Friday, June 30, 2006

Interviewing on the Slant

Not being very sophisticated in the art of the interview, it's taken me a long time to even begin to isolate the tricks and ploys that make a good or a bad interview. I've long been aware, in a general sense of the slant many interviewers bring to the table; their personal perspectives and biases, but the way they set up the questioning to make the interviewee look smart or stupid, honest or deceitful, rational or emotional often eludes me.

Today, I heard an excellent example of bias in first a very hostile, then a very favorable interview on the Laura Ingraham radio talk show.

I was working, so I couldn't listen in full concentration, so I missed the names of the two interviewees, but I heard most of their interviews.

The first one had been a captain in the Marines. He's currently a professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (a school with a perennially competitive varsity ice hockey team) . His thesis was that evidence seems to indicate that something other than--or rather, in addition to, the airliners brought the World Trade Center towers down.

Now, I know a few people who don't accept the official explanation of the collapse of the buildings, and think there must be more to it than that. I haven't had a chance to converse with any of them at length about their evidence and theories, so I was curious to hear what this man had to say.

Ingraham was continually interrupting him, butting in with questions that took him off-message, interrupting with statements of trust for the Administration and the 9-11 Commission (in spite of having poo-poohed the Commission in the past), and questions designed to make the professor seem wacky. She acted hostile and contentious throughout the interview. Fortunately, the professor was able to sidestep some of Ingraham's subversions, but unfortunately, he really wasn't able to get his message out--this according to Ingraham's plan.

The other was also a Marine officer--one who has been involved in the current Iraq war. He also was a well-spoken gentleman, but his agenda was very different. He has a book on the difficulty of fighting over there in the face of lack of media support over here. He also spoke on recent statements by leftist politicians and on the recent Supreme Court decision on military tribunals.

Throughout the interview, Ingraham lobbed softball questions designed to allow the gentleman to speak his mind. She was affable and supportive throughout. She gave the gentleman plenty of time to respond fully.

I enjoyed the chat thoroughly and generally agreed with his responses.

My difficulty here is with the way Ingraham, after inviting the professor to come onto the show, didn't allow him to make his points. I listen to talk radio quite a bit and have observed this phenomenon several times. This was, however, the first time I've seen such blatant opposites within an hour of each other.

We all (who pay attention to this stuff) know that Ingraham is a conservative, and a bit of a Kool-Aid drinker, but I'd never thought of her as incompetent. Or, maybe the truth is that she thinks her listeners are stupid.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I've Got a Secret!

A lot's being made right now about the New York Times' story about the federal government's snooping into the financial records of those suspected of financing al queda terrorists. 'Twas leaked by a government official to the Times and others, followed by a request by the White House that the story not be published for national security reasons.

Now, let's step back and take a closer look at that.

By what Constitutional authority does the government keep secrets from Americans? Any one of us, with very few Constitutional exceptions, could actually become President of the United States. If a craven, amoral oaf like Bill Clinton-Rodham can be trusted with the keys to the White House, and all that implies, who's not to be trusted?

If the government is monitoring financial records (and we all know they are), what's the big deal if the Times tells us about it again? How many people (of those who actually pay attention to the slimy underside of federal snooping) don't think this monitoring occurs? C'mon, let's be real!

A couple of randomly selected Republican Congressfools have been on tv recently reminding us that private banking records don't have the degree of privacy protection that do other forms of communication. It has been thus decided by the US Supreme Court (may we all prostrate ourselves and pay humble homage to the Sacred Shrines in Washington DC, omniscient though they are in making our lives safe and event-free) long ago.

Problem is, if you look no farther back than the Supreme Court decision, which probably happened in the wake of the (illegal) adoption of the US Income Tax--I haven't checked--you'll come away with that opinion. If, as you ought, you simply read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights themselves, you'll find no authorization for the Executive Branch, or either of the others, to blanket-monitor the financial records of the public at large.

The 4th Amendment specifically prohibits such searches in the absence of due process (a search warrant).

The Supreme Court in question obviously found a way around the letter of the Constitution to make such searches "legal." The proper way to make such decisions is not to wader through reams and reams of erroneous, bought-and-paid-for Superior, Circuit and Supreme Court decisions rendered over the decades, but rather to simply read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and go by what it says.

There is no justification in the founding documents for blanket mining of the financial records of those who trust their dealings to US financial institutions. It will only undermine their standing in the world market. That harms the American economy, and ought not be tolerated. Banks should, as an industry, refuse.

I hope many of you will join me in condemning the present Administration in the strongest terms, for trying to fight a war by destroying the civil and financial liberties of Americans, rather than simply finding and punishing America's attackers.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Teach Them Spanish And Teach Them In Spanish

M.E.Ch.A. is an organization, mostly of college students, I guess, in the Southwest. Although a number of individuals who were members of the group in college retain their membership as they meander along their career path.

One such member is Cruz Bustamante who, after a career in California politics, is the current Lt Governor of California. A leftist Democrat. Another is Antonio Vinaigrette, El Alcalde del Pueblo de Los Angeles.

'Tis of El Alcalde I wish to write today.

El Alcalde is now lobbying the Governor's office to make hin Czar of the behemoth Los Angeles Unified School District. Having been trounced soundly by LAUSD officials and the evil California Teachers' Assoc, he has retreated to a position of desiring an advisory role over the district, its budgets and operations.

I don't know if el alcalde will actually change anything, but I'm pretty sure he'll try to inject more diversity programming into the classrooms. He'll find a way to increase the amount of M.E.Ch.A. doctrine into the programs of those Los Angeles schools in heavily Latin areas, and increase tolerance for it in the others. He'll be a force to lessen the ability of Latins to fit into the American economy. He'll be a force to lessen the amount of classroom time devoted to academic studies in favor of ethnic studies.

It's hard for me to make suggestions as to how to improve government childrens' prisons, since I really don't think they can be improved much, and I don't think that's the way to go. Parents should do whatever's necessary to get their kids out of these prisons and into a program of real education. Individuals need to find a way to get out from under the yoke of the confiscatory taxation that finances these wasteful and harmful organizations--and that will be a much more difficult task, but with great financial rewards and rewards in additional personal freedom.

The best thing that can happen to Antonio Vinaigrette, el Alcalde del Pueblo de Los Angeles is that he should be rendered El Alcalde de Nada.


Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

When Was the Coronation?

"....We just saw this as we walked in here this morning....," said the President with regard to Pajama Boy's request for a one-on-one tet a tet with President Bush personally, regarding the current missile issue.

I hadn't really noticed, 'cause I don't listen to him much (who can stand that "lowest common denominator" monotone of his?), but has he been using the royal "we" for a long time, or has that come about recently? Did he get declared King while I wasn't paying attention? Did he declare himself King, then say "It's Constitutional because We say it is?" Or does he just think of himself as King?

These and many other questions, I hope, will be answered over the next two-and-one-half years as he slowly drives America to the poorhouse.


Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Global Warming: The Next Word

I recently wrote a bit about my take on the deliberately misleading quasi-phenomenon "Global Warming" here, as a part of my mini-review of Michael Critchon's book, "State of Fear." I've now found a somewhat more scholarly article in The Libertarian Enterprise.

The article, Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophy, by Tom Harris, a mechanical engineer and Ottawa Director of High Park Group, a public affairs and public policy company, is a review of Algore's new documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."

He indicates that not all world climate experts agree that the phenomenon actually exists. The article argues further that the scientists cited in Algore's film are not really world climate experts at all, but rather that many of them actually study the effects of climate change, not the causes.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm Regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Friday, June 16, 2006

Hugo Aguilera, Do You Still Like Castro?

I was sixteen years old and working as a bagboy in Hugo's Piggly Wiggly in Grand Forks, North Dakota, my home town. There were several of us, who became friends and did stuff together after work and sometimes double dated on weekends.

One day, a new guy joined our group. Well, he was hired as a bagboy, but he was an Engineering student at University of North Dakota, across town. We were pals at work, but he didn't hang out with us after.

His name was Hugo Aguilera and he was Cuban, here to learn, and take his knowledge back to Cuba. He used to joke, "This is Hugo's Piggly Wiggly, and I'm Hugo." The actual owner was Hugo Magnusson, father of three boys who went to Central High with us, and soon to become Mayor of Grand Forks.

This all was around the time that Fidel Castro had just taken control of Cuba and everyone was wondering what would happen next. All of my friends and I had generally been for Castro and the revolution, naively comparing it to America's Revolution. Little did we know.

At the time, we were busy speculating how Cuba would be changing as Castro took over. Hugo was an absolute Castro supporter, insisting that Cuba was about to become a much better country. He wasn't very specific about his personal philosophy, so to this day I don't know whether he was communist, or merely anti-Batista.

A little over a year later, Hugo went back to Cuba, and we all graduated high school. One of us became a conscientious objector and moved to Winnipeg, where he still lives. Four of us joined the Navy. Two went to work and soon were married, and the other two went to University.

Strangely, two years later I was an Engineman aboard USS Saratoga, an aircraft carrier, when we sailed into Caribbean waters to take part in the Cuban Blockade, in which President Kennedy tested Kruschev's resolve to place nukes 'pon Cuban soil. Kruschev ultimately backed down, but it was a tense couple of weeks.

I occasionally wonder what happened to Hugo and whether he's still alive and still as gung-ho for Castro as he was back in 1960.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Monday, June 12, 2006

May Was a Busy Month

And June is starting out the same way.

Geotechnical engineering follows the construction industry. Not only do we follow construction, but we preceed it. We sample the soils in future construction zones, as to determine its suitability to support the work that's contemplated.

As a geotechnical lab manager, I perform testing on the samples, according to schedules laid out by our project engineer. The testing often includes soil classification tests, strength tests, tests for expansive potential and for compressive potential.

Engineers use the results of this testing to determine cut and fill quantities, maximum steepness of graded slopes, minimum distances of structures from edges of graded slopes, width and depth of structural footings, structural cross sections of roadbeds, and more.

Once the engineers' and architects' plans are drawn and approved, construction begins. Field technicians observe the contractors' work and perform field testing to assure that the cut/fill and grading operations meet specs. To support their testing, more samples are brought into my lab for further testing to assure that the work is as the preliminary testing projected, and that the soils and materials used meet specs.

There's a lot of construction going on in Southern California right now, as we aren't expecting much inclement weather for the next few months. It's also true that we don't get very much bad weather, ever. A few days' rain delay from time to time in the winter months, and that's about it.

The firm is a little short-handed right now and we're all under pressure to get the work out.

Now that I've told you a lot more than you want to know about my business, by way of apology for an expected sparseness in my mental meanderings.

I shall endeavor to perservere.


Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Thwarting the Pederast

"Pedophiles" have been much in the news lately, and for the past several years. I placed the word pedophiles in quotes because it just doesn't seem like the proper term for those who victimize children. "Pedophile" means "child lover." Somehow, it doesn't seem like these guys love children. They love to hurt children. Let's call them pederasts.

A number of new laws have been enacted to deal with pederasts; tougher sentences and restrictions while they're on parole. They're largely ineffectual, as are most laws, because the effect is to cause these desperadoes to kill their victims.

So what can be done? First, I'd dismiss government. They make ridiculous laws to seemingly justify their existence, but the new laws are rarely enforced. Or selectively enforced. Each parent (or couple) must deal with it as it pertains to their own children.

Every individual (or couple) has the ability to make the big choice. To have children or not. To not have kids is every bit as noble as to have them.

After the decision is made to start a family, styles rapidly become cramped. One of the parents has the obligation to be with the children constantly for the first three or four years or, on occasion to give them over to the care of someone they trust. Really trust.

Innocent children are wonderful and it's all sweet and nice, but these are not innocent times. I don't think any times are innocent. I often think the best time in the history of mankind to be a child was when I was one--but these are rose-colored glasses and what do I know?

We have to teach the kids to protect themselves, for those years after the first three or four. Put him in martial arts classes as soon as he can take instruction. Theach him self defense and self reliance. Take him camping early and often. (When I say "him," it's for brevity. This applies equally to girls.) I wouldn't trust the Boy/Girl Scouts, unless I personally know and trust everyone that'll come in contact with my kid. Ditto schools, and double giant ditto to the church. Actually, I think kids ought to be kept from church until they decide to go on their own.

We have to teach our kids to be assertive and to take no crap. Teach him how to get away from an adult and run like hell, making a lot of noise. Teach him, as best you can, how to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Teach him to be respectful and polite, but wary.

I think kids ought to be taught to use firearms and knives for self defense. When they're old enough. I started my elder son out with a .22 revolver at the age of six. No, I didn't let him have it outside of my presence, but I think by the time he was thirteen or fourteen he could've handled it (if everyone wasn't so stupid about it).

Kids need to be taught about honesty and property. Early. Partly to be able to judge the honesty of others.

They need to be taught the dangers of mind altering substances. If thet girl in Aruba had been taught that it's very dangerous to be out of control of her faculties in a strange place, she'd probably be alive today.

As they learn this stuff, they can be on their own more and more, and they'll be as safe as it's possible to be.

Most parents live in a dream world in which everyone is nice and everyone can be trusted, and you're safe as long as you drive a Volvo. Sorry. Like that it has never been. The kids who are street smart and tough will be the ones who escape danger unscathed. After the first few years, they can be out and about, but know this: if they get into trouble, they'll likely have to get themselves out. It's your job to give them the tools.

Young adults still have the choice of not having any kids. For many, it's a good choice.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Beating Islam To The Punch

And here I thought the Fourth Amendment had already been destroyed by the Bush Administration, in his attempt to destroy America before the islamic funny-mentalists can. It now looks like the evil police agencies here in Stalag California are not to be outdone. Who needs a fascist federal government when we have our own police state right here?

Seems the Stalag California's Supreme Court and Rubber Stamp Society have punched yet another hole in our quickly dwindling list of liberties. They can now break down your door, without a warrant, and give you a blood alcohol test after they've dragged you out of a sound sleep in your bed. All they have to do is claim to suspect you've been driving under the influence.

Of what? One might ask. Alcohol is the stock answer, but heck! We had the drug dog in the car anyway, and everyone knows the temperature in a car can go up twenty degrees in five minutes. We can't leave the poor dog out there to suffer.....

Might it matter that it's not easy to drive while asleep in your bed? One also wonders whether or not the actual ownership of a car would make a difference.

This decision seems a mite harsh (not to mention irrational and antiAmerican), even in the light of the police state tactics in use by the federal administration under the Hitlerian USA Patriot Act.

This current fear of the Demon Rum has long ago eclipsed the earlier hatred of the beverage by the 19th Century Sufferagettes, and seems to get more severe with every month that passes.

While we all hope that everyone will partake in a responsible way, this current trend of punishing people because what they've done might possibly result in harm to others is suicidally dangerous. What's even more dangerous (some dare call it futile), is punishing people for harm to others that they might have done, but didn't(!). As I, and other commentators far more intelligent than yours truly, have warned for decades, we are becoming America's Founders' worst enemy. We're doing to ourselves what the third Reich, the USSR Evil Empire and the current Islamic Funny-mentalist Hegemony has thus far been unable to do: return a free society to the Dark Ages.

Tip of the battered old grey fedora: The Agitator.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Those Awful Cartoons (Again)!

There have been calls for a boycott against Borders Books for their cowardly handling of a recent issue of Free Inquiry in which were printed those now-famous Danish cartoon depictions of Mohammad. Borders apparently cites concerns for the safety of their clientele and employees as the reason for its having refused to place the issue on its magazine rack.

Liberty loving individuals all over the country decried the bookstore chain's pitiful handling of the situation. Many individuals have decided to avoid Borders, and have called on others to do the same. An occasional customer of borders myself, I have decided to join this effort.

Now there's an interesting addendum to the story: the June issue of Harpers also has the Danish cartoons in its pages. Anybody care to give odds that Borders will refuse to carry this issue of Harpers? Anybody?

Robert Bidinotto, Editor-in-Chief of The New Individualist, the Objectivist Center's magazine, alerts us in his blog, to the current status of the story, and provides links to analysis by others.

Kudos to Mr Bidinotto for his stand on this issue!

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California