Operation Pitcairn


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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109 Responses

  1. Avatar aaron david says:

    If I wasn’t happily married, I would be thinking about it.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Clancy is more likely to like the idea than I am, given our particulars. I plan to bring it up with her when we have time for a conversation, as I’m curious on her perspective. Chances are the island is just a bit too small for her. She could be convinced, possibly, if we had access to Henderson. But I ain’t doing to the convincing…Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Also, the weather could be a dealbreaker.Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        My wife grew up in the far hinterlands of Norcal. She has zero desire to live in an area with a population of less than 100k.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Once upon a time, I considered 100k people to be “rural” and “tiny.”

        Now I’d consider it a cosmopolitan paradise.

        It’s amazing what living in the rural Mountain West does to you.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I mean, seriously. I look at Fargo and Sioux Falls and think “That would just be fantastic!”

        A little less so now, though. We live on a far edge town on a major metropolitan area, which lessens the tension a great deal. It’s logistically perfect, in many ways. Clancy gets her house in the woods, we don’t have to deal with urban stresses and traffic, but still have access to amenities in a way that we didn’t in the MW.Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        That kinda what we have. We commute into the bay, and have to deal with that traffic, but we live in a city just under 100k. Up to me, I would be looking for college towns around 50k.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        They say Ithaca is gorges…..Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @aaron-david Montana has two of those, Utah at least one and maybe three, and two for the price of one along the Idaho/Washington border. (note: Pocatello is not a college town, nor Ogden).Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        I was born in Pullman…Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Well there ya go! We almost ended up there, but the offer fell through. Broke our heart at the time, but in retrospect she was a bad fit.Report

  2. Avatar Will H. says:

    . . . to follow in the footsteps of Fletcher Christian, who led the mutiny.

    I’m ready to mutiny right now.

    Do I have to take an oath of mutiny, or something?Report

  3. Avatar Kolohe says:

    They have very little fresh water, and no viable landing strip for long range aircraft. Which wouldn’t be an insurmountable problem, except they are also in the middle of nowhere.Report

  4. Avatar Chris says:

    When the whale oil market picks up again, this place will be thriving. Now’s the time to invest there!Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Moby Dick tells you everything you’d ever need to know about whaling. If only libertarians read immense allegories filled with crazy people and long lectures.Report

  5. Avatar Glyph says:

    So: 50 other people, 6 of whom are sex offenders.

    Sounds great!

    (Is anyone else watching Fortitude? If not, why not [aside from difficulty in legally sourcing it for cheap]?)Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      And the reason I ask is, the show is set in a location pretty clearly based on Svalbard .

      And…I kind of want to live there.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I hadn’t heard of it. I find Svalbard fascinating, though.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        If you get Pivot on your cable system, it’s airing there (it’s on Sky I think in Europe/UK). I don’t pay for Pivot, but for some reason my VOD was letting me watch most of the eps; the eps. that it didn’t play, I downloaded from iTunes (Amazon also has it).

        Slow-starting, but massively-engrossing and increasingly bonkers as it goes on, and the scenery alone is worth the price of admission (they shoot in Iceland). It also has Stanley Tucci doing a smug Columbo riff.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        I don’t get Pivot. It’s one of those random channels that you get by paying and extra $25 a month for your cable subscription, but its target demo is millennial cord-cutters. I mean, it looks like it has some cool content (Please Like Me is pretty wonderful) but it doesn’t seem like the delivery method will appeal to the folks who like their shows.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @alan-scott – FYI, the show is a UK production.

        We are getting ready to, if not completely cord-cut, scale back our cable to just the basics (and like I said, I don’t pay for Pivot now, but for some reason the VOD was working for some of the eps).

        In part that’s because I can get the whole season of this show (which would probably be about all I’d want the channel for anyway) on Amazon or iTunes for $20 (in SD) or $25 (in HD). So why not just do that instead?Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      6 of them convicted sex offenders. An unknown number non-convicted. 100% of women living or having lived on the Island self-reported victims of sexual abuse. Yeeee.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Yeah, that article was pretty messed up, especially the parts where the defendants tried to justify it as “traditional Polynesian culture”, which historically had somewhat freer attitudes towards sexuality and age of consent than the West, but the victims were like “what twelve-year-old can possibly consent?!”

        You want to know what an *actual* rape culture looks like, well, there appears to be one right there.

        Which got me wondering about all kinds of small, isolated communities, where large-scale sex abuse sometimes really seems to take hold – it happens often in cults, there are allegations of similar things happening in some Amish and Mennonite communities, etc.

        I wonder if it’s partly a biological thing (maybe where reproductive opportunities are so limited, the thin veneer of “civilization” falls to the wayside for some people); or a small-community thing (a victimizer can keep their thumb on a victim more effectively); or a combo, or what.

        But it does make me a little queasy about seasteads and such, especially given that they will be populated by people who already want to be out from under the yoke of traditional societies for one reason or another. If seasteads ever happen, I expect to hear about some pretty big scandals sooner or later.

        Which is not a reason to stop them, any more than we should stop a new church being formed because Jonestown happened, but…Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Maybe the neoreactionaries could take it over and run with the whole monarchism thing.Report

  7. Avatar zic says:

    I keep asking my Sweetie to look at houses on Peeks Island, an island in Casco Bay that’s part of the City of Portland and has year-round ferry service. I’ve a couple friends who live there.

    But he refuses. “People who live on islands go crazy,” he says.

    Thinking of my friends, he may be right. And thinking of me, it’s possible that wanting to live on an island is already in indicator of crazy. But the same might be said of libertarians, so moats everywhere.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      There was a time when I looked a bit longingly at the Faulkland Islands. Then I actually got a taste of (relative) isolation, and decided not.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Where we live is odd; a small town (2,500 people), but a resort town, too. So there are a lots of restaurants, a relatively decent grocery store and ‘health-food’ store, a few clothing stores, etc., and more beds for rent then any other place in ME except Bar Harbor. But there’s no big-box stores (except a Rite Aid pharmacy and a coming Dollar General).

        And there’s only one town in ME with a population exceeding 100,000; only a few over 25,000.

        But having spent 20+ years in Boston area, that’s okay with me. The only thing I really miss is live jazz venues; and I get that in my own home every day that my sweetie’s not off playing/teaching somewhere else.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        We scoped out Maine before moving here. There is a program in Lewiston and could have been a job in Augusta.

        In an alternate timeline, we’d be right down the road from you.

        If things don’t work out here, we may look at it again. The cities in question are small, though have some degree of access to Portland, which is a plus. I’d leave us with better civilization access than we had in Arapaho.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      “People who live on islands go crazy,” he says.

      As a resident of the island of Manhattan, I say that there is nothing to this theory. At least not at the current rents.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Manhattan’s got bridges and a subway that leads off island, so does not create the isolation necessary to really induce island-induced insanity. Except for the rents.Report

  8. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Well, if enough rich people decided to tear down some mountains to put in a landing strip; paid to fight the legal battles over sovereignty; drill-baby-drilled for some fresh water; worked with Bezos to ensure a fully operational drone-drop system for one-clicked purchases from Amazon; paid fair market wages for the construction of livable homes with a few amenities (I’m thinking a world class golf course myself) … then maybe this idea gets legs under it.

    I can’t see very many people trading a relatively easy and stable life of luxury and correlated freedoms that life provides (let’s be honest!) to hack their way thru bare survival on a waterless island in the middle of nowhere. I mean, if they were drawn to that already they’d already have Come into the Country up in Alaska…Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Is there even enough land for a landing strip for it to be logistically feasible? I figure you’d need Henderson Island for that.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I’m still not entirely sold on Alaskan statehood (but they’re here, so hi Greg!). Seems to me it could have been really interesting as a territory with colonies and charter sities. 20/20 hindsight…Report

    • Avatar RTod says:

      @stillwater touches on something I have felt for a while, which is that much of most (not all) libertarians’ issues with government are more symbolic than anything else.

      The reason this island — or some abandoned oil rig, or some tiny parcel of land way out in the wilderness — won’t become a libertarian paradise is that at the end of the day most libertarians wouldn’t want to live in one.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I’d disagree, but I’m still bitter about Free State Project choosing New Hampshire over Wyoming.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        libertarians’ issues with government are more symbolic than anything else.

        That, my friend, would be a most excellent post and absolutely thrilling OT discussion.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @will-truman I live really close to the NH border; owned property there, and spend a lot of time there.

        And honestly, nobody there ever talks about the Free State project. It’s not much in the news, and when it is, mostly as a joke.

        There is certainly no identity of NH as a libertarian state beyond what it ever was; and the renegades from Boston moving to southern NH far outweigh any Free State efforts to establish NH as a libertarian utopia.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Every now and again I read about some gain made here or there by the porcupines, but my impression is that the impact has always been pretty limited.

        NH was a bad fit, and I felt that at the time. It was one of the worst fits of any of the candidate states, along with Idaho. But they apparently had a thing where a lot of the porcupines wouldn’t move west of the Mississippi, which is pretty indicative of the lack of commitment.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I don’t necessarily think that’s true; NH conservative politics has a much more libertarian feel; mostly because they’re based on old-school New England Republicanism instead of modern evangelical Republicanism.

        But really, NH’s economic well being is only because of the growth in the southern part of the state. Rural ME is pretty bleak. Northern NH is even bleaker. All the growth is in the south, where property values are escalating toward metro-Boston levels and the traffic is horrific.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        I agree with the specific point about seastedding, but I’m not sure that it says anything unique about libertarians. Politics is increasingly becoming obsessed with issues of symbolism and signalling. Look at all the right wing noise about how Obama doesn’t show enough deference to the United States as a Christian nation or any number of progressive arguments for measures whose aims are mostly symbolic.

        As a libertarian-ish person, I can name scores of civil liberties abuses carried out regularly by the government of the United States, but I’m not going anywhere because the positives of my life here outweigh the negatives. It doesn’t mean that the negatives don’t exist or ought to be minimized. Otherwise, it’s a bit like saying that the black people who didn’t migrate to the north only had symbolic issues with Jim Crow.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Oh, come on, Tod. You should know better than this. First of all, other than anarchists, libertarians don’t have a problem with “government.” We have a problem with government that violates our civil liberties and spends, as a percentage of GDP, twice what perfectly functional governments like those of Hong Kong*, Singapore, and Taiwan spend. Even Switzerland now spends significantly less than the US, and, probably not coincidentally, now has higher per-capita GDP.

        Big government is a drag on growth. There are solid theoretical reasons to believe this, and it can be seen empirically as well, in the way low-spending countries in the OECD have outperformed high-spending countries. But you know what’s an even bigger drag on growth? Living on an island in the middle of nowhere that can’t support a population large enough to realize large-scale division of labor and all the economic benefits it entails. Add terrible shipping costs (not only distance, but not enough people to realize benefits of scale), and it all adds up to a huge, huge handicap. It’s the reason why Hawaii has one of the lowest (PPP-adjusted) per-capita incomes in the country, and the reason I’ve never really been bullish on seasteading.

        Saying this proves libertarians don’t really care about big government is like giving 100 men and 100 women an IQ test, but lobotomizing the women first, and then saying it proves that women should just stay in the kitchen.

        *Well, not so much recently, but that’s because of interference by China, not because it doesn’t spend enough.Report

      • Avatar Citizen says:

        I don’t think the endeavour is utopia. Just a world less control freak hellish.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Yeah! @rtod and @brandon-berg

        And a tiny island like that? I wouldn’t have the space to store all the nukes I’d own in a libertarian paradise.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Zic, I’m hearing it from non-libertarian sources. Orrin Judd (an anti-libertarian conservative in New Hampshire) has mentioned-and-linked to it a few times. Here’s Mother Jones.

        It still all strikes me as biting around the edges, and less than what they could have accomplished in Wyoming if they’d agreed to move there.Report

  9. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Well, the water question would have to have already been solved before any seasteaders could take to the seas (affordable, reliable, etc. desalination, or some kind of really good rain catchment), so until that hurdle is crossed, I’d call it moot, unless Pitcairn has a reserve of groundwater that is known but no one is trying to tap (unlikely).

    Assuming, however, that the water question could be answered, and the British Crown could be convinced to let the island go (or at least to leave it alone in exchange for not having to pay money to it), an island could be a good base for seasteaders. A place to shelter from a storm (if the seasteads are mobile and there is enough warning, they could all move to the lee of the island to ride out the storm).

    Lot of ifs there… Are there any islands left in the world NOT claimed by a government?Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Yeah. The “base for seasteads ” is the only context in which I can see it working, short of Henderson Island. And honestly, they’d probably need both at minimum.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      To accomplish all that, libertarians would need a Central Committee of some sort to oversee the resolution of those issues and monitor the payment of funds collected for just that purpose. Think of it as a Vanguard of the Libertariat.

      Once that group, formally tasked with settin shit up the right way, accomplishes it’s task, just disband the group. Easy peasy.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      “Are there any islands left in the world NOT claimed by a government?”

      If this site is correct, the answer is “no”:


      “Let’s blow this fascist popsicle stand! Purchase a small island somewhere, and start our own country.” – Montgomery BurnsReport

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        You’d need a terra nuillus claim, which probably wouldn’t last. The US has a law that any unclaimed islands that have guano can be claimed by the US.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        A bat shit crazy regulation, if you ask me.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Guano, pull the other one.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I don’t know how crazy, considering all the other shit we’ve invaded other lands for…Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        @will-truman speaks truth: the law is the Guano Islands Act, and the portion referred to is codified at 48 U.S.C. § 1411. It comes up right away after a search for “United States Code” and “guano” (and I wonder how many people have googled those words in the past and what sorts of lists I’ve just gotten my computer’s URL on). In a way, it’s a charmingly antiquated law — and one with the longest arm possible on earth: there is literally no island or outcrop of rock on the planet upon which a bird does not shit at some point or another. It reads as follows:

        Whenever any citizen of the United States discovers a deposit of guano on any island, rock, or key, not within the lawful jurisdiction of any other government, and not occupied by the citizens of any other government, and takes peaceable possession thereof, and occupies the same, such island, rock, or key may, at the discretion of the President, be considered as appertaining to the United States.

        The workaround of the Guano Islands Act appears to be renouncing your United States citizenship before discovering the deposit of droppings. Note that typically citizenship is renounced by assuming citizenship of another nation, and being countryless is a rather large administrative headache for those wishing to do things like engage in non-cash transactions or physically enter into or depart from the sovereign territory of an established country, so this isn’t a step one would want to take lightly just to establish, and then have to defend by force of arms, sovereignty over a plot of land that at best is going to be a lot like Pitcairn.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I’m a little unclear on exactly how effective the guano law would be, as far as adjudicating claims between competing nations. So what exactly is the point of such a law? I don’t think it would go like this:

        UK: It’s ours!
        US: Nope, we have a law for just this purpose. See this paper right here, and that bird over there?
        UK: Well, s*it. Report

      • Avatar Francis says:

        Burt: You, sir, are just awesome. Tip o’ the hat for that piece of research.

        A more general point: I seem to recall that Pitcairn had been pretty much left alone for years. When the sex scandal went public, I also seem to recall that the NZ Navy sent a warship and arrested the accused at the point of a cannon.

        Seasteaders, I expect, will need to follow the cultural and legal norms of their original host countries pretty closely if they don’t want the same treatment. Just because you’ve all said that you’ve renounced your US citizenship won’t do all that much good if the US Pacific Fleet shows up on your seastead floating around the Great Pacific Gyre.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Glyph, its primary effect is on US citizens,who would effectively be unable to find an island and declare independence from the US.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @will-truman – no, I get that it *does* that; but was that its intent?

        I thought its intent was actually to obtain guano sources, which were, believe it or not, a valuable resource at the time. How does the law help do that? The same way that the US could presumably ignore a competing claim when another country waved its own “Ley De Guano” around, it could ignore the sovereignty claim of its own (former) citizen, no?

        Is the law just a formality, a rubber stamp conferring a veneer of legitimacy on just taking what we wanted anyway?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        IANAL, but I think the US Navy would not be so inclined to show up on a Seasteaders door/hatch and demand surrender for what is in effect a criminal matter outside the US territorial waters, absent a political decision that someone(s) on that seastead represents a Clear & Present Danger to the US (see Noriega, Bin Laden, etc.).

        Now an enforcement of Admiralty Law, on the other hand…Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Glyph there are per wikipedia, at least three islands currently in dispute, one with Haiti, two with Colombia. There are a gazillion maritime claim disputes all over the world. Buried in this light bedtime reading are most of them. (the most common dispute is a country drawing a straight line between two points which the US (and UNCLOS) says are not valid base points). Most of the time, nobody cares, until someone does, then (like in the Spratleys and the Kurils) the guns come out. Then bigger guns. Etc etc.

        A dispute specifically with the UK would probably be resolved in the same way the Grand Banks dispute was resolved in the World Court (iirc)Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist It might if there were American citizens involved.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @kolohe – I must be phrasing my question terribly. I understand islands and territories get into dispute, and this is either resolved politically or with guns.

        My question is, how does the US having a guano law that says “they are ours, ALL ours” assist us in any way in this process?

        Other countries either have similar laws, or they simply don’t give a crap about our law because it’s our law and not theirs, so who cares that we have a law?

        It just seems like a pointless law (though as @will-truman and @burt-likko point out, it effectively prevents the secession of such an island by a US citizen, but I don’t THINK that was the original intent, just a side-effect).Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Glyph, I think the intent was to claim the islands for the resources, but with no intention of eventually settling on them (which made it distinct from 19th century US government policy on other territories). We (the western world) didn’t really know where all the remote islands exactly were until towards the end of the 19th century.

        Even today, navigational charts can be quirky (and wrong) as to where the tiniest atolls are (and where they sit just below the surface). Though this has changed now that there is high resolution imagery of most of the planet’s surface (but still not subsurface).Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Glyph, I mistreated my response earlier, which is that it authorizes the use of military force.

        And in 1856, secession could have actually been a consideration!Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        The other thing, if I’m reading the wiki entry right, is that the law made it so private companies would invest in harvesting in these remote islands, because without it they risked the government coming in later with a law that declared the islands off limits, due to diplomatic or other concerns – or that someone in the government wanted to give the business to a better connected owner. Again, the context (I’m assuming) is how the US government handled the western part of North America, (i.e. like how Deadwood was an illegal settlement, constantly under threat from those Yankton, um, rooster sippers.)Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @kolohe @will-truman OK, so the purpose of the law wasn’t so much to discourage competing nations’ claims, it was more to encourage US citizens/companies to prospect and work the claims under the assurance they’d be protected by the US.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        The military operates under some pretty hard & fast rules about getting involved in civilian criminal matters, as in it won’t without very specific orders from civilian authority, and even then there are limits on what civilian authority can legally* order the military to do.

        *This part can be more than a bit grey & foggy because the military will, if the legality of an order is in question, still follow the order & let the lawyers figure it out later, since then the responsible party is who issued the order, not who carried it out.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          Oh, I don’t think they would act unilaterally. I just don’t think the government would say “We can’t invade their sovereignty” in the event that American citizens are being hurt and nothing is being done about it.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Well, no, of course not. But for a common criminal matter, presidential orders would be required (say, if the Seastead was being used as a base of ops for a credit card scam, the most the Navy might do is show up with a few FBI agents & US attorneys, but no Navy resources would be deployed except as transportation, unless they started taking fire…).

        If there was actual, physical harm going on, that might fall under Admiralty law (not sure though, AL is an old, complicated amalgamation of laws that requires specialized attorneys & judges to handle), which every captain of a ship is obligated to obey & enforce.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Yeah, AFAICT the Guano Islands Act is a relic from the time when saltpeter was used to make gunpowder, and guano is a readily-refinable source of saltpeter, so it was a critical natural resource. The law was there so that if someone was out on the ocean sailing under an American flag, and stumbled across a theretofore unknown rock, they could feel comfortable harvesting the precious birdshit and bringing it home to there refine into gunpowder, and enjoy the backing of the US government. The original contemplation would be that the US would assert a territorial claim over the island only until all the guano had been scraped away, at which point the obscure rock would be abandoned and marked on future oceanic charts as a hazard to navigation. It doesn’t seem to have been intended to foreclose territorial claims by adventurers, although it’s a handy side effect.Report

      • Avatar Francis says:

        I wasn’t being all that serious. But if sea-steading in the form of colonies of vessels floating around the Pacific ever seriously takes off, and if credible reports of serial sexual abuse of minors on the colony were being publicized, I could see an American president telling the US Navy to go investigate, invoking the common law of piracy and the obligation to rescue mariners in distress.

        The defendants when brought ashore might have a legal defense. But who beside a small group of libertarian are really going to stand up for the accused in that circumstance? Would the American public accept the explanation that this non-nation has its own laws and statutory rape wasn’t on the list?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        common law of piracy and the obligation to rescue mariners in distress

        Yeah, I could see that being used to justify an intervention if there were credible reports.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        One should keep in mind that the US wasn’t shy in the first 150 years of our existence about using military force in small expeditionary operations, when it deemed US interests were at stake (even without congressional authorization).Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Yeah, the advent of radio communication reduced a lot of senior commanders independance & initiative.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      The law enables the government to go to war to defend their new lands,at the president’s discretion.Report

  10. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I’m with @stillwater here. Pitcairn’s real problem is that it is in the middle of nowhere as middle of nowhere can be. Isn’t it about 3000 miles from New Zealand? I remember reading that orders for groceries need to be placed a few weeks in advance and the grocery store is only open a few times a week.

    Some places are just too remote to be considered for feasible living.

    Why don’t you think Peter Thiel is taking up the offer for free land?Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      To the people of Tristan da Cunha, these folks are smack dab in the middle of civilization.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        After some googling, I’ll give you a fair point.

        I have a fascination with trying to live in a place like this for a few months or a year but mainly in a “If I had all my provisions, I can get a lot of reading done kind of way. Also watching movies.

        The same can be said for certain parts of Alaska.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I frequently threaten to move to Tristan da Cunha. I’m not going to move there, but people, man.Report

      • Avatar Lyle says:

        Although fewer people look at the South Indian Ocean such as Heard Island and Kerguelen Island (Australian and French respectivly) Heard has zero inhabitants, Heard is about 4000 km from Australia, South Africa and Madagascar. It is 144 sq miles in size so if you have alot of resources you could build a landing strip. Of course at 53 S its cold and windy. Kerguelen’s main island is 667k sq km it is only at 49s. It is basically a scientific research station, with no non associated population. Again both it and Heard Islands are windy so electricty should be no problem. (Kerguelen is 3300 km from the nearest populated place). With Bill Gates class resources you could build a doomsday hangout on either island.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Leaving aside all else, why would Thiel trade American rule for Pitcairnian/British rule? As it stands, Pitcairn is still a British territory.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      As far as I can tell, there are only three areas on Earth that can reasonably be called terra nullius:

      1) Marie Byrd Land in Antarctica, which is about one-sixth of its territory radiating out from the south pole, bounded by 90° West and 150° West. Russia and the United States have reserved the right to make territorial claims over any and all of Antarctica, and there is an international treaty establishing the entire continent as part of the “shared heritage of mankind,’ so that’s kind of a problem. Also, Marie Byrd Land is considered inaccessible by Antarctic standards, which gives one pause. While fresh water in the form of ice would readily available the total amount of arable land is exactly zero.

      2) Bir Tawil, an inland desert plot of land centered at 21°52’N 33°44’E, which Egypt says is Sudanese and which Sudan says is Egyptian. This is about 800 square miles, consisting of either lifeless rocky hills or piles of drifting sand dunes atop lifeless rocky hills. It’s theoretically accessible, but no roads go there at the moment. I question whether fresh water would be available and if so just how far down into an aquifer one would have to drill a well would be. No oasis anywhere. So it doesn’t seem all that much more desirable than Marie Byrd Land, ignoring the fact that the Sudanese would make terrible neighbors.

      3) Siga, a hunk of undeveloped forest and marsh land on the west bank of the Danube River, 45°46’N 18°52’E somewhere between four to five miles square. Croatia says that it’s actually Serbian land because back when the border between Serbia and Croatia was first established the Danube ran around it. The river has changed course between then and now, and Serbia says that the current route of the river is the international border. The boundary with Croatia would be the oxbow ditch and marsh left over from the Danube’s former channel. This looks like exploitable land: there’s a big freshwater river right there if you don’t mind a little mercury courtesy of your upriver friends in Austria, there’s trees and the land is arable. The river isn’t going to flood and totally submerge your new nation. Much. Except when it does. And hey, you’re going to be in Europe, so you should be able to get some decent coffee.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Bir Tawil, an inland desert plot of land centered at 21°52?14?N 33°44?14?E, which Egypt says is Sudanese and which Sudan says is Egyptian.

        This is sort of hilarious, since land disputes usually involve two parties playing “tug-of-war”, not “hot potato”.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        I made a few edits to clean up the cut-and-paste geographic notation not coming through well. But check it out on Google Earth. No one would ever want this land, unless there is oil below it.Report

  11. Avatar Damon says:

    Actually I believe it’s about 5K miles from anywhere.

    The problem with Henderson, other than the whole UN Heritage thing, it’s it’s @ 62 miles from Pitcarin. Not exactly next door.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Henderson would, with growth, become the de facto population center. Seasteads and such would be built more around it than around Pitcairn, is what I am thinking, as growth occurs.

      (They could then use Pitcairn’s limited size as a capital and administrative center that can’t grow too large!)Report

  12. Avatar North says:

    Where did Jason suggest libertarians take it over? It’s not on Clowntown.Report