Sunday, October 28, 2007

Darwin Was Wrong

Early last week, I got into a little fender-bender on the way home from work. Not much damage, but a little. You should see the other car. That silly plastic bumper broke clean off into several pieces. So, I'm taking the car to the body shop tomorrow to have the deep scratch fixed up and repainted.

I went to the shop Friday to set myself up with an appointment, and scope out the joint. Not having had a traffic dust-up since the mid-1960's, I don't know any body men. My insurance company recommended a shop in North Hollywood, so that's where I went.

Turns out I like the owner. He talks straight and is in his late fifties, so he's been around the block a couple of times. He has an East European accent, and fairly reeks of old world craftsmanship.

This leads me to ask myself why I find these things so comforting.

I've spent a lot of time fooling around with cars and motorcycles, including some years working in and managing gas stations. Years ago, I knew a young line mechanic who claimed he didn't care if he got the job done correctly, as long as he could get it done fast. If he could beat the Flat Rate Book's time, he'd get paid as a percentage of the flat rate, rather than his hourly salary.

Follow me on this, for those of you who aren't familiar. The mechanic's Flat Rate book shows how many hours it should take to do a particular repair. Let's say a brake job, four wheels, no complications, should take 2 hours, according to the book. Let's say my mechanic friend blows through the job in one hour. Instead of getting $30 for two hours' work, he gets the same $30 for an hour's work. He can go on and do another brake job in the next hour and get another $30. Not all auto shops work this way, but some do.

My friend, in order to work this quickly, had to blow through the job, eschewing several checks and cautions in his work. Anything to get the car out of his bay fast, and without any immediately noticeable problems. If something goes wrong day after tomorrow, bring it back; he'll fix it for free.

Often, the work goes well, with no problems. Occasionally, a customer has a problem and returns the car. My friend would then fix it more carefully, at no additional charge. Rarely, the customer has an accident caused by an incomplete repair, but responsibility doesn't come back to the mechanic. Often, to avoid the hassle of losing his car for another day, the customer just drives it as it is, problem and all. The Mechanic wins in almost every case.

Knowing this, I try to do as much of my mechanical work as I can, myself. Otherwise, I look for the old bear, the mechanic who's been at it for thirty, forty years and who takes pride in his ability and knowledge. He'd rather do the job right, than fast. When I find someone like that, he gets all my patronage.

The older guys seem to have grown up in a time when the work ethic was better--not all of them, to be sure, but many. The youngsters now in their twenties and thirties grew up in an atmosphere of quick self satisfaction and spur-of-the-moment pragmatism.

This body shop guy reads like a man who takes pride in a good job. I also met his son, who is a shop manager, and he actually seems the same way. Enthusiastic. Proud of his work.

I hope those work attitudes don't die out.

One's life is best summed up in the quality of his work.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Friday, October 26, 2007

Reporter Ignores Facts, Shows Bias

We're becoming so accustomed to "news reporters" writing opinion pieces and editors placing them on news pages, that the above headline (mine) seems bland.

I haven't read the LA Times for,well, somewhat over ten years, but some leftist at my office brings them in and leaves sections in the "reading room." Since I've recently heard from Larry Elder's show that they've actually had a few un- or less-biased stories lately, I checked it out.

I stumbled into this story in the California section from the 18th of October, this year: "Gov. ignores gun lobby, and condors get lift." George Skelton, writer of the piece, ought to be thrown out on his kiester for having written such a piece of trash--or the editor should be given a mop and told he was hired into the wrong department. Or both.

While I wish none of earth's critters ill, I honestly can't work up a huge amount of sympathy for the California condor. While they look ever so majestic soaring above, even Mr Skelton admits they're ugly when seen up close. And they are. Even the babies are ugly--I saw one once at the San Diego Zoo. They look like vultures on steroids.

Our neo-socialist, neo-conservative Guber, Arnold Schwarzeneggar (a far better action movie star than politician), has signed legislation banning the use of lead bullets for hunting, in favor of copper. Since the Times didn't cite any studies proving that lead is the thing that's causing the low condor population, I'm very skeptical. Also, I'm wondering if they just aren't suited for life in today's world. Even Mr Skelton admits that they seem prehistoric.

If California condors as a species will be saved, it'll be by the efforts of men working very hard at it--not by government edicts. The condors don't seem to care very much. Honestly, I don't either.

I'm not a hunter, being a city boy and all, and so I don't know what might be lost by replacing the lead in bullets with copper. Copper is soft (but not as soft as lead, and copper is heavy, but not as heavy as lead. I do know that government has no business legislating the content of bullets.

Our idiot Guber also signed a bill requiring that semi-automatic handguns must have their chambers stamped with the make, model and serial number of the weapon, so that each shell casing expelled will be stamped with these markings. To help police solve crimes, they if the criminals actually use guns registered to themselves!

Back to new bias: throughout the story, as you can readily see by reading through it, we can readily see the writers opinion. "The gun lobby ranted...." "Schwarzeneggar would have been hammered--and justifiably--if he had vetoed these two bills." (italics mine) "He (Schwarzeneggar) was pandering...." "....22 caliber lead bullets....should be the next step."

The guy might have a point, regarding the lead poisoning of carrion eating birds, but what we need is the facts.....just the facts.

We report. We decide. You shut up, turn off your mind, and absorb.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag california

Sunday, October 21, 2007

You Coulda Had A V-8

As I've mentioned many times, because of all the bureaucratic foolishness in the evil Patriot Act, the equally evil TSA and Homeland Security in general, I've vowed to stay the hell off commercial airliners except in the most dire emergencies. What constitutes a dire emergency? Hard to say. One hasn't come up yet. I suppose I'd fly if it was required by my job (not likely) and there was no other way.

A trip to Europe? We've been planning one (loosely) but the ongoing turn from historic playground to islamic wasteland tends to lessen the trip's desirability.

Perhaps a family emergency, but most of my family resides within driving distance.

The notion of having to beg permission of the government to travel at will is not only unConstitutional, but essentially evil and against everything for which America's Founders stood. Each elected representative who voted for the establishment of Homeland Security, the Patriot Act and every atrocity committed by their membership, by commission or omission, should be prosecuted to the fullest degree the law allows, for egregious violation of his Oath of Office.

Yesterday, there was yet another in a long line of incidents that illustrate the inconvenience that occurs when utterly incompetent bureaucratic parasites (but again, I repeat myself) attempt to do that is well beyond both the scope and mandate of government, and the intelligence and ability of the civil servant. They seem to be trying to provide security to individuals in a situation whose technological nature is far beyond the ken of the bureaucratic mind.

The situation, as described by Andrew Kirtzman in a WCBSTV story here, involved someone spilled tomato juice 'pon an xray machine.

A TSA thug said that 'twas a vendor who committed the spill, but government thugs lie. Additionally, if the alleged security of airports can be so easily interrupted, isn't that a problem in its own right?

I'd wager that 'twas actually one of the dopey civil servants who committed the horrid act, and I'd further wager that said thug will not be punished, with the possible exception of a verbal admonishment to be more careful next time. That is, if you want to put an xray machine out of commission to score a longer break, don't let anyone see you do it.

Meanwhile, hundreds of travelers were inconvenienced, and many probably missed their flights. Doubtless, millions of dollars have been lost by the airlines and by lost business.

It'd be nice to hear the airline corporation executives raise some hell about these very common delays caused by bureaucratic fumbling, but they're largely spineless empty suits and live in fear of even more draconian regulation.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Giving Thieves a Free Hour To Work Their Magic

In a useless gesture designed to make parasitic politicians (but, I repeat myself) feel useful, algorians around the Stalag are calling for residents of Los Pueblos de Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Francisco to turn out their lights between 8 and 9PM today to save enough electricity to light 2500 residences for an entire year. So far, I've not been contacted to be one of those who is to receive a year's free power.

According to a Reuters story, lights in Alcatraz, the Los Angeles International Airport and the Golden Gate Bridge, along with most lights in city buildings (all with exceptions for safety considerations) will be turned off for this hour. Imagine how much more money we'd save if they did this during what the city sniggeringly refers to as "working hours."

This gives thieves and burglars an entire hour to work their magic in a more nearly ideal environment, and one can only imagine what sorts of things might go on during this hour in San Francisco!

El Pueblo de Los Angeles runs its own power operation, which was founded under the proposition that a city-owned power company, divorced from the profit motive, will cost consumers less and be more responsive to consumer demands. Of course, we all know how that worked out. Power is every bit as expensive in LA as it is anywhere else, and more expensive than most localities, and you can't get anyone on the phone. Power transmission is still done by means of unsightly and dangerous overhead wires instead of underground, as has been done in most surrounding areas for decades.

The real answer? Privatize.

Unfortunately, because of state and federal regulation, competition is not only nonexistent, but prohibited by law. Were the industry privatized and deregulated (truly deregulated), each household would be capable of picking and choosing among several power suppliers. We could shop price, or service, or even set up our own individual home power plant (as long as it doesn't disturb the neighbors).

Senor Antonio Vinaigrette, el Alcalde del Pueblo de Los Angeles, still maintains that a cure for all our power shortages is that we should replace out incandescent bulbs with rotini light fixtures, and just limit our use of electricity 'twixt the hours of 3PM and 7PM (or something like that). As we say in the Valley, "Like, I'm sure!"

It's now a little after 9PM and I still haven't been notified about my year of free power.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's A Dog's Life!

If you've been listening to news or talk radio these past couple of days, or watched any tv news shows, you've probably heard about the tears shed by Ellen Degenerate about this puppy, Iggy, she "adopted" from a private rescue shelter in Southern California.

The whole story was covered in the LA Times, here.

She cried and whimpered and admitted repeatedly that 'twas all her own fault, but why did they have to take Iggy away from her hairdresser's kids?

According to the story, Ellen adopted Iggy, got him shots, neutered and a chip, and had him trained. After a couple of weeks, she found that Iggy couldn't get along with her cats. She gave Iggy to her hairdresser and his family.

Problem was, the contract she signed required her to return the dog to the shelter, if for some reason she couldn't keep it. The shelter people picked Iggy up from the hairdresser's home and returned him to the shelter.

So, Ellen wants to know why they can't bend the rules: the hairdresser's children love Iggy. The shelter's policy is that they don't adopt small dogs to families with children under 14--kind of a bureaucratic, one-size-fits-all policy, as I see it, but 'twas in the contract and Ellen knew it.

The women who run the shelter have withstood every kind of abuse by phone, email and in person since Ellen made her televised plea. Tons of it. Death threats and the whole bag.

Let's step back a bit. Ellen Degenerate is a comedienne (a bad one, in my estimation), and an actress. She can switch on the crocodile tears. I think she staged this entire controversy deliberately out of anger over the shelter people having taken Iggy back. I think she knew what that outburst would do and wanted to punish the ladies at the shelter for not having acceded to her wish. How dare they!?

Hell hath no fury than a Hollywood leftist denied.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Monday, October 15, 2007

When "No Law" Means Some Laws

I was listening to Michael Medved this afternoon, intermittently, whenever I was in my car. At one point, I turned the radio on and heard him talking about islamic fascists. I think he was talking about some islamist recommending martyrdom, or something like that. Not terribly important to my point.

What was important was what he said immediately afterward. "There can be no debate over the fact that free speech is not absolute." Or something very like this.

Let's parse this just a little. "There can be no debate...." is a very interesting phrase. It's designed to cut off argument before it can be born. It's the very same phrase the algorians use to cut off discussions about "global warming" and discredit the "deniers." It's very insidious, the way this works. I don't buy it for an instant.

"....Over the fact that free speech is not absolute." I've heard variations of this phrase dozens of times in the past five years or so. It's usually conservatives that say it. Leftists, on the other hand, say they're for free speech, to counter the position of the conservatives, but they're lying.

So, let's see what the Bill of Rights says: Amendment the First: "Congress shall make no law....abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble...."

The Founders wrote that Amendment to counter the British tradition of prosecuting political dissent.The First Amendment serves to protect the purveyor of controversial expression; to protect the holder of unpopular opinion.

And Michael Medved, a radio talk show host, one of a very few conservative movie reviewers, and a writer, fully ignoring the letter of the Bill of Rights, has the freedom to say that the First Amendment doesn't mean what it says. I've also heard Sean Hannity express the same sentiment. He ought to be ashamed. If he and others continue to ignore the meaning of the Constitution, he may find himself limited as to what he can say, as might we all.

They do this while, out the other side of their mouths they disparage the leftists for suggesting that they ought to provide balance on their shows.

I'd suggest that we ought to hold to the letter and meaning of the Amendment absolutely, lest we let this precious freedom be gradually nibbled away.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Let Them Snort Salt

In yet another step in the government's march to take over the rearing of children from their parents, the evil FDA is about to order toddler's cold medicines off the shelves, in the interest of protecting little children from the bungling stupidity of the adults who gave them life. According to a story in the Modesto (Stalag California) Bee, cowardly attorneys for drug makers are pulling the medicines off the shelves now, preempting FDA action.

Why, you might ask? Because an FDA report found 54 reports of child deaths linked to decongestants and 69 to antihistamines from 1969 to 2006, many of them younger than 2. That's a total of .... let's see....carry the one....123 dead babies years. While one must grieve the early death of even one youngster (unless it's a noisy one in a theater), where's the perspective? How many toddlers drowned in the bath in 37 years? A lot more than 123, I'll wager.

A more important thing to note is: how many toddlers have been helped by these medicines? A second thing about which to pay attention is: How many of the parents of the unfortunate babies were actually following the manufacturer's instructions? And a third: Just how much of the responsibility for bringing up our children are we willing to cede to a bungling, wasteful organization whose members' most urgent mission is to work as little as possible and retire with as large a pension as possible?

The solution offered? Stuff a rubber syringe full of salt water in the little tyke's nose to either drown him, collapse his lungs or rupture his bronchial tubes.

Fortunately, Modesto-area parents interviewed by the Bee's reporters seem to be more skeptical of this foolishness than, for example, people who live in El Pueblo de Los Angeles.

Granted, parents should carefully choose a pediatrician (I always get this mixed up: is a pediatrician a foot doctor?) and follow his advice. Some doctors believe these patent medicines are ineffective. Perhaps some of them are, but I'd rather the parents make the choices than Washington bureaucrats two intellectual steps away from the post office stamp window.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, October 06, 2007

We're In A Drought, and The Glaciers Are Melting--Disaster or Opportunity?

I first became aware of Dr. Walter E Williams by having viewed the 1980 PBS documentary series, Free to Choose, by Dr. Milton Friedman. Dr. Friedman would give an economics "lesson" for the first half-hour of each episode, which was followed by a discussion with Dr. Friedman and a number of other intellectuals of the left and right. Dr. Williams was one of these people. Throughout the length of the series, Dr. Williams seemed consistently one of the more articulate members of a very prestigious group.

Since then, I've followed Dr. Williams' career as best I can. When I found out he writes a column, I started reading it. When I learned he occasionally subbed for Rush Limbaugh, when he takes a day off, and I learn that Dr. Williams is subbing, I make plans to listen.

Williams is almost always right on the money on most subjects, and his take on the global warming hoax. His latest statement on the subject can be found here.

I highly recommend the pamphlet "A Global Warming Primer," to which Dr. Williams refers, as it's a quick read, yet it's packed with facts that can be analyzed rationally (as opposed to the algorians' religious emotionalism).

Every month the algorians look more and more stupid.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California