Excuses

In an earlier post, today, I get called to task in the comments by my most excellent friends, Billy Beck and Kyle Bennett, for stating that the indoctrination students receive in public schools (enviro-silliness, fear-mongering, politicized "science", submission to self-appointed "authorities", etc.) is "small potatoes".

All of this happens--of course, and unsurprisingly--but is such problem any more serious than any of the other rot we as individualists must endure on a daily basis?

Kyle comments:

You're right about the inefficiency and low quality of education being driven largely form above, but what I see as destructive is the content of that education - the stuff you call small potatoes. That also is driven from above, but after decades of NEA influence, it has trickled down to the teaching level as well.

Either way, it's an argument for privatization: allow parents to choose what will be taught to their children, allow parents to choose schools that will provide quality as cost-effectively as they can, and allow the good teachers to earn what they're worth and have the resources to do the job right.

And Billy:

The cultural destruction and mutilation wrought at the hands of public schools is so enormous that, on about three days out of any given five, I'll tell you that it is the single most important and pressing problem that must be solved before anything else. For an example: consider that the arguments over evolution could never have risen to the pitch that they have if parents -- from Christian to atheist -- were free to choose among market alternatives for their own children, according to their own values. And that's only one example, before we even get started on the positive indoctrination of good little statebots.

I'm with Kyle. Nothing about public education is "small potatoes", Rich, and the good intentions of teachers amount to nothing, in the end. The destruction of American culture begins with untold numbers of budding minds, daily, in forced attendance of government interests. Without that, it's nearly impossible for me to imagine how the rest of this could go on.

I'll grant that the content being taught in school may differ from place to place, but I've been with my grade-school-teacher wife for 10 years, and what I see is very, very predominately the basics. Her kids read tons of books, do math, American history, some science, lots of writing (she's up most every night of the school year 'til 10 or 11 grading their essays). She's rarely home before seven, even though school's out at three. Many of her colleagues are still there when she leaves.

I'm sure that neither of you would disagree that there are thousands upon thousands of great teachers. I've met dozens. I've actually been quite surprised that whenever I attend some school-teacher event with my wife, they talk nothing but shop. No, they don't talk about the union, their benefits, how the district is in their shit all the time, or  their commie politics. They talk about the kids--by name. They are, in fact, among the very most dedicated people to a task that I have ever encountered in my life. I was and continue to be surprised and impressed. Facts, getting in the way of what I'd believed for years. It's just a fact, guys. It may be different elsewhere, but that's my personal experience without the slightest exception over ten years.

So I've pondered this a lot, spoken and argued with Bea a million times, and tried to instigate arguments with her colleagues. Here's what I know: the buck-stops-here responsibility for educating children lies squarely and non-transferably with parents or guardians. End of story. Now, I agree that the state should not be funding schools, or a million other things they do with the money they steal from you and I under threat of imprisonment. However, that doesn't mean that I need to consider the schools any worse or ominous than any other government program. And, if the schools do a generally good job, then that's independent of the fact that they do it with stolen money, which is a given.

Most of the criticism I hear of the public schools is generated by the political right. Why? There's only one reason: because the schools generally refuse to teach their children the collection of fairy tales that they would like them to be taught. Moreover, they don't want such fairy tales contradicted with things like facts and reason and science. So, though I oppose public schools on principal, I'm not about to have anything to do about it with the nutbars on the religious right and am going to generally discount everything they say until provided with solid evidence.

But Johnny can't read, they say. Yes, it's true in many cases, but the blame is often placed where it doesn't belong. Every teacher I've ever spoken with about this issue will tell you that their abilities are severely limited. They are not miracle workers, and if the parents don't support and back them up, then results may vary substantially. I don't know how many 5th graders my wife has received in her class that were new immigrants from Mexico or Viet Nam who not only don't speak a word of English, but are illiterate in their own languages. In many cases, parents too. Not to be daunted, Bea jumps right in and the progress she achieves in nine months with these kids is a near miracle. I've seen it. From zero to reading and speaking on a 3rd to 5th grade level in 9 months.

Teachers will tell you that their biggest problem is almost never the kids. "The kids are great," I hear over and over. It's the parents. In addition to the foregoing paragraph, you also have parents who consider the school nothing more than a baby-sitting service, and worse, those who undermine the legitimate authority of the teacher and the school, i.e., issuing scholastic assignments and grading the results. Give a kid a deserved bad grade and you're likely to have mom or dad right down your throat. Happens over and over, and what's the real lesson being taught to Johnny?

I could go on...and on.

But basically, the root problem is not with the public schools, and eliminating them, though desirable, would solve nothing for individualists. Statist indoctrination? Well, the state is just another form of authoritarian institution. The only valid authoritarian institution is the family, when kids are too ignorant to know better and must be forced to comply with certain norms (rational) of behavior. But parents don't teach their kids to be independent individualists, do they? No, they teach them to believe in a fairy tale, teach them to obey ancient idiocies written in an ancient book, teach them to unquestioningly obey men in "authority" who wear robes in the pulpit and on the bench, and it just goes on and on. In short, they teach them not to think, by which I mean: think only so far. No further, ever!

The indoctrination of people into humanoid bots began back when the first person looked to the heavens, created a fairy tale out of of whole cloth, and asserted himself to be the source of true knowledge. Understandable as that is, we don't seem to have progressed one bit in all these millennia. Our parents were taught, and then they taught us to be unquestioning idiots, to take things on faith alone, and to respect and obey those who assert authority over us.

The public schools reinforce all of this, of course, but so does everyone and every institution.

We give the public schools too much credit. Parents have far more influence. What's worse, a lesson in public school about how you should be a "good citizen" and recycle, or a dad who routinely disrespects other's property by various forms of trespass and littering? What's worse, a lesson in public school about "sensitivity," or a dad who smacks mom around and cheats on her? What's worse, a civics or "social studies" lesson in school, or a mom and dad who malign and denigrate daily the companies they work for and those who created those companies? What's worse, a lesson in school about some "great" politician (who steals and lies such as all), or a mom & dad who talk endlessly about the next government program that's coming around the corner that's supposed to make all of their lives better?

If public schools were at the root of all of this mess, then we should expect to see differences in the many thousands of products of private school and private universities. We don't. They're just as ignorant as the products of the public schools, many of them holding offices in the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the federal government, and in our statehouses. The only thing private institutions seem to do is perhaps create more effective and lethal statist elites.

The problem with the state is the problem with all of it. People are supposed to become independent and think for themselves. But to date, that's only done up to a certain level by most people, and the church and the state take advantage from there.

OK, have at me.

Cosmic Corruption

Of the millions of ways the government missuses, squanders, wastes money, the space program is one of those things I generally just shut up about. Yes, it's all the same theft--parasites sucking money from you and me in order to finance their values--but there are a million ways in which the state does harm beyond even the fact of the theft, and it's not obvious to me that the space program is one of those. So I give it a pass.

But perhaps no more.

The thing about the aviation and space business is that it's very serious business. While a bunch of dolts in DC and the statehouses have no compunction about sticking their noses in all manner of affairs they know nothing about--like how a business should be run--they have tended to leave the business of aviation design and space exploration to people who are actually experts in the field, like engineers, pilots, astronauts and such. Imagine that!

Now this:

NASA engineers had already seen how fixes can break things. After they made a minor change in the foam application process in the late 1990's to comply with environmental rules, small divots of foam rained off of the tank during ascent. The phenomenon, called popcorning, was caused by trapped bubbles; NASA solved the problem by venting the foam with tiny holes, but it was a reminder, if any was needed, that seemingly small changes could have profound effects.

"Foam really is complicated," said Douglas D. Osheroff, a professor of physics at Stanford and a member of the board that investigated the Columbia accident. "Once you go supersonic, the top surface melts, the bottom surface is brittle as all hell because it's very cold, and you've got everything in between."

Although the material could be made less fragile by adding fibers to the foam, he noted, "that adds weight" to the shuttle, and any changes can take years.

Ultimately, the accident board recommended that NASA find ways to prevent any shedding of foam or other debris. And NASA gained confidence during the time between flights that it was making progress.

Among other things, it improved the training processes for applying foam by hand. At the Michoud tank assembly plant in Louisiana, an observer monitors every worker spraying foam - "for every sprayer there's a watcher, a second pair of eyes," said June Malone, a NASA spokeswoman.

But the tank that flew with the Discovery last week was made before the new procedures went into effect, and NASA stopped short of requiring that the ramps be redone, said a spokesman, Martin J. Jensen.

[emphasis mine]

So now the popes, cardinals, bishops and priests of environmental hysteria get to have a say in the design of spacecraft? And now, even in the face of good evidence that complying with these environmental rules by formulating a foam that does not contain the dreaded freon is the very root cause of the Columbia meltdown, they fail to address that root cause? They just throw more money, more people, and more bureaucracy at it, so now it's virtually indistinguishable from any other sort of government boondoggle.

Well, perhaps Rutan and Branson will get it right. See the first three articles.

He also said that test program would put more people into space than have flown there in the last 44 years of spaceflight. Forty-four years, which have so far yielded fatalities for each 62 flights, according to Rutan. It's the result of ground-launch methodology that among other things places people "on top of a one kiloton bomb," according to Virgin Galactic's Whitehorn. Part of the plan is to exponentially surpass that safety record.

There She Goes

Well, signs went up today on our beautiful home in Willow Glen. See here.

It's tough. It was a dump with promising features when Bea & I purchased it in January of 1999 and I met the Realtor to pick up the keys with a crowbar in hand to knock out a kitchen / dining room wall to create a great room. My brother and & set beams and a column the next day, and then I began tearing out the carpet covering the white oak hardwood floors throughout. Since then, I've spent countless hours (hundreds and hundreds) myself, and supervised many tradesmen on improvements.

I'll throw up some photos of the interior and the back yard this weekend, perhaps.

We're actually downsizing. We bought one of these, last weekend.

Update: Here's a listing with additional photos that can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Is The American Dream Killing You?

Not me, it isn't. Then again, the American Dream, to me, is about the freedom to pursue things I love. It's not about material wealth, per se. And, to the extent it is about wealth, it's far more about the process of creating it than actually having it.

Anyway, the guy who's been pretty much my best friend since we met as Navy officers in 1988 is just on the verge of having his second book published. During the year he was writing it, which ended nearly a year ago already, we exchanged hundreds of emails, all of them addressing serious aspects of philosophy, politics, and science.

He makes some interesting points, but I don't think he's an individualist. I'll wait to read his final word on it.

His first book was an entertaining read. I recommend it.

“Only” 365

That's miles, not days in the year.

It's how many miles my friend Davis Straub (author of the "Windows [...] Secrets" series of books) flew in a hang-glider on Tuesday--half way across the state of Texas. This isn't him (another friend), but it's the same wing (ATOS VR) and how he'd be looking in flight gear.

It's "only" 365 because he flew 427 miles in 2001 from the same place.

Go read his flight report.

…Javelin On The Move

Once considered by some to be a sleeper, at best, in the VLJ market, Aviation Technology Group's Javelin, a fighter-like two-place twinjet, has been piling up orders as it gets its prototype ready for its first flight. The company has also hired veteran Cessna exec Charlie Johnson as chief operating officer to guide the project through certification. Johnson took 20 Cessnas through the process and told a news conference on Tuesday he's excited about the prospects for the plane. More than 100 deposits have been received from individuals who'd like a $2.8 million, 600 mph jet that climbs at 10,000 feet per minute. But the military-style performance hasn't gone unnoticed elsewhere. At least one unnamed European country has ordered eight military training versions of the Javelin at a cost of $5.5 million a copy. The extra money covers ejection seats, military radios and electronics, including head up display. The prototype of the all-composite jet has been taxied as fast as 100 mph but the first flight won't be launched for six to eight weeks while the nose gear is redesigned to get rid of a shimmy.

(Source: Avweb)

VDH: Cutting Through the Bullshit

If you only read one person regarding geopolitical affairs in the age of Islamic terror, make it war historian Victor Davis Hanson.

See, history is a very complex subject, and in that, nearly everyone possesses a certain myopia. All the facts are there--they really are--to be connected into what forms a pretty clear picture.

Here are some excerpts from VDH's most recent:

First the terrorists of the Middle East went after the Israelis. From 1967 we witnessed 40 years of bombers, child murdering, airline hijacking, suicide murdering, and gratuitous shooting. We in the West usually cried crocodile tears, and then came up with all sorts of reasons to allow such Middle Eastern killers a pass.

Yasser Arafat, replete with holster and rants at the U.N., had become a “moderate” and was thus free to steal millions of his good-behavior money. If Hamas got European cash, it would become reasonable, ostracize its “military wing,” and cease its lynching and vigilantism.

When some tried to explain that Wars 1-3 (1947, 1956, 1967) had nothing to do with the West Bank, such bothersome details fell on deaf ears.

When it was pointed out that Germans were not blowing up Poles to get back lost parts of East Prussia nor were Tibetans sending suicide bombers into Chinese cities to recover their country, such analogies were caricatured.

When the call for a “Right of Return” was making the rounds, few cared to listen that over a half-million forgotten Jews had been cleansed from Syria, Iraq, and Egypt, and lost billions in property.

When the U.N. and the EU talked about “refugee camps,” none asked why for a half-century the Arab world could not build decent housing for its victimized brethren, or why 1 million Arabs voted in Israel, but not one freely in any Arab country.

The security fence became “The Wall,” and evoked slurs that it was analogous to barriers in Korea or Berlin that more often kept people in than out. Few wondered why Arabs who wished to destroy Israel would mind not being able to live or visit Israel.

[...]

But now?

After Holland, Madrid, and London, European operatives go to Israel not to harangue Jews about the West Bank, but to receive tips about preventing suicide bombings. And the cowboy Patriot Act to now-panicked European parliaments perhaps seems not so illiberal after all.

So it is was becoming clear that butchery by radical Muslims in Bali, Darfur, Iraq, the Philippines Thailand, Turkey, Tunisia, and Iraq was not so tied to particular and “understandable” Islamic grievances.

Perhaps the jihadist killing was not over the West Bank or U.S. hegemony after all, but rather symptoms of a global pathology of young male Islamic radicals blaming all others for their own self-inflicted miseries, convinced that attacks on the infidel would win political concessions, restore pride, and prove to Israelis, Europeans, Americans — and about everybody else on the globe — that Middle Eastern warriors were full of confidence and pride after all.

Meanwhile an odd thing happened. It turns out that the jihadists were cowards and bullies, and thus selective in their targets of hatred. A billion Chinese were left alone by radical Islam — even though the Chinese were secularists and mostly godless, as well as ruthless to their own Uighur Muslim minorities. Had bin Laden issued a fatwa against Beijing and slammed an airliner into a skyscraper in Shanghai, there is no telling what a nuclear China might have done.

India too got mostly a pass, other than the occasional murdering by Pakistani zealots. Yet India makes no effort to apologize to Muslims. When extremists occasionally riot and kill, they usually cease quickly before the response of a much more unpredictable angry populace.

What can we learn from all this?

You'll want to go read the whole thing.

For my part, it has always seemed rather obvious that the root problem is to be found in the insane religious ideology held by these people (and I don't just mean the radicals). For one, it ought to give anyone pause to consider the nearly unlimited power of dogma, cleverly utilized. You can literally convince people that blowing themselves up to kill children that have done them no harm is the highest form of virtue to which their life might ascend. Ponder that. Then, be mightily skeptical of anyone, anywhere who tells you that he (somehow), and he alone (somehow), has answers for you from on high. 'Course they're all full of shit, en masse, and that includes the Christians and Jews, not just Muslims.

...It just occurred to me that perhaps this is a feature of monotheism. In polytheistic societies, there may exist more acceptance of competing ideologies. Of course, it's all bullshit anyway, but perhaps the many-god scenario is less volatile, and 'God knows' we could certainly do with that until such time as society grows out of the need for supernatural pacifiers. Oh, well, just thinking out loud.

Another guy worthy of reading regularly, Christopher Hitchens, had this to say, as reported in the New Statesman. I can only honestly say that I agree fully and completely with that sentiment, top to bottom.

Most NS readers are likely to agree that Hitchens opted for the wrong side after 9/11. (Which is not to say that all his arguments on the subject were wrong.) How did this happen? In an interview, he admitted to "a feeling of exhilaration" that September day: "Here we are then . . . in a war to the finish between everything I love and everything I hate." What he loves most is the idea of America, and particularly of New York, "the magnetic compass point of my life". What he hates most - a "cold, steady hatred . . . as sustaining to me as any love" - is religion, "the most base and contemptible of the forms assumed by human egotism and stupidity".

Flight Report

Well, as I'd mentioned in my last report:

Monday, we're taking out the much faster Cessna 172 for a longer cross country to the northeast. RHV to RIU; on to CPU; then a 10 mile detour to overfly my cabin in Arnold; on to O22; then E45; on to MOD; and than back home.

This was last Monday when I, my instructor Jim, and my wife Bea all piled into the C172. Started from Reid-Hillview in San Jose, CA, NE about 75 miles to Rancho Murieta, just a few miles SE of Sacramento, CA. Then it was SE about 30 miles to Calaveras County airport, midway between San Andreas and Angels Camp on the famous Highway 49 (think 49ers, i.e., 1849). Then we flew due east into the mountains about 10 miles, past Murphys and on up to Arnold to overfly our mountain cabin at 4,500 ft. elevation. It's difficult to spot anything when overflying pine trees, and that "other" golf course faking me out didn't help, either. But without even having to do a search pattern, we found Arnold and the cabin easily enough.

As soon as we'd spotted it, we headed SW 10 miles to Columbia airport. Quick turnaround and we were off, another 20 miles or so south to Pine Mountain Lake. What I didn't know is that this is one of those flying communities. Nice houses with airplane hangers for garages line the taxiways. Some unbelievable airplanes, too. Also a very challenging place to land (and takeoff), as it sits in a bit of a gorge. This means you're staring right at the slope of a mountain (close) on your right downwind, and as you turn on to right base, you're very close to the ground, as it slopes down from there to the runway. As such, you can't be too much lower than the standard glide, and if you freak out and get too high above the glide, that runway begins to look very short. I wasn't comfortable with my first approach, so no shame in going around. Nailed it the second time, even though we were landing at 3,000 ft. elevation at 95 degrees. I calculated density altitude to be about 5,000 ft.

We parked, hoping to grab some lunch in the cafe. Closed Mondays. Well, a rest in the shade with a nice breeze will have to do. One thing about general aviation: these planes don't generally have A/C. It's usually not too problematic to get heat on cold days, even at altitude, but when it gets hot and you're on the tarmac, it can get downright uncivilized.

We load back up, taxi, do a brief run-up, and because we're so high, we lean the mixture out to tune for max RPM. Plus, we have a hill to clear on the climb-out. You want max RPM.

Then it's due west, stopping in Modesto for a bit of fuel. Unlike the others (except Reid), this airport is controlled by a tower and I ask where I can get some gas. He directs me over. Should have checked on prices, cause 20 gallons cost $80. Ouch. I think it's around $3.50 - $3.60 if you shop. On the other hand, this place treated us like royalty. Refreshments, lounge, etc. They also take care of jets that people own, charter them out, etc. They loaded us into a minivan and over to another hanger to check out a Bombardier Challenger they had in. I don't know what they go for on purchase (probably $30 million plus), but you can rent one for only $4,000 per hour (engine running time), plus landing and parking fees at your destination. Actually, if you get 10 people together, you could do a Vegas trip for about what 1st class tickets would cost.

After parting from our excellent hosts, we took off to just about the same western heading, did a 100 mph climb-out to 6,500 ft., which is just enough to clear Mount Hamilton, and then dive down to 2,000 ft. as quickly as possible 'cause we're only 5 miles from Reid (closed throttle, pitched down enough to get 120 mph, 1,500 fpm down). Got clearance for a right base approach and nailed the 3 mile out turn onto final at 2,000 ft., continuing descent to the 1,130 ft. pattern altitude.

Bea, my wife, did great. She didn't complain a bit. The Cessna 172 is a fine airplane, but it's not even close to being as fun and challenging to fly as the Citabria. The flaps add some complexity, but really, just make landing approaches a lot easier to control. At a full 40 deg., they are very effective at establishing a steep descent. Just add a little power to extend the glide angle. You'll notice airliners have power on until they're in ground effect. This is primarily because of flaps.

Also, the 172 is cramped, hotter inside, and the rudders have easily less than half the authority they do on the Citabria. Instructors at my school tell me that certified pilots transitioning from trike gear to taildraggers require an average of 25 hours. I always thought that was a lot. After experiencing how much the rudder is an "afterthought" in these sorts of aircraft, I know why. You can't fly an average taildragger safely without being very accomplished on the rudder.

Update: Other than that, it was nice to get back into the Citabria today. Jim, my instructor, is in Hawaii so I'm on my own for a bit. Three go-rounds in the patters, then out to the practice area for some stalls. Found that I could not stall this particular 7ECA with a slow pitch up to full aft stick with as little as 2200 RPM. Very, very comforting. This means that with application of full power, you can climb yourself (if you know how to use the rudders!) out of just about any sort of shit.

You Can’t Legislate Value

I've run an email discussion list for many years for people and businesses within the industry I work, which is the voluntary and mutual settlement of unsecured debts in hardship situations (think of it as a bankruptcy alternative).

What follows is a post from this morning, and my response.

...wouldn't it be nice if we could get a law on the books where:

...If a creditor has a client in a particular state, then that creditor is FORCED to deal with the debt settlement company on behalf of the customer.   i.e., Citibank, MBNA, Bank of America would be forced to deal with us if the client so chooses.  I believe this is the level of law that we should be trying to push.

Be careful what you ask for.

I know it's tempting to use the omnipotent power of the state to "FORCE" creditors to deal with you, but I'd never support such an immoral abrogation of the freedom of association (and, I, unlike the "Supreme" Court, don't make meaningless, logically untenable distinctions between the rights of individuals and the rights of individuals organized into entities like proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations).

Moreover, I believe it's an impractical measure that's more likely to cause resentment than anything else. While the state can make Citibank give you the time of day, it can't make them respect you or find any value in what you do. It's up to you to produce that value.

See, the state can destroy any life or property it wishes, with or without reason, but it's wholly incapable of producing, creating a single genuine value in the world. It can only take (steal) the values produced by individuals and businesses, transfer them to someone else, and fake as though they are producing values. In reality, they are parasites: top-to-bottom and wall-to-wall.

So, ultimately, there's no getting around persuading creditors that settlement is in their best interest.

Complete Silliness

That's me, right here:

Photo_072005_001

Yea, always wanted to try the multiple monitors on a single computer thing, so when we recently downsized the sales team a bit, we had some extras. Setup is easy with Win XP. My existing video card had both DVI and VGA outputs, and the Sony in the center uses DVI. So, just popped in a second VGA card and we're done. I took the picture with my Treo 650 phone so pic quality isn't super great. But, after the Blackberry, the HP Compaq/Smart Phone, and last, the Siemens Pocket PC/Smart Phone, the Treo is all-around by far, far, far the best.

Still figuring out how to make best use of the monitors. Initially, I had my browser open to the left, Outlook in the center, and Outlook's calendar opened in a second window off to the right. Now, I'm experimenting with keeping what I'm actually working on front & center, and moving whatever else I want to keep in view off to either side.

I love being silly, especially to "excess."

Ponderables

Greg Swann makes some nice comments with regard to my pursuit of a pilot certificate.

Then, in what might be too esoteric a discussion for some (but doesn't bother me), he suggests that the way airspace has been allocated constitutes a theft (broadcasting, too).

I'm not sure I would go that far, at least as a general statement. For instance, while it's clear that buzzing someone's house, or flying only a few hundred feet above is an usurpation of their property (not to mention peace of mind), how about at 39,000 feet, where you'll be hard pressed to even have any idea whether the airplane is actually flying through the imaginary space of your property extending vertically? And if that's usurpation, then where does it end? How about satellites orbiting earth? Well, they aren't in the air. Yea, but you can't own the air (otherwise, the wind and convection currents would be in a constant state of transferring property between everyone). you can potentially only own the space, so why wouldn't it extend past the atmosphere? If we're talking space, then limiting the claim to the atmospheric boundary (which is not a discreet demarcation, by the way) makes the claim arbitrary.

How about 1,000 feet? 5,000 feet? 10,000? Who knows?

But it seems obvious to me that, in a society based solely on consent, with zero resorts to force to resolve disputes, Richard's available airspace would would be much circumscribed. And broadcasting would not exist at all...

And that's really the essence of this whole thing. Whether my airspace would be more circumscribed than it already is (which is substantial, by the way), or whether broadcasting would or would not exist is really not the point. Force is the point. The state is the agent of that force. So, when some people want something, they get a bunch of other people together and lobby government to give it to them--by force. If there was no force involved, then, of course, there would be no "reason" to employ the state. You'd simply persuade others to cooperate with you in a manner that you will hopefully demonstrate causes no damage or significant risk to them (both of which could be mitigated by insurance), or, even better, is a mutual benefit.

But, usually, people employ the state, because:

  1. They don't want to bear the full costs and risks of their "project"; and/or,
  2. Their "project" actually harms others in meaningful ways, so their cooperation can't be secured voluntarily. As such you "need" the state to force them into submission (with death being the penalty for unyielding defiance).

But initiation-of-force theory has its limitations, too. How about when I yell into the house, "sweets, can you bring me the BBQ sauce?" and the noise disturbs my neighbors? I've sent sound-waves into their environment and usurped their peace. How about when I walk outside at night, hit the switch and send photons of light darting across their space at 186,000 miles per second?

So, clearly, there are categories of technical force-initiation that we all more or less find acceptable as social beings living amongst other people. We all deem the minor inconveniences or annoyances to be insufficient to keep us from living in close proximity to one-another where the overall benefits are clear and substantial.

I think this all can be relatively easily worked out under the longstanding principle of easement, which predates the state. Nowadays, easements are agreements that make up parts of property deeds that are filed with the county (or equivalent state agency in other countries). But before the state, people worked this all out by themselves in various ways. Had broadcasting and flight been invented prior to the modern state, I'm quite certain that the principle of easement would have come into play and everyone would have worked things out.

As it is, there was no such opportunity. Far easier to simply gather compliance via force.

Oops; Let One Slip

"It comes down to them being defiant," Reynolds said.

Indeed. So it's not really about "health," presumed rights of non-smokers, "second-hand smoke," or any of those other manipulative lies ginned up for the consumption of morons (most people). As concerns the state, it always comes down to compliance and defiance. Compliance makes you a good citizen; defiance, an enemy of the state.

Now, how long have I been telling you that the state is about nothing but maintaining the power to steal from you in order to finance favor with the masses? Getting in the way of that makes you defiant, and being defiant of the state typically works in the state's favor. The morons who live their lives as subjects of the state (most people), resent those who refuse to kiss ass cheerfully. Subjects, just like spectators at state lynchings, cheer when the state does its business. Justice has not nearly so much to do with it as does the demonstration of power. People always cheer the dominant.

In short, if these good people persist, they will loose their business, that little restaurant that customers have been happily frequenting for years. In fact, they ultimately have to back down, because if they don't, if they continue to defy, every step of the way, then the final step is their execution.

Do you understand that? There is one single penalty for unyielding defiance of the state, and the particular act of defiance is immaterial. You can get a ticket for jaywalking, and if you decide to defy the state to the very end, and I mean unyielding defiance to the very end, you will ultimately pay with your life.

Does such realization not give you pause?

(link: Balko)

Flying and More Flying

Well, I was half a page into this entry, got up to get something, came back and it was gone. Vanished. No damn idea what happened. One day I'll learn never to get significantly into something without always saving--no exceptions.

Well, that sapped much of my enthusiasm for it. I was relating that at last report, I was to be headed out with the chief pilot/instructor to get cleared to venture out on my own, farther than the local traffic pattern. Mission accomplished.

It was tough, though. Len is an old-time, very experienced pilot (type rating in all business jets from Lear to Gulfstream, many hours in all sorts of old biplanes, and even used to fly a Ford Tri-Motor). The task was to put the Citabria is every sort of bizarre attitude and have me recover. We're talking skating the edge of aerobatic maneuvers. From time-to-time, he'd say, "well, I could have you do [blank] too, but that would require us to be wearing parachutes." These maneuvers came over and over, in quick succession. 60 deg. pitch ups and downs, 90 deg. banks, sometimes with the lower wing stalled, and sometimes in a severe pitch up with the upper wing stalled. He wanted me to recover wings level, minimum altitude loss, airspeed staying in the green, no over-speeding the prop, and (especially) no significant deviation from original heading. That's the great big tough one, because when wings are banked, especially at 90 deg. the airplane is wanting to turn.

Oh, one more thing. Not allowed to use aileron. Of course, in a stalled situation, ailerons almost always make things worse. Taildraggers have great rudder authority and it's the last control surface that quits working when airplanes quit flying. Use it. Didn't know that you could recover to wings level from a 90 deg. bank using only the rudder. I do now.

Anyway, now It's cross country time. Yesterday, we headed out from Reid-Hillview (RHV), requesting clearance to cross the San Jose class C airspace. Got the proper code to squawk and then got tuned over to SJC tower. They have me pass over the airport at 1500 MSL and unfortunately, no big commercial jets taking off or landing at the time. Goodyear did have one of their blimps out, though , and we passed within about a mile. The destination was Half Moon Bay (HAF), 40 NM to the northwest. But once we got turned over to Moffett Field control, released to go on our merry way, and got to the coastal range, it was socked in with onshore flow between there and the Bay. We had intended to land there and then take the coast down south.

So, we turned south along the coastal range and headed the 20 NM (est. as we're now off our plan) or so to Watsonville (WVI). Along the way, guess who we pass to our left? Yep, Mr. Goodyear who appears to be heading southwest. Watsonville is a non-controlled field and it was moderately busy with local traffic. At non-controlled airfields, the aircraft all get on the same frequency and essentially coordinate with one another. We landed to a full stop, then took off again. Left traffic. Just as we depart the pattern and get on a SE heading for Salinas (SNS) at 22 NM, guess who?  Mr. Goodyear again. We pull a 360 and then cross his port quarter. A basic ship maneuver, there.

Speaking of ships, did I mention that it took me only about 30 minutes to plan this trip (and we're not done yet)? I'm a trained ship's navigator. It's all the same. Winds? Analogous to corrections for ocean currents. Airports, approach and taxi procedures, airspace, frequencies, etc? All analogous to entering and leaving a commercial port; small and large, quiet and busy.

Salinas is controlled, so I check in with the tower and get my directions. On short final, all is going well, wind straight in, and I figure I'm going to smoke the landing. Only, just as I'm rounding out, I'm suddenly moving laterally across the runway to the left at a pretty good clip. I was a little late on getting the right wing down, but salvaged the landing nonetheless. Not one of my better.

Next, we're off to the NE. It's 20 miles over to Hollister (3O7). Another uncontrolled field. Lot's of collectors. Several P-51s, numerous '20s vintage biplanes, etc. They have a great little cafe, so Jim and I shut down and grab a bite. While we're refreshing, we decide to deviate from the plan (again). We're going to head back to homebase, 40 NM to the NW, but about 5 miles out, there's a private field open to the public. Frazier Lake Airpark (1C9). It's a grass field. Ever landed a taildragger on the grass? Oh, yea. It's fun. So fun, in fact, that I did my first soft-field takeoff and then brought 'er 'round again for another one. Rather than bring up the tail in the takeoff roll, you leave it down, takeoff nearly stalled (40-45 mph), and then slowly nurse the stick forward to pick up airspeed. It's really quite straightforward. Not nearly so difficult as it sounds.

Tomorrow we're doing some soft field and short field takeoff and landing practice.

Monday, we're taking out the much faster Cessna 172 for a longer cross country to the northeast. RHV to RIU; on to CPU; then a 10 mile detour to overfly my cabin in Arnold; on to O22; then E45; on to MOD; and than back home.

Anyone doubt I'm having fun?

Judgment, On Your Own Terms

I was going to blog Kyle Bennett's very good piece (read it all), but then Billy Beck went and beat me to it. Unfortunately, I have nothing to add that would imply greater implications than they've already done.

But I'll try and sum it up. Both post are really essential for anyone to read and grasp who believes themselves to be an individualist. Bluntly, if you can't bring yourself to agree with Billy's take on this, then you may very well be a fabulous human being, one that I might generally be delighted to know, but you're no individualist.

An individualist would never, ever, substitute another's judgment for his own (be it an individual, or a whole great big "government"), either in condemning a person, or in deciding when, where, and under what circumstances to grant clemency.

All proper justice is rendered by individuals or organizations comprised of freely associating individuals, one single person or such organization at a time. There is no other genuine (i.e., in accord with reality) justice in existence, and there never has been. State "justice" is merely a tool of submission, and the fact that they sometimes get it "right" is merely an accident of consequence, if that.

Stealing and Lying

So it's about 11:30 p.m. last night, I'm reading and studying at home when my computer suddenly barks that MS Outlook has lost its connection to Exchange Server (down at the office). I check my Internet connection at home (fine), then try to hit my desktop at work, then two of the servers via Remote Desktop (no joy), so either something's amiss on our server rack, the router has a problem, or the T1 (data) is down. So I think.

I call up my IT manager and we decide to meet at the office. It's midnight. When we get there, nothing appears wrong. The internal network is fine. We just can't get out. We figure it's the T1, we call Covad, and they can send an OpCenter tech right over, or, we can wait until morning for a field tech. We'll wait.

In preps for the tech the next morning, my IT manager opens the door to the central phone/data room in the building. Guess what? Someone has simply stripped the wires off the T1 jack, pulled it off the wall, and hooked it up to their phones. Turns out a new company was moving into the building last night (confirmed by the property manager). When the Covad tech comes out, he quickly confirms that the jack is hooked into the phone lines of this same company that was moving in.

Property manager calls them to confront them (they are not in their offices, 'cause I already tried to confront them myself), and they lie.

My Controller/GM is currently itemizing our losses between 8-11am when I had at least 20 of my employees twiddling their thumbs. The bill will easily exceed $5,000 and I'll be presenting it to my new neighbors as soon as I possibly can.

Keys to the Kingdom

Today I completed my 3rd observed solo (1st one reported here). These solos are observed by the instructor on the tarmac and consist of three takeoffs, climb out in the pattern, and landings. It's not an FAA requirement to do three solos, just a requirement of the school. In aviation, it's not uncommon for training organizations or FBOs to have more stringent requirements for their students and customers than government regulations call for. This is sometimes due to their own sense of safety and sometimes due to business (insurance) constraints. At any rate, I'm used to it. Hang-gliding is virtually unregulated, but our safety procedures and record have great depth in near complete absence of government intervention.

That topic is worthy of its own post if ever I get around to it.

So, now I can go take the keys any time I want (provided acceptable weather conditions hold, which is way most of the time) and go fly the pattern, to practice pattern work. Tomorrow morning, I get to go out with Len von Clemm. He's the first instructor in this list (Chief Pilot). More than 20,000 hours. They tell me he's picky. I guess he has every right to be. I'd be a fool not to try and learn as much as I can. Jim Grant, also on the list, has been my instructor so far. He's leaving for Hawaii in a couple of weeks for a month, so I'll be finishing up my training with Len from then on.

We're going to go out and go some air work: emergency procedures, stalls and such. If I pass his judgment, then I'll get to venture out away from the airport on my own.

Apologists for Truth

I sure hate to see apologetic stuff like this on a libertarian blog.

A court in Georgia required the removal from public school science textbooks of stickers warning that evolution is a theory to be critically examined, not a fact (see here). The sticker didn’t say evolution didn’t happen; merely that no one could be certain that it did, which is a pretty accurate claim.

Now, I don't much care or get worked up about what one part of the state requires another to do. But to characterize it as "a pretty accurate claim?"

How about these equally ridiculous and ignorant (especially ignorant, to the point of utter stupidity) pretty accurate claims:

- A court in Georgia required the removal from public school science textbooks of stickers warning that relativity is a theory to be critically examined, not a fact.

- A court in Georgia required the removal from public school science textbooks of stickers warning that gravity is a theory to be critically examined, not a fact.

- A court in Georgia required the removal from public school science textbooks of stickers warning that atomic structure is a theory to be critically examined, not a fact.

- A court in Georgia required the removal from public school science textbooks of stickers warning that the speed of light is a theory to be critically examined, not a fact.

And so on... Ridiculous, huh? You know, I've been hearing this "it's just a theory" bromide now since I was a youngster. It was stupid then, and even more stupid now. It merely serves to expose the utter ignorance people have about the scientific method, in general.

Go ahead and read some of the comments to the post I cited above, which do far better than I at dispelling these sorts of misunderstandings.

In conclusion, there is absolutely no serious question whatsoever about the fact of evolution (in history and continuing, observably). There have not been any serious questions for some time. The questions that are raised are designed for the exclusive appeal and consumption of scientific ignoramuses, or those so blinded by obedience to faith that they're skeptical of anything not found in their ancient texts or spoon fed them by some self-proclaimed authority or guru.

Most of this "missing link" and "transitional form" crapola has been solved for many years now. While there are questions about evolution that still need answering, there are questions about relativity and gravity that still need answering. Science is a never-ending quest.

Science, unlike religion does not have the luxury of having all knowledge written down in an ancient text 2,000 years ago. But go ahead. Have at it. Put faith and that ancient text ahead of observable science and fact and live a generally uncompetitive and unsatisfying life of disappointment and despair.

Oh, by the way, does anyone watch Penn & Teller's BULLSHIT! program on Showtime? If you don't, do, or TiVo it. They take on every sort of whacked-out notion like this: from talking with the dead, to enviro-whack-jobs, to creation "scientists." They're not apologetic. Bullshit is bullshit. Assholes are assholes. Fuck-heads are fuck-heads. Simple.

It was hilarious the other night. They made Duane Gish sound like a moron. Actually, he did that all by himself. They just let him talk. Last night, they were at some eco-march in DC. Every person they talked to was a moron. They circulated a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide (water) and got hundreds of signatures. In fact, not a single person turned them down.

Well, enough rambling on for now. I'll get back to heaping scorn and ridicule on morons and idiots (most people) soon enough.

Individualism and Consequences

The first and most fundamental step to becoming an individualist is to demand of yourself and others that they live with the consequences of their own choices in life.

This is why the world has so few individualists. Anti-individualism permeates every facet of society: culture, politics, families. Only in bottom-line business do you find individualism with any degree of frequency, and even then it's rare. It's rare in small businesses and virtually non-existent in large ones.

And it's at the root of all problems.

Radley Balko has a good critique of that load of BS they're calling Live 8. Read it and see what I'm talking about. And note: when you demand that the risks of the potential downside consequences of your choices be born by someone else, you're not just affecting them. By making those risks unprofitable for anyone without your clout at getting others to bear them, you're also harming others who just might profit and prosper from undertaking those risks head on and coming out on top.

As I said, I look around and I almost never see an individualists, anymore.

Celebrate Life, Not the 4th

I could quibble with items such as the authority of a Constitution and the conflating of rational defense with world policing, but on the whole, Harry Browne's 4th of July message is right on. And, so, on this day, like every day, I try to celebrate my life and what's possible in spite of every conceivable barrier standing in my way, wasting my time, my money, my life--for no other reason than to grant unearned power, prestige, and livelihoods to a class of parasites of the state who purport to run things. I curse them all.

Uncelebrating the Fourth

by Harry Browne

Unfortunately, July 4th has become a day of deceit.

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress formally declared its independence from Great Britain. Thirteen years later, after a difficult war to secure that independence, the new country was open for business.

It was truly unique -- the first nation in all of history in which the individual was considered more important than the government, and the government was tied down by a written Constitution.

It was the one nation where you could live your life secure in the knowledge that no one would ask for your papers, where you weren't identified by a number, and where the government wouldn't extort a percentage of your income as the price of holding a job.

And so each year July 4th has been a commemoration of the freest country in history.

False Celebration

But the America that's celebrated no longer exists.

The holiday oratory deceitfully describes America as though it were the unique land of liberty that once was. Politicians thank the Almighty for conferring the blessings of liberty on a country that no longer enjoys those blessings. The original freedom and security have disappeared -- even though the oratory lingers on.

What made America unique is now gone, and we are much the same as Germany, France, England, or Spain, with:

- confiscatory taxes,

- a Constitution and Bill of Rights that are symbolic only -- merely documents used to justify governmental actions that are in fact prohibited by those documents,

- business regulated by the state in the most minute detail,

- no limits on what Congress or the President might decide to do.

Yes, there are some freedoms left, but nothing like the America that was -- and nothing that you can't find in a few dozen other countries.

The Empire

Gone, too, is the sense of peace and security that once reigned throughout the land. America -- bound by two huge oceans and two friendly neighbors -- was subject to none of the never-ending wars and destruction that plagued Europe and Asia.

Now, however, everyone's business is America's business. Our Presidents consider themselves the rulers of the world -- deciding who may govern any country on earth and sending Americans to die enforcing those decisions.

Whereas America was once an inspiration to the entire world -- its very existence was proof that peace and liberty really were possible
-- Americans now live in fear of the rest of the world and the rest of the world lives in fear of America.

The Future

Because the education of our children was turned over to government in the 19th century, generations of Americans have been taught that freedom means taxes, regulations, civic duty, and responsibility for the whole world. They have no conception of the better life that could exist in a society in which government doesn't manage health care, education, welfare, and business -- and in which individuals are free to plot their own destinies.

Human beings are born with the desire to make their own decisions and control their own lives. But in most countries government and social pressures work to teach people to expect very little autonomy.

Fortunately, in America a remnant has kept alive the ideas of liberty, peace, and self-respect -- passing the concepts on from generation to generation. And so today millions of Americans know that the present system isn't the right system -- that human beings aren't born to serve the state and police the world.

Millions more would be receptive upon being shown that it's possible to have better lives than what they're living now.

Both groups need encouragement to quit supporting those who are taking freedom away from them.

You and I may not have the money and influence to change America by ourselves, but we can keep spreading the word -- describing a better society in which individuals are truly free and government is in chains (instead of the opposite).

And someday we may reach the people who do have the money and influence to persuade tens of millions of Americans to change our country for the better.

I don't know that it's going to happen, but I do know it's possible. I know that the urge to live one's own life is as basic in human beings as the will to live and the desire to procreate. If we keep plugging away, we may eventually tap into that urge and rally the forces necessary to restore the real America.

And then the 4th of July will be worth celebrating again.

Du-uh!

"Compassionate conservatism" has been a disaster for those of us who love liberty. In the first term, it brought us a new Medicare prescription drug plan, steel tariffs, farm subsidies, LBJ-era domestic spending rates, No Child Left Behind, and campaign finance reform. In the last six months, conservatives have been treated to a gargantuan federal highway bill, a federal ban on medical marijuana use, a proposal to raise Social Security taxes, an amnesty plan for illegal aliens, a Constitutional amendment to ban flag burning (I can’t walk down a street anymore without seeing flames!), and a total cave-in on conservative judges. And, as a bonus, we got new dietary guidelines from the Department of Agriculture!

[...]

Since 1964, conservatives have been working to seize the Republican Party from the Rockefeller-types so that we could reorder policy priorities toward those that promote the maximum liberty for our countrymen. Now, in 2005, the Republicans control everything — we have a Republican president, a Republican House, and a Republican Senate. And yet, not a single conservative agenda item is being advanced. Why should conservatives work for this party anymore? What is the point?

Joe Sabia, bitchslapping his Republican brethren.

Haven't I been saying this? Over and over? This is a great lesson for those too young or too politically unaware to have seen this sort of thing before. Listen up: democracy never gets you what you want. The only thing democracy gets anyone is to be elected to something, at which point, job #1 is to be re-elected. That's it. That's all there is to it.

Y'all who go to the booths are simply a bunch of perfectly useful chumps, instruments of election and re-election for those who have no intention in the world of holding some principled line in order to get you what you want at the expense of their next election or their favored status within the Republican power-hierarchy. You're dreaming and self-deluded if you think otherwise.

All you're left with, really, is "non-Democrats." Wow! Yippee! OK, fine, if it's that important to you; but then why invest any time or effort at all? Just ignore all the incessant crap on TV and go to the booths every two years and vote non-Democrat and be done with it.

Don't get me wrong, here. I'm not necessarily lamenting the predicament in which the Republicans find themselves. It serves them right for being so stupid. I don't think they're evil, and I appreciate their sense of values in many ways (Democrats are deeply dishonest to a man, and generally commies comprised of the ignorant or the evil), but the only way I could ever shut up about the Republicans is to see one of them, for once, lay their office and prestige on the line for something they believe is right. Even if I don't agree with the policy position, which is likely, I'll respect the principled stand, and I may even agree with some of the underlying values giving rise to it all, albeit contradicting other values Republicans ought to be holding.

That's what a whole lot of the Republican constituency want. I can feel it. I hear it, daily. It's not going to happen. The present course will continue until the Republicans are fractured, at which point, the Democrats will take over everything and the cycle begins again.

Over and over.

(via Liberty Belles)

Update: Check out this Agitator post along much the same lines.