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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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SPAMmers are *so* stupid – or are they?

Mar. 06, 2013, under opinions

On one hand, it looks like SPAMmers are complete idiots (offensive with no discrimination), majorly stupid (unable to learn from their mistakes), and should be run off the Internet.  On the other hand, if even more stupid people were not buying “stuff” from them, how could they possibly keep up the flood of SPAM that grows every day?  Maybe those people are the ones that need to be banned from using the Internet!

I have no interest in “male enhancement” – being “too small” has never been my problem.  No matter how you misspell “Viagra” or “medication” or “weight loss” products, I’m not going to buy them from you – even if you hide the advertisements behind completely unrelated subject lines.  (Does anybody fall for that?  I guess so, considering how much SPAM comes through that way – which makes me wonder just how stupid people can be…)  I don’t care if there are “millions of Romainian whores” waiting to hear from me, or Ukranian – or Russian, Asian, or whatever – women anxious to be my bride – I’m not interested, never was, and I won’t be any time in the future – but that doesn’t stop these morons from trying to flood my inboxes.

I would like to think there was an easy solution to the SPAM problem – gather up all of the SPAMmers and lock them in a jail where all they can do is send SPAM to the other inmates.  There are two problems with that idea, though:  As soon as you’ve gathered up “all” of the SPAMmers, more will spring up – because of the second problem – there are absolute morons who buy stuff from SPAMmers!

The only way to put an end to SPAM is for everybody to “just say no” and not buy anything from a SPAMmer.  If that happens, the SPAMmers will run out of money and just go away on their own.

…like that’s ever going to happen…

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Reaching for my dreams

Feb. 28, 2013, under call to action, goals, opinions, philosophy, space t/e/d

When I was five years old, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut. That’s still a core part of my objectives, but in the intervening years additional layers and other things have gotten added. Now when people ask me what I want to do with my life, I say “I want to build a privately funded space exploration and development company, move off-planet as a free and sovereign individual, and make [a lot of] money in the process.” (In this context, the meaning of sovereign being used is “independent of outside authority” rather than “supreme in rank, power or authority” – i.e., the way citizens of the United States of America are supposed to be “sovereign citizens.”)

My ambition is to build space colonies at L5, and manufacture solar power satellites for installation in geostationary orbit.  Accomplishing those objectives will be a bigger undertaking than anything that has ever been done before.  In spite of the daunting size of the project, it’s something that has to be done before we run out of oil or civilization will implode, and humanity itself may not survive.  Once the system is built, however, we can look forward to a reliable and effectively eternal supply of energy that’s cheaper than what we have now, with practically no pollution, and the whole investment could be repaid in 30 years at an extremely reasonable rate of ten cents per kilowatt/hour.

Humanity needs a frontier where misfits and malcontents can go to live their different lives without disturbing or being disturbed by the mainstream community.  There is no longer anywhere on Earth that can truly be called a frontier.  Life on a frontier also spurs people into a creative resourcefulness that yields innovation in often totally unexpected ways.  The Earth’s population is over seven billion people, most of whom live in or near poverty.  If everyone had the affluent lifestyle of the comfortably well-to-do of the industrialized societies, there wouldn’t be enough resources to go around.  The only way to fix that problem is to get more resources – which can only be done from beyond Earth’s boundaries – in space.  We have to go to space to survive!

I’m an extremely creative person – which is both a boon and a bane.  On one hand, it allows me to figure out a solution for nearly every problem that’s thrown at me – but not necessarily where to find the time or resources needed to implement the solution.  On the other hand, quite often in the process of solving one problem, I end up working on another one – often because the new problem is part of the solution for the first one.  “They” say that before you do anything, you have to do something else.  What “they” don’t tell you is it’s a recursive problem.  Some years ago I guesstimated that I had seventeen lifetimes worth of work that I need to get back to – stuff that got pushed to the back burner by something else having to be done first.  Sometimes it seems like I need to turn my creativity off to be able to get anything done.  That thought, however, falls smack in the middle of “be careful what you wish for” – it’s not something I would really want to have happen.  What has happened is that I’ve ended up with countless projects and ideas that I’m going to get to “one of these days” – when I have nothing to do, and a staff to do it with!

I don’t come from a wealthy background:  My parents made enough of their fortune to be comfortable in their retirement years, in spite of having five somewhat problematic children.  Without their pensions feeding the kitty, though, I don’t expect what they leave behind will last long.  I’ve “joked” for most of my life that my inheritance has fourteen zeros and a minus sign – but it looks like I might have underestimated the number of zeros.  I wish it were a joke, but the US national debt is so large that it’s approaching the point where it could never be paid back.  I dread the day when that happens – especially since most of the rest of the world is in the same boat, or even worse off.

The net result of all of this is I’m trying to figure out how to get from where I am, with effectively nothing, to being able to borrow trillions of dollars so that I can solve some of the biggest problems that have ever faced humanity.  This is probably the most important puzzle that’s ever been presented to my creativity, and I’m embarrassed to say that, even after all this time, I still haven’t figured it out.

I would like to be spending my time on finishing the redesign of the L5 Development Group Web site, getting the L5 National Bank set up, building public awareness through Space Power Now, starting real development of the LunaRobots project, establishing SpaceColonists.com as a vibrant community of like-minded people who actually want to move off-planet with me – so many things to do, and I know I can’t do them all myself.  Financial reality, however, is preventing me from making significant progress on any of those goals:  I’m so busy trying to figure out how to cover this month’s bills that I can’t even begin to think about where to raise the first million dollars, let alone where to find the trillions that will be needed to bring this dream to fruition.

Now I find myself once again looking for projects I can use to fill my coffers, identifiable and (fairly) well defined tasks where I can come in, bring my diverse range of experience to bear to solve a problem, then move on once the job is done and I’ve been paid for my work.  I’m not looking for a “safe” career of spending a long time building an empire in someone else’s organization, doing their work:  I have enough (too many?) projects and prospects of my own that I want and need to be working on: My career is in my company.  In order to continue getting paying projects, though, I know that when I do a job, I have to do it well:  A reputation for shoddy workmanship is one I wouldn’t want to try to work past.

Instead of me working for an employer, I need to have other people working for me – hundreds of thousands of them, millions even.  If anybody has any solid, actionable suggestions about how I can get from where I am to where I need to be, I want to hear them – and sooner is much better than later.  Filling time covering nothing more than the current bills isn’t going to allow me to progress to the next level, and beyond.  I really do want to fix the world, and before we run out of time.  Your feedback, comments and suggestions will be sincerely appreciated.

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It’s time *now* to avert the oil and energy crisis!

Feb. 25, 2013, under call to action, opinions, space t/e/d

We are going to run out of oil.  Before that happens, we are going to run out of cheap energy.  When that happens, there’s going to be starvation, civil unrest, warfare and the collapse of civilization – maybe even the end of humanity if the wars get too far out of hand.

This isn’t a disaster that’s just going to fall on America, or only on the industrialized parts of the world:  This is going to affect every human being on the planet, except perhaps jungle dwellers and aborigines who are largely independent of civilization.  If the downfall of civilization results in nuclear warfare, however, even those hapless tribes will not be unscathed.

When is this horrible disaster going to befall us?  That’s hard to say because the estimates of how much oil is left are just that – estimates – and the numbers being touted by various groups vary wildly.  The most optimistic predictions tell us there are reserves for 150 years, pessimists predict a tenth of that time.  In any case, as we get closer to the bottom of the barrel, the cost of retrieving the oil is going to skyrocket which will signal the beginning of the end.  Many of the projections assume that oil consumption is going to level out, or even decline.  Neither of those conditions is going to occur:  More people are using more oil every day, and as long as there is oil available, that’s not going to change.

Modern civilization is totally dependent on oil:  Huge amounts are burned up every day in our transportation systems, to provide heat, and to generate electricity.  In addition, nearly everything made out of plastic started out as oil.  Plastic is being used for everything – containers, plumbing, vinyl siding, cell phones, car bodies, etc., etc.  I would be very surprised to meet anyone living in the civilized world who didn’t own anything made of plastic – and most of us have lots of things that are.  As we raise the standard of living for everyone on the planet, the demand for more plastic – and more oil for fuel – is just going to go up.

Eventually the current demand for oil and oil products is going to exceed the total production capacity.  When that happens, civilization will start to collapse.

There is a way to avert this disaster – but the window of opportunity is rapidly passing by.  The death of civilization can be avoided, but only by developing a replacement energy supply.  Doing so is going to take a tremendous investment of effort, and will require a substantial amount of time – and energy.  If we wait too long, there won’t be enough time left to build a replacement energy source.

Fossil fuels – oil, coal, gas – have stored the Sun’s energy that fell on the Earth in the past.  Over the course of the last one hundred fifty years we have burned through a large portion of the stored solar energy from millions of years gone by.

The only feasible energy source that can serve as a replacement for oil is direct collection of solar power.  Trying to collect solar power at the Earth’s surface to run all of our modern civilization, however, is not practical:  The Sun is overhead only part of a day, and may be obscured by clouds in the air or snow on the ground.  Solar collectors take up a lot of space, and the power consumed by a city far exceeds the amount of solar power falling directly on it.

Because of the problems with trying to collect it on the ground, solar power is generally ruled out as a viable replacement for oil power.  It is those very problems that make it imperative for us to build a network of solar power satellites in orbit, where the Sun is always shining, and beam the power to the ground.  Only then can we hope to have enough area in the collectors to be able to gather all of the energy needed to support a power-hungry civilization and make it cheaply available.

Building a constellation of solar power satellites is going to require a tremendous investment, and it’s not going to happen overnight.  We must get started NOW, however, or the end of civilization predicted above will befall us.

I’ve started Space Power Now! as a vehicle for raising public awareness of the critical nature of the energy crisis looming in the near future, and how solar power delivered from satellites in Earth orbit is the only reasonable long-term solution.  Please, visit the site, participate, and let’s make it happen! The future of humanity depends on it!

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