Saturday, April 30, 2005

This guy does NOT want to flip hamburgers. Posted by Hello
Beggars in the Streets

My dad told me that men would beg on the street corners in the cities during the Great Depression, back in the 1930's. He also said that it was uncommon and that usually they'd beg just for their next meal if they had no money for food. They'd beg for the price of a meal to give themselves strength to keep looking for work. Sometimes, they'd go to the residential areas and to the farms and ask to chop firewood, or to repair fences or other work, just for a meal.

The operative phrase here is trying to find work. Begging for a living, if it ever happened, was rare.

Throughout the 40's, 50's and 60's. Begging was rare, according to Dad, because it was easy to find work in those days. I saw begging in many parts of Europe when I was there in the 60's, but I also travelled extensively around the US in those years, and never saw street beggars here.

I think the hippies started it. It was during the late 60's when I started seeing young people begging in the streets. That tapered off as the hippies finally decided they should get jobs.

But now, the past fifteen years or so, we find street begging and panhandling on the increase. If I take the streets home from work instead of the freeway, it seems like I'll see two or three beggars in the boulevard medians or on the sidewalks at big intersections every day. Quite a few of them aren't young--most appear to be in their 40's and 50's.

I often wonder how much money they get, standing on the street corner begging from the cars that stop for red lights. They used to carry signs saying "Will work for food," but I guess too many people took 'em up on it, because I haven't seen that one lately.

I stopped right in front of one once, at a street corner. I pointed out the "Help Wanted" sign on a burger joint right behind him. He got very angry. I had to show him my pepper spray to get him to back off.

Point is, there are planty of jobs to be had. Flippin' burgers might not be a lucrative career, but it can be a good start.

The point is, we're Americans. Americans don't beg. Egyptians beg. Mexicans beg. Sri Lankans beg. Americans work. Americans invent things. Americans build things.

I'm starting to think America's falling apart.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

My own Personal Morality

Morality: 1. The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct. 2. A system of ideas of right or wrong conduct. 3. Virtuous conduct.

In a previous post, I mentioned the fact that theists and conservatives regard morality as a chiselled-in-stone message handed down by their deity through their priests and their holy writings. No thinking--just hear, read and comply.

On the other hand, secularists and leftists offer that morality comes from oh, "society" or "whatever you feel is right." "If it feels good, do it," was the hippie morality of the Viet Nam War era.

Well, morality isn't chiselled tablets lugged down from a mountaintop, nor can it be made up as one goes along, on the whim of the moment. Morality is an absolute system based on the requirements of man qua man.

Morality is what each individual must discover for himself. The better he becomes at discovering the morality proper to man, the better his life will be.

When I say absolute, though, I don't mean that every choice is one of life or death. It rarely is. We live on a more-or-less benevolent planet. Or, perhaps I should put it this way: we've adapted ourselves to be able to live on planet Earth because we've had to. We've done it well. Decade by decade, we're continually getting better at it (most of us, anyway). We've built "cushions," in an attempt to protect ourselves against many kinds of errors.

The fact remains, in spite of the "cushions," even a small error can, and occasionally does, kill someone. Avoiding errors is good.

Morality, along with a careful understanding of the facts of reality (also absolute) will help him avoid errors. The better one's understanding of the facts of reality and the facts of morality, the better will be his system of "cushions."

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Democrat vs Republican--an Hour of Cspan

I voted Libertarian last year. This after wavering between voting Libertarian and not voting. Sometimes I wonder why I vote at all. Many intellectuals make excellent arguments, both practical and moral, why one should not vote. "Sanction of the victim." "It only encourages them." I can't disagree.

I guess I vote because I want to post a mark against the many outrages placed before us by that utterly evil body of parasites that wrongly makes most of our decisions for us. As I mentioned in a previous entry, I was recently asked to decide whether an individual be allowed to build an office building on his own property (!). I'm not sure how many more times I'll be able to be a part of the making of the outrageous and immoral choices placed before us on each ballot.

I'm now watching the second of two appearances on Cspan. The first was an interview by several newsmen of ex-Rep. Newt Gingrich, the second a speech before a Democrat group by Sen. Joe Biden.

I have my issues with both parties, but I have a long-standing emotional preference for Republicans. I wrestled with this for a long time, and finally realized that it's because Republicans actually address issues (though they are rarely fully correct) and Democrats go no farther than hand out distorted, sour-grape criticism of their version of what Republicans do.

Gingrich faced about six news reporters and was asked several questions about the problems faced by Americans. He answered the questions, indicating what Republicans (and himself) have done in recent years, what they've tried to do and been unable to do, and what they'll put forward in the future. He spoke in an agreeable, rational manner and what he said made sense internally (though it was largely philosophically wrong).

Biden, on the other hand, spent the entire speech saying nothing of substance. He schmoozed the room. He acknowledged the politicians in the audience, and told a story about a well-respected Senator from their state, sure to please. Finally, he launched into short-bite criticisms of various Republican initiatives. At no time did he mention or propose any sort of solution to any of the problems. At no time did he mention any proposed solutions by any other Democrat. At no time did the Senator attempt to use his rational faculty in any way. It was all emotion.

While Gingrich's answers to questions posed made little sense to those of us who'd prefer to take control of our own lives and property, they made sense in his context. Which means, it makes sense. While liberty lovers will recognize that Gingrich is wrong, they can at least grant that if someone like Gingrich were given a freedom-oriented context, he could perform logically within that context--one hopes.

Democrats, most of them, act as though they'd spit in the eye of reason in any context.

It seems pointless to look for anything intelligent within the Democrat Party, but I think I'll at least keep an eye on the Republicans. I don't, however, think there's anyone in either party that will get a vote from me in the next couple of elections, at least.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Friday, April 22, 2005

The end of a charity ride. We finished the ride at Hooters, Newport Beach. Hooters was one of the sponsors of the event.  Posted by Hello

My most recent bike, a '96 Sportster 1200. A great ride. Posted by Hello
State of Fear

Global warming is a hoax.

If you haven't yet read State of Fear, by Michael Crichton, I'd highly recommend it. State of Fear is a novel about an environemntally sympathetic attorney who works for a very wealthy man who generously supports environmental causes. As the story rolls along, the lawyer is pushed, kicking and screaming all the way, into the realization that there is no environmental crisis.

One of the cool things about this novel is that the results of several (real) studies are included that cast severe doubts on environmentalists claims. Little wonder that real life environmental hangers-on like Robert Kennedy, Jr get so utterly livid when these studies are brought up. What environmentalists don't do is answer these problematic studies.

What's up with Kennedy, Jr's voice anyway?

The point of this book, though, is not entirely related to the Big Lie of Global Warming. A larger point was brought out by a minor character in the story. He points out that virtually all government officials and media outlets act in concert to keep us in a state of fear.

Anything you eat can kill you. The air is bad. We're suffering more extreme weather all around the world. Each year there are more and more hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. and they're more and more severe.

Anything to keep the state of fear high.

We don't have epidemics anymore. Now they're pandemics.

Anything to keep the state of fear high.

Meanwhile, we're living in more comfort and more luxury--even the poorest of us--than any society in history. Our life expectancy and quality of life could not be imagined even by Americans of an earlier era, never mind Romans, Egyptians and Greeks at the height of their respective empires.

Folks, they're only increasing the state of fear to make it easier to restrict our freedom and keep us all in line. Don't fall for it.

Warmest regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

My second--a 1959 Triumph TR-3 roadster. Posted by Hello

My first convertible--1955 Ford Sunliner. Posted by Hello

Convertibles in Southern California

This is my third convertible. It's a 1975 Oldsmobile Delta 88. It's a great car: smooth and fast for a big car. Not only that, but it's comfortable with the top down. Posted by Hello

I often notice a very odd thing with convertibles here in SoCal. Most people, when they drive with the top down, leave the windows up. Wierd! The other thing, some of the newer luxo-droptops have a kind of a screen that goes up behind the seats. It really looks funny--I call it a girly screen because the obvious reason for it is to keep any trace of moving air from touching the lady's hair.

You might as well have a Datsun sedan.

Now, I have long hair--the standard issue biker's pony tail. I love it when it blows in the wind. I usually drive with the top and windows down, and no girly screen.

The Olds is my third convertible. Right after I got out of the Navy, I had a '55 Ford Sunliner. A really cool car, but my brother rolled it over. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt.

After I moved to Anaheim, I bought a 1959 Triumph TR3 roadster. I loved that car! The top only went up when it rained. It was low, quick and noisy.

None of them had a girly screen. The Triumph didn't even have windows--just plastic side screens you kept in the itty bitty trunk that could be snapped onto the doors if you were feeling puny. I only used them once, when driving across the Mojave when the temp was less than 40 and the crosswind was more than that.

After the Triumph, it was all motorcycles for many years.

The Olds is an nice, comfortable old-timer's convertible that's comfortable cruising from here to Phoenix and in stop-and-go on the way to work.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California
Vigilance at the Border

Anyone paying the least bit of attention to the current news knows about the group of mostly middle-aged men and women assembled on the US-Mexico border, observing and reporting border crossings by illegal aliens.

They call themselves Minutemen.

Now, I'm not against anyone going anywhere, if it'll make life easier for 'em. If a Mexican or Canadian can live better here than in his home town, fine. As long as they're productive and support themselves. If the US wasn't a welfare state, we wouldn't have an illegal alien problem. It is, and an activist judiciary has decided for us that aliens get "free" stuff, same as those who were born here, so we have an illegal alien problem--paying for all the free stuff.

While ignoring the real problem and its solutions, the feds and most Republicans complain endlessly about the porosity of our border. Yet, the Republicans are in charge! Who's going to do anything about it? The Republicans, the self-proclaimed leaders in personal responsibility and smaller government, own the White House, the House of Reps and the Senate. They all agree that the border is open to any "terrorist" that wants to sneak in that way. Yet they do nothing.

Meanwhile, a few hundred volunteers, the Minutemen, spread out over twenty-odd miles of the Arizona border and observe and report. Illegal entries in that formerly heavy traffic area have been virtually shut down. Amazing what a handful of individuals with a clearly defined purpose can do.

The President, along with nearly every leftist politician, pundit and journalist, calls them vigilantes, racists and worse. If they're vigilantes, then let's hear it for vigilantes!

"What's a vigilante?" one might ask. Vigilantism is characterized as groups of men taking the law into their own hands. Or mobs, as the statists like to refer to We, the People. In fact, it's individuals and groups of individuals acting to enforce their rights when government can't or won't. It's an oft-ignored fact that, in the wild, wild west, most vigilante action was correct--just as the law and courts would've done if they'd done their job. Very few innocent men were punished by vigilante groups. I'd bet, truth be known, fewer per capita than the government's courts, over the decades.

According to the founding documents and the writings of individualist philosophers throughout history, each individual owns his life. By extension, he also owns his property. As must be, for this right to property to mean anything, he must have the right to protect and defend his life and his property. Unfortunately, if a few neighbors act to protect themselves or their property, they're called Vigilantes.

But, let's look at how a government is started.

Since men often form associations to give themselves the strength of numbers, groups of men often do so to cooperatively protect all of their property, hiring or appointing some individuals to perform guard and sentry tasks, thus allowing some of them to be able to work their property without worry, and to be able to sleep at night. We call that a government.

While our government was formed up in an unprecidented manner, and started out much like the free association mentioned above, it has grown far, far beyond any bounds that'd be approved by Jefferson, Adams, et al. Besides having been warped into a welfare/police state, we also see that it just cannot do anything well.

Among many things, they can't control the border. Billions of dollars a year go to INS and the Border Patrol, and they can't even come close to doing their jobs.

Meanwhile, a few ordinary Americans, volunteers, vigilantes, whatever we want to call 'em, can take care of it amid federal foundering.

Maybe it'd be better if we dispense with those failed agencies, repeal the stupid anti-gun laws (that'd be all of them, my friends) and let those folks who own land on the border--who are those same "vigilantes" (as dubbed by parasitical statists)--protect their property as they have a natural right to do. Then we can let folks who come here from other countries enter through normal channels, in the knowledge that if they are honest, and work for their living in their own way and support themselves and their families, there'll never again be a "border problem."

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Social Insecurity

I just read a couple of paragraphs from"Nealz News," at . Neal has a talk show syndicated mostly back east. Mr. Boortz makes more sense than any other talk show guy in the country, that I know of. I certainly wish he was on a Southern California radio station.

In yesterday's Newz, he mentioned the fact that Bush's proposed Social Security reform is pretty much dead because the Democrats are against it, and the Republicans are showing their characteristic spineless aspect, citing the upcoming elections a mere 18 months away.

I could write reams about Republicans, but suffice it to say that they're so scared of the next elections that they literally won't do anything. Allow me to add that I don't think this is all bad. Generally speaking, the less that Congress does, the better off we all are. Full gridlock in that evil place is a nearly ideal state for we who are the productive sector.

There is only one thing that can be done to help Americans with respect to Social Security. End it. We're a lot more sophisticated now that folks were back in the '30s. We know that we have to provide for our own retirement. We know that custom has shifted away from adults in a family caring for their parents after they can no longer work. We're too independent. It'd be unthinkable for me, some time in the future, to move in with one of my sons for the rest of my life. I think a lot of us are like that.

Corporations used to offer pensions to their faithful, long-time employees. Maybe some of them still do that, but increasingly they're withdrawing that benefit because of the expense. Many are offering profit-sharing or 401k's in which they match your deposits up to a certain maximum. Actually, that's how I got mine started.

Social Security isn't enough. Not only isn't it enough, but it sucks money out of your paycheck that might be used to build a real retirement. If I had the money that goes down the Social Security rathole, I could have a helluva 401k.

We have to remember that SS is in financial trouble. Sometime, possible while I'm still alive, SS will no longer take in as much as it has to pay out. Then, or before then, changes will have to be made. These changes will have to be tax increases or cuts in benefits--or a combination. We also have to remember that there are no guarantees. SS is not legally required to give anybody a single dime.

SS takes over $200 a month from your check each month, more or less, depending on your earnings. SS encourages us to forget that our employers must match that. That's money our employers would be adding to our paychecks if not for the SS. Also, if you die before you've gotten your money back, you lose! The remainder doesn't go into your estate, it goes into Uncle Sam's pocket, to be used buying $800 toilet seats.

$400 a month (more or less) that could be used to build a veritable rich man's estate! I'll have to try, sometime, to calculate how much money I'd have today, if my SS money had been invested conservatively for these many years.

I want my money back!!!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

One Broadway Plaza

Normally, a new office building would be an unmitigated positve. Who could argue against a huge new building that will house new businesses and add to the visual impact of a city which to date has too little about which to boast.

Don't get me wrong: I like Santa Ana, but it's mostly residential and mostly lower middle- to middle-class. No Central Park, no Disneyland, no National Hockey League team and no beaches. There is a zoo.

The problem with all this is that we're asked to vote (local Prop A) on whether the building is to be built. Dudes and dudettes, what's that all about?? We know that a developer has to jump through dozens if not hundreds of hoops to get city, county and state approval for every doorknob and flush handle. He has to pay untold bribes and kiss some horribly ugly butts to get all these approvals.

Then, he has to wait until the unwashed, uninformed, unconcerned masses approve the project, or not? Who'd risk so much capital under these conditions?

What I haven't been able to learn--mostly my own fault, for lack ot time--is who's paying for all this. The developer and his investors? Or taxpayers?

The proponents, seemingly just about every local civil servant and elected official in the county, make enormous claims as to the benefits to be expected when this building is built. They are much like the claims made for just about every local referendum the city gov't proposes. We, of course wait in rapt silence whlle these claims become reality.

It will pay for millions in street improvements. Fer sure Santa Ana needs street improvements.

It will fund additional police and fire fighters. More traffic citations and huge red trucks to pull over and let pass.

It will create jobs. New donut shops for the police and fire fighters.

It will improve our city. Our city has nowhere to go but up.

It will help balance the city budget, at no cost to taxpayers. Even after spending all that new money on the streets, police and fire fighters?

Opponents cite such heart-rending problems as the spectre of large portions of downtown Santa Ana spending big portions of the day in the shade (of the new building) and the ever popular obscene increases in street traffic. The obvious solution to which will prove to be a new light rail system a la San Diego, which we'll all be asked to vote on in a couple of years.

Then, we'll learn how a new light rail system will help pay for street improvements, more police and more fire fighters.

Well, after this exhaustive, in-depth analysis, I still wonder why we voters are being asked whether a new private office building should be built.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Corruption in the Traffic Department

At every signalized intersection in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego (and in probably just about every city of over 50,000 population in the country) are these saw-cut circles in the pavement, in which are cemented wire loops that are traffic sensors. They sense the mass of metal that is a car or truck, though some of them miss smaller motorcycles.

Originally, they were installed to allow the signals to remain green on major boulevards during periods (e.g. at night) when there was little or no traffic on the minor intersecting streets. If a car comes up to the sensor loop on the minor street, it will trip the sensor and shortly give him a green light.

Recent years, they've installed even more of these sensors in between these intersections at strategic locations. The plan is to tie the city's sensor system to computers, which can be programmed to regulate signals on the entire street grid to move traffic efficiently during various trafic conditions.

Those of us who travel the streets in motor vehicles daily wonder what happened.

Every intersection is another red light at which we have to stop and burn expensive gasoline for up to two minutes until the signal turns green. Then you move a block or two to the next red light.....and repeat.

Why, when driving along Beach Boulevard or Figueroa or El Cajon Boulevard, or any of hundreds of other arterial streets in Southern California or elsewhere, can't the signals be regulated for smooth traffic flow?

Well, friends, I've found out the reason.

Relying on traffic data from all those pavement sensors, any reasonably intelligent computer wiz with a knowledge of the city and with these data could develop programming that would regulate the signals to maximize traffic movement under the conditions of the day and of the time of the day. It'd be complicated in some areas, but generally traffic goes to business districts and industrial areas in weekday mornings, and away from them in the afternoons. Not quite as simple as that, but you get the idea.

When your light turns green, and the next one turns yellow as you approach it--and that happens signal after signal you know it ain't random, folks.

It's corruption in the various city traffic departments. Civil servants in these departments have solicited and received large payments from corrupt executives in oil companies to keep literally every car stopped at idle at as many signals as possible, for as much time as possible to counter the effects of the higher fuel efficiency of modern, smaller cars.

Well, of course I'm being facetious. I don't really think civil servants are in a collusive relationsip with the oil companies--oil companies are already colluding with the feds!

The real reason is that, to a civil servant, the incentive is to do nothing at all, or at best do the barest minimum that will keep him paid and employed until he can achieve the fine retirement pension we all are forced to give him. Doing nothing at all is best because if he does nothing, he will do nothing that he can get in trouble for.

The reason the traffic grid is so screwed up is this simple fact: No civil servant will get paid a dime more if he fixes the problem, so why bother?

Perhaps we have to look at it in a different way. In whose interest is it that traffic flow efficiently? Of course, it's in the interest of all of us, so why don't those who we (supposedly) pay to take care of this do such a horrible job?

We re-elect our politicians over and over whether they do their job or not--none of them do. They have agendas that run counter to ours--they'd rather we be shipped to and from approved places by cattle car. Private autos let us do what we want. The politicians, deep down, don't want that.

No help there.

Something different has to be done. I'm working on it. You should be, too.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California