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Nevada Transhumanist Party Positions on 2018 Nevada Ballot Questions

Nevada Transhumanist Party Positions on 2018 Nevada Ballot Questions

The New Renaissance Hat
Gennady Stolyarov II
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The Nevada Transhumanist Party offers the following brief statements of position on the ballot questions currently before Nevada voters in the 2018 General Election.

Summary
Question 1: Support
Question 2: Support
Question 3: Support
Question 4: Support
Question 5: Oppose
Question 6: Oppose

 

Ballot Question 1 Marsy’s Law Crime Victims’ Rights Amendment Support

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended to: (1) remove existing provisions that require the Legislature to provide certain statutory rights for crime victims; and (2) adopt in their place certain expressly stated constitutional rights that crime victims may assert throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 1 as an expansion of the rights of crime victims to render those rights more symmetrical to the protections that those accused of criminal acts already receive. The Nevada Transhumanist Party strongly holds that due process is vital for both the accused and the victim of a crime. Section X of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform states, in part, that “each individual should be sentenced based solely on the consideration of the nature of that individual’s crime, its context, and its severity.” However, the nature, context, and severity of a crime can only be ascertained if victims are permitted to participate in the justice process, with full protections of their safety and right to be heard. One of the most important protections of Ballot Question 1 is “To have all monetary payments, money and property collected from any person who has been ordered to make restitution be first applied to pay the amounts ordered as restitution to the victim.” This shifts the focus of the justice system toward compensating the victim, instead of simply enriching the state. A restitution-oriented justice system is ideal where the damage from a crime can be repaired or compensated monetarily, as this approach actually endeavors to make the victims whole and thereby undo as many of the ill effects of the crime as possible. The more lives can be repaired in this way, the fewer obstacles to innocent individuals’ flourishing will exist, and the faster our society will progress in economic, moral, and technological dimensions.

 

Ballot Question 2 Sales-Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products Support

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall the Sales and Use Tax Act of 1955 be amended to provide an exemption from the taxes imposed by this Act on the gross receipts from the sale and the storage, use or other consumption of feminine hygiene products?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 2 as a protection for the morphological freedom of individuals. The morphological freedom of female individuals is infringed by asymmetrical taxation of products that those individuals uniquely require. While the Nevada Transhumanist Party does not oppose sales taxes per se, exemptions from sales taxes for the necessities of life are reasonable if such taxes pose impediments to individual quality of life or even the ability to afford those necessities.

 

Ballot Question 3Energy Choice Initiative Support

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the establishment of an open, competitive retail electric energy market that prohibits the granting of monopolies and exclusive franchises for the generation of electricity?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 3 to eliminate the coercive energy monopoly currently held by NV Energy and allow individuals to choose their utility and source of energy, much like they are able to choose which furniture or which cars to buy today. NV Energy has used its monopoly position to stifle and penalize the deployment of economical rooftop solar systems, which allow homeowners to autonomously generate their own electricity and even earn some money doing so. The suppression of such opportunities is a travesty of justice and needs to be reversed.

The NV Energy monopoly is not only harmful to technological progress, renewal energy, and affordable electricity costs; it is also a danger to the health and safety of homeowners. This is because of NV Energy’s arcane, deliberately circular call-center system, which gives consumers “the runaround” when consumers attempt to contact NV Energy to request emergency service related to failures in the electrical panels on their homes. NV Energy has connected the main circuit-breakers on many such panels to its “smart meters”, which require the intervention of an NV Energy technician to disable to that the circuit-breakers can be worked on and repaired or replaced. However, NV Energy does not offer consumers a dedicated emergency response to promptly allow access to those consumers’ own electrical systems in situations where hours and even minutes matter for preserving life and property.

The Nevada Transhumanist Party considers particularly reprehensible the “No on 3” campaign in Nevada – orchestrated and almost exclusively (99.99%) financed by NV Energy and its connected organizations – which has been disingenuous in its messaging and which has created many mistaken impressions on the part of the public. Question 3 would only deprive NV Energy of its monopoly powers; it would not mirror the California-style (pseudo)-“deregulation” of the late 1990s, nor would it thwart any renewable-energy projects. Quite the contrary, it has been NV Energy and only NV Energy that has stifled efforts by consumers and rooftop-solar installers to create genuine alternatives to NV Energy’s electrical grid and its intentionally cumbersome and restrictive policies.

Question 3, indeed, would require that the Nevada Legislature “ensure that protections are established that entitle customers to safe, reliable, and competitively priced electricity;” and “protect against service disconnections and unfair practices” – protections that are currently absent because of the NV Energy monopoly’s political connections, asymmetrical lobbying clout, and the regulatory capture of the Public Utilities Commission.

Nevada’s voters overwhelmingly approved Question 3 in 2016 (72.36% voted in favor). Now that NV Energy has launched a last-ditch campaign in reaction to the jeopardy in which its monopoly finds itself, voters should inform themselves and see through the misleading rhetoric of the “Coalition to Defeat Question 3” (i.e., NV Energy). The Nevada Transhumanist Party staunchly supports Question 3 as the pathway toward major technological progress and innovation in the realm of energy, harnessing the forces of market competition to provide cleaner, more affordable electricity for all Nevadans.

 

Ballot Question 4 Medical Equipment Sales Tax Exemption AmendmentSupport

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Article 10 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the exemption of durable medical equipment, oxygen delivery equipment, and mobility enhancing equipment prescribed for use by a licensed health care provider from any tax upon the sale, storage, use, or consumption of tangible personal property?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 4 to exempt durable medical equipment from sales and use tax. These taxes can often run into the thousands of dollars for sick and dying patients and could compromise the quality of their care. We support any measure that helps make medical equipment affordable and more widespread.

 

Ballot Question 5Automatic Voter Registration via DMVOppose

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Chapter 293 of the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended to establish a system that will automatically register an eligible person to vote, or update that person’s existing Nevada voter registration information, at the time the person applies to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles for the issuance or renewal of any type of driver’s license or identification card, or makes a request to change the address on such a license or identification card, unless the person affirmatively declines in writing?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party opposes Ballot Question 5. While the Nevada Transhumanist Party supports efforts to render voter registration easy and seamless, the particular requirements of Ballot Question 5 would entail the DMV being mandated to insert disclosures that encourage voters to select a major political-party registration by including a statement “that the person will not be able to vote at a primary election for candidates for partisan offices of a major political party unless the person indicates a major political party affiliation”. Such wording – which would essentially compel a State agency to advertise for the major political parties – would further skew the political arena toward the major political parties and would entrench their dominance. Voter registration should furthermore always occur on an opt-in, rather than opt-out, basis; this is the only approach that consistently respects individual autonomy and choice to participate in the political system or to abstain from such participation. Opting in should be easy and made available through a variety of methods (including electronic, same-day registration), but the presumption of registration can create logistical difficulties for some individuals and conceivable situations where an automatic “updated” registration generates needless contradictions in a person’s registration status, which would actually render it more difficult for that person to subsequently cast a vote.

 

Ballot Question 6Renewable Energy Standards Initiative Oppose

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Article 4 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require, beginning in calendar year 2022, that all providers of electric utility services who sell electricity to retail customers for consumption in Nevada generate or acquire incrementally larger percentages of electricity from renewable energy resources so that by calendar year 2030 not less than 50 percent of the total amount of electricity sold by each provider to its retail customers in Nevada comes from renewable energy resources?“ (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party opposes Ballot Question 6. While the Nevada Transhumanist Party supports economical renewable energy and the acceleration of efforts to develop technologies to render as much of our energy supply renewable as possible, the ability to affordably generate 50 percent of the total electricity through renewable energy resources is ultimately a technological challenge, not a political one. If the technology is ready, and the market is robust and competitive enough to deploy it to consumers at more attractive prices than fossil-fuel energy, then a 50-percent or greater renewable proportion of electricity will be achieved by 2030 without the need for a mandate. If, however, the technology cannot yet render renewable energy competitive with fossil fuels, then the only effect of the mandate would be to push up costs and constrict supply of electricity to consumers. The surest way to bring about a future of greater renewable energy is to repeal the NV Energy monopoly which has been standing in its way. Through competition, both technological and marketing innovations will thrive and will deliver renewable energy solutions to consumers.  Ballot Question 3, rather than Ballot Question 6, is therefore a superior means toward that goal.

 

Mr. Stolyarov is the Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party and Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.
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Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our free Membership Application Form here. It takes less than a minute!
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This post may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License, which requires that credit be given to the author, Gennady Stolyarov II (G. Stolyarov II). Find out about Mr. Stolyarov here.
Unsustainable: Little Ways Environmentalists Waste the Ultimate Resource – Article by Timothy D. Terrell

Unsustainable: Little Ways Environmentalists Waste the Ultimate Resource – Article by Timothy D. Terrell

The New Renaissance HatTimothy D. Terrell
June 23, 2015
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The memo told me to get rid of my printer — or the college would confiscate it.

The sustainability director — let’s call him Kermit — is an enthusiastic and otherwise likable fellow whose office is next door to mine. Kermit had decided it would be better if the centralized network printers in each department were used for all print jobs. He believed that the environment was going to benefit from this printer impoundment.

Some sustainability advocates object to printers because little plastic ink cartridges sometimes wind up in landfills — but I saw no effort at the college to promote cartridge recycling; the sustainability policy had skipped persuasion and gone straight to confiscation.

Certainly the IT people didn’t want to maintain the wide variety of desktop printers or supply them with cartridges — but the printer on my desk was not college-supplied or maintained, and I provided all my own cartridges. Personal printers were now verboten. Period. The driver behind the policy, apparently, was the rectangular transformer box plugged into the wall, which consumed a trickle of a few watts of electricity 24/7.

A typical household inkjet printer draws about 12 watts when printing, and when it’s not, it draws about 5 watts. At 5 watts per hour, then, with a few minutes a week burning 12 watts, my lightly used inkjet would use around 46 kWh a year, which at the commercial average rate of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour translates to an annual cost of $5.06. There may be side effects, or externalities, to use a term from economics. A 2011 study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences that renewable energy advocates often cite estimates that the side effects of coal-produced electricity cost about 18 cents per kWh, so assuming that all the electricity saved would have been produced by burning coal (nationwide, it’s actually less than 40 percent), that brings the total annual cost to $13.34.

Kermit must have calculated that confiscating printers would collectively generate several hundred dollars a year of savings for the college — and allow the college to put another line on its sustainability brag sheet.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with trying to save electricity. But Kermit had forgotten the value of an important natural resource: human time.

Time is a valuable resource: labor costs are a large chunk of most businesses’ costs. The college basically wanted to save electricity by wasting my time — and everyone else’s.

Here’s how that works. Suppose I want to print out a recommendation letter and envelope on college letterhead. Using the network printer involves the following steps:

  1. Walk down hall with letterhead and insert letterhead in single-feed tray.
  2. Return to office.
  3. Hit Enter and walk back to printer.
  4. Discover that page was oriented the wrong way and printed upside down.
  5. Return to office.
  6. Walk back to printer with new letterhead page.
  7. Return to office.
  8. Hit Enter and walk back to printer.
  9. Discover that someone else had sent a job to the printer while I was in transit and printed his test on my letterhead.
  10. Return to office.
  11. Walk back to printer with new letterhead page.
  12. Wait for other guy’s print job to finish.
  13. Insert letterhead, properly oriented.
  14. Run back to office to reduce chances of letterhead being turned into another test.
  15. Hit Enter and walk back to printer.
  16. Pick up successfully printed letter.
  17. Walk back to office, quietly weeping at the thought of repeating the process to print the envelope.

This “savings” turns into more than 12 trips to and from the communal printer, plus any time spent waiting for another print job. The environmentalist may bemoan the two wasted sheets of paper, but he would quickly remember that there’s a recycling bin beside the printer. The more significant cost of this little fiasco is human time.

Let’s suppose that’s a total of six minutes. Of course, I’ve learned the right way to orient paper and envelopes after a mistake or two, and printer congestion is rarely a problem. And I never did higher-volume print jobs, such as tests for classes, on my own inkjet anyway, so the lost time in trotting back and forth would apply mainly to one- or two-sheet print jobs, envelopes, and scanning. Suppose the confiscation of my inkjet means, conservatively, five additional minutes a week during the school year. That’s about three hours a year sucked out of my life, absorbed in walking back and forth.

Suppose, again to be conservative, my time is worth what fast food restaurant workers in Seattle are getting paid right now — $15 per hour. So the university is wasting $45 of my salary to save $13.34 in utilities. Does that sound like the diligent stewardship of precious resources?

(I will assume that any health benefits from the additional walking are canceled out by the additional stress caused by sheer aggravation.)

I am pleased to say that the desktop printer kerfuffle ended with the sustainability director backing down. We were all allowed to keep our printers, and I thereby kept three hours a year to do more productive work. Kermit and I remained on good terms, though he never took me up on my offer to provide an economist’s voice on the sustainability committee.

But we must make the most of small victories, for college and university sustainability proponents march on undeterred. If anything, the boldness and scale (and the waste) of campus initiatives has only increased. The National Association of Scholars (NAS) recently released a report showing that colleges trying to reduce their environmental impact have spent huge amounts of money on sustainability programs for little to no gain.

The unintended consequences of these programs abound. And though each initiative may destroy only a small amount of human time, the collective impact of these microregulations is a death by a thousand cuts.

Many college cafeterias are now “trayless,” in the hopes of reducing dish use and wasted food. But students must manage unwieldy loads of dishes, leading to inevitable spills, or make multiple trips (and student time is valuable, too). One study mentioned in the NAS report found that “students without trays tend to run out of hands and to skip extra dishes — usually healthy dishes such as salads — in order to better carry their entrée and dessert. This leads to students consuming relatively fewer greens and more sweets.”

A college’s “carbon footprint” has also become the object of campus policy. Middlebury College, for example, pledged in 2006 that it would be “carbon neutral” by 2016. So it has spent almost $5 million a year (over $2,000 per student) on things like a biomass energy plant, organic food for the dining hall, and staff and faculty tasked with improving sustainability. All of this has cost the college about $543 per ton of CO2 reduction. So even if one accepts the $39 per ton figure the Obama administration has stated as the value of reducing carbon dioxide emissions (and I, for one, am skeptical), Middlebury has greatly overpaid.

We can all appreciate the desire to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us. But this doesn’t mean that every environmental sustainability initiative makes sense. Overpaying to reduce CO2 emissions, as with Middlebury, means that the product of hours of our work is needlessly consumed, and we have fewer resources for other valuable pursuits.

Sustainability advocates need to remember that resources include more than electricity, water, plastic, paper, and the like. Humans have value, too, here and now. Chipping away at our lives with little directives to expend several hours saving a bit of electricity, water, or some other resource, is to ignore the value of human life and to waste what Julian Simon called “the ultimate resource.”

Timothy Terrell is associate professor of economics at Wofford College in South Carolina.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

Abstract Orderism Fractal XLIX – Art by G. Stolyarov II

Abstract Orderism Fractal XLIX – Art by G. Stolyarov II

Abstract Orderism Fractal XLIX - by G. Stolyarov II

Abstract Orderism Fractal XLIX – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

This fractal resembles sparks of electricity coursing through semi-transparent glass.

This digital artwork was created by Mr. Stolyarov in Apophysis, a free program that facilitates deliberate manipulation of randomly generated fractals into intelligible shapes.

This fractal is an extension of Mr. Stolyarov’s artistic style of Abstract Orderism, whose goal is the creation of abstract objects that are appealing by virtue of their geometric intricacy — a demonstration of the order that man can both discover in the universe and bring into existence through his own actions and applications of the laws of nature.

Fractal art is based on the idea of the spontaneous order – which is pivotal in economics, culture, and human civilization itself. Now, using computer technology, spontaneous orders can be harnessed in individual art works as well.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s art works.

In Praise of Price Gouging – Article by Ron Paul

In Praise of Price Gouging – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
November 12, 2012
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As the northeastern United States continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy, we hear the usual outcry against individuals and companies who dare to charge market prices for goods such as gasoline. The normal market response of rising prices in the wake of a natural disaster and resulting supply disruptions is redefined as “price gouging.” The federal government and some state governments on the East Coast claim that price gouging is the charging of ruinous or exploitative prices for goods in short supply in the wake of a disaster and is a heinous crime  But does this reflect economic reality, or merely political posturing to capitalize on raw emotions?

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the supply of gasoline was greatly disrupted. Many gas stations were unable to pump gas due to a lack of electricity, thus greatly reducing the supply.  At the same time demand for gasoline spiked due to the widespread use of generators. Because gas stations were forbidden from raising their prices to meet the increased demand, miles-long lines developed and stations were forced to start limiting the amount of gasoline that individuals could purchase. New Jersey gas stations began to look like Soviet grocery stores.

Had gas stations been allowed to raise their prices to reflect the increased demand for gasoline, only those most in need of gasoline would have purchased gas, while everyone would have economized on their existing supply. But because prices remained lower than they should have been, no one sought to conserve gas.  Low prices signaled that gas was in abundant supply, while reality was exactly the opposite, and only those fortunate enough to be at the front of gas lines were able to purchase gas before it sold out.  Not surprisingly, a thriving black market developed, with gas offered for up to $20 per gallon.

With price controls in effect, supply shortages were exacerbated.  If prices had been allowed to increase to market levels, the profit opportunity would have brought in new supplies from outside the region.  As supplies increased, prices gradually would have decreased as supply and demand returned to equilibrium. But with price controls in effect, what company would want to deal with the hassle of shipping gas to a disaster-stricken area with downed power lines and flooded highways when the same profit could be made elsewhere?  So instead of gas shipments flooding into the disaster zones, what little gas supply is left is rapidly sold and consumed.

Many governments fail to understand that prices are not just random numbers. Prices perform an important role in providing information, coordinating supply and demand, and enabling economic calculation. When government interferes with the price mechanism, economic calamity ensues. Price controls on gasoline led to the infamous gas lines of the 1970s, yet politicians today repeat those same failed mistakes. Instituting price caps at a below-market price will always lead to shortages. No act of any legislature can reverse the laws of supply and demand.

History shows us that the quickest path to economic recovery is to abolish all price controls. If governments really want to aid recovery, they would abolish their “price-gouging” legislation and allow the free market to function.

Representative Ron Paul (R – TX), MD, was a three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President. See his Congressional webpage and his official campaign website

This article has been released by Dr. Paul into the public domain and may be republished by anyone in any manner.

Frontier-Making Private Initiatives: Examples from History – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Frontier-Making Private Initiatives: Examples from History – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 8, 2012
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In my video “SpaceX, Neil deGrasse Tyson, & Private vs. Government Technological Breakthroughs”, I provided a brief discussion of notable counterexamples to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s assertions that private enterprise does not have the resources or exploratory orientation to open up radically new frontiers. Tyson argues that only well-funded government efforts can open up space or could have opened up the New World. History, however, offers many examples of precisely what Tyson denies to be possible: private enterprise breaking new ground and making the exploration of a frontier possible. Indeed, in many of these cases, governments only entered the arena later, once private inventors or entrepreneurs have already established an industry in which governments could get involved. Here, I offer a somewhat more thorough list of such examples of groundbreaking and well-known private initiatives, as well as links to further information about each. I may also update this list as additional examples occur to me.

The Industrial Revolution: The Industrial Revolution – the explosion of technologies for mass production during the late 18th and early 19th centuries – itself arose out of private initiative. The extensive Wikipedia entry on the Industrial Revolution shows that virtually every one of the major inventions that made it possible was created by a private individual and put into commercial use by private entrepreneurs. This paradigm shift, more than any other, rescued the majority of humankind from the brink of subsistence and set the stage for the high living standards we enjoy today.

Automobile: The automobile owes its existence to ingenious tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. The first self-propelled vehicle was invented circa 1769 by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot. Cugnot did work on experiments for the French military and did receive a pension from King Louis XV for his inventions. However, subsequent developments that made possible the automobile occurred solely due to private initiative. The first internal combustion engines were independently developed circa 1807 by the private inventors Nicéphore Niépce and François Isaac de Rivaz. For the remainder of the 19th century, innovations in automobile technology were carried forward by a succession of tinkerers. The ubiquity and mass availability of the automobile owe their existence to the mass-production techniques pioneered by Henry Ford in the early 20th century.

Great Northern Railway: While some railroads, such as the notorious repeatedly bankrupt Transcontinental Railroad in the United States, received government subsidies, many thriving railroads were fully funded and operated privately. James J. Hill’s Great Northern Railway – which played a pivotal role in the development of the Pacific Northwest – is an excellent example.

Electrification: The infusion of cheap, ubiquitous artificial light into human societies during the late 19th centuries owes its existence largely to the work of two private inventors and entrepreneurs: Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison.

Computing: The first computers, too, were the products of private tinkering. A precursor, the Jacquard Loom, was developed by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801. The concept for the first fully functional computer was developed by Charles Babbage in 1837 – though Babbage did not have the funds to complete his prototype. The Wikipedia entry on the history of computing shows that private individuals contributed overwhelmingly to the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to construct the first fully functioning general-purpose computers in the mid-20th century. To be sure, some of the development took place in government-funded universities or was done for the benefit of the United States military. However, it is undeniable that we have private entrepreneurs and companies to thank for the introduction of computers and software to the general public beginning in the 1970s.

Civilian Internet: While the Internet began as a US military project (ARPANET) in the 1960s, it was not until it was opened to the private market that its effects on the world became truly groundbreaking. An excellent discussion of this development can be found in Peter Klein’s essay, “Government Did Invent the Internet, But the Market Made It Glorious”.

Human Genome Project: While the United States government’s Human Genome Project began first in 1990, it was overtaken by the privately funded genome-sequencing project of J. Craig Venter and his company Celera. Celera started its work on sequencing the human genome in 1998 and completed it in 2001 at approximately a tenth of the cost of the federally funded project. The two projects published their results jointly, but the private project was far speedier and more cost-efficient.

Private Deep-Space Asteroid-Hunting Telescope: This initiative is in the works, but Leonard David of SPACE.com writes that Project Sentinel is expected to be launched in 2016 using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. This is an unprecedented private undertaking by the B612 Foundation, described by Mr. David as “a nonprofit group of scientists and explorers that has long advocated the exploration of asteroids and better space rock monitoring.” Project Sentinel aims to vastly improve our knowledge of potentially devastating near-Earth asteroids and to map 90% of them within 5.5 years of operation. The awareness conferred by this project might just save humanity itself.

With this illustrious history, private enterprise may yet bring us even greater achievements – from the colonization of Mars to indefinite human life extension. In my estimation, the probability of such an outcome far exceeds that of a national government undertaking such ambitious advancements of our civilization.

Commonsense Wisdom from African Farmers – Article by Kelvin Kemm

Commonsense Wisdom from African Farmers – Article by Kelvin Kemm

The New Renaissance Hat
Kelvin Kemm
June 19, 2012
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If you want to learn what farmers think (and need), talk to African farmers – not to bureaucrats, environmental activists or politicos at the Rio+20 United Nations summit in Rio de Janeiro. You’ll get very different, far more honest and thoughtful perspectives.

The recent (May 24) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network conference in Pretoria, South Africa brought together delegates from agricultural communities in many African countries. FANRPAN’s primary objective is to improve food security in Africa, by ensuring that small-scale farmers can become more productive. Their obvious enthusiasm and commonsense views were heartening.

FANRPAN chair Sindiso Ngwenya of Zambia gave an incisive presentation, pointing out that agriculture is the key to reducing poverty and ensuring food security in Africa. “We call upon the world to assist us,” he said, “not by treating us as beggars, but by treating us as equals.”

Ngwenya criticised many First World attempts to use climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development arguments to prevent African agriculture from advancing. “If you are using implements that were there before Christ, how much chance do you have?” he wanted to know.

And why would anyone think these UN-EU-US issues are important to African farmers and families who are trying to feed their families and neighbors, and improve their living standards by exporting their products?

Africa does not need foreign aid in the form of handouts, Ngwenya emphasized. African farmers need modern technology and reliable, affordable electricity. They need the world to buy African produce. Instead, far too often, European and other First World countries impose rules or block African exports, using a multitude of excuses that can no longer be tolerated.

FANRPAN has decided to go “Africa-wide,” Ngwenya announced. Africa is huge –larger than the United States, China, India and Europe combined. And yet 60% of its arable land is not used at all. On the arable land that is used in most African countries, crop yields are typically a quarter of the norm in South Africa. What’s needed, he said, are modern farming methods, seeds, fertilizers and equipment –at the level of every individual farmer.

Referring to the 2011 COP-17 world environment congress in Durban, South Africa, Ngwenya pointed out that the FANRPAN slogan is “No agriculture, no deal.” However, agriculture, and particularly the advancement of rural African agriculture, was not included in past COP objectives. Many delegates criticised this, saying it reflected the First World’s hope that Africa and African agriculture will remain primitive and underdeveloped, so that rich countries can praise Africans for being “sustainable” and protecting the planet.

Africans are being told by First World activists, politicians and pressure groups to “stay in tune with nature,” delegates noted – when this attitude really reflects a well-fed First World’s maneuver to retard African agricultural improvements.

When it came to the eternal climate change saga, FRANRPAN delegates emphasized “climate-smart agriculture” and noted that Africa has always experienced dramatic weather and climate variations. What’s needed now, they stresse, is sensible, fact-based science, to predict and adapt to local and regional climate cycles and variations.

Equally impressive was learning that a group of small-scale farmers from Burkino Faso had paid their own way to attend a meeting in Windhoek, Namibia, nearly 3,000 miles (4,500 kilometers) away, to present a petition calling for the development of evidence-based policies, to replace what to now have been emotional, harmful and oppressive policies, rules and treaties.

The delegates said they were tired of the First World telling them what to do, based on First World interests and perceptions. They understand all too well that calls for “sustainable development,” “biodiversity” and climate change “prevention” really mean demands for policies and practices that ensure sustained poverty and malnutrition.

FRANRPAN CEO Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda emphasized that the real work is done on the ground, at the level of individual countries – and “policy comes from people.” Individual countries must come to their own conclusions about what works for them, and countries must align their policies to ensure food security for their people, she said. Modern methods and technologies are also required, to enhance intra-Africa food trade and enable countries to export what they are good at producing.

Her enthusiasm was praised by a farmer who spoke from the floor, with a strong French accent. “There’s a lack of resources for small farmers to come here,” he said, even for important meetings like this, but he was glad he had spent the time and money to be there. Certainly, those that did attend exhibited enough excitement and enthusiasm for the millions who could not join them.

Chairman Ngwenya wrapped up the proceedings by criticising the apparently intentional side-stepping of agricultural issues during COP-17. The First World must stop impeding African farmers and end “the paralysis by analysis,” he said. Absolutely right.

There is far too much First World smoke and mirrors, telling Africans they are saving the planet – when the real intention is to stop them from acquiring modern technology and electricity that would allow them to surge to middle class or even rich country status.

This FANRPAN conference serves notice to the United Nations Environment Programme, Rio+20 Sustainable Development Summit, Europe, United States and other obstructionists that Africa has caught on to what they are doing – and is no longer willing to play their game.

That’s good news for every African, Asian, Latin American and other poor family that wants to eat better, live better and have the freedom to pursue their dreams.

Dr Kelvin Kemm is a nuclear physicist and business strategy consultant in Pretoria, South Africa. He is a member of the International Board of Advisors of the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), based in Washington, DC (www.CFACT.org). Dr. Kemm received the prestigious Lifetime Achievers Award of the National Science and Technology Forum of South Africa.

SpaceX, Neil deGrasse Tyson, & Private vs. Government Technological Breakthroughs – Video by G. Stolyarov II

SpaceX, Neil deGrasse Tyson, & Private vs. Government Technological Breakthroughs – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Mr. Stolyarov celebrates the May 22, 2012, launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule and responds to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s claims that private enterprise cannot make the biggest breakthroughs in science and exploration. On the contrary, Mr. Stolyarov identifies historical examples of just such privately driven breakthroughs and explains why private enterprise is more suited than a political structure for making radical improvements to human life.

References

Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 – Video from NASA
Beautiful picture of SpaceX Falcon 9 flight
– “Neil deGrasse Tyson: Bringing Commercial Space Fantasies Back to Earth” – Video
– “SpaceX rocket on its way to outer space” – Marcia Dunn – The Associated Press – May 22, 2012
– “SpaceX rocket launch hailed as ‘a new era in space exploration‘” – W. J. Hennigan – Los Angeles Times – May 22, 2012
– “Neil deGrasse Tyson” – Wikipedia
– “SpaceX” – Wikipedia