NPA Member Survey
Dear NPA members,
Though some notices have gone out with my name attached, I haven’t expressed my take on the NPA situation publicly since my letter accompanying the petition many of you signed in January. My apologies for the long delay. It’s partly exasperation on my part, and partly because I simply haven’t known what to say amidst all the craziness. Though, typical for me, this message is somewhat lengthy, I sincerely hope you’ll read to the end to learn the current state of the NPA, or at least my perception of it. It contains both sadness and hope for the future. There’s a time to mourn, but also a time to rejoice. Right now I ask you to mourn with me over the current mess the NPA has become. Later I will ask you to join me in celebrating a brighter future for all of us.
Mourn with me first over the many great scientists we have lost recently, in the past year especially. Most of you received word a week ago about the passing of Neil Munch, who kept the fire of the NPA alive for several years following the death of founder John Chappell in 2002. David de Hilster and I worked closely with him for years as the baton was passed from Neil and Prof. Domina Spencer to us, always with an attitude of great respect for what had gone before. Neil was continually delighted with the efforts David and I put into the NPA, and I frankly feel a responsibility to him and other NPA founders to see that their hopes for its future live on.
You may not know that we also lost Sagnac recipient and former NPA treasurer, Prof. Mahmoud Melehy, in May, his valuable work connecting thermodynamics with electrodynamics. One of our first Sagnac recipients, Dr. Peter Graneau, with a series of groundbreaking experiments on railguns and electricity in water, left us in February. Last December, we lost the Galileo of our age, Dr. Halton Arp, who revolutionized astronomy with his voluminous evidence of intrinsic redshift. Sad to say, we’ve also lost several to whom we had planned to award the Sagnac: Prof. Franco Selleri, relativity theorist and editor of numerous independent conference proceedings, in November; Prof. John Bockris, authority in electrochemistry who provided experimental and theoretical support for cold fusion, last July; Ken Shoulders, discoverer of stable “rings” of charge that he called exotic vacuum objects (EVOs), the previous June; and of course, Dr. Martin Fleischmann, co-discoverer of cold fusion, in 2012. All of these and more deserved the best the NPA can offer, the Sagnac Award, but the opportunity has now passed.
Though I retain hope for the future, at times we seem to lose great scientists at a faster rate than we gain them. However, their loss puts the NPA fiasco into perspective: In the end, what matters will be our contributions to science, and not who wins a power struggle over a tiny organization called the NPA. I am glad that we took the initiative to preserve their work in the World Science Database, so that future scholars can read about and extend their work. But for now, please just mourn their loss with me.
The Springer Saga
Mourn with me over the ongoing power struggle of Barry Springer and Jim Newburn vs. David de Hilster and me. Back in January we expected them to back down after the overwhelming member support for the petition. It may well have been the greatest level of agreement the NPA has enjoyed over any issue since its inception (lol). We thought that, realizing just how unpopular their actions were, they would either resign as volunteers in an organization that doesn’t need or want their help, or make every attempt to reconcile with us, so as to move the NPA forward. Unfortunately neither happened, and they have simply acted as if there had been no petition. Apparently, they either don’t believe that members care or they don’t care what members believe. I’m not bitter toward them, but am very sad that their peculiar sense of right is more important than the people they stomp on to accomplish their goals.
Thankfully, David and I have been blessed with support from many of you. People who have been particularly gracious by sharing their time and talents include Nick Percival, Lou LaFollette and Judge Duncan Shaw. You may recall an April online meeting wherein we informally, but publically endorsed the first two for positions on the NPA board, along with Dr. Bill Lucas. These endorsements were ignored, since the “board” chose others over Nick and Lou, though, to its credit, it did elect Bill Lucas. Isn’t it ironic that, excepting Bill Lucas, none of the current board attends the Saturday online meetings, many have attended only one or two live conferences, and many have never contributed anything to its proceedings? Yet Nick and Lou have been faithful participants week after week. What else can I suggest but to grieve over such a ridiculous situation?
Over the past couple months, Judge Duncan Shaw has entered the ring with Barry Springer over the issue of a member–based election. Always cautious, yet thorough, Judge Shaw holds that Maryland Law guarantees an inalienable right to members of a non-profit organization to elect its officers. This right supersedes any provision in the bylaws. Springer disagrees. He contends that the board should perpetuate itself, and vigorously fights against the member’s right to vote. (Of course, Barry remembers the overwhelming support in January by the NPA membership for his resignation.) Even ignoring Maryland law, a member-based election seems to me the best way out of the current mess. Shouldn’t the members decide? If Springer and Newburn are indeed doing what is in the members’ best interests, they should be able to raise support and get elected. Why are they so reluctant? How do we bring about a member election without engaging in a costly and wasteful legal battle? Again, I am left to mourn and pray for a way out of the morass.
Mourn with me that the NPA will not hold a conference in 2014, for the first year since its genesis in 1994. Of course, the power struggle is the primary reason, but the story is rather complicated. In January, David and I planned to announce a July conference in Albuquerque alongside TeslaTech, regardless of how Springer and Newburn responded. If they chose stubbornly to hold onto the corporate structure of the NPA, we would simply form a new organization. But our supporters felt that we should not just walk away from the formal organization of the NPA, and should fight to regain what we had lost. This cast a cloud of uncertainty over exactly how, when and under what name we should announce our intended conference. Ultimately, per the recommendation of Judge Shaw, we decided to announce that this would be an NPA conference, at which we would hold an official member election. But alas, the announcement was made far too late, and only a handful of people actually registered. About the time we decided to cancel, David and I received letters from Jim Newburn’s attorney threatening us with legal action should we carry on with the conference. Imagine that. At least this gives us an idea about how NPA funds (i.e., member dues) are now being spent.
Since I began to help edit the Proceedings of the NPA, several alternatives for publication have arisen. If an author can publish his work in many ways, why should he choose the NPA? Naturally he’ll choose the venue that maximizes his exposure. What can we, as the NPA, do to enlarge the audience for our authors? Should we, as Springer proposes, charge people to read our papers? No, we charge to publish papers, but reading them should remain forever free. Do you want the NPA to prevent people from reading your work by charging for it? The mainstream does that. Should we follow Springer and “raise our standards”, i.e. exclude some authors so that other authors can be promoted? Isn’t that censorship? Isn’t that what founder John Chappell fought so vehemently against? Will the NPA cease to be the place where scientists can freely exchange ideas? Where will the dissidents to Springer’s standard go? I shudder to think of it.
Please mourn with me over the wasteful expenses of the Springer board. Of course, I only have second-hand knowledge of what’s going on, because, as far as I know, Treasurer Jim Newburn has never even prepared an NPA financial statement, let alone published anything. I know that he was entrusted with over $15,000, accumulated from previous conferences and from income generated by David’s website. I know that over half that money has now been spent on legal fees to attack David and me, and on a new website (worldnpa.net) to replace David’s years of volunteer effort (worldnpa.org). The new site, which admittedly looks nice, is nothing more than a new face for the old website. The capabilities and the data result from years of hard work by David and me. And as of today, it lacks most of the functionality of David’s original site. Yet one of the two websites will be throw in the garbage. Which will it be? I know that the $3000 David requested after NPA-20, the catalyst for this whole debacle, was never paid to him. The ironies just keep piling up!
Now the Springer board wants to raise dues to fund their schemes. I am torn. Should I ask you to stop paying dues, so the funds dry up and this madness can end? Or encourage you to demand your money back unless Springer and Newburn resign? But then you will no longer be members and can’t vote. Well, so what? The Springer board doesn’t recognize your vote anyway. Maybe it will recognize your non-payment of dues. Oh, and guess who people e-mail when they have trouble paying? Yours truly. It’s like asking me to help load the gun for my own execution. Not to mention that I am not a tech support person, and never have been. Please forgive me if I haven’t answered e-mails like this. I just don’t know what to say. It’s yet another matter for grief.
Finally, mourn with me over the effect this fiasco has had on my friend David de Hilster personally. Some of you heard his story at a recent Saturday meeting, but for those of you that didn’t, this ordeal created a domino effect that definitely confirmed the law of increasing entropy. Long story short, David got stiffed for $3000 for the work he performed preparing for NPA-20. But far more devastating was the shocking lack of respect and appreciation he received from Jim Newburn and Barry Springer for the tremendous volunteer efforts he has given, as a labor of love, to the NPA for many years. For further details on what happened last fall, please see the letter accompanying the January petition.
The stress David experienced as this debacle developed caused him to lose his job, which caused him to lose his house, which caused him to move from California to Florida, for a lower cost of living. At the time of this letter, he is in Florida, but not yet settled in his rented townhome. Understandably, his wife Doris does not want David to invest more volunteer time into the NPA. Can you blame her? It’s unlikely that David will ever be able to devote himself to the NPA as he has in the past. One of my goals is to formally and officially offer David an apology for the undeserved and disrespectful manner in which he was treated by the Springer board, and to restore good will between David and the NPA. I hope you join me in this resolve.
As I said at the onset of the letter, this is a time to mourn. It’s OK to feel sad about it. What else can one feel? Maybe this could have been avoided if I had invited Nick and Lou to the NPA board six months earlier, or if I had demanded David be paid rather than sit by while David demanded it for himself. I apologize to anyone whom I might have unintentionally hurt through an unanswered e-mail, but do not apologize for taking David’s part. If I had it to do over, I’d do the same. Also I’m not bitter against Barry Springer and Jim Newburn. Yes, I would like them to step down, but acknowledge that they have acted according to their perception of what’s best for the NPA. I would welcome them to future NPA events with open arms.
The Good News
Didn’t I promise some good news after all the gloom and doom? The good news is that we can do more than just mourn. We can act. Lou LaFollette has prepared a survey that we hope all NPA members will take 3-5 minutes to complete. Less time than it took you to read this letter. It will help us know what you expect from the NPA, and what direction it should take. I believe it will provide a clear message to the Springer board. They ignore this message at their own peril, for what is the NPA besides its members?
Second, I will host an online meeting on Saturday, August 2, 2014, at 7:00am PST (10:00am EST), to call for the resignations of Barry Springer and Jim Newburn from the NPA board, and to discuss actions that you, the members, can take to pressure the current board to that end. This pressure will include a campaign to post your opinions of the situation to a boycott of any Springer-planned conference. Please make every effort to attend. If you are technically unable to join Fuze directly, you can call +1 (201) 479-4595 and punch in meeting number 25430427. Please take the time to join us, even if you’ve never attended before. We need you.
There is more good news. Public interest in alternatives to conventional science is growing. An independent poll reveals that over a third of the American public reject the Big Bang theory, and that many have serious doubts about the Higgs boson and the standard model. Where should all these people turn for answers, or at least for independent discussion? To the NPA, of course. The age of computers makes this possible, and we have plans to make it happen. Greater exposure to the NPA will mean greater exposure for your work. That’s what the NPA is supposed to do for you.
Thanks for taking time to read this long epistle of mine, and for your continued support. We’ll get past this mess, and I believe the NPA will become stronger than ever. Let’s do it together.