Sunday, December 31, 2006
As a fairly good 2006 draws to an end, I propose a toast to the productive among us, and to those who work for and advocate a free society. May you continue to do so for a long, long time in peace, health and happiness.
For those who possess the capacity to enjoy it, Happy New Year!!
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
So, You Want A New Car.....
In another entry, I mentioned the elder classman who was the son of the Chevrolet dealer from whom my dad bought all his cars back in the old days. Wes Rydell, the guy who always drove a new Chevy Impala Convertible when we were in high school, has inherited the dealership, and has increased it by tenfold. Not only does he still have his dad's dealership in Grand Forks, but there are several Rydell Chevrolet and GM dealerships in the San Fernando Valley.
Now, I've been toying with the notion of selling my Kroozer and buying a modern, up-to-date car with its warranty, its relatively maintenance-free driving and its high gas mileage. I've been observing the little Chevy HHR wagon for several months, and I kinda like its retro look. Today, I finally took a few minutes and stopped at Rydell's in Van Nuys to take a closer look.
They really are small, but they're like a pint-sized 1954 Chevy Suburban, so there's some room to carry stuff, and room for four--five in a pinch (if they're good friends).
They're front-wheel-drive, with a sideways-mounted four-banger; 2.4 liter (that's about 146 cubic inches in American). Teeny.
So, I opened the doors and looked inside. It looked teeny. I opened the hood. Teeny. I got inside and sat in the driver's seat. I never did close the door because, well, it seemed teeny. I'm not claustrophobic, but this car seemed like it'd make you so.
The gas pedal and brake were very small, but in the right place. There was no place for your left foot! The floor to the left of the brake wasn't flat, it was curved away from what must've been the front wheel housing.
Remember how we used to love that new-car smell? Well, this car doesn't smell like that. It smells like plastic. New plastic. The entire interior of the car is plastic--the headliner, the dash, the interior door panels and the entire rear cargo compartment. The seats are sort of like leather, but they're plastic. The sun visors are plastic.
The car reeks of plastic!
There are little labels everywhere. They tell how not to hog-tie the kids in the car. They explain how the air bags can kill you. They admonish you to wear seat belts.....and many other things.
My next thought was to tell the dealer that, if I buy the car, they have to remove all these stickers at no charge to me. I'd also like the air bags removed, but I don't think they'll do that. It just doesn't seem safe to have a big bag blow up in your face while you're trying to control the car after a crash. What if I'm smoking a pipe, at the time?
Sorry, Wes. I think I'll just hang on to the Kroozer. The safest way to survive a crash is to steer clear of it, and that'd be hard to do with a big bag in your face.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Monday, December 25, 2006
The Wonders of Socialized Medicine
According to this article on MSNBC's website, a renowned Spanish surgeon, Doctor Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, an intestinal specialist from Spain, has been rushed to Cuba to try to stop a steady deterioration in Fidel Castro’s health. The doctor’s plane was also carrying advanced medical equipment not available in Cuba.
Naturally, the government of the People's Republic of Cuba calls of Doctor Sabrido or one of his peers whenever any citizen of the People's Republic suffers illness as serious as that of His Eminence, Sr. Castro. The People's Republic of Cuba has, of course, a fully socialized health care system which will spare no expense in keeping any and all of its citizens alive and healthy--from the Premier Dictator and Leader of the Ongoing Revolution to the lowliest cane cutter.
Oh, they don't? They've only done it for Sr Castro?
A tip of the battered grey fedora to Ol'BC.
They've killed Freedom! Those Bastards!
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Now that I no longer live in the OC, I find that I have a whole new kroozin' ground. Twice this week, I found time to travel the streets and boulevards of the San Fernando Valley. As I already knew, from time spent here in the past, SFV is a very interesting area, unlike any other.
This past Monday, I took a drive in the Burbank area. I lived in Sun Valley (a small district of El Pueblo de Los Angeles) back in 1966-1967. 'Twas just north of what was then called Lockheed Airport--now Bob Hope Airport. Part of my drive ranged through the Sun Valley area, though most of it went back and forth in Burbank proper.
Burbank, home of Disney Studios and Warner Bros, not to mention the Pickwick Center, which includes the Pickwick Equestrian Center (now the LA Equestrian Center), the Pickwick Bowl, the Pickwick Ice Center and Pickwick Gardens. While driving around in Burbank, one finds dozens of independent small businesses of every kind lining the streets, and hundreds of well-maintained dwellings everywhere. If there's a slum in Burbank, I haven't found it.
Burbank calls itself the "Media Capital of the World."
Today, I drove around the western part of SFV. I went through Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, North Hills, Northridge (center of the 1994 Earthquake), Winnetka, Reseda, Tarzana, Encino, then back to Sherman Oaks.
It was quite a drive. The weather was perfect: cool, sunny, a little windy with the streets full of Christmas shoppers in their BMWs and SUVs. This part of the Valley looks a little more like the OC, with more shopping centers with Mervyns, Targets and Ralphs. This part of the Valley has wider boulevards than the eastern part, and boasts more mature trees than does the OC. It also has a far wider variety of small businesses and ethnic eateries.
Another neat thing: Most of SFV is laid out on a rectangular grid. Most of the boulevards either run north-south or east-west and run arrow-straight for miles and miles. If I get lost and find, for example, Victory Boulevard, I can drive along it for ten miles or more until I find Woodman. Then it's a right turn for a couple of miles and I'm a few short blocks from home. You just can't get lost.
Most of the Valley is in El Pueblo de Los Angeles, unfortunately. There was an attempt by SFV to secede and form a separate city a few years ago, but they allowed the entire city to vote on it. Since a huge portion of the most productive Angelenos live in the Valley, and a large portion of the non-productive live in other parts of the city--all of whom got to vote on the proposition--the attempt failed.
The LA city's parasites couldn't keep up the degree of corruption without all that SFV tax money coming in.
Well, that's apparently the cost of living in SFV.
Large parts of SFV remain unexplored, and I plan to take more of these drives as often as I can. After all, I've only found two Mongolian BBQ joints in the Valley, and I'm still looking for the perfect pizza, a good indoor pistol range and a relaxing coffee shop.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Because I grew up in one of the many and various tradition-sets included in the Christian religion, I suppose a rousing "Merry Christmas" is in order. So, Merry Christmas!
I see it more as a relaxing moment in which we can reflect on the past year, rejoice in our successes and make plans to repair our failures. It's a time to visit with loved ones and celebrate the year together, and plan for the one coming.
I've never been overly comfortable with the gift-giving part of the season--who can better buy for one than oneself? A visit and a lovely dinner trump gift-giving anytime.
Cards are another matter. I love Christmas cards. What better way to communicate (in the old-fashioned way) with those friends you don't often see. Cards can be clever, they can be funny, they can be inspirational and they can be beautiful.
Though I find more rationality in celebrating the fact that we're about to begin a period of increasing daylight and warmer days and nights, I'll wish all of you a very merry Christmas, a happy and prosperous New Year, happy Hannukah. For those of you who don't do either Christmas nor Hannukah, and whose New Year is another time of the year, I'll offer best wishes for the season.
'Tis the season for reason.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
When Is A Nazi Not A Nazi?
Answer: when it's not a part of Adolph Hitler's Germany between ~1933 and 1945.
At least, according to several master debators who scream that to make any reference to Nazism in regards to current-day United States of America is to ruin one's argument. This morning, Doug MacIntyre, morning talk show guy on KABC-AM in El Pueblo de Los Angeles, made just this argument with reference to Joy Behar's having compared Donald Rumsfeld to Adolph Hitler, on the tv talk show "The View," this morning.
First, I wouldn't call Rumsfeld nor any other member of the Bush administration Nazis--in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. What's happening in the United States has been progressing for many decades, and George W Bush and his administration have simply continued a long-established trend--as his father did before him.
Nazism is merely a contraction of the German phrase Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, which means, National Socialist German Workers Party. It also refers to that period in German history, called the Third Reich, during which Adolph Hitler was the nation's leader.
There are, in fact many comparisons between the recent United States and the German Third Reich, and they are detailed in Leonard Peikoff's 1982 book, "The Ominous Parallels."
The major differences between the two are that we can still vote, more or less in accordance with the US Constitution (many disagree about what that's worth), and that the American press and the internet are still more or less free.
We can, though, accurately refer to the current-day United States government as a fascist government. Fascism is defined by Dictionary.com as "a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism."
Now, we don't quite have a full dictatorship yet, though recent residents of the White House exhibit many dictator-like traits, such as the propensity to "find a way" to do what they want done, with or without the authorization of the US Constitution, and the considering of themselves as something "above" the common person.
How much closer to a dictatorship-in-fact do we want to come?
My point is: Nazism and fascism are political systems each with precise definitions. It's indeed possible to make comparisons between these systems and capitalism, and it ought be done often. Only by making careful and precise comparisons and discussions can reality be known and described, thus making reality more clear and making changes poisssible.
Nazism and fascism are loaded words, 'tis true, but this is to the good. They awaken the mind and aid the focus, by their mere invocation. Some of us need to be awakened, it seems.
I don't agree with Behar's silly little quip, partly because I don't think she has a clue what she's saying, but I'm certainly not offended by the use of these loaded terms to draw attention to one's point.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Sharks on the Freeways
When you think about it, they're more like sharks than anything else. Any resemblance to the justice system or to the principles of protection of rights and property is....well, virtually nonexistent.
We like to think, and they'll tell you readily, that they exist to be a police presence on the streets and freeways and to help enhance your safety as you drive hither and yon. The least critical look shows that safety is not only not much enhanced by their presence, but often diminished.
I'll make the wild assumption that conditions are similar in other urban areas as they are to El Pueblo de Los Angeles, to the extent that:
- Most young to middle-aged drivers speed most of the time, if the streets and freeways are uncrowded enough to do so.
- Many of these same drivers are doing something else while driving, such as talking on the phone, eating, drinking, conversing with passengers or trying to control children.
- Many drivers make hasty lane changes to pass slower vehicles.
- Many drivers make last-second decisions to turn corners or exit the freeways from time to time.
- Many elderly drivers have mental and physical handicaps that make skillful driving difficult or impossible.
- Once in a while, a driver is applying makeup, brushing hair, hunting for something in the glovebox, on the seat or on the floor--and even reading(!).
- And, there are always the drunks.
The above list, as one might imagine, includes every driver, virtually if not in fact. Indeed, at any given moment on any given stretch of road, it includes a majority of the drivers thereon. Circulating among any thousand to a hundred-thousand drivers on the streets and highways, there might be one or two traffic cops.
Every once in a while, say three or four times in an eight-hour shift, the cop picks one of the worst violators in his view and pulls him over and writes him up. It becomes very random and relatively uncommon, leaving the driver to assume it won't happen often, regardless of how lawfully or unlawfully he drives. During those fifteen or twenty minutes--more if alcohol or drugs is suspected--hundreds or thousands of other traffic violators whiz past, unnoticed. Or, at least, unhindered.
Were I not such an amazingly good driver, I'd be scared to death!
Obviously, the way local and state government is reacting to the problem isn't working.
That, and the fact that I'm of the opinion that many younger folks have not made the connections between actions and consequences, and I endeavor to not be near these people when their luck runs out. At least, not without an escape path.
Obviously, government cannot handle controlling traffic on the streets and freeways--nothing new. While I've been saying this for over thirty years, the problem continues to grow worse and more dangerous--even as cars are built to be safer. Government, in its haste to satisfy the whims of just about every politician and pressure group spends its resources on frivolous programs, while leaving infrastructure, such as streets and freeways, unmaintained and deteriorating.
The great experiment--that of allowing government to own and operate matters of individual transportation--must be declared an utter failure and ended. Roads, streets and freeways need to be sold to entrepreneurs who can find a way to operate and maintain them while (one hopes) making a profit.
I'll leave it to others to suggest the ways this might be done, although I have some ideas, which I'll, no doubt, expound 'pon at another time. Bob Poole, at Reason magazine, has studied this stuff extensively and has made many viable suggestions.
I spend entirely too much time driving the streets and freeways of the Stalag not to have an interest in this, since I love driving and plan to continue for a long time to come.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
When I was a young lad, newly involved in the wonderful world of capitalism, I acquired a Social Security card. I saw it as a sort of rite of passage, at the time; my progress into the world of adulthood. I was fifteen, and had already been working as a newsie and as a route delivery boy for nearly five years.
The occasion of my acquiring the SS card was my having been hired to work as a bag boy at Hugo's Piggly Wiggly. I worked there part time until I graduated high school and enlisted in the Navy.
I was already somewhat a rebel, at that tender age, and had a habit of pointing out wrongs and inconsistencies to parents, teachers and business people alike. I was a bugger on hypocrisy, and I still am. I was not, however, sophisticated enough to recognize the evils involved with the Social Security Administration, and the elected parasites involved therewith over the decades.
Had I been a little more wary, I might've eschewed that nasty bit of pasteboard and embarked 'pon a career independent of incriminating government involvement. It wouldn't have been easy, but it is possible, yea, even unto this day.
Going back a few steps, I ought to mention that 'twas common knowledge among my elders, that A) every worker had an individual SSA account, B) every worker would be getting, in essence, his own money back when he retired and C) one's SS card was to be used only for Social Security purposes. Hence the legend along the bottom edge of the card: "For Social Security Purposes. Not For Identification."
I'm unaware of any official documentation affirming these opinions, but these were gentlemen (and a couple of ladies) I knew who were working when Social Security was first imposed. They got these opinions from the propaganda and hype involved with getting the insidious ponzi scheme accepted by working people back in those days.
The purpose of this entry, though, is not to condemn Social Security, much as it deserves our utter disdain. Well, maybe it is. But first, I want to point out some difficulties with the Social Security card.
I don't know how many instances an individual must offer up his Social Security number to people who are not employees of the SSA, but they are legion:
- To open a bank account.
- To transact business at a bank.
- To negotiate a loan.
- To acquire a credit card.
- To access the services of a physician.
- To access the services of a hospital or clinic.
- To enroll in a college or university.
- To transact business in a college or university.
The reason I bring up all these unsavory facts and opinions is to point out an obvious problem that impacts all of us who were conventional enough as to have accepted this "mark o' the beast" in our youth.
It can be used to get into your private places. The federal government itself, of course, is by far the worst offender. They claim the privilege to do so at will, even though there is absolutely no Constitutional justification.
Today's story on Los Angeles' KNBC News points out that hackers have broken into UCLA's computers and accessed the records of many students and faculty members. SS numbers are improperly a part of these records and point out the possibility of identity theft of these individuals.
The degree of government ineptness and short-sightedness that allows--and often requires--the use of an identification number that is used in all these various ways. It gives the successful hacker access to the victim's financial accounts, credit card accounts, medical records and educational records. Maybe more.
Heads should roll.
In the meantime, all SS taxes should be returned to the account holders, with interest. Social Security should be abolished. Elected officials, whether in office or retired, should be prosecuted for their crimes against the US Constitution and against Americans. All requirements to report private information to the federal government should be repealed immediately.
They've abused our trust. There is no excuse: the US Constitution says what it says, and says it clearly.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Monday, December 11, 2006
Darwin Was Wrong--It's Survival of the Wimpiest
I wonder how these pampered, oh, so easily offended wimps that man the supposedly high stress and high-responsibility positions in the many levels of the parasite class. I wrote here, just the other day, about the alleged fire fighter, Tennie Pierce. He's the "man" who is suing El Pueblo de Los Angeles for a fat retirement 'cause some of his mischievous coworkers spiked his spaghetti with dog food. Boo-hoo! This in spite of Pierce's having been party to several hazings and pranks himself.
The courthouse records from around the nation are fairly thick with lawsuits by civil leeches who have sued (and often won) for all manner of trivial offenses, slights and insults by coworkers and the general public. One wonders how America ever became the world's richest and most comfortable country in which to live one's life.
Did Sears sue Roebuck for placing his name first on the sign? Did Davidson sue Harley for being taller and better looking? Were the Wright brothers in court over who got to wear the goggles?
When I worked for a fairly large engineering firm, some years ago, at one point we had a mandatory sexual harassment lecture. The lecture was given by a very attractive middle-aged woman, who at one point instructed us that even the act of "looking a female coworker up and down" could be construed as sexual harassment. One wonders whether doing the same to a male coworker will get the same degree of condemnation.
My observation was, "Ms *****, how do you react to the fact that, if men had not been looking female coworkers up and down in past decades, many of us wouldn't exist today." While my comment got a satisfying amount of guffaws from my coworkers (male and female), I got little more than an icy smile from Ms *****.
A blurb in Chuck Muth's "DC Confidential" list goes as follows:
"* A female Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) captain has filed a half-million lawsuit against the force alleging a "hostile work environment." The hostilities include being called names like "The Princess," and being told by colleagues she looked good in uniform. Oh, and "someone put a McDonald's application in her in-box one day." Good grief. If the woman can't handle things this petty, how in the world can she deal with gang-bangers, murderers and thieves? And how did such a fragile little flower rise to the rank of captain in the police force in the first place? Can you say "political correctness" and "affirmative action," boys and girls?"
This story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal gives a little more insight, though I haven't been able to find the original news story.
The details aren't important to my purpose here, which is to point out that, compared to men and women of yore, most of today's adults, especially those in civil service, are complete __________ (fill in your favorite epithet that refers to an utter inability to function in the real world). One wonders why these inept men and women want to pursue careers as police officers or fire fighters when they can't even function under the normal tension-lessening give-and-take in which people in dangerous careers have been engaging for decades, if not centuries.
I really dread the day that I need any sort of government-monopoly emergency aid. The megablunder that was government's (at all levels) emergency response to Hurricane Katrina vanden Heuvel is only the tip of the iceburg, folks. Be really careful with matches.
I fear for the health of the Republic.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Troublesome little questions continually keep me awake as they ricochet about in the wide open spaces behind my eyes. To wit:
- Why did the President start this "War on Terror" business with the audacious declaration that it will be a long war?
- Why has there been no declaration of war?
- Why was Osama bin Llama allowed to escape at Tora Bora?
- Since Osama bin Llama is a Saudi, as were nearly all of the 9-11 highjackers, and since much of their financial support came from Saudi Arabia, why are we not at war with Saudi Arabia?
- Why are we not at war with Iran, the home of the philosophical/religious system that supports the actions of these savages?
- Why are most of the acts imposed within the US directed toward limiting the rights and freedom of American citizens?
- Why are we waging the "war" in a politically correct manner, as not to offend the (as yet not fully identified) enemy, nor to cause him serious harm?
- Why are we involved in Iraq, anyway?
The most likely theory that seems to fit is the following: we have managed to end the decades-long "Cold War" prematurely, in the eyes of many of the individuals who live at the unwilling expense of America's productive.
To support the status quo, it seems, those in the federal government require America to continually have an enemy 'pon which to focus, to keep our minds off what government is really doing, as it quietly dismantles the checks and balances erected to create freedom for us all. We, according to the parasite class, need a new enemy. One who will keep the state of fear at a high level for decades to come.
The "War on Terror" must have longivety. It can't be won too quickly.
The "War on Terror" has received a leg up from the "War on Drugs," in the process of neutering America's Constitution and its Bill of Rights, not to mention the concept of natural law. Each and every elected official who has voted for any facet of any bill authorizing or enhancing any part of either the "War on Drugs" or the hideously misnamed USA Patriot Act is guilty of violating his Oath of Office and ought to be thrown out of office and punished to the fullest extent of the law.
The "War on Terror" and the "Patriot Act" are designed to supress any and all kinds of dissention by Americans, by the simple process of accusing the dissident of terrorism. Note the oft-repeated admonition to not speak, even in jest, of bombing or any other kind of violence in the airport, in security lines and in the aircraft. Note also that any disagreement with airport or aircraft staff people can be treated as a felony.
"We will no longer tolerate any challenges against federal authority," is the message we've been given.
With every city, town and village of over 200 population receiving funding from the federal government to hire, equip and train police paramilitary thug squads (aka SWAT teams) who routinely break down the doors of individuals, for the most specious crime real or imagined, with or without proper warrants, who routinely terrorize and often kill individuals on the most skimpy of pretexts, how can we refer to the United States as anything but a police state?
We're fighting a "war on terror?" How about starting with disbanding these thug squads, whether they be labeled SWAT, DEA, BATF, IRS or any of the other alphabet soup of terrorists that scare the crap out of us far more than any half-a-world-away savage who couldn't even manufacture the filthy clothing that hangs shapelessly from his disease-riddled body.
In a time when government recognizes individuals' right to property only at its own convenience, when legal due process is a dim recollection of mainly elder students of the law and a few old libertarians who wistfully recall when the legal ideal was a nation of laws, not of men, many of us wonder how long Americans will continue in the role of a herd of sheep and will begin to insist 'pon enforcement of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights--as written and envision by those wise revolutionaries who risked life, limb and fortune to begin this seemingly failing experiment.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Andre Rieu Redux
As I mentioned in my entry of about a year ago here, I'm a fan of Strauss waltzes. No, I don't dance. Not only do I not have time to learn, but I don't know where I'd go to dance if I did learn to waltz.
However, I love to listen to Strauss waltzes. One of the best orchestras that perform Strauss music is that of Andre Rieu. He has a terrific orchestra whose members are not only world class musicians, but clearly enjoy their work. It comes over as a light, lively performances of Strauss and other music that keeps the audience smiling, cheering and clapping in time with the orchestra.
Yesterday evening, Debbie and I went to the Honda Ponda in Anaheim (the Honda Center, formerly called the Arrowhead Pond) to see the Andre Rieu Orchestra for the second time. Debbie is studying the violin and is a fan of both Strauss and Andre Rieu.
We began the evening with dinner at the Phoenix Club, not far away, for a dinner of Bratwurst, sourkraut and potatoes. The Phoenix Club is a German-American cultural center with restaurant, banquet, conference and dance facilities, which fairly sends one off into a sense of the old world.
Then, after the short drive to the arena, we took our seats and awaited the concert.
As last year, the orchestra entered from the back of the arena floor to a fanfare of "March of the Gladiators." Since we were again seated on an aisle, the orchestra, led by Rieu, filed right by us to a stairway up onto the stage, to welcoming applause. 'Twas a fine spectacle and fun to get a close-up view of each band member as he/she passed.
Throughout the concert, which lasted fully three hours, the orchestra played several Strauss waltzes, including the Emperor's Waltz and the obligatory Blue Danube, a few pieces from opera (about which I know precious little--but on the verge of deciding to learn) and several Christmas songs.
During "White Christmas," faux snow began to fall. The snow gradually increased to "comic" proportions--Debbie and I, in the eighth row, were soon covered with the stuff, as were those close by. "White Christmas" was followed by "Jingle Bells," after which came the intermission. During the intermission, we were able to get up and brush ourselves off. Even so, we carried some of the "snow" home with us in our hair and clothes.
We, and by appearances, everyone else there present had a wonderful time watching an orchestra play beautiful music--an orchestra whose members were clearly excellent in their ability and in complete enjoyment of their chosen profession. The show was full of uplifting music and good humor.
Should Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra return next year, we'll be there!
The silver lining that has no cloud.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Oh! You Mean We Have To Fight Fires, Too?
I'm not sure how widely this story has circulated about the nation, but it's pretty big in the Stalag, currently. Seems the firemen in Los Angeles Fire Department's firehouses regard the houses to be more like "Delta Houses," as envisioned in the 1978 comedy film, "National Lampoon's Animal House."
Hazings and pranks seem to be the pastime of choice during those long hours on duty between fires--at least that's what Antonio Vinaigrette, el Alcalde del Pueblo de Los Angeles, seems to be trying to convey.
After the moronic (to a man/woman) City Council voted to give fireman Tennie Pierce $2.7 million as a settlement over a silly prank, and the Alcalde vetoed the settlement, citing the apparent fact that Mr Pierce had been a willing participant in many hazings and pranks himself. A huge lawsuit will, no doubt, be upcoming. Mr Pierce is looking to cut a fat hog in the ass for his retirement, get it?
The silly prank in question was that members of the frat house, er, firehouse, spiked Pierce's spaghetti with dog food. Though it's said that the prank came from the fact that Pierce repeatedly referred to himself as the "Big Dog." Pierce claims the prank comes from racism (he's black, you see). I find it a mite unsettling that many of the individuals with whom we're required to place our trust regarding fire protection come off as, at once, irresponsible frat boys (and, presumably, girls) and terribly emotionally fragile. A little dog food never hurt anyone--according to the Democrats, the nation's elderly live on it!
Suck it up, Pierce! Be a man!
In the wake of this sordid tale, the city Fire Chief, William Bamattre, has announced his retirement. Apparently, this kind of heat isn't what he wishes to tolerate. Seems he was ordered to give no tolerance to hazers and pranksters, but was given little authority to enforce the edict.
El Alcalde follows this up with the announcement that he's appointing Assistant Chief Douglas Barry the new pro tem Fire Chief during the process of selecting a new permanent Chief.
El Alcalde, shining up his PC merit badge, further states that Chief Barry will be "a change agent who can hold the line on hazing" and who "doesn't have an ax to grind. He's not looking for a promotion. He just wants to do the job."
It's emphasized that Barry will "become the first black to lead the department when he takes over as acting chief Jan. 1."
Apparently, according to the shadowy contents of the bureaucratic mind, Barry's race somehow makes him uniquely capable of dealing with the disarray within the department.
At no time, in the knowledge of any rational individual of whom I'm aware, has anyone at City Hall suggested that the department be privatized, or that carriers of fire insurance would have a vested interest in financing firefighting agencies. The bureaucracy must be maintained, and indeed, enlarged to the greatest extent possible.
Nowhere within any of the news stories I read was there any mention of actual fire fighting nor rescue operations nor any of the other tasks we in the Stalag are told are the specialties of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
One hopes the boys and girls in the red trucks can find time to take care of business, if only occasionally.
Stories leading to the above analysis can be found here, here and here. Read 'em. Some parts of them are quite funny.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Saturday, December 02, 2006
You, Naked! On the Net! For All To See!
It looks like the socialists at "Homeland Security" think they've finally found a way (they think) to do xray screening of prospective airline passengers without invading their (Constitutional right to) privacy.
Read about it here.
Try as they might, however, they cannot satisfy the Constitutional question--not to mention the question of an individual's natural right to the sovereignty of his own person and privacy--without resorting to subterfuge. The executive branch of government, who appoints the federal judiciary, seems to find it very amenable to the notion of redefining our rights in law, according to the wishes of the President. The Supreme Court has been so philosophically flexible as to be unable to connect military conscription to involuntary servitude (!).
It certainly won't be difficult for the same court to find that xray examination of our innards to determine the content of one's most recent repast. This ought to be good news to those concerned with the current "obesity pandemic."
For today, however, we're concerning ourselves mostly with the notion of using xray technology to (they say) look for dangerous weapons and substances secreted on our persons, for use in destroying the very aircraft that keeps us alive and mobile at 36,000 feet.
Now, I don't doubt that there are a few crazies 'pon the planet who are willing to do just that for one insane credo or another, but I don't think this has much to do with the real reason
government wants this technology in place in airports. In today's climate, though, it will suffice. Fraidy types who, in today's America are legion, can be easily convinced to accept just about any invasion against their rights in the name of security--even false security. Note that no one ever needs to be safe--he/she merely needs to feel safe.
The linked story comforts us by saying the xray will be adjusted to "be blurred in certain areas while still being effective in detecting bombs and other threats." The story also states that "the TSA said the X-rays will be set up so that the image can be viewed only by a security officer in a remote location. Other passengers, and even the agent at the checkpoint, will not have access to the picture." Also, "the system will be configured so that the X-ray will be deleted as soon as the individual steps away from the machine. It will not be stored or available for printing or transmitting...."
Anything, as we all know, that can be configured can also be reconfigured, and it'll be only a matter of time when some enterprising TSA minion will decide to augment his wages by selling xray images of various famous and remarkable individuals to willing internet webmasters. It will happen.
This, of course, is the empirical eventuality. It leaves aside the philosophical discussion completely.
If an airline wants to use such technology as a condition of access to their aircraft, it's certainly within its rights to do so The travelling consumer is, by the same argument within his rights to seek another airline, with more reasonable requirements, with which to deal.
With government making the decisions, it's a one-size-fits-all world. Choices are taken away. Furthermore, government screening of airline passengers sets up the very real specter of government approval of travel--a notion far more dangerous to America's freedom than the possibility of a crazed "terrorist" attack, which can be thwarted in any of a number of ways that don't clash with the rights of the individual traveller.
I don't expect Americans to rise in outrage against this, another of many usurptions of our rights, and so those of you who choose to travel on airlines will soon find your privacy invaded right to your skin--and maybe beyond.
I'll take my car, for as long as I still have that freedom......
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!