Archive for July, 2009

Australia’s next top politician – Sarah Murdoch?

Am I the only person who thinks Sarah Murdoch would make a good politician? Shes highly presentable, can give a good speech, has the right connections and seems interested in social issues. Seems to be a sensible, level headed woman too. Perhaps not now but in a decade or so when her children are older.. Nahh.. shes far too pretty, politics is supposed to be theater for ugly people after all.


Kayser Trad is a racist

Thats what a judge has found:

“There is little doubt that many of the plaintiff’s remarks are offensive to Jewish persons and homosexuals,” Justice McClellan said in his judgment.

“Many of his remarks are distasteful and appear to condone violence.

“I’m satisfied that the plaintiff does hold views which can properly be described as racist.

“I’m also satisfied that he encourages others to hold those views. In particular he holds views derogatory of Jewish people.

“The views which he holds would not be acceptable to most right-thinking Australians.”

Mr Trad, who founded the Islamic Friendship Association, faces up to $400,000 in court costs and there are question marks over his credibility after Justice McClellan’s scathing judgment.

Lets take look at the Islamic Friendship Association. Just how many members does it have? It seems to have been set up to avoid scrutiny. From their website:

The Islamic Friendship Association of Australia is an incorporated association, with both formal and informal members. We were established in 2003 and have since held a number of interfaith programs. We generally work in partnership with other organisations and individuals. A person does not need to be a member to work with us, our organisation is not based on any fee structure and we have thus far resisted establishing a bank account. This practice has worked for us as some of our key members are affiliated with other organisations and this means that the Islamic Friendship Association does not need to handle money directly and therefore, will not need to account for finances.

The only member I’m aware of is Mr Trad himself. Its main function seems to be the promotion of Mr Trad. I’ll be interested in knowing how much support he has from the Muslim community.

Hopefully journalist will now find someone else when they want a Muslim spokesman to interview.

Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O are sleazy jerks

By now just about everyone has heard about the stunt the two radio jerks tried yesterday. They tied a 14 year old girl to a lie detector and asked her about her if she ever had sex were she revealed she was raped.

Proving they are no more then irresponsible clowns they are now blaming the media:

Meanwhile Kyle and Jackie O today hit back at media who “skewed” reports of their child rape revelation scandal in “an evil way”, and said the controversy “just happened”.

The pair criticised “twisted” and “false” reporting, saying they were in shock over the incident.

Just what made them think it was OK to ask a 14 year old girl about her sex life on radio show in the first place?

After Apollo, Space Settlements?

Today Alex and I are starting a discussion, will the dreams we had after Apollo, of human settlements in Space ever become reality ? And if so how? This is an open discussion so if you want to share your thoughts please do so in the comments section.

Also please take the opportunity to participate in our poll.

After Apollo, Can the dream of Solar System Settlement become reality?

Privatize the Moon

As a kid growing up in the Apollo era I confidently expected Lunar cities and Martian expeditions by now. Hey, I hoped to migrate to the Moon! Unfortunately that dream was never realized. If anything manned space exploration has taken a step back and we have been stuck in LEO since the 1970’s.

Human space exploration is still largely the occupation of governments, and government programs will always be dependent on budgetary considerations. President George W Bush approved a return to the Moon and the eventual exploration of Mars, but the Obama administration is reviewing those plans and is problematic if they survive.

Now many of use see great potential in Space. We see Solar Power Satellite He3 Moon mining, orbiting Space Colonies even the terraforming of Mars. A true Solar System civilization providing enormous wealth to all people. The trouble is that wealth is locked in the future, what is required is a way to release some of that value today so it ca be used to kick start the space enterprise.

Property developers do this all the time on Earth. Undeveloped land is sold to potential future developers who may develop the real estate themselves or sell it (hopefully at a profit ) to someone else who also sees economic potential in the land.

That requires property rights. We need a way to establish property rights on celestial bodies and do it now, so that capital can be found to build the settlements we want.

Which brings me to Alan Wasser, he has proposed that the United States recognize land claims on the Moon:

But, quite deliberately, the treaty says nothing against private property. Therefore, without claiming sovereignty, the U.S. could recognize land claims made by private companies, regardless of nationality, that establish human settlements on the Moon or Mars. The U.S. wouldn’t be “granting” or giving the land to anyone. It isn’t the U.S.’s to give. The settlement itself says “because we are the first to actually occupy this unowned land, WE claim ownership of it” – and the U.S. just “recognizes” – accepts, acquiesces to, decides not to contest – the settlement’s claim of private ownership. The proposed legislation would commit the U.S. to granting that recognition if those who have established settlements meet specified conditions, such as offering to sell passage on their ships to anyone willing to pay a fair price. Entrepreneurs could use that promise of U.S. recognition to help raise the venture capital to develop the ships needed to make the claim. The dollar value of a Lunar land claim will only become big enough to be profitable when people can actually get to the land. So Lunar land deeds, recognized by the U.S. under this plan, can be offered for sale only after there is a transport system going back and forth often enough to support a settlement and the land is actually accessible. It will finally be understood to be land in the sky, not pie in the sky.

Land claims on the Moon? Why not? They were used to open up previous frontiers. And have the great advantage of not relying on government funds. He claims the legislation would fit in with current treaties as no land grants as such would be offered. Such legislation would bound to be controversial and produce much heated arguments, but frankly, I have yet to hear of a better idea to really kick start Space development.

A Post Apollo Economic Road Map That Will Help Humanity Make a Home amongst the Stars

After Apollo, Can the dream of Solar System Settlement become reality?

The answer to that question is an unequivocal yes and the reasons have to do with economics, national prestige, national and environmental security concerns and the existential threats we face as a species.

Our species and our ancient forbearers were and remain innately a migratory species. The lure and call of distant lands and new horizons is an ancient passion. Modern science offers us tantalizing evidence of this wanderlust and has helped us weave a tale that is the stuff of legend. This migratory history is written in our genes and the fossil record. It is the story of how our species emerged out of Africa and spread out across the globe to become a planetary species.

It is a narrative that spans four million years and one hundred and sixty thousand human generations and chronicles an odyssey that has taken humanity from the rift valley of Olduvai Gorge to the Sea of Tranquility. It is a tale of survival and bravery in the face of great dangers and it is a tale of conquest and discovery.

We are a species that has faced and survived the vicissitudes of a changing global climate, the fire and ash of super-volcanism, the long chill of a volcanic winter and fire storms raining from the heavens. We survived because we were voyagers and explorers.

The question now facing humanity today is whether or not this wanderlust will continue unabated – is the human species indeed poised to take its next giant leap and settle the solar system? Are we ready to voyage beyond Tranquility?

Many seem to think that there is inevitability to all of this. That space colonization and the human Diaspora out into to the solar system and beyond is humankind’s manifest destiny. Yet, this destiny is not in any way written in our stars but, in ourselves. The choice is entirely ours to make.

“…..the stars in their courses fought-A fearful tempest burst upon them and threw them into disorder”.

-Judges 5:20

But, the evidence of modern science has shown us that the fate of humanity’s long term survival is indeed determined by the stars in their courses.

Many ancient civilizations of both the old and new worlds – the Sumerians, the Old Kingdom of Egypt, the ancient cultures of the Indus valley, the Mayan, the Anastasi Indians, and the ancient aboriginal peoples of Australasia had all fallen victim to the vicissitudes of a suddenly shifting global climate. Whether these shifts were solely caused by terrestrial agencies or triggered by celestial bombardment is still a topic of great controversy. But, what ever the causes it was our intelligence, ingenuity and the fact that we were dispersed globally that helped ensure our survival as a species.

Yet, many of our fellow citizens and our political and economic leaders are not accustomed to thinking in terms of geological and cosmological timescales. Many of us have become complacent –serene in our assurance of our dominion over matter and the natural world. Nevertheless, the natural world still throws calamity our way. Be it tsunamis, the occasional global pandemic or a localized geological and climatic upheaval. Our twenty-first century technological civilization is still at the mercy of nature’s fury. And, the Cosmos still reminds us every now and then that it can wreak its own havoc on us.

Back in July, 1994 during the week of the twenty-fifth anniversary marking man’s first steps on the Moon the heavens provided a massive fireworks display of its own to mark the occasion. The planet Jupiter sustained twenty individual impacts from the fragments left over from the disintegration of the comet Shoemaker -Levy 9. Any one of these impacts would have been sufficient in itself to wipe life off the face of our globe in a real Extinction Level Event (E.L.E).

Exactly 15 years later, and as if to punctuate the importance of the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, nature conspired again to offer up another doleful reminder that humanity’s future is indeed tied to events out in the starry ferment. On July 20th, 2009 new NASA images indicate that an object hit Jupiter. Do we need any more convincing that space exploration is vital to humanity’s long term future?

We must explore and colonize space. Our long term survival as a species depends on this. Humankind faces an Extraterrestrial Imperative which is just as much a survival imperative – Colonize space or die. And, with our passing the light of human reason and thought will have been forever extinguished from the Cosmos.

Do we have to wait for a latter day Tunguska event over a major metropolitan city to convince ourselves that we are imperiled? While arguments rooted in fear do have there own intrinsic value in the short term, history has shown that people have short memories. We are quick to forget the lessons of the past. Be it the relatively recent past of one or two lifetimes ago or lessons rooted in the dim recesses of ancient history.

In the short term, over the course of the next twenty to forty years, what will drive humanity to venture forth from our planetary cradle? To answer that question lets go back a mere forty-eight years into the past to Kennedy’s “We choose to go to the Moon” speech:

“………no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space”.

“Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it–we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding”.

President John F. Kennedy at Rice University, September 12th, 1962

Existential fears notwithstanding, what will drive the human expansion into outer space in the short term will be the same geopolitical, security concerns and economic arguments that were central and of primary importance to President Kennedy two generations ago and as recently voiced by NASA’s new administrator, former astronaut Charles Bolden:

“Today, we have to choose. Either we can invest in building on our hard-earned world technological leadership or we can abandon this commitment, ceding it to other nations who are working diligently to push the frontiers of space. If we choose to lead, we must build on our investment in the International Space Station, accelerate development of our next generation launch systems to enable expansion of human exploration, enhance NASA’s capability to study Earth’s environment.”

In the foreseeable future economics, national prestige, national and environmental security concerns will drive humanity’s settlement of the solar system in incremental steps. The development of the mineral and energy resources of the Moon and near Earth space will be the driving force that will one day take us to Mars and realize our long term dream of settling the solar system.

Our natural satellite the Moon processes vast untapped mineral and energy wealth that can help humanity solve many of its present day and future environmental and economic concerns for generations to come. Developing the industrial scale infrastructure that will help humanity develop this wealth will be the first major step in transforming our present planetary based civilization into a spacefaring civilization ready to make its home amongst the stars.

The nations of the Old Worlds of Europe and Asia, foremost amongst them China, see these vast new opportunities out in the new frontier of space and are willing to commit themselves to this challenge. The United States must lead in this pursuit.

Those of us involved in space advocacy can transform the post Apollo dream of Solar System Settlement into a reality by educating and convincing our fellow citizens and our economic and policy makers that space is a vital part of humanity’s future economic activity and a crucial element of our nation’s long term economic and political vitality.

At the 44th Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium presidential science advisor John Marburger made a powerful and profound policy statement on why we must explore and develop the space frontier. In his keynote address Marburger stated empathically and concisely one of the most important priorities of NASA’s current space vision.

“As I see it, questions about the vision boil down to whether we want to incorporate the solar system in our economic sphere, or not.”

The Space Study Institute’s director Dr. Lee Valentine and the late Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill (founder of the Space Studies Institute and author of The High Frontier) both provide a broad vision of incorporating the solar system into humanity’s economic sphere and ensuring global environmental security.

Our space program must also be directed to the long term goal of maintaining the health and vitality of this planet in all its realms – land, air and sea. All of which are integral to the long term habitability of our world. It must also commit itself to reversing the tide of global environmental and climatic degradation and a long term program of planetary defense from the possibility of cometary and asteroidal impact.

Nearly five decades after Kennedy we must reassess and reaffirm this nation’s commitment to the high frontier of space and link that commitment to the present political realities we face as a nation in the post 9/11 world. Our present national space objectives must reflect and address our current short and long range national and global security concerns. And, in order to do this we must choose to return to the Moon and do the other things and state clearly what those other things are precisely.

The Cold War is not quite over yet and as a nation we face new adversaries and with some of our former adversaries old habits die hard. Communism and tyranny have not gone away and we face many new political and economic dangers in this new millennium.

We can no longer remain a nation held captive by our political and ideological foes by solely relying on the strategic mineral and energy resources controlled by nations and despotic regimes which neither share our democratic values nor our love for individual human liberty. A common definition of a strategic mineral is a mineral that would be needed to supply the military, industrial, and essential civilian needs of the United States during a national emergency. Furthermore, they are not found or produced in the United States in sufficient quantities to meet this need. We can no longer allow ourselves to remain bound by this status quo.

Nor should we relinquish nor endanger our leadership as defenders of the free world by making political and diplomatic compromises with these same nations. And, neither should we allow ourselves to be forced to engage in reckless military actions, that would compel other nations to question our real commitment to democratic values throughout the rest of the world, in order to secure our hold on these resources.

Our nation and its allies must commit themselves to a long term program of energy independence and give up their debilitating addiction to Mid-eastern oil and its dependency on strategic minerals located in the most politically unstable and volatile regions of the World.

A crucial first step in meeting these objectives is to embark and commit our nation to a long term post-Apollo space program with the clear objective of developing the mineral and energy resources of the Moon and cis-lunar space (the space situated between the earth and the moon). We must also develop the technologies that will allow us to capture and utilize the vast mineral wealth contained in the Near Earth Objects (NEOs) that cross our planet’s orbital path and threaten our existence and thus at the same time embark on a program of planetary defense from the possibility of cometary and asteroidal impact.

By choosing to return to the Moon, this time to stay, we will have taken a bold step towards attaining the goal making the dream of Solar System Settlement a long term and viable certainty.

Sydney’s transport problems solved

I have found the solution to our transport problems, its green , cheap and even fight obesity!

Introducing the Shweeb:

What could be more fun than gliding along on an eco-chic bicycle? How about shooting through the skies in a pedal-powered monorail capsule! A bunch of entrepreneuring New Zealanders has created just such a human-powered monorail system, known as the Shweeb. Their creation does double duty, acting not just as an innovative transportation system, but also an amusement ride. Are our cities the next step?

The technology behind the Shweeb is remarkably simple – the only infrastructure required is a network of interconnected single rails. A number of pods are hung from this these lines, which are powered by the people sitting inside them. In principle, these pods are no different than recumbent bicycles – they can achieve close to 25 mph, are comfortable to use, and can be used by nearly anyone.