Thursday, March 11, 2021


Back in the pre-internet days of 1992, there was a trial of four Los Angeles police officers for their actions while arresting Rodney King the previous year. In my personal experience from the time (I lived in Sylmar, CA at the time - not exactly ground zero, but I could see the helicopters circling over the arrest site), I predict that the Chauvin trial in Minneapolis will follow essentially the identical script.

The state trial, despite Minnesota AG Keith Ellison's best efforts to the contrary, will end in an acquittal of Officer Chauvin due to his third-party documented compliance with Minnesota state law and Minneapolis Police Department policies and procedures in place at the time of the final arrest of George Floyd in 2020. Also like the acquitted Los Angeles police officers 30 years ago, Chauvin will be arrested within days of his acquittal by the US DoJ for violating Floyd's civil rights, even though the arrest was entirely legal, and Chauvin at the least will be convicted by a federal jury with all of his personal property preemptively seized by the US government at the time of his federal arrest.

If he's smart, Chauvin will have already begun negotiating a federal plea deal as I write this, that ends up with him being a felon, but with as little federal prison time as community service sentencing will permit. Maybe he will be able to keep some of his personal possessions.

Whatever else Derek Chauvin experiences in the rest of his life, he can be certain that it will be very, very different to anything he has experienced so far.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

I am truly impressed

It may or may not be a quality you might want in a potential Presidential candidate, but Tulsi Gabbard has a 5 hour bladder. When you consider what surfers do while they are waiting in the line up outside the break, that's a real range of talent.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Opportunity Thy Name Is Starbase, Texas

 On March 2nd (yesterday as I write this), Elon Musk published a tweet announcing the creation of Starbase, Texas, a new city. This creates the perfect opportunity for Musk to resolve one of the main objections to his Tesla production goals - where does the electricity to charge all of those vehicles to come from? - by addressing the related question, where does the electricity for a Mars or Lunar colony come from?

It is a matter of black letter law here in Texas that a property of 100 acres or more, that is outside the boundaries of a municipality, can host a gun range whether or not the neighbors agree or a municipality later expands to include said property. Given that 100 acres can be near-as-dammit 1,100 feet wide by 4,000 feet long (yes, I realize an "acre" is a measure of area and thus has no fixed dimension), a 1 thousand yard long rifle range probably won't be more than 500 feet wide (and likely less), which leaves the several hundred feet of land on either side to host a vehicle driving track, about which more later. As a business, an outdoor shooting range can be marginally profitable on its own; as part of an outdoor recreation complex, such a business would likely succeed financially depending on how close it is to the outskirts of a municipality.

Where might Elon Musk put the electric generating plant(s) needed to power the city of Starbase, not to mention all those electric cars and trucks (and other vehicles) he is already building at Tesla? How about under ground, beneath the rifle range? There are various reactor designs from which to choose, especially if you don't want to develop weapons-grade plutonium as a "by product" of your power plant. While a Helium 3 (3He hereafter) fusion reactor seems the currently best option for use here on Earth, molten-salt type fission reactors are possibly a better option for off-planet applications (fusion converts water into energetic particles and thus needs to be regularly replaced; fission re-uses a super-heated liquid to create steam - also reused - to power electric generators, and radiation isn't as big an issue in space) while still providing the rigorous safety technology needed for operation here on Earth (or any other planetary body). How quickly could SpaceX get a Starship onto Luna, to deliver as semi-autonomous (Hello Starlink) as necessary surface mining equipment, with which to extract 3He from the lunar surface? A second Starship vehicle will almost certainly be required to efficiently shuttle 3He to Earth (and eventually Mars) for final processing as reactor fuel, of course. If the molten salt fission reactor works out instead, can 3He be used as fuel in one? If not, how does one go about buying up that much thorium (or whatever)?

Depending upon the reactor design chosen, it should be possible to build ten 100 megawatt power plants below ground under the rifle range/recreation center property suggested above. By distributing the electricity thus generated through a network of tunnels as deeply as necessary beneath the already established right-of-ways underneath existing state and/or federal highways, it becomes possible to add as much as one terawatt of new-generation electricity to the Texas electricity grid from this one property. Extending this model, it becomes possible to add and distribute as many terawatt increases to the US power grid as 100 acre plots of land can be purchased for the purpose. The announcement of Starbase city creates the ideal opportunity for Elon Musk to combine all of his corporate creations in more-or-less direct support of his plans for off-Terra development of human civilization, while fortifying existing human civilization here on Terra.

If Tesla were to buy the One Wheel company along with the Zero Motorcycles company and fold both into the Tesla sales network, these would provide additional products for Tesla to market here on Earth that would seem to also have application on Mars or Luna in either human operated or autonomous mode operations. In the meantime, having one or more tracks upon which to ride rented or privately owned examples of all Tesla products seems to offer a selection of potential businesses to explore, while training future Loonies and Marsmen* as well. By providing Tesla and SpaceX engineers a location(s) to test and develop power generation and transportation technologies, while simultaneously generating a new income stream for both companies, this proposal also potentially solves the needed energy additions and the distribution security concerns to the US (as well as Mexico and Canada if that should become US foreign policy) national power grids (there are three, East, Texas, and West), all from within the existing boundaries of the Texas power grid network.

If it needs to be said, I'd like to work at the rifle range, Elon.

* See Podkayne of Mars by Robert A. Heinlein

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Twice Not Guilty

 Today, Saturday, February 13, 2021, President Donald J. Trump was - again - formally determined to be Not Guilty of any prosecutable act he took as President via the constitutionally mandated legal process (Impeachment). This being so, it follows that there can be no additional prosecution of any action he committed during his presidency. Donald J. Trump enjoys the exact same legal (and other - see: Former Presidents Act) protections as do former Presidents Barrack Obama, George W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, and Jimmy Carter (the name variant he used to be sworn into office).

The argument could be made that he does so twice as much as his fellow Presidential alumni, though I have to admit that smacks more than a little of being praised with faint damns.

The current attempts by a Georgia prosecutor to indict former President Trump must now be regarded as unlawful and possibly criminal in nature. IANAL but I believe that absence of authority to do something constitutionally (at either State or Federal levels of constitutional authority) is entirely and only that. Since the US Constitution mandates that Impeachment and Removal From Office are the only means whereby a President may be prosecuted directly for actions taken while in office (and such Removal being the only mechanism making a former President subject to prosecution post-tenure in office), President Trump now enters the exact same legal status as do all of America's still-living former Presidents.

I wish him and all of his colleagues every lawful success in their post-Presidential lives.

Friday, February 5, 2021

The Silver Silver Bulls

 The recent discussion of a "silver squeeze" has me smiling. A short prefatory story first:

In 1980, two Texas brothers, Nelson Bunker Hunt, his younger brother Herbert, and several other members of their extended family, managed to buy something like two thirds of all the privately held silver on planet Earth, ultimately driving the 1 ounce spot price to $600+ for at least a short time. While doing so was seemingly not against any laws, they ultimately ended up in court where they argued (unsuccessfully you will no doubt be shocked to discover) that they weren't manipulating the silver markets but rather they were building a hedge fund against the rampant inflation of the US dollar during the 1970's. I can't imagine why the Federal Reserve, not to mention the US Mint, took such extreme exception to this denigration of their collective financial acumen.

The two primary reasons the Hunts failed are that they borrowed against their other assets to fund this buying spree, and there were too few of them to make prosecution unmanageably difficult for the USG.

Back to 2021, and silver spot prices have essentially doubled over recent weeks but there isn't any obvious orchestration of the buying efforts. Given the realities of digital social media, there is an opportunity to be realized from the two examples above.

Social security payments are all directly deposited into the recipients bank account on the Wednesday of the week the recipient was born. I for example was born in the fourth week of October, so I receive my social security payment on the fourth Wednesday of each calendar month. Should enough people (lets assume 1 million buyers on each of the four Wednesdays of payments in any given month) buy $500 of silver coins as part of a tranche of buyers on their Wednesday, and they did this for 10 months in total. It ought to be fairly easy to slowly drive the market spot price up to a value of 5x the spot price 10 months previous.

Now, silver is measured on the imperial scale, so 16 ounces to the pound. If you assume an average of 3 pounds of silver is purchased by each individual buyer in the first month, the rise of the spot price in succeeding months will reduce the amount $500 will purchase. Obviously, the up side of this is that your silver is now worth more than when you bought it; the down side being that your $500 the next month won't buy as much as it did the first month. This being a wildly speculative example of a hypothetical, let's say (for the ease of calculating) that all 4 million senior citizens each end up with 10 pounds (or 160 ounces) of silver on the first day of the 11th month, when the spot price has been above a pre-determined multiple of the starting value for a pre-designated amount of time, at which point everybody descends on their preferred precious metals dealer at opening time of the next regular business day, offering their hoard for sale at that days spot price.

No signal required.

The second thing that will happen is that the next day's spot price will drop to almost the level it was 10 months previous. The first thing to happen is that metal buyers across the US will be desperately trying to figure out where to get that much cash. Since the second thing is a desired result we will concentrate on alleviating the first thing. Instead of accepting a check (because bank deposit records are already reported to government agencies), suggest that the dealer exchange an equivalent amount of gold coins for the majority of the silver, leaving no more than $1,000 in currency needed to complete the transaction. It is simplicity itself to come back every week-or-so to sell a coin.

This would result in 4 million senior citizens increasing the value of $5,000 to (realistically, probably no more than 3x) its original value. Still, as a way to potentially make a little extra money, this seems reasonably easy and minimally risky (barring a home invasion or other type of robbery, obviously). At worst, barring being a crime statistic, people will have accumulated a modest amount of precious metal to hold for a future profitable sales opportunity.

Also, identifying - never mind rounding up - 4 million senior citizens who are individually guilty of nothing more than buying a legal product in a legal transaction seems overly Orwellian even for 2021.

I'm not on reddit either, so don't look to me for ringleader material, but it does make for interesting speculation (and a terrible pun), doesn't it? 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Go Marker

 Donald J. Trump did not kill himself.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Life As A Surfing Metaphor

 I listen to Andy Stumpf's Cleared Hot podcast, and he most recently had former NFL kicker Steve Weatherford (episode #158) as a guest. A couple things from their conversation struck me as potentially important to living life, possibly ever, but certainly here in the early decades of the 21st century.

First Steve Weatherford's contribution to my continued growth; Roman's 5: 3 - 5:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Whatever the source of your (or my own) faith, possibly the most important result of that is your individual sense of hope, regardless of external circumstances. Keeping yourself open to inspiration and insight, regardless of source, is an important aspect of developing one's humanity, I think. Taking what we learn and adapting that to our individual circumstances might be the most important lesson we each learn about ourselves. We should make a better effort to learn that (and pass it along) in a more organized fashion.

In the same podcast, Andy Stumpf equated life to a series of wavetops and troughs. Not to equivocate with a man with the accomplishments he has managed to live through accumulating, but I think his view is a bit limited (or more likely his opportunity to discuss it in the context of a podcast is the constraining factor). Whatever the case, I think that a better rendition of this life view is that life is a series of wave-building individual and group efforts that, when successful, result in a wavetop we can all surf down into the next trough. Which is where we start the cycle all over again; build the wave to be able to surf down into the next trough.

I understand why my fellow vets contemplate, and all too often choose, suicide; we spend a lot of time wandering around in life's troughs trying to find the next wave to build after the military spent "x" years trying to drown us in wave after wave to surf down the face of. I do that contemplative thing a lot, personally (one of the "benefits" of retirement). The main reason I listen to Andy Stumpf's podcast is because he so often talks about learning how to build your own life wave (I'm waxing on metaphorical; work with me here!). I was never a Navy SEAL; if not for the Coca Cola bottling company I never could have qualified to just be in the same (if earlier version) Navy as him. That said, all of us can find life lessons from our fellow humans if we're willing to see them and find the connection to ourselves.

Thus endeth today's sermon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Help us, Obi-Won Elon

The Brooking Institute just published an economic analysis of the latest US Presidential election with some interesting findings. Most prominent of these is the division of aggregate wealth (GDP) apportioned over America's 3,142 counties (or county equivalents). Roughly 600-odd counties account for production of 70% of the country's total GDP, with the overwhelming majority of those counties containing the majority of US citizenry and urban development as well. The authors of the article focus on political/electoral analysis, but my interest is on the potential for market growth illustrated by the remaining 30% of current US GDP generated by the other 2,400 or so counties.

As Elon Musk's Starlink project continues through its development beta phase, the financial growth potential in the 2,400 counties identified by the Brookings Institute article linked above strikes me as being most easily realized by a communications network effectively identical to that which Mr. Musk is in the process of building out as you read these words.

As ever, the devil (and the trick) is in the details of how one goes about doing the deed.

As we approach the final decline of the Old Republic (or alternatively, the growth into the New People's Republic of the United States of America), there remains the presence of Opportunity (a basic strategic premise being that all confrontations inherently present opportunity to those who position themselves to take advantage of same). Opportunity to connect, train, support, and develop a network of individuals creating financial gain for themselves and those new or existing businesses they work with in markets that literally do not exist as of yet being my specific point of interest today.

One market few seem to consider is that of financial support, a credit union (I suggest calling it The Spacers Guild Credit Union) that serves anyone working directly or indirectly in support of off-planet enterprises (and thus all potential members of The Spacers Guild), providing traditional banking services as well as legal representation and continuing education (delivery and certification) for its members (and their families) would be both the most prominent and most basic of these, I think. Such a business, being intended to serve an off-Earth clientele from inception, would seem a natural enough fit to service any Luna, Mars, or Asteroid Belt based market should such develop in future.

In the interim, and given that these underfinanced counties are scattered over all 50 states (and one assumes all 5 US Territories as well), they begin with easy access to the already developed regional networks already centered around existing urban markets to draw upon for potential labor and other networked resources. The lower costs of residing and doing business in rural regions (relative to heavily developed urban environments) are probably not as pronounced as is commonly assumed, but nevertheless are a reality to some degree; it is the previous-to-now lack of connectivity that has been the stopper. Which segues neatly into the next opportunity I spy.

One of Elon Musk's other companies, Tesla, has been straining under the great expense required to achieve the final few percentage points of engineering necessary to achieve device autonomy. I suggest a better financial expenditure (and potential societal, or even civilizational rescue) can be achieved by creating the trained people to operate a semi-autonomous technology, linked together through the Starlink network. These people create businesses analogous to over-the-road drivers, who are organized, trained, and certified through the Spacers Guild. The provision of legal counsel, analogous to that provided to firearms owners by the US Law Shield  legal group, would be one of the benefits available to the membership of the Spacers Guild Credit Union (which, like any other credit union in the US, is a member-owned business, so not a bank).

The jobs Starlink trains these Americans (and, fairly quickly I predict, citizens of other countries too) to perform are as mundane and necessary as the truck drivers I associated them with earlier. One purely space oriented job is that of "orbital garbage collector". When you take into account the huge expense invested in putting all of that now-scrap metal (and other substances and materials) that currently create a hazard to navigation and structural integrity to orbital platforms and satellites, just pushing them into atmospheric burn-up doesn't make sense. Instead, contracting with a (presumably large-ish) number of individuals to capture each object (some of which will require many different operators to coordinate their thrust efforts) and drive it into stable orbit at the L-4 point for eventual re-use seems a much more financially useful alternative (side note: the L-4 La Grange Point is also the logical place to build the infrastructure necessary to converting asteroids into products). Supervising the semi-autonomous fleet of logistical transport and delivery vehicles on the Earth's land and liquid surface would be an even more numerous job opportunity.

Enabling the transition of the digital content creators present day efforts into what I have seen described as a Blog 2.0 structure - that is, a more text-driven melding of the heavily visual presentation technology we currently associate with YouTube and the like - that bypasses the gatekeeping efforts of existing technology providers will be a civilizationally transformative outcome all in itself.

There is apparently a vast pool of money just floating in the air over more than 2,400 largely rural counties in the US today (and no one has any idea how great the potential is elsewhere on the planet). Bringing that down to Earth, and expanding it to the edges of our Solar System, is a challenge we humans simply must succeed at ... or quite literally die not trying.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A Molehill To Die On

The Trump Administration, and to an extent the GOP more generally, argue that there has been fraud committed in the 2020 election for the US presidency. I have heard/read it argued that since there appears to be an insufficiency of fraud to alter the projected outcome the media has announced, we shouldn't make any effort to discover the extent of the fraud or punish the perpetrators. 

The question seems to be that there hasn't been enough cheating to merit any corrective action being taken. Let me offer this analogy; the Democratic party seems to be arguing that the amount of rape that occurred in Nanking isn't enough to justify any effort at punishing the occupying Japanese troops in 1937.

In the several states in which criminal influence on the 2020 election can be proven to ordinary US criminal standards, the ballots that cannot be proven to have been counted honestly must be dis-allowed. The individuals that can be proven to have made that occur should be prosecuted for that crime(s). If that action changes the electoral outcome (one way or another), then that is the result of the 2020 election. The states appoint the electors the legal vote count establishes. The Electoral College informs the Congress, which then certifies the election, just as the Constitution requires.

The amount of criminality prosecuted makes no difference as far as the legitimacy of the election (or the identity of the candidate subsequently sworn into office) is concerned, so long as the Constitutional requirements are satisfied. It should be the minimum standard expected by any citizen that legal, transparently honest elections be the only acceptable mechanism allowed to determine US elections.

Like rape, a little bit of fraud is unacceptable, and anyone arguing otherwise must be considered to be pursuing an equally unacceptable outcome.

Friday, November 6, 2020

2020 isn't done with us yet, it seems

Investment Watch Blog is not one that I'm personally familiar with. That notwithstanding, the reporting here seems worth further attention.

In 2017, the DHS assumed authority over US election infrastructure. Machine Identification Code micro dot technology is well-established, making identification of the particular machine that printed out a document not exactly trivial but certainly a straightforward process. The concept and technology involved with including a not-visible-to-the-unaided-eye watermark isn't a particularly novel or difficult security feature either. After a not-that-comprehensive or thoroughgoing look at DHS and election security related .gov websites, I can say that there seems to be remarkably little public discussion about including such technology into the printing of mail-in ballots. Make of that what you will.

I do wonder if Pres. Trump's seemingly unshakable confidence in the 2020 election outcome isn't due, at least in part, to his knowledge of the ballot integrity security technology in place for this election cycle. If in fact all official (that would be legal) US General Election mail-in ballots do have a MIC micro dot unique to each machine producing that ballot, and there is a watermark visible only under a particular wave length of light unique to each voting jurisdiction on every mail-in ballot, then I can only assume there exists sufficient physical evidence of election jiggery-pokery necessary to seeing somebody (and possibly a great many somebodies) into jail ... and Donald Trump continued residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for another 4 years.

Assuming that there is physical evidence that some number of ballots now being counted towards the election outcome are provably fraudulent documents, I shouldn't think the USSC will have too much difficulty ruling that any ballot not provably legally printed and postmarked prior to the close of elections on Nov 3rd be discarded as ineligible. In those instances where ballot counters have ignored the law(s) regarding separating late-arriving ballots from those posted prior to Nov 3rd, it also doesn't seem too much of a stretch for the court to rule all mail-in ballots not posted prior to Nov 3rd as tainted and unlawful.

I personally doubt anyone in DC feels any sense of urgency to cross this particular political rubicon, so I don't expect any attempt at such a ruling very much prior to a week or so before the constitutionally mandated Dec 8 deadline for states to certify elections.

I don't think it that unsupportable to conclude that Donald J Trump very much has this election in the bag already.

Chin up Kevin Baker; it may (or may not) be a simulation, but it's certainly entertaining!