[FoRK] I'm off to the Kamen Islands, baby!

Rohit Khare rohit at xent.com
Wed Feb 11 22:35:43 PST 2004

> North Dumpling Island is a second home and retreat owned by Dean 
> Kamen, best known as the entrepreneur behind the Segway personal 
> transporter.  Dean Kamen is the founder and owner of Deka Research, 
> which in addition to the Segway has also developed a number of widely 
> used medical devices.  Mr. Kamen also owns a helicopter company.  Mr. 
> Kamen is the founder of the FIRST student robotics competition, which 
> now attracts over 800 student teams in its annual competitions.  
> Mr. Kamen installed a Bergey 10 kW turbine on an 80 ft. 
> self-supporting lattice tower in 1992 to reduce the island's electric 
> bill and reduce the load on the submarine cable supplying the island.  
> Since no crane could be brought to the island the tower and turbine 
> were "stacked" in place using a gin-pole and winch system.
>  Mr. Kamen has had a lot of fun with the island, which he refers to as 
> the "Kingdom of North Dumpling".  The Kingdom has its own 
> Constitution, ministers (for example, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield 
> of Ben & Jerry's have served as joint Ministers of Ice Cream), 
> currency, postage stamps, and 200-inch territorial waters.  Mr. Kamen 
> also has a wind turbine at his primary home in New Hampshire.

Apparently, he also has a non-aggression pact with the USA:

> After two years, he sold Auto-Syringe to Baxter for an undisclosed 
> sum. Up until that point, he'd hardly taken a salary, plowing the 
> majority of his profits back into the business. For the first time, he 
> felt rich. Within days of the sale, he bought a helicopter, fulfilling 
> a childhood dream.
>  The helicopter led him to North Dumpling Island, a speck of land with 
> a lighthouse, located in Long Island Sound. His flight instructor's 
> wife, a real estate agent, told him the island was for sale. One 
> winter day, he set out to find it. He brought the chopper down near 
> the lighthouse tender's home. A frightened old man, part of the family 
> that owned the island, came out to see what was going on. The young 
> inventor befriended the man and his wife. When Kamen later bought the 
> island (at a bargain price), he let the couple continue living there.
>  Though Kamen doesn't visit the island much anymore, it's a microcosm 
> of his worldview, a whimsical combination of leave-me-alone and dreams 
> of techno-utopia. An aerial photograph that hangs in Kamen's office at 
> Deka bears a caption that reads "The Only 100 Percent Science-Literate 
> Society."
>  When Kamen wanted to erect a wind turbine on North Dumpling and the 
> state of New York objected, he seceded from the US. Though the 
> secession has never been officially recognized, he signed a 
> nonaggression pact with his friend, then-President George Bush, and 
> enlisted Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's as "joint 
> chiefs of ice cream." North Dumpling has its own flag, its own anthem, 
> a one-ship navy, and its own currency. One bill, which Kamen carries 
> in his wallet, is the value of pi. "You can't make change for it," he 
> says with a grin. "It's a transcendental function."

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