Part 143- Billionaire Space Race

Man has always been curious. Starting from fire and to the world beyond our own, we have always wanted to explore further. But who is the start of these? Ambitious, daring people who want to step beyond the boundary lines. Those who didn’t want to sit around waiting for something to happen, and wanted to do something on their own. The same thing happens here, except now with billionaires and space.

Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson

What is the point of the space race?

We all presume that these billionaires are going to space to make some money. They have their eyes on the moon or even on space itself so they can start Space Tourism. But, what does it do? Sure, they’ll earn more money and become richer, but other than that what does it mean? It means that they’ll have a title. A mark. Or, a legacy. They want to be written in History Books, so, even years after they die, their names live on. But, they want their names to be known as the first private-funded non-astronaut to go to space.

If you’ve seen the Virgin Galactic Unity 22 Spaceflight, you saw that Richard Branson was riding a bike before giving the astronauts a hug. They all look happy and it seems like a welcome, but really, it’s like saying, you’ve trained your whole life for going to space but I have so much money that I can go anytime I want. We all know Neil Armstrong’s immortal line, “ That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Here, this line is more like, “ That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for myself.” This whole Billionaire Space Race will only benefit themselves when they could focus on greater problems instead.

But, think about the billionaires’ perspective. They’ve worked hard their whole lives to reach where they are now, and if they die without making some mark, wouldn’t it be like a waste? ( Well, not exactly a waste.) But, wouldn’t it be your ambition to leave something of yourself behind if you’ve achieved something? As a way of proudly saying, I did it. Something for history to remember you by. But, we’re always attracted to the shiny things and never the dull ones. That’s why the billionaires are setting their sights on space to make their mark.

Is it necessary?

No. Period. Going to space, especially right now, is not at all necessary. We’ve already been to the moon and have been in space. It’s not necessary to do it again. What is necessary, is to focus on our current problems. The pandemic, for one, and even the ones we originally started with. ( Not to mention the intense heatwaves we’ve been experiencing lately. The recent space projects are just adding more heat to it.) Poverty, hunger, lack of education, etc. Instead of spending so much money on things we’ve done, spend it on what isn’t. Again, one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. If these billionaires want their names to be in history books or to have a legacy, why not have one about solving a hunger crisis, or building roads in Africa, or even creating electricity that millions of poor families can use, and is free. Sure, these might be small steps, but at least they’ll have a greater impact on the world, and not just themselves. At least it’ll be a great leap for mankind. 

What should billionaires do instead with the money?

Everyone’s first answer to this would be, donating it. However, I say not. First, donating just money isn’t going to change anything. If you give money to feed a man, he’ll only be fed once. Then you’ll have to donate again and again. They’ll become more dependent on those giving money when they should become independent. It sounds heartless, but it’s reality. The only way they’ll get out of poverty, is if they can start doing it themselves. 
True story. A few days ago I and my friends went to a roller rink. There were 4 of us in total, and only two- including me- knew how to skate. The other two were new at skating, so we had to teach them. We gave them instructions and demonstrated, but they weren’t learning anything. They were mostly dependent on us to hold their hands so they wouldn’t fall and to move them. But, once we let them go and went skating ourselves, the two of them got the hang of it themselves. They became self-reliant to learn how to skate and figure out what works best for them. If they had kept depending on us to help them, they wouldn’t have learned how to skate at all. Same thing here.
Instead of just donating money for others to feed those who are starving, we should instead teach them how to feed themselves. If you feed a man a fish, he’ll be full once. But, if you teach him how to fish, he’ll never go hungry again. Moreover, we should start using successful strategies other countries used to decrease poverty rates. For example, how America is fighting poverty. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty in 1964 in the United States, and now, a larger share of poor Americans are in their prime working years, and fewer are elderly. 
President Lyndon B. Johnson
In 1960, the poverty rate in the US was 22.1%, and in 2013 it became 14.5%. Through the Food Stamp Act of 1964 and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, to name a few, America started to win its war. Why not establish some of these ideas for countries like India or Africa? It could make an impact like it did with America. 
But also, just money cannot solve these problems. We need proper action, and that takes time. Just giving money to organizations or foundations to solve things won’t work. Billionaires should try to come up with unique solutions and create something with all the resources and money they have which can solve these problems faster, and bring us forward. Like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We need proper action, and not just money. 

Donate time, energy, and resources to get things done. Try to take matters into your own hands and work hard again for mankind to make a leap. You’ve worked your butts off when you were kids to get this far, so shouldn’t you keep doing that? Just because you now have money doesn’t mean you should stop working hard. It’s as if you’re giving up. Maybe I don’t know how hard you’ve worked, but I do know that you shouldn’t stop working hard, even if you’ve succeeded in one thing.

There’s one more idea as well. Even though space travel should not be the top priority on our lists right now, billionaires and NASA could team-up. NASA has the resources and budget for missions, but very few people. Billionaires have the people. Together, they could save money and resources on both ends, and get more missions done. NASA’s missions are really slow, and if the two team up, not only could NASA speed up their missions, but the billionaires could also get their goals accomplished and have their people or even themselves in space. Plus, with the extra money that NASA previously had in their budget, now replaced with mostly billionaire’s money, the government could solve more problems in the US regarding hunger, poverty, and even global warming. 

Then why is India going to Mars?

There have been many, many arguments about this topic, and I want to say, those who start it don’t understand. 
India has a population of 1.36 billion people, and about 60% of people live on $3.10 a day. Despite this, India continues to plan Mars missions. Families barely have money to send their kids to school, or even feed them a proper meal, or even one at all. Some marry their daughters before they’re of legal age because they don’t want her to suffer and want her to have a happier life. They work several odd jobs, and the money they make from that is barely enough to keep themselves afloat, and yet they try every day. I can’t put myself in their shoes. No matter how much I write about their problems and struggles, I’m never going to understand. I’ll never know what it is like to go hungry for days, and not be able to sleep. I’ll never know what it’s like to have to drop out of school after a few years just so I could get a job and start earning money to help my family live. I’ll never know how it’ll feel if my parents or family members were sick or hungry, and not be able to properly help them. I’ll never be able to feel the pain and the actual struggles they go through unless I’ve gone through it as well. People who do, get angry at their government because they aren’t helping their families, simply because their kids are hungry, they’re sick, and they’re tired. And I would too. But, because of that, they won’t understand why. 
The Indian government is trying to create an opportunity for their people. America is known for being a land of opportunities, and so many people from all around the world travel there just for that. Indians dominate engineering and medical fields, and make up so many other jobs. Why? Because there is opportunity here. India started space exploration to create an opportunity for their people. To stop the bleed that has been ongoing for years and years. Their talents are all being used in another country, so ISRO is made for them to stay. Why go all the way to work at NASA when you can work at ISRO, here? 
If India didn’t focus on space exploration and worked more on decreasing poverty levels, what would happen? There would be a bigger bleed. More families and kids would thrive, and they would look for jobs and opportunities. However, since there aren’t enough opportunities available, they go to America. I’m not saying India shouldn’t focus on poverty, but that they should also focus on creating more opportunities, such as ISRO, so more Indians can stay and build the country. 
ISRO Chandrayaan 2
{Source: Twitter}
But, opportunity is not the only reason ISRO exists. Going to Mars is crucial for India to make a name for itself. Before, India would be known for it’s bursting population and how most of it is in poverty. Or worse, simply looked down upon or not included in the landscape. But, as soon as word came out they were going to space, everyone was intrigued. Sure, people were doubtful, and even mocking them for trying, but India stood firm to say they were here. They were trying to make themselves heard and were trying to say, look at us, a country with a huge population, few resources, and most of which is in poverty, and yet we could go to the moon or even travel to Mars. They made themselves heard, and made themselves a part of the landscape. 
India Space Mission Cartoon

In conclusion….

The Billionaire Space Race is unnecessary, and in reality, a waste of money. While there are so many pending problems in the world such as roads that need to be built in Africa, poverty in India, and hunger all around the world, these billionaires are trying to be the first ones in space or establish a legacy in a shiny area. Who cares? You can go to space any time you want. In fact, it should be our last priority. We’re just making it out of a pandemic and have another variant coming around. People aren’t able to get vaccinated in certain areas or even fed! Families have to give up what little food they have for their kids so they can try to keep their families afloat. Africa needs roads to go to markets, school, jobs, doctors, and even for trade and specialization of tasks that us fundamental for economic growth.  Instead of setting your eyes on a shiny toy, why not fix the broken ones that we have. Like Neil Armstrong said, a giant leap for mankind. Do it so we, as a world and species, can go forward. Not just you. 

Part 141- Town Council Meeting Claims

Opening Statement 

An incident from a few weeks ago. On May 25th, 2021, during a Town Council meeting from my town, there was a slightly heated discussion between Ms. Nimphius, Chairperson of the Parks and Recreations board, and Ms. Fleury, the Mayor. During the discussion, several claims were made, and I am here to check if these claims were true.

The process to collect Evidence

It took about 2 weeks to collect the allotted evidence for the claims. Through this process, I made a list of the claims made and the required evidence to prove them. Then, I wrote down specific questions and notes according to each claim that needed to be answered. I then started to collect my evidence. This includes going through the given websites on the Town Council page, emailing Mr. Jaramillo, and filing an Open Records Request. Finally, I have all the evidence needed to justify these claims. 


Claim 1: Interrupting Behavior by Ms. Nimphius
Claim By:  Ms. Fleury, Mayor, Town of Trophy Club
When: Town Council meeting on 5/25/2021
Ref: Meeting Video at 27:58 in the video. 

Evidence needed:

  1. Agenda packets for Town Council Meetings
  2. Past Town Council Meeting Videos


  • Agenda packets for Town Council Meetings – <Link>
  • Minutes of Town Council meeting when P&R Board or Ms. Nimphius appeared.
  • Past Town Council Meeting Videos <Link>
Parks & Recreation ( P&R) showed up only at following Town Meetings on
  • 04/13/21 – Town Council Meeting 
    • Video <Link>
      • Ms. Nimphius gave an update
      • Videos did not show the full meeting.
    • Minutes of Town Council meeting <Link>
      • P&R Board or Ms. Nimphius appeared.
      • Minutes do not show interruptions 
  • 05/11/21 – Town Council Meeting <Link>
    • Video <Link>
      • Ms. Nimphius gave an update
      • Videos did not show the full meeting.
    • Minutes of Town Council meeting <Link>
      • P&R Board or Ms. Nimphius appeared.
      • Minutes do not show interruptions 
Claim assessment: Cannot be proven

Claim 2 ( Part 1) : Unproductive Meetings 
< Made by Mr. Lamont>
When: 05/25/21 Meeting, At 24:16 into the video
Evidence Needed:
  1. Agenda Plans
  2. Meeting Minutes
  3. Hours for P&R board 
The 03/08/21 minutes did not show Mr. Lamont attended the meeting, and the minutes for the 05/18/21 meeting do not exist. However, the minutes do follow what was written in the agenda. So, the meetings cannot be proven to be unproductive.
Claim 2 (Part 2): Productive Meetings
<Made by Ms. Nimphius>
When: 05/25/21, At 24:24
Evidence Needed:
  1. Agenda Plans
  2. Meeting minutes
  3. Hours for P&R board
Agenda Packets: <For Both>
Found from two links:
  • Missing 2020 and 2021 packets
  • Has 2020 and 2021 packets
Both links do share an agenda of items discussed during meetings. However, some items ( in my opinion) can be discussed over email instead of during the meeting. Ex: Goat yoga, Easter bunny photos, easter eggs, pickleball, etc.
Meeting Minutes: < For Both>
Hours: < For Both> 
  • Not Available/Do not exist
Claim: Cannot be Proven
Claim 3: Meeting twice in a 40 hr week, 4 hours each meeting, is taking away valuable time <Actual Sentence?>
< Made by Mr. Lamont>
When: 05/25/21, At 26:53 into the video
Evidence Needed:
  1. Hours spend by Parks and Recreation staff preparing for meetings
  • Data provided only shows time spent booth 
  • Hours recorded by only 2 staff members
Claim: Cannot be Proven

My Opinions and Views:

Claim 1

My Assessment: The claim was not correct, and cannot be made. Despite there being minutes and agenda packets that show Ms. Nimphius showed up, the video does not show that. The videos are incomplete or do not show the full meeting, and do not Ms. Nimphius showed up. Therefore, the claim cannot be proven. 
Other Notations …. Even though I don’t have the evidence to prove the interrupting behavior, in my view, or even just on the behavior in the meeting. When I was watching the video, I observed a few things. For example, Ms. Nimphius’s posture when she was speaking. She wasn’t standing properly when she was speaking. To me, it seemed like she could have been uninterested or even bored at the meeting. I also noticed her tone. When Mr. Lamont was asking her questions, I could hear some annoyance in her voice. She didn’t say anything rude, but I felt that her tone wasn’t very respectful. I also want to compare her testimony and behavior to Mr. Jaramillo’s. 
After Ms. Nimphius left the meeting Mr. Jaramillo was asked to finish updating the Council. He was very respectful and was listening attentively to what Ms. Fleury and Mr. Lamont were saying. Even when Mr. Lamont was saying that the two meetings were unproductive, instead of arguing that they were, he took the feedback respectfully. His posture was also respectful. Both his feet were on the ground, and he was quiet when another was speaking. Also, both Mr. Jaramillo and Ms. Nimphius gave a different update to the council. Ms. Nimphius told the Council what was upcoming on the agenda, but Mr. Jaramillo said there weren’t. I don’t understand how this happened, but perhaps the agenda update Ms. Nimphius happened spur of the moment. Maybe there was something new added to the agenda that came up all of a sudden and Mr. Jaramillo was not informed. 
I couldn’t find any behavior traits Ms. Fleury or Mr. Lamont had in their behavior.  
Claim 2-
My Assessment: The Meeting Minutes do not show that Mr. Lamont attended the March meeting, and there are no records for the May meeting. So, Mr. Lamont’s claim cannot be proven. However, this does not mean Ms. Nimphius’ claim can be proven as well.      
I was reading the agenda packet and as I was reading, I saw a couple things that were not very necessary to talk about during the meeting. I think that they could have been discussed through email and that could have given extra time at the meeting. So, the meetings were only partially unproductive, but I think were productive. But, I also wanted to add in one more thing. Mr. Lamont and Ms. Nimphius mentioned Sports Agreements. Mr. Lamont asked about the agreements, and Ms. Nimphius said that they were still being discussed with the sub- committee. The way she said it sounded like she didn’t know what was happening. I think instead of saying it was being finalized with the sub-committee, she should have let another member speak or give an update, or even said that she would get back to Mr. Lamont on that. 
Claim 3-
I want to say that I think Claim 3 is an overstatement. Yes, there were a few things on the agenda that were unnecessary and wasted some time, but I don’t think that the meetings are taking away valuable time. As I was going through the agenda there were quite a few, very important items that would not take away valuable time. Maybe some hours were taken away, or, maybe even after having those meetings, the action taken was slow or very minimal. Either way, I think that Mr. Lamont made a rash claim to say that the meetings took away valuable time. 


In conclusion, the claims made by Ms. Fleury, Ms. Nimphius, and Mr. Lamont cannot be proven.

Side notes:

I really just want to say one thing. Mr. Lamont, Ms. Fleury, and Ms. Nimphius have all made claims that cannot be proven. These are people I could look up to or admire, but upon seeing their claims, I don’t know how I can. How can I look up to someone who makes a claim that cannot be proven? That’s all.
Finally, I just want to point out how much information I’ve gotten to back these claims up. Barely any. ( I hope this doesn’t come out as rude.) It took me about 2 weeks to finally have everything I need/ that exists and in the midst of it, I got a bit stressed. I sent an email to the Open Records Department again and even the mayor, talking about what I needed and how bad the information was kept. I have to say, I sounded extremely rude in that. I didn’t mean to, I was just stressed because I was not able to acquire the information I needed when I needed it. So, I would like to apologize to the mayor and the Open Records lady, again, for being rude in the email. But, I am still not very pleased that the Town Council has not managed their records properly. Many items do not exist or are not properly kept, and I think that this should be fixed. Those records that should be open to the public, are not complete.