Tuesday, February 28, 2006
If This is Reality, I'll Take Fantasy
A few years ago (who can remember?) a show called "Survivor" debuted on national network tv. They say it was (and still is) a successful show. I don't know. I've never watched it. It was so successful, that it's spawned literally dozens of clones that put (usually) young, photogenic and athletic men and women through a host of trials and embarrassments with the end result being that one contestant wins a pretty good prize.
The winner of "Survivor" gets money. A million bucks, if I'm not mistaken.
The winner of "The American Idol" gets a record deal.
And on and on. Who can keep track?
After avoiding these shows for a long time, I finally followed "'70's House." The daughter of a friend, a very talented aspiring actress, was a contestant. She did well for a few episodes, but was ousted because she couldn't perform in a roller disco bit. She'd never learned how to skate. For shame!
Speaking of skating, I just finished following "Skating With Celebrities." The award episode is still to come, but my impatience won't allow me to wait through the time-wasting that has already accompanied the waning eons of the show. It was better when there were more contestants. My curiosity as to which couple will actually win has been soundly trounced by my boredom at watching all the phony complements and the interminably stretched out dialogue.
I watched a few episodes of "Dancing with the Stars" (I don't know which stole the idea from the other.), and found it to be the very same show, with tall pumps in place of skates. The female dancers were in a contest to see who could best shake their cute little butts. I don't remember any of the guys. After two hours of pure inanity, punctuated by short periods of butt shaking, they finally awarded the win to the girl with the best butt.....and the guy she was with.
Meanwhile, I was reading libertarian blogs, looking up occasionally at the scarce watchable moments.
So, I'm an ice skater, and an ex-hockey player. That's what got me into watching this stuff. Now, I'm cured. "Fear Factor" will have to do without me.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Any Port in a Storm
I don't like to treat symptoms. While some of my solutions might seem to some to be pie-in-the-sky fantasizing, mental meanderings into some kind of idealistic dream world, I see them as cutting through the bureaucratic layers of crap and the justifications of layers and layers of an impossible patchwork of quick fixes and pragmatic political payoffs.
I see them as ways to fix it once and fix it right.
Politicians and their apologists are quick to use the excuse, "this decision is just like that decision. That decision was judged Constitutional by the Warren Court in 1959." Well, if the problem is looked at with the eye of a non-receiver of government paychecks (or payoffs), and compared directly to the Constitution as written, in light of the opinions of the Founders as written in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, it's very clear that it's not Constitutional at all.
Let's try an example. The so-called "War on Drugs," (truthful name, War on the Bill of Rights) has been ratified by all and sundry politicians, both Republican and Democrat, from local Chiefs of Police to the President of the United States. Cases run through courts from local through the US Supreme Court and the answer is always the same: the "War on Drugs" is Constitutional. Warranted and warrentless searches of individuals' homes, computers, medical records and financial records is routine when the word "drugs" is breathed. Yet, point to me the phrase in the Constitution that gives gevernment the prerogative/mandate to control that which any individual may ingest. G'ahead. I dare ya.
How about another? How about the current port flap?
I think it's less a problem than do most. I don't care who's managing the eastern seaports as long as they're good at their jobs. I don't care who's pullin' dat barge, as long as they're good barge pullers.
The problem isn't with who's contracted to manage the ports, it's who owns the ports. Government should not own nor have anything to do with the ports. Why? Because government can't do anything right. Note the confusion: government announces that it'd be easy for a "terrorist" to hide a WMD in a container and ship it to the US. Then, almost without taking a breath, they admit that they can only inspect 3-5% of the containers that arrive at the ports!
It's the Coast Guard and Customs that are responsible for inspecting the ports. These are government agencies. The one characteristic that unites all the employees of all the government agencies is laziness. They're not going to do anthing unless it'll hurt not to--and managers, because of civil service rules (the Coast Guard' military rules are a little better, but not much) can't enforce much discipline.
The incentive needed to run a good seaport, like just about anything else, is ownership. Full ownership, not that quasi-ownership in which business fronts the capital and government makes all the rules, but absolute, for profit ownership. No government agent should be able to enter the property unless he has a warrant signed by a judge who can be disembenched for signing frivolous warrants.
Profit incentives will force owners and their managers to work effectively. If the owners of a por continually has problems such as explosions and lost shipments, shippers will use other ports and the problem port will go out of business, close and be sold, presumably to enrepreneurs who will do it better.
There is some Constitutional justification for government meddling in international trade, and I recognize that. I disagree with the two-plus century-old reasoning behind it--it's merely a bit of mercantilist baggage that sneaked over here in an uninspected ship from 18th Century England. It can be eliminated by Constitutional Amendment.
Remember, VOTE FOR NO INCUMBENT!
Monday, February 20, 2006
The Shot Heard 'Round the World
Y'know, I have to think that Dick Cheney's having shot Harry Whittington on their quail hunting expedition was an accident. As a firearms enthusiast, I also have to think that the whole thing was Cheney's fault for not taking the moment to know where all the members of the hunting party were. All that's pretty much established, and pending any unexpected further revelations, the story's over.
What was really strange and really funny is the way the whole thing went down with the MSM press. Obviously, the reporters in the White House Press Corps--reporters whose photos are in the dictionary illustrating the meaning of the word "pompous"--expected Cheney to put down his shotgun and pick up his cell phone and call them, even as the unfortunate Mr Whittington lay bleeding in the dry grass.
In movies and stories of yore, we learn that the job of a news reporter is to go out, find the individuals involved in the story, interview them by hook or by crook. They might have to go to strange places; dangerous places and research the facts. They might have to eavesdrop, spy, develop ruses, pay bribes or even outright lie to get to the truth of the matter.
Not any more. You'd damn well better call a press conference and give all the reporters from all the newspapers, newswires, news magazines, radio and tv reporters and retired tv talking heads all the facts and answer every question fully until they decide they've heard enough or you, my dear politician, are dead meat. Unless your name is Clinton or Kennedy.
Why, you might ask? Because if you delegate this solemn responsibility to a mere private citizen, who'll tell it to a cub reporter on a local paper, of course they'll get it all wrong. Such unschooled oafs are not to be trusted with real news! Just ask David Gregory. He'll tell you. And tell you. And tell you.
Now, hold up your hands if you know the answer, children: How many times have we seen a big story, when told to us by Geraldo Rivera or Newsday's Tom Brune--or any of the others, for that matter--change from hour to hour, from day to day? Not changes that develop, mind you, but factual changes. Changes in which the reporter rushed off a quick story to get a scoop, before he had the facts, and was subsequently shown to be exaggerated or incomplete, or just plain wrong?
Having read news stories about which I had personal, first-hand knowledge, it happens a lot!
I heard Cheney's shotgun referred to as 28-caliber several times before I finally heard 28-gauge, for example. The press, as I've mentioned before, changes the spelling and pronunciation of Arabic words and names every couple of weeks or so. Nobody seems to understand the necessity for news people to have some degree of real-world knowledge before sending them out of the halls of ivy.
There were thousands dead, more thousands raped and robbed, hundreds of bodies floating in the New Orleans streets after the Katrina hurricane, until others were able to get into the area and give a little perspective. Yet almost no one in the MSM reported the fact that the military and the police were going house-to-house confiscating residents' legally-owned firearms, in complete violation of their Second Amendment rights. But, I digress.
I only saw bits and pieces of that embarrassing press conference in which the entire press corps tried to rake the Pillsbury Doughboy over the coals because of the "delay" in the reporting of the accident to their tender, pampered ears.
Had I been the doughboy, and were I being verbally assaulted by the likes of those dolts, I'd have closed the meeting, then told them to have their bosses send a new set of reporters: reporters who can be civil and polite while asking the tough questions. Reporters who can keep their personal psychoses and biases under wraps while working in the supposedly neutral third estate.
Were I the editor of any one of these news media, I'd have reporters actually digging and finding out what's really going on, rather than relying on what the White House dorks are being spoon-fed.
I don't trust the Administration any farther than I can throw it. I'd like somebody to find out what's really going on in that den of iniquity, so we can go back to being a Constitutional Republic once again.
Remember, VOTE FOR NO INCUMBENT!
Sunday, February 19, 2006
A Rare, Very Expensive, Yet Legal Addiction
I was sixteen. I had a new 1960 Corvair coupe. My first new car! It was the first year of production for the new major American compacts, and I was the only teenager in town who had one. Cool!
An acquaintance of mine, a senior named Wes Rydell, always had a new Impala (his dad owned Rydell Chevrolet, the local dealer), but he was on the football team too, so we ran in different circles.
Back then, teenagers used cars mostly for two things: dating and racing. We did some street racing on the little used secondary roads outside of town. We did some hare-and-hound chasing in town at night: the rubes from the new SAC base were dating local girls and, see, we didn't like that. Three or four guys in the car, we'd shine headlights on a parked car (with an out-of-state plate) until he moved. We'd follow. He'd try to shake us. We'd chase him around for a while.
I wanted to legitimately race my new car and find out what I could do against a clock. Now, a 1960 Corvair wasn't exactly a race car. It was small and light; a pretty good handler, (Ralph Nader was a damned liar!) but underpowered. It could scoot down the twisties with the best (of the cars available to most teenagers), but was a very slow dog on the strip. I wanted to try it anyway.
The nearest drag strip was in Fargo. They had Run-What-You-Brung races once a month on Saturdays. As I recall, it cost about a buck to race. Drivers of stock cars didn't have to have helmets or roll bars; just seat belts. A couple of friends and I drove down to Fargo early one Saturday morning.
The car clocked 68 mph in 20 seconds in the standing quarter-mile. Not very impressive compared to the V-8 Chevies and Fords, but it was fun, and I got to drive a real race track!
I've been a casual NHRA drag race fan for all these years, though my interest increased after I moved to Sunny SoCal after my stint in the Navy. California hadn't yet sunk to Stalag status, and was truly a wonderful place to live and work, smog and traffic notwithstanding. I'd gladly trade California's War on Productivity for a little smog anytime!
After all, you can't trust any air you can't see.
Back to the point, I watched and followed drag racing for years, never having actually gone to a race. I'd read about it in magazines and see results in the newspaper, and occasionally see coverage on TV. In the late 1960's, top fuel dragsters finally were able to accelerate to over 200 mph in the quarter mile, and today, they routinely surpass 300mph. I can only imagine what it must be like to run a car from a standing start to over 300 in a quarter mile! In well under five seconds!
One year, fairly recently, I finally went to the Pomona Drags. The nitro fuel cars are outrageously loud, and with that comes the addiction: once you've inhaled the exhaust from a fuel dragster, you're hooked. I can't usually get up to Pomona every time there's a race, but I usually catch the coverage on TV.
The Pomona Spring Nationals were last weekend, and I missed 'em (drat!), but there's the Phoenix race next weekend! Now, if they could find a way to bottle that nitrous aroma......
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
What Sci-Fi Space Ship Would Suit You?
The other day, Ice Scribe at My Gorram Den put me onto a quiz that's a bit o'fun. You can check it out at Quiz Farm.
Turns out that I'd be most comfortable aboard Moya (from Farscape) or, close behind, The Millennium Falcon (Star Wars). Having seen just a few episodes of Farscape, well, I liked it but it was filled with some certifiable bizzaros. I might fit right in!
I do like the Millennium Falcon, not only in the movies while Han Solo was at the helm, but in the L Neil Smith adventures while Lando Calrissian owned the ship.
So, take the quiz, if this sort of thing appeals to you. It's starting to look like freedom lies only in escape!
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Monday, February 13, 2006
Yet Another Tale of a Legal System Gone Mad
The list is long.
I, and many others are illustrating the insanity of the so-called "War on Drugs," more accurately dubbed by those of clearer vision, The War on the Bill of Rights. An easier job many of us will never have.
In this instance, it involved a young student, an inmate of a Chicago-area suburban school. The unfortunate lad was bringing a quantity of powdered sugar to school in a baggie for a science project. He showed it to a fellow inmate, unfortunately in the presence of a guard, er, that is, a custodian. When the other student asked if it was cocaine, our unidentified victim jokes that it was. The custodian, of course, reported this.
Bottom line: the lad has been charged with a felony! He was (you're gonna love this! Put some plastic over your keyboard, lest you spray it with a mouthful of coffee.) charged with possessing a look-alike drug!!!!! It's not such a big deal, he's already incarcerated in the government school system, but it'll go on his Permanent Record!
Is any more proof needed to show that America's legal system (not to even get into the supposed education system) is broken? Has been murdered by the attornies? Nope.
Thanks again to The Agitator for pointing out this story from CBS Channel 2 News in Chicago.
Disclaimer: I don't mean to imply that I trust or believe any story reported by CBS or any other Manistream News organization. Please check this out with more reliable sources prior to full acceptance as truth.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Friday, February 10, 2006
Unshaved Beach Babes in Burkas
I'm in somewhat of a quandary about this ongoing islam funny-mentalist thing. As a not-always-willing member of the United States Republic cum police state, I realize that the American Way of Life has been and is continuing to be attacked by utterly irrational forces of the savage philosopy that seems to travel with this very christian-like religion. I'm not at all tempted to support our government's utterly incompetent attempts to protect us from these attacks. The President's "plan" to deal with these attacks completely dismisses the public at large, casting us as ineffectual victims who lie cowering in the corners of our bedrooms while the US military does the dirty work for us. Somewhere else.
What the Administration forgets is that the miltary is drawn from the very cowering masses that he so cavalierly dismisses. We can and should help. Our way of life depends on it.
Again, I'm not necessarily talking about a town militia, although some localities may opt for that, I'm suggesting that everyone is responsible for his own property. I'm suggesting that each owner of real property should be responsible for what happens on that property. For example, if those who were responsible for the aircraft that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (and the one that crashed in Pennsylvania) had been doing their jobs, the incident wouldn't have happened. I realize that the drones at the federal government have usurped many of the airlines' prerogatives with respect to security, but the airlines should have refused to allow it, on pain of refusing to operate.
Property owners must be able to control security on their property. As I see it, since the federal government took responsibility for airline security, the individuals who made the relevant decisions are personally responsible for the damages.
Every individual property owner should be prepared to defend his holdings from tresspassers, should be armed and prepared to take tresspassers into custody, turn them over to the police, press charges and follow it through to a conviction. Or, he should employ security people who will.
If each individual took full responsibility for himself and his works, either by himself or by means of hiring experts to work for him, there wouldn't be a need to enter into "wars of choice" to strong-arm unprepared groups of savages into quasi-democratic submission.
The federal government has a severely limited mandate. Though it's overstepped its legal prerogatives routinely and criminally almost since the inception of the country, it's one job, in this context, is to protect the nation from foreign invaders. It is failing miserably at this, obviously regarding foreign adventure more important than its mandate.
My opinion is that the US federal government has far outlived its usefulness and should be "fired" for incompetence. It does far more harm than good.
Meanwhile, to reiterate, each individual is responsible for his own well-being in the context of a capitalist system. Individuals of good will may, and will cooperate in this regard. It's sheer folly to entrust our well-being to individuals whose sole ambition is to do as little as possible and retire early with a fat pension.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Brushfire of the Vanities
There's another in a long and continuing series of brush fires currently burning in the OC. Because these fires have absolutely no respect for city limits and county boundaries, (a sentiment with which I can fully sympathize) the fire could tresspass into the cities of Orange and Anaheim, and into Riverside County before it's brought under control.
The fire is burning in a questionably named "National Forest" after the late, lamented President Cleveland. I don't know whether President Cleveland has ever actually visited this rather poor excuse for a forest, because if he had, he might have declared that he'd rather attach his name to a forest that actually had trees within its boundaries, rather than acres and acres of scrub brush and poison oak. Note: I've just been informed that some parts of the Cleveland National Forest actually do have real trees!
Nonetheless, whenever some careless and unschooled twenty-something happens to drive his fully equipped and fully financed BMW along a freeway passing through or near this "forest," and throws his cigarette butt out of the car, we get a brush fire. Such is today's lamentable situation.
One might sigh, shrug and say, "Well, no one lost his home....and now there's no more fuel to burn." Not so, my northern or eastern friend. In the length of time it takes for our BMW-driving lout to finish another cigarette, the scrub has regrown, redried and is ready to burn anew. Even in the absence of rain!
Such is the case in which government owns land: they own it. They won't allow adjoining private landowners to improve it or to grade off firebreaks (mustn't annoy the wacko environmentalists, dear friends!), and they certainly won't take care of it themselves. That'd be work! (Heard in a Maynard G Crebbs falsetto, Work?)
So, for those misguided individuals who wish to live at the edge of Southern California civilization (such as it is), fire is a constant worry--all the time except during our rare rainstorms. Then, flash floods and landslides come to the forefront.
There's no reason why these "forests" can't be bulldozed off in favor of new housing except:
- Wacko environmentalists
- Extant property owners (wishing to keep their inflated property values high)
- Local government (hoping not to have the inadequacy of their infrastructure revealed)
- Federal government (desiring to keep control of.....just about everything)
- NIMBYs (detesting the noise and traffic of construction)
- Bigots (You never know who'll move in there)
Meanwhile, Cleveland National Scrub Brush Farm is still burning. Like two or three other areas of Sunny SoCal have within the past year. What a waste of time, money and real estate!
And any family earning less tha $50k cannot afford to buy a house in a nice neighborhood without crippling itself financially.
The solution: Government must sell off its land holdings--especially those which aren't used, maintained and watched. Especially those that are in proximity of urban areas.
These areas can be developed with the inclusion of full infrastructure and thereby increase the supply of affordable housing for the less affluent.
Oh, it might mean that all these nice OC homes might slide a bit in value, and I don't expect current homeowners to like it, but but we have a serious government-caused problem. It has to be fixed.
Ok, this started out as a post about a fire. It ended up being about prime real estate lying wasted in the hands of parasites who have no idea what they're doing. Meanwhile, they're trying at every opportunity to steal more. Go figure.
Remember, VOTE FOR NO INCUMBENT!
Addendum: This morning, I've been hearing that the Sierra fire (they name them!) has burned about 7500 acres. The Forestry doofuses also have admitted that they started the fire! It was a planned "controlled burn" to form a fire break to make future fire fighting easier, should a real fire break out. I know, I'm confused, too. It theoretically is a legitimate tool, though, except that they forgot to put it out.
I rest my case: looks like civil drones can't even be trusted with matches.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Might as Well Face It, You're Addicted to Oil
Yesterday the President gave his State of the Union speech. You just can't listen to that guy speak; he's every bit as bad as Algore in that respect. Sounds like he thinks he's addressing second graders.
One of the subjects he addressed is one just about all of us consider from time to time: the cost and supply of the petroleum products we like to be able to use.
He said pretty much the same thing as did his predecessor. And his predecessor. We're addicted to oil; we have to conserve. Conserve? For whom? For when?
I'm waiting for some idiot politician to suggest that the Army's humvees and tanks need to get better gas mileage. That the Navy's ships be made of lighter materials for economy. That the Air Force's fighters and bombers burn cleaner fuel.
We who read science fiction and science fact, who attempt to visualize the future often muse about efficient cars and aircraft powered by mini nuke-paks and antigrav devices but we know they're pretty well off in the future. They're not something we can expect to see next month of next year.
Mr GWB spoke of alternative fuels, of hydrogen power and methane, of more nuclear power plants. All well and good, but so did WJC, ad nauseum and for eight solid years. It ain't happening, and I know why.
From about 1880 to 1930, give or take a little, everyone was an inventor, or an inverstor. Everyone whose life wasn't confined to the back of a horse had a little shop somewhere, and was puttering around trying to make something new that would "make him rich."
"Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door." was an utterance that was still being heard from time to time in my youth. You rarely hear it anymore.
People were building bicycles, motorbikes, automobiles and airplanes. Others devised new power plants to drive boats and ships over the rivers, lakes and seas. Chemists were blending up new cures for the ills of the people. Appliances to lighten the housework burden of the housewife. Equipment to make farmers more productive, and to ease the labor and cut the time needed to construct buildings, roads, dams and bridges.
You don't hear about the new moustrap anymore. I wonder why.
During that period, there were no taxes to speak of. Government stayed out of people's businesss. Nobody told the high iron foreman that he had to build handicapped access to the sixtieth floor of the jobsite. If a laborer thought he needed a hardhat, he'd buy himself one. He had the money: there were no taxes withheld form his pay.
A man (or woman) did what he wanted and was prepared to accept the consequences, for good or ill.
Government didn't offer grants to pinhead college presidents to research cures for illnesses; research scientists fronted their own money and that of investors to do the research, some went broke, the successful ones got rich. They could afford to do this; there were no taxes. Either way, the medicine was discovered and put on the market. The consumer bought the medicine and was cured. They could afford to buy the medicine; there were no taxes.
Until we of the productive sector are able to get these civil parasites out of the way, there won't be any new energy panaceae. You want a new nuclear power plant? A minimum of five years before it can be built. Methane? They haven't yet been able to figure out how to get the collection bottles on the cows' asses.
In the here and now, there's a shortage of oil. Much of what oil we have comes from potentially or actually unstable sources--much of that instability attributable to the bungling of government. Then, to add insult to injury, they decree that no oil be extracted from vast areas of US territory.....and if that isn't enough, they tax it!!!
All this before we've discovered and made available alternative fuels!
Is there any question these fools need to be removed from office (physically and even brutally) and left to languish in the prisons they built for dope smokers.
Here's what needs to happen. Ayn Rand once stated that there has to be a separation of economics and state. That's what needs to happen. Taxes have to be eliminated. What government can't do on a fee for service basis, or on voluntary donations, should be done by someone else....or not done at all.
It's time that the productive get full control of their lives and the product thereof, and the non-productive recognize that being productive is fun! Fulfilling! A bloody rush!
Individuals and firms should wildcat, acquire rights from the landowners , drill, pump and sell or refine their oil, according to the ability and inclination of each entrepreneur.
No one has the right to interfere as long as they don't pollute the property of others.
Meanwhile, all those folks with ideas will also have more money (not having had it extorted from them by Ted Kennedy et al.) New inventions will start coming from all the little backyard workshops once again. Some of them will come up with other types of motors and fuel.
One of them will invent a better mousetrap!
Remember, VOTE FOR NO INCUMBENT!