Garth Kiser

Jul 172015
 

This guy has caused me so much unnecessary trouble that I’ve decided to devote an entire blog to him, and to provide others a place to share problems they’ve had with him. Bill Chamberlain is the manager of Saint John’s Yacht Harbor, and he’s taking the business with him into a psychotic downward spiral. The marina is owned by a group of investors. The idea behind this blog is that they will read here a compilation of horror stories written by people who have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with Bill Chamberlain.

Here’s my story:

I moved to the marina in February 2015 and rented a slip there for two months, at a cost of about $1000. During most of that time I had very little contact with Mr. Chamberlain, but was warned by the community that he was an anti-social loose cannon. In mid-March he communicated with me through his dockmaster, saying that we would need to either provide proof of insurance and sign a 6-month lease or leave by April 1st. The cost of doing so would have been about $2000, not my idea of living on a boat, so I met personally with Bill in the marina office and asked if we could work out an agreement in which I’d pay to use the marina facilities while living at anchor instead. This was supposed go be a good arrangement for everyone, as I would have access to dingy dockage and showers, and the marina would be profiting from it without risk.

And so I moved the boat to anchor a few hundred yards from the marina and bought $1000 worth of equipment to become independent of the power grid. After a couple weeks of not hearing back from Bill I became suspicious. Considering his troubled reputation, I chose to communicate with him by email in case I should ever need a record of our conversations.

from: Garth Kiser <garthkiser@gmail.com>

to: bchamberlain@sjyh.com

date: Wed, May 27, 2015 at 10:38 AM

Subject: Distant Drum

Hello Bill,

This is Garth and Sarah from Distant Drum, the black mast currently anchored south of the bridge. You probably remember that we left the marina at the end of the last month due to insurance/lease costs.
 
(irrelevant small talk removed for brevity, saying I took a job nearby that would last until at least the next year)
 
We would like to continue living at anchor regardless of income, and this spot is obviously great for me getting to work. A month ago I had asked you about using the marina services while at anchor. You said it was fine, and I asked to pay for the services. You both said you would get back to me but I never heard anything. I thought maybe this was because you were busy, or maybe because you are not supposed to make such arrangements with boats at anchor.
 
So, can we continue to use the facilities? If it does indeed pose some kind of policy problem, would it be possible to offer some service to the marina? I mean that if I was to work part-time in exchange for access to the property, then I would be there as an employee rather than a boater at anchor.
 
I would really like to make this work out somehow. I have plenty of great references and my own basic tools for light construction. You can contact me by email or (phone number removed).
 
Thank You,
Garth Kiser
Distant Drum
 
Mr. Chamberlain responded cheerfully the very next day:

Garth/Sarah:

Glad to hear that you will remain in the Charleston area for the next year!

You are correct, as I have been extremely busy as the season is well underway and we are nearing full capacity at the marina.  I’m sure we can come to an acceptable agreement to let you guys continue using the facilities.

I’ll get back to you by early next week, as I will be busy the next few days with my daughter’s wedding.

Thanks, and congrats on landing a full-time job!

Regards,

Bill Chamberlain, CMM

General Manager

St. Johns Yacht Harbor

No response came that next week, nor the following six. Although I saw Mr. Chamberlain multiple times each week, he simply put his head down and walked on by, usually not even responding to “hello.” As this was his customary behavior, and considering his positive email, I assumed he was still busy. I expected that once he’d decided on an agreement, I’d backpay for all the time I’d spent using marina facilities while living at anchor. The price didn’t really matter, because I’d discovered by this time that I preferred the privacy and solitude of the open water, as opposed to being surrounded by other people and boats, no matter how lovely they were.

As July approached, horror stories concerning Mr. Chamberlain intensified, his increasingly erratic behavior causing a number of safety issues and frequent annoyances among the marina population. And then came his breaking point:

The bridge leading to the marina collapsed just before the weekend of July 4th, trapping some 100 cars in the parking lot for several days. Half of the bridge had been roped off in a state of disrepair for quite some time before the collapse. It had been known for years actually that the bridge was severely troubled, though Mr. Chamberlain had ordered no repairs during his two years as manager. And now he was feeling the brunt of his inaction, enduring an endless stream of attention from angry residents. His severely anti-social personality went into overdrive as he shooed away reporters and even marina residents attempting to take photos of the bridge. Those attempting even to walk over the temporary bridge were threatened with expulsion from the property, and a dozen or so signs in large red block letters repeated this threat. It is clear, Mr. Chamberlain should have been an evil insurance company claims lawyer, not the manager of a vibrant marina community.

Next, Mr. Chamberlain targeted his quiet rage directly at me in this email.

On Jul 15, 2015 8:49 AM, <bchamberlain@sjyh.com>wrote:

Garth:

As you are no longer are renting a slip as a long term transient guest, I can no longer allow you or Sarah to utilize St. Johns Yacht Harbor facilities.  I have been receiving numerous inquiries from slip tenants asking why I am allowing non-tenants to use the facilities.

Due to the increased awareness from the tenants, I am now instructing you to no longer use the courtesy dock, bathroom/shower facilities, and Captain’s Retreat lounge area. Failure to comply with this directive will leave me with no choice but to consider you trespassing on marina property, with appropriate action being taken.

If you would like to rent a slip for a month, and can provide proof of insurance coverage on your vessel, we will certainly consider this an option.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Regards,

Bill Chamberlain, CMM
General Manager
St. Johns Yacht Harbor

 

Had Mr. Chamblerlain explained his extreme reversal, or simply offered a one-sentence apology then I would have left in peace. But instead I received a threat, which forced me to take time off work the very next day to move the boat. Due to Mr. Chamblerain’s irrational whims I’ve been suddenly uprooted from the marina community I’d come to love, and I’m now lying at anchor in potentially hazardous territory until other arrangements can be made. Certainly I’m not the only one with a Bill Chamberlain horror story to tell.

Jun 302015
 

CAM00107So what do you know, we stayed after all, but barely.

For a month we had been at anchor, or “on the hook”, as a sailor calls it. The little inflatable dinghy and five horsepower motor served proudly as our “car”, ferrying us back and fourth between Distant Drum and St. John’s Yacht Harbor for endlessly hot showers. Sarah hoop-danced under the Stono River bridge each day while I worked on the boat and explored it workings. She earned a few dollars each day by doing paid writing gigs online. Each Saturday we put on our hiking backpacks and walked about two miles up the busy desolate highway to a Food Lion supermarket.

A sailboat this size was meant for movement, not stationary life. The cramped quarters left us hating each other at times, but never for long. I did think she was about to jump overboard and leave one day when I got air in the fuel line. She wasn’t holding the flashlight right.

By the end of May we’d come up with a plan, to slowly cruise up the east coast to Maine during the rest of the summer. All the necessary equipment had been ordered online and installed aboard;. A mobile router provided Internet access. Power was provided by a 100-watt solar panel connected to a deep-cycle battery. For a few hours each day while I was piloting the boat, Sarah would be down below earning $100 per week online.

We were going to leave on Monday, June 1st. The day before that we walked up the highway for one final supermarket trip. It was somewhere in the produce department near the mushrooms when the store manager Tom approached.

“Are you still looking for a job?”

Just six weeks previously I’d turned down a good job offer as a meat cutter here. My job as an electrician’s assistant had paid nearly as much, and I enjoyed learning a new skill.

“Seriously?”, I replied, unable to believe I was hearing this the very day before we planned on leaving. Sure enough, the lights in the meat department were turned off at this late-morning hour. The new meat cutter had taken the whole Memorial Day weekend off, no call, no show. By the end of the day I had a phone call, the job was indeed mine.

I hadn’t been looking for another job, but I couldn’t ignore the universe. It wanted us to have more cryptocurrency.

As it turns out, this little supermarket is about the most civilized place I’ve ever worked. I should have taken the job the first time it was offered. Some things never change, like penny-wise-dollar-stupid international congolmerates drastically shorting their stores of hours. But it is possible to fight back against the corrosive affects of over-centralization. In one month I’ve found a peace in this store that I couldn’t find for a whole year working my last supermarket job in Tucson.

And so we’ll be sticking around for a while. A new toilet and generator has made life on the boat much more bearable for Sarah. A small air-conditioner keeps her relatively cool on the 100-degree days, of which we recently had a week-long stretch. Only near the equator have I ever felt such heavy air. We are making arrangements with the marina to continue using the facilities while remaining at anchor. This means that nearly all of our income goes directly into cryptocurrency.

If Joe Biden will keep his ass off our bridge then we’ll do just fine. If local cops will quit trying to play federal agent then we’ll do just fine. Washington, stay the fuck out of Charleston for the next year. And to everybody here who played nice with the Nazis last Sunday, why don’t you just move to Washington and become their permanent bitches. You can all go up into the mushroom cloud together. You’ve earned it.

Down with centralization.

May 092015
 

Our time at St. John’s Yacht Harbor is coming to an end. We had planned on staying long-term so that I(Garth) could keep working and buying cryptocurrency, but were suddenly faced with signing a lease. Yes, you heard that right, a lease….at a marina. The lease would have cost $1000 and could not have been signed without proof of insurance, which would have cost another $1000. That’s ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS for insurance on something that goes FIVE MILES PER HOUR. Yeah, we didn’t think so either. We’ve sold out for a year to get our hands into the blockchain, and any more sellout seems to be on the verge of deliberate evil. Insurance companies and legal contracts can go to hell.

Being at anchor immediately made getting to land cumbersome at best, and impossible during bad weather, so I quit working rather than becoming unreliable. For a brief time I even considered buying a car to prolong the crypto buying, but it all comes back to that pure evil of giving money to the government and corporations. They can all burn, go to hell, then burn some more while they’re down there.

This means that the age of Garth and Sarah buying into the blockchain has come to a close with no new entry in sight. This has nothing to do with our belief in the technology, and it will soon be evident to all that the world has forever changed. Our exit from that scene has only to do with patience and conscience.

We currently live on roughly $100 per week that Sarah makes doing paid writing gigs on Elance.com. For most people this would be nothing, but for us it means the ability to cruise freely in our boat. Living on Gonzo in 2009, our expenditure was even less. For now we plan on making our way north, using both the Intracoastal Waterway and the ocean, depending on the weather and how we feel. As usual, who really knows?

 

Apr 042015
 

Distant Drum at St. John’s Yacht Harbor, near Charleston, SC.

Just days after purchasing Distant Drum, Garth accepted a job working with electricians around Charleston, South Carolina. We looked at a map, found the closest marina to the job site, and it just turned out to be the nicest marina we’ve ever been to. And we’ve been to lots of marinas. St. John’s Yacht Harbor is so nice in fact that it might be a cult and we might be sacrificed at some point.

While Garth works on luxury seaside homes, Sarah spends her days doing paid online writing gigs and practicing her hoop dance. On the weekends we take the marina’s courtesy car out and about.

Our free time is spent working on the boat and continuing to buy cryptocurrency. It’s a pretty good life here on the Stono River!

Dec 132014
 

Vln85Wmd_burned (1)It has been a while since I shared a story from my cryptocurrency experiences. As Sarah and I have settled into a routine we’ve been less motivated to write, but for the whole past year our interest in cryptocurrency has continued on a daily basis.

Week after week, without exception, for 8 months…..we invested $200 per week into a portfolio of cryptocurrencies and other “blockchain-based” projects. Overall, our results have been mostly flat. Our largest investment, bitcoin, has fallen in value by up to 50%, while some of our small investments have earned up to 10,000%

The year is soon over and we’ll go back to our traveling lifestyle, but the long-term results of this year could possibly shape the rest of our lives. We got a little taste of that this past week with a cryptocurrency project called CLAMs.

Back in the early summer I first noticed CLAMs on the Bitcointalk.org cryptocurrency message board . Back then CLAMs was just a small handful of cool geeks who had produced an unknown work of genius. Reading about it the first time, I decided then and there that this was going to become a special project for me. Although I have no advanced programming skills, I wanted to contribute to the CLAMs dream in any way possible.

And so I introduced myself to the CLAMs developers in their IRC chat channel. We instantly got along well with similar visions and senses of humor. Within a few days I had created a CLAMs informational website and registered the domain clamclient.com. Soon afterwards a member of the CLAMs team nicknamed creativecuriosity asked if I would work with her to create an “official” website.

And so it happened. A new website was born at that time, and then we created a 2.0 version of the site in the early fall. The price fell all during this time; $2USD, $1, 50 cents…….5 cents. I rode the CLAM train all the way down, buying little by little the whole time. Running the CLAMclient software with a respectable balance of CLAMs allowed me to mint hundreds more CLAMs. As of the beginning of December this stash amounted to less than $100USD, which meant an overall loss of about $150. During this time I became better acquainted with other’s on the CLAMs development team, including the mastermind named xploited. A small skilled team was slowly growing around CLAMs.

For at least as long as I’ve been involved with CLAMs, there has been a person involved who’s only known as Dooglus. He, like the other developers, has remained anonymous, only known by his screen name. Dooglus had also noticed the CLAMs post on bitcointalk.org and decided to get involved. Unlike me, Dooglus is a genius computer programmer.

Over the course of the summer Dooglus spent increasing amounts of time assisting with the development of CLAMs, His presence within the group was a great morale boost also because of his history with one of the most popular bitcoin websites ever to exist; just-dice.com. At its height in the early summer, just-dice was a base for millions of dollars in bitcoin gambling, and also served as a revenue source for anyone who wished to invest as the house. Gamblers and investors could all do so anonymously, and business was booming.

And then in June just-dice abruptly shut down, citing Canadian regulations. All users were able to withdrawal their bitcoins, but the cryptocurrency community had lost its most beloved gambling and investment site. Beyond just being an entertainment source, many people credited just-dice with creating a demand that helped to massively drive up the bitcoin price.

Then out of the blue in early December, Dooglus announced that just-dice was coming back online the very next day, but not as a bitcoin gambling site. No, this time around it would only be accepting CLAMs! Word spread like wildfire and the price of a CLAM went straight through the roof.

CLAMs trading volume was an even bigger story than price, though. CLAMs was still listed on a single cryptocurrency exchange, Poloniex.com. Most of the summer CLAMs had traded a few dollars per day, or a couple hundred dollars on a good day. Now with the just-dice demand it was suddenly trading 50, 100, even nearly 200 bitcoins over 24-hour periods, upwards of $50,000. Not only had CLAMs set itself apart among 1000 other cryptocurrencies, it was suddenly among the top ten in trading volume. Anyone like myself who had been holding a few hundred dollars worth of CLAMs in early December, was holding a few thousand dollars in mid-December.

And that there is my best cryptocurrency story of 2014, maybe a five digit profit by the end of the year, or back to 5 cents, we’ll see!

May 162014
 
Stigmergy1-300x225

The United States government is broken beyond repair, corrupt beyond reform. There’s no debating that. The question is, what can we do about it?

We can move on. There’s no need to waste time repairing or tearing down our broken system. Instead, we must starve it to death by creating and transitioning to a brand new system. That new system should be leaderless, decentralized and transparent, and it should allow every individual to speak for themselves so that they will no longer have to trust representatives.

The first step in making our current system obsolete is to take away its ability to control and manipulate the money supply and the financial system. We can do that by adopting Bitcoin. Because Bitcoin is not owned, controlled or created by a single entity, but by every individual who takes part in the system, it renders both private banks and the federal reserve unnecessary, taking money out of the hands of the government and putting it in the hands of the people. Because Bitcoin is a completely transparent system, there is no need to trust representatives, board members, bankers or even other Bitcoin users.

But as I said, taking control of the money system is only step one. What about everything else? What about transit, telecommunications, food production and all of the other systems upon which we build our daily lives? These, too, must be transferred back into the hands of the people. Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency ecosystem in general have provided us with the technological foundation for implementing a peer-to-peer governance model organized through stigmergy.

Bitcoin was created, and has evolved, in a stigmergic fashion, and its protocol can be used to apply this organizational structure to everyday life.

What is Stigmergy?

Wikipedia says, “stigmergy is a form of self-organization. It produces complex, seemingly intelligent structures, without need for any planning, control, or even direct communication between the agents.”

Essentially, stigmergy is anarchy. There are no governments and no leaders. Every individual takes responsibility for him- or herself.

Stigmergy1-300x225Stigmergy begins with a seed, a single idea or proposal which is presented freely to the general populace. If the idea is interesting or necessary, others will begin to build upon it and modify it. As more people join the project, those with the most enthusiasm and expertise will form a core team which will provide the project with direction. They will begin to focus more narrowly on the aspects of the idea which interest them most, leaving other aspects undone. Others with an interest in the idea will then see that attention is needed in neglected areas and take up the unfinished work (if the undone tasks are never taken up, they’re unnecessary and therefore irrelevant). In this way, the original seed idea evolves into a decentralized system comprised of many connected nodes, each one focused on developing whichever aspect of the system interests them most.

Satoshi Nakamoto made Bitcoin’s open source code available to the general populace and anyone interested was allowed to build upon and modify it. As the project expanded, different groups of people began working on different aspects of the idea. While coders focused on code, other people built exchanges, mining hardware and news and information sources. Satoshi Nakamoto’s seed idea has now evolved into a functional decentralized worldwide financial system.

A stigmergic system organizes itself into concentric user circles which represent levels of expertise. The outer circle is comprised of Users. A User is anyone who is affected by the system. They participate in it by using it, spreading awareness about it, providing moral and financial support, and offering feedback. All information about the system and all actions taken within it are transparent, so Users can educate themselves and gain the knowledge needed to contribute to the system, thus moving into the next circle, which is comprised of Contributors. When a Contributor gains sufficient experience and expertise, they become a Member. After consistently contributing useful, high quality, peer-reviewed work for a significant period of time, that Member gains more influence within the system and may become part of the Core Team, which is comprised of those who have enough knowledge, expertise and experience to give the system direction.

In a Meritocracy (a system in which one moves toward the center and gains influence through peer reviewed contributions) accreditation, resumes, interviews and bosses are unnecessary. There is no need to seek approval or permission from an authority figure in order to begin work. You simply start contributing and your work is either accepted by those working within the system or it is not. There’s also no need to assign job titles with set duties. Everyone chooses their work because they find it fascinating or necessary or both.

This is how Bitcoin functions as well. All information is transparent. A person can educate themselves about bitcoin as much or as little as they please and contribute or not contribute to its evolution in whatever way they choose.

Stigmergy for Governance

Stigmergy, as a system of governance, is far superior to both representative and direct democracies.

In a representative democracy, officials are elected based on popularity, which could be a result of charisma and advertising rather than expertise. They then make decisions affecting all systems functioning in their geographical area regardless of how much or how little they know about those systems, and regardless of whether or not those systems actually affect them personally. They can hire experts who are willing to reveal or withhold certain types of information in exchange for bribes. None of this leads to high quality service for those who actually use a given system.

Also, elected officials do not represent every individual in their geographical area. They claim to represent the values and ideals of political parties. When a citizen subscribes to a political party, they no longer have to think for themselves or take responsibility for any decisions made. Flawed initiatives may pass because a voter’s fear of disagreeing with a group, or their desire to retain membership within it, outweigh their concern for the issue at hand. Group affiliation allows a person to reject an idea before hearing or understanding it, simply because it was proposed by an opposing group.

A direct democracy gives equal weight to all citizens, whether or not they are affected by the system in question, and regardless of their level of knowledge and expertise on the subject. Giving equal weight to the voice of the expert and the novice, the dependent and the unaffected, means that those who could do the most good within a system, and those who are most in need of their contributions, are both overshadowed by a large volume of empty votes. And because every individual cannot be expected to have the time or energy to educate and represent themselves on every issue, most people will simply vote for the most popular or the most advertised solutions.

A stigmergic government would naturally organize itself according to system, not land mass. Experts would be created within the system and promoted by reputation earned through consistent high quality peer-approved contributions, not by certification or authority figures. In a stigmergic system, no one would be able to fake, buy or schmooze their way into power, and there would be no gap between what a person promises and what they actually do. Only those who were affected by a system would choose to work within it, so meeting the user’s needs would always be the objective, and the weight of each participant’s input would match their level of expertise. All information would be transparent and the different levels of expertise would create a bridge between laymen and the core team, which anyone could cross by educating themselves and contributing work. Control and responsibility would always rest with a system’s users, so systems would always function according to the highest standard.

Stigmergy for Business

Stigmergy is also far superior to both competitive and collaborative business models, which is important in the case of public services provided by private organizations.

Progress and innovation are slow within companies that compete with one another to create the same product or provide the same service. First, time is wasted persuading the person in charge to take on a project. If they do, time and money are then consumed in advertising, patents, copyrights, and the search for contributors and investors. Collaborative organizations waste as much time and money on such things as competitive ones. On top of that, the proposer of an idea must persuade an entire group to take it on, then every member must agree on every stage of the idea’s development. And just like in a direct democracy, all voices carry equal weight so that expertise is drowned out by less knowledgeable opinions. A lot of time and energy are wasted on power struggles and the resolution of arguments. Collaboration can quickly dissolve into an exercise in personality management.

If an idea is bound to an owner, whether it be a single person or a group, there is the chance that investors and contributors are working for a person rather than an idea, and that they have no interest in the success or failure of the project itself. So if the owner of the project changes, investors and contributors may be lost and the project or idea may be delayed or die entirely. And since secrecy is paramount, only those hired by the idea’s owner(s) are allowed to work on the project, making collaboration between the best minds on the subject impossible unless they are all hired by the same organization.

Stigmergy solves all of the above problems. Let’s use Bitcoin as an example. First, no time was wasted persuading a person or group to take on the project of developing bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto made the idea and all the necessary information for development available to everyone for free. No one can own it, so contributors don’t need to be hired. Anyone who wants to work to develop bitcoin can do so without permission. This means collaboration between the best minds on the subject is much more likely and a far superior product can be created. Non-ownership also means that both contributors and investors come to Bitcoin of their own volition, because it is a good idea, not because they want to make an advantageous connection with a powerful person. Since everyone is working for Bitcoin, not for Bitcoin’s non-existent owner(s), the removal of a single personality cannot kill the idea. Because no group or owner must agree upon every stage of Bitcoin’s development, less time is wasted on conflict resolution and personality management. Any contributor can veer off in any direction, which is why so many alt coins exist. Finally, no money need be spent copyrighting, patenting or advertising Bitcoin because the idea is open-source and its contributors are enthusiastic enough to promote it for free.

The Future

Human civilization is in desperate need of a system of governance and a structure for business which does not allow ownership to detract from innovation. That system must be driven by ideas, not personalities, and those ideas must be accepted or rejected based on the ideas themselves, not their owners or proposers. All voices must be heard and the weight of those voices must be determined by expertise rather than bribes and charisma. Systems must be built to best serve those who use and are affected by them.

All of the above can be accomplished through stigmergy. It created Bitcoin and Bitcoin is moving us into an open-source world in which there will be no governments, no leaders and no owners. Instead, there will be individuals recognizing human needs and taking action to fulfill those needs. We will no longer elect others to represent us. We will no longer seek permission, instruction, assignment or aid from those who would use them to manipulate us. We will no longer look outside ourselves for solutions to our problems.

For too long, people have chosen to follow blindly and without question, refusing to think, make decisions or take responsibility. Thus we have placed ourselves under the rule of those who do not have our best interests in mind.

Remember: Power is not taken by leaders, it is given to them by those who choose to follow.

We must refuse to follow.

Technology has given us the power, as autonomous individuals, to plan and carry out our own solutions. We must trust ourselves to be strong, intelligent and humane enough to govern our own communities. When we believe ourselves to be as capable as we think others are, we begin to direct the courses of our own lives and cease to submit to the will of a broken government.

Our future is stigmergy. Stigmergy is anarchy. Anarchy is not chaos. It is people using the tools they’ve been given to take responsibility for their own lives rather than waiting for others to do everything for them.

Once we have control of our own financial system, we can use the Bitcoin protocol to take control of all our other systems. That’s where things like Decentralized Autonomous Corporations and Smart Contracts come into play. But this article is already long enough, so I’ll have to discuss those elsewhere.

A special thanks to Heather Marsh for the P2P governance inspiration that she gave us in her writings and our time together at the 2012 Berlin Biennale.