the appearance of a humanoid face.

The 'Face on Mars' photo captured by NASA's Viking 1 orbiter on 25 July 1976
The “Face on Mars” photo captured by NASA’s Viking 1 orbiter on 25 July 1976

When the image was originally acquired, Viking chief scientist Gerry Soffen dismissed the “Face on Mars” in image 035A72 as a “trick of light and shadow.” In a press release issued on 31 July 1976, NASA provided a caption for the picture stating “The picture shows eroded mesa-like landforms. The huge rock formation in the center, which resembles a human head, is formed by shadows giving the illusion of eyes, nose and mouth. …”

Since it was originally first imaged, the “face” has been nearly universally accepted as an optical illusion. On 8 April 2001 the Mars Global Surveyor turned so it was looking at the “face” 165 km to the side from a distance of about 450 km. The resulting image has a resolution of about 2 meters (6.6 feet) per pixel in its full-resolution (2400 x 2400 pixels) version. As noted on the Malin Space Science Systems page, “If present on Mars, objects the size of typical passenger jet airplanes would be distinguishable in an image of this scale.”

MGS view of the 'Face on Mars' mesa, MOC image E03-00824, 8 April 2001
MGS view of the “Face on Mars” mesa, MOC image E03-00824, 8 April 2001
Click the image to see the full-resolution frame (2400 x 2400 pixels)

The region was also studied by ESA’s Mars Express orbiter. Combining the MGS and Mars Express data, a three dimensional model of the “Face” was constructed.

3D computer-generated model of the 'Face on Mars' mesa
3D computer-generated model of the “Face on Mars” mesa

After examining the higher resolution Mars Express and Mars Global Surveyor data NASA stated that “a detailed analysis of multiple images of this feature reveals a natural looking Martian hill whose illusory face-like appearance depends on the viewing angle and angle of illumination.” That certainly seems a plausible conclusion, especially in a universe where humans are the only intelligent species in a solar system which has never been visited by extraterrestrials, and civilization spontaneously appeared in Mesopotamia around 4,000 B.C.

In the high Andes mountains in South America, the Nazca plateau is covered with drawings that are best seen from the air. Popular belief is that they can only be seen from the air, but “more reasoned” analysis asserts they can be seen from the surrounding hills.

Monkey image, part of the Nazca plateau lines, Peru
Monkey image, part of the Nazca plateau lines, Peru

The designs are shallow lines made by removing reddish pebbles from the surface to uncover the whitish/grayish ground beneath. Hundreds are simple lines or geometric shapes; more than seventy are zoomorphic designs of animals, or human figures. Other designs include phytomorphic shapes such as trees and flowers. The largest figures are over 200 metres (660 ft) across. Who made them, and why? Theories abound, but every one of them is just that – a theory. No one really knows.

How were Egypt’s pyramids built? I don’t know, I wasn’t there at the time. Opinions differ, but I have a hard time swallowing some of the “scientifically acceptable” ones. Those stones are just too big and there are too many of them for the technology level that was supposed to have built the pyramids. There are also assertions that the Sphynx was thousands of years old when the pyramids were built. If that is true, who made the Sphynx? While we’re on it, where did the technology come from that was used to build Machu Picchu, nearly 8000 feet above sea level? A lot of those stones are so big we’d have a hard time moving them today, let alone placing them well enough that you can’t fit a piece of paper between them – yet there they are, built up for us to look at. How did that happen? Again, I wasn’t there at the time, so I can’t express anything more than an opinion on the matter – and my opinion is that we don’t have all of the answers.

If humanity and its civilization were to disappear (e.g., through nuclear war at the end of the oil supply, a disaster I’m trying to avert through Space Power Now), the pyramids would most likely still be there on the Cairo plain, even though effectively all of the other signs of our existence would be gone. The pyramids would probably be eroded, but their form would be easily distinguishable from space if the lighting and viewing angle were right, even in a low resolution image. If, for some reason, Earth’s atmosphere leaked away in the mean time, as has apparently happened to Mars, the recognizable life expectency of the pyramids would grow rapidly.

When a bullet hits a ball, different outcomes will occur, depending on the speed and size of the bullet, and the composition of the ball. A high speed bullet hitting a solid, brittle ball will cause the ball to shatter, for example. A slower projectile, such as a BB, will make a crater and embed itself in a softer ball. Somewhere between those extremes there’s a class of collisions with bizarre results: If a bullet going just the right speed, fast enough to tear through but slow enough to not completely explode it, hits a ball with a relatively soft center and a tough skin (think of an orange), a “mountain” will form at the entry point, and the skin on the opposite site will be torn off. The center of mass will change, conceivably to the point where the now-rough side that lost its skin is farther from the center of mass – at a “higher elevation” even though it just had its face blown off. The surface of Mars is remarkably close to this description: Olympus Mons, the tallest known mountain in the solar system, is in the smooth northern hemisphere, nearly diametrically opposite the giant Hellas crater situated in the southern highlands that have some of the roughest terrain on any planet in orbit around the Sun. I haven’t done an extensive analysis, but I have to wonder – was Mars hit by a cosmic bullet some time in the past that almost destroyed it?

Let’s consider for a moment a situation where our astronomers found a comet whose orbit was going to intersect the Earth’s in, say, ten years, and that the nucleus of the comet was big enough so there’d be no way to divert it: The Earth was going to die in ten years, and there’s nothing we could do about it. What would we do, in that case? I, for one, would be pushing real hard to build spaceships to carry at least some people to another planet. When they got to their destination, it could be thousands of years before the refugees would be able to start exploring out into the universe again: Chances are that something critical would be missing at their new home, and although humanity would survive, civilization would collapse. Recognizing that, what would be the best thing for the rest of us to do, so that once the survivors did get back on their feet, they could find their way home to see if anything was left of the world they came from? Put up a sign they could recognize from a long ways away, something to say “Hey you – come look here!” A face looking out into space would do the trick, I think. If there was uncertainty about which direction the comet was going to hit from, I’d even go as far as building four faces at the apexes of a regular tetrahedron, 120 degrees from each other in any direction, to improve the chances at least one would survive the impact.

It would probably be tens or hundreds of thousands of years, millions even, before the expatriats might come back, looking for something they couldn’t define. Over that time, anything smaller than the great pyramid of Cheops would probably erode away – it would take carving a mountain into the shape of a face to have any real hope of keeping the sign up long enough for it to be found. Before actually landing on the planet, our distant relatives, while initially startled by finding the Face, would probably get a closer look then dismiss it as “a natural looking … hill whose illusory face-like appearance depends on the viewing angle and angle of illumination.”

Wait a minute. What was that the NASA analysis decided?

Maybe it’s time we went and took a closer look – time for humans to go and look, not just our robots.

An interesting coincidence is that in 1958, almost two decades prior to the first images of the Face from the Viking probes, comic book artist Jack Kirby wrote a story entitled “The Face on Mars” for Harvey Comics (Race for the Moon Number 2, September 1958), in which a large face served as a monument to an extinct humanoid race from Mars. While Mr. Kirby’s face was standing vertically, and much smaller than the one found by Viking 1, his tale is eerily prescient of the discovery – something to make you go “hmm…”


We are going to run out of oil. Before that happens, we MUST have a replacement source of energy and feed stock for our civilization that has become so dependent on plastic. The time to act is NOW!! Please visit SpacePowerNow.org to help build a solution.

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Nuclear vs. solar power for deep space probes

Aug. 05, 2014, under history, opinions, space t/e/d

While checking to see if Space Power Now has started appearing in search engines, I came across an article in which the author implied that nuclear power supplies for satellites are inherently evil and dangerous. I have to disagree.

The ESA’s Rosetta comet explorer is scheduled to arrive at its target (comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko) Wednesday, 6 August, 10:45-11:45 CEST – about 27-28 hours from now as I’m writing this. (See the rosetta blog for current information.) Among other things, Rosetta has two solar panels, with a combined area of 64 m², each 14 m in length. The total span from tip to tip is 32 m. The solar panels power a suite of 11 science instrument packages, guidance computers, and the radio system for transmitting data back to Earth. They were only generating about 395 W when Rosetta was 5.25 AU (Astronomical Unit, roughly the distance from Earth to the Sun) from the Sun. Power output is now up to 850 W at 3.4 AU as the probe is encountering the comet and comet operations begin. According to the ESA, “The solar cells in Rosetta’s solar panels are based on a completely new technology, so-called Low-intensity Low Temperature Cells. Thanks to them, Rosetta is the first space mission to journey beyond the main asteroid belt relying solely on solar cells for power generation. Previous deep-space missions used nuclear RTGs, radioisotope thermal generators. The new solar cells allow Rosetta to operate over 800 million kilometres from the Sun, where levels of sunlight are only 4% those on Earth.”

Rosetta is a fine example of using advanced technology solar cells to operate at a greater distance from the Sun than was previously possible. However, somewhere beyond the orbit of Jupiter, collecting enough solar energy to run a reasonable set of instruments and a radio transmitter will become “difficult” in addition to using an inordinate percentage of the weight of a probe.

Nuclear power has been invented, the only way it could be “disinvented” would be to destroy civilization and any memory of it being used. Personally, I’d rather keep the nuclear power, and use it like a hammer, screwdriver, or other tool for productive purposes: I enjoy civilized life, which is why I’m as anxious as I am to make Space Power Now work.

Since Henri Becquerel discovered uranium salts emitted rays that resembled X-rays in their penetrating power in 1896, our understanding – and fear – of radioactive materials and radiation has grown. Radioactive materials, and equipment that utilize the radiation they produce, are potentially very dangerous if they are not properly handled. With due caution, they can be utilized to achieve objectives that would otherwise be impossible – like sending probes to the outer planets with enough instrumentation and radio power to return useful scientific data.

Tools are not evil, and should not be condemned as such: It is only when they are wielded by evil-minded people that tools cause evil results.

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11 July 1979 Skylab fell – and the American public was robbed

Jul. 11, 2014, under call to action, opinions, space t/e/d

NASA’s Skylab, launched 14 May 1973, was an orbiting space station manned by crews arriving via separate launches. The orbital workshop (OWS) section was a refitted S-IVB second stage of a Saturn IB booster, a leftover from the Apollo program originally intended for one of the canceled Earth orbital missions, modified for long duration manned habitation in orbit. It contained provisions and crew quarters necessary to support three-person crews for periods of up to 84 days each.

Severe damage was sustained during launch, and the station underwent extensive repair during a spacewalk by the first crew; repairs by crews throughout the manned stays led to virtually all mission objectives being met.

The first Skylab crew was aboard from 25 May to 22 June 1973, the crew of the SL-2 mission (73-032A). Next, it was manned during the period 28 July to 25 September 1973, by the crew of the SL-3 mission (73-050A). The final manned period was from 16 November 1973 to 8 February 1974, when it was inhabited by the SL-4 mission (73-090A) crew.

Skylab orbited Earth 2,476 times during the 171 days and 13 hours of its occupation during the three manned missions; astronauts performed ten spacewalks totalling 42 hours 16 minutes. Skylab logged approximately 2,000 hours of scientific and medical experiments, including eight solar experiments (e.g., the Sun’s coronal holes were discovered); many medical experiments related to astronauts’ adaptation to extended periods of microgravity. Each successive Skylab mission set a duration record for the time the astronauts spent in space.

Following the final manned Skylab mission, ground controllers performed some engineering tests that ground personnel were reluctant to do while astronauts were aboard. Upon completion of those tests, Skylab was positioned into a stable attitude and systems were shut down. It was expected Skylab would remain in orbit an additional eight to ten years. It was to have been visited by an early shuttle mission, reboosted to a higher orbit, and used by space shuttle crews, but delays of the first shuttle flight made this impossible. At the same time, increased solar activity heating the outer layers of the Earth’s atmosphere caused more drag on the station, which led to an early reentry on 11 July 1979. Skylab disintegrated over the Indian Ocean and Western Australia after a worldwide scare over its pending crash, casting large pieces of debris in populated areas.

Of the premature reentry it has been said “Fortunately, the only casualty was a single Australian cow.” However, that quip doesn’t really express the real damage that was incurred by the loss of Skylab: How much further ahead would we have been when the shuttle started flying if there was still a space station in place to go visit?

The total budget for Skylab was approximately $2,147,100,000 in 1970’s dollars (NASA’s figures). The cost in today’s dollars would have been much higher. Skylab fell out of orbit because “an early shuttle mission” failed to get there to reboost it into a higher orbit. How much would it have cost to build an automated expendable launcher and send it to Skylab to take it into a higher orbit when it became obvious that the shuttle wouldn’t get there in time? 300 million dollars? Half a billion, maybe? Certainly a lot less than the US$ 2.15 billion loss NASA imposed on the American public by failing to protect the assets it had been entrusted with.

Skylab was not the first space station – the Soviet Union launched the first one, Salyut 1, in 1971 – but Skylab was one of the first, and the largest at the time. It hosted three crews before it was abandoned in 1974. Russia continued to focus on long-duration space missions and in 1986 launched the first modules of the Mir space station – which grew to be ultimately only 25% larger than Skylab. Meanwhile, NASA poured nearly all of its human space flight budget into the shuttle program.

In his State of the Union address on 25 January 1984, President Ronald Reagan directed NASA to build a space station within the next ten years. The Freedom design was predicted to have a total development cost (including construction in orbit) of US$ 1.5-2 billion dollars in early projections. Partly due to changing political winds, costs escalated, target dates were pushed back, and in 1993, the Clinton administration announced the transformation of Space Station Freedom into the International Space Station (ISS), bringing in Russia as a partner. In 1998, the first two modules were launched and joined together in orbit. Today, the ISS is approximately the size of a football field, a 460-ton platform orbiting fifteen and a half times a day between 205 and 270 miles above Earth. It is about four times as large as Mir and five times as large as Skylab. The ISS is “funded until 2024,” and may operate until 2028. By then the investment will have grown well into the US$ 150-200 billion range – and plans are to “deorbit” the station when funding runs out.

NASA has already set a precedent by letting a US$ 2.15 billion investment fall out of the sky when Skylab came crashing down. The Russians did much the same thing when they took the Mir space station out of orbit, throwing away an estimated US$ 4 billion in 2001 dollars when the project ended. It wouldn’t be any different, philosophically, for NASA and its partners to toss another $175 billion (+/- $25 billion) down the toilet by burning the ISS up in the atmosphere, so why not?

The reason “why not” is because doing so would be robbing taxpayers – now, all over the world – of their investment – AGAIN! It costs a LOT of money to put things into orbit. It’s far cheaper to keep things in orbit that are already there than to send up replacements. If the international partners and NASA want to abandon the ISS when “funding runs out” they should sell it in place for salvage – so that an industrious private enterprise can boost it into a higher, stable orbit for storage until they can get to it economically to recover the investment – even if that “recovery” is nothing more than tearing the thing down to use it for raw materials.

Governments, in general, and space agencies, in particular, need to stop acting like they’ve been given a blank check, and trying to spend every last penny of it.


We are going to run out of oil. Before that happens, we MUST have a replacement source of energy and feed stock for our civilization that has become so dependent on plastic. The time to act is NOW!! Please visit SpacePowerNow.org to help build a solution.

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More people need to listen to (and hear) _Public Transit_

Jul. 10, 2014, under music, opinions

Lucretia’s Daggers has a new video called Public Transit that you can find on YouTube. More people need to listen to it, and actually hear what Lucretia is saying!

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Let’s save America!

Jun. 30, 2014, under call to action, opinions, philosophy

When I was in grade school, I pledged allegiance to a nation with “liberty and justice for all.” I also learned to speak, read and write English well, since that is the language the citizens of the “melting pot” of America are supposed to communicate with.

In the time since, it seems both of those principles have been cast aside. I want to fix that, and I need your help to make it happen.


Over the past hundred years or so, our liberty has been chipped away, with the very concept of justice often falling victim in the process. As justification for taking our liberty, governments have promised us “safety” in return, with plausible seeming arguments and statistics to mask the true effects of their actions. However, as Ben Franklin is often quoted as saying, “those who would give up liberty to purchase a little (temporary) safety deserve neither, and will soon find they have lost both.” Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) also observed “there are three forms of lies – lies, damned lies, and statistics” – and it is frequently those most heinous forms of lies – statistics – that are used to “encourage” us to surrender our rights.

One of the cornerstones of the process that has eroded our liberty came in the form of the introduction of driver licensing: The argument was made that by requiring all motorists to obtain a driver license before being allowed to use the roads, the government could insure only safe drivers would be operating a vehicle on a public way. History has proven otherwise: There are far more accidents with a horrifically greater cost caused by licensed drivers all the time than those due to unlicensed ones.

Consider what happens when you buy a “driver license” from the government: In signing the application, you are agreeing to obey any and all laws in effect, whether you know about them or not – AND any and all that may be enacted in the future. Isn’t that rather absurd? It would be like telling a credit card company that they could add whatever they wanted to your bill, and you’d have to pay for it, even if it never showed up on your itemized statement. Would you put up with that from a commercial vendor? Why do you put up with it when the government does it?

The government has conditioned us into thinking we have to get a license – to get permission to travel in public in the peaceful conduct of our own affairs, even when we aren’t intruding on anyone else’s rights: We have been led to believe that a license is required to exercise THE RIGHT TO TRAVEL IN PUBLIC. That right, however, is such a fundamental part of freedom that it cannot be removed in a nation of free citizens. In effect, we have been told we need a license to be free. Are you happy with that?

Once we accepted the idea that a license is needed to travel in public, and we have to obey any rules attached to that license whether we know about them or not, it became a LOT easier to knock other large holes in our liberty: We are no longer the beneficiary of our own labors, the government can steal part of our wages – oh, sorry, that’s tax, not steal – and we have to pay because a law has been put forth telling us about it. We cannot raise our children as we see fit, because if we do something out of line with the government’s rules they will take our children away. It doesn’t matter if we disagree or not, if we don’t play the game their way, our children will be gone – and possibly our “driver license” as well, if they can figure a way to make that happen, too.

I wish I could say I’m making this up – but I’m not: I see it going on around me every day, and hear horror stories from all over the country with the same sort of tales. The situation is only going to get worse unless we start to fight back, to demand that the government return our rights to us.

Since this erosion of our liberty has a fundamental basis attached to driver licensing, that’s where one of the defensive attacks has to come from. I have set up StopHighwayRobbery.com as a focus point to build a community around. I want it to grow into a grass-roots efforts to RESTORE THE RIGHT TO TRAVEL IN PUBLIC IN THE PEACEFUL CONDUCT OF YOUR OWN AFFAIRS WITHOUT QUESTION. I can’t do it alone, though, so I’m asking for your help – contribute time and support if you can, and PLEASE tell people about it!

Here’s a quote from Sam Adams:

In a state of tranquillity, wealth, and luxury, our descendants would forget the arts of war and the noble activity and zeal which made their ancestors invincible. Every art of corruption would be employed to loosen the bond of union which renders our resistance formidable. When the spirit of liberty, which now animates our hearts and gives success to our arms, is extinct, our numbers will accelerate our ruin and render us easier victims to tyranny. If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom – go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!


For over two hundred years after it was founded, English was recognized as the language with which everyone in the United States of America was expected to be able to communicate. While visitors were given a degree of latitude when they could find someone to speak their foreign tongue, anyone planning to stay was expected to learn our language. This helped to insure a common basis was available for conveying information, wording contracts, and a host of other communication applications.

Some time in the 1970’s or ’80’s it suddenly became not “politically correct” to require everyone to speak English – and America’s Tower of Babel started to be built. Icons replaced text labels on control knobs, government agencies became expected to provide translators for immigrants demanding services, and voice prompts began telling us we have to “press one for English” with other prompts in other languages. Whereas human operators could usually tell if the person they were talking to understood them or not, voice menu systems don’t.

Part of what made America great was the fact its citizens COULD communicate with each other: If you could speak English, you could expect to find a job or a meal without undue effort anywhere you went. If you could read English, you could go to a library and learn just about anything you wanted to. With being able to write in English, you had the opportunity to get your message to anyone and everyone in the country. Learning English and becoming proficient with it provided a basis for measuring progress in our educational system, and gave students and teachers a common ground to work from.

Now we have fragmented communities where (often large) parts of the population don’t speak English – and have no intention of learning how to do so. Their expectation is that if anybody who doesn’t speak their language will have to provide a translator or just stay out of their clique. This behavior leads to misunderstandings, at best – and even to violent conflict. Meanwhile, those of us who do speak English, using it as our primary language, are expected to “be tolerant” of those who are willfully choosing to not be able to speak with us. To add insult to injury, rather than being able to walk up to an ATM and get access to our money, for example, we have to “press one for English” to tell the machine that we’re using the language that SHOULD be the one that IT is using.

I’m tired of this. There is NO REASON an American should ever have to “Press one for English” to communicate with anyone else in this country.

  • If you cannot communicate in English, learn the language!
  • If you do not want to learn the language, go back where you came from!
  • If you want to preserve your cultural heritage, you’re welcome to do so: Open a museum, and preserve as much as you want.
  • If you don’t want your cultural heritage preserved in a museum, go back where you came from, and preserve it there!

I have set up BoycottPressForEnglish.org in an effort to restore language unity within the United States of America. I think it’s a critical part of restoring some of the necessary standards that have fallen aside due to the laps of sanity that is resulting in so many “Americans” being unable to communicate with each other. I can’t do it alone, though, so I’m asking for your help – contribute time and support if you can, and PLEASE tell people about it!

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An interesting opinion from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson

Aug. 09, 2013, under astrophysics, opinions

I came across this video today where astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s opinon of the most astounding fact about the universe (as expressed in response to a reader of Time magazine) is illustrated:

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In defense of the right to travel, Dewitt Town Court, May 9, 2013

May. 08, 2013, under opinions, philosophy

My name is W FRED KOSCHARA, which is the name shown on my driver’s license.  My name is not FRED W KOSCHARA as was written on the UNIFORM TRAFFIC TICKET I received that is causing me to appear in Dewitt Town Court on Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 7pm.  FRED W KOSCHARA is a fictitious person invented by the author of the UNIFORM TRAFFIC TICKET, apparently Officer DAVID A JOHNS, for the convenience of filling out his paperwork.  In addition, my driver license clearly shows that my address is 11 DELL COURT, LYNN, MA, not PO BOX 15571, BOSTON, MA as written on the UNIFORM TRAFFIC TICKET.  I am being forced to appear to defend my license from an accusation against a fictitious person.

The right to travel in public in the peaceful conduct of one’s own affairs is a fundamental part of freedom.  If a natural person, especially a sovereign citizen, cannot travel in public without question, interruption or punishment, liberty has been lost.  If that loss has been at the hand of the government whose job is to protect the rights of the public, this can no longer be called a free country.

On the morning of November 22, 2012, I was traveling westbound on Interstate 90, a Federally funded public way.  At approximately six o’clock on that morning, I was stopped by an armed man, hiding by the side of the road, whose intent was to present a demand for money:  The UNIFORM TRAFFIC TICKET I received is not a criminal accusation, it is a civil complaint in which the State of New York is suing me for failing to obey a law.  My assailant, dressed in an ill-fitting coat and what looked to me like a sloppy wool ghetto hat, did not identify himself or who he was working with or for, but I did observe a patch with the words “State Police” sewn onto his jacket.

The rule of law must be based on objective measures – observation of empirical facts which can be held against a common standard applied to all.  Otherwise, if subjective matters, based on opinion, are allowed to determine the outcome of a legal decision, the question becomes one of whose opinion is “more correct” – which is the mark of a dictatorial regime.  When laws are used to codify subjective decisions, that merely masks the opinions behind them with the color of law, but it does not change the fact that any legal decisions based on those laws are in fact not based on objective measures, and are therefore an inherent danger to liberty, and to civilization itself.

By their nature, objective measures are not something that can be used to predict unrelated results.  For example, speed is an objective measure of the relative rate of travel between two objects.  By itself, speed can be used to predict the time the two objects may be in proximity, or how long it will take one to strike the other if they are on a collision course.  However, by itself, speed cannot be used as a measure of safety.  For example, if two railroad trains are moving toward each other at a speed of half a mile per hour and a person is standing between them with no chance to escape, their slow speed is unsafe because the person will be crushed.  However, light traveling more than 186,000 miles per second washes over us all the time and we continue unscathed.

Accidents are measurable events, an objective measure of safety – which is why the expression “safety is no accident” is so common in motor vehicle department literature.  Speed limits, on the other hand, are an expression of what someone has determined is “an acceptable level of risk” – an OPINION of what is safe vs. what is not.  Speed limits were determined some time in the past by someone who probably never was on the road in question, and who certainly had and has no idea of what the conditions of the road, vehicle, weather and/or driver were at the time of enforcement.  Statistics are cited as the basis of the decisions behind setting speed limits.  Statistics is a branch of mathematical science used for categorizing the past behaviour of large groups.  If you ask any competent mathematician, however, they will tell you that statistics are completely useless for predicting the future behaviour of an individual.  Doing so is scientific fraud, and when it is used as the basis for speed limit enforcement, it becomes a crime against every person who receives a speeding ticket that is unrelated to a specific accident.

When I sit down behind the steering wheel, I am assuming responsibility for the safety of everyone and everything in front of me.  If someone makes a claim that I am an unsafe driver without an objective measure of my performance, they are slandering my good name.  I take great offense to such a defamation of my character.

My accuser told me that he was going to write me a ticket because of my unsafe speed.  From my perspective, that meant that not only was he presenting a demand for money, but he was saying I was an unsafe driver, adding insult to injury.  I logically asked by what objective measure was my driving unsafe, and received a brusque reply of “by the same objective measure as used for everybody else on the road!”

Upon examination of the UNIFORM TRAFFIC TICKET I received, I was astonished by reading the opinion that I “aggressively challenged the unsafe nature of [my] speed” – I hardly think that calmly asking a legitimate question for which I was seeking a rational answer is “aggressive” or belligerent.

When I was stopped on November 22, there was no accident involved, and since we were the only ones on that westbound stretch of the road at the time, I believe there was no question of whether I had been involved in an collision.

There are two things a person has when they come into this world that they are fundamentally entitled to: their time, and their abilities.  This is the basis of their personal wealth which they must trade for their survival, comfort and happiness: everything they need and want to live their life.  The only proper way a person will lose some of their time and/or abilities is through voluntary mutual trade for mutual profit with another entity, or as a voluntary gift to someone else:  If another entity initiates the use of force to deprive a person of their time and/or abilities, the perpetrator has committed a crime against the person.

With the amount of driving I’ve done over the course of my lifetime, I could have driven to the Moon and back and around the Earth ten times without an accident.  I am not claiming that my past behaviour predicts my future safe driving:  The reason I expect to continue driving safely is because of why I have successfully driven that much without causing damage along the way – I pay attention to my driving, to the road and conditions around me – I think about what I’m doing, and I moderate my behaviour based on what is appropriate:  I know what I’m doing, and I use my abilities to make the best use of my time that I can.  I find the idea an extreme offense to my sensibilities that some petty bureaucrat, sitting in a cubbyhole “forty” years ago who never met me and never saw the road or vehicle I’m using, would be allowed to dictate my actions and deprive me the use of my constructive abilities.

I realize that the New Hampshire state constitution does not have legal authority over the actions of the State of New York, but it contains sage advice that is relevant in the matter at hand.  To wit, Article 18 of said document, entitled “Penalties to be Proportioned to Offenses; True Design of Punishment,” states “All penalties ought to be proportioned to the nature of the offense.  No wise legislature will affix the same punishment to the crimes of theft, forgery, and the like, which they do to those of murder and treason.  Where the same undistinguishing severity is exerted against all offenses, the people are led to forget the real distinction in the crimes themselves, and to commit the most flagrant with as little compunction as they do the lightest offenses.  For the same reason a multitude of sanguinary [[bloodthirsty]] laws is both impolitic and unjust.  The true design of all punishments being to reform, not to exterminate mankind.”

Let’s consider the severity of punishment with regards to today’s driving environment.

If a “minor” collision occurs between two vehicles in rush hour traffic, the drivers will most likely exchange papers without police involvement, and subsequently file claims with their insurance companies.  There may be thousands of dollars of damage as a result of a minor “fender bender,” and the claimants will pay more insurance premiums for some time, but there won’t be any motor vehicle department actions against their license.

On the other hand, look at what a person suffers after being “convicted” of speeding:  In addition to the fines imposed and any court costs, and the cost of appearing in court, a portion of their “driver license” is held in ransom through the system of “points” the motor vehicle department assesses for the “offense.” Furthermore, the price of the person’s mandatory insurance purchase rises, and remains at an elevated rate for a period of years.  By merely trying to reduce their travel time, not by causing any damage or harming anyone, a burden measured in hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars is cast upon this hapless soul.

This means a person “convicted” of speeding often suffers more punishment than if they had been in an accident and had caused tangible damage – which is precisely the condition against which the authors of the New Hampshire state constitution had warned.

Enforcement of unpopular or unjust laws for the sake of their enforcement is a tool used by tyrannical governments to gain control over their subjects:  A free, innocent person is not easily ruled, but if you can convince someone they are guilty, you can use that guilt to get them to do just about anything you want them to do.  Whether it is stated or not, that is one of the primary reasons behind motor vehicle law enforcement – the government “needs” to have a “guilty” populace in order to keep them under control.

I am sure there will be no drivers in the court room who have never driven above the speed limit.  I also believe it is highly likely that the police officer who wrote the UNIFORM TRAFFIC TICKET causing me to appear in court routinely drives above the speed limit.  If the general consensus of the populace is that speed limits do not need to be obeyed, if the police officers writing speeding tickets are among the most flagrant violators of the law they are enforcing, how is justice served by speed limit enforcement?  Who is the person without sin who can throw the first stone?

In my considered opinion, speed limit enforcement where there is no accident involved must be one of four things:

  • Prior restraint, i.e., punishment before a crime has occurred, which has been ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, and is further a fundamentally unsound principle:  If prior restraint is to be allowed, we must ban eating utensils, because someone might use a spoon to stab their neighbor.  Chairs must be outlawed because one could be used to beat another person.  Indeed, civilization itself must be prohibited, because the only time a crime can occur is when two people interact, and if there’s no civilization, there won’t be any more interaction between potential criminals and their victims.
  • Punishment because someone else committed a crime, which would per se be an abrogation of justice:  How can one person be held responsible for the deeds of another over whom they have no control, and probably never even met?  The abuse of statistics to support punishing individuals because of observations of large groups in this way is nothing more than scientific fraud, merely compounding the injustice.
  • Enforcement for the sake of enforcement, the mark of an autocratic regime which has no place in a free society.  At best, such behaviour is an attempt to impose uniformity onto a populace of individuals, which results in holding the best back to the level of the worst, and leads to punishment for possession and use of ability.  Any society that condones the use of force to prevent the best among them from doing their best has committed suicide, and will not last long.
  • Revenue enhancement, (its common name) wherein the legislature sends police officers to rob the public (so they can give away money they do not have), a conspiracy to commit armed highway robbery, committed by the government against the people it is supposed to protect.  The fact that state governments have enacted laws as a thin veil of apparent propriety over their actions does not alter the fact that their actions are indeed criminal violations of so many Federal laws that the perpetrators should be spending the rest of their lives behind bars.

I challenge anyone to demonstrate that speed limit enforcement where there is no accident involved is not one of the four cases described above.  Unless and until such an argument is made, I must demand that such enforcement be summarily prohibited.

I am being brought into court to defend myself not because I committed a crime, or did anything that is fundamentally wrong:  I was summoned to appear because crimes have been committed against me.

As an innocent victim of the crimes that have been committed against me that are drawing me into court, and because I have not done anything fundamentally wrong that would justify imposition of punishment, I am requesting that I be found not guilty of any wrong doing.

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