I Hate to Point This Out, But…

I'm watching a seemingly endless stream of people on Fox News thanking the Almighty for saving them from the fate of death that certainly befell hundreds of others in New Orleans and surrounding areas. I visited New Orleans for the first time just a few short months ago (May, I believe), and was staying at a place dead-center of the French Quarter. The destruction is heartbreaking.

The disaster is just that, I hate to see it, and anything that comes forth from the mouth of anyone involved is certainly understandable, given the dire predicament that so many face. Just as with the Tsunami in southeast Asia over the holidays, I'll send some money -- if for no other reason, as a symbolic gesture that the State does not need to hold a gun to the head of rational and productive people (taxes) to lend a helping hand when the need is so clear and the victims have no hand in their own demise.

However, has anyone asked the question: if the Almighty is mighty enough to save them from such terrible circumstances, is he not mighty enough to prevent the terrible circumstances in the fist place? I mean, isn't it rather like thanking the assailant who shoots you, for dropping you off at the hospital?

As I said a couple of posts down: God is a real asshole. Rational people who believe in His existence ought to be asking themselves why.

Hury, Hury, Hury

SkyTaxi Expands Into Northeast

SkyTaxi, a company aiming to implement NASA's "Small Aircraft Transportation System" concept flying six-seat twin-engine Cessna 414s on-demand from small local airports, is expanding to serve 560 airports in the Northeast. Initial service areas are Ohio, Michigan and the high-traffic corridors through Pennsylvania linking New York and Washington, the company said last week. The Cessnas are flown by two-pilot crews from airports with at least a 3,000-foot runway, and are upgraded to feature the latest safety and navigation equipment, the company says. Passengers can sign up for a seat, arrive at the airport 20 minutes before departure time, and fly direct to rural towns and small cities without all the hassles of airline flying, according to the company's Web site. SkyTaxi is a non-scheduled, on-demand service. Flights are initiated by the first traveler to book. Other travelers can then buy a seat on the flight if it fits their schedule. The company aims to offer fares competitive with regional airlines, and focuses on service to and from communities underserved by commercial airliners. SkyTaxi began operations in 2002 in the Northwest.

(source: AVweb)

Outcompeting God

By all accounts from Genesis, God is really a pretty boring guy, if not actually evil. All that power, and yet all he could muster was cold, hungry, naked savages who died at very early ages, most often by awful diseases. What an asshole! I'd have done one hell of a lot better than that.

Man himself, being far more benevolent and Good, has managed to do what God couldn't or wouldn't by curing lots of those awful diseases that kill children and put adults in early graves. In so doing, man, through his unGodly Goodness, has quadrupled his lifespan. Man: Good. God: a real asshole.

Anyway, because man is good, he continues to strive for progress in accomplishing what God can't, or won't.

(link: Paul)

Yes, But…

That's what I keep hearing in the eminent domain matter. "Yes, but the state's not taking the property, they're paying market value for it."

Yea, right, tell that to Kelo and her co-plaintiffs in the New London case that went all the way to the Supremes. In addition to receiving only year 2000 market value as payment for their homes, the city will also offset that amount by 5 years of back rent they claim is owed for the period of time from the original eminent domain action all while the case was working its way through the state's own marvelously efficient court and legal system. If the owners had rented their homes out during that time, the city is seeking to take all of that money, too. In many cases, owners will get zero for their homes and will be pursued for additional claims by the city.

Here's a good writeup on the matter by McQ. One owner will end up "owing" over $300,000, and the lead plaintiff, Kelo, will "owe" $57,000.

This is what happens when you take on the state, especially when you're right and everyone knows it, making them look so awful. I mean, would you not just hate to be the children of one of these New London creatures? Imagine having to live with such monstrous humanoids for parents?

I won't be surprised if actual violence befalls any of the city officials involved. It's amazing to me that such risk apparently wasn't enough to deter them from this latest outrage. Well, I suppose they weighed that possibility against the benefit of probably never again seeing a real challenge mounted to the use of eminent domain.

The message is clear: challenge the state peacefully, and if you lose, in the state's own court system, you will sorely regret your rebellion. And if we can manage it, you will lose everything you've ever worked for in your life.

Just shut up and be Good Germans, all of you.

Update: Kyle Bennett reminds us of Carl Drega, below. Ever heard of him? Do you know the whole story?

False “Knowledge”

Well, the wife is off at a baby shower. God only knows why women involve themselves in such undertakings, but to each his her own values, I guess.

I've been working on a technical paper involving software features for a new project, but such writing is tedious. I'm racking my brain trying to think of something a bit more interesting to write about. Call it taking a break.

What do you suppose is the absolute fundamental issue at the root of all problems relating to the human condition? Have you ever considered that? To ask it in another way, is there one single common denominator that all individual, group, and societal problems can be traced to?

I'm talking about problems such as poverty, slavery, hunger, chronic unhappiness, systemic crime, premature death, death in general, war, taxation, over-politicization, chronic dishonesty and automatic lying.

Can anyone think of a common cause? Yea, I know, the knee-jerk response is always the same: lack of education. But isn't a prerequisite to problem-solving education some particular subject matter? Thus, education cannot be at the root. What gets taught is more fundamental than whatever the means are for teaching it, presuming that teaching would even be necessary.

Is it possible, rather, that the fundamental problem is more an issue of what we believe we know -- but are wrong about -- than what we don't know? Do we need to uneducate, rather than educate?

To put it another way, what could we possibly not know, anymore, that could solve any of those problems? I mean, we know a lot as a society, don't we? We have all sorts of abilities and intellectual prowess, but fundamental human problems persist, and they don't appear to be going away or improving in any sort of easily detectable manner.

In pondering this, I think there's only one way that additional knowledge could solve these problems, and that would be some discovery that renders much of what we "know" completely obsolete. Because, folks, it's not what we don't know that's at the root of all of our problems, but what we think that we know, but is false.

What is this thing we think we know but is false? Ah; that can be any number of things. So, what is the fundamental problem then? The fundamental problem is mysticism or irrationality, which translates in actions to an evasion of reality.

Now let's tie this up, shall we? Connect the dots. Human beings require values in order to survive. Basic ones, at first, and as those are met, values become more complex, varied, subjective. But gaining the values necessary to survive and prosper requires action. Now, check back to that underlined word, above. When you act, you act in the pursuit of your values, values needed to survive and prosper. What happens when you act on what you think you know but is false? You evade reality, and that is the root cause of all of your preventable problems, and everyone else's too.

In two subsequent entries, I'll identify some of the more fundamental things we think we know but are false, thus causing our problems and failures, and how some who are armed with this knowledge are taking advantage of you, parasitically living off of your ignorance.

At a Loss for Words

Like Kyle, I seriously thought I was reading parody, some new upstart stepping up to go toe to toe with The Onion. For example, I particularly enjoyed their report on how Evangelicals have set about to have Intelligent Falling Theory taught side-by-side with classical gravitation theory in schools.

So, tell me that if you had seen this UK Times article under the banner of The Onion, that you'd have suspect for a second that it's not their usual banter. But it's not. Apparently, it's the state's business as usual.

I'm sure I'd have no problem convincing many that the state has "gone too far," here. I'd have a decidedly more difficult time convincing them that that's not the point.

Non-Sequitur Heaven

Once upon a time, Nice Guy decided to buy a new hang-glider from a German designer and manufacturer, and at the time, it was the best hang-glider in the whole wide world. But Nice Guy didn't follow the proper and prudent shipping procedures, and the beautiful wing was severely damaged in shipment.

And so the story goes. But it doesn't end there. It turns out that Nice Guy was really the poor victim of the Big Bad Company. So says Saint Marc. Even worse, Evil lurks in the form of a free hang-gliding e-zine editor, Davis, who published opinions on the subject that tend to favor the position of Big Bad Company. But that's not all. Oh, no. Evil Davis is guilty of many, many sins, which surely make Nice Guy more right, and Big Bad Company more wrong.

So says Saint Marc; so say we all. Behold; my grave condemnation of Evil Davis via email!


You wrote:

> Mark writes that he didn't inspect the shipping box for
> damage and didn't enforce his rights not to accept
> the box due to damage (just as I have stated, based
> on his previous statements).

Completely true, so far as I can tell.

> Therefore, it is my understanding that the insurance
> lapsed and he was responsible for the accepting the
> damaged goods as is.
> Pretty straight forward.

But you're ignoring the fact that Mark P is such a nice guy, and his email was so heart felt, and his feelings were hurt, and he was upset, and most importantly, meant no harm to anyone and didn't understand all the procedures.

Also, Davis, you're bad. A real asshole. And evil. Evil Davis. So that has to factor in there, somewhere.

Marc W sticks up for people, especially victims (when he's not too busy necessarily tending his own victimization), and that's good. A real saint. Saint Marc. Nothing like wailing and crying over the victimized and downtrodden. It's ultimately where all investments of time, money, and effort ought to go, and so that has to factor into this too. So says Saint Marc; so say we all.

> The lesson that we can all learn from this is that you
> the shippee, no matter if you live in a trailer or a
> mansion, or have no shipping address, or work in a
> nuclear power plant, or at Joe's dinner, have a
> personal responsibility to inspect goods that are
> shipped to you and if they are obviously damaged to
> refuse to accept them.
> Pretty simple really.

Oh, Evil Davis, you're such an ASSHOLE. Do you mean to tell me that you're insisting that people understand the terms of purchase for a $15,000 transaction, and then follow them? When you yourself get discounts for gliders? When Hollywood broke his wing, crashed and died, and someone else (a Nice Guy too--not an asshole, like you) covered up the reason the reserve wasn't deployed for two years? When Brightstar went out of business, and there's no more alternative to the ATOS?

How can you, Evil Davis, expect people to go through the trouble and labor and bother of transacting with Big Bad Company when their Cursed ATOS isn't anybody's first choice to fly, anyway? The fact that everyone does fly them is only proof that you, Evil Davis, have conspired with Big Bad Company to vanquish all competition. And, since you did vanquish such competition, this be proof that the ATOS is the most inferior wing. Naturally (So says Saint Marc; so say we all.).  Everyone really wants to fly Millenniums and Exxtacies and Axxesses and Top Secrets and Stalkers and Phantoms and Goblins and what have you--anything, ANYTHING but an ATOS...and A.I.R <curse>. If ONLY you had not cast your powerful spell on everyone, making them all unable to detect your many LIES LIES LIES, these other companies with superior wings would not have gone out of business and nobody would have to deal with A.I.R.

We would once again be blessed by the Holy Grail that is CHOICE. So says Saint Marc; so say we all.

Evil Davis: you're an asshole!

Flying By Hand (Video)

We returned earlier this week from Hat Creek Rim, an annual camping and flying trip near Mt. Lassen, in California. Something like a hundred thousand years ago, give or take, the volcano erupted and the massive belching of lava from the cinder cones in the area caused part of the valley floor to collapse about 1,000 feet, leaving a rim.

The volcanic rock fields absorb tremendous heat during the hot summer days, and in the late afternoon, between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. the rim begins to "glass off." That is, a steady band of lift forms across the entire length of the rim (miles and miles). On good days, the band goes out better than a mile, and extends up several thousand feet. It can last until after sundown. I've landed in twilight many times over the years.

It's our eighth consecutive year, 2nd weekend in August. It has become our premier family camping outing of the year, with mom, dad, brothers and their families, a cousin or two, and the odd guest(s) now and then.

So, thanks to my brother and dad, I have some video this year. I'm flying a perfectly docile intermediate wing. About as forgiving as you can get, very much unlike the high-aspect-ratio ATOS, which I recently sold. I've settled into country-club style flying.

The launch is at about 4,200 ft. MSL, and the LZ is about a mile upwind at 3,200 ft., so a 5-to-1 glide. This glider, at about 12-1, would make it easily, except for the headwind. If you don't gain at least a few hundred feet over launch, it could be tough. The 2-1 bailout LZ is a lot smaller, with more trees, and lots of brush. In eight years and dozens of flights, I've yet to have to land there. I always get up. One time, a few years ago, I climbed to 8,500, a 4,300 ft. gain.

The video begins with me preflighting my harness, then launching and doing some crowd pleasing maneuvers near launch. Then, when the video crew leaves, I head out and spend some time trying to get high. I manage about a 1,300 ft. gain. Once everyone is set up down in the LZ, about 45 minutes later I head out so they can catch the approach and landing on video.

At 3,200 ft. MSL, 90 degrees, and a monster wind gradient (notorious for eating downtubes), flair timing is critical. I show you how it's done here, though this is a pretty easy glider to flair properly.

Click here to watch.

Cheap Shot

Dale Franks demonstrates that the "Neo-Libertarian Network" is good for something.

Your Life is Negotiable

Regarding the goings on in Israel, specifically the Gaza Strip, there is really only one thing to take from the whole nasty mess.

You can go all the way back to the Bible, then forward all the way to the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and beyond -- to the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948 -- and I'll be damned if anyone can make a solid case for the state of Israel or Palestine as concerns territory. What you can do is point out thousands and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, on both sides, who've had their lives shattered throughout the whole affair by the machinations of international politics, state conquest, and politicized ideology ("religionism").

Those poor people in Gaza, today. Those poor people of the past, Jews and Arabs both, who've had their homes, lives, livelihoods, and even families torn apart. And the fundamental reason why is because we senselessly identify individuals only on the basis of being party to some group, ideology, race, or [arbitrary] territorial boundary line.

I, of course, don't know that it could ever be any different, given human nature and demonstrated behavior as either conqueror or conquered, but I still like to hold onto the ideal. As I've said before, America is a culture, a state of mind, an attitude. America exists all over the world, in the abstract, and that's its chief power. Identifying America as a landmass is to have no real clue as to what America truly is.

The Jewish culture, because it was party to no specific state, no "official" territory before 1948, had no alternative but to develop a strong identity and culture capable of existing virtually anywhere. They did, and they prospered wherever they existed. I can't help but wonder if that culture has not ultimately been weakened by tying it to a state that arguably had no compelling need or reason to exist apart from some irrational sentiment.

So, what we learn from all this is that no matter what the state says or promises, everything is always negotiable under the right circumstances, including your property, your livelihood, and even your life. Remember that.