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Pay for play?
Published on April 21, 2016 By Phil Osborn In Science & Tech

 Update 05-02-2016

One interesting note was the focus by the NASA reps on gender balance.  (My estimate is that overall, of the ~60 participants, probably at least a third were women.) The large team immediately behind me that was working on an emergency person locator APP aimed at alerting first responders as to immediate emergencies was ~gender neutral, slightly less than half women. Their top coder, by universal acclaim, was a black woman. The NASA rep (this was Saturday afternoon) - who was clearly a very smart and aggressive lady - clearly didn't find that sufficient, suggesting that the group, I presume, as "you" was left undefined ~"I suggest strongly that YOU consider making your project presenter a woman ." (indicating the black woman coder,)  The de facto team leader responded with ~"But this lady is our best coder!  The last thing I want to do is divert her energy into preparing our presentation."  The NASA rep continued to press the point for what seemed like several minutes.

Clearly taking note of the fact that I had turned my chair around to listen in, the NASA rep asked what my role was.  One of the team members stated that I had made at least one valuable suggestion to their group - to the effect that crowd-sourced obstacle location could be handy in getting someone out of a situation like the Sandy flooding, and when the NASA rep replied with ~"then why isn't he on your team?" I tried to point out that I had my own project, still on standby in the hopes of enticing a coder, but the NASA rep had moved on in the conversation to argue about details of their project.  Shortly after this exchange, I was 86ed.

On Sunday, returning as general public for the awards, I witnessed bits and pieces, once again, of the gender theme, this time coming from the Saturday NASA rep's boss, if I'm not mistaken.  I didn't try to remember details.

Now, I am all for women in STEM.  I chafed over sexism at home and in my local community of Rome, GA, as a kid, and I pointed the two 14-yr-old girls at this event (whose project was a 3D-printed full-sized rocket) to one of the private space companies who I knew took in interns.  I even called the company on that Monday to check out what the odds were. But why push the issue to the point of annoyance in a group that appeared to all intents and purposes to already be there? 

Update 04-24-2016

I got 86'd.  The NASA rep started her briefing with a statement to the effect that everyone was welcome whether they could code or not. The idea was what counted.  Well... my idea was good, as several participants and one news reporter told me later on, but how to get on line and jump through the online project registration hoops when I had no access to a laptop or other media (that's another story).  Also, some specialized APPs and a LOT of coding expertise were obviously needed. 

I had a pen and some paper and an idea for an educational APP that allowed a kid - or adult - to collect STEM-related sources, such as the endless flood of great articles at www.kurzweilai.net, add them to a database of links, and then do projections as to the potential uses and impact of each breakthrough, and crosslink to related sources, with intermediate links explaining the connections.  My reasoning and reasons were that virtually nowhere was practical futurism being taught - especially in the lower grades, yet the ability to foresee the future - becoming an early computer adopter, for example -  was clearly a major asset.  We are taught history and current affairs, but no further.  I.e., we are taught to be tech serfs, not masters of our fates.

So, I lasted until about 3PM as a frustrated helper, making a list of the projects on my own, advising or suggesting ideas for the other dozen or so teams - quite successfully in general, but never getting the necessary, essential coding partner to complete the project initiation.  Finally one of the organizers confronted me on the issue and I left.  Interesting day.

*******  Start of Original Blog

I'm signed up at: http://spaceappsirvine.com/schedule/

Since anyone else there will doubtless be more in touch with the tech end than moi, I'll take a stab at seeing who is into how science gets paid for.  I may verge off to analyze the corrupt and detrimental intellectual property debancle world wide, but I'm hoping that some other people may be interested in alternative funding schemes.  Check out http://www.lunarregistry.com/

But the original company that was selling lunar real estate - Moon Shop - has disappeared with scarcely a trace in yet another internet black hole.  This rewriting of history that I keep glitching on is starting to weird me out, people.  Did Moon Shop lose some court battle or did all the principals die or, very possibly, were they bought out?  They had what appeared to be a validly registered claim to the moon and the rest of the solar system and beyond and claimed that all manner of celebrities had purchased parcels. This went on for over a decade.  But now it's not just gone.  It's totally erased! 

I'm not sure if this site is related: http://eternalsonata.wikia.com/wiki/File:Elegy_of_the_Moon_Shop.jpg

Space - or particular pieces of it, such as apparently some of the rare-earth asteroids - is potentially BIG business.  With such a super-charged financial structure ruling our lives and multilevel absurdities like the mortgage crisis, or the massive frauds regarding pollution by German and Japanese companies, why would the few $million to buy out and erase a small company be so improbable?  And if the purchaser wins the legal bet at a million to one odds?  And ends up owning or sporting a valid claim to own title on the galaxy? 

Then can't you be charged with trespassing if you land on their property? Safer to emulate the intellectual property practices - paying off the shakedown trolls who go after anyone and everyone who has a real product or a plausible claim to such with claims of prior ownership of some critical element.  Check out what happened to siri.

The claims may be spurious in the entire, yet force a principled software developer into devastatingly expensive legal action.  Could something similar have happened to the MoonShop?

Uvah Thanks for restating what is essentially my position, in a nutshell - no pun intended.  Property and ownership are not the same thing.  Ownership reflects the origin of all value in the Commons.  Only the Commons can claim true, unfettored ownership.  Property is a contract between the Commons and some person(s) who want special privilege for whatever reason, and are willing to trade something of value to offset the loss to the Commons.

on Apr 22, 2016

No single individual/entity may lay claim to any part of this system/galaxy. Asteroid ownership should be limited to the rock being mined, not to the field as a whole. As for regions outside of our system...think of other systems that may be inhabited as a house. You wouldn't want someone on the outside laying claim to something that belongs to you. Wars happen because of that. A prime example...WWII. Our moon belongs to the people who live on planet Earth, all of them and no one, without exception, can claim it for themselves. I don't care what kind of legal BS they come up with.

on Apr 22, 2016

The most likely end for the Moon Shop is that someone went to prison for felony fraud.  There's a guy who claims to own the whole solar system because he thinks he found a loophole(he didn't) in the UN charter that allows him to claim them, but he can't actually register his claims anywhere because no one even bothers to take him seriously.  The UN didn't even bother to respond to his query.  Con artists, lunatics, and strange but harmless people have been claiming ownership of the moon, planets, etc, for years with a variety of reasons.


The lunatic registry you linked has absolutely no chance of actually accomplishing anything.  The "deeds" they sell are legally invalid, and will remain so in perpetuity regardless of whether the goals are accomplished or not.  If laws are changed and people become able to buy and sell lunar real estate, any previously fabricated deeds sold by hustlers won't be part of the picture.  Anyone selling such things had better be very, very careful with how they're wording things, or they're going to be wearing stripes for a while.


If/when we start mining asteroids(maybe it never becomes economical to do this at all), I expect it will be similar to land rushes of the past.  First come, first serve mining rights.  You get somewhere, stake your claim, and it's yours so long as you're actively utilizing it.