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The Queen & the Republic of Minerva

Posted: September 22, 2016 at 8:00 pm

I have read a number of accounts dealing with the dispute between the Kingdom of Tonga and the Republic of Minerva over their conflicting claims to the Minerva Reefs, and of the Tongan Governments subsequent occupation of, and claim to, the reefs. Much of this writing has been the product of the grossly over fertile imagination of authors who have never set foot within a thousand miles of Minerva. Here are some examples of this ‘scholarship’. ‘Private Islands Discussion Forum’.

“The Tongans never took too kindly to the micro-nation of Minerva. An army of angry, armed, plus-sized Tongans ready to push the settlers into the sea should be enough to scare anyone”

‘Cabinet’. Issue 18 summer 2005

New Foundlands. George Pendle

“On 21 June 1972, the worlds heaviest monarch, King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV of Tonga accompanied by members of the Tongan Defence Force, a convict work detail and a four piece brass band, set sail from his kingdom aboard the royal yacht Olovaha. On the king’s stately mind was one thought, the invasion of the Republic of Minerva”.

Out of such, are myths and legends born!

– Doug Jenkins, Bay of Islands, New Zealand –

What follows is my account of the so called ‘invasion of Minerva’. It was 39 years ago, but memories of this unique experience are still very fresh. I was there. I sailed to Minerva with King Taufa’ahau and his retinue on board the Olovaha. It was the luck of being in the right place at the right time, and it was the fortune of having an understanding boss, who when the opportunity arose for me to join the Olovaha said “go for it, and we’ll cover for you”.

The story was a big one throughout the Kingdom. On 15 June 1972 the ‘Tonga Chronicle’ published the full text of a Royal Proclamation.

PROCLAMATION His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV in council DOES HEREBY PROCLAIM:-WHEREAS the reefs known as North Minerva and South Minerva Reef have long served as fishing grounds for the Tongan people and have long been regarded as belonging to the Kingdom of Tonga has now created on these Reefs two islands known as Teleki Tokelau and Teleki Tonga; AND WHEREAS it is expedient that we should now confirm the rights of the Kingdom of Tonga to these islands; THEREFORE we do hereby AFFIRM and PROCLAIM that the islands, rocks, reefs, foreshores and waters lying within a radius of twelve miles (19.31 km) therefore are part of our Kingdom of Tonga.

It was also announced that Taufa’ahau himself, would be sailing south to the reefs to formally claim title

His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV

Prior to the proclamation, rumours had been growing for some time around Nuku’alofa of an international organization of dubious background proposing to create an artificial island on North Minerva by dredging the lagoon of South Minerva for the infill. As wild rumors began to give way to fact, it appeared that a syndicate known as the Ocean Life Research Foundation, conceived by Los Vegas real estate millionaire Michael Oliver, with considerable financial backing, and offices in London and New York, was behind the proposals to build this new micro-nation in the South West Pacific.

Their stated object was to create a libertarian society, with no taxation, no welfare, no subsidies, or any form of state intervention. It would be supported by fishing, tourism, light industry and other commercial activities. The ‘other activities’ were never specified but no doubt would include banking and the registration of ‘off shore companies’. It was envisaged by the group that the nearby Kingdom of Tonga would be happy to supply the labour for both the construction and future servicing of the new Republic of Minerva, to the mutual benefit of both states, (1)

Early in 1971 a visitor to Tonga, claiming the title of the Roving Ambassador for the Republic of Minerva, arrived in Nuku’alofa seeking an audience with the King in order to appraise him of the scheme. The audience was not granted. A senior member of the Prime Minister’s Department however did meet with the ‘Ambassador’ and was shown a documentary film produced by the Pilkington Glass Company. The film was a feasibility study for a ‘sea city’ of 30,000 people that could be constructed on the Dogger Bank in the North Sea. This was the model upon which Michael Oliver’s organization was basing its plans. Action on the reef by the ‘Republic’ was already underway. Based on legal advice that unclaimed land can be claimed if some practical use was made of it, Oliver’s organization had constructed a steel tower surmounted by a radar reflector, a useful navigation aid, on North Minerva, along with their flag. (2)

International legal experts consulted by the Tongan Government had a different interpretation of the law pertaining to unclaimed lands. According to this interpretation land could not be claimed unless it was permanently above the high tide mark. The claimants could then lay claim not only to the said land but also to all adjacent reefs. As a result of this ruling an ocean going tug and barge, with a work party of prisoners from Tolitoli Prison was dispatched to the reefs. Within a relatively short time they had constructed from coral blocks and concrete two very small islands each resplendent with a flagpole. The islands of Teleki Tokolau and Teleli Tonga were born

At this point I would like to digress for a moment. In my title I make specific mention of the Tonga Shipping Company’s vessel Olovaha. This for good reason. While surfing the net for background on Olovaha I came across an excellent web site, ‘MV Queen of the Isles’. With contributions from ex-crew and passengers this covers the life of a much loved little ship, from her launching at Bristol England in 1964, as a ferry between Penzance and the Scilly Isles as ‘Queen of the Isles’, to Tonga as an inter Island ferry called ‘Olovaha’, to New Zealand as a floating casino called ‘Gulf Explorer’, to the tourist trade of Queensland once more as ‘Queen of the Isles’. Renamed yet again ‘Western Queen’ for work in the Solomon Islands, she sadly ended her days blown ashore by cyclone Justin in 1997.

The one flaw in this account is the sparseness of information on the ships years under the flag of Tonga and no mention at all, of the roll she played in the Minerva Reef saga. This I believe must have been one of the highlights of her 33 year career and deserves to be remembered.

Olovaha sailed from Nuku’alofa at 11.30 pm on a Saturday night. We had to leave before midnight as strict Sunday observance in the kingdom forbade vessels to depart or any work to be done on the Lords Day. On board, His Royal Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, his nobles, his cabinet ministers, his royal fishermen, a platoon of solders, a police contingent, the full police brass band, Olovaha’s officers and crew, a German doctor and his wife, an American lady journalist, myself and my young Tongan companion Suliano Etu. A truly crowded little ship!

The royal entourage occupied the officers and masters quarters on the upper deck, the nobles, cabinet ministers and honorary nobles (all but one!) occupied the observation lounge below the bridge deck, police and military were accommodated in the cargo hold, the fishermen bunked in with the crew and Suliano and I camped on the after deck. On boarding I had been directed to the observation lounge and Suliano to the deck, I insisted on joining him. I preferred to be an ‘honorary commoner’. Having been told to bring our own food, we carried a back pack containing two sleeping bags, a small primus stove, some tined food and some loaves of bread. We went aft, to make camp among the mooring bollards.(3)

The flag of the Republic of Minerva

Ata Island

I slept well that first night under a canopy of brilliant stars, lulled by the rhythmic beat of ships engines and the roll of an ocean swell. I awoke from a dream of heavenly music, as from a male voice choir, opened my eyes and there on the deck before me stood a pair of very large feet in shiny black sandals. From the feet, my eye panned upwards, two brown, muscular and very hairy legs, to a black vala and ta’avala. I looked to the left and to the right, I was surrounded by them. I had awoken in a forest of hairy legs, and what’s more they were singing hymns. The owners of the legs that is. It was Sunday morning and church had convened on the largest open meeting place on board, ‘my’ after deck. Slowly, and I hope unobtrusively, I extracted my self from the sleeping bag, in which fortunately I was wearing shorts and shirt, and joined the congregation. Suliano slept on among the legs. When later I asked how he could manage to sleep through all that singing he confessed to only be pretending to sleep. He was Catholic he said, and had no intention of joining “that Methodist service”

Later that morning land appeared. A small island, very high, caped with forest and cloud, and skirted by imposing and precipitous cliffs. The island of Ata, some 100 nautical miles south of Nuku’alofa.

Here Olovaha dropped anchor on the southern side, between the pinnacles and the island. Despite the fact that it was Sunday, when it is normally prohibited, the King gave permission for fishing to commence, on the condition that all catches were to go into the royal larder. Suddenly fishing lines appeared, it seemed with every one, from noble to common sea man, all had come prepared except for Suliano and my self. The fishing was exciting but not very profitable. Most of the catch being sharks, and most of the sharks lost while hauling them up the high ships sides. While anchored off Ata a minor coincidence occurred. In 1965 six Tongan youths, in a stolen fishing boat, were shipwrecked on Ata and marooned for 13 months. They were discovered and rescued by the Australian fishing boat Just David, owned by Sydney businessman and entrepreneur, Peter Warner.(4)

Just David returned the boys, first to Nuku’alofa and then to their home islands in Ha’apai. While in Tongan waters Warner was impressed by the fishing potential and as a result established a fishing and fish processing enterprise in Nuku’alofa. He named the first vessel built for this venture Ata, for the island from which the boys had been rescued. Shortly before we were about to leave Ata for Minerva that day, a vessel made its appearance from behind the island and moved to anchor alongside us. It was Peter Warner’s long line fishing vessel Ata.

Some of the ships complement on Teleki Tokolau

Seeing the Royal Standard flying from our mast, gifts were immediately hoisted aboard for His Majesty, three large tuna and three large turtles. These were laid side by side on the deck, three of the men from Ata sat cross legged on one side, while three nobles, representing the king sat facing them across the gifts. An elaborate formal presentation then took place. Ceremonial over the fishermen returned to their boat. Both vessels retrieved their anchors and proceeded on their respective journeys, Ata, north to Nuku’alofa with her catch and Olovaha south, toward the Minervas’.

Late the following afternoon, out of what seemed an endless ocean, a line of broken water appeared on our horizon. We had reached North Minerva. Olovaha pitched and rolled heavily as we negotiated the narrow gap of rapidly shoaling water but within a few minutes every thing became still. We were in a comparative mill pond surrounded by a rolling ocean, a strange feeling. We made a turn to port, toward the deeper anchorage on the northern edge of the lagoon and there, before us lay Tel’eki Tokelau Island, much smaller than I had envisaged, surmounted by her flag pole. Near by lay the boilers and engine of one of the many wrecks that are scattered about the reef. Before sleep that night I lay wondering what the next day would bring, there were so many of us on this boat, and that Island looked so very small, there was no way that we could all fit ashore. Would Suliano and I even get the chance to land? After all we were among the least important of those on board.

Come morning and my concerns were answered. For the ceremony, the King would remain onboard (in fact he did not go ashore at all) along with the brass band. The soldiers, armed with 303 lee-enfields for firing the salute, also remained on the Olovaha. There was room for us.

As this was an important royal occasion all were dressed in their best finery. Police and military in dress uniform, ministers of religion in their robes, nobles and cabinet ministers, and Suliano, in their best valas and ta’avalas. For the occasion even I had taken shoes and socks, long trousers and a tie. The ships life boats were swung out, we scrambled aboard, and set off. Then there came a problem. On reaching the edge of the coral it was discovered that Olovaha’s boats drew to much water to be able to cross the reef, and we still had about 100 yards to go to reach our destination. It was over the side we all went in all our finery to wade ashore at times in chest deep water. What a sight we made on reaching the island.

And so the ceremony began. A member of the defense force, with hand held radio, coordinated what was taking place on the island with the activities onboard Olovaha. Hymns were sung and prayers were prayed. The proclamation was read. Police and military stood stiffly to attention. A soldier knelt before a minister of the church with the neatly folded flag on his outstretched arms for it to be blessed. A bugle sounded, and to the strains of the national anthem coming across the water from the ship, the red and white ensign of Tonga was slowly hoisted. This was followed by the salute, fired from ‘Olovaha’s guns’. Throughout all of this we all stood, dripping wet in our finery.

Olovaha at North Minerva

My feelings that day were to say the least, an unusual mixture. Was I partaking in some strange farce, played out in the middle of the ocean? In many ways the whole scene was quite Gilbertian. We could well have been the rehearsing cast for HMS Pinafore or the Pirates of Penzance. There were times when I could have laughed at the weird performance in which I was participating, and yet, for much of the ceremony I was considerably moved. I was being involved in history. I was participating in a ceremonial the likes of which had probably not occurred since Cook raised the flag in New Zealand, claiming the land for His Majesty King George III. Here I was, with King Tafu’ahau IV, raising the flag over a new land. Such an occurrence may never happen again in the history of mankind. This may seem rather an extreme hyperbole, but in fact it was just how I felt.

The following day Suliano and I left the ship and swam to the reef with fins and goggles, to explore the coral. After a time we noticed one of the ships boat’s approaching. Ashore came the whole contingent of nobles and with them a large Kava bowl. We swam to within a short distance of the island, and being inappropriately dressed to go ashore sat with just our heads above water and watched. We were privileged to witness at first hand a full noble kava ceremony. Normally, a rare sight, but even more so in such an unusual setting.

Early the next morning anchor was weighed and we left for South Minerva. It was as well that the formal ceremonies had taken place on North Minerva as the weather now began to deteriorate. After negotiating the entrance to South Minerva, we crossed the lagoon to Tele’ke Tonga. Here the island had been constructed near the remains of the Japanese fishing boat that had provided shelter to the crew and passengers of the ill fated Tongan cutter Tuaikaepau in 1962. A number of Tuaikaepau’s complement died and were buried on the reef so sadly adding a more emotive aspect to Tonga’s claims. (5) Wind and seas were rising and rain squalls scuttled across the lagoon as one of the boats was quickly lowered. A party of soldiers was ferried ashore, and the flag was raised. Returning to Olovaha the boat was hoisted aboard, the anchor retrieved and we made our way through the gap toward the open sea. The course was set for home.

Two days later Olovaha steamed into Nuku’alofa. One of the highlights of my four years in the Kingdom had come to an end. Over the years I have related this story many times. Listeners to my tale have often said that I should put it on paper, now, 39 years later, I have done just that. Some minor aspects of the occasion I have no doubt have been eroded by the mists of memory and time but basically this is a true account of what I remember of that event in Tongan history. I was there.

Foot Notes

The vessel as Queen of the Isles I. This was her appearance while operating in Tongan waters.

Olovaha as Queen of the Isles II after the refit. Note the extended boat deck, and narrower funnel.

The rest is here:

The Queen & the Republic of Minerva

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North Carolina Chapter of the Appraisal Institute

Posted: September 8, 2016 at 6:39 am

The North Carolina Chapter of the Appraisal Institute is part of a global association and was chartered in 1957 under the predecessor organization, American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers. Today, the NC Chapter has just under 600 Designated Members, Candidates, Practicing Affiliates, and Affiliates across the state including over 300 of whom have achieved the MAI and/or SRA designations through the Appraisal Institute (www.AppraisalInstitute.org). Every year, our Chapter hosts over a dozen educational offerings to real estate practitioners. We meet four times a year in key cities across the state. Our mission statement is “The mission of the chapter is to advance professionalism and ethics, global standards, methodologies, and practices through the professional development of property economics worldwide.”

The Chapter is the largest in Region V and strives to provide superior AI benefits at the local level. We are headquartered in the Piedmont Triad area of the state.

Dear NC Appraisal Institute Colleagues:

It is hard to believe that we are already well into 2016. The spring is typically a busy time for appraisers, and this year did not disappoint. In addition to the demands of our careers, we’ve been amidst one of the more interesting political campaign seasons in recent history. No matter what side of the fence each of us sits on, I think we can all agree that it’s important to pay attention and vote for what we believe in.

Speaking of what we believe in, I’ve had people ask me, “What is the Appraisal Institute?” and, “Why are you a Member?” At our recent Legislative Action Day in Raleigh, I was reminded, as I am frequently, why I am a proud Member of the Appraisal Institute. Members of the Appraisal Institute elevate the appraisal profession. These are individuals who have gone above and beyond the requirements of state certification, not just in the hopes of financial success, but because they really want to be the best. These are people who often take classes not for Continuing Education, but to learn, to be better, and to grow. These are people who take a Wednesday off of work during the busiest time of the year to make their voices heard on Jones Street, and to support our profession. I’m proud to be a designated member of the Appraisal Institute, and to be among the ranks of the best of the best.

As appraisers in North Carolina, we are well aware of the need to stay informed of regulatory changes and potential shifts in the way we do business. The last decade has been challenging, particularly for those who specialize in residential mortgage work. Many lament that the best appraisers are being pushed out due to low fees and less work. This is a concerning trend and the NC Appraisal Institute’s Government Relations Committee, chaired by Mike Moody, MAI, has been hard at work, trying to keep ahead of any potential new legislation and give all appraisers in NC a voice in our legislature.

2016 is a momentous year for the North Carolina Chapter, as it will be the first time the Appraisal Institute Annual Conference will be held here. This July 25th to 27th, appraisers and users of appraisal services from across the United States and beyond will converge on Charlotte for networking, education and, of course, to catch up with old friends. Laura Mallory, MAI, has been working tirelessly helping to plan this event and she has created a sponsorship program for the NCAI that is to be commended. With Laura’s help, the chapter will be handing out a variety of promotional items and giveaways, with a nod to North Carolina favorites, like Mt. Olive pickles and the battle of the barbeques. The Appraisal Institutes Annual Conference is an event not to miss!

It is an honor to be the 2016 NCAI president. I am truly humbled by the opportunity and am proud to get to work alongside the best and the brightest in this industry. I never cease to be amazed by the passion and dedication of Appraisal Institute Professionals. I look forward to all that is in store for us for the rest of the year. Keep reaching higher!


Claire M. Aufrance, MAI

2016 Chapter President

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North Carolina Chapter of the Appraisal Institute

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Cyberpunk – a short story by Bruce Bethke

Posted: August 10, 2016 at 9:16 pm

Cyberpunk a short story by Bruce Bethke


In the early spring of 1980 I wrote a little story about a bunch of teenage hackers. From the very first draft this story had a name, and lo, the name was–

And you can bet any body part you’d care to name that, had I had even the slightest least inkling of a clue that I would still be answering questions about this word nearly 18 years later, I would have bloody well trademarked the damned thing!

Nonetheless, I didn’t, and as you’re probably aware, the c-word has gone on to have a fascinating career all its own. At this late date I am not trying to claim unwarranted credit or tarnish anyone else’s glory. (Frankly, I’d much rather people were paying attention to what I’m writing now –e.g., my Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel, Headcrash, Orbit Books, 5.99 in paperback.) But for those folks who are obsessed with history, here, in tightly encapsulated form, is the story behind the story.

The invention of the c-word was a conscious and deliberate act of creation on my part. I wrote the story in the early spring of 1980, and from the very first draft, it was titled “Cyberpunk.” In calling it that, I was actively trying to invent a new term that grokked the juxtaposition of punk attitudes and high technology. My reasons for doing so were purely selfish and market-driven: I wanted to give my story a snappy, one-word title that editors would remember.

Offhand, I’d say I succeeded.

How did I actually create the word? The way any new word comes into being, I guess: through synthesis. I took a handful of roots –cyber, techno, et al– mixed them up with a bunch of terms for socially misdirected youth, and tried out the various combinations until one just plain sounded right.

IMPORTANT POINT! I never claimed to have invented cyberpunk fiction! That honor belongs primarily to William Gibson, whose 1984 novel, Neuromancer, was the real defining work of “The Movement.” (At the time, Mike Swanwick argued that the movement writers should properly be termed neuromantics, since so much of what they were doing was clearly Imitation Neuromancer.)

Then again, Gibson shouldn’t get sole credit either. Pat Cadigan (“Pretty Boy Crossover”), Rudy Rucker (Software), W.T. Quick (Dreams of Flesh and Sand), Greg Bear (Blood Music), Walter Jon Williams (Hardwired), Michael Swanwick (Vacuum Flowers)…the list of early ’80s writers who made important contributions towards defining the trope defies my ability to remember their names. Nor was it an immaculate conception: John Brunner (Shockwave Rider), Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange), and perhaps even Alfred Bester (The Stars My Destination) all were important antecedents of the thing that became known as cyberpunk fiction.

Me? I’ve been told that my main contribution was inventing the stereotype of the punk hacker with a mohawk. That, and I named the beast, of course.

[Note: If you want to find out more about the etymology of cyberpunk — and quite a few other things, too — take a look at Bruce’s web page. Alternatively, why not just scroll down and read the story itself?]

The snoozer went off at seven and I was out of my sleepsack, powered up, and on-line in nanos. That’s as far as I got. Soon’s I booted and got–

–on the tube I shut down fast. Damn! Rayno had been on line before me, like always, and that message meant somebody else had gotten into our Net– and that meant trouble by the busload! I couldn’t do anything more on term, so I zipped into my jumper, combed my hair, and went downstairs.

Mom and Dad were at breakfast when I slid into the kitchen. “Good Morning, Mikey!” said Mom with a smile. “You were up so late last night I thought I wouldn’t see you before you caught your bus.”

“Had a tough program to crack,” I said.

“Well,” she said, “now you can sit down and have a decent breakfast.” She turned around to pull some Sara Lees out of the microwave and plunk them down on the table.

“If you’d do your schoolwork when you’re supposed to you wouldn’t have to stay up all night,” growled Dad from behind his caffix and faxsheet. I sloshed some juice in a glass and poured it down, stuffed a Sara Lee into my mouth, and stood to go.

“What?” asked Mom. “That’s all the breakfast you’re going to have?”

“Haven’t got time,” I said. “I gotta get to school early to see if the program checks.” Dad growled something more and Mom spoke to quiet him, but I didn’t hear much ’cause I was out the door.

I caught the transys for school, just in case they were watching. Two blocks down the line I got off and transferred going back the other way, and a coupla transfers later I wound up whipping into Buddy’s All-Night Burgers. Rayno was in our booth, glaring into his caffix. It was 7:55 and I’d beat Georgie and Lisa there.

“What’s on line?” I asked as I dropped into my seat, across from Rayno. He just looked up at me through his eyebrows and I knew better than to ask again.

At eight Lisa came in. Lisa is Rayno’s girl, or at least she hopes she is. I can see why: Rayno’s seventeen–two years older than the rest of us–he wears flash plastic and his hair in The Wedge (Dad blew a chip when I said I wanted my hair cut like that) and he’s so cool he won’t even touch her, even when she’s begging for it. She plunked down in her seat next to Rayno and he didn’t blink.

Georgie still wasn’t there at 8:05. Rayno checked his watch again, then finally looked up from his caffix. “The compiler’s been cracked,” he said. Lisa and I both swore. We’d worked up our own little code to keep our Net private. I mean, our Olders would just blow boards if they ever found out what we were really up to. And now somebody’d broken our code.

“Georgie’s old man?” I asked.

“Looks that way.” I swore again. Georgie and I started the Net by linking our smartterms with some stuff we stored in his old man’s home business system. Now my Dad wouldn’t know an opsys if he crashed on one, but Georgie’s old man–he’s a greentooth. A tech-type. He’d found one of ours once before and tried to take it apart to see what it did. We’d just skinned out that time.

“Any idea how far in he got?” Lisa asked. Rayno looked through her, at the front door. Georgie’d just come in.

“We’re gonna find out,” Rayno said.

Georgie was coming in smiling, but when he saw that look in Rayno’s eyes he sat down next to me like the seat was booby-trapped.

“Good morning Georgie,” said Rayno, smiling like a shark.

“I didn’t glitch!” Georgie whined. “I didn’t tell him a thing!”

“Then how the Hell did he do it?”

“You know how he is, he’s weird! He likes puzzles!” Georgie looked to me for backup. “That’s how come I was late. He was trying to weasel me, but I didn’t tell him a thing! I think he only got it partway open. He didn’t ask about the Net!”

Rayno actually sat back, pointed at us all, and smiled. “You kids just don’t know how lucky you are. I was in the Net last night and flagged somebody who didn’t know the secures was poking Georgie’s compiler. I made some changes. By the time your old man figures them out, well…”

I sighed relief. See what I mean about being cool? Rayno had us outlooped all the time!

Rayno slammed his fist down on the table. “But Dammit Georgie, you gotta keep a closer watch on him!”

Then Rayno smiled and bought us all drinks and pie all the way around. Lisa had a cherry Coke, and Georgie and I had caffix just like Rayno. God, that stuff tastes awful! The cups were cleared away, and Rayno unzipped his jumper and reached inside.

“Now kids,” he said quietly, “it’s time for some serious fun.” He whipped out his microterm. “School’s off!”

I still drop a bit when I see that microterm–Geez, it’s a beauty! It’s a Zeilemann Nova 300, but we’ve spent so much time reworking it, it’s practically custom from the motherboard up. Hi-baud, rammed, rammed, ported, with the wafer display folds down to about the size of a vid casette; I’d give an ear to have one like it. We’d used Georgie’s old man’s chipburner to tuck some special tricks in ROM and there wasn’t a system in CityNet it couldn’t talk to.

Rayno ordered up a smartcab and we piled out of Buddy’s. No more riding the transys for us, we were going in style! We charged the smartcab off to some law company and cruised all over Eastside.

Riding the boulevards got stale after awhile, so we rerouted to the library. We do a lot of our fun at the library, ’cause nobody ever bothers us there. Nobody ever goes there. We sent the smartcab, still on the law company account, off to Westside. Getting past the guards and the librarians was just a matter of flashing some ID and then we zipped off into the stacks.

Now, you’ve got to ID away your life to get on the libsys terms–which isn’t worth half a scare when your ID is all fudged like ours is–and they watch real careful. But they move their terms around a lot, so they’ve got ports on line all over the building. We found an unused port, and me and Georgie kept watch while Rayno plugged in his microterm and got on line.

“Get me into the Net,” he said, handing me the term. We don’t have a stored opsys yet for Netting, so Rayno gives me the fast and tricky jobs.

Through the dataphones I got us out of the libsys and into CityNet. Now, Olders will never understand. They still think a computer has got to be a brain in a single box. I can get the same results with opsys stored in a hundred places, once I tie them together. Nearly every computer has got a dataphone port, CityNet is a great linking system, and Rayno’s microterm has the smarts to do the job clean and fast so nobody flags on us. I pulled the compiler out of Georgie’s old man’s computer and got into our Net. Then I handed the term back to Rayno.

“Well, let’s do some fun. Any requests?” Georgie wanted something to get even with his old man, and I had a new routine cooking, but Lisa’s eyes lit up ’cause Rayno handed the term to her, first.

“I wanna burn Lewis,” she said.

“Oh fritz!” Georgie complained. “You did that last week!”

“Well, he gave me another F on a theme.”

“I never get F’s. If you’d read books once in a–”

“Georgie,” Rayno said softly, “Lisa’s on line.” That settled that. Lisa’s eyes were absolutely glowing.

Lisa got back into CityNet and charged a couple hundred overdue books to Lewis’s libsys account. Then she ordered a complete fax sheet of Encyclopedia Britannica printed out at his office. I got next turn.

Georgie and Lisa kept watch while I accessed. Rayno was looking over my shoulder. “Something new this week?”

“Airline reservations. I was with my Dad two weeks ago when he set up a business trip, and I flagged on maybe getting some fun. I scanned the ticket clerk real careful and picked up the access code.”

“Okay, show me what you can do.”

Accessing was so easy that I just wiped a couple of reservations first, to see if there were any bells and whistles.

None. No checks, no lockwords, no confirm codes. I erased a couple dozen people without crashing down or locking up. “Geez,” I said, “There’s no deep secures at all!”

“I been telling you. Olders are even dumber than they look. Georgie? Lisa? C’mon over here and see what we’re running!”

Georgie was real curious and asked a lot of questions, but Lisa just looked bored and snapped her gum and tried to stand closer to Rayno. Then Rayno said, “Time to get off Sesame Street. Purge a flight.”

I did. It was simple as a save. I punched a few keys, entered, and an entire plane disappeared from all the reservation files. Boy, they’d be surprised when they showed up at the airport. I started purging down the line, but Rayno interrupted.

“Maybe there’s no bells and whistles, but wipe out a whole block of flights and it’ll stand out. Watch this.” He took the term from me and cooked up a routine in RAM to do a global and wipe out every flight that departed at an :07 for the next year. “Now that’s how you do these things without waving a flag.”

“That’s sharp,” Georgie chipped in, to me. “Mike, you’re a genius! Where do you get these ideas?” Rayno got a real funny look in his eyes.

“My turn,” Rayno said, exiting the airline system.

“What’s next in the stack?” Lisa asked him.

“Yeah, I mean, after garbaging the airlines . . .” Georgie didn’t realize he was supposed to shut up.

“Georgie! Mike!” Rayno hissed. “Keep watch!” Soft, he added, “It’s time for The Big One.”

“You sure?” I asked. “Rayno, I don’t think we’re ready.”

“We’re ready.”

Georgie got whiney. “We’re gonna get in big trouble–”

“Wimp,” spat Rayno. Georgie shut up.

We’d been working on The Big One for over two months, but I still didn’t feel real solid about it. It almost made a clean if/then/else; if The Big One worked/then we’d be rich/else . . . it was the else I didn’t have down.

Georgie and me scanned while Rayno got down to business. He got back into CityNet, called the cracker opsys out of OurNet, and poked it into Merchant’s Bank & Trust. I’d gotten into them the hard way, but never messed with their accounts; just did it to see if I could do it. My data’d been sitting in their system for about three weeks now and nobody’d noticed. Rayno thought it would be really funny to use one bank computer to crack the secures on other bank computers.

While he was peeking and poking I heard walking nearby and took a closer look. It was just some old waster looking for a quiet place to sleep. Rayno was finished linking by the time I got back. “Okay kids,” he said, “this is it.” He looked around to make sure we were all watching him, then held up the term and stabbed the RETURN key. That was it. I stared hard at the display, waiting to see what else was gonna be. Rayno figured it’d take about ninety seconds.

The Big One, y’see, was Rayno’s idea. He’d heard about some kids in Sherman Oaks who almost got away with a five million dollar electronic fund transfer; they hadn’t hit a hangup moving the five mil around until they tried to dump it into a personal savings account with a $40 balance. That’s when all the flags went up.

Rayno’s cool; Rayno’s smart. We weren’t going to be greedy, we were just going to EFT fifty K. And it wasn’t going to look real strange, ’cause it got strained through some legitimate accounts before we used it to open twenty dummies.

If it worked.

The display blanked, flickered, and showed:

I started to shout, but remembered I was in a library. Georgie looked less terrified. Lisa looked like she was going to attack Rayno.

Rayno just cracked his little half smile, and started exiting. “Funtime’s over, kids.”

“I didn’t get a turn,” Georgie mumbled.

Rayno was out of all the nets and powering down. He turned, slow, and looked at Georgie through those eyebrows of his. “You are still on The List.”

Georgie swallowed it ’cause there was nothing else he could do. Rayno folded up the microterm and tucked it back inside his jumper.

We got a smartcab outside the library and went off to someplace Lisa picked for lunch. Georgie got this idea about garbaging up the smartcab’s brain so that the next customer would have a real state fair ride, but Rayno wouldn’t let him do it. Rayno didn’t talk to him during lunch, either.

After lunch I talked them into heading up to Martin’s Micros. That’s one of my favorite places to hang out. Martin’s the only Older I know who can really work a computer without blowing out his headchips, and he never talks down to me, and he never tells me to keep my hands off anything. In fact, Martin’s been real happy to see all of us, ever since Rayno bought that $3000 vidgraphics art animation package for Lisa’s birthday.

Martin was sitting at his term when we came in. “Oh, hi Mike! Rayno! Lisa! Georgie!” We all nodded. “Nice to see you again. What can I do for you today?”

“Just looking,” Rayno said.

“Well, that’s free.” Martin turned back to his term and punched a few more IN keys. “Damn!” he said to the term.

“What’s the problem?” Lisa asked.

“The problem is me,” Martin said. “I got this software package I’m supposed to be writing, but it keeps bombing out and I don’t know what’s wrong.”

Rayno asked, “What’s it supposed to do?”

“Oh, it’s a real estate system. Y’know, the whole future-values-in-current-dollars bit. Depreciation, inflation, amortization, tax credits–”

“Put that in our tang,” Rayno said. “What numbers crunch?”

Martin started to explain, and Rayno said to me, “This looks like your kind of work.” Martin hauled his three hundred pounds of fat out of the chair, and looked relieved as I dropped down in front of the term. I scanned the parameters, looked over Martin’s program, and processed a bit. Martin’d only made a few mistakes. Anybody could have. I dumped Martin’s program and started loading the right one in off the top of my head.

“Will you look at that?” Martin said.

I didn’t answer ’cause I was thinking in assembly. In ten minutes I had it in, compiled, and running test sets. It worked perfect, of course.

“I just can’t believe you kids,” Martin said. “You can program easier than I can talk.”

“Nothing to it,” I said.

“Maybe not for you. I knew a kid grew up speaking Arabic, used to say the same thing.” He shook his head, tugged his beard, looked me in the face, and smiled. “Anyhow, thanks loads, Mike. I don’t know how to . . .” He snapped his fingers. “Say, I just got something in the other day, I bet you’d be really interested in.” He took me over to the display case, pulled it out, and set it on the counter. “The latest word in microterms. The Zeilemann Starfire 600.”

I dropped a bit! Then I ballsed up enough to touch it. I flipped up the wafer display, ran my fingers over the touch pads, and I just wanted it so bad! “It’s smart,” Martin said. “Rammed, rammed, and ported.”

Rayno was looking at the specs with that cold look in his eye. “My 300 is still faster,” he said.

“It should be,” Martin said. “You customized it half to death. But the 600 is nearly as fast, and it’s stock, and it lists for $1400. I figure you must have spent nearly 3K upgrading yours.”

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Cyberpunk – a short story by Bruce Bethke

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Libertarian Candidates Gary Johnson, Bill Weld Pitch …

Posted: August 6, 2016 at 4:54 pm

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson needs to get to 15 percent in polls to make it onto the debate stage this fall. John Raoux/AP hide caption

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson needs to get to 15 percent in polls to make it onto the debate stage this fall.

Libertarian Party candidates Gary Johnson and Bill Weld pitched themselves as the antidote to Washington partisanship in a CNN town hall, hoping to appeal to voters frustrated with both the Republican and the Democratic presidential nominees.

Both are former Republican governors Johnson from New Mexico and Weld from Massachusetts and told CNN’s Anderson Cooper they align with most voters on both fiscal and social issues.

“We want the government out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom, and the polling shows that a majority of Americans think that,” said Weld, the party’s vice presidential nominee.

Johnson, who ran for the GOP nomination in 2012 before becoming the Libertarian nominee four years ago, said if they are elected, the two longtime lawmakers will almost act as co-presidents sharing a staff and “planning to do this as a partnership.”

“Two heads for the price of one, and that it would be a plus for the country, believing that,” the former New Mexico governor said.

“I think it would be refreshing to have a party that was not terribly partisan holding the White House, and we would hire the best people from the Democratic Party, the smartest people from the Republican Party and the best people from the Libertarian Party,” Weld added.

The two bemoaned the rules that, as of now, would keep them off the presidential debate stage come this fall. A third-party candidate must hit at least 15 percent in polling, and the Libertarian ticket is at 9 percent in the latest CNN/ORC poll. The Green Party’s Jill Stein is at 5 percent in that same survey.

A third-party candidate hasn’t made it onto the stage since independent Ross Perot in 1992, but with both Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton still struggling to unite their parties’ bases while being dragged down by high disapproval ratings, there is a rare opening. And Johnson and Weld are aiming to fill that void.

“The idea that we should not be at those debates expressing what is a majority point of view in the country can only be laid at the door of the two-party monopoly, the duopoly, that has a stranglehold on power in Washington,” Weld said. “That’s the Rs and the Ds, who sometimes seem to exist mainly for the express purpose of killing each other.”

Johnson stood by his characterization that Clinton was “beholden” to special interests and slammed her high fees for speaking to Wall Street groups. He argued there is a conflict of interest between the former secretary of state and her family’s Clinton Foundation that “smacks of pay-to-play.”

But Weld had harsher words for Trump and the way the GOP candidate has reacted to criticism from the family of a Muslim-American soldier killed in Iraq.

“He’s a showman. He’s a pied piper. He’s the music man,” Weld said about the billionaire real estate magnate. “More recently, it’s gotten more serious, and the noun that comes to my mind is a screw loose.”

Johnson dismissed the idea that they would play spoiler this fall, though.

“A wasted vote is voting for somebody that you don’t believe in, and if we’re going to continue to vote for the lesser of two evils, that’s still evil,” he told a questioner.

Johnson did depart from typical libertarian orthodoxy in one instance. Previously, he has said that “religious freedom, as a category” was “a black hole,” and he said he wouldn’t back any state religious freedom laws, such as ones that would protect people like wedding photographers or bakers from having to provide services for a gay wedding.

“I fear that under the guise of religious liberty, the LGBT community is being discriminated against,” Johnson said. “There can be a balance between the two, but I don’t want to support discrimination in any form whatsoever.”

Shetamia Taylor, a woman who was wounded in the Dallas police attack last month, asked Johnson about the Black Lives Matter movement. And the Libertarian nominee gave a rare acknowledgement that, as a white man, he had been slow to realize there was a problem between minorities and law enforcement.

“My head’s been in the sand on this. I think we’ve all had our heads in the sand, and let’s wake up,” Johnson said. “This discrimination does exist.”

On the subject of foreign policy, Johnson said the two weren’t pushing for an isolationist approach, simply one that was more hesitant to enter into foreign skirmishes.

“We both reject the notion that libertarians are isolationists,” Johnson said. “We’re not isolationists. We’re non-interventionists. We don’t want to get involved in regime change that has the potential to make the world less safe.”

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Welcome – Reach Financial Independence

Posted: July 8, 2016 at 7:54 am

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A few decades ago, starting a small business was pretty straightforward. You bought or rented a shop or some commercial real estate, you stocked it up with various goods, and you waited for people to … Read more

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Click here to get a $20 voucher for your next Airbnb trip! I am a huge fan of Airbnb, the website that allows you to rent out your room to travelers, for a night, a week or a month. I like the … Read more

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21 Experts Chatting About Financial Independence | Cash …

Posted: July 3, 2016 at 6:44 pm

Work seems to have gotten a bad rap in PF blogs, as many are primarily focused on financial independence and early retirement. Is work really that bad? Has everyone caught the early retirement bug, or just a select few that have loud online voices?

To shed some light on this controversial topic,we decidedtointerview some excellent bloggers and ask them their views on financial independence, work, and everything in between.

We got a diverse set ofresponses,which makes for a great read.

So check out what all 19 had to say about financial independence and share your viewsin the comments below.

Jacob from theCash Cow Couple:

1. What does financial independence mean to you and how are you pursuing it?

Financial independence (FI) is achieved when your passive income streams cover allyour living expenses. Most people include pensions, Social Security, portfolio income (stocks, bonds, etc), and things like rental income from real estate in the passive category.

Its more aboutfreedom than money. Ultimately, its freedom from the 9-5 constraints that plague most Americans.

Were only halfheartedly pursuing FI right now. Neither of us are making as much money as possible, but we do have a high savings rate. Our savings rate will almost always be above 75% for the foreseeable future.

2. Would you rather quickly reach financial independence working a job that you hate or pursue a career that you love and work for many more years?

Even though I created this question, I dont know the answer because its not possible to simultaneouslyexperience both options. Ive definitely chosen the latter in my current situation and I think its a more desirable path (assuming its actually possible to find a career that you love).

Im currently in the middle of my PhD in financial planning/finance, getting paid much less than I could make elsewhere. But its a long term play. I should make a decent income when I graduate, and Ill always have numerous employment options because Im building human capital right now.

I was speaking to one of my professors a few days ago about this very subject. Hes a highly coveted speaker, writer, and consultant who makes good money outside of his academic position. He could leave academia at any time and find higher paid positions in industry, but is not interested in doing so. He told me that another pay increase is irrelevant. He already makes good money and can afford anything that interests him. When I asked about financial independence or early retirement, he chuckled and said something like this

I love what I do, and Id do the same things even if retired. Why would I give upmy currentincome to continue reading,writing, and speaking from home?

For individuals like him (and hopefully me), financial independence almost becomes irrelevant.

3. How much money would you need to stop working and call yourself financially independent? How did you arrive at that amount?

The common rule of thumb that youll hear repeated is the 4% rule. This rule is based on academic research from several years back which suggested that a portfolio could sustain a 4% withdrawal rate for 30 years time, without being depleted. So a $1 million portfolio could provide $40,000 of income each year (adjusted for inflation),for30 years, without being completely depleted.

There are a couple of problems with this, but Ill try to keep it brief. First of all, most of the people talking about the 4% rule on the internet are attempting to retire in their 30s or 40s. If someone is retiring at age 40, they should plan on their portfolio lasting 50+ years. The original research on the 4% rule was based on a 30 year retirement horizon. The portfolio would have been depleted many times with a 50+ year horizon, and the person would be forced back into work.

The second problem is the fact that many experts dont expect equity (stock) returns to continue being close to 10% each year. Some think the equity premium is lowering, and that the stock market is overpriced with respect to company earnings. The result would either be a large correction (less likely, I think) or a period of lower returns moving forward (more likely).

If both of these facts are true (and they might not be),4% is too optimisticwhen designing an early retirement portfolio. Id feel much safer around a 3% withdrawal rate. The result is a rather large increase in required principle. Instead of $1 million, you now need roughly $1.33 million to support that same $40,000 of income.

(the math is easy, just multiply yearly expense by 25 to get required savings for 4%, or multiply by 33.33 to get required savings for a 3% withdrawal rate)

But herein also lies the beauty of frugality. If you can manage tolive on roughly $10,000 as year like us, you only need $333,000 to call yourself financially independent.Even annual expenses of $20k per year only require $665,000.

Of course, living on $10k is shocking to some people, but I think somewhere between $10k and $20k is entirely doable in a low cost of living area, without a mortgage payment. Therefore at the current time, Id consider us financially independent when we are mortgage free, and our investments reach $500,000.

4. What will you do after you are financially independent and free from the constraints of a job?

The same things that I do now, which is why Id rather choose to work a fulfilling career over many years. I enjoy reading, writing, teaching, hanging out with my wife and family, and traveling. I also like being productive, and believe that some form of work is a very healthy thing.

If I do decide to retire from my first career, Id like to sell used cars. I love buying and reselling in general, but used cars can have great margins and they are always in demand.

5. Any other relevant thoughts or advice on the topic?

Understand financial independence before pursuing it. I think many people get caught up in the sexy story of FI, but they dont actually think it through. Sure, having a high savings rate is always recommended. Thats a good part of this blog. But socking away money is completely different than choosing a career based on earning potential alone, or waking up one day and deciding that its time to quit your job simply because you have enough assets to cover your living expenses.

Those are major life decisions, and in complete honesty, I dont think its healthy for some people to stop working. They dont have sufficient hobbies to fill the time and are left void of purpose. This is the dark side of financial independence and the reason that people should do a little soul searching before they make these huge decisions.

There isnt any one size fits all approach to reaching financial independence, but there is a superior path. Figure out what brings you satisfaction and joy in life, then try to design a lifestyle around that. Work doesnt have to be soul crushing. If your current position makes you miserable, save enough to take a year or two off, so that you can find a way to make money doing what you enjoy. Its not all rainbows and butterflies, but I think its possible to find meaningful work and still achieve financial independence along the way.

James fromRetirement Savvy

1. What does financial independence mean to you and how are you pursuing it?

I equatewealthywith financial independence; and I define wealthy as being able to live your chosen lifestyle on passive (e.g. income fro
m defined benefit plans , Social Security benefits, rental property, etc.) income and portfolio income (e.g. defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s, IRAs, etc.) and do not require earned (labor) income. Therefore, I am wealthy when I am financially independent.

Currently, the savings/investment rate in my household on an income of $190,000 is 39%.

2. Would you rather quickly reach financial independence working a job that you hate or pursue a career that you love and work for many more years?

I dont know that it is necessarily a case of choosing one or the other. At least that has not been my experience. My experience is that most people end up in a profession or on a career path through circumstances, some factors within their control, others not.

My suggestion to younger people, Im 47, is to learn and/or receive formal education in two disciplines (my undergraduate degree is a dual major in business administration and communications technology and I also possess an MBA) and pursue a career that you believe you will enjoy. However, recognize that life has a way of throwing many curveballs, hence the suggestion for multiple disciplines. Dont spend too many years chasing a dream job or career. It probably is not as great as you think it will be and you have to be careful not to waste too much time in the pursuit.

Most of us will end up in jobs that we are good at, or at least capable of performing moderately well, and will find sufficient pleasure in that job. I believe most people will be much better served by just going with the flow with respect to which career path they end up on and spend much more energy in cultivating rewarding relationships and attaining personal finance literacy. They both will pay significantly better dividends than a career that you love.

I believe it is a lot better to be sufficiently satisfied with your career and have significant, deep-rooted relationships and financial independence. That way, when you do walk away from the career which will happen at some point, either through choice or circumstances you are in a position to enjoy the relationships and the comfort that comes with being wealthy.

3. How much money would you need to stop working and call yourself financially independent? How did you arrive at that amount?

A quick example, discounting inflation for the moment. Assume a family decides that they want to retire in 20 years and have an annual income of $120,000. Assume, that like me, one spouse is retired from the military and is currently receiving a $20,000/yr. pension; which they project will be $25,000/yr. (COLA increases) in 20 years. Further assume the following factors: neither has a job with a defined benefit plan (traditional pension) and they project that their Social Security benefits will equal $35,000. That gives them a projected income of $60,000 from passive sources.

That leaves them with $60,000 they will need from portfolio income. How large does their portfolio need to be to support withdrawing $60,000 a year and not run out for ~ 30 years? We turn to the 4% rule. That 60,000 x 25 (or 60,000 / .04) gives us an answer of $1,500,000.

Assume they currently have $50,000 in various retirement accounts. The question then becomes, how much do they need to save on a monthly basis (most of us operate financially on a monthly basis) to reach their goal?

Current Principal $50,000

Years Until Retirement 20

Annual Rate of Return Lets assume they are assuming 5%

Annual Contributions $39,390

Result = $1,500,256.21

This family would need to contribute $3,282.50 (39,390 / 12) monthly to reach their goal. Of course, if they change any of the factors, everything changes. Running ahead of pace? Contribute less. Get much better rate of return for a few years? You can lessen the requirement going forward.

4. What will you do after you are financially independent and free from the constraints of a job?

Travel, golf, travel, lift weights, travel, ride bike, travel, hike, volunteer.

Kali fromCommon Sense Millennial

1. What does financial independence mean to you and how are you pursuing it?

To me, financial independence means the ability to live off your investments and assets without being required to draw a paycheck. Ill be financially independent the day I can withdraw enough from my investments to cover my expenses in such a way that I wont outlive that nest egg Im pulling from.

Im saving everything I can, but Im not strongly motivated by the idea of financial independence or at least, Im not in a rush to get there. Ilikeearning an income. I like working, being productive, and having a career.

2. Would you rather quickly reach financial independence working a job that you hate or pursue a career that you love and work for many more years?

Id choose working a career I loved for many years all day, every day. I thrive off challenging myself and feeling useful and productive. If I found ten million dollars tomorrow, I wouldnt just stop working. Sure, maybe the nature of the work would change because I wouldnt berequiredto earn X amount every month, but I would still work.I love what I do.

3. How much money would you need to stop working and call yourself financially independent? How did you arrive at that amount?

I dont know. Again, Im not that worried about reaching financial independence by a certain age. Im in wealth-building mode and will be for the next ten years or so (Im 24). My plan is to save all I can now and start crunching numbers later.

I think this approach works for us because we dont think, okay, we need X amount to have this big of a net worth by this age. Instead, its more like, what we make expenses small amount for discretionary spending = what goes into investments every month. And were always working to increase income so that leftover number is bigger.. which means what we put away is greater.

4. What will you do after you are financially independent and free from the constraints of a job?

Travel more. Experiment with different businesses or income streams. Id love to have the financial freedom to raise, sell, and train horses (its a financially risky venture, which is why I dont do it now). Find our forever home, which for us would be a piece of property somewhere out in the middle of no where that we can run as a small farm. (Yup, Laurie from The Frugal Farmer inspires me!)

5. Any other relevant thoughts or advice on the topic?

Dont make it complicated. If youre living below your means, youre doing a good job and youre on the right track to success.

Similarly, dont beat yourself up for not getting to financial independence in 10 years or less. No matter what Mr. Money Mustache says, the fact is he and his wife made solid six figures and lived off about $30,000 for 7 years to hit financial independence. Thats not an average income so it wont be an average timeframe to FI.

If you and your spouse are making $80,000 stillverygood money and much more than lots of people its not necessarily realistic to think youll be able to put away $70,000 or more for year after year after year for 7 years in the same way.

Thats not said to bash MMM I think his site is a valuable resource but itisto say, dont let anyone elses bravado bum you out and make you feel like youre not good enough or cant make you
r financial dreams into realities. Be patient with yourself! Start where you are, do what you can with what you have, always work to improve, and you will find your financial success.

1.What does financial independence mean to you and how are you pursuing it?

Financial independence is a tricky one for me. I believe this concept is a consequence of cuts to welfare and powerful economic troubles of the last three decades. People are being forced to take more responsibility for their wealth for better and for worse. Im not pursuing financial independence; rather, financial comfort. As I pay off increasing amounts debt, my only concern is feeling free from debt.

2. Would you rather quickly reach financial independence working a job that you hate or pursue a career that you love and work for many more years?

This is a great question. I would say Im pursuing the latter. If you are looking to reach rapid financial independence, that sets you up with a select number of jobs. Youre looking at finance, oil, or some sort of massive industrial complex. None of these avenues inspire me right now. As such, Im pursuing an advanced degree in psychology and making next to nothing doing it. I wouldnt have it any other way.

3. How much money would you need to stop working and call yourself financially independent? How did you arrive at that amount?

I guess my question would be: Why would you stop working if you love what you do? No wealth level could make me stop Now, if I wasnt pursuing this career path, Id like need to see a number in the tens of millions to stop working and consider myself financially independent. That amount would cover moves, housing, transportation, children, and college educations for my kids.

4. What will you do after you are financially independent and free from the constraints of a job?

Again, thats not necessarily my first goal. Im interested in being free from debt. After Im done with that goal, Ill continue to save and work. My dream is not to be without work just without financial insecurity.

1. What does financial independence mean to you and how are you pursuing it?

The termindependentmeans to be free from outside control; not depending on anothers authority. In that regard, a person cant be financially independent until they are completely free from the constraints of debt. Until all consumer debt, school loans, the mortgage and any other debts are retired a person is not technically independent, even if they have vast wealth. They are still beholden to another party and have obligations that require their money go in a certain direction.

Once those obligations are gone, the individual has total freedom to use their money in any way they desire. That is what my wife and I have found now that we have eliminated all our debts. Financial independence means the freedom to pursue anything you desire with money that is 100% yours.

2. Would you rather quickly reach financial independence working a job that you hate or pursue a career that you love and work for many more years?

The desire and capacity to work is something built into our nature as humans. There can be pleasure and fulfillment found in our work. For me, no amount of money would be worth the job that I dreaded going to each morning when the alarm clock sounded.

There is something to be said for the process of building money over time. Quick fixes dont satisfy in the long run. The stack of money will taste sweeter and will be appreciated more through the effort of consistent and diligent work that a person loves and feels called to.

3. How much money would you need to stop working and call yourself financially independent? How did you arrive at that amount?

I prefer not to use specific dollar amounts. Instead, I see it summed up this way: When the money a person has saved and invested makes more for them in a year than they make for themselves in a year at their job, they are financially independent. (The caveat being of course they have no outstanding debt as I said earlier.)

However, just because a person reaches this point doesnt mean they should automatically stop working. There are other life situations to consider including years to formal retirement age, ones health, lifestyle and future plans.

4. What will you do after you are financially independent and free from the constraints of a job?

My wife and I have really focused and worked hard over the past decade to budget properly, eliminate our debt and grow our investments. Part of that effort included my wife transitioning careers from high school math teacher to CPA. For her that dream career presented an opportunity to earn more and speed up the possibility of becoming financially independent.

The result of all these efforts is that, after 17 years of teaching high school students myself, Ive been able to transition to stay at home dad and personal finance blogger. Because we have reached a level of financial independence, it allowed me, and us, to invest more time in the lives of our four kids.

5. Any other relevant thoughts or advice on the topic?

Only that financial independence isnt the end-all to life. All the money in the world wont cure the emotional or spiritual hurts present in our lives. Nor will it bring true happiness and contentment. Only God can meet those needs in a persons life.

Dee fromColor Me Frugal

1. What does financial independence mean to you and how are you pursuing it?

To us, financial independence means being able to choose when and how we work. Wed like to develop enough passive income streams so that wed have the freedom to choose to quit our relatively well-paying but stressful jobs and pursue a less stressed out life. We are aggressively saving and working hard to pay off our debt to achieve this goal. We live on a small percentage of our income. Currently we put about 15% of our post-tax income into savings, but right now a whopping 40% of our income is going toward our debt repayment because we want to be debt-free so badly (darn student loans!) We also heavily contribute to retirement accounts.

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Minerva Reefs – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: June 21, 2016 at 6:45 am

The Minerva Reefs (Tongan: Ongo Teleki), briefly de facto independent in 1972 as the Republic of Minerva, are a group of two submerged atolls located in the Pacific Ocean south of Fiji and Tonga. The reefs were named after the whaleship Minerva, wrecked on what became known as South Minerva after setting out from Sydney in 1829. Many other ships would follow, for example the Strathcona, which was sailing north soon after completion in Auckland in 1914. In both cases most of the crew saved themselves in whaleboats or rafts and reached the Lau Islands in Fiji. Of some other ships, however, no survivors are known.

Both North and South Minerva Reefs are used as anchorages by yachts traveling between New Zealand and Tonga or Fiji. While waiting for favourable weather for the approximately 800-mile (1,300km) passage to New Zealand, excellent scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing and clamming can be enjoyed. North Minerva (Tongan: Teleki Tokelau) offers the more protected anchorage, with a single, easily negotiated, west-facing pass that offers access to the large, calm lagoon with extensive sandy areas. South Minerva (Tongan: Teleki Tonga) is in shape similar to an infinity symbol, with its eastern lobe partially open to the ocean on the northern side. Due to the lower reef and large entrance, the anchorage at South Minerva can be rough at high tide if a swell is running. The lagoon also contains numerous coral heads that must be avoided. While presenting an attractive area to wait out harsh weather occurring farther south, the Minerva reefs are not a good place to be when the weather is bad locally. This does not occur often, but it is important to maintain awareness of the situation and put to sea if necessary.

Scuba diving the outside wall drop-offs at the Minerva Reefs is spectacular due to the superb water clarity and extensive coral, fish and other marine life. There are few suspended particles and the visibility is normally in excess of 100 feet (30m) since there is no dry land at high tide. Of particular note are the numerous fan coral formations near the pass at North Minerva and the shark bowl area located by the narrow dinghy pass on the western lobe of South Minerva. The inside of the lagoon at South Minerva is also home to numerous giant clams. Divers at Minerva must be entirely self-sufficient, with their own compressor, and should also be aware that the nearest assistance is a multiple-day boat ride away in Tonga. Due to the vertical drop off and water clarity, divers must watch their depth carefully.

It is not known when the reefs were first discovered but had been marked on charts as “Nicholson’s Shoal” since the late 1820s. Capt H. M. Denham of the HMS Herald surveyed the reefs in 1854 and renamed them after the Australian whaler Minerva which collided with South Minerva Reef on 9 September 1829.[1]

The Republic of Minerva was a micronation consisting of the Minerva Reefs. It was one of the few modern attempts at creating a sovereign micronation on the reclaimed land of an artificial island in 1972. The architect was Las Vegas real estate millionaire and political activist Michael Oliver, who went on to other similar attempts in the following decade. Lithuanian-born Oliver formed a syndicate, the Ocean Life Research Foundation, which allegedly had some $100,000,000 for the project and had offices in New York and London. They anticipated a libertarian society with “no taxation, welfare, subsidies, or any form of economic interventionism.” In addition to tourism and fishing, the economy of the new nation would include light industry and other commerce. According to Glen Raphael, “The chief reason that the Minerva project failed was that the libertarians who were involved did not want to fight for their territory.”[2] According to Reason, Minerva has been “more or less reclaimed by the sea”.[3]

In 1971, barges loaded with sand arrived from Australia, bringing the reef level above the water and allowing construction of a small tower and flag. The Republic of Minerva issued a declaration of independence on 19 January 1972, in letters to neighboring countries and even created their own currency. In February 1972, Morris C. Davis was elected as Provisional President of the Republic of Minerva.

The declaration of independence, however, was greeted with great suspicion by other countries in the area. A conference of the neighboring states (Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, and territory of Cook Islands) met on 24 February 1972 at which Tonga made a claim over the Minerva Reefs and the rest of the states recognized its claim.

On 15 June 1972, the following proclamation was published in a Tongan government gazette:


A Tongan expedition was sent to enforce the claim the following day. It reached North Minerva on 18 June 1972. The Flag of the Tonga was raised on 19 June 1972 on North Minerva and on South Minerva on 21 June 1972.[4]

Tongas claim was recognized by the South Pacific Forum in September 1972. Meanwhile, Provisional President Davis was fired by founder Michael Oliver and the project collapsed in confusion. Nevertheless, Minerva was referred to in O. T. Nelson’s post-apocalyptic children’s novel The Girl Who Owned a City, published in 1975, as an example of an invented utopia that the book’s protagonists could try to emulate.

In 1982, a group of Americans led again by Morris C. Bud Davis tried to occupy the reefs, but were forced off by Tongan troops after three weeks. In recent years several groups have allegedly sought to re-establish Minerva. No known claimant group since 1982 has made any attempt to take possession of the Minerva Reefs.

In 2005, Fiji made it clear that they did not recognize any maritime water claims by Tonga to the Minerva Reefs under the UNCLOS agreements. In November 2005, Fiji lodged a complaint with the International Seabed Authority concerning Tonga’s maritime waters claims surrounding Minerva. Tonga lodged a counter claim, and the Principality of Minerva micronation claimed to have lodged a counter claim. In 2010 the Fijian Navy destroyed navigation lights at the entrance to the lagoon. In late May 2011, they again destroyed navigational equipment installed by Tongans. In early June 2011, two Royal Tongan Navy ships were sent to the reef to replace the equipment, and to reassert Tonga’s claim to the territory. Fijian Navy ships in the vicinity reportedly withdrew as the Tongans approached.[5][6]

In an effort to settle the dispute, the government of Tonga revealed a proposal in early July 2014 to give the Minerva Reefs to Fiji in exchange for the Lau Group of islands.[7] In a statement to the Tonga Daily News, Lands Minister Lord Maafu Tukuiaulahi announced that he would make the proposal to Fiji’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola. Some Tongans have Lauan ancestors and many Lauans have Tongan ancestors; Tonga’s Lands Minister is named after Enele Ma’afu, the Tongan Prince who originally claimed parts of Lau for Tonga.[8]

Area: North Reef diameter about 5.6 kilometres (3.5mi), South Reef diameter of about 4.8 kilometres (3.0mi). Terrain: two (atolls) on dormant volcanic seamounts.

Both Minerva Reefs are about 435 kilometres (270mi) southwest of the Tongatapu Group. The atolls are on a common submarine platform from 549 to 1,097 metres (1,801 to 3,599ft) below the surface of the sea. North Minerva is circular in shape and has a diameter of about 5.6 kilometres (3.5mi). There is a small sand bar around the atoll, awash at high tide, with a small entrance into the flat lagoon with a somewhat deep harbor. South Minerva is parted into The East Reef and the West Reef, both circular with a diameter of about 4.8 kilometres (3.0mi). Around both reefs are two small sandy cays, vegetated by low scrub and some trees[dubious discuss]. Several iron towers and platforms are reported to have stood on the atolls, along with an unused light tower on South Minerva, erected by the Americans during World War II.[citation needed]. Geologically, Minervan Reef is of a limestone base formed from uplifted coral formations elevated by now-dormant volcanic activity.

The climate is basically subtropical with a distinct warm period (DecemberApril), during which the temperatures rise above 32C (90F), and a cooler period (MayNovember), with temperatures rarely rising above 27C (80F). The temperature increases from 23C to 27C (74F to 80F), and the annual rainfall is from 170 to 297 centimeters (67-117 in.) as one moves from Cardea in the south to the more northerly islands closer to the Equator. The mean daily humidity is 80percent.

The Tuaikaepau (‘Slow But Sure’), a Tongan vessel on its way to New Zealand, became famous when it struck the reefs on 7 July 1962. This 15-metre (49ft) wooden vessel was built in 1902 at the same yard as the Strathcona. The crew and passengers survived by living in the remains of a Japanese freighter. There they remained for three months in miserable circumstances and several of them died. Finally Captain Tvita Fifita decided to get help. Without tools, he built a small boat from the wood left over from his ship. With this raft, named Malolelei (‘Good Day’), he and a few of the stronger crew members sailed to Fiji in one week.

Coordinates: 2338S 17854W / 23.633S 178.900W / -23.633; -178.900

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Minerva Reefs – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Problem with Seasteading | Bottom-up

Posted: June 19, 2016 at 3:36 am

I first wrote about seasteading two years ago, shortly after the Seasteading Institute launched. The brainchild of Patri Friedman (grandson of Milton) and others, seasteading is a program for political reform based on a proliferation of self-governing ocean colonies. As I described it in 2008:

A key advantage of seasteads is what Friedman calls dynamic geography, the fact that any given seasteading unit is free to join or leave larger units within seasteading communities. Seasteading platforms would likely band together to provide common services like police protection, but with the key difference that any platform that was dissatisfied with the value it was receiving from such jurisdictions could leave them at any time. [Friedman] argues that this would move power downward, giving smaller units within society greater leverage to ensure the interests of their members are being served.

Seasteading is based on a delightfully bottom-up argument: that the problem with government is the lack of choice. If I dont like my job, my apartment, or my grocery store, I can easily pick up and go somewhere else. The threat of exit induces employers, landlords, and store owners, and the like to treat us well without a lot of top-down oversight. In contrast, switching governments is hard, so governments treat us poorly. Seasteaders aim to change that.

The pragmatic incrementalism of seasteading is also appealing. Friedman doesnt have to foment a revolution, or even win an election, to give seasteading a try. If he can just a few hundred people of the merits of his ideas, they can go try it without needing assistance or support from the rest of us. If the experiment fails, the cost is relatively small.

Yet seasteading is a deeply flawed project. In particular, the theory of dynamic geography is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationships among mobility, wealth creation, and government power. In a real-world seasteading community, powerful economic forces would cripple dynamic geography and leave seasteaders no freer than the rest of us.

To see the problem, imagine if someone developed the technology to transform my apartment building in Manhattan into a floating platform. Its owners could, at any time, float us out into the Hudson river and move to another state or country. Would they do it? Obviously not. They have hundreds of tenants who are paying good money to live in Manhattan. Wed be furious if we woke up one morning and found ourselves off the coast of South Carolina. Things get more, not less, difficult at larger scales. Imagine if Long Island (which includes the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn and a lot of suburbs) were a huge ocean-going vessel. The residents of Long Island would overwhelmingly oppose moving; most of them have jobs, friends, familiy, churches, favorite restaurants, and other connections to the rest of the New York metro area. The value of being adjacent to Manhattan swamps whatever benefits there might be to being part of a state with lower taxes or better regulations.

Successful cities need a variety of infrastructureroads, electricity, network connectivity, water and sewer lines, and so forth. At small scales you could probably design this infrastructure to be completely modular. But that approach doesnt scale; at some point you need expensive fixed infrastructuremulti-lane highways, bridges, water mains, subway lines, power plantsthat only make economic sense if built on a geographically stable foundation. Such infrastructure wouldnt be feasible in a dynamic city, and without such infrastructure its hard to imagine a city of even modest size being viable.

I think the seasteaders response to this is that the advantages of increased liberty would be so large that people would be willing to deal with the inconveniences necessary to preserve dynamic geography. But heres the thing: The question of whether the advantages of freedom (in the leave me alone sense) outweigh the benefits of living in large urban areas is not a theoretical one. If all you care about is avoiding the long arm of the law, thats actually pretty easy to do. Buy a cabin in the woods in Wyoming and the government will pretty much leave you alone. Pick a job that allows you to deal in cash and you can probably get away without filing a tax return. In reality, hardly anyone does this. To the contrary, people have been leaving rural areas for high-tax, high-regulation cities for decades.

Almost no ones goal in life is to maximize their liberty in this abstract sense. Rather, liberty is valuable because it enables us to achieve other goals, like raising a family, having a successful career, making friends, and so forth. To achieve those kinds of goals, you pretty much have to live near other people, conform to social norms, and make long-term investments. And people who live close together for long periods of time need a system of mechanisms for resolving disputes, which is to say they need a government.

The power of governments rests not on the immobility of real estate, but from the fact that people want to form durable relationships with other people. The residents of a seastead city would be no more enthusiastic about dynamic geopgrahy than the residents of Brooklyn. Which means that the government of the city would have the same kind of power Mayor Bloomberg has. Indeed, it would likely have more power, because the seastead city wouldnt have New Jersey a few hundred yards away ready to take disaffected residents.

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Republic of Minerva Tonga | Atlas Obscura

Posted: June 12, 2016 at 8:24 pm

Although many utopian societies seem doomed from the outset, the Republic of Minerva was up against a unique challenge: creating a libertarian micro-nation on reclaimed reefs in the Pacific Ocean, when the land already had an owner.

Situated 250 miles from Tonga, the Republic of Minerva was conceived by wealthy Nevada real estate mogul Michael Oliver. According to Oliver, his organization the Ocean Life Research Foundation had raised $100 million to create a utopian society on Pacific reefs. Oliver’s plan was to create a micro-nation without taxes, welfare or economic intervention, that lived chiefly off of tourism and fishing.

In 1971, Minerva’s construction began by bringing barges of sand to the reefs to raise them out of the ocean. Oliver then led a conference of neighboring states in which he delcared his intentions, only to find out that Tonga had issued a claim over the land. At that point, Oliver and his organization jumped the gun a little bit. Ignoring other claims to Minerva, Oliver issued a declaration of independence and created a coin currency for his new nation and was all set to launch into his experiment in nation building.

Unfortunately, the King of Tonga did not accept the new country’s legitimacy, and issued a document laying official claim to the reefs. Within months, representatives from Tonga made it clear they were in control of the reefs, and Oliver and his followers left without a fight.

Since that time, a few other groups have tried to set up shop on the islands of Minerva, only to be rebuffed once again by the Tongan government. Almost all of the land brought to the reefs has since been reclaimed by the Pacific Ocean.

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Republic of Minerva Tonga | Atlas Obscura

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