Sunday, April 30, 2006

Driving around at $3.239 a Gallon

Last weekend, Debbie and I attended the 19th Annual Seal Beach Classic Car Show, putting the new (to me) '57 Bel Air on display for the first time. There were, according to the officials, about 450 cars entered. They were parked diagonally along Seal Beach's Main Street and three or four of the intersecting side streets, which were closed to allow pedestrians to walk freely among the cars and have access to the several shops and restaurants.

We had a great time, met a few fellow classic car folks and enjoyed a couple of bands, one of which was an old-timey instrumental surf band. We walked up and down the street several times, admiring the hotrods, stock classics, race cars and muscle cars.

We drove home by way of the scenic Pacific Coast Highway to round out a pleasant, sunny day.


Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ignorance of the Law Is an Excuse

How could it not be? I defy any attorney, legislator or judge, right up to Chief Justice John G Roberts, Jr, to accurately name the number of laws in existence. In other words, each and every one of these august ladies and gentlemen is ignorant of some, probably most laws.

If they, who propose, advocate, debate, affirm, argue and adjudicate these laws can't even maintain an awareness of them, how can those of us whose most complicated life endeavor is cooking a great steak on a Weber, keep track of more than three of four of them. Half the time, I don't even know the speed limit of the street 'pon which I'm driving (nor do I care).

Which brings me (finally) to my topic du jour.

Tens of thousands of these laws are merely attempted repairs to previous laws that didn't achieve the desired result. Tens of thousands of more laws are attempts to protect the government from its citizens. Tens of thousands of more laws are attempts to protect special interests from the citizenry at large. This includes laws that protect corporate entities from liability. Tens of thousands of more laws are attempts to protect the citizenry at large from the real or imagined excesses of protected corporate entities, as they go about the business of selling us stuff.

I don't suppose I've really scratched the surface yet, not being an attorney myself (thank the Ravens of Odin for steering me away from that kind of waste of a life) but the part of the law that actually benefits real individuals is fairly simple.

Real individuals need THREE (3) LAWS.

First, and most important, there has to be a law against murder and physical assault. Since one's ultimate property is one's very life, agencies of protection must defend the lives of individuals most effectively, and bring those responsible for murders and assaults to justice without fail.

Second, and related very closely, must be a law against violations of the property of individuals. Since the property of an individual is the product of the thought and action of that individual, it actually rises in importance to equivalency to the individual's very life. The main difference that comes into play is the fact that the wronged individual can be made whole by his attacker. Agencies of protection should bring the culprit to justice by requiring him to fully repay the damages.

And third, each individual depends upon the honesty of others in order to be able to facilitate the achievement of his values. In a complex society based on interpersonal relations and the trading of values, the terms of a contract must be upheld. Agencies of protection must analyze contracts, both verbal and recorded, and award judgements to wronged parties.

Obviously, further expansion of definition is necessary to make these three laws clear, but there need be no more laws than these. Until this has been established, individuals are living under tyranny.

None of us should be willing to accept that.


Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Thursday, April 20, 2006

....But I Don't Own New Orleans....

For months now, we've been hearing all manner of suggestions as to how to rebuild New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina vanden Heuvel. There are many websites to which one might contribute money to help--still! The incapable (as has become painfully obvious) federal government has a website that has a long list of links for victims to seek aid, and for donors to offer goods, services and funds. The inept Mayor Nagin unjustifiably makes himself look much the hero on the City of New Orleans site. And Louisiana's equally incompetent Governor Blanco maintains yet another site that belatedly tries to close the barn door so we can't see that the horses have long since escaped.

Hurricane Katrina was named after Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor of The Nation, because of their very similar dispositions. But, I digress.

I heard an announcement on the radio today calling for architectural ideas for the rebuilding of the city. I missed the details, and they're not important, because it only served to make me wonder: Why are we discussing rebuilding New Orleans?

Why are we discussing rebuilding New Orleans??

Like most of the area to which we fondly refer as the Unites States of America, New Orleans is largely privately owned. Individuals and firms own homes, condos, apartment buildings, businesses, strip malls and shopping centers. We don't actually have anything to do with it. Unless by some happenstance one or two of you happen to own a bit of property there, neither you nor I has any interest in New Orleans--of course, I mean any real financial interest there.

Many of us might have made some sort of donation to one of the many charities committed to providing one or another kind of aid to the unfortunates effected by the storm. Fine.

But the task of rebuilding the city is really the task of each property owner to rebuild his property, however he sees fit. It's his property. It's not ours. New Orleans does not belong to us.

Each and every one of the property owners that comprise the city of New Orleans has the responsibility to either procure insurance, make other arrangements (in advance) to be prepared to rebuild, choose to live elsewhere, or just risk it.

Wherever each of us lives, there are risks. It's the responsibility of each of us as individuals to prepare for the possibility of disaster as best we can.

Debbie and I have fire and earthquake insurance. The house is on fairly high ground, not very near a body of water that's likely to flood severely. What with these and various other precautions, we think we're pretty secure against just about anything but the theft often authorized by eminent domain.

America needs to re-privatize. All of us ought to look at the United States as a huge patchwork of bits of private property, owned and controlled by individual owners.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm Regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Thursday, April 13, 2006

El Alcalde del Pueblo de Los Angeles Trashes the Police

Eschewing the very notion that the city might be able to redirect some of the confiscatory taxation of its peones from wasteful and harmful projects to areas in which most Angelenos rely on city services, Alcalde Tony Vinaigrette has decreed that los peones shall pay for the addition of more LAPD storm troopers by means of a more-than-doubling of the monthly fee for trash collection. El Alcalde proposes to raise the monthly fee from $11 to $28 for single family dwellings, according to this story on LA's CBS News affiliate.

Where's Zorro when we need him?

It's true that LA has fewer cops per capita than any other large city, but the reasons for that are several, and tripling a tax won't do much to solve many of them. Cops don't like to work in LA. If they start in LA, they move to a different city as soon as they can get another job. Why? They get second-guessed about everything they do. Management won't back them. Too much racial politics. The law isn't always the law, or, some people are more equal than others.

El Alcalde faces a fight to get this fee (tax) increase through, and if he does, an awful campaign fight in the future.

The real question is, why can't the outrageous taxes Angelenos already pay cover the number one most important mandate cities have? The answer is an easy one. Los Angeles has fifteen City Council members, each of whom are paid nearly $150k a year and numerous perqs. Each and every one of them has a long list of really important projects that have to be funded, not to mention absolutely necessary junkets and fact finding trips to places like Hawaii and Paris each year. That, and all the Angelenos (legal or not) who really need help.

And, of course, there are the children. We must help the children. There's no shortage of plots and plans by any and all of the Los Angeles City Council members to spend millions and millions on the children. We'll tax the parents to death for the children.

One of the chief reasons the City of LA took over trash collection from private firms in the first place was because they said a uniform, city-wide trash collection system would be more efficient and cost less. Angelenos ought to have seen the fallacy when paying for the service was made mandatory. You can't take your own trash to the landfill, nor stay with the private firm. Well, sometimes you can, but you still have to pay the fee to the city.

Now, we see.... Let government take over any needed good or service from the private sector, and they'll invariably hold it over your head like a club. Instances of this are clear in government schools and in city water departments.

If Alcalde Vinaigrette has his way, trash collection by the city will certainly no longer be cheaper than if it were privately done.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

An Invasion of Illegal Aliens

This past Thursday there was a story on all of the MSM outlets about a Canadian goose which, from a perch atop a Toys R Us store, flew down repeatedly and attacked passers by. The female goose was later found to have built a nest atop the store.

While no one was severely injured by the goose in the repeated attacks, several shoppers were startled and had to run for the door to escape the animal.

But there have been a number of these kinds of events in recent years, though none as attention-grabbing as this one.

After doing a reasonable amount of research on the subject, a number of important facts come into view:

1.) The animals in question are feral Canadian geese. Foreign geese.

2.) These geese fly repeatedly across the Canada-United States border without subjecting themselves for inspection or identification.

3.) The United States Border Patrol has done nothing to deal with this blatant disregard for our national borders, thus destroying our sovereignty. When pressed, the Border Patrol insists they've thus far received no direction from their supervision to address this invasion.

4.) Border Patrol officials state that there is no mandate from Congress to deal with these illegal aliens.

5.) The Department of Fish and Game reprtedly requires that the American people go through an expensive and rigorous screening process to be allowed to defend themselves against these creatures, should they invade private property.

So, we see that our federal government does not have the will to protect us against this scourge, and at the same time refuses to allow us to protect ourselves.

My sense tell me that this inaction, this Congressional impotence, will cause adjustments in the Congressional makeup in the next election, and in subequent elections, until something is done about illegal alien geese!


Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

No Child Left Alone

I'm a man nearing retirement age, though still healthy and enjoying my career, I could quit if I wanted. Some could call me a dirty old man, but they'd be wrong. I wash occasionally.

As a more than mature guy, I often take a walk around the neighborhood; a walk somewhere between a stroll and a power walk, to augment my sporadic exercise program. It was during one of these walks that the following event occurred.

She was a cute little girl, about six or seven. She was playing in the front yard (planter) with a toy shovel and bucket. Pretending to garden like her mother, I suppose. As I walked along the sidewalk, she looked up at me. I said, "hi!" and smiled.

The little girl dropped her toys and ran screaming around to the rear of the house. "Mmmmommmmy!!!" I shrugged and continued walking without further event.

Later, I thought about the incident. How sad that a friendly greeting from a stranger, just passing by, should frighten this child so.

I guess I can't make light of the fact that parents are worried about child abductions, sexual abuse and/or murders. It happens, and parents need to care for their kids. It saddens me though, that this has to mean that children are made to be closed and fearful of all people they don't know.

Years ago, when I was ice skating, I'd often be approached by children--sometimes small children who wanted me to teach them how to do certain skating moves. I know, I'm not that great a skater, but I look pretty good to those who can't skate well, e.g. kids. So, I often worked with them a little.

I don't do that any more. I don't think I'd like having the jack-booted thugs show up and start questioning me about why I, a grown man, am playing with little kids. I have, on a couple of occasions, taught little kids to skate backwards or do hockey stops, etc, but only if one of their parents are there and I've spoken to him/her.

It's sad. I like kids.

There's something rotten in the world, and I think I'm just beginning to figure out what it is. There's way too much government and religious forgiveness of individual failings that injure others. People are very often not held accountable for their transgressions. They may be fined, even jailed, but the punishment doesn't directly connect to the crime. Criminals need to pay the victim back entirely to help them understand the magnitude of what they did. In short, there's a problem connecting actions to consequences.

In addition, parents have to teach their children to deal with danger. Themselves. The sooner the better.

Many views of the future include hardship and strife. Some include life-and-death situations on a daily basis. The governments of the world, including ours, are pursuing a path that must include some kind of forced direction change, possibly soon. Social Security faces a serious crisis, quite possibly in my lifetime. Foreign military adventures, which seem like they'll intensify rather than diminish, will drain our productivity and impoverish all of us. The welfare state penalizes productivity and rewards sloth. Government controls over individuals and business approach and sometimes surpass Soviet levels prior to the fall of the USSR.

It's scary.

Parents have to teach their kids to be able to defend themselves, in every way possible. Kids need street smarts and they have to be able to recognize evil and react to it. They need to learn to recognize danger and evaluate it and react with an appropriately measured response. They have to be able to tell friends from foes, sometimes in an instant.

They can't just go running to mommy.

They've killed Freedom! Those Bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Sunday, April 09, 2006

....But, it Ain't All Bad

I know that much of my writing here tends toward the negative. Just about everything government does tends to make life harder than it might otherwise be, and there is a lot of that continually being imposed on all of us. On the other hand, after many of my readings, I marvel at just how bad life seemed to have been for those alive in the past.

There has been positive progress in the lives of those of us who are fortunate enough to live in the "free" portions of the world. If we wish to continue this trend and perhaps increase it, we should advocate and work toward an increase in freedom and a diminishing of government interference in our loves.

The article that prompts my feeling of optimism is here, written by libertarian philosopher Tibor Machan and published in the Yuma Sun.

Progress continues in the high-tech areas. Computers keep getting better, smaller, less expensive. Government, always short on brain power (though long on brute force) hasn't learned to deal with hi-tech yet, although not for want of trying.

Medical progress is still being made, slowly, constantly battling against the FDA and other government agencies who are bent on returning medicine to blood letting and leachings. One can only imagine the paradise in which we'd be living but for all the malevolent meddling by the power mad.

Increases in our communications ablilties (the internet, radio and telephone tech) is undeniably our best reason for optimism. Note how government shenanigans hit the internet almost instantly, and the MSM then has no choice but to go with the story. Note how individuals of manner of philosophical opinion have access to the new hi-tech form of pamphleteering. 'Twas pamphleteering that aided the American Revolutionaries begin the great experiment that is America.

The experiment is floundering a bit under the shackles of a more and more oppressive government, but communication and activism can help remove obstacles from each of our paths.

So, FAA, won't you get out of the way so I can have my flying car?


Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Orange County Great Waste(of)Land

Several years ago, there was a Marine Corps air base in the middle of Orange County, MCAS El Toro. When the Navy decided to close the base and give the land away, well, you had to be here.

Let's talk about competing governments: every city in the area, the county, the state, several federal agencies and a number of private concerns were all jockeying for position to GET THAT LAND!! Several people were killed in the fracas, not to mention the severely maimed county supervisor and over a dozen assorted bureaucrats rendered wheelchair-bound. Just kidding.

The Navy decided to give the base to the county.

That was only the beginning. Before the actual closure of the base in 1999, came the battles over what was to be done with the 4700 acres of once-prime agricultural land. The orange groves and strawberry fields surrounding the base in the 1970's had mostly given way to residential development. Housing prices were on the increase, as they still are.

One fairly large special interest group centering in Newport Beach, a group with a fair amount of pull with much of county officialdom, argued for turning the base into a commercial airport. Of course, those who lived in the new developments near the base were not terrible enthusiastic about having airliners taking off and landing all day every day. They (at least those who could get their hands on a microphone) wanted a huge multipurpose park.

It ended up an arm-wrestling match between these two factions. There were campaigns. There were referenda. There were arguments on local news and talk shows. There were radio and tv ads.

The only thing that was never brought up was the very thing they ought to have done with the land: they should've sold the land to developers to build more houses, apartments, condos, light industrial areas and commercial.

We don't need another park. We don't need another airport. More usable, private land would have eased the upward pressure on house prices and rents.

Parks and airports ought to be private concerns, decided by entrepreneurs and placed according to the perceived markets. Real estate--same thing. The need for new houses, condos and rentals in southern Orange County is here and now, and a no brainer.

That's probably why the county has finally decided that it's going to be a park. A huge, 4700 acre multi-purpose park in the shape of a great white elephant.

It'll be beautiful for a few years, until maintenance gets sloppy (as it has in most other public parks) and taggers start marking it up and stealing and breaking things. Thugs and deviants will take it over and it won't be safe at night.

I don't think I'm the only one who can see this.


Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

The Perpetual Campaign

For months now, the MSM have been talking, polling, speculating and complaining about the Presidential election coming up in....November of 2008!? It's like the Christmas season. It starts earlier every time.

Anyone who has the desire to run for President has to already have campaign donations lined up, and has to have a portion of his campaign team put together. Already.

While most of us who are interested are just beginning to think about the election of our HR members and state assembly members this November, along with a third of the senators, there are a half-dozen or so power-mad individuals are setting up for a run at the Presidency.

It's two-and-a-half years until the Presidential election.

Well, who cares what these self-important dopes do with their time, right? Not if they already have a job.

Many of these individuals are state governors and federal senators.

Who's going to be doing the senating and governing while these slackers are flying from state to state (I'm sure they'll find a way to make much of it "official," >>nudge, nudge, wink, wink<< style="font-weight: bold;">VOTE FOR NO INCUMBENT!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, April 01, 2006

You Can Stop Rock and Roll!

I don't know how many people with whom I've chatted on the subject of music, but it's in the manys. Almost every one of them has the following characteristic: He/she is absolutely certain that the music that was being played while he/she was in high school and college--roughly about age thirteen to, oh, maybe twenty-five--was the best music ever.

I don't think I know (or have known) more than four or five individuals that like popular music that don't fit the above description.

I grew up during the very beginnings of rock & roll. My early favorites were (and still are, sort of....) Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, the Beach Boys, and many others in that period.

As time passed and rock & roll grew and fleshed out, rather than remaining stuck in the "American Graffiti" era, I started listening to the music of the "Hippie" era. Many of them were hard to listen to, but I liked (and still like) Buffalo Springfield, the Beatles, Cream, and a few others.

I listened to Heavy metal, New Wave and Punk (a little). I was prompted by a friend to revisit classical music, then I spent some time looking for the roots of rock, which caused me to listen to blues, jazz, big bands and even back to Cole Porter and Scott Joplin.

I'm not stuck in the fifties.

I don't like most of the music they're playing today. Maybe I ought to say I like the music of the twentieth century.

There are a lot of "classic rock" stations on the radio. They play the same tunes they played ten years ago. Almost without exception.

There are a couple of stations that play current pop and what passes for rock (for some), but if I hear one more pop millionaire singing, no, whining plaintively about how lonely he/she is, I'm gonna swear off radios (I probably won't).

Rap? Not on a bet. I kind of liked Tone Loc and a couple of others, but it seems as though more recent rappers seem to have reverted to a form of prehistoric savagery.

I've been listening to more classical music lately. I find I like Strauss waltzes. I like Mozart and Beethoven. If I knew more about classical, I could name more. I'm learning.

After many years of staying away from country music (music for dumb people), I've actually started to listen to country some. It doesn't any longer seem to be all of that "I Got A Duck Sittin' On My Hand And I'm Feelin' Down" stuff. It actually seems like a sort of light rock that you can understand the lyrics, sung by nice-looking people whose parents taught them how to dress. Oh, crap! I've just proved that I'm getting old (dammit)!

Well, this has been a fairly long, rambling entry, signifying I'm not sure what, but I've put too much into it to delete it. The point is, (yes, I did start with a point in mind) if you like music, there's way too much of it to allow yourself to become stuck in a single decade. Some bit of every genre is really good, and the rest is mediocre to lousy; it becomes the task of each of us to make the choices.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,
Col. Hogan